Monday, July 20, 2015

The Dichotomies of Parenting

Parenting so far has been an adventure in ups and downs.

Strength and Weakness of Body

My daughter's birth went well. I was healthy throughout pregnancy and she was born with no complications. I'm still amazed at the fact that after she was born - after birthing a freaking child - they gave me ibuprofen, and it was enough to manage the pain. My body makes food for my daughter while I'm busy doing things like taking pictures or cleaning poop off the floor. I was able to function week after week without REM sleep.

That said, the first week was a trip. I don't deal well with lack of sleep, even now that I have a three-month-old. In the first week, I got so dizzy from lack of sleep and weird hours that I nearly fell over several times. It was enough to make me feel nervous about carrying her from room to room; thankfully, Spousal Unit was home during that time as well. I also got a painful infection, and later that month, I was sick enough that I had to get two liters of IV fluid just to keep from being admitted to the hospital. Once I was finally cleared to hold my daughter again (10 hours later felt like forever), I had to do it while wearing gloves and a mask. But my setbacks don't seem to have bothered her much. She's grown steadily; I marvel at her ability to do what seems like little things, like holding a toy and taking note that the stuff on the other side of the window isn't like the stuff inside the house.

Joy and Sorrow at Gaining

I was in the unique position (though probably not as unique as I think) of having to decide, quite actively, whether or not I wanted a child. (Let's not even start on the idea of more than one.) I was torn. Decision made, this naturally leaves me wondering a bit at what life would have been like had I chosen differently. Everything about this new life seems so strange at times; just the phrases "I'm a mother" and "I have a daughter" still have a foreign ring to them. (Luckily, there's Zoloft for that; see "weakness of body" above.)

But I do come back to joy again, especially when every time she wakes up, I get a huge smile and legs that kick in excitement. I remember that she will grow, is growing, and (especially after getting a few hours to remember that I am more than just a parent) I just want to spend all evening holding her and hearing her babble.

I Am a Bad/Good Scientist

I am often mistrustful of my scientific instruments. Last week, I attempted to measure my daughter's length for her three-month records, but ended up not writing it down because some part of me does not believe that she really reaches the number 23 on the yellow tape measure. The numbers are all there in stark black contrast, yet I suddenly disbelieved the tape measure. Perhaps I thought it had skipped a number, or the number order changed in the night. Despite the data, I also sometimes jump to the conclusion that if a mosquito bites her, she is definitely going to get malaria. (She's not.)

Similarly, I have a hard time believing that these two pictures are of the same baby.

Two weeks old

Eleven weeks old

Sometimes I even have a hard time looking at her and remembering that she started out so small - that I grew her. That my romaine lettuce salad turned into a heart, and a can of pineapple involuntarily consumed in one sitting became neurons and synapses firing that would eventually yield a smile.

But I am also reconsidering all the things I once took for granted - rerunning old experiments to be sure I haven't missed anything. Apparently a sweater hanging on a chair is fascinating! Who knew that the cat was such a marvel? Consider the sunlight on wood floor, and the way it contrasts with shadow. I'm documenting everything for future review.

And I find myself running the "boop your nose" experiment over and over again, just to hear her laugh.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015


The beautiful label looked something like this. But more heavenly.

Long ago at work, we received an incredible stash of gifts from our Taiwanese counterparts. They were provided as we began working with them and included several delicious teas and sweets.

But the best thing of all was an abnormally sized jar of honey, gorgeous, tall and made of glass with a beautiful floral label and covered in a swooping, elegant font beyond my capacity for understanding. I didn't dare touch it; from whence had these gifts come? Were they available to all, or meant to be parsed out for those who worked on the Taiwan project? I didn't know and therefore let the shining bottle be, though an angelic choir seemed to ring out whenever I saw it.

At some point after the jar's grand opening, a label was affixed to it. A serious label, made with a label maker and declaring in bold, English capital letters beside the swooping Taiwanese that this was a jar of PUBLIC HONEY. I wondered whether, prior to the label being affixed, this had been a jar of private honey, which conjured up questions I dared not consider in the workplace lest the wrath of HR fall upon me and relinquish me of my job. (I'm an editor; they pay me to look for double entendres so they can be avoided. Stop judging me.) Nonetheless, I decided to merely be grateful for the opportunity to enjoy some tasty foreign bee spit.

It was glorious, a nectar of the gods that somehow missed its flight to Mount Olympus and wound up in the kitchen instead, between a plethora of plasticware and packets of creamer. Peach was not only this honey's flavor and scent - it was the core of its being. Where did the peach stop and the honey begin, or vice versa? There was no dividing line. The smooth texture - nay, lack of texture - blended itself thoroughly with any cup of tea. It transformed bowls of mushy oatmeal into heaven-sent ambrosia.

I am ruined for all other honey.

Unfortunately, being so thoroughly enjoyed as it was, we somehow took its presence for granted and never thought to document that such wonder had once existed in our lives, and we have no images to remind us of yesterday's flavor now that its time has passed. But it lives on in my mind and comes swooping back to memory whenever I taste an inferior blend. You, dear reader, must unfortunately take my word for it: PUBLIC HONEY changed my life for the better, and though it is gone from the jar, it lives on in my mind.

(And cell composition.)

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A Letter to Michael Jordan

*Following is a rather detailed discussion of bacteria and other gross stuff. Finish your breakfast before reading.*

Dear Michael Jordan,

Please be advised that I have within my possession an item that may or may not contain enough of your DNA to clone you. I suggest that you come take it away, because otherwise it may never leave the house.

Back in his wild and carefree teenage years, Spousal Unit's first job was as a country club caddy, and one glorious day, he got to caddy not for you, but for your assistant. You spent several hours gallivanting across the course, whacking some balls and talking about others (of the basket/base persuasion, I'd imagine) while Spousal Unit washed your balls.

He was thrilled, and understandably bragged about it to all his family members upon coming home. (This would have been more impressive to his brother, I imagine, if it hadn't also been his birthday.)

But back to that DNA sample, from which we might be able to engineer a better baseball player. No, Spousal Unit did not surreptitiously sneak the band aid off your finger - that would have been particularly gross and more than a little creepy. But at the end of the course, you gave him your nearly empty Gatorade bottle to throw away.

It's the quenchiest! (Source)

Yes, Spousal Unit kept your backwash-filled Gatorade bottle. He didn't even dump out the liquid (which looks like a biohazard even before adding spit to the mix). And he has kept it for fifteen years. For ten years, I've had to either look at or simply be in the presence of this filthy old bottle contaminated by your lip gunk and sweaty palms.

After the most recent move, I "forgot" to remove it from our battered old car, and it remains on the floor of the back seat along with a frisbee, an ice scraper, and various coinage and dirt. (I considered including a picture, but I don't even want to look at it to aim the camera properly.) However, with an infant soon be added to that mix, I worry that this old bottle will contaminate my child with its fifteen-year-old bacteria just by its mere presence on our property.

I don't blame you in the least for Spousal Unit keeping it, but there remains the fact that despite my repeated begging and disgusted requests, he will neither relinquish it nor dispose of its contents. I'm of the opinion that he's unlikely to do either unless prompted by your holy self. Please have delivered some worthy replacement item that I can at least surreptitiously wash when he's not looking.

Not a germophobe but just rather grossed out,
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