Ever since mamas have been telling me I won't be able to read after the baby is born, I have been reading up a storm. I'm trying to get through a (very) long must-read list that I've compiled over the years. It's interesting, because some of the books I wrote down years ago are ones I'm reading and realizing how much I have changed since. For the most part, I would have enjoyed the book years ago but not so much anymore.
One book recommendation I have is The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. I've wanted to read this ever since I finished her collection Interpreter of Maladies, and I'm glad I did. She writes with such a gentle confidence about a first- and second-generation family of Indian immigrants to the U.S. and the subsequent challenge of meshing and blending cultures.
Momma Val sent me a huge box of secondhand baby items, and I just got tears in my eyes when I opened it. Blankets, a baby carrier, nursing tank tops, outlet plugs, baby lotions ... she was (and is) so generous, and it was extra special to me that it was secondhand. Thanks, Val!
In work news, I discovered someone who was very friendly is actually a power-hungry worker with more than enough belief in the status quo of hierarchy. Of course, this wasn't an overnight realization (her constant praising of the Big Boss was the first hint), but a disappointing one nonetheless.
Week 22, and I can feel Fetus moving more frequently now. S/he is getting stronger ... and, if my belly is any indication, bigger. It's getting hard to bend forward now. I'm looking forward to sandals!
My friend Stan created an art project based on conversations with his mom, a Taiwanese-American first-generation immigrant. You can watch the short sound-and-word video, Mother Tongue: I'm happy to share it.
I was looking back over some of my more recent entries, and I realize that a good deal of it has been Fetus-related. I don't want to be one of those people, a pre-mama obsessive like the mom bloggers described here ... but at the same time, this pregnancy is the defining point in my life. You can't escape your pregnancy, mind or body-wise. It's almost a physical manifestation of getting married. The feeling and the consequence, I guess.
I'm very aware of how much I talk about Fetus and this whole experience when I'm talking to non-mama friends. On the phone last night with my best friend, who lives a thousand miles away, I couldn't tell you how many times I brought up being pregnant. Of course, she's my best friend so she understands when I selfishly gloat, but still. It's not exactly fair to her. She asks, "what's new?" And I try in vain to think of something other than Fetus, Fetus, Fetus ... but no luck.
So if you are tired of hearing about my pregnancy, my apologies. I write about what's on my mind, and it's hard to get that kind of thing off your mind.
Speaking of marriage, my kid sister just announced her engagement to a boy she's been dating for the last year. I feel ... old. And protective.
I know, I know ... the Majora Carter lecture. I will get to it. Soon. Eventually.
Does anyone else find it humorous that the spellcheck on blogspot marks "blog" as misspelled?
I think, at 20 weeks, I'm finally feeling Fetus move. On Sunday, I told Hubby I thought Fetus was moving but, yet again, I wasn't sure (how can I be sure if I've never felt this before?). He put his hand on my belly and right as I said "there it is!", he said "I feel it!" It was so neat for us both to be sure Fetus moved at the same time, for the first time.
So, what does a baby moving feel like? I've heard people describe it as flutters, "like gas," and round circles by an eraser. For me, it felt like when you're really hungry and your stomach gurgles big bubbles. Only it wasn't an empty-feeling bubble, but a bubble with a bit of weight to it, and the bubble protruded rather than surrounding negative space. And it was a surprisingly natural feeling. You'd think it would be an extremely odd sensation, this being moving around inside you. But really it was an extension of internal movements I've felt before, only with a much more emotional personal reaction - obviously.
I have to wonder what effect all my mass transit riding will do to Fetus when s/he grows up. Is baby going to be a roller coaster junkie?
Fetus keeps becoming a more and more concrete thing in our lives, and I'm grateful for the gradual change. Imagine if babies were born hours after conception!
I still don't feel 100% sure I'm feeling Fetus move. I feel like I need to have her/him move more actively and strongly before I can be sure that what I felt before (now) is indeed fetal movement.
One constant comment I heard from my mom when she came to visit: "Wow! I love this. You can walk everywhere!"
I don't live downtown, but in what some people would refer to as an inner suburb. Boston is a small big city, so I would probably be within the city if it was any other big city. My whole youth, though, was spent living in the suburbs. The contrast between my life then and my life now boils down, to a large extent, to transportation.
In the suburbs, we drove everywhere. The only places we could walk to were school, a friend's house, and, if you were in for a hike, the pool. None of these three choices were easy-breezy walks, but they were doable. Now, in the city, I walk or ride mass transit everywhere. We own a car (leftover from our days in the suburbs), but we've never used it here. And I love how easy it is to get around. I walk to the library, the bank, the laundromat, the park, the grocery store, the post office, restaurants ... I can't think of anything I need that would require a car.
