Monday, April 28, 2008

fashion show

Here I am, at 22.5 weeks. Here I'm modeling my current favorite chilly-day outfit, because it's super-soft and does not bind in any way. Top is Old Navy Maternity from Mike's cousin and the pants were a gift from Babelbabe. And oh, how I love those pants.

Can you guess which side of the bed is mine? Hmm, let's see... closest to the bathroom? Check. Stacks of library books? Check. Humidifier and giant bottle of Aveeno hand lotion for the hydrationally-challenged? Double-check. Also, in the blue glass picture frame is not a picture of Mike and I, as you might suspect, but a picture of me squatting next to a giant pig.

I have a thing for animals in general, but I really like pigs.

So when I found out I was having a boy I just had to make a trip to Target to look at all the boy-specific items. As KJ warned, the boys get the short end of the stick when it comes to imaginative outfits. It's all t-shirts that proclaim DADDY'S LITTLE HELLRAISER and LADIES MAN, which I am no more likely to buy than the pink, sparkly girls' onesies that say PRETTY PRINCESS.

Maybe I'm looking something with a more productive, positive message, like GIVE PEAS A CHANCE or LOVE DESERVES EQUAL RIGHTS?

I was also warned repeatedly not to buy a bunch of baby stuff, assuming that we'll be receiving lots of clothing as baby gifts. Heck, what do I mean, "assuming"? I called my mom on her cell phone the other day, expecting her to be at work, and I caught her in the baby department at Belk's. SHE EVEN BOUGHT A CHRISTMAS OUTFIT ON SALE LAST DECEMBER, when I was approximately two minutes pregnant.

So I thought I would just buy one cute little hat with a puppy on the front.

One little hat is okay, right?

And then Bearette send me this hat, which is even better because she made it with her own hands, whereas I just paid the nice man for mine and put it in my purse:

I asked the lion to model so you could get a feel for how it would look on a baby.

And finally, just so Alex doesn't feel left out, here is a picture that is terrible in quality but makes me laugh all the same. Mike and I met my brother and his fiancee for brunch at Evening Star Cafe a couple of weeks ago (they were in town for a wedding) and I just had to stop at the posh dog boutique next door and buy Alex a two-dollar dog treat, much to Mike's horror.

Alex was riveted as soon as he caught a whiff of the bag.

Apparently it tasted as good as it looked.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Dummies and Daycare

I’ve read many things about friends, acquaintances, and strangers and their inconsiderate commentary on the size of pregnant women’s bellies. Most musings are quite unoriginal, from the classic, “Wow! Sure there’s just one in there?” to the lovely, “You’re not due until xyz? You look like you’re about to pop!”

I’d like to say that I’ve been having a similar problem, though at the opposite end of the size spectrum. I’m getting comments of this variety: “You’re how far along? Oh my gosh, you’re so tiny!” “You're due August 26th? I never would have guessed it was that soon!”

At first I tried to reframe these remarks as compliments. They think I look good! They’re saying that I’m looking healthy! But the more I hear them, the more they irk me. I feel the need to justify, to defend. “Well, it’s my first baby.” “Well, this shirt I’m wearing is pretty baggy.” “Well, I’m only 22 weeks… check back in a couple of months.”

For the first time in what has been a surprisingly low-anxiety first pregnancy, I worried that there was something wrong with my baby. Well, some of the people saying these things are medical professionals. What if there’s something wrong?

But then I remind myself that I just had an ultrasound and they said the baby was measuring right on track.

Anyhow, the moral of the story is that pregnant women have enough to worry about. Keep your comments to yourself, please, unless you want to admire the pedicure I gave myself last night, or tell me how brilliant I am.

And to the guy who passes me every day and every day tells me how tired I look: THAT IS NOT HELPFUL, EITHER.

To the guy who stuck out his beer belly and said, “Don’t worry, I’m still bigger than you!”: Okay, you made me laugh.

Despite these things and various other indignities and discomforts, I like being pregnant. I’m amazed that my body is able to do this and that there is a wee boy growing inside me. That still seems a little strange to me. I mean, I’m a woman and therefore I should only be able to produce my own kind, right? What’s up with this alien invasion?

Just kidding. I love him. I can already tell that I’ll miss feeling his kicks after he’s born.

In other news, I think we’ve found a daycare, one that we will likely be using on a PART-TIME basis. Nothing is official, but it looks like my dreams will come true and I will soon find myself sitting atop a giant mountain of fresh pineapple slices, with a pineapple juice slide down the middle! ALL YOU CAN EAT!

Wait, wrong dream.

