Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween from Snow White, her disgruntled dwarf, and her alien friends (1986).  Brandon was totally uncooperative that Halloween, which seriously cramped my style.  Hello!  Snow White needs her entourage, Dwarf Boy!  And pull your beard up where it belongs!  And quit bitching about having to wear a pair of girls' tights!  Poor Brandon.  Look how his little expression is like a plea for help.  I remember that I thought smiling without showing my teeth would make me look more "princessy."  I also remember thinking that my alien friends' silver make up was sooo cool, although Natalie (far left) recalls that she was mortified to be wearing a trash bag next to my glamorous princess outfit.  Clearly the princessy smile worked.




And Happy Halloween from some kind of clown/hobo team?  The funniest thing about this picture to me is that David's aunt Lana is obviously dressed up, while David essentially could have worn that outfit any day of the week.  He just has painted-on freckles over his real freckles.  They also might have gone trick-or-treating, or might have performed some kind of street entertainment with a couple of dancing dogs.  Costumes could go either way.

I hope that your Halloween brings you lots of treats (and maybe just a couple of funny tricks involving a very realistic looking rubber spider or possibly fake vomit)!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Nursery Prints

Baby Duck's nursery theme of (guess what?) baby ducks has been decided pretty much from before Baby Duck ever existed.  Boy or girl, we knew we were going to keep the guest bedrooms walls the lovely blue that they are ("Cloud" by Ralph Lauren) with the old-school white crown molding I love so much and add yellow details for a duck theme.  I have a few sweet things that my mom had saved from my nursery that I want to use, but I'm also on the look out for some cute, affordable art for the walls.


So when I'm not grading papers or reading up on pregnancy stuff or planning for class or bitching about class, I am often trolling etsy.com.

And here are a few of my favorites.  You just might see some of these featured in Baby Duck's nursery one of these days...

"A Jolly Read," available at Trafalgar Square on etsy.com

Does it get any cuter than a baby duck reading to a baby elephant and a baby rabbit?  I don't think so.  Love it.

"Lucky Duck" available at Mitchell & Dent on etsy.com

I think this wee little print would look so sweet matted and hung in an unexpected corner.

Then I thought maybe I needed something that would speak to Baby Duck's love of books (what?  she loves them!).  I stumbled across this:

"Alice in Wonderland (Little Door Behind the Curtain)" available at Dreamery Studio on etsy.com

I think that being printed on a dictionary page makes it sort of unexpected for a nursery, which I like.  I mean, I love the cuteness of the ducks but I don't want it to get overly precious.

Unless you think this overly precious.  I think it is just precious enough:

"Time Out" available at Studio Mela on etsy.com.

I love everything about this print, too.  Especially the hair styles on the little girl and boy.  I would maybe group this with a couple of other prints in the "reading corner" of Baby Duck's nursery.  And, honestly, everything in their shop is darling.

I think this is sweet:

"You Are My Sunshine" available at Ferntree Studio on etsy.com
 
I really like the fun fonts and the bright yellow (although it is available in other colors).  

And if you don't live in New York and bed bugs are still a thing of funny rhyme to you instead of a plague upon your house (I recently heard an NPR story about the infestation of bed bugs and how horrific they are), then you might like this print:

"Sleep Tight Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite" available at John W. Golden's shop on etsy.com.

Does everybody's mom say this?  Or just mine?  I can definitely imagine David and I saying this to Baby Duck when we kiss her good night.  This shop has lots of "By Order Of the Management" signs that are quirky and fun.  I could see them looking really cute in an older kid's room too.

And I haven't ordered this yet, but it is David's favorite and on the must-have list:
"Mother and Duckling" available at Wallfry (Wall Art for Small Fry) on etsy.com

Rather than a print, that is an original painting on 12x12 canvas.  I love the print colors and how the baby duck is looking up at the mama duck.  I think it would be a great focal point for the nursery...  maybe at one end of the crib or above the changing table.
So those are just a few of the prints and paintings and drawings I've been oohing and aahing over.  I'll have to do some ordering before long.  And then get frames.  And then figure out where to hang them and how to group them.  And then one of these days (like in late December) I'll be able to post pictures of Baby Duck's whimsical, charming, and cozy little nursery.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Stopping the Madness.

So I had a mini-meltdown after our childbirth classes last week.  There was just so much information about diet, about exercise, about everything and all I could think was that I had to follow all of the instructions to the letter and eat all of the grams of protein I'm supposed to eat and do all of the exercises I'm supposed to do and read all of the supplementary reading that is provided and do everything exactly right or else Baby Duck will be born with all kinds of physical problems and brain damage and an Oedipal complex and quite possibly without a conscience.

Hey, it could happen.

It was a crisis of confidence more than anything, and brought on by the stress of regular day to day stuff maybe even more than the baby stuff.  How will I get these papers graded when more assignments keep coming in?  What was I thinking with these back to back due dates for different classes?  Why am I so tired when I am getting a full night's sleep?  Did I make those photocopies or just think about making them?  Have I replied to that e-mail or did I just read it and think I'd reply to it later?  When do I get a couple of days to just catch up without having to do prep work for the next class?

But it manifested itself as, "I'll never eat enough protein without having a protein shake everyday and the instructor said maybe that's not the most ideal way to get protein and now Baby Duck will just be rated 'fair' instead of 'best' by her pediatrician when she's born and I have already failed her and am a terrible mother!"

David laughed at me just a little and said I was being ridiculous.  His exact words were:  "Come on, now.  You're acting like you got a B on a test."

Which I totally was.

So I am trying to chill out.  About teaching and about pregnancy stuff.  Yes, I have a huge stack of papers to grade.  So my students will have to wait until I get them done.  Nobody is chasing me down telling me to hurry up.  I'm putting that pressure on myself.

I signed up for this childbirth class voluntarily and I am paying to be there.  I am an adult who can sort through the information that I want/need and the information that I don't.  I do not have to do every single assignment if I don't have time.  They are not going to fail me or take my baby.  And really most babies are born just fine without their moms stressing out over grams of protein.  Am I right?

So I talked to David about my new, improved perspective, and he agreed with me.  "At least you aren't doing intravenous drugs," he said comfortingly, patting my arm.

OMG, obviously.  Because of the needles!

But seriously.  Baby Duck will be fine.  And I will survive this semester.  There's only six more weeks!  So my new goal is just to get through the next six weeks without driving myself crazy over nothing--or, more precisely, over things I can't control.

