Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Film Festival: 'Labyrinth'

Labyrinth

A few minutes after Westley and I had settled in to watch Labyrinth yesterday, he turned to me and said, "I think it's all a dream."

"You think so, buddy?"

"Yeah."

When you're four, "it's all a dream" definitely makes the scary stuff in a movie less scary and more watchable. When you're four-plus-twenty-five, "it's all a dream" makes the whole story much more interesting.

For the most part, Labyrinth is all a dream; the story Sarah tells her baby half-brother, Toby, while babysitting him is the foundation for the fantasy that follows. The King of the Goblins has fallen in love with this young girl, who is "practically a slave" in the lives of her father and stepmother, so he gives her "powers." Most significantly, she has the power to send the baby away to the Goblin City. When the baby disappears and the Goblin King arrives in a cloud of glitter, Sarah makes a quick, seamless transition from narrator to heroine.

Yes, it's all in her head. But that's what makes it so fascinating.

Even as a child, I thought it was interesting that Jareth, the Goblin King, doesn't look like any of the goblins who hang out with him in his castle. He looks human, or perhaps Faeire. Why? As far as what he is, perhaps it would be most accurate to say he is a Fantasy. A fifteen-year-old girl's Fantasy, to be specific.

While Jareth is definitely male, as his skin-tight and perhaps needlessly sheer tights attest, he's more androgynous than masculine. His glam-rock hair and heavy eye-makeup suggest that the audience is to read him as David Bowie—not simply as a character performed by David Bowie. The Goblin King is literally a rock star. But he doesn't have as much power as his idol-status and he would lead us to believe. Jareth is very domineering with the male characters, sometimes even bordering on abusive (particularly in the way he relates to Hoggle), but with Sarah, he's practically passive. In fact, the Goblin King has very little agency at all ("You have no power over me!"), since everything he does is supposedly motivated by his attraction to Sarah.

And what a strange attraction it is! When he's not literally throwing symbols of fertility and sexuality at Sarah (a snake, a crystal ball, a peach), or threatening her with "certain death" through impalement (the "Cleaners," barrier of blades at the gates to the Goblin City), he shows a lot of genuine, almost paternal concern for her. It's almost as though the Labyrinth is a trial Jareth is subjecting Sarah to, as a parent might, "for her own good." (The Goblin King as father figure also appears throughout the film in his interaction with the baby, Toby. Jareth happily rocks and bounces the baby, sings to him, and seems to genuinely enjoy holding him.) The Goblin King has the "bad boy" allure with none of the actual bad boy qualities. He's all hat and no cattle.

So back in the world of "this is all in Sarah's head," we have a young teenager creating an anemic bad boy who is in love with her. Why? Doesn't that seem a little (Electra) complex and problematic? While the Goblin King certainly is the film's villain, he's not the kind of villain who exists to create conflict and then be destroyed so that the heroine can win the day. He exists to enable Sarah's exploration of her burgeoning sexual power. With Jareth, Sarah tests how it feels to be attractive to someone else, but ultimately refuse that person's advances. Saying, "OK, Goblin King, I'll come live with you in your castle!" would be totally easy, and probably a lot of fun, except that she doesn't seem to want that kind of fun (yet). The thrill for her is the idea of this Fantasy male figure finding her sexy. (Among the other toys in Sarah's room that foreshadow the film's characters, there is a Goblin King doll standing on her vanity table. I didn't spot until yesterday thanks to years of having to watch Labyrinth in pan-'n'-scan. The doll is facing her, "watching" her as she makes herself up in the mirror, creating a proto-male-gaze moment. She's experimenting with the idea of being looked at.) It's clear that Sarah doesn't want a relationship with Jareth.

So how does such a heroine dispose of such a "villain"? In their final confrontation, Sarah doesn't kill him or even banish him from the Labyrinth. She just breaks his heart. (I know. Poor, sad Goblin King.) He lays it on the line, basically tells her he'll do anything to be with her, and she says, "You have no power over me," which is really her saying, "I'm just not that into you." His face falls into a frown, and that's the last we see of the Goblin King. It's a strange and arguably unsatisfying end to a bizarre relationship.

And we haven't even talked about the baby.

