All is Calm, All is Bright

To be frank, a big part of me dreaded this Christmas- my dad was so completely plugged into this holiday. First, tradition for as long as I can remember had us with him on Christmas Eve at a big family party where we'd exchange our gifts and eat too much and stay up too late. And then, since my Dad was never one to say no to fun whenever and wherever he could find it, he'd crash Mom's on Christmas Day, pulling up in his rusty truck with a wreath lashed to the bumper. It always amused all of us, my mom in particular, how it never even crossed his mind that his ex wife of more than 20 years would mind him turning up during the cake/coffee party of the evening. And the magic of it was we'd all end up having an awesome time, playing board games and laughing more than should be legally allowed.

And on top of the Christmas-specific memories associated with my Dad, New York in general seems haunted with him. When I was in LA, it was not abnormal to not see him- he didn't live in California. But now that I'm home, every tree and street corner and store front is fraught and festooned with my Dad- here's where he used to get his bagels, here's where he got into a fight over a parking space with some lady, here's where he took me to learn how to drive and on and on and on. So reality has been creeping in. And Christmas seemed like just one more giant reminder that he's not here.

But then there's this lovely symmetry. As my Dad leaves us, Gwen enters. And somehow, seeing all her firsts takes some of the sting out of the things that were his last. Whenever I found myself foundering these past few days, I was able to find an anchor in that little elfin face with its chubby cheeks and oddly wise smile.

And so Christmas somehow managed to be Christmas, and I was able, after all, to count my blessings and look to the new year with anticipation and hope.

Merry Christmas, everyone. Thanks for being you.

Meeting the Big Red Dude:

Many generations of children have posed on these steps!

With Uncle Joe:


Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care...

At the risk of jinxing it, a miracle has happened. And that miracle is my baby has decided for the first time in about 3 months to sleep for more than 2 hours, consecutively. Seriously, folks, at one point this kid woke up every hour on the hour ALL. NIGHT. LONG. I don't know if you've ever been truly sleep deprived, my friends, but add to it the grieving process, and woah Nellie, that's some crappy headspace.

Most of her sleep issues began at about 3 1/2 months, when, not coincidentally, we were in New York while my dad was sick, and bouncing from house to house. So no duh, kids are sensitive creatures and all that drama and change manifested in a need for her to be comforted by me 10 times a night. I didn't begrudge her that- but I needed/need sleep to like, function. So yeah, this is a good- no, AMAZING- development that is the culmination of a lot of work on Gav's and my part, as well as being finally settled in one place.

Last night, I slept six straight hours. It was so uncannily wonderful I literally woke with a SMILE on my face for the 4:30 feeding.

Also, I love our little Brooklyn house. Love it love it love it. It's a temporary thing (my family will sell it eventually) but while it's mine I love every quirky nook and cranny. I even love the HIDEOUS gray and pink tiled bathroom with the fucia and green metallic wallpaper. (Seriously, I must post a pic this week for you.) I put up Christmas lights outside and a big tree and hung all our photos and it really feels like home after living out of a suitcase for 3 months.

This will be a hard holiday season for me- there's no getting past that fact. But with a little sleep under my belt, and this small oasis of normalcy we are living in, I know my little family will find some joy in it as well.


A day in the life...

I have oodles to tell you of my own life, the move, etc. But I'd rather post a crapload of cute pictures since my energy is little to non-existent. So:

If Gwendy appeared in Vogue with one of those artsy "day in the life" photos shoots, it'd go something like this:

We have reached the necessary milestones to begin introducing solid foods. Here we are with organic sweet potatoes from the fine people at Gerber:

When we are thru dining, we find it most relaxing to soak in a nice hot bubble bath. Aunt Joy's kitchen sink is de rigeur for the ultimate in pampered luxury:

Our evenings are spend musing under the Christmas tree, deciding what we will ask Santa for. Will it be the Fisher Price crib Aquarium? A doll? A wad of wrapping paper to stuff in our mouth?? Who knows?
Ladies, if your velvet Christmas bonnet doesn't fit over your own ample noggin, don't fret- just outfit your dog. Lovely, non?
Finally, we simply bask in the glow of our own loveliness. Make sure you take time to bask in your own loveliness too!


