Thursday, March 30, 2006
And now I don't know how I ever lived without one. This is possibly the most comfortable way to sleep ever created. And to sit up in bed. And to loll around when you have the flu. I carry it from the upstairs to the basement with me as I'm switching rooms throughout the course of the day. It's wonderful.
Not to mention the ecstasy it's brought to my cat, the one who likes to sleep on my stomach. Imagine a small brown tabby between the woman's arm and knee in the picture at left and you've got my nightly sleeping arrangement now.
For anyone who'd like one (you don't have to be pregnant), you can get them here.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
I seem to have caught the flu.
I can't sleep, despite having broken down and taking Benadryl for the first time in my pregnancy, thereby probably dooming my unborn child to a life with flippers* instead of feet, and all for nothing because I'm still awake and have been at least once an hour for the last four hours. (Actually, my doctor assured me that Benadryl was fine, but I just don't quite believe it. A friend at work tells a humorous story about how she's always wondered if her second daughter's "over-spiritedness" is due to the cold medicine she broke down and took during that pregnancy. Exactly.)
Brett returned to work yesterday after eight days flat on his back, barely conscious, in utter misery. And I - I thought I'd gotten through it without catching anything. Surely it couldn't take 8-9 days to incubate! Brett got it right after he got off a plane - I figured I must be just fine after we hit the one week mark. I even said so to a few people, thus dooming myself immediately.
Hahaha, foolish girl. Yesterday I'm sitting at work coughing and blowing my nose, and a woman who works for me said, "oh no - did you catch it?" No, no, just a bad allergy day or something. Until I got home and my head exploded. Then the sore throat and achiness started. Then the headache so bad you wish you were dead. Then the fever.
Arg. So now I have to -- HAVE to -- at least take Tylenol for the next day or two, every four hours, to keep any fever down. I think we'll have to change the Niblet's nickname to Flipper*. Flipper, yes, that sounds nice. Kind of feminine, like Gidget, right?
I really should go to bed.
(*Dear father-in-law and others prone to be alarmed by my black humor: I'm jesting about the flipper stuff. :) Don't panic! I'll be fine, the baby will be fine - I talked to the doctor last week about the likelihood of me getting this and what to do if I did. Take drugs, she said - it's far worse to let yourself have a fever for days than to take drugs for a few days.)
Thursday, March 23, 2006
And these are her feet - I love this picture:
Ultrasounds are amazing. Mom came along for this appointment, since Brett couldn't go, and I think it was a lot of fun for her to see the baby; when I was born there were no ultrasounds, so this was a new experience. Some of it was incomprehensible to us both - at least ten minutes spent taking pictures of the heart from different angles, and measurements of the kidneys and brain that didn't look like much. But for the rest of the time, we saw all sorts of things. The baby is amazingly active - she must have turned completely over at least four times.
I can't bring myself to post the picture in which you can see the gender - that just seems wrong somehow. If nothing else, she'll be mortified someday to know such a picture even exists.
Evidence is growing that pregnancy is a fight for survival between woman and fetus. Examples:
1) The fetus makes its placenta send blood vessels into the woman to sap her nutrients.
2) To force more blood into the placenta, the fetus injects the woman with a protein that impairs her ability to fix her damaged blood vessels, thereby afflicting some women with pre-eclampsia (very high blood pressure).
3) In mice, the male transmits a gene to the fetus to make it grow larger in the womb, but the female transmits a gene to block this effect.
4) Pregnancy kills more than half a million women per year, which seems not to make evolutionary sense.
Best available explanation: Natural selection designed fetuses to hog their mothers' resources, but designed women to thwart this so they'll have enough resources to produce other surviving offspring.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
It's a relief to me to have an ultrasound again. For the most part, I'm almost unnaturally calm about this pregnancy (caused by a deep gut instinct from the beginning that everything was going to go fine), but shortly before each ultrasound appointment I start worrying a little bit about whether a) the baby is still there and b) the baby is still alive. Which is nuts, because one look down my front assures me that there's really and truly a baby in there, and the growth of it seems to indicate that he or she is doing fine. Nonetheless, the ultrasound appointments, as well as being a lot of fun, are a big relief.
