Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pride and Pregnancy

Have you ever noticed how, when you're pregnant, your body kind of becomes public property? It's like, just because your stomach happens to protrude a few inches (or feet, as the case might be) further in front of you than usual, it has suddenly entered the public domain.  

I mean, the first few months of pregnancy, sure, you're sick as a dog and feel as if Mount Vesuvius will erupt if you get the tiniest whiff of a cooking pork product, but at least it's a private agony.  Then suddenly, month five or six hits and your belly pops out and you become a one-woman petting zoo.  One of my little piano students rubs my belly enthusiastically every time she comes for her lesson, announcing matter-of-factly, "Yep!  It's getting bigger!"  And quite honestly, eight-year-old piano students are entirely preferable to the random strangers in the supermarket who get this irresistible urge to touch my stomach and comment on its size (something nobody would dare do if, instead of being pregnant, I had just overdone it on the twinkies and doughnuts).

And sometimes the comments are worse when they're trying to be nice.  Like the sympathetic friends who try to make you feel better by asking, "Oh, are you pregnant?  You're so tiny, you hardly even show!" when you know for a fact that this morning you split the seam on your hugest pair of maternity pants and you've started wondering if they make maternity clothes in size "Hippo".

Then toward month seven or eight you know it's getting bad because instead of asking "How are you doing?" people start asking in this sad, concerned voice "How are you feeling?" and what they really mean is, "Holy smokes -- you've bloated up like a whale.  You must feel awful!"

So between all the comments and belly-rubbing and weekly doctor visits, by the time you're ready to deliver, you've completely lost all inhibitions regarding your pregnant body.  When Will was born, I had been poked, prodded, and checked by so many random doctors, nurses, groups of interns in training (and I'm sure there was a janitor or two) over the course of twelve hours of labor, I felt like getting on the hospital P.A. system and announcing "ATTENTION HOSPITAL VISITORS, IF ANYONE ELSE IS INTERESTED IN CHECKING TO SEE HOW FAR THE PATIENT IN ROOM 475 HAS DILATED, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO DO SO AT THIS TIME." 

To tell the truth, though, most of the time it's not so bad.  It's kind of sweet the way, when you walk into the room, people look at your belly before they look at your face and it makes them smile (Or laugh out loud.  Or dive out of the way like a steamroller's coming through).   It's nice to know that just a glance at my stomach can brighten someone's day.  Hey, I try to do my part to make the world a better place.  And if all it takes is looking like I've swallowed a giant beach ball, so be it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

My Two-Year Old, the Sugar Addict

 I can only blame myself, really.  I mean, with my first pregnancy, I was so careful.  I followed my "What to Eat When You're Expecting" book to the letter, shunning all sugar and white flour, concocting incredibly healthy and incredibly foul-tasting cauliflower soups, and eating muffins made with enough wheat germ to make them taste like tree bark. 

But with my second it all went out the window. 

I bought boxes of chocolates and virtually inhaled all the ones I liked, then nibbled the chocolate off the outsides of the ones I didn't (honestly, who decided lemon cream was okay to put inside a chocolate?)

The arrival of each new holiday signalled a new adventure in my sugar indulgence -- at Halloween, it was candy corns; Christmas, those foil-wrapped crispy chocolate bells;  and Valentines, conversation hearts.  The rest of the time, it was basically just chocolate: chocolate bars, chocolate frosting, and chocolate chips dumped into the peanut butter jar and scooped out with a spoon.  I know, I know -- the "What to Eat" folks would be appalled.  But really, who wants wheat bran/carob chip brownies when you can have a pint of chocolate chip ice cream? Especially when your belly's huge and your ankles are swollen and you feel like some sort of mutant hippo?

So I shouldn't be surprised that my now-two-year-old has some kind of sixth sense when it comes to candy.  All it takes is the faintest rustle of a plastic wrapper and his little face lights up: "I want some!"

Case in point:  a couple of weeks ago, I sneaked a bag of those Whopper's Robin's Eggs into the shopping cart at Wal-Mart (obviously, my diet's not much better with this pregnancy!).  They made it into the cart under the radar, and they even made it through the cashier and into the grocery sack without incident.   As we drove home, I turned up the radio and at a stop light gently pried the bag open.  I carefully slid my hand inside and pulled out an egg.  I turned my head to the side so Jack wouldn't see me putting it in my mouth.  Crunch.

"I want a Whopper!"

He's like the little "Sixth Sense" kid that sees dead people, except he sees candy -- through cupboard doors, in my purse, in the top drawer of my dresser -- he's always managing to find my secret stashes (of which I have quite a few, I must admit).  One day I walked into the kitchen and found him sitting on the counter, one hand up to his wrist in my sugar bin, the other shoving a handful of the stuff into his mouth.  "I yike sugar!" he cheered, delighted with his discovery.

I imagined my dental bill climbing into the thousands.