But I don't think I'll be watching The Bad Seed this Halloween.  Because that kid-without-a-conscience stuff really does kind of freak me out.

Rhoda.  She looks sweet, but don't be fooled.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Crafty

I tackled a project last night that I was not too sure about.  A friend asked me to make a purse for her sister.  I have made purses before (nothing fancy, mind you, I don't do zippers yet) but I have always followed a pattern.  This one she wanted me to copy from a cloth purse that she already had.  It looked pretty simple, and she promised me it was low-pressure and no one would cry if I screwed it up, so I agreed to do it.

This is the original bag that she wanted me to copy.


So she bought the fabric and I bought a couple of yards of muslin to make my own pattern (very Project Runway, no?).  And it turned out to be super easy!  I might have a couple of seams that didn't align perfectly, but they didn't align perfectly on the original bag either.  And I was slightly annoyed that in spite of my careful efforts, the stripe pattern didn't line-up quite perfectly on the sides (stripes are hard).  And next time I would make the handles slightly wider at the bottom so that they come together in the front and the back.  But still.  I was quite pleased with the result.  It has lining and a pocket and everything!  David was so impressed that I made it without a pattern.  It was actually like putting a puzzle together, which was kind of more fun than trying to decipher the cryptic directions that come with some sewing patterns.

And it took me a few hours from start to finish, but I made the entire purse without cursing at my sewing machine, so that is a new record.

And this is my version.



I'm not quite ready to open my own Etsy shop, but it's definitely put me in the mood for more sewing!  Maybe I'll get to some of those Baby Duck projects after all...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Doula. Do Whaaa...???

So here's the thing about babies.  You can buy all kinds of cute little clothes and shoes.  You can scour the interwebs for bargains on adorable furniture and accessories.  You can try to limit the amount of hideous plastic toys that end up invading your home.  You can plan to breast feed or bottle feed, co-sleep or crib sleep, stay at home or go back to work.

But no matter what you do, you've eventually got to get that baby out of your belly.

In a world where one in three (yes, one in THREE) first-time moms has a c-section, you basically have two options:  push it out of your yoo-hoo or cut it out of your guts.

Before I go on, I should say that I have hesitated to publish this post because a popped-out belly seems to be a beacon for unsolicited advice (or ass-vice, as others call it).  While I have welcomed some of it (mostly the sort that says I should nap whenever I feel like it), I also know that a lot of it needs to be tuned out.

Still, I am amazed at people who feel no need to research best practices, but just take what is "typical" as the best thing for them and their baby.  I know many people who seem to think that their particular experience is somehow a universal truth, or those who are willing to wipe away documented, statistical evidence with a wave of their hand: "Oh, it wasn't like that for me" or "Well, look at all the babies who turn out just fine."  Then there are those who seem to think that I shouldn't make any plans at all because you never know what might happen (trust me, I've pretty much imagined every possible situation and I'm choosing to plan for the best case scenario).

So I hesitate not because I think someone could make me doubt my decisions (I research and I analyze, it's what I do, and no anecdote is going to change my mind--also I'm stubborn once I've made up my mind about something), but because I don't want to come off as someone who's got it all figured out or to seem as though I'm criticizing people who have made a different choice or who have been forced to take a different path due to various medical issues.  We all have our reasons for doing what we do, and we're all trying to do the best we can.

Oh--and the thing about labor and delivery is that a lot of times you don't get to decide!  I've had people tell me that I shouldn't go into labor with lots of expectations because I will be disappointed if things don't turn out right. But I disagree.  Things do not always go as planned!  I get it!  But that doesn't mean that I'm not going to research and make plans so that I personally can make every effort toward having the kind of birth that I want.  If it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out.  But it won't be for lack of knowledge or effort on my part.

And the more I've read, the more I've come to the realization that I want to have this baby without unnecessary medical interventions.  This means that I want to avoid having a c-section, but it also means I want to avoid having an epidural.

Yup.  You got that right.  No epidural.

Let me state right away that (1) I know that labor hurts and (2) I am not the sort of person who would say she has a high pain tolerance.

I, however, am the sort of person who has a real phobia of needles.  (Please see this post for evidence of said phobia).  When I think about labor right now, the thing that makes me the most nervous is not the pain or the worry about pooping while pushing (although both are valid concerns that make at least the top ten list).  The thing that makes me nervous is the thought of having an IV in my arm.  I'm so horrified by the idea of a needle and a tube in my veins, that I can't even start to think about the rest of it. 

It's totally mental, yeah.  But that's why it's called a phobia.

At the same time, whether I'm abstaining from my most favorite summertime sport of drinking white wine out of doors (it's the out of doors part that makes it sporty) or choking down an enormous prenatal vitamin (I find that if I take them with grapefruit juice, they don't make me gag), I'm already in the mode of trying to do what I feel is absolutely the best thing for me and for Baby Duck.

Epidurals are relatively safe, yes.  But there are also some risks involved with any kind of drug intervention.  The most common risk (although I will acknowledge that this gets disputed) is that an epidural is likely to slow down labor, which then causes a need for pitocin (a drug to cause contractions) and these interventions can sometimes cause problems for the baby (too forceful or too frequent contractions can cut off oxygen to the baby) which can then result in the need for more drugs to slow down contractions, and all of these interventions can sometimes lead to an unplanned c-section.

I'm not trying to be a martyr when I say that I'm willing to endure natural childbirth--for me, personally, based on my research and my needle issues, I simply think the pain of natural contractions is a preferable alternative to the unknown and slightly riskier experience of having a huge-ass needle stuck in my back.  Other people (including many of the ladies in my prenatal yoga class) think that's crazy, and I don't want to try and change their minds.  It's just that the more I think about my best case scenario for labor and delivery, the less it involves needles and drugs.

At the same time, I have to be realistic about this.  I've never had a baby before.  I can't quite imagine what it will be like.  I also realize that going in with good intentions is not enough--the medical culture is set up to offer me an epidural, to monitor me continually, to give me drugs to cause contractions that I can't feel, and to tell me when to push.  If I'm going to resist that scenario, I have to be fully informed, but I also have to be fully supported by my doctor, my husband, and... my doula.

