Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry X-Mas, and bring your bucket!

Your Dad and I don't have the greatest track record with holidays. New Year's 2007 saw your Dad sitting on the couch, puttering around on his laptop, while I alternately moaned on the couch and sprinted up the stairs to the bathroom to purge the tainted guacamole that had come on my New Year's dinner taco salad. He had some kind of major respiratory infection on his birthday in 2006, 2007, and 2008, as well as a good number of previous years. My birthday is generally safe for personal health, but it is typically rife with personal tragedy (for example, getting the diagnosis about your heart literally three days before my birthday this past year). Valentine's Day is pretty much an annual reflection on our shared poverty, though we do typically do something nice for dinner, and we basically ignore St. Patrick's Day. Halloween is inconsistent, as some years we have really fun plans and others are just massively disappointing. The Jewish holidays are safe, since we don't really do anything about them, and we've safely relegated Easter to just being a large and delicious dinner with egg-themed decor at the in-laws' house. Christmas has stood alone as the one substantial holiday we celebrate that hasn't been tainted by poor health, disaster, angst, or ennui...until this year.

Batman, two of my biggest preoccupations since I knew you were coming have been been eating and drinking enough. I was so sick during the first trimester that just eating - at all - was a major accomplishment, so I didn't put too much focus on eating specific things, like vegetable or complementary proteins. During the second trimester, my interest in food was massively inconsistent, so I continued to just eat whatever sounded even vaguely interesting at the time. Drinking enough, throughout all this time, was still dicey; if I had too much in my stomach at one time, I got sick, and water just took up space, so I often prioritized food. Even now, I still get majorly nauseous when I have too much liquid in my system. I know I haven't gotten enough to drink at any point. Christmas, this past weekend, saw the perfect storm of all my prenatal fears coming to a head at once.

Thursday night was your Dad's mother's birthday. In a rare display of throwing her dietary caution to the wind, she requested that we order in pizza and a salad from a generally excellent local joint. (Oh, cheese pizza. I never get just plain cheese pizza, but it is so damn good.) In hindsight, I should have trusted my mild skepticism about the freshness of the salad, since less than twenty-four hours after we ate it, both of your Dad's parents, he, and I were all violently ill. I won't go into details, but let's just say that things were very ugly, and that your Dad and I will never buy a house with less than two concurrently accessible toilets. Neither of us slept the night the sickness set in, so we spent the next day drifting between consciousness and...um...expulsion.

A simultaneously comforting and awful part of this whole experience was the sheer volume of Braxton-Hicks contractions I experienced during the duration. There was a point mid-Saturday afternoon when I seriously considered the merits of dragging my sorry ass off the couch to put together a bag to bring to the hospital. I even began to panic about the fact that we don't have the car seat bases installed in the cars yet, and the fact that we don't have nearly enough socks, or ANY little caps, or nearly enough receiving blankets...and we still haven't washed all the clothes we do have...and we still need to hang up art in our bedroom so it isn't taking up otherwise needed storage space...and AAGH! I never had a fever, but some combination of starvation, dehydration, and sleep deprivation threw me into a paranoid state that made our lack of sufficient sock supply seem disproportionately catastrophic to...well, everything else in the world. I was briefly so convinced that I was actually in labor that I started plotting out things like phone trees, the best place to park at the hospital, and who to call to check in on the cats...before dozing off again and realizing that none of the contractions were even vaguely consistent or strong enough to mean anything.

Let's just say that Christmas was not the merry and raucous time one typically hopes for it to be. We ate uncomplicated carbohydrates, sipped water and Sprite, and generally didn't move too much. It was still a lovely time, but even three days after the fact, I'm fighting to get back my appetite and energy level. When I went to a regular doctor's appointment this afternoon and explained my panic at starving and dehydrating you over the course of so many hours of just vomiting back up everything that went into my system, nurse and doctor alike shrugged it off, explaining that babies always take what they need from their mother whether she has it to give or not. Apparently my continued exhaustion is mostly because you're still happily sucking all my water and nutrients away. Of course, they're all yours, but dang...this is not a fun part of pregnancy.

