I’ll repeat something I said on Twitter the other day–the more I think about it, the more I think Paul losing his job the week before I was induced is a blessing in disguise.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still bad timing, although at least we’ll have his severance pay, but we’re getting time together as a new, small family that we wouldn’t have otherwise. The original plan was for me to take my leave, and then for him to take a few weeks of FMLA to get some bonding time in. Instead, we’re getting most likely my whole six weeks together. Women always say maternity leave is not a vacation, and it’s not, but…it’s hard not to feel like I get six weeks to just hang out at home with my husband and newborn.

Last week was a whirlwind. After coming home and introducing him to grandparents and cousins in the early part of the week, he and I had checkups later in the week. He’s doing great and just needed to put some more weight on, so we’re now supplementing his breastfeeding with a little bit of formula.

The thing about breastfeeding is that I knew going in it would potentially be hard and that I’d have to be committed to it. Of all the moms I know, I can think of maybe only one or two who did it–and that’s not a judgment on commitment or parenting or anything at all, it’s just to get the point across that I know more women who struggled than not for various reasons. So my attitude going in was I’m gonna do it, but Charlie being fed is the most important thing and if my body just isn’t up for it, that’s fine. I wasn’t so hellbent on it that I’d get upset if I was told he needed a little boost, and I wasn’t. I had a few “Don’t get discouraged!” messages, which I appreciated but didn’t need. The pediatrician said he wasn’t gaining enough weight, so I said, “Okay.” Or I said it to Paul. Similar to my appointments since March, only one person is allowed in the office with Charlie, and being that I’m stitched up and moving slowly, handling a carseat with a baby in it isn’t the easiest thing for me. So I’ve been tagging along and waiting in the car while Paul takes him in.

Speaking of my stitches, I’m doing well, physically and mentally. I’m healing well and I feel good. Paul said I get around better now than I did nine months pregnant, and it’s true. And despite a family history of postpartum depression, I feel fine emotionally, and I’ve had a few people check in on that to be sure–Paul, Terra, and my mom, of course, but unexpectedly, a classmate from high school who I really only see at reunions sent me a Facebook message to check in, saying she likes to do so with new moms as she had postpartum depression herself.

We didn’t do anything for the 4th, which is probably for the best. If it wasn’t for having a newborn baby, we might’ve done something small. We weren’t invited anywhere, either, but probably wouldn’t have gone even if we had been, with the exception of something small.

On Sunday, we took Charlie to Paul’s parents’ house to meet his great-grandparents, and Jacob and Katie brought Arlo, finally after he was born right at the start of the lockdowns. The four of us kind of want to be on the same page with these things–it’ll make life easier for all of us–so we made sure they were going before we committed. The great-grandparents were all thrilled to see the babies, and it was a pretty nice afternoon with everyone. And the boys are adorable, of course.

And now…we have no other plans in the near future. Sure, there’s some things to be done  related to life with a new baby, but overall, we have time for me to recover physically and for the three of us to continue bonding. It’s one day at a time, and it’s kind of nice.

Saturday 9: You’re a Grand, Old Flag

Unfamiliar with James Cagney’s 1942 version of this song? Hear it here.

1) The flag we currently fly, with 50 stars and 13 stripes, was designed by a high school student. When Alaska and Hawaii were added, President Eisenhower invited Americans to submit designs for how best to incorporate the two new states. Ike chose 17-year-old Robert G. Heft’s submission from more than 1500 entries. Tell us about a contest you entered and won. (Or really hoped to win.)  Man, I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve entered very many, and I’m not very lucky, so I haven’t won many, either.

2) The government also has another of Mr. Heft’s designs waiting: one that incorporates a 51st star if another state is added. When you were in school, did you memorize the states and their capitals? Yep!

3) Six American flags have been planted on the surface of the moon. Those are undoubtedly the flags farthest from you this morning. Where is an American flag flying near you today? My neighbors across the street have one in their front yard.

4) This version of the song was performed by James Cagney in the 1942 classic Yankee Doodle Dandy. Have you ever seen it? I have not.

