Today is Kid A’s NINETEENTH birthday, but I’ve been incorrectly telling people for about six months now that she was going to turn 20 this year, and who can believe where the time has gone, and I’m too young to have a kid that old, and wasn’t she just a little baby a minute ago, and …(insert Charlie Brown teacher voice).  But I stand corrected, as she is not 20 yet.  And I can totally believe that she is 19.  Just not 20.  So, we’re good.

She was born in a blizzard.  Well, not actually in a blizzard, but in a hospital during a blizzard.  Although, the wife of a co-worker delivered one day before and she almost did have her baby in the snow as she was being taken to the hospital on a snowmobile (I am a little bit jealous of that super cool birth story).

I was overdue by five days and I was ready to evict my tenant.  When the oxytocin kicked in, I tried to rip the side rails off of my hospital bed.  Sheepdog hung out with me early on during the slow part of labor, but he seemed kind of bored, so I sent him home to have lunch and a beer and to shovel the driveway.  It’s what I wanted to be doing if I hadn’t been otherwise occupied.  Then he almost missed her actual birth.  He literally ran into the delivery room while nurses were putting his paper hospital costume on him.  He rounded the corner and burst into the room and BAM! he got a full frontal view of leg spread with a side of crowning baby head and extra sauce.  Welcome to fatherhood, pal.  That’s probably gonna leave a mark.

Kid A was, of course, perfect in every way.  She was the first grandchild on both sides of the family, so she had no shortage of doting fans.  And I was extremely enthusiastic to try my luck at parenting a human being, so I was very excited that she let me practice with her.  If she was a boy, I wanted to name her Speed McCoy.  Fortunately, that did not happen.

Hi there.  I'm your mommy.  It's very nice to meet you.

Hi there. I’m your mommy. It’s very nice to meet you.  I truly thought you were going to be a boy, so I’m sorry about all of the blue sailboats on your nursery wall.

Thus began almost two decades of me coming up with crazy ideas and theories and names and opinions, and (usually and very luckily) fate intervening when I’ve gone too far.  Kid A was my introduction to this insane, exhausting, fulfilling, scary, take-your-breath-away experience called parenthood.  She is smart and beautiful and funny and makes me so very proud, even when she is giving me gray hair and making me talk to myself.  She is driven and passionate and so very strong.  I am very proud and lucky that she is my firstborn.

Happy 19th Birthday, Kid A.  Sorry for all of the bad haircuts.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

This is Not a Post About Resolutions

Well, with the “winter break” (Ha!  Raise your hand if you actually feel any kind of post-vacation bliss right about now.  Nobody?  Me neither.  How about if I ask who feels “winter broken?”  Yep… me too.) drawing to a close, things are starting to get back to “normal” around here.

I fully acknowledge the overuse of quotation marks in that opening statement.  Cut me some slack as I ease back into this writing thing.

Sheepdog is spending more time at the office, the teenagers are slowly backing off from sleeping during business hours more than nighttime ones, and the littles are walking around like zombies, muttering “I’m hungry” and “I’m sooooooo bored” even after they have eaten us out of house and home and played their way through every single clamshell case and blister package that found its way under our Christmas tree.

What?  Those were legitimate quotes.  Compulsory marks do not count.

So, after just ONE MORE DAY of winter break, Sheepdog will go to work and the kids will go to school and I will…  I will…


What will I do?  What will I do?  What will I do?

What will I do?

There are no more decorations to put up or take down.  There are no more presents to buy or wrap or deliver (well, Kid A does have her 18th birthday coming up in a few days, but how do you even begin to wrap a tattoo?).  There are no more goodies to make or bake or eat.  There are no more envelopes to address and cards to mail, no more trips to pack for (or unpack from), no more holiday parties to plan or attend.  It’s like November and December are 100-mile-an-hour months in a BMW hard-top convertible (sometimes with the top down…BRRRR, Green Bay!) – fun but fast.  Then in January you can’t go over 50 m.p.h. because you are driving around in one of those exclusively electric cars, like a Nissan Leaf.

