Arkie Mama: I keep mothering adults

Several years ago, I sat beside my editor as he read my story. He offered a few suggestions, then asked what I thought.

I hadn’t uttered more than two sentences when he started laughing.

“You’re talking to me like you do your toddler, aren’t you?”

I froze. He was absolutely right. I was even using the Mom Voice, which made things even more embarrassing.

You’d think that by now I would have stopped lapsing into that tone, but no. These days, I have an even more annoying habit of treating my friends like my offspring. I use an arm as a barrier if we’re about to cross a street too soon. I inquire about their health in waaaaay too much detail. And as poor Moody Mom now knows, I can be a bit of a pest.

Sunday, I took her with me to the gym. I was going to my Zumba class, and Moody Mom was going to try doing her knee exercises in the pool. (She dislocated her left knee several weeks ago.) It occurred to me on the way that she might have some trouble getting in and out of the pool.

So after checking the kids into the playroom, I walked with Moody Mom to the indoor pool to check out the stair/ladder situation.

“Are you sure you’ll be able to get out?” I inquired doubtfully.

“Oh, I’ll be fine,” she replied, gesturing toward a set of stairs.

“Well. OK,” I said. Then I went back to the locker room.

Moments later I was in the pool area again. Moody Mom was perched on the edge, doing exercises.

“Just making sure you’re OK,” I said.

“I’m fine,” Moody Mom said with a laugh.

Moments later, I was back a third time, on the pretext of giving Moody Mom a key to our locker.

“So you’re sure you’ll be able to get out?” I asked again.

Yes,” she said. “Now go to your class.”

I spent much of Zumba imagining Moody Mom thrashing around helplessly in the pool

Can you tread water with only one working leg? What if she re-injures her knee trying to climb those steps? What if she accidentally wanders into the deep end? OMG, what if she DROWNS?!

As it turns out, Moody Mom was perfectly fine. She’d even enjoyed a leisurely soak in the whirlpool.

Still, when she accompanies me again, it will take much self-restraint to keep from ordering her to wear a pair of water wings.

Arkie Mama: Wordless Wednesday

Psssst — go here and enter your child(ren) in our Halloween costume contest! Great prizes!

We now resume with our scheduled post:

I often hear moms debating the whole princess concept, how it teaches little girls that all they need do is smile winsomely, sing like Ariel and snag a prince.

I think perhaps we over-analyze at times.

Because when you’re 6 years old … well, it’s all about the twirly dress.

So thanks, Ms. Marissa, for giving the girls an afternoon of princess gowns and princess twirling.

Royal blue.

Royal blue.

Twirling.

Twirling.

Swirling.

Swirling.

Ring of princesses.

Ring of princesses.

(That’s Moody Mom’s Bear to the left of my daughter, btw.)

Want to participate in Wordless Wednesdays? Post a photo on your blog with a link back to me. Then I’ll list the links to all Wordless posts here.

For more Wordless Wednesday, go here:

She’s Crafty

In the Family Way

Moody Mom

Baby and the Beasts

Blessed Mom

Letting herself go

Whirligiggles

Hugs & kisses

Arkie Mama: Yes, it really happens

Even eight years of marriage, Hubs and I still contend that pottying is a private endeavor. That’s not to say I don’t poke my head in to grab my toothbrush, but he yelps when I do that, just as I do when he turns the tables.

Which is why, nearly five years ago, I had a sinking feeling each time I remembered the pushing part of my son’s delivery.

While much remained a blur, I distinctly recalled hearing my doula say to the nurse: “Oh, I’ll get that.”

What, I wondered, was the “that”? Could it be … no, surely not.

Months later, I worked up the courage to ask Hubs.

“So when I was pushing during the E-man’s birth, did I — well, you know?”

“Yeah,” Hubs replied with a smirk. “You did.”

Pause. {blink, blink}

“Why didn’t you tell me?” I wailed.

“Because you were postpartum. And hormonal. And I wanted to live,” Hubs said matter-of-factly.

Perhaps this incident was the reason for my abnormal interest in Hubs’ first colonoscopy.

I read him the infamous Dave Barry colonoscopy column. I watched him chug his first round of the prep and then began asking every few minutes — rather gleefully, I admit — if he was feeling the effects yet.

“No,” he said smugly. Again and again.

And then he disappeared into the bathroom for hours.

“Why is Daddy still in the bathroom?” little E-man asked.

“Well, he has to go to the doctor tomorrow,” I said evasively.

“Because he can’t stop pooping?” the E-man inquired.

I found this so hilarious that I insisted on telling Hubs about his son’s conclusion through the bathroom door.

