Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cherry Blossom

Dear Cherry Blossom,

This morning marks our 13th week of pregnancy. You are our tenacious little bud. In weeks 5 and 7 we had a few scares, so it's very exciting to be here with you today. Last night when I couldn't sleep, I was thinking about you somersaulting through the rubber room of my womb. I almost imagined that I could feel you squirming about. I can picture your little fingers and your toes. You are starting to grow more and more real in my imagination. They say you can feel your subsequent children kicking in your womb about 2 weeks earlier than your first child. By my count, I might be feeling you as soon as 2 weeks.

I can't wait.

We have big plans for you. We are kicking around some room decoration ideas. I am thinking that theme for your room might be India-- exotic, colorful, Eastern. Just like I picture you. Ok, I don't really picture you that way, but it could be fun to have a nursery decorated like a very colorful, rich, and dynamic country that your dad and I visited early in our romance. Maybe the cherry blossom theme will stick and become a motif as well. Your Grandmother Ellis asked about your name and wondered what we would do if you were a boy. Your dad, quick as a fox, said, we'll call him Cherry Balls. So either way, your stuck with the nickname inspired by one of the season's most succulent, and in our house, controversial fruits. (We'll talk about that later.)

Here's why I love cherries: besides being juicy and delicious and really rich with flavor, cherries are imminently portable and it's possible to control the runaway juice from a cherry in ways I can't with a peach or a nectarine. Cherries are dark and go great with chocolate. They are adorable to look at and when I get a big bag full of cherries from the farmer's market, it's possible to have less than 1% not meet my standards of perfection. I love them. They are the hershey's kisses of the fruit world.

As we head into our second trimester, I wanted to take a moment to offer gratitude for you, for summer cherries that are full of surprises, for your impossibly perfect heartbeat I got to hear last week on my birthday (best gift ever), for this chance to mother you and to attach to you as we prepare our lives for your arrival.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Required Reading

I have been so good during this pregnancy. By "good," I mean downright heroic because I haven't consulted Uncle Internet for information about the health of my pregnancy. As I learned when pregnant with Sadie, the only thing Uncle Internet will tell you about your pregnancy is that your baby will be born without some vital organ and you can thank a rare strain of listeria for that. So, after torturing myself with message boards and listservs full of horror stories that scared me to death, I have kept away.

This is a very good thing. I can do crazy without the help of the world wide web.

But, there are other sources. I decided to pick up some light reading the other day and picked up a book called "Still Alice." It looked pleasant enough and my college roommate's name is Alice and I adore her, so I thought it was a good sign. And it was pleasant enough until I hit page 92, when the titular Alice discovers she has early on-set Alzheimer's disease. Well, that sucks. The author has a Ph.D. from Harvard so there's plenty of science in there. There's information about the genetic test for Alzheimers and if you have the gene, there is a 50% chance that your kids will get it to. "Early onset" in this case is 50 years old. My palms got sweaty as I remembered that my paternal grandfather died of Alzheimer's disease.

Can you see where I went with all of this?

It went something like this:

"Oh my god, my mom's dad died of Alzheimer's, so now my kids have it and so do I. Cherry Blossom will only be 13 when I get Alzheimer's and start forgetting school appointments, my name, and whose room belongs to whom. OH MY GOD, I should have never had children. Sadie will only be 15 when I get it. OH MY GOD, WHAT HAVE I DONE?."

So, looks like I have to ban recreational reading as well. And, here I patted myself on the back when I bought the book because I eschewed the one about the step-mother who's step-daughter disappears on her watch.

Am I really going to have to start reading those damn vampire books to keep my mind out of trouble?

Say it ain't so.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Second (and Middle) Child Has a Second Child

Here's why this is all about to get tricky for me psychologically.

For anyone not yet acquainted with my particular brand of neurosis, you should know that I spend a lot of time (and money) thinking about, mulling over, and lamenting the consequences of birth order. But not in a boring, clinical way. When I grapple with birth order issues it really comes down to me treating every interaction in my whole life as a competition where the stakes are no more important than, say, life itself.

It's apocalyptic.
It's primal.
It's really annoying.