5) In that film, Cagney portrayed George M. Cohan, the composer of this week’s song. In 1940, Cohan was honored by with a Congressional Gold Medal. In presenting him with the award, President Roosevelt specifically thanked Cohan for “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” and “Over There.” What’s your favorite patriotic song? I don’t know. I tend to dislike them, honestly, just because they’re often cheesy.

6) Though a performer his entire life, Cohan disliked listening to recordings of his own voice. How about you? Do you like your singing and/or speaking voice? Oh, I hate hearing my voice played back to me. I think I sound dramatically different and, like…weird, I guess?

7) James Cagney won the Oscar for Best Actor his performance as George M. Cohan. Also nominated that year was Gary Cooper, who portrayed Lou Gehrig in Pride of the Yankees. Tell us about another movie about a great American. I don’t know about this one, either!

8) As a teen, Cagney juggled high school with a variety of jobs, including bell hop and delivery boy, and gave all his earnings to his family. Looking back, Cagney was grateful that he had to begin work early, saying, “I feel sorry for the kid who has too cushy a time of it. Suddenly he has to come face-to-face with the realities of life without his mama and papa to do his thinking for him.” Do you agree? I think there’s an element of truth to it, but I also think it verges on being judgmental and hints at criticisms I’m tired of hearing as a millennial, even though he’s not talking about that group in particular at all. I think it is important to teach the value of hard work, but I think that can be done without sending a kid into the workforce or without bordering on insulting kids (or adults) who weren’t. Calling that approach “cushy” isn’t really fair.

9) Cagney had a rebellious streak. His boss, studio head Jack Warner, nicknamed Cagney, “The Professional Againster.” Cagney joked that he enjoyed earning the title. What about you? Are you rebellious? I don’t know. I’m 31 and a new mom, how rebellious can I really be?

Friday 5: She’s Going the Distance, She’s Going for Speed

  1. What’s your favorite cake? I’m a huge fan of angel food cake.
  2. When did you last have pancakes? A few days ago. I had a baby a week ago! And I was in the hospital for about 2 1/2 days total, and breakfast one morning was pancakes.
  3. When did you last bake a cake or a cake-like thing? It’s been a little while. But my husband made me a cake about two weeks ago for my birthday.
  4. What part of your job is a piece of cake? It has elements of copyediting, so that.
  5. Where have you had a really good cupcake? There’s a little bakery in Gettysburg–or there was–that had great unique cupcakes that my whole family was really into the last time we were there. Given my dad’s cancer diagnosis and death last year, though, we haven’t been there in a few years.
  6. Bonus question: What are your thoughts on icing? I don’t like the icing that comes on most storebought cakes, but I love something with cream cheese. My husband made a pretty simple one with lemon and once made a great peanut-butter icing. There are so many super easy ways to make a delicious icing that doesn’t taste like straight sugar, and it’s a shame that storebought cakes are generally so disappointing on that front.

From Friday 5.

Saturday 9: Beautiful People

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) This song is about the fantasy of being one of the “beautiful people” but how hollow the reality can be. Do you often find yourself envying others for what they have? Nah. I mean, look, I have my moments where I wish I was on a nice vacation or that my house was as big as so-and-so’s, but overall, I have a good, happy life and that’s the most important thing.

2) Ed Sheeran sings that he and his girl don’t fit in well because they’re “just ourselves.” Who among your close friends do you find it easiest to be “just yourself?” My best friend, Terra, and old friends from high school.


3) The lyrics refer to Hummers and Lamborghinis. What’s your dream ride? I don’t really have one. I’m not big into cars.

4) Ed believes in giving back. One cause he supports is No Cold Homes, which helps ensure that everyone in the English city of Bristol has the fuel needed to keep their homes safe and comfortable. Here in the United States, he’s raised funds for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Is there a cause that’s near and dear to your heart? Nothing in particular, no–like so many things with me, there are a lot of causes I think are important and support but nothing that stands above the rest.

5) Ed’s arms are covered in tattoos, so clearly he doesn’t suffer from trypanophobia, or a fear of needles. How about you? Do you look away when the doctor gives you a shot? Yeah. I could probably handle it, honestly, but it bugs me a little. I had blood drawn a few times while I was pregnant and had to look straight ahead of me while they did it.