I found out that I will probably be able to do a job share at work, which was a huge weight off my shoulders. We began investigating part-time daycare options as soon as we found out. This immediately ruled out a lot of the wonderful in-home providers that Mike’s co-workers had recommended, since many of them don’t have the flexibility to offer part-time. I mean, you can use them part-time, but you still have to pay the full-time price. And I understand that.

So we started setting up tours with daycare centers.

The very first one we toured made my heart drop. We made our way to the infant room and it looked like a baby swing factory: six baby swings moving jerkily back and forth, the babies inside staring up at… nothing.

No posters or pictures on the white walls. Nothing on the ceiling. No mobiles on the swings. No visible toys. The air was damp-smelling and I got the distinct impression that the staff had sprung to life only as we entered the room.

I wanted to cry.

I tried to tell myself that it was the thought of leaving my baby in daycare, PERIOD, that was making me feel that way. No place is going to seem good enough, I argued. You need to have an open mind.

But the more I thought about it, the more I knew I was right. It wasn’t the place for us. In fact, it was the epitome of everything I had feared about daycare.

The second place we toured was a completely different experience. As we entered the infant room, the center’s director asked us to either remove our shoes or put on a pair of disposable booties, which immediately made my heart a little warmer (we don’t wear shoes inside at home, either).

The babies in that room were engaged in activities. There were lots of toys, but things looked extremely clean and organized. There were pictures of all the babies and their teachers on the wall, mirrors hung near the floor so they could see their reflections, clouds and rainbows dangling from the ceiling. The staff looked HAPPY to be there and really seemed to love the kids, which is really the most important thing to me, I realized. What worse feeling could there be for a kid than being stuck with an indifferent, even miserable care provider?

When the tour was over, I nearly fainted in relief.

I’m excited. I feel energized and hopeful. It looks like I’ll be able to keep the job I love and still be home 2.5 days each week. Sure, things would be easier financially if I continued to work full-time, but we’re lucky that this dream is workable.

You’ll just have to stop expecting Tiffany jewelry from me for your birthday, is all. Heh.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Am I an aunt or an uncle?!

It's a boy!!!

Mike and I had our second and last ultrasound last week (thank you, Blue Cross Blue Shield) and decided to let ourselves in on the secret. We went to a different place this time, one far less posh but much more friendly. The ultrasound technician actually smiled and cooed over the baby! She explained everything we were seeing on the screen! She printed out 15 pictures for us to take with us!

I would like to invite her to Thanksgiving dinner this year. Would that be weird?

Anyhow, back to the real story. I had a feeling the baby was a boy, but Mike was positive that it was a girl, so I was prepared to be wrong.

"Oh, I can see it!" the ultrasound technician said. "Here are the boy bits!"

"A boy!" I said, and inside I felt, Yes, I knew that. I stared at the screen, mesmerized. "Is this an extreme close-up?"

"No," the tech said, sounding confused. "Why?"

I pointed at the screen. "It looks huge!"

She laughed. "That's his leg, sweetheart."

"Oh, right."

Don't worry, I correctly identified his head and his bum, so at least I'll know which end is up.

It was amazing, all that we could see. The four chambers of his beating heart. His wee bladder filled with amniotic fluid and his mouth working to drink it in. His kidneys, and every bone in hands, feet, and spine. His brain. The twists in the umbilical cord and the blood moving through it.

I saw and felt him kick at the same time, which was definitely the highlight of my day. I've often wondered what he was doing in there, this little Riverdancer of mine.

We saw him lying casually with his legs crossed, as though he were lounging on the beach. He played with the umbilical cord and also seemed to wave at us.

Hello, my adoring public!

He is beautiful.

Afterward we rushed to the car to call the anxious grandparents, aunts, and uncles. The best response was from my brother, after I told him that he was going to have a nephew.

"Wow! A nephew! Wait, so that means... nephew... okay, it's a boy!!"

(Hey, give us a break- this is the first baby on my side of the family. We're all kinda new at this.)

I told my dad that he could go ahead and buy a wee fishing pole and start planning the boating expeditions, and my mom revealed that he had already purchased a bottle of baby shampoo for the guest bathroom.

Yes, this baby is very much wanted and will be welcomed into the world by a loving family. I'm planning to write more about that in another post.

Welcome to the nuthouse, little guy.

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Monday, April 14, 2008


The very first time I felt it, I was 14 weeks along. A bout of insomnia and hunger had driven me from bed at 1 a.m., and I found myself curled up in the armchair with the remote and a leftover egg roll. Suddenly, I stopped chewing and muted the television. It was so slight that I easily could have missed it, but there it was: a very faint knocking inside my belly. I waited, holding my breath.