I can't be the only person who noticed that this whole coming-of-age story revolves around finding, and specifically moving towards, a baby. That's pretty literal, wouldn't you say? However, I think that while the baby may inspire a pretty great musical number, he's a bit of a MacGuffin. Labyrinth isn't about Sarah's relationship with her half-brother the way, say, Outside Over There is about its heroine's struggle to accept the role of big sister. Labyrinth deals entirely with Sarah's relationship to her own feelings (and fantasies) about adulthood. The baby—like the crystals, the fruit, and the Goblin King himself—is just another symbol.

.....................................

Monday, February 27, 2012

Fifteen Weeks

Fifteen Weeks

I am exactly the same size as last week, but I think I'm starting to look a little bit pregnant. Maybe? The effect is especially noticeable in the evening when, presumably, a days' worth of bean stews and hemp protein shakes is helping to push my belly out. People say you show sooner with second and subsequent pregnancies, but I'm not sure that's true for me so far. I might actually be smaller this time around than I was with Westley. (I also started this pregnancy five pounds lighter and somewhat fitter than I was the first time around.) Then again, I have 25 weeks in which to catch up.

Despite feeling like 10 hours of sleep isn't enough and being thirsty all the time, I'm feeling really well. The hormonal headaches are gone. I'm able to eat all the healthful stuff that was completely nauseous a few weeks ago, except for beans, which I still have to choke down. My back is mostly pain-free, and I'm trying to keep it that way by concentrating on my posture. I figure being in the habit of pulling my belly in when I'm walking and standing will only help as I expand. I'm even back to working out a few days a week.

I'm also making a very conscious effort to not complain. This may be the last time I get to do this, and I realize that even with the anxiety, I have the power to make this pregnancy a good experience overall.

While Westley was at school on Thursday morning, I picked up some groceries. I enjoy shopping on my own, though it always feels a little strange—like Isn't someone missing? I thought about Westley as I filled my cart with apples and bell peppers, miso, agave, and organic dark chocolate. (I'm not really a chocolate lover, but 1 oz. a day of the really good stuff keeps the sugar cravings away. Otherwise, I'd probably be drinking a Coke Slurpee the size of my head right now.) And just as I was feeling alone with my little shopping cart and no little man, it occurred to me that I wasn't actually alone. This was my special time with the baby.

I think I might be feeling a little baby movement every now and then. There's this one place in my lower left belly where, every now and then, I feel a bubble pop. It doesn't feel how I remember Westley's early movements feeling, but it's always in that exact spot. It's possible that there's just a loop of bowel there, and I'm feeling regular old gas.

Still, I say hello to the bubble whenever it happens.

Fifteen Weeks

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Broad Points: Pregnancy Edition

  • In the mornings, I eat about once an hour.

  • I have to sit up perfectly straight to pee. If I slouch, it feels like something is squashing my urethra and nothing will come out.

  • Speaking of posture, I've been reading about ways to avoid having a posterior baby—and possibly avoiding another round of back labor—and I have never wanted a kneeling chair so badly!

    Kneeling


  • I'm envious of your belly. I would pay large sums of money if it meant getting to have a smooth, round pregnant midsection. But even at my fighting weight, I have a "double belly" with a dent above my navel. It's like my abdomen has a wattle.

    Aug10
    Flirting with my goal weight (August 2010)...

    May11
    ...and a little heavier, May 2011.

  • I don't understand all the baby gear that's out there. Babies need a place to pee and poop, something to wear, a place to sleep, and breasts. (And a car seat, if you travel by car.)

  • I can't stop listening to Sacred Circle Dance music.

  • I had a series of tattoo appointments set for February and March. Of course I had to cancel them, but coincidentally, my midwife and ultrasound appointments are falling on those same dates.

  • I can smell your perfume from all the way over here. If you protest, "But I'm not wearing perfume," you're dead wrong.

  • The one scent I still really love is coconut.

  • I'm thinking of buying a back massager and actually using it as a back massager.
.....................................

Friday, February 24, 2012

Boys Don't Make Passes at Moms Who Wear Glasses

ON

I'm wearing my reading glasses when Westley comes out into the living room to say goodnight.

"Mommy, with those glasses on, you look kind of boring."

Boring. The lowest of preschool blows.

"Really? I kinda like 'em."

He shakes his head. No way. Your aesthetic is wrong, Mother. "Kind of boring."

I take the glasses off and set them down. "Better?"

"Yeah. You look pretty now."

OFF

.....................................