Hubs wasn’t nearly as amused.

The next morning, I sat in a waiting room, flipping through magazines while Hubs underwent his procedure.

Just as I finished my third People, a nurse summoned me to the recovery area. I found Hubs curled up peacefully on a gurney.  Only curtains separated him from the neighboring patients.

“He needs to pass gas before we can let him go,” the nurse informed me.

I felt an evil grin spread across my face.

“Really?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. “When he wakes up, I’ll bring him some Coke.”

Important fact: Hubs’ horror of emitting bodily noises rivals my horror of pooping in delivery rooms.

I leaned over my sedated husband.

“Guess what?” I whispered huskily. “You have to toot before they’ll discharge you.”

I giggled manically. Hubs didn’t stir.

I opened the novel I’d brought along. When the nurse returned with the Coke, we finally roused Hubs.

“You still haven’t tooted!” I cackled.

The nurse looked at me oddly. Perhaps my enthusiasm unnerved her.

When she left, I resumed torturing my spouse.

“Did you hear what she said? You have to toot before we can get out of here. So get busy. I promise, I won’t laugh at you.”

Of course, when he ripped the first one I promptly collapsed into hysterics.

As he continued to make a joyful noise, a patient in the next cubicle asked the nurse what was going on.

“There’s a colonoscopy patient next to you,” she explained.

“Sorry!” Hubs called out groggily.

I snorted and snickered and carried on like a junior high boy until the doctor walked in and shot me a puzzled look.

“Everything looks fine,” he said.

I pulled myself together long enough to listen to the doctor. Then I drove my sleepy husband home.

Hubs doesn’t remember any of my juvenile recovery-room antics.

But now, at last, I consider us even in the Arena of Indignities.

Arkie Mama: Hot doctors vs. the grandpa variety

So several weeks ago, I found a tick in the crease of my inner thigh.

Due to the rather intimate location, I had to ask Hubs to remove it for me. Nothing says romance like having to ask your spouse to pull out a parasite that’s taken up residence dangerously close to the ladybits.

It’s been three weeks, and the bite still itches, prompting me to ask Hubs nightly if he’s sure he got the whole tick out.

My greatest fear? That it’s either infected or I’m coming down with a raging case of Lyme’s, thereby requiring me to visit my family practitioner — who is male and YOUNGER than me — for an inspection of said bite.

In days of old, I never cared much about the age or gender of my doctors. Now, however, I’ve become a bit obsessive, Googling each new physician to see how old he is.

Ladies, I have been the not-so-proud, much-older patient of countless doctors in recent years.

Back in July 2007, I wrote this post on my old blog. It still very much applies.

Chunky matron seeks …

… older, wrinkled, grandfatherly sort of doctor — must be at least 65 or look it — to serve the many health needs of a nearsighted, allergy-prone, mole-checking, still-of-reproductive-age hypochondriac.

Hot or even mildly cute young doctors need not bother to apply.

I’m on a hot-doctor roll these days, and I say now: “ENOUGH ALREADY! My ego is fragile. My body isn’t what it used to be. I’m not in any condition, mentally or physically, to disrobe in front of men MY AGE. Or … *sob* … younger.”

In recent years, I have —

— been to an ER inhabited by the most beautiful medical staff ever. Granted, I was very drugged, but I swear I must have accidentally landed on the set of Grey’s Anatomy.

— gone to a dermatologist to report all suspicious moles, only to be passed off to Hot Doctor No. 1. One of the moles in question was ON MY REAR.

— been referred to an orthopedic surgeon — yes, another hottie — with whom the following dialogue took place:

Cathy: Yeah, the shoulder is improving, but I still can’t … you know … reach my arm all the way behind my back.

Hot Doctor: (Looks puzzled.)

Cathy: You know — (*reaches behind back with good arm and mimes fastening a bra*)
(oh for pete’s sake, Cathyyouidiot, entire crowds have gathered around your hoo-ha during childbirth. Just say it. Bra. B-R-A. arrghhh…)

Doctor: Yes, well, just — (*doctor mimes fastening a bra in the front and then sliding it around the chest*)

Cathy: That’s a pain in the ass. (did i just say that?)

Doctor: OK, well, just buy one that fastens in the front.

Cathy: Um … yeah.

(Oh, great. I haven’t even hit 40, but I’m reduced to buying the Arthritis Bra? I mean, look at it:

The grandma bra

The grandma bra

I am SO not ready for that. Still, I wasn’t about to argue this point with Hot Doctor when I couldn’t even say “bra.” Because then what if I actually had to say “breasts?” Ack!)

