Friday, June 08, 2007

Baby Squared

Hi everybody -- I'm no longer blogging here at Jane's Calamity. Please visit my snazzy new blog, Baby Squared over at

Babble, for those of you not familiar with it, is a very cool parenting site -- more honest, irreverent, and fun than a lot of the other ones out there. One thing I really like is in their "health and development" section, they show you a range of opinions on child/baby care advice from different sources so you can (gasp!) decide for yourself what's best for you and your baby. I'm also a (guilty) fan of their celebrity baby blog (babies of celebrities, that is). There's a lively message board community, too.

Those of you who've been reading here at Jane's Calamity awhile may find me plagiarizing myself a little bit while I get ramped up. Don't snitch. ;-)

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Selling out

Hi readers --

It's hard to believe that it was less than a year ago that I started this blog; it's become such an important way for me feel less alone in this whole parenting adventure. I've loved having a place to vent and brag and babble, I've loved reading your comments and advice and I've loved just knowing you're out there, reading.

Gosh, this is sounding an awful lot like a good bye, isn't it? In a way, it is; Starting in a few days, I won't be blogging here at Jane's Calamity anymore., a new online magazine/community from the folks at, aimed at urban / Gen-X parents, has invited me to come blog for them. I'm way too big a nerd for how hip the site is, but hopefully nobody will catch on.

I'm very excited, but at the same time it makes me a little sad to take Jane's Calamity (it will be called something else...) pro. I've liked hanging out on this little, hidden corner of the Web with all of you. The idea of so many more people (in theory) reading my stuff is a bit intimidating. But my hope is that the tone and content of it won't change too much. It will still be tales of Clio and Elsa, musings on parenthood, the occasional rant, and way too much information about my boobs. I'll be posting more frequently -- about 3 times a week -- and posting more pictures and videos, too.

I'm not sure exactly when the new blog will be up -- probably within the next few days. I'll post a specific URL when I have one.

Anyway, if you've enjoyed reading Jane's Calamity, I truly hope you'll come on over to and continue to read and comment on the new blog. It would mean the world to me.

Thank you!!

Lots o love,

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


One of the most fascinating things about having fraternal twins is watching them develop at different rates and reach milestones in different orders. At first, it was a little disconcerting, and we couldn't help comparing/worrying -- you may recall, Elsa smiled at 7 weeks, while Clio was still barely making eye contact.

But Clio started cooing and gurgling well before Elsa. It's only in the last couple of weeks that Elsa has really "found her voice." And she uses it constantly. The other day when I tried to put them both down for a nap, Elsa just lay there squeaking and squealing and ga-ga-ing with glee. A very sleepy Clio turned her head and gave me a look like "will you get her out of here, please?"

Elsa is also the rolling over champ. This is posing something of a problem with sleeping at night, because she can sometimes manage to roll over onto her stomach while swaddled, and then gets stuck and can't roll back. (Yes, we're still swaddling, but are hoping to try to wean them off it in the next month or so.)

The girl is also just itching to crawl. Yesterday the three of us were hanging in the backyard on a blanket, and Elsa actually managed to shimmy forward about a foot or so, GI Joe style, on her stomach. She's totally got the leg movement down, but not the upper body strength to use her arms to help pull her forward. It seems to be quite frustrating to her -- she was whining and whimpering the whole time. I tried to "rescue" her by turning her onto her back, but she just rolled back over and started shimmying again. So, I started humming the theme from "Rocky" and let her go at it.

Clio, meanwhile, was content to lie in my lap and look up at me and gurgle and babble. Perhaps she was trying to explain why, at this juncture, rolling over and crawling do not interest her, and that this does not necessarily mean that she is a serial killer.

In other milestone news, both girls are now just big enough to use the ExerSaucer (an awesome shower gift from the Mama de Marlie), bringing the brightly colored plastic to grown-up furniture ratio in our living/dining room up to approximately 1:1.

Elsa, being a little bit taller and stronger, is more mobile in the thing -- she can actually turn herself around in the seat and bat at some of the toys. Clio sort of just sits there and smiles bemusedly at the stuff. For both, though, it seems to be a welcome change of venue.

Oh yes, and for those of you who've lost count, as of yesterday, the girls are 5 months old. Practically adolescent! I expect them to ask for cell phones any day now.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Two things, in order of importance

--Clio's HSP appears to be back again; her left leg was spotted with purple this morning. As before, she has no other symptoms, and seems as maniacally cheerful as ever. Now that we know what it is, I'm not as worried, but it does concern me a little that it recurred. Waiting to hear back from the doctor's office on when they can see her.

--What compels people to put those decals of a mean-looking cartoon boy (sometimes Calvin, sometimes not) peeing on the back of their SUVs (and it's always an SUV. Or pickup)? What does it mean? Who manufactures these things?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Newborns Suck.

I'd like to dedicate this post to my friend the Motel Manager, who is in the thick of newborndom right now. In fact, I'd like to dedicate it to all new mothers, current and future, to applaud them for their perserverance, and to reassure them that it gets so. much. better.

Last night, after I fed Clio, I had her on my lap and was bouncing her while singing some kind of ridiculous, rhythmic song that went more or less like this: "Dickadicka doo doo dickadicka dee, dicka dicka dah dooka dooka doo," and the child laughed. She laughed!! It was the greatest thing ever. Because, as we all know, humor is the finest and truest and most universal means of human connection there is (aside from sex). And, because baby laughter is the cutest, twangiest most joyful little sound there is.

Newborns do not laugh. Nor do they smile or look you in the eye or nuzzle their head into your shoulder when you carry them. All they do is lie there and sleep -- except when you want them to -- or cry and scream, usually without any apparent reason. They poop and pee when you try to change their diapers. They puke all over the place. They're wrinkly and scrawny and floppy and most of all, they're boring. B-o-r-i-n-g.

I seriously suspect the sincerity of people who say they're "madly in love" with their newborns. What's to love? I mean, except in an abstract, theoretical, primal sort of way? Every day I love my daughters more and more intensely, and I can tell you, it bears almost no resemblance to the dutiful, biological sort of love I felt for them in the first weeks. Hence the fact that I can now write a post entitled "newborns suck." (I almost called it "newborns are assholes," but thought that might be going too far.)

I also must admit that I don't understand this spending hours every day "just staring at them," thing people with new babies are always talking about. We did not do that. Sure, we did some gawking here and there. Newborns, in spite of their suckiness, do make some awful cute faces, especially when they sleep. But generally, I just didn't feel the desire to sit and fixate on my babies. And maybe right there is the reason: babies, plural. Maybe when you've got just one baby, it seems more singular and amazing and miraculous. When you've got two, you realize -- hey, I could theoretically pop out any number of these puppies, and they'd all be fabulous and they'd all be ours, but I'm so g.d. tired right now that I think instead of looking back and forth at them like some kind of deranged ping pong spectator, I'm going to put them down in their bouncy seats and take myself a little nap. Wake me up when they're five months old and every time they smile at me, I feel like I'm the luckiest g.d. person in the world.

Newborns. Bah humbug.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The divine Miss Elsa

Reading over my last posts, it seems that Clio has been getting a lot more ink (pixels?) than Elsa. So, today, I'd like to dedicate an entire post to Elsa, in honor of her latest phenomenal accomplishment: rolling over.

This morning I had her lying on her back on the faux sheepskin rug on the nursery floor and ran downstairs to get her Zantac. When I came back up, she was off the sheepskin on the nursery rug, on her stomach, propped up on her elbows, looking a little confused, but mostly quite happy. I praised her profusely and then turned her over, hoping for a repeat performance, but she was content just to lie there and gaze into my eyes while grinning and gurgling. How could I complain?

It's not surprising that Elsa reached this milestone first; she's been working on the rolling over thing quite hard for the past week or so, and has come close a couple of times. She's also become a champ at the Crib 360. Doing some kind of crazy breakdance-like move where she kicks up her feet and inchworms on her back, she manages to turn herself entirely around in her crib while still swaddled. Or, sometimes she'll free her feet and we'll find her lying with her legs through the crib slats. This doesn't present any danger that I can think of but it's nevertheless a little bit disturbing. Don't you think?

Oh yes, and she also seems to be at the start of a meaningful relationship with her feet. She's just getting to know them for now: curious stares, tentative reaches. But any day now, those little dawgs are totally going to be in her mouth.

Try, please, not to fall off the edges of your seats.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

And now I really get it.

I know that I’ve been falling in love with my little girls. But damn. You just don’t realize how far you’ve fallen until the possibility of loss hits you in a palpable way.

We spent the weekend up at my parents’ house in Maine. On Saturday afternoon, when I picked Clio up after a nap to change her, I noticed a strange rash on her legs and feet: lots of little purple flecks that appeared to be broken blood vessels. She didn’t have a fever, and hadn’t been acting sick – in fact, she’d been a great mood all day, all smiles and squawking (her preferred form of conversations has changed quite suddenly from coos and gurgles to raptor-like shrieks) so I wasn’t particularly worried, but I called the pediatrician’s office, just to be safe. The girls had their 4-month visit scheduled for Monday anyway, so I expected the on-call doctor to say don’t worry; we’ll take a look at it when she comes in. But she didn’t. She said that though it’s usually accompanied by fever, broken blood vessels can be a sign of a serious bacterial infection. We should take her to the emergency room.

A. and my father and his sister, also visiting, stayed behind with Elsa, while my mother and I headed to the nearest hospital, twenty minutes away in Brunswick. She drove, and I sat in the back with Clio. Even though she had no fever, no signs of infection, no signs of anything except the strange rash on her legs, I couldn’t stand the thought of not being able to see her. What if she started burning up with fever? What if she stopped breathing? I was reminded of that harrowing memory described by the main character in Russell Banks’ The Sweet Hereafter: his baby girl has been bitten by baby black widow spiders, and he has to drive her to the hospital, 40 miles away, trying to keep her calm so the poison won’t spread while at the same time preparing to jam a pen-knife into her windpipe in an attempt to save her if she stops breathing.

Not that this situation was anywhere near as dire. But Clio never seemed so dear or so innocent as she did during that ride. She just smiled at me. Looked out the window at the farmland and pine trees. Sucked on her hand. So beautiful and so alive. I was acutely aware of how fragile she was – how fragile we all are, how barely here. And I was utterly aware of how shattered I would be if I lost her. Shattered in a completely different, completely more primal way than I would be over someone who wasn’t my child. Shattered as in irreparably broken.

I was pretty calm throughout this whole episode. I cope fairly well in stressful situations – a quality which, I’ve often speculated, would probably make me a good paramedic or ER doc. (Next lifetime). But my mind did run to worst case scenarios a few times before I wrested it back to the present moment: septic shock. Leukemia. Lymphoma. Rare diseases and disorders named after the people who discovered them. (Why would anyone want a disease named after them?) While we waited in the lobby to be called in, I found myself thinking about bargains I would make, things I would give up, in order for Clio to be OK. Basically, I concluded, I’d give up anything.

There are funny things to write about in connection with this whole ordeal, too: how Clio pooped four times within the space of two hours while we were at the hospital, grunting and turning red like an old man. How she quacked – yes, quacked – in response to my mother making quacking sounds when she gave her her stuffed duck pacifier. The face she made when the rectal thermometer was introduced. Her earnest attempts to roll over on the exam table while the PA was trying to look at her rash.

And then there was the usual ER fun: Clio’s name misspelled on her bracelet after I spelled it out for the receptionist upwards of three times. Nurses saying they’d “be right back” and disappearing for forty-five minutes. The Vietnam vet across the hall with the triage nurse, brought in by the police, insisting between incoherent, manic ranting that he was “just confused.” (But don’t get him started about the government! Why did they ask him if he knew who the president was? Did they want to know who the vice president was? How about secretary of state? Why did they ask him about the president if they didn’t want to know about the secretary of state?)

We were there for nearly four hours in all. Clio was heroically brave while three vials of blood were drawn from her arm. And by “brave” I mean she screamed bloody murder, but recovered fairly quickly and fell asleep in my arms. They collected some urine from her using a neat little bag inside her diaper (no catheter, thank god; this bag just stuck to her labia with adhesive and caught whatever came out), and took a stool sample (easily done since, as previously mentioned, she was pooping up a storm).

While we waited for the results, Clio and my mother napped. I drank decaf coffee and read The New Yorker. At a little after 8:00, the PA came to give us the results: everything was blessedly normal, except for a slightly high lymphocyte count, which apparently suggests that she might have been getting over a virus. This fit in logically with the diagnosis of her rash: Henoch-Schonlein Pupura. It’s a form of vasculitis that occurs when the immune system reacts weirdly to a virus, bacteria, medication or chemical. According to one source, it happens most commonly in the spring, often in response to an upper respiratory or throat virus. I was down with a sore throat a couple of weeks ago, so maybe that’s what triggered it. Most importantly, it’s nothing serious. It’s not indicative of any larger problem or condition, and the potential complications (inflammation of blood vessels in the kidneys or intestines) are very rare. Hallelujah, amen.

At the girls' 4-month checkup yesterday, the pediatrician gave Clio a once-over, and everything seems fine. In fact, both girls are growing like weeds. Lengthwise, anyway; both are around the 25th percentile for weight (Clio is 11.5 lbs, Elsa is 12.5) but they’re in the 75th and 90th percentiles, respectively, for length! My long, tall baby dolls. How I love ‘em.

It was almost exactly a year ago that I found out I was pregnant. May 9th, I think, was the first positive HPT. After a frustrating year and a half of negative pregnancy tests, it felt completely surreal, abstract, impossible. And now, a year later, these babies – these two little people – are becoming so real to me, and so important, it’s frightening.