Category Archives: depression & anxiety

is breast still best if it comes exclusively from a bottle?

i included a space on my to-do list to write a blog post about ramona’s third week of life, but she’s 25 days old now–halfway through her fourth week–& i want to write about something a little more immediate & relevant to my own life. guys, having a baby is difficult. not that i didn’t think it would be. it’s just difficult in a different way than i was prepared for. in a kind of a meta way, i was prepared to be unprepared for the difficulty, but it’s still tough.

the big news is that ramona really started getting the hang of mouth feedings last week. the main things she had to do to be released from the NICU were a) maintain her temperatures without help, 2) pass the car seat test, & 3) take all of her feedings by mouth. they delayed starting her on a bottle for a few days so that i could work on breastfeeding her. we did board one night so i could try her at the breast at every feed for 24 hours. sometimes she really took to it; more often she took a few sucks & then fell asleep or thrashed around until she got a bottle. but by saturday, she was taking entire feeds from the breast, no supplementation necessary, & she could suck down an entire bottle in like thirty seconds flat.

jared & i remembered different things about when her feeding tube could be removed. he thought they had said that a baby needs to take all feeds by mouth for 48 hours, but in the discharge binder (my source of info, considering how little i remembered of the discharge class, which i attended while still on two percocets every four hours), it said 24 hours. once ramona hit 24 hours with no tube feedings, i asked to speak with a nurse practitioner to clarify the issue. she looked at ramona’s chart & said she’d write an order for the tube to be removed that night. “& we might as well do the hearing test too. & the car seat test. & i’ll leave the paperwork for the hep B vaccine with you. &…do you guys want to room-in tomorrow? & then she can go home the next day?”

so, long story (well, maybe not so long) short, ramona was released from the NICU yesterday. she’s been home with us for a little more than 24 hours now.

& it is really hard.

rooming-in was hard too. i don’t know if all NICUs do this, but overland park regional medical center has some rooms actually in the NICU where parents can stay overnight with their babies in preparation for going home. the parents are responsible for all their baby’s care during the rooming-in period, just like they would be at home. they change all the diapers, take care of all the feedings, administer baths as necessary, dispense any medications or other tests. if all goes well & baby comes out the other side alive, having gotten all its medication, maintaining its temperature, & eating okay, it can leave.

the tough part is that we were still on the hospital schedule. in the NICU, ramona’s temperature was taken, her diaper was changed, & she was fed every three hours around the clock, since birth. if she pooped her diaper fifteen minutes after having it changed–tough luck, kiddo. unless the poop actually seeped through her outfit, she was left to sit in it until the next diaper change. (& the NICU nurses seemed surprised when she developed a diaper rash. go figure.) if she got hungry before feeding time–too bad. she’d have to wait. needless to say, this is NOT how i would have parented her at home. but we had to chart her temps, diapers, & feeds NICU-style during the rooming-in, so we had to more or less stick to their schedule. & it was hard because she didn’t eat that well at her first few feedings, so she kept us up half the night screaming for food. seriously, she screamed almost non-stop from 12:30am until 5:30am. when i did put her to the breast, she was too hysterical to take to it & we wound up giving her a bottle (of breast milk–i am still pumping around the clock & had milk in the fridge). she calmed right down for the bottle & slept like a log once she’d finished it.

anyway, now she’s home, so i can feed her at will & exclusively at the breast, right? my whole plan when i was pregnant was to exclusively breastfeed. when the NICU insisted we have a “bottle system” ready to go before they would discharge it, i kind of mentally dismissed the idea, thinking we’d buy some bottles to honor the request but just never use them (except for the occasional dad feeding).

but it’s just not working out. she cues for food, i offer her the breast, she latches on for about ten seconds, & then she whips her head away & screams. i try a different position & the same thing happens. lather, rinse, repeat until both of us are near tears & finally i break down & give her breast milk in a bottle. she polishes it off in no time & falls asleep like the happy, satisfied baby i wanted at the breast.