6) One of Ed’s tattoos is a bottle of Heinz Ketchup. What condiments would we find if we peeked into your refrigerator this morning? Ketchup, some mustard, Yum Yum Sauce, a few other things but those are my favorites.

7) Ed is a natural redhead, a trait he shares with only 2% of the population. Does red hair run in your family? Apparently, in some branches of the distant family, it does–and I only just learned that because my newborn son’s hair is a very light red, almost strawberry blond.

8)  In 2019, when this song was released, the FDA recommended the approval of a drug for treating peanut allergies in children. Do you suffer from any food allergies, or sensitivities? Nope!

9) Random question: What of these do you think is the biggest contributing factor to success — hard work, luck or talent? All of the above.

Friday 5: Tubular

  1. What’s your least favorite episode of your favorite television program? So one of the fun things about being a devout X-Files fan is recognizing that there are more than a few serious duds over the course of the show. Like “Space.”
  2. Across its series run, in what way did a favorite television program get worse? I have to examples of kind of the same thing–Glee and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, both musical shows but very different in their subject matter. But also very similar in where the quality suffered, and in the case of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, only a little. The music in both shows, for the most part, was not as good after the first season. In Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, this is a minor criticism. The music was great throughout, it’s just that the songs in the first season were often clever and unique and after that, they started doing more clear parody. They did it really well, mind you, but one of the things I missed in the later seasons was stuff like “The Sexy Getting Ready Song” where it very much stood on its own but was funny, clever, and geared towards women, which was one of my favorite things about that show in general, but I digress. In Glee’s case, I think the missteps were more egregious. I’ll always maintain that the show’s popularity hurt it because it lost some of the first season’s edge, and it turned into a showcase of what covers they could do, what guest stars they could get, and what plots they could shoehorn in.
  3. Among television programs you like very much, which ended far too soon? I know Firefly is a cliched answer at this point, but… Also, Agent Carter! It only got a couple of seasons, but it was fantastic. I dare say it was the best Marvel show on at the time, and it deserved more praise and a pickup on streaming or something.
  4. Among television programs you like very much, which dragged on for too long? The X-Files. The Mulder-less episodes, with the exception of some amazing performances from Gillian Anderson while he’s missing. just aren’t as good. Generally, anytime you can watch a show and say, “This season finale was written as the series finale just in case,” things should’ve been wrapped up then, if not sooner.
  5. What are some lines of dialogue you love from a favorite television program? I’ll be honest, I’m just looking for an excuse to cram Lost episode “The Constant” into this because it’s probably the single best episode of the series, dare I say one of the best episodes of television ever.

From Friday 5.

Charlie entered this world on June 26 at 10:51 p.m.

Paul’s sister Emily came over Thursday night to be around to watch the cats, and Paul and I got up Friday morning, around 4:30, made it to the hospital about quarter ’til six, and after some brief waiting and prep, we were in the delivery room, I was hooked up to all kinds of monitors and things, and before I knew it…I was asleep thanks to a dose of pain meds.

And honestly, that’s how the bulk of the day went, which is not what I expected. Doctors and nurses popped in and out–the sweet nurse with me most of the day came in the next day after he was born to see us–and from what I remember, the doctor was caught up in surgery. By the time she freed up, it was almost time to push.

In short, my epidural may have been a little too good. I couldn’t feel anything at all, which was great until I kind of needed to to be able to actually give birth to a baby. We took a break to lower the dose, and it seemed like all of a sudden, I was really feeling it. It was about two hours total before he was born, and in the end, I needed some stitches.

Now, not that anyone was judging me for how delivery went, but personally, I felt like I was almost wimping out. But then in the aftermath, apparently, I handled a significant tear pretty well–one of the nurses said women have cried over smaller ones, and I only asked for painkillers and such a couple of times. Even now at home, I’m not doing much for pain and discomfort.

We were in the hospital for about 2 1/2 days–they want the baby for 24 hours after delivery and leaving at like 11 at night doesn’t make much sense, so we were able to bust out Sunday afternoon after some checks on me and plenty of poking and prodding on him to make sure he’s good.s.

