Saturday, May 28, 2005

Ethan Part 5: Deliverance

The staff wheeled me into a delivery room in the maternity ward. It was decorated like a bedroom, complete with pretty wallpaper, curtains and a comfy rocking chair. The hospital had started decorating their rooms like this to put the mothers at ease. As if you could somehow forget you were in a hospital. I certainly couldn't.

Once the bed stopped, I called Jete on his cell phone. (I had finally memorized the number after our first frightening visit.) I told him that they were going to deliver the baby. He needed to get here right away. I didn't know how he would find me, but someone should be able to direct him. Hurry.

More people swarmed into the room. A nurse unceremoniusly shaved me. A woman drew blood from one arm while a man put an IV into the other. An oxygen mask was strapped around my face. "Breathe deeply. And relax." Yeah. RIGHT.

A nurse started handing me consent forms to sign. To absolve them of any potential deaths. Mine or the baby's. At the same time, an anesthesiologist started throwing questions at me. Did I have any drug allergies, false teeth, previous bad reactions. My head was swimming. Um. No? It was getting hard to breathe under the mask. I was starting to sweat inside it. It felt like I was being smothered.

"Can I take this off please? I'm not having trouble breathing. I don't need oxygen."

"It's not for you. It's for the baby."

Oh.

I was starting to hyperventilate. Dr. F arrived, his usual slow, easy self. He seemed so calm. Maybe everything was really okay. He greeted me, then looked over the paperwork the original doctor handed him. They spoke in hushed tones at the other end of the room while someone else poked me for more labs. Dr. F came back to the foot of my bed.

"How are you feeling?"

How was I feeling? Shocked. Confused. Terrified. And perfectly fine. I wasn't sick. I didn't feel sick at all. Shouldn't I feel sick?

"We are going to do a cesarean section rather than inducing you and waiting to see how you progress. It is better for the baby to get him out quicker. Are you ready?" He patted my foot and smiled like he was my grandfather. It put me more at ease.

Finally, Jete arrived. Finally.

A nurse gave him a set of scrubs to put on. He went into the room's bathroom to change. When he came out, he looked so funny I smiled a little under the mask. He smiled back at me. There was no turning back now.

Dr. F told someone that we didn't have time to wait for the bloodwork to come back. They hadn't had time to determine my blood type, and counts, or whatever other tests they need to do for an epidural or a spinal. They were going to use general anesthesia to put me to sleep. It was quicker. Every minute matterd.

I suddenly realized, this wasn't just any delivery. This was an emergency c-section. I was even more frightened. I'd never had any surgery, not on my tonsils, not even to get a tooth pulled. Someone told Jete he could go in the room with me. Somehow, that made me feel better.

They started to wheel me down the hall to the operating room. They sent Jete into another room to wait. They slid me onto the operating table as people bustled around me. They put a blood pressure cuff on my arm and a monitor clipped to my finger. Someone strapped my arms down. Out to the sides like I was going to hug someone. I felt trapped.

The anesthesiologist appeared above my head. He tried to be very soothing as he explained the procedure. He would put a mask over my face, and I would fall asleep. Then they would put a tube in my throat to help me breathe. I wouldn't feel anything. They would monitor me very carefully the entire time. He took an initial blood pressure and mentioned it seemed a little high. Yes, I said. I had been having high blood pressure. It was okay.

He put the mask over my face and instructed me to count backwards out loud. Everything got foggy.



I woke up in the recovery room. My parents were standing at the foot of my bed. I was confused. What time was it? What happened? Was the baby born? I couldn't really speak well. I felt very, very tired.

My mother looked concerned. I sensed something was wrong.

"How did you get here?"

"Jete called us. We came right down."

"Where is he?"

"He went to see the baby. He's coming back soon."

"How is the baby? Is it really a boy?"

"Yes. He is doing okay. They took him to the NICU. He's a little small." She didn't say anything else. Small?

Jete came back into the room.

"How is the baby? Did you see him?"

"Yes. He's very cute."

"How big is he?"

"He was 3 pounds, 14 ounces. 17 inches long."

"3 pounds?" Dr. F had said he was at least 6 pounds. That was only a week ago. How could he have lost so much weight?

"Did you tell them his name?"

"Yes. Ethan. I told them his name is Ethan."

A nurse came in and said I would have to be in recovery for another hour. Then I would be moved to a regular room. Once I was stable and settled, up and walking, then maybe I could go see the baby. Maybe tonight. Tonight seemed like a long way off.

