Bundle of WHAT?

Pregnancy after miscarriage is terrifying. Terrifying for your baby’s health, your own health, and sometimes your sanity. Its like every minute of every day, if you don’t feel pregnant you’re thinking, “OK, when is the other foot going to drop?” And when you feel so nauseous you can’t stand it you’re like, “Yay, we’re both safe.This totally sucks, but we’re both good. Please knock me out and wake me when it’s over. Yay, babies!”

Pregnancy in general is particularly filled with weird catch twenty-twos like this. Here’s another one:

Husband says, “Hey, are these bigger? Your boobs look great!”
Wife, “Thanks! I know – super psyched. Touch them and YOU DIE.”

Yeah, that’s fun.

And forget eating for two (which according to the prego-sphere has been pretty much debunked), you will be sleeping for two. Sleep will be more important to you than maybe it ever has been in your entire life. But you may be surprised to find out that even when you try, when you are there, in the bed, ready and willing (to sleep – come on – stay with me), you may not always be able to get it. I call it pregnancy insomnia. It may or may not be a medically documented thing. Either way, it sucks.

Did I mention nausea? And doesn’t anyone else find it particularly odd how all pregnancy websites say practically the same thing (Plagiarism anyone?), and how they are always comparing the size of your developing fetus to various fruits and vegetables? More on this later, I guess.

I know plenty of people who don’t want kids. I used to be surprised when I learned a friend of mine didn’t want kids, but never judged them for it. A lot of people will say things like, “OMG, you don’t want kids? That is so selfish.” To that I say, excuse me, WHAT? How can you be selfish towards a non-existent being. You can’t. Doesn’t even make sense. You can do nothing to or toward a non-existent being because it doesn’t, isn’t, being here, no. Alright? So let’s let that one go.

Now that I do have a child, what I would say to those friends telling me they don’t want kids has changed a little. Instead of, “Oh, OK.” and being a little confused, I would say “Then absolutely don’t have them. Oh, and make sure your partner is on the same page, cause this sort of thing isn’t really negotiable…” I can personally attest to having witnessed several relationships caught in this predicament, where one partner wanted kids and the other didn’t. Each believed that, eventually, their partner would come around. But you know what? Inevitably, none of these relationships worked out. If you are in this situation, let me save you some time and heartache: you may love him/her, but if you don’t agree on having/not having kids it’s not gonna work out. It’s OK. Move along. Beyond the physical toll of growing a human in one’s own body and living (hopefully) with all the baby-related body changes and stuff, kid’s are a huge life commitment that you can’t return when you get buyer’s remorse (which I am the WORST at – buyer’s remorse, not wanting to return my kid). Abrupt ending to this section. Moving on to the baby procrastinators:

To that other group of you who are like, “Yeah we want kids … in a few years.” but you are like 30 years old already, I would say something quite different. I remember being about ten years old at my pediatrician’s office. I was probably there for a school shot or something, and the doctor, this big shouldered, stern, Pacific Islander looking man, definitely a slightly scary authority figure, looked down at me and wagged his index finger from side to side,

Now don-e you go doin wha tose othas ah doin now. Waitin, bein so old. You-a body is spose to have chilren from eighteen through twenties. Don-e you go waitin till 30. Thas too much stress on your body. Tssk. Tssk.

I remember how he closed his eyes and shook his large, caramel, cheekbones the size of little kneecaps, head. This was before Teen Mom was on Cable TV. You get the picture. My maternal clock was set in stone by my pediatrician at ten years old. Don-e go waitin. Sure, women ‘been havin babies for many many years. But you know what? It’s not always so easy.

Plus, why would you want to put off that unfortunate combination of a heightened sense of smell and the need to urinate more frequently? The resulting, completely unfair and unsavory, pee-fog encapsulation you face during your excessive trips to the bathroom is a right of passage to be eagerly anticipated! Oh, but brush your teeth with caution, your gag and puke reflex is WAY better than it’s ever been before in your life. Happy trails.

* Erik would like to endorse this announcement that we are pregnant again. He is super excited. I am super crazy, sometimes freaked out, sometimes elated, most of the time cranky, or nauseous (why do they put so much darn Iron in those baby vitamins?!), excited too. I have not gone to the doctor yet, but have an appointment set for July. Thanks for your well wishes!