Full Circle

Back in New York, and here to stay. It's been a wild ride, America, but I daresay barring any major shifts in the sands of life (which I never, never count out, especially these days) I am home now. And I must say, once all the stress and pressure and madness ebbs, I think I'm going to be pretty damn happy to put down some roots here- or just graft onto my old ones... That's all- just wanted to post on the actual day Gwendy and I landed (Fitzhusband to follow via great exodus with dogs cross country this week. Thank God for his dad, who's coming with). Now, to tend to my jet-lagged baby!


The Perfect Baby

Strange but true, my baby is utterly perfect. Yes, she wakes me up at ungodly hours every night, and she has incredibly stinky gas, but every time I look at her, my heart does cartwheels. My capacity to love her seems bottomless and helps me to understand all sorts of things I never got before about parents and children.
And every day she learns more and more. This week it's been all about the dogs- she sees them and gets this delighted expression on her face and chortles like a happy little squirrel. If one of them licks her fingers she cracks up to beat the band. It makes me happy to see my human-child and fur children so copacetic.
In other news, we are moving back to New York in only a few short days (!). Most everyone who reads this blog knows all about it, but suffice it to say it feels like an important time to be there as my family deals with Dad's passing. There are other reasons to go, of course, but that is the one most prominant in our minds at the moment.
It is breaking our hearts to leave our California family though. I layed awake for hours last night, struggling with the whole conundrum- one that's plagued us ever since we started dating. If only we could be in two places at once. Or, if only our families would decided to move to one central location- say, Hawaii?? :) A pretty lucky problem to have, though- having two such amazing families that you want to be with both...
Here's some fancy-dancer camera shots. I am getting slowly used to it and it's many ridiculous features. I think I have named her Charlotte, since she is black like a spider and friendly like the one from the book.



I went and got myself a present. This:

I'd been wanting a fancy-dancer camera for a year now and I just broke down and got myself one. I have barely begun to learn it, but man-oh-man, this thing takes a purty picture:

Fun! Also, in other news, Gwen has this new thing where she pulls her paci out of her own mouth and then complains loudly until I replace it. Over and over and over again. At THREE IN THE MORNING. This has inspired many comedic interludes between Gavin and I, as we fumble in the dark hissing at each other to please our little task master and get her back to bed. Most recently, this little vingnette, in reference to finding the Twilight Turtle Light, so I could see to find her lost paci:
Me: "Where is the f#*&ing turtle??"

Gavin: "I don't know where the damn turtle is. NO!! Don't put the crib light on!! IT's TOO BRIGHT!" (fumbles with button on side of crib. Light remains on while music begins to play, loudly)

Me: "Well that's just perfect. Well done."
Seriously, it's like the Diary of Anne Frank in our room- all scrambling silently over ourselves and flinching when we make the slightest noise. You have no idea how loud your sheets rustle when you roll over, really. Whee!!!!


Shiver Me Timbers

This song by Tom Waits has played incessantly in my head for the past two months. It hurts, but in a good way:

I'm leavin' my fam'ly
Leavin' my friends
My body's at home
But my heart's in the wind
Where the clouds are like headlines
On a new front page sky
My tears are salt water
And the moon's full and high

And I know Martin Eden's
Gonna be proud of me
And many before me
Who've been called by the sea
To be up in the crow's nest
Singin' my say
Shiver me Timbers
'Cause I'm a-sailin' away

And the fog's liftin'
And the sand's shiftin'
I'm driftin' on out
Ol' Captain Ahab
He ain't got nothin' on me, now.
So swallow me, don't follow me
I'm trav'lin' alone
Blue water's my daughter
'n I'm gonna skip like a stone

So please call my missus
Gotta tell her not to cry
'Cause my goodbye is written
By the moon in the sky
Hey and nobody knows me
I can't fathom my stayin'
Shiver me timbers
'Cause I'm a-sailin' away

