Some (Pregnant) Girls are Bigger Than Others

Ah, pregnancy how I miss you. The panel pants, the bloated feet, the "your baby is the size of a squash-blossom this week," the weird cravings and bladder issues, the exhaustion, the enlarged pregnancy-nose, the insomnia and constipation and inability to have sex anywhere but in dreams. 

Every other night of my pregnancy with Fable I dreamt of bedding Jeremy Piven (it's crazy I do realize but secretly? I kinda find him sexy. My pregnancy with Archer I was having the same kinds of dreams about Bill Maher who I'm also crazy attracted to like whoa. Maybe because they're both cocky assholes and that was always kinda my thing don't yell at me.)

But I digress... each pregnancy is its own unique beast. With Archer it was Bill Maher and Mud Pie, with Fable it was Jeremy Piven and Fish Tacos. 

I was an older, wiser woman my second pregnancy and didn't have to deal with assholes telling me that I was too young to be pregnant and/or "was I planning on marrying the father?" which was nice.  Pregnancies not out of wedlock are far less dramatic then their alternative.

the week before Fable was born, looking surprisingly decent.

But by far the biggest difference between pregnancies was my weight gain and all around appearance. I was a horrific spectacle with Archer towards the end of my first pregnancy, partly  because of my inability to curb my need to devour pie on a daily basis but also because of the Preeclampsia which left me swollen and bedridden for the last six weeks of my pregnancy. No fun that was at all.


After shooting the above clip(s) for Momversation I sorted through some of the video tapes of me at the end of my pregnancy with Archer and happened upon the following footage, shot hours before my induction. (I was induced the day before my due-date because of my severely high blood pressure brought on by hypertension.)

video

I've written a lot about my struggles with Hal and our marriage those first few months. It's not easy to marry in the second trimester of a pregnancy, to get sized for a wedding ring on a swelling finger, to consummate a marriage sober (ha!), to "honeymoon" whilst looking your absolute worst in the history of horrible but watching the above footage of Hal telling me that I was beautiful while in my most horrendous of states was/is enough to make me cry. Because regardless of the shit we were in and would continue to go through our first two years of marriage, this clip (along with the rest of the pre-delivery footage) is proof positive that Hal really, truly loved me. Despite my every flaw and fluctuation.

Either that or he was a fantastic liar. 

GGC

Swing Like a Pendulum


We approach the swings with her on my hip. She's never been in a swing before. Not the park swings, anyway, so I am hesitant. I wiggle her legs through the holes, slowly as not to startle her or make her afraid. When Archer was a baby he hated the swings. He'd make this sound like he was holding his breath and then he'd flap his skinny little arms until I reached for him, rescued him, put him back on his bottom in the sand.

Archer was more cautious when he was Fable's age. He took his time growing up. Fable seems to be in a rush, pulling herself up and face-planting every time she tries to crawl - waving and blowing bubbles, saying "hi" in response to my voice.

Archer was always fashionably late. Fable on the other hand seems to be camped out in front of the dance, the very first in line.

So it wasn't at all surprising to me that when I let go of her, today, she smiled.


And when I pushed her in the swing she laughed. She laughed so hard I thought she'd cry.


And after that - after the initial high-pitched joy waned and wore, she cooed and hummed like she'd been swinging all her life, like the motion was nothing new, old news, my professional glider.


And for the next twenty minutes, back and forth she went, Archer running around the park, every now and then wandering toward the swings to check on his sister. Until he decided he wanted to swing, too. Climbed (with my help) onto the swing beside her and asked me to push him higher, Mommy. No, higher! HIGHER!

Left hand pushing Archer, right hand pushing Fable I stood for a moment, awstruck that: Fucking A, man. This is my life. These are my children and I'm pushing them and they're laughing and smiling and happy and I am responsible for that and holy shit, I'm making these two amazing, beautiful little people laugh, like this is the greatest day of their lives and maybe it is... which... mindblowing to think...

I must never cease pushing them in the swings, I thought. High enough so that they giggle but not too high so that they're safe.


I think, now, about the post I wrote months ago. The one about Archer under the swingset, about life before it gets complicated and I realize that swingsets in sandy parks are to my life as a mother what long drives with a rolled-down window and a pack of cigarettes were to my pre-baby self. Strip away the smokes and the sand and the only difference is wind and whose hair it's tousling.


The wind isn't in my hair anymore. Not in the same way it used to be with the sunroof open and all the windows.

And yet? By watching my children swing back and forth today, their laughter breaking like waves in overlap, I was able to see myself far more clearly than I ever did or could have in the rear-view mirror of my old silver car.


