Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Lollipop Guilt

Practically every day since Halloween (yes, really), I've heard some version of the following:

"Mommy, can I have a lollipop?"

Westley's first lolly, October 2010

We finally finished off the Halloween candy...last week. But the begging for sweets is far from over. (It's also far from new.) Despite my best intentions, I have raised a little sugar junkie.

Fortunately, he's also a little produce junkie. I can't take Westley to the Fruit Market without him grabbing up an orange or tomato or a bunch of carrots (with the tails, please). He's been known to slip a basket of strawberries into our cart when I wasn't looking. But he doesn't beg for fruit the way he does for, say, the beautiful vegan baked goods at PCC.

I'm the first person to admit that my parenting is far from perfect - and participating in Westley's early introduction to refined sugar feels like one of my biggest mistakes. I'm not a "no sugar ever" person, but I do take a lot of pride in feeding my family a variety of tasty, nutritious foods. Part of me thinks if I were doing a better job on the food front, Westley wouldn't prefer ice cream to lentils. Despite the fact that even as a picky(ish) three-year-old Westley eats a respectable variety of foods, I feel like I dropped the nutrition ball.

One of the things about raising a vegan child is that there's an awful lot of "no." No, not that bread. Not that treat. Not that restaurant. No, no, no. Add that to all the nos of parenting a preschooler, and that's an awful lot of "can't" and "don't." I end up feeling stuck in this push-pull of constantly saying "no" versus saying "yes" but feeling guilty for doing so.

I like to think that the guilt over saying "yes" to sweets makes me more aware, more committed to finding healthful things to offer at meals and snacks. But, in reality, it just makes me feel shitty. And I absolutely need to knock it off - or risk passing my own hang-ups about sweets onto my sweet boy.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Entertain Me Weekly

I used to watch movies every day. That seems crazy to me now, but it's true. They weren't all movies I'd chosen for myself, but I spent hours with them nonetheless. I was studying very seriously to be a film theorist (with a possible side "career" as a video artist). I'm not sure what I thought I'd do as a film theorist, other than read and write books about film theory and possibly teach other aspiring film theorists. But there you go. I wanted to be a film theorist when I grew up.

As such, I watched everything. Obscure films and popular, made-to-turn-a-profit entertainment. All genres, everything.

Now, I have to be much pickier. Part of the problem is that I have about an hour a night of movie-viewing time, unless I want to stay up ridiculously late and suffer the consequences in the morning. (And let's face it, I often do.) Rob and I actually have about an hour and a half between Westley's bedtime and ours, but I'm an ex-aspiring-film-theorist and he's a junkie for narrative, so we're constantly pausing whatever we're watching to make predictions about what will happen next based on hints in the dialog (him) or the lighting (me). We say things like, "The music says she's lying." And then we end up talking about feminism, and Freud, and the evolution of comic book superheroes. It takes us an hour and a half - at least - to get through 45 minutes of film.

Because I have so little time to watch anything, I have very little patience for crap. Zero patience, in fact. And in the world of moviemaking, there's a lot of crap out there. Some of it is even highly enjoyable crap. Unfortunately, my crap detector is dialed up so high that I'm currently a little gun-shy about starting up any movie, lest I think, "This was a colossal waste of my extremely limited free time!"

Whenever Rob asks, "Do you want to watch something?" I say, "Sure!" And then I go on to suggest the five movies that I know I'll always be happy to watch - and think Rob will tolerate - no matter what. Thus, Weekly Movie Night was born.

Yes, we're scheduling our movie-watching, the way some post-kid couples schedule dinner dates or sex.

Originally, we had a theme in mind for our weekly watchings. When I was pregnant with Westley, Knocked Up was in theaters. Rob and I went to see it and promptly decided we would watch as many movies about pregnancy as we could find. A goofy project to fill the months of waiting. We had a great time seeing lots of good movies and a few dreadful ones, and there was no question that we'd do it again for pregnancy numero dos. I had long list planned out - Juno, The Snapper, Nine Months, Children of Men, Aliens (not joking), The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, and so on - and I was just getting ready start putting up regular "40 Weeks Film Festival" posts when the downpour of awful struck.

In the interest of moving forward towards "normal" again, I'm going ahead with the weekly movie posts. They just won't all be pregnancy-themed films.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Weight For Me

None of my pants fit.

Okay, that's not entirely true. My postpartum-with-Westley pants fit, but I refuse to wear them; they just scream, "I'm waiting to fit into my real clothes again." And, naturally, my maternity jeans fit. But we're not going there. Not even a little.

