Saturday, January 29, 2011

Maybe it's pregnancy irritability or maybe it's you, ya smug bitch

I was sent a link to this blog: Teresa Strasser on Teresa Strasser entitled "Formula isn't poison" and as I read it I found myself getting more and more irritated.  By the end I was going to reach through my computer screen and slap the woman.


At a fundamental level she's saying what I believe: breastfeeding *is* better, but sometimes it just doesn't work for mother or baby and a mother should be able to decide to do one or the other as long as it results in happy and healthy mom and happy and healthy baby, without people judging her.

So here's a woman who breastfed for months, finally switching to formula completely when it became apparent that she just couldn't breast feed any more.  And I'm a gonna cut the chick!


It is pregnancy irritability?  Am I actually a terrible person who tries not to judge, but then totally does??  I agonized over this post.  At first I didn't want to write it.  After all, I'm still pre-baby, I have no idea how breastfeeding is going to go!  Who am I to talk?  And the last thing anybody needs is another irritated mommy-blogger bashing another mother!

So I read the article again.  ARGH! *stomping about* I am so bloody IRRITATED BY THIS WOMAN!  Then I read the comments.  Maybe that would help get my usual "hey, lay off the mom, you horrible women"-juices flowing.  Well, FAIL to that, but it did finally clue me in to what was pissing me off.

I think commenter #8 put it best:
Breastfeed, don't breastfeed. Just don't feel smug about either decision.
And that's the problem.  This entire post if filled with smugness, from beginning to end.  I hate smug.

First, she's still going to a breastfeeding group, even though she's no longer breastfeeding.  It's a support group for women who breastfeed, for Christ's sake, when you whip out the bottle of formula and start feeding your child, OF COURSE THEY ARE GOING TO LOOK AT YOU WEIRD!  It's like going to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and cracking open a Pabst Blue Ribbon (it's a cheap American beer).

Believe me when you are thinking,
"Listen, you crazy mamas, it's not all about the breastfeeding. I'm sure you can bond with your babies in lots of ways that don't involve turning your lives inside out just to make sure you never expose your baby to an ounce of formula. It's not poison."
They can see it on your face, and you know what, they don't appreciate it.  They've decided to try to breastfeed through the problems and challenges, they do not need you sashaying in and acting all superior.  You even say you are!  You say you go to these meetings,
Maybe just to kill time, but maybe also to feel better about the formula thing because these moms look downright miserable. In the end, instead of feeling inferior, I just feel relieved.
That, right there?  Smugness.  Insufferable smugness.  That has earned you one bitch-slap.

The second comes with this line,
The dark secret for me is that I had to work.
Oh my god, someone call the Pope, a woman had to work so she just couldn't breastfeed any more.  I'm sorry Teresa, but you are not the world's first working mom.  Other women do it.  Work is not the reason you couldn't breastfeed any more.  It may have contributed, but citing work as the "dark secret" is ignoring all the women who work full-time and pump as well as all the SAHMs for whom breastfeeding just didn't work out.  Especially since it turns out you were only working 4 hours a day.  I mean, good lord, where did you find the time to have a child?!  Call Ripley's Believe it or Not, call the Guinness Book of World Records, let's get this story out on the wire!  This earns you bitch-slap number two.

Then we have this,
I'm angry that the unintended consequence of this well-meaning "breast is best" movement is to guilt working moms into nursing on demand, all the time, all night long, for six months or until most jobs won't want you back. The accidental message is that if you don't press the pause button on every aspect of your life to nurse your baby, you are the worst thing in the world: a bad mom.
I'm with you on the unintentional "breast is best" guilt that leaves women stressed out, freaked out, and babies unhappy and in some cases, starving.  I'm also with you against the "pause every aspect of your life to nurse your baby or be a Bad Mom" trolls.  But uh, "for six months or until most jobs won't want you back"?  Honey, wake up and look at the nation around you, most women do not have six months maternity leave.
"Actual paid "maternity leave" — while the norm in every other developed country — is unusual in the United States, although some enlightened companies do offer new parents paid time off, up to six weeks in some cases." on maternity leave in the US
Nearly one-quarter (24 percent) of the best employers for working mothers provide four or fewer weeks of paid maternity leave, and half (52 percent) provide six weeks or less, according to an Institute for Women’s Policy Research analysis of data provided by Working Mother Media, Inc., publisher of Working Mother magazine. Institute for Women's Policy Research
Heck, the New York Times ran an article today about The Fight for Paid Maternity Leave.

Oh, but maybe these nursing moms have saved up money so they can take unpaid leave?
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires certain employers to allow eligible workers to take up to 12 weeks unpaid, job-protected leave each year. Columbia University Clearninghouse on International Developments in Child, Youth & Family Policies
So, six months, Teresa?  You are living in a fantasy world.  The "Breast is Best" tigers may also be living in a fantasy world, where all women have the freedom to breastfeed for six months, but a shocking amount of moms manage it with breast pumps and bathroom stalls for even longer.

Teresa, I'M NOT SAYING YOU ARE A BAD MOM!  I'm just saying that you cannot use work as your shield in your fight for formula feeding.  You profess several times how much you just loved nursing and how you
... did feel like a natural woman. At the pediatrician, I felt like a rock star. Around formula-feeding moms, I felt a potent mixture of superiority and pity.
Mayhaps this was a case of the lady doth protest too much?  Or are you just kind of a smug bitch?  Because you seem to feel superior whether you are breastfeeding or formula feeding!

Get off your high horse, look deep inside.  Why did you stop breastfeeding?  And then tell it like it is and stand up for that reason.  Women will support you for that, as long as it's honest.  Anyone who doesn't can go kiss your ass.

And for the love of GOD, stop going to breastfeeding groups!  If you are lonely or guilty, like you say, form your own group of formula feeding women who support each other in their choices!

Finally, I find that you blame working on your book "Exploiting My Baby" which has now been optioned by Sony as the reason why you feel like you might be neglecting your child ABSOLUTELY FREAKING HILARIOUS!  Seriously, do you not see the irony?  'Cause I'm shrieking with laughter over here.