In case you were curious, I didn't get that one particular thing that I was kind of flipping out over (only because the supplier was out of stock: you Dad's on the waiting list for when they get more, and he warned me in advance so I could manage my childish disappointment maturely), but we did end up not feeling like the holiday was focused on baby things, and we both got one another really thoughtful and lovely gifts. Oh, and it was a pleasant time spent with family, unfocused on consumeristic intent and all that jazz. Batman, I'm really excited to have you around for a holiday, but I am sort of terrified that we've broken the seal (so to speak) on Christmas being dangerous, so here's crossing our fingers that the only vomit that happens next year is something utterly benign coming out of you just because that happens sometimes with eleven-month-olds.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

There's some schmootz on my Batman. (A brief Carnival interlude.)

Okay, now I feel bad. Eating and drinking have become fairly dicey activities, as there is a very real chance - every damn time - that I will get some of whatever I am attempting to consume on you. It doesn't even need to be food. Today's grand total of "stuff on my Batman" includes powdered make-up, some coffee, pen ink, and something dusty and dark that might have been white board marker. This is apparently why women typically wear either heavily patterned or very loose, flowey clothes while pregnant; one way or another, such things conceal the inevitable drips, dribbles, and smears.

As I sat in Dr. Fuckhead's waiting room this afternoon, I realized that the scarf I'd been wearing to hide the coffee stains was doing nothing to cover the smudge of pen ink dead-center on the front of my belly. Classy, no? All the other women in the waiting room were wearing heavy coats (it's finally gotten COLD, despite an ongoing lack of snow), so I couldn't see if they were in any state of slovenliness on par with mine, but I am going to reassure myself and say that they were surely only keeping their coats on because they were more covered with junk than I was. That's got to be it.

The Carnival was a little more populated this week than it has been since Thanksgiving; a whole six different family or individual units were already waiting, and a seventh walked in moments after I sat down. Three families had small children with them already, and in the grand tradition of families in Dr. Fuckhead's waiting room, two of those families were flagrantly and conspicuously being irresponsible about their children. One boy, who couldn't have been much older than a year, was climbing on every piece of furniture not already occupied by a human being; his giggles and chuffing were pretty adorable, but it was impossible to ignore the fact that he was continually splashing large quantities of water out of a paper cup that his parents kept allowing him to refill from the water bubbler...or rather, they were just ignoring him, so it kept happening. Many chairs, and most of the floor, were soaked. Another boy, somewhere around age three, was sprinting around in circles complaining that he needed to go to the bathroom. His parents were arguing over who was going to take him (he lost) for minutes...and minutes...to a point when I was deeply concerned that I was going to be witness to his bodily emissions.

My schmootziness, however, paled in comparison to that of the woman who entered the waiting room just before I was called. She looked like she had been rolling around on the floor of a pick-up truck used most often to transport large quantities of cat hair, cigarette butts, and the food that falls out of babies' mouths. I don't think pregnancy could be entirely to blame for her...er...state...of being...but after hearing her grunt something at the receptionist about needing to get called in quickly because "this kid is gonna make me piss again real soon if I don't get in there fast," I felt substantially better about my few drippy stains.

I'm left resigning myself to the fact that I will just have stuff on me for the next few weeks, but at least it's all accidental and generally not gross. A particularly hilarious problem that I'm growing accustomed to is my inability to wash my hands (or dishes, or anything else for that matter) without splashing water all over you. Batman, you are undoubtedly the cleanest - but sometimes messiest - unborn child on the planet.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Nosy Nellie has a strong opinion about projectile breast milk. (WTF?)

I had a horrifying conversation with two coworkers recently. This epitomized the very worst of "oh, sweet mother of cheese, how can people possibly think this is okay...and for the love of all that is holy, will I be one of these women someday?!?!?" My carpool buddy and I were about to walk out the door...her heading to some single-gal excitement with a new date, and me heading to yet another doctor's appointment...when these Nellies decided to launch into a heartfelt rant about the horrors of attempting to breastfeed while working.

