Archive for March, 2009

“The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next.”

March 31, 2009


This past weekend I was talking to a pleasantly dispositioned nurse who mentioned she’d been on bedrest for all nine months of her recent pregnancy. I remarked on that being unusual and she said that she’d had two previous miscarriages. In one pregnancy she’d lost a baby at five months and in another she’d lost twins at six months. “They determined I have a weak cervix,” she said, continuing with her work. Perhaps due to her medical background, she was straightforward about it, not seeming to say it to solicit sympathy or to invoke horror. Nor was she cold about it. Rather, she simply appeared grateful for her new baby boy and had an undoubtedly hard-won “it is what it is” attitude about what she’d been through.

While not altogether unnerved by the conversation, it stuck with me through the weekend, coming to mind in the midst of other things.

I did not consider myself naive throughout the early months of this pregnancy. Among friends and family there are stories of loss–miscarriages, infertility agony, and death in childbirth–that have reminded me in passing that my husband and I have been sailing along thus far. But when I hit the 20-week mark a little over a week ago it seemed something of a milestone. Coupled with seeing the baby on a sonogram that very day and being told she appeared to be utterly healthy, I became even more comfortable, more secure.

Then came the “at five months” and “at six months” conversation.

There is nothing to do with a reminder that such things happen but consider it. Decide what it means for you and for your situation. Pragmatically speaking, it means nothing. One woman’s weak cervix does not miscarry another’s baby. Upon learning I was pregnant last fall, I vowed that I would not treat it as if it were an egg balanced precariously on a spoon during a race. No fretting, no worrying about superstition, no mitigating against potential future unhappiness by pretending it wasn’t there until it arrived. I would refer to it by name, I would buy it clothes, I would decorate its nursery. This weekend though I was given a gentle alert that such happy determination is the luxury of one personally untouched by loss. A naturally thin woman declaring she’s not going to obsess over calories. A rich man waving a hand idly and saying he doesn’t concern himself with money.

Late yesterday afternoon I felt the baby move for the first time. An initial flutter that I was about to dismiss became a more insistent twinge. My left hand went to meet it. The right hand reached for the phone and dialed my husband. Our little family held an impromptu, lucky five-month celebration. Six months will feel even luckier.


Why My Friend the Cuban Reporter Will Never Babysit My Child

March 25, 2009

First the cell phone picture he sent:


And now his message:
So I’m having a few drinks here in Coral Gables and came out for a smoke. Swanky area of town, fancy shops, all that uppity stuff. There’s this fancy dog store called Dog Bar and I noticed this in the window. Sure, it’s made for dogs, but I saw it and immediately thought of your soon-to-be-born. It would not only keep your baby in peak physical condition but after strapping that baby in there, you’re free to do things around the house, run to the grocery store, stop in for happy hour, whatever. And before you ask, no, I couldn’t make out the price from the window.

Suffice it to say, we are still accepting nanny applications. Please include references.

P.S.–He is correct in assuming I do actually want this and would want to know the price. Because there’s a fuzzy, four-legged member of the family who got a little doughy after a long winter of Milk Bones and nog.

The Food Pyramid, As Conceived by a Five-Year-Old

March 24, 2009

porkyshirtI swear I read somewhere that pregnant women should eat whatever they want, provided it is not on that list of things that are poisonous to pregnant women. However, yesterday the doctor informed me that I was a little er, how to put this gently, porkier than I need to be. To her credit, she prefaced it with a slow “Okayyyyy, sooo,” before delivering her opinion.

Part of my problem is that I’m having to eat every two hours or I do a little move I like to call pass out in the middle of the smoothie shop requiring an impromptu trip to the emergency room.  The doctor said that’s totally normal (the eating, not so much the passing out) but it’s a matter of what I eat when it’s snack time. According to Dr. Healthy McFunkill I’m supposed to be eating (finger quotes) “fruits” and “vegetables” and “things that don’t come in a bag marked ‘Jumbo Size.'” This is all well and good if you’re one of those glowing women who lives on the cover of a pregnancy magazine smiling while eating carrot sticks. But it does not jive if you’re one of those women who is actually pregnant in real life and wants to snack from a diverse group of roughly three foods that all involve the words “chips” or “bar.”

