Thursday, December 14, 2006

I didn't order the side of guilt, thanks

I hang out on a message board full of other women who are around the same stage of pregnancy as I am. Sometimes it’s nice to get reassurance and commiseration; sometimes I feel like a total alien. It’s supposed to be a more independently-minded corner of the Internet than most places pregnant women congregate, but occasionally conformity rears its smoothly-shaped little head.

Someone said she’d been feeling guilty for feeling so crummy all the time; people kept telling her that she “looked good” since the start of the pregnancy and she felt bad for looking great but feeling like roadkill. Someone else said she felt guilty for feeling crappy, too, since people expected her to be super-excited and it’s hard to work up enthusiasm when you’re puking your guts out on a regular basis. She said she doesn’t discuss or even mention the I Feel Like Hammered Shit factor of pregnancy to anyone except her husband. Some women said they felt guilty for not being Ms. Happy Happy Joy Joy about being pregnant when they know there are a lot of women who want to be pregnant but are unable to be.

I piped up and said that I’m pretty candid about it. Causal acquaintances, I’ll smile and say “oh, much better” when they ask how I’m feeling, but everyone else is fair game. Maybe I just have a more understanding or intimate circle of friends and relatives, but when my mom or my college roommate asks “how are you feeling?” I can say “all I eat are pretzels and soda water, and sloths are more active than I am” without fear of reprisal or someone screaming at me that this is the happiest time of my life so I should count my blessings. My mom finds some of my symptoms funny, my extended relatives hang on every update, and my friends with kids are sympathetic, and many of my childless female friends are curious.

As soon as I mentioned that I didn’t give a bright, shining happiest-of-happies response to inquiries about my condition, I could feel the other women on the board drawing away. It was that rustle you know all too well as a girl, the sound of every other woman in the room moving the other direction and whispering about you.

I have to say I don’t get it. I’ve seen women act like pregnancy is this fabulous exclusive club we should all be so grateful to join, as though we’re all going to be canonized for pushing babies out our vaginas and are the luckiest people in the world because a sperm met an egg. I can’t quite wrap my brain around that mindset.

I am a pretty no-fuss gal. My husband and I had a ton of sex for three or four weeks straight, and I got pregnant. There was no charting of temperatures, no thermometers in my vagina, no screaming “I’m ovulating!!” into the telephone, no scheduling of sex, ordering him not to masturbate, or dictating that we do it only on certain days or only every other day. We wanted a baby, so we went at it. We just had a whole ‘lotta sex, and that was that.

So now that I am carrying what, by so many accounts, I should be viewing as a gift from God and a precious, beloved miracle, I am not one to lie about it. I don’t think pregnancy is some clandestine order full of secrets to be hidden from other women. I am not going to smile and tell someone I feel like Mary Fucking Sunshine when I’m really about to puke on their shoes. If someone tells me I look good, I can say “thanks,” but I’m not going to feel guilt about looking good while feeling shitty.

And I am certainly not going to feel guilty about getting pregnant when other women can’t. I have enough shit to feel guilty about in my life, I don’t need to make things up. I’m not insensitive; I certainly wouldn’t prattle on about how being pregnant sucks to someone I knew was having fertility problems. But I’m not going to search for guilt where there is none. I’m pretty sure my friends that have bought houses at night don’t sit around going “God, I feel so bad relaxing in my own living room when Weetzie and Max can’t even make a downpayment for what this cost.” I’m pretty sure some dude who lives in Newport Beach in a fancy condo and drives a brand-new Ferrari didn’t feel an ounce of guilt buying that car even though most people can’t afford one. There are a lot more people who can’t afford a Ferrari than people who can’t get pregnant. I don’t see why I should be expected to feel guilt over people I don’t know, have never met, will never meet. I know there are women who would give everything they have to be in my shoes, to be carrying a child, but that does not make me less tired, my muscles less sore, or quell my nausea. It does not make me feel better to dwell on the misfortunes of these women; I’d like to think that they don’t want me feeling guilt or pity for them, that they would rather I enjoy my child while they wait for their own to arrive.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Had my 16-week appointment yesterday. I still have not switched OB's, although I want to. I like this guy, he's very nice and personable and all, but he insists on internal monitoring from the second I get to the hospital. If my water hasn't broken, he'll break it, and then they'll poke an electrode into the baby's scalp to measure heart rate and very probably stick a probe into my uterine wall to measure contractions. None of which I am cool with. So now I have to go through the pain-in-the-ass process of switching doctors. Sigh.

Anyway, yesterday the doctor couldn't find the heartbeat with the doppler. I was unconcerned; I've heard from a couple people that sometimes they're just hard to find. I had felt sick when I woke up in the morning, which meant my hormones were probably still working, and the doctor said he wasn't worried. My husband sure was, though. Max grew more tense with every minute that slipped by, every pass of the doppler wand across my exposed stomach. I could feel his anxiety as he stood next to the exam table; he was frowning and his jaw was clenched. Finally the doctor said "oh, it's just easier to see it, let's go into the next room and just do an ultrasound."

