Friday, August 27, 2010

Banish Cool

So here's the deal: If ever Jeff and I were cool, which I think is debatable (for him, see Key Club, for me see any hair do from 1989 - present day), we certainly have no business trying to be nowadays. We are the parents of a 1-year old and a baby to be. I never thought I would see the day when I cared more about safety than anything else in the world (which is why I have eschewed the sun all summer and my skin is the color of elmer's glue), but that day is here. I want my family to be safe and I want to have some space.
Enter: The mini-van.
We're gonna do it. We're getting a mini-van. Just saying that makes me feel like a full-fledged adult more so than anything else I have ever done, including taking the oath to become a lawyer, or refusing to date an active alcoholic who wanted to take me a beer barn, or having a doctor cut my daughter out of my body.
Nope. None of that compares to saying, "We know who were are, we aren't pretending to be someone else, so we're getting a mini van." Sure, you can go the SUV route, but it seems like pretending. The much-maligned mini-van gets critically panned so often, as a symbol of the suburbs and soccor moms, which I suppose is all about shunning mediocrity. I don't care. I want to be able to get my kids and a couple of groceries and a stroller to and fro safely. The swivel seats are nice too.
I like to joke about the mini-van because it gets such derisive treatment. But my car doesn't really define me or my family any more than someone else's SUV defines them. It's just a car, after all, and you can bet I'll be wearing some damn fine shoes while driving around in my mini-van.
Honk if you love kid-friendly transportation!


After a great doctor's visit on Tuesday, Jeff and I decided to treat ourselves to something magical and delicious. It being snack time and all, we toyed with the idea of swinging by our favorite sushi restaurant for a late-afternoon roll, but then we got stuck in traffic by Michigan Avenue and found a nirvana:

Garrett's Popcorn. I have been smelling these kernels for years and never stopped. One random day when I was about 7 seconds pregnant, I told Jeff I wanted some caramel popcorn from Garrett's. Since it was about 10:00 p.m. on Sunday night and there is no popcorn hut in our hood, I basically made do with a quizzical look from Jeff and some pudding.

But not on Tuesday. We brashly parked our car in a 15-minute zone and got ourselves some caramel and cheese popcorn. I was set on the cheese popcorn since I needed protein. Jeff got the caramel and the combination, which frankly sounds absurd, was more delicious than any nigiri I have ever had. Was there butter to spare? Yes. Was a roll of napkins insufficient for us? Yes. Did we arrive at home to relieve the nanny with neon orange fingertips? Yes. Was it worth it? HELLS YES!

The occassion for the artery-clogging snack was jubilation at hearing Cherry's heartbeat. It was about 160. I had a brief moment where I wondered if I am actually giving birth to a hummingbird, but the doctor didn't seem concerned that my offpring would emerge winged and pecking at the window, so we went with it.

There is nothing in the world like hearing your baby's heartbeat. I have also decided that having such a fit young fetus in my womb may be part of the reason why I am so hungry. Maybe he/she is using the umbilical cord as a jump rope. Whatever is happening, I am sure it was aided and abetted by copies handfuls of popcorn.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Google It Out

Here's the google search I just performed: "Sixteen weeks pregnant and hungry all the time." It wasn't because I have a "friend" who has this predicament; it's me! I am so hungry all the time the past few days. We've moved beyond the lifesaver-and-fennel cravings and now it's just anything savory. Sweet things, for the most part, turn my stomach. Bring me a salty starch, now we're talking.

I think this is being exacerbated by my latest foray into memoirs. Frank Bruni's Born Round has made its way around my group of friends and now it's my turn. I read about 15 pages on the train this morning. Now that I think about it, reading about Bruni's early childhood love of quiche lorraine and all the Italian feasts his mother made may not have been the best way to start the day. He's a very gifted food writer who has some very delicious things to say about all manner of proteins, starches and fats. Maybe it's not that the Cherry Blossom is going through a major growth spurt; maybe it's just the power of great writing.

