My Kid, The Cartoon

Life in our house frequently resembles a bad Saturday-morning cartoon. There is a lot of noise. The plotlines are nonsensical. We have no shortage of comic violence. And everyone has enormous eyes and is wearing some crazy costume discover this info here.

So of course, when Thomas learned to walk, it came as no surprise that his idea of walking involves stretching his arms out in front of him and lurching about like a Scooby Doo villain. I half expect Maddux to run up, peel off his mask and proclaim “Jinkies, gang! He’s not a baby at all! Our ‘baby’ is really Mr. Skaggs from the jam factory!”

At first it was just a few swoopy lurches at a time, followed by the inevitable plop-and-wail. Now our little cartoon villain races around at top speed, still with the herky-jerky gait and still with the creepy zombie arms stretched out in front — for no reason, apparently, other than to make me laugh.

Of course, the real Swamp Monster would never pause in mid-lurch, cock his head, and give a proud twelve-toothed beam and then applaud himself for walking. Still, once he gets a little practice under his belt, I won’t be surprised if, when Thomas runs, his feet look like crazy wheels.


The Odyssey (And Other Things Borrowed From Those Masters of Tragedy, The Greeks)

In Greek mythology, a boy named Icarus puts on a pair of wings made of wax and feathers and, ignoring the warnings of his father, flies too close to the sun. Since wax doesn’t hold up terribly well to heat (Daedalus apparently didn’t think his invention through too well), poor Icarus falls into the sea when his wings melt away.

I recently undertook an Icarian journey of my own, but substitute a plane for the sun and my kids for wings. The plane hadn’t even pulled out of the hangar before the meltdowns began.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I was very excited when Chris booked a trip for all five of us to attend my brother’s wedding in Tennessee. But I also threw up a little in my mouth, because none of us (even the most patient and perfect, which I am not!) really looks forward with delight to an international trip spanning four travel days and 6,000 miles round-trip.

My mom suggested that we make a few weeks of it, but I looked into it, and they don’t offer a Round-Trip-With-Padded-Cell-On-Return-Flight special, so I politely declined the offer to spend an extra week being smothered by insane toddlers on a bouncy air mattress.

Our odyssey begins the Wednesday before the wedding weekend. We were supposed to be packed and ready to go by the time Maddux got out of school, but of course we weren’t. When one has three kids, packing up all the “last-minute” things such as toothbrushes and suckies and special toys takes a lot more than your “last minute” between the end of naptime and time to get out the door. Try “last five hours with many interruptions from small children who are hanging, slothlike, from your limbs.” So we got out of the house three hours behind schedule, at 7.

It actually worked out well, because the kids slept on the five-and-a-half-hour drive to Spokane instead of what they usually do in the car, which is fight and whine. Or, maybe not. Once we got to the motel, they were bouncing off the walls. If there is one thing worse than sleeping on a lumpy motel mattress, it’s trying to sleep on a motel mattress while listening to a wide-awake toddler chatter until 1:30 a.m. about diggers and trains and who poops in their pants or doesn’t (turns out, everyone does).

Eventually, I fell asleep wedged — uncomfortable and completely immobile — between a toddler and a hotel-crib-hating baby, while listening to the steady snores of my preschooler (but only until 5:30, when she woke up and decided to gallop around the room. Joy.)

After that refreshing 4-hour repose (and let’s not forget that the previous night was spent packing) it was time to spend nine hours in various planes and airports. Let me just say that while we saved thousands of dollars by driving to the states and taking a flight with a layover, THIS IS NOT THE WAY TO TRAVEL WITH KIDS. Seriously. Can’t emphasize that enough. Quite honestly, any travel time greater than two hours pretty much requires a heaping dose of Valium for everyone involved. It’s impossible for me to adequately describe the horror of a full day of flying after a half-day of car travel. I will try anyway, but much like the battlefield, nothing is quite the same as actually being in the trenches.

