Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Value of Maternity Leave

So last week I went to HR to try to figure out my maternity leave. I had no idea what to expect because I had been told everything from six weeks to six months of leave. I was (obviously) hoping for the six months. The meeting was very, very strange. It was myself, three other very pregnant women, and a very strange little man who seemed to lack basic social and communication skills. He walked us through a one hour long powerpoint presentation during which we asked tons of questions and I became more and more confused.

At the end of it, I asked him, “So you’re saying we can take UP TO six months off, but that 'it depends?'”

He nodded. “Exactly!”

"But, 'it depends' on what?”

"On what your doctor recommends after the birth."

"But how will I know what she's going to recommend before it happens?? What do doctors typically recommend?"

"Welllll I can't really say. Some women only take six weeks, some are able to extend their leave much longer."

Me: “Listen, take the money out of it, just tell me how long I can take off, without losing my job?”

Him: “It depends.”

Me: "So you’re trying me that when my clients ask when we’ll resume therapy, I should tell them, 'it depends??'

Him, smiling: "Pretty much!"

Basically, I walked out feeling like an idiot. I mean, I have a Ph.D. and I could not figure out for the life of me, how long I will be having off nor how much I will be getting paid while I’m gone (if anything!). After more research of my own, this is what I came up with: I can take four weeks off prior to the birth and then six weeks off after (8 weeks if c-section, but I’m not planning on that!). If there are any “complications,” my post-birth time can be extended up to 16 weeks. This is all covered under Pregnancy Disability Leave. Don’t ask me what I’ll get paid exactly during this time, but I’ll be paid something. THEN, I can take Family Medical Leave (covered under California Family Rights Act) for another 12 weeks. So, if you take the total amount of time off, it equals six months. Unfortunately, according to my midwife, by the very nature of having a baby at a birth center, I am a “low risk” birth, which means highly unlikely there will be complications to extend the disability leave. Which leaves me instead with the minimum, which is 18 weeks (4.5 months).

Now I know that’s not bad, and that’s better than what a lot of women get, but damnit, I wanted my six months off. I wanted six months to just be with my baby and to not have to work and not have to think about things other than just…being. So, frankly, I was disappointed. I’ve heard from co-workers who somehow miraculously extended their leave while out, simply by calling in and saying they didn’t “feel ready” to come back yet, but I’m not sure I’m ballsy enough to do that. I’m such a rule follower. If, after 4.5 months, I’m emotionally and physically ready to come back, I can’t imagine bending the truth to say I’m not??

As I was voicing my frustration to B that I wanted my full six months off, he looked at me in disbelief and said, “You realize you’re trying to work the system right? You’re trying to say you have a disability that makes it so you need to be paid to not work?” I thought this was interesting. First of all, I’m lucky enough that we’re in a position that if I had to take the full time un-paid, we could work it out. So no, I’m not trying to extend disability pay. I just want time with my baby and then have a job to come back to. But it did really get me thinking. Why does the state pay women disability to have a baby? Why isn’t it just recognized as a needed time to bond with your baby? Why is the US so backwards in this?

Also, I started realizing that me pouting over an extra 1.5 months is ridiculous. Many women only get six weeks off and many more don’t even get that. So, even though my 18 weeks off is protected through the federal and state programs, it only applies to you if you are lucky enough to work at a large enough establishment to provide you with this luxury. Additionally, your disability pay is figured based on a percentage of your salary. So this too is imbalanced and pushes some women to go back earlier simply because it is impossible to live off of their disability pay check. Now, I’m not political at all and I am quite ignorant when it comes to comparing political systems, so not sure if I’m arguing for socialism or communism or WHAT here, but doesn’t it seem that birth should be universally recognized as something that all families should be able to take the time to celebrate it?

Then I thought, “Well huh, in a way, it is interesting how much birth actually is recognized as something valued in our society.” Because, if we look at the flip side of things, the fact that federal programs protect maternity leave says something, doesn’t it? It says that we are going to give women the luxury to take time off in order to do a very important thing – bond with their baby. You don’t get six weeks off for other major life events – marriage, divorce, not even a death in the family. (Although, yes I know you can use family leave for these things, but there is no specific Divorce Disability Leave Act).

So what does this date back to? Why does society still recognize having a baby as something special that deserves to be given its due time? Honestly, I think it relates to the fact that, unconsciously, human beings understand that on a spiritual, biological and evolutionary level, having babies is freaking important. If we didn’t reproduce, we’d be screwed. So, even though people try to talk about it in terms of intellectual or metaphysical or god-knows-what terms to define it, I think at some level we as humans, regardless of culture, recognize that babies are very important and the mothers carrying those babies deserve some respect.