A few months ago, I'd never even heard of a doula.  It's a Greek word that means a labor attendant.  A doula stays with you throughout your labor and helps to coach you through labor and delivery.  A doula is not a midwife--she doesn't do exams, she doesn't have a medical license (although most--including mine--are certified through doula programs).  She does offer an experienced, objective point of view, alternative methods of pain management (including relaxation exercises and massage) and she offers lots of positive reinforcement.  As Science Daily reported in May, 2008, "During labor, the continued presence of a doula – an experienced non-medical female companion who provides continuous labor support – has significant beneficial effects for middle- and upper-class women in childbirth, even when they have their male partner or other family member with them, according to a new study in the journal Birth."  Doulas reduce the rate of epidurals and c-sections and can reduce the time a women is in labor by a significant amount.  In a recent study, women who had an epidural and women who had a doula but no epidural rated their pain level in labor exactly the same

Still, when David and I first considered having a doula, we were both pretty skeptical.  We decided that in the effort to have non-intervention birth that we'd take Bradley Method classes.  The Bradley Method advertises that over 80% of couples who take their classes experience spontaneous, non-medicated births and for a while we thought that the two of us would take these classes and have this baby and be totally fine.  We weren't sure we wanted to hire some stranger to be in the room with us and all up in my business, especially when there would be plenty of hospital staff there and up in my business.

But then I did a little more research and we thought about things a little bit more.  About how we deal with stressful situations, for example.  Having a baby is not exactly like traveling in a foreign country, but some aspects of it seem strikingly similar.  For example, in both cases, you're excited and happy to be there, but you're also probably a little anxious about all of the things that seem totally unfamiliar.  Maybe you don't speak the language well.  Maybe you don't know all the rules or customs.  I know from experience that if David doesn't feel totally comfortable, he's not likely to be very assertive.  And I know that if I am tired, hungry, and stressed out, I want him to be more assertive and to help me figure things out.  And then I get frustrated with him pretty easily.

So we talked about our experiences vacationing in other countries and we both agreed that on an initial visit, we really enjoy having a tour guide.  Someone who gives us plenty of opportunities to experience things on our own, but who is also available to answer questions, make recommendations for lunch, and help us navigate unfamiliar territory.  This was true when we signed up for tour groups to see certain sites in London and Paris, it was true when we had a guide assigned to our group in Italy, and it was true when my brother showed us around Seoul.  Some people are free spirits who would prefer to have their own adventures and see the world by trial and error.  My brother might be the kind of person who can just wander around Indonesia and have the biker guy with the ricksaw take him to whatever hotel is close and convenient.  David and I are the kind of people who like planned itineraries, hotel rooms booked in advance, and restaurant recommendations.

We both realize that the best-laid plans can't account for how labor will actually go, but in keeping with this insight about our personalities and the likelihood of encountering the unexpected, we decided that it might be a good idea to have a tour guide for this upcoming experience. We're still taking the Bradley classes, but with a doula, we will also have someone who stays with us for the duration of my labor, who will help David support me, and who will help me advocate for what I want (and don't want) at the hospital.

After we made that decision, it was easy.  We looked up a certified doula website, found a listing of doulas in our area, and compared bios, experience, and prices for doula services.  We interviewed a doula whose full time job is a chiropractor, and we liked her.  David liked her enough to overlook the fact that she's--gasp!--a Cubs fan.

But he did make her promise not to wear Cubs blue to the delivery.

So now we have a doula.  Basically, this means that as soon as I start having contractions, I can give her a call.  Before I would call my doctor, before the contractions are regular, I already have someone who has attended lots and lots of births and who has had one c-section and two unmedicated births of her own, who is on-call to answer my questions and help reassure me that things are going well.  (Of course, she can also recognize quickly if something isn't going well, and recommend that we head right for the hospital.)

She will come over to our house once or twice before we have the baby to get to know us a little bit and to help us work out a birth plan of what we want and don't want (examples:  I don't want an episiotomy, I want to try and nurse immediately, I want to donate cord blood, and I obviously don't want an epidural).

Once I go into labor, I'll give her a call and she will come over whenever we want her to.  She recommends laboring at home for as long as we feel comfortable doing so, or until the contractions get pretty regular and close together.  I think that having her here will help us feel more confident about staying home for a while, where I can eat, walk around, shower, and maybe even sleep, within the privacy and comfort of my own home.

When things really start moving, she'll recommend heading to the hospital (we've selected a hospital in our area known for being doula-friendly and respectful of birth plans) and will follow us there in her car.  She'll stay with us for the duration of labor at the hospital as well.  She will help remind David of massage techniques and changes of position for pain management and will also be another set of hands.  She will make sure that I am made aware of my options and she will help me communicate my choices to the hospital staff.

She will stay with us until the baby is born, and for a couple of hours after the birth.  She will assist with breastfeeding if necessary and will basically stick around until we feel comfortable and are settled in recovery.

A week or so after we're home, she'll come over for a final home visit, we'll talk about the baby's birth and how everything went.  If I need a lactation consultant in the days or weeks after the baby is born, she will be able to make recommendations and put me in touch with someone.

The service isn't cheap, but for what we're getting, I think it's actually reasonably priced and worth the money.  I feel more comfortable with the uncertainty of everything because we have a great resource right there with us.  As much as I love my doctor (and I love that my doula has worked with him before), I know that he won't be there until the very end.  He catches the baby, but he doesn't coach me during the hours of labor ahead of time.  If I am going to do this thing without medication, I am going to need a lot of positive reinforcement and someone to reassure me that I can handle it.  As much as I will rely on David for that stuff, I think having a more objective opinion in the room will be incredibly useful.  David also thinks it might keep me on good behavior...

I also think that if things don't go as planned--if I end up needing to be induced or needing to have a c-section, it will help me to be able to talk things over with a doula who can take the time to reassure me that we're doing what it takes to get a healthy baby and even if it's not the way I imagined things working out, they're working out for the best.

Although you can never be sure how labor and delivery will go, I am confident that this decision puts both Baby Duck and me in the best position for having a healthy, non-medicated birth.

So, yeah.  We're going to do the doula thing.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My Tolerance for Glucose: Better Than My Tolerance for Needles

So the thing is that when you're pregnant, sometime between 24 and 28 weeks, you have to make an appointment for a glucose tolerance test.  This test determines how your body is handling your blood sugar levels and whether you might have gestational diabetes.

Sometimes this is performed at your doctor's office.  In my case (because of my insurance) it was performed at a medical lab. 

Since there were needles involved, I made David take the afternoon off work and accompany me to the lab to hold my hand during the blood draw.  (Dear David's School District, Thank you for letting him take time off to hand-hold his high-maintenance wife who has trouble managing her freakish phobias.)

