I Can't Stop Crying Happy Tears, and I'm Running on Fumes, So Here's This:

The morning of my C-section, my husband John wrote this. I thought I'd share it given that I am in no place to write this week and because I love it.
October, 22 - 2015 - 8:45am

My dearest baby girl, Gypsy…

"Please be careful - the plates are REALLY hot."

This was the profound advice offered to me when I first ate at a Mexican restaurant and it has stuck with me all of this time. I now pass this sage bit of wisdom on to you.

Okay, obviously that was a joke… but then many-a-truth is said in jest… so it's not entirely without merit.

The point I'm really trying to make here is that if I can attest to any one slice of advice to you, it is that laughter can get you through practically anything. 

Make no mistake, the world is a glorious, profound, exciting place to be… but it can also be terrifying, heartbreaking and soul-crushing. But there is one thing that can slay all of life's dragons, and that is laughter.

Your mother and I laugh together a lot, and I would attest that is why people fall in love.

Speaking of your mother: consider yourself extraordinarily lucky that she is yours.

Mom is wise, strong, feisty, intelligent, learned, and - yes - funny. One of the things she used to tell me when we were first dating was that nobody ever considered her 'funny' whereas she cracked me up all the time.

You mom and I weren't high-school sweethearts and we didn't meet at a college mixer. Nor did we work at the same office or catch each others' eyes at a concert. We both dated lots of other people before we met. 
But we both knew we were WAITING… we were waiting for the 'right' time and we both had the awareness to understand that we'd know it when it came along. We WAITED for one another, and it paid off immeasurably.

Similarly, we did not follow the standard operating procedure of having a baby right away. We WAITED. And when the time was right, we both knew it.

My point is, you were INTENTIONAL. 

We waited to have you because we wanted to bring you into this world when we knew that we could give you the kind of love and attention you deserve.

As I write this, you are approximately 6 hours away from being born. Your mom and I are a whirlwind of emotions - including nervous, anxious, scared, excited, delighted, rapturous and happy beyond measure. 

We can't wait to see you face-to-face.

We have so much love for you we can barely contain it and you're not even out in the light of day yet. 

Your mom has devoted an entire blog to you, so I'm trying to be brief, but I wanted to put down in writing what I was thinking about on the day of your birth.

I can't possibly predict what the future has in store for our humble little family, but I can tell you this with absolute certainty: There will be puppies, there will be laughter, and there will be love.

We love you.

And, yes, if you go to a Mexican restaurant… PLEASE be careful… the plates are REALLY hot.



It's Gypsy's Birthday!

I am not going to lie - I am utterly exhausted as I write this, despite having actually managed to get some sleep on the eve of Gypsy's birth. In a way, it's a blessing, because I think I'm still too tired to let my nerves get the best of me and turn me into an absolute disaster on what is most certainly going to be the most dramatic and life-altering day of my life, (and John's for that matter).

It's 8:45 a.m. - and I'm sitting on the couch with our puppy Anna, sort-of watching the news, but not really absorbing much of anything anyone's saying, wondering when I'll actually start getting ready to head off to the hospital, where I'll reluctantly be living for the next 3 - 4 days. I think I'm sort-of in shock.

I could've written a post yesterday, (given that I really do need to start getting ready soon), but I honestly wasn't feeling it. After a couple of years about debating about whether or not to even 'kid' in the first place - followed by another few years of wanting to but not being able, and then finally making it happen - I was sort-of at a loss for words -  and apparently, I still am.

But I think that makes sense. The enormity of this is truly overwhelming.

And on that note, today is Gypsy's birthday! It's finally here. After nearly 10 months of worrying, escalating discomfort, a laundry list of complaints and a seemingly endless stream of doctors appointments, tests and scary obstacles to surmount, it's finally here! We're going to be parents!



Open Houses for Pediatricians???

(Photo from AmericanPregnancy.org - Had to use it. The look on the kid's face is priceless).

I am pretty sure that a handful of people advised me to check out pediatricians before Gypsy is born. I heard them - I just didn't really listen. I figured that our options are probably somewhat limited anyway, seeing as how we don't have a car, shouldn't really take a newborn on a subway - and will probably need to see a pediatrician in the local vicinity that we are within walking distance of.

