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Jan. 11th, 2010

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Movin' On Up - or, The Power of Radio

Once again, I'm moving my blog. Herb and I were listening to the radio the other day and the host was touting Blogger as a way to make a few bucks from your blog. Well, since I am starting to chafe a bit at being a "kept woman", I figured I'd give it a shot. So from here on out, you can follow my motherhood blog at http://sandysmotherhoodblog.blogspot.com/ and I will also be posting updates on Facebook for any of my Facebook friends.

Hope to see you at my new blog site - and don't be shy about commenting on the layout of the new site as well as the blog itself. All input and critiques are welcomed!

Jan. 9th, 2010

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Better Living Through Chemistry

Let me preface this by admitting that I am a complete doctor-phobe, and an absolute dentist-phobe. Well, that's not exactly true. I'm not afraid of the dentist, at least not MY dentist. Dr. Berik is as sweet and reassuring and UNscary as it is possible for a human being to be. (She's blond and adorable and five foot nothing - how intimidating could she possibly be?) What I am scared of, I suppose, is dentistry itself. It's that bright light in your face that evokes a prisoner in a bare room being interrogated by a cigarette smoking man with an eyepatch and an eastern European accent. It's the tray of unidentifiable sharp instruments that sits at your right hand while you wait for the hygienist, taunting you like an image from a childhood nightmare. It's the feeling of complete and utter helplessness you get when you're lying in the chair like a tortoise trapped on his back, your mouth pinned open, like an animal pinned to a tray waiting to be dissected in some monstrous experiment. In other words, I'm not fond of the whole dental experience.

I am so not fond of it that I completely avoided it for fifteen years. No, that is not an exaggeration. I had not darkened the door of a dentist's office since somewhere around 1994. But after losing a filling a few years ago and then losing a small piece of tooth a few months ago, Herb finally convinced me that it was time. He eased me into it by letting me meet his dentist when he needed an emergency root canal a few months back, and then forced the issue by simply scheduling me for a cleaning the next time he scheduled his own. His appointment was a few minutes ahead of mine, and apparently he used those minutes to "spread the word" because every staff member I met introduced themselves by saying they understood I didn't like dentists and reassuring me that the process would be as quick and painless as possible.

I wouldn't say it was entirely painless, but it certainly was quicker than I expected. Dental technology had advanced by light years since my last visit. Gone was the trauma-inducing whine of the dental drill. Gone was the giant x-ray bite-plate stuffed in your mouth like a gag. Gone was the interminable wait for the for the x-rays to be developed. In the place of these dinosaurs was a high-quality stereo system playing soothing (but not cheesy) music, tiny bite-plates designed to fit an actual human mouth, and an almost instantaneous computer read-out. Even my cleaning seemed to be faster and more efficient than I remembered from years ago. But all those reassurances flew out the window when the dentist examined my teeth and uttered those two dreaded words: root canal.

Oh, the horror! I had never even had a shot of Novocaine before! (Despite having a handful of fillings, a fact which now occurs to me may have something to do with my fear of dental work.) Fortunately, those two dreadful words were followed by two others that sounded to me as if they had been uttered by angels: sedation dentistry. For a small additional fee, the dentist would slip a pill under my tongue and keep a mask on my face throughout the procedure, assuring that I would both feel no pain and have no memory of the ordeal. I brightened up for a moment, then blanched at the lack of smallness (in my opinion) of said fee. But Herb reminded me that I would have spent much more than that amount had I been seeing a dentist regularly for the past 15 years. So I took a deep breath and made the appointment.

I woke up that morning with a slightly sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I kept reminding myself that it would all be over in a few hours, that any slight pain I would experience was nothing compared to the agony I would likely endure if I left the tooth untreated. I gave Ryan an even tighter squeeze than usual as I handed him off to daddy and went to get dressed myself. And I held tightly to Herb's hand as we walked toward the office, feeling as if I were walking to my own execution. I could practically hear the drums tolling in the background, and I imagined I could see the shadow of a hulking, hooded executioner brandishing his axe as we entered the building.