Also, I think it’s a nod to something that most people really don’t realize consciously, but again, maybe at some unconscious level. The fact is, for a woman to get pregnant and carry a baby to term, SO many things have to go right. SO many variables have to be exactly right. I mean, not to sound religious here, but it really is a miracle. Sometimes we take it for granted. But…it’s absolutely amazing when you think about all that happens to create that baby. So maybe, in its own not-so-sufficient way, the United States of America is recognizing that miracle by granting women six weeks off to recognize it.

So, to go full circle, I still am depressed that I can’t “work the system” to get my full six months off, but I realize that I am lucky to even have my 4.5 months. And…I’ll take it. I’ve worked my entire life, from high school on, and so I will cherish those 18 weeks and appreciate them. Even if I’m exhausted and cranky the whole time. Oh, and since I’m not even sure yet what money I’ll be getting paid, I’ll cherish whatever small paycheck shows up in the mail as well!

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Grey Place

First of all, I want to respond to comments on my last two posts.

I really loved everyone's comments on my post about what purpose blogging serves for us. I was surprised by how much everyone responded to this post and had so much to say about it. I think I hit on something close to us all and everyone wanted to share their own reasons for doing this. What is interesting is, it seems that most of us started blogging in order to find a community of people with similar interests or similar struggles. A way of connection. What does that say about whether we're disconnected from people in our non-virtual lives? I think it likely has to do with the fact that we all entered specific phases in our lives and the people around us just weren't going through the same things. I too started the blog as an outlet for my thoughts so as not to overwhelm those around me with my own obsessions. And, like many of you, I was pleasantly surprised by how supportive and helpful it was to find other people through my blog. Finally, most people said they like reading blogs where the voice is "real." I completely agree. I think blogs that are more personal, less structured, and put some thought (just some, not much is needed) into their reading style are the ones who attract me the most.

I also want to respond to comments on my last post about my recent midwife appointment. After reading the comments, I had to go back and re-read the post. Many of your comments made me realize that, first of all, I am terrible at writing sarcasm. I don't have anything against kale and I definitely don't have anything against baby wearing. I already know I'm going to spend way too much money on wraps and carriers. Also, my midwife wasn't really that bad. She didn't really mention chakras or energy fields or anything that bad. That's just me being sarcastic. B says I have a tendency to exaggerate. Apparently in text it doesn't translate well. So, when your comments prompted me to re-read my post, I realized...wow, what is wrong with me? I chose this approach on purpose. The only reason the midwives give me a hard time about my diet is for my own good. They are very clear that my baby is fine and is getting all the nutrients I need. They just want me to feel energetic and healthy. Soooo was all of that teasing and those jaded comments really necessary? Maybe I should shush the skeptical side of me and accept the fact that people are just trying to help me. I know I won't always succeed in this, because I do have a duality to my personality, but I'm glad I re-read my post, because it gives me something to work on. By the way, I did not make a smoothie this morning. But I did buy one from Jamba Juice. I made sure it had only fruit (no sherbet or ice cream) and I had them add whey protein. But (sigh) I couldn't bear to add the Kale.

Whatever made me so jaded on Wednesday is still going on this morning. I woke up in a grey place. I just couldn't bring myself to care. Getting dressed? Ha. Ended up with black leggings and a long black tank top that makes me look like I'm going to yoga. Threw a long wrap and a sparkly necklace on and now I just look like a person who did some yoga and then dressed it up a bit. I couldn't bother to make a lunch or a breakfast this morning because I didn't care (thus Jamba Juice and a bagel). Before I left the house, I crawled back into bed with B and just felt like crying. So stupid. Nothing. Absolutely nothing is wrong. I just feel so over getting up and going to work. I really only have a bit over two months left of work and so I just feel completely unmotivated and unfocused. I know that's not fair to my clients and I do care about leaving them all in a good place before I end, but I could care less about meetings or paperwork or my colleagues. Wow, I sound like a spoiled brat. I think...I think I'm just tired.

Have I mentioned that no one ever talks about how freaking hard pregnancy is??

And I should say that this is no where near as hard as the first trimester. That was pure hell. I'm feeling okay, really. A bit of nausea creeps back in the mornings. My back is sore in the evenings. I am having a lot more trouble sleeping at night. But really, overall, I feel fine. And I like being pregnant. It's just hard today I guess.

Sorry for the dreary Friday morning blahness. I hope you all are having a better morning than I am. Please have a mocha for me and send me some positive thoughts to stop being such a prima donna. OH, hey, here's a positive: Less than 100 more days until I meet my little boy!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Have Some Kale With That....

