Archive for October, 2006

Animal’s birth story (Uncensored)

Today is Animal’s birthday. I think a birth story is appropriate. Here is what I was doing one year ago today.

October 30, 2005

It was one week until my due date. I was fucking miserable. I was 60 pounds heavier and I looked like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Seriously, I just looked at that link from Wikipedia and started laughing my ass off because that IS EXACTLY HOW I LOOKED.

Anyway, I had been having “false labor” for 2 weeks. I begged my midwife to strip my membranes, and then to do “cervix stretching”, which let me assure you, is not a pleasant procedure. I never thought I would have demanded this sort of intervention, but by 39 weeks I was experiencing excruciating pain from a condition known as Symphisis Pubis Dysfunction. Now, I’m one tough broad, but the separation of your pubic bone during pregnancy is nothing to fuck around with. I couldn’t roll over in bed, get out of bed, or walk up the stairs without experiencing severe pain. Needless to say, I wanted the baby OUT. My midwife relented and started me on homeopathic versions of black and blue cohosh. I alternated between the two for 24 hours. Nothing happened. I was feeling restless and anxious and pissed off. I called my mom and told her that if I didn’t get out of the house PRONTO, I was going to have a panic attack.

6:15PM
I blame (thank) my Mother for the true reason my labor started. She was driving me home from our quick shopping excursion, in her usual manner, which includes running red lights and veering off of the road. While I was gripping the door handle and trying to remind myself that she hadn’t killed herself yet, in 40+ years of driving experience, I felt a little *trickle*. I figured that it was just spotting, due to the aforementioned CERVICAL STRETCHING, but I joked to my mom that “I either just peed my pants or my water broke!” We got to the house and when I got out of the car, it just kept on trickling. I went to the bathroom and checked things out. No blood. Aha! Maybe this was it. I decided to call my midwife and see if she thought I was leaking amniotic fluid. She said “Usually when your water breaks, there is no doubt about it. Your socks will be soaked. Call me back in an hour.” I ate dinner and fiddled around on the computer for a bit. When I stood up again to call the midwife, a huge gush came spilling out of me like a goddamn waterfall. It was all the way down my pant leg—no mistaking what had happened! My midwife, Ann, said that she would be right over to administer my first round of antibiotics, since I had tested Group B Strep positive. By 9:30PM I had received the antibiotics, and was still not experiencing contractions. My midwife decided to go out to grab something to eat (which I later found out was just an excuse to leave me alone to relax). I was watching a rerun of Desperate Housewives. No sooner had her car backed out of the driveway and I felt a strange “pop” and a sharp pain in my crotch. Immediately, the first contraction began. Two minutes later, another contraction. They continued on every two minutes. They were uncomfortable, but not yet painful. I tucked my boys in for the night and cleaned up around the house. My husband called the midwife and she returned to start filling the birthing pool. During this time I sat on the birthing ball and leaned on my bed listening to Norah Jones while B rubbed my lower back. I also sat on the toilet for quite awhile-it felt so much better! The worst part about the whole thing (and one which I reiterate again and again in the birth video) is the fact that I had to wear Depends undergarments. . The amniotic fluid just kept coming and coming! At one point, I actually had to send someone to the store for a SECOND pack of those damn things! I had not prepared myself for the fact that during my entire labor, I would be feeling that I was continually pissing myself. And so, for awhile, I stationed myself on the john.