I still couldn't process everything. Somehow, I almost couldn't believe I was ever really pregnant. I never showed. I was always questioning his movement. I couldn't remember giving birth. I had never even seen the baby. How did I know any of this was real? Shouldn't this feel more real?

NEXT: PART 6 - AFTERMATH

Friday, May 27, 2005

Redecorating

The darkness of my previous template in combination with a MONTH of rain, cold and cloudiness was starting to get to me... I'm trying out a new one.

What do you think of the new digs? Please feel free to comment.

I'm not so sure about it.... I've tried 3 of the free templates so far. Maybe I'll change it again.

I didn't call this thing "Indecisive Girl" for nothing, you know.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Ethan Part 4: Bedrest to D-Day

My days on bedrest were boring and stressful simultaneously. I lay on my left side all day long, strictly following my doctor's instructions. The only times I got up was to go to the bathroom and to move from the bed to the couch and back again. I even ate laying on my side, carefully trying not to choke.

Family members came out of the woodwork to say that they had something just like this when they were pregnant with cousin D or uncle G. In all cases, everything turned out just fine. So I shouldn't worry. It was interesting hearing about family members having complications. In my family, health issues are under some sort of secrecy pact. I guess they think if they don't talk about it, it didn't really happen.

Twice a week I went back to the office to see Dr. F. The nurse would do the urine dipstick test to see if I had protein my urine. Most times, it read 2+ or 3+. She would take my blood pressure while sitting, find it high, then send me into the exam room to lay on my side. Again.

Dr. F would come into the room to talk to me. He'd ask if I had any symptoms. I still had none. Despite the stress and worry, I felt fine. I had no headaches, no stomach pain. Dr. F noted I also had hardly any swelling. My rings were only a little snug and I still fit into my pre-pregnancy shoes. He felt that was a very important sign that everything was really okay.

At the end of each visit, he'd have the nurse come back into the room and re-check my blood pressure on my side. The reading was always lower than the sitting version. This, Dr. F told me, was also a good sign.

After the first of these visits, he put me on Labetelol, a blood pressure drug that commonly prescribed for preeclampsia. When I asked Dr. F if that was what I had, he said No. If I had preeclampsia, I would have a lot of swelling and would have some of the other symptoms. What I had was chronic hypertension, because of my weight and a family history of high blood pressure. The pregnancy just brought the hypertension to the surface. It must have been there all along. I didn't remember having high blood pressure before I was pregnant, but then again, I wasn't really paying attention either.

As the weeks went on, my weight had stalled, even started dropping. Dr. F wasn't concerned. In fact, he said it was good I wasn't gaining too much since I started out higher than I should have been. The baby was still moving around, as far as I could tell, but never vigorously. But the book said that as the baby got bigger and things got more cramped, he would have less space to move around. Obviously that was the explanation.

People asked me if I was going to have another ultrasound. I told them that Dr. F was not concerned about the baby, so there was no reason to do one. It's not routine to do multiple ultrasounds, and the 20 week is often the only one women have. At my 37 week checkup, Dr. F estimated the baby was around 6 pounds. We were clearly out of danger now.

Dr. F scheduled me to have start having non-stress tests once a week from my 37th week until delivery. This was the same test I had had before I went on bedrest, when the nurse gave me the printout. For each test, I would go to the hospital, be monitored for a litle while, and then go home. Piece of cake.

My first non-stress test was scheduled for a Thursday at 11 AM. I was 38 and a half weeks along, and had been on bedrest for almost 4 weeks now. I still had no contractions and no signs of dilating. Jete had come with me for every visit so far, but I didn't want him to take a day off of work to watch me take a 15 minute test. I told him I would go by myself. I'd call him when I was done to let him know how it went.

A nurse attached a conducer to my stomach to monitor the baby's heartbeat, and the results were traced onto a paper. She came back a few minutes later to check on me. She looked at the printout, then asked me if had eaten anything. I said yes, cereal that morning. She pushed a noise wand to my stomach a few times. "We have to wake this baby up. He's very sluggish." Nothing seemed to work. After a few more minutes, she said she was going to set me up for an ultrasound to check on things. I started to get a little worried.

The nurse moved me into an ultrasound room and got the machine set up. Though I didn't know it at the time, she was doing a biophysical profile of the baby. She was very quiet while she moved the wand around my stomach. "He's breathing," she said. "That's a good sign." She was quiet again. Somehow, it didn't sound like a good sign.

"When was the last time you felt the baby move?" she asked me.