So, the day began promisingly enough. After drinking enough coffee to kill Juan Valdez himself, we headed to the airport with kids and bags in tow. Check-in and security were surprisingly uneventful, except for a teensy meltdown when James was asked to remove his shoes. The kids were all very well behaved in the airport. You know, like the calm before the storm.

That all changed once the captain turned on the “fasten seatbelt” light. I leaned over to fasten James’ for him, but apparently I had neglected to inform him that children need to be properly restrained during flight.

“NNNOOOO SEATBELT!!” he shrieked, to the warm smiles dismay of everyone around us. “I DON’T WANNITTTTT!!! NOOOOO, MOMMMMEEE, NOOOOO!”

And to my immense delight, my little treasure of a boy threw himself on the floor in front of his seat and proceeded to have the most adorable screaming fit ever. Everyone applauded. Oh, I mean glared. I threw up a little in my mouth.

Luckily, after we determined that James was now fulfilling the dual role of ticketed passenger AND lap baby, that flight was uneventful.

That flight.

Fast-forward through a disgusting and slimy lunch at the Las Vegas airport’s Sbarro, which was abundant with whining, crying and pizza-throwing by our non-napped baby, and we were on our second flight of the evening, which basically started not long before bedtime (you know about foreshadowing, right? So remember the phrases “non-napped baby” and “not long before bedtime”.)

So, as we are holding our now TWO lap babies pre-flight, we foolishly tell our fellow passengers, “They haven’t had a nap today and it’s bedtime, so with any luck, they will sleep the whole time.”

This is the point in our story where, were it sci-fi, current-day Heather builds a time machine and goes back to strangle two-weeks ago Heather, screaming, “WHY? WHY DID YOU SAY THAT??!”

Naturally, Thomas whined and cried the entire time and did not, in fact, fall asleep until he had entertained the entire plane with his imitation of an angry bald eagle for a good half-hour. We were happy to deplane long after everyone else, so that they would have time to decide NOT to rush us en masse.

By the time we got to the hotel, it was 2:30 a.m. Tennessee time and way past bedtime any way you cut it. The kids, thank goodness, all passed out the instant their heads hit their pillows and slept until a ridiculous hour (which, combined with Thomas eating the longest breakfast in the history of breakfast, probably owing to his hatred of Sbarro pizza, resulted in our being late to the rehearsal). Oh, I forgot to mention — the rehearsal and wedding? A four-hour drive from Nashville, where we landed. The money we saved on airfare might just be spent on psychotherapy.

The three-ish days we spent in Memphis are a blur of wedding awesomeness and kids-in-the-same-bed-as-me awfulness. I will skip over the late-night chatter of James, the early-morning waking of Maddux, and the joys of entertaining a baby in a series of unbabyproofed venues.

Fast-forward to the night at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. I was dreading this night, because no matter how much he may deny it, Dad does wake up at 5 a.m. and make inhuman amounts of maybe-inadvertent-but-maybe-not noise. Every. Living. Day. (Do we know any 4-year-old girls like this? Why yes. We surely do. Wonder where she got that …) So after securing his promise that he would be as quiet as the proverbial mouse (although, having grown up with pet rodents, I can assure you that they are actually very audible), we agreed to crash in the guest room. Thomas had dibs on the Pack ‘N’ Play, Maddux called the little couch, and James and I shared the air mattress.

Ahh, James. He of the never-ending nighttime chatter. On this particular night, I can verify that he was awake and talking until 1:30 a.m. Tennessee time. The rest of the night I spent completely awake, as his weight and my weight rolled us into the middle of the air mattress in a sweaty, kicking, drooly heap.

Sunrise in Tennessee comes around 6 a.m. I can tell you this because my watch said 4-something when I first heard Maddux chattering away to her stuffed animals and realized with horror that there were no blackout curtains. WHY DIDN’T I REMEMBER TO WARN THEM ABOUT BLACKOUT CURTAINS? All of the kids would really benefit from falconers’ hoods, but Maddux more so than her brothers. As soon as there’s a glimmer of light coming into her room, her eyes spring open and she’s ready to go, as if she were a walking, talking solar panel (who, unfortunately, keeps a charge long after the sun has set). Naturally, her morning adventures became louder and louder until I sent her downstairs — the resulting tantrum, of course, being what woke the boys at 6 our time. The saddest part in all of this is that I didn’t hear a single bang or crash from my dad the whole morning. Nope. Just from the kids.

