Archive for February, 2012

The winter of 2012

This winter has been so odd, especially as it has hardly been winter at all. We’ve had such little snow and ice and there have been so few truly cold days. Another odd thing about it, for me, is that I’ve been preggers. Here are a few things I have learned about pregnancy or, rather, things I have learned about pregnancy and me:

  • Things that other people say about pregnancy are not true for me. Ok, that’s a bit of an overstatement, but there have been several things that other people really emphasize that I have either not experienced at all or experienced in a very different way. For example, I did not really feel Baby Sweet Potato moving in there until much later than other people say they felt their babies. Whether their memories are off, I’m out of touch with my baby or some other reason, I didn’t really feel baby until much closer to 30 weeks than 20. I don’t feel bad about this anymore, and I tried hard not to feel bad about it when it was happening, but I felt like some folks were really annoying about this, pushing me, “Really? You don’t feel anything?” Oh, be quiet, I’d want to say. Are you suggesting I’m lying or are you suggesting something is wrong with the baby? Either way: Shut. It. Also, I’ve had no more cravings or revulsions than usual. Sure, I’ve said, “I really want Twizzlers!” or “I need animal crackers!” but really these are just things that I like that I feel I can say out loud because of the baby bump. Do other people really not crave things they tell themselves they shouldn’t have when they’re not pregnant? The baby bump is now more than a baby watermelon, by the way.
  • It’s scary. From the beginning when we worried for weeks we might lose the baby to the scare of the numbers on the first-trimester screening test and following amniocentesis to the gestational diabetes test to everything in between and since, this pregnancy has not been lacking in its share of scary drama. While ultimately it seems we’ve been really lucky so far, the scares felt very really and the tension and stress are not something I would wish on anyone.
  • Heartburn really stinks. I don’t think I’ve ever had heartburn before — or at least I had never realized I had had it — and holy wow! It is not pleasant. Once Doc Heather suggested I try Tums, my whole life changed. What a relief! I still have heartburn, but at least I have relief. And heartburn seems to come morning, noon and night – whether I have eaten or had anything to drink or not. It just keeps coming.
  • Heartburn can cause wheezing. After weeks of having a bad cough and asthma that wouldn’t quit, my OB/Gyn finally apprised me (ok, I finally told her about my problems) that heartburn can cause wheezing and I should try Zantac. [Cue heavens opening music!] Another huge relief — I no longer have to cough myself to sleep. Sometimes I still wake up wheezing, but I can now sleep again and have stopped bruising muscles or ribs with my incessant coughing. Hallelujah.
  • Parts of me I never knew I had have started to hurt — my pelvis and other items ‘down there’ ache with pain; all sorts of things inside, like round ligaments — or so I’m told — hurt like hell when I move around and sometimes when I don’t; it’s become difficult to put on things like, say, pants, or turn over in bed because of all of the disturbance to aforementioned parts.
  • People are funny about pregnancy in ways I didn’t really realize. There have been no attempts to touch my belly without my permission, but a friend recently began preaching the greatness of breastfeeding to me in a way that made me wonder if she thought I was braindead and had never before heard of the concept. Most friends, though, have been great and encouraged me to name the baby whatever we want, try out having baby sleep in our room or in her own space, breastfeed for as long as it does not drive me crazy and, generally, to try not to worry so much. I’m very grateful for them.
  • Everyone is so generous. Our family and friends have been so generous and understanding — from throwing a million and one great showers to offering babysitting services to understanding when we cancel plans at the last minute because some sort of ailment has overtaken any drive I had to leave the house.
  • Fatigue. Holy smokes. I wonder if this is worse because I’m elderly, but this ‘with child’ thing has led me to be more tired than anything else I can remember. Between all of the aches and pains and wheezing, sleeping has been harder than it used to be, but I give it the old college try and insist that it happen. And while I suppose the second trimester was better in this regard than the first, I never really felt that ‘second wind’ of energy so often promised by books. See bullet point one.
  • I like ice cream. I knew this before, of course, but I think I like it more than I realized. It’s so good.
This list isn’t particularly interesting or revealing, but neither am I. Ha.
PS — I’m super happy about this Ryan Braun news. I feel very relieved and happy for him, the Brewers, Milwaukee and all of his fans, which includes me. Yay!