Disclaimer: Back when I was agonizing about whether to switch from OB care to the midwife model I explained how there are two sides to me. There is the hippie, granola girl who was raised by my liberal parents. And then there is the side of me who seeks rationality, research and, as B puts it, "proceduralism." Those two sides have clashed when it comes to my prenatal care. But, when I realized the OB care model encompassed 6-7 minutes of clinical care and the midwife model focuses on holistic, supportive care, the scales tipped. In this post, however, I am afraid to say that the skeptic in me wins out.

We had our most recent midwife appointment yesterday. We arrived a bit early, I peed on the stick to test my protein (at this clinic, you test your own protein...feels like a bit too much responsibility to me), and then we sat down to wait. A few minutes later, a Mommy and Me class finished up and a horde of women flooded into the clinic. B dubbed them the "backwards-backpack-baby-wearing-mafia." I tried to explain to him that they are called "baby carriers," but he was stuck on the "backwards-backpack-baby-wearing-mafia." To his credit, when a woman walked in wearing a Maya Wrap, he said "Oooh, those are cool, let's get one of those."

I instantly stereotyped the women and fit them into cliche categories in my mind. I think it was in reaction to the fact that I instantly felt so "out of the club." Not only did I not have a backwards-baby-backpack (or the baby to go in it), but I felt too uptight, not cool enough, and too out of touch with my "mommyhood."

Overheard conversations from the Mommy Mafia:

Mom 1: "What have you been up to lately?"
Mom 2: "Oh you know, just Being A Mom. I've had such good energy lately..."

Mom 3: How have you been feeling?
Mom 4 (pregnant and holding a two-year-old): Oh, so much better since I hit the 2nd trimester!
Mom 3: It's too bad, I was wanting to start your pilates class again...
Mom 4: Oh no, I'm totally still teaching the class. With my last baby, I taught right up until delivery!!"

Receptionist to Mom who was buying Acai-berry-granola clusters: "Oh my god aren't these SOOO addicting??"

Then the midwife wandered out of the mafia crowd. She is a midwife we haven't met before, newly licensed, and I tried not to extend my judgement to her based on her newness. From the start, I didn't click with her as well as the last midwife. She was just a bit more stilted. But still very calm and steady and nice. We discussed braxton hicks contractions (yes, I'm having those), signs of pre-term labor (nope, not having those), and maternity leave (ugh, that is an entirely different post). Oh, we also discussed movement. Is this stressful to anyone else? I sometimes don't feel him as much and then I get a bit nervous. I asked if this could be due to my anterior placenta. I feel like some days he hangs out back behind it and then I don't notice him as much and then other days he lays crosswise and he is unavoidable (for example, he loves to kick my right elbow when it rests on my stomach during therapy sessions. it's a fun little secret conversation that my clients don't know is happening). But this is where I felt like her "newly licensed status" maybe didn't serve me as well. Instead of saying "oh it's fine! that's totally normal!", I feel like I got a more textbook response about drinking sugary juice to get him moving, calling if concerned, etc, etc. Oh well.

THEN we covered my favorite topic - diet. If you remember from my last midwife appointment, the midwife got on my case a bit for how much pasta I've been eating. And I.....well, I got a bit defensive. Ha. Everytime you go in they ask you what you had to eat that day. Unfortunately, yesterday I failed miserably in eating healthy. I had a breve hot chocolate and a chocolate croissant for breakfast, canned Progresso soup for lunch, and snacked on grapes, tomatoes, popcorn and a peach. Not terrible, but not great. The midwife practically cringed in horror. So I immediately started trying to explain what I eat on a normal basis and even B jumped in to say, "Yes really, she normally eats much healthier..." But she just "Hmmmed" a lot at us and looked concerned. Then she came out with her profound recommendation to change my life - "You should start having a smoothie for breakfast every morning. When I was pregnant, I would combine some yogurt, fruit, protein powder, and almond or coconut milk to make a great smoothie. Oh, and you should definitely throw some Kale in. Kale is wonderful. It will really help you so much. "

Ok, guys, let me tell you how I feel about Kale. It's fine. It's a leafy green vegetable, halfway between spinach and broccoli that I am totally fine with eating. But, unlike most LA residents, I don't think Kale will cure all health problems and bring me inner peace. I swallowed my annoyance about the Kale and suggested that I'm not really a "breakfast person." (Funnily enough, Amanda at Poppies and Ice Cream asked me to write a post about breakfast. You can read more about how my relationship with breakfast is tentative at best.) She frowned at me and rambled on a bit more about how easy it is to make a smoothie and how Kale will rearrange my inner chakras or something and then I just couldn't help myself and so I asked, "But my typical breakfast is greek yogurt with fresh berries and granola mixed in. Is that really so different than a smoothie?" Apparently, it is.