This was going to be the most awesome day of travelling yet. I could tell.

We’ll just fast-forward here through the first flight, which was pretty much the same story as the second flight of the previous trip. James seatbelt tantrum, Thomas wants to nap but instead cries, Mom bounces everyone on knees and sings “Thomas the Tank Engine” theme song until boys fall asleep just as captain announces descent. Deplane in shame after angry business passengers, having ordered record amounts of in-flight adult drinks, rush off plane to consume Juan-Valdez-killing amounts of coffee and schedule vasectomies. Spend an hour on the tram because a) the kids think it’s a Thomas train and b) an hour of riding between two buildings numbly listening to your kids yell “All aboard!” exactly every two minutes beats sitting in chairs having people direct homicidal glares your way.

This brings us to the second flight.

Note to self: Never again schedule a flight after the kids’ normal bedtime. Especially after five days on the road. Especially when it’s your second flight of the day and you have made your Sbarro-hating baby eat (or rather, throw and complain about) Sbarro again because it is the only restaurant in your stupid terminal.

Imagine the previous plane scenarios I’ve described, except with Thomas literally climbing on Chris’ and my heads and James having even more floor tantrums. Imagine Maddux, for whatever reason, pretending she’s at a Jewish wedding — except substitute the glass with some in-flight Chips Ahoy wafer thingies. Imagine me singing the stupid Thomas train song for more than an hour (oh, lucky, LUCKY people in front of me!). Imagine it not really working. Imagine the most high-pitched eagle screech a baby could possibly make, but imagine it being done into a megaphone — seriously, that boy has some pipes. And for a good 30 minutes nonstop, at least. What I imagined was Samuel L. Jackson coming at us with a gun, beads of sweat rolling down his face as he commanded “Get these emm-effing kids off this emm-effing plane!”

I’m pretty sure that even the laid-back coastal mom whose two preschoolish-age kids led the rear of the plane in a rousing rendition of “She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain” was wishing she hadn’t sat in front of the crazy family with a preschooler, a toddler and an almost-toddler. And at the end of the Flight of Horror, instead of heaving a huge sigh of relief, I ended up carrying not one but TWO sleepy boys along with a diaper bag THROUGH THE AIRPORT because, even though you can get one immediately if you are flying OUT, apparently they do not rent out little baggage carts right at the gate. (The baggage cart wouldn’t have been for the boys, but rather the baggage that Chris was lugging instead of a boy. Although I’m sure they would have enjoyed that.)

We went to the hotel, James chattered and suffocated me in sweaty, drooly toddler snuggles (how DO they simultaneously snuggle and kick?), baby wailed, Maddux rose early with bells on, blah blah blah. I’m sure you know the drill.

AHHHH, Chris and I thought, Five hours and it’s over. (Oh, you poor fools.)

You know how you always forget something on a trip? Well, I remembered everything. Just not enough of everything. Namely, diapers. Also, after four days in a roomy minivan, I forgot how, in the Highlander, our three young and feisty children are all but inches away from each other.

So, with Thomas in a pair of size 5 Diego Easy-Ups, we headed onto the open road to a round of, “Jamesy’s touchin’ me!” “Maggots poops her pants, HAHAHA!” “CAWW! CA-CAWWWW!” “Thomas scratcheded me!” “DON’T DO DAT, MAGGOTS!!” “CAWWWWWWWWW!!!!”

But it was all OK, because hey, there’s the border! Hey, there’s that cute little town we passed in the Kootenays. Hey … what’s that smell?