But if she’d only let me completely go through my list of go-to snacks with her I think she’d see that really I’m eating quite healthfully:

chipsPotato chips — Has a vegetable in the name. I rest my case.


French fries — Made out of potatoes. See above. Add ketchup and it’s practically salad.

cadburyeggMini Cadbury Creme Eggs — Serving of dairy + miniature size = Dairy vitamin

starburstStarburst — Fruity flavor is just another word for “serving of fruit.” One package has an entire day’s fruit serving requirements.

cheeseCheese — Dairy, legitimate this time. Apparently they don’t mean half a brick of cheddar though. Party poopers.

peepsPeeps — I’ve been encouraged to eat more protein. Peeps look like chickens, ergo, I am eating more protein.

cookiesChocolate chip cookies — Contain chocolate chips, which contain antioxidants, which are awesome.

I was trying to finish my list but Dr. Pollyanna Perfectsnacker started blabbing over me. I have no idea what she was yapping about though. Couldn’t hear her over the sound of the foil unwrapping on my Creme Egg.

And So It Begins

March 23, 2009


Of course they go in Daddy’s closet. Mommy’s closet is full. Duh.


And no, not everything will be pink. Just the first one or 17 items.

Is There Anything the Chinese Can’t Predict?*

March 19, 2009

question-mark11:30 a.m. — Nightmare wakes me. Supposed to be up at 6:30 so maybe it’s almost time to get up anyway. Look at the clock and curse silently.
1:45 a.m. — Can’t get back to sleep. Pad out into living room to find husband awake, too. “I couldn’t sleep,” he says. We head back to bed and try to sleep.
2 a.m. — No dice. We give up and get back up. My stomach grumbles, discontent. When awake, I need to eat every two hours. “You’re awake, feed me,” my stomach informs me. His and hers bowls of cereal. I eat mine in the living room watching some inane reality show in which models in tacky sports gear are suspended from highwires. He’s in the dining room intently studying the back of the Golden Grahams box.
2:30 a.m. — He heads back to the bedroom to read. I continue staring at the television and realize that I don’t even have the sound up loud enough to hear the dialogue properly. I rectify the situation and quickly realize it was better without the sound. Time to try sleeping again.
3:17 a.m. — No luck. The tarp from the brownstone being renovated next door flaps, snaps, and cracks in the wind, a foot away from my bedroom window. I weigh getting out of bed to retrieve the earplugs from my travel kit. This smacks of effort and I curl up, finally falling asleep.
6:30 a.m. — Alarm buzzes. It’s about time.
7:30 a.m. — While getting ready, I accidentally smack the blazing hot curling iron barrel against the inner crook of my elbow. A two-inch red burn mark immediately begins brewing.
8 a.m. — Our vehicle having died two days ago, we hail a cab, getting all the way in and shutting the door before telling him that we need to go to Virginia. We’ve strategized this ahead of time, figuring that even a driver miffed about having to leave D.C. won’t kick us out if we’re already in with the door shut. It works because he at least hits the gas while protesting, “I don’t know this area at all,” after hearing the word Virginia. “You and me both, pal,” I think.
8:25 a.m. — Appearing quite proud of himself for not getting lost and for having found a shortcut, he deposits us at the front door.
8:30 a.m. — Half an hour early for the appointment. I fill out the forms, writing the wrong last name, which the receptionist kindly calls to my attention by way of inquiry. The curling iron burn is moving into stinging hissy mode.
9 a.m. — We get called back. On the way to the exam room I point out the now furiously angry burn and ask the nurse if she has something I can put on it. She looks at me like I’ve just asked her to go fetch a hair off the great Cham’s beard. With a coy smile and an expression that clearly conveys “You two are so adorably nutty,” she sets low expectations for her ability to rustle up any such thing. In a hospital. “We might have a Band-aid,” she offers.
9:25 a.m. — My husband shakes his head thinking back to the nurse’s inability to locate burn ointment in a hospital. He turns this into an hilarious monologue.
9:35 a.m. — The first doctor arrives and begins the sonogram. My husband and I peer at the screen searching for any clue as to whether it’s a boy or a girl. Due to our lack of any sonographical training, I’m guessing we’re expecting the baby to hold up a sign that says, “I’m a boy!”
9:45 a.m. — The nurse sticks her head back into the room and announces that she needs to see the doctor. She pretends not to remember us or the heaving welt now amassing troops on the border of my arm. She seems insistent in the way of a 16-year-old who really needs the keys to the car right now. The doctor appears annoyed enough to confirm my hunch that this nurse is something of a pill.
9:50 a.m. — The doctor returns and has to restart all of the measurements. At this point it bears saying that WE ARE 50 MINUTES PAST WHEN I THOUGHT I’D KNOW THE GENDER OF MY CHILD. That’s all I have to say about that.
9:55 a.m. — The doctor indicates that the little one has his or her legs pressed very tightly together, hindering her ability to detect its gender. She says with complete lack of certitude that her theory is that it’s a girl. My brain responds, “THEORIES DON’T HELP ME PICK OUT CURTAIN PATTERNS, LADY!” She sends a second doctor in.
9:57 a.m. — The second doctor is nice, comforting, and completely ineffective at determining the gender of our child. He gives up after a few minutes and suggests that I walk around a bit to try to get the baby to move. He leaves, presumably to go back to the break room to hear more of the nurse’s hilarious story about the couple who came to a hospital and asked for a first-aid product.
10 a.m.
— I head to the ladies room for a private heart-to-heart with the baby. “Baby,” I say, “I would really like to know what you are before I leave this office. Be a lambchop and give up the goods. It is the first and last time I will ask you to make such a flagrant public display.” Confident that the little one is now in line, I smooth my hair in the mirror and head back to the exam room.
10:02 a.m. — The first doctor comes back in. After all of about 20 seconds she sees what she needs to see and makes the announcement, proud this time in her certainty.