Seriously, what will I do?


Fortunately, there is always something to do around here.  Mostly, there are chores… shopping for, preparing, and cleaning up after meals, laundry, cleaning out closets and the garage to make room for our holiday haul.  Then there’s the driving… lots and lots and lots of driving.  And sometimes I have to take care of sick kids.  And following the hustle and bustle of November and December, I now have to add “pay many, many bills,” “exercise,” and then “exercise some more because you sure didn’t ever say ‘no’ to the shrimp fondue or the wine, dummy” to my To-Do ASAP list.

All legitimate quotes, dammit.

So, I have all of the boring, repetitive stuff, but I also have some fun stuff coming up too.  I plan on being really committed to my attempts at writing a book this year.  I started in November during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which challenges people to write over 50,000 words during the month, using inspirational quotes and emails and a really unrealistic timeline.  I wrote a chapter (a good one!) during the first few days, but nobody showed up at my front door to rough me up or chase me if I didn’t keep it up, so then I did the other things first that were higher on my priority list.  Seriously, who has time to flesh out the back story of a secondary, yet pivotal, character while they are simultaneously basting a turkey and making cranberry sauce from actual cranberries and agave nectar for 30 people?

"Ain't nobody got time for that." - Sweet Brown

“Ain’t nobody got time for that.” – Sweet Brown

But I do have time to continue to keep up this blog and occasionally write chapters of a book that has been knocking around in my head for years.  Especially during January.

And then there is my workout routine, which over the years has been spotty at best, and non-existent if I’m being realistic.  I have two workout speeds… maniacal and eating raw cookie batter when nobody is watching.  Acknowledging that unhealthy discrepancy, and the fact that I have been blessed with an extremely responsive overall body type, I have decided that 2014 is going to be the year for me to stop making excuses and screwing around and I am going to get healthy.  Even if nobody chases me.

When I go to Atlanta Blood Services to donate platelets, my body can produce three bags at one time.  Every time.  No kidding.  And that is apparently not a normal thing.  I am freakishly strong.  I once moved a couch and a love seat from the living room on the main floor down to the playroom in the basement all by myself.  And then I carried two ginormous leather chairs up the stairs.  I grew five healthy babies from scratch in this body (with a little starter help from Sheepdog, of course), and helped them grow even stronger and healthier by breastfeeding them.  And a year after I had Kid E, I did P90X and I was legitimately rocking a bikini on the beach.  I just got lazy and let things slide after that.  And that’s just wasteful.

Well, no more.  No more sliding, no more excuses, no more cookie batter.  Santa brought me P90X3 and I’m going to go push play.  Right after I finish this post and fold the laundry.

I’m just keeping it “real,” folks.

OK, I’m done with the quotation marks now.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Speaking of Wood…

Speaking of wood, Kid D is about due for The Talk.  Yes, I mean THE Talk.  He is in the third grade.  Too young, you say?  Seriously, have you ridden on a public school bus?  Have you watched a rerun of Friends on television?  Have you heard of a little thing called the internet?

S-E-X is everywhere.  And it has basically been motor boating my son since he was born.  He just wasn’t aware that boobs could be used as anything but food or a soft pillow until now.  And he has questions… I can see them trying to escape from his little boy mouth.  Mostly I see them now when I am showering and he lingers for a fraction of a second too long in my bathroom.  Then he leaves quickly, muttering, “…nevermind…”  because his little boy brain doesn’t yet know the words he wants to use for the things he wants to ask.  And his body will be changing soon and his friends will be saying things.  And I don’t want him to feel like he is an alien growing a fifth limb.

