Monday, March 29, 2010

More Pregnancy Indignities

"So I think we both need to prepare for the fact that I will likely be bald after this pregnancy."


"Most women start shedding like crazy, and let's face it: I have no hair to spare. I'm effed."

"Babe, I will love you - "

"HA! You won't love me when I'm bald."

"No, but we'll figure out something for you."


Thursday, March 25, 2010

31 Weeks - Old Wifey Tales

Let me direct your attention to the latest QITNM widget: The Baby Pool! I stole this from my friend Sarah's page. Click on the widget on the top right of this page to make a guess! Only 59 days (roughly) until The Ninja will reveal its true identity. I'm thinking about a prize for the person who guesses most accurately. Coincidentally, I like the people who are predicting smaller babies and earlier dates better than the rest of you.

If you need help guessing, here are some Ninja stats of the old-wifey variety:

  • I am carrying low, all in the front. (Old Wifey says: boy!) (Though as I look at the photo above, I am thinking I may be carrying more in the middle. Ninja! You confound me!)

  • The heart rate started out quite high, but at recent visits Ninj's BPM hover around 120. (Old Wifey says: boy!)

  • My ass is growing larger. (Old Wifey has nothing. I just wanted to vent.)

  • J is getting thinner. (Old Wifey says: boy!)

  • I don't see that my face has changed much (neither does J), though I was told the other day that it looked slightly different. (Old Wifey says: girl!)

  • My skin is clearing up, but was a mess for a good three months. (Old Wifey says: girl!)

  • I crave sweets, all the time. (This is really no different than pre-pregnancy, but Old Wifey says: girl!)

  • The all-day queasiness was a killer in the first trimester. (Old Wifey says: girl!)

  • The Mayans look at the mother's age at conception and year of conception. If both are even or odd, girl. If one is even and one is odd, boy. (The Mayans say: girl!)

  • The Chinese gender predictor says: girl!

  • I just took a gender predictor test online, and it was very helpful: 47% boy, 53% girl. Thanks, gender predictor.

That's 7 for girl, 3 for boy. Get at it!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Nosy Parker.

As I write, a man is outside of our home. He's lying on the ground, bare ass resplendent in the sun. He's being held down by our neighbor. The cops just arrived, and I can only imagine what J will think as he turns onto our street from the gym. Oh look! he'll think, a few squad cars in front of the house. That's nice.

And really? It's all my fault. Am a terrible, terrible neighbor.

I saw this joker just a few moments ago, apparently sleeping in the back of our neighbor's truck. More specifically, he was passed out, face down, resting on a bag of rolls. (Our neighbor - let's call him Mack - owns a breakfast cart.)

I took note of this. I thought it was Mack's son at first, who maybe decided to rest as he was helping Mack carry in the day's supplies.

Then I worried Mack's son might not be sleeping (crap - is he dead?), and so I creeped towards him for closer inspection.

When I heard snoring, I headed back into the house.

A few moments later, profanity shouted outside. "MOTHERFUCKER!" Mack bellowed. "WHAT THE FUCK were you doing in my truck?!"

(Did I mention Mack recently suffered a heart attack? Jesus Christ: I'm an asshole.)

I ran to the window where I saw Mack's actual son wrestling the weary thief (squatter?) to the ground.

And then I poked my head out of the front door and said, "Do you need me to call someone?"

So helpful, I am.

I'm gonna go ahead and blame The Pregnancy Brain. Honestly, I have no idea what I was thinking. That the whole scene was normal? That it wasn't my responsibility to say anything? That I didn't want to embarrass myself? The thief? Mack's son?

This morning I ignored a sign for 95 South in Providence, and took a 20 minute detour through the city to get to 95 North.

Only to realize, I wanted to be on 95 South.

I keep forgetting credit cards at restaurants. I pay for business luncheons, sign my name, and leave my card there as a parting gift. I can't recall simple facts, last names especially. I sometimes have trouble finding the proper word to articulate my thoughts.

The Pregnancy Brain is real, y'all. Watch out for me.

And now, I apparently ignore snoozing crooks, or at least shrug them off as normal (in fairness to me, this is Philadelphia. This city is mighty strange, yo. Beware the flash mob.)


So now, the doors must remained locked (they mostly are, but I may leave the front door ajar on a nice afternoon as I work upstairs).

And I? Well, I have got to start a neighborhood watch as fucking penance. I am going to have a child, for JC's sake. Lord help me.