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Kombucha Reboot

Bottled <span class=

After weeks of gagging at the very thought of kombucha, I caught myself eyeing the pricey bottled stuff at the health food store today.

The last time I drank kombucha was the night before I found out I was pregnant. It was from my continuous brew, and flavored with juniper berries. (Juniper berries are BIG no-no if you're pregnant, by the way.) Shortly after I started making kombucha, I found a beautiful ceramic crock with a plastic spigot at thrift for $9.00. So naturally I was all, "Why make three quarts of kombucha at a time when I can make two and a half gallons?!" After water, kombucha was my homebrewed kombucha was my favorite pre-pregnancy beverage.

I haven't even touched the continuous brew crock since December. I wasn't sure what to expect when I removed the cloth cover and checked on the brew. I was afraid that the SCOBY might have completely taken over the container, but it hadn't. The house has been so cold over the winter, I think my SCOBY may have been hibernating.

Continuous Brew <span class=

I considered removing the monster SCOBY and starting over, as I'd done back in September when the continuous brew became a fruit-fly hotspot (thanks to my neglecting to secure the cloth cover well enough). But everything looked and smelled healthy. Also, I tend to think of my SCOBYs kind of like pets—or at least beloved, anthropomorphic science projects. It pained me to compost the infested SCOBY last fall. (It was enormous, looked like a cross between a tree truck and a placenta.) Kombucha, like all fermented foods, is a living thing.

Instead of starting over completely, I made some fresh sweet tea to feed the brew. I also drew off about a quart of the "hibernation brew" and bottled it. Kombucha that's been hanging out for weeks isn't easily drinkable—it tastes a lot like straight apple cider vinegar—so I'll be using it in marinades and salad dressings.

.....................................

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Growth

First Blooms

The baby still has a heartbeat!

I am so relieved and surprised and relieved all over again. It's strange, but when you've been slammed up against terror enough times, logic stops seeming logical, and intuition goes out the window. I was certain I was in for bad news today, while also reminding myself that, most likely, everything is fine.

Everything is better than fine. My appointment was beautiful—which is not a word I use freely, but my midwife loves it. She addresses me as Beautiful, and I totally believe her. My blood pressure is beautiful, my diet is beautiful, my weight gain is beautiful... (Oh, God, I was so the George Carlin dog today, you guys.)

My uterus is growing. My baby's heart is beating. And the first spring flowers are coming up in front of my house.

First Blooms

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bubble Gun Fun

Bubble Gun!

On a whim last summer, I bought Westley a bubble gun. It was my attempt at a compromise on the whole toy gun issue.

The bubble gun was an instant hit. We picked it up on the way to a picnic, which is the perfect bubble-gun venue. Westley enchanted several other children (and a few adults) by being able to blow a zillion, chase-able, pop-able bubbles by pulling a trigger.

But you know another great bubble spot? The bathtub.

Bubbles
Bubble Gun Fun

The bubble shouldn't be submerged in water, but otherwise, it's a perfect tub toy—especially for those epic mostly-playtime baths. Bubble bath makes the best bubble-blowing solution ever, and if you get soap all over the bathroom, so what? Plus, you can pretend you're Ernie singing to Rubber Ducky.

(Did anyone else wonder where those floating bubbles in Ernie's bathroom came from? It drove me crazy when I was a child watching Sesame Street. Even my bubbliest bubble baths didn't come with floating bubbles!)

Bubbles
Bubbles
Bubble

Oh, and I think the bubble gun was $6.00 at the drugstore. The only thing better than good clean fun is good clean fun on the cheap.

Bubbles
Bubbles, y'all.

.....................................

Monday, February 20, 2012

Fourteen Weeks

Fourteen Weeks

Oh, hello, second trimester! I didn't see you there!

I haven't grown at all this week, but my little passenger is supposedly half an inch longer and half an ounce heavier. I've gained eight pounds, which seems like a tremendous amount. I'm becoming increasingly self-conscious about these weekly photos. Rob kept making me laugh while he was taking pictures, which helped.

Fourteen Weeks

I'm definitely feeling better than I was in the early days, but I still get headaches for no reason. I still start feeling exhausted around 4:00 PM every day, and the nausea, while not as severe as it was a few weeks ago, still turns up every evening. My sleep cravings are insatiable. Yesterday I took a three-hour nap, and it wasn't enough.

