Saved

“You don’t save me. I save me.”
— Kim Wexler, Better Call Saul

I watched the episode of Better Call Saul where Kim says that a couple of weeks ago.  On the show, Jimmy’s done something that caused Kim, a fellow lawyer, to be penalized at work, relegated to the windowless basement doing document review, the most menial work a lawyer can get. One night, Jimmy shows up and tells Kim he has a plan to fix everything and get her back to her rightful place in the office. She tells him she’s not interested and he persists; this goes on for several minutes. Finally, she shuts him down for good, making it plain that she’s the hero of her own story: “You don’t save me. I save me.”

I can’t stop thinking about that line. It echos in my head several times a day. I made it my tagline under my screen name on a forum I frequent. It speaks to me.

There are a number of things about my life that I wish were different. The specifics don’t matter. What matters is that I don’t do anything to change my circumstances, yet my frustration and sadness and disappointment at the current state of affairs is constant. I keep waiting . . . for . . . what, exactly? To be magically committed to making things different? To get to a point where I just accept what is and stop wishing things were different?

No, I think I’m waiting for someone else to make it happen. But when did I become that kind of person? When did I become the kind of person who complains about something but doesn’t do anything to fix it? The kind of person who knows what needs to be done but makes excuses about why she can’t do it? I have no idea, but I don’t like it.

I have a firm No Princesses rule in our house. We don’t buy any princess-themed books or toys or clothes, and any that we are given go right to the Goodwill pile. #sorrynotsorry The reason for that is because in most princess lore, the girl is portrayed as helpless, waiting in her castle for a man – preferably a prince – to come save her. My standard answer when someone asks me why I feel so strongly about this with respect to my daughter is, “I’m going to teach her to save herself.”

And yet.

I can clearly see why Kim’s words have basically been haunting me: I’m pretty much just waiting for a Jimmy to show up and tell me how he’s going to fix everything for me.

I’m going to save me. I just need to find the door to my windowless basement.

Fargo

“So that was Mrs. Lundegaard on the floor in there. And I guess that was your accomplice in the wood chipper. And those three people in Brainerd. And for what? A little bit of money. There’s more to life than a little money, you know. Don’cha know that? And here ya are, and it’s a beautiful day. Well. I just don’t understand it.”
— Marge Gunderson, in Fargo (1996)

Are you watching Fargo on FX? I cannot remember the last time I was excited to watch a show every week. Maybe the finale of Mad Men, maybe earlier seasons, but I don’t think that was excitement so much as anticipation, which I think is different.

With Fargo, particularly the second season currently airing, I anxiously await Tuesday nights because I know I’ll get to find out what happens next (Fargo airs Monday nights at 10, but we dvr it because I have two children, including a baby who stopped sleeping through the night 6 weeks ago, and am exhausted by 10pm). The first season was great, and Allison Tolman was robbed of her Emmy, but what I felt each week was a deep sense of foreboding because Billy Bob Thornton’s Lorne Malvo was so sinister.

This season does have a sense of foreboding as well, but it’s nicely leavened by that Coen Brothers’ brand of dark humor. It helps also that I know one of my favorite characters survives because he features in season 1, set 25 or so years after season 2.

The story is compelling, and the players are all at the tops of their games. If Fargo doesn’t straight clean up at next year’s Emmys, it will be a crime. I cannot take my eyes off Jean Smart’s Floyd Gerhardt whenever she’s on the screen. Kirsten Dunst has taken what could have easily been a ditsy, campy character and given her such a lovely dose of sadness shot through with perpetual hope. Jesse Plemons, so good as earnest Landry on my beloved Friday Night Lights, shines as Dunst’s earnest but determined husband. Patrick Wilson is amazing as the state trooper and veteran desperate not to fight another war. Bokeem Woodbine is a Jabberwocky-spouting Kansas City mobster, as smooth and unruffled as the day is long. Cristin Milioti, for whom I will always have a soft spot after her sweet turn as the Mother on How I Met Your Mother, has a small but memorable role as Wilson’s cancer-stricken wife, full of Midwestern matter-of-factness about her fate. Zahn McClarnon does great work as the quiet, calculating, put-upon Native American muscle of the Gerhardt crime family.  The only even slightly weak link for me is Burn Notice’s Jeffrey Donovan as Smart’s lunkheaded oldest son; his performance veers a bit into camp, and I can’t tell if that’s an accident or a deliberate choice. I will say, however, that I very much enjoyed his performance last week in Episode 8.

There are only two episodes left. We get to watch one tonight, and I am champing at the bit for my kids to go to bed (don’t worry: I’m not neglecting them to write this, I’m writing this on the train home) so David and I can dig in to both our dinners and the penultimate episode. I cannot recommend this show enough. Seek it out if you haven’t yet. Although some of the characters from Season 1 appear in Season 2, the stories are essentially self-contained, so don’t feel like you have to “catch up” (though you should definitely watch Season 1 when you get a chance).