So yes, after several weeks of eating like a pregnant woman who'd recently rediscovered eating, followed by a week of cookies for breakfast, I have some weight to lose. Not very much, but a non-zero amount (as Rob would say). Enough to keep my jeans from buttoning.

Pre-pregnancy, I was always teetering on the edge of my clothing size. A few pounds gained, and certain wardrobe items became off-limits. And sizing up turned out to be too much of a change, with waistbands gapping and knees bunching and asses sagging. Clearly, I need to make friends with a tailor.

Restricting my caloric intake and upping my exercise is never something I look forward to, but it feels especially insulting right now. In twelve weeks, I didn't have much time to get especially pregnant-looking, and now, I can't even pretend that the flesh oozing out over my waistband is me "showing." On the other hand, getting back into my clothes (without compromising my health) is a project - something to take my mind off of the tricks my unborn child would have been doing in utero this week, something to distract me while I wait for a normal period, the beacon of "all's well."

For a brief moment, I considered saying, "Fuck it!" and putting everything that doesn't fit into a bag and donating it all to Goodwill. But while that's probably the (mentally) healthier thing to do, I'm vain enough that doing so would feel more like admitting defeat than a gesture of empowerment.

And eating lots of raw fruit and salads? Never a bad idea.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Thirteen Weeks

I don't know how much more of this I can take. I mean, really. I don't even want to write anything else - let alone put it somewhere for other people to read - because I'm depressing myself.

I was feeling lovely and peaceful and philosophical, and then yesterday hit, and now today, when I would have been 13 weeks pregnant and my baby would have been the size of a medium shrimp. Instead, I'm still wearing my pajamas, practically neglecting my sweet (alive and well!) little boy, passing clots that look like leeches.

I remain fascinated by my own body insides. I have always been body-curious - a pimple-squeezer, a tissue-examiner, a toilet-paper-checker. (In fact, if I weren't so drawn towards my own fluids, I wouldn't have known I was bleeding for several days. I could have miscarried quietly at home, without my traumatic Emergency Room visit. Last night in one of those morbid conversations I'm always roping unsuspecting Rob into, I explained that if I get pregnant again and this happens again, I am staying the fuck at home. If I go back to the ER, it will be because the bathroom looks Hitchcockian and I'm scraping myself up off the floor to dial 911. Dramatic? Yes. But my mother recently went to the ER in an ambulance, and they were lovely to her. I was treated like nothing because I was walking and talking normally, and, medically, my situation was merely unfortunate.) I keep wondering what it looks like inside my (broken)heart-shaped uterus right now. As much as the blood saddens me, it's also fascinating. What will it look like today? What might this be?

I'm also mildly annoyed at the encouragements to think about the "baby." When I (thought I) was pregnant, I tried talking to the baby - "Hi, in there! Hi, sweetie! It's Mommy..." - and it felt so forced and fake. I didn't think of Westley in "baby" terms until he started kicking me, and even then, I often forgot that there was a tiny human inside me. I realized years too late that it would have helped me to be reminded during labor, "You're having a baby. This is your body helping the baby to be born. Soon, there's going to be a baby!"

I suspect I may be atypical in this regard, but it is oddly comforting to me to think of my miscarriage in terms of "not baby." As much as it makes me feel stupid and unobservant - shouldn't I have known that I was pregnant with nothing? - my blighted ovum was a huge relief. I can't imagine the state I'd be in now if I'd seen the thing I feared most, a dead baby, in the ultrasound image. No heart is immensely preferable to a stopped heart.

Perhaps I'm in denial. (It's a stage of grief, after all.) Maybe all this there was no baby, there was never any baby stuff is protective. Looking at that blood and tissue as simply blood and tissue frees me from a sadness that I imagine could destroy me. Or at least put me on the fast track to alcoholism. But if I really think about it, plumbing my psychological insides, I realize that I truly don't believe in this baby. That perhaps I never really did.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Half-empty, Half-full

Hey, Batter Batter

This morning, Westley asked, "Mommy, is there another baby growing inside you?"

"No, honey. Not yet."

His little face melted into a frown, and he started to cry. I tired to get him to tell me what was upsetting him, but he didn't want to - or couldn't - talk about it. It didn't matter. I knew. The adults who had been joyful and busy and liberally peppering their speech with the word "baby" are suddenly quiet and sad.

