Monthly Archives: September 2007

Funny funny

I was out yesterday after my doctor’s appointment and a stranger walked up to me and commented that it looked like I didn’t have much longer to wait (I know, weird) and asked if I was getting nervous. I responded, “Only about the diapers, that terrifies me,” and turned away. I’m so rude.
Shana Tova u’metucha. (A good and sweet year.) I hope this will be a better one for us all, whether you know what I’m talking about or not.

26 weeks, 4 days

I have had goodness only knows how many cycles in my life. I only specifically remember the start of 3 of them. Among the three was my first one – I was fairly young, in the spring of 6th grade. It was during fire education week and I remember that suddenly, while I was sitting in the pit in the library listening to my friend’s dad talk about the upcoming summer and the dangers of firecrackers, I felt wet. It was the  morning and I was quite shocked. For some reason I thought I should be ashamed, possibly because the boys had spent the year teasing all the girls about their periods and breast size and apparently schools weren’t doing gender sensitivity training 18 years ago. So I didn’t tell anyone, which of course led to an embarrassing scene. And me being berated by my sixth grade teacher for not having told my mom. Looking back on it as an adult, I can’t believe how those adults made a perfectly normal event into a trauma. Then of course it went all crazy, stopping and starting irregularly, lasting for a day, then for a week, and so on. My next memory of the start of a cycle was a Wednesday two years later, in the spring of 8th grade when one day walking down the hall it suddenly it occurred to me that my period would probably arrive in the middle of orchestra 6th hour, because that was when it had arrived every 4th Wednesday for quite a while. And so on it continued for the next, oh, fourteen years, changing slightly after years on the pill and two pregnancies. I can remember the moment my last period arrived in March – and I feel like from that moment until now I have lived more aware of what’s happening inside me, of every twitch, twinge, temperature fluctuation, ache, tingle, function, excretion, than can possibly be normal.

I have never been unaware, of course but my body has always been so predictable, so regular that I never thought about it. I never had to pay that much attention. I see now that my body did warn me that I was in and going into pre-term labor. It wasn’t familiar though, and I trusted the doctors. I don’t blame myself, but it is a regret. Despite my anxieties, I now understand what normal feels like physically.

The constant consciousness of it all is getting to me.  It makes it very hard to live in the world – trying to have a conversation or to write or have a thought unrelated to the fact that I can feel ligaments stretching and my bladder filling. But in a way it is getting easier. Seeing week after week that nothing is changing with my cervix, I find it easier to balance the physical changes with the knowledge that they really are okay. The vaginal twinges are really just that – the extra blood flowing. The aching back is just an aching back.

I believe the progesterone is working not just because I haven’t gone into labor – that could also be the cerclage – but because I’ll feel fine from today until the weekend, but on Monday I’ll start to feel a little crampy and get a slight headache.

All was well at the doctor’s today. My cervix is still long, closed, and uncompromised. I asked about risks – if my water breaks or I go into labor early, how much time would we have? She said she’s never had or heard of anyone not having time to get the cerclage out safely (although of course tearing is a known risk, it’s just a really really rare one), and that she’s confident that I would recognize a problem well enough in advance. Their first approach would be to stop or delay full labor. I didn’t ask about the steroids because all is going well. I already know she’s against doing them without an indication in this pregnancy. She said as well that of course we want to go to term, but that everyone will relax once I get in the 30s because babies born after 32 weeks in this hospital do very well. That’s five and a half weeks from now ack. My ideal would be to go into labor 10 weeks from this coming Saturday. Let’s see if we can manage that….

Stuff you don’t want to hear

After spending quite a long time in search of an acceptably uncrowded, internet-providing coffee shop when you live in the college football town from hell, and finally finding a comfortable spot to plant yourself with ample support for your back and legs, it’s less than heartening to overhear one employee shout to the other, “Hey Kristy, we’re out of soap! Both out here and in the bathroom.” Lovely. The guy across from me reading the pediatrics textbooks grimaced as well.Don’t think I’ll be ordering a pastry or another drink today. “Kristy” shushed him – good call but how about also fixing the soap thing.

Um, yikes

I happened across an article this morning about children’s exercise equipment – for the 4 to 11 year old set. It’s supposed to be a solution for the international child obesity epidemic.

It didn’t do much to improve my mood. Busy parents?? Honestly, I know busy. But I solemnly swear any child entrusted to me will not have to resort to a stationary bike in front of a television.

Sad today

It’s a foreign feeling for me in the long duree view of my life, to be sad without knowing exactly the reason why. I suppose now I always have a reason, but I’m still not familiar enough with the new rhythms of my moods to recognize why one day is fine, another very good, and a third bad.

The night before we realized I was in preterm labor, we were out at dinner and I saw a woman who was about as pregnant as I was at the time. She was holding a little girl’s hand and they were rushing to the bathroom. It was so normal, mundane, and I felt the most ferocious jealousy. It surprised me – even after the miscarriage I’d felt more sadness than jealousy at the sight of big round bellies. Where did that feeling come from? What did I know?

