When Baby Met Dogs (#261)

We had two three-year-old rescue dogs and two old rescue cats when Baby D was born. Even though the dogs were well-trained (mostly), you never know how your pets are going to react to babies.

Well, in one case we knew. Beowoof (Woofie for short) loved everyone and everything. Especially kids and puppies. The greatest day of Woofie’s life was the day he escaped and went to Science class at the local middle school.  Half the kids were on their desks, shrieking, but, as usual, Woofie was convinced everyone loved him.

Woofie had been waiting for his own boy forever. He was gonna be thrilled…as soon as the kid was big enough to play.

I expected Bat Cat and Commando Cat to be utterly indifferent until Baby D was old enough to terrorize them.

Fey (orange) and Woofie (dark brown).

My biggest worry was Fey. Fey was half-Chinese Shar-pei, half German-Shepherd. She grew up on the streets of South Central Los Angeles, never sure where her next meal would come from. She warned Woofie off her food when she first arrived, though she did learn to share toys and bully sticks. Fey believed her job was to guard her yard from skateboarders, her mortal enemy the street sweeper, and even human would-be burglars. She was very good at her job.

Fey never bit humans, but she held the gas meter man at bay more than once, barking until I arrived and told her it was okay. Occasionally, she’d issue a soft, warning growl when a human she didn’t know tried to pet her. And although she behaved well with the schoolchildren who hung out on our front steps, Fey only adored a handful of humans.

What would Fey do with a baby?

While I languished in the hospital for days after my emergency C-section, Andy snuck home Baby D’s used swaddling blankets to get the dogs used to baby’s smell. Fey got in two sniffs before Woofie seized the blanket and tried to convince Andy to play tug-o-war.

When Baby D came home, both dogs were very interested. For about five seconds. Then Fey returned to guarding her yard while Woofie begged for tummy rubs.

The cats were more curious. As soon as they discovered Baby D was basically a miniature heating pad, they snuggled up next to him and purred.

Until they discovered the heating pad could turn into miniature banshee, screeching in frustration if he didn’t get enough food. They bolted for their actual heating pad.

Woofie was impervious to Baby D the banshee.

Fey was not. The night five-day-old Baby D went ballistic, Fey appeared next the rocker where I tried in vain to calm the crying baby. Frustrated and crying myself, I found Fey at my side, ears flatly submissive, staring at me.

“Go to bed, Fey,” I sniffled. “Go to bed.”

Fey did not go to bed.

She stayed with me for the next hour or two, until we figured out that yes, our newborn really needed three ounces of formula in addition to breastfeeding. Not until Baby D quit crying did Fey go back to bed.

So it went for the next few months. If Baby D howled at night for more than a few minutes, Fey appeared at my elbow, her eyes big and pleading. She never barked or growled. She never lay down, either. She just sat.

“What do you think she’s doing?” I asked Andy. “Is she worried about the baby?”

Andy shook his head. “I dunno. She always sits with you. Even if I take Baby D.”

I thought of Fey’s imploring eyes, and how her tiny ears were always pulled back. “Oh my God. It’s me. It’s always when I’m angry and frustrated. It’s like she’s coming in all submissive, in order to placate me. ‘Don’t kill the baby, Mom! I know he’s not behaving, but I am! Look, look how submissive I am!’”

From then on, every time Fey came and sat next to me with her worried eyes, I told her, “Don’t worry, Fey. I won’t kill the baby.”

Fey’s presence was helpful. She distracted me from seemingly overwhelming emotions. Her submissive pose always reminded me that I was sending out angry vibes that were impacting others.

Baby D couldn’t tell me that.

Luckily, he had a canine big sister looking out for him.

A very tolerant Fey and Baby D a few months later.

Lost in Translations (#254)

I find names and the naming process fascinating. Giving someone a nickname is often a way of expressing affection—or dislike. My parents divorced and remarried so much that we sometimes had as many as three different surnames in our households, but God help the poor classmate who referred to my stepfather as “Mr. Ashbough,” (the name of my mother’s ex-husband).

God also help whichever sibling my father hollered at using their full name—middle name included.