Today was the first day in several that I've felt really weighed down by sadness. My bleeding has slowed to almost nothing, and I had the strange realization while in the bathroom that I'm actually sad not to be passing clots anymore. Feeling those large pieces of uterine insides stretch my cervix open before slithering down and out was disturbing, and somehow, I miss it. The process of "emptying" is coming to a close.

At the same time that I feel not-quite-empty, I'm struck that I can feel so full of love for Westley. It's practically a physical sensation, a fullness behind my breastbone that feels like anxiety and a good way.

Westley has curative properties. He's getting a too tall to cuddle easily in a chair with me, but we still manage, and it's magical to hold him. He's so strong and grown-up seeming - in a T-shirt and jeans, he looks like a miniature Rob - but his silky hair, delicate skin, and sweet smell all remind me that he's still very new. It wasn't that long ago that he was the baby growing inside me.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Loss for Words

I think every woman who's had a miscarriage must hate the word. Maybe I'm being overly sensitive (you'll forgive me for that, right?), but miscarriage sounds judgmental. It's that prefix. Mis- means "wrongly" or "incorrectly." Which just makes me think I did something wrong, because I was the one carrying. If only I'd held onto that baby correctly!

For similar reasons, I cannot bring myself to say, "I lost the baby." Really? You lost the baby? How shitty of a mother do you have to be to lose a baby - especially one still inside your own body?

Which leaves us with, "The baby died." Ouch. I still believe that this was the best thing to tell Westley. But the phrase just plain hurts to say. Or think. (I soften the blow inside my head by telling myself that the baby just changed her mind about being born.) Besides, it throws off my accuracy meter. The ultrasound showed an empty gestational sac - a blighted ovum, more judgmental-sounding language.

(If I hadn't been consumed by feeling so, well, empty, I would've asked for a picture from the ultrasound. I wish I had one now.)

No fetal pole equals no baby. Was I ever even really pregnant? Does any of this language even really apply to me?

* * *
So many women have shared their stories with me. Some in great detail, some with a simple, "That happened to me, too." The nurse who filled in while the nurse assigned to my ER room went to lunch mentioned that she miscarried her first baby at 16 weeks - and while she was recovering, a visiting friend brought over a huge stack of baby clothes.

Suddenly it seems like if you have female parts and it's not you, it's the woman right next to you. "It's very, very common," my midwife said at our follow-up appointment yesterday. "But no one talks about it."

Miscarriage falls firmly in that "don't want to talk about it" space. Or, if you're a chronic oversharer like I am willing to talk about it, it seems too harsh to bring up:

"Hey, how're you doing?"

"Oh, not so good. I had a miscarriage on Sunday."

Whoa. Maybe not. But how are we supposed to not not talk about it, then? I wish I knew.


Post-Kid Kitchen: Spectacular Cookies of Awesomeness

Oatmeal Raisin Awesome

The one thing that made this weekend not suck entirely was baking cookies with my guys. It started like this: Westley wanted to ride in Rob's car, but the car seat was in my car and Rob didn't feel like moving it. I told Rob that if he moved the car seat, I'd make cookies for him. Oatmeal-raisin cookies. His favorite cookie.

(Does "oatmeal-raisin" get a hyphen? I think it does. Unless you're making raisin cookies with oatmeal. Those would be "oatmeal raisin" cookies.)

When you have lots of restrictions to deal with, it's always a special treat to have a recipe that meets your needs right from the get-go, no modifications necessary. And this recipe from Gluten-Free Goddess fit the bill perfectly. Unfortunately, I was missing a few of the ingredients (which I realized after I'd preheated the oven and started mixing things). Here's what I used:

Spectacular Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies

Wet ingredients:
2/3 cup Spectrum Organic Shortening
1 1/2 cups demerara sugar
1 Tbsp molasses
1 small Fuji apple, peeled, chopped, microwaved with a little water until soft and mushy, and blended
(This involves more work than just using applesauce, but it works just as well.)
2 tsp bourbon vanilla extract
2 Tbsp agave

Dry ingredients:
1/2 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup gluten-free oat flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins

Zip over to Gluten-Free Goddess for mixing and baking instructions. Rob and I used a cookie scoop and ended up with 36 cookies. Ours needed to bake for 14 minutes, and while they do come out of the oven very soft, they're perfectly crispy-chewy by the time they cool. If you can wait that long.

Oatmeal Raisin Awesome

If you don't have a cookie scoop, get one. We use ours every day to dish out peanut butter, measure a tablespoon of margarine or tahini, and serve Westley-sized portions of dinner entrees. Plus, perfectly round, (almost) perfectly uniform cookies! Every time!

