At Home and Away

Jul. 22 - Molli is 19 days old today. I don't need a calendar to determine her age. I don't even need to count the days. I just take the number of photos in my "Molli" folder and divide by 1000.

She's still living it up at Hvidovre. For the past three nights Trine and I have managed to smuggle her into "the little parents' room" (den lille forældresstue) for a few hours, where we can have something like private family time. (Note to Hvidovre management: tall parents are people, too.) Trine's been at the hospital all day, so I bring a dinner from home. We feed Molli—okay, Trine feeds Molli and I burp her—then set her in her mobile crib and enjoy our own dinner while she squirms and squeaks and digests alongside us. It's a very homey atmosphere, especially considering we're in the middle of a giant hospital.

Every evening it's just a little harder to come home. We don't leave until she's sound asleep, but she seems to have developed some sort of parental departure sensory apparatus that allows her to flutter her eyes and wriggle adorably just as we're about to take our leave. We stand over her crib staring down at her, our hearts melting. (We don't dare kiss her goodnight at this point, because experience has taught us that that triggers her parental departure alarm, a fearful thing to be reckoned with.)

We get home at 9, or 9:30, or 10, lonelier and lonelier each night.

"It's all for the best," we tell one another. "The hospital's going to help her get big and strong faster than we could at home." And we're right, and we know it. But it doesn't do a goddam bit of good.

She weighed in at 5.4 pounds Tuesday (2445g, if that's any help), and is almost surely past the five-and-a-half pound mark by now. She's a centimeter longer than she was at birth (she's gone from 18.8 to 19.2 inches). She's getting almost half of her meals from her mother. She's not connected to any machines or monitors. The only thing the hospital is doing that we couldn't is compensating for her eating shortfalls by feeding her through a tube down her nose. And giving her regular pediatric checkups, most of which sound something like this: "She's doing great! What a beauty! Good for her!" She can handle bright lights, now, without squinting in horror and throwing her arms up over her face (unless she's trying to sleep—in which case she's not much different from me).

Her strength is astonishing. Last night as I was changing her diaper I noticed she'd actually got her hand on the stuffed ladybug that's been beside her since the moment of her birth. The thing's almost the size of her head.

"Cute," I thought. Then I remembered that the ladybug had been placed further away from her and realized she'd reached out, grabbed it, and dragged it down toward her face.

"Impressive," I thought, and I yanked the toy out of her hand to get it away from her face—didn't want her chewing on the thing and choking on synthetic fibers. At least, I tried to yank it away from her. Her grip was too tight.

"Let go," I said, and she burbled happily to the couch, or maybe one of the light fixtures, while tightening her grip.

"I'm proud of your strength," I said. "And I'm glad you like your ladybug. Now let go."

More glossalalial burbling—and a sudden geyser of pee by way of reminder that I was supposed to be changing her diaper, not fighting over a toy.

I returned my attention to her southern flank, changed the diaper, bundled her up, and snatched the ladybug out of her hand. She hardly seemed to notice, but I noticed something funny about her hand as she moved it toward her mouth: it seemed fuzzier than usual. I grabbed it and pried her clenched fingers open to discover a handfull of puffy white ladybug fur. (The ladybug in question is mostly covered in short red and black fur, according to the usual ladybug design, but has for some reason been endowed with a fluffy white mane.) That's strong.

And all of this pointless meandering has been my way of saying that Molli is doing extraordinarily well, and that our problem is no longer so much one of worrying for her, but one of missing her.

It's also been my way of getting in one last Molli love-fest before I resume my usual blogging and almanackal duties. Because I do want to resume. I need to resume. Molli is the center of my universe right now, but she's not the center of your universe, and although I'm writing this as me, I'm writing it for you. Know your audience, as Aristotle said, and try not to piss them off. (Suggesting that maybe Linda Ronstadt needs to brush up on her classics.)

See? I tied in Aristotle, current events, and pop culture in a couple of throwaway lines. I'm on the road to recovery at last! And, as Candide and the excellent Dr. Pangloss would surely agree, this must be the best of all possible roads!


Today is King Sobhuza II's Birthday in Swaziland. (I award myself fifty points for Astonishing Inelegance of Transition.)

At the time of his death in 1982, King Sobhuza II was the longest-reigning monarch in the world. His death established him as the most recently-deceased monarch in the world. Today he is simply dead.

Sobhuza began his career as Paramount Chief of the Swazi in 1921, but was not recognized as king by Great Britain, which ran the nation as a protectorate, until 1967. (The forgetful Brits have a long history of failing to recognize kings, perhaps owing to the difficulty of seeing clearly in the London fog.)

The Brits wrote a Constitution before they left, but Sobhuza did not discover it until 1973, at which point he discarded it on the grounds of its being British. Five years later he implemented a better Constitution that, surprisingly enough, left all political power in his own hands.

He died in 1982. The Constitution declared that he should be succeeded by one of his children, which seemed simple at first but was complicated by the revelation of his having had over 600 children. (Apparently there had been room in his hands for more than political power.) It took four years to find the right son, and King Mswati III has reigned ever since.

Sharing the king's birthday are Albert Brooks (1947), Danny Glover (1947), Alex Trebek (1940), Louise Fletcher (1934), Orson Bean (1928), Bob Dole (1923), and Rose Kennedy (1890).

It's National Liberation Day in Poland.

© 2004, The Moron's Almanac™

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