Rwar

How is it even possible that we’ve had this conversation twice in the last four days:

D: Do you think I’m as big as she is? (gesturing wildly at an internet picture of some woman who is further along than she is)
M: How far along is she? (as if this means something to me.  It doesn’t.  I just like to know)
D: Three weeks more pregnant than I am! (as if we know)
M: (peering at tiny internet picture) I don’t think you’re that pronounced actually.  Can you see your feet?
D: Yes.
M: Well.
D: Do you think I’m starving the baby?
M: Maybe he’s a dwarf.  Maybe the baby is eating you from the inside.  Rwar Rwar Rwar. (Makes chomping arms)
D:

I’ve actually never seen a pregnant woman shrink as deftly as she has.  It’s like she a skilled contortionist.  The belly pops further, but everything else collapses in.  At the rate we’re going, I’m going to look as if I’m about to crush and eat her in the birth day pictures.  I’m sure she will have gained a few more pounds at the next appointment – the baby has to weigh something.  I trust that our time will come.  In the meantime, RWAR.

Maybe Just Skip to the Last Sentence

I just noticed a section in What to Expect for the roadies.  I suddenly need this as the second trimester clears out and all the activity is happening within, out of reach of my ability to help.  Until now we’ve been referring to books somewhat haphazardly and browsing the internet in a vague, listless way and I’ve felt pretty confident that we’re doing okay on our own.  Let’s chalk it up to late winter blues, but I suddenly feel absolutely unqualified to be in a relationship, let alone a family.

I’m looking forward to seeing if there’s a section on making aches and pains suck less (both hers and mine from hauling our life around).  Maybe there’s a paragraph or two on budgeting nothingness dollars, cause that’s pretty much what we have left after doing everything we need to get done.  There had better be more than one chapter on communication, because I clearly need lessons.  To that end, maybe there’s a little fill-in-the-blank note to leave that simultaneously pleads for some physical indication that I’m still desirable and apologizes for asking.  It would be nice if I could just let that go, so hopefully, the author has plastered on some advice about getting over it and moving on.  I need a little suck-it-up nudging, obviously.

Finally, I need a list of remedies for pregnant women that don’t include frequent visits to the bathroom or sitz baths (because what is that, actually, and how does one keep from getting cold or spilling the water?  Let me tell you, a jackass devised that, because so self-respecting person would voluntarily sit in a small pool of lukewarm water, especially not if they had to haul themselves back up out of a tub while negotiating a giant baby.)  I’m going to need remedies that focus on 14 more weeks of jabbing, numb spots, exhaustion and ongoing nausea.  I’m also going to need a homeopathic solution for patience for all the well-meaning mothers who remind me of either of the following a) “the sight of your darling baby will wipe away the past nine months” (PS I think it’s actually ten) and/or b) “you think it’s bad now… ”  By the way, if it’s my well-meaning mother, I’ll just skip the homeopathy and go right to a large stick.

Even better, telling you this didn’t even make me feel better.  So that’s awesome.  How was YOUR weekend?

Ready or Not

Between you and me, I’m not sure I’m ready for this.  No, not Vegas.  I’m always ready for Vegas.  I can’t wait for that little sucker to show up and show us his lung power.  I’m just not sure I’m ready for the celebrity of being a parent.

I’ve been spending my days mentally getting ready; decorating the nursery, planning for daycare, silently panicking about my lack of rights in this godforsaken state, and so on.  I’m focused, happy and intentional (well, and panicked).  I’m perfectly balanced.  But new plans, social plans, tip me off-center.

I love them, each one of them.  I love my wife’s band for making her laugh and for giving her the confidence and booming voice I can’t seem to rustle up.  I love her former coworkers for buzzing and bustling around her belly.  I love my sister’s husband for miraculously finding a job in another state, my state, in this dreadful economy and I love my sister to death for helping him drive out here to get settled (I love her to pieces.  She might not survive the trip).  I love planning family visits and trips to see friends I haven’t seen in a while.  I love having new friends that are pregnant and I love when our friends with babies visit.  I love being awash in parenting.

I love these things but they don’t show any sign of stopping.  Two years ago, we had exactly one person come to visit.  This year, we’ve reached seven in 30 days.  That doesn’t count the dinners and invitations to socialize.  Yes, we know how to say no.  But we adore having our chosen and extended families around us.  I’m just not sure I have the long-term coping skills.  Once there’s a baby, will it be worse or better?

