Sunday, February 24, 2019

Sunday Thoughts

We have been at my parents' for the weekend. The drive down on Friday was not fun--we weren't able to leave St. Louis until 6pm (getting home from work, packing, feeding kids, etc.--it takes so much time!) and then it was raining on and off and so foggy the entire time that I was tense (even though I was the passenger) and at one point I finally started drifting off to sleep only to do that startle-awake thing MULTIPLE times. So I just woke myself up.

But anyway, we arrived and have had a really nice visit. We made a Walmart run so the kids could spend the money they got from their other grandma in their Valentine cards. They bought these awful LOL dolls that they think are so awesome and which should really be regulated when it comes to the excessive and wasteful packaging. Part of the "fun" of the toy is that it's a surprise so you don't know what you're getting and you open each little accessory separately but it's all a bunch of plastic and garbage and I hate it. My mom also let the girls choose their own t-shirts to match these little rainbow skirts she got them and each one picked the most hideous options in their size range, instead of the relatively cute option I wanted them to get.

BUT I ran into my high school boyfriend's sister and grandma and I got to talk briefly with them and see his sister's new baby and that was really fun. I STILL miss that family and how welcome they made me feel.

We also saw my cousin and her little girl as we were in the check out line, which was fun even though we already had plans to go visit them and see their new house after lunch. It was like a bonus visit, and Mesa and Zuzu were delighted to discover they were wearing the exact same style of boots!

I managed a nap on Saturday afternoon (sort of--I felt sure I was always aware of the NOISE happening around me, but I did feel a little bit rested after).

{Sidenote: I'm not quite sure if this pregnancy is different in any significant way from the others or if I just don't remember things, but I am pretty confident that I am more tired this time. I have never been a big napper, but I am loving a good nap on weekend afternoons these days. I know I was always exhausted in the first trimester, but I don't remember being as tired in the following weeks as I am this time around.}

So we visited Brandi and Mesa and then we came back and my mom fixed dinner and my Papa came in town and ate with us and the girls were reasonably well behaved until my dad got them totally riled up and crazy but they settled down with a bath and some books and went to sleep pretty quickly (although it was probably 45 minutes past their usual bedtime).

Today I was really looking forward to a breakfast date with David. We like to send the girls to church with my parents and then go out for a big breakfast at the White Grill. Coco was whiny and mopey this morning and I knew it wasn't normal behavior, but I was chalking it up to still having the sniffles (they dragged on all last week) and being overtired. I should have been clued in when she didn't eat much breakfast and wanted to snuggle with me before they left for church. Instead, I was thinking about scrambled eggs and hashbrowns and I sent them on their merry way. Maybe ten minutes later, I was in the shower when David knocked on the bathroom door to tell me Coco had thrown up and he was on his way to go pick her up.

Let's all just hope we can make the drive home without her barfing in the car.

We drive a Honda CRV and I love this car. I had a different Honda CRV before this one and after driving it for ten years and 150,000 miles, we just upgraded to a new version of the same thing. I loathe new car shopping more than anything because I find it so stressful, so David actually bought it without me one day when I was home sick and I was thrilled.

But when we loaded up to go out of town just for the weekend with two kids (both still in five point harness car seats) and two dogs (one on the seat in the middle, one on the floorboard) and a cargo area full of suitcases and dog food and pillows... I'm really not sure how we'll LITERALLY fit another human person in the car, even a tiny one, especially since babies tend to bring a LOT of accessories when they travel (little divas).

We've researched car seats that will fit three across in a CRV (there aren't that many) and we plan to start with purchasing those (we'll be due for new ones anyway, thanks to six year expiration dates) but I'm just wondering if we'll need a bigger vehicle. I'm under no illusions that I'm too cool for a mini-van (I'm not at all cool) but I also appreciate the gas mileage my little Honda gets. The Pilot is obviously appealing because it's the slightly bigger version of what I already have and I am a creature of habit, but then I wonder if the garage will start to feel really tight because the Pilot just looks so much WIDER to me. And of course we will be making NO decisions on this until summer because apparently I am actually very superstitious and will not be tempting fate.