i have no idea what to do. she is capable of maybe two or three decent meals at the breast in a day (though none yet today), but no way would she be taking enough calories that way. & i have to admit, being able to give her a bottle & know she’s eating is a huge sanity-saver. she’ll nurse fitfully at the breast for an hour or more & take about the same as she’ll take from a bottle in three minutes. in the middle of the night, desperate for sleep, the bottle looks like my best friend. & i justify it by telling myself that she’s still very small & doesn’t have a lot of stamina, & my supply might just be too much for her to handle direct from the breast, & we have plenty of time to make the transition as she gets bigger & stronger & my supply evens out to adjust to her actual needs, & in the meantime, she’s still getting breast milk from the bottle. & it also means that jared & i can split feeds evenly, which gives me more time to myself (to think about what a failure i am as a mother, that i can’t even breastfeed my own baby despite having enough milk to fill the grand canyon).

i’m going to consult with my doula once the holiday is over, & i’m going to attend a la leche league meeting & see if anyone there can help me out. maybe it’s ramona’s size. maybe i’m not positioning her properly. maybe she needs some extra time to adjust to the sudden change in environments & caretakers. maybe this is normal for premature babies. maybe it’s okay to just keep pumping & giving her bottles of breast milk until she’s weaned. maybe this just isn’t a big deal. but it makes me feel really sad & crappy.

bumpwatch terror alert: week 18

i have been incommunicado because i have finally been experiencing the much ballyhooed second trimester energy boost! & it only took until i was like 18 weeks pregnant. i’ve been taking care of a bunch of other responsibilities that completely fell by the wayside once i got pregnant. for instance, i have been keeping a daily log of my daily highlights & low points for about four years. every day, i write about 200 words about notable happenings of the day. & i pretty much stopped doing it once i got pregnant, because i just couldn’t muster up the energy. whenever i don’t get to my log for the day, i take notes so i can go back & recreate the entry later. so i had four months worth of notes to sort through & write up, day by day. i also like to write up reviews of all the books i read, but i was so wiped out during the first trimester, i only had energy to read & not to review. so i now have a backlog of around forty reviews to write. i started catching up on that last week as well.

i asked jared what i could do to look more pregnant & he said, “maybe some nice horizontal stripes?” i must say, they’re really doing the trick.

this photo is from saturday. pardon the messy hair, even though there’s really no excuse for it. sometimes a lady is just hanging around her house, intermittently napping & quietly panicking about the remote possibility of being put on bed rest, which forces her partner to abandon his dissertation research, which causes him to fail to complete his dissertation, which means he can’t get a job, & before you know it, that lady, her partner, & their baby are living under an overpass somewhere, & thinking about this seems slightly more important than running a comb through her hair. who hasn’t been there?

my anxiety is off the charts at this point. i’ve always been an anxious person, but i really long for the days when it was mostly contained to my to-do lists, where making a slightly more detailed to-do list could alleviate the worst of the symptoms. i also miss being able to get out of a chair without assistance, as long as we’re on the subject. jared had to help me out of the pool yesterday & it seriously took us over five minutes to haul me to a standing position. & the baby isn’t even halfway cooked…who knows what horrors the next 22 weeks have in store?

last friday, jared & i went to a seasonal kid stuff consignment sale. i was kind of skeptical, but we found all kinds of good stuff! i got two halo swaddler sleep sacks, which retail online for $30 each, for only $4. a set of four dr. brown’s bottles (usually $15 for three) for a total for two bucks. a chicco soft-structure front-pack baby carrier, which sells new for $50, for only $15. i could go on. jared busied himself sorting through the crates of kids’ books & choosing a nice stack of board books about baby faces, animals, baby signs, etc. i complimented him later on his choices & he said, “yeah, they had a lot of sesame street books, & i remember liking sesame street when i was little, so i thought…maybe. but sesame street now is so different than it was when we were kids. even though the books were supposedly educational, about numbers & colors & stuff, i worried that we’d just be starting the kid on a slippery slope to wanting more stuff with ernie or big bird on it, stuff that isn’t so educational. there are better way to teach a kid numbers & colors.”

i actually shed a tear because i was so happy to hear this. it’s EXACTLY how i feel! i’m so glad we’re both on the same page with this stuff & we don’t have to argue over it. i know jared like the care bears when he was little, i was a huge rainbow brite fan, another friend was telling us how much he loved rowlf from “the muppets”. the difference is that in the late 70s/early 80s, maybe you could get, like, a lunchbox with your favorite character on it. or possibly some stickers if you’re really lucky. but they didn’t have rainbow brite-themed band-aids, rowlf-themed pampers, care bears crib bedding sets with matching wall decals, rainbow brite shilling alphabet soup, rowlf-approved graham cracker bites, care bears light-up sneakers. i know we won’t be able to shelter our kid forever from the kiddo industrial complex of thomas the tank engine & dora the explorer, but if we can at least stave it off until the kid is old enough to interact & play with other kids in a meaningful way (like around age two), i’m happy. i just don’t see the point in bringing all that branding into the house before the kid is even born. why wean them on it before they have any tastes or interests of their own?

