Friday, March 31, 2006

Did you have to tell me that?

Friday, March 31:

So I've checked out every possible pregnancy and new-motherhood book from my county library system, depriving all the other mothers-to-be for the next three weeks, and I've figured out the more I read, the more depressed I become about this whole state of being. Pregnant.

Some time soon, I plan to post the titles of the books that have been the most helpful or which otherwise made an impression.

But anyway, I say, ignorance is bliss.

Different parts for different arts?

Thursday, March 30:

I am lying in bed with my husband. We're both thisclose to falling asleep. Then he pats my behind and tells the little person good night.

"Uh," I say, "You know that's my butt? That's not where the baby is."

"Oh, you flipped over?"

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Congratulations, it’s a parent

Tuesday, March 28:

In the past few days, my husband and I have been dreading hearing those kind words most parents probably hear:

“You’re going to make such great parents!”

It happened to me today.

A woman I work with on a certain project found out I’m expecting and called me up just to congratulate me. How nice. She’s not perceived to be a warm, friendly person by most people , either -- at least initially -- so I thought it was especially kind.

And she said those words.

I have mentioned this to my husband -- about people who say we’re going to be good parents -- and what he thinks of it. He also wonders about it. How do people know? What makes them think we’ll be especially good? What if we’re bad at parenting? What will these people think then? I’m not superstitious, but I almost feel these people are jinxing us.

Or is this just something you say to be polite, like “How are you?” without really indicating you care how someone is doing? I really don’t want to hear any B.S.

An imperfect follow-up to the perfect appointment

Tuesday, March 28:

Why do I feel like such a bitch when I have to stick up for myself?

I come home from the pharmacy on my lunch break with the latest prescription for prenatal vitamins (from yesterday). When I open the bag, I see the vitamins aren’t the same as what I’ve been getting. I know it’s generic this time (don’t know why), but nothing on the bottle label says anything about DHA. And that’s what I’ve been taking -- a prenatal vitamin with a separate DHA gelcap -- two separate pills.

I call the pharmacy to ask if the vitamins have DHA in them. The person on the phone, who’s not a pharmacist, says the script wasn’t for the vitamins with DHA, but for the same brand of vitamin without the DHA.

I tell the person the nurse practitioner didn’t tell me she was changing the vitamin. In fact, I say, the nurse practitioner asked me what I had been taking, I told her, she gave me script, and I filled it. Why would I look at what she’d written?

So I ask if I can bring the vitamins back for a refund. Just thought I’d ask in case the doctor’s office says the script was a mistake.

The person makes me wait for the actual pharmacist. When she comes on the line, I have to explain my situation all over again. WHY DO PEOPLE DO THIS?!

“I can’t take back any prescriptions that have been opened,” the pharmacist says.

“The bottle hasn’t been opened,” I say, “Only the bag.”

“That’s the same thing.”

“Well, how would I know there had been a mistake unless I opened the bag? You give me a bag that’s stapled shut. How would I know what’s in it?” I ask.

The pharmacist says she can’t fix a doctor’s mistake but relents and says she’ll take back the prescription only this one time as long as I do it before the store closes at 10 p.m.

But what if I don’t hear back from my doctor’s office by the end of the day?

And why do I feel so crummy and depressed right now after this conversation? It’s only some stupid vitamins.

Monday, March 27, 2006

For what it's worth

Monday, March 27:

An article came out over the weekend that says it's been estimated a stay-at-home parent is worth more than $131,000 per year (at least in monetary value).

Presuming I will continue to work from home and stay at home with the baby, this is interesting on so many levels. The chief one for me being that I don't think the work I do right now could be tallied up to that amount of money.

So adding a baby into my day will mean I'm worth more.

On so many levels.

One perfect appointment

Monday, March 27:

Today is another appointment at my doctor's office. Already.

There are new faces at the front desk. They seem OK. So I guess I can't call them the FBI.

I am kicking myself because I forgot to bring something with me to do during my wait.


So I round up the most interesting magazines from around the entire waiting room and sit down for the long haul. I'll take them back to the exam room with me if I have to.

From last time, I remember falling in love with a sprawling playground set from a company whose ad was in the back of a magazine called Cookie. Hysterically, I find the magazine and find the ad again: it's a company called CedarWorks. I need one of these in my backyard! It's too early because the kid isn't even here yet, but I write down the Web site address. And the address of another company I want to look up.