Then, we got to my favorite part of the appointment. Where we play with my belly and listen to the heartbeat. But, even that was a bit disappointing. First of all, she didn't feel around as much and didn't tell me how he was laying in my uterus (pout). Then, she thought it would be cool to listen to the heartbeat with the fetal stethoscope instead of the doppler. Which means only one person can listen at a time. She listened, checked the heart rate, then B listened, then I listened. But I couldn't hear a thing! By the time it had gotten to me, it must not have been in the right spot, so I heard nothing. I said, "I hear nothing." She smiled patiently and did nothing. The stethoscope was really hurting my ears, so I just said, "Oh ok....there it is." Blatant lie. HA. Anyhow, the best part of the exam was that as she was measuring my uterus, he kicked her really hard in the hand. Cute baby :)

The take home story is the appointment was fine. I am healthy (except apparently low blood pressure?), baby is healthy, my uterus was measuring exactly 26 inches at 26 weeks (nature is crazy!), and all is good in pregnancy-land. I think that I just realized that the skeptic in me doesn't let me blindly gulp down the koolaid as some of the better kale-eating, baby-wearing converts out there. Sometimes I just have to call bullshit.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Why Do We Do This?

When I started this blog, I wrote a post questioning what the point of blogging was. I think I came to the conclusion that a blog was a place to share my thoughts as well as explore something I used to really enjoy - writing. Now, when I think about what this blog has become, I'm not sure it's what I expected. When I was in college, I used to think of myself as a "writer." Then I went to graduate school and they beat the creativity out of me and taught me the horrors of "technical writing." So does this blog allow me to delve back into words and phrases and twists of thoughts?

So far, not so much.

There is very little delving into creativity, deeper thinking, or profound moments. In fact, when I try to write posts like those, they tend to get less views and even less comments. Instead, my blog is filled with pictures of my bare belly and comments about water intake and oh-my-gosh-I'm-having-a-baby. And those posts get the comments and views.

So what has this blog become? I think it fits into a place. A place in a small community of other women who are going through the same thing as me and need an outlet to find sameness in someone else. For me, it allows me to throw my silly little thoughts on "paper" so I don't drive everyone (aka my non-pregnant friends) around me crazy talking about burp cloths. So, yes, the blog definitely fills a niche for me. I am surprised by how much your comments mean to me and how much your advice helps me. I remember the outpouring of sympathy when Monte was diagnosed with cancer, or when we lost Indy, or when I was in the hospital in Mexico. I cherished the advice you all gave me when I couldn't decide about the midwives versus doctors or when I was struggling with first-trimester-apathy. Basically, this blog helps me.

So, am I happy with what it's become? I think so. It's good for me. But, I am a little disappointed that I haven't used it as the creative outlet I hoped it would be. And that my Blog Reading List has dwindled from a range of interesting blogs about a variety of topics, to a slimmer community of people. I guess...I guess I should accept that this is where I'm at right now. Pregnancy is exhausting and all encompassing. So, I write about it. I write about it and don't try to make very many pretenses about writing about deep and meaningful thoughts. Because this is what I need right now.

So my question to you is - Why do you do it? What do you get out of writing your own blog? What do you get out of reading others' blogs? What are your favorite types of blogs? Do you think blogging is narcissistic or is it insightful? Have your reasons for blogging changed over time? Give me your thoughts.

Oh, and specifically, if you haven't commented before (ahem, lurkers...), I'd love to hear from you. I'm particularly curious about the silent readers. What do you get from reading?

Oh, and on a closing note, and so I can keep with my all-encompassing-pregnancy-theme, I am going to throw a few more narcissistic photos of my belly at you. The witty and clever Sarah at Fallopian Groove asked me a question about what I am wearing to work. Oh Sarah, you had no idea what you were getting yourself into did you? But here it is - a photo montage of what I wore to work last week (yes, I only work FOUR days in a week...forty hours in four days). All of these are maternity clothes except the striped maxi dress. Dresses are my friend now.

I have got to stop buying so many things with stripes!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Little Boys and Dinosaurs

Today Becky at Kearney Keepings wrote about having a Boy. She based her post off of an article about 20 Things You Should Know When You're Raising a Boy. Her post got me thinking. Even though I have completely settled after my shock of finding out my girl was actually a boy, I was surprised to find my gut reaction to be a tinge of jealousy when I found out our friends just had a little girl.

Even though I am now totally attached to my little boy, I realized I'm still adjusting to the part about not having a girl. I mean, I know, I know the second time around we could have a girl. Same chances as we had this time. But...right now, we're having a boy.