Friday, March 19, 2010

White Like Me.

Mah friends.

Why - why?!? - am I only just seeing this?

I mean, I knew I was damn YUP-tastic. I love organics, caramel macchiatos, David Sedaris, yoga, and Obama.

Now check out the complete list of Things White People Like.

Eff me, I have just discovered I am one gigantic, living, breathing, indie music-listening, Whole Foods-shopping, brunch-lovin' CLICHE.

Which is ironic, because I loathe cliches.

But also nice, because I do like me some irony.

I maintain: I do NOT like Sarah Silverman.

Everything else?


Thursday, March 18, 2010

David John

I bet you didn't realize that the Ninja already has quite the social network. S/he is just naturally gregarious - like his/her mum - and so s/he easily makes friends, even whilst swimming around a uterus, swinging on an umbilical cord like Indiana Jones.

That said, Ninj's best good friend, David John, decided that he would rather not wait until his June 4th due date to grace the world with his princely presence. Instead, he opted to arrive on Tuesday morning. He weighed in at a bruising two pounds, eleven ounces, and is doing quite well, but I think he still needs the collective prayers and positive energy of the Interwebs. I know his parents - our dear friends Melissa and Steve - would appreciate any and all good thoughts and kind words.

It will be a long road for David: he'll likely be in the hospital until June, but his docs are very impressed with him so far. Knowing his parents so well, I can tell you this kid has heart. We can't wait to meet him soon!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Worry Just Will Not Seem to Leave My Mind Alone.

So Sunday?


It was a bad day. I couldn't shake my dark mood. Every movement felt like an arduous chore, despite my AM yoga class (which I typically leave floating). My heart was heavy. I was restless in my own skin. Everything - somewhat inexplicably - was tinged with sadness.

I have a tendency towards anxiety. On some level, I've always been a worrier. As a child, my brother and I (and oftentimes, Koos) traveled to my grandparents' house in Colorado every summer. I loved those solo trips across the country, sans parents. I'm sure those early flights alone sealed my future independence and ease with travel.

Until one summer, I became - quite irrationally - afraid to fly. That year, my entire trip to Colorado Springs was effectively ruined, as I was desperately homesick, and I was SURE that our return flight was doomed. I was like some deranged character from Final Destination. John Denver's playing? And he died in a plane crash? Well fuck me, I am not getting on this plane.

Of course, I got on the plane. And survived! And eventually, I got over it. The fear. I gained confidence; became more independent, and continued to travel. The last truly lovely experience I had on a jet took place in June 2001. I flew to LA to visit my friend Brian, who was starring in a production of Evita. Blissful flight - with a connection through Cincinnati - blissful trip.

And then September 11th. Yeah. That.

Dealing with post-traumatic stress and anxiety is hard. It exhausts you. In my case, I could never feel safe. I felt like a moving target. Planes. Bombs. Anthrax. Blah.

That was nearly nine years ago. I have worked very hard to get through it. It's why I fly all the time. It's why I try to stay focused. It's why I make new resolutions every January. It's why I start Happiness Projects. These things make me calmer. More joyful. Whole.

But every so often (read: once every few years), the real dread creeps in. Luckily, it does not linger long. But it surfaces long enough to make me uncomfortable in my own skin. It makes me sad. It causes me to worry about every insignificant detail: new carpet might hurt our baby. The furniture won't arrive on time. SIDS. I'll get hit by a car. We don't have any window treatments in the nursery. WE NEED WINDOW TREATMENTS, J, LEST WE WILL NOT SURVIVE!

That was Sunday.

Monday was better. Today was great.

To help ameliorate my anxiety, I picked up Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now on CD. (I'm doing a lot of driving this week in Upstate New York.) I was skeptical, but Tolle talks a lot about the power our thoughts yield over us. That nagging voice in our heads, he says, is our own worst enemy. It torments us with potential negative outcomes. It attackes and punishes us, draining us of vital energy. (I might have shouted Yes! aloud at this point.)

To free yourself, he says, you only need to start listening to The Voice, paying attention to any repetitive thoughts. Listen impartially - don't judge. Soon, you will recognize your own presence versus The Voice. The thought will then lose its power, because you no longer identify with the thought.

I think that's damn lovely, and absolutely worth a shot. One of my resolutions for 2010 was to stop worrying. If I can consciously recognize these damaging, needless worries, and then banish them from my brain? Sign me up.

