Thursday, December 30, 2010

So here's the list of books I have read since June, when I started keeping track and the pregnancy with Meatball slowed me down:

1. Autobiography of An Execution: For death penalty advocates and opponents. This book taught me that if you struggle with demons and spend your days mired in grisly facts involving murders and other crimes, your kids may have nightmares. I couldn't live with that. I have done my one and only death penalty case. (We won during habeas proceedings at an evidentiary hearing; the state appealed. And, so it goes.)

2. Girls From Ames. This book confirmed that I am extremely shitty at keeping in touch with highschool friends, Facebook shout outs notwithstanding. So touched I was by the bonds shared by these women who grew up together in Ames and stayed friends for decades, I reached out to my favorite friend from highschool who I still dream about twice a month. It feels good to reach out, but my heartfelt emails may be a poor substitute for having stayed in touch for these past 2 decades. I also became willing to attend my high school reunion.

3. Mennonite In A Little Black Dress. I learned what a Mennonite was from this book. It wasn't as hilarious as I thought it would be-- college professor's husband leaves her for a man named Bob. Should have been a riot, right? It was a light memoir, which did a good job of driving me to more fiction, because how many goddamned memoirs can I really read?

4. Lit. Ok, well, gratefully I did at least keep reading memoirs because Lit was amazing. I think I read it in about 2 days. From this book I learned that I am an awesome mother. I have never consumed a bottle of Jack Daniels while "keeping an eye on" Sadie. It was inspiring to see how a flat-out drunk could turn her life around and become a successful teacher and writer, but mostly, it was fun to feel sober and smug about my mothering.

5. The Help. The greatest thing I have ever bought at Costco was a copy of this book. It was extraordinary. It confirmed my love for nicknames (major protagonist named Skeeter) and it left me with a sense of power possible in female friendships. It also confirmed that I have a pretty good job since no one has ever wrongly accused me of stealing or tried to sabotage my entire existence. Another good boost for my self-image as a mother since the white mothers in there treat their children like tarnished silver. If I was having a baby girl, I might name her Mae Mobley. Good thing we are having a boy.

6. Book Thief. I learned that I could cry quietly during nap time and not wake up Sadie. Yes, this was the summer's great tear-jerker for me. It shouldn't be suprising that a Holocaust book might have some grief/sadness included, but this was so clever and well written, and the ending was so climactic, I just bawled my eyes out. I have always liked books about children and this is one of the greatest. This is up there with Olive Shreiner's The Story of An African Farm.

7. Still Alice. I bought this book at Target on the way to the gym one day and it was one of the most lackluster of the bunch. I learned that I will probably get Alzheimer's since my paternal grandfather had it. So, that was a super happy read.

8. Her Fearful Symmetry. Hated. This. Book. I also really wanted to love it. Really. Like Niffenegger's Time Traveler's Wife, there were some fun scenes set in the Chicago-land area. But, then the action transferred to England and turned too weird for me. Turns out, I do not believe in ghosts or apparitions or hanging out in cemetaries. Good to know.

9. Born Round. Holy God, I can still remember feeling nauseated while reading Bruni's account of his mother's meals. Nothing like a book full of food references during the first trimester to really leave a mark. It's an excellent book. I was impressed at how humble Bruni was throughout the story about his remarkable accomplishments. I learned that men can have savage eating disorders just like women.

10. Father of the Rain. A beautifully written story about a daughter's ties to her abusive and very sick father. I loved this book and believe I shed some tears about it along the way. The protagonist's self-sabotage was excrutiating at times, but seemed believable. I loved the ending, which signaled redemption. More good reading for feeling like a good mom and for appreciating my dad, who is nothing like the dad in this book. Thank god for that.

11. I'm Down. I have wanted to read this memoir for a few years. I finally got it and it was definitely an enjoyable read. I read it in one sitting on a flight to San Francisco. It wasn't as slap-stick funny as I was hoping. It was actually heart-wrenching to read about the protagonist's insane father and bewildering family situations. It's very difficult for me to read about children being mistreated or flat out abused. I learned that having employed parents and being an employed parent and providing for children is a giant step towards good parenting.

12. Outside the Ordinary World. Utterly forgettable. I finished this and turned it into my office's lending library. I learned that having an extra-marital affair with a new-age divorced man is a bad idea.

13. Alice Waters and Chez Panisse. This book was amazing. The part that stuck with me the most is that Alice Waters, the owner of one of the greatest restaurants in the country, ran Chez Panisse for years in the RED. I loved reading about her vision and her antics and her quirky business acumen. The author was very clear that one of Alice's greatest achievements was her ability to get support and enlist others in service of her vision. I pray for vision as clear as Alice Waters'.

15. Half-Baked. I snuck around reading this book because, given my disposition, I am pretty sure NO ONE would sign off on a pregnant Christie reading about a baby born at week 25 and the struggles through the neo-natal unit for 3 months. This book, however, really opened my eyes to perspective. The author, whose daughter Simone was born before the third trimester, was brutally frank about all the emotions and trials she endured during the months her daughter was in the NICU. At end end of the book, she talked about how she's different from other mothers now that her baby is home: When her baby wakes her up in the night, she's grateful that her baby is home and capable of screaming at the top of her lungs. She wasn't in a position to fret over sleep patterns or feeding schedules because she was just grateful her daughter made it through the surgeries and the dozens of scares during her first months of life. Even now, sometimes when Sadie is crying out, I feel thankful for her healthy lungs and for her full-term-ness, C-section or no. And, now that Meatball is 35-weeks young, I am so grateful that he is inside me growing and getting stronger. It's a privilege and this book helped me see that anew.

16. Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It. This book of short stories was utterly delightful. Each story made me want to write a short story. They were crisp and face-paced and made me want more. I still think about one of the stories where a lonely cowboy fell in love with a teacher. I can picture the diner where they ate and the cold streets covered in ice and snow. From this book, I learned that less is sometimes more. You don't need 500 pages to learn about a character; sometimes 20 will do.

17. Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. The other day someone told me he read this and that he hated it. He hated everything about it. I, on the other hand, really liked the story and how the author was able to weave the science with the personal interest. I learned about cells and how no one was able to grow cells until Henrietta Lacks' cancer cells were harvested (without her consent). It was painful to read about her family's saga and the ironies that while Ms. Lacks' cells contributed to some of the greatest health advances of this century, her family members cannot afford healthcare.

18. Sarah's Key. My mother-in-law gave me this book and it looked so innocent on the cover: two young children running in what looks like a European city. But, alas, this Holocaust book was more devastating than the Book Thief. I am STILL haunted by some of the images of the French round-up of Jewish families during the Vichy regime. I remember learning about this horrible chapter in French history during college, but this story made it personal and gave details that I think I will never forget. I am pretty sure if the government ever rounded me up in a similar way, I would grab my babies and jump to my death. Let's hope it never comes to that.

19. Peace Like A River. You had me at child narrator. I loved the protagonist's "voice" in this book. The writing is superb and unforgettable. I remember wishing I could write like him. Excellent children's characters and a very compelling portrait of the west. I learned that I can't get write as well as the author, but maybe someday.

20. The Corrections. With everyone going on and on about Franzen's Freedom, I decided to read his earlier work. I think this is the book that Oprah wanted to pick, but Franzen rebuffed her. (I already knew I would never have those kind of balls.) I was also waiting for my friend Krista to finish Freedom and give me a copy. I thought the Corrections was a little bit long-winded, but with hindsight, I really remember the characters and themes vividly. My boss can't say enough how much he hated Freedom, but I am going to read it in 2011 and decide for myself. Franzen is a smart guy. I wouldn't call it a page-turner, but it's a great piece of American literature.

21. Born to Run. Holy God, I should have read this when NOT pregnant. It's the most inspiring running book I have ever read. (Ok, it's the only one, but it's the literary equivalent of listening to Chariots of Fire on a Bose sound system.) When I am ready to get back into running, I am going to re-read this and next time I get an injury, I am going to consult some of the principles in this book. I learned that it's possible to hate Nike even more than I did before reading this book.

22. Pretty in Plaid. Don't judge. After reading Franzen and Holocaust literature, I needed some levity; a break. This was a good respite from the heavy literature. Lancaster is insanely sarcastic and witty and self-aware, so it's fun. It didn't change my life, but it was a fun weekend sitting around with her book and laughing at her antics.

23. The Other Side Of the Bridge. This was a weird little book about two brothers growing up in Canada during World War II. Parts of the narrative were very well done, but it didn't grab me like I was hoping it would. I learned that I am not suited for remote Canadian living.

24. Manhunt. This book taught me that I don't really know that much about Abraham Lincoln and the intensity of the Civil War. I read Cold Mountain in 2003, but this added a great deal more color and the primary resources consulted on this piece of non-fiction added some heft to the whole project. Basically, this book was a chronicle of the almost two-week hunt for John Wilkes Booth after he shot Lincoln at the Ford Theatre. One thing is for sure, as soon as my kids are told enough to pee pee in the potty, we are going to DC to see some of the sites that are so central to Americana.

25. At Nightfall. Tried to love it. I did. But, I didn't really like the characters and Manhattan art world and the angst about being at the top of one's career just didn't appeal to me in this story. I did appreciate the perspective of how stressful it is to be an art gallery owner, as I mostly know artists who have their own angst to wrestle with. Basically, I learned that owners of art galleries are people too. I guess that's a worthwhile lesson.

26. Hotel At The Corner of Bitter and Sweet. This story is more sweet than bitter and I am totally enchanted with the main character, Henry. (So much so that during this read I was sure it was my favorite name for Meatball.) It's outrageous to think about the American government rounding up innocent people-- the Japanese and Germans-- during WWII. I haven't read anything else that deals with this subject, other than some footnotes in history books. I learned that our country likes to forget its bad deeds and to stuff them away under a blanket of collective amnesia.