"Erections sometimes don't know when they're not wanted." - from "What's Happening to Me, " written by Peter Mayle and illustrated by Arthur Robins

“Erections sometimes don’t know when they’re not wanted.” – from “What’s Happening to Me, ” written by Peter Mayle and illustrated by Arthur Robins

I have several options about how I can handle this.  I can leave some brochures and books on his nightstand for him to peruse at his leisure.  But that seems so isolating and scary, and likely the pages would get stuck together before long.  I could ignore the issue and let him find out on his own, in a more organic way.  But what if he gets the wrong information or has questions or it freaks him out?  At that point, he likely won’t feel comfortable enough to come to me with questions because I never approached him with the facts in the first place.  Then sex becomes a dirty little secret in our house.  And those are NOT feelings that I want my kids to associate with sex, ever (well, the dirty part can be acceptable, but that’s a much more advanced lesson for later).

I learned about sex in a combination of all of the ways listed above.  I regularly organized my mom’s walk-in-closet (honestly, she had a ton of clothes that always ended up on the floor, and it gave me tremendous peace to fold them or hang them back up), and she conveniently left a copy of “What’s Happening to Me?” on a shelf for me to “find” when I was about eleven or twelve.  Little did she know that my cousin, now a lesbian for what that’s worth, had told me all about the nitty gritty when I was at her house for a sleepover.  I was nine.  Any other facts about body development or intercourse or STDs trickled in over the years via sex education classes, Seventeen magazine quizzes, and my friend McWorm, who explained to me in the 7th grade that Dexy’s Midnight Runners most definitely did not want Eileen to hurry up.

Taking what I learned from my own experiences, I went into my own parenting wasteland wishing to make a complete 180 when it came to talking to and teaching my kids about sex.  I’m not judging my parents for not talking to me.  I know firsthand how hard it is to have The Talk, for both the parents AND the kids.  And honestly, my parents didn’t get The Talk from their parents either.  So the dirty little secret is all they knew.  But I was adamant that I would try to make it, if not easy, than at least a smidge easier for my kids to talk to me about all things related to sex.  I would start being open when they were very young and we could build trust from there.  I thought it was a good plan.

When the girls were little, I drove a minivan.  A silver Mazda MPV, pre-sliding doors, but it was still super convenient for the car seat-toting set.  It was also the place where we had some of our best sex talks when they were young.  I was laying the groundwork.  For example:

One morning on the way to carpool, Kid A, who was in 1st grade at the time, asked what I’d be doing while she and her sisters were in school all day.  I took a deep breath and said that I had a doctor’s appointment.

“A well visit, Mommy?  Do you have to get a shot?” asked a very curious Kid B, who was in preschool.  She was used to her own pediatrician.

“Um, no, actually.  I am going to a mommy doctor called an OB/GYN.”  I steadied my nerves and looked straight ahead at the road (talks in the car were most awesome because there was never any eye contact involved).  “The OB stands for ‘obstetrician,’ and that’s a doctor who delivers babies.  I am not pregnant, so I’m not going for that.”

“Whew,” said a smartass Kid A, “‘Cause you’re usually pregnant a lot.”

“No, I am not pregnant right now.  So I am going for the GYN part – the ‘gynecologist…’ ”  I took a very deep breath.  “…and that is a doctor who takes care of your vagina.”

If the girls had brake pedals, we would have skidded out right there in the middle of the road.

“Whaaaaaaaaaat?” squealed both of the older kids.  Kid C toddler-giggled at their reaction.

“There is a doctor just for your your cha-china?”  More giggles from the backseat.

“Yes, ” I answered, determined to be calm and cool and all NBD about sex.  “He will check my weight and my blood pressure and ask me medical questions and do a check to make sure my vagina is all healthy and good. ”

“Well, that’s just like a well visit, Mommy, ” Kid A pointed out.

I was so proud for being straightforward and honest and open about sex with my daughters.  They understood.  I was making progress.  Change is good!  And then Kid B broke me.