Tomorrow is our next doctor's appointment, which always makes me a little nutso. I have been feeling Cherry on and off for a few weeks, but once I feel the baby, I want to feel the baby ALL DAY AND ALL NIGHT. I want to have a 24-hour conversation with the baby everyday: The baby will "talk" to me by moving around and fluttering her/his wings in my womb and I will listen and respond with reassuring pats on my tummy. That's not how it works, according to an earlier google search I did on "feeling baby move at 16 weeks." I was really hoping I wouldn't turn into a psychopath during the days preceeding our doctor's visits with this second pregnancy. That appears to be a vain hope because I was up a lot last night hoping to feel the baby and then fretting when Cherry didn't kick on command. Already disobeying his/her mother's unreasonable demands. This is a very good thing.

On the upside, I get to hear Cherry's heartbeat tomorrow and check in with my doctor. As a side note, I went to a baby shower this weekend for a friend who happens to be an OB/GYN. Many of the doctors from my practice were there and it was a little strange to eat spinach salad next to three women who have all performed vaginal exams on me. They didn't appear to recognize me, though I can't say I gave them their usual vantage point. Partying with OB/GYN's takes knowledge of a specialized vocabulary. One of the residents signed my friend's shower card by saying, "Enjoy your ADA baby." Peals of laughter errupted. Me and the other lawyer in the room looked at each other and shrugged. I have no idea what ADA means, but I was dying to know. Apparently, ADA stands for "appropriate for gestational age," which I can't say really helped me grasp the joke, but I have great respect for the jargon in any profession and I was a little giddy from being surrounded by such capable, smart, well-dressed, and funny female doctors. On the whole, they seemed happier than the lawyers I know, but now is probably not the best time to be making such comparisons or I am likely to enroll in pre-med classes at UIC.

It's very hard work to do just one or two things at a time. Let's try not to add med school into the mix for at least 7 months. 'Kay?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Dreams For My Children

I was just in the bathroom (with my pass key of course) thinking about all the little, minor key, dreams I have for my kids. Not the big dreams, like Pulitzer prizes, happy marriages, self-actualization and the like. The little ones that I have never really articulated. Most of these wishes come from (1) things I wish I had myself or (2) things I had, deeply loved, and hope my kids to do.

For example:

1. I hope my kids adore the colleges they go to. This is not the same as hoping they go to college and succeed academically and socially. This is about their subjective experience of falling in love with their institutions and having school spirit. I hope they love their school colors, and their school's mission statement, and I hope they wear pajamas with their school logos on them for years after they graduate. I hope they send money to support their schools when they are gone. I hope they revel in school rivalry and experience pride and loyalty to their schools, but not in a creepy, Notre Dame, sort of way. I just hope they want me to put their schools' bumper stickers on my mini-van. I hope they want Jeff to wear a hat that identifies him as a dad of a scholar who attends their school. This is a wish born out of my utter lack of any shred of school spirit for any school I went to. Maybe for me it was a mascot thing. It's hard for me to get behind a mascot I don't understand: the Aggie, the Maroon, the Rambler. I don't have the foggiest idea what an Aggie or a Maroon is. I don't feel any somatic pangs when I hear my schools'name on the news or when something good happens to them. I had three chances and never once did the spark of school spirit catch fire. I have always envied those Duke and USC and Ohio State grads who were as enamored with their schools as their lovers. I could not identify one bit. I want my kids to have a piece of that joy and attachment. (Just not Notre Dame. Mommy's bitter.)

I know there are many more. Stay tuned.

Sweet Sixteen

Oh, baby, we've made to our sweet sixteen. I am thrilled to be here, and I feel the baby moving almost everyday. Because it's still so early, sometimes when I feel the baby I forget why I have that butterfly-ish feeling in my stomach. Then I remember the Cherry Baby and I think that I would take all the nausea in the world in exchange for the feeling of my baby moving inside. It's truly sublime.