And the fog's liftin'
And the sand's shiftin'
I'm driftin' on out
Ol' Captain Ahab
He ain't got nothin' on me
So come and swallow me, follow me
I'm trav'lin' alone
Blue water's my daughter
'n I'm gonna skip like a stone

And I'm leavin' my family
Leavin' all my friends
My body's at home
But my heart's in the wind
Where the clouds are like headlines
Upon a new front page sky
And shiver me timbers
'Cause I'm a-sailin' away



For those of you who don't know, my Dad passed on October 20th, the day after I last posted. Thank you again to all of my loved ones for your prayers and kind words- they go further than you will ever know.

I tried to write about this fall a few times, but I can't yet.

So instead here are more pictures of my Fall of 2009, which I spent in New York, enjoying my Dad and the rest of my family.
Gwendy meets cousin Sean on our first day out East:

And Uncle Joe:

Gwendy and Grumpa:

Gwen and Kyle's First Date:

One of our many walks:

Gwendy and her "G G":

Obligatory Nekked Baby pic:

Gwendy and Kyle's Second Date:

Aunt Kathy, Baby Whisperer:

At "Hank's Pumpkin Town" in her Halloween costume:

"I Hate Pumpkin Town."- G. Fitz


Bright Spots

Thanks for being you, Gwendolyn. You are my sunlight right now.



My dad has lung cancer, which has matastisized to his bones. His lungs are stage 3, bones stage 4. I am still in New York until I get a better idea of what the next few weeks hold. This is the most difficult experiance of my life to date, but my family and friends have been incredible. I will post an update when I know more, but I wanted to get the basic facts out there so I don't have to keep retelling the details. For those of you who pray, do so, please. I love you all, truly.



My dad is sick, so I'm in NY. We are awaiting results from some tests. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers. Love and miss you all.


Birth Story.

For those of you who are interested in such things (all two of you), here is the story of Gwendolyn's birth. I will not be hurt if you don't want to read this- it's very long, and some of you are just not down with such things. I'm mostly just laying this down for my own benefit, before the memory fades and I start adding and subtracting details. I probably already have, but here goes.

Ok, so first things first. Don't read this if this sort of stuff squeems you out, ok? Cause I'm not going to edit myself. Birth is the most visceral, true thing I've ever experienced, and I'm not gonna cheapen it by calling things "who-has" and "whatsits" when I can just say "Cervix" and be done with it. K? Ok.

At 6am on June the 15th I was admitted to the hospital to be induced (you all remember how I was 10 days late, etc). I had done all the pre-admission paperwork weeks before so basically all I had to do was show up in the wee small hours with my bag and husband and sign some scarey waivers and away we went. Still, it was 7am by the time I was comfy in bed dressed in a lovely backless number with my spankin' new IV and ready to get some medication to kick our little ladybug out. They did an exam and lo and behold, I was still closed and not dilated save for the pathetic "fingertip" my doc had given me at my last visit. So meds would be needed not only for contraction starting, but to open the gateway, so to speak. See, I promised no euphemisms, and yet, there is one in the first paragraph. Oh well.

SO medication- they gave me this crap called Cytotec. I did not want Cytotec, because I had heard a myriad of ugly things about it on the interwebs, but I was bamboozled by a nurse into getting it anyway(ask me for details on that ridiculous story if you wanna. Suffice it to say, stick to your guns when it comes to your gut-instincts and medicine). I was told I'd need about 3 doses minimum to really do the trick w/ the Cytotec, so I was planning on a long day. Ha. Ha ha ha. Within one half hour of the first dose, I was in full labor with contractions coming 2 minutes apart. Let me repeat. I went from no contractions chillaxin in my bed watching the People's Court with Judge Marilyn Milian, to earth shattering contractions 2 minutes apart. Um, ouch.