I thought for a minute. "I remember him moving last night." I said. "I think." Had he moved this morning? I couldn't remember. I always had to concentrate to really feel him moving. I couldn't be sure. To be honest, I didn't know what I was looking for.

She was quiet again, then quickly left to get a doctor. A man in scrubs came into the room. They started quickly spouting jargon to each other, not really speaking to me. "BPP score?" "1, maybe 2. Some spontaneous respiration, heartrate is flat. No tone, no fluid, no movement." "Gestation?" "38.3 weeks. History of chronic hypertension." "Okay, lets take her up to delivery. Who's the doctor?" "Dr. F. I've already called him." "Alright. Make sure he gets a copy of your results as soon as he gets here. And page the NICU team to delivery."

The man turned to speak to me finally. "We're going to take you up to a delivery room now."

I started to panic.

"What do you mean... deliver him? I'm not ready. My doctor is not... I have to call my husband! He's at work. What do you mean? What's going on?"

"Your baby is very sick. The best thing we can do is get him out as soon as possible. When we get upstairs, we will give you medicine to induce labor. But if things do not progress quickly, we may have to do a c-section."

Two other nurses came into the room and raised the arm rails on my bed. The three of them started to wheel me down the hall and into an elevator. Quickly. Almost running. My head was spinning. I couldn't understand. Was something wrong with the baby? With me? I needed a minute to stop. To think. To process this. What was happening?

NEXT: PART 5 - DELIVERANCE

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Nuclear Subter-fusion

I had a birthday recently. Well, not just any birthday.

I'm 30.

Let me just explain that I hate birthdays. All birthdays equally, whether or not there is a zero at the end of it. Not because I hate getting older. I don't care about that at all. You're as old as you feel, and most days, I'm still 16 - complete with pimples and low self esteem. And I don't have anything against presents, so feel free to give away. Cash is one-size-fits-all.

What I hate about birthdays is the same thing I hate about April Fool's Day. The element of trickery. Surprise. Making someone the center of attention against their will.

Jete knows me well and knows better than to throw me a surprise party. He has been in on surprise parties for me before and suffered for them. A baby shower my coworkers held for me. And a birthday party his mother threw last year. Because they were other people's parties he couldn't give them away. But he would never initiate a surprise himself. He has been witness to my wrath.

This birthday has been especially nerve wracking for me. There is something about those dreaded "zero" birthdays that make people crazy. For months people asked, "What are you doing for your 30th? Are you having a big party?" No. I had no party planned. I had a son with major surgery planned. His body cast was my birthday present. I had no intentions of running off to a big blow-out party while he was at home with a sitter. It just wasn't important to me.

Unfortunately, birthdays - like births, weddings, and anniversaries - are not really about the celebrant. They are about EveryoneElse. And EveryoneElse? Wants a party.

I knew my coworkers would do something because they are the Queens of Surprise. I talked to Jete the night before my birthday to see if he knew anything about their plans. And to assess his knowledge of my wishes for a quiet birthday. I wanted to hang out with him, maybe go to dinner. End of story. No surprises, no hoopla, no being the center of attention.

"You know, there better not be any subterfuge tomorrow."

"Subterfuge?"

"Yeah. Subterfuge."

"What the hell is subterfuge?" (Normally, Jete is a walking dictionary. He must have missed a page.)

"You know. Sneaking around and lying to my face but secretly planning something. Subterfuge."

He got a smirk on his face and just looked at me.

"What the hell is that look for?"

"What look?"

"That SMIRK. You are in on something. You KNOW something! Is it about work?"

"How would I know anything about your work? No. I don't know what they are planning."

"Then why are you smirking??"

"You never know... Maybe I have some subterfusion of my own going on. "

"You know, it's just subterfuge. It's not a nuclear reaction or anything."

"Whatever. I'm just saying."

My coworkers didn't disappoint. They hung up signs with my face on it and "The Big Three-Oh!" all over the office. They dressed all in black. They hung black balloons and crepe paper all over my cubicle. They wore the signs they had made on their backs - even when they took me to lunch at a local restaurant. They made sure the waiters and waitresses sang to me.

Yeah, they had the subterfuge going on.

That afternoon, I talked to Jete on the phone and told them what they had done. He laughed. He asked what we were doing that night. It was already 4:00. I said I didn't know. He said we'd figure it out when I got home. I was curious how we could make plans so late in the day, but thought maybe he had a secret plan.

I went home to find him in his flannel in-for-the-night pants. He had showered after work as he usually does and seemed settled. He was giving CG his bath and getting Ethan ready to have dinner. He asked me if I wanted to order Chinese or something.