That smell, my friends, is the smell of despair. Changing a diaper in the front seat of a fully-packed car is no easy task. Changing an oversize pair of Easy-Ups on a baby who has eaten too much Sonic and still thinks of diaper changes as a contact sport, in near-freezing temperatures at a mountain gas station? Worse than all the aforementioned plane trips combined.

Eventually we made it home, although we think our sanity may have been lost in transit. Guess that shows us for aiming too high! I’m pretty certain that if Icarus had been travelling with kids, he would have been pretty happy to plunge into the sea and end it all.

Next time: Why we will never fly Southwest again.

One Flu Over the Poo-Poo Nest

Before I begin today’s blog, let me just say that this post is not for the faint of heart. (That means you, Chris. Stop reading! I’m serious.) Really, the only people who are going to be able to read this post are those who have become inured to the steady flow of fluids (and solids, and mysterious viscous admixtures of fluids and solids) that goes along with having kids.

Anyway. Where were we before you involuntarily gagged? Oh yes. Poop and barf!

If you have kids, you know how often they get sick. If you have more than one kid, you know that the frequency of the entire family coming down with some wretched illness or another is directly proportional to the number of small children in your house. Three times the kids = three times the illness. And the younger the kids are, the more disgusting the illness — because no matter how much hand-washing, sanitizer and Lysol you employ, there is a certain amount of fecal-oral contamination endemic to an environment containing children between the ages of 4 months and 4 years. (You know, from the time they’re able to find their butt with their hands to the time when they are actually capable of washing said hands for more than two seconds without then running off giggling and sticking their dripping hands INTO THE DIAPER PAIL, JAMES. UGH!)

We have had various forms of combined flu three times in the past six months. So on Wednesday, when I removed Thomas from his high-chair post-breakfast, only to have him grunt out a diaperful of pea soup whilst covering my hair and shirt in a slick of oatmeal vomit, I was not as surprised as the uninitiated might think.

Of course, when you have to choose whom you clean first, and which end, proper decontamination is difficult enough azithromycin 500mg. That’s before you factor in the fact that 1-year-old boys love to grab their crotch areas during diaper changes. It’s as if their hands and behinds are charged with powerful magnets. Once I had wiped all the vomit off, here’s how the diaper change went:

Wipe horrible poopy legs and outside of diaper
Move baby’s hands
Wipe slightly poopy baby hands

Open diaper
Move baby’s hands
Wipe filthy poopy horrible baby hands

Pin naughty baby hands down with one hand
Give incredibly slimy bum a futile swipe
Move baby’s hands (HOW did they get out of my iron grip???)
Wipe filthier, poopier, even more horrible baby hands

Pin naughty baby hands again
Another futile swipe at the Bog of Unbearable Stench with a fresh wipe
Wipe baby’s hands for the gazillionth time
Snarl at baby to stop grabbing his filthy behind

Wipe as much poop as possible while baby continues reaching for favorite playthings
Cry to self
Cover baby’s mostly-clean bottom with diaper while I’m still ahead

Drench baby in hand sanitizer
Wash self in hot, soapy water
Cover self in hand sanitizer
Cry more tears upon seeing the baby has pooped again
Repeat above scenario endlessly
Find self sick with same thing baby has two days later, to no great surprise

And Chris (who is terrified of regular poop diapers, let alone the diarrhea that literally came splooshing out of THE FRONT of the baby’s diaper DURING DINNER last night — ARGHH!) wonders how I always get sick!

They’re Two, They’re Four …

I’ll admit it. My kids can be pretty thuggish when the mood strikes. Luckily, the only gang affiliation they currently have is their known ties to the Really Useful Crew, and the only banging is done to each other’s heads, with wooden trains.

James sleeps with a few select engines (never mind the fact that they are far from cuddly) and will happily sit at the train table from morning ’til night if given the opportunity. Thomas has finally made the transition from terrorizing the Isle of Sodor with Godzilla-like climbing and swiping to merely causing (mostly) unintentional carnage while actually playing with trains.