***EDIT: For a woman who is not going to breastfeed and who I support whole-heartedly, read this blog post on  Monica has thought long and hard about it and researched and decided that she's going to do what's best for her as well as her baby.  She's extremely open and honest about it, not the least bit smug, and I wish her all the best.  Read those comments.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

This post could have been entitled: "Call Sir Mix-a-Lot, Baby's got Back" but instead will be called "Ugly Bags of Mostly Water"

How typical!  I was going to write a post about how I'm not really so upset about the weight gain because I've always wanted a butt and boobs and rounded limbs and then I went from this...

Only more tan and even bigger boobs.

To this...

Only slightly less purple... and bigger boobs.

This is due to water retention and I can see where it would be very uncomfortable to be this bloated during the summer.  Only, doesn't water expand when it gets cold?  I'm fairly sure of this.  Please, god, don't let it get any colder, I'll pop like an over-filled water balloon!

Tying my shoes is practically impossible.  Not only can I barely bend over to reach the foot I've placed ON A STEP-LADDER for easy access (try bending a hot dog 90 degrees) but my fat little fingers can barely grasp the shoelaces.  It's like I've lost all control over my hands!  Today I went to pick up my coffee mug and spilled coffee all over the kitchen.  The coffee got INTO one of the cabinets and all of my mixing bowls.  Now that's talent, folks.  Taking my Danish test today was agonizing - it was an hour of writing.  Seriously, when did they start making pencils so damn skinny?  

And then there's my butt.  Ah, oh round and juicy rump, how I wanted you!  How I strived to find jeans that gave you shape when you had none!  How I wished that one day my husband could pat you and not be stabbed by my pelvic bones!  And, oh joy!  You arrived one night, overnight express!  I went to bed, using pillows to keep my hip bones from grinding into the mattress pad and woke to find a comfortable seat upon which to sit!  Frabjous day, callooh callay!  Soon the bruising I had sustained from sitting on a less-than ample rear would fade and I would... wait... what is that?  And that?  DEAR GOD I HAVE STRETCH MARKS ON MY ASS!  How the?  What the?

Well thank the gods I was never planning on taking up nude bathing.  

And I can rule out squatting any more, at least for any longer than it takes for me to retrieve whatever I've dropped on the floor.  From the moment I bend my legs past the 90 degree mark, circulation is completely cut off.  Longer than 5 seconds and I need to be able to grab something to haul myself out of the squatting position.  If there's nothing to grab, someone needs to rescue me or I have to stretch out on the ground, wait for circulation to clear my legs and begin the roly-poly process of getting to my feet.  The cat, bless his evil little soul, thinks this means I want to play with him.  Ever have a cat gnawing on your head while you flail helplessly on the ground like an upturned turtle?  I do NOT recommend it.

"I'm so going to jump down and bite your ankles.  See, I'm half way down.  
I just gotta rest here a minute.  Conserve my strength.  But then I'm totally going to bite your ankles, fatso."

My back continues to hold.  I think this is directly due to the amount of pick axing I've done in my life and possibly the overly filled backpack I've carried for the last 25 years.  (Lockers require you to remember your combination and after the fifth time of going to the office to ask for it, I just began to carry my whole academic life wherever I went.)  But my knees are reminding me that pushing wheelbarrows for years is NOT the way to build up joint strength and I think my ankles and feet are in negotiations to unionize.  I expect a walk-out any day.

Not that I blame them, my weight is insane.  I really do think that the scale is having some fun at my expense.  There's no way I can be 80 kg (176 lbs)!  The DB only weighs 84 kg (185 lbs)!  With 8 weeks still to go, I expect I'll pass his weight.  To give you an idea of what my poor feet, ankles, and knees are putting up with - 8 years ago I weighed 52 kg (115 lbs), dripping wet and holding a gallon of water, 8 months ago I weighed 60 kg (132 lbs), 8 days ago I weighed 78 kg (171 lbs) and now I weigh 80 kg (176 lbs).

***The number 8 seems to be the magic number here.  Any numerologists in the house?  What does that mean!?!***

I have a midwife appointment tomorrow.  Half of me is worried she'll flip out over my weight and put me on a diet and half of me is worried that she won't blink an eye and tell me I'll gain another 8-10 kg (17-22 lbs) before the 19th of March.  At which point I'm going to need a forklift to get out of bed and pulley rig to get me off the toilet.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Decorating the nursery

Before you get all excited and start going on about looking forward to the pictures, may I point out that I've been pregnant for 32 weeks and I've managed ONE picture of my pregnant self.  ONE.  Taken with my ipod, by myself, because my husband keeps filling up the memory card on the camera with pictures of water towers and little old men who are celebrating their 90th birthdays and it hasn't really occurred to him that he should document this important time in his unborn child's life EVEN THOUGH I'VE REPEATEDLY ASKED HIM TO.

Spawn, when you want to know why there aren't many pictures of you in Mommy's tummy - it's all your father's fault.  BET YOU'RE SORRY NOW, HUSBAND OF MINE!

Anyway, the moral of the story is: pictures???  You're kidding me right?  And of what?  The crib?

When I say "decorating" I'm not talking about painting or hanging pictures or curtains.  We (because, dude, I'm 32 weeks pregnant, I can barely move myself, let alone furniture without assistance) took the spare mattresses from one room to another.  The DB then vacuumed and washed the floor and we assembled the crib.

Over the months we've accumulated three cribs from various sources, only not nearly enough screws to fit them together.  So we bodged one together.

"Wait a minute!" the collective gasp goes up from the audience, "Did you just say you 'bodged' - as in 'Junkyard Wars-hold things together with duct tape-bodged?"

Really, y'all, do you honestly think we'd use DUCT TAPE?  It's not exactly non-toxic and you can totally chew through it.  (Don't ask me how I know about that.)  I'd never allow my husband to hold together the crib with duct tape.

We used those plastic hand-cuff thingys.

Plastic hand-cuffs, good enough for Cocaine King-pin, good enough for my baby's crib, yo.

Alright, I'm pulling your chain.  A little bit.  We had most of the screws we needed for one and found two longer screws that worked (to the point where the DB has declared we can't move because we can't disassemble the crib and we can't fit it through the door so we're going to have to stay put) and then were only two screws short so we used the cuffs.  It's sturdy.  It's very very sturdy.

We then went though the mountain of baby things we've been given or have borrowed in order to find out what we have and what we need.

Here's a good question: how do you know what you NEED?  I mean, how many diapers should I have on hand?  How many onesies does one need?  What sizes should you have?  When do you stop shopping!?