I know that yesterday my mood turned because we received an email sent out to all of the graduate students in our department. Someone’s wife had had a baby. I shouldn’t have read it, I know. I didn’t read most of it – but I didn’t recognize the name – and not realizing at first that everyone had received it, I thought, “do I know these people?” and clicked on it to figure that out. It was such a cheerful message, all I saw was the joke that labor must have been brought on “by the long walk home from [someone’s house].” Mostly of course the father was just incredibly proud and happy to have his wife and child safely delivered. But I thought, “How incredibly comfortable he is that birth is always a happy event.” Not to mention the assumption that a random announcement could only bring joy to recipients. Or that we’d otherwise ignore it. I could only think about how I’m not taking any long walks in this pregnancy and I’m keeping my social engagements very limited. About how I’m strategizing about the shortest possible routes from the parking lot to the classroom where I’ll be taking my “job market skills” course starting next week and how happy I was that the professor recently moved the classroom to a spot closer to the doors and elevators.

In my own sad way, I’ve considered that not everyone in the world will want to hear our happy news when it happens (at least I can consider that happy news might be a possibility). We’re certainly not going to send the message out to multiple dozens of graduate students, most of whom are strangers to us (we generally only know the students within 1-2 cohorts of our own), and who for all we know might find the news to be only a reminder of their own pain. No matter how busy we might be if this new baby comes home to us, the message will go out only to those people we know would want to know. I can take the time to type in the individual addresses.

Additionally, I’ve spent too much miserable time in the L&D waiting room or lying distraught in a hospital bed, to think it would be at all appropriate for family members and friends to show up loudly celebrating and bearing gifts. Josh will never be making loud ecstatic cellphone calls a few feet a way from a woman or a couple who have already lost their child or are worried they might be about to.

I’m going to have to have a hard conversation soon. Every time I speak to one of my advisers, she brings up other pregnant graduate students. One in our department, another in an affiliated one. I’m going to have to ask her to stop. I have no desire right now to make friends with someone based exclusively on our pregnant state. Partly because of my fear that it will create simply another baby I have to celebrate in my own state of grief, but also because I can’t imagine how it would help me. I’m not in the mood, ever, right now to make new friends. I like the ones I have just fine. I can’t pretend that this pregnancy isn’t hard, that I’m not terrified, that I don’t have bittersweet feelings towards other women with easy pregnancies, while at the same time I don’t want to tell anyone new my story.

I hate these feelings though. Because I’m beginning to wonder if there’s too much bitterness to my grief.

I’d like to think though, that instead I’m learning about empathy. That my feelings about not celebrating too loudly and publicly aren’t about myself exclusively, but rather about acknowledging that the moment is not a universally happy one just because I’m there. That it’s not just about knowing the world doesn’t revolve round me, but acting like it doesn’t.

What were you doing on June 11 1975?

My parents were planning my older sister’s first birthday. Josh was the age of my current resident inutero. Thompson and Midnight Midnightevna were hardly a flicker in their great-great-great-great-great grandmother’s eye.
But our old oven? According to the little sticker on the back, it was being pushed off the assembly line and packed up to begin its long, long life of burning cookies and lop-sided omelettes.

It has gone off to retirement somewhere. In its place sits a “Hotpoint” brand oven – something I’ve only seen in crappy apartments. But it made our homemade veggie burger and french fry dinner just fine.

Smell of Paranoia?

Two nights ago, I was woken up by a very nasty burning smell in our apartment. When we investigated, it turned out that our oven hadn’t turned off. The dial was off, but it was still as hot as it had been when Josh had used it to cook something a few hours earlier. So obviously we unplugged it.

Had it been gas, I’d have immediately insisted we leave but it and everything else in the house is electric. So we just opened doors and windows and waited for the smell to leave. Today it’s finally clearing out (I should say that yesterday it was only the pregnant woman who noticed the faint scent of charred toast). Of course in the morning I started to worry.

The maintenance guys assured me there’s nothing to worry about – it couldn’t have introduced anything dangerous into the air. They’re right, aren’t they? Anything out of the ordinary only increases my terror that even if my body cooperates this time, something else crazy is going to go wrong. I made the mistake of watching about 5 minutes of Oprah the other day and it was an episode about “household dangers.” I never watch daytime TV and those short minutes told me I shouldn’t start.

The good news, though, is that we’re getting a brand new oven. We were worried we’d have to argue – but Josh told them straight out that we don’t trust that oven now – new dial or not – and it’s not worth the risk. They didn’t even argue and just came to measure and are off to Home Depot. It’ll be my first new oven ever. Even in Israel where you have to buy your own appliances for apartments we simply bought the old one off the old tenants and then sold it to the new tenants. I have grand fantasies of setting the temp to 375 and trusting it’s at least closer to that than 450. And of setting a teapot on a burner that heats up every inch of coil and doesn’t tip slightly to the left. I hope I won’t be disappointed.

