Monday, February 25, 2008

I Can See Clearly Now, the Rain Has Gone

February, the F month, so full of days of rain and trouble. This was going to be a gloomy post about trips to the pulminologist for Little A, of new medications we are trying, and my freak out over her asthma being described as brittle by the doctor. I was going to wallow in my fears about the upcoming sweat test that will determine if Little A has cystic fibrosis rather than asthma. Also on the menu: bitching about how Little A's milestones are now delayed. She was almost walking before Christmas, but since then regressed back to crawling. And she fell so many percentiles on the weight charts that during the last hospitalization, the nutritionist came by to give me pointers on how to feed a baby. I could have died. Or killed someone. Or died while killing someone. Picture earnest hospital lady saying, "You should offer her food often -- every two hours, even," as I bared my teeth in a fake smile and tried to stop myself from snotting, "But I usually put out kibble for her once a day -- is that not ok?"

But, right now I feel so happy. All that trouble can wait until another day. Little A started walking this weekend!

We've been trying to get her to walk with us for many months as practice for some solo steps, but she hated toddling along with her parents hanging on to her hands. She voted with her butt -- slamming it down on the floor each time we pulled her up. The more we tried, the more irritated she got.

The rain has been constant, and the kids home a lot due to sick babysitters and holidays. So on Friday I allowed Big A to bring her tricycle inside the house. She can ride a circular route through the whole main level and loves it. It turned out Little A is also in love with the tricycle, though far too little for her legs to reach the pedals. So, she would grab on the back of the trike and stumble along behind as her big sister looped the house. After a few days of holding on to the back of the tricycle, Little A suddenly took off without it.

She's super clumsy, having not figured out how to use her knees yet. Very Frankensteinesque. It's the most beautiful thing I've seen in a long time.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Violets are Blue

I met DH when we were sixteen years old and in a driver's education class we took during one boggy, glorious, mosquito-filled summer in Upstate New York. Given the on again, off again nature of the relationship during our teen and college years, I don't remember our first date. I don't recall ever having a song we called our own, either. But I do remember the first flowers DH ever gave me: blue violets picked from the edge of sidewalks on the way to high school. We were both self conscious and tried to play it off as no big deal. But it gave me such a thrill to get them.

Life is so different today, with twenty years and three thousand miles of distance between now and then. We would be unrecognizeable to our sixteen-year-old selves. But when DH brings me flowers, and it still gives me a thrill.

Happy Valentine's Day, sweetie.

If your first love gave you a flower, do you still remember what it was?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Uh No, I Don't Do That

Normally I don't talk about work here due to a healthy fear of being dooced. But four different conversations this week involving the "What Do You Do?" question have got me thinking. Describing my work to people I've just met inevitably leads to misunderstandings.

If I just say "I'm an editor," most assume I mean a copy editor -- a professional grammar cop who ferrets out spelling and syntax mistakes. Anyone who reads this blog can guess that is NOT my area of expertise. In fact, (SHHH, don't tell anyone who hires me) but I'm just a wee bit dyslexic. To occasionally spot a howler of a mistake in a manuscript is indeed possible for me, but being a stellar copy editor under the circumstances? That would be like putting a color-blind guy in charge of picking all the tints for Revlon's lipstick division. Not a pretty thing.

But, I must fit the nerdy, persnickety personality profile of a copy editor, so this is the conclusion most people draw. To dissuade people from this assumption I started saying, "I'm a book editor."

But "book editor" also carries heavy assumptions. Many automatically think I work on fiction. Not just any fiction -- best-selling stuff. The excitement and interest that warms people's voices when I say "book editor" flatters me, so sometimes I don't elaborate further, but look away and blush with equivocation. (Hey, I'm human and I need to be loooved. Just like everybody else does.)

Except sometimes people sound too excited about my job. Then I must hasten to add, "I work on nonfiction" as I back away slowly. Otherwise someone whips out a 1,000-page manuscript written in a sestina verse variant that retells the story of Moby Dick from the whale's perspective. And that person will always expect me to take their manuscript home and spend the next six months of leisure time reading and editing it for them (for free, of course) before I short track them through the rest of the publishing process to fame, fortune, and Oprah's book club. There really isn't a nice way to say "Oh hell, NO!" under these circumstances. All you can do is run away and hope the manuscript doesn't give you a concussion if the person throws it as you retreat.

Usually saying "nonfiction editor" stops this process dead. But a small, diligent group of memoir writers still gets too excited at this news, which leads me to add "I work on educational books. You know, for college?"

That ends all conversation. Because apparently university press is like tampax: something a lot of us use and need at one point in life. But not something we want to think about.

Meantime, people STILL have absolutely no idea what it is I actually do to the books I edit. Probably they assume I'm a copy editor.

I really envy DH when people ask him what he does. "I'm an animator" inevitably brings cheers of "Wheee!" from all age groups, no strings.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Rhymes with Bucket

Big A: "Mommy, what rhymes with jacket?"