Not Peeking

I can hardly believe we missed our chance to find out whether Vegas is a boy or a girl.  We didn’t want to know.  We were firm on that.  But in the aftermath of the ultrasound, I’ve found myself thinking.  Ah, if we’d just found out, it would have been so exciting.  And let’s face it, there isn’t much exciting going on right now.

D is coping with a troupe of symptoms that I thought we abandoned neatly in the 14th week.  Off-kilter hormones, dizziness, aches and pains.  Granted, I knew they’d be back, but I didn’t know they would mimic the first trimester so perfectly.  If I couldn’t see that creeping bump, I’d claim she was 8 weeks in.  Throw in queasiness (I know.  It’s in no way fair.) and a newly active 1 pounder and she’s a little frazzled.

So in the sonographer’s office (yeah, I called her an ultrasound tech when we were in there.  I feel badly about it.  I’m sure that’s some sonographer faux pas)  we decided to settle into the murk of middle pregnancy and didn’t ask to see the sex.  But we did find out a few other things:

1) Doctors take leg pain very seriously.  I’ve never seen a pants leg shoved up so fast as when D mentioned she had some lower leg pain – probably from a spider bite.

2) Spider bites hurt.  Apparently, forever.

3) The latest doctor, Dr. H, is equally as good as Dr. Ahnold.  Now we’re 4 for 5.

4) Vegas is immensely uncooperative.  He resists all requests to move, including but not limited to the Hokey Pokey, hard jabs, shaking, being tipped upside down, rough massaging and stern language.  He particularly resists me.  He curls into a ball when ultrasounded.  But he has the boogie woogie fever when it’s just him and his mother.

So now we’re in the dark, literally, for the foreseeable future.  It’s equal parts exciting and terrifying.

February 14

Happy Valentine’s Day, Vegas.

You may think I’m late but you just haven’t caught the hang of the family yet.  Valentine’s Day lasts as long as it takes to listen to the mix CD you mother gives me.  Don’t worry, there will still be a box of chocolates.  Mostly this is because your mothers would prefer to spend their days lounging in stacks of boxed chocolates.  Vegas, she snatched a coconut one out of my hand yesterday and ate it before I even had a chance to complain I didn’t want it.  And just a word of advice, you’re going to need to move fast if you want one of those caramel ones.

Valentine’s Day even starts a bit early around here – often in October and sometimes even earlier – when we decide what the theme of this year’s mix will be.  Last year, we exchanged anthologies of our lives.  One year, we used the four seasons as our inspiration.  (And yes, there are still four even though winter is sucking all the life out of the other three this year.)  So each year we pick a theme, start collecting music and then swap on Valentine’s day.  It’s better than any other gift she could give me.  This year we picked music for you.

We decided to pick music you should know.  Songs we sing, songs that mean/t a lot, songs that play on repeat in the kitchen, songs that are Important.  As usual, we have very loose guidelines for these things.  The joy in swapping music is that song selection nearly always has a story, a sentiment.  We trade laughter and reasons why and I always marvel at our range of preference.  We may like different music, but there’s overlap and between the two of us we cover just about everything – including polka.  But we don’t talk about that Vegas.  Not outside the house.

We’ve had to adjust to commuting together for a ridiculously short five minutes which is great for spending time with you but really isn’t enough time to listen to our respective compilations.  Sometimes the joy of the gift is popping a disc in to listen and just feeling the sound and intention of the music (we tried loading playlists for each other one year, but it didn’t have the oomph we liked) but this year we listened together in the kitchen alternating songs and throwing in stories to go along with.  Since these songs are for your education, each song has been something we know and, usually, love.  It was fun to listen, sing and dance with your mother, thinking of you and the songs we want you to know.

For me, the best part was our overlap.  Sometimes we picked similar songs by the same artist for the same reasons. And in at least one case, (we aren’t done listening yet!) we picked the same song for the same reason. I hope you eventually laugh as hard as I did at the mix of music we’re passing to you and I hope you let your mother dance with you in the kitchen just like I do.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Vegas.