after the consignment sale, we went to buy buy baby in overland park. it blows my mind that that place is even allowed to exist with such an unspeakably horrible name. but i must say, if given a choice between babies r’ us & buy buy baby, i’ll pick buy buy baby every time. better selection, better layout, cleaner, more helpful salespeople, better prices…we decided to buy a 4-in-one convertible crib, assemble it to the daybed setting, & sidecar it to our mattress to function as a co-sleeper. unlike a “real” co-sleeper, the baby can stay in it until it’s ready to upgrade to a toddler bed in its own room. & we can use the same crib for that function, & eventually convert it into a full-size bed that will see the kid through to adulthood & be a decent guest room bed for us in our dotage. if we’re going to drop $200 on a place for the kid to sleep anyway, might as well make it something we can use for the next thirty years, as opposed to six months, right? i did have one thousand heart attacks about spending $200 on anything though. & jared is having a lot of feelings about the baby having a nicer bed than we do (as we have no bed frame at all–just a mattress & box springs on the floor).

the existential crisis prompted by filthy lucre

so, last week i talked jared into driving us to topeka to bask in the wonders of the baby industrial complex that is babies r’ us. but wouldn’t you know it? as soon as we pulled off the highway & into the city, the car started making this awful clunking noise & kind of shuddering every time it changed gears. i know next to nothing about cars & i figured we’d just driven over an especially egregious bump in the road, but jared knew better & suspected the worst of all possible car repairs: a bad transmission.

we tried to enjoy ourselves anyway, hoping that sitting unused in the parking lot for an hour or two would magically heal the car, but of course we both felt anxious, which made the babies r’ us experience even more horrible than it would have been on a good day. & trust me when i say that babies r’ us is a very depressing place. the topeka store has an especially distressing dollar store vibe to it. actual dollar stores can get away with being kind of plasticky & depressing because, hello, everything costs a dollar! but when i’m looking at stuff that costs hundreds & hundreds of dollars, i want a somewhat more luxurious environment. nothing says “aspirational consumer experience” quite like shopping for supplies for your first baby. so let’s see fewer pacifiers embossed with the words “future diva” & more silk-stuffed organic crib mattresses, please.

this all transpired last tuesday. on thursday, we finally got around to calling mechanics, & i was shocked when they all wanted us to make an appointment to bring our car in. & all available appointments were several days into the future. i’ve only had to take the car to the mechanic once, & they not only allowed me to bring in my car immediately, but they had it fixed & ready to roll within a couple of hours.

our appointment was for monday, & the mechanic finally called us late on tuesday with his diagnostic: bad transmission. he gave us the option of replacing a few broken parts & a fluid flush for around $1400, or a complete transmission replacement (with a used transmission) for $2200. bear in mind that we only spent $2800 on this car when we bought it. i know there’s probably some punk rocker reading this, feeling all smug because he gets around solely by bicycle, thinking the chickens are coming home to roost thanks to our yuppie asshole car-owning ways. when that punk rocker becomes an arthritic pregnant woman who lives three miles away from the closest grocery store in a town with very patchy public transportation that nonetheless is routinely 95-105 degrees for four months out of the year, maybe then we can talk about poor life choices, okay? we don’t use our car much, probably only about 2000 miles a year, but it’s helpful to have it for things like grocery shopping, going to the airport, visiting friends across town & not being beholden to other friends to give us rides, doctor appointments, etc.

luckily i have been hoarding money like a great depression survivor because i still have no idea how much all of my prenatal care & baby delivery is going to cost me out of pocket. the payment info i got my from my doctor said that an uncomplicated vaginal delivery costs $3000, & of course they will bill my insurance before they bill me, but that price doesn’t include any medications, anesthesia, hospital stay, IV fluids, prenatal care, sonograms, et al. & of course we will also have to buy a separate insurance program for the baby & hire a pediatrician, & i couldn’t even begin to guess how much that will cost. i doubt any of it will really plunge us into poverty (so long as the baby does not require the services of the NICU), but it’s going to require some shuffling around of budgetary priorities & i don’t know how bad the hit will be. the baby may also be eligible to collect social security as a child of a disabled parent, which would really help, but we still need to see a lawyer about all that stuff (another expense).