My doctor's office gave me the small bottle of liquid to drink.  It is deceptive in that it looks smaller than it really is.  The bottle is short and fat.  I had the choice between fruit punch, lemon-lime, and orange.  I chose orange because someone told me that it tasted kind of like the orange drink you can get at McDonald's and I loved that stuff when I was a kid.

It does taste a little bit like it, for the first swallow or two, but it gets increasingly gross from there.

So anyway, I took this glucose-spiked-orange-flavored liquid with me to the appointment.  The idea is that I could have drunk it ahead of time, but they have to draw your blood exactly an hour after you finish the drink in order to do their test.  So I figured since I had no idea whether they were on schedule or not, I should probably wait and drink it when I got there. 

It was a good thing I waited because the receptionist told me she had to watch me drink it, which made me feel like she was my probation officer and I was being drug-tested to see if I'd be able to keep my baby or have to give her up to social services.

I was a little anxious about this test because I knew that if I failed it, I'd have to come back and have a longer appointment (3 hours instead of one) and more blood draws (more needles!).  So I started freaking out when I read the side of the bottle that said I should have fasted before drinking it.

My doctor didn't say anything about me needing to fast before this glucose test.

Also, my test was at 1:30 in the afternoon.  There is no way I could have made it through the morning without eating.  I most definitely would have passed out thinking about the needle bit.

The receptionist rolled her eyes when I said that my doctor didn't mention fasting and said, "Oh, honey, they never do!"  I would assume that meant that fasting wasn't that big of a deal.  But the receptionist thought otherwise.  She quizzed me on what I'd eaten that day.

"I had a fruit smoothie at 7:30am and then an egg and cheese sandwich at 11:30am."

She stared at me and said, "Well, it's not a good idea to drink sugar when you're going to come and drink sugar."

I refrained from commenting, but I wanted to say something like, "Listen, b*tch!  I am trying to get enough fricking protein for this baby to have a super smart brain or whatever this protein is supposed to do for her and I do not need your shit about drinking a fruit smoothie on a day when I am just a little freaked out about the whole needle issue."


A nurse finally called my name, and we went back to the room where there was a chair.  I sat down but I know I was acting weird and fidgety.  I told her that I'm not very good with needles.

"What does that mean?"

"It means that sometimes I faint.  Like, a lot of times."

"Do you need to lie down now?"

"Um, it would probably be a good idea."

So we went to another room where she had me lie down.  The bench/bed thing had a dirty pillow on it, which horrified me, but the nurse moved it so I didn't have to lie on it.  Still, I wonder if she put it back later?

At least the dirty pillow helped take my mind off the needle situation.  I laid down on the bench/bed and stared at the wall and practiced abdominal breathing while tightly clenching David's hand.  The nurse distracted me by asking about the due date and whether it was a boy or a girl.

It's a blessing that I have huge and protrusive veins, which, while relatively unattractive, make blood draws pretty easy.  It was still sick and disgusting in the way it always is when a needle pierces your skin and sucks blood out of your vein, but I managed not to pass out.  What a victory.


Since that day, I've been waiting to hear from doctor's office about the test results.  And yesterday afternoon, I got the phone call!  My glucose levels and whatever other blood-things they tested for were all normal. 

Sigh of relief.  I get to keep the baby.  And there should be no more needles for a while.

Friday, October 22, 2010

TOMS

I wore my TOMS shoes today.  I usually dress up for teaching, which now means that I wear ballet flats instead of heels.  TOMS aren't very dressy, so I haven't worn them to teach in so far this semester.  But today I liked the idea of wearing bright red shoes with my black leggings and black tunic.  Because the rest of me may be awkward and cumbersome but at least my feet are still small and cute.



If you are not familiar with TOMS, then I'm not sure what planet you're living on, but you can thank me for introducing me to the shoes you should totally know about.  They are cute canvas slip-ons with comfortable soles and their big thing is "one for one" -- for every pair you buy, they donate a pair of shoes to children in need.  Check out their website here.

One of my friends and I recently had a long discussion about how people need to be aware that we cannot shop our way to a better world.  That is, buying Gap's "Red" products and TOMS shoes is not the same as making an active effort to, say, volunteer for Amnesty International, or donate money to the Heifer project, or write letters to politicians in an effort to sway social policy.  But even knowing this, I really like my little red TOMS and I really liked the idea of some kid having a pair of shoes.  So there you have it.

Anyway, TOMS are uniquely shaped and sort of instantly recognizable footwear but they have become ubiquitous enough that I did not expect them to generate any kind of commentary when I slipped them on and headed out the door today.  I particularly would not have guessed that they would generate any kind of comment from boys. 

However, as I heaved myself into a chair before class today, one of my students said, "You're, like, my only professor who would ever wear TOMS."  I wasn't sure what to make of that, so I gave him a quizzical look and he quickly added, "That's a good thing!"

Does it mean I am young and hip?  That I have a social conscience (which I like to appease by shopping online)?  That his other professors wear much more expensive footwear?  I have no idea.

 Cooper ponders this question as well.

After class, I stopped at Penzey's spices on my way home to replenish our supply of Tuscan Sunset and Mural of Flavor (if you haven't tried these, trust me, they are exactly what your steamed vegetables are missing).  As I was walking down the sidewalk, I passed a cute hipster boy.  The black t-shirt, skinny jeans, hair-in-the-eyes and also a beard kind of hipster that I would have wanted to be friends with in college but might have been too intimidated to talk to.  Anyway, he kind of paused as I walked by and then he leaned over to stage-whisper to me, "I like your TOMS!"

Two unexpected and random compliments that kind of made my day.  But then, red shoes always make the day a little brighter.

Even when your stomach feels THIS big compared to your feet.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Bradley Method

David and I are taking this childbirth classes focused on The Bradley Method.  They're named for Dr. Robert Bradley, but I also have a twenty-one year old cousin named Bradley, so the name of the class sometimes makes us laugh because I don't know what Cousin Bradley's method for childbirth would be, but I guarantee it wouldn't require twelve weeks of classes with homework.

The Bradley Method is subtitled "Husband Coached Childbirth" (which is nice, sure, but clearly a bit outdated).  It focuses on relaxation methods and other natural strategies for pain management (massage, peaceful breathing, etc.).  Over 80% of couples who complete the classes are able to deliver their babies without medical intervention (drugs, epidural, c-section).  As someone trying to avoid that epidural needle, you'd better believe that I'm willing to give twelve weeks of class a try.