When we reached the office, I hung up my coat, kissed my boys goodbye, and walked bravely to my doom. Er, that is, I followed the technician into the pleasant little office. The dentist came in, ground up a pill and slipped it under my tongue, a few minutes later the assistant placed a mask on my face, and the next thing I remember is waking up on my own couch. It was like magic! Alchemy! Time travel! I didn't care if I'd been mind-wiped by an alien, I had somehow just skipped over a traumatic event as if it had never even happened. One tiny pill and a liter or two of gas and my terrors were erased.

What an amazing world we live in! One hundred years ago, the best anesthetic I could have hoped for would be chloroform or ether. Two hundred years ago, a strong slug of whiskey. Three hundred years ago, an old rag to bite down on. But today, thanks to the wonders of chemistry, the pain never even existed in my world. To quote Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls, "Ahhhhhh, chemistry." Better living through it, indeed.

Jan. 7th, 2010

engagement

A dubious anniversary

One year ago today, my boss called me into his office. I walked in to see him standing next to the HR Director with a very somber look on his face, and I thought, "Uh-oh." An hour later, I was standing in the parking lot with no job and 11 years' worth of coffee mugs and desk toys in a cardboard box. I sat in my car and cried for half an hour before I composed myself enough to drive to the hospital to pick up my mom. I managed to hold it together till the end of the day when Herb came home from work, at which time I fell into his arms, sobbing as if it were the end of the world (which, at the time, I was convinced it was).

Fast-forward to one year later, and here I am with my beloved baby in my arms, happily doing the most wonderful job I could ever have imagined having. It wasn't an easy road getting here, and I still have moments of sheer panic at the thought of not having an income of my own (the first time in my life since I was 14 years old!), but I wouldn't give it up for the world. What business deal could be more satisfying than seeing your baby's first smile? What paycheck could be more rewarding than having a soft, sweet-smelling little bundle nuzzling into your neck? What job title could be more validating than the title of "Mom"?

I am so grateful to my wonderful husband for supporting me as a stay at home mom, both financially and emotionally. It wasn't easy for him to leave for work his first day back after Ryan was born, and he often jokes that he looks forward to being a "kept man" once my book is published and hits the best-seller lists. I wish there were a way we could both stay home, or even take turns going to work so he could spend more time at home with Ryan. But we are fortunate that he can do a lot of work from home, and his hours are flexible enough that he is able to spend a few hours alone with Ryan each morning before he goes to work. That gives him some quality daddy time and it gives me a few more hours of uninterrupted sleep. I'm so appreciative of having a partner who is so involved with (and both experienced and skilled at!) parenting. It's not a job for the faint of heart, and taking it on as a team makes it much more rewarding for both of us.


Our happy little family

Jan. 6th, 2010

engagement

Baby emotions

One of the scariest things that a new mom has to do is to watch her baby get his first shots. I'm pretty fortunate that Ryan is such a big, sturdy baby, so it's a lot less scary than if he were a wee little 6-pound peanut. But I still hate to see him cry. Herb laughs at me because I can't wait two minutes to see if Ryan will settle himself down when he starts crying. Even if I know he has a clean diaper and a full tummy, I can't stand seeing him miserable even for a moment if there's anything I can do to help. And often, just my holding him will calm him down. So knowing that someone was going to hurt my baby, even if it was for a good reason and just for a moment, was difficult. But I was very proud of both of us: Ryan hardly cried at all and I didn't cry a bit!