suffice to say that i have been a little bit freaked out about money lately.

i am reading this personal finance book that is supposedly, according to all the reviews i’ve read, really life-affirming & not scary, etc etc, but right now, just thinking about money even in the abstract sense is scary to me, & the book isn’t helping. it asks good questions, like, “what do you want your money to do for you? are you spending your money on what you truly value?” the author is trying to get readers to rethink the traditional wisdom that you should be spending like 45% of your income on housing & transportation costs, for example. maybe you value having a large/expensive home less than you value being able to travel, so maybe you can downsize into a less expensive home & use the difference to travel. it’s good advice, but housing & transportation (even accounting for occasional catastrophic emergency car repairs) is only costing me about 22% of my income. compared against the approximately 30% of my income that goes straight into a savings account for emergencies. i did try to use the book to figure out what i value & what i want my money to do for me. this is the boring shit i came up with:

i want to be able to pay all my bills without going into debt.
i want to be able to buy whatever i want at the grocery store.
i want to be able to go out to eat pretty much whenever i want without worrying too much.
i want to be able to buy a monthly pool pass.
i want to be able to pay all my baby-related medical bills without going into debt.
i want to be able to buy all the start-up stuff we need for the baby without going into debt.
i want to be able to do all of this without dipping too heavily (or at all) into my emergency savings.

this kind of makes me feel like a loser. i don’t have bigger dreams than this? i don’t want to, say, spend a week in paris before i’m 35? or have the funds to self-publish a book? or even buy a family membership to the kansas city zoo or something? my only “experiential” expenses (which experts say inspire more happiness that object expenses) are going out to eat (by which i mostly mean being able to order pizza like once a week) & going to the pool. i mean, the pool is awesome & pizza is delicious, but damn. life has beaten me down & the bar is now very low. i basically just want to be able to afford to put one foot in front of the other without leaning on my credit card. a worthy goal, to be sure, but also a very quotidian one.

my life would probably be a better sitcom than “according to jim”

i feel a little better about the whole “prenatal depression” thing. i sat jared down & explained that i’m not feeling great emotionally & part of it is guilt about not keeping up with what i usually contribute in terms of housework & dinner. if it was just me living alone, i’d let the place get grimy & i’d order dinner in every night, but it’s different when you live with someone. there’s a built-in expectation of accountability. it’s the part of living with a partner that i probably hate the most. i am more tolerant of jared’s occasional messes than i am of my own shortcomings & the guilt that accompanies them.

anyway, jared said he was perfectly willing to take on more of the housework & to make dinner for us every night, provided that i don’t start making special requests all the time. i told him maybe i could still make dinner like once a week. my one dinner this week was stuffed shells, which were fucking delicious. jared always makes yummy food too, but we have different wheelhouses. he’s good at 1001 ways to prepare braised chicken or pork loin; i’m good at various noodles with sauces.

i also feel a bit more cheerful because the public pool like three blocks from our house opens this weekend. they have morning hours everyday for people who want to swim laps without interruption…& i found out they allow water walkers then too! for people that are not 87 years old, water walking is like jogging, but in a pool. it’s popular in water aerobics classes. i really like it. i have been wondering for a while if it’s appropriate to commandeer a lane at the pool just for water walking. the city is selling cheapo early bird summer passes–$60 for all the pool visits you can cram in between memorial day & labor day. jared & i are each going to get one. water walking is going to be my summer pregnancy exercise & jared’s going to keep me company by swimming laps. because he is a legitimately halfways athletic person who engages in real exercise, & i’m sophia petrillo.

mostly i think the whole prenatal depression thing is a manifestation of my obsessive-compulsive tendencies. i seriously just feel shitty because i can’t keep up with my to-do lists. it’s like they’re having one last hurrah before they get thrown out the window in the face of a newborn baby. i’ve been in therapy for this shit for twelve years & it all basically boils down to two ideas: “be mindful” & “be kind to yourself”. i suck at both of those things. but i think they are both pretty important goals for a pregnant lady-soon-to-be-new mom. at the risk of sounding like a giant hippie, of course. i swear i’m still not planning to give birth on a tie-dyed futon mattress while listening to bob marley.

