Monthly Archives: August 2007

Love Affair

Yesterday at the hospital the resident asked me when was the last time I had sex. Seeing as they put me on “pelvic rest” right away in this pregnancy, I don’t even know. I just started laughing. It’s funny how often I get reminded not to have sex. But seeing as I was reading a site about cerclages a while back and a woman wrote into the forum, “My husband and I accidentally had sex last night – is that okay?” I can see why they might want to emphasize that they meant it. “Accidentally?” C’mon folks.

It reminds me of a time in high school where a friend lost her virginity because her boyfriend “accidentally” penetrated her and of course it’s impossible to stop once it’s in! That sort of incident does have a name and it’s not “accident.” But as for the woman on the cerclage site, she seemed to have been consenting. Perhaps my experience has been wrong, because I don’t see “accident” as a plausible scenario.

So anyway, back to the story. She said, “okay, so then there’s been nothing in your vagina since then?” Nope except for a speculum or two (or six), some doctors’ hands, a dozen ultrasound wands, and a few cotton swabs, we’re all clear in there. Not that I’m enjoying it, but I’d say another baby-size headstone would put far more of a damper on our future than some abstinence. I am having quite an active dream life, however.

I was wondering, yesterday, how much less active I could possibly be than I have been already. But I realize that even if it hasn’t been vigorous activity, I haven’t been that sedentary. At least half a dozen times last night I almost got up to do something and then thought, do I really need to get up? It’s like when the electricity goes out, only then do you realize how mindlessly you’ve been using it. Only in this situation it’s my ability to get up and walk around.

But in terms of how to entertain myself, I think I’ll be fine. Just gotta keep working away.

Edited to add: Holy crap another week has almost passed! I am almost sleeping through them it seems!

Ack…Bedrest!

I apparently overextended myself today by getting up, making breakfast, straightening up the living room, playing with the cat, showering, and attempting to get ready for a meeting this afternoon because I began having contractions. I called the doc expecting to be told to just rest, and instead we were off to triage. The good news, the very best news is that they don’t seem to have done anything to the cervix, it’s still closed & measured 3.8 cm. Not the 4.5 I love, but that’s the longest they’ve measured it at the hospital. And they stopped with rest. So we’ll take it and be happy.

Bed rest won’t be that different from what I’ve been doing, but it will mean I’ll be even less social and less helpful around the house. And my poor lonely cats will have to deal with even less playtime.

Now I get to have the meeting I was supposed to have today tomorrow, at my house. That’ll be weird, to have my adviser as a guest.

I don’t feel nearly as grumpy as I could right now. I’m just feeling relief that the contractions stopped and all seems to be well. Very well, considering. And the resident this time was very nice and understanding, no patronizing or stupid comments.

And the baby is kicking up a storm. The ultrasound screen on the little machine in the room was very small, but we could see the baby’s butt bouncing around. Very cute.

Breaktime

I spent the whole morning working! Can you imagine? I spent breakfast reading/commenting on blogs but was working away by 7:45am. So now it’s noon and I’m having lunch and blogging then it’s back to work. Today I actually feel quite good because I finished another decent draft of a chapter (okay so on my schedule I said I would be done with it on Friday, but it’s only Tuesday so that’s not too far behind, right?). Just have to put it aside for today and write a conclusion and make a few changes tomorrow and it’ll be really ready to hand in on Thursday.

I have lots to distract me from the increasing horror of week 22. Meeting with adviser on Thursday – one I have only corresponded with via email since April so she didn’t know I was pregnant. I was tempted to not tell her until I saw her, but I thought that might be too much of a shock. I’m so terrified that I’ll have to notify people of bad news again. But back to happy thoughts, the best part of the week, lunch with Kate on Friday. I get to meet Castor and Pollux, er, I mean Max and Theo!

I’m in a good place right now, having finally put the two big work tasks that have been plaguing me since before behind me.  I know some of you can relate, being academics or writers yourselves, to how extraordinarily difficult it has been to return to things I was in the midst of when I went into the hospital. It’s a constant reminder of the horror, and now, my terrible in between place. I’m excited to be starting again from scratch on a chapter.

At the same time, I’m terrified that my life is about to be thrown into turmoil and tragedy again. Yesterday afternoon, at one point I felt really ready to cry my anxiety was getting so intense, but I told myself I had to wait until I finished the section I was writing. By the time I’d finished, the sad moment had passed although I was then crabby and intensely stressed out for awhile.

I have decided on an evening routine – about 8:30 or so I’ll go into the bedroom, turn down the lights, burn a candle, and read quietly while listening to music. Does anyone have any other practical relaxation tips that have worked for you, for days and moments when this begins to feel like too much?