And he is. Every parent thinks their kid is perfect, but he’s so cute. We don’t really think he takes after one of us over the other at the moment, and in fact, some relatives think he actually looks like my mom and he sometimes reminds me of my brother. At the moment, he has very light red, almost strawberry-blond hair, and we’re anxious to see if that changes at all. He changed a ton just over the first day of his life, so we’re curious to see how that continues.

The hospital pediatrician wasn’t concerned about letting family come meet him despite coronavirus, so since Emily was gonna need picked up after cat sitting, we told both sets of grandparents to go ahead and come meet him the evening we got back. Today, he met my brother and Kelly plus his big cousin Eliana. It made for a nice afternoon enjoying our deck. He mostly slept, but Eliana was fun to watch not just with him but in general–she’s not at our house often, certainly not the yard, and she was having a good time checking things out and being a ham.

Tomorrow, he sees a pediatrician for a follow-up, and we continue to get the hang of this whole parenting thing.

My last weekend before officially becoming a mom.

Friday evening after work, we booked it to the local coronavirus drive-up testing site before they closed at 4. I need tested as a precaution. There was this big truck in front of us and I was trying to watch how their test went, but it was too hard to see anything.

It was kind of intimidating. The staff is completely suited up. I’m sure it feels a certain way for people who are more likely to have it–I’m almost positive I don’t, as I have no symptoms and have been shuttered at home for most of the last few months–but it’s strange to know that that’s the precaution they need to take. I’ve been taking it seriously the whole time, but it kind of drives it home.

The test itself was one of the most physically uncomfortable things I’ve ever experienced. They shove that swab so, so far up your nose, and they have to do it in both nostrils. It made my eyes water. Like, avoiding that test ought to be incentive enough to just deal with the social distancing for a little while until we get a vaccine or something figured out. You don’t want it, believe me, and that’s not even considering how uncomfortable and difficult the virus itself can be.

It was also my birthday weekend!

My birthday falls on Father’s Day every few years, and figures that it did this year, the first Father’s Day since my dad died. So there’s that, the pandemic, and being very pregnant. My appetite has been weird–mostly nonexistent–and I don’t feel comfortable going out, so my mom offered to make a birthday dinner of whatever I wanted. Naturally, I opted for one of my grandma’s recipes. My first choice was cottage cheese and dumplings, but somehow, neither my mom nor Aunt Gina has the recipe. So I went for my second choice, her rigatoni, and she threw in a batch of potato salad, too. Because my brother and I managed to both marry people who do not like pasta, she planned out a whole meal–she made Grandma’s stuffed peppers, too, plus good, old-fashioned mashed potatoes and corn, plus Grandma’s Jell-O dessert. Paul made a cherry cake with lemon frosting that morning, and the two of us and Brandon, Kelly, and Eliana headed over to my mom’s Saturday afternoon (a day early) for a nice homemade dinner and cake. It was a nice, low-key birthday, and I found it to be really nice.

Paul and I ran a very brief errand on my actual birthday. My original due date was July 3, so the big question was whether the baby would be here for the 4th, but now I’m being induced a week early. So I’d seen a “my first 4th” onesie on clearance on Old Navy’s website and decided to order it and pick it up. And then we decided to go home and order pizza. So my actual birthday was that plus two or three naps, and Paul got me a really pretty jewelry set. I think my birthday actually distracted from Father’s Day, as opposed to being the weird day I thought it would be.

We’re still working on last-minute projects to get the house ready for the baby, of course. We cleaned a lot of junk lying around our bedroom, and I’m still gradually sorting through shower gifts and getting the nursery settled. I’m starting to get a little nervous, but then I’ll do something struggle to get out of bed to pee for the fourth time in the middle of the night and I feel very, very ready. I have an appointment Wednesday morning, and I’m supposed to report to the hospital Thursday night. So the next time I pop over here, I’ll have a kid. Weird.