So, in honor of my little boy and being a Mom to a Boy, I am going to take my image of my Little Girl....

....and put it on a shelf in my brain.

And replace it with these....

In related news, I have been wanting to buy a "rocking horse" since I first found out a was pregnant. Now, I now it's silly, because a baby can't even use a rocking horse, but I want one in the nursery. It symbolizes childhood and nostalgia to me. It didn't have to be a rocking horse, but any type of cute, cuddly animal who rocks. Today, I found a sale on rocking horse-esque animals. I selected a cute little monkey, a giraffe, or an adorable elephant. Then I asked B's opinion. His eyes lit up when he saw the dinosaur. He said something along the lines of, "Now THIS is what a little boy would like!"

So I bought the dinosaur rocker.

I hope he likes it.

p.s. You'd be surprised how hard it is to find a picture of a little boy with a horse. Versus the MILLIONS that show up when you search for a girl and a horse.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Little Reminder

This morning, I was composing a post in my mind. I was cringing to even think about it, much less write it. The post was filled with fear and grayness because the last three days I have been feeling sick again. And worse than sick, I've been feeling the same lack of motivation and apathy that I felt in the first trimester. This morning I had the nostalgic feeling of almost throwing up on my drive to work. The post also was going to include a tongue-in-cheek, slightly humorous, slightly depressing description of the fight I got into with my poor husband last night. In this fight you would have learned about my I-am-so-importnant moment revolving around MY baby shower and MY birth experience. In which my husband (who WAS annoying me) was doing his best to placate me, feed me dinner and not lose his temper at me. These are all the things you would have learned about if I had written this post.

But I was dreading even writing the post, and therefore I'm sure my few kind readers would have been dragged down into my blahness just by reading the post.

Luckily, you all were saved from that fate by a five-day-old newborn.

Tonight, after work, B. and I stopped by our friends' house to see their new little daughter. This is the couple who just gave birth at the same Birth Center as us. In fact, they are the reason we switched to the birthing center in the first place. It's funny, because we don't know them that well, but I'm thinking timing may bring us very close together.

I am so grateful we stopped by their house today. I was so pitiful and pathetic. But, seeing the three of them together was amazing. Both of the new parents were in a the new-baby-endorphin-high and were just so amazed by everything their daughter did. These two people who were not parents a week ago were now handling it all with such confidence and awe. B. held the baby for about 30 minutes and she looked so absolutely tiny and content in his arms and I had a hard time focusing on the conversation occurring around me because I was distracted by the image of my big, strong husband comforting this tiny baby.

Oh, and you might wonder if I held the baby? Hmm. Well, I'm sad to admit I'm a bit terrified of holding babies. I'm great with kids. But babies? Not so good. There is no maternal magic that clicked in when I got pregnant. I just don't have this natural ability to know how to hold a baby and comfort her the way B. does. I did try. Really I did. But I think after 30 minutes with B. and not enough time with mama's breast, she just wasn't having it.

Baby holding aside, we also got to hear about their experience with the midwives. Being self-focused, this was high on my list of priorities. Their birth is my dream birth. No drama, no panic, no fear. Just the two of them, holding each other, slowly going through the experience. The midwives checked her every 20-30 minutes to make sure the baby was okay, but other than that, they stayed in the background until needed. She said they did a good job of giving her enough information to keep her calm and then when it was time to get serious, they settled her and told her it was time to push. What impressed me most about the story was there was no mention of pain. They used words like "intense," "primal," "disconnected from reality" and "strong." But no one said "pain."

And so, I left their house feeling inspired, energetic and amazed. That's what I want. I want a intense but calm birth experience resulting in an amazing little baby that I can share with my husband so we can be amazed by the way he wrinkles his nose at us. Does it matter that the nausea may be coming back? Does it matter that there is a chance the next three months could be a flashback to the first three? Not really. Not in the big picture of things.

Do me a favor, ok? Remind me of that when I start bitching again.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Getting Things Done

What a day.

First of all, B.'s friend and his wife had their baby this week. They had their baby at the birthing center we will be using. I got to be there (just by chance) when she was at home going in to pre-labor and I was amazed by how much it affected me. Two things stood out. First of all, she was SO calm and it inspired me and gave me hope. Secondly, I was so excited by what was about to happen to her (and later on, to ME). I haven't heard the whole birth story yet, but they told us that it was amazing, beautiful and exhausting. Oh, and they had a girl. They were one of those couples who waited to find out and as soon as I found out it was a girl, do you know what my gut reaction was? Jealousy. Yes, I know. I thought I was over this. I felt guilty for feeling jealous. But then I realized I wasn't hoping MY baby was a girl, because he's my boy and he's my baby and there was no way in hell I would ever want to change him now. But just a strong feeling that I want to have a girl someDAY. Hoping for the next time.