For example, I went to the mall on Friday (which I NEVER do, but I confess that I always enjoy it because malls are beautiful and clean and they smell good and they remind me of a time in my life when I was young and fancy free and my parents paid my bills and I DID go to the mall). Anyway, I was returning a pair of pants I'd ordered online that I thought would work for loungy maternity pants but didn't because they aren't actually maternity pants.

I have been really resisting buying maternity clothes since I know I'll never ever wear them again. I got lots of things on load from my SIL and I have a few loose-fitting tops that I can make work, so I committed to only buying maternity clothes second hand if I was going to purchase anything. BUT pants are hard, folks. First of all, I don't think many people sell or donate loungy maternity pants, probably because we just keep wearing them postpartum. Secondly, I have some jeans that I'd loaned to Jo and she gave back to me, but that's five pregnancies between the two of us and I remembered that I'd literally busted through the seams on the belly panel on one pair and she'd sewn them back together.

Anyway, long story short, I returned the non-maternity pants that were a pipe dream and then went to the maternity store and managed to find a pair of jeans and a pair of lounge pants on the clearance rack and only spent $10 more on the both of them than I had originally spent on the non-maternity pants. So I was feeling pretty good about all of this, but you know what maternity clothing stores do when you check out? They ask you for ALL OF YOUR INFORMATION--address, e-mail, due date--so that they can put you on their mailing lists and send you ALL THE COUPONS and ALL THE ADVERTISEMENTS for ALL THINGS BABY AND PREGNANCY RELATED for basically ever No. Thank. You. Pass.

So when she asked for my e-mail address, I lied. I briefly considered explaining the whole story, but instead I gave her an old e-mail that I haven't really used since college and walked away feeling relieved and wondering if I also should have provided an old mailing address because you KNOW they are going to snail mail me ads too. 

I've been fooled by that game once before, and I'll never forget that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as I clicked and e-mailed and sometimes had to make phone calls to try to unsubscribe from all of the things congratulating me on my January baby who was born weeks early and never came home.

Keep your effing coupons and all your assumptions of a happy outcome. These companies have no idea how much pain they can cause with a freaking e-mail listserv.

In other pregnancy updates, I passed the one hour glucose test on Friday. There was some mild drama at the lab (and by "drama," I mean people talking to me in a rude and/or condescending manner) because I chose to drink the drink at home (as my doctor suggested) rather than parking myself in their waiting room for an hour. They were less excited about this approach and seemed really annoyed that I didn't know the exact number of milligrams in the drink my doctor had given me (ummm... it was the standard size for the one hour test! And HE gave it to me, so he will know!) but it was over and done with fairly quickly. Blood draws. So gross.

Tomorrow is the last Monday in February, which feels like something worth celebrating as well. I shifted my loyalties from fall to spring over the past several years, and I am more than ready for warm sunshine and sunlit evenings.

My big plans for spring break mostly involve reorganizing my house, donating half the stuff in the basement, sorting through the girls' clothes and sorting through my clothes, too. Two more weeks until I get started on that project! And then we'll have just six more weeks left of the semester.

One final thought for today... scrunchies. I'm a child of the 80s/90s, so of course I'm a fan of scrunchies. I ordered a set from Amazon and I have zero regrets. Zuzu also thinks they are awesome, which I find hilarious. Now if I start talking about revisiting baby doll dresses and Doc Martins, I may need an intervention. But I'm feeling just fine about this scrunchy habit.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Galentine's Day - Valentine's Day - Love Poems

I know Valentine's Day is a commercial holiday just intent on selling chocolate and flowers and chocolate-covered strawberries and pieces of folded cardstock that cost more than a Starbucks latte and say someone else's words on them, but I still kind of love a day about love.

