Category Archives: outfit alert

ramona balogna: week two

ramona balogna, ten days old.
ramona balogna, ten days old.

ramona’s second week of life was much more difficult for me than her first. she continued to improve by leaps & bounds on a daily basis. i haven’t been worried about her health at all (which is an enormous blessing). but without the percocets to take the edge of the surreal experience of having my newborn daughter in the hospital, i definitely struggled.

first, let me explain the NICU for those that have never had the experience. it’s an entire floor of sick &/or premature babies. some of them, like ramona, are considered pretty large & robust. her neonatologist said that ramona is considered large & in charge for a NICU baby, tipping the scales at nearly five pounds at that point (she’s five pounds, five ounces now–maybe more, depending on what she’s gained in the last 36 hours). the proprietor of the baby consignment store down the street, where i stopped in to pick up some preemie-size sleepers for ramona, told me about a friend of hers that had a 15-ounce micropreemie in this same NICU. that baby is home now, six months old, & finally weighing in at eight pounds. because these babies are so tiny & sometimes so sick, of course there are a lot of shellshocked, emotionally exhausted adults wandering around.

there is a parent room at one end of the unit. it’s a tiny room, like the size of my bathroom, & trust me–my bathroom is not large. there’s a couch, a fridge, a TV, & two microwaves in there. one microwave is for heating up food. the other is for sterilizing breast pump supplies. there are also cabinets full of snacks like crackers, fixin’s for peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, hot cocoa packets, microwavable soup, etc. there’s a basket of magazines & a bunch of brochures about premature baby care, infant CPR classes, grief support groups, WIC, etc. a “private room” for a NICU baby is a little room with a dimmer switch & a curtain, in a block with a bunch of other similar rooms. ramona has one of the best set-ups because she shares her block with only three other babies. in the older part of the NICU, the blocks contain twelve babies. each room is outfitted with an isolette or a crib (depending on the baby’s ability to maintain its own body temperature–a crib baby is a more advanced baby), a bunch of monitors that record the baby’s vitals, a glider, a table where the nurses/doctors can take notes, a plastic mailbox for parents, a trash bin, a linens bin, & a crappy rolling chair. this takes up pretty much all the real etsate in the room, & you have even less space if you have a really sick baby requiring more equipment, like a ventilator. the nurses will recommend that you not put anything on the floor, because it’s a hospital & who knows what kinds of terrifying strains of MRSA are on the floor. if something, like a hat, a burp cloth, or a boppy, gets dropped on the floor, they will suggest you take it home & wash it. if you are anything like jared & i, you are spending a minimum of five hours a day, & sometimes up to nine hours, at the NICU. which means you have kind of brought a lot of stuff with you. because, yeah, you’re going to be holding your baby a lot, but your baby is tiny & needs to sleep a lot, & it is going to be examined regularly by doctors & nurses, & it will have to be in its bed then, & you will have downtime, so you will need to have a book to read, or a “new yorker,” or maybe your journal, or your computer. plus some snacks or leftovers from home so you’re not trying to care for your NICU baby on nothing but a steady diet of club crackers & lipton tea. don’t forget that you’re not allowed to eat or drink in the baby’s room, even if you are breastfeeding or pumping (which really consumes calories–the thirst & hunger associated with pregnancy is nothing by comparison). nor can you use your phone in the baby’s room. so all those well-meaning texts & phone calls you are receiving from people who want to know how baby is doing just pile up until you’re done with the NICU for the day, at which point all you can do is think about how good it will feel to go to sleep after your 40-minute drive home, so when you look at your phone & see all the texts that you should answer, you just want to throw your phone through a wall.

jared & i brought in a set of plastic storage drawers to try to make some space for ramona’s stuff. at eight days old, she was finally allowed to start wearing clothes, so we brought in a bunch of sleepers from home. it was kind of rough because she was already dressed when we showed up on her eighth day of life. her first outfit, & we didn’t even get to choose it ourselves. to top things off, our nurse that day kind of sucked. she kept saying that ramona was a little chilly in her isolette (they like the babies to maintain their temperatures between 36.5 & 37.5 degrees celsius & ramona was around 36.3), & therefore she had to stay in her isolette & we couldn’t hold her. even though kangaroo care (skin to skin) is recommended for warming up premature babies & we were happy to do it. i also got the okay to start putting ramona to the breast that day, & the nurse was surprisingly unsupportive. she seemed really uncomfortable with the idea of walking in to ramona’s room to make a note on her chart or check her feeding tube & find me sitting there with a breast out. but there are a lot of babies in the NICU & i see other NICU moms sterilizing pump parts all the time. i’m sure there are a lot of exposed breasts happening behind those curtains. get over it, lady.

