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Archive for July, 2009

Hello friends in the real world and inter-world alike.  I’m making a mix of music for Mister Finn and his babyfriends. Do YOU want a copy? I will mail you a CD! A real, live one, that will traverse over hills and mountains and maybe even oceans to get to you.

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Mixed Messages

Mister Finn has been doing this really lovely thing where he acts tired (rubbing eyes, yawning, fussy, wanting to nurse) and then the minute we begin the process of getting him down for a nap his eyes spring open and he starts babbling and orating animatedly, doing everything he can to tell us that he is WIDE! AWAKE! Usually, lately, he has been sucessful with his tomfoolery; that is, his dumb parents see his spritely behavior and conclude, “why look! he’s not tired after all!” So we don’t put him down and go on with the day’s activities, only to find a once-again sleepy baby an hour later. But now I’m on to him! And presently he is screaming in his bed, awake.

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About Pride (and Prejudice)

{I wrote this for Mister Finn a few weeks ago but it got lost in the hospital adventure.}

To my A.,

You are only one year old and you can’t read yet (though sometimes it seems like you can), but I am writing you a letter today to tell you about Pride. You went to your first Pride parade yesterday!  We walked through the streets of Seattle and people cheered for us, for you, with colorful flags waving and music playing. You bobbed along in my “pouch” like a baby kangaroo, excited by the drums and costumes and people clapping.

You are growing up SO FAST, that I imagine it won’t be too long before you’re asking us, “What’s Pride?” just like you’ll ask us “What’s Halloween?” or “What’s Christmas?” I feel both happy and sad at the thought of explaining Pride to you. I’m happy because Pride is a fun, joyful holiday where people all over the world celebrate the people they love. I’m sad because the Pride holiday exists because of prejudice.

I wish I could only tell you about Pride, and not prejudice; I wish I could shower you with all the beautiful things in the world, and protect you from anything bad. But I think the best protection I can give you as your mama is to teach you about the world and how to survive in it. You are a strong, happy, smart boy, and your heart is the size of an ocean. I don’t doubt that even with its flaws, you will find the world beautiful.

So, sweet thing, there are a lot of unhappy people in the world that live their lives in fear. People do crazy things when they are unhappy and afraid. They are so scared of everything that instead of seeing other people as potential friends, they see them as enemies. They hate people without ever having met them! They are “prejudiced” because they are judging people prior to knowing them. The unhappy people in our country have hated many people in the past. They’ve hated the Native Americans, the African Americans, the Japanese Americans, the Mexican Americans, the Muslim Americans. They often hate people that are different from themselves. Then, a few years later, they realize they should not have hated those people. Right now, in your lifetime, the unhappy people in our country are afraid of families that have two mothers or two fathers.

We can’t explain what makes people so unhappy, we can just hope that they find love and happiness in their lives someday. We celebrate “Pride” because we are proud! We are proud to be alive and to be happy, and proud to love other people. We play music and dance and we look for rainbow fairies. We celebrate families of all kinds: familes with two moms, families with two dads, families with zero moms and zero dads but one grandma and one brother, families with one mom, families with one mom and one dad, families with two uncles, families with one dad and two aunts: there are SO MANY different kinds of families and none of them is better than the other. We all get to live and love on this planet together, and we are proud.

Every June, people celebrate Pride in Hong Kong,

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in Dublin,

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In Atlanta,

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In India,

India Gay Parade

In Israel,

MIDEAST ISRAEL GAY PRIDE

in Seattle,

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and in many more cities all over the world.

Pride is a reminder of the beauty and bounty in a life filled with love.

I am so happy that you are the sundrop I get to love and find rainbow fairies with.

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Love,

Your Mama

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I say to Mister Finn, “I love you.”  And he says, “I la la.”

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It turns out I was especially worried about Mister Finn’s cough for a reason. {How does this parental “intuition” thing work?? What does it mean? How do I keep myself from having false-alarm freak-outs, now that I’m apparently developing a track record of sensing correctly when something is wrong with my baby?}

On Wednesday morning the cough was worse, and about 10 minutes after Wifey left for work I heard him wheezing. He also seemed to be having chest retractions. So I threw some diapers and my wallet in a bag and took him to the emergency room at the hospital where he was born and spent his third trimester. It was terrifying hearing his wheezing from the back seat. Tears were streaming down my face by the time we got to the ER. I called Wifey at work and she took the bus up the hill right away.

The kind yet condescending (or maybe kindly condescending?) pediatrician ordered chest x-rays, albuterol breathing treatments, and steroids to be given orally, which were promptly thrown up all over me. His lungs looked and sounded clear, but because they didn’t know if he was going to get better or worse, the pediatrician wanted him to stay overnight for observation.