27. The Room. OH. MY. GOD. This book blew me away on many levels. The story is so well done and the narration, again by a 6-year old boy, was expert. When I read the review of this book months ago, I assumed that the Room was a prison of the legal or governmental variety. I didn't realize it was a prison made by a lunatic who was holding a woman and her son hostage. There are so many heartbreaking elements to this story. The most cringe-worthy aspects occurred once the hostages were liberated from the room. I could not believe how idiotic and lame the grandparents were; their selfishness stung. I will never ever forget the little boy, Jack. I learned that I would suck at being a hostage, which is not really a revelation.

28. Just Kids. Again, I read this review and thought it sounded so-so. Patti Smith....hmmm. I don't really know her music, but I have vague recollections of that song with Bruce Springsteen, "Because the night." It took a while for me to see the point of this book-- I was irritated by all the name-dropping and the coincidences: Some guy mistakes Patti for a young boy and tries to pick her up. Allen Ginsberg. Of course. Over and over some super famous person has a walk-on role in the book, which was distracting me from the core story about her intense friendship/loveship with Robert Mapplethorpe and about the creation of art and artist. I learned from this book that reading about a beloved person dying of AIDS will prompt lots of public crying if I finish the book in public.

29. Open. I am about to finish Andre Agassi's, Open. I love it. He says over and over again that he hates tennis and so far, not one person has let him just own that. Everyone seems to say to him, "but you don't really hate, HATE, tennis." I believe him. I would hate it too. His relationship to tennis is complicated and complex and it's not something he chose for himself, so I definitely believe he hates it. (Funny, no one seems to stop me from declaring that I hate the law; most people just agree.) Anyway, it's a great book about finding support, separating from a parent, becoming a physical and mental champion, self-sabotage, fame, fortune and competition-- all things I really love. I do believe that Mr. Agassi had a very smart and experience ghost writer. (Are you telling me that someone who graduated from 9th grade can organize this narrative and use phrases like "impertinent upstart"? No way.) In this book, I learned that tennis games last forever. I also learned that Roland Garros is a grand slam tournament in France; I thought he was a French artist.

FINAL NOTE: I have a little scrap of paper at my office with all my books written down. I miscounted a few days ago and thought that Open was my 30th book. OOps. I only remember ready 29 books. Unless, I finish Open tonight and read an entire book tomorrow. Maybe this is the beginning of the new me: Good bye perfectionist and hello approximation!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Chocolate-Covered Biscuits

Here at 35 weeks, it's the point in my pregnancy where I crave two things pretty much 'round the clock: Biscuits (big, fluffy KFC biscuits) and chocolate. Dark chocolate. The trouble is that there is no room in my stomach. I can only comfortably eat about 10 bites at a time, which means I basically eat every hour. It's slightly annoying to have to always have a snack nearby (along with the Tums and a gallon of water), but I only have to do it for about a month longer.

Seriously, though, how come KFC hasn't come up with the chocolate-covered biscuit? There is some nasty sandwhich that uses fried chicken for the bun, so why not combine the dessert with the most delicious of all breakfast starches? I would take the hot fudge from the sundae machine at Dairy Queen and cover my biscuits and then take my 10 nibbles about 10 times a day. I think I am really on to something here. Or Magic Shell. Can you imagine a hard chocolate shell around a biscuit? I think the biscuit should be buttered before the Magic Shell goes on, but either way, that's something very special I am inventing right here and now.

When not concocting more disgusting ideas for American fast food, which, incidentally, I don't even eat, I am finishing up my goal of reading 30 books this year. I started this project with this pregnancy, when I was too sick and hot to do anything else in my first trimester. I am going to do a post where I give a brief review of the "What I learned from this book" variety tomorrow, but for now, I am currently finishing Andre Agassi's autobiography, Open, which, I think, technically, is a memoir, but either way I am learning more about tennis and hair loss than I ever thought possible. It's a captivating read, and I distinctly remember making fun of the book on Facebook 2 years ago. I guess along with my chocolate biscuits, I will have to eat my words.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Worlds Collide

This morning my nose had a giant collision with the back of Sadie's head. The blunt force trauma to my delicate nose set of a chain of reactions that I am still processing 7 hours later. It all happened so fast this morning as Sadie, Jeff and I were slowing easing into our morning. Once Sadie flung her head back at full force and happened to impact my nose, all the ease drained out of the morning. I did what any sane, sensory person would do: I started bawling my eyes out. It hurt so damn bad. Inexplicably, I grabbed my stomach, wondering if the baby was ok, even though I am pretty sure he resides many feet south of my nose.

I wasn't thinking clearly. I was just writhing and crying in pain. Through my tears I was trying to examine Sadie to be sure she was ok, but Jeff kept telling me she was fine. (I note here that one of Sadie's more enduring hobbies is to bang her head on any surface harder than a pillow, including hard wood, marble and tile. Pediatrician says it will pass. Not fast enough for me.)

So, I am sitting on the edge of the bed letting out a much-needed cry and Sadie starts to cry too, presumably because the whole thing was very upsetting for her, as well as confusing. Jeff started to take her out of the room, but I wanted her to stay with me because I didn't want her to think she was in trouble or being punished. So, we huddled up and cried and I started blubbering incomprehensible statements, such as, "I am a bad mom." It's not easy to get from an accidental nose bang to being a bad mom, but I got there. I got there very quickly, actually. No traffic on that road.

Later this morning when Jeff and I were debriefing the morning's traumas and dramas, he mentioned it was surprising to him that when my nose was hurting I came up with the idea that I am a bad mom. I suppose that was a bit of an exaggeration because it's easy for me to surmise that I am "bad" in some way, but the more I think about it, the more I see something deeper here.

It's a fact (as proven this morning) that Sadie and I will hurt each other. Sometimes it will be an accident. Probably not every time. But, if we are going to be close and part of a functional family, we will trigger each other and bump up against each other's wills and sometimes one of us may get hurt. Maybe both of us will get hurt. I really hate that I can't offer my children pain-free lives. Even knowing that having a pain-free life may not be good for anyone, I still want to give it to them. I certainly hate thinking that sometimes the pain in my children's lives will be caused by me. This morning's nose crusher incident was a giant tangle of all these intersecting wishes and beliefs that I hold very dearly. Specifically, I don't want to hurt my kids; I don't want my kids to hurt me; sometimes pain will be a part of the relationship; I don't want my hurt to upset my kids; I don't want to use pain in my children as an excuse to withdraw or be distant or withhold from them; I don't want to be afraid of intense emotions (mine or theirs), but sometimes I am; I don't want life to be messy, painful, snotty, confusing, and gnarly, but it is.

Thinking about it, I just feel very emotional. Not necessarily sad, though being out of control, which is the essence of being a parent, always makes me a little desparing. I feel awed by the power of emotion and how much it can affect me and Sadie in our young relationship. I feel very humbled by my own ugly thoughts and reactions to things and how I say all the time how much I want an intimate relationship with my family members, but when it's offered, I often times want to run for the nearest hill, which is no easy feat in the Midwest.

I also think that there is a lot of change in the air at my house. We have a nursery almost complete for Meatball. We cleaned out all of Sadie's baby clothes. The techtonic shift is underway and Sadie, no doubt, can feel it. We're headed into the last month of this pregnancy, which will preceed major change at our house. I don't know if Sadie can understand my words, but after particularly emotional exchanges (such as whenever I try to change her diaper), I tell her that it's a very emotional time and that we are all in this together. I remind her that no one is doing anything wrong, we're just experiencing a lot of emotion and intensity.

In the meantime, I have been told to ice my nose and buckle up... it may only get rougher from here.

Monday, December 27, 2010

White Christmas

Another Christmas has come and gone. There is something about surviving all the stress and extras of the holidays that makes the last week of December feel like a breeze, even though I am work and there is plenty of work to do. I have an arbitration before my maternity leave and, of course, there's the whole Preparing For The Baby to undertake.
Today it's back to the routine, except that the nanny called in sick so Jeff and I are juggling our day jobs with taking care of Sadie. I won't lie. It's very stressful. It's hard to be an employer because of course we want the nanny to have sick days and stay home to take care of herself (and not infect Sadie or us) when she's ill. But, it happens about once per month and the scramble and panic that ensues for me and Jeff is just plain nuts.
But, the sun is out for the first time since Thursday and the view from my office is really beautiful. (See above.) I love seeing Millenium Park covered in snow and it's nice that there are fewer people downtown today because of the holiday.
My biggest new project is to keep things in perspective. Last night when we learned the nanny wasn't coming in, I worked on my new project. It's not the end of the world. It's a slow week. If Jeff and I divide our time, we can both get everything done. I may have to work tonight after Sadie goes to bed. Nothing tragic is transpiring. I don't have that much on my work plate and what I do have is portable so I can bring it home. I was very proud of myself for not flying into a panicky-rage and saying we have to find a new nanny and hire an au pair and also get some back up childcare because it's so scary to be in charge of a little person that I love so much. Can you imagine how psycho I will be the first time the nanny calls in sick when we have TWO children, one of whom is even littler and more vulnerable than Sadie?
And that's exactly why the newest, top priority project is KEEPING. THINGS. IN. PERSPECTIVE.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What's in a Name?