My emotions have been all over the place. I alternate between hating everyone and feeling so much love for Rob and Westley that I can't stand it. I also no longer react to things the way a normal, non-pregnant person might. On Saturday evening, I was holed up in my little corner of the living room, reading, intent on finishing a chapter before getting up for a drink. Suddenly Rob came over with my full water bottle. When he set it down next to me, I burst into tears.

Like any rational person would be, he was concerned. "What?"

I could barely speak. "I was so thirsty..."

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Family Resemblance

Dad's Lap
Rob and Westley, April 2008

"Mommy, do you think your baby will look like you or like me?"

"Well, [stifling a laugh] I don't really know. What do you think, Westley?"

"I think it will look like me!"

"Maybe. You were a very cute baby. I was thinking the baby would probably look like Daddy—"

"No!"

"No?"

"I think the baby will look like me. Because I'm the big brother."

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Pant and the Pendulum

Yesterday, I made my second attempt at maternity jeans. (The first attempt is documented here.) It turned out to be a terrible idea. You see, I only need to wear maternity jeans insomuch as my regular jeans no longer fit comfortably. I should really just go into the attic and haul out my "fat" jeans.

I think maternity jeans manufacturers are counting on the belly to hold the jeans in place. I'm sure this works with a round, firm, fully-packed full-term pregnant midsection. But my belly is just skin and fat at this point—still quite mushy and not at all easy on the draw. This means my maternity jeans slip and slide with every little motion. Boo! Down with maternity pants!

But I still need something to wear on my bottom half. I know I've been singing the praises of American Apparel unitards and high-waist leggings for weeks now, and I stand by those praises. (American Apparel isn't paying me for this, by the way.) However, yesterday I discovered a pant that gives both a run for their money.

Leggings + Stripes

Hello, American Apparel Winter Legging! These things are so comfortable, I never want to take them off. From the outside, they look like your regular old jersey leggings, but on the inside they're almost plushy! Despite being extra thick, they're still very stretchy. Even with several extra pounds on my person, my usual size Medium is perfect. And they keep all the flabby bits and pieces nicely tucked in. They're control-top lite.

Also, enjoy the beauty of horizontal stripes with me. From the front, a little wider than usual, but barely bumpy. From the side...

Leggings + Stripes

...hello, little one! (Or should I say "little lady"?)

* * *

As I mentioned earlier, we've all been referring to this baby as a girl, even though it's way too early to know for sure. With Westley, my intuition said he was a boy early on. A scan at 20 weeks showed something that looked pretty penis-y, but I didn't count it as a sure thing. Umbilical cords have been known to masquerade as genitals in ultrasound images. I wish I'd known about the red cabbage sex test!

One test we did do was the wedding ring test. You've probably heard of this one: you have the mother lie down and dangle a wedding ring (or sometimes it's a needle) on a thread or strand of hair over her belly. If the ring swings in a circular motion, the baby is a girl; if the ring swings back and forth, it's a boy.

Because we're mystic-crystal-revelation types here, we did the wedding ring test with a pendulum.

Pendulum

The pendulum decided Westley was a girl on several occasions. I wondered if I'd get a girl result this time, too. I lay down on my bed and held the pendulum in my non-dominant hand to help access intuition and keep everything open to feelings and images (and to make photographing things easier!).

Pendulum

It's not easy to tell in still images, so you'll have to take my word for it, but according to the pendulum...

Pendulum

...we're expecting a boy!

Pendulum

For those of you playing along, the Guess the Sex results so far:

My intuition says: Girl (maybe)
Westley says: Girl (definitely, no question!)
Red cabbage says: Girl
Baking soda says: Girl
Pendulum says: Boy

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Film Festival: 'More Business of Being Born'

Box Art

I'm one of the millions of people who loved and appreciated Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein's documentary The Business of Being Born.
I especially love and appreciate Dr. Marsden Wagner's presence in the film. Everything he says is wonderful: "There's not a good history in obstetric practice of careful study of the long-term effects of all these interventions. This is why if you really want to humanize birth, the best thing to do is get the hell out of the hospital."

In 87 minutes, The Business of Being Born neatly articulates the problems with the current state of maternity care in the United States. I've heard of people dismissing the film on the grounds that it's biased (presumably against medical interventions during labor), and I say, so what? You think any film, documentary or otherwise, isn't biased? Also, most of the time, for most mothers and most babies, natural birth is just better. It's safer. (And cheaper!) Sometimes it's OK to be biased!