ramona's first outfit! probably not the one i would have selected, but i wasn't there.
ramona’s first outfit! probably not the one i would have selected, but i wasn’t there.
ramona's first ever attempt at breastfeeding! she did awesome.
ramona’s first ever attempt at breastfeeding! she did awesome.
"no photos, please!"
“no photos, please!”

that was kind of a taster of what the week would bring. i struggled a lot & cried almost every day. as i became more aware of what was happening around me, with the nurses & some of the other NICU parents & some of the written & unwritten rules of the NICU, i had to adjust to more & more stuff & process more & more information. on top of continuing to recover from surgery. on top of never getting more than two & a half hours of sleep at a time because of my pumping schedule. on top of the emotional upheaval of being separated from my baby. i routinely felt physically exhausted but emotionally wrecked by the prospect of going home so i could go to bed.

breathing 100% on her own & cuddling with daddy!
breathing 100% on her own & cuddling with daddy!

bumpwatch terror alert: week 23

one week until viability!

i got out my fancy blue dress yesterday because one of jared’s professors is leaving to take a long-term teaching assignment in china. he’s a pretty big deal. he kind of started the entire field of environmental history, which is what jared studies, & he’s a big reason why jared wanted to come to kansas for grad school. they had a conference addressing a bunch of his work yesterday, & there was a bon voyage party at this house after, attended by a bunch of his current & former students. so i was experimenting with getting dressed up for it.

the dress actually fits better now than it did when i first bought it, back before i was pregnant. i have gained about twenty pounds with this pregnancy so far, but i am down several pants sizes. it will be interesting to see how it all levels out once i give birth. unfortunately, none of my shoes fit anymore. thankfully, i’m not experiencing edema yet, but the ligaments in my feet are stretching out & my feet are a lot wider than they were before. only my sneakers still fit, & they’re a tight squeeze, plus they literally have holes in them. jared said i could probably just go casual & wear the sneakers, so i changed into jeans & a sweater.

at the party, one of his professors, who is a woman & has had a couple of kids in the last few years, so you’d think she would know better, saw me sitting around chatting with people & told jared, “wow, ciara doesn’t even look pregnant yet!” are you kidding me, woman?! i don’t think i look like i’m about to go into labor in the next five minutes, but i think i definitely look pregnant.

i kind of get where she’s coming from, because it seems like a lot of pregnant ladies are insecure about looking “too big”. the internet is full of women complaining about people expressing surprise that they are not further along than they are, or that they aren’t pregnant with multiples. women that are six months pregnant are getting nervous because they’ve gained eight pounds. there’s this whole culture that reinforces the idea that pregnancy shouldn’t really change your body that much, that it’s better to look small no matter how you’re accomplishing it, that it’s complimentary to tell a pregnant woman that she isn’t showing.

but COME ON. i AM showing & when someone says that i don’t look pregnant, i just hear, “you’ve always been a fatty fatty two by four, i see no change.” not to mention, i am not concerned about how much weight i gain, or looking svelte & stylish during pregnancy. i just want to try to be as physically comfortable as possible, & hope my baby is born healthy. jared said that maybe she just couldn’t see the bump that well because i was sitting…maybe.

also at the party, the wives of a couple of jared’s colleagues were chatting about what they do for work. one works in the social work office at the hospital, & the other is in child welfare, working with foster kids. i piped up, “so, when jared & i do this baby wrong, it is going to be AWKWARD!” jared laughed really hard, but other people kind of had a pearl-clutching moment. i don’t know what the world is coming to when a pregnant lady can make a few timely jokes about child neglect.

i had a few weeks of feeling really chill about everything, but i am back into pregnancy burn book mode again. here are just a few things that have been annoying me to an irrational degree lately:

1) the trend of fully-outfitted nurseries, complete with the baby’s name spelled out (in wooden letters or stickers or whatever) on the wall. why? are you afraid you’ll forget your child’s name? are you afraid the child will forget its own name? some people are starting to complain that this style has become too trendy & is no longer “original”. i know i haven’t been keeping up on my baby nursery trends for the last ten years, but…really? someone somewhere spelled out her baby’s name on the wall with wooden letters at some point in 2004 or whatever & was truly making a bold, original statement? but now it’s just as played as aviator sunglasses, apparently.