First off, Batman, I'm sure the last thing you want to hear about is your mother's boobs, to say nothing of the long-since-dried-up teats of two older women who I work with, but this was just...incredible. I'm asked if I will be breastfeeding, and reply yes. I'm asked if I have a battle plan for how I will manage to pump and stay even remotely comfortable while at work after I come back from maternity leave. In all honesty, my plan is to just muckle down in some corner of the school with no windows and do my business whenever I possibly can. There will definitely be times when I have no recourse but to sprint to a bathroom, lock myself in there, and do what I need to, but I'm sure I can find a way to make it work somehow. After confirming that yes, I am committed to breastfeeding as long as I can, these Nellies start sharing their breastfeeding-at-work horror stories.

I won't get into the ugly details, but let's just say that I may never look at a breast the same way again. One story ended with an eye injury, another with a broken bra, and possibly the worst resulted in the teller wearing a winter coat all day in almost sixty degree weather. I'm confident that I won't actually explode, but according to these women, I should have at least three extra shirts, several extra bras, and ideally half a dozen heavy felt moving blankets on hand at all times to prevent or recover from embarrassing leakage.

I know that parenting - most specifically being the parent of a newborn - will lead to the genesis of some hideous and charmingly gross stories. There will be bodily fluid. There will be stains. There may even be permanent property damage: I know this. Then again, is it part and parcel of the whole parenting experience to want - nay, need - to share these experiences with any other prospective parent who wanders our way? I would like to think that I'll only share the really dreadful stuff with close friends (or alternately people who have legitimately earned a moment of sphincter-clenching terror), or that I'll wait until I'm asked to gush about...gushing...things...but I worry, Batman. Here's hoping that I can maintain at least a little bit of my restraint and common courtesy, despite the inevitably looming onslaught of gross stories that you will lovingly help me create.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's the most wonderful tiiiiiiime of the...er...fiscal year?

I'm going to do what I can to bludgeon the Grinchey attitude out of him before you're particularly aware that anything is amiss, but your Dad has a fairly nasty attitude towards the holiday season that I really can't hold against him. Some of this may stem from his working in the mall - and in retail in general - for too many holiday seasons, but I can absolutely attribute his disgruntlement with the holidays to a number of totally legitimate factors. In fact, even I have grown somewhat jaded about the notion of the "season" of jolliness, good cheer, and all that happy junk. Batman, it's really that ridiculous out in consumer land, but I'm still afraid I'm falling for it.

A few weekends ago, your Dad and I went to your Gramma's church fair. Now, okay, you might be asking yourself "WTF, Mom and Dad? What the everloving heck are you doing in a church?" This is an entirely fair question, especially at the one time of the year when those people who attend church painfully sporadically suddenly realize that they ever mean to do so. To answer you, we were in a church for mad sweet deals on potential holiday gifts (and crazy cheap baby clothes, but that's going to be a regular pursuit from now until you start to care about what you're wearing...and hopefully you'll get in on the fun long after that, too). Granted, I think we only actually got three gifts for the holidays. We also got a totally kick-ass ottoman for $3, a board game that we've been meaning to buy for years but haven't because it costs $30 normally (but not at a church fair: there your Dad has to demand to pay a full dollar instead of $.25 for it out of principle), a slew of clothes and shoes for you for $8, and a handful of church-lady-produced treats that seriously could have cost anything and I wouldn't have cared. Did you know that it's possible to make a Rice Krispie treat with butterscotch, peanut butter, and a layer of fudge in the middle? Well, yeah, of course you didn't, but let me be an awesome parent by making sure you know early on that such a marvel exists. 

What's so special about going to a church fair to peruse holiday gifts? Batman, this constituted a substantial quantity of our actual gift-shopping efforts this year. We're getting a goodly handful of items online (most of which at great discount or by using some kind of fancy deal), making a few things, having a friend make some pretty incredible artwork for us, and ultimately keeping our gift spending extremely focused on quality and personal meaning. This is pretty standard for us (convenient how not having a ton of money forces one to be especially thoughtful sometimes, huh?), but this year I've really been seeing some major contrast in our holiday shopping behavior as opposed to the status quo.