I noticed that standing during contractions intensified the pain, but my midwife told me that my labor would go quicker if I remained upright, despite the additional pain, so I walked and stopped and leaned on door frames, walls, and furniture during contractions. I didn’t want to get in the pool until my contractions were unbearable, for fear of slowing my progress, and so far they were completely manageable. Around this time, we realized that the pool (perfectly heated to 100 degrees) was leaking! It was spilling water onto the carpet and had to be drained, patched up, and refilled. Ann contemplated running home to get a new pool. She checked my cervix to see if she might have time, and I was 5cm, 100% effaced and baby was in 0 station. It was now midnight. She decided she’d better just stick around. She worked with B, patching and refilling the pool (and trying to get it back to a good temperature, since most of the hot water had now run out). I was in my room alone, and the contractions were beginning to intensify a bit. I was back on the birthing ball, but now making low moaning noises, which really helped. I decided to try lying on my left side, since I was getting a bit tired. The contraction that hit while I was lying on my side didn’t feel right at all. It felt very wrong to be lying down, and I couldn’t believe that I had labored with my last two children strapped into a hospital bed. I began to feel nauseous and as is usual for me during labor, the pukes started. My midwife came in the room and excitedly explained to me that “throwing up equals ten good contractions!” I had never seen anyone so excited about vomit. She sprinkled peppermint oil in the “puke bowl” and it made my nausea really fade. I was starting to think that I may want to get in the pool, so Ann decided to give me my last round of antibiotics. I was leaning on my bed, waiting for the antibiotics to end, and my next contraction came in a fierce wave of pain. It took me by surprise, and I started yelling. I remember Ann telling me to blow out the word SHUSH as loud and as hard as I could. I could hardly do anything but collapse on the bed. My legs completely gave out on me. I felt a pain in my crotch and the next contraction came right on top of the last. It was just as painful, except this time I could feel pressure in my ASSHOLE. I started screaming to Ann that “he is IN MY ASS!!” Seriously. I’m not kidding. I really told my midwife that I thought my baby was coming out of my ass. She asked me if I wanted to get in the tub, but I couldn’t move an inch. She pushed me up onto the bed. I was sideways and barely on the bed when she checked me and said “Oh yeah, we’ve got a head knuckle deep!” She rushed around, grabbing her materials and asking me to blow through the next contraction. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. The urge to push was so unbearably strong! The contractions didn’t even hurt anymore, I just wanted the baby out! I didn’t have to push at all. I grunted a bit and blew out some air and my uterus did the work for me. His head began crowning. This didn’t really hurt either, and I was surprised to not be feeling “the ring of fire” as Ann continued to rub KY jelly around and helped me stretch around the baby’s head. I grunted a little more and his head was out. Then I felt an overwhelming need to push and I felt his shoulders break through. This part really DID hurt, and I found out later that his hand had been up and his fist breaking through with his shoulders was the reason behind the super crazy pain. I screamed like a animal! Whenever we watch the birth video, B laughs like a hyena at that part. Like it’s really funny that I’m screaming like a banshee because A 9 POUND BABY WITH BIGASS SHOULDERS AND A FIST IS COMING THROUGH MY VAGINA. But it was quick, and as soon as his body slipped out, there was no more pain. The baby was immediately placed on my chest and began breathing. It was fifteen minutes after midnight on Halloween morning. He didn’t need to be suctioned. The cord was cut when it stopped pulsating and 10 minutes after the baby, the placenta was birthed. Animal scored a 10/10 on his Apgars. I was able to walk around immediately after his birth and he was alert and active enough that I was able to get him to successfully latch on to breastfeed within the first hour. Birthing my baby at home was an amazing, life changing event in my life. It empowered me beyond words and gave me the experience I had missed in my previous births. (Even if I did have to wear Depends, piss my pants for 4 hours, and have the terrifying thought that I was going to deliver my child rectally.)