2) people complaining about the small ways they disapprove of someone else’s parenting (i always hate this), & then they top it off with a remark like, “& she had that second baby way too fast. her first baby wasn’t even a year old when the second one was born,” or some variation on this theme. like having babies back to back like that isn’t super-stressful? like a woman in that situation needs to be judged for that too? shut up.

3) prissy, impractical baby girl clothes. i don’t know why baby girl clothes bother me more than baby boy clothes. don’t get me wrong, baby boy clothes bother me a lot too. but baby girl clothes…put a tiny infant in a dress with a big decorative bow in the back, & she’s going to be laying on that bow & feeling really uncomfortable. put those cute little pink shoes on her & her feet are going to be constrained from developing properly. those ruffles on the rump of her onesie are throwing her hips out of alignment when she lays on them. & don’t even get me started on those prim headbands that serve no purpose except to a) get lost, & b) gender your child to strangers, because strangers are distressingly interested in the junk of strange babies.

4) when people prop newborns up into a sitting position for photos. why?! if they can’t sit up on their own yet, they probably shouldn’t be posed in that position. it stresses their joints. trust me, your baby will be just as cute laying down in a position that is comfortable for it.

i am just going to console myself with joyful memories of how a little girl ran headlong into a screen door last night at the party & knocked it right out of its frame so it fell on top of her & she was trapped. she was fine–just embarrassed. i laughed so hard, as did jared. everyone else was like, “ooooooh.”

bumpwatch terror alert: week 22

oh hey, i’m too lazy to change out of pajamas, even for photos i plan to post on the internet.

we’ve hit kind of a boring point in the pregnancy. a lot of the pain issues i was dealing with last week have resolved (temporarily, at least) & nothing too exciting or horrible has cropped up to replace them. i did have a few days of blind panic over the whole baby health insurance situation, but then i called kansas healthwave again & spoke to a different customer service representative who was very helpful & informative. we still may not qualify for insurance for me, which would mean waiting until after the baby is born & then applying for baby-only insurance. but i discovered that the baby will be automatically covered by jared’s insurance policy at no extra charge for its first 31 days of life, which buys us a little time. his insurance covers catastrophic care in the event that the baby ends up in the NICU for some reason (which hopefully will NOT HAPPEN). so i feel better about that.

i’m also thinking about applying for WIC. i considered it when i first got pregnant & dismissed it for some reason. now i remember why. i don’t know if WIC is managed the same way in every state, but in kansas, WIC recipients are issued a check with a list of approved grocery stores & items that they can buy (ie, gallon of whole milk, 16 ounces of rice cereal, one dozen large eggs, you get the picture). the rule is that they have to buy the cheapest version of whatever is on the shelf. & then they have to ring up their WIC foods separately from the rest of their groceries & give the clerk the check. the clerk then processes it using some special methodology.

obviously i’ve never been on WIC, but i have been on food stamps in massachusetts & that was just a debit card kind of deal. the food stamps card worked kind of like a store loyalty card in that you ring up all your grocery store items in one transaction & then swipe your food stamps card. it is applied to any eligible items & you pay the difference with cash or debit card or whatever. this seems like a WAY better system. faster & easier for everyone. the local grocery stores already have little signs on all the items that are eligible for WIC payments; why can’t they just code everything so it can be paid using a WIC swipe card?

this is also my chance to tell one of my favorite stories about misplaced outrage: a few years ago, this woman i’m acquainted with was getting all hot under the collar over the oppressive way that various state assistance benefits are managed. she used WIC as one example. she shared the sad & truly outrageous tale of a low-income woman who became pregnant & applied for WIC. she was approved but then, a month or two later, cut off with absolutely no notice! all for the crime of having had an abortion! isn’t it such a miscarriage of justice that this woman would be PUNISHED for exercising her perfectly legal right to have an abortion?! she really needed that food assistance for pregnant women, infants, & children! never mind that once she had the abortion, she was no longer a pregnant woman, nor did she have any infants or children, rendering her completely ineligible for the program. what is the world coming to when ladies can’t get pregnant lady benefits anymore just because they have abortions? that would be like my doctor refusing to provide prenatal care to me anymore just because i’m not pregnant anymore! truly despicable!