Agree? Disagree? I'd be interested to learn how others cope with anxiety. I love to try new things!

Friday, March 12, 2010

29 Weeks - As Free As a Birth Now.

29 weeks (that's 27 weeks gestational age), and Ninja is already keeping me up at night.

Do you just want to play, baby? Is that it? I don't know when you find time to sleep, friend. But I can tell you are a ton of fun already.

The other night, I seriously got out of bed around midnight to FEED the baby. All of the kicking was making me nervous - had I failed the Ninja? When was the last time I ate something nutritious? So I hoisted myself onto my feet and waddled down to the kitchen for a glass of water and an apple. Ninj: you are welcome. Mama loves you.

I had another prenatal this past Friday, and things are looking up. Ninj's estimated chubtastic glory is three pounds, five ounces. The doc I spoke to at Maternal Fetal Medicine was very enthusiastic. Baby is great! You are no more likely to have a nine pound baby than you are a six pound baby at this point! You are thin; maybe that's why you are measuring big! Hey, you have the perfect amount of amniotic fluid! You are perfect perfection!

The midwife I saw later that morning at my regular OB office?

Not so kind.

Mama Kath accompanied me that morning, and as she settled into a chair in the exam room I hopped on the scale with my usual trepidation.

AND LO: I gained a modest two pounds. SOUND THE TRUMPETS!

Enter Midwife Killjoy.

"I gained two pounds!" I exclaim triumphantly.

"Yes. Are you exercising?"

"Yup. I do prenatal yoga and I try to walk at least 20 minutes per day, 6 days per week."

"No - 45 minutes to an hour, three to five times per week."

"Er, ok. I can do that."

"Yes, because you only have a few more pounds to gain."

"Really? I know you like to keep it between 25 - 35, but I know many women who have gained upward of 50 pounds..."

"No! That is not healthy for you, or your baby. Keep exercising."

"Oh, and I see you had your 24-hour heart monitor," she continues. (I didn't get into this here, but my SVT seems to be rearing it's ugly, uncomfortable, benign head again.)

"Yes, and I didn't notice any abnormal activity when I had it on either." I say confidently.

"Hmm. Well, there were some abnormal PACs. Have you been speaking with your cardiologist?"

"Well, no. They really can't help me; they only tell me it is benign and they could do an ablasion if I wanted to - "

"Call your cardiologist. Just to check in." (Of course this is a perfectly reasonable suggestion, but every time I speak to a cardiologist they tell me the same damn thing.)

KillJoy measures my belly (29 WEEKS!) and checks for swelling.

"Are you drinking any caffeine?"

"No - I drink decaf coffee and tea - "

"No. No decaf coffee. No decaf tea. No herbal teas."

*HomeValley's head explodes.*

"BUT why?"

"They're diuretics," she assures me. "If you get dehydrated, your heart could act up."

Oh, and then Mom helpfully chimes in, "Tell her what you gave up, Melis! She gave up sugar. She noticed her heart would act up when she ate a LOT of sugar."

(Know your audience, Kath.)

"Oh, well, you shouldn't be eating sugar anyway."

"But.. but Easter? I was going to feast on Easter." WHO WILL EAT THE CADBURY CREME EGGS FOR THE LOVE OF LIONEL?!?!


She leaves, and I look at my mom. Perhaps my lip is trembling.

"You just do what you can, Melis."

What I can do is cut out MOST of the decaf, but not all. JC, I am only human. I have had 2 decaf coffees since I got the news, which is a marked improvement.

But seriously? You would have to be a saint to avoid the Cadbury, right?

Now, should we talk about the momentous birth of Baby Girl Halpert on The Office?

Perhaps it is the pregnant in me talking, but was anyone else HORRIFIED when Pam breastfed the WRONG child?

I was simply aghast. Seriously, I am not letting my kid out of my sight when we are in that hospital. I mean, what if Pam had hepatitis? Geez.

I also caught a show on Discovery last night about "freebirthing." Apparently, there is a new movement in which not only do women give birth at home, they do it with zero medical intervention. Some even forego any prenatal care. (One seriously misguided 22 year-old kid went to the local pharmacy to check her blood pressure. She also thought she may have placenta previa - holy jesus you don't want to be dealing with that at home - but insisted that she and her husband were the most qualified to oversee the birth process, as they had the most "vested interest.")

The whole program made me slightly queasy, though I continued watching because I had to see the births.