“Hello?” I said uncertainly.


“Is that you, baby?”

By my 15-week appointment it was a frequent sensation of large bubbles popping.

“I’ve been feeling the baby!” I said to the midwife, who smiled. She acknowledged that it wasn’t impossible, but that many women couldn’t feel it so early. I was certain, though. This time, when it took a couple of minutes to find the baby’s heartbeat with the Doppler, my own heart beat slowly and steadily.

By 20+ weeks the movement has become the unmistakable wriggling of a baby. There are jabs and stretches and the very strange sensation of full body rolls, when if I didn’t know better, I’d swear someone was stirring my insides with a wooden spoon.

Initially it felt somewhat wrong, that movement inside. Like an eye twitch. Like my internal organs were being unruly. My instinct was to press down on my belly and quiet that unaccustomed sensation.

Now I wait for it. I sit quietly and will the baby to say hello. During meetings and traffic jams and mundane everyday activities, I am amazed at what no one else can see. Holy cow, do you realize that my baby is turning somersaults? I have a baby in here!

In the evenings I usually curl up on the love seat, the dog curling up against my stomach. Though my belly pushes him closer and closer to the edge of the cushions with each passing week, Alex manages to hold his ground. The baby gets very excited when we lie together, and pokes at the area where Alex's glossy black fur meets my skin.

Who knows why? Perhaps the baby senses the dog’s proximity, or merely his body heat. Maybe the baby feels my own rush of pleasure as I bury my face in Alex’s fur. But I like to imagine that the baby is already an animal lover and is trying to touch Alex while in utero. (go ahead and laugh if you want, but I’ll keep thinking it anyhow.)

As I try to think of a good way to end this post, the baby is awake and kicking once more. Is it trite to write about something that happens to thousands of people every day as though you are the first person to experience it?

Who cares. It’s freaking amazing.


Friday, April 11, 2008

Signs that you might be a librarian

1) When you watch Top Chef, you keep your Food Lover’s Companion nearby so you can look up any unfamiliar culinary terms.

2) It kind of bothers you that you only own the 3rd edition of the Food Lover's Companion, because you happen to know that the 4th edition has even more entries (6,700, to be exact).

3) You cringe when you see students using Wikipedia

4) You label many things, including your glass jar of lentils. As if they could be anything other than lentils.

5) You can’t remember whether the venerable Ma forced Laura to wear pink hair ribbons or red, so you find yourself flipping to the back of Little House on the Prairie book to look up ‘ribbons’ in the non-existent index.

6) You have your own reference section at home.

7) You may not use some of those reference books very often, but just knowing they’re on the shelf is extremely comforting.

8) When you hear people asking for something at the Borders information desk, you kind of want to butt in.

9) You enjoy the look of surprise that flits over people’s faces when you tell them what you do.

10) When your father asks you to help him find some articles on a topic, you ask if he wants to limit his query to peer-reviewed publications.

11) When someone says, “I wonder…”, you are filled with an overwhelming need to find the answer as soon as possible.

12) You always make it a point to tour the library in any town you visit.

13) You briefly considered naming your unborn child after the heroine in your favorite book.

14) When you hear someone ask for the location of the nearest bathroom, you automatically answer, whether they were talking to you or not.

15) You kind of want to go back and alphabetize this list.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Surprising side effects of pregnancy, continued

I'd heard that thick, lustrous hair was a pregnancy perk, and it's one that I really hoped to enjoy. I have nice hair. It's not that I hate it, or anything. But we humans always seem to want what we don't have, and this is why as a girl I fantasized about having black, curly hair, instead of my perfectly nice head of straight, dark blonde.

According to my hair stylist, my hair is thick but very fine. This is probably why I was a miserable failure during the Big Hair trend. Half an inch off my head was the most my poor, weak bangs could muster. And if it was humid? Oh god, not even the biggest can of Aqua Net Super Hold could save them.

So, I thought, yes! If I grow more hair, that will be excellent. My hair will look thicker. Maybe I can get a perm! One that will last more than a week!

My fantasy was that at some point in my pregnancy, the magic combination of hormones would be achieved and I would transform overnight into a Breck Shampoo girl.

Instead? I got this:

"Look!" I exclaimed to my hair stylist last week, pointing to my head. "I've got these little... sprouts growing everywhere!"

My assumption was that my hair was too dry and breaking off, even though I use a high-quality moisturizing shampo in the winter and don't blow-dry very often.