The big reveal

Although working on the nursery has been one of my favorite projects I’ve ever tackled, I’ve been more than hesitant to post pics of it  – partly because I’m having trouble capturing the space in pictures, but mostly because I keep waiting for it to be “done” before I do so. But the truth is, it’s essentially done and I’m not sure it’ll ever really be done done (as in to the point where I’m completely satisfied with it). In fact, I’m sure it won’t be — there are too many obstacles in the way, like not enough space in the area we’ve carved out for Baby Girl, the floors will never be clean enough (vinyl + winter + a sheddy Gracie = perpetually dirty floors), too many cords running around (I know: this one probably sends up a safety flag for more than a few of you) and the obstacle known generally as Kate. I keep ordering new things from Etsy to put on the walls or decide a different table needs to replace the one by the front door or I just don’t get around to putting the freshly laundered (thanks, Aaron) sheets on the crib mattress and, because I do these things, I decide the space is not ready to be photographed. But, sigh, let’s just have at it anyway, shall we?

Ok, here’s some pics to help orient yourself a bit.

Living room, before baby

Then, sometime after the holidays, we got to work on reinventing the space. Specifically, Aaron got to work putting together the Ikea bookshelves that operate as our room dividers.

The secret to a nursery in a living room

And then Aaron had the brilliant idea to put the shelves perpendicularly to the spot we had had in mind for them originally. Brills!

De facto walls from Ikea

Now, we have the living area on one side and baby space on the other. Let’s take a look at the baby space, shall we? Here goes.

View into the nursery

The crib, white dresser/changing table and rug are all from Ikea. This really helped us save a lot of money. And thanks to Baby Bargains recommendations and advice, we felt like we weren’t even cutting any corners in doing so.

Crib

Ikea dresser with Anthropologie pulls and Target storage

The space is rather narrow, but adequately long so that we are finding — as of now — we are able to fit almost everything we want to in the room. And yes, although it might not really qualify as a room for real estate purposes, it counts as a room for us. And for Baby Girl. And sometimes even Gracie seems to think it’s a room of her own.

Another view

All of the money we saved buying things from Ikea made us feel like we could buy the world’s most awesome glider. At least it’s the glider we think is the most awesome — it’s small and sharp-looking, fitting perfectly where we needed it to. Thanks so much, Rubin’s!

Super glider

In case you are wondering, that little side table was on super sale at West Elm and the lamp is from Urban Outfitters. My computer and I have been very busy the last couple of months, and the credit card has been putting in extra hours.

Etsy has been instrumental in helping me pull off all of the things I’ve wanted to … I came home yesterday to the sweetest little crocheted owl hat that I can’t wait for Baby to try out and a few days before that, I received these adorable sheep decals in the mail. I just love them.

Etsy sheep decals

We’ve also received a million and one things from the great showers our generous friends and family have thrown — from onesies to burp cloths to bedding to pacifiers to toys to books to the car seat to bouncers. Holy stuff. Where to put it all? Well, remember those bookshelves that you thought were just there to divide the room? Voila! They’ve been doing double duty as an excellent place to store all of the great things that are here waiting for Baby Sweet Potato’s arrival.

Ikea bookshelf & Target storage

Elephant lamp

I still don’t feel like the photographs capture the space in quite the right way, but you get the idea. I hope you like what we’ve done with the place.

Parents just don’t understand

I assume that most of us with parents who are part of our lives still feel like a kid. At least every now and then. And some of us probably more than others, no matter how old we are. I’m beginning to think, though, that that feeling must change quite a bit once the kid because a parent. In other words, I feel like in addition to being on the cusp of my entire life changing, my entire life is going to change. If you know what I mean.

Anyway, so, as you know, I’ve been watching Felicity again — from beginning to, well, right now I’m in the midst of the third of four seasons. I had kind of forgotten how intense this show was. Rewatching the show brings me back to my college days and it all still feels so fresh and familiar – the friendships, the relationships, the classes and finals, money problems, stress, blowing things out of proportion (though maybe they’re in the exact proportion they’re supposed to be in at that age). One constant on the show in particular, though, has been on my mind more than the show’s other themes.

Parents.

On Felicity, parents aren’t just the humorous, clueless entity they are in many a show in the young adult genre, instead they are truly a force of negativity and a source of stress and problems in their children’s lives. Generally speaking, they are selfish, self-absorbed and weak.