I was still blushing when I reached the car.

Have age and childbearing really turned me into such a prudish, stammering moron?

Nah.

I mean, clearly I have no problem talking about any number of very personal issues right here in cyber-public.

And countless male co-workers who’ve had the misfortune to sit next to me during my pregnancies probably know waaaay more about my girly bits than Hubs ever will.

(Wanna see a male reporter haul ass across the newsroom? Just say, “Mucous plug.” Works every time.)

And I have no problem discussing any number of health issues with older, ordinary-looking doctors — like whether certain acts of marital bliss … *cough* … during pregnancy really do shoot air into the va jay jay, which, as we all know from the Devil Pregnancy Book, is a bad thing because it can lead to one getting an air embolism. Down there. And you could like, die.

It’s just that the young doctors make me feel so self-conscious. A lot of them don’t yet have kids, so you just know they’re totally unfamiliar with a woman’s postpartum pooch or nipples that no pasty could cover.

Where is my senior citizen crowd of medical professionals? We must banish all these McDreamy and McSteamy types who make me blush and babble. Bring the gray-hairs out of retirement. Please. Now.

Because if I ever decide I want a tummy tuck, or maybe to have the girls hoisted back up to ye old place of glory, well, I’d rather my doctor be so ancient that he sees my 37-year-old body as positively youthful. (“Oh, my dear. You certainly don’t need any work done yet. These are the breasts of a 30-year-old. Truly. But if you insist…”)

Arkie Mama: Worst parenting moment ever

Today, I’m sharing my most horrid, terrifying moment as a mother. Feel free to do the same in the comments below …

During the year that Hubs and I lived in San Antonio, we spent a lot of time debating whether to buy a house there, or whether to return to Arkansas. Each weekend, we toured open houses in San Antonio, finding something wrong with each one. Clearly, I thought, this was a sign that we should return to the Land of the Hogs.

Anyway, one Sunday afternoon, right after church, we dropped by a cute, newly renovated cottage in an older part of town. Tootie was 2; the E-man only 4 months.

I decided to venture up to the finished attic, with a bored Tootie in tow. Only when we were about to go back downstairs did I notice that there wasn’t a banister. Worried that my tot would fall, I scooped her up and started down.

Anyone who knows me can guess what happened next.

One of my strappy little sandals wobbled and as my weight shifted, I lost my balance. As I hurtled forward, my poor girl was catapulted from my arms. I had just enough time to shriek before I ping-ponged between the walls and tumbled after her.

Poor Hubs had just rounded a corner when he heard all the commotion. Just as he arrived at the foot of the stairs, Tootie landed at his feet, stunned. And then his wife rolled down the last few steps and landed in a crumpled heap right behind his daughter.

Tootie, thankfully, was fine. But every time I looked at her mangled little sunglasses, I cried, thinking of how much worse it could have been. My ankle swelled a bit and my knee throbbed, but within a few days I was back to normal.

Needless to say — we didn’t buy that house.

Tootie, mere hours before the incident

Tootie, mere hours before the incident

Arkie Mama: Race & party

First, a big, heartfelt thanks to Yavonda of Baby & the Beasts, Kim of Whirligiggles and Heidi of In the Family Way for helping me man the booth Saturday morning. I would have crumpled into a cowardly little heap without their presence. Because our booth was SWARMED!

Which was lovely. Many thanks to those who stopped by. And thanks also to the Race volunteers who brought us pens when ours ran dry! Our coffee, which ran out quickly, was provided by Sufficient Grounds. Thanks to owners Eric and Kim. That coffee sure helped ward off the chill. It also made us very popular.

Thanks also to Amy of Blessed Mom for inviting me to walk with her and her fabulous girlfriends. We had a lot of fun, especially when we passed the dancing firefighters!

To the staff at Cajun’s Wharf — thanks for taking such good care of us. I will, however, blame that extra pound I gained last night on you!

Lastly, big thanks to Kristina of Moody Mom for finding a few extra prizes for last night’s drawings and other upcoming contests. Winners will be announced on the homepage on either Monday or Tuesday.

We had a blast at our launch party. Several cameras were floating through the crowd, so we should have some pics up shortly.

Our mamas were pretty tired by day’s end. Not only did the party run late, but most of us had participated in the race that morning.

I was registered with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s team. Our photo, minus a few faces, is below.

The Paper Dolls

The Paper Dolls

Arkie Mama: Susan’s story of survival

Susan and youngest son Matt

Susan and youngest son Matt

I started reading a blog called Toddler Planet around the time its author, Susan Niebur, an astrophysicist living in Maryland, was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer. Until then, I’d never heard of IBC, and bear in mind — I’m a Googling hypochondriac. What’s frightening is that there are many women out there who remain unaware of this deadliest of breast cancers.