So yes, I'm biased, too. And I think The Business of Being Born is wonderful.

I was very excited when I heard last year that Abby and Ricki were making a follow-up to The Business of Being Born, and last week, I finally had the chance to see it. I expected More Business of Being Born to be similar in form and style its "parent" film: more of the same. In fact, More Business of Being Born comprises four shorter documentaries, each detailing a topic that The Business of Being Born didn't get to explore.

"Down on The Farm: Conversations with Legendary Midwife Ina May Gaskin" shows Abby and Ricki visiting The Farm and speaking with Ina May and other midwives who attend births there. The topic of conversation quickly shifts from the current state of maternity care ("Why do insurance companies get to be the boss of birth?" Ina May asks, pointedly) to Ina May's current work around maternal mortality and The Safe Motherhood Quilt Project.

"Special Deliveries: Celebrity Mothers Talk Straight on Birth" is exactly what it sounds like, a collection of well-known women telling their birth stories. I enjoy hearing birth stories, but I think what really makes this film work is that the women in question are used to being in front of the camera, so they're relaxed and articulate as they describe the births of their children. Alyson Hannigan is downright hilarious talking about her home birth experience, and Alanis Morissette's description of feeling slammed into her body during labor really resonated with me.

Photo
Also, I just love Alanis and totally want to hang out with her and eat vegan grilled-cheese sandwiches.

Of all the films, "Explore Your Options: Doulas, Birth Centers & C-Sections" feels the most like the educational material you might encounter in a (really good) childbirth class. It goes along nicely with "The VBAC Dilemma: What Your Options Really Are," which discusses the real and perceived risks of having a vaginal birth after cesarean, as well as the challenges someone seeking a VBAC might face.

It's a lot of material from a filmmaking team whose work I respect, but I'm sorry to say, I wasn't impressed. Perhaps it's because The Business of Being Born is so well-crafted and felt so revolutionary that More's follow-up materials seemed to fall kind of flat. Or perhaps I just had my mind set for a shorter, more traditional documentary. (I watched the film online, and was already 20 minutes in before I realized I was in for four separate documentaries instead of one.) One of the things I love about The Business of Being Born is how relatively short and concise it is. I would've loved another 87-minute video essay about issues and options in maternity care. But that's how I roll.

Despite my disappointment, I do believe that More Business of Being Born is a wonderful tool for helping people to make educated choices. Getting to look inside both a freestanding birth center and a hospital birth center, watch doulas at work, and hear mothers tell their stories in their own words is a nice change of pace from that giant stack of childbirth books you might have lying around.


.....................................

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Bloody Valentines

There are three things you need to know in order to appreciate how rad the following gesture is.

1. For a while, there was a strange assortment of photos on the fridge: Westley in his Halloween costume from two years ago; Rob and me dancing at our (second) wedding; me at age three or so standing inside a giant fiberglass pumpkin. Those photos are now taped to the inside of a couple of the kitchen cabinet doors. They're hidden from view until I reach for my vitamins or a cat dish.

2. Year before last, Rob wrapped my birthday presents in the posters from some of my favorite movies. (He did it again this year, with different favorite movies, but I forgot to take a picture.)

3. Remember my sudden interest in horror films?

This is what I saw when I went into the cabinet for my vitamin D drops this morning:

Horror Valentines

In case you can't read them...

Horror Valentines
Let's REV UP our relationship!
I can't maintain my silence any longer.

Horror Valentines
You're the best I ever SAW!
I'm crazy about you!

There is nothing more romantic than a Valentine that says "I get you" (as opposed to "I got you a Valentine"). Thank you, Rob, for making my day!

Also...

Yoda

R2

<span class=

Obi Wan

* * *

Happy Valentine's Day!

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Thirteen Weeks

Thirteen Weeks
I did NOT want my picture taken this week. Can you tell?

Well, I made it through week twelve. I thought clearing that hurdle would be my "all is well" marker, enabling me to relax and enjoy moving forward. Instead, I'm still speaking like having a baby in August is purely hypothetical: If everything works out...

Last night it came to me that I've been acting very impoverished, defining this pregnancy in terms of scarcity. I hear myself lamenting my lack of excitement; I want to be excited, but I don't feel like joyfulness is mine to claim in this situation. Then I had a vision of myself, eight months pregnant, sitting with Rob as we shared the silent realization, I guess this is really going to happen after all! Maybe we should get excited. The mental image was so completely ridiculous: "The Empress's New Maternity Clothes."