“It’s a girl.”


* This is why I base all my major life decisions on fortune cookies.

Miniature March Madness

March 19, 2009

basketballbabyYou have until noon today to fill out your Baby Gender 2009 bracket in the comments:

Boy ————-  [ WINNER ] ————- Girl

Because the tournament championship kicks off today.

“A wonderful, magical animal.”

March 18, 2009


It first happened while Christmas shopping in Georgetown, when the only thing on the lunch menu at Clyde’s that held even remote appeal to me was the turkey club. A few weeks later, a shipment of barbecue came in the mail (this happens when married to a Texan) and for the first time in the history of such a package arriving, that brisket looked delectable. Throw in a few lunch meetings where the thought of plucking one of the marinated vegetable wraps from the catering tray made me want to gag yet the pesto chicken panini might as well have had an “eat me” tag attached to it.

This was all unusual because I hadn’t eaten meat since 1994. And there’s a reason that last sentence said “hadn’t.”

I’m a carnivore again. Not exactly a regular at Charlie Palmer’s or anything but I’m slowly working in some turkey and a little chicken or pork here and there. Chalk it up to selfishness. And spare me your “yeah, food-chain selfishness” lectures, ye hippies in the readership. Personal preservation selfishness. I quickly discovered that I loathed prenatal vitamins. They did unholy things to my delicate-like-a-flower system. Specifically, they made me so nauseated that I found myself stumbling around and gnashing my teeth while shriek-praying the rosary with alarming frequency. It was freaking out my husband, the neighbors, and whoever was on the Metro with me at the time. My doctor, benevolent soul that she is, gave me a dispensation: learn to re-love God’s tastiest creatures or pop the pills. If nothing else underscores for you how awful prenatal vitamins can be, let it be that I am choosing to put a dead turkey in my trap rather than a pill. But you know who’s calmed down considerably? The bambino(a).

It seems that Homer Simpson was right. You don’t win baby friends with salad.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

March 17, 2009

to our favorite little Irish import.

stpatricksdaycard1Yes, of course we’ll dress him or her like this.

Fortunately, we had better luck with our smuggled goods than these folks who returned home on an Aer Lingus flight this week. Curse you, TSA beagles!

beaglesbeagles Look at them, all smug and jacked up on steroids,
eating birthday cake that they clearly confiscated from
some hapless tourist child named “Shiloh.”