Back and forth,
forward and backward,
again and again,
rock-a-bye babies.

They swing like a pendulum.
And my hair blows fiercer than it ever did before.

GGC

GGC Hangover: Birthday Edition


Oh wait. I have a blog? Oh, yeah. Hi and hello there.

The problem with holiday weekends is that by the time they end? The work week is half over and you're still in your pajamas screaming at California for being an asshole except now your voice hurts and your kids are like "why are you yelling at California" and you're like "AHHHHHHH."

Of course, eventually you must stop screaming and throwing things at walls and make dinner for your starving children and when you finally get them to sleep at 10:30 (which let's be clear is EARLY for our household) you realize, "oh, shit. It's Tuesday night. I haven't blogged in ten years. I should probably write something but OMG I have so much to say and tell and write and show but I'm not really in the mood to do anything but watch The Bachelorette and go OMG! It's Kip from Encinitas! What the Oh-Em-Gee is he doing trying to pretend like he's in love with a stranger omg!!!!?"

So OF COURSE you forgo your plans to stay up all night blogging and writing (and yes there is a difference) so you can watch The Bachelorette on DVR and make sure that Kip gets a rose (phew! That was close!) and when that's finished and everyone including your husband is asleep you can get to those there blogs of yours and write about yourself in the third second person and make very little sense because you're exhausted and very ready for that part-time nanny that starts next week the end.

And by the end, I mean...

Hello. How was your weekend?

Mine? Mine was lovely. We had ourselves a Birthday Party. The finest, most fabulous birthday party in all the land. But I already wrote about it over yonder and my eyes are pretty much closing closed at this point so here are some photos:


More on Archer's most excellent 4th Birthday Party at the uber-fab Naya's Garden, here.

Pass the Aleve and Goodnight.

GGC

"Fore!"

I'm crossing you in style some day.

When you were a newborn baby I sang Moon River to you, strumming on a guitar I never quite learned to play but took lessons on anyway. I'm a horrible student. Always have been. I used to get kicked out of English class for being disagreeable. I have trouble with authority and dress codes and rules and books that dictate to-dos and to-don'ts. I would have dropped out of college had I attended beyond registration day, deferring my admission once, twice, three times a nevermind. But I wanted to learn to play guitar so I bought one and tried to teach myself, failed, then took lessons. I learned how to strum a few Smiths songs and Let it Be but guitar never came naturally to me so I quit, which I have a tendency to do when I find myself unable to do something well within the first five-minutes of trying.

I'm telling you this because of Moon River. Because the first time I sang it to you I realized I had an okay voice. Not that I would ever sing publicly, not in a million years, but to you I could sing. I could sing in a voice that was better than mine. And I would close my eyes and rock you and hear the words and it was like someone else was singing them. Someone who could actually sing a song...

dream maker, you heart breaker,
wherever you're going I'm going your way.

...and suddenly there was no need for a guitar.

It was right then, with you in my arms that I realized I knew every word of every song I ever wanted to sing. I knew the melodies by heart. It was all there and what the hell was I doing not singing? What was I afraid of? Failing? Psh! Lame.

So I sang. I am singing. Because of you.

two drifters off to see the world

When you first became interested in the planets you wanted to know why Saturn had rings. I explained to you that they were made up of tiny particles, like dust bunnies of the universe orbiting Saturn like a ring around the rosy. You fell in love with Saturn after that, explaining to everyone including strangers that Saturn had rings, giant rings...

One night, while trying to explain to you how much I loved you I told you "like Saturn loves his rings," and from them on every night before bed...

I love you like Saturn loves his rings.

One night you beat me to it.

"Mommy?" You said to me as I was turning down the light, turning up the music, "I love you like Saturn loves his rings" and then you asked me to please scratch your back for ten minutes.

You should have asked for an hour.

(I would have scratched your back for two.)

there's such a lot of world to see

When I took all these photos of you playing golf you were wearing jeans against the rules. Neither of us knew it because I know nothing of golf or rules or golf rules and you just wanted to play.

So we ended up both getting into trouble. Me for knowing not the dress code and you for being my son.



"I should have known better. Should have dressed him in slacks."

But now I know so next time I won't get you into trouble. One day you'll either love or hate me for all the times I didn't read the book, didn't take the lesson, refused to go to school.

But to me, getting into trouble is okay. Sometimes the only way to learn.

There is always, no matter what, a next time. So we live and we learn and we hold our clubs and our pencils and our hearts wrong. We wear the wrong clothes and the wrong shoes and choose the wrong answers to the questions we should have studied harder. We try to teach ourselves guitar when, really, it would have been easier just to take lessons.

And so we do.

Or else we don't.

And so we will.