Saturday 9: Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast

… Because it’s Father’s Day weekend.
Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) This song is about a little girl who runs after her daddy. When is the last time you ran? Were you trying to get somewhere in a hurry, or playing a sport? Oof. I’m nine months pregnant, so first of all, I definitely haven’t run in that span of time. Second, I hate running and am unlikely to do it even in a hurry, so who knows?

2) This song was a top ten hit for Wayne Newton. Mr. Newton is better known for his TV work, having made more than 150 appearances since 1963. Have you ever been on TV? Or in a YouTube video? Yeah, I was on the local news the Christmas Tickle Me Elmo was a thing, so I was probably about seven years old. My dad and I were going to see a local production of A Christmas Carol, and I was all dressed up, probably thanks to my mom. The local news was there holding a giveaway for a Tickle Me Elmo, and they had people, like, standing behind a table looking pretty as part of the broadcast. We walked in the lobby and a cameraman or somebody pointed to me and said he wanted me in it. I’m also technically in one or two live music videos shot at concerts I’ve been to, but I’m hard to spot. You can see my brother right next to me, though.

3) The road leading to Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport is named Wayne Newton Blvd. in his honor. When is the last time you were at an airport? Were you flying somewhere, picking someone up, or dropping them off? That’s been a while, too. I was definitely either picking up or dropping off–I think picking up my brother-in-law when he was coming home from something with the Marines a few years ago.

4) Wayne says Elvis Presley haunts Las Vegas, and believes that The King of Rock and Roll has given him performing and parenting tips from beyond the grave. When did you last see Elvis? On TV, on a t-shirt, poster or magazine cover, or as a ghostly apparition? Probably on TV or online.

5) When Sam walks with her own dad, the problem isn’t that he walks fast. It’s that he’s always stopping to pick up litter he finds on the grass. Litterbugs are his pet peeve. What’s your pet peeve? That’s a good pet peeve to have, and I share it. My current one is people questioning the seriousness of coronavirus.

6) Sam’s own father often traveled for business, and always gave her the complimentary soaps, shampoos or body lotion he got from the hotel. When she went away to college, she used her collection of little bottles and was grateful for all the money they saved her. What’s something you’ve done recently to economize? I do that, too. One of the things I’ve done throughout my pregnancy is any ads or offers for coupons or samples, as long as I don’t have to pay anything other than shipping, I’ve signed up for. I have a nice stash of different brands of diapers, formula if I need it, and bath products.

7) It was her father who taught Sam to drive. Are you a better student or teacher? Probably student, but anytime I’ve had to teach someone something, I have had success.

8) Sam’s father also always asks if her car in “tip top” condition. Most recently he reminded her to test her headlights, tail lights and turn signals while the car is parked to make sure they’re all working. Do you have a car maintenance tip to share? Nope, I’m terrible at it.

9) Sam’s father satisfies his afternoon sugar craving with an almost endless stream of Butter Rum Lifesavers. Do you usually enjoy a between meal snack? Usually, yes, but strangely, pregnancy–especially this late in the game–has kind of killed my appetite. I’m either not eating an actual meal and snacking a little bit here and there or eating a meal or two and maybe having a snack before bed and that’s it.