Today's the start of week 17. I haven't posted a weekly update in a few weeks, because there hasn't been all that much to say. My stomach has grown a whole bunch, to the point where I've gotten a few "You look pregnant!" comments, which feels good. I've got some energy back, finally, although I'm still happy enough to go to bed anywhere after 8 p.m. at night. Feeling mostly good.
The baby, according to my books, can now listen to everything going on around him. Sometimes I find that funny, and sometimes I have a slightly creepy image in my head of a small fetus carefully monitoring my conversations, maybe with a cup pressed to the wall of the womb. It's a little ... odd, having a small listening person in your belly. I'm playing it a lot of NPR right now, and singing along to musical soundtracks in the car. Might as well train him to be liberal and like theater.
Mainly, I'm realizing that I'm a pregnancy wimp, though. I don't think I'm going to be very good at the last few months, given that I'm already whining to my poor husband about how I feel like there's a basketball in my stomach and how it feels weird to bend over, how my back hurts already, how I'm tired of constantly having to go to the bathroom all the fricking time, on and on. Whinewhinewhine. "Just wait," said one of my girlfriends yesterday when I told her the same thing. How true.
Brett's got the flu, the first time he's been sick in the four years I've known him. He's really gone down hard with this one - out of work and flat on his back in bed for the last three days straight, too woozy to even read email. I have to admit to having a mixed reaction at first - compassion for him being sick, and absolutely not wanting to go home with my repressed immune system and catch it myself. Pregnancy makes you (well me, anyways) a little selfish. But I got over it and have been trying to take care of him.
It's sort of nice, actually, to be able to take care of him, since he's normally not a "nurture me" kind of guy. I took advantage of this to shove some Theraflu down his throat, but I haven't been able to get him to eat much. Is it feed a fever, starve a cold, or starve a fever, feed a cold? Must look that up before I'm officially a mom.
Three more weeks and we're halfway through this pregnancy thing.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
I am punished for this success, though, when they run out of midsize cars and hand me the keys to an HHR, Chevy's equivalent of a PT Cruiser. Within a few minutes of driving it, I'm convinced that I have stumbled on the worst designed car ever made. The Loser Cruiser, my nephew christens it. The PT Loser, he adds later. Both names stick.
In the seminal human factors book, The Design of Everday Things, Don Norman writes about cars as one of the great successes of human-factored design. Pretty much anyone can get in any car, anywhere, make a few small adjustments, and drive. The design doesn't change significantly - people understand the interface, and can apply their previous learning about other cars.
Well somehow, the PT/HHR people have found a way to mess all of this up, creating the most awkward and unpleasant driving experience possible. Let me cite just a few of the top things that suck most about this car:
- The window openers are located in the center console at about ankle height, impossible to find and/or reach without taking your eyes off the road and hands off the wheel and contorting yourself madly. Texas being rife with tollroads, this was a major pain in the butt. And if the kind rental lady hadn't told me where they were, I never would have gotten out of the airport parking lot, since I wouldn't have found them and been able to open the window and show my rental agreement at the gate. Good lord.
A few miles down the road, someone honks wildly at me and gestures for me to roll down my windows so he can shout to me that my trunk isn't latched. Getting my window down while driving sixty almost causes me to wreck this nasty car.
- The steering wheel inserts are placed with care so as to prevent any chance of you positioning your hands anywhere comfortable. The interior of the steering wheel is in the shape of a large T, forcing your hands to be at 10 and 2 at all times, even when driving straight for long periods of time. No one hand driving, no hands in the center bottom. This
is probably a safety feature, but I hated it.
- I never did find the gas cover release; my cursory exam while driving back to the airport (the first time I thought to check) revealed it in none of the usual spots, and there was no chance to pull over and read the manual so I ended up skipping the refill I'd promised to make. Fortunately, I hated driving the thing so much that I mostly didn't, and didn't use much of the tank they provided - I think it'll qualify as full the way I turned it in. But really, should you have to use a manual to figure out how to put gas in your car?