Or else we won't.

There's always next time.

wherever you're going I'm going your way.

According to Wikipedia, the term "fore" when called out during a game of golf means to "look ahead" but I don't know how to do that. I never have. Instead I look at you. I look at your sister, your father, our family and when I'm not doing that I look back upon milestones and moments and memories like one might a collection of porcelain figurines. I turn them all over in my hands, blow the dust off their tails, press my face against the windows of retrospection and exhale. Hard enough so I can trace along the lines of your face in an evaporating cloud of moisture.

That is how this blog started. And when you walk away and into your own story, that is how this blog will someday end.


In the meantime, I search the glass for fingerprints. For you in your Baby Bjorn and bouncy seat and highchair and rocking horse. You in your Halloween costumes and pageboy hats. You when your hair was short and then long. Before your eyes went brown. On your first day of school. Before you found your words. You like a giant redwood tree.

Tomorrow, the 23rd of May, I will count your rings in disbelief.

One. Two. Three. Four.

I love you like Saturn loves his rings.


we're after the same raindbow's end.

I know nothing of golf except that you are beautiful. I knew nothing of love unconditional until the day, four years ago when you clubbed me in the head and stuck a flag in my heart. Pulled back your bow, aimed and struck me square between the eyes.

just around the bend...

Your birth gave me life, a reason for song, the ability to sing.

Happy Fourth Birthday to you. To us.

Fore! Four!

GGC

Title Unnecessary: Round Two



All children but one grow up.
-J.M. Barrie

GGC

(More on Fable's fabulous* frock and my obsession with playing dress-up, here.)

Explosions and the Subsequent Pieces of Heart in My Eyelashes

Boom!

Towards the end of my pregnancy I had a permanent feeling of nervousness. Excitement, sure, but mainly nervous anticipation and a sort of fear that by giving birth to a new child I would be sacrificing my first born. That by bringing a new child into our family I would be shutting Archer out. That he would resent me and us, be hurt, sad, jealous, frustrated, alone. I feared a second child might come between us - our bond broken, our love weakened.

When my doctor told me I was in labor and should probably get my ass over to the hospital pronto, I broke down. Archer was with me in the doctor's office, crumpling the paper on the examining table, sucking on a lollipop and I looked at him, back at my doctor and then burst into tears. It was time to go to the hospital which meant it was time for me to drop Archer off at a friend's house which meant it was time for me to leave my son to tend to our daughter, shiny new.

I was crushed by the thought of looking in my rear view mirror and not seeing him in the middle seat anymore. From now on, there would be two, Fable on the passenger side and Archer behind me kicking my seat.

I'm pretty sure my feelings were completely natural, even commonplace for mothers soon to deliver their second born as evidenced, here:



Of course, no parent is ever certain how a second child will be received by their first. I spent months preparing for the worst, coaching Archer with stuffed animals, asking for his help in song.

"Will you sing a song to baby Fable in my tummy?" I would ask.

Archer would look at me, head cocked, bewildered but eventually...

"Fable, Fable, give me an answer do/ I'm half crazy over the love of you/ It won't be a stylish marriage/ I can't afford a carriage..." he would sing into my belly button like a microphone.

Still. We had no idea how Archer would react to his baby sister. No clue that our only child would take to big-brotherdom like a seasoned professional, like it was the most obvious and natural thing in the world.

Hal and I were blown away.

Minus the little running away incident, Archer has gone beyond brotherhood, his instincts to nurture not unlike a new mother, his ability to be patient, kind. His need to protect her, hug her, hold her hand in the backseat of the car, no matter how hard he must lean to his right to reach her.

The day I dressed Fable up in her fancy sailor dress Archer gasped, ran to her and said, "Look at you, Fable! You're the most beautiful girl I've ever seen in my whole life!"

Indeed, I agreed.

For the tenth time that day, I had to hide my tears from him. Because who says that? Who holds their sister's bottle for minutes at a time, dabs her mouth, kisses her cheek, reads her stories before bed every night, tucks her in?

I should have known that Archer would, and yet? Truly, I had no idea. No idea how much Fable's arrival would make me love Archer more. As a brother and caretaker and kind, doting, heartbreakingly generous soul. No idea that having two children would be like this.

Boom! Boom!

People say that when you have two children your love expands, your heart gets bigger to make room for a new human to love. For me, expansion was just the beginning. It was like someone dropped a piano of adoration on my head and left me tending to the pieces of my obliterated everything. I was a goner the first moment Archer rushed the hospital room to kiss his baby sister on her forehead...

I've been a goner ever since.

Boom! Boom! Boom!

BoombooomboomEXPLOSIONboominfinityboom!