Meatball, what's your real name? I am DYING to know. This morning I cut through Macy's -- not to shop, I swear-- but to keep my hands from freezing and I saw the perfect little silver necklaces with initials on them. They were 50% off. I have an "S" necklace for Sadie. I thought, "Perfect! I'll get one for Meatball." But, wait. We aren't sure what name we love yet. I looked at all the letters hoping for inspiration and reminding myself I could probably find one of these necklaces in February when the name has been chosen.

I didn't realize we were going to go all Milton about this. I remember reading Paradise Lost in college (with 500 of my closest classmates at large agri-college) and reading about how God asked Adam named the beasts in Paradise. As I recall the process this many years later (about 20, but who's counting), I remember the names emanated from the creatures and Adam realized he already knew the names even though he had never seen many of the creatures before. (Wait, should we name you Milton? My beloved judge for whom I clerked is named Milton. What about Adam? We probably can't do Adam as I have a very close friend who's 14-month old son is also named Adam. Damn. Another dead end.)

So, Baby Meatball, do you just need us to draw it out of you? May I remind you that first you have to be drawn out of me? The phrase "sprung from my loins" is suddently in my head right now, and that's not disturbing at all.

All I am saying is the tardy selection of a name is frustrating my monnogramming impulses and preventing me from buying jewelry with your initial on it.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repealed

It's official! President Obama signed the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. So now gay troops will have the privilege of serving in the armed forces without having to deny their sexuality.

This is a good thing.

Other good news:

The sun is out.
The sky is blue.
About to hit a three-day weekend.
Sadie slept 12 hours last night.
I am probably going to make the goal of reading 30 books since June 2010.
I am done Christmas shopping.
I am 34 weeks pregnant today.

I would keep going but I need to do some research on the perfect pushing present from Jeff for the Meatball's birth. here I come!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

So, here's a very nurturing headline I came across today on a "parenting" website:

"Pregnancy-related deaths on the rise."

Wow. That got my attention. That's definitely "gotcha" journalism. How could I not click on the link to find out why chances of dying during birth are going up? The article was tamer than the headline suggests. Basically, more at-risk and obese women are giving birth. I also noted that increased C-sections have helped the death statistics rise. Sweet.

This isn't helping me with my vow to focus on the positive, which is just flat out not my M.O.

Last night, for example, dear Sadie woke up crying about 5 times during the night. We could tell by 8:00 p.m. it was going to be one of those nights-- up a lot, wondering what is wrong with Sadie, trying to comfort her or medicate her or somehow make it easier for everyone to get some sleep. After her third cry out in her sleep, I felt the cloud of defeat wash over me. "Oh, we are screwed," I said to Jeff. My thinking was that if she was already so uncomfortable after 2 hours of sleep, it was only going to get worse. Jeff, ever my opposite, laughed because he was about to say that she would soon settle down and we'd all have a good night.

The truth was somewhere in between. I got up with Sadie at midnight and she just seemed uncomfortable, but not feverish and I didn't detect any vomit. There were a few more cries in the night, but the back half was better. I accept my often-negative spin on things, though I wish I could have a little more positive energy as my initial go-to. I just don't. I'm a fretter, a perseverator, and I really hate it when I can't tell how the sleep is going to go.

She slept until 7:00 a.m., which was a nice treat, and she seems to be suffering from nothing more serious than a common cold. For such a little person, you should see the amount of snot she can produce. I couldn't believe it. We went through about 6 tissues in the first 28 minutes of her day. I actually have no one but myself to blame for this situation. We had a playdate scheduled and other mother responsibly told me that her son was a little sniffly. Jeff and I mulled over the possibilities: stay home or chance the playdate. We went for it. The problem with that reasoning is that now Sadie has to suffer because she's the one who is under the weather. And, to tell you the truth, I was suffering a little last night hearing her cry and wondering if we could go more than 2 hours without a shrill screech from her.

Living and learing is an exhausting process.

Now, back to worrying whether this pregnancy is going to kill me.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Pregnancy Tip #540

Here's a really good one: When you are pregnant during the winter, invest in maternity tights if you plan to wear tights at all. If you could see the cutting I did to the non-maternity tights I am currently wearing and how ridiculous it looks and how wrong it feels, you would actually STOP taking advice from me. About anything. Ever.

I would post a picture, but this is a family-friendly website.

Lunar Eclipse

I am told there is a lunar eclipse tonight. Well, techinically it's at 2 a.m., and it's the first one since 1638 to coincide with the winter solstice. To be perfectly honest, I have no idea what this means, though it sounds very Shakespearian to me. I suppose if I am up roaming around my house tonight, I will probably make my way to the balcony and check it out. It's got to be more interesting than re-reading Facebook status entries.

We had a wild weekend and now that I know it's the lunar eclipse, it makes sense why we were all out of line. We did get our mini-van this weekend. It's really fun. I feel like I am driving a barge down the road, but it feels safe and happy and spacious. So far I have driven it about 4 miles without incident, so I am feeling pretty confident I'll be the master of the mini-van in no time. I am a big fan of naming a car so we were trying to think of the right name for our silver Honda Odyssey. My last car was named Sadie, then we named Jeff's car Grady so my offering for this car is "M'lady." It's a long, sleek, classy ride. It can't be just some prosaic 2 syllable name. Of course I want the name to rhyme with our previous cars. I am sold on M'lady, but Jeff does get a vote.

Actually, Jeff observed recently that trading in his old car for the mini-van means we have let go of one of the last vestiges of our pre-marriage lives. He bought Grady (Grady didn't get his name until I came along) in 2005 right before starting as a full-time lawyer. He and Grady had some good times, including a long road trip down South to play in some golf tournaments. (I believe Hooters was a sponsor of one of them....also, before my time.)

So, here we go: deeper we go into Commitment Land and middle age and parenthood and a scores of things I never thought I would see, experience, smell or live through. But here we are. I think alot about that series of studies charting marital satisfaction, which shows that there is a precipitious drop in marital satisfaction upon having children that does not rebound until the first child goes to college. Today, I think Jeff and I are kicking that study in the ass and then running over it with our mini-van on the way to Costco with a screaming baby who is angry we won't let her ride in the van without a seatbelt. Sorry, Study, but it beats the hell out of zooming around to spin class and T.J. Maxx all weekend, allegedly without a care in the world.

Did I have a tighter body then? Yes.
Did I have more freedom then? In some sense, yes.
Did my freedom come with a loneliness and aimlessness that I hope to never face again? Hells yes.

Myth Busters

I really thought it was a myth. I have heard parents talk about using pajames with zippers so that their children can't get into their diapers. Naive little old me always thought, "Gee, can't kids explore their bodies? What's the big deal, Puritans?"

Here's the big deal: There may come a day when your little precious angel is crying during nap time, but you and your devoted husband think she will settle down any second. Well, the seconds will turn into about 10 minutes and you will decide the situation needs some attention.

You will enter Little Precious' room and you will swoon from the stench. You will reach out to grab your little Preciousa/o and you will see that said Angel is covered in poo because the smart, snappy little onsie you bought her was easy to unsnap, allowing for unfettered access to the diaper and all its glory.

It happened. It's not a myth. Sometimes a cry is just a cry; sometimes a cry means, "Mom, I just poo'ed and smeared it all over myself. Can you come here for a sec?"

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Doula In Da House

The doula, Juli, has been hired. I am very excited about having this piece in place. We met Juli when Sadie was 2 weeks old and she came over to help with breastfeeding. I was so tired and out of it that I barely remember her visit. She has helped two of my friends have very positive birth experiences and I am optimtistic about how having her support can help us have a great outcome.

I am happy to report that she's very gentle and non-militant about the whole process. She wasn't thrilled that my doctor has said I should come to the hospital the minute I go into labor. Juli's theory is that if I am able to labor at home for a while and stay comfortable in an intimate environment, then I may progress more rapidly. I asked her what we can do at the hospital to try to create an atmosphere that will have the same results. She said that we can huddle up in the bathroom, where she will light special tea lights. In her experience, being in the bathroom is a way to have some privacy and intimacy and to keep the hospitalness of it all at bay.

Then, she offered this tidbit: If all else fails and the doctors and staff aren't "leaving us alone," we can have Jeff take off his shirt.

I wasn't sure I heard her correctly. Did you say Jeff should take off his shirt?

According to Juli, if Jeff takes off his shirt then the staff will leave us alone because they will have no idea what we are doing in there. Honestly, I am still not sure of the purpose of Jeff taking off his shirt, but I love the idea so much we're doing it no matter what happens. Even if I go in for a C-section, I am having Jeff spend some time without his shirt on. Maybe to join me in the very revealing and exposing process of giving birth. Maybe because I happen to enjoy the view when Jeff takes his shirt off. Who cares? It's funny as hell and we are totally doing that. That one suggestion alone is worth the $900.00 we'll pay the doula for her services.

33 Weeks

Well, today we turned 33 weeks pregnant and to celebrate I had some extra heartburn tablets. Don't say I don't know how to ring in a new week. Everything seems to be proceeding at a healthy pace. A few days ago Jeff took away my wedding/engagement ring because my swollen, sausagey fingers were being gouged by them. I tried to hide that from Jeff because I really want to keep my rings on, but he made some good points, such as how they would have to cut them off my fingers if they got stuck. Fine, fine. So now I am wearing my cheapo 15.00 ring that Jeff and I got in Greenwich Village on our babymoon before Sadie was born. It's a little big, but probably not for long. If memory serves, those last 6 weeks of pregnancy are all about swelling in places where there should be no water.

So there's that to look forward to.

In other news, the blurb about being 33 weeks pregnant says at this point, I may have trouble sleeping, breathing and sitting. Well, then, how's my tennis game going to be? I am pretty sure that all I do is sleep, breathe and sit.