“But what about if you make a stinker out of your vagina when the doctor is checking you.  What happens then, Mommy?  If you make a stinker?  Out of your vagina?”

I slammed on the brakes at that point, both figuratively on the conversation and literally on the minivan.  Fortunately, we had just pulled in to the school drop off.  “Have a good day, girls!”  I fake-smiled and waved and completely ignored the final, utterly unnerving question about S-E-X.  I was actually shaking in my seat.  Where was that kid from?

Kids are evil.  They are ornery.  Kids are put on this earth to pulverize their parents’ best intentions into dust particles and then throw them into our faces.  Groundwork, shmoundwork.

Now that I think about it, I’ll wait just a little while longer before I give Kid D The Talk.  He can learn about S-E-X like everybody else, the old-fashioned way… from a Victoria’s Secret catalog.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Sheepdog Does Not Like Pregnant Women

This is an email I received this afternoon as I walked into the grocery store:

To: Stacy
From: Sheepdog
Subject: List of 5
Beyonce is off the list effective immediately.  Please install either Gabrielle Union or Zoe Saldana.

That was it.  And I know exactly why he sent the message… he must have just heard that Beyonce is pregnant.  And he took her off of his list because he does not like pregnant women.  And I knew it was coming.  He is so predictable.

I take full responsibility for this.  You might find it strange that the father of five children has such an aversion to those who are ripe with child.  I give you that it may seem odd on the surface, but if you do the math you will realize that I have been pregnant for just under four of the eighteen years that we have been married.  That is almost a quarter of our whole marriage that I have been knocked up, craving weird things, and complaining about sciatica, morning sickness, swollen lady parts and Braxton-Hicks.  No wonder he doesn’t like pregnant women.  As a group we/ they are not always the most fun to be around.  I always say that I loved being pregnant, but Sheepdog remembers a completely different experience.

He also gets really disgusted about what pregnancy can do to a woman’s body.  I think he was in awe of the creation of life and all that jazz when I was carrying Kid A, but that sh!t got old fast.  He was affected more than I was by the weight gain, the body morphing, the waddle-walk… and that’s nothing compared to the horrific pregnancy phenomenon that occasionally occurs where a once beautiful woman changes from head to toe so much that she doesn’t even look like herself anymore.  It’s like the baby pokes them from inside with an ugly stick.

Debra Messing from the television show "Will & Grace," before

... and then this happened

Now, don’t go judging Sheepdog harshly.  Sheepdog is actually a man who thinks that all women are beautiful.  So much that I often have to tell him to chill about it.  I think that man was born with a little extra testosterone or something.  And he is wonderfully sweet to me no matter what I look like, even when I was about-to-blow pregnant.  He is just that much happier knowing that he will never be married to a pregnant woman… never, ever again.

So Sheepdog once again finds himself adjusting his List of 5.  His list at one time or another has included Selma Hayek, Jessica Alba, and other beautiful women who made the mistake of procreating and thus alienating Sheepdog forever.  I guess I’m lucky that he still likes me after all the times I’ve been pregnant.  Not so much luck for Mrs. Jay-Z, I guess.

I will confirm this with him when he gets home from work, but I’m guessing his inner-monologue reaction to seeing Beyonce round in the belly went something like this:

“Wait… what?  My dirty girl is pregnant?”
“Heh, heh… she did It.”
“Crap, now I have to change my list.”

And thus, the e-mail from this afternoon.  He really is predictable.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

It Was Definitely the Hair

The future has arrived.  I can listen to whatever song I choose, make a phone call and send a message (through the air!), all from one device that fits in the palm of my hand.  I can push a button and whatever flavor coffee I want comes out of the machine instantly (like in Judy Jetson’s kitchen!).  “Space Tourism” is an actual industry.  I can even load a photo onto my computer and the computer will identify the people in the picture.