I ended up using the Consumer Reports newborn checklist.  I'm kinda a CR junkie.  

The good news is that we had almost all the large items.  The bad news is that most of what you need for a new baby is pretty boring and as the DB put it "I guess they're just no fun to buy."  But I've got some very cute outfits that will fit the Spawn a year from now.  So lets hope for some snow in 12 months, okay?  I've got about 8 knit caps, so I'm hoping the Spawn has four heads, but no booties, so I'm also hoping the Spawn hasn't got any feet.

From the used section of the classified-ads we purchased a "week-end" bed (a sort of foldable travel bed that also doubles as a play-pen) and a baby monitor.  DB was ready to buy a used breast pump but I was a little *ugh* and so we passed on that one.  I'll buy a brand new one, thankyouverymuch.  I reassigned a set of drawers from our walk-in closet and we  packed the pram, the pram insert (aka "lift" - we don't have these in the US), the diaper bag, and the soft-strap carrier into the closet and out of the way.

We still have to get the linens and a good amount of clothing to buy, not to mention all the nursing kit-and-caboodle.  We may get a mobile or a picture or two for the walls, although since we are renting we are loathe to put holes into anything.  I'm going to see if I can do something about the curtains, the current ones are pretty grim.

This is NOT our nursery.  
Sweet Jesus, someone save the poor child from this French Rococo nightmare. 

Next week the DB has Monday off, so we'll be able to sail to the mainland with a list in hand.  We'll hit the second-hand baby clothes shop (if I was a long heavy baby and my husband was a long heavy baby, can we assume that it is more likely that Spawn will be longer heavier baby and should we purchase onesies accordingly?), BabySam (like a Babies R Us), and Ikea.

Oh Ikea... I luv you!  You make it okay to live in a land that lacks the Wal-Mart and the Targét.

Anything you had or wished you had when you had a baby?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

One time I dreamt I had borrowed a friend's car and wrecked it. When I told her about my dream, she was all "dude, you wrecked my car!?" and I said "dude, you don't have a car, you don't even have a license to drive!" and she was all "but it's the principle of the matter - you wrecked my freakin' car man!"

So back when I was on anti-depressants all those years ago, I used to have whacked out dreams.  I mean those dreams where you wake up and you aren't terrified, or crying, or anything, just staring up at the ceiling going "dude, what was *that*?" For the most part these ended with the mind and mood altering drugs, but every now and again I get some real doozies.  They can be divided into two groups: airport dreams and WTF dreams.

I've figured out the airport dreams.  Because I fear flying and I hate being late and I really do worry a great deal about missing flights, when I'm anxious I tend to dream that I'm running through an airport trying to catch my flight.  These dreams usually end with me running across the tarmac because the plane has left the gate and for some reason airport security never sees this as a problem.  I wake up covered in sweat and exhausted.  I used to get them quite often when I was writing my dissertation, but now I only get them right before I fly somewhere, and I'm so blasé about the whole thing I usually just let them run to the end, wake up, take a drink of water, roll over and fall right back asleep.  What I can't figure out is why the airports are always designed like something out of the 1970s - orange carpet, brown fabric on the walls and chandeliers made of aluminum rods and glass balls.  (Why, yes, I do dream this dream so often I now pay more attention to the details out of sheer boredom.)

The others, classified WTF, are called that for a very good reason.  I once had a dream where I was standing beside the children's slide in my kindergarden playground.  Kittens were sliding down the slide.  If they hit the ground at the end of the slide, they died.  I was trying to stop them by placing my arms across the slide to block their descent, but I couldn't catch them all.  They just kept tumbling down the slide.  I tried reasoning with them and begging them, "please don't slide down the slide!"  But they just kept coming!  Now, when you wake up, you ask the obvious questions like "where did these kittens come from?" and "why did they die as soon as they touched the ground?" and "why couldn't I just go around to the slide's ladder and stop the damn kittens from getting UP on the slide in the first place?" and they are all good questions, but if you've ever had one of these dreams, you know that logical thought does not apply while you're dreaming.

I mention all this because it's very rare for me to have such weird dreams these days, but I guess the pregnancy hormones and the inability to stay in a deep sleep (due to acid-reflux and an exercising Spawn) means that I may be enjoying some interesting subconscious weirdness for the last 8 weeks of my pregnancy.

Last night's dream went like this:

I was walking through a darkened suburbia, where the houses were set relatively far back from the road and there were a lot of trees and no street lights.  I was wearing high-heels, a short tank-top blouse, and carrying a purse but I wasn't wearing any pants (trousers for the Brits - I was wearing underwear, thank you very much).  The ground was very unsteady, like I was drunk or had been drugged and the horizon kept tilting and I was staggering about, in and out of the street, and on and off people's lawns.  

I knew was trying to walk back to my campsite, where I had a little caravan.  To get there I had to climb over a wooded ridge and I was worried that the drunk who slept in the woods would wake up as I stumbled through the brush and attack me.  He didn't, I made it safely over the hill and into the campsite.  

Only I couldn't remember where my caravan was.  Sigh.  

I started walking in one direction and then changed my mind and walked in the other and then I found my car.  (This would be the car I drove as a high school student - a '72 Chevelle.) Since I had my keys and my purse, I considered driving the car to a hotel, where I could shower and sleep, but then realized that I didn't want to try to check in because I wasn't wearing any pants and people would ask questions and I just really didn't know what had happened to my pants, I just wasn't wearing them any more.  But right before I decided to sleep in my car, it occurred to me that if my car was here, then the caravan couldn't be to far away.

By now the sun was rising and it was getting light enough to see the trees and open meadows of the campsite.  It wasn't anywhere I've ever been (well, in real life, in my dream it was very familiar because this is where I was camping, duh).  I walked down the road and, sure enough, came upon the campsite.  Where everyone was out watching the sunrise.  

Apparently I was camping with a group.  This wasn't in the least bit strange, it just sort of slotted itself into my dream, "oh yeah, that's right, everyone is going to be awake now."

My family was there (minus my sister) along with my best friend, my husband, and my ex (who's very presence is my brain's way of saying, "by the way, this is a nightmare, in case you didn't know") - all sitting in folding chairs, looking east, and drinking coffee.  

My caravan was not in the circle of caravans.  