I officially broke out the maternity clothes today. To hell with the Belly Band and squeezing into those damn regular clothes. I have been much happier today without the pinch and pull of clothes too tight. I also woke up early-- as in, I set the alarm and got out of bed before Sadie and Jeff were awake volitionally-- so I could take a walk in the early morning light. My motivation for foregoing sleep is three fold: 90% for mental health and to see if I can decrease my mood swings, 8% to get some unfettered outdoor time to myself before the crazy day starts, and 2% to "stay in shape." I am not sure how what can only be termed "tooling" around the neighborhood listening to Ke$ha, Lady GaGa, and Nelly can really be in service of staying in shape, but it made me feel like I was at least getting the blood moving. I read an article in the NYT last weekend that said studies show that even 20 minutes of exercise a day can decrease feelings of anger and frustration throughout the day. Since I walked for 40 minutes, I expect to have all peaceful thoughts and feelings for 2 days. The only drawback to getting up early and getting some exercise is that I was extra hungry all day. Like, two breakfasts hungry. I can't seem to get full today. Is this really what a 40 minute walk does to me?

Anyway, who cares? I have plenty of maternity clothes to carry me through the next 24 weeks or so. I am probably the only person who is happy to see the summer end. I love fall and being pregnant didn't exactly allow me to take advantage of all the joys of summertime. I am ready for new fruits (one more peach and I may start to grow fuzz on my body), new hues, new shoes, new smells, new accessories. I can't wait.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Daily Reminder

Note to self: do not wear a size 6 skirt when you are sixteen weeks pregnant. Makes for a long and grumpy day.

Further note to self: Just because you are having strong cravings, doesn't mean you should actually eat fennel and lifesavers for lunch.

Hall Pass

I have always thought it was annoying to need a key card to go to the bathroom at the office. Can't adults who are capable of filling out a W-2 form be trusted to traverse to and fro the office to attend to their bathroom duties? For the love of Pete, I hate carrying around that card. The worst is when I forget the card at home in my "other purse" and I have to ask someone to borrow their card every time I have to use the ladies' room. The other night everyone was gone and I needed to pee before getting on the train to go home. I knocked on a male colleague's door and basically begged him to let me use his key card to use the facilities even though he barely knows me at all. That wasn't humiliating at all.

Do I even need to explain how much worse this is when I am pregnant and thus visiting the ladies' room about every 27 minutes?

Monday, August 16, 2010


When you are really, really craving salty, crispy-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside fried potato products with prodigious amounts of ketchup slathered on them, a little serving of peach yogurt and a banana will not suffice. Now, I am just pissed off and still craving the little fried potato products.

Gender Bender

It's less than a month until we find out the gender of our little Cherry Blossom/Ball. I know better than the engage Jeff in a conversation about baby names PRIOR to learning the baby's gender, but doesn't mean I won't try.

Here's how I see it: I don't know if we will ever get pregnant again, so from now until we know the baby's gender, it's my last chance to have all possibilities open. I could be the mother of two girls; I could have a girl and a boy. Once we know the gender, one of these possibilities will not be ours, unless you count the possibility that the ultra sound is wrong and they totally miss a penis. Let's say we find out we are having a little girl. Then I have to come to terms with the fact that it's possible that I may not give birth to a son. There will be feelings associated with that, I assume. There will also be the joy of thinking of Sadie and her sister walking through life, sharing clothes and getting Sunday pedicures with me. (My son can do that too, but just thinking of the fantasy that pops in my mind).

Let's say we find out we are having a boy. I can imagine having a great deal of feelings about that, including some anxiety about having a different gendered baby, the joy of more shopping to get boy stuff and the thought of parenting both a son and a daughter.

Obviously, both of the outcomes are huge, bountiful wins for our family. It's not that, it's just that if we find out we are having a girl, then my chances to engage Jeff in a serious conversation about boys' names dwindles like so many animal crackers at my desk. Similarly, if we find out we are having a boy, we can talk about the boy stuff, but I will never hear Jeff's thoughts or fantasies about having a little sister for Sadie.

