Friday, November 12, 2010

(Wild) Life in South Florida - Manatees and Coco-tees

Recently I wrote that there are no rabbits in South Florida and how this pained me so much that when I visit my relatives up north and see a rabbit I nearly lose my mind with excitement. Well, I was set straight. Apparently we do have some rabbits here, called swamp rabbits and they live out in the Everglades where I don't go. I live east by the beach and I have never seen a rabbit here. This may also be due to the fact that I live on a barrier island and rabbits couldn't cross the Intracoastal or hop over drawbridges to get here. Who knows? I don't see a lot of wildlife, save for birds. We have cute burrow owls that remind me of cats. I also see an occasional fox and I've been lucky enough to watch a female loggerhead turtle lay her eggs on the beach. I think we may also get a raccoon or two here and there.

The one thing that I've always wanted to see is a manatee and I never have. I'm desperate to see a manatee. There aren't many of them anymore, which is why I guess I've never seen one, but most of the people I know have been fortunate enough to spot the slow-moving, brown lumps of sea cow in our canals. I must never be in the right place at the right time. 

I've been on a manatee spotting mission since we moved here twenty-one years ago. When I'm at my parents' house on the water I get up every single morning and go look outside to see if there are any floating around in the backyard. Every time I go on a boat ride I keep my eyes peeled for a head or a back surfacing in the wake, but nothing.

What I see instead is a creature more common, though less well known than the elusive manatee. Many people outside of South Florida have never heard of the manatee's non-endangered close relative the Coco-tee, which is often mistaken for the manatee.

Coco-tees are plentiful in South Florida waterways. One can spot large, thriving herds of them drifting in and out with the tides. I see coco-tees almost every day and without fail I always get really excited thinking my day has come and I am seeing a real manatee finally. Then, closer inspection reveals that nope, it's just another common coco-tee again, its brown bobbing husk perfectly imitating the color and shape of the real thing.

I'm not the only one fooled by the coco-tee, which if you haven't figured it out by now, is an old, rotten coconut that fell in the canal. I've seen boatloads of tourists rushing for cameras and binoculars just to get a closer look or a photo of a few coco-tees, only to be disappointed when they realize they've been duped. I know their pain.

I used to get to see real live manatees at EPCOT in the Living Seas, but the last time I went I found that the Living Seas had sadly been transformed into what can only be described as the Over-commercialized Cartoon Ad for Disney Movie Seas. They took all the real animals away and replaced them with holograms, animatronics and cartoons. I was extremely disappointed because that was the only place where I'd ever seen a live manatee. Of course I'd rather see one in its natural habitat instead of captivity, but it was better than nothing.

Years ago, it had been rumored that in the winter manatees gathered in the warm waters by a power plant at Port Everglades and that you could go there to see and feed them. I kept putting it off and not going and then 9/11 happened and access to the port was forever banned, leaving the manatees a now private hot tub in which to bathe away their winters. I don't know of any other exciting manatee meet-ups where I could go to see them. 

In the meantime I'll keep hoping. I'll get up every morning and look and I'll pay close attention when I'm on boats. After twenty-one years the odds have to be in my favor eventually. Those brown bumps can't all be coco-tees.

If anyone knows where I can see some real manatees, please let me know because I'll be there.
Saturday, November 06, 2010

I am Alive and so is My Baby!

I'm just checking in because I know so many of you want an update.

Baby Lawns is here!!

She was born on Tuesday, October 26th at 11:41 am via unplanned C-section, which I will tell those of you who are interested about in time. The baby is perfectly ok and I am healing from the surgery very well. I am shockingly now only 4 lbs away from my pre-pregnancy weight, though my body is still all swollen and weirdly shaped. I'm not worrying about it. Things will go back to normal in a few months.

Baby Lawns is small and sweet. She looks like neither me nor my husband nor a combination of us. She is just herself we suppose, although she has my coloring with future chestnut hair and brown eyes. Everyone compliments her little pointy nose. She is generally quiet and sleepy and does not like to sleep alone, so we have to hold her all the time, but we don't mind. She has had quite a few issues with feeding, but we're working through it. My child is a "weak and ineffective sucker." That means I try to feed her and she falls asleep and won't suck hard enough to get anything into her mouth. We are seeing a lactation consultant and our pediatrician has advised constant breastfeeding. It hasn't been entirely pleasant, but it could be much worse too. I worry incessantly that she is starved and that it's my fault and then I worry that she is going to stop breathing. I hear this is not all that abnormal of me.

But like I said, we're working through it.

The good news is that we got to come home to our own home. It isn't finished yet. We still have some detail work to complete, but it's more than livable and we've been very comfortable and happy in it. I think the baby feels that her home is in our arms so it doesn't matter to her where she is.

We're all still recovering and adjusting. I have some PPD to work through as well, but I'm trying to get used to my new life which is very different from my old life. I find myself wondering if I'll ever be able to cook dinner or clean the house again and I feel like I have hurt my cat's feelings of all things.

On a more positive note, I love not being pregnant anymore. I can pee again! My ankles look normal! I can sleep in all kinds of positions and I don't have 24 hour heartburn and reflux! I got through nine months without a single stretch mark! Yay to all of this! 

Overall, pregnancy wasn't as bad as I'd imagined it to be. I handled it remarkably well after the nausea subsided. My body seemed to be able to be pregnant rather easily. The birth, on the other hand, was worse than I had imagined. Usually things are better than I think they are going to be, but the birth was an exception. I don't want to scare the hell out of anyone so I'll spare excessive details. I'll just say that the induction worked, the contractions were bad, labor didn't progress, the baby would not descend, she went into distress, I had an emergency C-section and it turned out she was stuck and couldn't move down because the cord was around her neck and tangling her up. Luckily the doctor and hospital staff worked very quickly to get her out. In fact, they worked so quickly that I was not fully numbed and could feel a lot of the surgery. Thank God it was fast and by the time they stapled me back together like an art project, I was totally numb. Then I had morphine and itched like a junkie for 24 hours, even with Benadryl. It was definitely interesting. I just wish I hadn't been so drugged because I forgot a lot and I didn't get to see my baby for two hours, but I guess it was unavoidable. What matters is that we're fine now and in the meantime I got to discover the joys of the catheter. Free peeing! It was so great to not have to get up to go to the bathroom all the time. I could have gotten used to that and I was kind of sad when they took it out the next day.

Anyway, I must go pick up my poor sleeping baby. I hope all is well with everyone. I miss you guys.

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