I walked up and everyone looked at me and started laughing and asking what I'd done with my pants and saying "oh, look what the cat dragged in!" etc.  I was pretty tired at this point, I had been wandering for quite some time after all, so I asked where my caravan was, because I really just wanted to go to bed.  Everyone started looking at each other, all shifty and uncomfortable, like they didn't want to tell me and it was going to be an unpleasant subject.  

"Well," I asked, "where is it?"  

"Well, when you didn't come back," someone said "we let your sister take it."  

"Where did she take it?" 

Shrugs all around.  People begin going back to looking at the sunrise and remarking on how nice everything was.  I was pretty pissed off, but since no one would talk to me anymore, I called up my sister on my cell phone.

"Hey, where are you and why have you taken my camper?"

"Well, you didn't need it."

"Yeah, but I need it now.  I want to go to sleep."

"Not my problem."

"Please, KT..."

"Whatever."  And she hung up on me.

So there I was, shivering in the early morning, without pants, surrounded by people who just didn't give a crap about what had happened to me and were all much more interested in talking about how beautiful the sunrise was and how nice it was to be camping.  All I wanted to do was lay down, but there was just nowhere to go. No offer of a place to lay down, pants, or even a cup of freaking coffee!  Then they wanted me to take a photo of all of them having a great time.  I angled the camera to include the space where my caravan *should* have gone and everyone leaned in towards each other for the picture, grinning and holding up coffee mugs.

And that's when I woke up.  What a sucky dream!

I told the DB about the dream while he was in the shower and when he got out he gave me a huge, rather damp, hug.  I figure the dream was about some fear that no one actually gives a crap about me or loves me.  Thankfully, when fully awake, I know that that's not true, I have a long list of people who care and who give a crap about me and who would be worried sick if I didn't come home one night or if I showed up in the morning without pants and a dazed expression.

So seriously, subconscious, WTF?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I'm not blind... I just don't always look where I'm going...

Dudes, I totally almost walked into a tree on the way to the supermarket.

No joke!

I was walking along.... doo-dee doo-dee doo *TREE*!

And I gave it a good long look, 'cause you know, maybe it had stepped out in front of me without looking both ways and once it saw that I had the right of way, it being a sideWALK and all, it would politely retreat to the park.

Nope.  The tree stood resolutely in my path.

So I'm all, "look, man, I'm pregnant.  You might not be able to tell under this massive parka, which is probably why people look at me funny all the time.  I mean, you know, I'm all walking like a damn penguin but I have little skinny legs and then there's this huge parka and how are people gonna know, you know?  So I'm telling ya, I'm pregnant, and that means you gotta give me some space.  Or I'm a-gonna end up walking in the street and that's just crazy dangerous for a fat pregnant chick."

And I swear the tree proceeded to LOOM.

So I walked in the gutter.  Freakin' tree.  No respect.

See this?
This is a bunch of assholes just waiting to jump in front of your car.

This Break Was Brought To You By: Alot

If I type this very fast, maybe I can get a post out before the cat wakes up.

Wait, "cat"?  Shouldn't that read "baby" or something?

Yeah, let me explain.

Alot is going through a needy patch at the moment.  I mean, if he's in the house he must be touching me or I must be touching him.  If I fail to provide adequate attention, plaintive meowing and getting where he shouldn't ensues.

Alot: (jumps up on table)
AG: Argh, you know you aren't supposed to be up on the table!
Alot: (flings self down and rolls over) I'm not "up" on the table!  Look, I'm lying down!  I'm "lying down" on the table!
AG: Come on, get off the table.
Alot: No!  I'll be good! See, I'm asleep! (closes eyes and grips the table cloth with all claws) *PURRRR*

So I scoop the cat up and immediately he's cuddling in my arms and rubbing his head under my chin.
Alot: Oh, I love you!  How much I love to be held by you!!  *PURRRRRR* (grips sweater with claws, presses body close)

The easiest solution, I've found, is to give in.  We sit on the couch and I lean back so he's resting on top of my belly (by which I mean, he's really sitting on the shelf that the Spawn has created for my dining pleasure) and I pet him and watch TV.  It's a good excuse to put my feet up for half an hour, but it means less surfing the web, I can't man-handle computer and cat into the living room at the same time.

Eventually he gets too warm and moves off of me before going into a deep sleep.  This is when I get up and sneak out of the living room and back to the internet.  He's getting more clever though.  Now he drapes part of himself over me, or lays next me in a way that keeps me from getting up without disturbing him.  Because then we can repeat the process.

Alot: *MEOW* Wait! *MEOW* Where are you going? *MEOW* Take me with you! *MEOW* Are you going to do something with the computer? (runs ahead, jumps up on the table and lays on the computer) 'S okay, I'm here, we can still be together! *PURRR*
AG: (face/palm)

My husband watched this process today and asked, "what does he think he is, a baby?" or maybe he asked "what is he going to do once we have a baby?" I'm not entirely sure because the cat was purring too loudly in my ear.

Spawn seems to find the whole thing a means of entertainment.  If the cat pushes on my belly with his feet, Spawn is sure to push back.  Sometimes Alot gives me this look like, "excuse me, could you not move your belly so much, I'm trying to sleep here!" and I have to tell him, "look, man, it's not me, it's Spawn.  Take it up with Spawn in two months, okay?"

It's probably a good thing I'm going to give birth to an octopus.  I think there is going to be an epic battle for my lap and my child will start off the underdog, lacking in size and claws, but having little fists and feet of steel.   And if Alot's solution to the "Mom is paying attention to the computer when she should be paying attention to me" problem is anything to go on, Spawn is going to get laid on a lot.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Help, I've swallowed an octopus!

It must be an octopus.  I mean, there is NO WAY the child in my stomach has only two arms and two legs.

If I was having twins I would assume that there was a wrestling match going on - but with only one little person in there...  WTF??

I'm pleased to report that my child has all of the expected appendages and has working joints.  At least I'm pretty sure those were elbows and knees that joined in the fun.  Because if those weren't elbows and knees as well as hands and feet, well... I may be giving birth to an octopus.  Only not a soft and squishy octopus.  One with wildly kicking feet.  And flailing arms.  That head-butts.

I'm getting head-butted in the cervix.

You know where I never expected to get head-butted?

In. The. Cervix.

All this flailing about sets off Braxton-Hicks contractions, which of course aren't painful, but are very distracting.

