Sunday, March 30, 2008

Jealousy Not as Effective as Pitocin

My husband Shawn works hard. As a matter of fact, he works as hard or harder than anyone else I know. His job as a news photographer is not only physically demanding, it is emotionally demanding as well. He regularly schleps pounds and pounds of gear from one tragedy to another. If he isn't covering a fatal fire, he has been rushed out to the scene of a rape or child molestation. Seeing all of this day in and out certainly must take its toll. Add to that the fact that news doesn't usually happen between the hours of nine and five and you can see why his schedule is exhausting at best.

All that said, Shawn is great at what he does. Reporters love to work with him because he can make even a story about potholes compelling to watch. He has a very creative eye and I never have any trouble picking out which pieces are his on the evening news. He just seems to be a step ahead of most others in his profession.

So when Shawn won the equivalent of his television station's "Employee of the Year" award, I was thrilled for him. When I found out that his prize for said award, a cruise for two to the Caribbean, fell during my 34th week of pregnancy making me ineligible to go, I was less than thrilled. The cruise line mentioned something about the motion of the ship inducing labor in women in the latter part of their third trimester. Would it really be that bad for little Felicia to be born at sea? Wouldn't that just make her a citizen of the world? There could be worse things, right?

Like making the mistake of bringing up your cruise to your easily agitated, hormone flooded, wife. Poor Shawn is a man stuck between a rock and a hard place if ever there was one. On the one hand, he won a totally free, non-transferable vacation to a warm climate during the last week of a crappy Indiana March. On the other hand, he has committed to live with me for the rest of his life so he knows that upon return, he will still share a residence with me and he knows that these days I am only getting larger.

But I am about to become a mother and mothers are, by definition, the embodiment of selfless love. Mothers know no end to sacrifice. Mothers never think of themselves, only the happiness of their families. By this definition, I am going to be a really shitty mother. And this knowledge, the knowledge of how I should be acting in the face of what is really a pretty trivial sacrifice in the grand scheme of things, has only served to exaggerate my bratty behavior. Not only do I know what a turd I am being, I can't find it in my motherly soul to stop it.

When Shawn first won the trip and we found out I couldn't go, he offered, albeit briefly, to forfeit the vacation. "No," I told him, "You deserve this trip and you won it fair and square. You have to go." And I meant it. But I thought he should take his mother as his guest. When his guest became his best friend and it started looking more like a booze cruise than a chance for my hardworking husband to catch up on reading and sleeping before the baby arrives, my hormone fueled annoyance reached a new level. Pouting and sighing whenever the cruise was mentioned did nothing to further my cause, only leading Shawn to never bring up the topic in my company.

So I convinced myself, as any logical person would, that his five day absence would absolutely, positively, be the time when I would go into labor. The distress of being left on my own would be far greater an induction tool than any pitocin drip. Like Ralphie in The Christmas Story whose parents learn too late that the soap they washed out his mouth with caused his blindness, so too would the unjustness of being left out of a vacation while 8 months pregnant cause me to spiral down the dangerous road of pre-term labor.

But I would bear my cross valiantly--I had played the whole scenario over again and again in my mind--each time becoming a little more stoic in my martyrdom. Shawn would rush home upon receiving a call that my water had broken, tragically, too late to see the birth of his first daughter. She and I would be resting comfortably in the hospital room when he bounded in, sun burnt and wearing a Hawaiian print shirt. He would apologize profusely, awed by what I had done alone and begging for me to tell him how he could make it up to me. Of course, being a good and loving wife, I would insist that giving birth without him had been no biggie and I was just glad he was able to enjoy himself on his cruise. He would again be in awe of what a magnanimous woman he had been fortunate enough to marry and I would be two miracles away from canonization. St. Jillian does have a nice ring to it...

Shawn will be home tomorrow night and I haven't had as much as a Braxton-Hicks contraction all weekend. Looks like insane jealousy and immaturity does not carry quite the threat of induction as I had feared. And, actually, the time without him hasn't been as terrible as I had anticipated. I have been able to feel glad for him and when he has called to tell me about his cruise, I've actually felt some relief that I'm not there with him--I'd be a lousy traveller right now. And, as it stands, I am looking forward to seeing Shawn tomorrow and remembering why I'm so glad to be entering into parenthood with him, and not alone. Someone's got to be the self-less one and we know it's not me!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

That Time of Year

The season I usually look forward to with equal parts dread and excitement is upon us. This year, for the first time in my weight-conscious adult life, I have been able to truly embrace Girl Scout Cookie season. The miracles of pregnancy keep on coming!

The true "GOTCHA" of these little cookies lays in both the timing of their distribution and their short duration of sale. Just as those of us in the Midwest begin to hope, dare to hope, that spring is really coming, that we may be able to shed a layer or two of winter clothing in the coming weeks--that is when the Troops hit the streets.