So he did, and the baby appeared right away. The first things I saw were legs. Two skinny little legs with feet, kicking around in the grainy grey window. The wand moved across my belly, and a head appeared. "See?" said the doctor. "Still there, everything's fine. It's perfect." He started to point out the various parts, but I blurted out, "Is it sucking its thumb?!"

It was. Not only was there a recognizable head, but there were arms and hands, one of which kept flying up to the mouth.

For the first time, I felt a little awww feeling. I have been pretty "meh" about this whole deal so far, even though it was a (meticulously) planned pregnancy and very much wanted, etc. I'm not overly sentimental about stuff like this by nature, and pregnancy is not very fun, so I have not been much for teary-eyed moments. But this was different; this was a person-shaped thing, not just blobs, and it was sucking its thumb. It was doing a thing that babies do all the time. So I felt a little "awww" and I felt a little "wow." It made it seem much more real; that grainy image of thumb-sucking sank in more deeply than all the barfing, all the insomnia and aches and strange feelings have.

Holy crap, we're having a baby.

16 Weeks

Well, I have now officially completed 16 weeks of pregnancy. I have 24 more to go. Which seems like a really long time, especially since I don't particularly like being pregnant. I'm not anxious to have it over with and have the baby in-hand (that award goes to Max, who would like to have his wee babelet arrive...oh, some time last week), I just don't like being pregnant. It's not fun. But more on that later.

The fetus: is about 4.5 inches long (crown to rump) and weighs approximately 3.5 ounces. It's about the size of an avocado right now, which should give me something more interesting to think about than "why the fuck are they charging that much for carrots?" next time I go to the grocery store. Anyway, the lower limbs are much more developed now. The head is more erect than it has been previously, and the eyes have moved toward the front of the head. The ears are close to their final position. Some of the body systems are working, including the circulatory system (the heart is pumping roughly 25 quarts of blood per day) and urinary tract. Yep, the baby is swallowing aminotic fluid and peeing it out, right inside me. Which does not gross me out as much as you'd think, since it's basically going straight through. There's nothing in there for it to collect on its way, so it's not like actual pee. The patterning of the scalp has started, although the hair is not recognizable yet. The eyes are still fused shut, but they are moving (though slowly). It's even started growing fingernails and toenails, which will continue to grow while it gestates.

I am feeling better, although I'm starting to get the "fuzzy-brain" feeling the books and other mothers have warned me about. I'm getting more forgetful and spacy (I know, scary, right?) and my ability to multitask has gone to shit. Formerly, I wasn't happy unless I was doing two or three things at once, like watching a movie while knitting and surfing the internet. Now it's very hard for me to even surf and watch a movie at the same time, much less do anything else too. Writing, even silly blog posts, has become harder. Sometimes I have to sit for a few minutes and search for the words I want before I can even start. I leave out letters and words when I type, or type nonsense words and it takes me two or three passes to catch them.

The cats are loving this new twist, because when we're watching something I have to pay attention to, I stop doing everything else and just watch, which means my lap and my hands are free for Kitty Comfort Time. I read something in a magazine that said the baby needs a lot of the nutrient Choline right now, a nutrient that's essential for memory and brain development. If it's not getting enough from the placenta, it steals mine. And I end up feeling like a first-class space cadet.

Other things: I can feel my joints loosening, and it feels like my tailbone is shifting around when I lay on the floor. Sometimes I feel like you could take my arms and legs and pull me like a Stretch Armstrong doll. I know that my whole body loosening up is necessary if the kid is going to make it out in one piece, but I thought I'd have a little more time. That whole thing comes off like a cruel joke anway - "Ha ha ha! Not only are you going to gain weight and have your center of gravity fucked with, just for fun we'll make you as loosely-jointed as a marionette! You'll have no choice but to flail wildly, lose your balance, and fall on your ass more times than you can count!"

I can feel my stomach muscles rearranging themselves too. When I turn over in bed or when we're engaged in activities of an intimate nature, I definitely notice that things are NOT where I left them. It's bizzarre, going to move and use a muscle but finding in in a different spot. It is definitely much weirder than losing your keys or finding that missing sock in the fridge.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Some guys get all the stuff

In the realm of baby gear, dads are quite popular right now. There are blogs dedicated to them, gear designed specifically for them, everyone falling through their asses to get dads to read, spend money, enthuse. A lot of nice stuff is being produced, sleek, well-designed items that look purposely un-babyish. While I am happy that there's nice stuff out there, it irritates me too. You see, all this carries with it the assumption that dads, since they are male, care more about design and utility than moms do.

Take for example, this diaper bag designed specifically for dads. It's made from made from the recycled inner tubes of tires, trimmed with hemp, and fitted with a battery-operated light so you can find things inside easier.

I'd love a super-durable, rugged-looking bag with a light inside. It sounds like a great diaper bag, aside from the "Harley" look they gave it and the $175 price tag.