I got up to use the bathroom and when I got back in and re-hooked up the fetal monitor, Gwendy's heart rate was all over the place- down to 50 and up to 200 and back down again. I thought I just had it on wrong and was calling the nurse when she, another nurse and a doctor came RUNNING IN and put me on my side and slapped on an oxygen mask and gave me a big shot of something. (!!!!) It turns out, labor that fast put our baby into a sort of "faint" and they needed to dose me with Terbuterol (sp?)to stall the labor. At this point I was crying and freaking out for my baby and also having super scarey tremors from the Terbuterol. My husband stepped up, like big time. He was so strong and soothing and didn't show any panic (which he admitted later he was totally feeling) and reasoned with me that they would do a C-section if anything was really wrong with Gwen and all in all got me calmed way down. Still, SOOO terribly scarey.

After this little episode, her heart rate stabilized and we were back on track, but the nurse informed me "No more Cytotec". Um, ya THINK?? I just.....GRRRRR.

So, anyways, they decided to see if labor would now progress on its own. And. it. did. Holy cow. Like, there are not words. Before going thru this, I would ask women who had kids to describe the nature of the pain of childbirth, and they would invariably say "It's like the worst cramp you've ever had". So I thought I knew what to expect. Except now I know that's like asking someone how it feels to have your jaw removed with some rusty pliers and having them say "It's like the worst tooth ache you've ever had". It may be true, but it just can't go far enough to really prep you. Labor hurts, a whole lot.

I labored womanfully sans meds for like 8 hours. I was still on the fence at this point as to whether to do the drugs, you see, and I was trying to hold out to see how progress went. My inlaws arrived during this dark time, which involved a lot of me moaning gutturally into Gavin's shoulder like an injured animal. And after all that they checked me and I was like 3 cms. So it was time to do some pitocin. The inlaws went to our house to deal with our dogs and chill out and wait.

BTW, while you are doing the hardest thing, ever, you are not allowed to eat at all, on the off-chance you might need to be knocked out and would potentially aspirate on your own food. And Gavin and his folks had burritos, like in my room. I got yelled at by the nurse for eating a lifesaver. Just saying.

By now, my drug-induced labor was kind of blowing my mind, and I knew it was going to get a whole lot worse before it was over what w/ the pitocin, so I asked about pain management options. I was told Stadol was a nice little narcotic that would just "take the edge off" and let me rest for about an hour. Yes, give me that. Now please.

Except once again, my body reacted to this drug about 7Xs more than it should have. I swear, if I were a super hero, I would be called Sevenfold, and my power would be an over-the-top reaction to everything, times 7. I'd wear seven costumes, and if someone slightly insulted me, I'd kill them in seven ways. Anywho, I was instantly euphoric and high as a freakin kite. Like seriously, best feeling EVER. I now know why drug addicts rock that party- it was AWESOME. The release from pain plus the high of the drug was maaaaagical. I started high-dialing all my friends and fam to let them know just how awesome it actually was, much to their amusement. And I knew one thing, I was not going back to pain-town again. Bring on the epidural.

Epidural doc showed up and he was this wee Asian man, and I was still all stoned and I called him my "boyfriend" and told him "Hey candyman! You have the best job! You like, remove pain! Yay you!". Ah yes, wife on drugs provided Gavin some much-needed comedy relief. My boyfriend got the epidural in- so weird, like Novocaine but spreading down your whole body. I could feel my legs still existed, but they felt heavy and asleep. And the high was fading, but no pain, so I was cool. The kick-ass nurse from the am shift was back on at this point, and she rawked. Bring on my first dose of pitocin. I am 6 cms, so we still have a 'ways to go'.

By now it was like 11 pm, and the nurse told me to get some rest. Except all I could do was listen obsessively to the fetal monitor while Gav snored in the chair next to my bed. And then, at like 12, I started hurting again, bad. WTF? I called the nurse and she gave me another hit of pain relief thru the epidural and then as a kind of afterthought, checked me again, just to be sure. "WOAH!" says she. Apparently in the half hour since she last checked me my body decided to kick it into gear and I was damn near fully dilated. "Call your mother-in-law back. Tell her to come, now". We woke up Gavin and told him the news. And then the nurse told me the news. I'd progressed so fast, there was no time to "get me comfortable" with more epidural. It was just going to hurt. Sorry, Charlie. BOOOOO!!!!!