Consider the Saturday after Black Friday. Why your Dad and I decided to even go near the mall side of town on that day, I still don't entirely know. Maybe it was the fact that I had spent fifteen of the previous hours literally starving myself to do a glucose tolerance test, but then I don't know what your Dad's excuse was. Perhaps we really are just gluttons for punishment. In any case, for whatever reason, we ended up at a handful of big chain stores, as well as (horror of horrors) the mall. Did we purchase a single holiday gift? No. We were exchanging a few baby shower gifts that were either repeats or just not anything we really needed, and we were buying a few essential (and I legitimately mean essential) items. I think we were the only people in a substantial radius who weren't hemorrhaging money on stuff, junk, and things that no one really needs. 

Don't let all this suggest that we won't spoil you rotten when we have the ability to do so; if I have one completely against-my-normal-personal-standards thing to say about the holidays, it's that making them really special for kids must be a blast. That doesn't mean a barrage of crap, however. Both your Dad and I were lucky enough to have parents who, through a mixture of common sense and middle class-ed-ness, did a really solid job of making holidays special without making them absurd. I don't remember a single Hanukkah or Christmas when I got more than one "big" present, and I was never the kind of kid who wanted the trendy or expensive stuff. (Okay, there was that one time in college that I got really whiny about wanting an iPod, but that was only because your Uncle David had gotten one months earlier - not even for a holiday!) Growing up, your Dad never got anything too crazy for Christmas, even when he wanted something flashy...because his parents would just kill two birds with one stone and get the flashy thing as a joint present for him and your Uncle Cameron. Did either going with modestly priced, unique gifts or shared presents between siblings make the holidays any less special for either of us? Hell, no. Getting presents seriously wasn't the point.

Due to religious shifting, Christmas kind of went away from my family when I was about twelve. I won't lie: I really, really missed it, and it wasn't the presents. We still had Hanukkah which, if one is primarily considering gift economics, is a vastly superior holiday. Seven nights of small, fun presents and delicious family dinners followed by an eighth night with some kind of massive present? Uh, yeah. I'll take that over one morning of frantic gift-wrap shredding followed by a tryptophan-induced coma. Granted, the thrill of the one-shot giftstravaganza is pretty sweet...but why settle for one? In the long run, we're planning to do Hanukkah and Christmas with you, probably saving the "big present" for Christmas because...er...teacher salaries...but only really doing Christmas now means a whole other type of pressure.

Here's the REAL beauty of Hanukkah. Tonight, your Dad and I decided to attempt to balance out relatively shitty days at school by getting take-out sushi. Downtown Portland was SWARMING with consumers because of "Merry Madness," the annual holiday-themed extension of business hours in the shopping district. We had to get sushi from the slightly pricier place on the other side of town because we knew parking would be a disaster. Thanks, Christmas. For the last three weeks, we've had to sprint through grocery shopping (which is an activity we both LOVE) in order to avoid being steeped in crappy Christmas music. I swear to all that is holy, if I hear the "simply having a wonderful Christmastime" song one more time, I will beat someone to death with a cardboard holiday ham display. Nice job, Christmas. I needed a new body pillow, so we went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond...and we were nearly mowed down by some lady with a cart full of Yankee Candle crap. Christmas, I'm looking at you. What's the worse Hanukkah has done? Oh, right. Literally nothing. I love butter cookies, twinkly lights, fun ornaments, and eggnog...don't get me wrong...but even acknowledging to myself that we celebrate Christmas makes me feel immense pressure to BUY! CONSUME! and otherwise perform the dog and pony show of showing and receiving affection through the acquisition of stuff.