That said, I knew I had to find someone - but didn't really start exploring this until a few weeks ago. Nothing like waiting until the last minute, right?

Little did I know, you are technically supposed to have a pediatrician assigned to your child even prior to that child being born. Why? Because the hospital won't discharge you without one, your insurance provider needs to be informed accordingly and apparently, you have to see your pediatrician with your infant in tow a mere two days after being discharged from the hospital. (Still trying to wrap my head around how we're going to make that happen post-C-section, but whatevs).

Anyway, I got a referral for a pediatrician from an intelligent, trustworthy friend who just had a baby about 7 months ago herself. I ran with it. I figured that she's bound to know if this practice is any good or not - given that she used them for the first 1/2 year of her child's life prior to relocating to Michigan and because she, like me, is pretty damn down-to-earth.

Nevertheless, when I phoned the practice to inquire about new patients, they convinced me to attend a monthly Open House they offer for new parents. At first blush, I was like - OH NO. Here we go. Park Slope parent nonsense. Ugh. Then I thought about it more. I need to be a good mommy. I need to know whose hands I'm putting my brand new baby girl into - and if they're sane or not. Plus, I do have a few questions about a few things I'm not entirely sure I'm on board with. Okay, okay, I'll go.

I also conned John into accompanying me.

We got there at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday night. I had to be home for an 8 p.m. work call, so I was hoping it wouldn't be formatted in such a way that would prevent me from making a nearly undetectable escape. We showed up a few minutes early - and a relatively large seating area was already occupied by a handful of other couples. One of the first things I noticed was that a few of the other women, like me, were clearly already almost ready to pop. Whew I thought. I'm not the only one who waited until the absolute last minute to deal with this. Then I noticed a few who weren't even really showing or barely. Ha! I thought to myself. I'm glad I didn't subject us to this nonsense months and months before it was absolutely necessary.

Mind you, I was sort-of creating my own little justifications for stuff to a) eliminate guilt and b) cushion the blow if this wound up being the most pointless exercise ever and John demanded to know why on earth we had to waste our time in the first place. I could then retort by stating that at least we only had to experience it once - and better safe than sorry, right? John had asked me what they were going to do at this thing before we showed up  - and the truth was - I had no fucking clue.

Anyway - much to my surprise - most of the couples there were very nice and had decent senses of humor - and we all exchanged niceties - due dates, complaints about being in the final stages of pregnancy, Kirk or Picard, etc. Then the last couple walked in - and the vibe of the room changed significantly. For lack of a better term - they were prissy. Because seating was now limited, every guy in the room offered their seat to her - despite the fact that a few were still available but she clearly wanted to sit right next to hubby   and asked staff to bring out additional chairs, which they readily did. When she sat, I had to do everything in my power to stifle my laughter because this woman who looked every bit the Stepford Wife, was seated in just such a way that I got quite the upskirt view. It was hard NOT to notice.

Anyway, the pediatrician hosting the session started in - and I was pleasantly relieved. She was a cut-to-the-chase type, had a very prepared presentation of about 3 or 4 brief points she felt were of the utmost importance when choosing a pediatric practice for your child - and namely for first-time parents to consider - and breezed through the info within mere minutes. At the outset, I didn't know if we were going to be subjected to videos, powerpoint slides, condescending do's and don'ts and who knew what other types of fresh hell I had braced myself for just in case?

Again - relieved. It was actually quite informative.

Then the Q&A started.

Prissy had countless questions - many of which pertained to vaccines, which the pediatrician had specifically stated she wouldn't be addressing at the outset in group format due to the political and sensitive nature of the subject, but Prissy pushed her - and wound up getting her to present what I felt was a very level-headed and down-to-earth perspective. They recommend them and work with parents on a schedule they're comfortable with. Cool. I was more concerned about what to do with your child before they're vaccinated however - and that was my one pressing question.

Do we really need to be shut-ins until our little girl has been fully vaccinated?