- HugehugeHUGE blind spot in the rear right corner - only the side mirror works to see anything on your right side. Don't bother turning around to check if you're merging to the right on a highway - there's nothing to see there.
- More minor nits: Cup holders on the floor, completely out of reach and view. Teeny tiny front windshield, and back windshield so tinted that in the rain all the cars disappear. And oh yes, rear wipers. Let's talk about the rear wipers.
My drive back to the airport was marred by the most torrential, typhoon-like rain I've seen in years; at several points I couldn't see at all, and there were multiple places where standing water was so deep that I'd lose all sense of traction and skid a bit. Multi-car pileups were in frequent evidence. Let's say I was a little nervous; when even the Texans are going forty in a seventy zone, you know conditions are bad.
Add to this difficulty the fact that I could not for the life of me locate the rear wipers for the first 45 minutes of this 55 minute drive, enabling me to see only the occasional headlights out of my rear window and rearview mirror, but no details. Great.
When I finally located the rear wiper button, guess where it was? Down by the gearshift on the center console, at roughly mid-shin level, miles and MILES away from every other piece of equipment related to wipers and and windshields.
But of course. How had I not noticed?
I've never been so glad to turn a car back into the rental agency in my life.
Texas, however, I don't love so much. I've been in Texas only about twenty minutes and on the road for maybe five before I have:
- Been nearly run off the road by a series of overly aggressive pickup truck drivers who won't let anyone merge into their lane.
- Seen my first "Proud to Be An American" bumper sticker, then another, then another.
- Driven on the President George Bush Freeway.
- Counted numerous billboards for "gentlemen's clubs," most of them featuring colossal, big-busted blonds named Vixen or Brandy.
I'm definitely not in Seattle anymore. This state makes me uncomfortable. If Dana and the kids moved away, I'd not miss visiting the physical, cultural, and social phenomenon that is Texas. I don't belong here.
Watching Dana with the kids is different now that I'm about to become a mom - more poignant, and funnier, and sometimes a little scary. Case in point: at lunch one day, Nick orders a dessert called a Cup of Dirt that features pudding and smashed up cookies and gummy worms. He laboriously eats it with his fingers, torturing the worms between bites by cramming them headfirst into the pudding and then refusing to eat them, making an incredible mess. My sister catches me looking. "Yes, this is what having boys is like," she says. Over the rest of the weekend, these words keep echoing in my head as I realize I have never once seen Nick use a utensil. I admire her ongoing cool.
I could handle this, though. Nick is a funny kid. I'm amused as he cheats his way through games of Guess Who and Battleship with me. I can see him move his ships around on the latter, and he sees me seeing and gives me this huge guileless you-caught-me grin that's straight off the face of his mother thirty years ago. At a bookstore, I offer to buy him a book, expecting something from the children's section, but instead he picks out a 500-page, ten pound coffee table book about reptiles which he happily lugs home in the torrential rain and pores through all night. He loves science but hates reading. He's taking electric guitar lessons and can play three cords on his Fender. He tells me solemnly that he's going to be in the FBI and a band someday. I tell him the FBI has scientists, and spend the next hour describing forensic science to him. The same kid who's rapt by this jumps a foot out of his chair during an IMAX movie when they show a predator eating a gazelle. Nine years old is such an innocent, immense, interesting time for a kid.
Andrew is in and out a lot while I'm there - busy with friends and parties - but he stops by and makes sure to spend some time with me. Over the summer we laid out complicated bargains about his grades, and this time I have to pay up because he's gotten a B in English. I offer to get him an MP3 player, but he declines in favor of new shoes. We go to Champions and pick out two new hightops, but his feet are so large that they have to special order them for him. I think he's topped 6'3" since the summer.
I'm also encouraged to see that in the last couple years, he's learned his way around a computer and is constantly building and rebuilding computers now from spare parts. I tell him all about the good job options for people who are good with hardware, and I find myself worrying a little less about whether he's going to go to college or not, knowing he has some high-demand skills. But I'm jumping ahead a little bit, thinking about that far down the road. Right now he's working his first job at the local grocery store, and doing well with it.