Oatmeal Raisin Awesome

Oatmeal Raisin Awesome

Also, always get your partner to help with the cookies you promised to make for him.

Oatmeal Raisin Awesome

Oatmeal Raisin Awesome

I find gluten-free baked goods to be kind of hit or miss. But these beauties? Taste like cookies, baby. Make them for everybody you know.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Thank You

I'm feeling overwhelmed by all the love that has been pouring in over the last 24 hours. Thank you for your unbelievable kindness here and elsewhere. I feel the weight of your messages like arms around me, I really do. I'm so grateful, and I wish I could send each of you a handwritten thank-you note and a batch of cookies.

Today has been a day of comfort food, baths, and heating pads. I think I've only burst into tears four times. I keep losing track of time and my appetite, but right this minute, I feel surprisingly okay. My body seems to be doing exactly what it needs to do. I'm exceedingly thankful for that.

The ER doctor prescribed misoprostol to help me expel the "product" (thank you, sir, and your unfortunate medical terminology for ruining future trips to the salon). I politely declined it. He asked me, ever so sweetly, to please at least take the prescription home so I could fill it later if I changed my mind. I agreed, but noticed immediately that the form that came with my discharge papers also included a prescription for Vicodin. Because, you know, misoprostol can cause "some" cramping.

Yeah. None for me, thanks.

* * *
At the hospital, I told Westley what happened. I didn't want to use the word "miscarriage," but what I said ended up sounding extremely harsh: "Westley, we have some bad news. The baby died. The baby inside Mommy wasn't growing right, and it's not going to grow any more."

His eyes filled with tears, and he said, "I think it will! It will grow more!"

"I wish that too, honey, but it won't." And I did the thing I'd stopped myself from doing for hours: dissolved into sobs in front of my child.

My beautiful, sweet, helpful, healthy child. Who was so, so good the entire day and never had a meltdown even once. Not even a little. My dear, good boy who saved his sobs and screams until we were safely home, on our couch, relaying the day's events to my parents. After dinner, after cookies and ice cream, Westley exploded bigger than I've ever seen. He wailed and thrashed. He roared.

He looked and sounded exactly how I felt.

* * *
I'm surprised at how peaceful I feel, so soon. It's incredible the difference being in my own home surrounded by kind words and thoughts makes. Rob has been incredible. He seems sad, but surprisingly normal. I told him I don't understand his "man emotions."

We're surviving on convenience food, gurney humor - there was a running joke last night after Westley went to bed about smoking while jumping on a trampoline, possibly at a "crack bounce house" - and knowledge that we've been through shit before, together.

There ain't no hill or mountain we can't climb.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fade Away

I hate everything about this post.

Yesterday around lunchtime, I went to the bathroom and noticed some reddish streaking on the toilet paper, and a tiny blood clot about the size of a mustard seed. Rob and Westley were out running errands, and the house suddenly seemed uncomfortably quiet.

I paged my midwife, and stood in the silence. Then I set the timer on the microwave for 20 minutes. (If you don't get a call in 20 minutes, you're supposed to page again.)

Four minutes later my phone rang. My midwife prescribed "pelvic rest" - no sex, no orgasm, no jogging. Not that I've jogged recently. Or had sex, for that matter.

I sat all day, drinking water, occasionally getting up to pee, checking the toilet paper. Always some pink or brown streaking there on the white. Sometimes a tiny bit. Sometimes a tiny bit more. By 9:00 PM, I was still spotting, and starting to feel uncomfortable. Rob dialed the pager number for me.

* * *
By 1:15 PM, the ER observation room across from mine had been cleared twice. I'd been sitting cross-legged on my narrow bed, watching through the window for three hours. It would be at least another hour before I got the ultrasound I'd come for.

We met our midwife, Bev, at the clinic this morning to check things out and listen for heart tones. I brought her a little Ziploc bag full of my red-streaked toilet paper. Her brow furrowed when I handed it to her, and even before I climbed up on the table, I was pretty sure she wouldn't be able to hear anything on the Doppler.

Nothing came up but the whoosh of my own insides. It was time to seek out an ultrasound (and on Sunday morning, that that meant going to the Emergency Room). Bev said, "Prepare yourself." That babies at 12 weeks move around a lot, that Dopplers aren't perfect, but . . . "prepare yourself." I don't know how one prepares oneself for an ultrasound showing no life - except to expect it. I didn't want to expect anything negative; I wanted to be calm happy and hopeful.