So, the next person to call me in tears worried sick that I’ll lose this baby too WILL get F*bombed to their face and taken out into the street for personal reasons. Unless, you know, I come to my senses and react better than that first. But, I am pregnant, so you never know. 

For those who have actual tangible concerns, we do appreciate these, as we appreciate you. For example, some people have expressed a concern that my blood type could cause complications. I want to assure you that my O negative blood will not be, and has not been, a cause for miscarriage. Throughout most of pregnancy, the mother’s blood and the baby’s blood are kept completely separate. There is no risk of blood mixing until the third trimester (and then only because of delivery / being physically passed from the womb, and man can that be bloody, type things). For this reason, nurses have an awesome super huge needle they stick you in the butt with, full of Rhogam, to prevent blood complications.

(Cue strange memory of coming home from high school one day to announce to my mother that I found out my blood type in Biology class. “It’s O-, and negative RH factors only appear at a rate of about 15% in Caucasians. Isn’t that cool? I’m so special.” My mother began to cry. Literally. She had good reason to, because she knew what that had meant for bearing children, and I was clueless. But, now we have Rhogam. Thank goodness.) 

For anyone else out there that may be RH negative, I want to let you know as far as the Rhogam shot goes: 1) Don’t look at the needle, 2) choose the butt, not the shoulder, and 3) it’s really not that bad, I have had the shot two or three times now, but the butt must be a really great place for a shot cause I hardly felt it any of these times, and my butt is not even that big, so… 

X is up from his nap – got to go!

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Armageddon Otis

There is a position you are supposed to get into if you suspect you are about to be struck by lightning – the one where you try to make your body as small as possible by curling up into a ball while making as little contact with the ground as you can manage. For me this means sitting on my feet. If you are a super awesome yoga ninja like my cousin Holly, this might mean balancing on your pinkie finger – effectively reducing your odds of becoming a crispy lighting conductor by probably 90%. (Note to self: Yoga = good for survival – not just some post-modern Buddhist cult-fad. Get over it already.)

Anyhow, so I’m in this position with my hands clutched over my ears, huddling in my toddler’s room with both the baby gate and adult-size door locked (Ex is peacefully reading next to me) attempting to escape the relentless eardrum piercing barks of my brother’s 30 lb., ADD medicated (but not presently effective), pit bull pup named Otis. This joyous beast is supposedly going to spend a lot of time here now that Adam has accepted a sweet promotion to a traveling gig within his company (congrats bro!). What this means here is week-long stretches of bark torture.

Now, Otis’ recurring 5-day stays are actually less of an inconvenient/pathetic intrusion on my parent’s domain as me (functional adult with critical thinking human skills) bumming shelter for self and family with no end in sight.* So yeah, I get to make fun of the dog and not feel bad.

While I won’t make the completely un-classy ultimatum that it is either me or the dog, I will simply acknowledge that the possession of such an animal ranks up there on the STUPID STUPID chart along with buying a house in Tornado Alley without a basement, and going on any form of Disney vacation.

Side note: As a kid, I went to Disney with my grandparents and sister. I remember the four of us on the It’s a Small World ride, where you ride a tiny little boat pulled on a track in shallow murky water through a dark claustrophobic tunnel lined with electronic elves pounding anvils with little hammers, lit by the eerie red glow of fake fire, singing It’s a Small World After All. We must have been halfway through the Hell tunnel when the track malfunctioned and w were stuck in place for the greater part of an hour listing to the ghoulish puppet clowns sing their short loop over and over. I’m not kidding. This is how they break you. Nothing is more distinctly creepy and lame than that. Save your money and vacation somewhere less irritatingly sanity-reducing and more, I don’t know, real.

Right, so unmanageable pet, house in Tornado Alley without basement, and Disney vacations – all should be avoided. The good news for you, brother, is that plenty of well-meaning people make these costly mistakes all the time, and you may be able to regain your house payment-sized dog purchase by reselling to someone else as a “rescue.” Sure he is used, but people always pay more for charity.