Speaking of tennis, we took a very positive step for the family this weekend. We joined a tennis club, which has excellent babysitting for wee ones. I won't lie, I have never picked up a racket in my life so the tennis wasn't the draw. The babysitting? Well, that was a dealmaker for us. Jeff is going to get into tennis, which should play on all the strengths that make him a scratch golfer. (Yes, 2 years and 2 weeks into marriage and I still pretend like I know what a "scratch" golfer is. Sue me.) There's a gym attached to the club where Mommy will do her thing, which, for now, is called "walking gingerly on a treadmill." I haven't broken a sweat since October, except when I got the flu last Friday and almost fainted during group therapy. I try to keep things interesting as I spend my time breathing, walking and sleeping.

Anyway, we did our first family run to the club last Sunday. I would say we got some mixed results. I dropped Sadie off in the babysitting room. Of course I was terrified she would not want me to leave and that she would cry and protest at the top of her lungs. However, the minute she walked in to the play area she forgot all about boring old mom and went to play with the other little girl. I was so shocked that we didn't have a scene that I just backed away quietly and went to sit by the fire and read the paper. (Having just gotten over the flu, I wasn't going to visit any treadmill last weekend.)

Jeff reserved a practice lane to hit some tennis balls. When he was done, he came to find me cozily lazing by the fireplace reading the Style Section of the NYT. He looked like hell. I have never seen him so pale and glassy-eyed. What the hell do they do to you in the practice lanes, I wondered? The short ending of the story is that Jeff finally came down with the flu that Sadie and I had been battling and he christened our new tennis club with the contends of his guts.

We're so big time.

While I was waiting for Jeff to get himself together, I looked out over 4 indoor courts as people who looked like good tennis players to me lunged for balls and zigged and zagged all over the court hitting those flourescent balls. I have never given tennis much thought, but I have to hand it to the sport: they have very cute outfits for the ladies (those skirts? are you kidding me? How cute is that?) and it seems very social. As in, you can't play tennis alone. I am beginning to make space in my fantasy future for a few cute outfits and some tennis matches with ladies who will become my gym BFFs. Right now the only person woman I know who belongs to the club is literally an ace tennis player, so I have to work up to her level. I'll play with her when I am in my 60's. Til then, I will plot my maturation from solo marathon runner to congenial tennis player.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ultimate Pregnancy Tip

When you have a soul-destroying job at a BigLaw firm, it is reasonable and self-affirming to look for a new job that would give you soul a chance at thriving and soaring, instead of shriveling up each day you went to your office.

PLEASE NOTE: If you do find a job that gives your soul some room to (1) heal and (2) sing, you may want to take it on the theory that (1) you deserve a non-soul-destroying job, (2) it will lead to a better quality of life, (3) it will improve all of your relationships because you will no longer be exposed to a toxic work environment, and (4) you will be that much closer to your professional destiny.

HOWEVER, if you happen to be about 4 weeks and 2 days pregnant when you accept said new job, you should be aware that when it's time to take your maternity leave, you may have to accept that your maternity leave will be UNPAID. As in, during your leave, you will not receive any remuneration for your "services," and you will spend your entire maternity leave watching your bank account dwindle.

All this is the price for not eroding your soul day after day.

The advice? Maybe if you find yourself in this situation, you could negotiate before you take the job to have some sort of payment during maternity leave. That way you can avoid having a conversation at 32.5 weeks pregnant wherein the HR director of your office has to come in and tell you that during your maternity leave, you will receive exactly bubkus for being on "maternity leave."

It's funny, I remember going to pre-natal yoga before Sadie was born and meeting teachers who were telling me that their maternity leaves were unpaid. I thought that sounded so draconian and unjust. I also remember distinctly NOT taking a job at a federal agency because the maternity leave was unpaid. (Ok, there were like 7 other, more important reasons, but the non-paid maternity leave helped seal my rejection of that offer. We'll forget that I still sometimes pine for that job, until I think about what I would have to do as a federal regulator. Another story.)

Anyway, I think there's a good lesson here for myself and my kids and anyone else looking for a morality tale. I could have stayed at BigLaw job (presumably, though not a foregone conclusion) through this second pregnancy, but how small would my soul and my professional life be? Considering half of my former department has gone to greener pastures, I am not sure what it would even feel like to be there. Sure, I could have taken another maternity leave on their dime and gotten some pretty generous bi-weekly checks and probably a bonus. But would it be worth it? Maybe that's not even the right question, since I changed jobs and it's over and done with now.

It would be nice to continue to get paid during my maternity leave. It's not going to happen this time around. I am happier that my day-to-day life is less toxic and more fulfilling in every way. My vision is more about professional fulfillment than about those damn bi-weekly direct deposits.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

32 Weeks Pregnant

I just googled "32 weeks pregnant" to see what developmental milestones Meatball and I are reaching this week. Here's the first line I saw:

"Your baby can now produce sweat."



Why is a baby sweating in the womb, anyway? Another, apparently less headlining-grabbing feats this week is that the baby has a fully functioning digestive system, which he'll need to eat my "cooking."

As for my milestones, I am "supposed" to be gaining a pound per week and looking foward to increased constipation, shortness of breath and moodiness. Without giving the details, let's just say I am on pace for my milestones.

Little Meatball moves all the time and wakes me up at night with his jabs. I love it. The other day he jabbed me so hard when I was walking around that I lost my breath. He's lucky I am a fan of aggression.

We are meeting with a doula on Saturday to go over our birthplan, which includes trying to reach the holy grail of vaginal birth after C-section. My doctor is on board, though she did have a discussion with me about all the things that "are not in my control." She must have sensed I was hoping to exert control over the situation in ways that may not be realistic. I have no idea where she got that idea. Maybe when I told her that I was going to have a pain-free vaginal birth after pushing for approximately 47 minutes.

Oh, Dr. Gupta, you have no idea. You simply have no idea.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Baby Brother

Sadie is doing her training for being a big sister. She has fully mastered the art of hugging and kissing and being gentle. While she does not always heed our pleas to be gentle, she has proven she does know how. We have about 8 more weeks to work on her big sister training. I think I am going to get her a baby boy doll and a little mini-stroller, so she can get excited about the prospect of having a little baby around. I will try to work on teaching her the concept of FOREVER, since that's how long her baby brother will be staying with us.

Though, to be honest, the real training is for me to learn how to prepare Sadie for who's coming and how to transition from a one-child household to a two-child household. I can say without any shame that I have no idea how to do that, but I am not above asking people with close families how they do it.

This weekend holds big milestone events for our household. I believe the crib will be put together. I have done several loads of laundry for Mr. Meatball and we may pull the trigger on the mini-van. There is still a little issue of the double stroller and a few other pieces of equipment, but we are over the hump and moving fast.

Speaking of equipment, I have done some research on vaginal births after a C-section and I am working on getting my equipment in shape. I talked to a doula today with whom we will have a meeting to talk about our birth plans. I only cried 3 times during our 10 minute conversation, so I am sure she has a very good idea what kind of condition I will be in as this birth gets even closer. She really understood that the C-section was traumatic for me and said that her goal, regardless of what kind of birth I end up having this time, is for me to be safe and NOT traumatized.

I hate that word: "trauma." I hate that trauma had anything to do with my experience of birth with Sadie. I don't believe it has affected our relationship negatively, but it's a huge regret that simultaeous to meeting Sadie my guts were splayed out in an operating room, which was all followed by a panic attack. The doula I spoke to today told me about the results of two studies: In one study, they surveyed people living in Manhattan shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and found that 9.5% of experienced being traumatized. In the second study, they found that in sample of women (unrelated to the 9/11 attacks) surveyed about their birth experiences, approximately 9.7% of them reported feeling traumatized.

I feel validated by that data and happy that my there are doulas out there who understand what kind of emotions might be coming with me to the hospital when the time comes.

In other news, I pee about 3 times every hour, which means at all times, I must be wearing comfortable shoes. I saw a friend today during lunch hour and he said my shoes reminded him of the nuns from Catholic schools. Naturally, I took offense and pointed out that my very comfortable shoes (that actually do have a little wedge heel) have a darling little flower near the buckle and told him that if he could find a nun wearing a shoe was cute as mine I would return to the Catholic Church as a full tithing member this Sunday.

Don't EF with me and my shoes.

New cravings have crept in as well. Everyday this week for lunch I had at least one serving of baba ganoush. I can't seem to get enough of its eggplanty goodness. And wheat toast, pita, bagel products. Good lord, if there is something tastier than toasted doughy wheat products with butter then ship it to me C.O.D. I am hungry all the time. Meatball is on pace to gain about 3-5 lbs from here on out so it makes sense that I am going to have to do my part.

Peeing. Eating wheat bagels. Interviewing doulas. Supervising the nursey preparations.