Funny story about these contractions.  See, I get them all the freaking time but I didn't think they were contractions per se, I was describing them as "uterine flexes" because it felt like my uterus was sort-of flexing, like when you are standing in line at the supermarket and you flex your butt cheeks or your leg muscles to keep blood flowing and give yourself something to think about other strangling than the alcoholic in front of you who is paying for his cheap vodka with very small change - one coin dug out of his pocket at a time.  

What, you don't flex your butt cheeks while queuing? Alrighty then, moving on!  

Then one day in my 22nd or 23rd week I was reading up on labor and figured I should google Braxton-Hicks to find out how they would feel so that I wouldn't mistake them for real contractions in a few months.  Because, as the book assured me, I was probably going to mistake this false labor for the real thing and that this was OK, it happens to us all, you gibbering idiot.  LOL on me, "uterine flexes" are Braxton-Hicks contractions.  Color me silly!  I have several every day, but it never occurred to me that this was something other women panic about and run off to the hospital shrieking about going into early labor.

Not that I want crazy painful labor pains or anything, but I kinda hope early labor is a bit more apparent, otherwise I'm going to end up giving birth in the shower on accident because I didn't notice.

***BTW, I'm totally joking here - you don't have to tell me that I will notice and that there will be pain and all kinds of other delightful surprises because I'm well aware.  I'm just being facetious.***

So anyway, two hours of kicking, punching, head butting and intermittent contractions later, I was feeling quite nauseous (surprising facts about pregnancy #43, having your insides bounced around will make you just as nauseous as if you were driving on a winding road, so take *that* Inner Ear and suck on it).  Then the Spawn got the hiccups.

"HA!" I thought, "serves you right, you fetal asshole!"  I hate hiccups, but the great thing about fetal hiccups is that they are rhythmic and pack far less of a punch than, say, A PUNCH.

Alas, the Spawn seems to take after Mommy in regards to hiccups.  I'll get, like, five, and then be done.  Same with Spawn.  So five or so hiccups later we were back to the flailing and the contractions.

"Your child," I announced to the DB, "is an asshole."  And for a few moments my husband tried to reason with my belly.  But like cats and children, fetuses are jerks.  

But I'll get the Spawn back.  Oh yes I will!  In under 10 weeks, I'm a gonna give birth to this thing, whether it wants to come out OR NOT!  Cry all you want, Spawn, you ain't going back in!  I WIN!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

And thus I entered the third trimester haze

Don't get me wrong, I love my shower.

I was surprised by how much I missed my shower while in Qatar.  The shower we had this year was waaaaay better than the one we had last year.
Last year's shower.  Yes, it *is* a toilet, how kind of you to notice.  
But I swear to you, water came (sometimes) from a pipe just out of frame.  
And sometimes it was even hot water!

This year I always had hot water and I always had water pressure, and what more can a person ask for?  Okay, it was about 5 inches too short, so I had to duck to rinse my hair, but that put the water at a great position on my back!

And yet the first time I took a shower when I got home I could have cried with joy.  Maybe it was the hormones, but it was just so fabulous!  INSTANT hot water, at the right temperature.  No fiddling with multiple knobs, you have one that's set to the temperature you know is the right temperature and one knob that turns the water on and off.  The shower head can be attached to the wall or you can take it down to rinse off the under bits.  Now that my stomach blocks off pretty much everything from my belly button down, this feature is indispensable.  Not to mention that the hot water helps unblock my sinuses, soothes kicking Spawn, works out kinks in my joints and gets rid of that weird-because-it's-different odor I've developed since I've been pregnant.

Happy happy joy joy, right?  I must be taking showers every time you turn around, right?

Uh, no.  Not at all.  In fact, if I could get away with it, I'd shower a whole lot less.  I'm down to every other day, if I need to leave the house, and when I know I'm not going anywhere you couldn't pay me to get into the shower.

"Why, God, why!?" screams the inner me, the little bit that remembers my love of showers and the joy of all that hot falling water.  This bit of me knows that I'll be filled with happiness if I would just get in the freaking shower already and stop looking in the mirror to convince myself that really, I don't look that greasy, surely I could go one more day...

But what does me in, every time, is the effort needed to take clothes off and then on, especially since drying myself has become particularly difficult and perilous, so most of me is still pretty damp when I'm fighting to get into my clothes.  Really, a person should not be exhausted after putting on socks.  And why must it be so difficult to get my pants over my butt?  And am I lacking a joint in my arms that would allow me to get my shirts and sweaters over my head without getting tangled in the sleeves?  I've been dressing myself for a long time and I don't remember it ever being so damn hard!

Then, horror of horrors, came the day I knew would one day arrive.  I forgot to rinse my hair.

This happened quite a few times in the first trimester, when I lost my mind in a cloud of hormonal activity and I was warned that the cloud would return for the third trimester, so I have been particularly careful to try to remember these things.  But of course, it's impossible to remember that you have to remember when not only are you fighting third trimester haze, but pre-coffee-just-rolled-out-of-bed-brain.  And I didn't notice when I brushed my hair.  Or when I blow-dried my hair.  Or when I brushed it AGAIN to get it into place.  "Hmmm," I thought, "my hair just doesn't want to dry today!"

Yeah, two hours later, plopped on the couch with the cat, watching TV while doing a spot of embroidery (I'll post on that at some point, I swear hope) I finally realized that it wasn't that my hair was still wet, it was still coated in conditioner.


It took a few more hours before I finally convinced myself that, really, I could not just wait and shower again the next day, I should really get up and rinse my hair RIGHTNOW.  DO IT GIRL!  JUST GET UP AND SHOWER ALREADY!  Back in the first trimester, this would involve hanging my head over the bathtub and using the hand-held-shower-spray-thingy (BALLS!  What is that called??) to rinse my damn hair without getting back into the shower or even undressing.  However, those days are long gone and I was going to have to get buck nekkid AGAIN.


* Funny side note: while typing this post I suddenly remembered that I had a dentist appointment... six hours ago.  BALLS!  And of course they only have appointments when they conflict with the rare other appointments I have so now I have to wait another month to have my teeth cleaned.  Dear brain, where did you go?

I feel I am constantly battling not only Newton's first law of motion (a body at rest will stay at rest, a body in motion will stay in motion), but also my inability to remember what motions I should be doing while in motion.

Ah well, at least I only have 10 more weeks of this.

Then it will get worse.