Anyway, we started last week.  There are six couples, all of us due in January or early February.  Two expecting girls, two expecting boys, two waiting to be surprised.  No one in the class appears to be a total freak although there is definitely one slightly weird couple and we definitely sat right next to them because I have a kind of radar that attracts mosquitoes and also weird people when we go anywhere.

David and I walked into class and got our packet of materials--a book by midwife Ina May Gaskin, a three-ring binder of supplementary readings xeroxed from magazines, websites, etc., a Bradley Method workbook, and a folder with the class syllabus and homework assignments.  Also a free pen.  As we found our seats, I glanced at the display of additional "recommended reading" books that were at the front of the room.  I had already read all of them.

I clutched the stack of school supplies to my chest belly and leaned over to David.

"You know how I go watch you pitch at your ballgames and you're pretty good?"

"Um, yeah?"

"You're in my world now!"

I am so nerdy.  I love being the student.  It's like even more fun than being the teacher because it's less work.

So in our first class we discussed exercises for pregnancy and a little about nutrition in pregnancy.  Bradley Method makes a big deal about women getting enough protein.  They want us to get 70-100 grams a day.  For a vegetarian, at least for this one, that is almost unheard of.  I've started reading the packages of everything.  Peanutbutter sandwiches are a good thing because the bread I got is 5 grams/slice and once you slather on peanutbutter, you can hit almost 20 with just a sandwich.  But for me to get even close to 70 grams a day, I have to drink a protein shake in the morning.  So David has been dutifully making me a fruit smoothie with protein powder every single morning and I have been dutifully slurping them down (they're actually very good).

We talked about questions you should ask your doctor.  I had done a lot of reading ahead of time, so I tried to keep myself from blurting out the answer every time she asked a question, lest I become that girl in class.  I was relieved that my doctor is on the list of Bradley-Method-Recommended doctors in our area.  I was also told by the instructor that the hospital we plan to deliver at is the best in the area for natural births.  Two points for us! 

We did a few exercises in class--we practice tailor sitting, squatting, pelvic rock (essentially the cat/cow in yoga), butterfly, and side relaxation.  We talked about kegels (Seriously she must have said the words "pelvic floor" like twenty-five times in five minutes.  And then when she gestured toward her own pelvic floor, I was like OMG we all know where it's located!).  I do like the instructor though.  She's not too crunchy, by which I mean she was wearing make up. 

Our homework for the week including reading assignments, keeping track of what we eat (adding up the grams of protein everyday), and watching a DVD.  David and I watched the DVD Sunday night.  I was glad we did not watch it in class because we are both far too immature to not giggle at certain parts.  Like after the baby was born and trying to nurse and the dad told the baby that the mom had good nipples.  However, I definitely paid attention to the documentary when it reported that a recent study asked women who had just had babies to rank their level of pain.  Women who had epidurals and women who had doulas (but no epidurals) ranked their pain level the same.

Maybe I'm clutching at straws here, but that made me feel a little more confident about my ability to do this. 

A nagging little voice in the back of my head wonders what the point of all of these classes will be if I end up having to have a c-section or having to be induced or any number of other scenarios that are totally out of my control.  But still.  I think it will be worth it to be totally prepared.  To know what all of my choices are and to be able to discuss them with my doctor instead of being told what is going to happen.  So for now, I am putting myself in enthusiastic student mode (which is much more fun than irritated and frustrated teacher mode, where I found myself yet again at University B yesterday).  And I guess in about twelve weeks we will learn how this all shakes out.

Monday, October 18, 2010

27 Weeks

I hit 27 weeks on Saturday.  Baby Duck weighs about two pounds, is approximately 14 1/2 inches from head to toe, and is compared on one baby website to the size of a head of cauliflower.  Excellent.

Technically, I still have a few days to go before I am officially in the THIRD TRIMESTER.

[Insert many cliches here about how time flies, etc.]

The thing is, I have been feeling third trimester for about a week already.

That is to say, I feel huge.

 The dogs are mesmerized by the belly.  This picture does not do its size justice.  I think the sweater (and/or the camera distance) makes it appear smaller than real life.

Maneuvering my body around on a daily basis has shifted from bopping around town in a regular-sized sedan to making painstaking turns in a school bus.  Getting up off the couch, rolling over in bed, and bending over to pick up anything now requires vocal accompaniment as I grunt and groan my way through the day.

I feel heavy in my hips, like my torso is squishing down onto my legs (hmm...  I wonder why?).  When I shift position (especially when I get out of the car and start walking) I automatically have to pee, even if I've just peed a few minutes ago.  My feet are starting to get swollen after standing in front of the class.  And, yes, today will be the last day I wear heels because seriously.  Not worth it.  I need to get these maternity pants hemmed so I can wear them with flats.

Also, I am quite sure that my thighs and my upper arms are also getting bigger and it is even possible that I am getting a Fat Pregnancy Nose, although that could be paranoia.

I've gotten to the point that slouching on the sofa is not comfortable because I sink so much I feel like I can't breathe.  Getting comfortable requires elaborate pillow and puggle positioning so that my low back is supported, my feet are elevated, and my spine is straight.  And by the time I get in that position?  I have to get up and go pee.

And, do you know what else?

 I am going to get so much bigger.  

I have thirteen more weeks before d-day!   In all likelihood, Baby Duck is going to leap from the 2 pounds she weighs now to at least 8 pounds.  I'm basing this on family history--I weighed 8 lbs. 7 oz., my brother was 9 lbs. 4 oz., and David was a 10-pounder (mercy!).

In all seriousness, though, anytime I start to feel uncomfortable or I want to just walk away from something I've dropped on the floor rather than bend over squat down (preggos are supposed to squat, not bend!), I think of our good friends whose baby girl had to be delivered about a week ago via emergency c-section--about twelve weeks before her expected due date.  At 28 weeks, their daughter was born weighing just over 2 pounds.  And while her mama isn't dealing with pregnancy symptoms anymore, I know that she would have endured anything if it meant that she could keep her baby safely growing inside her.

So I am remembering to be grateful for every kick in the bladder and every shirt now straining to stay down over my belly.  It helps me to keep in mind that me getting bigger means Baby Duck getting bigger, which is just what she needs to be doing.

I think we can all agree that it would be fine if she stopped this side of 10 pounds, though.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Baby Duck: She's a Bum Genius Already!

So...  we've been talking about cloth diapering for a while now.  I know, I know.  Isn't there something about this being the twenty-first century?  And also--gross!