Eventually, Exavier decided he wanted to do something else, and took my hand saying ever so sweetly, “Lets go Mamma.” As we opened the door, emerging from our barricaded shelter from manic, ear-splitting, dog barking, I noticed something shredded beyond recognition on the floor in front of us. I looked to my left and saw the now-bare insulated hot water pipe leading to the furnace (how do you even replace something like that?), and wonder how close we were to becoming victims of a “freak” (read: dog-induced) house explosion, or perhaps more realistically being trapped in the bedroom or scalded by high pressure boiling water spraying uncontainably down the hallway of my parent’s recently refinished hardwood floor. That is when I decided it was time to leave.

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* I hereby revoke this ranking, due to the fact that by the time I returned home today, Otis had completely ripped up both rocking chairs in the living room. He must have known he did a bad thing because he escaped between my legs while I was trying to bring a sleeping Exavier inside. He proceeded to run away and try to get hit by a car while I ineffectively tried to save him. I mean, he is OK, he didn’t get hit, but it was the neighbor who actually caught him while Exavier stood abandoned and traumatized in the living room watching this all go down.

The Opposite of Loneliness

Right now I’m reading The Opposite of Loneliness, essays and stories by Marina Keegan. As a writer, Marina captured sentiments we often fail to find words for, or fail to see that others experience along with us. Her fiction writing (the book contains non-fiction as well) depicts unabashed first-person accounts of imperfect characters in complicated circumstances. Her story Cold Pastoral somehow captures an almost agonizing beauty.

In her non-fiction essay, The Opposite of Loneliness, Marina writes:

“There is this sentiment I sometimes sense, creeping in our collective conscious as we lie alone…that it is somehow too late. That others are somehow ahead. More accomplished, more specialized. More on the path to somehow saving the world, somehow creating or inventing or improving. That it’s too late now to BEGIN a beginning and we must settle for continuance… What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over….We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.”

We don’t always have a choice in what happens to us (case in point, Marina herself), but every day that we live we have a choice of what to make of the time we do have. Don’t settle for continuance. It is never to late to start over. Sure it may be messy. My start-over has been. But despite what you may feel about it being too late, or too hard, or too risky, or too counterculture, or too whatever, YOU still have a choice. To be bold. To be better. To look your own fool in the mirror-face and say ‘today is the day.’ And to ultimately be unashamedly beautiful as whatever you you want to be.

Thank you to everyone for the birthday wishes.

At 28 years old, I have married the love of my life, created the joy of my heart, broken a part of my soul, and discovered a new ray of hope. Thank you to all the people who have walked these blessed days with me thus far. In Marina’s words, “We’re in this together… Let’s make something happen to this world.” I’d also like to add, as a closing remark: don’t fuck it up.

Just kidding.
– Not helpful Kristen.
– I’d never say that out loud.
– It’s OK, Ex can’t read yet.
– Yeah, we’re all adults here…
– Text version of me talking to myself – Unashamed – Check
– OMG why are you still reading this?
– You rock. Have a great day / night.

Just Your Everyday Elitist Stripper

My son is two, but motherhood continues to feel like a new frontier. The stay-at-home mom role is relatively new anyway, and my attempts to interact with other moms would be most accurately described as series of failed experiments in sociology. I’ve tried mom groups (Mops, library play groups, MeetUp groups) but inevitably I find myself in situations feeling like Emma Stone as Skeeter in The Help with Hilly Holbrook at the podium: “Our Christmas Benefit is right on schedule as y’all have already filled all our baked goods raffle slots.” The room of ladies applaud and turn to one another in praise. Hilly continues, “Y’all think we can put a dent in the African Children’s hunger this year?” Standing ovation. Skeeter’s eyes bulge in disbelief of the irony going on here. If you haven’t seen this movie, I promise it is worth your time.

I went to a MeetUp last night. I sat in my car for a few minutes wondering if I should subject myself to this, eventually deciding to go in thinking, “You never know…” So I was a few minutes late to what turned out to be an awfully boring rundown / introduction to the group’s rules and activities for new members (none of the existing members were in attendance, we newbies were being screened prior to being allowed access to the group calendar. In fairness, the real group events might be fun, you never know…). However, during said meeting, who should walk in to Panera Bread by my childhood friend Marie, who I had not seen since 4th grade. Blast from the past! I excused myself from the group rundown to catch her as she was walking out. We shared a gleeful “OMG, it’s been so long!” moment, hugged, and planned to get together ASAP.

I am a firm believer in the bond shared between early grade school buddies. These people are with you, sharing experiences, teachers, drugs at the park (or getting spit on for discouraging this, and shortly after being transferred to private school…) during some of the most formative years of your life. You may fall in and out of touch, you might not cross paths for twenty years, but these people will always get you because you all share the most elemental markings of childhood kinship. How can I describe this better? We may look different, but we will forever all smell like the same dirty sock? We all remember Mr. Beck (gym teacher) and his “evil twin” (not real). We all remember the day recess was called early because some girl fell off the slide (Kristine!), or the parts we played as singing workshop-elves in the Christmas play, or the day Elisabeth took her shirt off in the middle of class.

Yes, she took that shirt off and donned a scarf around her neck, like a model on way too much Benadryl that was on her way to tan topless at the beach. One of the students spoke up meekly (we weren’t supposed to speak during timed math tests), “Uh, teacher? Elisabeth is taking her clothes off…”

Our teacher looked up from the papers on her desk. Her eyes grew wide in slow motion accompanied by a sharp inhale. “E – LIS – A – BETH …” she gasped with each syllable carrying an exponential amount of shock. Elisabeth stood up topples. If she had had sunglasses, I’m sure she would have coolly slid them on. Then she sauntered into the hallway. This was third grade, we all knew you can’t just go into the hall willy nilly! It took our teacher a second or two to shake off her shock-induced paralysis before jumping out of her chair and chasing Elisabeth down.

I also had the misfortune of going over to this girl’s house after school one time, and witnessing she and her sister poop in the closet… there was something odd about this family. I left and never went back. Also, I must add that she only came to our school in third grade and in no way constitutes part of the childhood “always and forever” club – just that we will all remember her. Phew, now that I’ve got that off my chest. OK.

So the other day I was talking to a Tinley woman about my house search, and she said matter-of-factly, “Tinley is a great place to live. Just stay west of Harlem.” I imagined wolverine claws slowly making their way out of my knuckles. “Got something against Old Tinley, huh?” I wanted to growl. Instead, I moved the conversation along. I know my family moved out of Old Tinley to avoid sending us kids to TP High School, but something about this woman’s condescending “Old Tinley Park is ghetto-trash” opinion really irritated me. Which just goes to show, don’t make elitist / hateful comments to people you don’t really know – unless you are writing it in a blog, like me.

Backstory

There is not one naturally occurring funny bone inside my body. I remember years back, as a preteen at summer camp, a boy told me he wanted to be a comedian and asked if I wanted to hear his act. I told him, “I don’t like people who think they are funny.” (Man, what a nice girl right? I get this same impression of myself when watching old family videos. Sorry Michelle.) I meant what I said to this boy, 1) because he was super dorky and I wanted him to go away, and 2) because I thought comedians were people with a repugnant combination of inflated sense of self and stupid / underdeveloped / cheap jokes that only worked on crowds that were totally wasted. If left to my own devices, I fear the world would be a dull and dreary, but well researched and analyzed place.

Earlier this week I was doing research on my Myers Briggs personality indicator group INTP and stumbled across this precious gem of a quote from another alleged INTP:

“I have no affinity for animals. I don’t hate animals and I would never hurt an animal; I just don’t actively care about them. When a coworker shows me cute pictures of her dog, I struggle to respond correctly, like an autistic person who has been taught to recognize human emotions from flash cards.”

This quote by Tina Fey (which I recognized as some famous name but didn’t know who she was – I’m the worst at celebrity jeopardy), made me laugh out loud because this sentiment is something I share (with the exception of elephants and killer whales because they seem to have more emotional intelligence than the rest of us). Also, I had just put the family dog outside for peeing on my toddler’s carpet yet again, and was secretly (not-so-secretly) hoping she would escape the fenced-in backyard again and find a happy new life somewhere else.

She didn’t… she’s still here.

Anyhow, continuing my INTP research. Tina Fey turned out to be a famous comedian, gasp, who also was reported to have said that comedy is only funny if it is true. Maybe that is how so many other comedians miss the mark. Then I thought about my own “firm” grasp on truth as an INTP and it occurred to me that if Tina Fey could make me laugh out loud with our category of personality, then maybe I could make myself laugh too. Then I started having all these humorous thoughts, piecing together the over analysis I do of things, situations, and people in such a way that instead of simply being critical it was like revealing the ludicrous to the world so that it was hysterical. Of course this was all in my head… I wish there were brain thought recorders, because these things flashed through so quickly when I tried to say or write them down they fleeted away, dang it!