Hahahahaha *sob*

Friday, January 07, 2011

Work Ethic

A lot could be said about the Danish work ethic.

Things like:
What ethic?
I've never met such a lazy group of drunken sods in my life!
Danes work smarter, not longer.
Family is more important that work.
Danes are extremely hard working and industrious.

I've heard them all.  I've said a number of them.  I've doubted the sanity of some of the people who have said others.

My own experiences with the Danish work ethic have been, well, mixed.

There are the paper pushers who sit at a desk for 3 hours every other Tuesday who look shocked and appalled if you ask them to do something so awful as GOD FOBID look something up on their little computer screens because their job is too look things up for people on computer screens and WHY THEY HELL ARE YOU ASKING THEM TO DO THEIR JOB??

There's the team of painters that came to paint our apartment building who showed up at 8, had a coffee break until 9, painted until 10 when it was beer-and-cigarettes break time (yes, beer, Danes do often drink on the job), started again at 11, broke for lunch at 12 (more beer), started up again at 1:30 and then went home at 3, after having one last beer and cigarette break.

There's the mechanic who opens his doors at 6 in the morning and doesn't close up until after 7 at night.  You can drop your car off in the morning for it's tune up and pick it up after work.  He's cheap, efficient, accurate, and at 23, very ambitious.

There are the pharmacists who are either open or on call, day or night, so when you have an anxiety attack at 3 in the morning and you need your Xanax NOWRIGHTNOWNONOTWHENTHEYOPENATTENRIGHTFREAKINGNOW, you ring them and someone will throw on a robe and fill that prescription for you.  (This does not apply to all pharmacists - you have the best luck in very small towns or very large cities, if you live in a mid-sized city, you probably have good reason to be anxious, so enjoy your demons until opening hours, m'kay?)

But by and large Danes believe that if you go into work earlier, you go home earlier and therefore you have more time to be with your family.

(I call bullshit on this one, by the way.  Because by getting up earlier to go to work earlier you are also going to bed earlier and your net time with the family is still the same whether you start work at 8 or horror of horrors, 9 am.  Do the math, folks.  And stop asking me to be somewhere at 8!)

At some point this "getting to work early" seems to have gotten out of hand.

The mason who is doing some patchwork on the house we are renting arrived yesterday at 6:30.  In. The. Morning.

Six FREAKING thirty.

Do you know when my alarm was set for?  Eight.  8!  Because I don't need to be at Danish class until 9.  In the morning.  When decent people go to work.  When the sun has actually risen.  Right now it's the dark times, the time when the sun doesn't rise until after 8 and sets before 4.  So this means that the mason has no light.  Except he does.  He brings his own flood lights.


This isn't the first time the mason has shown up at some ungodly hour.  Last time the DB had to throw on a robe and run downstairs because he thought burglars were trying to get in through the window.  The mason was surprised that my husband wasn't dressed.  The DB said, "???" which translates to "I'm very sorry, sir, but we are neither farmers nor ranchers nor sheepherders.  We have no earthly reason to be up and dressed before the sun rises.  My wife, for example, when she does not have to be up for school, tends to sleep until 10 and then wanders about for a while in her pajamas.  You are just lucky that we're still pregnant because if this were to happen in a few months and you WAKE THE BABY I cannot be held responsible for the actions of my wife.  She's an American, you see.  They tend to be violent."

Alas the mason doesn't speak Tired Confused Husband, which is probably why he came yesterday AT THAT UNGODLY HOUR.

Only the joke was on him.  We didn't know he was coming and because it had snowed, we'd closed and locked the back door.  And since it was Trash Thursday, we thought the flashing lights and the banging noises were from the garbage man.  So we stayed in bed and the mason had to wait in his truck until we got up, showered, and then came down for breakfast.  HA HA!  I WIN!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Re: losing my religion insurance

This is in response to a question posed in my comments.

"How will you deliver your baby now that the government is taking health benefits away from all foreigners who have been in DK less than 5 years? We heard this on DR 1 and were in shock, thinking of all our virtual friends who are having babies, or like Kelli, need serious care. Will your private insurance protect you?"

You can read about what Denmark is thinking of doing here and in other major Danish media.

My answer: I'm hoping they hold off for the next 12 weeks until the Spawn in born.  The DB is putting me on his extra health care that is offered through his work, but that only covers major injuries.  I suppose that if I want to see a doctor for a sore throat, I could always just walk in front of a car...

The hubs is wondering "dude, can we even buy basic health care coverage for you here?" and swearing a lot at his stupid country.  Because basically, if the government takes away my access to free health care unless I have a job that covers me, I'm screwed.  I just came back from working a job because I'm pregnant and no one is going to hire a woman that's two and a half months away from starting maternity leave.  The entire situation makes me mad enough to spit nails.  I wrote an open letter to the Minister of Employment, who's heading the committee, but it's taken until now to get all the expletives out of it and now it's too bloody long to go into a newspaper.  I'm just going to post it here.

Dear Inger Støjberg,

     I’m sorry I have to write this in English, rather than Danish, but it seems that I’m going to have to drop out of my Danish classes in order to work full-time in order to make enough money to pay for my health care.  I’d love to say that I’ll get a job where my employer pays for my health care, but alas, I am not educated as an engineer or doctor or anything particularly useful, so the best I can hope for is something in the hotel industry, perhaps cleaning toilets, because without Danish language knowledge, no company is going to hire me.  I know because I’ve tried.  I thought that perhaps, after I passed my Prøve 3 test, I may want to take an education in something that would benefit Danish society and lead to a full-time job here in Denmark, but it seems you also want to limit my options on that front as well. 

On the other hand, I do manage to work full time for several months out of the year for the University of Copenhagen as an archaeologist.  It’s only a contract job, and in Qatar, but I can work full time and make enough money to be taxed through Skat.   Thankfully, it’s only 5 months long, because I can only be out of Denmark for 6 months per year, but a job is a job and you go to where the work is and I’m trying to make the most of the education I have.  It means, of course, that I can never get permanent residency, because I’m only working full-time for a total of 5 months out of 12, but at least I’m contributing to society.  Society I will soon be unable to participate in, not having any Danish language skills and working full-time as a hotel cleaner in order to pay for basic health care, but I’m sure my children will appreciate being stuck in vuggestuer and børnehaver [daycare for children under 6 years of age] for 9 hours a day so that when Mor [Mom] gets sick she can afford to go to see the doctor like Far [Dad] does for free.