It's a sweet, sweet life.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tory, Sweet Tory

The Tate-Ellis roadtrip across the great southwest was perhaps too aggressive, which we discovered about 48 hours into the trip. In hindsight, we have great memories of the things we saw (the Grand Canyon, rainbows over Sedona, fresh produce in November), the things we heard (Sadie's anguished cries in the car, the sounds of a Las Vegas casino, snow tires grinding through Flagstaff), and the things we ate (Cracker Barrel biscuits, thousands of pretzels and puffed rice on the road, and a pluot from the outdoor market in LA that brings tears to my eyes to remember). I will sort through the pictures and post highlights when I get organized. Come to think of it, however, that may never happen, because with the trip now behind us, we are staring into the deep abyss of ABOUT-TO-HAVE-A-SECOND-BABY-NESS and I can't string two thoughts together very coherently.
Yes, tomorrow is December 1, which means Baby Boy Meatball Ellis is due is about 2 months. I am going to need an oxygen mask as the weeks close in and I think about what that really means. This morning I made a to-do list and it all looks manageable on paper, but the minute I step away from the notepad, I start to hyperventilate thinking about the curtains, the crib, the clothes, the little issue of the VBAC I am dreaming of, the bottles, the pumping, the diapers. Even now, if I was standing up, I would swoon.
But, before I leave the subject of our trip out West and dive face first into panic about being a loving and sane mommy to two beautiful children who deserve my love and attention (and sanity), let's talk about a highlight of the trip that was all about Mommy. Mommy and her BFF, Tory Burch. It all started on Thursday when we showed up at the family Thanksgiving gathering to celebrate with great food. The minute I walked in (after one of Jeff's aunts greeted me with "Hey, Chubby!" which, I have to say, may have been warranted) I spied my sister-in-law JoJo wearing the CUTEST EVER Tory Burch ballet flats. They were shiny. They were colorful. They were from the outlet mall only 15 minutes away from our Friday night plans for Hannukah.
Only 15 minutes.
Well, you can see where this might be going. I happened to google the outlet malls in Camarillo, CA and see that they happened to be open until 10:00 p.m. on Friday. I may have mentioned that to Jeff. Then, when we got to his cousin Lisa's house on Friday night (only 15 minutes from the Tory Burch store at the outlet mall) I saw JoJo had on ANOTHER pair-- these more colorful and happy than the ones the day before.
I won't mention that Sadie was screaming her head off from the time we set out from Lisa's house to the the moment we hit the outlet mall perimeter. It started out as one of those amusing, "Can you believe our baby cries so dramatically when everything is fine," but it ended up as "I am pretty sure I am abusing my daughter so I can get some (still) overpriced pink flats at an outlet mall." But, I was swept up by the support of that shoe-temptress JoJo and Jeff, who drove the get away mini-van. And, even though I am a very committed shopper, I have never done any black Friday extreme shopping until 2010. We got to Tory's store at about 8:30 p.m. ish. The entrance was roped off and a security guard told me I had to wait until someone left before he could let me in. In about 2 minutes JoJo and I made it in and cased the joint for colorful patent leather flats. They just happened to have my size in the magenta ones pictured above. There were tourists in there from foreign countries running up tabs to the tune of $758.00. Thhe woman in front of me barely spoke English, but she spoke fluent fashion because she appeared to be buying "one of each."
I am proud to report that while it would be fun to also have the orange, gold, blue and green shoes, I limited myself to the pink ones. The best news of all is that Sadie had fallen asleep by the time I got done and doesn't appear to be too scarred from the tragic ride from Lisa's to Tory's. The next day she shuffled around our hotel room wearing the new shoes, which I took as a blessing from her. I am sad she had to learn at such a tender age that one must suffer for fashion. But, damn, those shoes are cute!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Tummy Time

While there may be slightly fewer pictures of my belly this time around (and I am not sure why that is), there are some floating around. This is picture proof that Baby Meatball is growing and filling out the womb amply. Sadie is holding most of the obsession with my tummy these days. She wants to see my belly all the time. It's not like it's hard to miss, but she wants to see the skin and my belly button. I tell her to get a good look now, but it's likely to disappear in the next few weeks. At night when I am putting Sadie to sleep, she's taken to trying to rest her head on my belly, instead of on my shoulder where she put it for months. I wonder if she can hear her brother in there and if they are plotting to take over our household in the coming months.
It's incredible to be 29 weeks pregnant again. I seem to have developed some third trimester nausea, which is not uncommon. I am feelings shades of what I felt back in the first trimester, except now I have the extra weight to keep me company while I hold back my hurling on the CTA. I gave someone the stink eye this morning for not giving me a seat on the train. My sense of entitlement is not pretty, but neither is regurgitated Raisin Bran on the train floor.
So, a little nausea won't kill me. I am committed to crawling back to survival mode. The good news is that we have a family vacation coming in about 26 hours, where we will descend on the great American Southwest territory with our intrepid 15-month old. Jeff and are of the same mind about this trip: equal parts excitement and terror. The terror is not knowing how Sadie will enjoy and embrace the less relaxing parts of travel or being out of her schedule. The excitement is getting out of town, seeing new things and experiencing our family SADIE MOON!
Be on the lookout for tales from the trail.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mama's Roadtrip

Yesterday I spent 8 hours in my car alone driving from Chicago to Springfield, Illinois. After all that solitary time on the road, I have several observations.

  • In rural Illinois, the only music on the radio stations is oldies, Christian rock and Glen Beck's radio show.
  • In really rural areas, it's just you and Mr. Beck.
  • I was sure that listening to Mr. Beck would be better than letting my thoughts run amok for 3 hours.
  • Turns out, I was wrong. There really is something worse than my own unstill mind: Glen Beck.
  • From my tiny slice of Illinois-Americana, I noted that there was not one single fit person in Springfield out on the streets yesterday. Do rural dwellers not believe in the power (and compulsion) of physical exercise?
  • Ironically, the third largest building I saw in Springfield was a gargantuan Gold's Gym.
  • If you listen to enough Christian radio (I listened to a segment about how "green" activitists are defying the word of God by proclaiming that population control or protecting the Earth is a good idea, since God himself said Man shall have dominion over the earth), when you finally do get back into the City, you will feel grateful to be back where you belong. Even if you spend about 45 minutes on the parking lot known as 90/94.

God Bless America.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

School Days

I caught a glimpse of my future today when I went to speak to a fourth grade class about being a lawyer. As part of a program my firm participates in, we went to do an exercise designed to show the students how lawyers have to think to win cases. I was really distracted for the first 5 minutes because I was cruising around the room looking at all the boys' names written on their name tags. I didn't find a winning name, but I confirmed that Jacob and Max are really popular, because there were two of each in a class of about 25 students. I was enchanted by little Filippo, but not sure that Filippo Ellis is going to pass any of Jeff's tests for a baby name.

These students were definitely still kids. It was refreshing to hear some of their honest comments and they seemed pretty respective of each other, of us and of their teacher. Our exercise was called, "No Pets Allowed," and we asked them if that was a fair rule for a landlord to have, generally. Then, we switched up the facts and asked what happens if a blind tenant wants a seeing eye dog? What if a lonely bachelor wants a parrot for company? What if a kid has an ant farm for a science project? And, my personal favorite, what if someone wants some tropical fish to make her living room more interesting?

The kids had hilarious reasons for why pets should or should not be allowed. I appreciated the very rule-oriented little Victoria who said that a "rule was a rule," so there should be no pets, not for the blind lady, the lonely man or the decorating-challenged woman. I asked a little boy what was so wrong with having a few fish, especially since they don't make a mess and they don't hurt anyone. He disagreed. He told me that flying pirranha fish could leap out of the tank and kill tenants. I humored him and told him that was a very good reason to bar fish from the fictional housing complex.

My colleague who conducted the class with me was less humoring of some of the students' answers. We asked if a police officer could bring his drug-sniffing German shephard home for a night because of a kennel closing. This wide-eyed little boy said that would be ok since a police dog would be well-trained and well-behaved. My very liberal colleague was aghast that little Kamilliam thought that police dogs wouldn't hurt anyone. My V.L.C. referred young Kamillian to the 1960's southern race riots when police dogs savagely attached "black" people. I won't lie. I was uncomfortable that my V.L.C. explained this to the only back student in the class. Still recovering from that little "educational" exchange.

Anyway, I am happy I think older kids are cute and endearing. The highlight of the whole exercise came at the end, when we were wrapping up and saying our goodbye's to Miss Hartman's fourth grade class. One little girl raised her hand and said, "Now, what was the point of you coming here today?"

You gotta love a direct question.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sugar Mama

Glucose Test v. Christie:

1 : 1

Passed this year.

Paging Ben & Jerry's.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Name Nonsense

Because my size 40 inch waist makes shopping for designer denim impossible, I accompanied my friend Joyce to find the perfect denim addition to her wardrobe. This was a good vicarious hit for me because Joyce is an avid cyclist and budding runner with very long legs so all the jeans looked good on her. While waiting for her to try on jeans, I sat outside her dressing room in all my prenatal glory. I struck up a conversation with the saleslady attending to the dressing rooms.

She asked me when I was due.

For as much as I bitch and moan about my size and girth, I am still shocked when someone knows I am pregnant. (Still shocked when someone gives me a seat on the train, and not just because most people are self-absorbed and unintersted in giving up a seat.) It makes no sense that I complain about how pregnant I look and then feel surprised when someone asks me about my pregnancy, but honestly, it makes no sense to push your offspring out of your vagina or have him lifted out of your sliced abdomen, either so we're not exactly dealing with logic.

Once I realized she was talking to me (the only person sitting outside the dressing rooms), I told her my baby was due on February 1st. She asked if we were having a boy or a girl. I told her it's a boy, and when she asked about names, I told her we were still searching for the perfect name. I may have mentioned that I was open for suggestions. In fact, I am pretty sure I told her to give me her best shot of a boy's name.

Without skipping a fetal heartbeat, she said, "I got a name for you."

Excited to hear this perfect name, I said, "What is it?"

She said, "Semaj." (Pronounced "se-ma-jay.")

Wow. Had she been waiting for a pregnant lady to come into her area so she could unfurl the majesty that is Semaj?

I asked her where she heard that name.

She said, "It's James spelled backwards."

Hmmmm. Of course. Why didn't I think of that? For every name we like, we can also spell it backwards and make an entirely new name. Ffej would be a nice name if we were going to abandon hundreds of years of Jewish tradition and name Meatball after Jeff. ("Come here, Ffej, time for dinner.")

