Pregnancy Week 19: A growing, shrinking family

Today concludes Week 19 of my pregnancy, and may I say, Good Riddance.

Pregnancy-wise, things are going blessedly well. According to the creative souls who come up with these things, Baby #2 is the size of: A zucchini (I’m assuming your standard supermarket zucchini and not the neighbor’s garden variety from which you could carve out a canoe), a Gameboy, a hotdog, or a pair of sunglasses. Hmm… OK. In real terms that means it is about 6 inches long and 8.5 ounces.

My symptoms haven’t changed much; the heartburn remains a near-constant but still tolerable presence, and I have found myself getting winded more quickly when I climb stairs, but otherwise I’m feeling pretty good. This upcoming week we’ll have our anatomy scan, and the following week is my next appointment with my midwife, during which I will likely plead for heartburn relief of some kind.

(Incidentally, I saw a video on Instagram or somewhere from a mom explaining that pregnancy heartburn easily is eliminated by taking 100 deep breaths. I haven’t found the time this week to string more than five deep breaths together at a time, and I don’t mean to be a complete cynic, but… I expect this is bullshit.)

The real theme this week has been, unfortunately, loss (that, and toddler diarrhea, but nobody wants that recap.)

Last weekend, my beloved cat, Bills, died suddenly from an undetermined illness. In the span of 24 hours he went from seeming perfectly fine (he even hopped into The Toddler’s crib on Saturday morning to indulge in some tentative snuggling) to weak, with labored breathing that had me rushing, too late, to an emergency vet.

Soon after, I had to make the urgent and heartbreaking decision to have him put out of his misery. In the end, he was too dehydrated to have any blood work or to be able to get an IV inserted, so I have no idea what killed him, and I wasn’t allowed to be in the room when he was euthanized. My husband and I buried him under a white pine tree and sprinkled wildflower seeds on his grave.

I know that the price you pay for the unconditional love of a pet is the inevitable goodbye at the end, but God, it’s hard. Bills slept as my “little spoon,” with his head on my pillow, almost every night for the past eight years. He was the through line for every scene change, major milestone, disappointment and triumph of my entire adult life.

He wandered into the backyard of the first house I rented with my then boyfriend (now husband), who named him “Bills” in an unsuccessful attempt to deter us from taking in a pet we could hardly afford at the time. Bills reluctantly traveled with us through five moves, tolerated and eventually loved the second cat and the dog we brought home, let me cry into his fur when I had a miscarriage, and sat with me in the predawn Christmas morning hours while I started timing the first contractions that brought my son into the world. He was a steadfast, uncomplicated source of comfort, and that was the hardest part of losing him: He wasn’t there to console me.

So  that’s the bittersweet cloud that has hung over the past week, as my belly gets rounder and time marches on. My family shrunk a little even as it grows. Though we suffered a loss, we get to keep the memories. And that’s something.

Pregnancy Week 19: A growing, shrinking family

A beast of a week (and it’s only Wednesday)

The Baby caught his inaugural daycare cold, so the momentum I picked up last week fizzled out pretty spectacularly. Fortunately, his cold never evolved into anything worse than a whole lot of snot, so he’s going back tomorrow for a big chunk of time while I catch up on things. I managed to check a big job off my list this evening after putting him to bed early (because he took one. 30. minute. nap. today. you. guys.) so as a reward to myself, I’m blogging. (Also I had a beer. I earned it.)

The animal kingdom has played a fairly big role in this week’s chaos, on top of The Baby’s cold. On Monday, my brother and mom brought their dogs over to run around since our side of the property is less wooded than theirs.

We recently started letting our two cats outside during the day. Yes, I know this shortens their lifespans. Yes, I know cats spend most of their waking hours murdering for fun. But their yowling was yet another thing keeping The Baby awake, meaning their indoor life expectancy was already rapidly declining, and they wear bell collars to keep them from sneaking up on birds (so far pretty effective.)

I digress.

family-photo
Charlie is the confused one in the lower corner of the photo. This is always his face.