Even Maddux, who is ordinarily ensconced in the magical land of princesses and faeries, will drop everything for a showing of “Thomas and the Magic Railroad.” (Personally, I keep expecting Mr. Conductor to break into Jack Donaghy’s deadpan whisper, or admonish Lady to “Never go with an evil diesel to a second location!”)

Unfortunately, the trains of “Thomas and Friends” just happen to have really awesome names, such as James, Thomas and Henry. Sound familiar? Yeah, the first two are my boys’ names and the third is what both would have been named had I ever won that argument with Chris.

Now, not being a huge “Thomas The Tank Engine” aficionado before bearing my children, I was not aware that Thomas and James are the names of the fictional Number One and Number Five trains, respectively. However, this is brought to my attention each and every time I introduce my sons to any boy over the age of 3.

The other day, my lovely daughter asked me, somewhat sadly, “Mom, why didn’t you name me after a train?”

“Well,” I said, not having planned an answer for this particular question, “I actually did not name James and Thomas after trains. I picked those names out because I liked them.”


Phew, I thought, glad she dropped that.

“Mommy,” Maddux said thoughtfully after a minute or so, “I would like you to call me Lady from now on.”

“How about Daisy or Emily?” I ventured, wondering how people would react if I happened to utter an absentminded “C’mon, Lady” at the mall.

“No, Lady is the most beautifullest and special of the girl engines,” Maddux said, attempting to flutter her eyelashes like a Disney princess but (thanks to the fact that her eyes roll back completely when she does this) looking more like she was having a mild seizure. Then she threw her hair over her shoulder with a melodramatic hand gesture.

“Alright, Lady, but I will have to call you Maddux when we’re not at home.”

“That’s fine, Mommy.”

And off she went to the Isle of Sodor, to roll with her crew.

Touch of Eagle

My grandma once told me the story of the day she met my dad. She was in the hospital recovering from his birth when she heard what sounded like a piglet being slaughtered in the hallway. “Oh, I feel sorry for the mother of THAT baby,” she thought to herself. Right before they handed her the squealing baby in question. (And when they put him in the car, I bet he went “Wee-wee-wee-wee,” all the way home! Bahahaha!)

The evening after Thomas was born, I called Chris post-nap and told him, “So, you know how our one friend’s baby has that really piercing scream that drives you insane?”


“Well, you’re not going to like Thomas very much then. He sounds exactly like an eagle. A really loud eagle.”

I’m pretty sure he chalked up my disillusionment to postpartum depression.

At the hospital, Thomas was happy and fed and snoozy. Of course, nobody believed me about his piercing predatory-bird screech.

Then we brought him home.


I checked the bassinet to see if my baby had been replaced by a bald eagle. Nope. That sound came from a human child. MY child.

“Honey, did you hear that?” I asked Chris.

“How could I not?” was his reply.

At first, every time Thomas cried, I would check the TV thinking “The Colbert Report” was coming on. The cries were way too loud and impossibly pitched for a human voicebox to produce. Sometimes, rather than waking to feed the baby, I would lie in bed wondering to myself whether he might sprout wings and fly off to hunt for small rodents. Eventually, however, we got used to the bird-of-prey call that signaled our child’s awakening and preceded every meal.

But right now, Thomas is cutting three teeth, and our house is constantly filled with the insistent screams of our incredibly loud eagle-baby.

“CAAWWW! CAWWWW!” he shrieks from his aerie crib every morning.

“CAWW, CAWW, CAWWWW!” from the high chair as I prepare his food (maybe I should start serving him a meal more befitting a bird of prey, such as field mice?).

“CAWWWW!” he cries, piercing my very brain, as he cuddles into my arms. Neither Mommy snuggles nor Tylenol muffle the ear-rending eagle calls, though. By the end of the day, I need painkillers of my own for the headache one develops after a full day of caring for an incredibly angry, teething eaglet.

And I feel very sorry indeed for the mother of that baby.