Unfortunately, it appears to be off-limits to me, since I have a vagina. They're very clear that it was designed for men. And it's not the only thing. More and more baby/child gear like this pops up every week. Nice-looking, functional things, for men.

That's what bugs me so much in all this. There seems to be this underlying assumption that since I'm female, I'm okay with a pastel, teddy-bear-covered stroller or a diaper bag drowning in ruffles. I'm not. I'd rather try to stuff diapers and wipes in my pockets than tote around this monstrosity. Yet in order to locate a link for that diaper bag, I had to go to the "Just for Mom" section of their website.

It's good that dads are getting more involved; it's great that there's a whole culture springing up to support them. But it really smacks of a "well, I'll do it, but only as long as I'm certain I can look cool while I'm doing it. If it involves looking dorky, forget it." Which is an extension of the larger "man-child" aspect of our culture. Guys are allowed and even expected to maintain this perpetual state of adolescence. Women are not. Women are, of course, genetically primed to be responsible, dependable grown-ups.

I see this everywhere now, from the idiotic things in pregnancy books to the shit people say to the whole concept of a baby shower as a "girls-only" party. It's frustrating, being constantly treated as though my only goal in life was to procreate and my husband gets treated like he should be ready to run for the hills. It's also very inaccurate in our case, because the opposite is true. He was the one seeing white-picket fences and babies long before I even entered the picture. I'm the one who's still not too sure about this whole parenthood thing, I'm the one who is not entirely sure about being a responsible adult. Maybe we should switch: he can push the frilly stroller around and I can carry a diaper bag made from tires.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Attack of the in-laws

Okay, so I've already written about how my mother-in-law has been calling it "our baby" not "the baby" or "my grandbaby" or "it" and has said that she will continue to call it whatever they want. Which raised my hackles a bit, as many things my MIL says usually do. His mother and I don't mesh well.

She has boundary issues. For a long time, Max encouraged her by telling his parents (and his sister, who at 15 years older than him, is like a second mother) every single thing that happened in his life. I would tear my hair out in frustration whenever he got on the phone with them (when we started dating it was three times a week, but that has gradually slowed to once a week or every couple weeks). He would chatter on about how he thought his boss was stupid and his boss knew that and was trying to get him fired or how we were going to put the $600 worth of transmission repairs that needed to be done on his already-carrying-a-huge-balance credit card or how there was a sound outside that was very probably gunshots. His parents would get in a tizzy and spend the next 2 hours lecturing him about responsibility, or financial sense, or authoritatively saying that we needed to move, of course you can afford some place else, anybody can afford to move to the good side of town if they want to bad enough. It took me a very long time (years) to finally convince him that these were not things his parents needed to know. Tell them work is good. Tell them you had a great sandwich for lunch yesterday. Tell them your Sociology professor thinks you're witty. DO NOT tell them every stupid, dangerous, or ill-advised thing you do, because they will continue to think of you as a five-year-old moron and treat you as such. Parents should at least make a pretense of treating you like an adult, but you have to give them something to work with. And honestly, they just don' t need to know about all the stupid or hard things that come up in our lives. Their time for safety lectures and kissing boo-boos ends at some point.

He always accused me of having an insane need for privacy and not wanting to tell anyone anything. It's mostly true. I am crazy about my privacy as far as my family is concerned. I am extremely guarded about what I tell them, because in the past they have taken my trust and used it cruelly. So now I limit what I say, and they don't fish for more. It helps that I can tell my parents I'm working overtime this week to pay for car repairs and they will not feel compelled to give me a lecture about fiscal responsibility and car maitenance; they know that transmissions imploding like a black hole are just a fact of adult life. Max's parents...not so much. They like to dispense advice, they like to meddle, they like to push and pry.

Before I even considered getting pregnant with the child Max wanted so badly, I questioned my ability to deal with his parents when kid was involved. I knew his mother was salivating like the Big Bad Wolf in anticiaption of a grandchild. I knew their insane need to have their stickly little fingers in every aspect of their son's life. They have gotten a little better about it, but not much. And although I thought at first they could be cool about this whole baby thing, I'm starting to doubt it.

Besides laying claim to the fetus, my MIL is convinced it's a boy. To the point where she refers to it as "he" in conversation. At first she'd correct herself:

"After he's born - well, you know, IF it's a boy-"

But now she doesn't even bother:

MIL: "And he's going to do [this and this] and he's going to be like [that], blah blah blah..."
Max: "Mom, you know, it could be a girl. The baby could well be a girl."
MIL: "Hmm? Oh, whatever. Now, where was I? Oh, yes, he's going to [blah blah blah]..."

Those brackets above would be filled in with actual content if I knew what she'd said. My husband claims not to pay that much attention to his mother's phone-call ramblings, but I have a sneaking suspicion that he just doesn't want to tell me what sort of crazy expectations his mother is placing on our unborn child.

She's probably expecting that the baby will look, act, and cry exactly like Max did when he was a baby. She and my sister-in-law keep insisting that I must be craving Peanut M & M's, since MIL ate them all the time when she was pregnant with Max. Seriously, they ask me about it every fricken time I talk to them and ask him about it when I'm not on the phone.

SIL: "So, what are you craving, anything...sweet?"
Me: "Nope, actually I'm rocking the Carb Train right now. Mashed potatoes and oatmeal all the way."
SIL: "You sure you're not craving some chocolate? Like M&M's?"
Me: "Nope, but I do get a pretzel every time we pass a stand at the mall."
SIL: "Really? You don't want sweet stuff? No chocolate?"
Me: "Nope. But if you have some granola bars, I'll take those."
SIL: "You sure you're not eating Peanut M&M's? My mom ate so many of those when she was pregnant with Max..."
Me: "I'm pretty sure. I don't even like chocolate anymore."

They still sent me some in a "care package" with a note that said "I ate so many of these when I was pregnant with Max, I thought you'd probably want some too."

My husband tries to defend them, says they're just excited. I told him I think they're nuts and his mother is convinced it's a boy because they want a male heir so badly. I'm quite sure they are pissing themselves with glee at the prospect of another Sacred Male Scion to carry on the family name and "traditions." They like things to be done the "traditional" way; they harassed me about not changing my name when I got married; there was a lot of talk about how their last name had "a thousand years of history behind it" (umm, if you say so) and much wailing and gnashing of teeth about who would "carry on the family name" were Max to change his last name to mine. I tried pointing out that his father and father's brother married a pair of sisters, so his cousins (who have eight kids between them) were practically exact genetic copies of Max and SIL and seem to be hellbent on re-populating the Midwest, which should solve that whole "family name" issue. I was told that that was not the same, and does not count.

Wait until they find out that the kid's probably not going to have his last name. That should be fun.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Baby Flicks

Not long after the two pink lines appeared in the window of my peed-upon stick, Max and I spent a weekend watching baby-related movies to celebrate. It was a fun, free, activity that allowed us to snuggle together and quietly get used to the idea that a third person would be joining us in less than a year (more importantly, there are two bathrooms in our apartment so I did not have to run very far when I needed to throw up or pee). Here is a list of some of our favorite movies involving babies:

Raising Arizona - my husband had never seen this! He loved it, particularly the Lone Biker of the Apocalypse and the convenience-store robbery. There is something sweetly crazy about this movie, and I don't know how anyone could hate it.

Three Men and a Baby - stereotypical gender role-stuff aside, it's pretty funny watching the baby totally trash their oh-so-hip penthouse.

The Object of My Affection - technically, a movie about a pregnant lady, not a baby necessarily, but I love it. That is more the arrangement I always had in mind when I thought of "having a family" - a bunch of people who love each other, and a kid in there somewhere. So I watch it wistfully and smile.

Willow - we were both kids of appropriate age when this originally came out, and love it just as much now as we did then. Yes, it's a mushy Ron Howard sap-fest, but the baby is cute (ours might look like that, with the curly red hair), there are funny one-liners, medieval weapons are used, and I can't think of anyone better to leave an orphaned baby with than a dwarf magician, a sorceress, and a sword-wielding Val Kilmer.

Look Who's Talking - do I even need to say more?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Mountains and mountains of crap

Babies generate a lot of stuff, most of which seems to be appalling. Things in pastel colors (shudder), things with bows and ruffles and bears and puppies and "jungle" themes. This shit is everywhere, and it makes my skin crawly to even look at most of it. I don't think "it's so cute" or "it's for a baby!" should be an excuse for bad taste and buying mountains of cheap plastic crap. There are a few nice baby things out there, some well-designed, sleek items to use with your dear little one, but they're going to cost you. A lot. If you want something without ruffles or bears or pastels, something that’s well-designed and not a total piece of stupid plastic crap, you have to pay out the ass for it. Which I don’t get. A nice, austere baby blanket would take way less fabric than the appliqué-and-ruffle-drenched shit I keep seeing. Why are you charging me double for less fabric?

I’ve been looking over some of the checklists supplied in every baby book and on every baby, mother, or parenting website in creation. I’ve come to the conclusion that most of them are total bullshit, fabricated by the Baby Industrial Complex, to make you buy more stuff. For example, do I really need a

Changing table (like I have room for this, and why do I need a special table to do it on?)
Rocking chair/Glider (again, it's not like I have room for this, and why can't I just sit on my couch? Is there some rule that you can't use an old chair with a new baby?)
Crib Bedding Set (You’re not even supposed to put the comforter on them, why am I paying $300 for it? And does a crib really need a dust ruffle?)
Mobile (that will probably play some jangly, annoying tune)
Diaper Stacker (dear God, how DID civilization progress without a bow-covered sack for diapers?)
Matching Accessories -Lamp, wall border, rug, valance, etc (You’ve got to be kidding me. I don’t even have that stuff in MY room)
Car seat, Stroller, Travel Crib, Co-Sleeper AND Playpen (let’s not forget the special sheets for the playpen mattress)
Swing, Walker, Bouncer, AND Stationary Entertainer (who has room for all this shit?! Why the need for all these devices to stick the baby into?)
High Chair with “splat mat” AND Booster Seat (because it's not enough to have one place for them to smear food everywhere, you really need more)
Cradle/Bassinette, with extra sheets of course (What about the playpen? The crib? The travel crib? The co-sleeper? Can’t they sleep there?)
Baby Monitor (our apartment is less than 950 square feet, I’d have to work NOT to hear the baby all the time)
Sleep Positioner (what is this?)
Safety Gates, Outlet Covers, Cabinet Latches (the kid can’t even find its own feet yet, why is this on a “new baby” list?)
Crib Toys, Activity Toys, Baby Gym, Playmat (can’t I just give it some cat toys and a rusty old saw blade to play with?)