We got a lot done today. First of all, we bought a dresser.

It's from IKEA, so the price is right. I'm going to use the top as the changing table, which also leaves room for a diaper caddy and maybe a cute decoration. The top drawers will work wonderfully for holding clothes or diaper changing accessories or who knows what. What do babies need? Also, I love the blue color.

We also bought a crib.

It's hard to tell from the picture, but the crib is a dark grey-ish blue-ish color. I love the color. It's really solid and strong feeling. I also like the shorter size without the back. Is there a name for that type of crib? Anyhow, we looked at different stores and this is the only crib that's jumped out at us. So we decided not to agonize further and just buy it. Then, we found out it's back ordered. Ooops. For ten weeks?? Damn. That means I'll be 35 weeks pregnant when our crib shows up. Now, I know it doesn't matter and that we won't even need the crib in the beginning, but I just want to have it all set up and ready. Anyhow, we BOUGHT it and I like it and I'm glad that decision is made.

Then tonight, I had a productive night. I made chile verde chicken salad for dinner, verde chicken enchiladas for dinner tomorrow, chopped up a bunch of fruit for the week, organized my mail and cleaned up the house a little. I also made a jar of my family's amazing marinara sauce for the new parents. It was hard to figure out what to make them, since she is vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free. Wow. I actually had to buy her gluten-free pasta, which is a bit sacrilegious to me, but oh well. It's the thought that counts.

Oh! And I almost forgot! We bought two absolutely adorable outfits at a baby boutique near our house. They were probably too expensive considering how short of a time they will be worn for, but they are soft as a cloud and oh-so-cute. If you look close at the yellow onesie, you will see those are actually dachshunds holding pretzels. What the hell is that? How can you not buy that?

Anyhow, it was a nice, normal weekend and I feel like I got a lot done. I'm proud of myself. What did you get done this weekend?

One more thing... It's been too long since I showed you a true "bump shot," so here you go.

In this order: 6 weeks, 13 weeks, 24 weeks.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Day in my Pregnant Life

I wake up.

I wake up separated from my husband by a giant white pillow and I think, I need to pee. I need to pee right now.

After a near-orgasm-inducing pee, I don a goofy grin to check out my belly and breasts in the full length mirror. I prod my belly button with a creeped-out expression on my face. I check my weight. I brush my teeth with an electric toothbrush, even though I'd rather be lazy and use a regular one, because my dentist has scared me to death about dental hygiene during pregnancy. I choke down two prenatals, two cranberry pills w/D-Mannose, and a fish oil capsule. I wonder why I am so terrible at swallowing pills.

I get dressed and marvel at how much easier getting dressed is now that I'm pregnant. I don't know if it's the lack of options, the pleasure of wearing maxi dresses to work (just slip out a blazer and you're work-ready, right?), or the simple joy of having another opportunity to gaze at my tummy in today's outfit.

I eat something. I try to be healthy, but it's usually something way too heavy in carbs. I wish for a vanilla latte and settle for steamed milk with vanilla flavoring.

I walk into work and smile a secret smile when the receptionist greets me because, I'm still pregnant and she can't help but notice. I log into my computer to check emails. This takes about 7 minutes because my computer is from the Jurassic period. While it loads, I check one more day off the calendar. One more day closer.

I spend the day with my clients, discussing behavioral problems, sexual abuse, coping skills, and relaxation techniques. I field awkward questions about how I'm doing and try to act professional by not jumping into diatribes about my baby and how great he is.

I don't get much paperwork done. I spend too much time googling cribs/mobiles/nurserylighting, researching random important questions (such as, why does my ankle hurt? can I eat soft serve ice cream? how much wine can I drink while breastfeeding?) and hanging out in the bathroom. Seriously, hanging out in the bathroom is really fun. It means I can be peeing (a favorite pasttime) or standing in front of the mirror (an even more favorite pasttime).

My days are stressful. My clients have a lot of problems and they need a lot. I am always behind. I stare at the piles of files to be sorted. But you know what? Most of the time, it's okay because I have something more important to think about.

Then I drive home. I flip on the seat heater for my aching back and unhook my bra while driving. I try not to make stupid mistakes on the freeway (so far I've backed my car into the parking garage pillar and got lost twice on my daily commute). I daydream.

Then...I don't know what happens to the next few hours. I am on a current Grey's Anatomy kick in which I am re-watching every episode from Season 1 on. I eat something and wish I had the energy to cook something more exciting. Or more healthy. Sometimes we take the dog for a walk.