I did get to make up for it, though, since Ryan was very fussy for the rest of the day which gave me a good excuse to snuggle him all day long. But I'm not sure how much of it was genuinely a side effect of the vaccinations, because Ryan's newest trick is intense displeasure with the transition from waking to sleeping and vice versa. It's actually kind of funny to watch him fight sleep. Now that he is alert and active, he doesn't want to give up a moment of his waking time - he doesn't want to miss anything! So as he gets sleepy, he gets fussy. He fights sleep with all his might, by squirming, by forcing his eyes open (he sometimes tries to pry them open by raising his eyebrows as high as he can, as if he could pop his eyelids open by sheer force of will), and of course, by screeching. Fortunately, I am getting used to the different sounds of his cries, and I recognize the distinctly disgruntled protest cry, as opposed to the whiny genuine misery cry or the squeaky exhausted cry, and I find the former much easier to ignore for a few moments. I know he's fine; he's just miffed. And he does the same thing in reverse. When he wakes up, he acts like he has no idea where he is and mews piteously for a few minutes until he apparently realizes he's in familiar territory and everything is once again right with the world. It's like he's thinking, "EEEEEEEE, I don't know where I am! I've been kidnapped! I've been abducted by aliens! Call the FBI! Call the CIA! Call the - oh wait, that's my mom. I know her. OK, never mind."

I would love to know what's going through his head sometimes. Particularly when he sleeps. The progession of emotions and expressions that pass across his face are priceless.




He furrows his brow, he grins, he pops an eyebrow, he purses his lips, he wrinkles his pert little button nose. For someone who has yet to master the use of language, he manages to express himself quite eloquently. I may not know specifically what he's thinking about, but I certainly know whether it meets with his approval or not. Smiles, scowls, and smirks float across his face in rapid succession. Herb and I often sit and watch him for minutes at a time. OK, who am I kidding, I can literally watch him for an hour or more. I tickle his cheeks and chin hoping for a glimpse of that adorable smile, and am often rewarded with a face-splitting grin. Even better is when we stare at each other intensely for a few moments, and then without any provocation, he breaks into a wide smile. "Hey, you're my mom!" It warms my heart.

Jan. 3rd, 2010

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The World's Biggest Baby

Ryan weighed in at a solid 9 pounds, 4.7 ounces at birth. We both struggled with getting the hang of nursing over that first week, with the frightening (to me, at least) result that his weight dropped down to 8 pounds, 1 ounce before we decided it was time to supplement with a bottle. Once we did that, however, he started eating like a champ, and once we got going on nursing as well, he started packing on the pounds! At his 5-week appointment, he clocked in at a whopping 14 pounds, one ounce -- he'd added on more than a pound a week for those 4 weeks! But he was also adding height: after starting at 22 inches at birth, he was up to 24-1/4 inches at 5 weeks. That put him in the 100th percentile for weight and the 99th for height for his age group.

Fast forward to eight weeks of age, and Herb and I were placing bets on his current weight. I guessed it was between 17 and 18 pounds, but Herb was convinced that if he wasn't at 20 pounds, he would be by his two-month appointment the following week. Not being a patient person, I decided to get an early estimate by weighing myself alone then weighing myself holding Ryan. Well, don't you know he was tipping the scales at exactly 20 pounds! Not exactly a scientific measurement, but enough to retain his famiy title of "World's Biggest Baby". Also enough, once I proudly announced the news on Facebook, to elicit remarks from friends, like, "What are you feeding him, steak?" and "That is one big baby you growed!" and "Toting him around is like lifting a big bag of sand!" He also occasionally elicits remarks from strangers who ask how old he is and are stunned by the answer. Some women are offended by comments that their baby is big, but I'm proud to have such a strong, healthy baby. After all, he's not fatter than is healthy or normal, or even average. He's just a big, husky, solid little boy!

And another benefit of his size is that he was able to hold his head up very early - an especially impressive accomplishment because he has a big ol' pumpkinhead (it's gotta be big to hold all those brains of his). And although it's probably not related to his size, he was also very quick to start smiling. The first few smiles we got we suspected were just gas pains, but we soon discovered that patting his chubby cheeks or running a finger from the top of his head down his nose would elicit a smile. And it wasn't long before just looking at Mummy or Daddy's face could bring on a big dimpled grin. What an incredible thrill to look into the face of your child and see those big blue eyes focusing on you with great intensity, and then to see that adorable face burst into a grin of recognition and pleasure. "Hey, I know you!" There's no other feeling in the world that's like it.