To be celebrated

In the obstetrician’s office this morning (just a shot so no news to report), I was struck as usual by the variety of pregnancy magazines. One in particular had a rather thin pregnant woman on the cover and I couldn’t help it. Suddenly a very nasty thought occurred to me. You all aren’t normally subject to the vileness of the language in my head, but I could only express the feeling as such, “J****S F****G CHR**T, am I going to see Nicole Richie on the cover of one of these magazines sometime soon?” Bon wrote a much more charitable post earlier today than I will. She felt bad about the vitriol she felt towards Richie – the inner desire to see something go wrong. I can’t actually bring myself to write what that would be but you all know what I mean. I also can’t bring myself to feel bad for having felt the same thing.

I’m confused by it. I understand the marketing behind celebrity. I understand the mechanics of its circulation. I understand on a basic level the mass fascination with celebrity narratives – with human interest stories in general. I understand it historically. By now, I have written hundreds of pages on it in a much earlier iteration. I understand that Nicole Richie is both real and not real. I know that it’s the not real Nicole Richie that I wish unkind things upon. And therein lies the source of my cognitive and moral dissonance.

Such is the confusion of celebrity. Certainly we see celebrities engage in atrocious behavior. There are consequences for that. There’s no possible way they escape them. We see it on some level – 82 minute prison terms, bitter divorces, overdoses. We can imagine some of them are bitterly unhappy. Yet the narrative of celebrity problems brings the happy ending too quickly. Nicole Richie drove drunk and high in January. Nicole Richie was until very recently so very thin that the world was surprised she could even ovulate. Nicole Richie and her child’s father supposedly broke up months ago. Now she’s a glowingly pregnant woman and all of those problems are behind her. She’s even engaged! I suppose all of this somehow contains a lesson in positive thinking for all of us. Bullshit.

Instead it pretendts that dangerous behavior and possibly even eating disorders can be overcome between magazine issues.

It’s the narrative that grates me. Maybe Nicole Richie’s pregnancy will be fine. Maybe her baby will be fine. Maybe (haha) she and her boyfriend will get married and stay together forever. Why should anyone celebrate with her? It’s an obstetrician’s nightmare. It wouldn’t work out well for most people – no matter how celebrated they are by the media. If we’re going to hear about this pregnancy at all (and of course it’s easy to say we shouldn’t), it is irresponsible for anyone to discuss it otherwise. For the real baby and families involved, I hope it will work out well. I hope the baby will go to term and not have any disabilities as a result of its mother’s behavior. I’m glad it will have access to great health care.

For the not real Nicole Richie, however, I want the pregnancy to be the disaster it may well be behind closed doors. I want a discussion of how children and pregnancy are not just tabloid fodder. I want acknowledgment that bad things happen to bad parents and good parents. I want realism, not romance.

So exciting

Here’s a lovely photo of the famous Tom cat, sometimes called Thompson, sometimes Tommy T. Thompson (yes after the lovely WI governor of my youth), sometimes Thompson T. Cat, sometimes Tom Tomovich, listening to a reading from what I think was a discourse on Soviet film or proofreading some crap about the 19th century. Pay no attention to the woman on Tommy’s right, although this is likely the only “belly shot” you’ll get to see.

Edited to include: Midnight Midnightovich (or Midnight Midnightevna, as it should be since she’s a girl but I always mess it up.)

Good Boys Deserve Favor Always/A Cow Eats Grass

Or as the third chair cellist in my middle school orchestra put it: A Cow! Ew Gas! That wouldn’t leave my mind as I thought of this poetry challenge….The bass clef mnemonic. I will try again. I don’t do lyric poetry:

A boy cries, Don’t eat fine grub!

He isn’t joking: kind lemons multiply,

Not over pie, quarks rustle slowly,

Through underground vents, while xenogeneic yeomen zigzag.

I would go through the list of blogs from which I got this, but just check out Slouching Mom for the list if you’re interested.

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We went to a wedding last night that featured karaoke singing. I of course didn’t get up and sing. But I did become overly exhausted by just sitting in an uncomfortable chair for almost 4 hours, and once again felt somewhat guilty for failing to be a chatty pregnant woman. I wish I would have the chance to discuss anything BUT babies and pregnancy yet somehow the protruding belly makes that difficult. At soon as I arrived, people began coming up to me, crying “Oh!” or as one guy we haven’t seen since he moved across the country said, “Nice!” (as much to Josh as to me). I thought I might try to revel in the attention as if I were any old pregnant woman. That worked for about five minutes.

I don’t mind people touching my belly, really, at all. I don’t want to compare notes on pregnancies or children. And yet of course they are preoccupied by my pregnant state if I haven’t seen them in months or years or we don’t know each other well at all. I’m preoccupied by my pregnant state and I’m stuck with myself all the time. I just always hope that being social will allow me some time for distraction but instead it puts it in sharp focus.

I’m making the wedding sound as if it were awful, but it was fine. I just want people to be cooing over a baby in my arms, not my belly.

Today, I have been pregnant longer than ever.