And the answer was, "No" - which was what I was hoping for. In fact, they discourage it and think it's pointless. The doctor said something along the lines of, "Unless you're Beyoncé or Jay-Z, you're going grocery shopping and bringing all of that stuff back with you anyhow."

As anyone reading this blog already knows, I am a big believer in exposure to germs. I think it's a GOOD thing and this idea of over-sanitizing everything really irks me. I am convinced it's doing more harm than good. I want our baby girl to build up immunity to things. I'm not going to take her on a crowded subway or to Times Square just yet - but can we take her out and about to local family friendly restaurants and what-not?

Yes, yes we can.

And speaking of overly-sanitized, these docs don't over-prescribe antibiotics either.

Yay. Turns out my friend was right. These guys are perfect. Done and done, however last minute we were.

Oh - and in case anyone is wondering, we will have a baby girl in ONE MORE WEEK!!!


Screen Time

I've been so preoccupied with all things pregnancy that I haven't really spent much time assessing various scenarios, trends, news stories, etc. the way I used to.

Given that I am just mere weeks away from bringing a lovely little girl into this world, I've finally started paying more attention to what is going on in that world and the impact it will (or won't) have on our little Gypsy.

One such story caught my attention recently because I've noticed that each and every time the subject comes up, I have a pretty powerful response - and that story pertains to kids and gadgets.

The Today Show did this story covering the American Academy of Pediatrics' recent changes to its recommendations for how much screen time children should/shouldn't have and when.

I won't bother delving into the details, but a few quotes from the actual AAP struck a chord:

 "Today, more than 30% of U.S. children first play with a mobile device when they still are in diapers, according to Common Sense Media. Furthermore, almost 75% of 13- to 17-year-olds have smartphones, and 24% admit using their phones almost constantly, according to the Pew Research Center."                                               
"In a world where “screen time” is becoming simply “time,” our policies must evolve or become obsolete. The public needs to know that the Academy’s advice is science-driven, not based merely on the precautionary principle."
Okay - so here's what's irking me:

The idea of a child interacting more with tech than with people while still in diapers is quite disconcerting - and I see it constantly these days. I don't care what the guidelines say, I don't like it, I'm not doing it.

Nobody knows what the long-term consequences are of whatever might be deemed over-exposure to screen time from an early age because it hasn't happened yet. Forgive me for sounding like a total square, but honestly, I'm already seeing the rather hideous repercussions of a generation that seems incapable of communication without a device. They barely know how to interact face-to-face, can't maintain eye contact when they do, and lack what I consider to be fairly basic social skills. It's disturbing on many levels - and I think it's a shame. I can only imagine this will be far worse with younger generations who aren't even given the chance to learn how to interact and socialize with other people because their parents handed them ipads to keep them busy and out of their hair - at precisely the time when I get the impression they need more attention and human-to-human interaction. To be clear, I am not pointing a finger and saying that everyone who hands their devices is an asshole. I am saying that those who hand their kids devices so they can skirt their parenting obligations and/or always use that as a tool to shut their kids up are assholes.

Yes, I am well-aware that this sounds incredibly judgy - and as someone who has not yet been in those shoes, it is very, very easy for me to judge from afar, but seriously... What are we going to be dealing with in a handful of years when someone can't even maintain eye contact without getting freaked out about it? I just foresee a generation of socially inept people who I personally wouldn't want to engage with and therefore probably won't.

For the record, I love tech. I just got a new iPhone and I truly adore it. If you took it away, I might even pitch a fit, but I also recognize my tendency to look at it too frequently myself, so I try to monitor my use and try not to let it get too out of control. Anyway, I realize that incorporating tech into a child's life is not only inevitable but beneficial in many ways as well - and I plan on embracing that - but I don't care what anyone's recommendations are, (and I know John doesn't either). We're going to create a plan of action that makes sense to us for our child - one that we believe won't jeopardize their ability to develop keen social skills that enable them to carry on actual conversations with other human beings, face-to-face even, because nothing turns me off more than the idea of a child that has a stronger reaction to a device than a person.

Now let's just hope we can stick to our guns on this.