Tricks Are for Kids

There’s nothing cuter than watching a baby wave “bye-bye” or getting a toddler to slap someone a high five. Unfortunately, that kind of thing is beneath my first two. Maddux in particular would master a skill only to abandon it the minute it was polished to perfection. “I’m nobody’s circus monkey,” she seemed to be saying.

So it came as quite a surprise when Thomas started doing all those adorable little parlor tricks we parents so enjoy. I had all but given up on teaching the usual cute baby tricks to any of my little iconoclasts when, out of nowhere, Thomas began waving “bye-bye” around the seven-month mark. And once he got really good at it, instead of retiring at the peak of his awesomeness, he graciously continued to oblige us by waving each and every time the words “bye-bye” were uttered.

Just for kicks, I decided to teach him high-fives, which I doggedly taught the other kids despite the terrifying flashbacks of Michelle from “Full House.” And within a few minutes, Thomas was high-fiving people like the most adorable little circus monkey you ever did see!

So enamored is my wee son of performing adorable tricks for the adoring throngs that his first confirmed words were “Clap, clap, clap!” (Seriously. For the longest time, he only cried “Mama” in his room when he was put down to sleep, which could be chalked up to coincidence.)

At a year old, he’s a clapping, waving, high-fiving bundle of eager-to-please cuteness who will happily make semi-appropriate animal noises when we’re reading books and will perform any pieces from his repertoire whenever we ask. It’s AWESOME!

Of course, when he is older and has more words, he will probably tell us that he was the poor little neglected youngest child. He’ll tell us (and his therapist) that he had to stand on his head to get any attention at all. But right now, he’s the cutest little circus monkey a parent could ask for!

A Farewell to Toes

Today I realized that I would have to start putting socks on my youngest. For the last many months, his feet have been free and naked. At some point this spring, when the mornings were no longer marked by frost and visible breath, I gave up on re-socking and re-shoeing Thomas once he (five minutes after being shod) inevitably tore off those accessories as if they were wrappers and his feet were delicious, juicy hamburgers. Eventually, I stopped putting footwear on him at all.

I know that this puts me on the slippery slope to toting the kids to Wal-Mart with nothing on them but sodden diapers and mystery chocolate. But what’s the point of shoes on a crawling baby, really? Sure, they’re cute. But he doesn’t need them and refuses to wear them, and HIS TOES ARE JUST SO DARN CUTE!!!

Unfortunately, as we live in Canada, this will not work year ’round. We’re entering sweater weather and, although he still pulls off his socks — and pants — it won’t be long before he will realize that the draft he is feeling is related to his lack of footwear.

So, goodbye, cute little toes! As soon as we find Thomas’ socks (so, January?) those little feet are going to get covered up every day. And one day, when frost begins creeping up the windowpanes, he will decide to actually keep those shoes on.

No riding the baby

As most parents will tell you, it’s not uncommon after birthing a child or two to find oneself uttering phrases one previously swore would never pass one’s lips. “Because I said so” and “Not while you’re living under my roof” come immediately to mind.

However, there are plenty of phrases we never imagined we’d utter at all — not because of any philosophical objection to them, or the negative emotional connotations based on our own upbringings. It’s just that some of the things kids come up with boggle the imagination.

For instance, I never imagined that an occasion would present itself in which I would be forced to say “No riding the baby.” And yet, it happens. On a daily basis. (Why IS it that babies are so immensely fun to ride? And why, oddly, do they not seem to mind terribly much that they are holding 30 pounds of bouncing 2-year-old on their backs?)

Since my kids are only 4, 2-and-three-quarters, and 1, I’m sure many more things will come out of my mouth that I never imagined would need to be said. But here are a few tidbits from the not-far-distant past:

“We do not paint with poop!” (Said every naptime and many mornings for a good eight months. One day, it happened three times and I ran out of sheets. *Cry*)

“Hairbrushes do not go in the VCR.”

“You cannot climb in the baby’s Exersaucer, especially while he is sitting in it.”

“We do not use markers on our brothers and sisters.”

“We do not use the Barbie bathtub to bring water into our room and pour it everywhere.” (We’re talking probably a half-hour of repeated trips during naptime; it’s lucky the second floor did not collapse after the resulting deluge.)

