Monday, June 6, 2011


In this magical age of technologically-enhanced knowledge saturation, it's rare for me to ever feel like I don't - or can't - know something. If I forget the name of that guy playing the diner owner on "Bones" who just, maybe, possibly, might have been a beloved side character on "The X-Files" that one time back in 1998, I can easily look him up and smugly reassure myself of my television knowledge. "My" knowledge, really, is whatever I feel I can access in some way. Sure, there are times when I'm not anywhere near a computer, or my phone has no reception, so I do often need to rely on my brainmeats to get me through, but thankfully they too have been powerfully enriched by the crazy access to information we all have available.

Anyone who has ever mentioned the word "baby" (as in "love you too, baby!") or "pregnant" (as in "I was pregnant with remorse") in an email, on Facebook, on a blog comment, or basically anywhere else on the internet has very likely been accosted by ads for sites relating to babies and pregnancy. No joke: try sending an email to someone - anyone, really - in which you mention anything even tangentially related to the birth process and its results. Perhaps you might write the following:

Dear Mama,
I am thrilled that you labored for so long to make me the delightful cookies. It's like you birth these amazing little gifts from god out of nothing but flour and butter! I hope to see you on my birthday, when all our family can experience the miracle of your baking. Don't forget to bring Auntie Pitocin's pain relief pills!
Your baby

Try it. I dare you. Even if you don't, the internet will still do everything in its power to fill your brain with baby information both accurate and nonsensical. Anyone with a predilection for information-gathering is likely to encounter this type of material pretty much regardless of whether you are seeking it, so someone actually trying to use the internet to learn real information about pregnancy has few to no challenges ahead.

The stumbling block comes when you have a specific question and need a specific, accurate answer. It seems like virtually everyone who writes anything about pregnancy in particular, and babies in general, is convinced that the answer to every question one could possibly ask is "that is going to kill your baby." Nail polish? Totally going to kill your baby. Fish? Birth defects ahoy! Staring too long at a lamp? Probably one of the leading causes of birth defects. Alcohol in ANY quantity? That's going to kill your baby, you, and probably your entire extended family. Some things, like doing lines of coke or trying to teach yourself tattooing on your pregnant belly, are worth avoiding, but most things actually won't cause real damage. I'm surely not making friends by taking this position, but oh, internet...why do you be so paranoid?

I only really learned to appreciate the glory and wonder of instant knowledge gratification while in college. Part of this (and here I date myself a little) is due to the fact that the internet was not a fully-utilized or understood academic resource while I was in high school; as soon as I arrived at college, everyone else seemed suddenly aware of, well, everything. I quickly dove onto the world wide web and began to explore. The first time I noticed that some of the information housed therein was a little sketchy was when I tried to research the icky side effects I was having due to a new prescription. According to the internet, I probably had a fatal infection. I was advised to seek immediate medical assistance, set my affairs in order, and calmly await my maker. Obviously, I survived, and just changed my medication to alleviate the seemingly incapacitating symptoms.

This experience, which somewhat soured my first semester of college, gave me a very cautious sensibility for internet-sourced information. I've been doing my homework on babies, pregnancy, etc... and you know what? For information about anything even tangentially medical, the internet sucks. I'm keeping an eye on mega-sites like The Bump for such humorous thread as "When do I tell people I'm pregnant?" (er...maybe you should save a decision like that for NOT a massive public forum partially populated with people who worry about getting pregnant from having sex - while pregnant - and instead consult your partner and brain). I'm taking it back into the world of books: at least I can know, for sure, before I even open the cover, that an author is either aligned with my philosophy of non-terror, or alternately trying to convince me to give my child a fear of needles before they even finish growing toes. Batman, check your sources, know your authors, and don't trust anything that even vaguely resembles a message board.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

It's not a hiatus, it's just the end of the school year.

Good lord. Is there any way to make the last month of a middle school year any easier? I have a few ideas, but most of them would get me fired...or kicked out of my apartment...or possibly any case, the last month of school for seventh graders and their teachers goes a little something like this:

Teacher: "Good morning, guys! Let's do something ridiculously fun and easy, okay?"
Student #1: "-grunts-"
Student #2: "Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy? It's almost suuuuumerrrrrrr."
Student #3: "DidyouseewhatIjustdidinthehallwayitwasSOOOOOfunnyOMGIamlikesohypertoday!"
Teacher: "Uhm, like I said, this is going to be ridiculously fun and easy. I know it's all we can handle, and it's nothing crazy, so just bear with me, okay?"
Student #4: "Can I tell you about what my cat did last night?"
Teacher: "Maybe after class, but for now..."
Student #4: "My cat is SO FUNNY..."
Student #1: "-grunts- Can I go to the bathroom?"
Teacher: "Uhm, sure, just..."
Student #2: "Awwwwwwww! Why does HE get to go to the bathrooooom? I wanted to goooooo."
Teacher: "You CAN go, just sign out and..."
Student #3: "Isawthisguyinthehallandhewasgoingtothebathroombuthedidn'thaveapassandyoushouldcalltheoffice!"
Student #4: "When my cat goes to the bathroom, it's SO FUNNY!"
Teacher: *collapses in a pile of disappointment, overwhelm, and resignation*

This is how I spend six hours of my days right now. It's like the third week of May magically released some catalytic gas that just shorted out the fuses in every kid's brain, and they are just-barely-working machines whose only functions are to whine, ramble, consume sugar, share irrelevant personal stories, and glare judgmentally when asked to do anything else.