I am sorry, but that last one freaks me out a little bit.  A computer can LOOK at a picture and IDENTIFY PEOPLE from it.  Like when your kid pulls out an old, square Fotomat photo from a dusty box, wipes it off and asks, “Who is that little boy, Mama?”  And you squint and jog your memory and say, “Um, I think that was my uncle, back when he was young and super cute, you know – before he started smoking pot all the time and living with the crazy cat lady who didn’t wear underpants to your aunt’s wedding reception.  Yeah, that was him.  Don’t do drugs.”

A bunch of different computer applications have face recognition software now… iPhoto has had it for a while and Facebook apparently has it too.  I get how it works (our souls have a fingerprint-like uniqueness and the computers have a way of recognizing those very specific and detailed nuances), but I am leery of it at the same time.  I would feel so much better – and the computers would seem so much less alive – if they were just measuring the distance between the eyes, width of the nose, depth of the eye sockets, shape of the cheekbones and the length of the jawbone.

So I was reassured and very pleasantly surprised the other day when Kid A posted her Hermione picture on her Facebook account and the computer identified her as… ME!

Now, let me give you a little background.  Kid A is the first grandchild on both sides, so all of the relatives gathered together in the hospital room when she was born.  My mom was so excited and overwhelmed to have a grandchild.  She stared down at the minutes-old new life, scanned her beautiful baby face and gushed to me with joy, “She looks just like you!”

Everyone in the room responded, “Stacy looked just like Sheepdog as a baby?”

Seriously, Kid A looked exactly like Sheepdog and nothing like the woman who just attempted ripping the rails off of the hospital bed while forcing another human out of her body.  And while Kid A’s looks have changed over the years, she has always most closely resembled her Daddy.  Yet the computer identified her not as him, nor even as herself, but as me the other day.

Why did the software recognition program identify Kid A as me, you ask?  I mean, yes, she is my kid but we really do not look alike.  We clearly have different noses, different eyes, and very different face shapes.

There’s only one logical conclusion.  It was definitely the hair.  Unmistakable, big, Jersey Girl hair.  She DOES look just like me!

Kid A (but Me, according to Facebook), 2011

Me, 1987

It All Ends Today

…or so says the tagline to the latest and final (sniff, sniff) movie, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (which releases today), based upon the epic book series by J. K. Rowling.  Unless, of course, we are mistaken about that because they found a way to cast a Confundus Charm over the entire world… now wouldn’t that be something?

I have always been extremely affected by books and movies and television, so it is natural that their conclusions would move me monumentally as well.  I know that they are manufactured, but they could be real – good fiction is always based in reality – and regardless, through reading about or watching them, they have allowed me to be a part of their life lessons.

I learned about the joy of realizing your true calling from Sam Malone (“Boy, I’ll tell ya… I’m the luckiest son-of-a-bitch on Earth,” as he shuts off the lights in the bar) and the meaning of life according to Cliff Clavin (“comfortable shoes”) and Carla Tortelli (“having children”) during the final episode of Cheers.  I learned about letting true friends know that they will remain in your heart even when you follow different paths in life (the “GOODBYE” stones that Hunnicutt left for Pierce to see as he flew off in the chopper in the M*A*S*H finale).

I learned from Frodo and Sam in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King that you sometimes can but you can’t always go home again, for when they returned to the Shire – free of their youthful innocence and ignorance – it was a very different place than the one they had left.  I learned that war can be necessary even though it ends childhood and tears friends and families apart, and that power will corrupt almost everyone, from The Hunger Games trilogy.

I was reminded that relationships are complicated and the “right” guy is determined by the beholder (Team Kellan!, I mean Team Sheepdog!) and that everybody comes with a list of pros and cons from the Twilight books.  And Friday Night Lights’ Coach Eric Taylor and his football motto “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose!” couldn’t show me any more simply that winning is not the true indicator for success, and that family should always come first.  The Cosby Show taught me that families should dance together often, preferably to cool jazz music.