The longer I sat on that ER bed, the less hopeful I felt.

Rob and Westley had gone out for lunch. The room was cold, dim, and so, so quiet. Tomb-like. The TV had no remote. I was glad to have my journal:

There's a mirror across from the bed, so I can see myself out of the corner of my eye. Or else I can look up and see how miserable I look.

* * *
A young man with an armful of tribal tattoos wheeled me into Radiology, a ghost town of a department on Sunday afternoon, and parked me in a room with an ultrasound machine.

Phillips, I noticed immediately. Not Siemens. (I used to work in technical publishing. I've seen the manual for several Siemens ultrasound machines in more than a dozen languages.)

"Hello?" my chauffeur-nurse called out, and his voice echoed.

"Hi," a female voice came back from around a doorjamb.

I was glad the tech was a woman, even though when she came into the room she looked half my age and was chewing bubblegum. Over my shoulder, the nurse disappeared quietly. The ultrasound tech, Becky, said almost nothing once I was on the table. She'd angled the monitor away from me, but I could still see most of it. And I knew what I was looking at, and what it meant.

The outer-space landscape of my uterus with a curved black hole on one side, a few inches long on the monitor. Not a flicker of movement.

There was nothing, Becky explained later, when the ultrasound goo was wiped away. No crown-to-rump to measure, no heart to be beating. (Though she didn't say it like that.) Essentially, I had a tiny empty sac with no sign of a fetus.

* * *
Becky wheeled me out into the silent hall. She took two blankets out of the warmer, and draped one over my legs. The other she wrapped tightly around my shoulders, mummifying me.

"Someone will be by in a minute to take you back to Emergency." And she left.

I sat in my wheelchair, wrapped in my warm blanket cocoon, unable to lift a hand to my face. I started to cry. The occasional doctor or nurse walked by, completely oblivious to the wheelchair. I felt invisible, like a piece of paper someone had thrown away.

I sat alone - staring at the framed pink patchwork quilt, about the size of a baby blanket, that hung on the opposite wall - for five or ten minutes.

My chauffeur-nurse appeared from around a corner I didn't know was there.

"I'll take you back to Emergency."

I nodded, and burst into tears. I was getting good at crying in front of strangers.

"What happened?" he asked.

I thought about what to say. All I could manage was, "Bad news."

"I'm sorry," he said, sounding not particularly committed to his sympathy. Then, a second later: "Something about a pregnancy?"


"I'm sorry."

Rob and Westley were waiting for me in my ER room. They didn't let us go home for another hour and a half.

* * *
Rob drove home. The three of us were almost silent. I felt numb, and my head was very quiet inside, except when it drifted into singing the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter." (Why that song? I wondered. I can't remember the last time I listened to it.) The view as we crossed Lake Washington was a heartbreaking kind of beautiful.

* * *
The closer it gets to completely dark outside, the more I seem to bleed.

It's the first day of Spring. The symbolism is all wrong.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Twelve Weeks

Sometimes I forget I'm pregnant, but it usually only lasts a second. Occasionally, Rob has to remind me, when I wonder aloud, "Why am I so tired?"

"You're growing a person - and a placenta - from scratch."

When I think about it, it makes my head spin. There is a new, unique human being growing inside me. A human being who supposedly looks undeniably human at this point, with limbs, fingers, toes, and a tiny face with eyes and ears where they should be.

I'm so curious about this baby. Is she a girl? Is he a boy? (There is just one of them in there, right?) Is everything all right, safe, healthy? Will this child have an energy similar to Westley's, or will my children have radically different personalities? I've never been so anxious and excited to meet someone, and my September 30 due date seems awfully far away.

12 Weeks

Food and I officially made up this week. (Hello, legumes! Hello, leafy greens! So nice to see you again.) I am eating what seems like a ridiculous amount, but I feel like I'm always hungry. And I can't seem to get enough fruit. I never had much of a sweet tooth before, but sugary things suddenly sound delicious. My three-pear-a-day habit seems to curb some of the sweet cravings, but I still have a hard time passing up a gluten-free vegan cookie when one is available.

My go-to jeans became unquestionably too tight, as of yesterday. I feel much heavier than I think I look. Maybe I'm just anticipating the inevitable hugeness.

12 Weeks

This is the last week of my first trimester. It feels like a beginning. I'm glad to be leaving behind the sickness and the disbelief - Is this really happening? Am I really going to have another baby? - for a place of certainty, and pure joy.

I'm really fucking happy to be pregnant again.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Pronoun Game

Westley seems fully convinced that the baby is a girl:
"When the baby comes, I will tell her all about robots."

"Mommy, I will show the baby this puzzle and she will say, 'Wow!'"

"Is the tea going into the baby's body? I hope she likes peppermint!"
I have no idea where this came from. I've been avoiding gender-specific pronouns since we first told Westley that "there's a baby growing inside Mommy." Once in a while, I'll offer up an "it" or "its," but I usually default to simply "the baby." And unlike the first time around, I have absolutely no clue as to the sex of the person currently sharing my body.

With Westley, I was certain I was pregnant with a boy from about 10 weeks on. It sounds kind of mystic-crystal-revelations, but I felt that the baby had an undeniable "little male" energy. It was almost as if he was saying, "Hi, Mommy! I'm a boy!" This time? Not so much as a peep. As I contemplated the double pink lines on my pregnancy test, I flashed on the idea of having another baby boy. But it was mostly a wondering (and a little worrying). With Westley, I knew.

This time, my kid is the one who seems to know. I'd really like to ask Westley why he keeps using female pronouns when talking about the baby. I'd do it if I thought he'd understand what I was asking him. But I also know that Westley randomly assigns a sex - usually female - to things in his world. He maintains that Gromit of Wallace and Gromit, Oscar the Grouch's pet worm Slimey, and, most recently, the monkey Steve in the movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs are all girls.

So maybe this has nothing to do with the baby whatsoever, and Westley just likes girls. I'm understand that's fairly common among boys.

* * *
Edited: Last night when I used "she" to refer to the baby - to avoid sentence clunkiness - Westley looked at me like my hair had just turned purple.

"Is the baby a girl?" he asked, the excitement bubbling up.

"I don't know," I told him. "Maybe."


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Preschool-Shop 'til You...Co-op

(This will be my last post about preschool for a while, I swear.)


Way back when we were first looking at preschools (ages ago, in January), my online activity became almost entirely focused on searching for information about schools. The Web sites all started to look the same. The curriculum guides, "Parents' Corners," and Comic Sans began to blend together.

One site that stood out - and not just for its lack of godawful fonts - was the homepage for a local co-op preschool. The descriptions of the programs and activities made me wish I could go there. (Oh, wait - it's co-op, so I sort of could.) And the school was definitely in our budget. Moreso than anything else I'd found.

The only problem? The registration deadline was the next day.

I thought briefly about calling the school and trying to schedule a tour that same day, but even if the school could accommodate us on such short notice, first-trimester fatigue was making it hard to hurry off to anywhere. So I debated. I agonized. I called Rob. And then I sent the school and application form and a check, sight unseen.

With so few open spots and a next-day deadline, I figured why not? And then I promptly forgot about the whole thing. (And shortly afterwards, I decided very deliberately to forget about the whole preschool thing altogether.)

And then the check cleared. And we received a postcard telling us Westley is enrolled for fall. Welcome to Preschool!

* * *
We still haven't visited the school, which seems a little nuts. But then I remember that I applied to college having never visited the campus or spoken to any current students or alumnae, which seems even more nuts. And that worked out spectacularly well. So I'm hoping this will be turn out to be a good thing also. And I guess if it's not, I might actually be able to do something about it. That's what a co-op is all about, right?


Monday, March 14, 2011

Let's (Not) Go Shopping

I got bitten by the shopping bug this week. Here's what happened: I woke up feeling somewhat human again (i.e. nausea seems to be gone) and I suddenly got really fucking excited about being pregnant. Then I decided that since I'm already about a quarter of the way through this pregnancy and this baby is going to need stuff, I should get on that! So as to, you know, be ahead of the pack in the preparedness department.

So I started to think about all the things we're going to need:
  1. A car seat, for sure.
  2. Um . . . er . . . let's see . . . oh, I know! Breasts!
But I've already got those like crazy. (You should see them. They're insane. If I'm this big at 11 weeks, I'm going to be obscene by 40 weeks.) And everything else I can think of? We already own. Or else it's stuff like newborn-size diapers and itty-bitty white onesies, neither of which is going to disappear off the face of the planet before the baby gets here.

PAX Front Pack
Rob and Westley, August 2008, rockin' our beloved Ergo carrier.

So I won't be celebrating the happy return of my normal-person status with a baby-gear shopping spree. But so much for the better really, as most of that "must have" crap is actually completely useless.

(Oh, and also since we're paying out-of-pocket for all of my maternity care. Ouch.)


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Expectant Aesthetics

For a second, I thought I was losing my mind.

Something looks wrong here. No, it doesn't. Wait...yes it does!

Then I spotted the change: Starbucks' Web site has a new font. I don't remember what it was before (probably some version of Helvetica), but it looks like Trebuchet now. And it's more spring green-y. And while I probably would have noticed this before I got pregnant, I'm not sure it would've annoyed me so much.

(Incidentally, I know that because I live where I do, I'm supposed to love some cool, little-known coffee shop favored by serious writerly types with stylish laptops. And I do love a couple of those. But I really dig Starbucks coffee.)

Now that I'm gestating, my tastes have changed - and not just in my mouth. The look and feel of everything has started to get on my nerves. My furniture seems all wrong, style-wise, and I'm suddenly having a powerful "craving" for curtains. Clothes that I used to love no longer look right to me even though, for the most part, they still fit perfectly. I had to change my default radio station. Once-funny jokes now rub me the wrong way. And don't get me started on my hair.

I need a bangs trim...and an attitude adjustment.

I don't actually know if my new grumpiness aesthetic has anything to do with being pregnant. But if pregnancy hormones made me sensitive to wheat and soy and make my once-stick-straight hair wavy the first time around, why shouldn't they affect my taste in movies (and music, and fashion, and fonts)?

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Speaking of fonts, my blog has also been driving me crazy as of late. And its colors are much quicker and easier to monkey with than those on my living room walls! I'm going to do my best to keep from changing the look of things around here at random intervals, but it may take me a while to find a layout that doesn't annoy my picky pregnant brain.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Post-Kid Kitchen: Making Up With Food

Potato Soup

After several weeks of on-again, off-again nausea, I'm starting to feel like a person again. A very hungry person. And while I still feel a little edgy around protein-rich foods, carbohydrates have been sounding wonderful.

At first, I practically lived off fruit: three pears and a giant grapefruit for breakfast, a pound of grapes for lunch, that sort of thing. Then, out of nowhere, my pregnant nose caught a whiff of French fries cooking somewhere, and I had a flash of, ohmygod that sounds SO good right now!

Unfortunately, fried food and I no longer see eye to eye. I love it, but it wants to date other people. People whose stomachs are not quite so sensitive to fat (and the likely gluten-by-proxy that happens to potatoes when a restaurant cooks all of its fried offerings together).

Because the real appeal of French fries (for me) is that warm, salty, potato-y flavor, I decided to whip up some potato soup. It scratched my food-itch and then some, coming together quickly and turning out much more satisfying than I'd expected. The secret ingredient is the potatoes themselves, half of which get blended with vegetable broth to give the soup a creamy base with no cream, dairy or otherwise.

Creamy Potato Soup
Serves 4 generously

3 lbs potatoes
4 cups vegetable broth
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion
1 large red bell pepper
2 medium carrots
2 cups water
2 tbsp nutritional yeast

You're going to need two pots for this.

Peel your potatoes and dice them fine. Place vegetable broth and half the diced potatoes in pot #1 over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and cook 10 minutes or so, until potatoes are very tender.

Meanwhile, dice the onion. Heat olive oil in pot #2 over medium-high heat and add onion. Dice bell pepper and carrots, adding each vegetable to the onion as you finish dicing and stirring occasionally. When the onion looks nice and translucent, add water and remaining potatoes. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium and cook, covered, 7-10 minutes, until potatoes are tender.

When your potato-broth mixture is thoroughly cooked, blend with an immersion blender until smooth. (You can also transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor to blend.) Add the blended potato mixture to pot #2, and stir to combine. Right before serving, stir in nutritional yeast.

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P.S. Rob suggested that this soup could be garnished with roasted chickpeas for some nice crunch (not to mention protein). While that sounds delicious to me in theory, legumes and I are not currently on speaking terms.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Since He's Not Going to Sleep's a good thing he's too adorable for words.







A very good thing.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Sleep Isn't For the Week

Apparently, that's what serves for a somewhat clever title today. The truth is I feel like I've had maybe seven hours of sleep in the past week. I'm sure it's really more than that, but perhaps not much more. I have no idea.

The nighttime tossing and turning, inability to get into a comfortable position, and then desperately needing to pee once I find a (semi)comfortable sleeping pose that I remember so well from my pregnancy with Westley has struck again. Four months earlier than last time!