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Why I call myself a militant lactivist

When my first son was born, sleepy and drugged from two doses of Stadol and an extremely “effective” epidural, I put him to my breast and found that he was incapable of latching on. He literally could not suck any portion of my nipple into his mouth. Oh he would try alright, opening up with the big baby bird mouth just like his instincts told him too, but once he came into contact with my skin, he would just slip right off the nipple. There was just nothing there to grab onto. The lactation consultant was called. She positioned and lectured and huffed and puffed and finally handed over a nipple shield. As a 19 year old single mother, I think I had done more research than most, reading whatever I could get my hands on and attending a breastfeeding class during my pregnancy. But when it came right down to the scary Unknown, I did as I was told because, after all, *they* were the professionals. The shield seemed to be working. He was getting colostrum, and then 3 days later, the milk came. I had several nurses from various programs visit me in my home to help with the nursing. I was told that my baby had jaundice, and I was told horror stories of its danger. I was firmly instructed to nurse every 2 hours around the clock and I did so, each day growing more and more afraid of this terrible Jaundice that was out to get my firstborn. And yet, it all seemed to be for nought. I was referred to the pediatrician. Everyone agreed. Formula supplementation was necessary to clear the jaundice. My son was a week old, and not gaining weight.

The first bottle seemed like heaven. How easy it was to scoop out the powder, fill with warm tap water and shake. How quickly he sucked it down, and how long it kept him full. All of the sudden, nursing with the breast shield seemed like a strenuous and taxing chore. I had to sterilize after each use. I had to tote it everywhere. I had to perfectly position it over my nipple, which ruled out nursing discreetly in public. I knew that breastmilk was best, but I had been spoiled by the luxury of the bottle. Once the jaundice had cleared and he had gained the “required amount of weight”, I started pumping milk and feeding this expressed milk via a bottle. I wasn’t really sure if this would work. I had never heard of of anyone who had pumped instead of breastfed. None of the professionals had presented it as an option. I pumped until my supply dwindled and eventually disappeared. By 4 months old, my son was exclusively formula fed.

18 months later, my second son was born. I experienced the same problem. Same sleepy newborn, same inability to latch on to my nipple. Same jaundice, same failure to thrive, same weight loss, same doctor paranoia. This time, my new lactation consultants had a diagnosis. I had flat nipples. I would probably never be able to breastfeed directly. I didn’t even have the will to fight. By the time my new baby was a week old, my milk was drying out and he was drinking Enfamil. And besides…my other baby had done just fine with formula. He had thrived and was healthy and smart. Unfortunately, I realized later that my refusal to breastfeed would contribute to a nasty case of postpartum depression. Bonding didn’t come until my child was well over a year old.

Five years passed, and I became pregnant again. This time, I had renewed strength and believed that anything was possible. I wore breast shells every day for the last 3 months of my pregnancy, in order to help draw out my nipples. I did “nipple exercises”, rolling my nipples and pulling on them to make them erect and stiff. I read everything I could. I surrounded myself with nursing mothers.

I had read that a natural birth would be beneficial to the breastfeeding process. To ensure that there was no possible way that I could receive pain relief during labor, I chose and planned a homebirth. Animal was born and was immediately placed on my chest. He wasn’t suctioned. His cord was not cut. His heel was not pricked. His eyes weren’t smeared with goo. He never left my chest. He was alert and curious and he found my nipple and ferociously latched on. In my eyes, it was a miracle.

Unfortunately, in the next few weeks, I started having excruciating nipple pain. I knew that sore nipples could be normal, but this was way beyond “sore.” I would curl my toes and squeeze my eyes shut every time he latched on. Then I would cry and scream while he nursed. My nipples were cracked and bleeding. I hated feeding him. I never looked forward to it, and when he was hungry, I would cringe, knowing what I would have to endure.

The situation was made even worse because of the fact that he was constantly nursing. Sometimes he would eat for 30 minutes on each side, fall asleep for a few moments, and then wake up screaming for more. He never seemed to get full. I stopped feeling my letdowns. I stopped hearing him swallow. He was jaundiced, and much worse than my first two boys. He was not gaining back his birth weight. He had lost almost a pound. I sought help, everyone gave me advice and tips, but nothing worked.