Jan. 2nd, 2010

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From Bride to Newlywed to Mommy

For quite some time now, I've put this blog on hold and I've been blogging exclusively on the website www.shejustgotmarried.com. I've thoroughly enjoyed being part of the community there, and I plan to continue to be an active blogger on that site. But since my son Ryan was born two months ago, I find my thoughts centered more on being a mom than on being a wife. Don't get me wrong, I'm still conscientious about my marriage, and Herb will always be at the top of my priority list, but I feel like I've gotten the hang of being a wife (for the most part), and that the majority of my "aha!" moments that I like to share in my blog have been related to motherhood instead of newlywed-dom. So I've decided to return to this blog when I have insights to share that are outside the focus of She Just Got Married.

Since this is my first blog since Ryan was born, indulge me as I recall the events leading to his entrance into the world! I had a somewhat difficult pregnancy - he was perfectly healthy all along, but I had to endure 8 full months of 24/7 morning sickness. It wasn't that I was throwing up all the time, but it was a constant low-level nausea that made me want to spend all my time lying on the couch doing nothing (except making the occasional pathetic little moan). The thought of eating turned my stomach even more, and yet I was hungry, even ravenous. More than once, I stood in the middle of the kitchen in tears because I was starved and knew I had to eat something, but there was nothing in the entire house (or possibly the entire world) that I wanted to eat. Thank goodness that at some point I discovered that plain grilled chicken was pretty innocuous, and I lived on that for months, to the point where my mom was concerned that the baby would come out clucking. I ended up gaining only about 20 pounds during the whole pregnancy. And every ounce of it was baby - Herb joked that I never looked pregnant from the back. In fact, he took a photo of me just before we went to the hospital to prove it:


From the side, however, it was quite obvious that I was ready to pop:


I had woken at 2 o'clock that morning when I felt a sharp poke in my lower abdomen, as if the baby had just kicked his toe down low, followed by a bit of cramping. I felt a sudden urge to pee, and almost didn't make it to the bathroom. I had just started to get back in bed when I felt another urgent urge to pee and as I rushed back to the bathroom had the sudden thought, "Wait, I don't think that's pee!" I laid in bed trying to slow down my racing heart and wondering whether I was really in labor, but soon another bout of cramping convinced me I was having contractions. I decided to let Herb sleep for a while, since I knew we'd both be getting very little sleep over the next few days. When he stirred a bit at around 4am, I leaned over and whispered in his ear, "So what do you think about November 2nd for the baby's birthday?" He mumbled something incoherent for a moment before what I'd just said registered, then he jumped out of bed and started to get ready. I laughed and reminded him that the birthing class teacher told us to labor at home for as long as we could, so there was no rush - my contractions were very short, lasting well under a minute, so I figured it would be hours before we needed to leave for the hospital. Over the next hour or so, we got dressed, had breakfast, and double-checked our hospital bags, with me taking periodic breaks to lean on a nearby piece of furniture and mutter, "Wow...oh wow...just, WOW!" as a new contraction hit. The contractions were only a few minutes apart, but still only 30 seconds or less in length, but I decided I was ready to head for the hospital at around 5:30. I had decided early on in my pregnancy that I would like to try to forego an epidural during labor, but if I felt I needed any kind of drugs, I'd take them. Ha! Just before we left for the hospital, I announced to Herb that I would be getting an epidural as soon as we arrived.

The drive through Boston to Mass General was actually beautiful and almost relaxing. It was still dark, the commuter traffic had yet to begin, there was a gloriously bright full moon hanging low in the morning sky, and as we drove along the Charles River the song "Alleluia" came on the radio. I remember shedding a few nervous tears as we neared the hospital, but when that song came on Herb reached over and put his hand on mine and I knew everything would be all right. I was even able to laugh a little when a contraction hit in the middle of the crosswalk in front of the hospital and I stopped to cling to the "Pedestrian Crossing" sign, wondering aloud how many times that signpost had served that same purpose over the years. The check-in and triage process was a bit of a blur, but I do recall the nurses remarking how impressed they were that I had reached 5 centimeters dilated and 80 percent effaced at home. I reminded them that they had said to labor at home as long as possible, and I was just doing what I'd been told! In just a few minutes they had me settled in a labor room and the anesthesiologist was setting me up for the epidural. Once that was in place I was much more comfortable.