Nah, said my hair stylist. Those are your baby hairs. She lifted my top layer to reveal my forehead, and pointed out how my hairline was filling in.

"But I'll warn you," she said. "It will all fall out at some point."

So I am quietly urging the sprouts to grow, grow, grow into Breck fabulousness. In the meantime, just call me Alfalfa.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Redd Foxx would approve

Ahhh…. allergy season is upon me, except this spring I can’t indulge in my wide array of pills, drops, and sprays due to the mini human that has taken up residence in my womb. Thankfully, I’ve been informed that if my allergy-induced asthma kicks in, it is safe to use my inhaler. No need to perish on the sidewalk!

You’d better believe that we’ll be keeping the windows closed (as much as that kills me) and I will be abstaining from walks outside, effective immediately.

The Neti pot has been working pretty well. It’s a strange feeling, that water running through your sinuses… kind of like jumping off the high-dive as a kid and feeling that sharp tingling from the rush of water. And huh… I really did not know that I was storing all that gunk up in there. Gross? Is that the word I’m looking for?

Yeah, gross.

Also gross was the way I didn’t allow the saline solution to fully drain the first time. A full thirty minutes after using the Neti pot I was bending over the dog, brushing his teeth, when suddenly a trickle of clear liquid flowed from my nose onto his head. He was mildly alarmed. I apologized profusely for drenching him in my sinus water and gave him an extra Buddy Biscuit for his trouble.

(but hey- the water was clear! VICTORY!)

I have since learned from watching this video that a routine of mild calisthenics is a valuable part of completing the sinus cleansing ritual. There were no modifications for pregnant women, though, so I will probably stick to vigorously shaking my head and snorting over the sink, then walking around for the rest of the day with Kleenex jammed up my nostrils.

In other news, I’m pretty sure that the universe is telling us that we should buy my husband a new car. After numerous repairs and maintenance jobs, his indoor driver-side door handle cracked. He told me that it still worked okay, as long as you were gentle and supported the base of the handle with your other hand as you opened the door.

Fast forward to a week later when he and I switched cars for the day. I was in my typical rush to get to work. After loading everything into the car and shutting the door, I realized that I’d left my purse inside. I yanked the door handle and suddenly found myself holding it at eye level, as it was no longer attached to the car.

YES, it occurred to me that I could crawl over to the passenger side door and escape that way, but Mike’s car has bucket seats and I had a load of crap next to me and I’m not as spry as I was a few months ago.

It did NOT occur to me to turn the car on and roll down the automatic window. So I honked the horn until Mike came out.

“HELP!” I mouthed, waving the handle at him. (sadly, I’d missed my opportunity to scrawl SOS on the window with my lipstick. Is that what a damsel in distress is supposed to do?)

Mike came down and released me from the car, then worked on trying to jerry-rig the door handle. I called into work to leave a message for my boss.

“Uh, I’m not quite sure how to say this, but I’m probably going to be late because our car’s door handle fell off? Yeah. But… if we can’t fix it pretty soon, I’ll just slide in and out through the window, Dukes of Hazard style.”

I hung up and walked back over to Mike, who was shaking his head. I hummed the theme music from Sanford and Son.

“Maybe we should put a big load of furniture and trash in the back seat,” I suggested eventually. “Then the missing door handle will blend in.”

(I can get away with saying things like this in situations like this because my husband is very patient and I am pregnant. For the rest of you: do not try this at home.)

Mike called around and found out that it would cost in the neighborhood of 150 - 200 dollars to get the handle replaced. So he went out and bought a tube of Krazy Glue for $1.50 and glued the old handle back on.

(the Sanford and Son music is getting louder!)

Yesterday Mike was driving to work and a lawn mower on the median kicked up a big rock, making a beautiful, spider web-like crack in one of the car's back windows. He told me he would duct-tape it until he can get it repaired in a few days for $200.

This morning someone walked past the house as we were standing on the driveway, looking at the car. I was barefoot, of course. And pregnant. The passer-by looked like he was wondering if he should give us his spare change.

The upside? No one wants to carjack us. I might drive around some rough neighborhoods tonight, just for fun.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Laura, your grapefruit is just utterly too-too!*

I just ate the most delicious grapefruit known to man. Just had to let you know.

In other news, the baby kicked me awake this morning. I sternly told the fetus that such behavior is completely inappropriate in early morning and sent him/her to time-out over near my left ribcage. However, it couldn't truly think about what it had done, since its brain isn't fully developed yet. So I waited until it had quieted down and then I rewarded it with a prenatal vitamin.

Hey, it works on the dog.