A good number of suburbanites stress the importance of owning a home, having their own backyard, and being near nature. City dwellers, in turn, seem keen on being close to amenities (walkability), always having something to do, and being part of a community. Interestingly, I've been reading about the history of suburbs and I've found that our fascination and ultimately desire for suburban living is partly based on the pastoral ideal and the competition of ownership. On one hand, suburbanites find more difficulty with being connected and being part of a community (a factor inhibited by cars and individual ownership). On the other, city dwellers tend to move out to the suburbs for better schools and more space.
I wonder how much of this issue could be solved by better planning. Planning often focuses on the city, but with the large majority of Americans living in suburbs, perhaps planning should be focused on these regions. If multi-use zoning was allowed or even (gasp) encouraged, suburbanites would be able to walk to more places. If suburbs had a plan before they sprouted, we could inhibit the sprawl of suburbs into exburbs, begin systems of mass transit, and base the community around a town center.
On the same token, better planning for cities could create more greenspace, providing a sort of community backyard, a sense of more living space, nature, and perhaps increasing the number of people moving into the city. The school system, well, that's another story.
The ultrasound was possibly the most fascinating thing I have ever watched.
Not only was it emotionally enthralling, but it was also intellectually and visually awe-inspiring. The technician showed us cross-sections of Fetus' heart, spine, ribs, and brain. During the fetal anatomy scan, he also measured all the major bones ("that is the cutest patella I have ever seen!"), took the heart rate (132), and counted the vertebrae on its spine. At one point, he measured the blood flow in Fetus, which came up as red or blue areas. My witty hubby said, "that looks like an Election Day map."
Fetus is quite the performer. At first, s/he was curled up in a very tight little ball. After my belly had been prodded for a bit, Fetus moved around. It moves; what a relief! Then it touched its toes and waved to the camera! It was such a Nicole shot but unfortunately the tech didn't take the photo. Fetus kicked, put its hands over its head, opened its mouth wide ... and it was so fascinating.
Speaking of s/he ... as soon as we walked through the door, I said, "Please, please: we don't want to know the baby's sex. Not even close." The technician smiled and assured us when it came to that area, he'd have us look away but he did have to view the genitals for the anatomy scan.
And yet ... he never had us look away. I know that they look for the absence or presence of a penis (that there says plenty about how we are socialized about gender) rather than the presence of a penis or vagina ... so does that mean we're having a girl? Or did he just realize, via my comments, that we generally had no idea what we were looking at unless we were told? I mean, he would say, "that's the forearm," and my response would be, "OK, I'll just take your word for it." Or what if he just forgot to do the anatomy scan in the genital area? I really don't want to know the baby's sex, but it made me wonder more than I have before.
Aesthetically, the ultrasound was very inspiring. I enjoyed the black-and-white abstract photos and I kept wishing I could take the technician's pictures instead. I can't think of a better word than mesmerizing.
The tech was really nice the whole time and let me pee halfway through. Apparently you only have to drink a lot of water in your first trimester for ultrasounds, not in your second or third. At least that's what he told me.
Before the ultrasound, I just about fell over when I took my weight. At the midwife's, the nurse has you pee in a cup and take your weight at the same time. Well, I peed in my cup, OK, ladeeda, and then I went to take my weight and I added a few pounds to my last weight four weeks ago ... and a few more ... and I almost felt faint by the time I got the thing to balance out. According to that scale, I had gained another 24 pounds!
I almost fell out of the bathroom begging the nurse to do it instead. These were the thoughts going through my head: how in the world ... ?; did I really eat that many potatoes?; oh my God I'm not going on a diet while I'm pregnant!: oh my God they are going to tell me to cut waaay back and I'm so hungry; I could really go for a blueberry muffin; where did all that fat go? I don't look that big, do I?; ... one of those ones with little sugar crystals on top ...; I hope I weighed myself wrong; maybe I weighed myself wrong last time and that's the real problem; no, my overall weight gain would still be incredibly too high; why do they make us watch our weight when we're pregnant? Shouldn't that be considered torture?; oh my GOD do I really weigh that much?
Fortunately the nurse did weigh me and somehow, despite my honors science classes, I had weighed myself wrong. Thank God. I gained 6 pounds in 4 weeks, which is a little more than what they advise, but 6 pounds I can do. 24 not so much.
Do you ever wish you could respond to some inane comment you've heard by ripping out a newspaper article and taping it to the perpetrator's mouth?