For example, Felicity’s parents put ridiculous amounts of pressure on her to pursue medicine, attempt to micromanage her life and cut her off financially when they don’t get what they want. Then, when they finally decide to pay her tuition for college, they decide to divorce each other and place a significant portion of the stress of the separation on her. In fact, her father moves from California to New York and insists on insinuating himself in the midst of his college daughter’s new life, just as she is getting comfortable in it herself. Although I have been known to complain about my parents from time to time, I can safely say that my dad never showed up without notice in my dorm room in the middle of the day. Ben’s parents are no better. His dad is a lying, selfish alcoholic who manipulates everyone around him; his mom is a weak woman who puts up with his selfish dad until she doesn’t. Until she does again. Julie’s adoptive parents are sweet (though we don’t see them), but they are out of touch with what their (incredibly annoying) daughter is really looking for — her birth mother. Her birth parents ultimately just want to use her for their own gain, in the form of a kidney. Elena’s dad means well, but has trouble connecting with his daughter — not paying attention to her amazing accomplishments or, really, her. Megan’s parents are very nice, but have absolutely no idea who their daughter is – to such an extreme that Megan’s entire wardrobe changes when they’re around. These kids spend too much of their precious youth trying to protect their parents. And they spend too much energy trying not to disappoint their parents while attempting to finally be who they really are.

Then there is the part of the show that deals with the main characters and their contemplations on parenthood. Ruby decides to keep the fetus growing inside of her — and her parents, we are told, are supportive. Felicity declines to become an egg donor for Javier and Samuel because she is not ready to become a parent. And then there’s Ben…but I haven’t gotten to season four yet. These three, though, seem to go through a lot more soul-searching and thought about what it means to be a parent than their own parents ever exhibit themselves. Probably not a coincidence.

Anyway, my point? I don’t really know. It’s just that as I am about to enter parenthood — eeks! — my mind is full of about one hundred million questions and worries and hopes. One of them, one at the very top of my list, is my wish that I never let my little girl down in any of the ways these tv parents have let down their children. I know that there will be more times than I will care to acknowledge in which I do exactly the wrong thing. I know that part of life is sometimes feeling alone and alienated and misunderstood and that if baby girl feels these things at some point, it is normal. But I hope and hope and hope that I never ever make this baby girl feel she needs to protect me or feel she needs to hide from me who she really is. I don’t need her to tell me everything; I don’t want to be her best friend. I do, however, want her to know — and to always feel — that she is safe with me, that she is loved and that all I want is for her to be a compassionate, kind person who is quietly confident with exactly who she is.

Nesting, a visual

Because we will obviously never again be able to get to any type of store that sells cleaning supplies, I have stocked up. I am now ready to admit I have caught a case of nesting.

Method

Lucky

Inspired by Kristin’s genius, I’ve been rewatching Felicity — from the pilot to, I hope, the series finale. I’m currently in the midst of the sophomore year. Because of her break-in to the campus pool, Felicity has found herself doing community service at the University’s student health clinic, which has lead her to stage a sit-in to protest the school’s policy forbidding the clinic’s distribution of the morning-after pill. This happens right on the heels of Ruby learning she is pregnant and her decision to have her baby. Not a coincidence, I realize, but it also doesn’t feel as convenient and contrived as it sounds. When Ruby learns she is pregnant, she begins to cry and I cried along with her. It is heartbreaking to see a woman — just barely out of girlhood — have to face something as life-altering, daunting and confusing as finding herself pregnant with an unplanned, and unwanted, baby.

Anyway, watching these episodes of Felicity has provoked me to write about something I have thought of frequently since I found out I am pregnant: I am so lucky.

I am so very grateful for a million things, as I hope I make clear, but I truly wish I could thank all of the medical professionals and political advocates who have come before me — and continue to fight to make safer, better and more accessible medicine — who have made my access to birth control so easy. I think often about how limited in their choices women used to be — like, say, the choice between a relationship and an education — and it can easily bring me to tears when I think of how lucky I have been not to have had to make those choices, or how difficult it must have been for other women faced with such a choice. When I went to college, it was easy to get birth control from the student health center. Yes, the morning-after pill was not as easy to come by as it is today, but it was still available. The pill and condoms were abundant and I never felt there was any judgment over birth control options. During my junior year in college, a friend of mine had a scare and we walked right over to Planned Parenthood on East Mifflin Street for a free test. While the scare was real, though ultimately unfounded, the solutions were easy to access.

I grew up in a time, and with a family, in which I always knew I had options and support. It breaks my heart to think that there are women all over the world who don’t have either of those two things.

My real point, though, is that I never forget how very lucky I am that I was able to get pregnant when I wanted to. I mean, we were able to make a real, actual choice. I know we didn’t have control over whether we conceived, but we could choose — and did choose — to try. And I think that’s just amazing. I wish that for everyone. I try very hard never to take it for granted that I am so damn lucky to have been able to get pregnant on my own terms.