Wabi: "Well, there's ... bracket. And racket. And ... placket."

Big A: "Mommy, what rhymes with bucket?"


Big A: "Are you ok? Did your coffee go down the wrong throat?"

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Now Repeat After Me: "I'm So Sorry for Your Loss." Great! Now STOP TALKING ...

Just a quick note to say I have eluded the stomach flu thus far! Alas, poor DH fell ill yesterday. Here's hoping my good luck sticks ...

I was reading Ann's recent posts (Raw, and Raw Part 2) over at The Unlucky Twenty Percent She reminds me so vividly of the conundrum of early pregnancy after loss. I didn't have a blog when I was fresh in my grief and newly pregnant with Little A. But most of what I would have written about back then is stuff she talks about now. Ann's description of certain health care professionals who are inappropriately gushy over a new pregnancy announcement on the heels of a loss? Boy, I remember that.

Thankfully many things change over time. The blast crater left in my life by pregnancy woes has been camouflaged by the new things (children, work, holidays, home renovations, vacations, etc.). Most of the time others don't sense that anything catastrophic happened to me and my family in the not-too-distant past anymore. I actually take solace in that. We're different, but still chugging along the best we can these days.

Yet the one place where my loss still always seems like a huge, ugly tattoo remains the doctor office. For instance, I went to my primary care doctor this January. I wanted a prescription for antibiotics to clear up a month-long sinus infection. But I haven't seen my PCP in about 18 months, since before that I'd been under the OB's care. Understandably, my PCP needed to update my chart. "Gee, what have you been up to since 2006?" she asked. "Any changes in your life that relate to your health?"

And so it begins. Mind you, I'm there for my nose. Or other times, I might be in a physician's office on behalf of my kid's wheezy lungs. Yet my damaged uterus keeps butting her scarred little self into the conversation. It always goes the same way during medical history:

Well ... not quite a normal delivery.

Not during VBAC. I'd never had a c section before Little A. The rupture was spontaneous and preterm.

No hysterectomy, but no more pregnancies allowed, either.

Yeah, they say it's a great outcome given what usually happens.

Actually it was a perforation scar that ruptured. A prior surgical complication.

A D&E.

Yeah, second trimester. Due to trisomy 18.

The surreal thing? I find doctors don't react in caring-empathetic mode. I can't remember the last time someone said, "Oh, that sounds dreadful," or "Sorry for your loss." Instead doctors (and some nurses, but especially doctors) eat this stuff up with a spoon. They are obviously excited to hear about what happened to me and Little A and tend to linger and ask detailed questions. Which might reap benefits, IF they were staying to talk about the sinus infection or lung problem at hand. But Little A and I get the standard 90 seconds of conversation on that, and then doctors want to talk about the crazy medical history that is completely unrelated to our chief complaint of the day. We are obviously the caliente in their otherwise lukewarm medical-history-taking day.

Maybe I'm putting out an "I'm ok" vibe by not choking up or crying myself, and that's why I get the borderline gleeful reaction? Perhaps they are all unfeeling dolts? Something else?

I don't even know how I'd like doctors to react to the news. But having to swallow to keep from salivating all over the chart is quite creepy.

Monday, February 4, 2008

And Then There Were Two ...

Hip, hip, horray! Little A's stomach flu played nice and didn't wake us up in the middle of the night and concluded without much fanfare today. However, Big A just sat up in bed and started spewing an hour ago. I suspect I may not get off mop free tonight.

I'm feeling a little off in the stomach dept. myself. But I can't tell if that's because cleaning up someone else's vomit (in the bedroom, in the hallway, and in the bathroom) is stomach churning, or because I am hatching the bug myself. But I have a feeling I'll know for sure before too much longer.

Meantime, I'm madly trying to get some work done before I either get too tired to read anything else or start throwing up.

Bets, anyone?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Home Again

The good news: We got home Wednesday night. Plus Little A saw a pulminologist this week who put her on new meds. Eight days after initially getting sick, Little A's lungs sound pretty darn good. Today was the first time Dh and I haven't had to do albuterol treatments for breakthrough wheezing. There will be more tests and monkeying around with her medications in the future, but for now, I'm just thankful she isn't fighting for every breath anymore.

But perhaps the world has decided it will spin off its axis if we have a completely normal weekend? Because around 4 p.m. this Sunday Little A started throwing up. We've spent the rest of the day and night dealing with a baby with the stomach flu. FABULOUS.

After feeling unhinged about this development for an hour or so, I've calmed down and decided that this is not something to flip out about. No fever so far, and more Pedialyte is going in than comes out during the GI episodes. These are all signs that it's just a mild bug. Plus, the mommy vibes? Not an ominous tingle from them so far. I'm going to trust in the signs that the imminent dangers are low for this. The rest is just mess, and that I can definitely handle.

Keep your fingers crossed for us getting through the night without changing the crib sheets and cleaning the baby up multiple times!