Suffice to say, I've needed to take a break from blogging. I'll start to be back as soon as the madness starts to slow down, although the week after school ends is our wedding (holy crap), so it might be a weensy bit longer than that. I'll be back ASAP, I promise!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Om nom nom....oh no.

In the last two weeks, I've developed a whole new relationship with food. I don't seem to be having the typical morning sickness that tortures so many women: I'm not so crippled with nausea that being near food is a disaster, I'm not vomiting uncontrollably if I happen to catch a whiff, and I can comfortably put and keep food down. I am, however, really iffy on the idea of eating. In the mornings, eating settles my stomach, but it feels like I'm prolonging the inevitable. In the evenings, however, pretty much everything unsettles my stomach just enough to make me kind of dubious before I eat. I imagine it's how professional skiers feel before attempting a tricky jump: "This could be awesome, or I could end in a bloody, crumpled pile, but in any case, it's going to be amazing for at least few seconds and there will absolutely be pain."

So far, any other unpleasant symptoms (which have thankfully been few) pale in comparison to the psychological side of things. I'm growing paranoid about eating the right food and avoiding scary stuff so that you can grow healthy and strong (and without flippers), but I'm in this really weird position of wanting to avoid putting on weight yet because - oh, right - we're getting married in three weeks. Yes. This is shallow. It's not quite "give me a tummy tuck so I don't need to put effort into losing weight naturally after birth" shallow, but on my personal spectrum, it feels nearly as bad. I feel like a total douchebag for not wanting to eat those required many cups of whole grains every day because they go straight to my ass, and I don't mean in the healthy digestive way, I mean in the "why don't my underwear fit anymore? I thought these bastards were elastic!" way.

As one may recall from my earlier post on the glories and joys of bacon, food is pretty important to me. After a rough day of work, basically nothing helps me decompress like cooking something complicated. Even a not-so-rough day seems to end better when I've spent upwards of an hour concocting something schmanzy. I know a lot of this is because cooking with my dad was such a treat for me growing up. It wasn't even a rare occurrence; we cooked together most nights of the week, and for literally every special occasion we hosted at home. Still, that quality time with my father made food - and eating it - a truly powerful and beautiful element of life.

I've spent the last few years working out an eating plan healthier than my college habits, which admittedly were not nearly as awful as most undergrads'. Now, instead of eating a paper cup filled with sausage links for breakfast (not proud of that) and four or five cups of coffee, I do a granola bar and single cup of coffee. Midmorning, instead of cheese fries or a bag of something (anything), a cup of plain yogurt with fruit. Instead of lunch being a monstrosity of a sandwich with two meats and basically every spread or garnish the on-campus cafe had to offer, I eat a big salad with grilled chicken, crumbled cheese, and homemade dressing. Dinner was always one of the better meals of the day, usually consisting of whatever meat looked least dubious in the dining hall and a pile of veggies (which is actually pretty close to what I do now, except that our meat options are basically never dubious), but now I forgo the meal that I lovingly titled "inevitability." Inevitability was the extra meal that inevitably took place some time after 8:00PM and before sleep, whenever that was. Now, I basically don't eat after 8:00PM at all, rather than hopping out the door just before midnight to grab something crazy unhealthy at the 24-hour diner. All of the "now"s in this paragraph, however, referred to two weeks prior to the "now" that is right this second. I've learned to love quality food, not just food that is delicious because it's deep fried and often covered in bacon and cheese..then served with an adult beverage.

NOW, as in "while I sit here writing this," things are a bit different. Food - whether eating it, preparing it, shopping for it, or basically anything that involves me and edible substances - has become an unpleasant chore akin to scrubbing the dusty grime that somehow accumulates behind the toilet. Someone has to do it, because not doing it is completely unacceptable for health, social, and ethical reasons, but I sure as hell don't want to.

Batman, this sucks! I totally don't blame you, but geez, I will be so excited to move past the "nothing appeals to me, even in the least" stage of things to some kind of unrestrained cravings. I'm actually pretty excited to discover what I end up wanting: some people stay pretty simple in their desires, like a friend who could only stomach peaches for months, but I'm kind of hoping I want something bizarre, like bagel chips and tikka masala sauce...or pickled okra dipped in salsa...or peanut butter on a spoon dipped in bacon bits...but for now, I'm choking down whatever gets plopped in front of me. Ryan is being amazing about doing a lot of the prep work and trying to only cook things that actually appeal to me, thankfully, so I know I'm not even close to not eating enough. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've put on a a few pounds since you showed up, which is giving me Pregnant In Heels-style anxiety about fitting into my unalterable wedding dress. I feel like a jerk. A pudgy, cranky, vaguely nauseous jerk.

On the other hand, I had a pretty cool moment in the car the other day. I was driving by a restaurant out near the mall, and - for the first time - I said something out loud to you. Even though I'm being a crappy role model for reveling in the glory of beloved foods right now, this is something I truly hope you inherit from me. I told you "I really hope you like Indian food," and boy, did I mean it.