Sunday, February 27, 2005

mourning doesn't end at sunrise

Viviana has been often in my thoughts lately. I'm not sure why, other than that Jacqui's been growing and changing so quickly lately that I can't help wondering what Vivi would've been like now, at two and a half years old. Lately in dreams I look for her. I'm always taken by surprise when she's dead. I wake up crying, heartbroken, feeling like I'm suffocating.

My friends and family know her story already; in case a stranger stops in here, or in case those who know miss her a little and would like to see, her photos are still online, and so is the journal. I'll warn you that the photos and story are upsetting; don't click on my account.

My pregnancy with her was actually my fourth. I had three miscarriages before I kept Viviana (almost) to term ... Jacqui was my fifth pregnancy. Miscarriages are hard. Holding your baby daughter and then LOSING HER -- that's harder. I'm not saying there aren't people out there who have it worse, I'm just saying for me, this was the hardest thing I've ever done. I want to type "survived" right there, not "done". But given the dreams, the resurgence of sadness, I don't think I'm quite through it yet.

And for those people who can't understand, the ones who continue to ask when we're going to "give Jacqui a brother or sister" ... this is for you:

It took six years and five pregnancies for Jacqui to get here. I DON'T HAVE ANOTHER SIX YEARS TO PUT INTO IT. I haven't got the strength to do it again.

So stop asking.


My sewing room no longer exists. Geoff is upstairs in our third bedroom, reconnecting all of his wires and cables and turning that space into his office. Jacqui's in her exersaucer up there, keeping an eye on his progress.

I'm cleaning up the ground-level room in preparation for some new Ikea items which will arrive on Tuesday morning -- bookshelves and a love-seat.

Oh yes. The excitement never ends in this house.

Sidenote: Geoff's office will now have existed in all three levels of this house, over the course of three years. Next year we'll have to move him up onto the roof.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Jacqui's home-away-from-home

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


Yes, her official first word: noodle.

She IS my daughter. :)

Friday, February 18, 2005

What's weirder ...

... taking the dogs' toys away from the baby before she puts them in her mouth, or having to throw out a pacifier because the dog was carrying it baby-style IN his mouth? Sadly, no camera was within reach.

Jacqui with her aunt Mandy (taken with my camera-phone)

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

11 months

Tonight Geoff asked, "When did we stop being spring chickens?" And I answered, "11 months plus 9 months ago." He did the math -- "So, twenty months ago?"

"Yes," I said. "In four months, we can celebrate the two-year anniversary of the demise of our spring-chickenhood."

You can tell we have an eleven-month old baby because on Sunday when we got home from swimming, we decided not to get out of the car right away because Jacqui was napping. We sat in the car, engine running, for about a half-hour ... and no lewd or lascivious acts took place. We napped.

She always has such a wonderful time in the water. This time there was no hesitation at all -- she wanted to go in a specific direction, so she WENT. She jumped up and down in the water; she held her legs up behind her when we swam her around; she played with adults and other children alike. We're going to try to start going twice a week instead of just on Sundays.

Yesterday in the mail we received a box from my younger sister. It held a plastic cat that giggles and vibrates when you press a button, and a set of Peek-a-Blocks. Jacqui was entertained by the cat and completely enthralled by the blocks. Thank you Mandy!

She had almost as much fun getting the new toys out of their boxes as she had playing with the toys themselves. She loves a puzzle. Earlier, before the arrival of the box, I had given her the wicker basket full of her toys. Instead of pulling toys out of the basket, she started pulling the basket apart. Geoff asked me why I hadn't told him we were having a Maguyver baby; he warned me never to give her bubblegum, because she surely will blow something up. I figure she's safe with gum as long as we keep her away from duct tape.

At eleven months, she seems both huge and tiny at the same time. She's still so little -- she opens her mouth as wide as possible to put food in it. But she's so big! Sometimes she looks at me with an expression that is much older than she has any right to.

She's still my baby. She cries when she's tired; she doesn't realize she's got teeth yet, so she BITES occasionally; she's becoming independent, but then she realizes it and clings tenaciously to me or Geoff for hours. She's becoming who she will be, and we get to watch it happen.

More than that -- we get to help SHAPE it. When we got Jake, a lot of our friends told us that raising a puppy would be great practice for raising a baby. That's sort of true. You at least get to learn patience -- a dog can only do what a dog can do. Which means that if you don't give the dog something it's SAFE to chew on and destroy, he'll chew on and destroy something you'd wish he hadn't. And then who will you blame? The dog, for being a dog? That doesn't make much sense -- you CHOSE to have the dog.

A baby needs tangible love and reassurance for a lot longer than a puppy does. You get to hold her and love her when she's screaming in your face. When you can't take another second of it and want nothing more than to just put her down and WALK AWAY because nothing you are doing seems to make her happy, that's the time to remember she's only a baby, and she can only do what a baby can do. And all I can do is hold her and tell her how much I love her, until she's peaceful in my arms -- or until she finally gets distracted by a light-switch, a lamp-shade, or a door-knob.