I actually don't know how this backwards naming idea helps me, but it's a great example of a conversation that took place because I am pregnant, and let's face it: people are hilarious around pregnant women. The advice, the gestures, the speculations. I just love it. As long as people keep their hands to themselves they can suggest Semaj's all day long. It's funny. I believe people mean well. We are no closer to a name, but you never know when it might show up.


Isn't it time for Angelina Jolie to have another baby (or two)?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Highs and Lows

Highlight of the day: making it until almost 4:27 p.m. without any chocolate, which is a feat of Shakespearean proportions at this stage of pregnancy and fatigue. I am depriving myself today because my glucose test (for gestational diabetes) is tomorrow and I am determined to pass. Admittedly, I originally said I would cut out sweets for the three days preceding the test, but as I approached T minus 3 days, I decided I would rather risk a false positive than live these 72 hours without chocolate. I feel like I am home free now. I plan to be asleep by 8:00 p.m., since I have been up since 5:00 a.m., which, frankly, sucks. I can't blame Sadie because she was asleep until 6:15 a.m., and I can't really blame pregnancy because Jeff was up and wide-eyed himself at 5:30 a.m., and as I love to remind him and everyone else, HE'S NOT PREGNANT, I AM. So, it's just more time change funk. But, here's me on the cusp of passing a test that I failed last pregnancy. If I have to take that disgusting 3-hour glucose test I am running straight to Neiman Marcus to get a consolation prize. It will be cashmere and it will probably be a size XL.

Lowlight of the day: I had to appear at a hearing in state court, which, for reasons too numerous to name, I hate. One of the most unappealing parts of appearing in state court is trying to get an elevator from the first floor to the 23rd floor. Regardless of time of day, the elevators are jammed with cranky, self-important lawyers, whose definition of "business attire" is so incoherent and diffuse that it honestly seems like some of these people are trying to get sanctioned for fashion crimes. (Should you wear 6-inch high heals with feathers on them to court on a weekday morning? State court no less? In the midwest? With a cotton skirt? Come on!) Seriously, this morning there were no less than 35 lawyers waiting over 3 minutes to get into a 6 foot by 3 foot box to take them to EVERY SINGLE FLOOR BETWEEN 1 and 23. Are you kidding me? My baby son will be 5 before I find the courtroom.

Today's elevator ride was particularly suffocating. I got into the elevator first, because I am pregnant and aggressive and happened to be standing by the one elevator that happened to be working during the court's rush hour. I politely stepped in and walked to the back of the elevator. (Those whole 3 feet.) The next thing I know, a gigantic, 6 foot 4 inch, linebacker of a man gets it right in front of me, clutching his monogrammed leather satchel full of legal pads and files, and pushes his very ample backside right up against my bump.

Oh, sorry, did my unborn child take up too much room for you?

I couldn't move. I was literally boxed in by Big Foot and he was talking about his latest forays into horse racing. Our gigantic horse lover lawyer man was so busy talking about the horse racing odds and his winning gamble that he didn't realize he was cutting off my oxygen and close to racking up a charge for attempted feticide. If I hadn't been with a more senior partner, I think the toxic mix of fatigue and crowded personal space may have given me push to tell him to get out of my way, get to a f*cking Gamblers Anonymous meeting, and learn to talk in a hushed elevator voice when you are surrounded by 15 strangers, all of whom are running late.

This is what's so great about third trimester: As the fatigue takes over and the weigh gain accelerates apparently so does my charm and ability to take life's little challenges in stride. If I keep this up, I will be riding those elevators as a defendant and not a defense lawyer.




Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pregnancy Advice

The best pregnancy advice I can think of is this:

Chili with beans is NOT a cure for heartburn no matter how much ice cream you eat afterwards.

Time Change Can Suck It

This time change (the "fall backwards") can kiss my ass. I have never hated a time change so much in my life. "Falling backwards" left our hardwon routine in the dust and I am not happy about it. For the past 3 days, Sadie has arisen around 5:30 a.m., and she hasn't seemed any happier than I do about that. It's still dark outside and the WHOLE POINT of this freaking time change was for the sun to shine in the morning. I am trying not to jump on the Prozac truck about this, but I am really desponent about it.

Now that I am awake so many more hours per day you would like to think I can pack more into my life. Aside from more complaining and more yawning, there's not much more I have packed into it. This morning, I did make some heartburn-free lemonade out of my early morning lemons when Sadie's battle cry ripped through our house at the pre-dawn hour. I embraced the only upside I could think of: more time with Sadie. I went to her (dark) room, got her out of her crib, and sat with her in the rocking chair for about 45 minutes. I know she was still tired and I was determined to get her back to sleep. Sure enough she was snoring her little piggy snores in about 5 minutes. I sat there meditating on life's meaning, and thinking about how to teach her numbers so we can train her not to cry out until she sees that it's at least 7:00 a.m. I have to say that I could see the sun rise through the slats in her window shades and she was cute as a little ladybug (a ladybug that snores) in my lap. I conceded to my innermost self that getting up an hour earlier isn't the end of the world. I do what I always do in those uncomfortable parenting moments: I project myself about 10 years into the future and remind my current self that these days are numbered and Sadie won't always be in little footie pajamas snoring in my lap smelling like yummy french baby shampoo.

I take a few deep breaths.

And, I remind myself that I probably don't have to wait 10 years to yearn for the days that I got to sleep from 9:00 p.m. until 5:30 p.m., considering our ladybug piggie has a brother who's on his way.

And, speaking of Meatball. Can I say that yesterday he moved around the womb for about 6 hours straight. It's still the most awe-inspiring and fantastical thing that I have ever experienced. I am a little nervous about what kind of nutritional plan I will have to adopt to keep up with the baby who grows from this very active fetus. Will I be eating seaweed and sawdust instead of Luna Bars? I love him and his summersaulting ways. My sense is that he's going to come bounding into this world with lots of flourish.

Too bad he may not have a name until 2012.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Mr. C. Sheen

Just in case there was any doubt, there will be no dating of Charlie Sheen.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pamper Mama

At this stage of my pregnancy, where my limbs are almost always swollen, and I wake myself up 4 times per night because my snores are so loud, it's time for some pampering. You know, something just for me. Before I turn my pampering over for Pampers.

There's a facial and a mani/pedi in the works for next Saturday with some friends. If you could see my fingernails right now, you would probably urge me to see if I could get in THIS weekend instead of waiting another 8 days. There's also a hair appointment also on the books for early December. These appointments will provide a vital dose of Mama care that will take some of the edge off of having to lumber around with cankles for the next 12.5 weeks.

But, there are other kinds of pampering. There's also the pampering of the mind and the soul and the spirit. And, I must report that I have done a good job of feeding this part of myself this week.
Well, of course, I made an extra therapy appointment. But not just any appointment. I made an appointment with my therapist (who happens to be a psychiatrist, so that means it costs A LOT OF MONEY) to play Scrabble.

What? You've never done that?

Well, I highly recommend it. And here's why:

First, I am a really crappy Scrabble player, despite the fact that I think I am reasonably verbal and pretty well-read. I have what I would call an "underdeveloped" strategic thinking muscle and it's starting to bug me that Jeff can beat me so thoroughly at Scrabble. So, I had a feeling that my therapist would be good at Scrabble, or, at the very least he would play differently than I would, which would be interesting and a "teaching" or "therapeutic" opportunity.

Second, the whole sit-down-and-talk-about-my-problems-or-neuroses is sort of played out. It's boring and also I don't have a lot of problems, which is a good thing, but it cuts down on the attention you get from your therapist when you turn out to be getting happy, healthy and fulfilled. So, I wanted a new venue that was less about "let's fix this about Christie" and more "what can you teach me?" Scrabble seemed easier than showing up to knit a sweater or to learn how to balance my checkbook.

Third, I wanted to have the experience of being "parented" in an activity that was important to me. Very little is more important to me than words (ok, I admit it, and winning), so instead of trying to make the things that are important to my parents important to me (to be a football fan; or to be interested in finance; or to be in sales or accounting), I asked for an appointment with a surrogate parent that would center around something I like to do and want to do better, or at least differently.
Fourth, I am exploring different templates for my relationships with Sadie and Meatball. I want my relationship with both of my kids to have a component where I teach them and share with them things that I enjoy, as well a relationship where I enjoy the activities they discover independently that bring them joy. I am not sure I know how to do that, and I figured a good place to start is finding a place where I can be a teachable kid so that my own children can grow up with a parent who's ready to parent them because she's had the luxury of being a kid whose parents shared "teaching moments" with her.
Do I secretly wish I could have kicked his ass with one eye closed? Yes.
Did that happen? Um, not exactly. I have a suspicion that he's played a lot of Scrabble. As in, I think he's an avid Scrabble player. I didn't account for that. I literally never considered that he'd even played before. Sure, it's not like it's a secret game or something he would not have come across. I just figured he sat around reading back issues of JAMA and reviewing former Yale colleagues' books on mitochondria or something like that. I wasn't picturing him to have Scrabble-specific skills. I guess I am glad he does have as many Scrabble skills and strategies that I plan to employ going forward, but it really wouldn't have matter if he didn't have them either. I wanted the experience of playing the game that feels perhaps like how some boys growing up feeling like they should be playing baseball with their dads. Do little boys really care if their dads suck at throwing the ball? They just want dad to show up in the yard and put the mitt on.
People keep asking me who won the game. I don't know what the score was, but I know I won the game.
(Ok, I kept the score card and technically I really did win, but Dr. High Points helped me strategize and make plays that would ensure my victory.)
Better than a manicure? In some ways, yes. Much, much better than a manicure.
Maybe next time we can get pedicures and I can show him a thing or two.
(EEwwwwwwwwwwww, seeing your therapists' toes!!!!!!!!!!)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

27 Weeks

Here's the report from 27 weeks:

Feeling: HUNGRY

Craving: Mangos, peanut butter and grilled cheese, gluten products served warm with butter

Reading: Born to Run by Christopher McDougall (not the best pregnancy book I have never picked up, since it inspires me to run, and that's just plain physically impossible these days)

Looking forward to (short-term): Getting in bed tonight

Looking forward to (long-term): Sitting in my house holding both of my babies and teaching them to fetch me things I need

Highlight of the week: Scrabble game (post to follow)

Lowlight of the week: Feeling under the weather and having bad sleep for 3 nights running. (So cruel is that Mistress of Sleep)

Shock of the week: My wedding ring still fits. (WOOT)

Weepy moment of the week: Sitting quietly with Sadie in the rocking chair this morning, watching the sunrise and feeling Meatball kick.

Ready for: A vacation (16 days and counting)


Sad about: The Republicans winning so many seats on Tuesday

Proud about: My commitment to public transportation even when the blue line takes FOREVER to come and I need to get home to relieve Zenia because Jeff is out of town.

Monday, November 1, 2010

November 1, 2010

Not to beat a dead philly, but my son is due in 3 months. That's only 13ish weeks. Those 13ish weeks include a family vacation through the great southwest United States, the holidays (Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Christmas, New Year's, Diwali, and Kwanzaa). Excuse me, but who said time could fly like this?

We just passed Halloween and I am feeling a mix of pride and dismay that I have not had one single piece of Halloween candy. How can that be? I think it's because 1. We didn't buy any candy for trick-or-treaters, which made it tricky indeed when the doorbell rang last night. (Jeff put some Welch's fruit chews in one of Sadie's porta-potties and gave them out. Trick! and Treat!). 2. Also, when your child is only 15-months old and doesn't really know what candy is, then you really can skip the candy parts of the holiday. We had a blast this weekend though. Saturday I insisted we suit up and go to a pumpkin patch in the City, but I didn't read the fine print that said the Pumpkin Patch activities were over by 2. Thus, we we arrived looking for some pumpkin loving at 3:30 p.m., there was not much left other than some sad, scarred old pumpkin hunks and some hay bales. Luckily, again, Sadie had no idea what we thought we were going to find, so finding a swing and some kids to play with at the playground was just fine for her.

Sunday we dressed our first-born up as a chicken and went to a party. I am still dismayed that Sadie let us dress her up in a funky fleece costume that she gamely sported for several hours. The party was a nice break from the joint nesting project that Jeff and I engaged in on Sunday morning. It's called CLEANING OUT THE CLOSETS so we can move the office to the fourth floor loft and give the third-floor office to Meatball. Oh lord, the stuff that Jeff and I have held on to. Man, if I got a dollar for every stupid thing I bought at Ann Taylor Loft I would be able to buy a farm full of chickens. That's the thing about my former BigLaw job: at almost every single second I felt entitled to BUY whatever I wanted, because often, the ONLY perk of the job was the ample paycheck. (Don't ask me what my excuse is now, because I left BigLaw and rate myself as a 7.5 on a scale of 10 for job satisfaction, but believe me, I do have an excuse.)

Anyway, somebody who's lucky to find my load at the Salvation Army could seriously put together about 50 different outfits all from 2007-2009 Ann Taylor Loft Collection. There is also a hot pair of hot Citizen For All Mankind jeans that I am certain will never fit again. And, believe me when I say, "fine by me." Or, believe me mostly.

Ok, you know I am lying, but who needs jeans sitting upstairs in a perfectly nice office mocking me when I am busy building a brain and raising my little chicken daughter? In the spirit of full disclosure, here's a slice of my particular insanity around my body that is a totally true story:

Me: Hey, guess what I did today when Sadie was napping?

Jeff: What?

Me: I tried on some pre-pregnancy jeans. [REMINDER: I am 26 weeks pregnant. Almost to third trimester. That makes me officially INSANE and probably in my eating disorder.]

Jeff: How'd that work out for you?

Me: Um. It worked about halfway up my leg.

What's going to happen to my children with a mother this vain?

In my defense, that is not all I did when Sadie was napping. I also took a shower (nice to have a clean mommy) and I organized the growing pile of clothes for Meatball (nice to have a mom looking after your sartorial needs) and I read some of my latest book (nice to have a mommy model literacy for you).

On a completely unrelated note (is there any better kind of note?), today is the 29th anniversary of my paternal grandfather's death. John Callaway Tate of Forreston, Texas. His death was my first great loss and I was so upset by his passing when I was in 3rd grade. It was upsetting to see my dad cry and to worry about my grandmother living in this big farm house all by herself. It wasn't my last loss, but it was the first and there something about the first one. I had never really been to a funeral before and it was simultaneously so sad and so stimulating-- riding in a limo with my grandmother from the funeral home to the graveside and all those people all around for days. I remember sitting on my grandmother's lap and all her friends from the farming community were around her talking about my grandfather. I thought it was great to have everyone around telling these funny and happy stories. I just wished my grandfather didn't have to die for us to be together eating Ona June's cherry cheesecake and sharing so many good things. I remember telling my cousin, Susan, who is a few months older than I am, that Grandaddy's passing was the worst thing that had ever happened to me. I think I remember she had a lawn chair on her head when I was trying to engage her in this conversation. She and my brother were playing a game on my grandmother's porch and my philosophical musings were not exactly part of the game.

Frankly, I was dying for someone to talk with me (no pun intended) about death and loss and grief, but I didn't know how or who to ask. I would get my chance later in life, but it makes me think of something very important now that I am a parent: I want to give Sadie and Meatball a chance to talk about anything they want or need to as they are growing up. Especially the hard stuff that I actually may not want to talk about. I want to give them space and language and signals that it's ok to ask questions or have feelings or wonder where people go when they die and what happens to the people they leave behind.

Let's see: We started with happy pumpkins and ended on a morbid note. That sounds about right.

Happy All Saint's Day.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Phone Conversation Over Lunch

Jeff: I gotta tell you something.

Me: Ok. What?

Jeff: Zenia says she thinks she saw a <<<<<<<******>>>>>>>>>>>> (too muffled to hear).

Me: She saw a what?

Jeff: A mouse?

Me: In our house?

Jeff: Yes.

Me: Where in our house?

Jeff: In the kitchen.

Me: Is she sure? Was she drinking heavily or taking 'shrooms? Might she be hallucinating?

Jeff: I am pretty sure she saw it. She came to tell me right after she saw it.

Me: Ok. Well. We're moving.

(He thinks I am kidding. I am not. It's either me and my babies or the mouse, I don't care how freaking cute Ratatouille was.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

26 Weeks Today

Here's what I can say about being 37 years old and 26-weeks pregnant:

I am SO tired. It defies logic that I could hardly hold my eyes open after routinely getting about 9 hours of sleep at night, but here I am, and I am tired.

I looked up the stats on being 26-weeks pregnant and found out that the fatigue is because of all the weight gain. I laughed at that one. Sounds a little simplistic to me. How about the hormones? How about the creeping anxiety about having a little baby around to keep alive for the rest of my life? How about the potential C-section anxiety? It definitely is exhausting carrying myself and Meatball around, which is why when I go home from work I play with Sadie on the carpet, then I rock her to sleep in her cozy chair (and usually doze off with her) and then lay on the couch until it's time for bed. I don't even cross the street on the yellow lights anymore because it might require me to pick up the pace. Forget it. Mama surrenders to the SLOW DOWN.

I know you have been wondering what celebrities are also pregnant right now. I have been trying to keep track of the celebriety bump watch so that in the future I can remember to feel smug when my kids turn out better than, say, Celine Dion's, even though I am not a Las Vegas hot shot with a headlining show of my own. And the Divine Ms. Dion just had twin boys, who are 2 days old, and yet unnamed. Apparently, she's having trouble deciding between French and English names. Um, they are twins, how about one of each? The report I read said she gained 40lbs and didn't care about losing it before she returns to Sin City in March. I don't believe a word of any of it, but I am waiting to see what she names her boys.

Also currently pregnant:

Penelope Cruz
Mariah Carey (maybe)
Christina Applegate
Alicia Keys
Toni Collette

Oh, and Dr. Julia Ray, our pediatrician is probably pregnant, because I saw her reading labels on cereal at Trader Joe's looking impossibly DARLING like one of those women who happened to swallow a basketball. Sadie's 15-month appointment is tomorrow so I'll find out if that was her checking out the Puffins on Saturday.

I have to rest up because Meatball's crib and dresser are showing up on Friday. To prepare for this furniture onslaught, Jeff and I sold my old bed and nightstands (Pottery Barn sleigh bed) on Craig's List last weekend. (Ok, Jeff did the selling, but I contributed because I bought them in the first place.) Now, we have room to move the office furniture out of Meatball's room so we can go into full SOCK MONKEY overload. I can't wait to see it all come together. The room is a disaster right now, so we have our work cut out for us. And what, with me sleeping 9-10 hours a night, I see lots of overtime in Jeff's future.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Who CAN you date?

A quick perusal of this blog indicates that I have been more vocal about who my children cannot date, but haven't really given any guidance about who they CAN date.

Let's talk about that.

We all know you can actually date anyone you damn well please. Eventually. While under my roof, both of my children can date either boys or girls, hopefully within a 5 year age range while still under the age of 18.