When he was 3 weeks old, I could not take it any longer. I broke down and told my husband that I couldn’t go on. I felt like a complete failure, and I spent several days as an emotional wreck, feeling like I was a terrible mother. I was fully aware of the many benefits of breastfeeding, and was determined that my baby would still receive breastmilk. I searched the internet, and found some information about Exclusively Pumping. I found a support group and messageboards where women were pumping their milk and feeding their babies. Some of them had been doing it for a year or more! So I started on my pumping journey. I rented a hospital grade double electric breastpump from a local pharmacy. I pumped every 2-3 hours for 20 minutes. I pumped at least 8 times per day. I got up to pump once in the middle of the night. At first, I had very little milk. I was pumping an ounce during each pumping session. I started taking Fenugreek supplements and drinking Mother’s milk tea 3x per day. I ate oatmeal, blessed thistle, alfalfa, drank gallons of water and tried every “letdown” trick in the book. Very slowly, my supply increased (about a half ounce each day). I did have to supplement with formula for awhile, but within 2 weeks, I was pumping enough milk to keep up with my baby. At first, it felt liberating. My nipples had healed, I had no more pain, my baby was full and happy, the jaundice had cleared and he had gained weight. But it didn’t take long before the pumping became exhausting. I was chained to the pump. I couldn’t go shopping without making sure I could be back within 2 hours to pump. I had to bring the pump, bottles, freezer bags, ice packs, bottle warmers, and cooler to my in-laws house for Thanksgiving. I was confined to the house. I saw other people effortlessly nursing their babies and I was jealous. It wasn’t fair. I missed the feeling of having my baby close to my breast. Breastfeeding would have been so much more convenient and easy.

Eventually, and with everyone telling me “I was crazy”, I started bringing Animal back to the breast. I would let him latch on, but as soon as I felt discomfort, I would unlatch him and feed him a bottle that was warm and ready for him. At one point, I let him nurse for too long, and I got a blood blister on my nipple. It was very painful, and I just couldn’t believe that such a terrible thing could be happening. What was wrong?? I knew there was something wrong with Animal’s latch. I knew that it shouldn’t hurt, and I knew that he was not effectively drawing enough milk from my breast, and this had caused my supply to dwindle. I didn’t think he would ever successfully breastfeed. I took him to my midwife. She evaluated the latch, and found that he was tucking in his lower lip. She showed me how to correct this, but the pain still would not subside. I took him to my pediatrician. She concluded that Animal was tongue tied. She told me that we could clip the tongue, but she would not recommend it, and advised me to keep trying. At my 6 week check up, I explained to my midwife that I felt that he wasn’t efficiently able to draw milk from my breasts. My midwife wondered if maybe a huge increase of milk would help. She gave me a homeopathic remedy called “lactuca virosa.” She instructed me to put one dissolvable pellet under my tongue 3 times per day. On my way home, I took the first pellet. Within a few hours, I was engorged and leaking! I put Animal to my breast and nursed him without discomfort. While he was eating, milk was dribbling out the sides of his mouth. I had never seen that happen before! He came off the breast with a full belly and happy as a clam. I couldn’t believe it! Throughout the day, I kept breastfeeding him. I wanted to see how long it would take before he needed a bottle. 24 hours later and still no bottle! Days became weeks, my supply was more than sufficient, and I had no pain to speak of. It was amazing! I still felt very uncomfortable with nursing. Because of Animal’s tongue tie, and the way he latched, I could only nurse him in the football hold, and that made it impossible to nurse discreetly in public. It wasn’t until he was about 3 months old that he was finally able to be held in the cradle hold and I finally felt that we were getting the hang of it.

Animal is now 12 months old and still nursing. I still can’t believe that we turned things around, but I am so glad we did. When Animal is curled up in my lap, stroking my arm, looking into my eyes, or playing with my hair, I feel so blessed for the experience. Breastfeeding my son has made me a better mother. Not just to him, but to my older children as well. I had no idea how important the physiological process of nursing was for a mother/baby connection. I’m proud of myself for the overcoming the struggles, and fighting so hard for this privilege.

I’ve faced a lot of opposition regarding my views on breastfeeding. I expect it. I know what its like to feel like a failure. I know what its like to feel like you did all that you could. I know what its like to be offended by someone insinuating that your formula fed child is not healthy or smart. It’s okay to say “I didn’t have enough information” or “I didn’t have enough support/resources”. It’s okay to say “I was tired/frustrated/depressed and bottlefeeding was easier.” It’s okay to say “I was bullied into formula feeding by a medical professional, a family member, a friend.” Hell, it’s even okay to say “I didn’t want my breasts to get saggy. I wanted to start drinking/smoking/dieting again.” It is NOT OKAY to say “My breasts didn’t work. I tried everything I could and it was impossible.” Because ladies, you can’t all have broken breasts. And the majority of you are formula feeding. It is not okay to make excuses and perpetuate the myth that it is common for our bodies to fail us. While you are trying to rationalize your choice to bottlefeed in an attempt to clear your guilty conscience, you are spreading the word that your situation is normal. As a result, the children in this country are suffering and missing out on the health and psychological benefits that breastfeeding provides. Be honest with yourself, and honest with moms-to-be, and new mothers. Your experiences can help, instead of hinder if you’ll only be willing to face the truth.

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Pigpen’s Sleepwalking Adventure

Last night at about 10PM, I was sitting here writing and scheming, and I heard Pigpen start YELLING like a madman in the next room. I jumped up and ran into his bedroom, where he was sleeping (albeit fitfully). I put my hand to his chest and his heart was thumping like crazy and his hair was wet with sweat. I sat there for a few moments, waiting to see if he’d start thrashing about again, but he seemed to have lulled himself back into La La Land. I went back to my computer, when a few moments later I heard him scurry out of his bedroom and into the living room. I peeked around the corner, and saw him quickly pacing back and forth in the hallway, looking very distraught and confused. I said “Pigpen! What’s wrong?” and he just kept pacing, getting more and more frantic. I grabbed him by the shoulders and started him steering him back towards bed when he stopped, pulled down his pants, and proceeded to start peeing all over the hardwood floor. I started yelling and half dragging him into the bathroom, set him in front of the toilet while he whizzed just about everywhere except IN the toilet bowl. Then he pulled his pants back up, flushed the toilet, and got back into bed. This morning he has no recollection of it. Scary.

Gratitude

Ah, the subject of gratitude. It continually pops up in my life at various intervals, showing off its nice white plastic smile and little index finger wagging. “Tsk tsk tsk!” it chides, “you should be grateful.”

I’ve had an Anonymous comment reminding me this week that instead of feeling entitled to what I have, I should just be gracious. This is all well and good, and believe you me, I understand this concept quite well. In fact, I wish I could find a way to explain to you just how long and hard I have fought the battle inside my head for gratitude. Oprah even came out with this great idea of a “Gratitude journal”, where everyday you just write a little tidbit of something you are thankful for. The end product, of course, is that each evening you settle in to bed with a content little smile because you are lucky. Lucky to be alive. Lucky to be healthy. Lucky to have a roof over your head and food to eat. Lucky to have children when others cannot. Lucky to have a spouse that loves you and treats you well.

And yet, for me, focusing on gratitude just leaves me feeling guilty and selfish. I’m sorry that I cannot just be grateful. I’m sorry that I’m restless, never content, wanting more and needing better. I’m alive, I am healthy, my cholesterol is low, my blood pressure is fantastic, but I want to be leaner and stronger. I have a place to live and food on my plate but I want my own space with a view of the ocean and organically grown vegetables in my crisper. I thank God for my kids and without them I would not be here, but I wish they had come later and sometimes, I wish they hadn’t come at all. I have a husband who worships me and yet it makes me feel empty and bored and I crave a man who will challenge me. I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I cannot be still and satisfied. I’m sorry.

The annual carving of the pumpkins

This last Sunday, the kids carved their pumpkins for Halloween.

Animal was really curious about what his big bubbies were doing.