22 Weeks

On another blog someone made a comment about how a woman who has had a miscarriage won’t start to feel safe until the baby starts moving regularly. Well we’re at the latter stage in this house now but the former feeling hasn’t quite kicked in. I wonder when that happens? Maybe in about 18 years plus 3 months? Or maybe when I die myself of old age and this baby and his children live on, then maybe I can feel like there’s a right order about things in the world.

Oh, it’s really not that bad. I’m doing fine. Some anxiety but not terrible. I’m almost energetic actually, which, although I used to feel it often, now seems quite foreign to this body. Makes me suspicious. That’d be a nice one for the doctor on call this weekend – help! I don’t know what to think – I’m feeling too okay.

The news of my pregnancy has now spread to the elderly faction of the inlaws. One of the members just called now and “can only wish [me] the best of luck.” That’s fine as well. She’s not the prayer-offering type, and really, luck is fine. But there was a funny moment in the conversation. She was asking how my work was going and commented, “So I heard you changed your major again.” Huh? Yes, actually, now I’m going for a Phd in electrical engineering….How do these rumors get started? The first problem with the statement reveals a fairly common misunderstanding. Grad students don’t have “majors.” I’m getting a Phd in history. I’m not doing coursework in anything else – my major was American Studies in college but I graduated 8 years ago. No changing it now. Second problem – I’ve been an Americanist focusing on the early period (colonization through the Civil War) since I entered grad school in the fall 0f 2002 and haven’t changed. My diss topic has been the same since I started it 2.5 years ago. So I haven’t changed anything. It doesn’t matter but it’s weird to think there’s discussion going on out there about me changing. It’s not that surprising, however, because it seems every time I talk to my father-in-law and he asks about my dissertation topic, he responds as if it’s the first he heard of it. It’s as if I’m the most fickle scholar/student in the world, when really I’m quite consistent.

Ummmmm….

So I got another email with a very weird subject line from G., so I read it. Basically, she wrote that she’d called the Depression hotline for our university the other day because she realized she needs help, but that they’d not been able to get her an appointment for a number of weeks and then she told me a bit about her anxieties. My first instinct upon getting such an email would obviously be to reach out. Because she is clearly in need of help. I am not the right person to help though, obviously. But my second instinct is to feel a bit more nervous. Is this some sort of escalation because I’ve been ignoring her emails?

I feel somewhat crazy myself for even writing about this. But I have to emphasize and remember that this relationship between us is one she contrived. I could hardly match a name to her face before she saw I was pregnant one day last fall and began emailing me. She has always given me the creeps, and anyone who especially wants the attention of a pregnant woman especially scares me.

Josh suggests I email her back saying I’m sorry to hear about this and agree that she should find some professional help.

I’ve never had such a remotely strange experience.

It does remind me of a weird guy I dated years ago though. It was just after I graduated college. I met this guy and we went on a few dates. I was really not interested. He seemed nice enough but when I tried to break it off, he said, “You can’t do that.” I responded, “What? What do you mean?” He then answered, “We’re in a relationship and in a relationship two people have to agree, and I don’t agree. I still want to date.” But it only took my not returning his phone calls for a couple weeks or accepting a flower delivery and he went away.

Ramblings in Blogland

I’m having a lot of trouble with experts lately. Not necessarily all of them – I quite like my obstetrician, for example, and I tend to trust that my advisers know what they’re talking about when we talk history. But lately I’ve been expanding my blog reading beyond the little group of grieving moms with whom I started in February. As I mentioned weeks ago, I’ve already had to ban myself from one particular blog because it depressed me. Since then I’ve found a few others that are pregnancy/labor/premature labor related and even ventured beyond that to Salon and Huff. Post, in addition to some of the more left political sites I’ve read for a year or more. I’m excluding the grieving mom group from the rest of my thoughts here, because with these I’m personally invested and often really impressed by the posts and comments.

With blogland in general, however, I’m finding the level of discussion in comment sections obnoxious and discouraging. Even still, I’m more and more fascinated by it. Particularly when otherwise interesting discussions descend and include phrases like the following, “I suggest a good course in biology to anyone who thinks….” or suggestions that one commenter or another learn to read or get spelling lessons. The reader who can take these proposals in good spirits would be few and far between I’m sure, so they mostly have the effect of destroying the conversation entirely.

We’ve all been attacked by trolls, I think, but the situation I’m describing is different. Participants who enter the public sphere of a blog and decide that they hold knowledge superior to almost anyone else writing there and who think it’s their prerogative to declare other people functionally illiterate seem to play a particular role, and it’s not a good one. Perhaps because they don’t often demonstrate their expertise in any other way beyond declaring it – they might say something vague, like “I have advanced degrees.” I suspect more so that they’ve forgotten the virtues of that widely praised and useful character trait, humility. The image of themselves they forward assumes it’s self-evident that they’re somehow extraordinary. They’re almost becoming a “type” in my mind – and I’d love to spend time compiling examples, to see if I can discern something special about them and how they function in blogs.