I was disappointed. Is this what my life has become? My 30th birthday and this is how I was going to spend it? Another boring night, same as every other. Go to work. Come home. Feed people. Change diapers. Go to bed - in separate rooms no less, since Jete still sleeps in the living room with Ethan. When were we going to have some time together? Alone? Be adults for five minutes? We couldn't even get a meal together without someone crying or needing us.

I went online briefly, then came back to the living room and sat by the front window. I audibly sighed about a dozen times. I stared out the window and felt sorry for myself.

About a half hour later, Sete came in with her friend T. Jete greeted them in the kitchen. I wondered why she had stopped over, but since she lives on the next road, it didn't seem too odd. She asked how my day was, and I told her about what the Queens of Surprise had done. As we talked, Jete went down the hall to the bedroom.

He came back a few minutes later. He was dressed. Jeans and all. I looked at him, confused.

"Well? Are you going to change out of your work clothes?"

"Why? Change for what?"

"We're going out. Come on, let's go!"

I was skeptical, but I changed. I didn't know what he had planned. Sete was smirking at me as we walked out to the car.

When we got in the car, he asked me where I wanted to go.

"You mean you really don't have anything else planned? We aren't going to some surprise party somewhere are we?"

"No. This is it. We're going to dinner, and anywhere else you want to go in the next 2 hours. Your choice."

Over dinner, it came out that Jete had secretly called Sete the night before to arrange her babysitting services. He had done everything he could to not give it away with his smirking. Even "ordering Chinese" was a plot to throw me. He never takes the initiative to do something like that, so it didn't take much to fool me. Even so, he wanted it to be a surprise.

That was the best birthday gift I could have gotten.

We spent our two hours eating at Bertucci's and picking out tile at Home Depot. Those were my choices. Our time alone is precious, and sometimes practical things outweigh the romantic. Besides, who says you can't bond over home improvement tasks?

In the car on the way home, Jete was smirking again. I asked him what he was thinking about, and he summed it up in one word:

"Subterfusion."

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Ethan Part 3: Bumpy Roads

The months went on smoothly. Never being pregnant before, I wasn't sure what to expect for movement, but I did feel him moving by the 4th month. A lot of time I wondered if it was him or just muscle twitches. But then I would remember our ultrasound where he had been flipping and doing crazy moves and I only felt flutters. I figured my weight cushioned things a bit. Plus, if I laid down in a certain way and really concentrated, I could definitely feel him. Every visit we had reassured us that the heartbeat was strong and he was growing right on target.

I failed my 1 hour glucose test, but passed the 3 hour. S said it was common to fail the 1 hour and most people who do fail don't have gestation diabetes. Since my 3 hour results were perfect and I was gaining weight moderately, there was no concern. I was really trying to be good, eat right, and by my 7th month, I had only gained six pounds. S was very pleased with everything.

At my 31 week checkup, my blood pressure was up a bit, 150/90. S was very cautious and asked me tons of questions to see if I was developing any symptoms of pre-eclampsia. I had read about this condition in my What to Expect book, but never really thought I'd have to deal with it. I guess I was in denial. I knew I was overweight, but I had never had blood pressure problems before and I figured I was otherwise outside of the risk groups.

I had none of the symptoms she asked about - swelling in my hands or feet, gastric pain, severe headaches, flashing of light. She checked my reflexes, and they seemed fine. I had no protein in my urine either, which is a classic sign. Just to be careful, she sent me for the pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) lab work. This set of blood and urine tests all came back normal. Even so, S moved me to weekly visits a little earlier than planned. Also, she told me if I became a high risk patient, the doctors in the group would have to take over my case and handle the delivery.

My BP was normal for the next couple of weeks. But at my 33 week visit, my urine showed traces of protein. S checked my reflexes again and thought they seemed brisk. She sent me for a second round of PIH labs. Again, everything was fine. S wanted me to come back in two days, just for a blood pressure check. Sete's doctor, Dr. M, would be there if I needed anything.

When I went back to the office, the nurse took my blood pressure. She looked surprised and said, "I'm going to try your other arm. That doesn't seem right." She took a second reading, then went to get the doctor. Dr. M came in and the nurse told her my BP readings were 180/110 and 190/120. Dr. M told me I was to go straight to the hospital to be put on monitors. They might have to deliver the baby right away.

I was terrified. Jete was at work and I didn't have his new number with me. I had left my coat and everything back at work, not expecting more than a 10 minute check. I asked if I could go to the office just to grab my things. She said fine, but hurry.