And perhaps most importantly I learned from the conclusion of Zoey 101 that sometimes 16-year-old girls get pregnant and it is incredibly important to be a good parent to your teenager and talk to them about sex and responsibility and how bad choices can end your career before it really even begins (empathetic shiver! for both of the Spears girls).

I am smarter than all of you. Oh, and my parents are dentists.

So it is actually Thursday night and Kid A is leaving now dressed as Hermione to attend the midnight-ish viewing of the last Harry Potter film with her friends.  Kid B was so excited that she made wands for them out of actual trees for Kid A and her friends so they could use them when they dressed up for the premiere (I am telling you that these kids are B.O.R.E.D.).

Sheepdog, Kid B and I are looking forward to a Sunday afternoon IMAX showing of the movie, where I hope to be as moved as I have in the past by the creativity of those who write and make these incredible stories.  The Harry Potter books speak of unconditional love and selflessness as the ultimate weapons against evil.  I think that they are pretty good at warding off the everyday icky as well, so I’m going to stick with them.

After Sunday I will say, “Nox!” to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, so I can make room in my heart for new, even more imaginative tales and more importantly, the lessons that I can learn from them.  And so the end is actually the beginning.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

From L to R, the wands of Cho Chang, Padma Patil, Hermione Granger and Harry Potter (made by Kid B)

It’s Mayteenth… High-Five an Angel!

I don't think this is actually Kid C being born. But maybe it is. I was kinda out of it that day.

Ten years ago I went into Shore Memorial Hospital with some labor pains, but I had false labor throughout the last trimester and I was still ten days away from my due date.  Sheepdog was working in Philadelphia at the time and he had (rather inconveniently) taken the train to work that day, so he was hours away from being by my side.  Being a patient in the hospital brings feelings of helplessness, but being nine months pregnant and clumsy in your own body just makes it worse.  The staff was so helpful – hydrating me to stave off labor, even for just a little while longer, but they still didn’t discharge me.  Later in the day a new nurse came in and checked my monitors.  She then called my doctor and calmly told me that she was advising him to do a c-section sooner rather than later.  There was nothing blatantly wrong – no fetal distress – but this nurse had been doing her job for a long time and her experience told her that this baby should be delivered.

The rest of the afternoon was kind of a big blur to me.  I remember Sheepdog rushing in to hold my hand, frantic after his long day on mass transit.  At the nurse’s insistence, my doctor had arrived and was checking on me too.  They all agreed that this baby was being delivered on this day, but there was still no sense of urgency.  Then I felt like I had been stabbed in the side with a giant machete.  And again.  I remember being taken into the operating room and I remember getting an epidural.  I remember everybody coming and going from the room, but still not feeling like this was an actual emergency.  I even remember thinking that it would be cool to watch the surgery in the reflective ring around the operating light above me.  I felt the pressure of the incision, but I was no longer in any pain.

Then I heard a splashing kind of noise, followed by a frighteningly insistent, “Get it out!  Get it out!  Get it out!”  I think it was the normally very calm and soothing voice of my almost hippie-like obstetrician, but I wasn’t really sure because I had never heard him speak with any kind of urgency.  The rest of the surgery was controlled chaos, everyone in the room busily doing their jobs with single-minded focus.  I was asking (out loud, I thought), “Is it a boy or a girl?” over and over and over again, but I never got an answer.  After what seemed like an eternity, Sheepdog (who had been at the head of the table with me the whole time) told me that we had a beautiful baby girl.  I was so very cold and tired, but joyful over the birth of our third daughter.

I never passed out completely, but I do remember coming to in the recovery room afterwards.  The doctor explained to Sheepdog and I that the stabbing pain was a concealed abruption, wherein the placenta had torn away from my uterus.  That had caused significant bleeding in me and the baby had ingested some blood before she could be delivered.  She was having some difficulty breathing, but she was in the intermediary nursery (Shore is a community hospital and they did not have a N.I.C.U.) so they could monitor her respiration and the oxygen in her blood.  They never had to intubate her, so he was cautiously optimistic.  Sheepdog went to be with her immediately, but I was stuck in recovery, unable to see my helpless, sick new baby until the next morning.