Today my English department hosted a "Love and Anti-Love Poetry Reading" and invited students to share a poem (their own writing or someone else's). We had a good turnout (you just never know with these things!) and several great poems shared. I heard "When a Boy Tells You He Loves You," by Edwin Bodney, which was new to me, and my old favorite "Tonight I Can Write..." by Pablo Neruda. One of my colleagues read "Having a Coke With You" by Frank O'Hara, which is so charming. I love a breathless, run-on poem.

In the spirit of anti-love, or maybe the kind of love in which the same person you've been married to for, say, fourteen years, is both incredibly wonderful and blindingly irritating (speaking hypothetically, of course), I recited the following poem by Margaret Atwood:

You fit into me
Like a hook into an eye.

A fish hook.
An open eye.

Brilliant, right?

Sending love into the universe... and now I'm wanting both a latte AND a chocolate covered strawberry.

If you're in the mood for some more love poems, here's a few writers with their favorites.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Winter Drearies

I'm home with Coco today, who most likely has Influenza A, given that all her symptoms match up and her best friend from school was diagnosed with it on Saturday morning. Coco woke up with a fever on Sunday morning and spent most of yesterday napping and coughing in my bed. (We changed the sheets before bedtime.)

She is much perkier today, and is determined to make the most of her day at home by binging cartoons and drinking juice--both major treats.

I'm trying to do All The Things for work and domestic life, which has me answering e-mail and setting up online quizzes, adjusting due dates, grading exams, and making lesson plans in between doing load after load of laundry, throwing together stuffed shells in the crock pot, making macaroni & cheese for the sickie, and I've just about convinced myself to make oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for The Closer.

My big excursion today was a walk to the mailbox with Clementine, which just reinforced how miserable this weather and how much I need some exercise. Maybe I can convince myself to spend 10 minutes on the elliptical this afternoon? We'll see if she actually takes a nap today... She seems pretty well rested at the moment.

Unrelated to the flu, I have been going to a weekly anti-racism workshop (getting further involved in social justice movements in St. Louis was a new year's resolution, and this is one step in that direction). One of the things we did was write a personal narrative getting at why we care about issues of racism and social justice. It was an illuminating exercise. I realized that Eliza's death was a profound turning point in my life, not just because of the devastating grief, but also because it burst the illusion I had been comfortably living with: the idea that life is mostly a meritocracy. I mean, I knew that bad things happened to good people, but I really was invested in the notion that we can control most of what happens to us, as long as we work hard and try to be kind and, you know, have grit and determination and all that stuff.

When Eliza died, the rug was ripped out from under me, and I had a new understanding (belated, clearly, since I had spent all my life living a pretty privileged and sheltered existence) of all the circumstances outside my control. I've now come to believe that, because the universe can throw a curve ball at any moment, because there are no promises about life being fair or just, it is crucial that we make sure the systems and institutions that we can control are as fair and equitable as possible. So that has become something I'm really passionate about--particularly since in a city like mine, it's painfully obvious how unfair and inequitable things like education and housing can be.

One of the first things we did at the workshop was go around and introduce ourselves and say "who your people are." Relieved that I didn't have to go first, I listened and thought as we went around the circle. You know who my people are? I said, "Readers, writers, academics, parents of young kids, and especially bereaved parents." It felt really good to say that out loud. It made me think of the days I longed for an arm band to indicate that I was grieving--some kind of outward sign that said, "My baby died and I'm barely coping. Please be gentle with me." I don't feel that raw and vulnerable so much these days, but I still sometimes feel set apart from the non-bereaved parents--especially the idea of them as a group (like PTO moms). It really is a sorority nobody wants to pledge, but it's filled with some of the best people I know. And I just feel like life is easier if people know from the moment they meet me that bereaved parents are my people.