It doesn’t give me much hope for the democratic possibilities of this new sort of print discourse. But that’s a normal state of affairs historically. Sources for my research include, fairly exclusively, examples from the sorts of print discourse that were new in the 18th and 19th centuries. Lots of people celebrated the democratic possibilities there, as well. Others were frightened by them, and historians have spent the last 30 years talking about how they weren’t so democratic anyway.

I have many more thoughts about the “average” characters who post so avidly on forums that are either electronic versions of a “letter to the editor” section in a periodical or blogs that straddle the categories of personal/political/activism sites – most of the thoughts being purely academic and non-judgmental. I’m wishing, actually, for some cultural studies scholar to write about it, and if I weren’t already overwhelmed with things I ought to be doing instead, I’d take it up and try to publish something.

But for the moment, do any of you understand what I’m talking about? What are your thoughts?

I can’t wait

Seriously, I really can’t.

My nephew has taken to rushing to his room, slamming the door, and shouting, “You’re ruining my life!” when my sister tells him he can’t do/have something. He’s 4.

My niece, who’s 3, absolutely cannot start the new school year until she has pink toenails like the girls she met last week at the “water day”/”getting to know your new school party.”

Wow, how I want these problems.

Two weeks

Two weeks from today I will be at the gestational date with this pregnancy where I went into ptl with Natan. I’ve been trying NOT to be aware of that point but seeing as my body is determined to work like clockwork in some respects (I know, that’s usually a blessing) I always know that Saturday/Sunday marks a new week in either a cycle or a pregnancy. And I remember that I went into the hospital on a Wednesday.

So I feel distracted and hyper-aware of everything happening with my body now. Yes, I’m feeling fine and the cervix was good as of Sunday. But I feel a palpable dread. Will we make it to the other side? Can this possibly go well?

I get the gold star

You may notice the pretentious change of title. Well, that’s because when I checked this morning, despite my settings, I’m searchable via some engines. Alas. I went with Italian, because although I have only unpleasant memories of studying the language in college for a semester, the inspiration for the title is a narrative of a year in Italy.

Fanny Kemble, an English actress and the author of the narrative, spent a year in Italy following her separation from her husband, an American slaveholder, in the 1840s. By leaving her husband, she relinquished her right to custodial care of her daughters. It took her nearly a decade to work up the nerve to leave her husband because of the effect it would have on her relationship with her daughters, and although she didn’t write about the pain of separation in her published work, she titled it Ye.ar of Con.solation, an obvious reference. When I began thinking about blogging and about how I envisioned the year ahead of us, her book immediately came to mind. And so, when it happened that I needed to move and hide this blog, another of her titles came to me, Further Records. Kemble lived a long life and wrote multiple memoirs, Further Records being the title of her last one.

As far as I know, Kemble never lost a child, but I have always imagined how wrenching her choice must have been for her, and how she must have felt judged as a failure as a wife and mother.

You don’t say?

The doctor’s appointment took forever.

The cervix looks fine, somewhere between 3.5 and 4.3 depending on who you ask and how you look at it. So we have another two week reprieve. But I’ve already known this since yesterday – we went to L&D in the afternoon. I was just sitting in my usual spot, when all of a sudden my lower pelvic area and back began hurting so badly I could hardly walk, the world went so fuzzy I almost passed out, and I broke out in a sweat. I was so out of it even the cats were frightened, according to Josh, but honestly I was confused I didn’t know what was going on.

They couldn’t find anything wrong. Fortunately, the baby was fine, and the cervix still looked long. No sign of any infections or problems. Towards the end of the ordeal, though, we had a weird moment. The heartbeat monitor started flying all over the place from the kicking, and simultaneously the pain exploded in my back and bowel. I know I just said a few weeks ago that this baby is “calmer” than Natan. I take that back! It took quite a bit longer to feel him, I guess since the placenta is anterior, but starting yesterday it’s been almost non-stop. Which is nice, except I guess he has a preference for hanging around the lower back area during his I don’t know what, soccer practice maybe? The doctor said today that it’s possible the baby has found a spot he likes that happens to be a bit close to a nerve.

My favorite part of yesterday evening, however, was definitely the resident’s attempts at comfort? reassurance? sympathy? Not really sure. At one point she stated as she patted my foot and explained there didn’t seem to be anything wrong, “You know, pregnancy’s not supposed to be easy.” I don’t think she meant to be anything but kind, but it set off a round of maniacal giggles that continues today when I think of it. “Not…easy?” Well what do you know, here I was thinking it was supposed to be a cake walk. Next time I’m attacked by a fit of worry or blindsided by sudden memories of “last time,” I’ll just remind myself, “oh yeah, this is how it’s supposed to be.”