Monthly Archives: April 2012

thoughts at almost 34 weeks

There are reasons I don’t like to go out in public while pregnant. The last post explained one of them–stupid things other people say. Another reason I don’t like to go out much — normal, polite conversation. A family we casually know just had their second baby. I’m pregnant, so of course any conversation we might have right now would touch on pregnancy, labor, and infants. I don’t spend enough time around this family for them to know my history. I don’t think we’d ever even had a discussion of how many children we have or about labor before a birthday party last week and this major public town festival yesterday. Since we always see them in family settings–at the park, kid birthday parties, it’s visually apparent that we have just one child. They having had only one child before now, they never commented about family size as seems to always happen around people with more.

Anyway, my point. Last week, at a birthday party, all the parents were talking about the lack of maternity and parental leave here. I mentioned something about how I’d looked into FMLA and major medical leave when Dr. H put me on partial bed rest, just to figure out what would happen if I had to stop working completely or actually did deliver early. Someone asked something, and I mentioned how despite the stresses of mandated rest periods during the day, I’m just really glad I didn’t have to be on full time bed rest like I was with Samuel. Yesterday, I ran into the family at this festival in town. They had their teeny newborn with them. Someone remarked, “You’ll be carrying around one of those soon!” to me. The father said, “Hopefully he won’t be one this big.” Now, Samuel was 9 pounds, 9 ounces. Their baby looks healthy by all means, but TEENY to me. I’ve joked before that when the doctor held up Samuel to me, despite his slimy newborn self, my very first thought was, “He’s a television baby!” meaning he didn’t look newborn to me at all. So I answered, “Oh, I’d be happy with his size–Samuel was almost 10 pounds.” So the father said, “But I thought you were at risk for pre-term labor? When was he born?” “His due date.” If you had a baby that big, how much risk were you really at for preterm labor?”

Brain stopped. I was in a very, very public place, with lots of people milling by. I simply didn’t feel like getting into detail, so I answered, “Oh, major risk.” I don’t really need to explain myself, or turn idle chatting into a depressing reminder. Sometimes I prefer to maintain my equilibrium while sitting amongst carnival-food eating parents and children.

It didn’t upset me at all–that’s five years for you, in some ways. I don’t deny Natan, but I don’t always open the door for revelation either.

Just because I couldn’t remember the numbers myself, I looked it up today. How much at risk am I for a preterm delivery, based on my history? Somewhere from 17% to 37%. Here’s hoping I beat those odds two out of three. Dr. K’s anecdotal experience told her, if she could get me past 32, I’d go to term. She said if I didn’t go into labor right away after having my cerclage removed and quitting the progesterone, I’d go to my due date. I’ll be 34 weeks Tuesday, so let’s hope Dr. K is right again. Signs are pointing to yes.

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sitting in the torture chamber–also known as the ob/gyn’s waiting room

The ob/gyn practice I frequent often overbooks. Since I have bi-weekly appointments with my doctor and get progesterone shots every week, I spend at least an hour, often two hours, a week sitting in the waiting room.

Usually, I do my best to avoid looking at or speaking to anyone, but this week, the woman across from me would not be ignored. My back and hips have been hurting a lot lately, and sitting for 90 minutes or so in the semi-soft waiting-room chairs does not help. Every week I walk in and wish they would spring for some more comfortable chairs. Hard or soft are fine, in between sucks. So I kept stretching my arms over my head and otherwise trying to release the tension in my back.

Seeing me do that, the woman across from me asked, “So you haven’t heard about putting your arms above your head?”

I answered, “What?” but immediately realized I knew exactly what she was going to say.

“If you put your arms above your head, your baby’s cord could get around his neck and strangle him.”

So I told her to shut up. I’m kidding, I wouldn’t do that. But I did say, “That’s anatomically impossible,” in a tone that definitely indicated I didn’t want to discuss it further. Ten minutes earlier, she told me she was really disappointed she was having a girl, because she wanted a boy. I wish I’d told her she should’ve used the “Chinese Gender Predictor,” or that next time, she needs to make sure she and her boyfriend orgasmed at the same time. I could’ve also just made something up, and told her wearing flip flops will give her baby flat feet or incessantly typing on her smart phone will make her baby ugly.

These are the times I should be grateful I spend most of my pregnant time holed up in the privacy of my own home.

a world run by the people I disliked in high school

I promise this post isn’t about my suffering in high school, because really, I didn’t very much.

I was kind of a weird high school kid. I got straight A’s with only a reasonable amount of effort, and most of my girl friends were all really good girls. Yet I spent far too much time with seriously messed up boys, whom I had a weird kind of rescue thing for, all of whom are either dead or, as far as I know, are now seriously messed up men, in and out of jail. I drank exactly twice, getting drunkish once at my best friend’s 18th birthday party. I never did anything truly bad, and I pretended as if I were a whole lot more sexually active than I actually was (leading to a dramatic confrontation with my parents based upon nothing at all that had really happened), but I witnessed friends engaging in actually self-destructive and dangerous behavior. I was very much an observer of life, while I actually was much more honestly and consistently interested in and engaged with my Latin, math, and English books. I thought these people were exciting, whereas most high school boys were just tedious. I also felt like, in observing them, I could figure out how to fix the world. I was really self-righteous, I admit, and naive and silly. Why I forgave these boys who dropped out of school, and eventually became real criminals, I don’t know. Perhaps because I knew even then that life would never give them a break. I saved my animus for your run-of-the-mill high school pain-in-the-ass boys.