I stopped briefly at work, explained the situation to my manager and called Jete. He met me at the hospital. I was hooked up to a fetal monitor and an automatic BP cuff. They had me laying on my left side, and all of my readings were low, around 100/60. I started to wonder - maybe the nurse in the office had misread? They must just be overreacting. The baby was doing fine, and after about an hour, the nurse gave me a copy of the monitor printout. "For your baby book", she said. "So you can show him when he's older."

For the first time, I met Dr. F. He was the doctor from the group that was on call and met us at the hospital. He spoke slowly and was very kind and reassuring. He told the nurse to turn all the monitors off. The blood work they had done was fine, I wasn't spilling enough protein to be meaningful and obviously my BP was lower now. Just to be careful though, he was taking me out of work and putting me on bedrest.

We came home that night shaken but still feeling positive. Since I was almost 34 weeks, we knew the baby had a very good chance even if he had to be delivered soon. It would be better to make it to my due date, but every day earned was a bonus. I was officially high risk and would be under the care of Dr. F from now on. He would see me twice a week in the office with the goal of keeping me pregnant as long as possible. Everything should work out just fine.

NEXT: PART 4 - BEDREST TO D-DAY

Monday, May 23, 2005

Ethan Part 2: Getting Ready

Once I had taken the home test, I knew I had to schedule an OB-GYN visit. But - unprepared girl that I am - I didn't even have an OB-GYN. I hadn't needed one so far; my PCP had always handled Paps and other girly things. So my first step would be to find a doctor.

Luckily, Sete had a doctor that she really liked. She was a woman, which I prefer and is usually hard to find. I called her office first thing the next day. Sete's doctor wasn't available, but they could make the appointment with S, the nurse-midwife. Was I interested? Since I had no other prospects, I accepted.

Jete came with me to the first visit and we met S. She was in her mid-thirties and very down to earth. We liked her right away. She put our mind at ease as she asked all the typical questions. Which pregnancy was this? Any prior problems? Was it planned? Were we happy? We went through the interview to determine if we had any risk factors. The only issue that could potentially be a problem was my weight. Because I am overweight, I was at higher risk for complications such as gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. But those were all things they could treat and would worry about when the time came.

Because I wasn't sure of the when, we had an early ultrasound to confirm dates. We saw the heartbeat and the baby was dated at about 9 weeks along. It was official. We were going to be parents.

The first few months of my pregnancy, I was very sick. I had not morning but all-day sickness and it showed no sign of letting up. I was still working at a job I hated, and I didn't want to tell my employers right away for fear they would make things worse for me. Somehow I made multiple trips to the bathroom every day to throw up in silence. No one caught on.

I had been actively looking for a new job over a year without much luck. I suddenly got an interview for my current job when I was 3 months pregnant. I didn't want to give them any reason not to consider me other than my poor interviewing skills, so I didn't mention my pregnancy. When I was offered the job after a month of additional interviews and waiting, I told the manager my situation. She was very understanding and wished me well. And yes, they still wanted to hire me.

Somehow I had just completed four of life's most stressful changes in less than a year. Married, bought a house, pregnant, and starting a new job, all in 10 months.

My new job was heaven compared to the one I had just left. They offered partially paid maternity leave and disability pay when needed. My manager was flexible as I went to my monthly visits. Luckily, other than the all-day sickness that pursued, I was having a perfect pregancy. But even with all the positives, I couldn't shake the feeling that something could still go wrong.

At my 20 week visit, we were scheduled for a second ultrasound. This would be the last ultrasound unless a problem was found. We could also learn the sex of the baby if we wanted to. Of course, Jete and I had to know. We couldn't stand the wondering any more. The ultrasound tech said everything looked great. The baby was healthy, growing on track, and - surprise! - it was a boy. We were both very excited.

We went right home and started to look at our baby name book more seriously. Somehow we kept going back to the name "Ethan". We didn't know any "Ethan"s in either of our families - which was rare with the number of close relatives we both have. It was common, but not too common. It didn't have an obvious nickname, which we wanted to avoid. Plus, we loved the meaning: Firm and strong. We decided he would definitely be Ethan, with Jete's middle name passed on.

Somehow "the baby" started to seem more real...

NEXT: PART 3 - BUMPY ROADS

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Ethan Part 1: The Prequel

I'm not sure where else to start except at the very beginning. So I will.

Jete and I married with the intention of having children - someday. Family was very important to us, so we discussed having kids even before we got married. We wanted at least 2, less than 10. We aren't good organizers and didn't have a plan like some couples do - "We'll buy a house and spend 2 years traveling and having us time, and then we'll start trying." Trying. Start trying, get pregnant, have baby. Even though I hadn't mapped it out formally, that's how I always thought life was supposed to be.

