Friday, March 11, 2011

Selective Male Deafness

One of the things that I sometimes take for granted is that my spouse does a lot. Every morning, he brings me coffee... hot, with three shots of gingerbread syrup, and milk. When I was pregnant with Silas, he'd bring me a prenatal vitamin and a glass of soy milk. When I was having troubles with... eh hem... "post partum issues" it was prune juice. Either way, without fail, every morning, I get to start my day off with a little bit of goodness that is his way of saying,"I love you." I get that. And trust me, I am very appreciative. However, there are days where this gesture feels a little bit like an apology. The other morning, he brought me my coffee as usual and asked,"How are you?" I looked him, barely able to focus, and said,"Tired. Very tired." He seemed confused by my response, and at that moment, it was clear. He had no idea what I was talking about. The look almost suggested an "oh, I'm sorry you're tired... maybe hit the sack earlier next time..." In my foggy, sleep deprived state, I said,"Yeah, tired. I was up at least five times last night." "Five? Oh I thought it was only three..." Only three? The point that he failed to see is that I was up multiple times while he continued to snooze through most of the night's events. "Make no mistake," I told him. "There will be a blog about this!" The words came out almost as a threat, and what was almost funny was that the threat actually seemed to carry some weight. He implored me to at least include the details of the last five months, even though he agreed it would make for a better read without it. So I'll add this brief note: for the first five months of Silas' life, Dave has gotten out of bed once, or twice on some occasions, a night when Silas wakes up to bring him into bed so I can nurse him. I think there are two main reasons he does this. The first is the guilt factor. Yes, he can't nurse him for me (though I've argued he just isn't trying hard enough- there has to be some supplement or something males can take to help out in this area...), but certainly he can get out of bed and get the child. Secondly, he knows that the chances of me making it to Silas' crib and back at 2 am pose a hazard to both Silas and I. A couple of times last week, he claimed I almost walked into the door or doorframe, Silas first. Honestly, both of us would be way to groggy to remember any sort of collision if it happened, so it very well might have happened, which would explain the mystery bruises I sometimes wake up with... so, on that particular night, I had gone upstairs to get into bed around 10. While brushing my teeth, I heard Hanna crying in her room. I went in to check on her, and after about 15 minutes, managed to settle her back to sleep. I got into bed and was asleep for about an hour and a half when Silas started crying. Normally, he cries for about 2 minutes and then falls back asleep when he realizes that at this point, I sleep through this period of crying due to sheer exhaustion. But tonight was different. The monitor was on... I turned it up a little and then realized that Dave wasn't taking the hint. So I got out of bed, and stumbled to pat him back to sleep. It worked and 10 minutes later I was back in bed, nicely snuggled in. Then, I hear it again: the brief grunts, followed by the crying. Ugh. Still not asleep. Dave sits up as if about to go in and get him back to sleep and then lays back down. What? I sigh loudly and go back into Silas' room to repeat the whole "patting- shushing" technique. Eventually, he falls back asleep. About an hour later, Hanna was back at it. She claimed to be cold, so I covered her, and then instantly, she said she was hot... surely it was too late for her to playing this game with me. Tired, and at this point slightly crabby, I said goodnight and left her room. I resented having to reheat my spot in bed yet again. I fell asleep quickly only to be awoken by Newman (our dog) howling in his sleep... yes, he does this, and it is extremely creepy. I heard once that dogs can sense evil and howl when they do... I doubt that Newman is that clued into the supernatural so I ignore that piece of it, but a howl in the dead quiet of the night makes my hair stand. Sometimes his legs twitch in his sleep and I imagine he is dreaming of chasing a squirrel and howling in victory as he corners it and paws it to its doom... I don't think he'd eat it. Just play with it till it stops moving... almost like the scene in "Of Mice and Men", only in this case, it's dogs and squirrels, which hardly has the same ring to it. I rolled over almost in disbelief. Anyone else want to chime in? Maybe someone could ring the doorbell at 3 am? That would be fun. By this time, Silas is ready for his three a.m. feed... again, I leave the monitor on for a prolonged period. Nothing. No sign of movement from the body next to me. I wonder briefly if he is even alive or if his appendectamy has had some lethal side effect. What an inopportune time... I didn't think I could handle one more event. I went to get Silas and nursed him until we both fell asleep only to be woken up by my irritating alarm clock at 6 a.m. My head hurt, my eyes burned. I was exhausted... in fact I was exhasted before I even got into bed... not sure what term would express being exhausted from being exhausted... and here he was, bringing me coffee and asking how I was. "I must have slept through it," he says trying to avoid eye contact. "Slept through it?!? I'll say." At this point, I went off on a rant. "Must be nice to get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep... oh wait, I forgot, you sat up once, and then fell back into blissful slumber. You must feel so rested and rejuvinated! I am so happy for you. Amazing... you slept through it all!" This is what I refer to as "selective male deafness". Sort of like when I talk to him during a football game. The baby monitor can be right next to him, baby wailing and all, and he "hears" nothing. Moms, we hear everything. I can hear the kids crying even when I am in the shower with the water running and they are downstairs.There are times I swear I can hear the baby across the street crying. Maybe it is genetic dating back to prehistoric times when men were out hunting and women had to check at every cry to make sure their babies weren't being attacked by saber toothed tigers. But that seems like a lame excuse considering the fact that Dave has never hunted anything more than a mouse in his lifetime, and that too was comically unsuccessful (they did a little dance around the kitchen, mouse on the counter, Dave armed with the fly swatter, and then the mouse scampered into the tupperwear drawer and disappeared... would have made for a good YouTube video). Once he heals completely, I will have to resort to physical tactics. An elbow in the arm, "accidentally" smacking him with the comforter when I throw it off in frustration... am I being unreasonable? In reality, I believe that I am doing him a favor. It would be much tougher for him to endure a crabby, sleep-deprived wife than just getting himself out of bed. These past few days should have convinced him of that. It really is a small price to pay for the sanity of the family. And everyone knows, "if Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!"