so, i mentioned in a previous post that i had my first sonogram last week.

i think it has my…blob-like qualities!

for anyone reading this who is not familiar with how sonograms work: they ask you to come to the appointment with a full bladder because the expanded bladder functions as a kind of window through which sound waves are shot that help create an accurate image of the uterus, & the little creature living inside the uterus during pregnancy. so you go in having to pee really bad, & then the tech smears some burning hot goo on your lower abdomen, & then whips out this device that looks like a, shall we say, electronic back massager (wink!), & grinds it into your abdomen. you know. right over your bladder. when you really have to pee.

i had the foresight (& doctor office-related experience) to schedule my sonogram for 9am. pro tip: always try to schedule doctor appointments, airplane flights, etc for as early as you can stand, because there’s a smaller chance of delays that way. i really did not want my appointment to be delayed when it hinged on how desperately i needed to pee. i wanted to get this shit over with.

starting at 8am, i began chugging water. at 8:45am, i told jared we should get on the road. jared took this as his cue to wander into the kitchen, slice himself about nine pounds of cornbread, & eat it really slowly. it was probably only one slice, cut in half, but to me–no lie–it looked like he’d hung a horse trough overflowing with cornbread around his neck & proceeded to peck at it like a chicken. i was like, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” & he said, “having some cornbread. it’s my breakfast. i can’t go to a sonogram on an empty stomach.” i told him, “my appointment is in ten minutes,” & he said, “so? we can’t be a little late?” so i was forced to explain the way sonograms work & the fact that i was on the verge of exploding with urine & no we could not be late because if he was the cause of even thirty extra seconds getting between this pregnant lady right here & the sweet relief of finally being allowed to pee, i would put a poisonous serpent in his sock drawer. & he was like, “OH! i didn’t know! okay, let’s go!”

then i had this vision of myself nine months pregnant, timing my contractions & being like, “okay, they’re a minute long & four minutes apart, i think it’s time to go have this baby,” & jared putting on a lobster bib & settling down at the kitchen table, saying, “okay, let me just polish off this nineteen-pound roast turkey. it should only take me like six hours.” like, DUDE. save your burgeoning career as a competitive eater for some time when i don’t actually need your help.

also hilarious: when i invited jared to go to the sonogram with me, he said, “cool. we’ll get to hear the ‘whoosh-whoosh-whoosh.'” i told him, “i’m only like five weeks pregnant, it might be too early to pick up a heartbeat,” & he said, “that’s the heartbeat? i thought it was just the sound the machine made.” his go-to was to be excited about the sound the machine made! the heartbeat didn’t even occur to him! it’s seriously like i am living in my own shitty sitcom pilot sometimes.

does this sound like prenatal depression?

maybe this will sound weird or ungrateful or something, but i think i have prenatal depression. the thrill of finally being pregnant wore off really quickly, & at first i thought it was being replaced by the panic of having to rustle up some funds to turn my house into a baby safe haven (auxiliary babies not welcome), but i think it’s actually a little more serious than that. i just don’t want to get up in the morning. not because i’m too tired to get up (i am experiencing pregnancy fatigue, but it’s not too bad yet). just because i don’t want to get up & face the day, deal with my responsibilities, or do anything. my official psychological diagnosis is dysthymia, which means that being mildly to moderately depressed is just kind of my natural state. i’ve had bouts of severe depression & i’m not quite there yet, but i feel like i’m getting there.

i’m only about five & a half weeks pregnant, which might still be too early for major symptoms, but so far, the pregnancy is going really smoothly. i haven’t really had any nausea or major food cravings/aversions. i’m tired & i feel mentally foggy all the time, but it’s not, like, debilitating. when i was pregnant four years ago, i didn’t even have the energy to get up off the couch & turn off the TV when “everybody loves raymond” came on. that’s how i wound up watching like every single episode of “everybody loves raymond” (because it was on four times a night in syndication). my fatigue is not that bad this time (yet?). i eat a lot better now & am taking my prenatal vitamins, which probably helps a little.