This month of February is so bleak. While last week was overly busy, this week is much less chaotic, especially since Coco will likely be sitting out of her Spanish and dance extracurriculars. I'm trying to appreciate the coziness of being home--lighting candles, doing yoga, listening to Brandi Carlisle nonstop.

And speaking of hygge, I'm off to make those cookies. Wash your hands and eat some cookies and let's have spring hurry up and get here.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Closer - 25 Weeks

Tomorrow marks 25 weeks in this pregnancy, which feels really hard to believe. So close, and yet so far away!

A week ago, I had a teary meltdown worrying about the baby. 24 weeks is technically viability (although the odds are not great) and immediately my anxiety goes up. Viability means I need to pay attention, I need to know what's going on, I need to be intuitive and psychic and medically trained to figure out what could be happening and how to make sure the baby is going to be okay. No pressure.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned that we found a doula to work with again this time. I had hoped to work with the amazing woman who somehow transformed Coco's birth into a wonderful experience for me, but she's retired from the doula work, so she recommended another doula in the area who also seems great.

One awesome thing about doulas is that they are more interested in pregnancies than in children--that's the medical history and physical/emotional experiences they want to know about, right? So every conversation with her includes Eliza, she says Eliza's name all the time, she constantly talks about my "fourth baby" (which OMG four babies). So that's all really validating.

As some of you may remember, part of the reason I work with a doula is because I want to avoid needles. I don't want an epidural because the idea of a needle in my spine is scarier to me than the idea of experiencing pain for a few hours. And I am not judging anyone who gets an epidural (seriously in my circle of friends, I don't even know if one other person has delivered a baby without an epidural). It's just a control issue for me, plus now I've done it three times so it's what I know.

But I also feel like I don't quite fit in to circles of crunchy moms who are all about non-medicated births and breastfeeding (even though I do those things) because I want all the monitoring--all the non-stress tests leading up to a scheduled induction. For Zuzu and Coco, I was induced with a Cervidil insert that softens the cervix. Both times, that was enough to get my body going into labor on its own so I was able to avoid pitocin and an IV--I'm hoping we can follow that pattern again this time. This is assuming I don't go into labor on my own earlier, because my anxiety will not allow me to go past my due date and I expect to be induced in week 39 as I was with Zuzu and Coco.

So I'm planning to be induced, but also not to have an epidural. Natural birth advocates recommend intermittent monitoring during labor to avoid interventions that may actually be unnecessary. But I want constant monitoring. One thing that keeps me calm during labor is being able to look at the monitor and see the baby's heartbeat. I need to know that the baby is alive.

So basically, I veer away from the totally crunchy approach AND I want to avoid needles, which puts me in a weird category. Fortunately, a doula is pretty much paid to support you and your birth plan, and to help be your advocate. My doctor is the same doctor I've had for all the girls. He knows my quirks and is supportive of my plans (hopes) for this birth, so I'm not too worried about pushback or anything like that. But I do need the support and reassurance of the doula to get me through labor! David does a good job, but he also appreciates the guidance of someone else who reassures us that everything is going well.

Anyway, we met with the doula and talked through everything. She encouraged me to write up a birth plan. I always put "Goal: LIVING BABY" at the top because really everything else is just details, but if I can have the best experience possible for me and the babe (which would basically be a reenactment of Coco's birth, where I felt so amazing immediately afterward), that would obviously be ideal.

If all goes more or less according to plan/history, I have fourteen weeks before the baby gets here. I'll start official kick counts a week from tomorrow. I see my doctor again in three weeks, and then I'll start seeing him every two weeks, and in late March (after spring break) I'll start biweekly non-stress tests.

In some ways, fourteen weeks sounds like no time at all. In other ways, fourteen weeks is an eternity. It's an entire semester! It's more than three months. It's so many days, so many kicks, so many opportunities for infection, cord accident, placental abruption, all the unpredictable things I fear based on the heartbreaking stories I've heard. And all things over which I have very little control.