And this is what Jacqui teaches. For all the giggling, squealing, squeaking, babbling joy she brings, she also sometimes feels lonely or afraid or angry. She's a package deal, just like we all are.

And I wouldn't trade her for anything.

Monday, February 14, 2005

my funny valentine

Sunday, February 13, 2005

a different philosophy

I don't think of myself as overly politically-correct. I generally try not to say things that will hurt people, which some may interpret as PC-ness, and that's fine if that's how they need to see it. So when I write this story, I'm torn between wanting to write this story, and wanting to avoid causing anyone undue distress. I suppose if any of my friends reading this want to defend the person in question, that's their right ... I'm not feeling very charitable at this moment.

On Saturday evening we went to a birthday party at a restaurant for a friend's three-year old son. About 20 people showed up, including our little threesome, and Jacqui turned shy when confronted with so many new and noisy folks. She actually feigned sleep at one point!

Dinner was good, the guests were all folks who enjoy each others' company, and the birthday boy had a good time. At least, he had a good time until he was forced to sit down and actually eat his food; that provoked some minor sulking, and then he was fine again. But that Moment of Sulk was the catalyst for an outburst by one of the guests that still has me shaking my head.

This guest, a giant man with a booming voice, called over to the boy's father, across the dining room: "Do you need to borrow my belt?!"

We all assumed he was joking, and for the record I'm sure he WAS joking. No one even really reacted to him ... which I suppose is why he had to take it further, into a rant about people not smacking their kids enough. By the time he was finished -- in his very loud, very male voice -- it felt like the entire restaurant had turned to stare at him. Into the uneasy silence, I offered a sardonic, "Wow. You sounded almost like you meant that."

See, that was a mistake. I ought to have just let the silence widen, as it would have, until maybe he'd've felt uncomfortable and STOPPED TALKING. Instead, he started up again. Fortunately, everyone seemed to have had enough of him and started talking OVER him -- which was something of an achievement.

And the reason I shake my head? He's got three kids of his own. I don't know how much of his talk was just talk, and how much he might've meant -- but I know that if he meant any of it, I feel really bad for his kids. And for his wife, too, for that matter.

For the most part, Jacqui and Geoff and I had a wonderful night out. Jacqui even opened up a little and let someone new hold her for a while! But you know, if you don't leave the house, you never have to deal with the loud opinions of people for whom you hold zero respect.

The other night we went to Foxfire Grill (which always reminds me of Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction explaining "Fox Force Five") for dinner.

The taste of the water just never matches Jacqui's expectations.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

textures and shapes and noises

Oh yes -- she's that age. She loves to touch doorknobs and lightswitches; she rattles paper bags and slaps her flat hands down on absolutely everything to hear the noise. She puts her hands around the 'fridge door handles and PULLS. (She only succeeds in pulling herself closer to the refrigerator, but that's okay because she can see her reflection in the shiny black doors, and that still makes her happy.)

And that reminds me of the woman we met at the 'flu vaccine clinic this past autumn. Jacqui and I went with my mom, in the middle of the shortage, because my mom is in the You-Must-Have-It group. A lady we sat near during the three-hour wait played with Jacqui -- no one can resist her -- and ended up telling us about her Precocious Nephew. Her Precocious Nephew apparently could not only walk reliably by ten months, but he had also discovered a way to wedge a wooden spoon into the refrigerator door to open it, take out bottles, and drink them without anyone knowing. He'd hide the empty bottles under the couch.

When someone tells me stories like that, all I can do is nod and smile and think "How stupid do you think I am?" or alternatively, "How stupid can you possibly be?" Because there is no way a ten-month old would be able to open a refrigerator even if he HAD discovered the principles of leverage, and if he COULD, he WOULDN'T know to hide the empty bottles somewhere! AND, additionally, even if all of these things WERE happening, where was his MOTHER while he was doing these things?

My disbelief had to have been visible, if not palpable, but the woman kept gushing about this boy, who at the very least was establishing a bad relationship with food, if her stories could be believed. Which, if you hadn't caught on yet, they couldn't.

But that brings us back to my Jacqui, who yesterday morning was patting her tongue with her hand, and then used that hand to push her tongue back into her mouth with an air of true discovery.

I'm revising her status, by the way. She's no longer my SqueakyBird. Now she is the SqueakyCub. This is because if I'm lying on my back, she waits til I'm apparently unsuspecting and then POUNCES, grabbing my nose so that I'll say "beeeeeeeeeep!" in varying degrees of amusement and/or pain, depending on where her little fingernails have embedded themselves. Sometimes she'll mix it up and pounce on my belly instead, leaving drooly kisses and zerberts in her wake.

I'll let you know when she figures out how to open the refrigerator and make coffee.

Friday, February 11, 2005

more! more! more!