Friday, March 4, 2011


So from my previous posts, you may have gathered that the Nichols household has been fighting off viruses and bacteria for the past month. Thursday marked the end of antibiotics for all of us, which coupled with Dave's 38th birthday, was definitely cause for celebration! I bravely took on the task of making dinner: enchiladas, Mexican rice, beans, garnishing, and chocolate cake (I suppose I should have gone with churros or sopaipillas to keep the theme... hindsight...). As we all sat down to eat, I felt a wave of victory- as if I just reached the summit of a hill... and in my shape, that is a victory. A mountain would just be plain unrealistic. I had made dinner, nothing was underdone or overcooked, food was tasty... it was good and it felt like for a brief moment, the stars had aligned. By the end of it, we were all stuffed (or if you read my previous post- "gut-loaded") but isn't that what special occasions are for? I should add though that the kids didn't eat too much of it... Ella opted for plain bread (really? Is it that bad?) and Hanna had something... I think...Dave woke up Friday morning with a stomach ache and my parents insisted it was the enchiladas. I rolled down my hill fast. By mid-afternoon, he was home from work early and still in pain. I hadn't had any issues with the dinner so it was strange that he was still feeling the "after-effects". I knew that if he didn't figure out what it was, he would be out of commission longer than if he just went to the doctor and got some antibiotics. Or even better, if there was nothing wrong, he'd have no excuse not to pull his weight around here. I left to run some errands and pick up the kids and by the time I got home, he was hunched over in pain... very dramatic. I have always felt that men have a propensity to exaggerate when it comes to pain and have little patience for it. Yes, mean. I know. I won't deny it. It really isn't my strength but I have worked really hard to try to change this part of me, or at least lead some to believe that I am. He went to an Urgent Care center, and after a series of x-rays, he called to let me know he was headed to the ER for a CT scan. I had just put the three kids to bed and was already in my pajamas. Clearly, I underestimated the severity of his ailment. I arranged for a friend to come and stay with the kids and headed out to the hospital around 11. He had gotten the results of the scan and was already scheduled for an emergency appendectomy. He was going to be out longer than I thought. Trying not to panic, I tried to think of the positives... perhaps he could keep his appendix for Ella to share with her class? They are studying the human body after all... he wasn't really interested and wouldn't even allow me to bring it up with the surgeon. He was taken to the operating room on the second floor... the nurse showed me the waiting room. It was completely empty, dark, and downright creepy. For a moment, I wondered if this surgery was even legit- it seemed like a scene from a bad horror movie- where the patient gets wheeled away for a "surgery" only to find they are conducting experiments and implanting devices in him while he is out. I guess who is to say that didn't happen... every now and then doors would close, but there was no sign of life. My imagination continued to run wild- it was 3 a.m. after all and I had gotten no sleep. What if I am kidnapped (or woman-napped)? No one would even know that I was gone... I could have been the one drugged and medically experimented on and then left in some obscure corner on the second floor... sadly, I wondered how I would pump if that happened, and how much pain I'd be in if I couldn't pump. "OK, if you MUST take me, can you at least give me a chance to pump every three hours?" I was fortunate enough to find some hot coffee which perhaps settled my thoughts. Surgery went well but recovery was tougher than expected. He was discharged that afternoon (slightly over 12 hours after his surgery?!?) despite my urging him to stay as long as possible. Hey, there at least he got sleep, it was quiet, he was being tended to... seemed like a good deal to me. And for me, it was one less person to care for at home. Things were tough enough when the ratio was 2:3, but 1:4 seemed daunting and downright exhausting. Every time he walked around, I told him to rest. Whenever he sat for too long, I told him he needed to move. Poor guy. Now, almost a week later, he is doing much better and has begun resuming his household duties. Had it been me, I think I would have milked it for quite a bit longer. "Sure, the incision is completely healed, but the pain is on the inside. I need to rest." His incision sites still make me cringe- and I am convinced now that even those two weeks during freshman year when I thought I was pre-med was too long. Yes, I was one of those many freshman who thought they were pre-med only to transfer to the business school shortly thereafter. But I can guarantee that had I made it through medical school, cutting people open would not have been my specialty. I feel the same way about colorectal specialists... I know someone has to do it, and I guess I am thankful that someone does, but of all the areas to specialize in? I imagine bedside manner is key for this field, because it just plain uncomfortable inside and out when you have to see them. Perhaps a subject for another blog. For now, I'll be thankful for my teaching job where on most days, band-aids are still the cure all.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The bold cricket goes first...