We are going to try our hardest to avoid falling into the Pit of Baby Stuff. We've finally managed to pare down our crap (and will have another opportunity when we move again) to a reasonable level. I don't want to get buried in stuff again, especially not if it's pastel or "jungle-themed." Ugh.

Cross that one off the list

Note to self: If the fetus turns out to be of the female variety, do not name it Emily. I’ve been getting a fair amount of spam in my gmail these days, and a lot of it is of the “I like you/I think you’re attractive/I saw you the other day, let’s have some fun together – my name on MSN Messenger/Yahoo/AIM is ________” Except lately, that blank is always filled in with Emily Somelastname or 86EmilySlut or some other variation of Emily. Apparently Emily gets around, or there exists a whole tribe of slutty girls named Emily with very good Internet access.

Monday, November 27, 2006

You don't know me at all

I was talking to my little sister yesterday, and somehow the subject of drugs during delivery came up. I said I don't want any, and she was surprised. Really surprised.

Which I don't get, since I have always fallen on the crunchier, granola-inclined side of things. Of course, this is the same sister who asked me if I'd accidentally gotten pregnant, when she knows I don't even like to go to the grocery store without a painfully specific, footnoted, annotated, bilbliographied list. I won't even take an asprin right now, won't drink diet soda, won't take allergy medicine or cough syrup. I don't know why she thinks I'd be that careful for ten months and then get shot chock-full of paralyzing, numbing stuff just when I come to the end of it all.

Maybe it's just that she's 21 years old, a happily self-involved college student, and has no frame of reference for things like this. Maybe it's that since I am far away now, she's forgotten who I am. I get this feeling a lot when I'm talking about the baby, but curiously enough it doesn't happen when I tell a stranger I find the thought of an epidural horrifying or I can't eat tuna right now. The strongest confusion/criticism/surprise always comes from the people I thought knew me best. Although they are all 3,000 miles away so I can't actually see them, I get the feeling my friends, relatives, and assorted loved ones have been looking at me oddly since we let the word out. I definitely get the impression their view of me has been...skewed somehow, as though they're all looking at me sideways or something.

I understand surprise; that I get. I was not exactly on the "Top 10 People Most Likely to Procreate" list. What I don't understand is surprise and bewilderment at other choices, like no drugs and no Elmo. It's very much like the craziness that ensued when we decided to get married; people who've known me my whole life and who have discussed my loathing of mascara, refusal to wear pantyhose, and absolute hatred of the color pink didn't understand why I didn't want to be some poofy, pastel, overly-made-up Rent-A-Bride publicly given away by people who, while they did create me, I have never gotten along with terribly well.

It was very lonely and difficult standing up to all their expectations (not to mention meddling, guilt, and anger) in that case, and I didn't even do a very good job. I wound up, for the most part, the poofy Rent-A-Bride I'd tried so hard to avoid. I just hope the smothering attentions of my loved ones don't turn me into a friggin' soccer mom before I realize what's going on. Ugh.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Why the other PTA members will be afraid of us

My husband Max has been enthusiastically keeping track of the fetus's progress via several web sites. He likes to show me the pictures of what it looks like each week and read aloud the "what's going on with your baby this week" blurb. It seems odd that all this stuff is going on in there and, aside from a lot of barfing and nausea, I don't feel a thing. All those little cells and molecules going about their busy work, and I can't even tell.

Me: "Does it still have a tail?"
Max: "No, the tail disappeared a few weeks ago. At least, it was supposed to."
Me: "That's too bad. Tails are kinda cool. You know if our kid was born with a tail, we'd totally make the kid keep it. And then we'd put the kid in a freak show."
Max: "Oh, yeah. Absolutely. That kid can earn his college tuition."
Me: "Tuition? Hell, the kid can earn his keep. Get out there, Monkey, mama needs a new pair of Chuck Taylors!"
Max: "I wonder if it would be able to grab stuff? Would it be like an elephant's trunk?"
Me: "Oh, that would be awesome! You're reaching for the remote, and it's too far away, so you ask the kid to get it with his tail. Extra fingers, pah! We got the useful mutation."

Friday, November 17, 2006

Book Review: The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy

I hated this book. I hated, hated, hated it. It was insulting to both genders and offered almost nothing in the way of advice, help, or useful tips. Every third or fifth page had some stupid note on it to the husband (the term itself, being so gender-and-marriage-specific, bothered me) about how he should buy the pregnant woman jewelry or stop telling her she looks fat or something. The author suggested you leave the book open on his pillow so he’d notice her sage words of wisdom and not only stop calling you a fat cow but also buy you a shiny diamond.