Right about then, I felt the urge to push. No, urge is not the word. It was like all the force of nature and God and the cosmos surging into you and crystallizing into one simple, unavoidable imperative- "PUSH. PUSH. PUSH." Trying to ignore it would be like trying to kill yourself by holding your breath.

AH, and then! Insult to injury! Like my mother before me, as I hit this "transitional labor" I began to puke my ever loving guts out. "You have got to be FREAKIN' KIDDING ME!!! SERIOUSLY???" sez I, who have just about had it by now. Poor Gavin's job is to catch said puke in a tiny tray that reminds me of the cup from Wayne's World- very inadequate for the job.

Meanwhile, nurse Kris had broken out this ginormous plastic trough for underneath my bed, to catch God knows what. It's best we don't think too much about it. She broke my water (couldn't feel the fluid at all, so the epidural was at least partially in effect) to further things along even more.

By now, my mom-in-law MJ was there, with strict orders from me for "No pictures below the knee line" and my poor father in law was in a rocking chair outside the door, looking, he later told me, like "Some ole perv who likes to hang out and hear women scream or something" and we were ready for some "practice pushes". My bed did this nifty Transformers thing and half folded away and next thing I knew Gav and the nurse had my ankles and we were off to the races, pushing for a count of 10 each time.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my pilates/yoga teacher from Case who made us get to know all our muscles "down there", cause I was like a CHAMPION pusher. I mean, not to toot my own pelvic floor, or anything. I had them wheel out the mirror so I could catch the main event (I am not squeamish, it will shock you to find out) and it was a huge motivator to all of a sudden SEE the top of her head (I did have one freak-out moment where I asked "Why is her head cleft??" only to be told it was just squished for my birthing convenience). By this point, Gavin is practically jumping up and down and doing the dance from Thriller, he is so excited, and as a result his counting started to go too fast so they made him slow down a bit.

The excitement was building and infectious and the whole room (both nurses, Gavin, MJ) were now so into the process they were counting out my pushes together like a Sesame Street cult or something. Turned out my "practice pushes" were kicking so much butt, by the time my actual doc got there, she had just enough time to slap on her scrubs and I had only three more pushes and then SHOOOWAAAA, out she was!!!!!! Craziest feeling, ever, lemee tell you. Just like this huge weight and pressure builds and builds and then just vanishes and the greatest relief of your life washes over you.

They flopped her on my belly, all warm and damp and purple and making this sad kitten sound and already looking to nurse! And like magic, as she breathed she turned rosey pink. Me and Gav were just laughing and crying and looking at her and each other in total awe. We had really, truly, made a person, and here she was. Gavin and the whole birth entourage followed her over to the warmer/weigher thing, and for a moment it was just me and the Dr. What am I, chopped livah?

Once she was nicely clean and swaddled they gave her back to me and I looked into her squinting eyes and that was it. A feeling of perfect happiness and completion and the simple knowledge I'd happily die for this little creature. Really, it's just as wonderful as you'd imagine. More so. One of the maybe 3 perfect moments you get in life.

So there's childbirth for you, according to me. It was a wild ride, I can tell you, but never has hard work been more worth it.
Some Lessons Learned:
1. Listen to the advice of medical professionals, because they do this crap a hundred times a day, but also don't let medical-types bully you, because they do this crap a hundred times a day. Ya feel me?
2. Be ready to not be ready. Because no amount of prep will seem like enough, so just set it free.
3. Bring your own pillow from home.
4. Eat a really kickass breakfast every day the week you're due go into labor. You never when you'll go, and they DON'T FREAKIN FEED YOU!!!
5. Map out a couple of decent places to get take out near the hospital. By the time it was all over, I was freakin starving, and that hospital food was the worst ever. Gavin went and got me a Big Mac, fries and a milkshake, the holy trinity of things I don't let myself eat ever. Best tasting food of my whole life. Well done sir.
6. Marry your best friend. It really makes this kind of stuff so much easier and better.