Benjamin’s Birth Story

A first child is your own best foot forward, and how you do cheer those little feet as they strike out. You examine every turn of flesh for precocity, and crow it to the world. But the last one: the baby who trails h[is] scent like a flag of surrender through your life when there will be no more coming after–oh, that’s love by a different name.
–from The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver

You were born on a Tuesday.  On Monday, I had made arrangements with my boss to work from home until you were born.  I can’t remember why now, but it doesn’t matter, since you had other plans.

Monday night, I sent Daddy out to get Chick-Fil-A for dinner after Maggie went to bed.  I stayed home watching TV upstairs.  I felt a contraction and looked at the clock: 8:24.  I felt another one about 4 minutes later.  Daddy got home just before 9 and I ate dinner while we talked.  Around 10:15 or so, I told him I should probably lay down and drink some water to see if the contractions stopped, so I went into our room.  I used an app on my phone to time the contractions.  By 10:45, I was pretty sure they were the real thing – 3-5 minutes apart and 45-60 seconds apiece.

I called the nurse line and told them what was happening.  The advice nurse said, “Oh, with your second baby, we usually like you to call when the contractions are six minutes apart.”  I said, “Well, they started out at four minutes apart, so here we are.”  She called the hospital and they agreed it was time to come in.  I was not nearly as uncomfortable as I was when we headed to the hospital with Maggie, so I assumed we were in for a long labor.

We called Kelly and she came over to spend the night with Maggie.  We called Grandma and Papa, who had just arrived home in Philadelphia after landing at the airport in Washington, DC – they had opted not to come over after they landed at 5:30, and at that point there was no reason to think they needed to.  Grandma hopped in her car to make the drive back to DC.  We called Daddy’s parents on the way to the hospital.

Daddy dropped me off at the entrance to the hospital around 11:45.  I waited for him in the lobby while he parked the car.  I was still pretty comfortable even during contractions, even though I could tell they were closer together and stronger.  Daddy and I took the elevator up to Labor & Delivery and I didn’t need a wheelchair this time.  There was almost no one there, so they put me in a labor room instead of triage.  At around 1:30, the doctor walked in and guess what?  It was Dr. Kelly, the same doctor who delivered Maggie!  I was so happy to see her; we loved her last time and I was so thankful that she might be the one to deliver you, too.  You just needed to get here before 8am Tuesday morning when her shift was over.

When the doctor checked me, I was only at a 3, so they didn’t officially admit me (which was great, because it meant I could eat or drink whatever I wanted), though that was basically a formality.  They unhooked me from all the monitors and suggested I walk to help you along, so Daddy and I made several laps around the L&D floor.

I was still feeling great.  In fact, on the first lap, I told Daddy that I couldn’t believe how comfortable I was given how close the contractions were, and that maybe I could do without an epidural this time.  Ha!  By about the third lap, I was having to stop and lean forward against the wall and and bounce up and down to get through the pain.  I knew then that I would need the epidural, but this time I didn’t bother to feel bad about it!

After about 30 minutes of walking, we went back to the room.  The nurse checked me again and I was at a 4, so they officially admitted me.  Grandma arrived a little after 2, and it was so great to have her there, and it meant that Daddy could relax a little and try to rest before things got serious.  Turns out we wouldn’t have that much time, though.

I told the nurse I wanted the epidural and she said I needed IV fluids first, and that began a whole stressful period where two different nurses tried everything they could to get an IV in me and actually stuck me three different times in three different places with no luck.  At one point I cried to Grandma that I was scared they wouldn’t be able to get a line in and then I wouldn’t be able to get the epidural at all.  I was in a lot of pain during the contractions and was pretty scared of labor without an epidural.

Finally, finally they were able to get a line in and start the fluids around 4.  Because I was so uncomfortable and because it was going to be a little while before the anesthesiologist could come by, they gave me some pain medicine in my IV.  That was amazing.  I thought my contractions had stopped, that’s how well the meds worked.  They did make me feel a little drunk, though.  I closed my eyes and rested, but I don’t think I ever actually fell asleep.  Daddy was the same – rested but not asleep.

Around 5am, just as the IV pain meds had worn off, every laboring mother’s best friend arrived: the anesthesiologist.  The epidural went in with no problem – it was so much smoother than it was with Maggie, thank goodness!  I again tried to rest, but didn’t have much luck.

Around 6:20, my water broke and then there was just constant pressure.  At 6:45, the doctor checked me and I was complete!  I couldn’t believe it.  With Maggie, my water also broke shortly after the epidural, but then I still had to wait 10 or 11 hours before I could start pushing.

The doctor told me I could push whenever I felt the urge, so I think we started around 7.  Daddy and the nurse helped, but you were really just ready – I think it only took pushing through 3 or 4 contractions before you were here.  Right after I finished pushing on contraction 3 or 4, the doctor turned away from me for some reason.  All of a sudden, I felt you sliding out and I yelled, “He’s coming!”  And the doctor spun around so fast and put her hands out just in time to catch you!  11 hours and 11 minutes after my first contraction, here you were; I couldn’t believe it.