But there are two major factors influencing this decision.  The environmentalist in me shudders at the thought of the dumpsters full of non-biodegradable diapers that Baby Duck would go through before she's potty-trained.  And the adjunct English professor teaching for pennies shudders at the dollars that would be spent to fill those dumpsters with dirty disposable diapers.  (The adjunct English professor also notes the alliteration in the preceding sentence.)

So I started googling, of course.  I needed to know that cloth diapers were do-able even for people who weren't hippies.  I needed to know that I wouldn't become enslaved to my washing machine.  I needed to know they wouldn't stink up our house.  And I had to think about the real life gross-out factor.  I mean, do real people do this?  People like me?  People I would be friends with?  The kind of people who get pedicures and wear leather boots and drink cheap wine and get a guilty pleasure out of reading celebrity magazines?

I am not sure about those specific qualities, but it turns out that a lot of perfectly normal, not-too-crunchy people are definitely cloth diapering their babies.

So I pored over Amalah's posts on Alphamom.com about Bum Genius 3.0 and Funzi Bunz.  I carefully read Jill's posts at Baby Rabies about cloth diapering her baby/toddler (also this one).  As Jill puts it, she cloth diapers her baby but she doesn't wear Birkenstocks.  This is the kind of information I need!  And I visited our local Cotton Babies store and got the tour of all of the different cloth diapering options.

Some real-life friends of ours had a baby in February and are cloth diapering her with much success.  They do a traditional tri-fold cloth diaper with a snappi fastener and a cover.  So when we toured Cotton Babies, I sort of assumed that is what we would end up with.  They're the most economical and the covers are pretty freaking cute.

But after doing the "diaper tour," David was totally sold on the Bum Genius 4.0, and I was leaning pretty heavily in that direction as well.  We liked the snaps over the velcro based on reviews I'd read online. 

These are "all in one" cloth diapers, meaning you can assemble them ahead of time and then throw them on the baby as needed and they go on and fasten pretty much like a disposable diaper, just with snaps instead of velcro or sticky tabs.  The cover has a pocket for a thick insert and there are smaller inserts that can be added for overnights or, I don't know, super-pooper babies?

The other thing about the 4.0 is that they are designed with all of these additional little snaps on them so that you can adjust the size as your baby grows from infant to toddler--meaning you don't have to buy new diapers when your baby gets too big for the first set.  They should last you the whole time your baby is in diapers.  Plus they came in super cute colors and--according to a recent post on Baby Rabies--they will soon be available in patterns!

I have to admit, I was pretty well sold by the cuteness.  Add to that the general idea of not filling a landfill with disposables, (allegedly) being able to potty-train a little earlier, and the earnest promises by cloth diapering moms that the laundry really ends up not being that big of a deal (especially if you have this little sprayer attachment to do a quick rinse into the toilet before throwing the diaper and inserts into a specially designed diaper pail), and you have me pretty well convinced that I can actually do this cloth diaper thing.

But my husband would only be swayed by the budget-friendliness of cloth diapering.  The Bum Genius 4.0 were quite a bit more expensive than the traditional cloth diapers--were they still worth it?

Look how cute and pink it is!
People generally say that you need 24 diapers to get through life without doing laundry every. single. freaking. day.  Cotton Babies sells packets of 12 Bum Genius 4.0 diapers and inserts for about $200.  Double that to get 24, and you have an up-front investment of $400.

BUT, that $400 is supposed to get you through three years of diaper wearing.  Remember, it's one size fits all, so you just adjust the diaper to grow with your baby.

See all the snaps at the waist band?  Gives lots of adjustment.  And the bottom is also snapped up to make it shorter for a bitty-baby.


Here's the full diaper, unsnapped.  The top two rows of snaps are the waist band, the bottom rows allow you to shorten or lengthen the diaper as necessary.  Genius, no?  The inserts are absorbent pads that fit inside the diaper and also fold over to adjust length as necessary.


Compare this to an estimated monthly expense of $75/month on disposable diapers, which means that by the time your baby is six months old, you would have already spent $450 on disposables.

Of course, you have to factor in the cost of laundry detergent, water, and your time and energy to do the laundry.  We've started using Charlie's laundry detergent ($20ish for 128 loads and recommended for baby clothes and dirty dipes).  Our front loader works best with liquid detergent so I haven't tried making my own, although evidently people do it quite successfully and for mere pennies (just ask the Duggars).  We pay a flat rate for water in our city--our water bill is based solely on the number of faucets in our home rather than the actual amount of water we use.  So that won't be a problem.  In terms of environmental benefit of saving water, from what I've read, cloth diapering still beats disposables because water is used in the production of disposable diapers, so there's not as much of savings there as you might suppose.  With cloth, you're not paying for the natural fuels needed to ship disposable diapers on trucks, either. 

You also have to consider the cost of accessories, though.  I plan to make my own wipes by cutting up unbleached flannel and stitching around the edges so it won't unravel. I can store these in a wipe-warmer with a solution like Bum Genius Bottom Cleaner so they stay damp and ready to go. I figure that I'll probably keep a few disposable wipes on hand as well.

Also added to the up front cost of the diapers will be the electricity to dry them (although I plan to hang-dry as much as possible--I do this already with a lot of our clothes). And we'll probably want to get diaper liners eventually (breast milk poo is totally water soluable, so you don't even have to rinse before throwing the whole diaper in the wash, but once they start eating solid foods it gets kinda nasty. So a lot of people use a liner so you can peel out and flush away solid waste and then throw the diaper in the wash).

We also decided to buy a couple of Flip diapers because they have disposable inserts that we figure will come in handy occasionally. And we have to purchase some wet bags to haul dirty diapers home in (gross! but true!).


So, the reality is that our up front cost will be more than $400, but still I think much less than disposable diapering for a year.  The other factor, though, was my own time and energy and desire to not want to gag everytime I think about laundry.  But most people I know who have babies are already doing laundry about every other day.  The first week or so, when Baby Duck is going through 8-10 diapers a day, we will probably use disposables (hey, I'm making an effort here, but I'm not a martyr!)  After that, though, since I will most likely be working part-time, it seems like a little extra effort to throw in a load of laundry won't be that big of a sacrifice.  Keep in mind, I don't hate laundry the way some people do--I'd rather do laundry than cook dinner; however, I'm not typically doing poop-smeared, pee-soaked, laundry.  So I have to admit I'm a little nervous about the gross-out factor. 