Let me paraphrase some of the book’s major points:

- So you’re pregnant! Well, congratulations. You’re going to get fat, you know. Really, really fat. And your husband (because nobody but hetero married couples have babies) is going to laugh at your big fat ass and call you a big fat fatso fatty all the time because you’ll be really FAT! Isn’t that funny? Ha ha ha ha ha! Don’tcha just love being Girlfriends?

- Your husband is freaking out right now because you’re pregnant. Even if he says he’s happy, he’s not. I know y’all didn’t do this together, on purpose, because a man would NEVER consent to having a child willingly! He doesn’t want that responsibility! Men are really just big babies themselves, ha ha ha! And he can’t be happy about this, because it means he won’t be the only baby around anymore! Even if he’s being nice to you and not calling you a big fatty fat fatso like most husbands do, he’s faking. He’s just waiting so he can get “sympathy pains” and “sympathy nausea” and gain “sympathy weight” so you’ll have to baby him again. Because, you see, he’s just a big, whiny tittybaby like all men! They’re all big babies, tee hee! But, shucks, us gals gotta take care of ‘em, because that’s our job! Hee hee hee! Where would we be if we didn’t take care of our big baby men? Why, we’d be the lowest form of life on earth – husbandless women! Ha ha ha! Don’tcha just love being Girlfriends?!

- Don’t bother with exercise during pregnancy. You’re going to get HUGE and FAT anyway, and exercise won’t make your husband want to sleep with you again. Besides, all those studies that say women in better shape do better during labor are full of crap! Take it from me, your Very Close Girlfriend - you should just lay on the couch for nine months! Do nothing! Become a human garden slug, only with less movement! Get even fatter, because your husband doesn’t love you anymore anyway!

- Oh, how cute! You think you’re going to have a “natural” childbirth? (*pats me on the head*) Well, sweetie, take it from me, Your Very Close Girlfriend, you won’t. You’ll be screaming for that epidural in no time. You’re just not strong enough to do it without drugs, hon. Women aren’t that strong, we’re just built to be mommies, not endure torture. And why would you even bother? What’s the point, you think you’re cool or something? Trust me, Your Very Close Girlfriend, when I say that you’re going to get the epidural. No matter what your poor little womany birdbrain THINKS you’re going to do, you’ll get the epidural anyway.

- Don’t bother with maternity clothes, just wear your husband’s fat pants. Why bother trying to look nice when he won’t touch you in bed anyway? And also borrow his hugely oversize t-shirts; the slob look is good for you! But if you do wear maternity clothes, I suggest lots of stirrup pants. And schlubby overalls. Or better yet, you should get my favorite item of pregnancy clothing – a stirrup-pants jumpsuit! ***I am so not kidding, she did actually mention stirrup pants BY NAME and rave about her one-piece jumpsuit. The damn book was written in 1995, not the fucking Dark Ages. Stirrup pants? Really? Give me a goddamned break.

- Your husband is a big, dumb louse. All men are. And he’ll probably call you fat, or laugh at you when you’re being a Psycho Pregnant Lady (because all women are psycho hose beasts underneath, it’s our hormones, tee-hee), or he’ll start fucking the interns at his office, but that’s okay, because (*adoring smile*) he’s your guy! And guys are like that, ha-ha! And they’re all dumb and insensitive and lecherous and afraid of fatherhood! HA HA HA HA! Isn’t that FUNNY? Don’tcha just love being Girlfriends?

I could not actually get all the way to the last page of this book. I think I had 10 pages to go or something. It was so insulting and stupid and useless I could not force myself to go on. I do remember getting very upset at the chapter about labor & delivery, because she said
a) go to the hospital as soon as you feel the first little twinge – why bother staying home? The sooner you get there, the sooner you can get some drugs and your epidural.
b) Lots of doctors and nurses will come in and poke at you, and do things to you, and you won’t have a say in it but that’s okay because why should you care? You’ve got your epidural and you’re going to be a MOMMY!! What else could you possibly care about?
c) You have to do whatever the doctors say, whenever they say it. They’ll maybe let you keep your own socks on, but that’s all you get to control.

For some reason, the socks part upset me most. I showed it to my husband and I was really, really freaking out about it – almost hyperventilating and crying upset. “SOCKS?! That’s all I get out of this, I get to keep my SOCKS? They can poke me and tie me down and not let me eat or drink anything and they only let me keep my SOCKS?? I want to keep more than my socks, I want to do it wearing my own clothes! I don’t want a stupid hospital gown and a bunch of people looking at me and poking me and telling me what to do! I want to keep more than my SOCKS!” I was wailing now, picturing this horrific scene, like from an alien abduction movie. It seemed so scary, all of this, and I wanted to crawl away and find the crunchiest, granola-est midwifery practice I could. After reading this book, I was pretty much ready to start training for a marathon and then go give birth in the woods, since sitting on my ass for nine months and going to the hospital meant all I got to keep was my damned socks.