Why the Baby Industry Hates Us Friday

March 13, 2009

wileycoyoteThis week’s toe dip into furniture purchasing had me turning to two respected sources:, which lets you know which high chair won’t burst into flames if you spill applesauce on it, and Baby Bargains, a book akin to the Bible for parents trying to figure out whether they must spend $700 on a baby monitor. (Turns out, you don’t need one that delivers continuous feedout on oxygen levels in the baby’s room and the current status of the stock market. Who knew?!) Included on Consumer Reports and in Baby Bargains are tips for first-time parent shoppers–a demographic characterized by their glazed eyes, fear tremors, and the buckets of cash they hold out to anyone who approaches them touting a product’s ability to prevent their child from ever getting a cold or having to attend a gamblers anonymous meeting.

A few tips that offer succinct proof of WtBIHU:

* On cribs — “Some stores purposely loosen the screws on the floor models of less expensive cribs so that when you’re checking them out they seem more rickety than their pricey counterparts.”
Do they teach this move in Looney Tunes Sales Academy? Apparently if you walk into a store and hear “nyuk, nyuk, nyuk,” or see the salesman twirling his mustache you should turn tail and get back in the car.

* On mattresses — “Some baby stores are trying a new tactic to sell their pricey in-house brand of crib mattress: scaring the pants off new parents. We’ve heard all the stories–only OUR mattress fits OUR crib, a simpler foam mattress is DANGEROUS for your baby.”
Apparently the, “ain’t my problem if you buy something that kills your kid, ‘cuz I warned you” is a classic. Special place in Hell for anyone employing this tactic.

* On furniture pedigree [italics emphasis theirs, not mine] — An important point: don’t assume you are getting a crib made in Italy because the brand has an Italian name.”
OK, on this one I’m actually going to side with retailers. If you’re mentally feeble enough to walk into the store with this notion then you deserve the finest Bambino di Napoli Piccolo Principessa Crib slapped together by Chinese child laborers that money can buy. That the Baby Bargains folks felt the need to emphasize this concerns me, as it seems to indicate that the American public might just be that thick.

Of course the American public also makes the Olive Garden the top-selling “Italian” restaurant in every town in which it is located.

If Loving Pastel Drawer Pulls is Wrong I Don’t Want to Be Right

March 12, 2009
aghbabystuffShopper’s identity withheld if only to spare her child from
the humiliation of one day learning that her mother had
drooled over something called the Bunnies By the Bay Lulla Bunny Bye Binkie.

Since learning I was pregnant, I had studiously avoided baby boutiques. No good can come of those places, I reasoned. They are chock full of wee pieces of merchandise that carry disproportionately hefty price tags. The longer I postponed crossing the threshold of shops with names like Giggles & Cupcakes and Bella von Poshingtot the less money I spent before the child even arrived. But with the sundial that my belly has become indicating that it was time to get organized and begin pulling together a nursery, I headed out this past weekend to peruse furniture.

In a boutique in Savage Mill, MD, I met the enemy and she is me.

At every tableau of tiny goods I found myself sighing and thinking, “Maybe I’ve been wrong. Maybe we do need to get the carrot-embroidered plush rattle “Munch Box.” I’d swear they were pumping a mixture of weapons-grade baby powder and opium through the vents. Ever the trooper, I shook off the fog and focused on the day’s mission: find an antique dresser that could double as a changing table and storage. (What I specifically did not want was a piece of baby furniture, because items manufactured solely as baby furniture are as crappy as the substance we will soon be Clorox cleaning off them.)

And there it was:diaperandonesieholder

An antique dresser that had been updated helpfully with the stripping of decades of paint and covered with a smooth coat of deliciously lead-free ebony paint, then distressed for effect and finished off with twinkling crystal knobs. And yes, the pink knobs will be subbed out for green crystal ones if we learn next week that the little one is a little he…what with decorative furniture knobs being the gender-identity crisis harbingers that they are.

After I shrewdly negotiated the proprieters down a cool 15 clams on the price and got them to agree to switch the knobs for free if needed (fear me, Wall Street titans), the first piece of nursery furniture was ours. Only 438 other “essential” items to go.