We were treated really well, and the whole ER experience was not really too bad until a guy next door arrived thrashing and yelling, strung out on something. Apparently in hospital-speak “code orange” means “uncooperative guest; need police.” My anxiety peaked right around then. It was terrifying overhearing what was going on on the other side of the wall, and I really wanted to grab my baby and run out the door.

Upstairs in the pediatric unit,  A. did great all night (with breathing treatments every 2-3 hours from a Respiratory Therapist) and responded well to the albuterol, which further signaled that this isn’t an infection (other than the common cold, or some strain of it). We took turns sleeping in the crib with him– a sight no one batted an eye at.

The diagnosis was simply a virus that triggered a reflex in A.’s baby lungs to tighten– a very common reflex in babies (?). It was basically an asthma attack, but one that is specific to a virus, not an ongoing condition.

The whole thing was very surreal, like we couldn’t really believe this was happening. All the same sounds and smells and food as our big hospital adventure last year. The lasagna tasted the same. The feeling when the ladies came in to check the trash was the same.

We were discharged Thursday morning with treatments to continue giving A. at home, and we got home around 1pm. It seemed that as soon as we left the hospital he was coughing more and working harder to breathe. It continued after we were home for an hour and a half, so we called the the pediatrician’s office. The nurse there said if he was still having symptoms of difficulty breathing we should take him back to the hospital.

So, back to the ER. (This too felt like a repeat of last year, when I was discharged only to be readmitted two days later when my c-section incision opened.) After more exams by more nurses and doctors, the pediatrician examined him and said that he is fine!  He was still having some difficulty breathing purely because he’s still getting over the virus. The pediatrician also said that there is a wide spectrum of respiratory issues in babies, and A.’s episode was mild. The pediatrician isn’t worried about him at all.

We assumed that this whole ordeal was related to his prematurity, but apparently it isn’t (!?!) and this happens to full-term babies often. They said the best test indicating that A.’s lungs are “good to go” (with no lasting effects of prematurity) is the fact that he didn’t get a single infection –viral or bacterial– his entire first year.

For 2 days we did albuterol treatments via inhaler (which are completely painless, yet totally awful, with him screaming and kicking and it feels like we’re torturing him) and steroids. He hasn’t really been acting that sick; still crawling and laughing and “dancing” to his music.

I managed to write a rather cheery post about all of this on Mister Finn’s blog, for all of his friends and family to read, to let them know he is OK. (I cut and pasted some of that post into this one, which may be why the mood here is rather choppy). I suppose I also managed to be strong through the whole thing. But I’m kind of on the verge of falling apart inside. The whole thing was really scary, and seems to have left a hole in my heart. I thought about Maddie pretty much the entire time all of this was happening, obsessively, repeatedly remembering the details of her last hours.

When I’m living our beautifully chaotic every-day life, I thankfully take it for granted. When we’re thrust for 28 hours into a nightmare, I am reminded that I have no right to take our life for granted. I read people’s blogs –some utterly unimaginably devastating, some seemingly giddy with perfection– and am keenly aware that fankly, there are lives to be lived that are heavenly, and those that are hellish. Who/what puts people on either side of that line?–I have no fucking clue.  I do believe that it’s not black or white; of course there is some good in every bad story and vice versa. But really, people and their luck seem to fall on one side or the other, for no apparent reason. I don’t believe in people “deserving” the things that happen to them. It just happens, and one day you’re in heaven and the next you’re in hell. In the ER, in the hospital overnight, driving back to the ER the next day (and now as a fading haunt), frightening, nagging questions pulled at my insides: Why shouldn’t my family be thrust into hell like some of the other families with their babies in the hospital? Why does someone else’s beautiful child die and mine live? What is keeping us on the “heaven” side of the line, and are we secure in our place there? Why did Maddie’s sickness escalate into a nightmare, while A.’s only peeked in on one? The hospital is the place where my assumptions about life come crashing down all around me. There are no rules there, and no one cares which side of the fence you’re supposed to be on. Superstitions aren’t entertained and prayers are ignored. Any notion of “fairness” is laughed at.

I walked around Target yesterday in a partially celebratory (my baby is fine, right?), partially shell-shocked (my baby is fine, right?) daze, feeling like if I did not buy him this ensemble of board books then all hope might be lost. My past is filled with so many sullen strolls through the aisles of Target’s baby section (longing to be pregnant, then longing to not have a miscarriage… longing for my baby to not have a chromosomal abnormality… longing for him to be a “miracle baby” that survives the NICU without a scrape… longing to take him home… longing to care for him without a cloud of anxiety over my head… ) But here I am now: I have a baby. I have a beautiful boy to read these books to. To not buy them is to give up my place on the heaven side. So, I buy them defiantly, wishing I believed that someone was taking note.

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