GGC

She Who Holds Hour Hands


She watches him place the striped and solid pool balls in the triangle one by one. He explains to her what numbers are on which color and she listens intently, nods her head.

"Hm," she says. "Quite right about that."

She is his great-grandmother, his Nanana and he her first great-grandchild, sole great-grandson, first of the new batch of little darlings. He continues around the pool table, circling and studying and she moves toward him, scooting ever so slightly in her bench, a flower to the sun.

She studies Archer behind bespectacled eyes, through the filter of light strands and the dust motes they illuminate. She adjusts her weathered microscope with a slight cock of her head, sorting through memories, making room for this one here. This one, right now. This moment of quiet between them before the balls break.


And the clock stops for a moment before the Gods rush to knock on it with their gold and silver hands until tick, tick, tick... time crawls on.

We are all employed by time, I think, as I listen to their voices collide in a sort of duet: my Nana and her faded English accent, my son and his constant song.

There are decades that separate them but their closeness is clear and she speaks to him as if he was her peer, rather than a little boy with dirty fingernails.

"You have a beautiful voice," she says and he ignores her, concentrated on his project, oblivious to the melody he exudes.

"One, two, three... " he counts, as she counts backward. Their watches ticking clockwise and counter until
"Five, four, three..."
...their hands overlap.

(We are all employed by time.)

My Nana believes that she and Archer have met once before. Before he was born. Before she was old. Before.

"Just... Before."

When Archer was a baby I'd catch her whispering in his ears tales of remember when, asking him the kinds of questions one reserves for ghosts and cottage-cheese ceilings late at night.

And I would watch her watch him, wondering often how it felt to be responsible for so many lives. Children, grandchildren and now great...


"Do you ever look around," I ask, crossing over into the photograph, "at your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and think, I made this family. It is because of me that they exist..."

She thinks for a moment, pondering my question, then shakes her head.

"I've never thought about it before. Too busy watching everyone laugh, grow up."

Archer finishes counting the pool balls, organizes them in the triangle, placing the yellow 1 ball in the middle of the pyramid, surrounded by stripes.

By now the family is milling in and out of the pool room attached to my late uncle's office, a room untouched since his passing two years ago, empty save for the light that exists in his place. A light that exists in all of us as we flicker in the windowsills of one another's kitchens and hallways, weddings and anniversaries.

We are trick candles that cannot be extinguished by wind.

We all laugh and Archer picks up his triangle and patpatpaaaaaat, the balls go rolling across the table in fourteen different directions.


But not the cue ball. The cue ball doesn't move. Archer insists the cue ball stay safely by his side. He calls it his "ice cube" and he holds it in his hands, tiny globe with dings and scratches, seemingly fragile despite its strength.

My Nana turned eighty-years-old on Monday and in two weeks Archer will be four, their birthday celebrations days apart. And in the same way I want to stop the clock, hide the birthday cake from Archer, tuck the presents under the bed so do I want to keep my Nana away from the party hats. Don't blow the candles out.

"They make me want to live forever," she says about her grandchildren, smiling. "So I plan to do just that."

We agree she will outlive us all, writing books and taking canoe trips cross country, painting landscapes, telling stories. Watching the children play at her feet, leading their standing ovation.

There are days when I long to stop clocks, hide birthdays from little boys and older women, knowing quite well the things that time is capable of taking away.

...But far more often than that there are moments that serve as reminders of the immense benefits package time offers its employees, like wrinkled hands that open to tiny fingers and second hands that overlap with the minute.

Not to mention cue balls.


"Fear not the clock," I remind myself, "It is time that promotes us all."

Happy Birthday, dearest Nana.

GGC

When I was little I wanted to be a princess. Little did I know that one day...

"Honey*?" Archer asked this morning, as I was getting him dressed for school, "Are you a Queen?"


"Aw. No, silly. But I am something way cooler. Do you know what that is?"

"Um... Um... Um..."

 "I'm your mommy who loves you!"


"No!"

"No? What do you mean No?"


"YOU'RE A QUEEN!!!"

(And with that? I'll live happily ever after.)

GGC

*Archer no longer refers to Hal and me as "Daddy" and "Mommy." Instead he calls us both "Honey," as in "can you please wipe my butt, Honey? Thanks, Honey. Goodnight my Honeys"... Goddamn adorable that is. 

**As you probably noticed, GGC has a new masthead! Made with love by my friend, Heidi Burton, an incredible artist whose beautifully quirky art and stationary will change your life.

The Thing About Planning is One Day You'll Be Like WTF?

