What not to wear to your high school reunion, or how Nordstrom saved the day

Having not gone to my 10 year high school reunion, I was excited for my 20th. I really had no idea what to expect. And clearly, I had no idea what to wear either.

I could blame my clothing debacle on several things: 1) My friend Stacy, who told me how at her reunion all the women were dressed in jeans and tank tops; 2) The fact that two months after having a baby, my clothing options were limited – I can only fit into a few of my pre-pregnancy clothes, and definitely not the cute ones; 3) Baby brain.

My husband would tell you it was probably the latter. As he told me later when he saw what I was wearing: “I was wondering what you were thinking wearing that!”

Now don’t get all excited – I wasn’t wearing something ridiculous like stuffing my post-baby belly and big boobs in some tight-fitting, low-cut, slutty dress, or something crazy like a pink tu-tu and bustier. I still had somewhat of a brain after baby. No, it was really much more simple and benign – I was dressed like I was going out to dinner in Tahoe. Which basically means super casual.

I was wearing jeans, a white peasant shirt (mind you, I think it’s cute), and – in this my baby brain did kick in for I had forgotten to bring cute shoes – my Chaco sandals. To my credit, I had accessorized with long earrings and a necklace.

But clearly, I had not gotten the memo about the reunion dress code.

I showed up to my friend Linda’s pre-party and the first thing I see are two guys getting out of their car dressed in suits with their wives in nice dresses. “Well, won’t they be embarrassed that they’ve overdressed,” I thought to myself. I walk into the party. Everyone is in semi-formal attire. They are all dressed like they are going to a wedding. And then there’s me, Ms. Mountain Casual, wearing jeans and sandals.

I was completely mortified. How did I not know that you were supposed to dress up for a reunion???? Why did everyone but me know this??? It was almost like that scene in “Legally Blond” where Reese Witherspoon shows up to the non-costume party in a Playboy Bunny outfit. OK, so not quite that bad, but you get the picture.

After the pre-party, I run back to the hotel to nurse the baby. Siig tells me I need to go shopping. “You can’t go to the reunion dressed like that!” Great, where were you when I was packing?? It’s  7:30 pm. The reunion started at 7.  I make a decision. After speed nursing and a little pumping, I kiss the kids and hubbie good-bye and make a mad dash for the mall across the street. I run into the mall and ask the first person I see, a security guard, what’s still open. It looks like my choice is between Macy’s and Nordstrom. (Dam, Anthropology, why couldn’t you stay open late night???)

I run like a crazy woman to Nordstrom. The sign on the door says they close at 8. I have 15 minutes to find me a new outfit. I burst through the doors, take the escalator two stairs at a time (bemoaning the fact that I am not wearing a jogging bra), and run to the women’s section. Where do I start? I tell myself not to panic. I can do this. I start flipping through clothes on the racks in the  Junior section, where I used to shop in high school. Who am I kidding???? No body who just had a baby can fit into any of these clothes! I need help. I need a personal shopper. Then I see her. Like a shark eyeing an innocent baby seal, I pounce on a young girl behind the counter: “You’ve got to help me!” I say breathlessly. “I have to go to a party that’s already started. I’m totally wearing the wrong thing. I don’t know my size because I just had a baby. I can’t wear anything tight around the belly. I want something cute but kind of funky.  I have 15 minutes. GO!”

The girl looks shell-shocked for a minute, then she sprang into action. This was the moment, the challenge, she had been waiting for, after all. Between the two of us, I manage to find a pair of black pants and a fancy tank top. They are totally not me, but they would have to do. I rush out of the dressing room in the new clothes, my old clothes crumpled, like the scum they are, in my hands. I need shoes. Fast.

I thank my shopper and then bounded, barefoot, down the escalator and repeat my spiel to a cute shoe salesman who doesn’t know what hit him. I don’t really like any of the shoes, nor their price tags, but by the third pair he brings me I don’t care anymore. They fit, they had a heel that was not too high and not too short, and they a were bright, patent red. They got the job done.