Pessimism won't make a bad outcome any easier to stomach, and distancing myself from what's happening just deprives me of the joy I'm craving. So my work this week is to approaching this pregnancy from a place of gratitude and abundance.

From the get-go, I've been trying to approach all of my unpleasant symptoms with at least a little thankfulness. This week, round ligament pain showed up. It feels like someone is pinching me from the inside. I'm also still spotting, which is not a good sign, but not necessarily a bad sign, either.

My next midwife appointment is in a couple weeks, and it cannot come soon enough! I actually miss my midwife between visits. When I see her, I turn into George Carlin's impression of a dog. She has a way of making me feel like everything is all right, regardless of what's going on. It also seems like ages since I first heard the baby's heartbeat—two and a half weeks ago. (Two weeks in pregnant-person time might as well be a month, and three weeks is eternity.) Hearing the heartbeat is magical. Rob suggested renting a Doppler, so I could listen whenever I wanted to, but that seems like enabling my paranoia.

I think about this baby all the time. I imagine the growing fetus dancing around in my uterus, but mostly I see her right at the moment of birth, a little blue in places but mostly pink and very sturdy looking.

We have begun using female pronouns exclusively when talking about this little one. Westley is absolutely certain that the baby is a girl. I thought he was having some sort of brother's intuition about it, but yesterday he explained that it's because there was "no fizz."

"We did that test with your pee and there was no fizz," he reminded me.

In addition to the red cabbage sex test, I also tried the baking soda sex test, which is not as pretty to photograph. Put a couple teaspoons of baking soda in a cup and pee into it. If the mixture fizzes, you're expecting a boy; no fizz, and it's a girl.

I explained to Westley that in a few weeks, the doctor was going to look inside me with the special baby camera again. Then we would know for sure.

But Westley insisted that we already know for sure. "There was no fizz!"

Thirteen Weeks

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Mashup with Your 'Stache Up

Westley and I have been having dance contests in our living room to DJ Earworm mashups. We almost always tie.


And in case you thought that rhyming title was just for fun, you should know I take my fun very seriously.

'<span class=
Mustache monocle by Geek Chic. (Thanks, friends!)

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Thin, Sharp Side

Shadow walk

Something happened to me after Westley was born. Many things happened to me after Westley was born, but there is a particular thing I still encounter regularly; since learning I was pregnant again, it has only gotten worse. I find myself on the edge of tears without knowing how I got there. There is a semi-permanent lump in my throat.

Except that I rarely cry the way I would like to. The way I feel I should be able to. There's a frustration associated with it, and a missing "push." Like holding a serrated knife to a loaf of bread but not being able to begin "sawing."

Or sobbing.

The whole thing makes me feel very edgy and vulnerable, like I could collapse at the drop of a hat. I wonder if I might be just a leetle bit depressed, but my mood has been pretty fantastic!(Thanks, I think, to midwife-sanctioned mega-doses of vitamin D.) And anyway, depression isn't usually this ridiculous.

Yesterday I found myself getting choked up over an episode of RuPaul's Drag Race. Nothing particularly moving was happening—just the usual drag queen competition antics—but my chest tightened up and I felt my face go into that pre-cry grimace.

I can't watch any kind of dancing, because humans doing choreography is too much for me. Even stupid music videos make me tear up. When Westley became obsessed with The Nutcracker last year, I thought I would come down with some kind of permanent verge-of-tears injury. I couldn't be in the same room with him watching ballet for very long.

It's not that I'm upset or easily moved (though I am easily moved). This about-to-cry truly comes out of nowhere. I can get hit with it while not really listening to a radio commercial! I'm not conscious of any particular emotion when it happens. And then, oddest of all, after about 30 seconds, it's gone. Rarely do I shed any actual tears. On a few occasions, I've tried to hang onto the moment, start moving the bread knife, and really cry.

But it never works. I let out an anemic sob or two, but I can't sustain it. This blade has no momentum.

.....................................

Monday, February 6, 2012

Twelve Weeks

Twelve Weeks

This is not my back yard. I'm standing in front of one of Tony Smith's Wandering Rocks at the Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park. I'm also feeling very silly for starting this photo series so early. With Westley, I didn't start really showing until almost the six-month mark (I'm all torso), which means we've got many weeks of bloat pictures ahead of us.