All of this is because of efficiency and Jeff's dedication to it. As I hear his version, it makes no sense to talk about baby names until we know the gender because then you only have to do 50% of the work. We're not having a boy? Great. Jeff doesn't have to tall me squat about how he feels about the name Zachary, or Elijah, or, or Brandon. Think of all that breath we will save.

The night before we found out Sadie's gender, I tried to have this philosophical discussion with Jeff about baby names and possibilities and foreclosures once you know the gender of your baby, but he was having none of it. NONE. He wouldn't humor me with one opinion about a single name. That was February 19, 2009. Let's just say neither of us are eager to return to that level of drama and resulting frigidity.

It's a happy time. I can think about my son and my daughter all day long and I can talk to anyone (else) who will listen and try on names with me.

People keep asking me what I hope the baby's gender is. Honestly, there are so many blessings wrapped around both choices, and of course, being at my advanced age and having eschewed genetic testing, I honest to Goodness just want a healthy little one.

The big gender appointment is September 15. So, if you hear cries of distress and self-pity on September 14, you will know I went there with Jeff and that I didn't enjoy the outcome.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bring On the Panel Pants, Please

There comes a time in every pregnancy (I assume), when a woman must lay down her normally waisted clothes and take up her panel pants to accommodate her womb's growth. (Unless you are Giselle Bunchen, who claims she never had to wear (or resort to) maternity clothes. Bitch.)

Folks, I think we are fast approaching that day here with Cherry Blossom. I have scoured the closet for loosest-fitting, most stretchy Banana Republic pants and my almost-elastic black skirt, but it's not going to work tomorrow if I want to ingest any liquids or food. Or air.

And, tomorrow is 15 weeks for us. The nausea is way, way down, though I swear on the corporate life of Staples that if I have to endure the smell one more freaking Indian Lean Cuisine curry bowl wafting from the lunchroom, I am going to have to give the offender a $1,000.00 gift certificate to the restaurant of her choice and tell her to have lunch there on me every day for the next 25 weeks. Not kidding.

I keep thinking I am going to feel Cherry Blossom wiggling around, and sometimes, I actually think I do, but then long stretches go by without any wiggles and I feel sad. I think we all know I also feel afraid, since KICK COUNTS were a definite source of trauma and terror for me last time around. But the wiggles will probably come soon and I am determined to make them a source of joy and connection with Cherry Blossom. (You heard it here first.)

In other news, now that I have a bona fide legal job and a bona fide baby bump, I have to get maternity suits. Never seen one? Well, that's sort of a problem I am finding, because most maternity shops have all sorts garish empire waist tops and nylon skirts and plenty of denim, but I need a real, live suit to wear in front of a real, live judge or two where I don't have to worry that she'll try to find me in contempt of court for dressing like a buffoon. I know, I know, it's a high-class problem, but it's going to be a low-class problem next week when I have a settlement conference in Indiana and can't zip my pants up. I think it may be time for some on-line perusing. (Jeff, it's ok, it's cheaper than custom-made maternity suits. Love you!)

See, Cherry, all the fun you are going to come into. A well-dressed mom, a sister who is allergic to hummus (she'll be the one in the haz-mat suit at the dinner table-- don't laugh at her, she can beat you up), and a dad who shows no signs of the hummus allergy. It's great fun. We can't wait to add you to the mix. Take your time, though, I gotta get my money's worth on these suits.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

On The Job Training

When I first starting working in a law firm in 2003, I decided that if I was ever in charge of hiring, I would never hire someone who went straight through college to law school. From my experience with colleagues, who shall remain nameless, I thought that even one year of experience doing retail, hiring sherpas in Nepal or working on a dead senator's campaign, would at least give someone insight into how the working world works, how you should treat staff members, and how to handle all the nuances at an office. I still stand behind that policy, even though my days of being in charge of hiring are on a very distant horizon.