My husband found the book pretty fucking offensive, too. He’s not a big whiner, a big baby, or a pig. This whole kid thing was his idea, and he’s still way more excited about it than I am. He is totally psyched about being a dad, whereas I despise the word “mommy” and have pretty meh feelings about this whole baby thing so far. He doesn’t think I’m fat, and still desires me as much as ever (no, he’s not just saying that, like this book and so many others would have you believe). He takes good care of me when I need it, gives me space when I need it, and never says things like “I want my old wife back, you know, the one you used to be before you got pregnant.” According to the book, he’s either faking all this or he doesn’t exist, and either possibility is one he objects to.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

So it begins

I have already posted about my mother-in-law referring to the fetus I am toting around as "our baby." Not "the baby" or "my grandbaby." "Our baby." Which annoys me, since a) I don't recall her being around for the conception (*shudder*), b) I don't see her horking over a toilet once a day and unable to drink plain water for fear of puking it up, and c) I haven't noticed her in my living room when I'm up late at night, insomniac and worrying about losing my identity to motherhood.

I don't have the best relationship with my in-laws; though they were pretty sane about the wedding, the creeping, reaching, clutching "we want to discuss how you feel family fits into your marriage" talk they tried to ambush me with the week after the wedding did not sit well with me (not to mention all the shenanigans they pulled before we were legally married). Sometimes I feel as though my mother-in-law and I are dogs, circling and growling at each other, hackles raised as we bare fangs and try to nudge the other out of my husband's life.

My husband was also bothered by the "our baby" comment, which I took as a big step. We've been together three and a half years, and I've spent much of that time convincing him to let his parents know less about his life, not more. It caused a lot of trouble between us and I had to tell him that if he could not learn to put me first - put us first, our life together, not the life he had with his parents, not their needs or wants or opinions- that I would find it hard to build a life with him. He eventually got it, eventually realized that the less information he gave his mother, the less ammo she had. Now that we are about to have a child together - our child, created by us and not really something his parents can take credit for, lay claim to, or take away - I think he really does get it. This is something that is absolutely ours, and I think his hackles were raised a bit when he heard his mother trying to wedge her way in there.

He hinted to her this weekend that perhaps she should find a different moniker for the much-anticipated grandchild. Much along these lines: "I'm just surprised, is all...I thought you'd be calling it your grandbaby, you've been waiting for this for so long..." He tried several times to get her to bite, and she refused. She essentially replied that she was going to keep calling it whatever she wanted. "We're going to be there for that baby when it's born!" she said. "As soon as it's born, we'll be there!" He started trying to find a way to tell her that we'd prefer not to have a pack of relatives hanging around the hospital when the baby comes. She immediately got huffy and started in with the "well, if you don't want us to come" line. He had to backpedal and say no, it's not that they can't come at all, just that we're going to need some time. "Well, of course," she said. "I mean, of course you guys are going to want a couple of days..." Which she's said before, when we told her. Look, I know they're excited, but (as I told my husband when he said that maybe it wouldn't be so bad and they could help out and it might be nice to have them around blah blah blah, like we can't even take care of our own damned baby without their valuable help) I don't relish the thought of having a house full of people the day we come home from the damned hospital.

As I explained to my husband, his parents aren't exactly the type to entertain themselves, nor are they they type to go and find the coffee filters and figure out how to work the coffee pot when they want some. They'd hint they want some, but it would be up to me to make it. They'd feel it was impolite or something, I suppose, to dig through my cupboards for filters and mugs. Even though they have no problem passing judgement on everything their son does and inviting themselves for visits, I don't think they'll raid my cupboards for snacks. What this means is that, although they won't be sleeping here (at least I don't think they're planning on THAT), I will wind up being the one responsible for feeding and entertaining them every minute they're here. It's not like we can go out travelling the countryside with a newborn (germs! crowds! strangers touching my baby!) and how long can we possibly sit around our (stuffy, hot, and generally bad for entertaining) apartment gazing at the baby? "Look it's sleeping." "Yup, still sleeping." "Oh, there's the poop-face. Time for a diaper change."

And, truthfully, when I hear my mother-in-law saying that she will call it whatever she wants, and show up whenever she wants, I feel like raising my hackles and baring my fangs. Back off, bitch, this is my show. You have no jurisdiction here. At least I feel certain that my husband will back me up on that one.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Frequently Asked Questions

I am pregnant (roughly 10 weeks) , and last week we let the news out for general release. Below is a list of comments, questions, and otherwise that we've gotten about the announcement.



You’re pregnant!

I know.

I’m so excited! Aren’t you excited? You don’t sound very excited.

Umm…well…there’s not much to get excited about right now. It’s like the size of a lima bean. It makes me sick and tired all the time. Come find me when the kid gets a full ride to Harvard. Then I will be the very picture of excitement.

Was this an accident?