LOL LOL LOL

anyway, yeah. WIC benefits would really help us out on our grocery bill, but it seems like applicants have to jump through an awful lot of hoops, & we may make just a hair too much money to qualify anyway. like literally $10 a month too much. i am still waiting for jared to rustle up his proof of income paperwork, & i’m not sure how they’ll count that anyway, because he is only paid twice a year & it’s a variable amount depending on how his fellowship is being managed that school year. we shall see. plus, if we did get approved, i’d have to be careful not to go having any rogue abortions & getting kicked off the rolls. that would really put a crimp in my style.

jared is preparing to jet off to the east coast in a week or two to knuckle down on his dissertation research. he has a list of literally like eight archives he wants to hit. so i’ll be flying solo for pretty much two months straight. i’ve done it before & it always sucks, but i’m worried it’s going to suck worse than usual because a) i’ll be in my third trimester, & b) it seems like a lot of people we know have kind of bailed on maintaining tight friendships with us since the whole baby thing started happening. i know i haven’t been the best friend either. it sometimes takes me a while to return phone calls because i am so busy eating & sleeping all the time. but i get the impression that a lot of people have kind of given up on the possibility of us ever being fun again since we are soon to be parents. i’m okay with that–i don’t want to bend over backwards to try NOT to talk about the pregnancy or the baby just so i can keep hanging out with a bunch of people who really don’t share my interests anymore. but i won’t pretend it doesn’t get lonely sometimes. i know we will probably make parent friends eventually, but in the meantime…i guess i’ll be going to bingo alone a lot this fall. look at the tragic, heavily-tattooed, heavily-pregnant lady playing bingo all alone & getting nacho cheese all over her cards. quite the cautionary tale.

bumpwatch terror alert: week 19

remember when i had boobs that weren’t just part of an undifferentiated mass of torso? that was pretty cool.

front view:

when i showed jared this photo, he said, “look at that thing! i’m really starting to think that there will be two of you at the end of this whole mess.”

i’m almost to the halfway point! only a week to go! word on the street is that i now look “unmistakably pregnant”. that’s a quote from my therapist. it was cool to hear, but it was also kind of like, “oh, i really did maybe just look questionably fat before.” not that there’s anything wrong with that. it’s just kind of like when you haven’t seen someone in a while & you’ve lost 75 pounds in that time & when they see you, they are like, “wow, you look AMAZING!” thanks, but i guess i didn’t look amazing before? because i was a fatty fatty two by four, right? not that that’s ever happened to me. i’m more the type to GAIN 75 pounds & then see someone again. & they’re like, “oh, wow, i bet elastic waist pants are really comfortable.” okay, no one has ever said that to me. but they are comfortable, just for the record.

i had my first prenatal water aerobics class yesterday. here’s a little tidbit about pregnancy that i didn’t really know going in: it makes you really hot. temperature-wise. it’s because your body is producing way more progesterone than usual & progesterone makes you feel warm. i force jared to sleep with the air conditioning on every night because i am always way warmer than he is. so, there’s a bunch of ladies in various stages of pregnancy gathered together for this water aerobics class. the most pregnant woman is due in late october & the most newly-pregnant is due in early march. & i had forgotten because i’ve been going to the outdoor pool all summer, but they keep the indoor aquatic center really warm all the time, i guess for all the oldsters & small children that use the pools & have trouble regulating their body temperatures when they’re all wet. i asked which pool the class was happening in & was directed to a pool i’ve never been to before. i’ve taken two previous water aerobics classes. one was in the shallow end of the regular lap pool, & one was in the deep end of the olympic-sized pool. this time i was directed to the “three-lane warm water pool”. yeah, they had a bunch of over-heated pregnant ladies splashing around in artificially heated water! i guess it’ll be nice if i stick with the class until i’m due, but the combo of hot aquatic center/warm water/pregnant/august was a bit much.

