a ridiculously long post for a ridiculously cool guy

I was 21 the first time Josh knocked me up. Being 21, and being just smart enough to realize that maybe having a baby with a guy who I had lukewarm-at-best feelings about probably wasn't the hottest idea, I terminated the pregnancy.

Three months later I was 22 and things were much better with Josh and I and we decided to give the whole sex thing another go. Armed with more birth-control than you would find at a Planned Parenthood, we jumped back in. On attempt #3, I got pregnant. Again.

Enter B.

42 weeks after attempt #3 I was still pregnant and severely unhappy about it. They tell you the human gestation period lasts 40 weeks. They lie. 42 weeks later I was still pregnant with a very large child and ready to die. You see, when I got pregnant I weighed all of 98 glorious pounds, most of which were in my boobies. By 3 months, I could barely squeeze into size 16 pants. By 42 weeks, I weighed all of 198 pounds. You do the math.

I went to my midwife on April 13th and with tears in my eyes, I begged her to get this kid out. The only shoes I could wear were Josh's Teva's and we had just come off a blizzard and my feet were COLD. I couldn't shave my legs. I couldn't sit in normal chairs. My back felt like it had knives in it. I had MORE than doubled my body weight. I was all done.

She told me the baby would come when the baby came.

Josh asked to talk to someone else and that someone else very reluctantly scheduled me an induction that night.

The thing with inductions is that if it's not an emergency, you have to call and wait for them to squeeze you in somewhere. Clearly, every other baby in Denver proper wanted to be born on April 13th and they were full. I called ever hour, on the hour, for many, many hours and at midnight I gave up. They just couldn't get me in.

I cried myself to sleep.

15 minutes after I fell asleep, I woke up. Something was happening. Something so incredibly more painful than I was ever prepared for was happening and it was happening fast. I woke Josh up and he didn't believe me and as he went back to sleep, I went to the couch.

By 3:30 in the morning, we were at the hospital. In retrospect, I had the world's easiest labor. On arriving in the labor room, they pumped me full of 3 IV bags containing fluids and antibiotics and stuff for my heart. I had constant checks from the cardiologist, because, well, they were all still of the opinion that labor was going to kill me. It didn't. It lasted all day. I made it to 8 cm before I got the epidural, and I only got it because I didn't realize I was at 8 cm. I did realize that I couldn't stop throwing up and that I was really tired and that the pain in my back had escalated from unbearable to I-want-to-throw-myself-out-the-window.

Back Labor? You suck.

Let me set up the scene for you: Josh was there, my dad was filming. My mother in law and step mother were my human stirrups. (They each had a leg and some sweet bruises when it was all over). My 4'10" midwife was there. Rose Medical is a teaching hospital, and so there were 2 student nurse/OB thingies in the room. I have the holes in my heart and back then they didn't do natal EKG's, so I had a team of pediatric cardiologists in the room. By team, I mean, like, 10. They were ready. I also had a NICU team ready. There were 5 or so of them. Plus, the normal baby nurses were there with the warmer thingy and the suction bulbs and the blankets and the thing that goes on the baby's toe that blinks or beeps or something.

25 people. Plus me. In ONE small room.

B was born after 40 minutes of pushing; a fat, happy, perfect 7 pound 14 oz baby. I almost tore, and so they cut, and there was stitching to be done and ice chips to be eaten and a few tears to shed. I knew I wouldn't get to hold him right away; he had to get through the cardiologists and the NICU ladies and the nurses and stuff.

After about 10 minutes I started to notice a whole lot of whispering coming from the direction of my new bundle of goo. I called Josh over and all he said was this: "There's something wrong. It's nothing major, but give us a minute."

Boom.

You may as well have told me that all but 2 oceans just disappeared.

Of course, I was full of monitors and placentas and stitches and IV's in my arm and I couldn't get up or go anywhere.

And so I waited. And I waited.

They finally brought the baby to me and as the pulled the blanket up from his legs they said, very timidly, "Um, he was born with this."

This was a perfect little hole in his leg, about 1" long and 1/2" deep. That's kind of big, proportionately. The skin was all pushed up above the hole, meaning that it was obviously a cut and not a genetic mishap. It was bloody and gooey and awful. And no one had any clue where it had come from.

Now, I'm no doctor, but I am pretty sure that I or someone very close to me would have noticed something sharp enough to cut inside my girly-parts at some point in my life. The thing was, he came out with it. It happened while he was still a tenant at Chez Mommy.

The nurses groveled and the doctors pondered and in the end we were all left clueless and they just bandaged it up and that was that. Two days later, a doctor came by and held up one of the monitors that was jammed up in me during labor to his cut. It was a perfect match. They had taken a chunk out of his leg with the monitors they used to make sure he was still alive.

Fair trade off, I'd say.

Two years later, when T was born, they remembered us and the cut and everyone played pass-the-two-year-old-to-see-the-scar.

That scar is the thing B is most proud of. It's his special thing.

Anyway, I said all that to say this:

My dearest B, my first baby, oh my god there are no words. You astound me and thrill me and amaze me with every moment you live. You are, by far, the most individual individual I have ever met. You have this capacity to love that knows no bounds. You are kind and tender and sweet and I sometimes cannot believe you came from little old me. You reshaped my very concept of myself. You test me at every turn. You constantly seek knowledge and understanding. I mean, what kid reads almost only non-fiction? You are a thousand times smarter than me and more wise than me and more beautiful than me and nothing in this whole world could ever take your place in my heart. You were the greatest gift I have ever been given. Period. Nothing of who I am would be here if you weren't. I get lost in you sometimes. I look forward to hearing how you slept and what your plan is for the day. So much of me is wrapped up in you that I find myself having a hard time separating those two things occasionally. Thank you, my little booty munch. Thank you for letting me find out what it is I am here to do. Thank you for your conservative silliness and your kisses that can't be on the lips anymore because, ewww, you are too old for that. I would be lost without you. Scratch that; I would be nothing without you.

I love you so much that I can't even describe the ache. I hope you have the best birthday ever, baby.

All my love, all my life...

Mom

destination turn my hair gray

Tomorrow brings with it the city-wide competitions for Destination Imagination. For those of you who don't know what that is, it's Odyssey of the Mind with a new name. For those of you who don't know what that is, it's a problem-solving challenge that kids join in teams of seven and work for months on before they compete at a city-wide level, with the possibility of advancing to state, nationals, and then world levels. It's a lot of fun and a ton of work.

Kids are given 5 challenges to choose from. This years' included creating a functional aircraft, writing and solving a crime scene using the visible properties of light, researching and delivering and improv skit on 3 of 6 random countries' traditions, building a weight-bearing structure out of only playing cards and glue and the one my kids chose, theater in the round.

The kids are giving a stack of monstrously complicated rules and must follow them all to solve their challenge. They must work alone, without interference from teachers or coaches or what have you. For example, if my kids wanted to build a table, I could teach them how to measure and saw and nail, but I could not teach them how to measure or saw or nail THEIR table, nor could I help them with measurements. Oh, and we have a $125 budget. That included glue and nails and the saw and the nail gun and the wood.

For our challenge, it was my job to teach them the concept of theater in the round, which not one of my 8 year olds have ever seen before, and steer them in the direction their story needed to go without telling them where their story needed to go. They had to come up with a hero who had to overcome a personal challenge and they had to integrate a technical set piece or prop into their story.

This has been grueling. They have worked their little tails of and, actually, they came up with a charming little story and cute props and set pieces. I'll tell you what they did later. The point of this post is that as of yesterday, none of the kids had lines memorized and our technical prop didn't work.

I almost died. I turned into Mr. Grumpy Lady and flat out yelled at them.

It worked.

Today, with less than 24 hours before go-time, my kids pulled it together. They know their lines (and, more importantly, they know the ONE kid who just will not know his lines and they know how to work around his lazy ass) and the have their blocking down and I think they are ready.

With less than 24 hours to go. Talk about cutting it close.

A few years back, one of the teams from our school made it to World. Since then, our school as a whole has taken this thing very seriously. Based on our enrollment numbers, we send more teams to DI than any of the schools in our district. It's hardcore.

So, tomorrow, wish our little team luck. And wish me cocktails. I think I'm going to need them.

Oh, there is one other thing that happens tomorrow. One other very big thing, indeed. But we'll get to that later.

so it goes

Where are all the good men dead? In the heart or in the head?

Evidently both.

So it goes.

I have never finished a Vonnegut book. It's not because they lose me or I don't enjoy them; quite the contrary, actually. I love his books. I love them so much and I get so stuck in them that I can't make it all the way through one.

So it goes.

I remember when I first met the kids' godfather. Our first few days were a flurry of book exchanges. He lent me Lullaby and the first book I lent him was Slaughterhouse Five. My torn-in-half, tattered, duct-taped Slaughterhouse Five.

He gave it back a few days later and bought his own copy. I never asked if he finished it; I hope he did. I'd like to know how it ends.

So it goes.

The Mayor of our fair city was close friends with Vonnegut, and if you ever find yourself in the bar that he owns (or owned, or something) you will see more than a few monstrously large original prints of Vonnegut's hanging on the walls. I think they all just really appreciated in value.

So it goes.

So long, Mr. Vonnegut. You were one of the greats. More than J.D., more than Hunter, maybe even more than Jack, you touched people and changed people and made people think. Thanks for all your amazing work. You were a genius and you will be missed.