One woman - a pretty lass from Wales - gave birth in a tub as her husband taped (the Discovery camera crews refused to be there to avoid liability). Her labor looked completely painless. She was absolutely silent for the two-hour process (we're told in VO), and then oops, here is your baby floating in this pool of fluids. Scoop it up! To be sure, it looked extremely peaceful.

The other two women were not so zen. Despite being relatively calm in the days leading up to the births, they both ended up writhing and screaming in great pain. "I AM SO SCARED!" cried a woman from London. "DON"T TOUCH IT!" cried Placenta Previa, as her baby's head protruded... Well, you get the picture. (Set your DVRs now, dudes! You can probably still catch this.)

So, er, yeah. I am not going to try freebirthing. I do think that I will continue to focus on my upcoming labor as a beautiful, life-changing experience, rather than a ghastly, painful, perineum- tearing one.

(In other news, the term "freebirth" makes me sing "Free Bird" in my head, which makes me giggle.)

(In other, other news, I have developed a new habit: every song I hear, I must evaluate its potential to be used in a Ninja video/photo montage. Because there is no greater reason to have a child then to feature he/she in a video montage on your blog. Am I right?)

I love you all. You stay classy out there.

My Aunt gave me these maternity pants, and I guess this is how you wear them? Whatever, they're sexy. I think I will sport them later tonight, if J and I get romantic.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Empire State of Mind.

Can I just say first: k.d. lang's cover of "Hallelujah?" May just be the most gorgeous song ever recorded. Thank you, Starbucks.

Now, back to business. I am in Manhattan this week. Folks, I adore the Upper East Side. This morning I was fortunate enough to carve out some time for a nice long waddle through Central Park. It's truly inspiring; I am not sure there is any other place on earth that can invigorate me more than this city, particularly Central Park, when the sun is shining and the joggers are out in full force. What I wouldn't give to have that luxury daily; but then, I'd just take it for granted, wouldn't I? I count my blessings that I have this time sporadically, and soak in every moment.

Staying on the UES offers a rare glimpse into the morning routines of the city's wealthiest. This morning I power-walked past two private schools. I marveled at the small children being escorted to school: some by nannies, most by happy or harried-looking businessmen and women. The little girls were clad in knee socks and pleated, plaid skirts; the boys looked like little gentlemen in their ties and jackets. Most of the children looked vaguely sleepy, their enormous book bags teetering on their tiny backs.

As I buzzed by them, I placed a hand on my belly and thought only: man, I would love to raise a baby in this town.

Do most people aspire to live in a walk-up? To pay tens of thousands of dollars annually to send their kids to private school? To navigate the congestion, the yellow cabs, the subway system on a daily basis?

I do.

Occasionally, I'll quiz J. We talk about where we'd like to live, and then I'll ask hopefully: "So, you never want to live in the city?"

"Not never. I mean, if you make a ton of money, then sure."

Challenge accepted, my friend.

But still. I suspect that the city life is not for him. I believe he needs more space; more quiet. We know life is about to get more stressful; and I know my husband would prefer to slow things down, rather than crank up the intensity.

And so I sit in Starbucks on First, and consider that perhaps, I will have only ever lived in New York for six years. I will make my peace with that.

And I look forward to the next phase, whatever that may be.

Thursday, March 04, 2010


Da Koos - one of my bestest friends in the universe, a woman who keeps me sane on a daily/hourly basis - is moving to Maryland in a few short weeks.

And I can't seem to carve out a moment to see her and her husband and her adorable babies before she goes.

Internet: HALP.

I have noticed this week - ironically, since I began my makeshift Happiness Project - that I am increasingly miserable. Irritable. Overwhelmed. My anxiety has seeped into my REM cycles as well: for the past three nights, I have been solely responsible for killing my brothers and all of their friends in a horrific plane crash; inadvertently killed Ninja (a ten-pound boy named "River," inexplicably); or worked tirelessly to survive the plague in France.

It's work, dudes. I am charged with being "on the road" for at least three days per week, which can entail a myriad of different circumstances. At 7 months pregnant with a baby who's gestational age is likely 8.5 months, I am exhausted. It's not really the travel that's taking it's toll: it's all the time AWAY from my home. Time I should be spending with my husband. Time I should spend doing more prenatal yoga. Time I should spend reading baby books. Time I should spend decorating my baby's nursery. Time I should spend exercising. Time I should spend nesting.

Fuck, even a trip to the dry cleaner's involves extreme precision and planning. When will I go? Logistically, when can I pick up?