I went to a large high school, so I didn’t really suffer from the youthful politics of cliquishness. I was in honors classes and involved in student council (called student commission at my school). Being president of my class for a couple years, and vice-president or treasurer or something of the whole council for a couple, I had to help run dances and build Homecoming floats and other very Midwestern events. I actually did not care at all about dances and Homecoming floats, but I knew being a class officer was a good thing to have on a college application. Even as I navigated my way through some seriously risky and dead-end surroundings, I always had one goal: getting out of my town and going to the best college possible. That was my first step in fixing the world.

I should have spent my time figuring out a different group of people.

My freshman year in high school, a group of jackass boys from my class ruined the sophomore class float, and also tossed eggs and squirted ketchup all over the house and car of the parents hosting their float construction. I didn’t know who was responsible, but I had to spend an afternoon in the principal’s office and apologize to the parents on their behalf. The funds to repair the car came from our class coffers. The same damn students later played a senior “prank” that destroyed a bunch of school property. Same thing with the class coffers. I didn’t find out until I was an adult, although of course I always suspected, that the same kids had been behind both pranks. I was uncool enough to not think they were funny and to think it seemed like a tremendous waste of energy and the good will of the faculty, and I wasn’t surprised to find out that they were guys who were popular, but whom I’d always found incredibly tedious, annoying, and not at all intelligent. That I had to think about them at all irritated me beyond belief. I could never stand having to waste my time dealing with stupid pranks.

At some point in high school, I learned that some of that same group of guys were cheating a lot in a science class we took together. They also spent a lot of time mocking a science teacher I didn’t care for and a certain government teacher I adored. They were insufferable in any class I had to take with them. Not only were they shallow, in my eyes, but they were making it more difficult for the rest of us to learn. I hated that they couldn’t appreciate that our teachers were smart and had things to teach us, because they got in my way. I disliked them so much, but I couldn’t prove they were guilty of anything or do anything about them. I comforted myself that “cheaters never win” and mediocre students who take advantage of others would never accomplish much.

Facebook, of course, allows you to figure out what all these people you liked and didn’t like are doing with their adulthood. One of the boys from that group apparently went through some hard times in his early twenties, and seems like a good family man with whom I would get a long just fine. A few years ago, the guy I perceived as the leader of the obnoxious group also friended me. This happened right around the debate over healthcare reform, and I was shocked to learn he was an executive in a healthcare insurance company.

Inevitably, I soon became ensnared in arguments online with him, in which he consistently dismissed anything I, or other friends who’ve had way too much experience with dealing with insurance companies or hospitals, had to say. He never said anything useful or thoughtful, but would just be patronizing, telling us we couldn’t possibly understand what he, with all of his professional experience, understood. I am perfectly willing to listen to statements of proof which you happen to have gotten from professional experience. But when I get in to discussions about history, I don’t say things like, “The Civil War was about slavery, and you have to believe me because I have a PhD.” I lay out the different ways states’ rights arguments always hinged upon disagreements about whether slavery should be allowed to expand into the western territories of the United States. If I’m in the right surroundings, I cite newspaper articles and treatises from the time. My former classmate tried to rely on the same things he always had, that he’s a fairly charismatic guy who can get a lot by smiling and speaking as if he knows what he’s talking about. And just as it had been 20 years ago, I thought he was full of himself, tedious, and aggravating. Yet, whereas back then I could tell myself he wasn’t going to get anywhere with that kind of attitude plus his cheating ways, now I have to admit this guy is very influential and wealthy.

He’s gotten to be exactly where he’s always wanted to be by being an overbearing, pushy, egotistical man. And for all their differences, when John Boehner, Rick Santorum, and Mitt Romney talk, I hear that guy and all of his friends, only now, instead of manipulating teachers and pushing other students around, they’re doing it to the country. [Okay, to be fair, I was watching a news show that showed old footage of John Edwards, and looking back, I realize he’s this type too.]

When I began teaching, I didn’t expend much effort caring about the lying, cheating and manipulative students. I encountered so many students who thought they could get by in my class by charming me with their big smiles and good looks. It doesn’t work on me, and I told myself that they’d soon learn it wouldn’t work for them anywhere. Smart people don’t fall for that crap. A major source of my current angst, however, is the loss of my faith in that belief.  I’m starting to believe that the lying, cheating and manipulative students are going to be just fine, and that’s crazymaking because I don’t know what to do about it.

waiting, waiting, and more waiting

This spring seems to be all about me wanting to get on with the next stage. I am 30 weeks, 6 days pregnant today, and my cervix is at 3cm even. A good place. Since I think I’m going to be induced at 39 weeks because of my platelet issues if I don’t deliver earlier, we’re now looking at no more than 2 months more of pregnancy for me. Eek. It seems too good to be true. Hence I’m walking around in a impatient daze of denial. Waiting for baby.

My hopefully 8 more weeks of pregnancy are bound up with 4 more weeks of teaching full-time. Without going into tedious detail, the last few months have included so many experiences and so much information out of academia that confirm my choice. I am so not suited for this. Waiting, waiting, waiting for the end of the semester. Waiting to be part-time employed.

Finally, we’re buying a house that will get me to a big(gish) city. I am not cut out for small-town southern living. I just am not. I swear I tried, and it’s not about northern prejudice. It’s about never feeling at home, and being treated, openly, like an outsider. I don’t want to live my life, or raise Samuel, in a place where we’re tolerated rather than embraced. We’ve put in an offer, received a counter, and have accepted the counter on a beautiful house in a true urban neighborhood. True in the Midwestern sense, meaning it’s a house with a yard, but still in a city. I so hope no surprises await as we go through inspection and closing. The house has enough space for an office, and for a living room without toys in it. I cannot wait. Waiting to move.

By early July, all this shall be resolved. And if I’m not satisfied then, I suppose I’ve got a bigger problem.