But, diapers are gross anyway, right?  And poop is a pretty inevitable part of parenting.  In fact, Cooper decided to give me some extra practice yesterday by having some unpleasant diarrhea on our walk that necessitated me wiping his butt with a wet wipe when we got home.  Eeew!

So seriously, if I'm picking up dog poop and wiping dog butt, is there anything relating to poop that I can't handle?  (Hmm...  asking that question seems to be asking for the fates to send the smack down on me, so let's just pretend I never said that.)

Anyway, we visited Cotton Babies once more yesterday and set up a little registry there just in case people want to buy Baby Duck some cloth diapers and want to know what our color preferences are (or want to buy her these adorable bamboo pajamas because seriously they are so soft and so cute that I'm about ready to drive back to the store and buy them myself even though David thinks $28 is unnecessarily expensive for a newborn baby outfit when "She'll be wrapped up in a blanket all the time anyway.").  Really I figured it would be a way to keep me organized about how many diapers I need and what accessories are recommended.  So after thinking it over for a while, we decided that we felt it was still worth it in the long run--both environmentally and economically--for us to cloth diaper.

So while we were at Cotton Babies, once I'd oohed and aahed over the lovely bamboo baby pajamas and David had played with the Hana wooden toys, David suggested we go ahead buy a few Bum Genius 4.0 diapers they had marked down on special.  He's totally in "daddy mode" these days.  We had to back slowly away from the wooden duck on wheels that Baby Duck could pull around the house...  you know, in a year and a half or so, when she can walk.

So now I guess we're serious about the cloth diaper thing.  We've got a small shopping bag stuffed with Bum Genius 4.0 covers and inserts and last night I practiced diapering my old teddy bear, Ted.  Doesn't he look cute in the "butternut"?

Looking dapper in the diaper, Ted!

We've got 13 more weeks before Baby Duck is scheduled to arrive and I'm getting more excited about her everyday!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Teaching Lessons

I am teaching at two dramatically different universities this semester.  We'll call them University A and University B.

University A is ranked as one of the top undergraduate programs in the country.  Its tuition is more than many people's annual salary.  Its students are smart, motivated, and privileged.  This semester, I have been fortunate to have a great group of students.  Sure, they are a bit neurotic about grades, but no one has shown up in my office in tears over a C+ or belligerent over a B.  The biggest complaint about students at this school is that they come with such a huge sense of entitlement.  Many of them feel that they are too smart for any kind of "required" classes and they don't need a freshmen level writing class.

Many of them honestly don't need a freshmen level writing class.

There is still a range of students--students from big cities and those from rural communities; students who live comfortably ordinary middle-class lives and those who summer in Europe; those who get scholarships and big loans to come to University A and those whose parents pay tuition in cash; those who went to public school and those who went to elite private boarding schools in the Northeast (yes, evidently those things still exist).

This is not to say that I have never been frustrated and annoyed with University A students.  I have had some doozies in the past--students who won't shut up, students who say awkward things, students who don't hand in work, students who sleep through class because they were up all night studying.

This semester, I got so lucky.  My students this semester are all incredibly bright, funny, and hardworking.  They come into class with their Macbooks, carefully taking notes and asking for clarifications.  They are enrolled in other classes like Calculus III and have majors like "PNP" which is essentially a triple major in Philosophy, Neuroscience, and Psychology.  They are friendly and eager to please.  They are by no means perfect (I did have one whip out a cell phone and openly text during class--but it only happened once!) but they show up having read the assigned work, having done the homework, and prepared to participate in a class discussion about it.  There's a joke that you can go into a 50 minute class with four discussion questions and the students will fill up all the time because they all have something to say and they will thoughtfully respond to each others' questions and comments and they will ask new questions.

They are good students.  They have had lots of practice being good students.  They have been consistently rewarded for being good students.  They are easy and fun to teach.  They are privileged.

At University B, it is the exact opposite experience.  Teaching there is frustrating.  I often feel like I am teaching high school because there is a level of classroom management involved that I have never had to deal with before.  Students come to class without their textbook.  Over and over again.  No matter how many times I insist they need to bring their books to class.  Students text on their cell phones.  No matter how many times I mention it, or if I call them out on it.  Students hand in essays that don't meet the basic requirements of the assignment, that are rife with grammatical errors and punctuation problems, that don't follow MLA format.

I have gotten so frustrated that I dread going to class at University B.  I hate trying to fill each 75 minute class with a dog and pony show that will keep the students actively engaged.  I have to ask basic comprehension questions about reading assignments and then guide them ever so carefully toward analysis because they would never offer an analytical comment on their own.  I repeat myself over and over again and still don't get through to them.  They whisper when I'm talking, they half-ass peer review workshops, they make me feel like I am not making any difference whatsoever.

Today, though, I realized that "they" is actually a pretty small fraction of class (maybe 1/4) and that I am letting them infect the class experience as a whole.  I am taking personally some issues that are not personal.  Several students didn't get the homework assignment done for today.  But many of these students don't have computers at home!  (This blows my mind.)  One girl explained to me after class that she read the essay after her kids were in bed so she didn't have time to finish answering all of the questions and she's trying to quit one of her two jobs and she'd like to quit both of them, but then how would they pay the bills?  So she'll e-mail me the homework today, if I'll still accept it.

A perfect example of the contrast:

Yesterday at University A, I had a conversation with a student who addressed me very respectfully but was obviously comfortable talking to adults and felt completely at ease while we chatted.  He explained that he'd like to focus his project this semester on an Edward Albee play and he described the play to me and said he'd done some acting in high school and had memorized one of the monologues.  Then he told me that he'd ask his acting coach to send him the full script.

Of course he has an acting coach.

Of course he knows who Edward Albee is.

Today at University B, I asked students to write persuasive letters to a friend trying to change their mind about something.  They had to find a shared bridge or common ground to use as a persuasive appeal in their letter.  When I asked who wanted to share, one woman raised her hand.  She is probably in her mid-thirties, an attractive African-American woman whom I know also has kids and no computer at home (but who is not the same student mentioned above).  She is quiet and very soft spoken (so soft spoken I often have to ask her to repeat herself when she speaks in class).  She matter-of-factly shared with the class that she was writing her letter to a childhood friend who is an exotic dancer, trying to convince her to change her career path.  Her friend has a high school degree, while my student had to work to get her GED.  Now my student is in college, and wants to convince her friend that she can do something more with her life.  Their common ground is that they went to the same church growing up and "we both know better."