i was chatting with one my classmates about pregnancy stuff & i said something about how much i love maternity jeans. mine are kind of annoying because i guess i have actually lost weight everywhere except for my bump in the last few months. they are a little too big & i have to hike them up a lot. i am probably going to buy a pair of maternity corduroys too, one size smaller. but it’s still such a stroke of genius to do away with the waistband & instead harness the power of a large belly to hold up one’s pants. anyway, this lady was like, “you know what’s even better? seriously, save your money & get yourself some full-panel black maternity yoga pants. you can wear them out, you can wear them to bed, no one will know the difference & they are so comfortable.”

i do in fact have a pair of soft maternity pajama pants that resemble yoga pants, & they are very comfortable. & i do wear them as much as humanly possible. but i have not yet gone so far as to, like, wear them to the bank. i’m willing to accept that my boundaries around wearing pajamas pants beyond the confines of my porch might change as i become even more pregnant, but this was a lightning bolt moment for me. i’ve never met ANYONE who was more into finding a way around wearing real clothes than i am. jared had to sit me down last year & give me a little talk that went like this: “to me, you’re always beautiful. but maybe if you dressed less like a hobo…?” i actually made it an item on my daily to-do list to get dressed every day. sometimes it didn’t happen until 8pm, but as long as there was a bra & maybe some pants with buttons donned at SOME point during the day, i felt like i was making the effort to blend in with humanity.

i hit another baby consignment sale this weekend & picked up a clip-on high chair for only $15! usually those bad boys are like $50. it’s in great shape & fits perfectly on our table. i knew i wanted a clip-on high chair, even though the baby obviously will not be needing it for quite a while, because our house is small & we don’t have anywhere to stash a whole massive regular high chair, even if it folds up. this guy folds down small enough that it can just go in the closet with all the other baby stuff.

& the diaper covers i ordered from rockabye booty arrived as well.

OMG 2 cute 2 B 4gotten

we have been planning to use diaper covers & prefolds when the baby is really little because it can be hard to find a pocket diaper that will fit a newborn. & young babies aren’t mobile yet so you don’t need to worry so much about their diapers being really trim. but i am starting to have a change of heart now these covers are actually in my possession. maybe i’ll use prefolds until potty training just to keep these babies in the rotation. our baby will have the cutest diapers in the county!

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).

bumpwatch terror alert: week 17

it’s saturday! which means i get to knock another week off my pregnancy countdown. let’s go to the photo:

arty, huh?

eventually i want to do one with the dripping blood font, but i worry that it’s in poor taste. so i am easing into the world of poor taste by taking a maternity bathing suit photo. to be fair, i didn’t put the bathing suit on solely to take a photo that makes everyone feel uncomfortable. i was getting ready to go to the pool & i suddenly remembered that i’m officially seventeen weeks pregnant today, & jared wasn’t home, so i could pose in front of the full-length mirror in the hallway without being embarrassed by the prying eyes of anyone besides charlotte.

speaking of charlotte…

yeah, she’s really in no position to judge anyone. she sat on the couch in this position for like twenty minutes last night.

hard to believe i will be halfway through my pregnancy (technically–it still remains to be seen if the baby will decide to show up early or late, obviously) in just three weeks. my next prenatal is scheduled for august 31, & we’re also doing the anatomy ultrasound that day, to make sure all the baby’s body parts are developing properly. i’ve decided to go ahead & be appraised of the baby’s plumbing at that appointment as well. i’ve come to realize that i have less of a gender preference than just an overpowering intuition that the baby is a girl. if it’s not, i’d really like to know before the big delivery room reveal, so i can avoid a scene in which i break down into tears because i clearly have no maternal instinct. jared, however, does not want to know, so somehow i’m going to have to not tell him. if the situation was reversed, he would have NO PROBLEM keeping the news from me. when there’s something he really doesn’t want to tell someone, he can really go into lockdown mode. & he is assisted by the fact that i am wildly unobservant. once he got hit in the face with a baseball & cut his upper lip open. eventually the wound healed, but if left a pretty large scar. a scar that i failed to notice for seriously two years. we lived together for that entire time, we saw each other almost every day (unless one of us was traveling). when i finally noticed it, i was like, “have you always had that awesome scar?” i mean, it really suits his face. i don’t know how i missed it.