Then the nurse calls my name. I follow her to the "weighing room."

I gained six pounds in the last month. The nurse isn't interested one way or the other on this issue. My blood pressure is normal.

Then she leads me to the lab room, where the Marisa Tomei technician draws blood from me again, this time for an MS-AFP test (spina bifida). We'll see if all that folic acid has done any good ....

Back into an exam room, where the nurse listens for the baby's heartbeat again. Normal.

On the wall, there is a new photo of a beautiful woman holding her newborn close to her chest. She reminds me of an old friend.

I hardly get a chance to start flipping through my pilfered magazines when the nurse practitioner comes in. No hour-long wait for the doctor! Seeing the nurse practitioner is great!

"Hello, baby boo," she says, coming in with my file. She has highlighted her hair or something. She looks great.

She asks how I feel. She measures my stomach. This is something new.

"Perfect," she says.

Somehow it comes up that she has just visited one of her grandchildren upstate.

"That's a photo of my daughter there," she says.

"That's your daughter?" I ask, looking at the new photo on the wall again. "I was just saying to myself she looks so beautiful. And her baby has a lot of hair."

She tells me to write down my questions before I come in next time. (Has she been reading this blog?!)

She also sees the magazine I brought into the room and offers to get me more to take home with me. I tell her I wasn't going to take it home, but I guess this is OK. A nurse gets me a small stack of magazines while the nurse practitioner writes me a prescription for my prenatal vitamins.

Then I pay at the front desk and make my next appointment without a problem.

Too easy.

Things are checking out normal. Everyone was nice. And I spent less than an hour there this time.

I celebrate by going to Barnes & Noble for a new issue of Fit Pregnancy -- and a chocolate cupcake from the cafe.


Friday, March 24, 2006

The baby really knows how to work a room

Friday, March 24:

Just came home from a party where I didn't think I would stay that long. The only person I knew was the hostess, one of my friends. It was fun to tell her about the baby, except I didn't really tell her. Like a lot of people, she just knew.

See, she's having a Desperate Housewives party. Almost everyone who came is a mom -- not necessarily a housewife (ooh, I hate that word -- like you're married to a house). Everyone was supposed to bring a bottle of wine and/or an appetizer. I asked if I could have some water. She extravagantly gave me a lemon Perrier in a wine glass. I said, "I asked for water because ...." And she knew.

She helped me spread the word around to the houseful of mothers, who were all happy for me. One woman in particular spent a lot of time talking with me about just enjoying this time in my life. And not feeling guilty to take naps. And to trust my instincts. And lots of other good stuff.

I also got to see my share of kid photos. One woman had a small clutch made out of fabric that had her children's photos on it.

I almost felt as though I had joined a club.

All in all, I know I'm just going to be thought of as the person who's expecting her first baby. But that's OK.


Friday, March 24:

In the style of so many blogs I’ve been reading ....

Friend #1: “How are you feeling?”

Me: “Pretty good. The baby blah blah blah ... and my husband blah blah blah ....”

Friend #2: “So did you practice last night?”

Me: “Practice? With my husband?”

Friend #2: “No, with the band!”

The room dissolves in laughter.

Friend #1: “We know where her mind is at!”

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Dreaming big

Wednesday, March 22:

I’ve been thinking about the months ahead. Naturally. Back in early January, it hit me that I’m going to spend most of this year pregnant -- and the rest of it learning how to take care of a baby (and getting my body back, oh hope of hopes). Yep, 2006 is going to be the Year of the Baby for me.

And somewhere along the line, I started to wonder: Is my adult life over as I know it? Does life end when the baby is born?

And I started to wonder: Are there things I should be doing right now before the baby gets here? Not just like the baby’s room, but personal things?

Are there things I haven’t done in my life that I could or should do right now before it’s too late?

And is this selfish?

Brainstorming some things:

- Read the seven (at least) novels on my nightstand I haven’t read yet.

- Finish the novel I wrote last year (50,000 words already down!).

- Take a “girlfriend” trip.

- Get a makeover at a cosmetics counter in a department store without fear.

- Dye a few little strands of my hair pink.

- Write and record some songs.

- Design my own clothing line.

- Buy myself some expensive chocolates and eat every last one of them.

- Help rescue a stranded marine creature.

A lot of these are grandiose ideas, but you gotta dream big.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Imitate this

Monday, March 20:

You know I am a morning news show junkie, and CBS’ Early Show had a segment about babies this morning. The segment was promoted as being ways that babies soak up their environment and start learning practically from the moment they are born. So I got ready while pacing back and forth to the TV to see if the segment was on yet. (Confession time: We own one television. But what a nice one it is.)

Overall, the segment really wasn’t that helpful. The most interesting part was finding out babies as young as 42 minutes old imitate other people. That’s probably why it isn’t beneficial to be raised by wolves or apes ... or me, unless I start channeling Glinda the Good Witch or Mary Poppins.

Morning sickness and the learning curve

Monday, March 20:

I think the little person is stretching or growing. The past couple of days, I have been getting lower abdominal twitches. Painful twitches. The baby is inside going, “Gee, what does this do? Hmm, what if I pull on that? What happens if I push the big red button?” Ow!

On another note, my mother e-mails me:

“How are you feeling? Any morning sickness? I never had any, only a little nausea in the afternoons. Any flutters yet? How is your husband holding up? Are your in-laws driving you nuts yet? Am I? Sorry.”

She cracks me up.

A friend also asks me today about morning sickness. I haven’t had any. I hear it can be pretty bad. If I had to have morning sickness with this constant fatigue -- some days I feel I deserve an Olympic gold medal just for getting dressed -- I think I would just give up and stay in bed for the duration. Props to you mothers dealing with that, ugh.

I am nearing the end of the first trimester, though. The fatigue is supposed to ease up, from what I hear.

All this hearsay! All this piecemeal Web searching here and there when I have a question. (I’m guilty of not asking my doctor. Holding up three fingers in Girl Scout style, I will try to do better. But after wasting all that time in the waiting room and then in the exam room, wouldn’t you just want to get the heck outta there and get on with your day? Not only that, but I forget questions between monthly visits. And you know what dealing with the FBI is like, so I’m not calling between visits.) It’s way past time for me to get educated.

So I have placed holds on seven books at the library and purchased a couple of others. I don’t know when I am going to get a chance to read them.

But the first one to arrive at the library is Birth Over Thirty-Five by Sheila Kitzinger, oh joy. I found out about the author while researching birthing options. Turns out there are at least five different methods or philosophies of giving birth. Hers is one of them, although it’s not explained in this book -- that will probably be the next book to arrive from the library.

What in the world did pregnant women do before the printing press?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

A-quilting we will go

Sunday, March 19:

I am making a quilt for my friend who is due in June. It seems like an archaic thing to do, but I've never known anyone to turn away a quilt. Besides, don't babies need a lot of blankets because they get dirty so fast (like, use one while the others are in the wash)? Even if the quilt becomes something to sit on while playing on the floor, or the thing the kid drags behind him like Linus, a quilt is still a good thing, isn't it?

The invitation for her shower came just last week, and it's only a couple of weeks away. So I don't have much time.

Thing is, even though I've created lots of clothes and window treatments before, I've never made a quilt.

I mean, I have no idea what I'm doing.

But I throw myself into it.

I got the fabric and batting (a nice cotton, not that cheap polyester stuff) and got cutting and laid out the pattern on the floor. There's not much to it -- it's not going to be one of those quilts that are made out of a hundred little pieces with country-looking flower patterns -- but more modern, with fat stripes of coordinating fabric and cut-out shapes stitched here and there on top of it all. I confess, I designed the quilt after looking through a Pottery Barn Kids catalog. That kind of quilt.

If the quilt turns out, maybe I'll post a photo of it. And maybe make one for my older brother and his wife, who are expecting to adopt a child from China. And maybe then I'll make one for my own little person.

If the quilt doesn't turn out, though, forget I said anything.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Motherhood: The common denominator

Thursday, March 16:

My sister e-mails me for the first time since I told our mother the baby news last week. My sister and I don't e-mail each other very much -- just once in a while. We also almost never talk on the phone -- just like my mother and me. It's just a thing.

She has a different dad, but she's the closest sibling to me in age and childhood experiences. Other than that -- and the habit of twirling our curly/hyper-wavy hair -- we are so unalike in every way that you'd think we grew up on different sides of the continent.