He's more openly affectionate than I remember, less angry than he seemed last time we were in town, more at peace with himself and the world. I'm impressed that this big hulking guy with the first signs of a mustache says "Love you," to his mom as he heads out with his friends. They have a close and trusting relationship I only hope I can emulate with my own teenager someday. Before I leave, he sends me a text message on my phone that I have to make sure to store so that I can save it for the rest of my natural life, it's so sweet. What a great kid he is, and what a great man he's becoming.
My sister is a great mom. I hope I can do half as well.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
To my surprise, I don't like nights alone as much as I expected I might. Funny how being married changes you. Brett was noting as he left that this is the first time he's been on airplane without me in almost three years. Me too. Ditto for sleeping alone. I did sleep like a baby last night, but I had to leave the lights on downstairs to do it. I've become a wimp. We've also been emailing and calling each other since he left, even though it hasn't yet been 24 hours. It's sweet, really.
We're also flying badly on these separate trips, which doesn't help. Brett left on the red-eye, always a grueling experience, and I get to wake up at 4:45 a.m. to drag myself to the airport for a first-of-the-day flight. Why do we do these things?
Monday, March 13, 2006
The process was quite entertaining to watch. First of all, this was a big production – 45 minutes of setup, big standing background screen, little table in front of it covered in coordinating colored paper, big lights everywhere, etc. The man who does these portraits is a fellow Microsoftee who does this as a hobby. Apparently it’s difficult to support yourself photographing cats – you never know who’s going to cooperate and who’s going to balk, flee, or bite you.
My cats, thankfully, cooperated rather nicely! Phoenix went first. Although he was resistant initially, he was seduced by the chance to sit on a big crinkly piece of paper (one of his favorite activities), and by the feather-on-a-stick we were waving around just behind the camera. He took a couple nice pictures, then started rolling around on the table trying to kill anyone who came close to him. We photographed that too – it’s Phoenix at his most typical, so why not? Either way, he made it through all 12 pictures in his roll of film.
Cassie was a little superstar – I think she’s been secretly watching reruns of America’s Next Top Model. We lured her up there with a bowl of milk, which led to a few shots of her drinking and looking up with a big drop of milk on her chin, and then she just sat and blinked adorably at the camera, happily posing any way we wanted her to. This from my most skittish cat. I could almost hear her little chirpy voice telling the director that she was ready for her closeup.
At the end, we had a little film left and decided to try Max and Maddie too, but that went less well. Max would have nothing to do with the whole scene, staying put for maybe one picture. Maddie took a few but didn’t like it much either. Neither, obviously, is a publicity-hound like my two are.
We get the proofs in a few days, at which point I will, of course, post selections here.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Week 14 of being pregnant just ended a couple days ago. It's amazing how fast this is speeding by. I bought a pregnancy journal, finally, last week - been looking forever but didn't find one I liked until now - and I just sat down and wrote in notes from the entire first trimester. It was fun to look back that whole period - the whole euphoric, peaceful, turned-inward gaze of the first two weeks after I found out, the rougher patch of morning sickness for the next six, the return of personhood around week twelve with the abatement of the nausea. Despite the physical challenges, I think this is the most amazing, mindblowing thing that's ever happened to me.
This week, I felt the baby move for the first time (already blogged about that here), still struggled with the over-tiredness a bit, and started to feel free to buy things for the baby. So far I've gotten a few little onesies, ordered a Marsupial diaper bag, and bought a monkey mobile. We've come up with a few more possible names, and a bunch more silly ones. (Our latest game has been to create names whose initials spell out SPAZ, using two middle names.)
Food cravings are also picking up. Early last week, I sat through an 11:00 meeting at work so utterly obsessed with the thought that I must have a cheeseburger that I could hardly concentrate on what was going on around me. Must. Have. Red. Meat. I've had several unbearable cravings for grilled chicken sandwiches. At least my cravings are semi-healthy. It could be cake.