Wow, what a totally rude question! You must be so embarrassed now. But since you asked, no. Totally planned, right down to the estimated date of arrival. We were humping like nympho rabbits for an entire month. Hey, are you okay? Your face is turning kinda red…wow, don’t choke…if you embarrass that easily, you probably shouldn’t be asking nosy questions about our sex life.

But I thought you didn’t want kids.

Another nosy question! You’re really working this nosy angle, aren’t you? I said I didn’t think I did. You remember my ex – would you want to have his self-centered, hairy-backed, gun-toting baby? And I figured, hey, I’ve met the right guy and I’ve already conquered college, slackerdom, cat-collecting, and menial office jobs. I thought I’d give parenting a try.

Do you know if it’s a boy or a girl yet?

Where were you in Biology class? Like I said, size of a lima bean. No boy or girl parts yet.

Are you going to find out what kind it is?

We don’t know. I don’t agree with the people who say “there are very few real surprises in life” about this subject (actually to those people, I say: Fuck you, I got a $400 electric bill a couple months ago, THAT was a real fucking surprise, and it’s always a real surprise when something breaks or the engine drops out of the car, how much more real fucking surprised do you want to be?) but I hate all the gender-specific crap that babies seem to generate. We may find out and only share with people who will not be tempted to bury us in Lil Slugger onesies or pink frilly dresses. We may not find out, or our kid could be totally uncooperative and just moon us like Bart Simpson on the ultrasound. We’ll see.

What do you hope it is?

We hope it’s a baby. It would really suck to go through all this and get an old shoe or a tin can or something.

Do you have any names picked out yet?

Huh? Oh, um, yeah, we have a couple ideas. Do people seriously pick out names this early? For real? It creeps me out to definitively name someone who doesn’t even actually exist yet. That’s sort of like pissing on Fate’s shoes, isn’t it? We’re going to make a small list, and wait until the kid is actually born and we meet it to decide.* I can’t, in good conscience, 100% decide on a name beforehand. What if we pick Frank and the kid is really a Jim or something? Our kid will have enough troubles without having the wrong name. I suggested “Morrisey” the other day, but my husband rudely exercised his veto. Sheesh. He liked “Callum” but I vetoed it because it means “bald dove.” It’s a work in progress.

*Even though we are not picking a definitive name beforehand, family members (particularly of the parental and in-law variety) should not feel free to comment, criticize, or veto our choices. And no, we are not naming the baby after you, you uncle, your sister, or anyone else. No, we are not using any family names. Have your own baby if it’s so important that a name be passed on.

How are you feeling? Pretty good?

Nope. I feel like crap most of the time. This is not the most fun I’ve ever had as a result of sex.

You’re going to have to get rid of some of those cats.

No we’re not.

Yes you are. That’s too many to have with a baby.

Yeah, because nobody ever raised a baby in a house with pets.

It’s unhygienic to have that many cats in a house with a baby.

Oh, you’re absolutely right. Wiping poop off a child’s ass for the first few years of its life and having them blow their nose on your shirt and throw up in your bed and paint the walls with their own excrement is totally hygienic. Kids are so much cleaner than cats.

But you can’t have all those cats! With a baby! You can’t!

Yeah, I can. Turns out these are my cats and my house and my baby. I checked. You don’t get a say. Our baby will probably not smell like chicken enchiladas, be available to dole out petting, or carry treats in its pockets, so chances are the cats will ignore it. Not to mention the latest research indicates kids who grow up in homes with pets have fewer allergies. So suck it.

Aren’t you scared to do this all the way out there, so far from your mom/families/relatives?

Who are you? Do you even know me? Why would the thought of doing this thousands of miles from the grasping arms of my mother and mother-in-law bother me? I’m dancing a fucking jig here.

You know you should be taking prenatal vitamins, right? Are you taking prenatal vitamins? You should be taking prenatal vitamins.

Thanks, I am in fact totally fucking stupid and had no idea. I’ve been taking them anyway for years (got my folic acid well in hand) because they’ve got lots of good stuff in them, but now that I’m actually pregnant I thought I’d stop. I was going to go down to Osama’s Pot and Commie Jizz-Porium and buy some crack and take that every day instead.

You know you shouldn’t be cleaning out the cat boxes, right?!

Yeah, thanks, I haven’t been doing that for quite a while now, since the earliest possible point that I could’ve been pregnant. Although my risk of Toxoplasmosis is very low, since 1) our cats do not go outside and dig in the dirt, 2) nor do they eat rodents, birds, or other small animals, 3) every one of our boxes gets completely cleaned, rinsed and re-filled every single day, and 4) with this many cats, chances are I’ve had it before and didn’t even know, which means I have the antibody for it already.

We may have to have a talk with my mother-in-law, who has already bought a bunch of stuff for the baby (unlike us and everyone else -including my own very excited mother- who are waiting, so as not to jinx it) and is referring to it as "our baby." As in, "I bought a bunch of stuff for our baby," not "I bought a bunch of stuff for the baby" or "I bought some stuff for my grandbaby."