Sunday, June 28, 2009

Comfort Fit, My Rear!

Don't get me wrong. You all must know that I love being pregnant. I mean my original goal was to have 19 children, because 20 might be over the top. But that doesn't stop me from suffering pregnancy symptoms or from whining just a little. While my epidural-free birth wasn't as painful as I imagined it could have been, I won't pretend it didn't hurt.

So onto to a slightly-amused-at-my-own-predicament style rant about maternity clothes. Last time, my maternity clothes rant was because I couldn't find any pants with pockets. Now there are pockets everywhere but I can't stand the comfort fit waist.

Comfort fit, my rear. And I mean that. The problem is my rear. I have a flat butt. Well, no butt really.

And this is not a form of bragging. I know there are lots of women out there who have the opposite problem. I understand these things as I'm quite ample in the breast department and basically am never, ever able to wear a shirt that buttons in the front. I lost 80 pounds and retained G cups. So don't hate me for my non-existent derriere.

I also realize women who are heavy-chested sometimes wish they had less and women who are small-breasted sometimes wish they had more. Women who have curly hair can wish it was straight and vice versa.

But this time it has nothing to do with vanity, other than my not wanting to be naked in public. The enthusiastic sales woman at Motherhood Maternity said this new style was wonderful because there were no seams to rub or annoy anywhere around the entire waist of these miracle pants. I hadn't remembered being rubbed the wrong way by the seams in my pants before, but hey, I'm always up for anything that promotes more comfort. (Except epidurals, I suppose...)

The first issue, though minor in comparison to my main complaint is related to thermodynamics. (I don't know if that word applies here, but I'm going with it anyway.) All that extra fabric has to go somewhere. I can either roll it down and have one of those bulging, digging rolls similar to what happens after an entire day of control top panty hose, or I can stretch out the miles of miraculously expansive material to just under my breasts. Everyday of this very hot summer, due to the "comfort fit", I wear at least two layers of clothing over my already incubating belly. I didn't need the help maintaining my core body temperature, really.

The other more important issue involves my butt. Apparently I will not stretch that tube sock-like band out enough to hold these things up until I'm roughly nine months pregnant. Every few minutes, I have to hike them up because the crotch ends up somewhere close to my knees and I have trouble walking.

Remember that scene from Mary Poppins where Dick Van Dyke stretches his white pants down to his knees and dances with the cartoon penguins? Yeah, that's me. I know I will eventually waddle. It's bad enough I'm showing this soon, let's not have a wardrobe malfunction related waddle in the first trimester. I'd prefer a little dignity, please.

The tails of my shirts ride up in the back whilst the pants ride down and I end up showing that not-so-comfy-or-fitting-waistband off like I'm a gansta poser. My toddler uses my baggy butt fabric as a handle. I need help!

Anyone else feel my pain? Any companies making maternity clothes with a simple belly panel like they used to? Oh, and it wouldn't hurt if they came with pockets.

The shirts are cute though. You win some, you lose some.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Things are going swimmingly!

Wow, it's like the ghost of athletics past has come to visit me. I used to be the one racing. I used to be the one with dry, green hair. I used to be the one slipping into a cold pool every morning. I've gone back in time to watch it all again, only it's from the outside. I'm the mother of the swimmer now. And it's not a little weird.

It's taken John a long time to reach the point where we've come to believe he can emotionally handle the rigors of participating in a sport with his peers. I still wince when it is time to wake him up for the pool after a particularly hard day.

But each morning, he gets up without complaint and dons his cute, little snug speedos. (The long ones are in, nowadays. They're called jammers, I believe). He leaves the van before I've turned off the engine and is in the pool before Hannah and I slowly approach the deck.

His first day in practice went pretty much as I expected. He cried. Hard. Sobbed. Twice. And said he was never coming back. Since then, he's only had two more crying spells and they were very, very minor and somewhat age appropriate.

On Wednesday, John participated in his first swim meet ever. He was lined up behind the blocks. The heat right in front of him had just taken their marks, when the meet was halted due to thunder.

We spent the next two hours holed up in the van trying to wait out the intense lightning storm and hail. Don't let me forget to note that this pool was an hour away from our house. Hannah had a great time freely roaming the van and pushing all the buttons she could find. When I turned on the van Thursday morning, I was a little unsure of how to turn off the rear windshield wiper and I was tired of listening to rap music.

The meet was scheduled to be completed on Thursday but there was a 40% chance of rain. I hoped that he'd at least get to swim long enough to complete one roughly, 30-second journey down the pool this time. They were going to pick up right where they left off.

I asked if he was nervous. (I certainly was.) No. Though he'll cry at the drop of a hat and suffers from intense anxiety in most other areas of his life, apparently he has nerves of steel when it comes to racing. Go figure.