Another baby is a logistical and financial complication, a big shift for our family, a huge change I can hardly predict, and one that makes me a nervous in some ways. But this baby also feels like an incredible gift--like maybe it's too good to be true. I worry that we are asking too much, getting too greedy. We've been given two perfect little girls--how can I expect to get another one? Is this too good too be true? Is there enough luck in the universe for this to work out for me?

Monday, February 4, 2019

Bise* Week

*Zuzu wrote a story at school about her "bise weekend" and it took me a day to figure out that bise = busy. Why was she so busy? Two birthday parties to attend on Sunday! She's living the good life, folks.

Here's what I've been doing: David went to a conference last week. He was gone Tuesday through Saturday, which is an absurdly long time for a conference. He said that it was productive and informative, so I'm glad it wasn't a waste of time, but managing our daily routine is definitely a two-person job, and we all really missed him.

I was prepared to deal with the all of the things I expected--Coco getting teary at bedtime (she slept with his photo every night), dinners needing to be quick and easy to clean up, and getting up extra early to make sure I had time to deal with the dogs and packing lunches.

I was not prepared for the polar vortex! A huge part of the reason we moved was to get David and Zuzu in the same school district so that they'd always be on the same schedule. Normally, anytime there is a cancellation for snow, my university makes the same choice as their school district. But when schools were canceling for low temperatures (due to bus riders), my university was still open. So I had to bring Zuzu to work with me two days in a row! Thankfully, Coco's preschool was still open, but Zuzu spent a lot of time watching a screen while I was teaching on Tuesday and Wednesday. It all worked out, but it was a little stressful and draining to not have any quiet time to think/read/prep for class except for after they were in bed!

The week did have several bright spots though--I didn't get to watch any TV (I didn't sit on the couch and snuggle the dogs at all) but I did manage to cross all the things off my to-do list, which felt really good. We skipped Spanish Tuesday night because it was dark and snowing and freezing cold and I just wasn't up to getting out in it. We did go to dance, and had a very successful lesson.

A few weeks ago, Zuzu had a wretched time at dance. She'd been sick over the weekend, but I really don't think that was the reason. I can't begin to fathom the workings of her mind, honestly. She has loved dance and asked this year to do jazz in addition to tap and ballet, but suddenly she was complaining every week about having to go. And then there was the day that she went, but refused to participate. After class, the teacher let me know that Zuzu had spent the entire hour lying on the floor.

I was so mad, and I admit that it was because I found her behavior embarrassing. I also couldn't relate to it--I would have never done such a thing as a kid. I might have acted out at home, complained about class, or whined about going, sure. But I definitely would not have defied my dance teacher or flopped on the floor while my classmates all followed directions. I felt like she was being disrespectful and I was so mad.

Out in the parking lot, Coco asked me what was wrong. I answered matter-of-factly, "Zuzu lay on the floor instead of dancing and I'm upset about it."

Well, Zuzu was furious with me for sharing that information: "IT'S NOT BETWEEN YOU AND COCO!" I think she was just looking for a fight, because her rage culminated in her screaming, "I HATE YOU!" at me as she got in the car. In a parking lot full of moms loading well-behaved ballet dancers into mini-vans. Which is great, because if your first grader is going to lose her mind and scream that she hates you, you definitely want an audience of other parents. I'm not going to lie--it was humiliating. I was taking deep breaths and not responding to her at all. After her outburst, another mom called to me, "You're doing a great job, Mama!" which was really nice and actually made me get teary-eyed.

The next day, we had a long conversation about being respectful. I'm not going to force her to take dance lessons if she doesn't want to, but I also don't want her to think she can quit by being an a$$hole. So we talked about why she takes dance lessons--to be active and healthy, to make friends, and to have fun. I told her that there are other ways to do that, and if she'd like to stop taking dance lessons when her swim lessons start in March, that's fine. But if she wants to take swim lessons, she needs to participate fully and respectfully in dance for the next few weeks.