And when do I squeeze in a doctor's appointment? Shouldn't my health and the baby's health take top priority?

I have a wonderfully supportive husband who, thanks to my enervating schedule, does more than any man in the history of the universe has ever done. FOR REAL. He makes sure the house is spotless upon my return from a grueling trip. He's coordinating the new carpet installation, the new windows. He does the laundry. He's working full-time as well, and finishing up an MBA. And yet he is managing, better than me.

And what's really frightening me, if I can tell you all honestly?

The kid is not even here yet. CRIPES - how do you DO THIS, moms?? Please do advise.

So I need to reign it in. I need to cut back at work. I am going to speak to my supervisor. Tell him my concerns (in a calm, pretending I am not a hormonal basketcase type of manner). I am going to focus on my happiness project. I am going to keep up with yoga, because all other plans and commitments be damned, yoga is saving my life right now. I feel resplendent when I come out of my Sunday morning class. Whole again.

I am busy making lists, and crossing tasks off. And I am trying to go easy on myself, lest my baby inherit this stress and neuroses.

In the meantime, I am frantically trying to create more hours in a day. Like, maybe 30? 30 would be good.

Any and all suggestions welcome, as well as inspirational "buck up, little camper" speeches.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

HomeValley's Happy Marriage, and Other Things

I find myself frequently wishing for more hours in the day.

There is just so. Much. To. Do. And Ninja's birthday is looming. LOOMING! If the impact of this child's startling kicks are any indication, he/she is already five pounds. If this baby makes it to 40 weeks (oh my God, or BEYOND), it will be 6'8" at the time of delivery.


I started The Happiness Project this weekend. Have you heard of it? The author, Gretchen Rubin, spent a year trying to make herself happier, with a new focus each month. It's interesting, and often enlightening. On Sunday afternoon I spent some time reading paragraphs about marriage aloud to J.

"Oh, we should be hugging for at least 6 seconds, babe. That 'is the minimum time necessary to promote the flow of oxytocin and seratonin, mood-boosting chemicals that promote bonding.'"

"Who are you talking to?" my husband asks. J lurves hugging. We would hug all day, everyday, if it were up to him. At least now I have a goal: hug husband for at least six seconds for optimum success.

"Well, marriage expert John Gottman calls these behaviors the 'Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse:' stonewalling, defensiveness, criticism, and contempt. Hmm. What is stonewalling?"

"Don't know - shutting people out?"

"Do we do that?"



"Well, we are never guilty of contempt," I mutter gratefully.

"Oh no!" I continue. "Apparently marital satisfaction drops substantially after the first child arrives. Ninja!" I look down at my bulbous belly. "Why are you going to ruin EVERYTHING?"

The truth is, I am utterly fascinated by the idea of self-improvement. And so I embark AGAIN on making sure I take each and every resolution seriously this year. J gives me credit; he says I am improving in most facets of domestic life.

But I am an overachiever. So come on, y'all. You know I am going to write more lists. I live for lists. I pull out my yellow legal pad.

  1. List all of my "nagging" tasks (those shitty, thankless jobs that I avoid like the plague). Now DO them. (Yes, my first point on my list is to make another list. I'm awesome.)
  2. Begin reading that blogging book I bought months ago.
  3. 14 nights sans TV at bedtime. In hotels as well! This is an experiment. (Two nights down!)
  4. One-minute rule (courtesy of author Rubin): if it will take under a minute, put it away.
  5. Ten minutes of tidying each night (courtesy of Rubin) before bed. (I mean, if I learned nothing else from Danny Tanner? A clean home is a happy home.)
  6. Unless I am in the middle of a project and have BANNED all interruptions, I cannot screen two consecutive calls.
  7. 14 days of 1 hour of television per day (Two days down!)
  8. Recommit to exercise through remainder of pregnancy (have you seen your cellulite OHMYGOD). At least 20 minutes of walking per day, 6 days per week. (One day down!)
  9. 14 days of journaling, every day. (Two days down!)

I must say, I have felt awfully tired these last few days, but perhaps that is just the third trimester. I am also a little blue about being in Pittsburgh through Thursday, when I really want my own bed, my own cozy home and husband.

But I try to remember that I will not always travel, and when I don't? I'll ache for it.

So what say you, audience? I am the only one compulsively making lists and compiling pages and pages of tasks to get done all inf the name of self-actualization? Or am I - gasp - "nesting?"