*updated below*

I'm not much for plans. They intimidate me. They worry me. They don't seem to make a difference in the outcome of a day or a week or a life so when it came to writing a birth plan I was all, no thanks. Mainly because "Birth Plan" always seemed to me like a complete juxtaposition.

With my first birth, I was pretty sure the baby was going to come out my vagina but other than that? I knew absolutely nothing.

I did burn a birth mix, though, because, obviously.

Having "no plan at all" ended up working against me the first time around. I ended up with an OBGYAsshole who shushed me during childbirth and gave me a totally unnecessary episiotomy that took me an entire year to heal from.

And even though I still come from the place of refusal when it comes to reading parenting books and making plans, my second birth experience kicked my first birth experience's ass because I actually did some homework this time, found a kick-ass doctor who understood my need to go episiotomy free. One who even agreed they were unnecessary!

I felt empowered during my birth with Fable. I knew what I wanted even though I didn't care to write it down.

So even though I play devil's advocate in this here video I absolutely believe it crucial to feel empowered during birth, however that may be.



I also think it wise to understand that plans are what they are. And twenty-pages of laminated, calligraphy-drawn words aren't going to do a whole lot to maximize their potency.

Which is why a good birth mix is sooooo imperative.

....................

Did you or will you have a birth plan? Would you recommend one to fellow mothers? How did your plan affect your birth? This week I'm giving away a full collection of baby skincare products from MD Moms - amazing products for babes, including the can't-live-without'em sunscreen towelettes for summer (which I use on Fable daily and adore). Winner to be picked at random by 12 PST Wednesday. Good luck and thanks in advance for sharing!


....................

In the meantime...


-Fable takes her
first two-hour nap and Archer rocks out on drums. Twas a very happy Mother's Day.

GGC

**Congrats to Sharon at This Bloomin Life for winning the MD Moms products! And thanks to everyone for sharing their birth plans/lack thereof. You ladies are the teets. No lie. **

Happy Mother's Day, Sister Wives

Rock out with your baby out.



Love,
GGC

Bananacado

*Updated with winner, below!!*


Yesterday afternoon I left the house to go write, leaving Hal in charge of Fable and feeding her lunch. Because Hal has been unemployed for three months* he has contributed equally as caregiver to Fable. Changing her, bathing her, taking her on father-daughter outings and of course, feeding her.... which up until now has been pretty easy to do:

Four ounces of water, maybe six, depending on when she nursed, then add two scoops (or three) of formula and stick the bottle in her mouth.

In the last week, however, Fable has almost completely weaned herself off the bottle, preferring mainly solids during the day. Yogurt, Banana, Hummus, Tofu and various other smashed delicacies of baby life.

"What should I feed her for lunch, today?" Hal asked as I packed up my computer bag.

"Avocado. Maybe some Banana," I said.

Seemed like straightforward directions at the time and I figured he could feed her both rather simply, straight from the source with a bit of smashing. No need for the baby food grinder. Easy peasy.

Um...

I was wrong.

I came home several hours later to find a bowl of what appeared to be raw snot on the table.

"What the balls is this?"

"What? It's banana and avocado."

"Like... mixed together?"

"That's what you told me to do!"

"What!? No! I said to feed her avocado and banana. Not .... avocanana. This is disgusting. No wonder she didn't eat any of it."

"What do you mean? She had a.... bite."

"Hm..."

"Well maybe she wasn't hungry!"

"Would you eat Bananacado?"

Hal paused for a beat** and then ...

"Yes. Yes I would."

"You're such a liar."

"I bet it's delicious."

"Oh, really. Then let's see you eat it."

And then, with nary a wince, Hal took a giant bite of the stuff...

... before spitting it out in the sink.

Ha ha! Sucka!

"Maybe I'll just feed her yogurt next time."

"Good idea."

GGC

Tell me your best "foodie" story and be entered to win a brand new Svan highchair: a favorite in the GGC household since 2005:

Seven-month Archer, January 2006

Seven-month Fable; May 2009

Winner will be chosen at random via random.org by end of the day Friday! Good luck and happy food... ing.

GGC

*Hal got a job yesterday. He starts tomorrow. So stoked. And relieved. But also a little bit sad because I'm going to miss him and his rather disastrous food concoctions.

**Writing scripts has caused me to "beat" everything. Even aloud I can't help exclaiming "there was a beat" during moments of tension and dispute. It's miraculous my husband doesn't "beat" me because of it. Womp womp.
..................................

Congratulations to Dari @ Day in the Life (whose father-in-law fed her baby Mountain Dew! Ahhhh!!!) for winning the Svan highchair! And thank all of you for showing up for the food fight. More most excellent contests to come, my lovelies. Kisses on all of your cheeky cheeks.