There are times when owning a lizard seems cruel. At first, I tried converting him into a vegetarian. Then when I caved and bought crickets, I found myself apologizing profusly to them. Some people encourage dusting the crickets with protein and "gut loading" them... something I find even more cruel. Just the term "gut-loading" sounds nothing short of gross, a term I think of after over-eating and indulging on something I know I'll regret later. However, I have now had Sizzle (the star fo the video) for over a year and in that time span, my view towards the crickets has changed. The more I learn about them, the more I am calloused to the fact that they are bred for food. For starters, they are packaged with egg crate. Why? Because it keeps them busy. The one time I opted not to get the egg crate, they turned on each other and became canabalistic. Half of the crickets didn't survive. The other day, I carried them from my car to my classroom only to find them ALL belly up and sliding around the plastic bag. I placed the bag under a heating lamp and they all came back to life. It reminded me of the scene from Finding Nemo when he pretends to be dead so he'll get flushed down the "porcelin express"- but these guys would end up suffocating. Personally, I'd rather be eaten and have it done with rather than die a slow, drawn out death, having to fight off my own species... eat or be eaten. Reminds me of the movie about the plane crash in Argentina; eventually, after days in the Andes, they end up having to eat human flesh to survive. Tough call. Tastes like chicken? At least if it could be breaded and deep fried (doesn't that make everything taste better?), but that wasn't really an option for them. Somehow this blog has turned out to be a rather morbid one. I will say that I do try to make their lives as comfy as possible until their doom. Lots of foliage (albeit fake, I don't think they know the difference), places to hide (if they are smart enough to know that this will prolong their life), food, water, etc. I even rescue them when I see them flailing in the water dish, though to be honest, this sometimes does more harm than good. I found out the hard way that their limbs are extremely fragile, and that they sometimes continue to twitch after disconnected from the body. Adult crickets eat their babies if they are not removed from the container after they hatch. This in my mind makes them heartless and worthy of being consumed. Any species that goes through the trouble of reproducing only to eat their offspring (I know they are several others that do this) should be low on the food chain. And for now, they are. Unlike roaches. I read somewhere once that in the event of a nuclear disaster, roaches would survive. Could you imagine emmerging from a nuclear shelter only to find everything gone but roaches? I'd have to crawl back and live my existance underground. Hopefully, someone has a can opener!