I guess this is growing up...

When I was a kid, one of the things I thought was coolest and most "adult" about my mom was her purse. It smelled like leather and spearmint gum, and had all manner of odd things floating around in it; lipsticks worn down to the dregs, hardware from a door she needed to replace, the bulletin from church the previous week, a half-roll of chocolate Velamints when she was trying to quit smoking, a 3 pound set of keys that would make a janitor blush, and so on. I could look in her purse and instantly get a sense of my mom- her busy, loving, awesomely chaotic life, raising 3 kids on her own and working full time and still having dinner with all of us sitting around the table each night- all contained in one convenient bag. To me, I knew once I was really, truly a grown up, I would have such a purse.

Today I went in my purse looking for a receipt and instead of finding it I came up with an empty camera case, a usb drive, diaper coupons, 7 letters I need to put in the mail box, a free lotion sample, and wafting over it all, the smell of leather and spearmint. I have arrived, folks. I have arrived. I am officially all growed up.

And now, the week in photos:

Reading "Where's the Bone?" with Daddy. Will the great mystery of that pesky bone's whereabouts ever be solved?? I beleive it was last seen "Up in the sky".

With Bunbun, her best good friend. I bought him when I found out I was preggo, and she got him the day she was born.

In an outfit Aunt Alex made. Looks cute, and apparently tastes good too!


Shot Through the Leg, and You're to Blame....

....You give Polio a BAD NAME!! Gawd I love me some Bon Jovi.
So yeah, Gwen-monstress got her first round of shots, and she did just fine. She cried for about a minute- not even Super-Sonic Dolphin Scream,more like a little bit shocked and chagrined- and then was done. I couldn't look at that big mean needle going into that fat little thigh....but I held her and applied Mommy-comfort and she was fine. A bit sleepier than usual at home, but other than that, just the same. Except now immune to like four potentially debilitating diseases! Viva modern medicine! Way to go, Mr. Salk.
I think we heard our first Gwendy laugh today too! It was sort of a wheezy baby-donkey sound. It was incredible enough to send me into all sorts of undignified shenanigans to make it happen again, I tell you. I think its in Peter Pan where every babies first laugh turns into a fairy; I now believe it's so. That laugh could cure cancer. It could create world peace and give everyone free healthcare with no tax increase and make Kim Jong Il dance the Electric Slide. It rocks, that laugh. I will attempt to capture on video in the coming days.


2 Months Old!

Hard to believe, but our little girl is already 2 months old as of this week. The changes happen so fast, I can't even keep track of them. It's so cool to watch her sassy little personality developing.

Gavin goes back to work tomorrow- we both feel the way you do when you're a kid and summer vacation is about to end. But, we have had an amazing 6 weeks together- the longest we've ever spent w/ neither of us working, and yet the busiest time of our lives! Gav marked the occasion by getting rid of the pirate goatee he had grown over the past few weeks. Also, he discovered he gained a bit (read- more than Gwendy weighs) of weight since he stopped working. HA! Sweet vengeance! Take that, Freakish Metabolism Man! Now watch him loose that poundage in like, 6 minutes. Bastardo.

Tuesday is her first round of vaccinations- I am sort of dreading it. The idea of inflicting pain on such an innocent little monkey sucks. A lot. But I know it's for the best. Sigh.

Here's about a million photos of our gal to commemorate her reaching the 60 day mark!

Um, is her hair looking a bit red? Will I get to live my dream of dressing her up like Anne of Green Gables?

It was Grandma's birthday! Gwendy helped celebrate it by being lovely.


She appears nervous about this bath. Probably because it was the result of being covered in poop and was unexpected.

Right before Gavin got rid of his Paternity Leave Goatee:

Our last day of paternity leave in front of our new building:

Gwendy decided not to scream in rage every time Grandpa picked her up this weekend. It was a pleasant change for all involved:

In her honorary cousin Lucy's former clothes, looking a-freakin-dorable. Yeah, I'm biased. So what?