When my husband and I married, we put a lot of thought into hyphenating both our names. Andy’s Chinese-American parents objected. Their arguments were illogical, hypocritical, and downright ludicrous, but I was forced to concede.

Years later, I was still pissed. Continue reading Lost in Translations (#254)

17 Surprising Difficulties During Labor & Delivery (#253)

Around here, we do things The Hard Way.

  1. Let’s start with your baby not wanting to make an appearance. Like mine. He was late and big. Once the doctor made it clear that there was no benefit to Baby D remaining in utero any longer, we opted to induced labor.
  2. Turns out, if you’re having contractions already, the doctor isn’t allowed to speed things up with a little Pitocin. “How could you not notice you were having contractions?” one nurse asked me. “I dunno,” I answered with a shrug. “Maybe because I’m itching so badly that I want to rip off my own arms?”

Continue reading 17 Surprising Difficulties During Labor & Delivery (#253)

Sex, Sorrow, and Costco (#239)

I was raised by a liberated woman and a man who believed his daughters should mow lawns, change tires, and have the same curfew as their older brother.

My sisters and I crushed in academics no less than my brother. We were better singers, better dancers, and better athletes. Also more popular. (Sorry, Big Bro!)

NASA came to my schools seeking women astronauts. They told us women had better reflexes than men, handled G-forces better than men, and coped better in close quarters better than men and please could we girls consider being astronauts?

I never understood why a person should be more valued because they were born with a penis. I mean, having a penis means you’re kind of fragile and likely to die earlier than a woman.

Continue reading Sex, Sorrow, and Costco (#239)

Weary of Boys (#235)

I always knew my husband and I would have a boy. An ultrasound at 21 weeks proved I was right.

Usually I love being right.

Not this time. Continue reading Weary of Boys (#235)

Oh, Boy (#232)

My Chinese-American husband grew up to be a successful engineer with two advanced degrees — and a disappointment to his parents. If he got a 4.0, his father Jay would grunt and his mother Sunny would mention a cousin graduating with honors. When Andy got a job at large company, Sunny told him that a government job would be more secure and have better benefits. Continue reading Oh, Boy (#232)

Gender & Preference (#231)

Parents always say they don’t have a favorite child.

Everyone eventually learns that’s bullshit. I knew it earlier than most. I have four baby siblings, born anywhere from 9-12 years after me. And hell, yeah, I had a favorite.

Pretty Space Cadet Sister spat up on everything as a baby. She was not my favorite. Continue reading Gender & Preference (#231)

Calls From the Dark Side (#152)

img_0958Two weeks after our honeymoon, I made the mistake of answering the landline. (Yes, we had a landline. Yes, we didn’t pay for caller ID. Yes, my husband is sometimes a cheap bastard.) A gruff, low, male voice I didn’t recognize barked something about a son or a grandson.

I said, “Wrong number,” and hung up.

Ten seconds later, the phone rang again. I answered again.

The same voice muttered, “….my grandson?”

“Look, dude, there are no kids here, I’m not a kidnapper, and you have the wrong number!” I hung up.

Continue reading Calls From the Dark Side (#152)

Thanksgiving with Jay (#97)

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The Treaty of the Religious Wedding Ceremony ended our War Over the Wedding Location with Andy’s parents. One of the conditions was that we would spend the Thanksgiving after our wedding with Jay and Sunny. During the week we were there, they would host a Chinese-style wedding banquet, mainly for Jay’s family members.

Andy’s parents called once before we left to get our flight information. Sunny asked Andy if there was anything we wanted to eat. He told her no, anything was fine. Which it was – FOR HIM. Andy can – and will – eat anything from animal brains (inaccurately, but oh-so innocently labeled “sweetbreads”) to Rocky Mountain Oysters (bulls’ balls). Continue reading Thanksgiving with Jay (#97)

Anchor Babies (#79)

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My friend M recently passed a young woman with a pack walking alone on a deserted rural road in the United States. In the rain. Now, I’d see this as a potential opening scene for a horror movie. M saw it as a Nicholas Sparks book. M stopped and offered the soaked young woman (we’ll call her “Anna”) a ride. Continue reading Anchor Babies (#79)