i, on the other hand, tell everyone everything. & whatever i decide is best to keep from the general public, i still tell jared. i have told jared stuff i have never told anyone before. i have no idea how i’m going to keep the sex of his child from him. but somehow, i will manage. probably by just not telling anyone. i would hate to spill the beans to someone who tells someone who tells someone who sees jared at the library one day & is all, “so, are you excited about the bouncing baby boy?” i would have to hunt that person down & murder them & then my child would have to visit me in prison. no one wants that.

my most recent prenatal appointment was yesterday. these early appointments tend to be pretty dull. they weigh me & check my blood pressure, they take a urine sample, we listen to the baby’s heartbeat on a portable doppler, the doctor asks if i’m having any issues i’d like to discuss, & we schedule the next appointment. but the cool thing is that the baby was going completely bananas at the appointment. dr. mercado asked if i have been feeling the baby moving around yet. i told her that i think i have, but i know it’s pretty early, especially to be feeling a first baby. (they tell first-time moms not to expect to feel the baby until twenty weeks. experienced moms may feel baby earlier because they know what they’re looking for.) but when she was poking around with the doppler, the baby kicked her! she could feel it with just a hand on my belly! so it’s not wishful thinking after all, there’s really something going on in there! the baby was swimming everywhere & she had to chase it down to get its heartbeat. we also kept hearing thumps where it was trying to kick the doppler away. just like mommy when daddy wants to cuddle on a night that’s too hot for human contact! is that gross? whatever.

i also told her that i have been having crippling constant headaches since the beginning of the second trimester. she asked if i had stopped drinking caffeine & i said, “ummm…no. not at all.” she started laughing & said, “you’re like, ‘damn, girl, are you crazy? OF COURSE i’m still drinking caffeine!’ which is good. your headaches would be even worse without it.” um…AWESOME. i love you, dr. mercado! i kind of expected a lecture. she wrote me a prescription for some pregnancy-safe headache medicine (“it might make the baby drowsy”) & offered to refer me to a neurologist. but it’s probably just pregnancy hormones, so i’m not worried.

i also did an interview with a doula. i expected it to be pretty straightforward, like, “hi, i want to hire you.” “okay, that sounds good.” “here’s a check.” “great! see you in like ten weeks to make a birth plan.” but instead, i wound up going on & on & ON about all the dumb concerns i have about giving birth. i guess they’re not dumb…i just didn’t realize i had so many. like, will i be allowed to eat & drink at the hospital? what i i have a vaso vagal episode & know hydration would help? can i still be in the birth pool or other atypical birth positions with an IV? how would my scoliosis impact the efficacy of an epidural? (that was a big one. turns out they don’t work as well, if at all, in women with scoliosis. so it looks like i’m having a natural birth by default, barring some unforeseen medical emergency.) i’m really not scared of labor & birth (whether that’s commendable or incredibly naive remains to be seen), but i do have a lot of opinions, i guess.

mr. or miss 15-week-old fetus america

everyone says the second trimester is a thing of wonder, a breather between the rollicking nausea & soul-deadening fatigue of the first trimester, & the non-stop discomfort & enormousness of the third. but thus far, i haven’t had much relief. i’m over fifteen weeks pregnant now, still nauseous, still exhausted. & now with extra hormone-induced headaches! & i cannot suffer a pregnancy headache without convincing myself that it’s being caused by undiagnosed pre-eclampsia, even though i have no symptoms of high blood pressure, & that i’m about to have a stroke. so that’s fun.

i’m also sporting more of a bump these days & i’ve moved on to maternity clothes. right now i’m wearing a striped maternity tee & wide-legged maternity pajama pants. i was wearing these pants yesterday when i told jared & i was exhausted & going to take a nap. he asked if maybe my fatigue is being caused by my insistence of wearing a superfluous twenty pounds of fabric. i told him that we can’t all wear skin-tight t-shirts & jeans like he does. some people say that male partners tend to gain sympathy weight along with their pregnant wives/girlfriends. jared is whittling himself down to pure muscle with all of his swimming & soccer-playing & miles of bike-riding in 105-degree heat. he’s always been a slim dude, but when we first started dating, “skinny” was the only way to describe it. he ate ice cream every day to try to gain weight. now i expect he’ll be getting a call from H&M any day to star in their fall campaign. nothing makes a lady feel so frumpy as being too tired to change out of her pajamas & being medically mandated to gain a pound a week while her partner has inadvertently devoted himself to achieving the apex of human hotness.