Two very worrisome days of sitting by her side (me in a wheelchair… hospital rules), holding her tiny little hands and telling her all about the crazy family that she had been born into, and many tubes, monitors and tests later, Kid C finally was released from specialized care.  Her oxygen levels were stable and she was breathing very well on her own.  They even let us go home shortly thereafter, but I would forever be affected by this incredibly complicated weekend.

I kept Kid C close, even closer than I did with the other kids as newborns.  She slept in a bassinet by my bedside for over five months (I said it was because I was more convenient for breastfeeding, but I was secretly checking to make sure she was still breathing every five minutes).  I was intensely overprotective of her, even for a Type-A, control-freak, compulsively sheltering Mama Bear who was getting little sleep and had two other little active chickens in the coop to look after.  And Sheepdog?  He might as well have lived somewhere else, as he was still commuting to Philadelphia every day and I never had time for him anyway.

Then came September 11th, and everybody was holding their families a little closer, so I fit right in.  Then came The Story for Another Day, and Sheepdog and I moved our family to Atlanta.  By now, Kid C was just over a year old and she was running and playing and developing ahead of schedule.  She was fun and charming and silly.  I had started to relax my vigilant watch over her a slight bit, but it wasn’t until a specific day in the Fall of 2002 that I really was able to let go.  That was when I read the surgical report from the day she was born.

Because we had moved, I needed a new doctor.  I didn’t have one confirmed yet, so I had my old doctor send my file directly to me.  I was curious, so I looked through it and found the report.  It was technical and medical and official and void of any emotion, as any proper surgical report should be.  I read it many times over, always more stunned than the last time I read it.  I had done some research on concealed abruptions in my dad’s Gray’s Anatomy book the summer after she was born and I learned how dangerous they can be to both the mother and baby because they are usually undetected until it is too late (the concealed part is really bad).  I went over the report again, mixing in what I knew to be the facts and trying to make sense of the foggy parts from my memory.  Do you know how something can be staring you right in the face, but you are blind to seeing it until you finally get lucky and actually do?  Well, I finally got lucky.

I realized that my doctor and the surgeon who was assisting him, and especially the nurse were all angels disguised as medical personnel on that day ten years ago.  Yes, those people were experienced and talented and just doing their jobs, but mistakes happen and sometimes things are not clear while they are happening as they may be in hindsight, and there was no real reason that I should have been so close to the critical and capable medical intervention that I and Kid C so desperately needed when my placenta tore without warning.  Angels, lucky stars, fairy godmothers/ godfathers, guardians… call them what you want.  I believe that they were on duty for us that day.  And that realization gave me such a sense of peace.  So I backed off on the overprotective Mama Bear thing (not totally – I am still a classic Type-A, duh), and gave my daughters more room to grow and make mistakes and learn things on their own.

Often, and especially on this day – which Kid C has so lovingly called “Mayteenth” since she was little – I think about those angels.  I thank God for them and the so many others who have watched out for Kid C and the rest of our family over the years.  I am so incredibly grateful for all of the little and big miracles that happened the way they did in order to bring such a vivacious, crazy-haired, creative, kooky, burst of joy into our family.  Happy Tenth Birthday, Kid C.  Let’s go high-five some angels.

Guess Who’s Pregnant!