All my begrudging of consumerism aside, I have a confession. Since we've known you were coming, your Dad and I have seriously curtailed our spending on stuff for ourselves and each other. We've gotten essentials, to be sure, and we've continued to indulge responsibly in food that we love, but I don't think either of us have spent much of any money on anything that we didn't actually need. That includes birthday presents, a honeymoon, getting anything even vaguely substantial for each other as wedding gifts (which apparently everyone does nowadays), and now holiday gifts. We've set a limit way below what we normally spend, and I'll be honest...this all depresses the hell out of me and I just don't know why. Am I subconsciously picking up on your wonder and excitement at the season? Do I really care that much about material objects, and more specifically being given thoughtfully-selected material objects by the man I love? The worst part (and this makes me feel SUPER lame and stupid) is that I've gotten myself fixated on one particular thing that I really want, and I don't want it from anyone other than your Dad.

This is Radiant in Red Barbie all over again. When I was eight, all I wanted for Christmas was this one particular Barbie. I wasn't even one of those kids who was obsessed with Barbies; I just desperately wanted this one. It pained me. For months, I fixated on the possibility of getting her for Christmas, knowing that because her outfit was effectively festive in a Yule-like manner, I stood no chance of getting her for Hanukkah. Worse still, knowing that she could only be a Christmas gift meant that if I got her from anyone other than my Mom's parents (at whose house we celebrated the holiday), it would be a sham. The whole experience would be so cheapened that I wouldn't even want her anymore. Thankfully, pining for a toy that probably cost under $30 made for a strong possibility that I would get what I wanted, and the night before Christmas, I saw a distinctly Barbie-shaped box in a laundry basket of gifts that my Grandma hadn't put under the tree yet, and the next morning, my months of agonizing came to a satisfied end. I named her Ruby, and all was well with the world.

This year, I'm hung up on this one relatively small thing - that is still nearly the amount of money your Dad and I budgeted for one another - and I don't want it from anyone but him. If I hadn't gotten that Barbie when I was eight, I'm afraid I would have spent the entire rest of our holiday visit sulking in a corner ignoring all the other lovely and thoughtful gifts I'd been given. I might not have even wanted any of Grandma's mandarin orange Jello mold. This year, I know we'll be getting a ton of stuff for you - which is great, and from a practical angle, what we both need and want - but all the hype about having something truly special and personal just for me (as I write that, I can hear a condescendingly soothing female voice crooning the words over a soft-focus shot of a pile of gifts near a crackling fireplace) is leaving me feeling preemptively despondent that I'm just not in a position to be spoiled this year.

Damn it, Christmas. You're ruining Christmas again. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I am a rock. I am an iiiiiiiiiiiiiisland...?

Batman, I'm really starting to appreciate the idea of bonding with other future moms at birthing classes or something of that sort, because there is clearly information I am not getting. For one thing, I have apparently been having Braxton-Hicks contractions for close to three weeks now. This is totally normal, arguably a good sign, and really not any sort of big deal, but because I didn't have other women around to tell me "uh, yeah, that's totally what it means when you feel really full and crampy all of a sudden and nothing makes it better except breathing through it, sometimes moving around, and maybe eating something...or not." Here I was with my fingers crossed that I wasn't experiencing some gastric cataclysm every few afternoons, assuming that if something was REALLY wrong, that I would probably have more symptoms than just needing to pee kind of badly and being vaguely nauseous. Talking with a doctor today, I learned that yes, those were in fact completely normal, safe contractions that I have no need to worry about unless they are accompanied by something substantially scarier (gushing or oozing of some kind, or the kind of pain that I wouldn't try to shake off with some yoga or Tylenol, or worse). Why did I not know that before now?

Having weekly ultrasounds to check on your growth and movement, roughly biweekly appointments with the cardiologist to make sure your heart is holding steady, and a general focus on your well-being has definitely set me up for the kind of attention I'll be giving you as a parent. You are the center of the universe, but getting thrown head-first into this lifestyle before you even show up is teaching me a valuable lesson. When I had to leave the gloriously crunchy-granola midwife practice that I loved so much, I basically abandoned any control over or even input into the processes of pregnancy or birth as far as I was concerned. I became a vehicle (perhaps an armored tank?) to convey you through your process of growing, getting stronger, and eventually getting popped out into the world with the best possible resources available to make sure you do well.

This afternoon, I started asking my OB/GYN some uncomfortable questions I hadn't even realized I needed to ask. I've been tending to small needs, like headaches and crappy skin, but because they were too expensive or just another thing to schedule, I haven't even considered birth classes, nursing support, or any of the other fairly key pre-birth prep stuff that I figure most women can focus on. Of course I need these things! Taking a seven week pre-natal yoga class was definitely great, and I learned a lot that I really should practice more while I can still move around (at all), but I don't have any clue what to do when I say, have that first real contraction. I have no idea how to manage the pain that I know will come. I've considered the options that other people can provide for me (medication, massage, something to punch, etc...), but what the hell can I do for myself? I think I need to go to the library for one, since the internet is just too terrifying and awful a place to find any information relating to birth, but I definitely need to get some other resources into my corner.

There is not only a good chance, but at this point almost a certainty that your birth will be induced. This means a number of things, not least of which being that instead of nature (and you) progressing...well, naturally...modern medicine will step in and fuck with a process that really has a structure and flow all its own. There is a greater chance of my needing a C-section, of you ending up in distress, and, at the very least, of me needing to cave in and get all sorts of crappy drugs pumped into me. What can I hold on to? We've got a doula, your Dad and I have each other, and we're at least working with OB/GYNs who don't suck, but is that it? There must be more. It's time to read, network, and talk with other people who have any idea of what I'm going through. This is pretty unnatural for me - a person who typically prefers to suffer in as close to isolation as possible until the pain is healed enough for me to comfortably blurt it out to everyone.

Batman, this just didn't go as planned. From the very beginning, when I was so horrendously nauseous that I lost days on end to nibbling on saltines and watching inexplicably soothing travel shows centered around food (thank you, Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern), my image of myself as some benevolent, earth mother, Sheela-na-gig, uber-holistic pregnancy goddess pretty much flew out the window. Finding out about your heart just sucked; I felt a hollowness that I didn't realize one could feel, and even after finding out that everything is manageable, I've still carried around a parcel of anxiety that nothing can shake. It was insult to injury when my joints started giving out somewhere in the sixth month, and that's been a whole other barrel of laughs. Still, through any and all physical or emotional discomfort I've experienced (which has been plentiful, though certainly not as bad as it could have been), I've still loved being pregnant because I've known that you will be the end result. I just can't be so isolated if I'm going to get through this as strong as I started out...or stronger.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Is the carnival over?

This is this third week in a row that the waiting room has been...well...tame. If last week I was left concocting elaborate stories to make the waiting room residents more exciting, this week I didn't even have material to work with. There were literally just two women in the waiting room when I arrived - two! - and both of them were, for lack of a better word, boring. Both looked totally cool with being where they were, neither seemed distressed, stressed, or even vaguely perturbed. What the hell is up with THAT? Did this office manage to streamline their scheduling so that no one is left sitting abandoned for hours on end anymore? Have they started scheduling the exciting and crazy folks for concentrated bursts of time in the middle of the day so that non-smoking full-time workers aren't impacted by them? I'm honestly almost disappointed.

This week has been kind of weird for a number of reasons, not least of which being the fact that I have realized that the reality of you showing up really hasn't hit me yet. I know...we're just past the eight month mark (wow), so clearly you aren't new news. Yet you are. I look down and watch you wriggling around; I can see the bump of a foot or hand or head or something, and feel you pushing against every angle of every inch of space you have to work with, and it still only barely resonates that there is a little human being in there. According to today's ultrasound, you're about five pounds now, which is practically the same size your Dad was when he was born, so clearly you could be a little human being out here pretty soon without anything being too dicey. I think I've started to waddle, though that's mostly due to horrendous pain in my hip joints and not because you're conspicuously in the way of me walking. The reality of this situation should really hit me any minute now...or now...or now...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dr. Fuckhead's Tedious Carnival of Madness: We all sit the same

I am endlessly, immeasurably grateful that I haven't had any of the really horrific, weird side-effects of pregnancy that plague so many women. My skin has always sucked, so that's nothing new, but I didn't get any weird new dark patches, unexpected hair, or funky streaks anywhere on my body. I did have a nasty streak in the middle there where I just didn't know how to eat the right things, or the right times at which to eat them, so I would turn into kind of a psychotic monster when my blood sugar dropped...but at no point have I gotten irrationally hormonal without my own stupidity being somehow at fault. I've definitely felt more fragile during the last few weeks, emotionally and physically, but I attribute a lot of that to the fact that I am coming to terms with this massive change in responsibility and purview; I no longer live just for myself, your Dad, and beyond that, our friends and family; now there's you. I didn't get the magically lush and voluminous hair that so many get, but I also haven't mysteriously lost a ton of it, so I'll call that a win.