one of my friends said jared looks like a model for a perfume ad here.

i put on a little fashion show with my new maternity clothes. i was mostly buying for fall/winter weather because that’s when i’ll be at my biggest & most uncomfortable. between the striped t-shirt, striped hoodie, striped sweater, & striped dress, jared observed that i am outfitting myself as a full-time sexy pregnant hamburglar.

sexy non-pregnant hamburglar, halloween 2011

he also exclaimed, “you don’t look half so pregnant when you’re not stumbling around here half-nude!” because the unbearable heat combined with the lack of clothes that actually fit properly had reduced me to wearing tank tops & maybe a skirt if i was feeling modest. turns out that when you wear billowing baggy tank tops & then lay around all day like a hippopotamus sunning itself on a rock, a 15-week pregnancy can look a lot like a 38-week pregnancy.

the bump properly contained in seasonally-appropriate maternity wear.

i had fully intended to try to eke my way through pregnancy in larger sizes of my regular clothes, probably augmented with a lot of forgiving elastic-waist pajama pants. i thought that maybe if i got truly desperate, i’d chop the waistband off a pair of jeans & sew on an elastic belly panel: d.i.y. maternity jeans. but i broke down & bought a pair of real maternity jeans & they were a fucking revelation. i don’t know if i’ll ever go back to buttons & zippers. there’s something really empowering about wearing pants specifically designed to harness the powers of a protruding belly, rather than pants that are designed to try to tamp down the belly & create the illusion of a stream-lined silhouette. & when my favorite pink plaid pajama pants literally exploded off of me when i surpassed the maximum capacity guidelines, i realized that it was perhaps time to call in the big guns.

so yeah. this is kind of turning into a pregnancy blog. & as such, sometimes random anons try to use the pregnancy against me. not too long ago, the internet informed me that i had a new blog comment awaiting moderation. i opened it up & read, “you’re an idiot & nobody likes you & your baby is ugly.” i was impressed with this anon’s ability to wield proper grammar. most insulting anon comments i get mix up their “your”s & their “you’re”s. i was even more impressed with the whole “your baby is ugly” comment. let’s go to the 3D technology. i’m 15 weeks pregnant right now.

YIKES!

yeah, that is pretty hideous & horrifying. my fetus is definitely not in the running for any beauty contests right now. but you know, fetuses are not generally known for their dashing good looks. & really, the only reason anyone would ever tell someone that their baby is ugly–especially anonymously–would be to try to hurt the person’s feelings. anyone who thinks i would actually be wounded by such a ham-fisted insult clearly doesn’t know their audience. (& as for the whole “you’re an idiot & no one likes you” part…yeah yeah yeah. tell me one i haven’t heard 9000 times before from every jackass who ever disagreed with me about something political.)

i have no idea what inspired this comment, especially because it was left on an entry that was pretty light on the controversial sentiment. but i could not stop laughing about the “your baby is ugly” thing. ever since, every time jared refuses to do me a favor, like get me a glass of milk or get up & let charlotte out of the bedroom, i tell him, “bad news, jared. your baby is ugly.” then we laugh hysterically. i left a comment on his facebook wall that said, “i heard your baby is ugly & i feel bad for you, son. i got 99 problems but an ugly baby ain’t one…wait. we have the same baby. damn it!” i told my therapist about it & at first she looked horrified & said, “oh my god!” & then even she started laughing. i would kind of love to know who left that comment. i can’t even hazard a guess. most of the people that i know for sure definitely hate me but are still insane enough to stalk my blog are either not quite that vicious, or just too dour & humorless to go with an “ugly baby” comment. but i’d love to be proven wrong! there’s one person in particular that i would LOVE for it to be, just because it would completely upend my assumptions about her personality. it’s probably someone a lot less exciting though. it’s probably someone i don’t even know, who just read my zine one time & thinks i’m a jerk. oh well.