I can't even buy cereal with any sugar in it -- he eats the marshmallows out of the Lucky Charms, the frosting off of the Frosted Mini-Wheats, and even digs out the sugar-coated raisins from the Raisin Bran.  I've created a monster.  And it's all my fault -- it's like he was fed a direct line of corn syrup in utero.

But then again, who needs the guilt?  So, next time I find him reaching into a bag of chocolate chips, I'll probably just grab the peanut butter jar and a couple of spoons and join in.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Kindergarten Shots!; Or, How to Get Your Five-Year-Old Vaccinated Without Losing Your Mind

Will is an unusual five-year-old.  At least, that's what his pediatrician kept informing me as she stood there, shaking her head exasperatedly, watching him kick and scream and flail his arms in the examining room.  

"This is really unusual behavior for a five-year-old."

More kicking and flailing.  Louder screaming.  More head-shaking.

"This is really unusual for a five-year old. Really, really unusual."

Okay, yeah, thanks.  I get the idea.  An interesting observation, but not exactly helpful to a six-month-pregnant mom struggling to hang on to a 40 pound kid intent on getting out the door and as far away as possible from the two nurses waiting in the doorway to give him his kindergarten shots.  Was she trying to tell me that most five-year-olds sit calmly smiling as they get stabbed four times in the leg with needles the size of light sabers? (F.Y.I.: That is the needle size as described by Will, who admittedly may be exaggerating somewhat).

Actually the whole thing hadn't started so bad -- Will held my hand and skipped across the parking lot toward the clinic, anticipating the promised incentive (read: bribe) of a treat in the pharmacy if he handled the situation calmly.  I was even waxing a little sentimental, thinking *sniff* how grown-up my little boy was getting.

Next thing I knew I was dragging him through the lobby of the pediatrics office, howling and shrieking (Will, not me -- though I felt like joining in), with the nurses looking at us like they'd like to run for tranquilizer darts.   

The pediatrician couldn't even finish the exam (even with a stethoscope, I'm sure she couldn't hear his heartbeat over his yells) and with more of the aforementioned head-shaking and staring like Will was some kind of bizarre cross-bred animal at the zoo, she escaped and left the poor nurses to the mercy of my screaming hyena/howler monkey.

Well, to make a long story short, less than thirty seconds after being pinned down by two nurses and a mom and stabbed by four (light-saber-sized) needles, Will was sitting teary-eyed but quiet, contentedly investigating the bandaids on his thighs and asking what kind of treats they had in the pharmacy (I didn't see where the nurses went, but I'm guessing they left to see if the pharmacy served any alcoholic beverages).

Unusual behavior?  Maybe.  But not for a five-year-old.  Or a nine-year-old (my sister-in-law just told me about chasing her nine-year-old down a busy highway last November trying to get him in for a flu shot).  Or even a thirty-one-year-old mother of two -- it was all I could do to keep from screaming bloody murder and running down the street when I got my last epidural.

And Will did, in fact, finish the exam.  His dad took him back this morning and swears he didn't make a peep (though he says the doctor and nurses were backing away warily as they walked into the office).

So I guess the moral of this story is, if you're six months pregnant and thinking of taking your five-year-old for his kindergarten immunizations, think again -- and send him with his dad.  Or just invest in a few tranquilizer darts.

Note: Here are a couple of  helpful sites on actually preparing your child for shots ... unfortunately, I found them after the fact.  Of course, I get to go through this all again in about three years, so... let me know if any of it works! 

Pumpkin Soup

An easy soup that my kids love to help me make.  They can help with everything except heating it on the stove.

1 tsp. onion powder
3 T. butter (melted)
1 can unsweetened pumpkin
1 can chicken broth
1 C. half-and-half
1 t. salt
1/4 t. cinnamon
1 T. brown sugar or honey
1/4 t. yellow curry (if you like curry)

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan.  Warm over medium heat, stirring frequently, until hot but not boiling.

Cottage Cheese Pancakes

This is a Russian recipe that usually uses "Tvorog" or farmer's cheese.  I can't find any in my area so I just use cottage cheese, and it works fine (though it doesn't taste exactly authentic).  My kids help me mix them up, and I fry them up.

1 C. cottage cheese
2 eggs
3 T. sugar (Jack's favorite part!)
3/4 cup flour
dash of salt

Combine ingredients and drop by spoonfuls into a frying pan coated with oil or cooking spray.  Brown on both sides and serve with butter, jam, or even sour cream on top.

Easy Peach Dessert

Another fun recipe to make with kids -- just toss in ingredients, mix, and stick it in the oven.  

1 C. flour
1 C. sugar
1 egg
1 t. baking soda
1 t. vanilla
1 t. salt
1 can peach slices
1/4 C. brown sugar

In a baking dish, combine flour, sugar, egg, soda, vanilla, and salt.  Mix in peaches.  Sprinkle with brown sugar and bake at 325 for 35-40 minutes.  Top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.