They put you right on my chest, and Daddy and I were both crying, and you were crying, and it was just perfect (and so were you).  They cleaned you off and put your hat on and Daddy cut your cord and you nursed like a champ from the get go.  There are no words, my sweet boy, to tell you just how happy we were to finally have you safe in our arms.  We love you so, so much.

Uh, Is This Thing On?

The future came and went in the mildly discouraging way that futures do.
— from Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, by Neil Gaiman

Hi, friends.  Loooooong time, no see.  How’s tricks?  I miss you guys and this space.  I can’t make any promises about how often I’ll be here, but I’ve come to realize that I need to make time for this; it’s sort of essential to me.

Obviously, there’s lots of news since May 2014 when Maggie was only 6 months old.  She just turned two and is, if I say so myself, just delightful. I adore her.

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And back at the end of June, this happened:

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Benjamin Nelson was born at 7:35am on June 30; he was 8 pounds, 3 ounces and 20.5 inches long.

Now, he’s almost 5 months old and I just cannot get enough of his smiley face:

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He is basically the easiest baby ever.  Or was, until the 4-month wakeful hit and he started waking up 2 or 3 times a night to nurse again.  But he’s still the sweetest, smiley-est kid, so I think we’re coming out ahead.  I have his birth story ready to go and will post it soon.

There’s just no way to catch up on everything that’s happened since I last posted, so I don’t intend to try.  I’m just going to try to be here as much as  can going forward.  I hope you’re all still out there, and well. See you soon.

Nationals Park Update

So.  This was exciting, huh?  So many new visitors here to read my story since so many friends and even people I’ve never met shared the link and retweeted and emailed, etc.  I want to say a big huge thanks to everyone who did so, even if you didn’t tell me about it.  It really means a lot to me.

Because I got so much traffic, I wanted to be sure to post the update and give credit to the Nationals for reaching out to me and getting this resolved in under 24 hours.  In a nutshell, this appears to be a huge, and very unfortunate, misunderstanding.

I spoke to the vice president of Guest Services this afternoon, after the Nationals twitter account DMed me and asked for my contact information.  She was both very apologetic and a little defensive, maybe understandably so.  She said the knocking and pounding and doorknob rattling was not her employees, that it must have been guests trying to get in (“That’s a very popular restroom.”).  She said they got a report that someone was locked inside, and that’s when they sent an employee to unlock it.  I asked her (1) Why anyone thought I was locked inside when I repeatedly stated that the room was occupied, and (2) Why the pounding didn’t stop after I pushed the door shut and locked it again, having clearly demonstrated that I was not locked inside.

She said(1) no one heard anything from inside, and (2) again, it wasn’t her staff, it must have been guests, and short of stationing an employee outside the door, she’s not sure what she could have done to prevent it.

I suggested that, if they couldn’t hear me, even though I was shouting, and if they can’t hear the kids who apparently get locked in there on the regular (which is apparently what they assumed when they got the report), maybe they should consider turning down the volume on the piped in game audio in there.  I couldn’t hear anyone from outside, either, but I have a hearing impairment and assumed that was my problem.  Turns out it’s not.

I do understand where she is coming from, and to the extent that there’s no window in the bathroom door, I have to take her at her word that it wasn’t park employees repeatedly, loudly banging on the door and rattling the doorknob.  I did point out that, interestingly enough, there were no guests standing outside when I opened the door at the end of my ordeal, only five park employees.

Here’s the most important part:

I asked her if it was inappropriate for me to use the Family Restroom for pumping.  She said, “No, not at all, but there are probably better places to do it.”  She said she understood that I didn’t want to go all the way across the park to the Reagan Room, but said if I had asked someone, they would have made other accommodations for me.  She said they regularly take nursing mothers to First Aid or find open offices for them where they’d be more comfortable than in the restroom (and I have actually spoken to someone since that confirmed that this happened to her when the Reagan Room was locked).  That’s great, and exactly what I wanted to hear, but I reminded her that it doesn’t say any of that on the website.  She said they can’t put all the possibilities on the website.  Fair enough, but can’t you say, “Feel free to ask any staff member for alternate accommodations” or something?  I definitely would have, because pumping in a public restroom is not my idea of a good time.

In the end, she apologized that I experienced it the way I did, that is, that I felt harassed and afraid, even if it wasn’t her employees.  I thought that was very classy of her.  She said they strive to be a very family-friendly park and to provide great experiences for all their guests and she was sorry that didn’t happen for me yesterday.  I assured her that I have attended many games there and have always enjoyed myself and that it was because it was so out of character that I felt I needed to make sure they were made aware of it.

She also invited me back, along with my husband and daughter, as her guests for any game we like this season.  I told her I’d be glad to come back, and that we had already planned to take Maggie to her first game next month.  She seemed very exited about that and said to just let her know the date and she’d set us up in the club so we’d be totally comfortable and not have to worry about the weather or anything.  I thought that was very nice and not at all necessary, but obviously, we’re going to take her up on it.

So all’s well that ends well.