I knew one of the cats, Charlie, was still outside when the neighbor dogs arrived, and that the dogs sometimes like to chase the cats, but I hadn’t been able to find him to coax him inside and figured he was fully capable of making himself scarce if he didn’t want to be chased.

But he did want to be chased, so he went full Halloween cat and taunted one of the dogs until he took the bait. Then he chased that 15-pound furry meatball about 20 feet up a tree, where Charlie clung pitifully by his armpits to a branch and yowled.

Shit.

I handed The Baby over to my mom. My brother steadied an extension ladder while I tried to coax Charlie, just out of my reach, down from the tree. He calmed down while I was up there, but not enough to try to climb head first down at me.

Realizing I could just about reach him, but didn’t have the number of hands necessary to keep me from falling out of the tree if I were to grab him, I climbed back down, retrieved my Boba soft structured carrier, and climbed back up.

We both returned to earth completely unscathed.

And I had a beer, because I earned it.

charlie-cat-rescue
Ugh, of course this happened.

In other news, the saga of my unwillingness to sleep train my baby and, in response, his unwillingness to sleep, continues. Today’s second failed nap had me ugly crying on my bed with my head in my hands. The Baby thought I was playing a funny game and giggled hysterically, which made me quit crying and then want to start crying again because I’m such an asshole for getting so mad at my sweet, sweet boy.

Parenting is so hard sometimes, you guys.

(Coincidentally, my tale of cat rescue lines up with today’s WordPress daily prompt… Yay! via Daily Prompt: Tree)

A beast of a week (and it’s only Wednesday)

This stinks.

Morning usually comes in waves at the TLMB house. The Baby will spit up/have a leaky diaper that wakes him up, a cat will get hungry, Louise, our dog, will scratch her neck to jangle the tags on her collar to let us know she needs to pee, and we’ll all gradually make it from horizontal to semi-vertical.

This morning at around 5:20, it was a noisy cat who stirred me from sleep. I went to feed him and shut him in the basement to avoid waking The Baby. Our dog followed me out of the bedroom and stood at the door to be let out.

The sun isn’t coming up until 7 a.m. these days, and usually The Husband is on morning dog duty. And usually, because Louise is afraid of the dark, he turns on a porch light that always makes me grumble from bed because I worry it will wake up The Baby. So I decided to leave the porch light off and assumed Louise would tentatively amble a few steps off the porch and pee before hurrying back to the safety of the house, as she usually does.

(We discovered her fear of the dark last summer when we took her camping and she tried to scratch her way into the tent after night fell. This girl does NOT like not being able to see.)

Instead, I heard a small ruckus that sounded like a snort on the far side of our garden, about 20 yards from the house. And then I smelled a stink. Oh, God, a stink.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Oh hi. By Ryan Hodnett (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Because our bedroom windows were open and the porch lets off just near it, I was whisper-hissing her name and quietly clapping to try to find her without waking up The Baby. I went back in, found my boots, and wandered over to find her rolling around in the grass. This cat-loving doofus had gotten eyes deep in the business end of a skunk.

I sighed, resigned to  my fate of never, ever, ever sleeping in again and went to gather old towels and supplies. (A quick Google led me to the de-skunking solution that worked pretty well: hydrogen peroxide, baking soday and dish soap. Thanks, Mythbusters.) If a fluffy cat-like thing makes our dog forget her fear of the dark, a cold hose bath will remind her in full force that she hates the dark (and also baths.)

Four baths later (one of which was mine) and the household is wide, wide awake with only one more full hour until the sun comes up.

Happy weekend, everybody.

P.S. This week marks my descent back into coffee addiction after two years off the stuff. I have mixed feelings about this.

P.P.S. The Husband just walked by and sniffed me and gave me a 2/10 for skunk smell. Shit.

This stinks.

Pets and babies: When worlds collide

The past several nights have been miserable sleep nights in TLMB household. And contrary to what you might assume, this has little to nothing to do with the fact that we have a four-month-old in the house.