This week I have a towering emotional wall to scale. I was 12 weeks, 2 days pregnant when I started miscarrying last time. While I know this pregnancy is very different from my last one, and I've seen our alive-and-kicking fetus three times in four weeks, I still don't really feel safe. And while my cervix may be long and strong according to ultrasound measurements, it is in no way down to get the friction on! The tiniest jostle, or even just a busy day with lots of standing and walking makes my cervix bleed, which turns me into a whirlwind of anxiety for several days.

I think I might have some kind of antepartum environmental illness. I'm like Julianne Moore in Safe with the addition of pregnancy hormones. I'm suddenly allergic to strangers, too much noise, big box stores, air conditioning, and my couch. The last one might be an actual allergy. I lie on the couch most evenings, and go to bed with a faceful of hives. I'm also super-sensitive to caffeine. After weeks of no caffeine at all, I had a few squares of dark chocolate one afternoon, and it might as well have been a quad Venti latte.

I am also addicted to all things pregnancy. That person trolling your blog archives for tales of your first trimester? This girl. I can't get enough. No one close to me is pregnant, and we still haven't told anyone other than our parents and close friends. Besides, I want to see what you were wearing. (Skirts with wide or fold-over waistbands, leggings, and lots of layers, apparently.)

Speaking of clothes, for those who've asked, last week I wore this American Apparel unitard. I've also been living in their high-waist leggings. I also picked up a few tunic-y tops at thrift last week, including the dress I'm wearing here. It's stretchy and very soft; the first day I wore it, I ended up sleeping in it.


.....................................

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Superb Owl Sunday

Superb Owl (and Panda)

Celebrating the fur-suit of happiness.

.....................................

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Midwives Make People Happy

I was driving Westley home from preschool yesterday when a woman pulled up next to me at a stop light. She tapped her horn, and when I looked up, she motioned for me to roll down my window. Naturally, I assumed she was lost—or that my car was on fire and I hadn't noticed.

I rolled down my window.

"I love your bumper sticker!" she gushed.

"Oh," I had to think for a moment. What bumper sticker? Oh, right. "Thank you!"

Midwives Sticker

She beamed at me. "I just—I read it, and I thought, Oh, yeah! That's so great! I love it!"

"Thank you!" I didn't know what else to say. This woman was almost deliriously happy over the silly pun on my car. Midwives Help People Out. Yes. Yes, they do. But it makes me smile, too.

The light changed, and just a moment too late it occurred to me to ask her if she was a midwife. Maybe she's just a midwife fan, like I am.

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Post-Kid Kitchen: Lazy Lasagna with Lima Ricotta

This is not really lasagna at all. I love lasagna, but I don't always feel like messing around with precise layers of this and that. Sometimes I just want all that baked pasta-dish goodness without worrying about making a dinner that looks pretty.

Tofu has quite a monopoly on vegan ricotta recipes, but making a soy-free vegan ricotta is very doable. I have a cashew ricotta recipe that I adore; sadly, it's not the healthiest of things (and it requires agar flakes, which I don't always have on hand). Inspired by Cathe Olsen's Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook, I decided to try making a vegan ricotta from lima beans. Cathe calls for mature lima beans in her recipe, but I had a bag of baby limas in my freezer and opted to use them instead. The end result was bright green, and not super ricotta-y, but really yummy! I'll definitely make it again.

I threw my "lazy lasagna" together with some gluten-free penne that was crowding up my pantry, but almost any smallish pasta shape would work.

Baked Pasta with Lima Ricotta
Extreme close-up to show the ricotta greenness.

Lazy Lasagna with Lima Ricotta
Serves 8

12 oz. gluten-free pasta
28 oz. marinara sauce (about what you get when you make homemade marinara from a 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes—or be super lazy and use a 28 oz. can of already-ready marinara)
2 small zucchini, diced
16 oz. baby lima beans, thawed if frozen
2 tsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup nutritional yeast

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a food processor, combine lima beans, lemon juice, garlic, salt, oil, and nutritional yeast. Process until well blended, adding splashes of water if needed.

Cover the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish with about a third of the marinara. Add about half the pasta. Sprinkle zucchini and lima ricotta over pasta, and top with remaining pasta and marinara. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 20-30 minutes, to your preferred level of pasta crispiness.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Poetry in Stillness

My brother is rad.

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