For example: Even though she is just 5.5 years older, she has had five children. Five. Unfortunately, the middle child, a son, died when he was a boy. This was during the time I was estranged from this side of my family, and I wasn't aware of all that was happening. But my nephew had caught some kind of bacteria or virus that made him have to live on life support. One day, the life support failed. I can't imagine what that was like for my sister, and I don't have the heart to ask her. Maybe someday.

You would think a woman with five children is like Supermom, or especially matronly, or a real homemaker type. Not her. My mother says she is like a lioness with her cubs. My sister was always the tomboy, the wild one getting in trouble -- and she still is somewhat, her cooking skills and reputation as the Queen of Laundry Spots notwithstanding. And that's just the way it should be. Why does everyone think you have to soften up in order to be a mother? The more I think about motherhood, the more I believe it takes a tough person to do the job.

Anyway, her youngest is now 16. So it's been a while since any babies came her way.

This is what she writes me today:

"Oh my goodness, it was so nice to hear your news about the baby. I am so happy for you guys. Now you guys get a chance to see what this parent thing is all about. As I look back and think maybe we should have done things differently, I am always glad that I am the mom I am. Fortunately, our kids have good parents. And you guys will also be very good parents.

"Your mom on the other hand is just going crazy trying to shop for the baby and not knowing what colors to buy because you don't know if it's a boy or a girl. Watching her shop is so fun, she gets so excited looking for things and picking things out, she just wants to know pink or blue. I told her if you don't want to know, that's you guys' decision, and she says to me today, do you think she would have her doctor call me and let me know? I promise not to tell her. I said Mom, now you really are being silly.

[Note from me: Do you see what I freaking mean about the stupid pink and blue tyranny that reigns for all babyhood?! Some company, somewhere, make some neutral clothes! The baby doesn't freaking care what s/he wears! Help a mother out!]

"Mom said you were due late August or early September. What a time to be due in hurricane season, oh my goodness. Just be careful.

"I am actually very excited too. I can't wait. It's been a long time since there was a baby to buy for. Anyway congratulations, I am so very happy for you guys. Keep in touch, I will see you in May."

There is something about a baby that brings out a clarity, a realness, to people.

And now, I suppose, motherhood will be something we have in common besides the texture of our hair.

Smile pretty

Tuesday, March 14:

I visit my dentist's office for a regular cleaning. My regular hygenist, a really nice person who has worked there for years, has always begun the visit by asking, "Are there any changes in your medical history?" Today is no different.

Are there any changes?

"Not unless you include pregnancy," say.

I mean, is being a pregnant a medical thing? The philospher in me will have to think that one out later.

But for now, that's good enough for the hygenist. That means no x-rays this visit -- even though I'm due for a full set to keep up my file -- and no fluoride treatment. She also says I should ask the dentist my question about whether I can use those whitening strips.

But I forget to.

The hygenist tells me about her kids growing up. Her daughter refused to wear a dress. One summer, she wore only one shorts outfit. The same one, every day. The hygenist had to wash the shorts outfit every night.

I think my kid would go naked before I would wash an outfit every single night.

The dentist is happy -- he has two new daughters -- and says his niece is expecting the same time I am.

So there's another one of us.

He and the hygenist tell me about pregnancy gingivitus. I would have thought it would be called gestational gingivitus. But what do I know? They tell me to try to keep my mouth as clean as possible.

Now, how did they know I am trying not to swear so much?!

Before I leave, the receptionist wants to know everything. Did my husband and I plan the child, or was it a surprise? Didn't my body feel different -- didn't I just know I was pregnant right from the start? Aren't the grandparents excited?

I am certain my M-I-L has already tipped off these people. They all seem to have taken the news in stride.

The receptionist would probably keep me for a half-hour, talking about the baby and relationships, but I am meeting my husband for lunch.

Good thing I didn't have that fluoride treatment.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Having a baby is contagious

Sunday, March 12:

My friend who wants to give the baby shower calls to see if she can stop by tonight. We were supposed to get together today, but her little baby -- a cute little miniature schnauzer mix -- had hurt himself and needed to go to the animal hospital. She says she wants to give my husband "a little something" for his birthday.

