My kid is hilarious. I keep meaning to write down the things he says for posterity. And also to embarrass him with later. Once when I was pregnant, he was looking at my poked out belly button and started giggling maniacally, then said:
"Heehee! It looks like the baby's penis!"
Another time during my pregnacy:
Caleb: I love it, Mommy! (while hugging my huge baby bump) Me: What honey, the baby? Caleb: No, I love your big belly.
And just the other day, after preschool, while Wednesday was crying, he came off with:
"We need some maggies that taste like milk" (maggie being our word for pacifier, a la Maggie Simpson)
Woohoo! It's State Fair time in KY! One of my favorite times of year. I love fair food (although it hasn't been as good as it used to be ... my mom says I'm just getting old), and Freddy the Farmer, and looking at all the crazy people, and I especially love walking through all the exhibits and seeing which 4H kid grew the best alfalfa, oohing and aahing over the cool decorated cakes (the Muppet Cake from last year was amazing!), and coveting all the great quilts, and freaking out about how cute the chickens are and how much I want some. I do not ride the rides, by the way. I don't even go to the midway. You do know that there is no federal regulatory agency checking those rides, right?
We do go to the Pride of the Counties, and in that wing is always a big "booth room" set up as the "Rock and Relax Room". It's designed to be a quiet place for people to change and nurse their babies. On one side, there is a diaper changing area with tables set up with rolls of paper that can be torn off to lay under baby, free disposable diapers, rubber gloves, trash cans, and a handwashing station. All in all, a very thought out set up. In the middle is a table staffed by (I assume) people from the Health Department and WIC office, and it has lots and lots of great info on breastfeeding, which this year included adorable "Shape the Future, Breastfeed" sticky notes and paper hand fans. The back of the fans also said "I'm a fan of breastfeeding", which I am in love with! All over the walls are beautiful, informative posters about nursing.
(Me and my two happy, healthy, breastfed babes. Oh, and I didn't tell Caleb to hold up that fan, but he is a big fan of breastfeeding!)
So far, this is all wonderful. But here's the part that makes me feel torn: on the other side of the "booth room" is a curtained off section for nursing mothers. It has several nice glider rockers with ottomans in it, graciously lent by Babies R Us, I believe. They are rather comfy. But did I mention how this is a curtained off room, in an enclosed booth? It just irritates me a bit. If the idea is to promote breastfeeding, then why is it so roped off and secretive? Why so hidden? Shouldn't we be promoting acceptance and integration of breastfeeding into the larger society? Because most places a mother goes are not going to have a special nursing area. But if mothers believe they must go into a secreted, closed off area to feed their children, they will end up ... in the bathroom. Which isn't a fit place for anyone to eat!
I totally understand that not all women are as comfortable with nursing in public as me, and that's fine. I don't begrudge them that. But it just makes me so very, very sad when I see that women feel so ashamed of feeding their babies that they practically jump through hoops to make sure that they will remain covered up and out of sight at all costs. I did go in the nursing room once to feed Wednesday, to see what it was all about. When I walked in, there was one mother in the room. And she had a full sized blanket draped over herself and her very small infant. Let me repeat to be clear: she was alone, in an enclosed booth, in a curtained off room, that is just for nursing mothers. Oh, my. My heart practically broke for her that she felt such a strong social need (and let's not kid ourselves that the urge to cover up when we are nursing comes from anything other than social pressures) to be so cloaked and hidden. I've seen Amish women who are less concerned with modesty when it comes to feeding babies! As I sat there, other mothers drifted in, including one who drug out one of those big nursing covers and tied it on, then stuck her baby under it; I noticed out of the corner of my eye that baby was NOT happy about being so covered up. I felt sad for both of them; the effort to get and stay covered up must make nursing in public very stressful. I couldn't help but wonder, if this is what must be done in a private, enclosed room, what happens in Target? Does the baby just not get fed? Does mom just never get to go anywhere?
So I am divided in my feelings about the Rock and Relax Room. On the one hand, I am stoked that the Health Department people are out there promoting breastfeeding and helping families and providing information. You rock, Health Department people! On the other hand, it pains me that the booth's presence seems to send the impression that if you want to feed your baby at the fair, you better get your naked breasts on in here, so as not to offend anyone. (Although I am a million times more offended by seeing morbidly obese parents pulling their morbidly obese children around in wagons (at 8 years old) as they all gnaw on corn dogs and slurp up buckets of cola.) And I know in my heart that that wasn't the intention of the lactivists at the HD when they came up with the room. They intended it, I'm sure, to just be a quiet-ish place with comfortable chairs where fair going parents could sit for a bit to soothe and feed their overtired babes.