My bill comes to $260. But it doesn’t matter. I will be returning everything in the morning.

What’s that you say? You didn’t know about Nordstrom’s clothing lending policy? Well, yes, it’s quite like renting a movie or a library book – you just “borrow” the clothes and as long as they are in good shape with the tags still on, you return everything the next day! I actually did this once before, in high school, for a New Year’s Eve party. Guess I haven’t changed much in 20 years.

Back to my story. So I run like a bat out of hell out of Nordstrom, carrying my new shoes in my hands so as not to scuff them, and jump in my car. I am so pumped up that I drive out of my parking space straight over one of those cement curbs designed to prevent that very action, a light goes on on my dashboard alerting me to some sort of damage – but I don’t care. I have a reunion to go to, for christ’s sake! And I finally got me my fancy new clothes and I’m ready for a cocktail.

I arrive at the reunion, run barefoot to the front door of the restaurant, and slip on my new shoes. Later, in the girls’ bathroom, a friend says, “Melissa, one of your tags is still on your shirt. Do you want me to rip it off?”

“NO!” I scream, whirling around to avoid the hands reaching for the tag. “It’s just a loaner!”

The whole night, I manage never to get spilled on or drop any food on my new clothes. The next day, I return everything without a hitch. $260 right back on my credit card.

You think Nordstrom’s “lending program” applies to children’s clothes? My kids need pants.

Rules are made to be broken – except one

My sister was shopping for picture frames at a thrift store and found one with this anonymously-written poem in it. She kept the frame and gave me the poem. I think these “house rules” are so perfect for my family, especially for Siig. Unfortunately, he doesn’t really heed any of them, except for the last one, which he does wonderfully. So I guess I can forgive the other transgresses.

Home Rules

If you sleep on it, make it up

If you wear it, hang it up

If you drop it, pick it up

If you eat out of it, put it in the sink

If you step on it, wipe it off

If you open it, close it

If you empty it, fill it up

If it rings, answer it

If it howls, feed it

If it cries, love it

Plunging ahead, falling behind

This baby stuff had me digressing from what seems to normally preoccupy me as a mother – my children’s bathroom habits. As usual, my kids’ toilet tales seem to supply ample fodder for my blog.

The latest incident occurred when I needed it least – as we are running out the door trying to get to school on time. The school district moved the start time up by almost an hour, from 9:15 am last year (which we barely made on time) to 8:25 am this year. My kids are not exactly morning people, then throw a newborn and breastfeeding into the mix, and you can understand my anxiety every morning trying to get us up and dressed and fed and in the car by 8:05 am. Add to that my son, who excels at lagging, and morning time equals a whole lot of cajoling and hurrying and frustration. So imagine my dismay, when, at 8:04 a.m. on Monday, as I am scurrying around trying to get everyone out the door, Kaiden announces he has to poop.

Kaiden is no fast pooper. He can easily be in the bathroom for upwards of half-an-hour trying to squeeze one out.

But what’s a mom to do? I can’t exactly tell him to hold it. So I stop everything and sit on the couch and prepare to wait, nervously glancing at my watch every few minutes. Then, of course, Kaya says she has to pee, but insists on using the upstairs bathroom and waiting until Kaiden is done. I watch her grabbing her crotch and walking around the kitchen with her knees together and bent over like an old lady, but she stubbornly refuses to go downstairs to use the potty.

It’s now 8:10 a.m. School starts in 15 minutes and we are not even in the car.

“Kaiden, are you done yet?” I yell. “Hurry up!”

“No, this is going to be a big one.”

Great. Another man-size poop. I sure as hell hope he wipes good.

8:15 a.m. 8:20 am. Finally, Kaiden walks out of the bathroom. “I’m done. But the toilets clogged.”

Crap. Literally. I tell Kaya, who looks like she is in pain from holding it for so long, that now she most definitely has to go downstairs to use the bathroom. I’m not about to plunge the toilet now, so I tell Kaiden to close the lid and we’ll save it for Daddy to take care of. A little present for when he gets home from work.