A co-worker scoffed at the suggestion that we consider our carbon footprint for a particular task. "I don't get what's with this whole carbon footprint thing," co-worker said. "It's all just a bunch of fluff."
Remember how I was yearning for the unnecessary purchase of a sofa when I found out I was pregnant? My boss offered me the one I nap on at work. Apparently they were going to get rid of it during upcoming renovations. It's an orange, cushy leather one, which might seem an odd choice for a vegan couple, but I have no problem using animal products secondhand. If I'm not contributing to the industry's bottom line and I'm helping to reuse something rather than buy more, I'm all for it.
We just have to figure out how to pick the couch up. I can't help much, being pregnant with a bad back, and we haven't made any big, burly friends with pick-up trucks yet. But even if we pay for someone to pick it up and deliver it, I can't imagine that would be more than $100. We could squeeze that out of our pockets somehow. Maybe Hubby can pick up an extra work shift.
The weather went from 15 below last week to in the 50s today. Tomorrow (ultra-exciting ultrasound day!) is supposed to be 60. 60 in January! Strange.
Momma Val posted about toxins, a subject I care deeply about. I eat organic, read labels, buy green cleaners, and still my personal choices aren't enough. It comes down to the realization that it's a community issue, and that means every individual has to make better personal choices AND better community choices have to occur in neighborhoods, cities, states, and the federal government. So, awareness and education continue to be of upmost importance.
Broadcasting to you live from Diesel Cafe with a Tex-Mex wrap, no cheese, extra avocado in hand ... I enjoy wireless.
It's official. I finally fit into maternity pants. I'm so relieved. For about a month now, I've been in the inbetween stage: my regular pants were too tight and maternity pants way too large. All of the advice I've read about this stage say to wear your husband's clothes. I hardly think my office wants me to come into work in an Opeth concert shirt and baggy cords. So I've been rotating between three different pairs of pants, the ones that have always been at the back of my closet because they just don't fit right. And, even in this inbetween stage, they still don't fit right.
Another first: someone other than my immediate family has finally admitted they can "kind of tell" I'm pregnant. This floors me, because it's been quite obvious to me for more than two months now. How can you not tell? My stomach looks humongous to me already.
It is strange to have your body change as a woman. I've always had a slim build, so I've never given much thought to body image in the realm of weight before. Well, I've read and researched it as a feminist who took a lot of women's studies classes in college. And I've observed and listened to friends and family going through the pains of not having the body society wants them to. So it's not like I've been oblivious to the issue, but, as they say, it's different when you actually experience it. It has been a wake-up, personal style. Especially being in the inbetween stage, when it's not apparent that you're pregnant.
By the way, when I Google "changing body image during pregnancy," of the hundreds of hits, the majority of them advise, "Try changing your hair color!" or "Wear fun accessories!" I don't want to avoid my body's image, I want to talk about it with other women so we develop a community and an understanding of how pervasive and all-encompassing this issue is. And maybe then we can enact real change.
There is a little baby at the table across from us with her toddler brother. There are babies everywhere nowadays. It's more than me noticing it ... I wonder what they'll call this wave of babies. Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y/Millennials, then what?
Rebecca Thorman at Modite recently wrote about how Gen Y needs to recognize social media as a means and not an end. "Who will be loud enough? Who will scream?" she asks. I wonder, will we scream? With decreasing interest in traditional forms of protest, we may just be the generation that finds an alternative to screaming. Holding stock in an ethically irresponsible company versus marching on the streets for change; designing our own work-life balance while disregarding work hierarchies; rising interest in community and urban living rather than suburban white-picket fences ... We seem to hide behind computer screens and text messaging with silent forms of protest. This might seem less effective than staging sit-ins at our local campuses, but I would argue it's exactly what we need as a country. The old forms of protest aren't working anymore; we need ingenuity, innovation, and a lot of hard work. Thorman's right; we can't expect Facebook apps to change the world.
Even traditional methods for change within our government are evolving. Rather than force laws and subsequent vetoes down the hatchet of Congress and the bowels of the administration, we have cities stepping up to the challenge and successfully enforcing new laws to reflect new needs: the Internet, trans-fat and smoking bans, multi-zoning uses, et al.
While most people are thinking of New Year's resolutions, I almost feel like I don't need one. I mean, I'm having a baby this year. Isn't that a new enough New Year? I have so many goals associated with that -- which more than makes up for not having a resolution. I don't usually have a resolution, anyway ... I agree with Courtney on this one.
My parents and brother came to visit and one of the hits of their trip was a visit to the Museum of Bad Art. Hysterical!
Note to well-meaning relatives: fat jokes to a pregnant woman are not funny. At 18 weeks or 40. I repeat, NOT funny.