Then slowly, the pregnancy monster takes over my body. The one that converts me from a 5-month-pregnant-lady into an 8-month-pregnant-lady. In other words, I go from having to pee once an hour to once every fifteen minutes. My stomach seems to swell in size and get rock hard. I walk around holding it like an old lady. I get breathless. I complain a lot.

Finally, I crawl into bed. I crawl into the Giant White Vagina Pillow and prop myself up for some serious baby bonding time. I am someone that usually needs to be overstimulated at all times so as not to get bored. But not during bonding time with baby. I love feeling him move.

Let me speak to this for a minute here...movement is a funny thing. At least for me. It's exciting because...well, that's my baby! It's also reassuring because it means he's ok (is that where the term "alive and kicking comes from??"). It's also fascinating because...holy hell, there is something alive in there! And, honestly, it's kinda creepy because, again, there's something ALIVE in there!

Anyhow, after spending some time with the baby, I begin to snuggle myself into my pillow nest. I moan and groan a lot. I prop up parts of my body. I wonder how the hell I can do this when I'm 8-months-pregnant. B. comments that maybe, just possibly, I'm exaggerating?

Then I find the perfect spot. I am supported, warm and comfortable. I can breathe. I am content.

I sigh and close my eyes.

I open them. I have to pee.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Every year we spend the 4th of July in Montana. B.'s parents own a house right on Flathead Lake (the most beautiful lake in the world) and I think, for his family, the 4th is more important than Christmas. All of the kids and grandkids come home and we spend the days swimming, boating, jetskiing, floating on innertubes and laying around in the sun. The nights are filled with s'mores, starry skies, and bonfires. It's pretty much heaven.

This year, we had a ton of people. My husband's family - his parents, sister and her three kids, brother and sister-in-law and their two kids, and random relatives and friends dropping by. My dad and his wife and their adopted kids also come along. My sister was there from LA and we invited other friends to make the trek up to Montana with us. Not to mention, each person seemed to have invited a relative, boyfriend, or friend who then brought their friend, relative or child..... So basically, a gaggle of people. Overall, everyone got along wonderfully. It was especially fun to see all of the kids (everyone seemed to bring at least 2-3) running around and playing in the lake. Of course, there is always some frustration (solely on my part) with the in-laws, but I don't think anyone notices but me and B., so it's just life, I guess.

This trip was missing my Micheladas during the day and glasses of wine in the evening. But I made up for it by floating my pregnant self around in a too-little innertube. Picture this - you couldn't tell I was wearing bikini bottoms because my belly filled the entire center of the tube. Funny.

For B. and I, the trip sparked the whole "Where Do We Want to Live" dream. Which basically means, "we can't live in LA that much longer, can we??" I posted about this before and how our dream is to relocate to Sonoma area. In that post, I said something along of the lines of relocating to MT wasn't an option due to the lack of opportunities, lack of diversity/culture, and dark, dreary winters. But, while we were there, while we were breathing in the fresh air, gazing at the sun-drenched mountains, and listening to birds singing, it's easy to be sucked in. We thought about how easy it would be. We could afford to live there without stretching ourselves. Without trying so hard. We could just breathe and be.

Of course, this line of thinking stressed me out. But what about our Plans? What about....What if...But.....AGH. But then I realized, I don't need to stress so much. I don't need to know what is coming next in life. The exciting thing is that we have options and dreams. And we, thankfully, share those dreams.

And so, today, I found myself excited by the vision of our life spreading out before me in a million tributaries. I'm not sure yet which we will choose, but I am going to try to be content to wait and see.

Waiting is a theme right now. I have four more months of this pregnancy and I am happy/excited to be waiting. Four months seems like nothing. Especially when I look at how planned out they are and how much I still have to do. July includes baby shopping, a trip from my Mom, and catching up on normal life. August includes a trip to Sacramento to see friends, a possible trip to Napa/Sonoma (chasing dreams), and our BABY SHOWER! September is jam-packed with baby classes (childbirth, hypnobirthing, baby care, breastfeeding) and prepping the nursery. And October? October is just about waiting and preparing to meet our son.

So I guess, waiting doesn't really sound that bad.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Ripe Peaches

A long time ago, I wrote a post about the things I would miss if I got pregnant. All I could come up with were horseback riding and wine. Up until very recently, I haven't missed either. And then slowly, as I started to get better, I started to miss them a bit more.

