Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Everyone loves a car wreck

This morning I gasped awake and threw off my pink eye mask, which clashed with my flannel red santa dog pajamas and realized I had forgotten to wake up.  "You're supposed to remind me!" I told Sweet Pea who usually wakes me up with kicks if I try to sleep in.  She probably just shrugged. Or sucked her thumb.  Hopefully she's not rolling her eyes yet.
I felt like a wreck this morning.  I had overslept an hour and the dress I picked out needed to be safety pinned to avoid too much cleavage.  I peeled it off and tried another one.  This one would work if I wasn't required to move throughout the day because my growing belly was stretching it as far as it would go.  Frantically I was ironing a green sweater, trying to calculate what skirt I could still put on--but my mind was still muddled with sleep and weird pregnancy dreams.  Where was my belly band? Why did I dream I worked at Reckless Records last night?  Then it occurred to me- I'll wear the dress my mother in law got me for Christmas.  I'd kept the tags on it, because it's more for spring/summer. 
Somehow I managed to get outside clothed and carrying a purse.  But- oh good, yes, also wearing shoes.  Hot pink adidas with holes in them, but they are still shoes by most standards.  But where was I going? bus? train? cab? I walked in one direction past Danny's coworker who lives across the street and brings her dog over to poop in front of our apartment.  (I take it as an insult, but maybe that's pregnant paranoia).  Then change my mind and walk in the other direction, waving at the coworker and her insulting poop dog again.  I try to get into a cab for a few minutes before I realize the cab driver in his thick accent is telling me no, he's waiting for someone who called him.  "Oh." I murmur in a dreamy haze and catch another one.
In the cab ride, my baby alarm clock goes off. (A few kicks).  "A little late" I tell her.  I'm going to be a half hour late.  So I decide I might as well get a ham and cheese omelet and a croissant.  Hey, if I'm going to be late, I might as well smell like American cheese.
I'm reading this book right now by Anne Lamott about the first year her only son was born.  It's excellent, and the section I'm in now is all about how she feels like a total mess.  Part of me feels consoled, that I feel like a mess, but maybe it's okay because she did too.  Then part of me feels dumb because she feels like a mess after she's a single mom with a newborn.  I'm already a wreck and my baby's neatly folded inside me still, very low maintenance other than the ocasional demanding for ice cream or croutons.  How bad will I be when she's out here crying and pooping everywhere? 
In the cab ride I feel less like myself as I hear the radio.  People dying in Syria, people being interviewed on the street saying they had to overdraw their bank account to get gas to go to work, people saying they were going to vote for Santorum or "Mick" Romney.
But guess what? One coworker wasn't even here when I got to work! And he's not even pregnant so he's got less of an excuse.  So I sit at my desk, ham and cheese leaking out of the corners of my mouth, my curly hair frizzing in all directions as if trying to escape, and people keep telling me I look cute in this dress. I feel like I'm fooling them. And for that I think I deserve some M n Ms.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine’s Day Baby!
It’s kind of a dumb holiday, made up by a corporation to make money, but at least it’s kind of about love and hearts, and if nothing else, the color pink, which is usually good.  Plus its February and most of us are kind of grouchy because its still cold outside and we’re sick of it.  But all that is beside the point.
I just want to tell you that I can already tell I’m going to think you’re the most amazing person since Jesus and Danny Prescott.  (yeah, it's weird putting someone next to Jesus, but those just happen to be my other two favorites, so i'm keeping that sentence).  I can already tell I’m biased and don’t care.  And in a lot of ways I have no idea how amazing you are.  That’s the crazy thing.  I aint seen nothing yet.  So you should know you are always loved.  And not even just by me.  That’s the more crazy part.  There’s at least 50 people out here waving at my stomach ready to throw you a welcome party.  Grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins even strangers smile at the bump you’re making on my belly.  I’ll try to make them stay in a somewhat orderly line when you come out so you’re not overwhelmed.  But I might be pretty tired at that point so I can’t guarantee.  You know who else loves you? Someone/thing bigger than any of us put together.   When I was worried because the dr. couldn’t find you in the very first ultra sound, or when it seemed to take years to find your heart beat with that Doppler thingy, or when in the middle of the night I’d have these crazy fears attacking me, I just think about how much God loves you and claims you already and feel peace. 
The other important thing I want to tell you is that this world can be kind of icky.  Icky in all kinds of ways.  One of the icky things it does is try to force you to be ‘normal’.  I want you to always know that I’m going to fight my own habit of placing expectations on you the way the world does.  Expecting you to be a certain way because you’re (probably) a female for example.  As much as I am relieved when your ultra sounds come back ‘normal’ and our blood tests come back ‘normal’, I hope you can find the strength and resilience enough to be as weird as you were born to be.  Be yourself, love others and try to break the mold. I think by forcing yourself to not conform whenever you can will really help the world, take some of this ickiness out.  So I’m going to try to help support you when you do.  I am not going to judge you if you don’t want to wear dresses, or if you never want to get married, if you want to fall in love with someone of the same sex.   (If you end up voting for people like Santorum though, I’m going to spank you.  Or make fun of you.  It’s a parenting technique I learned from one of your amazing Grandmas that unfortunately is no longer here with us in this world to make fun of all of us.  Well, maybe she's making fun of us in spirit-- I like to this so.) So no matter who you want to give a Valentine’s Day card to in the years ahead, as long as they respect and treat you as wonderful as you deserve, I support it. 
For now, though, you have just two Valentines- mommy and daddy. Happy V day little one!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Congratulations! It's (probably) a Girl!

Danny and I had been so excited for this day.  “I don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep! It’s like Christmas!” He exclaimed the night before.  Today was the day we would get to see our baby!  The most important part of the 20 week ultrasound was to make sure the baby is developing, of course.  But we had diminished down the purpose as the day we find out the sex. This also happens to be one of the most popular questions asked of us when they find out we’re expecting.  And the next step after people asking is them giving us their predictions.  Some look at how I’m “carrying”, some try to delve into the genealogical past of Danny’s side of the family (since the male determines sex).  But the best predictions so far have been the following:
Aedan (my nephew) predicted: It’s a boy, and when they look on the tv thing, he’s going to be jamming out to a guitar. 
Alex (nephew) predicted: It’s a boy, and he LOVES Elvis!
Violet (niece): It’s a girl! And she is wearing a shirt with a pink bunny on it that is also wearing a shirt that says ‘I love grandma’.
In the aftermath of these predictions, my friends have tried to offer theirs.  My friend Bethanny was certain that whatever the sex, the baby would definitely be doing the Running Man.
And now the day was here.  Danny dressed up, looking so handsome in a tie. Because “first impressions are important”.  We went to work for a few hours and tried to pretend that we cared.  Then we went to the hospital.  When we entered, the music playing seemed to communicate “Remain calm.  Everything is okay.” Similar to the music of Mindhead in the Eddie Murphy movie Bowfinger.  Serene flutes and chimes floated across the lobby.  And an elderly man in a wheelchair was shouting, “Are you there? Are you there??” to his neglecting caregiver who was rolling her eyes on her cell phone.
We got to the floor where ultrasounds and radiology xrays took place and took a seat. Danny nervously chatted about the Kurt Vonnegut book he was reading and I stared off, listening to the music, thinking A few months and I’ll be right here at this hospital to deliver this baby.
When they called our number, it was probably comical how quickly we jumped up and ran toward the technician.  The bright young woman told us her name but I couldn’t hear it.  We followed her to the room and I laid on the table and promised her I would try my very best not to urinate on her, considering they’d asked me to drink 32 ounces of liquid an hour prior and not use the rest room.   She laughed and said she’d take a look and then I could go to the bathroom before she did the rest of the scan.
As soon as the screen showed the image of the baby, I can't begin to describe my amazement.  There he/she was.  Moving constantly! Opening her mouth, sticking out her tongue, she looked like she was talking to someone in there.  Moving her tiny hands, and then she brought one hand up to her mouth and sucked her thumb, keeping her fingers in the shape of an L.  I stared in utter astonishment.  I had never been a thumbsucker and either had my sister.  We hadn’t even been pacifier babies.  Who are you? I stared in wonder and amazement, reminded that this little one was a part of us but yet a whole new person being formed in front of our eyes.  We watched as the technician showed us his/her head, brain, the technician measured the baby’s very round abdomen, thighs, legs.  And then she apologized.  “Sorry, I know you guys want to see the gender, but her legs are crossed and I am hoping she moves.”  She said.  Oh right, the gender. Honestly, staring at the tiny life I’d forgotten about the gender.  It suddenly didn’t really seem to matter as much. But when she examined the underside of the baby’s legs, they were still crossed.  The baby was laying with her ankles crossed, one hand up above her head, the other down by her side, as if soaking up some sun, or stretching in her sleep. 
“I’m pretty sure it’s a girl.” The technician told us.  She let me use the rest room and said maybe the baby would uncross her legs in that time and we could take a second look.  In the bathroom  I thought I should try to sing to her.  Since I found out the baby can hear my voice I’ve been singing every chance I get.  Maybe if I sang, the baby would move and uncross it’s legs! I searched my mental jukebox frantically, trying to think of a song.  Of course my mind was blank.  Desperately I started humming the first song that came to my mind: Jessica Simpson’s cover of the John Cougar Mellencamp hit from 1999.  Oh the humanity.  We’re fortunate the baby decided to stick around and not crawl out in escape from the horror.