Kaya’s comes upstairs wearing different pants. Guess she didn’t make it to the bathroom on time. No surprise there, as Kaya has about the same bladder control as an old lady. I notice her jeans are on backwards, with the zipper in back. “Can we put your jeans on the right way?” I ask.

“No, I like it like this.”

8:25 am. The bell is ringing as we speak.

Fuck it. I throw the kids in the car, backward jeans and clogged toilet and all.

I glance at the baby, who has spit up all over her face and shirt and car seat.

8:30 a.m. and I need a drink. And a good plunger.

My tip for new moms: stupidity

Six weeks into having three kids, and I have been pleasantly surprised that things have been going relatively smoothly. The kids have adjusted well with no jealousy so far (knock on wood), I have been able to get them all out the door by 8 am since school started with not much problem, and all the baby stuff – the crying, the nursing, the consoling – has not phased me much. I guess it takes having three kids to finally find your patience and get the hang of this “raising children” thing. Who would’ve thunk it?

But I have also found the secret to dealing with a baby. Are you ready to be enlightened? To be wowed? Are you on the edge of your seat? Well, hold onto your horses. Here is my key to happiness while having an infant – don’t think about it. Turn off that brain. As the Nike saying goes, ‘just do it.’ If you think too much, it all goes to pot. I guess evolution got it right when it gave new moms ‘baby brain.’ If having a baby increased our IQs, the human race probably would have died out long ago. So, instead, God made us new moms dumb. If by chance your old smarts start to show themselves again, ignore them. Intelligence is no help when it comes to babies.

How did I have this sudden stroke of genius while being in my postpartum stupid phase? One word for you: the car. (OK, so that was two words. See, I am dumb.) The most challenging part of having a baby again, I have found, is getting in and out of the car. You just can’t arrive somewhere and say to the babe, like the other two kiddos: “OK, hop out. Let’s go.” You have to transport the infant. That means getting out the stroller, putting her in the Bjorn, or schlepping that god-damn, 300-pound car seat around. My whole day is dictated by whether I feel like dealing with taking the baby in and out of the car, along with two other kids. Having just gone to the post office and put the baby and car seat and stroller back in the car, I might decide we don’t need to eat dinner tonight because I sure as hell am not going to do that all over again. But then I say to myself, “Self, turn off that brain. Don’t think. Just do it.” So I turn on my autopilot brain, and repeat the in-and-out-of-the-car process all over again.

But the real point of enlightenment came after dropping Kaiden off at school one morning. I had just buckled Kaya back into her car seat and was nursing the baby when Kaya said – what else? – she had to pee. For a moment, my brain thought about how silly I would look walking around the school with a baby attached to my boob and the top of my maternity pants showing even though I’m not pregnant and how I didn’t feel like walking all the way back out the parking lot to the school, but then I told my brain to “shut up” and off we went, baby on the breast and all. And that’s when it hit me: thinking is your enemy.

I relayed this story to a friend of mine who also has three kids and she said wouldn’t it be great if you could hire someone to drive around with you and just sit in your car with your kids while you ran errands? Until that time comes when you find someone to do that (and please, pass on her number to me), you will be much happier, and get way more things done, if you stay stupid. Trust me. I can’t even remember my name, and I am all the better for it.

Excuse me while I barf on your love

I thought we were having a moment.

I was gazing into the eyes of my 3 week old, and she was looking back at me. I saw recognition in her eyes; dare I say it, maybe even love. After weeks of changing diapers and breastfeeding and holding and caressing and being with her 24/7, was she finally, finally realizing that I was her mother? Was that adoration I saw in her eyes?

As I felt tears welling up in my own, she puked. All over herself. All over me.

So much for love.