i don’t know…maybe the mental fog is contributing to my feeling sad. it’s just so hard to concentrate. it’s difficult to read, or write, or have a conversation. i lose track of what’s going on really easily, i forget things people told me, it’s hard to connect with people because so much of what they’re saying is like white noise to me. of course i would rather be sleeping or watching TV or something (depression symptoms, for me, anyway) because it takes so much work to engage my brain. i keep thinking, “i’m going to tackle this writing project or read these books or socialize with these people or take this class once this is over & things are back to normal,” & then i remember there is no “normal” anymore. i’m going to spend the next seven & a half months (fingers crossed) pregnant, & then i’m going to have a baby.

i hope i can shake off this fog & start feeling excited again soon. i had a sonogram last week to make sure there’s only one blob in there & that it’s where it’s supposed to be & progressing properly so far. it went perfectly, but i was still too early for a heartbeat to be detected. so i’m having another sonogram next week, at around seven weeks, & hopefully we will be able to hear a heartbeat then. my sister told me to bring tissues because i will cry. it was definitely exciting to get confirmation that there was in fact a little blob of a person-to-be hanging out in there & that i wasn’t having a very convincing hysterical pregnancy or anything. hopefully it will be even more exciting to hear the heartbeat.

i swore i wouldn’t complain about pregnancy on my blog! does this count as complaining? i guess i was EXPECTING fatigue & nausea & backaches & food aversions & all that stuff. i wasn’t expecting to feel so shitty emotionally. maybe i’m naive, but i honestly thought the high of getting pregnant would carry me through the whole nine months & that i’d be so excited about meeting my baby & testing my abilities as a mom that i wouldn’t have time to feel depressed. i guess that is pretty naive. nine months is a long time. i think it would be difficult for anyone to sustain a cheerful disposition for nine months, but especially when they are putting in the physical labor of growing a person.

this is probably yet another instance of me looking around at how other people are portraying themselves & assuming that they are all happier, more competent, more relaxed, better off financially, healthier, & generally just better people than i am. like all new moms-to-be, i am reading pretty much every baby/pregnancy book i can get my hands on, & they present this world where all new moms-to-be live these really satisfying lives of shopping for organic veggies at the farmer’s market & decanting their bulk grains into air-tight glass canisters that always look elegant & never get all smudged with fingerprints. their shirts always cover their pregnant bellies & they don’t struggle at all to find the energy to sign up for pre-natal yoga classes that will empower them to have beautiful natural childbirths while listening to some cool indie singer-songwriter i probably have never even heard of. they have a wealth of friends & family that will help them outfit their perfectly baby-proofed homes with organic cotton onesies & natural baby mattresses stuffed with wool & silk, & after enjoying the satisfying maternal experience of whipping up a healthy dinner full of eggplant & organic polenta, they will spend half an hour each evening detailing their thoughts & feelings in an elegant pregnancy journal with a satin cover & acid-free paper. meanwhile, i am falling asleep with the crumbs from my burger king whopper staining the t-shirt that is already too small to cover my belly (less because i am showing than because i’m both pregnant & kind of fat), & waking up in the midst of an anxiety attack over the fact that i will only be five weeks & four days pregnant ONCE (at least for the first time…& i guess this is technically my second time) & i should be capturing my thoughts & feelings & documenting the joy & wonder but all i really want to do is watch bad TV & somehow convince jared to take over all bed-making/dinner-cooking duties for the next year or two.

hopefully i’ll still be alive at the end of the month

i woke up yesterday in absolute agony. my entire upper back & neck were locked into place. i couldn’t look side to side or up or down without excruciating pain. i am no stranger to chronic back pain, but this is a new one for me. usually my pain is concentrated in my lower back & hips. i’ve had a few sore neck incidents, but i don’t remember anything like this.

april is off to a pitiful start so far. sunday was jared’s first full day home from the environmental history conference, which was in some ways great, but in other ways–it’s tough for a grad school widow, you know? your partner is always packing up & leaving town, which forces you to come up with your own little tricks for managing the household by yourself. & then your partner comes home & screws up your system. jared woke me up from a nap on sunday, not once but twice! i overlooked it the first time because he had just come home from a soccer game. he had no way of knowing that i was asleep. but he woke me up again coming into the bedroom for a robe after taking a post-soccer shower. & i wasn’t taking some ordinary everyday nap that’s no big deal. i was that kind of tired that you get sometimes where you’re actually crying about how tired you are. chalk it up to the progesterone supplements i have to take.