We let him get his hands into the pumpkin.

And he tried out his first bite of raw pumpkin goodness.

Here are the end products. Pretty good, huh?

All apologies

Sometimes the act of apologizing can be so powerful, especially when it comes without an excuse. Especially when you think you’re right.

Step 9 of the 12 Steps is “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” I never got there when I was working the steps, and I wish I would have. Offering up an apology is such a humbling experience, and I’m going to try my hand at it.

Dear Mom,

I’m sorry that I never gave you the reassurance you needed, that you would always be my Momma, no matter what.

Dear Dad,

I’m sorry that I didn’t come visit you in your hospital room.

Dear Little Brother,

I’m sorry for calling you a retard, and I’m sorry that I never recognized how much you looked up to me and wanted to be around me.

Dear Jewel,

I’m sorry for being so judgmental about your mothering skills when we lived together. I’m also sorry for accusing you of being high on coke at my wedding.

Dear Einstein,

I’m sorry for telling you that you’re going to hell. I don’t even believe in hell.

Dear Pigpen,

I’m sorry for smoking cigarettes and pot when I was pregnant. Boy, was I stupid.

Dear Animal,

I’m sorry for yelling at you when you were a newborn and blaming you for a bad latch. I know it wasn’t your fault.

Dear Jeannine,

So much, so much. But most of all, I’m sorry for judging the way you are raising Kaya without religion, and for telling you that you’re a mean drunk.

Dear Jade,

I’m sorry for sleeping with your boyfriend when you were upstairs.

Dear Tamara,

I’m sorry for stealing your underwear at camp and hanging it up for everybody to see.

Dear B,

I’m sorry for all of the lying and the cheating.

Dear Me,

I’m sorry for trying to fool you, for making you settle for less, and for making you forget about your dreams.

Love,

Estella

The Big Owie

Last night, the inevitable happened. Animal got his First Big Owie. And actually, it was more like his second owie. A few months ago he fell on a wooden block and I heard the crack of his cheekbone and saw the first smear of blood. However, the incident last night was a bit worse.

Yesterday afternoon I was forced to snatch him up from afternoon nap, dazed and bleary eyed, so I could cart him along to Einstein & Pigpen’s Parent Teacher conferences. Now, any parent knows full well that an interruption in the sleep cycle of an infant can be hazardous to your mental health. And yet, I really could not avoid it. I figured that I would just put him to bed an hour earlier and he’d make up the sleep time.

By the time 7PM had rolled around, he was impossible. Like us, when babies get overtired, they get cranky. The only difference, is that we can usually fall into bed and immediately pass out. Unfortunately, with a small child, they have some sort of internal switch. Before that switch is flipped, you’ll probably be able to get them down, but if you wait too long, you’ve entered The Point of No Return. This is where I found myself at approximately 7PM last night. I tried everything. I must have nursed him 16 times between 7-8PM and I put him in bed with his blankie and binky and a dry diaper on THREE separate occasions. Each time, he was standing up within seconds, gripping the crib rails and thrashing about, his cries turning into full blown screams, mixed with the occasional choking and hiccupping sounds. And so, I decided to wait it out and let him stay up a bit longer until fatigue finally got the best of him and we could all have some peace. Perhaps this was my big mistake.

When Animal gets overtired, he doesn’t just get cranky. He seems to lose a lot of coordination and balance and he walks around like a drunken trucker. He trips, he throws himself on the ground, he plops down, and he gets kind of…violent. These are the times that I kind of wish for a padded room. (And maybe for the times I feel like depositing all three boys on some poor soul’s doorstep so I can drive fast and furiously across the US border to sunshine and margaritas. Oh but I digress.) So Animal is acting like he’s angry and drugged, and my Mom and I are sitting in the living room watching this weird behavior unfold. And although we both have been endowed with lightning fast Mom-reflexes, we are unable to grab him before he hurls himself into his activity cube . (The same cube that I proudly discovered at Goodwill for a measly $2.50.)

I see him on his hands and knees on the floor, and the cry hasn’t come yet. It’s still in the “Silent Cry” stage, which usually only occurs when a child has been hurt. The duration of the Silent Cry is dependent upon the intensity of the pain. In Animal’s case, the Silent Cry lasted an uncomfortably long time. I swooped him up, but didn’t want to look at the damage. I wavered for a moment, and then flipped him around, seeing nothing at first. Usually with children, and with injuries of this type, you will see blood from mouth, where they have bit their lip or tongue. I’ve also learned from two boys prior that an unusually large amount of blood can come from the mouth. But this time, no blood.

When his cry finally became audible, I did what any nursing mother will do. I pulled out my boob and offered. He refused, grabbing the binky he was holding, and popping it in. Then he closed his eyes and put his hand to his forehead, and it appeared. At first, just a tiny rectangular shaped spot of bright blue above his left eyebrow. However, within seconds, it had morphed into a walnut sized goose egg that was a shade of blue I had never seen before on human skin. My mother and I watched with horror and the seconds seem to tick by in slow motion. I was yelling “Mom! He’s not supposed to go to sleep is he?” And she back at me “No! Don’t let him go to sleep!” and both of us “Look at the size of that thing!” and “That is not normal.”

Within 15 seconds of injury, my Mom was holding ice to Animal’s forehead and I was on the phone with the consulting nurse line at The Mayo Clinic (God bless them.) They fired off questions, such as “Is he conscious? Is he breathing normally? Is he moving all of his limbs? Is there any bruising behind his ear? Is there any fluid dripping from his nose? Is he bruising under the eyes?” And then came a clean bill of health, and instructions to continue with the ice, Tylenol for the pain, and to wake him every 3 hours to make sure that he was responding normally. By this time, he was already happily cuddled in my mother’s arms, as I was pacing the floor and trying to get control over the adrenaline that was pumping through my body. I put him to bed (nothing like a good head injury to tire out the baby who has reached The Point of No Return) and I did the next obvious thing. I called his Dad.

I relayed the events of the evening to B, and when I had finished my story, I was met with silence. “Hello? Are you still there?” I asked. And then I heard the tone I have come to know so well. The pissed off/disappointed kind of tone. “Yeah,” he says, short and terse. “What’s wrong?” I ask, and he firmly says “I don’t LIKE THAT.” “Don’t like what? That Animal got hurt? Do you think I LIKE IT?” I start getting defensive. And then it comes. He asks me where I was when it happened. Was I watching him? Was I close? Why wasn’t I holding him? And after the interrogation comes the lectures. Do I know what could have happened? Do I realize that he could have brain damage/swelling/bleeding? Get rid of that activity cube. It’s worried me from the day you bought it.

I don’t know why I was so shocked, but I was. I hung up the phone in a sort of stupor, wishing I had never called him in the first place and wondering for a moment if I really was to blame. When I told my Mom about my conversation with B, I had hardly finished when she started in on a tirade about how this was typical male behavior. She used words like “sanctimonious” and phrases about being “holier than thou” and “not having a clue.” I guess I wonder how typical this really is, or if it has something to do with control. I feel like B plays the “blame game” a lot with me and my parenting skills. It’s been six years since Pigpen was an infant, and yet he still reminds me of the mistakes he believes I made in the beginning, and the way those mistakes have shaped the little boy Pigpen has become. As if we mothers don’t face enough guilt. As if we don’t constantly think about the “what if’s.” As if we aren’t always questioning our decisions.

I quickly came to my senses though, and after the initial anger had passed, I came to a realization: Only two owies in Animal’s first year of life? Not bad. Not bad at all, if you ask me. Just don’t tell B that I wasn’t about to wake up a sleeping infant again, much less every 3 hours during the night. I slept right through until morning, and woke to a happy baby with only a slight bruise to show from the previous night.