Let me be explicit: this is not an episode of Glee. I DON'T CARE WHETHER YOU ARE STRAIGHT OR GAY OR BI-SEXUAL. I don't need my kids to be happy all the time, or popular or straight. I don't care if you are gay for one second. By the time you are figuring out your sexuality, Don't Ask Don't Tell will be repealed (hopefully) and "coming out" will not be such a big freaking deal. I can't wait until sexual preference is as bland a fact about someone as his or her height. I hope the next Supreme Court Justice is gay, and I hope there is absolutely no press about it, because really, WHO CARES who about the genitals of Justice's partner? I care about the Justice's mind, his or her experience, his or her politics, and his or her position on the issues that I really care about. It be nice of there were no allegations of sexual harassment lodged against the putative new Justice, as this country doesn't need that again.

On the one hand, my children's sexuality is really none of my business. On the other hand, I love them and something being none of my business has NEVER stopped me before. It's certainly not stopping me during motherhood.

Also, it's 2010 and whether they are gay or straight I only hope my children can date people who can teach them lessons (the fun kind and the hard kind) and who make them laugh (and cry) and who add to their life stories, which, at the center is THEM, though I may try to stick my head in the frame more than they will like.

This is all on my mind because today there is a nationwide movement to recognize how bullying gay teens has led to devastating consequences, including an alarming increase of teen suicides. We were supposed to wear purple today to support anti-bullying efforts and to commemorate the lives of young people who's pain over their sexual preference led them to their deaths. I already know from watching Sadie get hurt over and over again in hundreds of small ways, that I can't prevent my kids from hurting. And, after a few playdates where Sadie bit another child or stole toys from other children, it's clear I can't entirely prevent my kids from hurting others. I wish I could. I can't. All I can do is make it clear in any way I know how that I accept my kids' and their choices and I love them and I hope to create a home full of tolerance and joy and celebration of all kinds of different people. Regardless of what happens to them as they venture forth to school, or chess matches or gymnastics or knitting circles, they will have a home that is free from bullying and shame around sexuality and expressions of "difference."

So, to sum up:

My kids are still not allowed to date David Hasselhoff, but same sex dating will be cherished and respected just like opposite sex dating.

AND NO TEXTING WHILE DRIVING to anyone of any gender.

Is it just me, or is a little wacky?

I don't even know what to say about this print I found on when looking for sock monkey decorations for Meatball's room.

What does it mean?

I am pretty sure it would scare a child if he was hung in his room, right?

It makes me laugh, but I am not sure I am getting the joke.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The "M" Word

All weekend long I perseverated about a mistake I made at work. So great is my shame about this mistake that I am hesitant to even disclose what it was. I have a million justifications for why I made the mistake, but not one of them makes me feel better. (Though, I do, now and again, enjoy telling myself I am a "good person" with a "good heart" even though I make mistakes at work.)

Oh, I have worked hard to take the sting out of this mistake. It's been cardio justification.

I tell myself it was a clerical error; that there are MUCH worse mistakes for a lawyer to make; I am new to this job; my former job had a whole department to catch these kind of mistakes; I am a good person; even if I get fired for this mistake, I have been honest about my time and never sent any personal packages on the firm dime; I am still a good mom; I look both ways before I cross the street; I didn't know any better.

None of this is helping. I still stew about it. I had a glorious fall weekend with Sadie spending time with friends and taking walks. Every now and again I would have a spasm of anxiety when I would think about my mistake. Then I would wonder what the colleagues who will inevitably discover my mistake will think. Before I knew it, more than 3 minutes of reverie about this mistake had passed, which was 3 minutes less of my time with Sadie.


So how can I possibly teach my kids that making mistakes is part of life and not the end of the right to live as a free citizen? I can't imagine how I could truly impart a lesson that I have yet to internalize. Can I show them what it's like to be a lifelong reader? Sure, I am almost always reading a book. Can I show them how wonderful exercise is if done in moderation? For the most part I can model this. But kids are smart and I know that no matter what I say about mistakes, and lessons, and building character, they are still going to see me stewing about mistakes and they will probably get the idea that they should too unless I change.

Here's the mistake I made: We filed a brief (a court paper, for those lucky enough NOT to know what a brief is) in state court here in Chicago. Easy enough. The partners on the case work in NY and were looking to me as their "expert" on local procedure. (The wisdom of that choice is a subject for THEIR blogs, not mine.) As the expert, I was asked if there was a page limit on the brief we filed. I remember looking in the state court rules and even logging on to Westlaw to verify that the state court rules do not have a page limit for the brief we were filing. "Fire away."

Well, thanks to footnote 1 to the brief filed by the other side, I learned that I was wrong. Apparently, the Judge has her very own set of rules that says parties may NOT file briefs in excess of 15 pages without permission.


Really? The other side had to put that into a footnote?

In addition to hating the fact that I make mistakes, some of them public and some of them the subject of a footnote in a brief, I also hate this part of the law: the picayune, rigid formal rules. Is it the end of the world that our brief was an extra 4 pages? No. Is the rule there for a reason? Presumably. Does it make me stupid that I didn't know to the look at the Judge's local rules, considering I never practiced in state court before July 2010? Certainly not. (As a sidenote, I will say that I hate that there are so many platforms in legal proceedings for parties to shame one another, not to mention how Judges often abuse their positions of authority to shame litigants.)

Anyway, the whole point of this is to examine yet another way in which being a parent of children I really love has magnified little character "quirks" (or "defects") that are miserable enough for me to deal with, but seem like poison when I think of passing them on to my kids.

Here's how I would want my kids to think of and feel about a mistake they made:

  • available to learn the lessons from the mistake;
  • feel grateful for the chance to learn from a mistake;
  • understand they just because they make mistakes, it doesn't mean they ARE mistakes;
  • happy that they are not as perfectionistic as their mother;
  • able to let it go and enjoy the rest of their big lives;
  • find supportive friends and family (THEIR MOTHER) who can help them get perspective on the scope of the mistake and the process of correction, if applicable.

I assume it's got to start with me. I am almost over this mistake. Jeff says I will make many more mistakes before it's all over. Part of me honestly thinks that I wouldn't make mistakes at work if I didn't have a job, but that's probably part of a longer conversation. Jeff seems much better at keeping perspective when he misses something at work. Maybe my kids will get his genes if there is a genetic component to this process. If not, they'll have some good company with me. We'll pour some organic milk, talk about our mistakes, write them in a leather-bound book we'll call the MISTAKE BOOK so that we never EVER forget our errors, and vow to read the book together every night until we no longer make mistakes. Instead of reading Harry Potter and Charlott's Web at night, we will read about our mistakes over and over again hoping the memory will keep us from making more mistakes and adding to the book.

I know. I know what you are thinking: You're jealous I am not your mother.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


How the hell did we get here? 24 weeks into this second pregnancy! I can't believe it. We are very close to the third trimester and then I will seriously have to sit down and confront the fact that this baby boy is going to have to come out of my body one way or another. As it stands now, my fear is that I will be sliced and diced or that I will huff and puff and then my uterus will rupture, which will put a huge damper on the post-birth party plans, since I may end up having to have an emergency hysterectomy.

Wow, look at me being all positive and gooey about the birth of my son.

I have paperwork from my doctor that I am supposed to fill out indicating that I would like to try to have a vaginal birth, even though my first pregnancy ended in a C-section. I can't fill it out. I am too scared. I really would love to have a vaginal birth for lots of reasons I can't explain, and some that I can, such as shorter recovery time, more natural, safer in some respects, and less drama. Or so I tell myself. But, because I had Sadie in the very recent past and she was born via C-section, there are added risks, such as the aforementioned ruptured uterus. And, if my uterus ruptured, the real danger could be to the baby. If all I was confronting was the potential loss of my uterus, I might be game for that, since I don't imagine I will birth any more children. But, the thought of jeopardizing Meatball's health because I want to chase the elusive dream of a vaginal birth sounds kind of Mommie Dearest to me.

I keep thinking that science will come up with a third alternative between now and February 2, 2011. I mean, what the hell is going on in all those labs across the country? Isn't someone figuring out an alternative to vaginal and C-section births? Isn't there a think tank somewhere devising a way for a woman to get an 8ish lbs baby out of her body with out any unpleasantness such as ruptures, espisiotomies, stitches, blood loss, and other capital R risks?

Someone should start a 5K to raise money for this cause.

In the meantime, I think it might be a good use of my time to (1) stop perusing my friends' friends on facebook looking for a boy's name and to (2) start thinking of a way to embrace the birth experience EVEN IF I have a C-section. The farthest I have gotten with this is finding some very cute flannel pajamas at Garnet Hill to lounge in for the 5 days in the hospital after the C-section. I have some vague ideas about how to make the operation itself more palatable, including NOT having it at 3:00 a.m. after 25 hours of labor and maybe having more support in there. Jeff was amazing when Sadie was born, but I won't lie, I was a freaking handful that morning-- screaming that I was going to get up off the table to see my baby and being admonished by the anesthesiologist that I had to wait until my uterus was BACK IN MY BODY before I could leave. It's a lot for Jeff to handle, while also obeying my commands to check on the baby, and bring the baby to me, and be sure they don't mix up our baby with someone else's and to be sure they don't sew me up with extra surgical instruments left inside my womb.

Is it wrong to invite your therapist to come to your C-section? I'm just saying, I should get something out of this long-term and EXPENSIVE relationship and he's a freaking medical doctor.

Also, do they have to strap my arms down like I am being crucified? I am Catholic; having restrained arms has very somber connotations for me.

Yes, this is going to be a major test of my ability to let go, to trust, to surrender, to focus on the positives and to embrace all the wonderful narcotics given to post-birth mothers.