he then multiplied the crime of waking me up by moving my typewriter off of the kitchen table (where i had stationed it with the best intentions for catching up with all my mail–totally did not happen, by the way) & on to my desk. even though the typewriter clearly belongs on the bottom shelf of the living room bookcase. my computer goes on my desk. i was in the bedroom watching “roseanne” & trying desperately to stay awake until 9:30pm when it would be acceptable to turn in for the night, so when i brought my computer back out to my desk, i had nowhere to put it because the typewriter was in the way. so i moved the typewriter & plugged my computer back in…but it didn’t start charging. i started freaking out in a really exhausted, low-key way, wondering if the power cord had finally given up the ghost. then i realized that jared had simply unplugged my charger to plug in his own. rather than unplugging, i don’t know, maybe the gratuitous floor lamp that we turn on maybe once a year when all the bulbs in the overhead light burn out at the same time.

so i had to share my feelings, which consisted of saying, “i’m so aggravated,” & then i burst into hysterical sobs. i’m also going to blame this one on the progesterone supplements. they can make a person a bit emotional, especially when she’s so tired that watching “everybody loves raymond” is starting to seem like it might be a good idea. jared did his best to escalate things into a real fight (“these are tiny problems that aren’t even worth mentioning, but i guess to you they’re evidence of what an asshole i am, huh?”) but i was too tired to take the bait & instead, i just cried.

okay, i will blame it a little bit on grad school widowhood. every time jared leaves for a conference or a research trip or something, i miss him so much & am simultaneously in vacation party mode & completely at loose ends until he gets home. sometimes i feel like a housewife from 1962 because i have taken on so many of the responsibilities for managing the household, just because i know i will probably be around to handle them–i don’t have to leave at random intervals in order to further my career. so i pay all the bills & take care of a big chunk of the housework & have a mental calendar for recycling day & whether we need to stock up on cat food & laundry detergent. i don’t mind it because i’d probably be stressing about this stuff anyway even if someone else was taking care of it, but it does start to feel feminine mystique-y sometimes. more than once, jared has been accepted to present at a conference or won a fellowship on the same day when my biggest accomplishment was that i cleaned the litterbox.

anyway, yesterday i woke up with this stiff neck situation. i couldn’t even sit up from laying on my back because i couldn’t move my neck that way. i had to roll on to my side & push myself into a sitting position. i spent most of the afternoon laying flat on the floor, listening to “this american life”. then i drove across town for an emergency massage. the massage therapist said my neck muscles all felt like rope, which is apparently not good at all. she always does a little stretching with her massages, & it usually feels nice, but this time i actually screamed in agony. pretty embarrassing. she worked on me for an extra half hour & knocked $10 off my bill, & sent me home with a bag full of some weird icy hot knock-off called biofreeze. she suggested a heating pad, but it was over 90 degrees yesterday, so that wasn’t happening.

also yesterday, i cut my leg on this part of the car that i fucked up by driving into a tiny pole, i smashed my left hand in the front door, i hit my head on my bedroom door jamb, & then i hit my head on my car window. i don’t even know how i did any of this stuff, but i did openly sob about it in public.

today my neck is still killing me, but truthfully, i think it’s a little better. i at least felt motivated to take the car to the car wash, as it’s probably more disgusting filth & schmutz than car right now, but wouldn’t you know? literally the second i pulled into the parking lot of the car wash, the sky opened up & it started pouring. so i turned around & went home. it’s like my life is a stand-up routine from 1986. “you know the difference between white people & black people?…melanin, probably. i don’t know. so, sun-dried tomatoes, am i right? what else can the sun dry, i wonder?”

tomorrow me, my stiff neck, my sudden predisposition for injury, & my constant sobbing are going to a yoga class for the first time. it should be pretty exciting. i can hardly wait to trip over a pile of mats & fall down the stairs & cry in front of some more strangers. tomorrow is also jared’s birthday. i think he intends to celebrate by doing lots of schoolwork & being incredibly anxious. but i’m going to make him a flourless chocolate cake, whether he asks for one or not.

watching people fall down is free!

it’s another beautiful day in lawrence, kansas! the tulips are in full bloom, jared is wearing seersucker, & the weather is perfect for kicking back on the porch with a handle of rum & “don’t fear the reaper” on repeat. all those suckers that haven’t visited us yet because they think we live in a grass hut with goats on the roof a la little house on the prairie are really missing out. there hasn’t been a plague of grasshoppers in days!