I honestly can not tell you how many times I have uttered those words in my lifetime.  I have been pregnant a half-dozen times myself and every time Sheepdog and I have told our kids we have announced it at dinner.  I mean, it got to be so common that every time I said, “We have some great news,” the kids rolled their eyes and thought either that I was knocked up or we were going to move again (and we’ve only lived in like five houses since we started having kids, so… give me a break).  Plus, I have three younger sisters, all of whom have three kids of their own – that’s fourteen announcements all together.  We are a fertile bunch.  My grandmother (we called her “Kettle”) named us the Rabbit Family.  My mom brags that she was so fertile that contraception didn’t even stop her from making babies.  Each of us are identified by our own failed method that granted us life on this earth (I think I was the failed Pill, Sister B was a failed IUD, Sister C was a failed condom, etc.).  With that kind of track record you would think she would begin to examine her own user error, but I’m certainly not complaining.  None of us would be here if it were not for my mom’s lack of ability, so we’re all good.

Big Family does not even begin to describe us.  We are not Duggar Family big, but that’s just silly.  Kettle was the oldest of five kids.  My mom is the oldest of four, as am I.  My dad is one of six.  When we get together for birthdays and the holidays there is not just a kids’ table, we actually have to build a new dining wing.  It sounds like a good plan to go to Wednesday Night Suppers at local churches just to get tips on how to serve the masses.  Anyone who also comes from a large family knows exactly what I mean.  The panic always comes from those who don’t.  Sheepdog is one of only two kids.  And his sister is seven years younger than him, so they might as well have been only children.  I’m sure you can imagine how scared Sheepdog was when this new girl he was dating announced that she wanted to have five kids (and had already named them L, M, N, O and P – just listen as it rolls off the tongue!).  Needless to say, I have had to bribe him each and every time I was ready for us to add another baby to this crazy family.  I can’t tell you how much I struggled with the decision to stop getting pregnant all the time.

I was thirty-six years old when I delivered Kid E.  Do you know that the experts call that “of an advanced maternal age?”  I think that is a horribly offensive slur, but I can be logical so I do understand that certain medical risks start to go up as you get older.  Plus, I had had four Cesarian sections by the end.  A c-section is major surgery and recovery from it can be a bitch.  Pregnancy was mostly enjoyable for me (Sheepdog again claims I have revisionist history on this point) but no one can challenge that I truly loved feeling a baby flutter inside of me.  Growing a human being from scratch gave me an awesome sense of control, even though I know it really had nothing to do with me.  We were just extremely lucky that we could make healthy babies.  And Oh, how I love the babies.

It just made sense to Sheepdog (and to that damn logical part of my brain) for me to have my tubes tied after Kid E was delivered.  I was already in the operating room and having even one more kid after him would mean either tying a kid or two to the roof or getting a family vehicle bigger than the one we have with an XL at the end of its name.  Sheepdog was in the O.R. when the doctor did it and he (1) watched very closely to make sure he did a good job and (2) asked him to cut out just a little more because he had read something about spontaneous regeneration and knew that something like that could and probably would totally happen to me.  So now Sheepdog can brag forever more that he will NOT be married to a pregnant woman ever again.

Fast forward a couple of years and even though my egg chutes have been cut and cauterized and forever banned from hosting an egg and sperm cocktail, I would swear that I am once again in the family way.  I know all of the feelings and signs and symptoms.  I have them all plus I am late.  Sheepdog is in a complete panic, although I can see that he believes that he would totally be The Man if his boys made it through the wilderness and found something to fertilize despite the fact that I was supposedly rendered unable to conceive.  So we stop to buy a pregnancy test (always buy the box with two… just in case) and wait in a crazed panic like teenagers for the results on a stick.  I am dumbfounded when I see with my own eyes that…

Let's see how high we can count!

The Original Six Pack

I am not pregnant.  Duh.  Seriously, I mean of course I am not pregnant because I had my tubes tied.  The chances of me conceiving naturally now are less than 1%.  Seeing a negative pregnancy test made me a little sad for what could have been, but it also gave me a renewed sense that our family is what it is supposed to be – Me and Sheepdog and our five chickens.  It makes me really happy and extremely satisfied.  I continue to be a very lucky girl.

Oh, and wish me luck for tomorrow…