I was totally unprepared for that perspective, and it made me realize that whether or not I am doing a good job of teaching these students something, I still have a lot to learn.  I remind myself everyday before I go to that class that each of these students is fighting a battle that I know nothing about, but hearing about their life experiences--and how different they are from those of the students at University A--is humbling. 

They are still frustrating--especially the little punks on athletic scholarships who can't stop texting during class--but I have to focus on the students who are really there to learn.

Maybe by the end of the semester, I'll teach them how to use commas properly and they'll teach me how to be a more patient and generous instructor.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Mailman Taught My Dog to be Racist

The mailman steps on our porch.

Cooper barks. 

Ferociously.

Obnoxiously.

Incessantly.

Then the mailman walks away, and Cooper retires to his bed, looking quite pleased with himself.

From what I've read, breaking the mailman barking habit is one of the hardest things to train a dog to do. (Or not do, as it were.)  The reason for this is that they get rewarded every time they do it.  The mailman never sits on the porch and cracks open a cold one, ignoring the barking dog.  The mailman never comes inside and makes himself at home.  The mailman never opens the door and yells at the dog to shut his fat face.  The mailman always hears the barking dog and is always chased away.

That kind of reward system is hard to tamper with.  So we have kind of gotten used to having a totally obnoxious dog.  Cooper freaks out for a few minutes each day.  Meh.  He'll stop eventually.  If this interferes with Baby Duck naptime in the future, it could be a problem.  But for now, I just shove him out the back door if he really annoys me, because yelling doesn't do any good.  That way he can stand at the fence and continue to bark at the top of his lungs.  At least he's more than three feet away from me.

The real problem now is that our mailman is an African American man, probably in his mid-forties.  And Cooper seems to have been conditioned to hate all African American men.  I've always been a little anxious that he's not really colorblind, but today's walk confirmed it.

We were strolling through the neighborhood when we approached two men standing and chatting near a car.  One was a white guy in shorts and a t-shirt.  One was a black guy in a blue uniform (not a postal system uniform, but somewhat similar).

Cooper growled and lunged at the black guy.  He continued barking as I dragged him away, the fur on his back standing up.

I was just glad there were two men there, so perhaps his racism did not seem so overt. Then I thought, well, maybe it was the uniform.  The guy kind of looked like a mailman in blue pants and a blue shirt, even though he was just standing by a car.  So maybe Cooper is clothing-conscious rather than racist.  This seemed like a better scenario.

We turned up the next block and saw a real mailman.  A middle aged, bald, white mailman.  Delivering mail.  Walking up on people's porches, in his blue uniform.  Just like our mailman.  Except not black.

I tightened my hold on Cooper's leash, waiting for him to unleash his fury.

He glanced at the mailman.

And then he glanced away, sniffed the ground, peed on a tree, wagged his tail at someone else walking down the sidewalk.  Totally not interested.

So, yes.  My dog is racist.  But perhaps only toward black people wearing blue uniforms?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Housekeeping

My house was never cleaner than it was the year I was on Dissertation Fellowship.

Because anytime it was time for me to sit down and work on my dissertation?  I was suddenly overwhelmed with the absolutely unavoidable compulsion to clean.

Since I've finished the dissertation?

Um, not so much.

I mean, seriously?  Do PhDs have to clean their own homes?

Answer:  Well, it's that, or live in filth.  Which, actually, a lot of them do.  Oh, and I guess you could pay someone else to do it, but the percentage of PhDs who could afford to do that is probably relatively small compared to the number of PhDs who simply live in filth because they are too high-minded and busy thinking about important philosophical things to bother cleaning their homes.

Or maybe they are just too busy grading countless stacks of papers to actually have time to vacuum up dog hair.

All I know is that I had a huge stack of essays to get through today.  I need to return them to my students tomorrow and the grading had to get done.

Grading is stressful because I am always afraid the first grades of the semester will change the dynamic of the class and create an explosion of anxiety, resulting in frantic e-mails and students in my office either fighting back tears or getting all belligerent and entitled with me.  So it takes me far longer than it should to phrase my comments so they are constructive and to consider my grades so that I can clearly explain why this essay deserved a C+, even though on the first read-through I can pretty much peg the letter grade.  (Yes, I teach students who freak out about C+'s.  And B-'s.  And I totally understand, bless their little hearts.  But it's still annoying.)

Of course, as soon as I sat down with the first essay and my favorite green pen, I couldn't help but notice how messy my house was.  And wasn't there one last load of laundry to do?  Why don't I take just a second to wipe down the kitchen counter?  What about all the junk mail--not the mention that layer of dust--on the bar?  Has the dog been walked today?  Maybe I should check my e-mail...

So I worked out a deal with myself.  Everytime I graded an essay, I'd let myself get up and do one little project.  Grade an essay - walk the dog.  Grade an essay - clean up the kitchen.  Grade an essay - fold the laundry.

Granted, these are chores I am interspersing with essay grading.  But when it comes to grading or doing household chores, chores always sound like more fun.

I am shocked to say that I probably had the most productive afternoon of my life.  In about five hours, I graded twelve essays and de-cluttered each room of my house, put away a basketful of laundry, organized my desk, made my glucose tolerance testing appointment, painted my toenails, and spoke to a friend on the phone.

I'm thinking about running the vacuum before David gets home, but without the layer of dog hair on the sofa, he might not feel like he's at home. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Time Suck

A friend of mine taught me this acronym that I like to use as a grading rule:  H.A.L.T.

It means that if I am Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired, I should not grade papers, lest I take out my emotions on an innocent student's prose.

At this point in the semester, with the third trimester of pregnancy a week (or two?) away, the novelty of back-to-school long worn off, and my inbox bursting with students' neuroses about grades, students' half-assed excuses for absences, and various other professional responsibilities to which I should attend, I am finding that there is NO TIME when I don't feel hungry, angry, or tired.

Sorry, students.  Your prose will feel my wrath.

But here I sit, staring at a huge stack of essays I need to grade and instead I find myself replying to e-mails, planning for classes, corresponding with librarians and advisors and former students and current students and suddenly the afternoon is gone and I still have a huge stack of essays to grade.

And I'm guessing that by the time I finish writing this blog post, they still won't be graded.  Amazing how that works.

There are a few good things happening, though:

1.  It is scarf weather.
2.  Our childbirth classes start next week.
3.  My cough is officially 100% over.
4.  We got nursery furniture.
5.  One of my BFFs had her baby!

I will cover at least four of those items in future blog posts.  Until then, I'll be pregnant girl grading papers with her decaf coffee at the corner table.