it’s so warm today that i decided it was time to bust out the capris. & then i immediately busted out of them. they served me faithfully for three long summers, but my fertility meds are making me bloat up like a corpse in the sun. i think it’s karmic retribution for all the hours i have spent stationed in front of the plate glass exhibition windows at fancy gyms, praying to jeebus that someone wipes out on the treadmill on my watch. my apologies to all who work at maintaining their fitness. (i still hope you fall down. while i’m watching. a leopard can’t change its spots, okay?)

this reminds me of a laurie notaro story. i am generally not a big fan of her humor essays, as they tend to belabor the joke & end up about as funny as a gilbert gottfried routine. but she had this one about the time she visited a friend in san francisco & they decided to spend a day at the japanese garden. laurie ducked into the bathroom to put on her favorite corduroy pants, which she had owned for many years & through many weight fluctuations. she loved them because she felt that they grew & shrank along with her body & always maintained a perfect fit. she put on her magic pants & then did a couple of lunges in order to marvel at their elasticity. & that’s when the pants exploded into a cloud of dust with an audible BOOM, finally pushed beyond their limits. her friend rushed into the bathroom to make sure no one was dead & discovered laurie standing dazed with nothing but a waistband remaining. every time i think about this story, i laugh. & it actually continues from there: laurie & her friend went to the garden, which features several winding riverways filled with koi, crisscrossed with elegant handrail-free wooden bridges. her friend managed to actually walk right off the edge of one of the bridges & land on a big pile of koi. & best of all, she had worn a long wool skirt, which became comically waterlogged & heavy. boy, do i ever love it when people fall down.

anyway, guess who’s still not pregnant!

yeah. me.

i took another pregnancy test on monday, twenty days post-ovulation, & once again, it was negative. i called my doctor & openly begged for a blood test. she finally consented & i rushed off to the lab at 10am. i was then on pins & needles for the rest of the day, awaiting the results. i tried to distract myself by curling up with a 600-page biography of catherine the great, inventively entitled catherine the great. finally the nurse called me at 4:30pm & asked, “has your period come yet?” i know what that means. negative.

so i stopped the progesterone (after i wrote my fierce manifesto about how it was just an exercise in throwing money away, i talked to jared & he prevailed upon me to continue it “just in case,” & i guess he has some say in this process too, so i stuck with it through the weekend) & now we move on to cycle nine.

i’m feeling okay about it. this is the first time i didn’t spend all day crying upon getting a negative result. i think i’m getting used to the disappointment. at this point, whenever i do finally manage to get pregnant, i’m going to immediately lose my mind & be all, “oh my god! what have i done? how can i have a baby? i still think it’s the apex of entertainment to sneak up on charlotte & push her over!”

to cheer myself up, i made a trying to conceive advent calendar. every day of this process, i’m going to do one fun/positive/supportive/relaxing thing for myself. yesterday i went out a bought myself a new hoodie (see above about how i’m turning into a big fat glowworm so none of my clothes fit properly anymore–thanks, artificial hormones!). today i think i’ll lay around & read harry potter & the sorceror’s stone again. for literally probably the 78th time. i have library books that are due back in a matter of days, but harry potter sounds a lot more appealing than some dumb french novel right now.

making this calendar has been a challenge because usually when i think of treating myself, it involves going out to dinner or buying a ridiculous new hat i’ll only wear like ten times a year or ordering a stack of new zines from a distro or something else that costs money. it’s not so easy to think up exciting treats that are free. especially because the other requirement is that they have to be things i can do by myself. i don’t want my daily treat to hinge on the reliability of another person, as other people tend to be pretty flaky. my one exception to this rule is that jared offered to make me breakfast in bed once a month. all i have to do is ask…presumably on a day when he has time to whip up some oatmeal & bacon.

but i’m pumped about this idea because the hands down worst part of trying for so long to get pregnant is the fact that i feel i have put my life on hold, waiting for a baby to finally make its triumphant debut. i’ve been reluctant to commit to stuff or put effort into projects & friendships because i keep thinking, “well, my life is going to be really different once i get pregnant/have a kid, & i really don’t want to make promises i can’t keep.” but that means that i’m just slogging through the days, pinning all my hopes on this big thing that could conceivably never happen. at the risk of sounding like a hippie, i really need to be nicer to myself because this constant waiting is not sustainable.