My friend arrives with three bags! One bag is for my husband and has a card and photo album in it. How nice! Another bag has a cute baby congratulations card and beautiful fill-in books: one for the mother (that would be me) and one for the father (my husband, honestly). You're supposed to answer questions about yourselves and give the books to the child, presumably when s/he is old enough to understand and appreciate the books. The other bag, my friend says, she can't really call a gift because of the (invisible) smudge on the adorable Santa hat -- for Christmas time. She also found Christmas socks along with the hat at the local Toys R Us, which is going out of business, sniff sniff, just my luck.

She is having such a great time just sitting there and laughing it up with us, telling us what it will be like to have a baby. Later, she wants to see the few items I have already bought for the baby, and she is so excited that I wonder if she wants to have a baby -- another one -- of her own. (She already has the cute dog and a beautiful 16-year-old daughter.)

A lot of young women will tell you babies are contagious. There are a few women in my husband's office who jokingly refuse to be near him because they know babies are contagious, and they just can't get pregnant right now. On the other hand, one of my other friends can't wait to graduate from college and start a family of her own. It's possible I caught a baby from yet another friend, whose wife is due in June. And then there are all the celebrities having children right now.

I know it's probably just my perception, but it's like a baby explosion lately!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Body envy

Friday, March 10:

Going to dinner with the 'rents-in-law turns out to be not such a worry.

However, seeing beautiful women out and about, that's a worry.

Before leaving home, I notice a woman in a magazine ad with what appears to be a 14-inch waist.

Life is so unfair.

In the restaurant restroom, a woman comes out of a stall holding a baby who's probably around 8 months. She is gorgeous and a size 2 with tight jeans to show her little body off.

My jeans are getting tighter, but not for the same reason.

The server is a willowy creature -- another reminder of what I might not ever look like.

It seems everywhere I look, there are all these women who are so beautiful and thin. And even though I'm not really showing yet, I know I am gaining weight and wonder what my body's future looks like.

Some posts in some pregnancy forums I've read recently discuss "showing," and I stare at the screen, reading posts that claim, "I didn't show until my six month," and "I am actually losing weight since I became pregnant."

I just don't think the universe is going to be that kind to me, and I'm beginning to gulp down hopeless despair. Gee, is that dramatic enough?!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Just whining

Friday, March 10:

I told some more friends last night. Every time, it gets easier. And more exciting.

Right before I made the big reveal, one friend had just recounted an awful near-death problem her newborn had had -- but today, she's fine. My friend went wide-eyed and worried she'd terrified me with her story! (Uh ... maybe if her kid had actually died ... ).

But tonight, I face the 'rents-in-law. Oh, joy. They want to celebrate my husband's birthday. I really, really want to forgive them for disrespecting my wishes. But I know I'm just going to feel awkward and weird around them over dinner.

I also have to figure out what to wear. Some of my more form-fitting clothes are getting tight to the point I'd look trashy if I wore them. Not unwearable, just bad.

Tonight might be easier to take if I could just get over this constant fatigue ....

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Dads are at war, too

Wednesday, March 8:

Today is my husband’s birthday.

This morning before getting out of bed, he kissed my stomach good morning. Then he put his head down and swore he could hear the baby’s heartbeat.

Last night, he came home and gave me a hug hello. “I get to hug the two people I love the most,” he said with mock over-delight.

For some reason, I was surprised and touched to hear him say that.

“Really?” I asked. “You already know you love the little person?”

Silly question.

Sometimes, people ask me if I think he will be a good father. And I know he will.

A Good Morning America segment today focused on how it’s not just mothers, but also fathers, who struggle to maintain a good work/life balance with a follow-up to the “Mommy wars”; yes, the “Daddy wars.”

I don’t see my husband being a stay-at-home dad. But I have heard him say many times he wants to be more available to his child(ren) than his own dad was to him when he was growing up.

Happy birthday, honey!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Minion of mamas in my inbox

Monday, March 6:

OK, this just cracks me up, so I had to share.

I order something from a company called Earth Mama Angel Baby -- which reminds me of Gwen Stefani's Love.Angel.Music.Baby but sells pre- and post-natal stuff -- and this is how my e-mailed receipt starts out:

"Just got your order and in a flutter of aprons our minion of mamas gathered your items together. Our shipping maven fluffed a nest in a cradle of cardboard just as our stork jet landed beyond the bower of flowers and herbs that grace our entrance."

The e-mail ends with:

"Then, just moments ago we held hands, wept for joy, and bid your bundle a bon voyage. Now we need tea and [a] nap. But we promise to be waiting when you next return to Earth Mama Angel Baby."

Now all the parents know

Monday, March 6:

So this weekend, I e-mailed my mother (several states away) and asked her when a good time to call her would be.

We don’t usually talk by phone. It’s just a thing.

But we do see each other two or three times a year, when she comes for a visit. She’s the lucky one with four weeks of paid vacation per year.

She surprises me today, however, by calling. She wants to talk about her upcoming visit in May.

So after we discuss May, I tell her the baby news.

“Oh my gosh!” she keeps saying over and over.

And then, “It just hit me I’m going to be a grandma again.”

“Of course you are!” I say.

I don’t get it when people say they are going to be something “again,” but I know what they mean when they say it.

I tell her I didn’t really want to tell her on the phone, but the closer we get to May, the more I was thinking I should tell her before her visit instead of surprising her with a round tummy.

She says she is glad I told her first.

“We have lots of shopping to do,” she says.


This weekend, I also told a couple who are our friends. They are older and have three children, the youngest a teenager.

Mrs. friend hugged me and said, "I couldn't believe you weren't a mom when I first met you! I said, 'She needs to be a mom.'"

I'm not used to such compliments. I mean, I guess it's a compliment. Most people don't mistake me for a mom, though.

Not yet.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Bring on the baby gear

Sunday, March 5:

It's Sunday, so that means leafing through the Sunday newspaper. I am beginning to notice all the baby-related ads. (I am beginning to notice all kinds of baby-related things I never noticed before, but that's a whole 'nother post.)

One of the things that pops out at me is a bike with a little trailer that's pulled behind. My husband and I discuss the pros and cons of such a contraption.

We have been talking about other baby gear like strollers, car seats, backpacks and the like. We enjoy outdoors activities like hiking, kayaking and off-road biking, so we need baby gear that goes along with those activities.

One of my very first memories is of the cherry trees in bloom in Washington, D.C. My mother drove me there on her way to visit her cousin in Maryland. The beautiful pink blossoms made such an impression on me -- maybe that's why I like nature so much.

So I want this baby, too, to be impressed by the beauty of nature when we take trips outside.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The mom nose knows

Friday, March 3:

My husband knows how to make me laugh. I haven't laughed since what I'll call the Big Baby Blowup of 2006.

He comes home while I am outside taking down a bird feeder. We greet each other, and I ask him if he smells anything funny outside -- like something's burning.

He didn't notice.

An hour later while we're finishing dinner, a news flash comes on the TV announcing a raging warehouse fire two towns away.

"Incredible," he says. "You've got the mom nose. {sniff sniff} Someone's cooking curry in Canada! {sniff sniff} Someone's making popcorn in Istanbul!"

He does other things to make me laugh, too.

Friday, March 03, 2006

A selfish mother

Friday, March 3:

Last night, it all hit the fan.

My husband comes home and tells me about a call he got at work from a friend of his mother’s. She congratulated us about the baby.

“What?!” I explode. “No one is supposed to know yet. We expressly told your parents not to tell anyone!”

To make matters worse, my husband greatly dislikes this particular friend of his mother’s for various reasons. He was once friends with her youngest son. And I was friends with the son’s wife. But now my husband has dismissed the whole lot of them. The idea these people who have ignored us for several years now call up to talk really gets him steamed. The fact these people know and yet some of our friends don’t even know . . . . that’s what gets to him.

Heck, the last parent I have left to tell -- which I have alluded to in my posts -- is my own mother. My own mother doesn’t even know, and these people know. It just hasn’t been a good time. It’s complicated.

What gets to me, though, is my husband’s parents’ disregard for our wishes. I provided a specific example for them of why we wanted to keep the baby news in the family on the night we told them -- the night we took his dad out for his birthday. But they obviously ignored me.

How many people know? How many people have we been robbed of the chance to share the good news with?

My husband tells me to forget about it. But I am too upset.

I “forgot about it” when my mother-in-law added things to our wedding registry behind our backs -- even though I promptly deleted every item she added.

I “forgot about it” when I was the only woman in his family not invited to a little party they had for my husband’s grandfather’s second wife when they got married a year after my husband and I did. (I found out about it later only by looking through photos in a family album.)