This is all about me wanting to change the world in one fell swoop, I know. I want people to understand the importance and beauty in breastfeeding, and I want all mothers to find themselves in such a supportive, loving, and informative environment that they wouldn't dream of feeding their babies any other way. And I know that that's not going to happen immediately. But in the meantime, when I visit the KY State Fair, I'm going to sit on a bench wherever my family happens to be when my daughter wants to be fed. I am going to nurse her there, and while I do, I'm going to smile at every pregnant mother and mother of a baby that I see. I'm going to try and pass on to her the knowledge that this is okay, this is good, this is normal. And for everyone else, I hope that seeing me nursing there will help to remind them of the same things.
I finally made Wednesday some Mary Jane booties. Many, many thanks to Pam Gillette, of Knotty Generation, for posting this pattern. It was simple and easy to understand, and the booties work up in about 15 minutes apiece. Start to finish in one nap, with time left over to read and google chat with Andrew. They're really stinkin' cute, but don't stay on her feet too well, probably because even though I made them smaller than indicated, they could be smaller. I plan on making bunches!
Yesterday I went to Target with my mom. Any day prior to April 20th of this year, that would be nothing much to blog about. But on April 20th, I got the call that my mom was in the hospital. She was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer that they believe began in her fallopian tube and had spread throughout her abdomen. She endured a massive surgery and about two weeks in the ICU. There were many times when we didn't think she would make it. Her first several weeks back at home were almost unbearable, as two of her medications were adversely affecting her so she was almost unable to move, eat, swallow, speak, or stop drooling or shaking. Now she is off those meds and has had 4 rounds of chemotherapy. Two more to go.
The funny thing about chemo is, you never know if it's working while you're taking it. There's no way to know what's going on with the cancer until the treatments are complete and you get a scan (at least in my mom's case). So for now, I am holding out hope that the chemo is working well enough to put her into remission for years. And I want years and years and years.
I want my mom there when my little girl heads off to kindergarten for the first time, and when my son completes his first science project, and when they go to their proms and move off to college. I want her to be there at their weddings. And every morning I have to renegotiate my life to accommodate the reality that she might not ... probably won't ... be there for those things. I can't even begin to tell you the grief that I feel. My sister and I were talking today about how it's like being in a horrible, select little club; one that you wish no one else ever had to be in because it's so awful. Knowing how it feels to have to face this with my mother, I am baffled that people who experience terminal illness in their children are able to go on existing. Because I personally feel like my world is falling apart, and it must be a million times worse if it is your child.
So anyway, mom has a treatment every 3 weeks. The day after her treatment is usually the best day of the whole three weeks. She has more energy and less pain than usual. And by "more energy than usual" I mean that she isn't totally wiped out just by showering and dressing herself. She can actually apply mascara and leave the house. This time, she wanted to take Caleb out to lunch at one of his favorite places, India Palace. I've been taking him there since he was 2, and they have Gulab Jamun, which he calls honey balls. He adores them. And of course, Indian is my favorite. After meeting with my lovely midwife (who just finished her last chemo treatment), I packed up the kids and met Mom and Dad for lunch. It was so great ... so normal! At the end of the meal, Mom said something about how she was going to go to Target and Dad was going to go to Sears. I jumped at the chance! "I'll take you to Target! Caleb can go with Dad!" We had two whole hours until she had to go in to the doctor's office for a shot.
Thus, I got to go to Target with my mom and my baby daughter. It was bliss. Truly. Just the sheer everydayness of it. Walking around, oohing and ahing over the adorable little girl clothes, letting her buy my daughter a U of K cheerleader outfit (she has talked for at least a decade about having a grandaughter to put one of these on) and the cutest, most inane baby shoes ever, letting her buy my son a matching U of K jersey so they can have pictures made in them. We talked about everything and nothing. She looked "cancer chic" in her salmon and black Nike workout suit and the black and white bucket hat Caleb and I had picked out for her the day before. Wednesday was nestled sleepy in the sling, and I was in heaven. Just shopping with my mom.
We've probably been shopping together hundreds, thousands of times (my mom really, really likes shopping). And I always took it for granted that there would be decades of shopping left. But there might not be. The horrible, brutal, unfair reality that I am facing is that this trip to Target with my mom could be the very last one. My daughter may never have a conscious memory of shopping with her Mawmaw. And that pisses me off. I am officially pissed off at the universe. And all I can do about it is cry.
But for all of you who have mothers nearby who are healthy and mobile and active, please go shopping with them soon. Even if you don't always get along, even if you don't buy anything, even if her taste makes you grit your teeth. Hell, even if you don't like shopping, go do something else! But please go and spend some time with your mom. Because even if you don't realize it now, you will miss her when she's gone, and if the time ever comes that she can't do what she's always done, your world will be upside down. And I still haven't learned if it ever gets right side up again ...