Since finding Susan’s blog, I’ve followed her struggles and her triumphs. As I said in yesterday’s post, her story is one of determination and joy.

Susan, who’s been featured on CNN and in several publications, learned she had IBC just a few months after her youngest  son was born. I cried when I read about how she had to abruptly wean her new baby so that she could begin treatment. And I cried again each time I read her posts about the joy she found each day in her two little boys.

Susan kindly agreed to guest-post here today. So here is her story in her words:

Dear Little Rock Mamas,

I’ve just finished reading about your Race for the Cure team that is preparing for the big race on Saturday. It sounds like there are a lot of fun events going on, and I’m looking forward to reading more posts about it on your blog. Race for the Cure is a great event to raise money and awareness of breast cancer, and that’s so important, as early detection is the key to catching this “beast cancer” before it develops into a monster that overpowers even the most technically advanced chemotherapy, radiation, and surgical treatments.

You guys know how to detect most kinds of breast cancer, right? With regular self-exams, looking for a lump? Of course you do, and I know you’re reminding your readers too. But as it turns out, there’s another kind of breast cancer lurking out there, that is far more sneaky, and far more deadly. It’s called inflammatory breast cancer, and it forms inside your breast without a lump. That’s right. There is no lump. The cancer forms in thin sheets, or in nests, like a bird’s nest of cancer growing inside your breast. There are few external signals or symptoms, and they’re sneaky too, since most of them are similar to mastitis, which many of us have experienced while breastfeeding a baby, or bug bites, or sunburn. But taken together, one or more of these symptoms can signal a dangerous cancer lurking in your breast.

What are the symptoms? Here’s a list, from the IBC Research Foundation:
* Swelling, usually sudden, sometimes a cup size in a few days
* Itching
* Pink, red, or dark colored area (called erythema) sometimes with texture similar to the skin of an orange (called peau d’orange)
* Ridges and thickened areas of the skin
* Nipple retraction
* Nipple discharge, may or may not be bloody
* Breast is warm to the touch
* Breast pain (from a constant ache to stabbing pains)
* Change in color and texture of the areola

And here’s my own pitch. If you notice ANYTHING DIFFERENT on one breast that’s not on the other breast, please CALL YOUR DOCTOR. Today. Because this cancer moves fast, faster than almost any other cancer, and is deadly. Only 40% of patients survive 5 years after diagnosis.

I’ve already lost too many friends to this disease, bloggers and readers just like you. Won’t you please check yourself for these symptoms, print a copy and file it away for later, and SHARE IT with your friends? Need a visual? Worldwide Breast Cancer has some really cool posters (also on flicker) that illustrate visual signs of breast cancer … using fruit instead of the human body!

I learned about inflammatory breast cancer very accidentally, when researching my mother-in-law’s breast cancer diagnosis. There was a link at the bottom of the page, and, curious, I clicked it. As I read through the symptoms, I had the strangest feeling, scoffing, well, I have that. And I have that. Hmmm, I have that too. And, when I called my doctor, and went in the next day, it turned out that I needed to see a specialist to rule out IBC. She wasn’t able to rule it out, however, since the biopsies showed that I indeed did have IBC — the deadliest form of breast cancer.

Two years later, I’ve survived cancer, 6 months of chemotherapy, 7 weeks of daily radiation, 2 surgeries to remove my breasts and ovaries, and a lot of physical therapy to deal with lymphedema, which makes my arm swell in the heat as a side effect of the mastectomy that took all my lymph nodes. It’s been a hard, hard road. But I haven’t done it alone. I blogged my way through this disease, and was very much supported by my friends online and off, as well as my family, which really rallied to come and care for me and my children. I’ve survived cancer.

The last two years have been in some ways terrible and in some ways absolutely wonderful. The terrible part is detailed on my blog, a daily history of what it’s like to go through a cancer diagnosis and treatment … and come out the other side. The wonderful part is there too, magical days with my children, weekly playdates with their friends and my mom-friends, getting back to normal with things like book club and volunteering and the kids’ school, and dancing with my husband in the chemo ward, in the rain, and in the kitchen. I’ve celebrated birthdays — of me, my children, and my children’s friends, and I intend to celebrate many more birthdays to come.

There is joy after cancer. But the important part is getting there — the after cancer part. So good luck this weekend, walk hard, and SHARE the SIGNS of inflammatory breast cancer with the people you meet. You never know. You might just save a life.