So, what about my parenting skills now that I have a year under my belt? Using my analogy, Sadie is my first boss and I made lots of mistakes. Cherry Blossom will inherit a seasoned, been-around-the-block mother who's seen a few things. And, not all of the things I have seen (or done) make me proud, but they do make me experienced. I laugh most often about the things I have been smug about, but later found myself doing.

Example from our real lives: I have sort of always thought that this hyper focus on babies having allergies was overblown hype. Kind of like how now every child has ADD and needs Ritalin to get through pre-school. I know plenty of moms who haves struggled with their kids' allergic reactions, which in some cases can be really dangerous, but still I felt proud and a little smug that we don't have to deal with that.

Until tonight.

I was feeding Sadie her delectable dinner of peaches, crackers with hummus, pork tenderloin, string cheese, and eggs. All of these things, except the pork tenderloin, she has had before. When it was time to hose her off -- get the hummus and egg and cheese off her entire body-- I noticed some red splotches on her cheek. Then, I noticed a welt around her eye. It dawned on me and Jeff that she was having an allergic reaction to something she ate (and smeared all over her face). Um, meant to get that Benedryl at the drug store. It just happened to be one of those nights when everyone was in their pajamas by 5:00 p.m., but Jeff put on some pants and ran to the drug store to get Benedryl.

Now who's smug? I don't have any idea which food made her react. I stood in the kitchen watching Jeff pull out of the driveway thinking "Should I call poison control? Should I call my best friend? Should I call my sister? My therapist? Jeff on his cell phone in the car?"

I opted to just hover over Sadie for the 12.5 minutes it took Jeff to get the Benedryl. I didn't want her to stop breathing while I was busy deciding who to call for support. She's sleeping now and I will check on her every hour.

But, Cherry Blossom is going to be spared some of this. First of all, I plan to have every room and every purse stocked with Benedryl starting at 0800 tomorrow. Second, I will never ever be smug again about another child's allergies. (Adults I probably still will. Sorry.) And lastly, I can chalk it up to some very valuable on the job training that would be impossible to get before I had a child.

I just wonder if everything I have scorned and ridiculed in other people's parenting styles will eventually come back to haunt me. This could get very interesting and very, very humbling.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Prop 8 Falls

Proposition 8, banning gay marriage defeated in California!

So happy my baby comes into the world less encumbered by shame, rigidity, and prejudice. If you want to marry someone of the same sex, you have my full support. I do, however, reserve the right to object to any of my children marrying any of the following people, unless and until they get into recovery or undergo a substantial spiritual awakening as defined by me, YOUR MOTHER:

Lance Armstrong
Liza Minelli
Larry King
Dr. Phil
Sarah Palin
Giselle Bunchen
Lilly Allen
Amy Winehouse

Rock on, New World ORDER!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pregnancy Cravings

Cherry is approaching the size of a tennis ball these days. That's funny, because my ass is about the size of a volley ball and my breasts are each about the size of a giant softball. Call me crazy, but my favorite physical point of pregnancy is when my babies are bigger than my breasts.

We'll be 14-weeks tomorrow, which is officially the end of the first trimester. God or evolution knew what it was doing with this first trimester nausea. But for the nausea I have had for the past 10 weeks, I would probably be willing to have 6 children or more. If it's good enough for the Duggers, it's good enough for me. But, I am not a young woman. The heat and the nausea was hard on me. The trade off is that now I am craving chocolate and mocha ice cream and losing my excuse to lay on the couch before, after, and during dinner. I think this all means I may have to start contributing to the upkeep of our household. At this point, that may entail more than just having a job that allows us to pay for the cleaning lady, Joanna, to come every other week. As much as I hate doing the dishes, it's probably better than puking in the garbage disposal before breakfast.

Good times.

It seems like I will remember every detail of this first trimester, but my brain has demonstrated some alarming tendencies to just erase important information, so I will record the cravings and aversions here. Then, someday down the road when I am trying to force Cherry Blossom to eat sweet potatoes (because that's good parenting), she/he can refer me to this list and tell me to SUCK IT.