Horseback riding? At first, I agonized over this. I debated how long to keep riding (some women ride right up until they can barely straddle the damn saddle) and stressed over whether I needed to stop. But then, right after I made the decision to stop, I started to get so sick that there was no way I could have gotten anywhere near a horse, much less stayed on. But now, I do find myself starting to miss it. I miss it because it was my special thing I did for myself and I miss the quiet time with the horses and the pushing myself to do something physical and mental at the same time. But it's not really that bad. I know I will have it again in my life and I feel content to wait on it.

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My beautiful, amazing horse and I, in college days.

But wine?? Well that's another story. First of all, similar to horseback riding, there was no way in hell you could have gotten me near a glass of wine (or any type of alcohol for that matter) for the first 16-18 weeks or so. But lately, now that I'm feeling pretty damn great, I find myself craving the wine. Seriously. I'm craving the ritual of pouring the much-anticipated-glass at the end of the night, or sharing a bottle with my husband by a campfire, or spending a day wine tasting and slipping away into nothing but the flavors. Mostly, I'm missing the instant relaxation the glass of wine gives me. Now, I know you all are probably thinking, so, just have a glass of wine...it won't kill you (or the baby). In fact, when I was going through the stress of the Mexico-incident, my midwife recommended a glass of wine. But, in ironic contrast to my love of wine, I am also strongly against imbibing it during pregnancy. Please don't get me wrong. I won't judge you if you decide to partake. It's up to you. But I've just dealt with too many kids with cognitive disabilities to chance having to live through the guilt of even the remotest chance.

So I abstain. And each day, I miss it more and more. I think it's because, right now, I don't feel pregnant, I just feel normal. Normal enough to get stressed over stupid things, normal enough to feel healthy and strong, and so I keep thinking...hey, you know what would be good right about now?? You know what is funny about it? Everyone who knows me keeps asking, So, how's it been without any alcohol? And I think to myself, Wow, they must really think I'm a lush. So far, I can honestly say it hasn't been too bad at all. But as time goes on, I may have to admit my inner wino is screaming.

Oh, but my midwife ALSO recommended a glass of wine during labor. Now that (for some odd reason), I CAN get on board with!

In the same post where I mentioned that I would miss horses and wine, I also said something flippant like, "I know I won't miss my non-pregnant body. I'm willing to sacrifice that." Later, after I wrote it, I thought that might have been a little naive of me and I might find myself eating my own words.

But, so far, at 22 weeks with a COMPLETE shift in the shape and look of my body, I am not going back on my words. Now, I know things could change later on when I blow up like a balloon and am criss-crossed with the calligraphy of stretch marks, but right now? Right now, I am loving my pregnant body. I love the roundness, the femininity, the sexuality, the ripeness...oh god, I sound like I'm either describing sex or a really ripe peach. But honestly, I love it. I love to look at myself in the mirror (clothed or unclothed). I love to touch my own stomach and breasts. I like wearing clingy dresses and I'm even not minding bikinis.

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Now, before you get up in arms and start to hate me because you're picturing a pregnant fertility Barbie doll or something, let me tell you, I have plenty of things I could focus on not to like. Such as, love handles that are prominent in ANYTHING I wear, including (probably) a completely padded snow suit. Enormous, itchy, stretched out thighs. And arms that have turned into soft pillowy tubes of dough that seem to expand by the day. But it's okay because, well, I LIKE it. I feel like I look like a real woman. (Have you ever seen Real Women Have Curves?) As someone who's been pretty thin her whole live, I like oozing this curviness. So far, I feel good about myself.

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I will check back in with you all when I am 37 weeks and see if I am still loving my body. Oh, and post-partum body? I am not looking forward to looking like a wrinkled, deflated peach. Oh well.

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Oh, and ONE more thing that I miss. Something I didn't mention in my previous post because it seemed trivial and insignificant (what was I thinking??). This is something that I didn't realize was a silent friend getting me through my mornings and afternoon slumps. The thing I turned to when I needed to get through a mountain of work and needed something to boost me up and get me through. Have you figured it out yet?? CAFFEINE, oh how I miss you!!

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And to end this post in a sufficiently random, disjointed way (oh, so me), I just wanted to update you that I achieved a hurdle this weekend that I would have never been able to accomplish in my first trimester. I went to Disneyland! And I'm serious people, this is a big deal. I even wrote a post in the first Trimester about how the Happiest Place on Earth could go fuck itself, or something along those lines. But now? The magic is back! My friend was visiting from out of town with her husband and 2-year-old and 2-month-old daughters. How could I pass it up? It was 90+ degrees at DL, but I did okay. I was SO proud of myself. I was also completely fascinated by her newborn and how amazing she was. She kept the baby in a wrap most of the day and I left convinced that I needed at least three Moby Wraps, in 3 different colors, since I would probably be wearing my baby at all times. Who needs a Bugaboo stroller anyway??