(What would we do if she refused? Cancel swim lessons? I don't know. Parenting Zuzu allows me to only see one step ahead instead of mapping out the whole path, which is what makes it so terrifying.)

(Another parenting question I have... off-limits language. I love words and I don't mind salty language and I personally would not choose to punish my kids for using curse words, depending on context--obviously if they called their teacher (or me) an effing bitch, that would warrant punishment. But so would calling their teacher (or me) a dumb-dumb face. For me, it's less about which words they choose and more about the fact they're trying to be hurtful and disrespectful. My kids haven't been exposed that that many curse words (except when they overhear me... whoops!) and they are young enough that it hasn't been an issue. But there are certain words that we say our family doesn't use--particularly hate, stupid, and shut up, which are words they may hear at school or on TV. And while I think it's important to not use those words, I also wonder if forbidding them gives them more power, so really they just save them up for maximum effect, as Zuzu did in the ballet parking lot. Coco kept talking about the "shhh" word the other day and I was trying to figure out where she learned the word "shit" until I realized she meant "shut up." Anyway, still figuring that out and trying to be a good role model...)

I've been bracing myself for dance lessons since then, but it's been fine. In fact, now she's decided she wants to stay in dance through the recital in June. (This child is baffling.) And while David was gone, she had a great dance lesson and the teacher actually pulled me aside (as I was pulling Zuzu out early to go home because driving in the snow makes me so anxious, particularly when I'm pregnant).

Thursday night we had no where to go, and my parents came up on Friday which was so amazing because they picked up the girls from school AND my mom made dinner. It was like I was on vacation! David got home on Saturday and life is back to normal. This week is particularly busy, though. How does it happen that everything happens at once?

I have a workshop tonight that runs from 6-8:30, and when you factor in the 20-minute drive there and back, it eats up my entire evening. It's a good workshop and my choice, but still a challenging time commitment.

Tomorrow I'm volunteering to put up decorations for the school musical performance immediately after school; later that night the girls have Spanish and I have a We Stories meeting, so D and I are going to juggle drop off and pick up and still try to make and eat dinner together.

Wednesday night is dance (fingers crossed it continues to go smoothly) and I'm on my own because David will be at his school all evening for an event.

Thursday afternoon I have a doctor appointment to check in on The Closer (24 weeks today). Thursday night I'm double booked, but I'm choosing to attend Zuzu's musical performance (I mean, I can't miss her first one! Plus it's "The Day the Crayons Quit" and I think it's going to be soooo cute. And I get a reserved seat since I'm volunteering on Tuesday. #incentive).

Friday I have to take Zuzu to a dentist appointment, and that night, she and David are attending a dance at school. (Confession: I'm so relieved not to have to go! I'm sure they will have fun and Coco and I will find something else fun to do that doesn't involve large numbers of elementary school girls shrieking in a gymnasium).

Saturday, David and I have plans to go to dinner and the Fox. It will be great to have a date night, but I'm not fully looking forward to it because sitting through a show at the Fox the last two times we've gone has made my sciatic nerve flare up the next day. Any suggestions for avoiding that while sitting for two and a half hours in small, old, not super comfortable theater seats? I'll get up and walk at intermission, but that doesn't quite seem to be enough. I am considering trying a water exercise class on Saturday. Pro--I'm sure it would be really good for me. Con--I will feel social pressure to shave my legs before I go.

Whew. So that's my week. Plus working--we're wrapping up Hamlet, The Taming of the Shrew and Pride and Prejudice in my three different classes this week, so my head is swimming with questions about Shakespeare, love, vengeance, Austen, gender roles, marriage, and how these questions transfer to our twenty-first century context. The big questions are so much fun. But it's so easy to get weighed down by the minutiae--and I fully admit that I am someone who gets a rush of accomplishment from crossing minutiae off a to-do list. Hoping to ride that rush through the packed calendar this week.