Oh, how wrong I was.

We started looking for a house just about as soon as we got married. We had been "living in sin" (as my in-laws probably say) for 3 years and were ready to stop renting and start owning. We found a house in our price range that was the ultimate fixer upper. Every room in the house needed major work. But we loved the potential we saw in it, and were prepared for the effort. Our bid was accepted and we moved in only six months after the wedding. The realtor's last statement to us on closing day was "You know the old saying, 'New house, New baby'!" We all laughed.

Our first few weeks in the house were constant work. We would come home from our paying jobs to a never ending list of fixes. Jete had been a carpenter for a few years, so he did the bulk of it. We patched the hardwood floors, repaired the walls, ripped out carpets and repainted the entire house. The bathroom needed major updates and the kitchen was atrocious. Jete's next step was to start ripping out the existing kitchen. What started with a little work on the cabinets eventually led to gutting the kitchen down to the studs.

In the midst of all this work, I noticed I was a little "late". I checked the calendar and realized I was actually a week late. Yikes. I am never late. But I chalked it up to the stress of moving and working on the house. Besides, I couldn't be pregnant. I honestly couldn't remember Jete and I ... being intimate ... for weeks. When did we have the time?

But as the days went by and still no sign, I started to worry. I found myself getting sick at every meal. I couldn't stand to look at even my favorite foods. The last straw was a Sunday dinner at my parents' house when I was so sick I could hardly make it through the meal. My sister knew something was up and pulled me aside. I told her my situation, but that I didn't want to worry my mother. She hatched a plan where she would stop by my house after dinner with a pregnancy test. Just to put my mind at ease, of course. I was obviously just making myself sick with worry.

Sete came over at 9:00 that night with a test. I was shaking as I went into the bathroom. The box said to pee on the stick and then wait 5 minutes to get the results. Two blue lines would be a positive. I went, then quickly looked at the stick. It didn't even take 10 seconds. Two bright blue lines appeared. I felt sicker than ever. But somehow, completely relieved. Terrified and thrilled, all at the same time.

I ran out of the bathroom and called them in. I couldn't say anything. I showed them the stick and they were both stunned. Even though we had come this far, we couldn't believe it was actually happening. Sete kept saying "Oh-My-God!" and Jete just smirked and laughed to himself. I asked how he was feeling, and he said, "I thought I'd be nervous, but I'm really not. I'm happy." We sat on the couches in stunned silence. WHOA.

The rest of the night was a blur. We called my parents, who were thrilled. My mother's family is very close, so it was only a matter of minutes before everyone knew. I got calls from my grandmother, aunt and cousin. It was late, so we planned to tell Jete's family at a holiday party the next day.

We were so taken by surprise by this pregnancy. We weren't practicing regular birth control, but even so, I still couldn't figure when it would have happened. Even though we had talked of that elusive someday, we never wanted to piggyback "buying a dump of a house" with "having a baby". Ripped out walls and gutted kitchens were fine for the two of us, but not for an infant. But somehow, we knew we're both the type of people who would go on and on with our lives without ever getting around to the planning part. So really, this was the perfect way for it to happen.

At the same time, I am a very cautious person and didn't want to get too excited yet. I had known people who had miscarriages and I felt like I had to prepare myself for that possibility. I didn't want to tell anyone outside of the family until things got a little further along. We looked ahead at the next 9 months with excitement and trepidation.

NEXT - PART 2: GETTING READY

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Girl Talk

See, I don't understand why there is any political involvement in issues like this.

I am a perpetual feminist. Probably because I am a woman. And because I have long been discriminated against for having the wrong genitalia. And personally? I find that wrong.

I am a woman who excelled at "boy" subjects. I was decent in writing and literature, typical "girl" subjects, but I loved math and science and always did well.

My high school guidance counselor asked me what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I told her I wanted to study math.

She said, "Oh, you want to be a teacher."

I said, "No. I don't want to teach. I just love math and science."

She said, "Oh, you want to be a nurse."

I said, "No. I don't want to be a nurse. I just love math and science."

She ignored my comments and said, "You really should lose some weight if you want to be taken seriously in the medical field. No one will want an overweight nurse."

I listened and nodded and said nothing more. When she was done, I went to the bathroom and cried.

If a boy were in her office, would she have suggested that nursing and teaching were the only professions available? Would she have told a boy in the top 5% of the class that he should take better care of his figure? I doubt it.

The military is obviously a different situation, but I don't see a major distinction. Why would a woman be excluded from combat simply because she happens to house a uterus?

Is it because of their size? Women are too "small" and "weak" to be in a combat situation? Surely there are large framed women out there who are bigger than some men. A male friend was in the marine reserves, and he weighed about 110 pounds soaking wet. Should he have been allowed in combat? Why isn't the rule that only people over X feet tall or weighing over X pounds can be in combat? That would exclude the small, weak men who shouldn't be there too.

Or is it because women are "too emotional" and "can't make quick decisions"? I can't stand that stereotype. I believe there are women out there who can make excellent leaders, just as there are men who do not make excellent leaders. Why should their gender matter?

It bothers me that the government is making an across the board statement with this bill. No one wants to go into combat, male or female. But shouldn't it be up to the individual branches of the military, to the leaders themselves, to make the decision about who is best for the job? How dare they decide that no woman - EVER - in the present and future of the military - can be useful in combat??

Make the rule make sense. That's all I'm asking. If it is about size and muscle, make it about size and muscle. Not about breasts. Give a REASON for this decision. Other than the fact that big burly men can't stand to think of a GIRL out there fighting next to them, any more than they want to think about a gay man fighting with them. Because they would feel threatened.

But that's just me getting all fired up. You know how us girls can be.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Wisdom from the Book of Joe

So, me? I'm crazy.

I am constantly terrified that I'm dying of some hidden disease no one has found yet. I've been a bit of a hypochondriac since I was a kid. I once cried for hours SURE I had appendicitis and my appendix was going to burst ANY MINUTE. And clearly I was going to die because my parents did not believe me.

Later, I realized I just had gas.

My insanity has lasted into adulthood. Consider the following story...

I got a few pieces of Bazooka gum in our company store this afternoon. (My feeble attempt to cure my sweet tooth without chocolate. I got a peanut butter cup too. Just in case.)

In my piece of gum, I had the following fortune:

MATTERS OF HEALTH ARE VERY IMPORTANT RIGHT NOW.

Inside my head:

aggghhhh. it's a sign. see, i know it's a sign. i have been going to the bathroom a lot lately. i bet i am getting diabetes. that's what I get for being so fat. then i'll die of a heart attack for sure. i mean, what else could it be? i know i can't be pregnant... let me just look on the internet to see what else causes frequent urination. yeah, yeah, stress, drinking too much, caffeine. can't be any of that... oh man. kidney disorders. bladder cancer. yikes. well, at least i know i don't have prostate problems.

So now? I just had another piece of Bazooka. And this was my fortune:

YOU WILL BE A FINE SWIMMER AND MAY MAKE THE OLYMPIC TEAM.

If I live long enough, apparantly.

So, yeah. Guess Joe don't know as much as I thought he did.

I have real things to blog about. Ethan's appointment last Friday. Rich relatives. My 30th birthday. I'll get around to those.

Once I get over my next gum crisis.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

A Love/Hate Relationship

LOVE: Driving with the windows down and the music LOUD.
HATE: How my hair looks when I stop the car.

LOVE: Eating chocolate.
HATE: Myself about five seconds after eating chocolate.

LOVE: Gorgeous, sunny, warm spring days.
HATE: Spending GSWS days in a cubicle with no fresh air.

LOVE: Having a full-time babysitter while we work so the boys are always in their home.
HATE: Leaving her on GSWS days to play with the boys while I go earn the money to pay her.

LOVE: My job (most days).
HATE: Leaving the boys to come here.

LOVE: Getting surprise checks from the distant, rich relatives.
HATE: Accepting the checks. And feeling guilty for it. And having to kiss their asses afterwards.

LOVE: Being thanked for a job well done.
HATE: Getting flowers as the thank you. (Money talks. Flowers, well, die.)

LOVE: Being appreciated (see above).
HATE: Feeling ungrateful (see above).

LOVE: My friends.
HATE: People who hurt them. (Grrrrr)

LOVE: Love.
HATE: How much love can hurt someone.

LOVE: Weekends, Presidents' Day, Labor Day, and any other holiday designed to give you a day off with no obligation.
HATE: Mondays, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and any other holiday designed to sell cards and make 99.9% of people depressed.

LOVE: Writing.
HATE: Reading what I wrote afterwards.

LOVE: Blogging.
HATE: Half-written entries I never get around to finishing.

LOVE: Closure. :)

Thursday, May 05, 2005

der F├╝nfte Mai

More humor in an otherwise humorless spring...