Food continues to be challenging, even when I crave it. I'm not sick much anymore, but hunger is no longer a laughing matter. There is no mild hunger anymore; I go from not-really-hungry to desperately-shakingly-hungry in the blink of an eye. If I miss lunch by fifteen minutes, I'll be shaking and sweating and feeling weak, like a drug addict needing a hit. Then I eat and feel hugely, uncomfortably full after having half the amount of food I would have eaten pre-pregnancy. It makes the whole no-brainer activity of feeding oneself pretty challenging.
My office location has become an unexpected boon. I'm about ten steps from the kitchen, and maybe twenty yards from the bathroom. This second item is key, since the bathroom is where I spend all of my waking hours. If I spent any more time there, I think I'd have to just move my desk and computer in there to get anything done. Each night, I wake up at least twice to visit the bathroom again. I think it's nature's way of preparing you for getting up for night feedings.
As a result, I'm sleep deprived, but it makes the cats happy to get an uexpected visit in the wee hours. Our master suite bathroom has a heated floor, and one will inevitably find a cat or two sprawled out on it soaking up heat, deep in the night. When I visit, Phoenix gets terribly excited and invariably follows me back to bed, giving up the comfort of his warm floor for the pleasures of sleeping with Mom.
We'll see how the birth of the baby changes the cats' sleeping preferences.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Sunday, March 05, 2006
First of all, we're about two seconds from having great big beautiful blooms on both our cherry and dogwood trees. Oddly enough, even though we're south-facing, most of the other trees around us have already bloomed. It's worth waiting for, though. The picture at left is the blooms on the fifty-year-old ornamental weeping cherry in our front yard.
Second, I've gotten a P-Patch! P-Patch is a local community garden program, with plots all over the city. My friend Jacki and I have been on the waiting list for two years now - there's that much demand! We're going to share a 10x10 plot in Ballard for this growing season.
Why, you may ask, do I need a P-Patch when I have two yards to play with? Well, both yards are the size of postage stamps and neither has a good place to put in a vegetable bed. I manage to eek out subsistence-level tomato growing in a few plots, but that's about all I can do here. Now I can grow all kinds of new things!
Finally, we got out today and dug out the troublesome climber rose at the old house (Kiss of Desire, photo of what it's supposed to look like here) and put in something a little more disease resistant. The KoD rose has been growing there for a few years, but (aside from reaching a nice size) has never done very well - it's been constantly plagued by one problem or another and has only produced four or five flowers a year. We dug it up and put in a Blaze, a much lower maintenance and more profusely blooming rose. It's nothing particularly unusual, more of an old standby, but I think it will do much better there.
Tip: when you plant roses, chop up two banana peels and put them at the bottom of a deep hole, then plant the rose on top. Provides all sorts of great nutrients that will help your new rose thrive. I also chop them up and dig them under existing roses every spring. Brett's fairly tolerant of the fact that spring in our house means a rotting bag of banana peels in the fridge for months at a time as I collect enough to augment twelve bushes.
This afternoon from 3-5 I go to my P-Patch orientation. I'll report back on that.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
I was standing in the kitchen at work a couple days ago, feeling kinda funny and under the weather, and I had my hand on my belly and was kind of leaning into it against a counter, so I was pressing harder than usual without really thinking about it. All of a sudden I felt this little flutter-flutter-flutter thing against my fingertips, really fast. I don’t think I could’ve felt it if I hadn’t been pressing on it – it was too faint for me to really sense inside, but with my hand there it wasn’t all that faint, either.
Of course I can’t feel it at all now that I’m not accidentally probing myself. ;) Probably won’t happen again for a while (usually starts around 16 weeks, but sometimes earlier), but that was COOL!
Part of it was this very odd conversation:
Brett: (to advisor) Do you go to a mosque?
Advisor: No. Well, for holidays. I'm not a very good Moslim. I love wine.
Brett: I'm not a very good Jew. I love pork!
Me (thinking to myself): Well I get to eat and drink whatever I want, so I guess I win.
It's amazing anyone takes us for clients.