Add to this the fact that Westley now fully rejects naps and all they stand for. When I tried to tempt him with some Mommy-Westley cuddle time this afternoon, he got in bed just long enough to head-butt me. Then the noises started: mostly "psst"-ing at me while I attempted to catnap. (I thought about locking him out of my bedroom, but I was pretty sure he would cry bitterly, or find something pointy upon which to impale himself.) An hour later, I've given up. On ever resting again.

The kicker is that when Westley stopped napping, he started having more trouble sleeping at night. It used to be that he'd toddle in and get in bed with Rob and me around 5:30 AM. This past week, it's been more like 2:00 AM. Or midnight. Or 11:30 PM.

Having the kid in our bed is an issue under normal circumstances. Sharing the covers with a tossy-turny, thrashy, likes-to-sleep-perpendicular-to-the-adults preschooler doesn't make for a restful night. Adding my out-of-whack pregnant body to this scenario makes real sleep seem impossible.

My solution to pregnancy sleep issues the first time around involved many nights alone on an air mattress. It was pretty sweet. I'd consider trying the air mattress experiment again if the thing still inflates the way it should and if I can find a place to set it up (the last time we used it was two homes and much square footage ago). Or I might just try camping out on the couch for the next 30 weeks.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Taste Tested

I kind of enjoy the Bionic Nose of Pregnancy. While it's not exactly pleasurable being able to smell bad breath or too-much-cologne or just-used-catbox 100 feet away, I like feeling like a superhero with a Super Sense of Smell.

A Super Sense of Smell I should have trusted last night when I heated up the wok and swore I picked up the scent of detergent. One mouthful of stir-fry was more than enough to know that something was horribly, soapily wrong.

Since banishing last night's dinner to the yard waste bin, everything has seemed off. Toasted millet bread with soy-free Earth Balance tastes oddly metallic. Grapefruit, whose sourness I usually relish, seems too sour. The peppermint I popped to help ease my nausea tasted like aftershave. I just finished a small bowl of plain white rice that, while stomach-settling, seemed oddly "planty." Lemon drops taste awesome, but only for a few sucks; once that crystallized outside part is gone, no thank you!

I hope this is just psychological fallout from having bitten into dish-soap-infused broccoli last night, and not a new pregnancy symptom. I certainly didn't have anything like this when I was pregnant with Westley. The closest I came to experiencing tastebud craziness was when I'd go on food jags and eat one thing for a week, before suddenly being repulsed by that very thing. I still remember the tomato sandwich that put me off tomato sandwiches. What had been The Best Food Ever was now all wrong, God, no, get it away!

(Ugh. I just grossed myself out thinking about tomato sandwiches.)

If this taste insanity doesn't end soon, I'm going to be in trouble. I'm running out of things to eat. What do you do when almost nothing sounds good, and the things that do sound good taste wrong?

The one glorious thing that has yet make my tongue be all WTF? is actually the perfect marriage of three things:

Lemon to the rescue!
Lemon juice, sugar, and bubbles.

Not a lot of nutrition going on there, sadly. So now I feel queasy and guilty, because I'm depriving my fetus!

I'm given to understand that one solid cure for all of the unpleasant food-related pregnancy stuff is good nutrition, with protein at each meal and snack. That sounds very sane and reasonable and worth a try...until you realize that the raw almonds you just started munching on taste suspiciously (and disturbingly) like Canadian bacon.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Nappily Never After


Today is Day 4 of a Westley Oliver "No Nap" streak...and I'm starting to think this might be It. The new Normal. As in, My kid no longer takes a daily nap.

I really want to complain about this. For one thing, I never realize how much I can get done while Westley sleeps until he doesn't. For another, I'm exhausted. I need a daily nap. And for the past few weeks, I've been taking full advantage of Westley's nap time by falling asleep right next to him.

But when I think about it, it's pretty clear that I totally lucked out on the nap front. Westley is well into his fourth year, and he's been a good napper more or less since day one. Three years (and a couple months) of regular nap times is awesome - and nothing to complain about.

Still, I need to figure out what to do about my own newfound napping needs. Today I tired to enforce the "you don't have to sleep, but you do have to be quiet" rule, and it completely failed. Westley thrashed around in bed next to me for a while, and then proceeded to cover me with stuffed animals. I'm fairly confident that I could get him to leave me alone if I put on a movie, but he watches more than enough TV as it is.

So if, over the next few weeks, I seem a little incoherent - or just plain absent - it's because I haven't yet perfected a technique for sleeping while your baby kid doesn't sleep.