Or I could risk not having any health care and try to finish my Danish language classes.  I don’t get that sick that often anyway.   Gosh, it will be just like living in the US!  In fact, why don’t I move my family back to the US, because what is the point of trying to participate in a society that continually rejects you because you had the audacity to be foreign and fall in love with one of it’s citizens?  Thanks for my husband’s free education!  Oh, don’t worry, he’s a Danish citizen, so you don’t have to worry about having wasted all those years of SU [money from the government to pay for a student's living expenses] on someone like me, instead you wasted it on a citizen who might just leave his homeland to be with the woman he loves.  I’m sure losing two tax paying adults is far better than having to pay my biannual doctor visits.

Of course, you say, it would only be until you reached permanent residency or until you have worked x number of years!  I’m sorry, remind me again why educated foreigners would want to clean toilets for 5 or so years so that they can “earn” the right to spend the next 3 learning Danish so that now, after 8 years they can actually actively participate in society?

When we chose Denmark, rather than the US, to live in, we did so because we believed that Denmark was where we could realize our dreams of lives focused on family rather than on working long hours at thankless wages to pay for basic human needs, such as health care.  What a joke!  Family means nothing in Denmark, unless both parents are native born Danes!   In Denmark you have a saying “it’s an American situation” and maybe I’ve been mistaken all this time, but I thought it was used to mean something was a bad thing.  But you know what?  This idea of denying basic free health care to part of the population is very much an American situation, and that’s a situation many Americans are working hard to change.   Congratulations, Denmark, in just a few years you will have a social welfare system that makes the US look good.

Am I mistaken?  Prove me wrong.  Allow immigrants to better themselves, to work towards integration without having to worry about covering basic medical needs or the education that will allow them to succeed in this society.  Show your own citizens that they will not be punished for bringing outsiders to Denmark, that love and humanity can extend past the borders of this land.   Or continue to show the world that Denmark fears the future, the effects of globalization and multiculturalism on the economy and society, and would rather take it’s native-born citizens and hide down the rabbit hole until the world goes back to the way it was before the twentieth century.

Exxx Exxxxx

Suddenly it was all so funny

So now that last post has you all thinking that I'm sitting here in my home, crying into my apple juice about the sorry state of my belly.

Never fear, I'm on the great Pregnancy Hormonal Roller Coster!  I can't maintain one emotion for longer than 10 minutes!  It's always changing and we don't know which emotion will hit me next!!  Wheeeee!

Just think of the fun and excitement this lends to our household!  The sound I make when I'm hysterically laughing sounds very similar to when I'm hysterically crying and so the DB often comes running into a room to check on me, finding me holding my belly, tears running down my face, moaning "it hurts, it hurts BWAHAHAHAHAHAH!" and he has to ask "baby, are you laughing or are you crying?"

My husband agrees that on the whole, I've been a model of hormonal balance.
AG: You know, I think I'm holding it together very well.
DB: You are!  I'm so proud of you and lucky to have you as my wife.

Of course, he's got finely honed survival instincts.  He agrees with everything I say.  In return, I haven't thrown anything at his head.  Marriage is all about compromise, the little gives and takes that make it all work out just fine.

So the other night he took me out to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 1.  This has nothing to do with my hormones.  Or the rest of this post.  I just thought I'd mention where we were going.

Anyway, as I'm putting on my eight layers needed to brave the snow and ice, I remember that I have a scarf I'd just gotten for Christmas that I'd really like to wear for the occasion, but it's in another room.  So I walk from the entryway to my office, in the dark, because I know my way, and the cat gets eight kinds of excited because he's been playing with the DB's shoelaces and now Mommy is going into another room and who knows what fun she might be up to!  Because even though Mommy walks around the house in the dark in the middle of the night quite frequently and it never leads to anything awesome THIS COULD BE THE NIGHT THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING!

Deep down inside every pessimistic, uninterested cat is a determined optimist.

As cats are wont to do, he ran directly in front of me.  'Cause he wants to get there first?  Who knows why cats do this.  But they do.  They run either in between your legs or right in front of you.  Only it's dark.  And I can't see him.  And when I walk it is a slow transition of weight from one piston-like leg to the other (complete with the hiss and clank of a steampunk robot), while the free leg swings forward like a pendulum.  And not a Edward Allen Poe pendulum, thin and slick, slicing away moments of your life.  This pendulum is canon ball, a powerful, damage inducing, solid object swinging through time and space with unstoppable force.  (Until it meets a coffee table, but that's a different story.)  So as my leg swung forward, my foot scooped up the cat, just in the soft middle bit, where he's developing a sympathy belly to accompany my pregnancy, and lightly flung him through the air about midway across the room, where he landed with a solid thump on all four feet.

To say he looked surprised would be an understatement.

Not my cat, but pretty much my cat's expression

I quickly hurried over crying out "oh, baby kitty, I'm so sorry, oh, honey are you okay?" and scooped him up in my arms.  He pushed himself back away from my chest with one paw and raised the other as if to slap me and gave me the best "you bitch, WTF?!" look.

Still not my cat, but a darned good impression

This is when I started to giggle.

I set the cat on the couch, trying to pet him and check for injuries or at least sore points, all the while trying to swallow the giggles that were now starting to leak out of my eyes and run out my nose.  Alot was having none of it and escaped with as much dignity as he could muster, while trying to look simultaneously disgruntled and disinterested in any more fun and games (it mostly just made him look gassy), to the dining room, where the DB let him out to pout and probably tell all the other cats in the area about the cruelties of fat human women who don't watch where they waddle.

And I lost it.  I just kept laughing.  I had the hardest time telling my husband what happened and his completely rational question of "why is kicking the cat half way across the room FUNNY?" just really couldn't be answered.

I mean, obviously, if the cat had been injured, I wouldn't have been laughing.  I think.  I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have.  But the way he rose up in the air, the look on his face, the solid *thump* when he landed and the "you bitch, I'm a-gonna slap you" moment were just too much.

And every time I thought about it I started giggling again.  Not "he he he" but full-body-shaking, tears in the eyes, snot running down the nose giggling.  I giggled as we walked up the street.  I giggled as I waited in the lobby while he purchased tickets.  I giggled 6 hours later when we were lying in bed and I couldn't sleep because of the acid reflux and the gymnastics champion in my belly and I was thinking about writing this post.