The Second Trimester is a Lying Devil

The second trimester does deliver on its promises.  Sort of.  D has more energy, is eating more regularly, and even, for one hot second, considered turning a kiss into something else.  That was a short second.  But let’s be honest.  All these second trimester promises?  Lies.  Like a pagent mom, the second trimester promises bubbles and bunnies and then delivers the toys you already had at home.  That’s right.  All she got from the second trimester was a tiny bit of what she’d lost.  She didn’t even get all of it.  Just a fragment.  A hint of what was.  A glimpse of what life was like before she started growing a bowling ball.

So I don’t think the second trimester is all moonbeams and light.  She feels better, yes, but she hasn’t turned in to Utera, Supreme Goddess of Pregnancy.

At 22 weeks, we are looking forward to the ultrasound on tomorrow.  I’m half terrified that something won’t be right and half terrified that he’ll flash us his bits and ruin the 4 more months (oh my god, you’ve got to be kidding me… Four?! did I count that right?) I have left to wish he’s a girl.  Let me just apologize for his womb-based gender identity problems right now, in advance.  So really, I’m just terrified and I’ll be happy to have that done with so I can go back to assuming everything is peachy.

I haven’t been this nervous since we showed up in Best Of’s office and he said, “Let’s make a baby.” And then we did.

Well, thank you very much.

D being pregnant has been a lot different from her trying to be pregnant.  Right.  I know.  You’d think I’d have figured that out by now.  In the FIFTH month.  I think…  And, I did figure it out (not the month thing, no, dream on) but the jealousy part.  You heard me.  I’ve known I was jealous for months and I didn’t tell you.

Don’t be jealous of my jealousy.

When she was trying to conceive, she filled me in on every last sensation.  I got great detail on what was swollen or achy, lumpy or pale.  The night Vegas sank his blastocyst teeth into her uterine lining, I got a thesaurus worth of description.  In fact, I’m still hearing about that.  I wanted to carry this baby ten thousand times over and each symptom and sign got me a smidge closer to knowing how she felt.

It’s hard to keep that sort of thing up over nine months (ten?).  And in the middle here, there’s not much going on.  He’s moving a lot and he’s causing all sorts of aches and pains.  And he’s doing that today.  And tomorrow.  And you get the idea.  I’ve felt a nagging frustration that she’s feeling the baby and I can’t do anything but watch them get more in sync.   This is compounded by hearing more than a fair share of anecdotes lately about how babies only want mom to put them down, or only mom can do the feeding, or that mom has some mysterious bond with baby that no one can ever approximate.  Way to go, everyone, thanks for making me feel completely irrelevant.  Unless, of course, I want to rub her feet, bring her ice cream, or do all the housework/cooking/repairs/cleaning/shopping/adoring while she sits upon a throne of pillows cuddling the child.

I haven’t wanted to mention it, partly in fear that giving the feelings voice would make them more permanent and, in turn, make me more frustrated.  It turns out there’s a temporary vaccination though.  It doesn’t cure the jealousy, but it keeps it from getting worse and makes the symptoms seem a little better for a while.

I felt him kick.

I don’t want go on about no other feeling and so on and so forth but wow – I got to feel him kick.  Thanks kid, I’ll turn the thermostat back up now.

Cozy Toasty Balmy Flushed Thermal Snug

Vegas,

This morning I pressed right up against your mother and relished 10 more minutes of warmth.  Sure, I was happy to be cuddling and filled with awe at you and the growing belly tucked under my arm, but mostly I was happy to be warm.  In fact, I was almost too warm but I was perfectly happy to stay where I was because it was hot.  I could have been sweating outright and I wouldn’t have moved.  All I could think was Hot?  Check.  Not moving. We were late to work.  But not for that reason.  We were late because no matter how tightly I plastered myself next to her, I was still cold.

I hate to admit this to you – after all, you’re still a glimmer in our eyes and we want to make a good impression.  But, two nights ago, we went to sleep when the house was 55 degrees.  We turned on the fan, as we usually do, and tried to sleep in our corner bedroom.  Those two exterior walls leached the last heat from the room (and us).  When I woke up (or rather got up, since I’d been awake off and on all night) and staggered to the shower, I saw that the temperature had dropped to 48 degrees.  Yes, Vegas, I made your mother sleep in a bedroom that was under 50 degrees.  Wikipedia says 46 degrees is an ideal fridge temp.  No doubt you thought you were in the veggie drawer.