Basil pesto tortellini? Jacqui points, eyes wide, and YELLS.
Avocado rolls at the sushi restaurant? You should SEE how wide her mouth opens when I dissect them for her.
Oh my goodness. Egg noodles with butter and parmesan? GIVE THEM TO ME, she says!

Last night Jake walked up to her and stuck his nose in her ear. She squealed so loud! Then he just turned and walked away! He sat at my feet about four feet away from her and waited. When she got over to us, he flipped over on his back and let her pat his tummy with her baby-patting hands. He was so good and patient; I'm sure he thinks she's another puppy, and that's fine for right now.

Dante was at the vet during this time. He's got a thing growing on his ear, and today we're starting a course of antibiotics, antihistamines, and prednisone for him.

Geoff and I have spent the past several days baby-proofing; now she is my Intrepid Explorer, glancing back once in a while to make sure I'm following when she changes rooms. Right now she's sitting in front of the sliding door, watching the puppies play on the deck.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

it was a Moment.

Around 5:30 tonight, Jacqui and I were playing on the floor while I was on the phone with my mom. Jacqui pulled herself up into a stand, supported by the perma-gate that blocks the stairs. I honestly wasn't paying much attention to her; she was in my periphery, but I was focused on the telephone conversation.

Until I realized she had one arm stretched toward me while the other kept her supported. "Hold on a sec," I said to my mom, and said to a baby (as well as I could with my heart sitting in my throat), "Are you coming to me?" I held out my hand, but I was about three feet away from her. She took ONE FULL STEP away from the gate, kept standing -- unsupported now! -- and then took my hand with hers for the next three steps.

She gave me the biggest, longest hug ever. She hugged me long enough for my tears to go away, and then while I snuggled her, she gave me a big slobbery kiss on the chin.

That's when I told my mom I'd have to talk to her more later.

She hums to herself as she "reads".

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Waterbaby: I always bring the camera, but never manage to get it out of the diaper-bag. Today I remembered it when we were getting dressed after swimming (note blue lips and sleepy eyes) ... maybe next time the camera will make it out to the pool!

Saturday, February 05, 2005

SqueakyBird in her native environment.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

away weekend

The weekend was snowful and cold -- therefore, we went to the beach.

Jacqui, my mom, and I drove over on Friday afternoon. It was the sort of day that looked warmer than it was; blue skies smiled down at us as we crossed rural Delaware. The ride over was completely unexciting, with the exception of that one surreal moment when a DUCK rose from nowhere and nearly sideswiped my car. If my mom and I hadn't both seen it, I'd've thought one of us must've been hallucinating.

On Saturday we did the unthinkable: we went shopping at the outlet stores. I don't know if I've mentioned it, but Jacqui loves to shop. This is very frightening to me; I do NOT love to shop. I don't enjoy crowds of people, I hate waiting in line, and browsing isn't something I do outside of Firefox. On the other hand, my two pairs of jeans have both developed new ventilation systems, so it was time.

How fortunate, then, that Jacqui was with us to enjoy the outing! We found two outlets for children's clothing and she made fast friends, if only temporarily, with a couple of toddlers -- one of whom walked right up to me and put his hands flat against my belly, looking up at my breasts with hungry eyes. I realize they're impressive right now, but I was NOT wearing my "buffet is open" t-shirt! (No, I don't actually own such a thing.) He followed us around one of the stores, hiding behind displays and grinning bashfully whenever I made eye contact, until his mother eventually came looking for him.

And what was she thinking, letting him wander around on his own? He was MAYBE two years old and cute-as-a-button, and all of the CODE ADAM stickers in the world wouldn't have saved him from a predator. He was out of her line of sight for at least ten minutes during which any number of nightmarish scenes could have taken place. I've never been an advocate of leashes for children, but what's wrong with a little old-fashioned hand-holding? Whatever happened to "stay with me"? What is WRONG with people??

Jacqui, snug in her stroller, had an excellent time. She touched more than she should have, she gifted many folks with smiles, and she filled her social-meter for the next two days.

And that was good because on Sunday we were snowed in. The three of us spent the day watching "men trying to kill their wives" movies on TNT, playing on the floor, and eating microwaved food. And it was Sunday afternoon when Jacqui stood a couple of feet away from me, then held onto my outstretched legs like gymnastic bars and WALKED TO ME.

Monday was a travel day, so we spent the bulk of the morning repacking; we spent the bulk of the afternoon driving to my mom's house. It was very late at night when Jacqui and I pulled into the snow-covered driveway of home; we used Mailman Tony's footprints as our path up to the front door, and we walked into an empty house.

Geoff arrived not long afterwards -- he had flown away for the weekend to spend some time with his folks and his brother in Canada (where it didn't snow on him at all -- where is the justice?). We spent the weekend sending each other text- and photo-messages with our new cellphones.

Today the puppies came home from the kennel, and now we are again one big happy family.

And THAT is the end of my story.