I “forgot about it” when my m-i-l came along for the closing on our house and the final walk-through -- when she jumped right in and acted as though she were the owner of the house, asking the sellers all the questions before I had the chance, interrupting me, chatting it up with Mrs. Seller (her own age) and making me feel I was a 3-year-old who didn’t fit into the “big girls” club, cheerfully feeding the stray cats outside whom the sellers left behind (which we are still taking care of to this day because of her actions) and taking over the moving process.

I “forgot about it” every time my m-i-l asked us to change our plans to fit around the schedule of our adorable nephew, whom she watches often.

But now I am going to be a parent. And I refuse to be steamrolled by anyone.

“And if that makes me unpopular with your family,” I told my husband, “then that’s what it’s going to take. I don’t want this to set a precedent for things to come, where your parents think they can ignore our wishes and tell us what to do when it comes to our child.”

My side of the family doesn’t live nearby. But I am not shy about talking to my mothers when they do things that aren’t cool.

I am trying hard not to cry. My husband hugs me.

“I’ll just go far away somewhere and have the kid where nobody knows me,” I say. It’s a spiteful, stupid thing to say.

My husband says he can’t have a stressful job and then come home to more stress.

“What do you want me to do?” he asks.

“There’s nothing to do,” I say. “We can’t untell people about the pregnancy.”

My husband calls his parents without telling me that’s what he’s doing. He talks on the phone for two hours. I don’t know everything he is saying to them. But I hear him raise his voice a couple times.

I take the energy from my anger and use it to empty the dishwasher, fold clean laundry and put new sheets on the bed. Maybe I am overreacting. Maybe pregnancy hormones are making me crazy. Or maybe my feelings are right. Maybe I shouldn’t go soft this time.

A picture of my m-i-l comes to mind. I imagine her telling my husband she’s sorry, but she had to tell somebody. But I imagine she doesn’t really mean it. She was just going to go right on telling people anyway, wasn’t she? It doesn’t matter what we want.

My m-i-l is used to getting her way, see.

But then I soften again. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

And then I toughen up. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

Finally my husband is off the phone. He is drained. He says his parents didn’t realize they weren’t supposed to tell people.

What a load.

Even my husband doesn’t buy that story.

He tells me some things he said to his mother -- I don’t know if he talked to his dad -- and it just seems like a blur now. Whatever.

Today, my m-i-l calls and leaves a message on the answering machine while I am out. The answering machine cut her off, so I don’t hear everything she says. I hear her say, “I’m sorry,” and then I start singing so I can’t hear the rest of the message.

I’m still too angry now. I’ll listen to her message later. I need time to cool off.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A great mother

There's a great post and ensuing comments over at Tales from the Crib about What Makes a Great Mother.

When I read that and thought about it, I immediately thought of my own mothers (my mother and stepmom). What did they do I liked? What did I hate?

It's a good question to ask. Perhaps in the beginning, you need technical skills, as one commenter suggested, like holding a baby in one arm while doing something else with the other.

To me, I think it would come down to spending time with the child to get to know him or her and how best to communicate with the child and navigate him or her through life, and giving him or her a lot of love.

And that reminds me to get the book The Five Love Languages of Children (, which I heard was good.

But what do I know? I've never done this before.

A ramble of relief

Wednesday, March 1:

It’s a pretty typical day until I get a call from the genetic counselor’s office.

“Your nuchal test came back normal,” the doctor’s office person tells me. “You know the blood test you took last week?”

“Uh-huh. Wow, that’s great,” I say. “What does nuchal mean, again?”

But really I am just thinking: Everything’s normal! Everything’s fine! The baby is healthy!

“That’s the test that screens for Down’s syndrome and trisomy 13,” the office person tells me.

I can’t wait to call my husband to tell him.

When I tell him, I feel like crying for some reason. And I start rambling. “You go in and they make you feel like you’re so old and everything’s so serious and there’re all these tests and you freak out because there are all these things that can go wrong . . . .”

I guess I didn’t realize how concerned I was about the possibility of something being wrong with the baby because of my age -- until I felt the relief of knowing things are OK.

Of course, I still have to take the spina bifida test. And any of these tests can give a false negative.

But I’m just so relieved. Yay, God!