Last night at my grandmother's house, my cousin K and her mother L were talking about today being Cinco de Mayo. Here is how the actual conversation went:

K: What is Cinco de Mayo for anyway? Other than a reason to go drinking.

L: It's a celebration. From Mexico.

K: Of what though?

L: I think it was the day Mexico won their independence from Germany.


I love my aunt. She's awesome. A little slow sometimes, but awesome anyway.

Guten Tag!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Genius in Training

Another humorous moment in the midst of chaos, courtesy of your faithful hostess.

It's a little after 10 PM. CG is screaming. Jete is trying to give him a bath and get him ready for bed. He is undressing him in the boys' room. Ethan is also screaming. I am rocking him in the rocking chair. He has been crying for 45 minutes and is just starting to settle down.

Before taking CG's in the other room, Jete put on an 80s CD compilation. To help Ethan calm down, I start singing the songs to him. Well. My version of the songs.

Neil Diamond begins to play. I start singing. Off key. And loudly. (Ethan can't hear well. I must compensate.)

"Turn out your heart liii-ght. In the middle of a young boy's dreeeee-am..."

Jete appears from around the corner. With a naked CG, who is staring at me.

Laughs. "You know, it's 'turn ON your heart light.'"

Walks away. Still laughing. "'Turn out your heart light.' Why would you turn it out?"

I listen to the words the next time the chorus comes around. Damn. He's right. How long have I been singing it that way? Maybe 20 years?

I shout back at the empty hallway. "By the way - WHATEVER".

As if the song makes any sense anyway. Stupid E.T. movie.

Both boys start screaming again. Back to rocking. Back to singing. I try to use the right words this time. But I sing a little quieter, just in case. I don't want the know-it-all to hear me.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Size Matters

John, a man who worked in the row next to my team, died last week. He was away on a business trip and didn't meet his teammates on time for the morning meeting. One of them went back to his hotel room and found he had passed away. He was only in his mid-forties.

An autopsy is being performed, but everyone is assuming he had a heart attack, since it was so sudden. And also, because he was a big man. Very overweight. Fittingly, the proper term is probably "morbidly obese".

My team was in a meeting this afternoon when our old boss stopped by to ask us a question. One of my coworkers asked him if he had heard about John. He said, "Yeah. I'm not really surprised. The man wasn't exactly the picture of health." End of story. The subject was quickly changed and he moved on.

Once he was out of earshot, my coworker commented on the coldness of his reaction. Having worked for him, we all know he has an especially strong drive for perfection in his life. He has little sympathy for projects or people who fall outside of his ideal. But his statement seemed to say, "Of course he died young. He was a big fattie." Even more so, he seemed to say, "He deserved to die young, because he was so fat."

I have a dark, twisted mind. One of my biggest fears is that I will die young. That I might leave my children, they would never remember me and would grow up without a mother. But even more so, I'm terrified I will die young in the "wrong" way. Somehow, it would be better to die in a car accident, or due to something that wasn't preventable. But to die of a so-called fat disease? Heart attack? Stroke? That would be the ultimate humiliation, closing out a life where my weight has often left me prey to judgement, ridicule and disgust.

I am just as much to blame as the next person. You know you think it, subconsciously, when someone dies or has a health scare. "She shouldn't have eaten all those sweets." "He never did exercise like he should have." "She smoked like a chimney for years." It's easy to point the finger. To try to explain away the randomness of life with blame. To try to comfort ourselves in the fact that we don't eat/drink/smoke like they did. We are immune. We won't suffer the same fate.

It really makes me sad that this man died so young, his wife was widowed, children made fatherless, and yet his weight is what stands out. Is it any less of a tragedy that he died because he was overweight? Does it make his life less valuable because he didn't jog 5 miles a day?

Hopefully, I will travel a different path than John. I plan to live a long healthy life, and I struggle with that goal every day. But there are no guarantees. Thin people die young, and fat people live to be old. No matter what, death always comes too soon.

Maybe I'll be one of the lucky ones who will live to a ripe old age. You really never know. For now, all I can do is hope that when my time comes, I will be remembered more for the size of my heart than the size of my waistline.

Wrong Number... I Think

This was the best wrong number I've gotten in a while.

At 7:45 this morning, the phone rings:

Me: Hello?
Man: Hi. Is Christina there?
Me: No, you have the wrong number.
Man: (pause) Are you sure?
Me: Uh, YEAH.
Man: (doubtfully) Oka-aaay.

Too funny. What did he think? I was lying?