But then I hit a bit of a wrinkle - my blood pressure went up and I developed pre-eclampsia, so the doctor put me on a magnesium drip. The initial effect is flushing and hot flashes (one of the nurses whispered to me that the Hispanic patients refer to magnesium as "La Medicina Caliente" - the hot medicine), and boy did it feel like someone had turned up the heat for a while! But that effect was short-lived, and before I knew it the nurse told me I could push any time I was ready. I figured I'd be there for hours yet!

So, with Herb on one side of me and a nurse on the other, I began pushing - and since I couldn't feel a thing because of the epidural, I kept pushing harder and harder, thinking I wasn't doing anything at all. The nurses cheered me on, telling me what a good pusher I was. I'm sure they say that to everyone, but I must have been doing something right because after only about 6 pushes, out popped my beautiful, 9 pound 4.7 ounce baby boy! His size was a surprise to everyone in the delivery room, especially me. The doctor had warned me that because of the magnesium they couldn't put the baby on my chest right away, but that they would have to check him out first, so I watched as the pediatrician went through the checklist: "Two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, one mouth (no cleft), five fingers, five fingers, five toes, five toes, one navel..." etc. etc. Midway through the checklist I heard the doctors working on me ask for a 3-0 silk and I was again thankful for the epidural as I realized they must be stitching up a tear in a very delicate place - and I was even more thankful to be focused on my beautiful son on the far side of the room! A few minutes later and they brought him back to me so I could hold him for the first time. I was so astounded looking at this tiny, perfect person who had grown inside my body for nine months who was finally here, nuzzling against me. What an amazing feeling.

Apr. 3rd, 2009

engagement

I'm moving!

I've been invited to blog on a website called www.shejustgotmarried.com - click on the link below to follow my blog at its new location! My blog is called "An Older Bride" and I'm listed as Sandy Philpott under the list of bloggers. I hope you like the new site!

Follow Me On SheJustGotMarried.com

Mar. 31st, 2009

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Couples friends

Until I got married, I'd never really been exposed to the phenomenon of "couples friends". You have the kind of friends where the guys are buddies and the wives look for things in common, or the women are BFFs and the guys talk sports for lack of anything else to talk about. Or even the kind of friends where everyone gets along but one gender or the other has a long, close history while the others are just getting to know each other. But couples friends are the kind of people where the two men are genuinely friends, and the two women are genuinely friends, and the opposite genders all genuinely like each other. Those kinds of friends are priceless.
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Mar. 30th, 2009

Ocho Rios Kiss

I'll always love you...even when I don't like you very much

Before we got married, Herb and I had a lot of discussions about marriage: its ups and downs and how we would get through them, what makes a marriage work or not, the difficulties we might encounter over time. Our courtship was both short and unusually smooth, so we were both well aware that we hadn't ever had to deal with serious conflicts. We wanted to be sure we talked about how we would handle problems when (not if) they arose. One of the things I said to him at the time was that I had no doubt there would be times when I didn't like him very much (and vice versa), but that I would always love him.
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Mar. 18th, 2009

Reception Kiss

It's the little things, part 2

Don't get me wrong, I love grand gestures and blatant, unsubtle declarations of love. I'm a sucker for a nicely wrapped present, for an elegant evening out on the town, for anything sparkly, and most of all for hearing the words, "I love you". But it's those subtle, unannounced, unexpected, barely noticed little touches that send shivers up my spine and bring tears to my eyes. For example, this morning when I went to put away a stack of laundry Herb had brought upstairs and there, on the top of the pile of carefully trifolded shirts and paired and rolled socks, was a neatly FOLDED stack of my unmentionables.
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