My friend Amanda accuses me of making short jokes all the time. Let me just say, at 6 foot 2, I am the worst judge of height, and I don’t go around thinking how tall I am and how short you are everyday because this. is. normal. for. me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked, “do you play basketball?” – no, “do you play volleyball?” – no, “are you a model?” – no, but thanks for asking, “man, what a waste at your height” – I’d like to think there are other valuable things I can contribute to the world, but I’m deeply sorry if I’ve let you down. This would be torture if I didn’t in some small way enjoy once in a lifetime exchanges with random strangers I would never see again. So my short friends accuse me of making short jokes all the time. I don’t try to. I think a lot of the time when I look at short women they assume I’m making short jokes at them in my head. Kind of like how some fat women glare at me for no reason (it’s because I’m skinny) (ugh, I’ve been informed that saying “fat” nowadays is insensitive and unpopular. Insert socially supportive version here.), and feminists hate me for wearing whatever I feel makes me look damn good. Side note, one of my dear feminist friends feels that women’s’ clothes without pockets is evidence of sexism in society. Well, what about Speedos then, eh? Or are we suppressing the dignity of competitive swimmers as well? I remember my days back on the swim team just before puberty really really wishing my swimsuit had some padding on top for a bit more discrete coverage, but never once did I curse the inconvenience of my shy girl’s nightmare of a body suit being pocket-less. If you want to talk about what feminists failed to get rid of from our society, lets talk about: crafts.

Anyhow, the next day I found Tina Fey’s biography, Bossypants, at the library. It is delightful. I feel like she breaks all the rules, which is what I love about it. I’ve always felt like rules were for other people. Like that day in 2nd grade, when I was stealth-fully sabotaging a game of baseball being played by much older boys behind my grade school during parent-teacher-conference by kicking the orange cone being used to mark first base. I snuck around the building, ran up and kicked that cone three or four times before those terrifyingly huge (middle school?) boys attacked. The pitcher threw the ball at me full speed. It whizzed by, inches in front of my tiny frame as I ran like hell across the field. Meanwhile, the catcher ran at me and lunged for my ankles, while the outfielder threw down his mitt and ripped off his T-shirt (not sure how this helped, but it’s the first time I remember thinking boys with sweaty muscles looked good). I made it around the corner of the school, barely escaping with my life. It was exhilarating. It was the most boys I ever had chase me at the same time (I also remember my brother’s friends, Nathan, calling me a “flat-chested beaver”. I believe that is when I first realized I was a woman.). For the record, I did consider going back to kick the cone again.

All this to say, I like to push the limits. And seeing as I’m pretty good at being up-front and analytical, maybe being funny by telling the truth will work for me. Maybe it will be friggin awesome. If not, at least it won’t be worse than network news. I’m having fun. Are you?

Monumental Inconsequential Firsts

Today was a day of firsts for me.
Not only was today the first time I tried to dye flowers by adding food-coloring to their captive drink supply,
the first time I was asked what the color scheme was going to be for
mine & Erik’s new living room,
or the first time I visited the family dentist and got pronounced to be cavity free.

But today was the first time in my adult life that I haven’t had a savings account.
It is the first time anyone offered to sell me their business.
It is the first time I successfully sold anything on eBay.
And it’s the first time I started a grill – and cooked food on – it all by myself.

Sure the dye didn’t take and the flowers are wilting,
I have no idea what color scheme the apartment will be or where
the furnature will come from to put in it,
the dentist had no craters to fill (but my teeth feel awesomely clean),
I have half the bank accounts I used to have and twice the amount of
intentional direction,
there is no way I’m in the position to be buying businesses
(but I got a phone number and an invitation to learn),
Michelle may have taught me how to bid on your own items to raise the final bid amount and profit on your eBay sale, – totally unethical… I do not endorse… –
and the chicken did turn out a tad charred…

None the less, today was monumental…
and I almost didn’t even notice.