Exercise hasn't crossed many of our minds since a brief week in the gym in early January but, suddenly, with the return of the robins and the bravery of the crocuses, we remember that carbo-loading and channel-surfing will make our first shorts-worthy day in April or May downright scary. So we buy more broccoli and chicken. We see the spring and summer clothes on the racks in Target and use the extra hour of daylight to take the dog for a longer walk. We try to undo some of what has happened to our bodies since the Winter Solstice.

Then, as if making these changes wasn't difficult enough, the Girl Scouts unleash their cookies. The door to door push isn't what it used to be, but almost every grocery store has a strategically placed Brownie or two pedaling her wares to hungry grocery shoppers. If I was teetering on the brink of a diet slip, these tiny $3 boxes will give me the push. And, if the temptation doesn't get me, the guilt will. Girl Scouts are cute, after all. And what the young ones lack in sales skills, the heavyset mother chaperoning can usually make up for in guilt tripping.

So I buy two boxes. They are both gone within 48 hours. And they were good. During a normal year, one when I want my weight to hover further than closer to the 200 lb. mark, that would be it. I'd feel guilty about it for a day or two, and then remember my wise friend Jen's bit of GS Cookie wisdom: "I know I'm going to eat the whole sleeve of Thin Mints. What does it matter if I do it in a week or an afternoon?" This bit of knowledge would help me move on.
2008 is a pregnancy year, however, and the initial two boxes just left me wanting more. This is the second piece of genius in the Lady Scouts marketing ploy. Like the daffodils and tulips that also show up this time of year, the Girl Scout Cookie has but a brief window to dazzle us before it is gone not to be seen again until 2009. Hard-pressed is the junkie on the hunt for a box of Do-
Si-Do's in late May. So I buy a few additional boxes--they'll freeze won't they? Of course you can freeze cookies, but that would first require putting them in the freezer. If they sit on your kitchen counter, not only do they not keep, they disappear. So went the Samoas, followed by the Tagalongs, and finally the last box of Thin Mints.
I have heard that by about the 20th week of gestation, a fetus will actually practice eating by opening her mouth and swallowing some of the amniotic fluid she floats in thereby getting an early taste of what her mom's cooking is like. If that is the case, my Felicia might be born much like a crackbaby, wondering what has become of the sweet, sweet, smack that she had grown accustomed to in the womb. At least she will be learning one of life's hardest lessons early: Get Girl Scout Cookies while the getting's good or wait another whole year for the sweetest season.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Middle of the End

Blogging is to motherhood in 2008 what scrapbooking was to motherhood in 2003. I'll be damned if my unborn child is going to miss out on the action.

At the urging of a friend whose blog I stalk regularly, I decided to publicly journal my entry into motherhood. If for no other reason, it's a great way to keep the baby pictures flowing to those who might otherwise be without. Before diving right in, however, I had to see what other Expectant Mom/New Parent blogs looked like. Big mistake.

From what my searches turned up, I am late. Really late. I wrote nary a word when I was trying to concieve and I haven't got as much as a haiku written during my first 7.5 months of pregnancy. My readers (assuming I have some) will have to wonder in vain what Trimesters One and Two were like because catching up at this point will be damn near impossible. Let me hit the hight points and we'll go from there:

-It was a surprise pregnancy about 2 months after our wedding. Not an oh-shit-surprise but a surprise nonetheless.

-I was morning sickness free but was a big bitch to Shawn for the first 12 weeks.

-We found out it was a girl on December 20th. I knew it all along, however.

-I've gained about 38 lbs. at this, my 33rd week of pregnancy. It is fairly evenly distributed but an unnerving amount of it seems to have settled on my upper arms, ass, and knees. Dimpled baby knees are cute; dimpled mommy knees are Indiana State Fair material.

-The newcomer is as yet unnamed but will be lovingly referred to as Felicia Fetus until she enters infancy.

As we stand, we're in about the middle of the home stretch. The third trimester lasts from Week 28 to Week 40. Here in Week 33, I'm feeling both boredom with what feels like a very long pregnancy, excitement to meet Little Miss Thang, and paralyzing fear that we are somehow not as prepared as we should be. Whether we have 7 weeks left or 17, I have a feeling there would be things I wouldn't ever be able to prepare for. I suppose the adjustment to parenthood will be both startling in it's immediacy and gradual as we learn what we're doing. Kinda like how I went from this to this in roughly 180 days (keep in mind the most recent shot was 3 weeks ago, more growth has occured):

I knew the growth was coming. I knew, in theory, what to expect. I'd heard that I wouldn't be able to tie my shoes, that I'd waddle around and bump into things. But I could still see my toes. Right now, Shawn and I have heard stories about the love we'll feel when Felicia gets here, the sleepless nights we'll survive, the absolute change to everything we know as normal...but we can still see our toes.

to this: