Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Soliciting Opinions

Everything going on in my life right now has already been blogged about ad nauseum (like the fact that Landon reverted in his poor sleep habits last night, and JP and I didn't go to bed at a reasonable hour because The Daily Show spurred yet another Obama debate, so I'm really tired, and how I'm freaking out about my unstarted papers and how behind I am in my classes, and that the list of things to be done before our move in 30 days is a mile long, and yeah... the usual mix of whining, stress, and panic), so I am going to ask for product reviews instead.

JP and I will be in the market for a refrigerator, washer, and dryer in a few (rapidly approaching) weeks. I'd like the fridge to be stainless or "stainless look" because the colors in the kitchen are already rather dark and the sink is stainless. I have no preference yet on the type of washer and dryer. I'm intrigued by the front-loading washer option but I've heard they have some leaking and moldy-smell issues, so I welcome all opinions.

Any brands, models, or styles you love or hate? In Texas your fridge is chattel, so all of this stuff is going wherever we go for the next many years (my parents still have their fridge from their first house in 1980!) and we'd like to get good ones with minimal amounts of buyer's remorse. Thoughts on places to purchase these items, especially in Austin also welcome!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Day 289

When Landon was in the NICU I organized my pictures in folders by day: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, etc. It seemed like each day was so different and so full of milestones (first day off CPAP! first time we saw his eyes! first day without a feeding tube! first day without nasal cannula!) that I wanted to keep each one separate. Obviously the day-by-day organization method would soon get out of hand (and believe it or not, I do go days without taking a picture), so once he came home I switched to a monthly archiving system.

But sometimes it's fun to think about how many days have gone by and marvel at how many changes have sneaked up on us. When did they happen? When did he start using his hands so purposefully? When did he develop that sense of humor that tells him it's funny when mommy makes the quacking noise before she takes a picture? Because we see him everyday it's easy to lose perspective of how amazing his leaps in development really are.


Here he is on Day 12:



And, in the same chair, on Day 289:


It's almost like he's a completely different baby. And while I loved super cuddly, fall asleep after five minutes, newborn Landon, I think I prefer the super fun, full of personality, 9.5 month version.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A House Divided... Stands Just Fine

I got a comment the other day asking, "How can you and JP have such a good relationship with such differing political views?" and since I'd imagine most of you are tired of reading about my tiredness, I figured I'd respond. Yes, JP and I have different political views- on some issues, very different political views- but living together in peace, love, and general harmony is really not that hard. People disagree on all kinds of things; I don't think there's a couple out there who agrees on everything. And while politics can be more incendiary than some topics, it hasn't caused any fires for us yet (though there has been smoke).

Politics is actually a shared passion and hobby for us, and I'd much rather be married to someone who loves it and disagrees with me than someone who is ambivalent. I love that he always comes home wanting to talk about some news story he read and I love that we email articles back and forth during the day. Both of our beliefs are based in facts and research, and we can - and do - defend them on a regular basis. His disagreement makes me smarter. Sometimes I modify my views, sometimes he changes his, but most of them time we hold on with more strength and surety after a good debate.

We agree on the social issues I feel strongest about, the ones which I do have a hard time seeing the other side of (like being pro-choice and stem cell research and against things like the defense of marriage act). We disagree on all kinds of other things, among them our choice of presidential candidate. I admit that after a night of staying up hours too late, determined to convince the other of the the rectitude of our own position, I have thought about how nice it would be if he just agreed with me (I've never thought it would be easier if I agreed with him ;). But because we don't make the debates personal or turn them into attacks of character, I really enjoy them. Passion in a marriage is good thing. Before the 2008 presidential campaign started up, we were agreeing on so much it kind of got boring (one thing I can thank the Bush administration for is uniting us in our shared loathing).

We've never had an argument (or even a difference of opinion) about finances or children. He is unfailingly supportive of my career and doesn't consider any household duty to be "my" job. On our second date when I told him I wanted to work after having children (it was a very big deal to me and I grew up in a lovely suburb that led me to think I was quite radical in that desire), he looked at me like I was a little crazy and said, well, of course, why wouldn't you? That mattered more to me than who he voted for in the previous election. He loves my family and is an amazing father. Tonight when Landon threw up little pieces of carrot and noodle all over the living room floor, JP stripped him, handed him to me for a bath, and spent 45 minutes cleaning all the pukey pieces out of the carpet, the tray, and even used a q-tip to get to the insides of the legs of the high chair. In short, I adore him, even if his views on immigration occasionally make me want to tear my hair out.

Our debates are based in love and mutual respect, and while life would sometimes be easier if we just agreed on foreign policy, I look forward to a future of defending my political beliefs. And I hope that our kids grow up reading, asking questions, and joining in what I imagine will be spirited dinner table conversations.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

And the Landon Taketh Away

We thought the crying it out was working. On Wednesday morning he was up at 4:00 and cried until 5:30 when he finally fell back asleep. On Thursday he woke up at 5:12 and cried until almost 6 when I rescued him. On Friday he woke up at 6 - victory! He's been going down between 7:45 and 8, so that was the 10 hours we were told by the pediatrician we all needed to be getting. For the first time in a long time I didn't fall asleep last night fearing what the morning would bring. The Landon had other plans.

He woke up crying at 3:25. We waited for about 10 minutes and then went in to pat him a few times. He settled, we left, he screamed. And continued to do so until 4:45. At first we alternated going in to calm him and then leaving. At about 4:20, when we realized it had been a fruitless hour of not sleeping, we gave him some motrin. JP then held him and rocked him and he fell back asleep until 7. I don't know what that was about - my guess is another tooth, but sometimes I think we just blame those teeth for everything. But the screaming at 3:25 was unusual. Who knows... I do know that I'm very tired and the super productive day I had planned (that I need) is not getting off to a very good start.



But how can you be mad at that face? Especially when he's proudly showing off his new favorite trick of making very loud spitting noises.


Sometimes the cuteness is all that keeps me going in the morning; that, and some kind of primal mothering instinct.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Follow-Ups and Non Sequiturs

I don't have anything comprehensive to write about today, so here's a few comments I wanted to add to past posts.

One thing I meant to say in "Never Ready", is that the reason I started crying wasn't because of the horrible memories (they're bad, but they don't make me cry anymore), but rather because of all the warm, supportive comments from readers, most of whom I don't know. They were pretty incredible and I was reminded of how much I relied on this blog during that dark time. The support of my family and friends literally kept me going- they made me food (friends), made me eat it (mom), and were just a physical presence of support and love. But it was the blog that became my lifeline. My outlet to express my outrage and then my fear; my diary to record details I knew I wouldn't remember; and a source of overflowing validation and kindness. Having my family and friends stand behind me was important of course, but at a time when it's strangers who have control over your life and don't believe what you're telling them, having other strangers tell you they believe you, tell you how much your story affected them, and write such wonderful things meant more than hearing my friends say the same thing. I've said thank you a lot, and meant it, but the other night it hit me just how much those comments helped me. Any time I wasn't sleeping or on the phone or visiting Landon in that horrible place, I had my laptop in my lap, writing a new post and reading all the comments from past ones. And I think it was the continually overflowing inbox that kept me from drowning in despair and fear. So many of those tears the other night were tears of gratitude and awe. Maybe someday if I can handle it, I'd like to read the ones from previous posts, I know I'll be overwhelmed again, but in a good way.

Second, when I typed up my daily schedule the other day I didn't want to make it sound bad or like I was complaining about it, and I hope I didn't. It's certainly busy and there are times when I long for the years when JP and I can lounge in bed on a Saturday morning, reading the paper, arguing about the articles, and reminiscing about the crazy days of our youth. But in general, I feel lucky to have the days that I do - JP is my partner in every sense, Landon is such a joy, and despite the impending paper deadlines and moving madness, I'm blessed to have the stresses that I do. Landon even slept in until 6:02 this morning, so everyone in the Lag Liv household is feeling pretty chipper.

Now I am off to the dentist to pick up a mouth guard because apparently stress has caused me to start grinding my teeth. I have no less than 12 fractures going straight from top to bottom in various teeth and have ground all the enamel off the bottom few. And to think I went so many years of my life without this destructive little habit. Just another thing the law school admissions booklets don't warm you about.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Day in the Life of a Law School Mama

Several people have done posts like this, and my schedule isn’t as crazy as some of them, but it’s busy and someday when I’m retired and bored I can look back on it and think that a little boredom can be a lovely thing.

The random day chosen is yesterday, Wednesday, April 23, 2008.

5:12 AM: Landon’s wails pierce through my unconscious state. Curse, repeatedly. Decide life would be significantly better if he would sleep until 6. Be sad for a few seconds that my life is such where sleeping in until 6 AM would feel indulgent. Make Landon wait until as close to 6 as possible before getting him. When the fussing turns into screaming, drag self into his room.

5:48: Rescue the Landon from his near hysteria. Get big smile, brief cuddle, and then lots of spitting and hand hitting. Bring him in bed with JP, pretend that maybe for once he’ll curl up and go back to sleep with us.

6:02: Give up on sleeping, go out to living room and feed Landon his breakfast – rice cereal and a container of fruit (anything but the offensive banana)

6:45: Wake up JP, hand him a happy Landon who smells of sweet pears. Jump in the shower; say peek-a-boo every time JP, holding Landon, opens the shower curtain. Lather, rinse, peek-a-boo, repeat. Decide Landon’s laugh is almost worth the lack of sleep.

7:00-8:00: Check weather, see a high of 75, and decide to wear one of the cute dresses I bought in Texas. Continue passing Landon back and forth while we get ready. JP leads the crawling practice, I monitor the rolling on the bed. JP cleans bottles, I assemble them. He folds laundry, I check email. I love the 3 days a week he's home in the morning; the other two he goes to swim. He leaves for work at 8.

8:29: Landon and I have to be out the door by 8:30. Realize I have at least five things to do before that can happen. Reach for box of granola bars, remember that today is Coffee Mess (school provides bagels/donuts and coffee in the lounge on Wednesdays), rejoice, run out to car.

9:10: Try to find legal parking in front of Maya’s. Give up, hope the evil parking police don’t walk by in the next 5 minutes. Laugh at Landon’s excitement at the mirrors in the elevator lobby and his continued fascination with the glowing Exit sign in the hall. Hand him and his little bag of bottles to Maya, try to get him to wave goodbye but he’s too busy with his babies and toys. Finally get him to look up with a big smile, smile back, then turn and run out the door to the illegally parked car.

9:25: Park my non-ticketed car, walk quickly (freezing, perhaps it wasn’t quite warm enough for the dress) to grab a bagel before my 9:45 class.

9:30: Outraged to find there are no bagels left. Apparently Passover meant the administration needed to decrease the number of bagels ordered by 90%. Check email, return call to mother-in-law, run off to class.

9:45-10:50: Sit in favorite class (Advanced Corporations: M&A), think about the bagel I’m not eating while learning about reverse triangular mergers.

10:50-11:00: Buy hot tea because I’m freezing in my cute dress, check email to find 20 new messages in my inbox, balance computer and tea while perched on a bench outside our internet-less classrooms. Debate skipping least favorite class.

11-12:05 PM: Sit in least favorite class (Environmental Law), wishing I’d skipped. Listen to one of the most brilliant law professors in the country, try to keep up with his intellectual leaps, become intellectually tired and spend the last 10 minutes relabeling pictures of Landon in my hard drive. Reflect that nothing the administration does will make a person pay attention in class when they don't want to.

12:05-1:30: Go to Alumni Roundtable Lunch with Cary Kochman, head of the UBS M&A group. Realize I’m the only woman in a room of 20 men. Wonder why corporate law scares away so many women. Eat turkey sandwich while listening to fascinating law v. investment banking discussion that deserves its own post, which I will probably never have time to write. Move on to brownie, carefully picking out the yucky walnuts. Resist urge to suck off every crumb of chocolately goodness from the extricated walnuts. Ask insightful question of Mr. Kochman about URI case I read in M&A, in which he was the lead negotiator. Get lots of fun behind-the-scenes info about the failed merger and the trial Enjoy impressed look from the esteemed guest for knowing so much about his case. Wonder again why there aren’t more women in the room.

1:20-2:45: Go to library, spend an hour catching up on emails, booking plane tickets for friend’s wedding, searching for environmental law outlines, and paying bills. Meet with professor about the substantial paper I’m writing for him. Vow to start actually working on it soon.

2:45: Walk across campus to doctor’s appointment for severe headaches and sleeplessness. Finally get seen by doctor at 3:15. She asks what’s going on in my life and if I’ve been under any unusual stress lately, I say I don’t think any more than normal and then tell her about graduating, the papers, the house, the move, and the non-sleeping 9-month old. She laughs, gives me a prescription for Ambien and an appointment with their “movement specialist” to work on better posture and positioning in front of the computer.

4:00: Get back to the law school, call Landon’s plastic surgeon to negotiate the cost of his surgery since the doctor apparently dropped our insurance between our consultation and the actual surgery. Make a few more phone calls, all of which involve being put on hold, fear next cell phone bill.

4:45: Realize I’m going to be late picking up the Landon. Shove computer in backpack, walk quickly to the car, lament the fact that another day has gone by with no reading and no research. Wonder if I’ll ever catch up in my classes.

4:59: Pick up a very busy Landon – he’s in the middle of the babies, holding a penguin in one hand and a block in the other, and looking very pleased with life. I get a big smile, the diaper-nap report from Maya, and head home.

5:30: Arrive home quicker than usual, make dinner for Landon (Kraft shells and cheese) before he realizes he is suddenly starving to death. Feed him the cheesy shells, three at a time, and marvel at how quickly his solid food skills have improved. Move on to peas, duck as he spits out the last bite, wipe him off, and head for the tub.

6:30: Splash in the water with Landon.

6:45: Unplug drain, dry off, throw on pj’s, pick up Landon from the now empty tub, wrap him in his monkey towel, and toss him on his bed for rolling and bear-wrestling fun.

7:05: Bring the pot of now solidified shells and cheese into Landon’s room and eat from the spatula while he rolls. Feel somewhat pathetic for not at least using a fork to eat out of the pot.

7:15: Cuddle Landon and give him his bottle, sing songs, sway, put him in his crib.

7:16-8:15: Landon cries. Resist going to him for a few minutes, but give in to repeat the singing and swaying. Then repeat twice more.

8:16: Landon is still crying. JP comes home, tell him his son wants him, and go to reheat the shells and cheese. The crying ceases almost immediately and JP accomplishes in 5 minutes what I tried to do for an hour. He claims it's because of the magic of the dung beetle song.

8:17-10:00: JP forages for his dinner, I claim I’m full but then eat bites off his plate. We talk about the house, how poor we’re going to be this summer, and the Pennsylvania primary results. Top Chef comes on at 9pm and I institute the “no talking during the show” rule. JP goes to bed. At 10:30, I join, thinking that I did no school work today but I’m really tired and it may be another 25 years before I’m not tired. Spend 90 minutes trying to fall asleep, vow to get the Ambien prescription filled tomorrow. Desperately hope Landon makes it until 6 before waking up, but know that if he doesn't it's JP's turn to get him anyway.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Never Ready

I really was about to go to bed after the post about Landon's clean bill of health, but for some reason I clicked on my stat counter and saw that several people had read through "The Nightmare" label today. I realized that I have never gone back and read any of them. I tried once a few months ago because I was looking for a friend's blogger name, but when I started reading some of them I quickly realized I couldn't handle it. I wasn't ready, might never be ready, to relive those days through my own words.

Tonight I clicked on this one and before I could stop myself I read the whole post and all 47 comments. I was (am) crying (sobbing) like I haven't in months. I still can't believe that happened. I still can't believe how many people reached out to support us. I clearly remember sitting in the law school green lounge writing that post and crying and wondering when our life would be normal again. Only a few months later, I can't believe how little we think about it and talk about it day-to-day, but how much it still affects our us in unspoken, unrealized ways. I can't write posts joking about being a "bad mommy", even though I think of them, because I fear someone might think I really am a bad mom with the DCFS history to prove it. I'm scared of Landon falling not because I don't want him to be hurt (though, I don't), but because the thought of taking him to an ER with any kind of injury is absolutely terrifying. One night in December while Landon was taking a bath with JP, he slipped and bumped his nose on the tub. It started bleeding, he started crying, and JP went completely white with fear. So did I and my hands were shaking when I reached out to hug them both. Landon was fine and his tears dried immediately upon seeing a new bath toy, but JP and I were rattled for the rest of the night. I couldn't even blog about it because I was still so wary of any criticism. Even now I won't answer my phone if I don't know the number because I think it could be our caseworker trying to set up yet another home visit (our case is still not officially closed). And when I get home and see the message machine blinking it takes me hours, usually until after Landon has gone to bed, to get up the nerve to check it.

I don't think I'll ever read my archives from those 2 months, especially not the ones from October. A large part of me doesn't believe it even happened and I don't think I ever will. It's too crazy, too out of place in our happy, crazy, lovely life. My child was in a shelter? A fucking shelter for 5 days? I cannot believe that. My therapist told me that sometimes "the mind protects itself", and maybe that's what mine is doing. Most of the time we're a normal family. I'm surprised and happy to report that I go entire days without thinking about DCFS once. We're doing okay, but reading that post felt like time travel and in the span of a few seconds I was right back in the middle of what I hope will be the worst few months of our lives. I hope to never feel that scared, that hopeless, that out of control of my life, again.

In the Clear

I wrote this draft earlier, but then the day got insane and I had to write a paper by 4pm reacting to a 67-page article I hadn't read as of 1pm. And then I had to attend a workshop about that article, which "explained" the various scientific climate change models in a very confusing fashion, and found out that I didn't understand the article at all and my reaction paper probably makes no sense. BUT, all that aside, today was a very good day.

This morning was Landon's pediatric endocrinology appointment and we are in the clear! The full metabolic workup (with the 14 vials of blood) he had about 10 days ago came back normal. His glucose and A1C levels were perfect and the only results not squarely in the "normal" range were liver function and immunoglobins. The liver function was only slightly elevated and the doctor said that any condition that could cause that would make the levels extremely high, so he wasn't concerned. The immunoglobin levels were also not a concern because of all his past ear infections and colds- and he has a mother with chronically low levels herself. He also said that Landon's high fasting glucose test was actually good and probably reflected a very well functioning pancreas- in an infant 9 hours is really too long to fast, so when his sugar dropped, his body had time to appropriately respond in bringing his levels back up. The doctor said the 124 result was exactly what he'd want to see after a 9 hour fast in a baby. So yay!!

It now looks like we may be able to go two whole weeks without a doctors visit... and if the baby gods are really smiling on us, we might even get a full night's sleep! Landon cried solidly between the hours of 4 and 5:30 AM this morning. [Insert obligatory sentence about how freaking tired and unbelievably stressed I am right now.] I'm off to bed!

Monday, April 21, 2008

How did I end up in this mess?

As I sat here at my library table, reading last week's assignments for environmental law, falling further behind in M&A and Legal Profession, and having still not started my two papers, I started thinking about how I ended up in law school at all.

Four years ago I would have told you, with absolute certainty, that I was going to medical school. I had wanted to be a doctor forever - my doctor's set was my favorite toy and Curious George Goes to the Doctor was my favorite book in elementary school. I belonged to all the premed honors societies. I had completed all my prerequisites: biology, chemistry, labs (oh the horrendous labs), organic chemistry and biochemistry (the two classes which marred my beautiful 4.0 GPA, damn them). I was enrolled in an extremely expensive MCAT prep class. I was going to be a doctor. Until one day, in the middle of my prep class, I decided that maybe I wasn't, and in ten minutes I changed my entire life plan. I thought about why I was a liberal arts honors major instead of a biology one. I realized that while I loved biology (especially genetics, I miss Punnet squares quite a bit), the other science classes didn't come as easily to me as my liberal arts classes. I enjoyed writing and had always gotten my feedback and grades on papers. For a brief moment I let go of The Med School Plan and let myself imagine what else I might like to do. I was in a Philosophy of Law seminar that I loved and I was writing my thesis on euthanasia legislation and policy in the Netherlands. Maybe I'd like to go to law school... At the end of the 10 minute break, I withdrew from the class and left. I called JP and my parents on the drive home to inform them of the new plan. They were surprised, but knew me well enough not to try to change my mind.

I decided I'd like to be a law professor (yeah, I really didn't know anything), and my thesis advisor told me that to be a professor I needed to go to the best school possible, preferably one in the top 10. So I mailed back my MCAT ticket for a partial refund, paid the late fee to take the LSAT that was coming up in a few weeks, and bought a book of practice tests. The LSAT went well and my grades were good, so I decided to apply to the Top 10, minus Harvard, plus Georgetown. Looking back I have no idea why I didn't apply to Harvard, I think because it seemed too big. Although since I was coming from UT, which is usually at the top of the list of America's largest colleges, I'm not sure why I thought that mattered so much. Anyway, I was immediately rejected from Yale (like immediately, I don't think they even opened my application), waitlisted at Stanford, and accepted everywhere else. I had no idea where I wanted to go- I hadn't even been to most of the cities where the schools were located and I didn't have a single pre-law friend to tell me what mattered. Ultimately, I picked the University of Chicago because JP found out he could be transferred there over the summer. His company would pay for our move and apartment-hunting trip, which sounded nice, so I accepted my spot there and withdrew from Stanford's wait list (I can't tell you how many times I've thought about that during the Chicago winters). I had never even been to Chicago, but now I was committing to it for three years.

The rest is history (which from Nov 2006 on is documented here). JP was transferred, we moved, got married, and I started school. Sometimes I think about the fact that I'd be starting my last year of medical school this fall, and I wonder if I made the right decision. I still think I would have been a good doctor and I think I would have enjoyed it. But I think I'll be a good lawyer and I'll enjoy it, too. I've loved Chicago and I'm grateful for the opportunity to get out of Texas for few years and experience some place new. I don't think I would have had Landon in med school and given how tired I am of school and exams right now, I can't imagine facing an internship, residency, and fellowship after this. I'm not someone who thinks much about the past- I'm happy with where I am and rethinking paths taken can only stir up regret I don't currently feel. Things could be different, and different could mean better, but overall I think this is the right place for me. I like the law and I'm grateful for the way law school has changed the way I think, read, and see the world. I'm excited about starting my legal career and wouldn't change anything about our lives right now.

I am not excited about all the work I have to do before graduation or taking the bar exam this summer, but I think that 21-year-old me made the right decision when she walked out of that MCAT class. Law school, with all its stress and work and sleeplessness (it sounds kind of like parenting), has been good for me. I'm very glad to be done with school soon and out in the real world. And I can always go to med school when JP is done with business school and I've paid off the law school loans... Just kidding. I think.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Putting the Fun Back in My Weekend

I realized a few weeks ago that I no longer look forward to weekends. They bring less sleep because JP and I stay up later and still wake up at whatever ungodly hour Landon chooses; they bring more work because I use them to try to play catch up; and they bring stress because each weekend that comes is one less I have left to work on my papers and enjoy Chicago (which cannot be done at the same time). So I decided this would be a FUN weekend. Saturday already promised great things- a close friend is getting married in August and her bridal shower was going to be at the Four Seasons that morning, followed by her bachelorette party that night. I'd been looking forward to these events forever- excuses to get dressed up, spoil a wonderful person, and go OUT! The fact that the other guests were some of my best law school friends, none of whom are moving to Austin with me, made it even better.

And it was a wonderful day. The shower was beautiful and it was great to meet her mom (who immediately asked me about Landon, all my friends are like proud aunts who brag about their "nephew") and her bridesmaids and college friends. I was excited to wear a fantastic BCBG Max Azria dress I picked up at Ross in Houston for only 24.99 (the original $240 BCBG tag was still on it - how do they get this stuff? does it fall off the back of a truck?). She got lots of great stuff and it made me wish I was a little older when we got married. At barely 22 I didn't know what my "taste" was yet, and I would have made better registering decisions. I also had no idea how much I'd love hostessing and I now covet my friend's beautiful serving dishes.

I came home and played with Landon while JP went to go swim. We read every book he owns and I discovered he loves it when you bark at him. It absolutely cracks him up. We did lots of barking and giggling.

The boys helped me choose my "going out" outfit (dark jeans, black sleeveless neck with a v-neck and v-back and a thin silver rope wrapped around the straps, silver shoes, silver/black bangle bracelets and long earrings) and dropped me off at the pre-party apartment for the mini-lingerie shower and bachelorette party. I'm proud to say my gift of leopard lace panties with red lace trim was the least classy (and most fun). I know her fiance will appreciate them. After some wine and appetizers we headed out in cabs to a karaoke dive bar. We indulged in $2.50 PBR specials (that is not a tasty beer), my first shot in a very long time, and lots of karaoke-ing. I believe I sang to "Like a Prayer", "If I Ain't Got You Babe", and "The Sign". Around 11 I thought I should take a picture of my shoes to share with you all:

I really need a pedicure.

We left the karaoke bar at midnight for another favorite that plays 80's music, but I hopped in my own cab and headed home. JP has gotten up with Landon for the past six mornings because I've had terrible headaches, so I knew that no matter how late I was up and no matter how much I drank, I still had to get up with the little guy. JP needed (and deserved) a day to sleep in. I was in bed at 12:30 and Landon woke up, hysterical, at 4 AM. I think his other bottom tooth is coming in. I gave him some motrin and walked loops to calm him down and he finally fell back asleep at 5, only to wake up for good at 7. We made the most of being up early on a Sunday and went to brunch at our favorite local place, did our grocery shopping (Landon sat in the main area of the cart, surrounded by food, and chewed on almost everything once), and just hung out and laughed with our little man. Now he's in bed and JP and I are about to enjoy a delicious dinner with a good Chilean cabernet.

My eyes may be burning with lack of sleep, and I didn't do a minute of schoolwork, but this was a nearly perfect weekend. It was my gift to myself before everything gets completely crazy with the papers and finals and driving to Austin within hours of my last exam. I don't want to go to sleep and allow it to end.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sleeping Through an Earthquake

You know how when you're really tired you say things like, "I could sleep through a [insert natural disaster here]."? Well, apparently at 4:40 AM this morning, JP and I slept through an earthquake. The article says it was a moderate one at 5.2, but given what a light sleeper I am, I think I would have woken up had I been sleeping like a regular person instead of an unconscious, exhausted parent.

The good thing is that it didn't wake Landon either. He slept from 7:15 PM to 5:00 AM. I really wish he could make it until 6:00; 5 is just too early when JP and I can't seem to get in bed before 10:30, but I'm not going to complain (yet) because this is only the 10th time or so that we haven't been up between at some point between 2 and 4 AM. Baby steps.

It's now 9:30 and I'm sitting at a table in the library with a mountain of books beside me. I am two weeks behind in every class (and only three weeks into the quarter) and I am determined to catch up in at least two of them before I leave to pick up the little guy at 4:30. It might help if I shut off my wireless, but our Dean has already removed internet from the classrooms, and I'll be damned if I separate myself from it voluntarily.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Don't Cry For Me Argentina

Last night I hostessed an Evita party with my friends. They came over right before Landon went to bed so they could applaud his new rolling skills, and then after he went down, we watched Evita, drank wine, ordered Chinese, and ate cookies. It was fabulous.

I know I've said this 1,000 times, and you will probably be forced to read about it 1,000 more, but I am going to miss my UChicago friends so much I can barely stand it. I knew I had made some good ones, but I figured that when I had Landon I'd probably fade from the social scene almost completely. I couldn't have been more wrong- my calendar is busier now than it was during my pre-baby days. Whenever someone has a party, Landon is invited. When it's a nighttime, grown-up thing, I put the port-a-crib in the host's room and he sleeps through the festivities. We have permanent offers to babysit and as far as my friends are concerned, JP and I don't give them nearly enough opportunities to hang out with Landon on their own. I think it helps that I was the first one to have a baby. Landon's a novelty and there's no sense of wanting to "get away" from the kids for a night out, they want the baby to come! And besides how baby-friendly they are, they're also strong and brilliant and on their way to prestigious and successful careers. There will be many reunions in our future.

Anyway, back to Evita. I love that movie. Madonna is fantastic, even if she is too old for the part, and Antonio Banderas is perfect. I'm a big fan of musicals- we grew up watching Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Meet Me in St. Louis, Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Funny Girl, and so many others, over and over again. And our three-day family car trips up to Wisconsin in the summer involved listening to all the soundtracks (my 19-year-old brother would probably be horrified if his friends knew that he could sing every song for every one of the movies listed above). I found out a week ago that none of my friends had seen Evita, so a party was immediately planned. I gave out advanced copies of the CD and I tried my very hardest not to sing along during the movie. I think they liked it - although they probably wouldn't have told me otherwise.

Since I wasn't singing along, I found myself thinking about Eva Peron's story and appreciating her strength and passion in a way I hadn't before. Sure, she may have slept her way to the top, and she was nowhere near the saint she was called by some, but she spearheaded a political movement for the labor unions and got her husband elected president by her mid-20's. By the time she died at 33 she had "become powerful within the Pro-Peronist trade unions; ran the Ministries of Labor and Health; founded and ran the charitable Eva Peron Foundation; and founded and ran the nation's first large-scale female political party." An impressive female historical figure. And who doesn't love a movie with great costumes and lots of unnecessarily sung lines?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Affronted by 1Ls

I was sitting on the fifth floor of the library, trying to decipher a particularly long winded environmental law opinion, when a guy and girl started carrying on a long conversation, in loud voices, a few tables over. Because I am a wimp, I merely glared at them, willing daggers to shoot from my eyes and maim them enough to have to leave the library for medical attention. The daggers failed to materialize, but luckily after several minutes, someone else finally asked them to please keep it down or go to the green lounge to talk. I expected some level of apology or embarrassment, maybe an eye roll at most, but the girl actually responded: "you can get earplugs."

WHAT?! Are you freaking kidding me? You are in a LIBRARY, a place of relative silence intended for studying, and you insist on talking loudly about your weekend plans. I believe it is you who need to modify your behavior by either picking your ass up and going downstairs or quickly wrapping up your conversation in hushed whispers. I do not understand this sense of entitlement. Why is your conversation more important than the fifty people around you trying to study. I especially don't understand this level of rudeness from other law students- we are not anonymous strangers, we are fellow classmates and potential future colleagues. If I have a chance to deny those two a place in my future firm, I would take great pleasure in doing so.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

9 Months

Dear big man (a.k.a. little man, handsome, cutie, and so many other names),

Congratulations, you're 3/4 of a year old! I look at pictures of you like this:



and it seems like so long ago that we took you home from the NICU. I think back on the days when you spent most of your time asleep and how your dad and I would get so excited every time you opened your eyes or moved your hands, and I can't believe how much you've changed. I took this video of you last night after your bath. You've just recently figured out how to roll in both directions - it was like all of a sudden the whole process clicked in your brain and now you can't get enough of it! Any time we lay you down, you're off rolling and you look over at us with such a proud expression. Here, you start out a little camera shy, but soon get to showing off your rolling skills:



It's those moments that make me feel like I can't possibly get enough of you. Rolling on the spare bed in your room is your new favorite activity. There's a stuffed bear that you love to wrestle with; as soon as we lay you down, you start rolling around looking for him.



You also like your baby Bevo.



You have such a personality now. You love Maya and your babies at daycare. I think you recognize the hallway to her apartment and get your big smile ready for your friends as we get closer to the door. Maya just loves you and calls you her "good boy" - even when you're not! You are starting to become more accepting of non-pureed food and get very frustrated when you can't get the little pieces into your mouth. Your sleeping has gotten marginally better since you got ear tubes, but we still have a long way to go. You continue to love bath time and have recently decided that splashing water is hilarious. You are fascinated with Lilly and get very excited when she gets close to you - which she does surprisingly often given how hard you sometimes pull on her fur. You two must have a special bond because she always takes your abuse without reaction.



You are trying very hard to crawl, but you still have a tough time moving your knees. We do lots of practicing at home - you think it's very funny when mommy crawls on the floor with you, and especially when I crawl over you!



I write a lot about the hardships that have come with being a parent (especially, being your parent!) and I want to make sure I have all the little things I love about being your mom recorded too. So here's a top 10, in no particular order, of the things I will miss the most from this stage of your life:


  1. How happy you are when I come in to get you from your crib in the morning. As much as I like to sleep in, I also look forward to the mornings it's mine turn to get you - never has anyone been so utterly delighted to see me as you are each and every morning.
  2. The way your whole body shakes with excitement when I get out the Cheerio's box.
  3. How hard you try to pick up the Cheerio's and put them in your mouth. So far you can pick them up just fine, but you can't figure out how to transfer them from your fist to your mouth. You've tried putting the whole first in your mouth, but you pull it out with the Cheerio still inside. You'll discard those defective O's and try the same tactic with a new Cheerio. I'm sure you'll figure it out soon, but until then, it's very entertaining!
  4. Your wide variety of squeaks. Sometimes the noises that come out of your mouth surprise even you!
  5. The way your arms and legs move when you get excited while lying on your back
  6. The new way you give us hugs. Sometimes when we're holding you, you'll pull in close for a few seconds and then push back out. The fact that you could push away all the time, but you choose to come in close for a little bit, makes it so much better than the automatic cuddling you did as a newborn.
  7. The surprised look you get on your face when you sneeze.
  8. How much you like being wrapped up in your monkey towel after a bath. You clutch your little hands to the top of the towel as I wrap it around you and look so cute I can barely stand it.
  9. How you snuggle in to me during your nighttime bottle. I sing you songs and you make little sighs as I put you up on my shoulder and carry you to your room. Just before I put you in bed, I sing and sway back and forth as you slump down on my chest, almost like you're a (21 lb.) newborn again.
  10. How excited you get when you see your daddy. A few months ago, just when he needed it most, you started giving him special attention. Whenever you caught a glimpse of him, you would stop whatever you were doing and give him your very best smile. You still do that and the bond you two have makes me very happy- even if it means daddy gets more smiles than I do.

The last 9 months have not been easy for our little family. I'm so grateful that you won't remember any of the bad and that your joyful spirit and personality seem unaffected by all the drama that often surrounds you. Someone told me earlier this month that God carefully selects parents for the babies waiting to be born, and cheesy as it sounds, it was something I really needed to hear at the time. You are a greater joy than I could ever have imagined and when I look at you and see your big smile and the way you attack each challenge in front of you (like getting that Cheerio in your mouth), all the obstacles, the sleeplesness, and the hour I just spent on the phone with our insurance company trying to get your eyebrow surgery covered, fade away. You, Landon, are our little miracle and I love you with an intensity that almost scares me.

The next few months are going to be so exciting with our big move to Texas, the new house, a family wedding, and mommy's graduation. I know you're going to love all the attention and the increased rolling space in our new family room. And if you could do me just one little favor and start sleeping through the night sometime before the bar exam, that would be really great.


Love you,
mommy

Monday, April 14, 2008

Skeptical

I went to a lunch talk today featuring an alum who's in the Dept of Homeland Security. He spoke about the positives and perils of personal data collection and the Automated Targeting System at airports. Well, he spoke a lot more about the positives than the perils. And when the ATS alerted customs agents to look a little closer at a particular international traveler arriving at Chicago O'Hare, and then that traveler was denied entry to the US and sent back home, and then a few months later that same traveler blew himself up in truck in Iraq (true story) - it's easy to agree that the "false positives" and the privacy concerns are worth it.

But then I think of the people that are wrongly stopped, wrongly questioned, and wrongly denied entry. I can't see it in terms of "marginal costs," I see faces. I see me. Ever since the DCFS investigation, hearing stories of people falsely accused makes me hurt inside. I believe that some "costs of the system" are justified and I think this is probably one of those cases, but it's harder now.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Calgon Take Me Away

I have just emerged from a very hot, very frothy bubble bath - the first bath I have taken without a splashing Landon since he came home from the NICU. While I was pregnant I reveled in my baths, I took one almost every day before bed. They were a time to relax, to reflect on my day, to dream about our beautiful baby who would sleep through the night at two months... yeah, well, part of that came true.

Anyway, the reason I felt that tonight needed to be the night for my first solo bath in 9 months is because I spent 12 hours at the library yesterday, starting the research for my substantial paper, and I am freaking out about it right now. You know how before you start a project you can fool yourself into thinking it won't be too bad - like when you move and everything is still in boxes and you're pretty sure you can get everything unpacked in a couple days. And then you unpack a few boxes and stuff is everywhere and you're suddenly certain that your new home will never be unpacked, stuff will be everywhere forever, and you want to sit in a corner and cry. Tonight, the bathtub was my corner, minus the tears, plus a few bubbles.

The last quarter of my 3L year was not supposed to be like this. I took extra heavy course loads 2L year so that I wouldn't have to take more than 9 credits a quarter as a 3L. I got all the hard stuff out of the way- I took corporations, securities regulation, secured transactions, criminal procedure, commercial transactions, administrative law, antitrust, and more, while pregnant and exhausted- and I even did well. This year was supposed to be about the Landon and spending time with my friends and not being in the library until 10pm on a Saturday night. But then DCFS took over my life and Landon had to see 85 specialists and had 35 ear infections and I just never got around to that second substantial paper I'm required to write. And a wonderful professor let me drop two of my classes fall quarter and replace it with an independent research for him- which was great at the time, but now I actually have to write a paper to get those three hours of credit. And I have three classes that are surprisingly demanding, with enormous reading assignments, and I have to take all three finals in three days and then drive down to Austin the afternoon of the third day - and the movers will have packed up all our furniture the week before and my cousin is getting married in Kentucky the weekend in the middle. And well, basically, I'm a little stressed.

I know I'm a 3L and it's supposed to be easy because I have a job. And I honestly have no emotional connection to my grades right now- I even forgot to check the results of winter quarter until today (all B+ so far). 1L year I used to compulsively "refresh" the webpage every 5 seconds for weeks until the grades poppe dup. But you can't fake a paper- words must be written, citations must be given, some level of substantiality must be achieved. Working on the paper this weekend means I didn't read for any of my classes on Monday, or catch up from the reading I didn't do last week. It's the third week of school and I'm 50 pages behind in two classes. This wouldn't bother me so much if I actually felt like I was going somewhere with the paper (like if I had a clearly defined topic), but I don't. I feel like I'm failing at everything right now and I hate that.

I'm just holding on to the certainty that it all will get done. I will write a 35-page paper on something about criminal justice and cyber law and it will get turned in by May 19. I will talk to my other professor, get a topic, and write a paper for him worthy of 3 credits. On June 13 I will walk across the stage and get my diploma. I'm just not sure how I'm going to get there when the list of non-school related items is frighteningly long and I have a baby who doesn't sleep, but I know I will. And hopefully I'll do it without some kind of breakdown at the end because it only gets harder from there. The day after I walk across that stage I'm going to be 3 weeks behind in barbri review classes and the Texas Bar is one (monstrous, horrible, 3-day) exam I can't afford to fail.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The World from 2'5"

Hi! It's the Landon.



I'm writing in today because my mom is really tired and keeps muttering something about a paper -- ooh, PAPER! I love paper. It's so crinkly and noisy and delicious. Actually, I haven't gotten to eat very much of it because my mom always takes it out of my hand just before I chew it, but I'm sure it's very tasty. I love the paper on the table at the doctor's office - I usually try to tear all of it off before the doctor comes in because then she gives me more. Yeah, I've totally got that cause and effect thing down. Anyway... where was I... oh yes, my mom. She keeps talking about this paper and how "it's a good thing I'm cute" because I've recently decided to not sleep at night, at all. You see, every time I go to bed, I hear noises out in the big room and I just know my parents are having a party out there. Well, the last few nights I've made every effort to join the party, but it doesn't seem like they're having much fun. Everything is dark and they just hold me and pat me - no drinking bottles, no eating paper - just some mumbling and what seems to be crying coming from my parent's room. They're totally killing my good times, but I will persist because how could anything not be better when there's a Landon involved? How could my parents be expected to go from 7 PM to 7 AM without me? It would be terrible and I just won't let them do it.

Now let's see... what's been happening around here. Well, I can now squeak really loud in lots of different ways. My daddy and I went to see some belugas last weekend and I sound a lot like them. We saw this dolphin show and at first I was kind of bored and like "who cares about a big tank of water? Want to hear me squeak?", but them a bunch of dolphins jumped up into the air at the same time, and I was like, "WHOAH, did you just see that?!" and then I got really excited and waved my hand at them. That's my big move - the hand wave. My daddy taught it to me and now I do it only when something is really cool - like when I see my mommy at daycare or when my dad comes home for work, so if you get the wave, you should feel pretty special. Although sometimes I just do it because it's fun. I also like to bang the palm of my hand on things - especially the water in the bath tub. Did you know that you can make water jump up in the air?! So cool. Sometimes I make so much water jump up that I have to sit and blink my eyes lots of times in a row because my face is all wet. Mommy thinks this is very funny, but I don't think she gets how funny the hand-hitting-water thing is.

Oh also, I can stand up for a long time when I'm holding on to something. I haven't tried to move yet because standing up takes a lot of concentration. I'm also trying REALLY hard to crawl, but so far every time I try to move towards a toy, I end up further away from it. But my belly is very heavy- if your belly was half your body weight, you probably wouldn't be able to crawl either. Oh, and speaking of the belly - I just discovered it! The other day, when I was all naked and about to get in the tub, I accidentally put my hand on it and I was like WHOAH, have you SEEN this thing? It's very big and very soft and I like to pet it. I also love it when my mommy blows on it and makes a loud noise - it cracks. me. up. My belly is now my favorite body part. The toes have totally lost their novelty. I see them all the time now - especially when we were in this place called "Texas". I didn't even have to pull off my socks to find them, they were just out there, all free and uncovered. I liked the land of Texas. There was a big kitty there that was SO cool- I tried to chew on her, you know, to test her out, but mommy stopped me. Just like with the paper. How does she always know when I'm about to put something in my mouth. It's almost like she can see me even when I can't see her. Crazy.

Oh, and recently, my parents have been trying to make me eat weird things like "noodles" and "turkey". So I can't chew on paper or the big kitty, but you want me to eat this stuff? I very clearly show my disdain for non-pureed foods. Except cheerios, I like to be fed cheerios. When I see that big yellow box, my whole body starts shaking I'm so excited. And I know that "developmentally" I'm supposed to be able to pick up those little O's and feed myself, and I even did it once when I thought mom wasn't looking, but it's so much more fun to open my mouth and have a big person place one on my tongue. Aren't tongues crazy? My dad can stick his out and wiggle it all around and it's HILARIOUS. You should ask your dad to do that. I laugh so hard I almost can't stop. Kind of like when my parents hold me and spin in a circle. So fun! Why can't we do that at 4 AM? That would be so much more fun that patting my back (as if that's going to work) and muttering things about sleep and not having any more babies.

Oh! Speaking of babies- I love babies! I have lots of baby friends at Maya's. I get so excited to see them- I mean my parents are cool, but the babies just get me, you know? I have so much to say to them on Monday mornings I can barely even take a nap. There's a lady baby that I really like - she's crawling around and I want so much to keep up with her. I'm going to have to focus more during crawling practice with my dad.

So that's about it. I'm very busy with all the belly petting, paper crinkling, hand waving, water splashing, and baby squeaking that I do around here. It's amazing I even have the energy to keep my parents up at night. The things I do for them... I love them a whole lot. When they hold me I like to push back from their chests to look around, but sometimes I come in close for a little cuddle and wrap my arm around their shoulder. I think they like that, but I don't want to spoil them, so after a few seconds I push back again to check on things. I run a tight ship around here and the list of things to chew on and hit with my hand just never ends.

Signing off,
the Landon

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Saved by Belugas

Last night was a bad one for the Lag Liv household (er, small apartment-hold). Landon was up for almost every single minute of it. Things started out well; he went down easily at 7:15. JP came home unusually early, and we classed it up a little with the previously mentioned meal of bread, cheese, meat, a delicious Argentinean Malbec, and sparkling conversation. I watched the new episode of Top Chef, realized my lack of fresh produce, ate my orange, and got ready for bed. Right as I was about to hit the pillow, Landon let out a wail. I soothed him and he went back to sleep, only to wake up 5 minutes later with another wail. This continued until we brought him in our bed around 2, knowing it wouldn't work, but desperate for some sleep. And sure enough, it was party time. Landon squealed, smiled, and squirmed until we decided he was obviously fine and put him back in his crib. The wailing continued, stopped only by our hand on his back, until 4ish, when we both lost consciousness. I woke up again at 6:30 to his crying, and desperately hoped he hadn't been crying that entire time. JP gave him his breakfast and took him to Maya's. I just spoke with her and he's doing fine. Obviously, the only people he's trying to kill are his parents. I stayed in bed to get a whole 3 hours of sleep, missing both my classes, and woke up at 11 to yucky weather and a feeling of general frumpiness. But then I checked my email to find pictures from my Trainer for a Day experience at the Shedd Aquarium!! Belugas will put a smile on anyone's face, even someone who only got 3 hours of sleep at the hands of a possessed teething baby.

I mean seriously, how cute is that?! She is totally smiling at me (yes, that's my hand). Her skin was rubbery and surprisingly soft. Dolphins seem so taut and muscular, but belugas are squishy and very huggable.

My half-hearted attempts at anonymity preclude me from showing you the glories of my Trainer for a Day uniform. The pants were insane. They were jodhpur-like, with hips that jutted out from my hip-less body. When I was in the penguin habit, two penguins waddled over to check me out, and I thought to myself: I could totally fit both of them in my pants, one in each of the massive fabric bubbles on my hips. Landon would love them. But then I decided I could never keep my apartment as freezing cold as that habitat, so I decided I'd dress Landon up as a penguin next Halloween instead. We'll keep a sea life theme going as long as possible.

My session started at 1:15 on Saturday, the 5th, and JP and Landon came along for the fun. The head trainer gave them a schedule of every habitat I'd be in, so they followed along throughout the afternoon, waving to me from the other side of the glass. Landon wasn't all that impressed with me, but he was delighted with the dolphin show and the penguins.

I started out meeting the belugas and their trainers. It's amazing how much behind the scenes work goes on there: the constant fish prep (I helped), clean up (using a giant hose to clean up a kitchen is so much easier than the damp sponge I use in mine), the running from habitat to habitat for shows, training sessions, and feedings- those trainers are busy! I learned a lot about the animals and their training. We learned about using the whistle and it seemed so effective I wondered if I should try that with Landon... I also learned that the animals in the Oceanarium alone eat 650 pounds of restaurant quality fish a day, all lovingly prepared by trainers and volunteers.

That is one of six juicy fish I fed my beluga.

I met the dolphins, sea lions, sea otters, birds of prey, penguins, and of course, the belugas. The penguins were hilarious. I never noticed before, but they bow to each other whenever they cross paths. The two that I contemplated smuggling home in my pants kept alternating bows the whole time they were in front of me. They're such civil little creatures. Mating season is about to begin, so they were already staking out nesting spots. Apparently one spot is the most awesome one of all and there was a penguin in it at all times. Most hilarious was the line of three other penguins behind it, waiting patiently for a chance to take it for themselves. The trainer said that when mating season is upon them, they get feistier and actually wing-slap for nesting spots. That image cracks me up. Maybe I should have taken one home - I think Lilly the cat could use a few wing-slaps.

For the animals health and safety, the program doesn't involve much direct interaction. I got to see all the behind-the-scenes operations, enter all the habitats, and meet all the trainers, but it wasn't to the final beluga session that I got to touch one.

Here, I'm scratching her tongue, which she loved. She kept sticking it out further for me. I wanted to take her home too, but my pants weren't quite that big. Her trainer taught me a few hand signals and here I'm asking her to spin around:

So cute! The belugas were my favorite group of animals - they had so much personality and are a very friendly bunch. They don't like to be separated and when they were supposed to be "at station" in front of their respective trainer, they kept breaking away to swim around in a circle to check on everyone.

I went through a week-long phase of wanting to be a marine biologist when I was little. Maybe I should reconsider that, it sure seems like a lot more fun than due diligence and contract review. In any event, it was an awesome and creative birthday gift from JP, and the pictures kept my bad mood at bay this morning. Yay for belugas!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

All I Need is Bread and Cheese

Just before bed at 10:30, I reflected back on what I ate today:

Breakfast: plain bagel, plain cream cheese
Lunch: 2 pieces cheese pizza
Afternoon snack: cottage cheese, cherry tomatoes
Dinner: French bread, some variety of semi-soft cheese, prosciutto, red wine
Dessert: apple pie, vanilla ice cream

and I was horrified to realize that 3 cherry tomatoes constituted my entire fruit and veggie intake for the day. I hadn't brushed my teeth yet, so I rushed to the kitchen to eat an orange to ward off scurvy. I wish the produce section of our downtown grocery store didn't have such bad selection and high prices because I actually love fresh fruits and vegetables and my diet used to include a lot of them. Yet another reason to look forward to the move to Austin.

Other thoughts: every thing I ate today involved a type of bread and full fat cheese. Obviously the south beach diet could never be an option for me. And I'm culinarily rather boring.

Monday, April 7, 2008

No Regrets

Last night while JP and I were lying in bed, I started thinking about how tired we are, how hard this is, and what life was like pre-Landon. I thought about the friends we visited yesterday- how quiet and uncluttered their apartment was and how she was studying on the couch while her husband worked on the computer. I thought about how JP and I used to do that- sitting in our teeny downtown loft, doing individual work in companionable silence. I thought about how weekends used to be restful- how we'd look forward to sleeping in, making breakfast, walking around the city, reading and working in the afternoon, and then going out somewhere in the evening. I thought about all that, and then I turned to JP and asked in a small voice, "Do you think we should have waited to have kids?"

I know that you aren't supposed to ask that question- that kids are supposed to be so great, so full of wonder and joy, that you aren't supposed to imagine life before them. But the thing is, I remember very clearly what life was like before Landon, and sometimes, like when it's 9:30 and I'm exhausted and dreading the numerous baby wake up calls that will probably come throughout the night, I think that life before Landon was quite nice. I've had those thoughts before, but I'd never voiced them out loud.

And JP, who doesn't read parenting magazines or mommy message boards, and doesn't know that you aren't supposed to admit to longing for the pre-baby days, immediately answered with a resounding Yes. But then he qualified it with, "but we knew we were going to do it some time and at least now we'll get our house, weekends, and sleep back sooner than all our friends." And that's true. So then I, of course, had to ask him if he'd still want to hang out with me on the weekends in 18 years, and he responded, "Not if you keep doing this thing where you decide to have deep conversations 5 seconds before we go to sleep." Well, hmph, that's not quite the answer I was admittedly fishing for.

And then, just as if Landon knew he had taken me to yet another near breaking point, he only woke up once last night. After months and months of blaming his fussiness on teething, we can finally see two teeth poking through his bottom gum. We gave him Motrin at 7 PM; it's supposed to last 6 hours and 7 hours later he woke up for more and went right back down. I think for the first time in his life we were correct to finger teething as the reason for his interrupted sleep. He didn't wake up again until 6:15. JP went to entertain him while mommy slept in, and then at about 7:30, a very perky and handsomely dressed baby was tossed onto my bed. He gave me a delighted smile and proceeded to crawl (and drool) all over me and the covers. As I sat there, listening to his stream of babble and giggles and watching him try so hard to crawl, all the while throwing me big smiles over his shoulder, I thought, "this is so worth it."

Landon's presence in our lives has added enormous stress, strained our finances, and taken all of our sleep. We reached a few breaking points along the way. I clearly remember one night at around 3 AM, when Landon woke up crying for the millionth time, JP and I just lay there, literally unable to move and both hoping against hope that the other would get up or Landon would magically stop crying. I remember that I was about to cry when JP turned and said, "try to go back to sleep," and then went to get Landon. I heard him pick the baby up, take him out to the living room to rock him, and start to sing - usually something from Cross Canadian Ragweed or his own version of "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands", which involves God holding lots of varieties of bugs. And the funny thing is that when I think about that night, I don't focus on how tired we were or how hard having a baby is. What I remember most clearly is how I fell in love with JP all over again for getting up, even though he was probably more tired than I was, and how I laid in bed, smiling at the thought of God holding all the dung beetles in His hands, as per JP's lyrics.

I did not expect parenting to be easy. I did not expect it to be this hard. Sometimes I think we should have waited longer to have kids, most of the time I think it's good we started early. Having kids was never a question and if I have to be this tired, I'd rather it be now. Being in school has also given me the flexibility to attend all of Landon's doctor appointments while avoiding discussions with any boss about billable hours or commitment to my job. And really, none of the advantages and disadvantages, costs and benefits, or pluses and minuses matter. If we'd waited, there wouldn't be this particular Landon in our lives, and while I can imagine life pre-Landon, I can't imagine life without him in it at some point. This morning as I was driving down Lake Shore Drive on my way to school, I kept smiling at the memory of him crawling all over me in bed this morning. I wanted to pull over, unhook him from the car seat, and hug the heck out of him. But he was having a happy conversation with his elephant, and I know better than the interrupt a good thing. So instead, I just drove on and thought about how much love and smiles and laughter he's added to our lives, and even though I can definitely remember, and occasionally long for, life pre-Landon, I wouldn't go back for anything in the world.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Cause for Optimism

I wrote the post below last night, but for some reason (probably exhaustion) forgot to publish it until right now. I was really freaked out after yesterday's phone call with the nurse urging us to come in as soon as possible to get the blood drawn for all of the endocrinologist's requested labs, so that we could get in as soon as possible to see the doctors (which now included a geneticist as well as the endocrinologist). I had been comforted earlier by the pediatrician's lack of urgency over his test results, so I was pretty unsettled by the time I hung up the phone. I was especially scared that someone had finally seen the A1C/glycated hemoglobin test results and that was the instigator for all this panic.

So at 9:15 sharp this morning, Landon and I signed in at the pediatrician's. He was super smiley for all his nurses, I was worried about all the blood draws and finding out the A1C results. It didn't start out looking good. The lab tech was horrified to count up TWENTY-TWO requested labs, requiring FOURTEEN vials of blood from Landon's chubby little arm. He was fairly sure he would have to stick Landon at least twice and was already apologizing to us for it. Luckily, he is a phenomenal phlebotomist and tapped Landon's vein on the first try and had all the vials filled in less than five minutes. Landon didn't even notice and only protested when I restricted his attempted dance moves for the nurse. I was so grateful for the lab tech's skill- Landon inherited my small, shy veins and many an experienced nurse has had to poke him a few times to get blood.

We then met with the pediatrician for a few minutes and FINALLY got the result from the A1C test which was drawn on Tuesday and the result was normal!! This is very good news. It doesn't erase the high results from the prior glucose tests, but it does mean that over the past three months, on average, Landon's glucose levels have been normal. This reintroduces the possiblity that his earlier results were a fluke and moves us even further away from the possibility that he has juvenile diabetes right now. And the reason they were rushing to get the appointments scheduled on the same day was for our convenience and because they knew we were moving in less than 2 months. And we're seeing the geneticist just because his pediatrician still feels something could be underlying all his random issues and she wants to make the best effort at figuring out what that is.

So we left the pediatrician with Landon sporting a super cool band-aid and feeling very chipper and chatty after all his nurses cooed over him and me feeling much relieved. Landon also slept better last night (up briefly at 10:30, and then not again until 5) and I took an over the counter sleeping pill and got NINE hours of sleep. Despite the gray clouds and promise of rain, as I carried a continuously babbling Landon out to the car, I was feeling pretty chipper myself.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Posts That Aren't Being Written

Every day I think of things I would be writing about if my life and my blog weren't dominated by Landon and his medical and sleep adventures. Here are a few of the topics that would be, but aren't:

~ Cottage Cheese. I discovered cottage cheese on Monday. I'm not sure why I had never had it before, but I bought some for Landon because I heard it was a good "first food". He spit out his first bite, looked terribly offended, and then threw up a little for good measure. For some reason, even after seeing that reaction, I had an urge to try it- and I found it quite tasty. So far my favorite combination is cottage cheese, halved grape tomatoes, fresh cracked pepper, and kosher salt. It is mild and creamy and delicious. And 4 ounces has 22% of your daily protein. I welcome any other accompaniment suggestions.

~ M&A. I am going to love this class. It's taught by my favorite professor (the one who was so wonderful during all the DCFS stuff) and I love the subject matter. It's practical, modern, and covers the area of law I am going to practice. I find it odd that the class ratio is so heavily male. What is it about corporate law that keeps the women away?

~ Bad Lawyers. I'm also taking Legal Profession this quarter. Today I read a case about an attorney who screwed up so many times I think he should have been disbarred. His client had won a $10 million verdict against a doctor who caused permanent physical and mental handicaps during the delivery of her daughter. The lawyer then wrote a letter, based on NO research, to the doctor and told him they would only collect against his insurance and not his personal property. Turns out the doctor had substantial personal wealth and no malpractice insurance, but the letter was held as a bar to recovering against the doctor's estate. The woman, with her $10 million judgment, didn't get a penny. The lawyer then screwed up the appeal twice by forgetting to file documents and then lying to a judge about those documents. His defense was that he had ADD which is protected by the ADA. He was ultimately suspended for two years and required to be monitored when he reentered practice. I would have disbarred him. If you're going to tell me that you have a disability that renders you completely incompetent as a lawyer, to the point where you lie to a judge and your client, and you cause permanent, irreparable harm to your client because of your negligence, you shouldn't be practicing law.

~ Life Insurance. We're finally getting some (terrible, I know, we meant to get it before Landon was born, but then he showed up early and then we got busy and full of excuses). It's very odd to calculate how much you should insure yourself for. Although it was kind of fun to correct the insurer as to who the "bread winner" would be for our family. If I die in the next thirty years, JP will get a lot of money. This should not give him any incentives during our death match political debates that are growing increasingly heated with every day we get closer to the election.

~ The Move. I think about this a lot. I truly love Chicago and I will miss it a lot. But I'm very excited about the house, about Austin, and about starting something new. I love beginnings, but this is one of the first endings I'm really, deeply sad about.

Each of those could be their own posts, but they're not because I have a baby who requires me to use this blog for emotional support and to keep family and friends (and friendly strangers) updated on the often bizarre happenings in his little life. I'm not writing about those things because I'm preoccupied with googling reasons why we're seeing both an endocrinologist and a geneticist and everyone is in a rush to get the appointment made. We go to the pediatrician's (AGAIN) tomorrow morning to get a bunch of blood drawn for the labs the endocrinologist wants done before Landon's first appointment. God I wish the substantial paper I still haven't started was the most stressful thing in my life, but right now it's not even on the radar.

On the Verge

This morning, when I got up to get a cruelly cheerful Landon from his crib at 5:30, I had a single clear thought: I am about to have a breakdown- physical, emotional, both- I'm not sure. But I don't think my body is going to make it through Landon's first year of life unscathed. This morning I was so tired my body ached from the inside. My eyes burned to open and close. My legs shook when I leaned over his crib. I seriously don't know how we're going to keep caring for a baby who does not sleep.

On Tuesday Landon seemed to feel great post-surgery. He was perky, ate and drank well, and went to bed at his usual 7:30. But then he was up off and on after 4, and up permanently after 6. JP didn't get home from work until nearly 11, so we didn't go to bed until about 11:30. I have insomnia, and it always take a good hour for me to fall asleep- plus, I'm a very light sleeper so even when JP gets up from Landon (as he did from 4 until nearly 6), I'm not fully sleeping. All that adds up to some very small number of hours of rest (like 4ish). Last night Landon went to bed at 7:30 and was up from 2-3:30 AM, 4 AM, and then 5:30 AM until we left for daycare. I don't know what to do. JP is amazing and even though he's working long hours he still gets up at least half the time. I couldn't ask for more help from him. Unfortunately my body just doesn't sleep well - even before there was a baby stealing my sleep, my own body kept it from me for hours at a time.

I expected to be tired for the first few months of his life. I didn't expect to be getting even less sleep at nearly 9 months. And he's not just waking up for a bottle and going back down, he's waking up and staying up. I believe in letting a healthy baby cry it out at this age so that they can get a good night's sleep, but with all the ear infection pain, we couldn't do that. And now he could still have some fluid in his ears and I don't know if his low glucose levels could be contributing to the nighttime fussiness and thirst. Does he just think he's hungry because he's used to having a nighttime bottle when he's sick? Or is he actually hungry because his body isn't processing his food correctly? I DON'T KNOW and I'm way too tired to think about it. I do know that when I hear his wail at around 2 AM, I want to cry too.

And there's just a little bit of stress in other areas of my life. I think I'm supposed to be a law student at a school where the Socratic Method is still heavily used 3L year and no class is anywhere close to easy. I'm taking Advanced Corporations: Mergers and Acquisitions, Environmental Law, Legal Profession, and the second half of my Law & Politics Workshop. I spent all day yesterday on the phone with our mortgage lender, two of Landon's doctors, and various homeowners insurance agents. The daily to-do list is long and generally has nothing to do with law school reading or the substantial paper I really, really need to start working on. So, yeah, I'm definitely on the verge of some kind of meltdown.

Landon, on the other hand, is doing fantastic during the daylight hours and gets exponentially more cheerful and fun every day. The cuteness and his newfound ability to give hugs (wonderful, clingy hugs) help ease the pain of exhaustion, but I think JP and I are both nearing our physical limit for sleeplessness.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Ear Tubes and the Promise of Sleep

Landon is now the proud owner of teeny tiny ear tubes and we have been promised that this will substantially improve, if not end, the ear infections and sleepless nights for all of us. The surgeon said she drained out quite a bit of fluid which definitely would have been hurting him, so we should see some improvement right away.

The pre-surgical fasting went better this time. He was getting pretty mad before we left for the hospital at 9:15, but as long as someone was holding him and jumping up and down, he wouldn't cry. We like to think of him as our personal in-home gym. When is the last time you actually jumped up and down for an extended period of time, while holding a 21 lb. weight? It's a work out! We arrived at the hospital and Landon was very flirty with the nurses, who all wanted to adopt him. This is him in the big chair in his pre-op room. He's totally ready to get some tubes.



And now he's in some ridiculously cute mini hospital clothes. I think he missed the surgical hat, though.



The nurses, who were wonderful (like every nurse we've worked with at a children's hospital), brought Landon a few toys to distract him from his starvation, but he was much more interested in his hospital ID bracelet. This strip of plastic kept him entertained for a solid thirty minutes.



Seriously, thirty minutes.



After the plastic ran out of magic, JP walked Landon around the central pre-op area. Suddenly a nurse walked by and plucked Landon out of JP's arms and walked off down the hallway with him, exclaiming over his cuteness. JP walked back into our pre-op room, Landon-less and looking a little bewildered, but soon we could hear the raised voices of several nurses admiring Landon from down the hall. And after about ten minutes, the nurse walked back in with a Landon who looked very pleased with life. And then, right when he remembered that he had been without a bottle for 11 hours, the surgeon walked in, scooped him up, and carried him off to the OR.

The surgery itself was very short, less than 15 minutes from start to finish. The anesthesiologist was kind enough to draw the blood for his A1C diabetes test, so I think we'll get those results back tomorrow. When we told each doctor his earlier glucose test results they were all very concerned, so we're back in the realm of being worried about it, but still waiting to decide how worried to be until we know what we're dealing with. The surgeon said everything went well and he should have almost no discomfort from the procedure itself. We'll follow up with her next week so she can check on the fluid levels and healing around the tubes.

Landon had a bottle of Pedialyte, chased it with a bottle of formula, and is now sleeping soundly in his crib, moving his lips like he's sucking another bottle. And now that I've had some lunch, a Diet Coke, and a giant cookie from Au Bon Pain, I suppose I should turn off the Top Chef re-runs and get started on my reading. I'd like to stay on top of things for at least the first week.