Cravings: Unripened, very hard peaches and nectarines; dried apricots; cherries; pineapples; cinnamon (hot tamales, gum, Cinnabon); red meat (for a few days in week 10); chopped salads (no blue cheese and iffy on the chicken); dijon mustard; Kettle chips; white potatoes; and every now and then, hummus.

Aversions: Chicken; garlic; dates; brussel sprouts; chocolate; anything super sweet; yogurt; luna bars; pretzels; curry (been hating curry since pregnant the first time).

When I get off the blue line in the morning at Washington, there is a donut store right there and sometimes I think I am going to gag and sometimes I think I should order my body weight in glazed donuts. Once I pass that store, there is an Uncle Beard's cream puff store, next to an Auntie Annie's Hot Pretzel store, followed by a Godiva chocolate store. By any account, that's too many damn smells for any person to endure twice a day when commuting, but when you are in the throes of nausea, back it up! It's foul. I note that these days I walk by the pretzel store and wonder if I should bring some home for dinner. Then, I picture Jeff and I sitting down to a plate full of buttered pretzels, and I think that I just can't do it. Not until third trimester.

Yes, this nausea is starting to pass. I don't know if I will ever be pregnant again. I often wonder if we'll have the balls to have three kids, but if we do, I will ask my friend who takes medication for post-chemotherapy nausea if I can have a little. Is that wrong?

Ok. The honeymoon trimester is on her way in. No stopping us now!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Daily Debate

While I am busy staying in the moment, enjoying some relief from the nausea and relishing all the great things in my life, I am also thinking about something that consumes all parents dwelling in the Chicago city limits: Schools. It comes up all the time around parents. "So...what are you thinking about schools?" This question leads inexorably to discussions of the suburbs v. the city, and which suburbs are best for all manner of things including commutes, schools, community, proximity to current friends. Honestly, the whole thing makes my head spin.

I went to private Catholic school my whole life, other than 5th grade and that was a social and personal disaster. I have a lot of reservations about religious schooling, but there was so much of it I loved and love as a parent: it's safe and I love the uniforms, which takes pressure off having to have the right clothes 5 days per week. Do I want Sadie and Cherry Blossom learning that French kissing before marriage is a mortal sin? No. Do I want them to come home with tales of being shamed during the sacrament of reconciliation? No way. But, do I want to spare them (and me) of all the social pressures of having to have the cool jeans and the right tennis shoes every freaking day? YES! Yes, I do.

So, there's no denying it. We have to face this decision just like everyone else with a UppaBaby stroller holding on to his Wicker Park resident and facing two options: (1) shell out $20,000 per child for a private school you may not get into or (2) move to the suburbs where you can drive everywhere, but your kids don't have to play in the alley with homeless individuals.

To begin to get a better sense of our choices, beyond some 5inch pictures on Uncle Internet, today we are going to look at a house IN THE CITY, in a good school district (until 8th grade at least) that I have been coveting on-line for a few months. This move isn't imminent, since we've had more than our fair share of change lately, but I want to try on the idea of living in the St. Ben's area and imagining Sadie and Cherry Blossom going to school at the neighborhood elementary school. The vaunted Bell school district.

I can't really imagine any of this. I sort of hope I hate this house so I can stop lusting after it on-line. If I am headed to the suburbs, I want to just accept that now and stop trying to keep myself within 1 mile of Wishbone and my friends. If I love this house, can you imagine how annoying Jeff's life is about to get? Have I ever been able to let anything go? Can you imagine me being halfway through a pregnancy and trying to rush through a move? More importantly, my self-will is pretty strong, but it's probably not stronger than a recession so trying to get someone to buy our current townhome in an "up-and-coming" neighborhood where nothing seems to be moving off the market. There are limits.

I think I will come up against some of mine today if I fall in love with this house.