And now I am about to bring a child into this world who will be second. Oh, how I have hated second, or, to be perfectly honest, anything less than FIRST, by a very, very large margin. I had to keep going to school until I could find one where I could finish first. Thank god I ended up dorky enough in law school to sit in the front row and study every single weekend so I didn't have to go get my MBA and try to be a valedictorian of Excel charts and ropes courses.

But how can I spare my offspring this mantle of "less than" because she or he happened to be born second? How can I raise children who are free of constsantly having to compete and best one another? It's like trying to teach them how to be virtuousos at the violin when I don't even know how to hold the bow.

Simple formulas won't work. My little second child is hardly the size of my largest split end right now, but already I worry about giving the second baby enough attention, while also not neglecting Sadie's needs. I am already on the verge of crazy and I am only 12.5 weeks pregnant.

I think the bottom line is this: I need to come to grips with the fact that the second child's life will be different than Sadie's. Not less than, not worse, not depreciated, not better. Just different. I would like to teach my children that it's possible to acknowledge differences without having to put a judgment on them. Sadie came into our world before any other children did. That's a fact. The second child will come into the world with a vivacious and energetic big sister. Is one better than the other?

Perhaps it is a fact that Sadie will end up getting more attention from me and Jeff in her first 18 months of life than any subsequent children, because she was the only little person around. And, do we even know for sure if that is better for her? Is having lots of attention always a better thing? The second baby will also get our love and attention and he or she will also get Sadie's love and attention....and toys and clothes and tips on how to climb the stairs silently while her parents think she is reading a book in the corner.

And while I am ranting, can I please say that our culture is sort of obsessed with the notion that subsequent children take something away from existing children? Right before a second child is born, I always hear mournful coos about the poor first-born child who is about to be "knocked off the perch." What if we could reframe the metaphor? "Oh, Sadie is about to have her heart expanded with love and adoration for a younger sibling?" Or, if you have to be cynical, "Oh, lucky Sadie, she's going to have someone to share experiences about having Christie and Jeff as parents. Thank god the sibling is coming!"

So, the pressure is on. I have about 27.5 weeks to create a sibling utopia that will do all of the following:

1. Encourage Sadie to see the arrival of a little roommate as a chance for more love and joy in her life;

2. Heal me of all my old baggage about being second-born;

3. Keep me from losing my mind before this baby is born; and

4. Create a peaceful atmosphere in our house so that we sleep through the night from the first day home from the hospital. (Hey, might as well throw that in there while I am dreaming up my utopia.)

Stay tuned. This is quite a project.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Riddle Me This

What do dijon mustard, cinnamon candy, and skin off the rotisserie chicken from Costo have in common?

Yes, all part of a healthy diet. But that's not what I am referring to.

Those holy triptych of flavors is what I am craving day after day in this, my SECOND PREGNANCY.

Oh, a dijon mustard sandwich chased by a stick of cinnamon gum. The glistening chicken skin on the butt of my wholesale chicken.

Two words: DEE. LISH.

I just finished off a very full 12- weeks of this pregnancy, which feels like a huge accomplishment, with the scorching heat and having started a new job where the expectation is that I will perform the functions of my job. Everyday. All damn day long. And the fatigue. And the nausea. It's been really fun to ride the packed train on these summer days. And by fun, I mean it makes me wish I could walk barefooted to work on the hot asphalt rather than have to fight the blue line riders for a scrap of fresh air. To lend some objective "science" to my own experience that pregnancy, 18 months later than the first time, appears to be slightly more taxing, here's what the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have to say about the second time around:

"One thing that is almost always true of a later pregnancy is that you will be more tired this time. There are a few reasons for this. You are older than you were during your first pregnancy. You may not have had a chance to get back in shape after giving birth. . . . You'll 'show' earlier this time, too. In fact, you may need to start wearing your maternity clothes before your fourth month of pregnancy."

I love it when my body and mind perform according to science's predictions.

So, we are off. We knew we wanted to have two kids so this is a welcome blessing that will be painstakingly chronicled here. Every baby deserves a blog. That's the motto at my house.

We call this baby Cherry Blossom, for reasons that are complicated enough to deserve its own post. It's coming. For now, just know that somewhere on your horizon looms a future me coming down the street at you with a giant double stroller and story to tell.