The culprit?

This furry turd:

The furry roommate/food critic.
The furry roommate/food critic. Want way too many more cat pictures? Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram!

As far as we can tell, he is angry because we switched his food back from the slightly cheaper grocery store brand we bought during the move back to the expensive, grain free, low-calorie-because-both-our-cats-are-fat dry food he has been eating without complaint for years. And he expresses this displeasure by meowing loudly, climbing on my nightstand and scratching the walls (like a GD chalkboard, yes), and stomping all over the bed so that even when he isn’t howling, I lie awake in apprehension that he might step on the baby. (Don’t panic: Cosleeping safety is key, and we don’t let the pets sleep on the bed. And I’m doing my damnedest to not let them STOMP on the bed, either. Which is why I haven’t been sleeping much.)

Anyway, this has led to me getting about six extremely interrupted hours of sleep for the past few nights, which is like… newborn sleep territory. And I don’t do well on this regimen.

cats snuggling
Exhausted from keeping me up all night. #cuddlepuddle

Starting tonight, I’m going to be locking this schmuck and his slightly less culpable accomplice in the basement. If I don’t enjoy some solid shut-eye soon, these two squishy companions will be available free to a good home in the very near future.

While I’m on the subject of our furry roommates, I thought I’d cover a topic so often wondered by expectant parents, and how we handled it: Introducing your new progeny to your fuzzy roommates (I don’t call them fur-babies because they are grown-ass adults. They are pretty terrible roommates, though. They owe thousands of dollars in back rent.)

*Introducing your pets to your baby

When your pets meet your baby*According to someone who has both. [/qualifications.] Here are a few tips, but if you’re really concerned, consult a pet expert, not someone who has lost the equivalent sleep over the past seven years from her cat as she would have with 4-5 new babies.

  1. Know thy pets. This is something you should think about before you have kids, ideally. Yes, we loaded up on pets thinking that we probably wouldn’t really ever have kids, or at least not in the conceivable future. But we lucked into some mellow animals, despite everything you read to the contrary mere paragraphs ago. The cat food snob loves belly rubs and is the most docile creature (to humans, at least) ever. His copilot is a wimpy sidekick whose meows sound eerily like a human baby’s. And their sister from another mister is the unequivocal answer to, “Who’s a good dog?” Of course, I’m biased, but I’ve seen these guys around other kids and strangers, so I had a sense they weren’t going to Cujo out on my baby. If you’ve already git an aggressive/possessive pet on your hand, I suggest getting a trainer involved before baby arrives.
  2. Smell ya later? My husband brought home a hat the baby wore at the hospital to let the pets smell before the real deal arrived. I wasn’t there, but I believe their reaction was, “Where have you been? Feed me.” But this step certainly couldn’t hurt.
  3. Remember “W.A.S.A.B.I.”: We Always Supervise All Baby Interactions. (I just made that up. Consider it copyrighted. #feelingsmugaboutmyacronym)  The food critic loves The Baby and will come running to sniff him when he’s crying. But he also has treated him about the same way he did when he was in utero: just a big fat obstacle to my lap, one he would happily flop his big butt all over until he got comfortable if I let him (I do not). The dog scooches under the crib while I’m putting the baby down for a nap. But she will also lick his open mouth if I let her ( I do not). So, even if your pets are darling angels, don’t extend your trust further than you should. That goes for baby, too. My baby has an iron grip and would love nothing more than to grab a freshly picked fistful of fur into his mouth if I would let him (I do not). So The Baby and the roommates don’t hang out together unless I’m right there to supervise. No ripped out whiskers, no scratched baby skin, and no hard feelings.

I’ll surely update this when The Baby is mobile enough to discover where we keep that dreaded, artisan dry cat food. In the meantime, be kind to your pets, be kind to your babies, and lift a prayer to your deity that I get some effing sleep tonight or I’m going to lose it.

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Pets and babies: When worlds collide