155, 188, and My Daughter the Prodigy

The style of this post is pretty self-indulgent and maybe not so fun for anybody but me. If you want to know the basic content but don’t want to slog through the prose (thereby breaking my heart), here are the high points:

  • Our gestating child is larger than a lime and has a heart that beats at around 155 beats per minute.
  • I thought I was getting fatter again, but I weighed in at 188 today — just 8 pounds above my low for the last year (and on the high end of my average for the last 6 or so months) and really not too shabby given that I weighed 240 a year ago, have been eating like a hog lately, and haven’t been hitting the gym.
  • My daughter is amazing, and we should probably go ahead and get her a helmet to prevent an ear amputation because Van Gogh’s got nothing on her. If you disagree, I invite you to go straight to Hell without passing Go.

A few years ago, on some blog I wrote on (whether it was this one or another one I occasionally posted to I don’t remember), I developed the habit for some time of writing posts with comma-separated titles. I’d link a couple of fairly divergent topics in some clever and probably poignant way and put a title at the top that spoke to each of the topics in some literal way but that was a sort of hook into the post because it linked the two topics in a simple, interesting way, sort of the way that if you tell somebody that you love peanut-butter-and-bologna sandwiches, their curiosity will be piqued and they’ll comment rather than just thinking “oh” and moving on (as they would if you told them you liked PB and J). Or that’s my impression of how it came off, at least.

Tonight’s post contains no such cleverness. I just have three things I want to write about.

First, 155. We had a doctor’s appointment for the pending baby on Friday. I went along because it was a likelihood that we’d get to hear the heartbeat. The new little squirt’s ticker registered 155 beats per minute, which I gather is pretty much normal. In other pending baby news, we can actually feel the baby moving around some now. By this time with Lennie, M could feel her moving internally, but it was some time later before I could feel any external movement. Last night, I was able to feel some vertical rippling movements and the occasional thump on M’s belly. (She assures me she wasn’t just trying to pass gas off as the baby.) (Go ahead and groan at the pun; it won’t hurt my feelings.) Tonight, we got a flashlight out to see if the baby was sensitive to light, and the baby seemed to respond. We tried to get Lennie involved in shining the light, but she lost interest quickly. M’s 15 weeks along now, and we read in our weekly status update from Babys R Us’s online service that the kid’s legs are now longer than its arms and that it’s got eyelids but they’re fused shut. That’s all I remember from the update. They’ve stopped for the time being telling us what size the baby is, but I think it’s more or less lime-sized still (or like a lime with arms and legs, I’d guess). Before too long, they’ll report that it’s the size of a mango and then of a cantaloupe. Early on, it was a lentil. They really like comparing gestating babies to food, which if you think about it too much is a little gross (couldn’t we go with ping-pong ball, golf ball, raquetball, wiffle ball, shot put, softball, volleyball, soccer ball, and football [though then I suppose you’re comparing the baby to objects that we hit or kick, and that’s only slightly less distrubing than comparing it to things we eat]? I suppose those sizes aren’t as univerally known, though it can also be said that there can be a wide variety of sizes among lemons, and one person might think of key limes and another of regular old slightly-smaller-than-most-lemons-sized limes). At our doctor’s appointment in about four weeks, we’ll get to do the big ultrasound and (with any luck) find out what the baby’s sex is. M sort of doesn’t want to find out, but there’s no way I’m not finding out. I’ve offered to find out and just not tell her, but she’s not so keen on that. So in four weeks, we’ll be able to start thinking in earnest about names. I’ve pretty much refused to date to do much real diligence on that front, both because we can’t see to agree on any names and because if we wait until we know the sex of the baby, we have to do half the work. If M insists on not learning the baby’s sex, I’ve got a backup plan: We’ll name the baby in advance and, regardless of its actual sex, we’ll raise it as whatever sex its name is (sort of the way Joe Lieberman is a Republican but calls himself a Democrat).