I didn’t do this because I wanted to ice you (or your mother) but I had a dose of chilling reality when I opened the gas bill and realized we owed them 300 dollars.  You’re young yet, sunshine, but $300 is not something we take lightly.  We clip coupons.  We’re not spending $300 on heat in 30 days.  You’ll be wiping with 2 ply, I’m just saying.  So $300?  Way more than we expected and more than twice what we paid the month before.  We can afford it, but we won’t be able to afford both it and daycare.  So, unless you’re planning to be out working at the very mature age of six months, we’re in real trouble when next winter comes.

I’m not saying don’t get a job child, just wait til you can walk first.

So I admit it, I froze us all out because I panicked.  Vegas, this has been the coldest winter in decades and no one here remembers this much snow.  Ever.  Sorry kid, you missed the big, exciting winter that everyone is going to talk about for the rest of your childhood.  You know, “Oh remember the winter of 2010 (it’s twenty ten, son)?  I’ve never seen anything like it before or since!”  And then they’ll probably pinch your cheeks and tell you to get their iPhone.  I even made your mother call the gas company and they assured her that the reading was right and that it was just a very cold month.  Again, I’m sorry you’re missing out.  I saw a great snowman yesterday.

Resolve hardened, I made your mother huddle in a chair until it was time to huddle in bed and then we huddled together, just short of shivering, remembering the time grandma made us sleep in The Hole.  You’re going to hear about The Hole, Vegas, but don’t tell grandma that’s what we call her Wyoming basement when she makes us sleep in it in the middle of winter.  We’re having you as insurance against her.  Just so you know.  I can’t take another year of sleep in subzero temperatures.

It took me a full 48 hours to get warm again and then I turned the heat back up to a respectable 60.  I don’t know how we’re going to afford both you and heat, baby doll, but we’re going to have to work it out.  We’ll make it somehow.  I’m sure this isn’t the first time I’ll go to sleep thinking I can’t really take care of you.  For the record, your room stayed warm, even with the vent shut.  You might have the coziest spot in the house.

Enjoy it while you can.
Your mother, the heat miser.

Being a Roadie

It isn’t easy, this business of being the roadie.  Hey, it wasn’t even easy coming up with that first sentence.  Everything I could think of to sum up my status resulted in a negative.  NON-bio mom, OTHER mother, NOT carrier.  Sure, there’s mother, but it doesn’t capture what I wanted to talk about today, which is being the mother of a child carried and birthed by someone else.  I didn’t land on a single word that implied “as much as” or “equal to” or “partner in”.  Maybe you know one.  Please tell me you do.  Otherwise, we’re stuck with roadie, you and me.

Roadie: An individual who is responsible for setting up, tearing down, and generally maintaining the equipment for a band (Urban Dictionary); a person who often performs errands for musicians on tour (Dictionary.com); and, a person who works (as by moving heavy equipment) for traveling entertainers (Merriam Webster).

It’s true isn’t it?  I’m a roadie.  In that spirit, I’ve called on the good folks at roadie.net to help me with this entry.

Lately, I’ve felt like the “college crew” (students who volunteered to help with the load in…who also had no idea how hard it really is).  I move stuff and, in between thinking I might die, I smile at my wife to show her that it isn’t that heavy.  Actually, it is.  But I’m so glad she can’t carry it, that I’m happy to suffocate under a load of things I would never pick up otherwise.

I’m definitely beginning to focus more on getting ready (yes, I’m a planner.  no, there is no roadie term for that.  I think planner is the antithesis of roadie.)  The other day we did so much errand-running to prepare for Vegas that I got a serious case of gig butt (that burning sensation caused by wearing your underwear way too long on the road).  After a trip to a kids’ store to buy a crib mattress, I was left wondering IATSE (“Is all this Shit Essential?”)?  We came home with so much IATSE that we did, in fact, need that I had to do an idiot check of the car (after everything has been loaded out, you go back one more time to make sure nothing is left behind).

I’ve gone from being a delicate flower with white gloves (doesn’t seem to get dirty, or doesn’t seem to really do any work, i.e. “She’s strictly ‘White Gloves”) to throwing on my blacks (official uniform of roadies) and unhitching my allen wrench.  Someone has to install that redneck laser (mirror ball) in Vegas’ room.

Evenings continue to be exhausting for both of us, but as she gets bigger, I’m more in hoc to the lead (person [dog] with biggest ego), who demands walks three times a night.  I think he’s in for a real shock once Vegas comes along.  As it is, we’re accommodating him as the first-born, but we live on a very steep hill and I’m facing the fact that our 80 pound hound cannot haul my wife and Vegas up a mountain in the ice and rain.

I know the real pyro (pyrotechnics, aka indoor fireworks and explosives) isn’t coming til June, but I also know that it’s my responsibility in the meantime to do mic checks (verification that everything is wired correctly and functioning) and maintain the air ride (air cushioned trailer used in transporting fragile electronic [pregnant] equipment [people]) so that she’s as comfortable as possible.  And that means, among other things, taking over the responsibility of explaining to folks how she came to be pregnant – PFM (Pure Freakin’ Magic…A good answer to give to somebody when you are asked how something works and don’t have the time to explain it.) and reading What to Expect to her – particularly that part about Texas gravy (the white froth that builds up in your drawers on a humid day) and why she might have to switch from boxers to panties.

Sadly, also like a roadie, I have had to resort to the bunk sock (an article of clothing used by “lonely roadies” that need a little relief from the long lonely nights in the tour bus).  Really folks.  We are currently 148 days til go (start the gig, i.e. “Five minutes till go”) and I’m worried about getting my rocks off.  Thank goodness she’s already given me a backstage pass (a colorful printed self adhesive cloth patch that allows certain access and privileges during or after the show) instead of percussive maintenance (having to hit something a few times to get it to work properly).  Though that could be fun.

How to Decide

We vacillate between impulse buying and careful research.  Generally, our impulse buying works out really well and the careful research ends up extending from months to years.  For example, we have a really fantastic iron bed in our guest room.  Because we needed it, we decided on and bought it in the space of an hour.  On the other hand, we are sleeping on a simple pine frame that is a little wobbly and looks unfinished.  We’ve never found a bed that looks like what we want, has the features we’d like and is a reasonable price.  I keep waiting for one to show up in a dumpster, but I’ve stopped holding my breath.

The first baby book we bought was “Baby Bargains” by Denise and Alan Fields.  Very early on in the pregnancy, we were feeling disheartened and plagued by a sea of completely unacceptable baby books.  We even made a trip to a big bookstore out of town in hopes of finding something more open-minded.  Yes, I can order from Amazon, but after paging through a few terrible tomes, I was so deeply suspicious that I wanted to see any books in person first.  This one has a bright green cover and a tall narrow shape and really, it was an impulse buy I wouldn’t have made another day.  I mean, come on, bright green and weird doesn’t scream reliable source.

It is the most wonderful book.  D and I know a lot about babies but practically nothing about the branding surrounding babies.  Sure, Graco is plastered on every third…what is that huge…oh…”travel system”.  But aside from mourning the loss of our grab and go lifestyle, we were baffled as to what made a good** brand and what was actually important in the baby merchandising business.

What I love about this book:  It cuts right through the bullshit.  I like knowing what I can buy used or cheaper and not worry about making a bad decision.  I appreciate that a car seat should be new – especially for folks like us that don’t have a trusted, recent hand-me-down source for big ticket items.  Honestly, I’d have bought that fishy car seat from craigslist that had been in 17 accidents and turned into a gremlin at night.  It was also really helpful to know that a firm  mattress is good and that coil count isn’t the only thing to pay attention to.

Babies are a business and anything that helps me weed through the hype is fantastic.  This book has ratings, reviews, common sense and is well-organized.    It’s also up-to-date – critical in the branding biz.  I’m a walking advertisement (as much as I wish I wasn’t!).  The only other baby book we’ve bought has been What to Expect When You’re Expecting.  We’re minimalists, but I wouldn’t trade this book in for any other.  It did a lot of my research for me!  By the way, I’m not going to drool over anything else for awhile.  But this was too good not to share.

**good, for us, is whatever suits our particular needs at the time we need it.  It isn’t any endorsement for what’s good for anyone else’s needs, thank goodness.  Seriously, we can’t even add, there is no way we can find a moral high ground.