He stepped on the blocks. (He usually does his somewhat awkward bird legged leap from the wall.) He kept his arms in perfect stream line position over his head before the starter even told the swimmers to take their marks. The field was off. Three other boys, aged 9-10, shot into the water in sleek, shallow dives then erupted, all splashes and arms, several yards down the pool. John performed a gut-wrenching belly-flop/walk-on-the-water maneuver and had to start swimming from a near stop. He buried his head and stroked half the pool with no breath.

I knew it was coming. Eventually his need for oxygen would supersede his athletic ambition. He suddenly rolled to his side and breathed for what seemed like five minutes in the middle of the pool while his three competitors duked it out for first place at the wall. He put his face back in and swam with all the vigor he could muster. He never slowed, other than to breathe twice more and came in strong at the finish, long after the others has exited the pool.

I was proud of his courage, his dedication and his lack of upset at being last. I cried. It was the silent, swelling cry I always have when I watch the Olympics. Here is a swimmer with heart. And he was cheered for accordingly, by more people than his mother and his coach. He was nonchalant about the experience and ready for his other two events.

He also swam the 25 yard backstroke and the 25 yard breaststroke, even though he's never been instructed on the highly technical requirements of the latter. He came in last each time, undaunted. After the breaststroke, when he was disqualified due to flutter kicking and touching the wall with only one hand, he was thrilled. "Hey, Mom, that wasn't bad for my first time!" I LOVE that boy! So unselfconscious, so happy, so tough. I'm glad I'm finally getting to know him, even if it means schlepping him to meets across East Tennessee.

He lounged, ate, and frolicked with other kids for the remainder of the meet. There was plenty of good, healthy mud from the previous night's storm. He was the only one from our team that I saw approach the other team's camp and look for playmates. I also saw him shake hands with a swimmer from the other team and say, "Good Meet."

He is learning discipline and perseverance and about having fun. He knows this sport is about improving your personal best. He challenges and inspires me. I can't wait until Tuesday when I will bask my sweaty, pregnant body in the sun once again and scream "Go, John, Go!" till I am hoarse. And then I will drag our exhausted bodies back to the pool the following morning where we all will learn a little bit more about dedication and hard work.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Nerves of Steel

My labor with Hannah was induced mostly because there were no accelerations in her heartbeat. Yet, she was born were perfect Apgar scores. Since I've gotten to know my stealth baby, I've come to realize that her heart rate probably rarely accelerates even today.

In school I learned about lo-gain and high-gain personalities. Those with high-gain personalities receive more stimulation from a situation or experience than one would expect. Those with lo-gain personalities receive less stimulation from a situation than one would expect. They are the risk-takers. They seek out new and exciting things to do, all while seeming slightly bored.

John is the perfect example of a high-gain personality. John is an intense person and every event is the most thrilling, most terrifying, most sad thing in the whole world. Perhaps it's his personality. Perhaps it's a symptom of his emotional issues. But many of our family members have determined whether the correct present has been selected for John's birthday based on whether he exhibits the excited face rub or not. Evidenced by his earth shattering wails, I thought the poor boy was going to die right then and there with Marley when we went to see Marley and Me, thinking it was simply a sweet movie about a dog.

I've decided swimming is a great sport for John. There are only four strokes and only 25 meters of pool. Every practice is strikingly similar. It's safe and calm enough for him to enjoy. I think that's why he enjoys camping so much, he can go at his own pace and explore as his personality dictates. Amusement parks are too harried for this kid.

Hannah is closer to lo-gain than the other end of the spectrum. Nothing much excites her. I think she enjoys life all around her, but she likes to enjoy it from the height of the bookshelf or from the top of the kiddie roller-coaster. (She just isn't tall enough for the good stuff yet.) She moves slowly and sure-footedly. She calculates and takes risks. When Hannah experienced the rather intense Marley and Me she asked me several times in her sweet, mildly concerned voice, "Oh Mommy, that doggy is sick? They gonna fick it?"

She'd be the kind of person who would make a good surgeon or lifeguard or military leader. She is methodical and unflappable. When it is all just too much for nine-year-old John, and he goes to his room in hysterics, Hannah will calmly inform me that she will go check on him. Then she enters his rooms and says, "Awww John, you need a hug?" She sees and acts on what needs to be done and isn't influenced by the electric emotions buzzing all around her. Nerves of steel, that one. Nerves of steel.

On our recent camping trip, we took a beautiful train ride to a mining camp. Hannah adores trains almost as much as babies, shoes and letters and yet, she did not exhibit the behavior of an over-excited two-year-old, bouncing in the seat and giddily talking about being on a train. She was very absorbed in her surroundings and enjoying the experience. She staunchly insisted on standing in the seat and hanging half her body out the window for a good portion of the trip. My mother diligently held onto her so she could experience the ride safely from that angle.