Friday 5: Under Lock & Key

  1. What’s your mask situation like? So being pregnant, I was advised to stay put as much as possible and not go anywhere for anything, and since I work from home and have a husband to take care of things, that was pretty easy. I didn’t have a mask for weeks, and my husband was using a homemade one from a t-shirt. At some point, I did see my mom, and she had bought some of the paper ones last year before my dad died from cancer and gave me a couple on a few different occasions, which generally got me through doctors appointments. I had ordered a couple online, and they only just came in in the last week or so. They’re plain grey but good quality. I like it, as much as one can like a mask they dislike wearing.
  2. In what way is your life better today than a few months ago? I guess that because Pennsylvania has done a good job of keeping things under control, we’re in a phase of gradual reopening. I’m still really skeptical of it–I think we’re all still moving too fast–and so I’m still avoiding going out and wearing a mask when I do.
  3. What do you miss from normal living? Just being able to go out and do something. Like, we went to Target last weekend to fill the gaps in the baby needs and use a 15% in-store coupon, and we made sure we had our masks and sanitized our hands and mostly went in with a plan and stuck to it. Under normal circumstances, I probably would’ve gone shopping with my mom more than once by now, and after that Target run, we probably would’ve gone out to eat somewhere. I miss browsing stores. I miss not having to feel like I’m relying on the rest of the population to do the bare minimum, especially as a pregnant woman who’s considered at higher risk. And concerts! But at this point in my pregnancy, I wasn’t gonna be going anyway. I choose to believe the universe is doing me a solid on that front, canceling everything I would’ve missed out on.
  4. When this is over, what will be your major takeaway? That this country has a lot of problems we need to solve, from smaller-scale cultural issues like a bizarre distrust in science and the media to bigger issues of how to handle something like this properly from both public health and economic standpoints. That only some of us are listening.
  5. What are your feelings about getting back out there sooner, rather than later? I think based on my previous answers it’s pretty clear I think it’s a bad idea. I think we were presented with two options–reopen or stay shut down and let the economy crash–when in reality, plenty of people had other smart, viable ideas that would’ve allowed us to stay safe without us all going broke, too. I think we’re gonna see a spike in cases in areas where we haven’t already. I think it’s irresponsible and selfish, in some cases. Naive, even, especially since there’s a lot we don’t know about it. Why would we take our chances with that?

I do want to add one thing–because I’m pregnant and being induced in less than a week, I had to get tested for the virus as a precaution, and that was one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve ever experienced. Some people’s accounts of actually having it are worse, of course, but just the test was extremely unpleasant and nothing most of us would want to experience. If nothing else, take the recommended precautions to save yourself that discomfort.

From Friday 5.

 

In the aftermath of the baby shower, the house looks like a disaster. It’s mostly because so I can keep track of things for thank-you notes, I left all the gifts in their bags and we kind of plopped it all in the living and side room and as I write out a thank-you, I go through everything and put it in the nursery. It tends to involve cutting lots of tags off of baby clothes and piling anything washable in a hamper to wash before he gets here.

Which will be next week!

Despite a due date of July 3, I will be 39 weeks as of next week, and studies have shown there are benefits to inducing then, like a decreased risk in various complications. That information paired with my discomfort–the worst of which is pain through my lower stomach and groin when I walk and roll over in bed–led me to say let’s go ahead and do it. So we’ll head into the hospital next Thursday night and unless he really decides to be a pain, we’ll have a baby by Friday, maybe be home by the end of the weekend. I have one last appointment Wednesday to see how things are going, and I also have to get tested for coronavirus as a precaution, which I’m hoping to squeeze in tomorrow right after work. I’m almost more anxious about that than childbirth. At least I’ve had nine months to mentally prepare for childbirth. I’ve only had a few days to come to terms with a big Q-tip poking my brain.

So as part of baby prep, I wanted some more boxes to help organize our clothes. Our bedroom is a disaster–and small–so my original plan was to put him straight in the nursery, but I’m second-guessing that and would feel better having him closer, even in such a small house. So I ordered what I wanted online for pickup, which based on the line outside the store was brilliant. Plus we dropped off tons of recycling that had piled up in the midst of the COVID lockdown, so it was a productive trip. We went home for a little bit then headed back out for a brief Target run to use my 15% registry coupon on a few things we didn’t get at the shower, but I mean really a few. I wasn’t expecting so many of the big things we needed to get covered, so all we really needed was, like, crib sheets, baby laundry detergent, and a few other things. I’d also used a second website for my registry that gave me 15% plus a $10 credit, and I took advantage of that one to get the baby monitor I want. Frankly, I didn’t expect anyone to buy that one. It would’ve been awesome, but I didn’t expect it.

This weekend is gonna be a weird one–it’s the first Father’s Day without my dad, which also happens to fall on my birthday, and being induced means it’s also our last weekend before the baby comes, and it’s still during a pandemic, no matter how the country is behaving. I don’t want to go out for various reasons, which include a reduced appetite thanks to a baby taking up most of my internal space, so my mom offered to make me something. I opted for either my grandma’s rigatoni or cottage cheese and dumplings and maybe a small ice-cream cake, so it’s looking like that’ll be my Saturday!