I woke the poor DB who once again had to ask his wife if she was crying or laughing, because one necessitated cuddling and the other required him to get up, have a stiff drink, and wait until she calmed down again.

Because these days, once I start giggling, I just can't stop.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Confessions from the Seventh Month Slump

The Bump, swathed in spandex

I am 99.9% sure this happens to most pregnant women, apart from the few who are all "oh, my body is a vessel for a new human being and it is SO WONDERFUL and I feel full of happiness and joy!" to whom I say "I got two rolling pins for Christmas and I am not above beating you senseless with them."

Freakin' happy pregnant women!  I hate them.

I was doing so well during that second trimester.  Yeah, there was the belly, but I could tie my shoes.  I could feel movement, but the kicking wasn't painful.  I could get out of bed without flailing like an upside down tortoise.  My underwear stayed up.

I've gained 15 kg/33 lbs over the last 29 weeks and for those in the know, yes, a so-called healthy woman of my size will gain up to 16 kg/35 lbs over her entire pregnancy (40 weeks, btw).  So I'm a little on the fat side.  I blame my butt, which took it's sweet ass time getting here, but arrived with a *bang* in the middle of the night.  I can now sit comfortably in chairs without bruising my tailbone, but my knees are killing me.

But I just feel fat and ungainly.  I struggle into clothes and out of them again because they no longer cover my belly.  Trousers and jeans take FOREVER to get into.  Going to the bathroom has become this epic journey of discovery: "oh, so that's where my panties went," "ah, I see I've got toilet paper stuck between my butt cheeks again," "why look, the hair on my belly has gotten thicker and longer," "is today the day the hemorrhoids return?" and "how am I going to get these pants back up without falling head first to the floor?"

My skin feels completely tight, as though I've been stretched to the maximum capacity, like an overstuffed sausage casing.

And I'm supposed to get BIGGER??

And women who've been pregnant before tell me it gets WORSE??

Thanks, but no thanks, I don't think I want to be pregnant any more.

I miss my old body, the one that went up stairs without creaking.  The one that didn't smell weird.  The one that ached after a night out dancing and drinking and carrying on, not walking two blocks to the post office.  I miss my belly button ring.  I miss my flat stomach.  I miss being able to easily rub lotion onto my legs because I could bring my leg up to my chest.  I miss my morning routine that only took one hour because it didn't take 15 minutes longer to struggle into my clothing.  Who knew socks were so challenging?

I miss my old life.  I read the posts from my friends in Qatar and know the highjinks they are getting up to and I'm not going to be doing that for a long while, if not ever again.  I'm old enough and have enough contacts that I probably could be in the field year round and instead I'm sitting here, gestating.  Soon I'll be lactating.  But not excavating.  No, not for a long while yet.

I miss being able to visit friends and drinking bottles of wine and crashing on floors or couches.  Okay, I didn't do it all that often, but I was at least physically *able* to do these things.  Now it's all about how many pillows it takes to keep the AG upright enough to breathe and not have acid reflux and have a pillow ready in case she rolls over and boobs and belly suddenly enter the earth's gravitational field and are pulled resolutely down past the point of comfort.

I miss uninterrupted sleep.  "Get lots of sleep now, while you can" they say.  Right.  So can we put me in low orbit where gravity doesn't apply because I'm not able to sleep now.  I have gestational rhinitis, so I can't bloody breathe and I snore so I have a constantly sore throat.  The baby flails like a champion kick-boxer about every hour, sometimes going into a prize-fighting routine that takes 20 minutes to subside.   Acid reflux has made it's acquaintance with my esophagus.

To sum it up: I'm a sad sack.  A sad sack of mucus, fat, semi-digested food and baby.

I lumber and I waddle.

And if that wasn't the only thing to get one feeling down, now is when the pregnancy websites think you should start watching birthing videos.

You want to watch something scary and horrible?  Watch a birthing video.

Maybe because I'm not that interested in vaginas, or maybe because I like to keep an air of mystery about some of my parts I DO NOT WANT TO WATCH A BABY COME OUT OF SOME OTHER WOMANS HOO-HA.  How exactly is that supposed to make me feel more comfortable and relaxed about giving birth?  A friend of mine focused on her body opening up like a lotus flower and that's a HELL of a lot better mental image than what I've seen on YouTube.

"Birth on programs like 'A Baby Story' or [insert other TLC show I've never heard of, let alone seen] give a negative view of what child birth is like, because that makes good drama.  For a real birth in all it's beauty, watch Mary, a real woman filmed by her husband Joseph, giving birth at the Bethlehem Birthing Center"FOR FUCKING CRAZY PEOPLE!  WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU??  I DIDN'T NEED TO SEE THAT SHIT!  I'M NOT GOING TO GIVE BIRTH NOW, THANK YOU VERY MUCH, I'LL JUST STAY PREGNANT UNTIL THEY INVENT THE TRANSPORTER AND CAN BEAM THIS BABY OUT OF ME!!!

"One of the reasons so many women have a hard time with birth is due to fear."  AND HOW WAS WATCHING THAT HELPING???  You know when you are learning to drive and they show you videos of violent accidents so that you will become so terrified that you never drive drunk?  YEAH, IT'S A LITTLE LIKE THAT.

If you have no idea why I'm shouting (and waving my arms about - although you can't see that because I don't do video posts), you obviously haven't seen one of these videos while pregnant.  They are bad enough when you aren't pregnant, and when you are seven months along and know that you are only going to get BIGGER, it is quite possibly the LAST thing you want to see.

So that's me, seven months along, having my down days and sporadic freaking out moments.  It's what I'm calling the Seventh Month Slump (I'm sure there will be the Eighth Month Existential Crisis and the Ninth Month Neuroses and don't get me started on Postpartum Perturbations).  The DB spends a great deal of time these days telling me how beautiful I am and how sexy he thinks I am and making sure that he gives me hugs and rubs my belly.  He also holds my hand tightly when we see some woman on TV giving birth.  Meanwhile I hold things up over my belly and examine myself from the side in my full-length mirror admiring how lovely it is to have boobs and a butt and what all I'm going to do with them after I get rid of the belly, because I've always wanted a back and a rack, if you know what I mean.

So it's not all dark days here - but I'd be lying through omission if I didn't mention them.

Just keepin' it real, y'all.