I have, however, developed some absolutely hideous joint pain, mostly in my hips. I can only pray it goes away once there isn't another human being jockeying with my bones for space in my lower abdomen. This has cause me to pick up the unfortunate habit of shifting my sitting position constantly, stretching and putting myself into weird poses pretty much any time I'm stuck in one place for more than a few minutes, and while I am not waddling (yay!), I am definitely walking at a somewhat affected pace.

This means that I sit, walk, and generally move like every single other pregnant woman in Dr. Fuckhead's waiting room. We all sit pushed back a bit in our chairs, hips conspicuously forward from shoulders because sitting up straighter means that a baby is practically in our lungs. (We also all inhale fairly deeply every few minutes, and I can only assume it's for the shared reason that we just aren't getting the oxygen we need from normal breathing.) We all cross, un-cross, re-cross, and shift our legs constantly. When one of us gets up, we all lean forward, push up against the chair arms, and generally make some sort of relieved or disgruntled noise as we do so; it's practically a performance. Today seems to be "women roughly as pregnant as I am" day, as all the other women here seem to have bellies of comparable size to mine. When I walked in, you made the seventh pregnant belly in the room.

Much like last week, I am powerfully glad that I scheduled such a late appointment. Even 4:00 is late enough that the waiting room was nearly empty when I hit the twenty-minute wait mark, but I was left with some interesting folks to observe. There was the requisite young-ish couple, the requisite couple of 30-40-ish-year-old women in L.L. Bean couture, and a scattered handful of thoroughly unremarkable women by themselves who looked the standard mix of disgruntled and calm that Dr. Fuckhead's waiting room forces one to feel after a long enough string of waits.

A woman in her late thirties or early forties had been sitting by herself since I came in, and did not appear to be pregnant. I'm learning that there is an entirely different look that people shoot at the door when they are waiting for a person rather than an appointment, and she was giving the door that look. When a teenage girl came out, she sighed and kept texting with resignation. The girl sat down next to her holding a pile of ultrasound pictures and a printout of some kind. They spoke quietly to each other for a few minutes before both started crying almost silently. Clearly, something was wrong...but what? The mother (I can only assume she is the mother) was trying to convince the daughter of something...but what? The daughter kept offering to do something and go somewhere...but what, and where? I overheard the phrases "that's what you told the D.A." and "I asked to have contact," mixed in with low-toned arguments over what one person had requested, or couldn't remember saying. I suppose this will just stay a mystery, but in my over half-hour wait, here's what I fantasized:

This teenaged girl, who never considered herself especially beautiful, was seduced by some B- or C-list celebrity. He picked her up from school in a fancy car, bought her all the trendy...trend...things...like purses, boots, and virtually disposable electronics, and she fell head over heels in love with him. The condition? She couldn't tell anyone - friends, family, or especially the press - that they were an item, or he would call the whole thing off, sever all ties, and deny ever having met her. Being a mere sixteen years old, her ability to keep a secret was just plain nonexistent. Their relationship was soon plastered all over Facebook, Twitter, and her school's rumor mill. The son of a particularly vicious investigative reporter, who happened to have a massive crush on the girl, found out about their affair the day she got a positive pregnancy test. A dubious photo of the illicit couple was taken on some kid's iPhone, posted to Facebook, and within hours, became a local meme the likes of which the town had never seen. The celebrity held true to his word and attempted to cut and run...but the baby! She cried and cried to his answering machine, begging him to marry her and rescue her from a family now stricken with shame and disgust for her choices, but all he did in return was send a lawyer to hound her for full custody. Cleverly, the girl retained a publicity-hounding local attorney who specialized in high-profile, flashy cases to defend her parental rights while doing everything possible to strip the celebrity of resources and reputation alike. Five months of flame-warring legal tribulations later, the girl finds herself the recipient of not only a generous settlement, but full custody of their child with the power to supervise visits between said child and the now utterly disgraced celebrity. A war is won for unwed teenaged mothers, but is a lesson really learned...?