Back at the table, the technician still couldn’t get baby P to open up and show us the goods.  “I’m still pretty sure it’s a girl.” She was still sticking to her story, but if we could just get her to move we could be more sure.  She started pushing a little with the wand to get the baby to move.  And suddenly the screen changed.  “Did she just scoot away??” I don’t know why, but the thought of the baby saying “Hmph! I never!” and picking up her bunny T shirt in one hand and guitar in the other and scooting off camera was very plausible in that moment.  “Yeah” the technician smiled. 
After all those measurements, the technician couldn’t tell us what the verdict was on how “normal” everything was.  We’ll visit the doctor next week on the results.  But the technician could tell us that the due date was changed.  I’m farther along than we thought.  I’m 20 weeks instead of 19.  The baby is not the size of a mango, but a SMALL CANTALOUPE!
My dad’s a very non reactionary guy.  So as I told him about the ultrasound he just quietly listened.  But when I got to the size of the produce it was like I was breaking it into the language he understood—the size of healthy food.  “CANTALOUPE?!!” he exclaimed in a rare show of emotion.  ‘Yeah, small cantaloupe.” I conceded.  “oh, small cantaloupe.” his tone went back to neutral.
So far our friends have had multiple reactions to the ultrasound stories.  Our nephews and niece fell into argument and disarray at the news.  Violet, setting aside the T-shirt prediction, seems to be 'probably' correct to her brothers dismay.  My friend Christina laughed, 'pretty sure?' she asked, 'oh, you're on the HMO, aren't you?'.  And my friend Cam thinks our baby might dance like a white guy 'feet planted and everything else moving'.  I guess the way she dances, just like all the other fun stuff-- how she'll laugh, if she'll like fixing things, running track or reading comics-- will all be revealed in time.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Defending My Meatballs

So 19 weeks into the pregnancy (well, 18 weeks and 6 days) I realize I should probably be writing some of this stuff down.  How I found out I was pregnant in the 1st bathroom stall of my work and wanted to run up and down the cubicle aisles holding up the stick I peed on triumphantly.  (I didn’t).  How my already wacky dreams have now starred even more obscure celebrities, gotten more vivid, more meaningful.   How I cry at Ronald McDonald commercials and touching moments in movies from the Sy-Fy channel.  The day I felt the first flutter of life in my belly (and ever day since—wow this kid is going to be hyper).  How every week brings on new physical adventures, and every day someone gives me more advice or an unprovoked labor horror story.  Instead, I’ll start with something petty…
Am I paranoid or did that coworker just insinuate that I’m fat?  There are many reported emotional effects of pregnancy.  One may very well be paranoia.  So it could be possible that I’m just being paranoid when I hear an underlying message behind the question “So since you’ve been pregnant have your eating habits changed?” Looking down at my spaghetti and meatballs I’m about to heat up on my lunch break I just answer weakly “I’m not on a diet anymore.” The spaghetti is whole wheat! I tell myself.  And then I realize I’m fighting all kinds of weird feelings.  Guilt- The baby doesn’t need saturated fat from these homemade meatballs, Defensiveness- She didn’t see me eat that huge green salad with a skimpy amount of low fat dressing, Fear- Am I doing this wrong?? Should I not look like this? Am I abnormally large?? And then an overall revelation.  That pregnancy means so many things, the least of which is a continued wrestling with my body image.  Apparently the pressure of our culture to make women want to look like super models doesn’t just go away when you get pregnant.
I’ve just spent the past few years of my 20s trying to squeeze into a size 6 jean size then learning to accept—no LOVE myself when I’m squeezing into a size 12.  So now I get to wear pants with elastic waists! I get to pat my belly and think of it as an accomplishment- I’m not fat, I’m fertile!  Yet when the (same) coworker says with a (fake?) tone of admiration “Wow, are you having twins? You’re so big! How far ARE you?” My joy falters for a second.  And this is embarrassing.  Do I want my sweet potato-(every week the baby is the size of a different fruit) going-on-mango to know I wrestled with such an insignificant issue at the brink of the most significant event of our lives?  Also, would I want to teach him or her that this even deserves a blog entry?
I’m learning how to balance.  Because I know this is only the beginning.  I’m just starting to show and already learning how to handle people’s comments.  How not to stress when my doctor tells me to slow down my weight gain one month then tell me I haven’t gained any weight the next.  How not to be tempted to feel shame.  How not to defend my meatballs.