“Only Mommy is allowed to change the baby’s diaper!” (Technically, volunteers are appreciated, but not 3-year-old volunteers who fail to ask first.)

“Who ate the top half of all these yogurt cups?”

“Why are all your barrettes and clips in the toilet?”

And the list goes on, and on, and on. I will grant you that some of these statements have periods at the end of them when, in real life, their utterance was followed by a fair number of exclamation points. The remarkable thing is that I get so many compliments on how well-behaved the kids are, and what fabulous manners they exhibit (except, of course, when we are at the mall past naptime and the mirror-licking commences, always at the fanciest — and quietest — stores).

With all the admonitions against using babies in lieu of trikes and human waste as an artistic medium, “Well, I’m not (such-and-such kid’s) mom, and you’re not doing/getting (X forbidden thing)” doesn’t seem so bad anymore.

The great depression

During the late second and early third trimesters with James, I suffered from prenatal depression. It wasn’t something I talked about much, mainly because admitting that one has daily fantasies about driving off a cliff and sinking to the bottom of the lake is a bit of a conversation killer.

One of the ways I first knew I was pregnant this time around is that I started having mood swings and feelings of paranoia and self-loathing. But because of the possible teratogenic effects of antidepressants, I had really hoped to avoid going back on them until the second trimester. I figured I’d rather be a little cranky and unmotivated rather than have a baby with an omphalocele. Just my personal preference!

But this week, I’m throwing in the towel. At some point, the needs of the few are outweighed by the good of the many. My little bean has gotten in an extra four weeks of development, but now it’s time to think about mood-swinging, unmotivated Mommy, who can barely gather the energy to feed and dress the kids. And Maddi, who enjoys pushing boundaries but would prefer for Mommy not to yell at her for tiny infractions. And even James, who is a very empathetic baby and can sense that all is not well with his mommy.

So hopefully, by next week, I will be feeding and dressing the children once again, and not screaming psychotically at my toddler for dumping sodden Cheerios into the “clean dish” side of the double sink, and not being tempted to smack James’ bottom when he tries to leap off the change table to happy, naked freedom.

Meanwhile, I have bought my first transition clothes to wear while I am too pudgy for my regular wardrobe and too slim for maternity, and I’m anxiously awaiting my next appointment in nine days, when we hope to hear a heartbeat or see a baby.

Conception confusion

On Monday, I went into Dr. Goncalves’ office expecting to see a baby on ultrasound. (Actually, with the abundance of early symptoms and my already-rounding tummy, I expected to see two babies on ultrasound!) Instead, the doctor found a sac that measured 5 weeks 2 days rather than the 6 weeks we estimated. Dr. G offered to schedule a better ultrasound at the hospital, but I declined. If the baby was OK, we’d see or hear it at the next appointment; if it wasn’t, there was nothing we could do anyway. I felt a little numb as I left the office.

Like any red-blooded worrywart mom who’s been offered an extra ultrasound, I naturally changed my mind within 5 minutes of leaving. I tried really hard to stick it out, but after a day and a half I caved. I called the doctor’s receptionist this morning to have her put in a requisition for an ultrasound and expected to have an appointment early next week.

Much to my surprise, the hospital ultrasound lab called me at 10:30, told me they had a cancellation and asked if I could come in at noon. I took the fastest shower humanly possible and we piled into the car and hightailed it to the hospital. But the news was the same. The sac measured 5 weeks 4 days and while a yolk sac was visible, a fetal pole wasn’t, nor was a heartbeat. Then again, a 5-week fetus isn’t as likely to have a heartbeat yet. So either I ovulated five days late, or the baby stopped growing five days ago. We’re hoping for the former and we’ll see on Feb. 27 at my next appointment.

It’s not the answer I was hoping to get, but it’s not the death knell, either. On my way out, another mom told me she had the same experience with her last pregnancy. A few months later, at her 18-week ultrasound, they found twins.