When I saw this girl in the waiting room, I wanted so badly to think that she had earned her place in the Tedious Carnival through some exciting and ultimately personally beneficial chain of events. More likely, she got knocked up by some teenaged boyfriend, and the custody business probably didn't even have to do with her child; she was probably the child in question. Still, as my wait wrapped up (with a totally normal ultrasound), I was left with the odd revelation that even that girl - regardless of her circumstances, however mundane or bizarre they may be - would be waddling, weight-shifting, aching, and groaning just like me in a matter of weeks. In Dr. Fuckhead's Tedious Carnival of Madness, we all sit the same.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

We're still cool...I swear!

Okay, Batman, it's not THAT bad. We still managed to throw a kick-ass party for our kick-ass friends a few weekends ago (the notorious LOTR Bowl, wherein the extended versions of all three Lord of the Rings movies are marathoned, back to back, with strategically timed snacks and meals that line up with or playfully complement whatever is happening in the films), and we're still planning to host a New Year's get-together. Even if it's tamer than usual, it will involve a slew of our favorite people descending upon us for a few days, there will be consumption of adult beverages (not by me, obviously), and there is an excellent chance that I will manage to stay awake until midnight. 

Still, I'm already starting to feel awkward about our not-just-being-boring-adults-ness. We revel in grocery shopping because it is just so damn soothing; what's better than exploring options for what to eat, then picking out components for a meal, then getting to take everything home with the knowledge that you soon get to turn all that goodness into yummy dinner? We spend inordinate amounts of time hunting around for furniture, obscure home efficiency goods and accessories, and weird gifts for family and friends. Seriously; we'll clock hours stalking around the mall (ew), downtown Portland (yay!), random local businesses, and anywhere else we can think of looking for the perfect....whatever we're looking for...and neither give up nor compromise, regardless of whether we need to keep searching later or not. I think we probably spent three or four different shopping trips trying to find a kitchen island before essentially giving up and waiting for something to magically appear. (One did, incidentally: a coworker was getting rid of the custom-built piece that is now in our kitchen, and he just handed it off for free.) It's not even that we enjoy shopping that much; your Dad's blood pressure tends to skyrocket when we're exposed to the godawful behavior most people practice in places of commerce, and I frequently get distracted by other things we don't need to buy, then grow despondent when I realize we can't afford much of anything other than the item we intended to buy, and often not even that. We do, however, LOVE finding the thing we set out for at a good price, so it's definitely worth the effort. Plus, the more effort it takes, the sweeter the victory.

Really, I'm not worried - at all - about your Dad and I losing our playfulness and love for the generally silly and absurd. After realizing this week that my energy level just doesn't accommodate much in the way of shared activities, we came to the conclusion that the obvious solution was to buy a fun collaborative video game for us to play together instead of just watching TV and movies every evening. Thus your Dad picked up "Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga" for our Wii, and we've been slaying droids and hunting down Sith all week. Still...we spend basically every evening and spare weekend chunk of time either in the pursuit of food, cleanliness, or relaxation. I guess we've jumped into the new parent creature-comfort-pursuit mode early...?

Batman, I can promise we'll still do fun things out of the house - and in it - once you show up. I'm so exhausted most of the time now that I'm having a hard time envisioning us as one of those dynamic families that wanders around every local craft fair and festival, spends weekends exploring all over the darn place, and happily partners up with other dynamic and energetic families to do exciting and magical things. I'm sure we'll have our moments, but I'm also weirdly grateful that you'll need us to take life at a slightly slower pace; I think that's always been our speed.