A quick baby break here for the 188 referenced in this post’s title. This is one of those things that I record for my own memory, and you can probably skip it if you don’t care about my fatty tissue. (Side note: When I was in college, I took a Southern Lit course during which we read excerpts from the journals of some 18th/19th-century guy who wrote on a daily basis about “doing his dance.” I guess we had all glossed over this as some weird anachronism or perhaps as a literal statement — those old folk being kind of weird and prone to dance — but our professor asked us if we knew what he was referring to and colored a bright red — being himself something of a dainty and reserved and proper Southern man — when someone posited that the gentleman was documenting his masturbation. As it turns out, his euphemism was for taking a dump, and our professor pointed out that in those days of widespread gastrointestinal horrors and generally poor accurate health awareness, it was important to document such things, because you’d kind of want to know if you’d gone a week or two without a BM. All that in mind, I’d like to take a moment to tell those of you reading my blog in textbooks in 200 years that when I talk about my fatty tissue, it’s no euphemism — I mean quite literally the yellow masses of globular fat that have accumulated in mostly my gut. Also, as noted already, I just document this stuff so I can remember my own history; this seems related to the old dancing-his-little-dance gentleman’s impulse and probably speaks in a more general way to what’s behind the impulse of casual bloggers like myself to document anything about our lives, except that we know that others are reading [really — I have a stats tool that proves it].) If you made it to this point, you’re a real trooper and I really don’t deserve you as a reader. So, now to the point. I’ve had trouble lately telling what my physical health was like. Until this morning, I hadn’t been to the gym in a month or two for various reasons, not the least of which is that Lennie now arises right in the middle of what used to be prime gym time for me and the fact that I just haven’t been able to get my butt out of bed at 5:00 a.m. to get to the gym and get back in time to be around for when Lennie wakes up. This week, I was telling M that I was having trouble telling whether I was a fat slob again or whether I was at least maintaining [cross reference the last paragraph here]. My arms, for example, remain as cut [which isn’t terribly cut, honestly] as they’ve ever been, and I have some lines on my abdomen that seem not characteristic of a fat slob. At the same time, I have a little muffin-top [more frontal than lateral] that makes me wonder if I’m not heading back down the road to fat-slobville. Plus I’ve been eating like there’s no tomorrow. So I was expecting, after having weighed as little in the last year as 180, to weigh in at around 200 again. But after a gruelling workout that left me sort of physically ill, I measured — you guessed it — 188. Not a bad showing, really. If you made it this far, you’re not only a real trooper, but you probably deserve at least a gold star and probably a dollar and quite possibly a purple heart.

Now on to my daughter the prodigy. When Lennie was very young and just getting started out drawing, M boasted about how good an artist she was. Apparently, most kids that age tended just to scribble in one place. Lennie would cover an entire page. I wasn’t alone in our family in thinking that M was just being an over-proud Mom. More recently, I’ve begun to have a better appreciation for Lennie’s art, though. Note exhibit A to the left. The careful observer will note three smiley faces, a red, a yellow, and an orange (the yellow and orange more obvious than the red). She draws this sort of figure consistently now, often placing eyes and mouth with great precision and in such a way (probably by accident, I’ll admit) that they approximate the view of a face from an angle. You really don’t get the full effect from these blunt watercolors that you can get from a picture drawn in thin marker lines. The other day, she was consistently drawing a wheeled vehicle. We had read a story about a girl named Lisa who rides bikes, skateboards, scooters, etc., and Lennie drew what amounted to a wheel with a sort of amorphous frame and said “Lisa scooter.” Then she drew it again, recognizably similar to the first figure. It was a willful representation of something. She holds her markers and pens in a more “correct” way than plenty of adults, and even when holding them from the top of the implement as she sometimes does, she has absurdly good control of her drawing.

Note here exhibit B. I forget the significance of the bottom picture, but the top picture contains squiggles drawn with a control that would probably defy even my abilities (not that my abilities are that great, but I’m 12 times Lennie’s age, so let’s give her some leeway). So, with these latest drawings, I begin to rethink my skepticism with respect to her artistic talents, and I’m thinking we need to get her into an art class as soon as possible so that we can nurture an apparent talent.

In other news, she goes to sleep in her own bed now without a great deal of coaxing. For several weeks, we were putting her down in her bed, but the routine often involved our snuggling her for as much as an hour after finishing books, and that quickly turned into a big drain. Eventually, we started tucking her in and finding various ways to convince her that we’d check on her later. And it worked. She sometimes calls plaintively for one or the other of us after we tuck her in. If it goes on for a couple of minutes, the desired parent will run in and kiss her goodnight, and if she quits, she goes to sleep. Either way, we have her in bed by 8:30 most nights without spending an hour or more snuggling her to sleep. It was the successful initiation of this behavior that allowed her to spend her first night away from home on Thursday. It’s been a good break for M and me during this time of preparation for another hard couple of years with a very young child, and it’s good for Lennie’s development as well.

And that’s it for this installment of a slice of my mundane life. If you read the whole thing, I officially owe you a Congressional Medal of Honor when I get elected to Congress.

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