It was not affection, after all, that was welling up inside her, but digested breast milk. Nakita was turning out to be like her big sister Kaya – a puker. This means bibs for Nakita. It seems silly to put a bib on a one-month old who doesn’t even have teeth yet to consume food, but when they are throwing up five times a day, it saves constantly having to change their clothes. When Kaya was little, she would throw up and I while I was changing her, she would throw up again. We went to Mexico when she was 3 months old. She threw up so much that by day 3 she had gone through a weeks worth of clothes. I ended up washing all of her clothes – twice. By hand. In the hotel room sink. It sucked.

So its bibs for little Nakita. I don’t care if she looks ridiculous. It saves me time and energy, plus infants already look funny. She’s got a comb-over and acne, farts all the time, and the back of her hair usually has some crusty throw-up in it. She’s kind of a cross over between an old man and a teen-ager. But she’s my funny looking baby, and I love her.

Plus, I swear she smiled at me today and if she could have talked, she would have said, “I love you mom. Now stand back. I’m about to puke.”

"My eyes say 'love' but my belly says 'puke.'"

It Was You

It was you

that was inside me for 9 months

it was you

who kicked me in the ribs

had the hiccups every day

made me eat like a teenage boy for two months

it was you

who had me convinced you were a boy

who had me doubled over with pain when you started to come

who had me howling like an animal when you pushed your way out into this world

it was you all along…

and you were a girl

Welcome, Nakita Trinity. Born at home in the water on July 18 at 3:37 a.m.

We are so very happy you are here. In the two and a half weeks that you’ve been here, you’ve ripped my private parts, gave me hemorrhoids, peed on me, puked on me, and you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way. (OK, so maybe not the hemorrhoids).

Pregnancy Purgatory

Waiting for a baby to come is a lot like preparing to go on a long trip – you know you are not going to be available for a while so you rush around trying to make sure everything is taken care of. Pay the bills, water the plants, stock the house with food, clean the kids’ rooms, etc. People call it nesting, but it’s more like frantic preparation for being out of commission for a few weeks.

The problem with this is – sometimes you do all this, and the baby doesn’t come. Food gets eaten, rooms get messy, more bills arrive. Then you have to start all over again. But with each passing day, you are bigger and more tired, so it all gets a little harder.

And you are left in a type of purgatory, waiting, not making any plans beyond what you are doing that afternoon. Sign the kids up for camp next week? Forget about it. You might go into labor on the way there. Run down to Reno, an hour away, to get your car fixed? No way, Jose. Don’t feel like standing in a pool of my own amniotic fluid in the middle of a Honda dealership. So we wait.

It’s a strange time, when you pass your due date. Friends and family members stop calling because they don’t want to bug you so instead they text you and send you messages on Facebook, then get tired of doing that and just call you anyways. (For those of you reading, I don’t mind the phone calls! Let’s me know you care. Ahhhh.) If you call someone to say hi, they immediately think you are in labor, like you would be the one calling them. I don’t think so, unless that person doesn’t mind holding a conversation between screams of pain and “Why the fuck did I want to go through this again?!”

It becomes a little challenging to go out in public where you know a lot of people. Friends and acquaintances look at you like “What the hell are you doing here? I don’t feel like delivering your baby in the middle of the farmers market.” Or they give you a look that says, “What??? Still no baby? You are going to be pregnant forever.” In fact, I had three people last week ask me: “Are you pregnant with number four????” No, dipshit. I am still on the same pregnancy – I’m not so crazy as to go for four kids or get knocked up as soon as I pop one out. It takes 9 months, if you remember. Although with comments like those it starts to feel like an elephant’s gestation of 22 months. Can you imagine being pregnant for almost 2 years? All those maternity clothes you would need? Humans would definitely not have more than one kid.

Now five days overdue (sounds like I’m on the same schedule as my kids’ library books), it starts to feel like it will never really happen. I stare at the empty baby swing, the cradle, the changing table stocked with diapers and little, tiny baby clothes, and it’s hard to imagine that a little person we have never met and have no idea what he looks like will soon be taking up real, actual space – outside the womb. Sometimes I feel like I will be pregnant for 22 months.

That would mean I have 13 months left.

Then I really would be the size of an elephant. And that, my friends, would really suck.