Look at her face in the picture above as she watches the passing scenery with all the relish her lo-gain personality can muster. Don't worry, she is, in fact, having a fantastic time. I know, because when we talk about the trip, she calmly and assuredly says, "Again. I want to do that, again." Notice the lack of exclamation points.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Swamp Thing

We went camping over Memorial Day weekend. My sister and her family came with us. So did my parents. We camped in a beautiful setting in the woods in Big South Fork National Park in Kentucky.  But it was like we went camping without John. He spent most of the weekend in a swamp.

John is getting close to ten years old now. Only two summers ago, I was having to literally teach him how to have fun. Birthday parties often entailed a great deal of excitement only to end in toddler style tears and tantrums when something innocuous to everyone else would happen, like there would be skating at a skating party. It has been especially difficult as John is quite big for his age. He looks at least a year older than most of his same age peers.

Last Summer, I watched him play tag on the playground for the first time.  And it didn't even end in tears.  Then he began making friendships that he could maintain for a couple of hours without getting called mean names.

This summer, it's like Pinnochio has finally become a real boy. When John is in a social group at this point, most of the time, strangers would have absolutely no idea of John's issues and I'm very happy that's the case. It means he's having fun and he's growing emotionally.

Theo commented after our weekend that he was sad he didn't spend much time with John. Oh, but I wasn't sad at all. I posed the question, "When have we EVER done anything for three whole days where John was HAPPY the whole time?" It has never happened before.  It's never even been close.  

There were about ten boys in the campground aged 6-12. They played most of the weekend in a bog doing boy things. They caught salamanders and tadpoles.  They chased the only two girls in the campground. They visited each other's campsites and played cards. They started at about 8 in the morning and John would wander back to camp exhausted and starving when it was finally dark around 10 pm. It was hard keeping him quiet and not knocking on  doors before 8am.

Theo went to let him know that dinner was ready at one point and he said, "awwww, do I have to come?" Theo told him he was just letting him know that it was hot. He appeared a couple of hours later and wolfed down some food barely sitting long enough to warm the picnic table bench. The few family activities we did do that involved a ride in car or some other reason he had to sit still, meant he was sound asleep.

He was dirty and he stank. He was covered in mosquito bites and encountered a tick who decided it wanted to stay in a very private area. He was overtired. He was underfed. He hung out in a group of boys just as slime covered as himself.  I was so proud! I can't wait to take him camping without us again!

And the girls just sat around reading trashy magazines.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Theo had a Hot Date on Saturday Night

I just spoke to my Mary Kay lady/previous Pastor's wife. She's a wonderful, fun, bubbly lady with a great sense of humor. I'm always happier after I talk to her. I was downright giddy after our phone call today.

I had seen her son a couple of days ago. Theo and I were on a date and we stopped by the highly romantic destination of U.S. Cellular. It'd been a while since I'd seen Chris and I marvelled at how he was "all grown up". I think he's about 20 now and wasn't a scrawny teenager any more. He spoke with us for a few minutes and went to speak with an agent across the room.

I kept sneaking looks at him. Theo once taught this man in youth group. How weird that he looks so old... but Chris kept looking back and making eye contact. I decided I must be making him uncomfortable so I willed myself to look elsewhere.

I asked Terri if he'd mentioned seeing us. And she said that yes, Chris came home and told them he saw Theo. She asked if he was with anyone else, since they know so many of our local family members. He said yes, but he didn't know who she was. Trying to rule out people, she asked if the woman had red hair. No. So it wasn't Theo's sister or mother. She asked Chris to describe the lady.

Her immediate response was "Chris, that's Holly."

He said, "Mom, it's been a while since I've seen her. But I think I'd recognize her."

She asked if the lady had spikey hair and he confirmed it was so. She repeated, "Chris, that's Holly!"

He said something to the effect of "...if you say so..."

I have to wonder what he thought about the fact that Theo's pregnant girlfriend was so chatty with him and mentioned buying Mary Kay from his mother! I've been bursting out into random peals of laughter ever since I got off the phone!

This is a public service announcement in defense of my husband's reputation: In case you haven't seen me in a while, Theo is not dating another woman. I have lost 80 lbs. I have spikey hair and I now use accessories like purses and jewelry. I wear makeup and am pregnant.

For the time being, I still have a large mole on my chin. Until I get it removed, please feel free to use that as a reference point.

The first picture is roughly how I looked the last time Chris saw me! The second is sorta how I looked when Chris saw me on Saturday, minus the toddler and plus a preggo belly.