Archive for the ‘WHAT Is Going to Happen to Me?’ Category

Weight Watchers

October 5, 2009
what-to-eat-during-pregnancyOh whatever.

It’s become something of a pastime for women in Starbucks to tell me I’m a terrible mother. I mean, at least that’s the way I’m interpreting the comments. Last week I had three separate women at three separate Starbucks remark on the baby’s size then follow it quickly with a variation on the first one’s statement: “Guess you must have eaten whatever you wanted while you were pregnant.”

When the first one said it I was mortified and almost snorted my iced decaf skim (that’s right, lady, SKIM!) latte all over her. By the time the third one was blathering at me like Dr. Oz later that week I was trending toward an inner eyeroll and a “Yeah, I used to eat butter straight out of the tub with a spoon.” (For the record, the baby is perfectly proportioned, according to her doctor.) (Oh and also for the record I was at Starbucks three times in the past week because when you’re a new parent Starbucks becomes your outpost, allowing for interaction with the outside world, yet not requiring the commitment of sitting down at a table with a menu and a waitress and surrounding customers who will be annoyed if your baby screams and you don’t leave immediately.)

Now, longtime readers of the Bird blog trilogy know — thanks to a smattering of bordering-on-WASPy-in-their-vagueness references — that I have had a somewhat complex relationship with food and body image in the past. (Booyah! Did it again!) Suffice it to say, the funhouse mirror reflection into which pregnancy converts one’s body has been difficult at times. Specifically, at times when blabby ladies of a certain age are implying my Cadbury Creme Eggs are coming home to roost.

And while there is a measure of temptation to do my best neck circle and finger wave and Jerry Springer-stage-ready “You don’t know me!” I am instead realizing in these last few days that I need simply to add this to the list of boneheaded intrusions new mothers must suffer. Sort of makes me nostalgic for the days when it was just an unauthorized belly pat. Also makes me feel for that chick in China who just gave birth to a 13.75-pound baby. The comments she must be getting. Hopefully she’s just thinking, “Yeah, I used to eat red bean paste straight out of the tub with chopsticks,” and rolling her eyes.


Reflections for a New(er) Mother (Than Me)

September 22, 2009
Clueless“Tai, how old are you?” “I’ll be 16 in May.” “My birthday is in April. As someone older can I please give you some advice?”

With five weeks behind me as a mother I’ve noticed a few things. No sense robbing the world of my wisdom.

* Everything has the ability to make you fret. If your child is wailing for an hour and you put them in the crib and they calm down you’ll start to worry within three minutes of leaving the room that something is wrong. If they sleep through the night you’ll worry that something is wrong. Eat a lot? A little? Something’s wrong. They cuddle up under your neck and it’s the cutest thing ever, right? Sure, until you start worrying that they’re blocking their mouth and nasal passages. Mothers of newborns could give Woody Allen a run for his neuroses.

* The Internet is the greatest invention ever. Just Google any combination of substance you or your child is ejecting plus a verb plus the words “baby” or “post-natal” and you will instantly learn of 100 other parents also experiencing this malady as well as doctors and other professional experts offering the solution. Thank you, Al Gore!

* The Internet is a scourge wrought upon humanity for its wickedness. Googling your or your child’s latest malady yields the blathering of scores of cranks and quacks who all contradict one another with their ridiculous advice that leaves you more confused than when you started. Go suck a lemon, Al Gore!

* Forget the Internet anyway. Just call or visit your child’s pediatrician or your doctor. No matter what you describe to them they will respond, “Oh that’s totally normal.” Your child’s head is spinning 360 degrees? Totally normal. Your lower abdomen has suddenly contorted into the shape of a Frank Gehry building? Totally normal.

* You will suffer extreme paranoia that everyone is judging you. In your defense, everyone is judging you.

* If you thought you were intellectually superior for reading the Sunday Times before just wait until you have a baby. Reading one wedding announcement on the Vows page now makes you feel worthy of a Charlie Rose interview.

* You will rail against the parents who put a happy face on the post-natal experience, never speaking honestly about the myriad physical, emotional and logistical strains. “They were all lyingggg!” you will wail in one of your more broken down moments. And then you will go out and do the exact same thing, exclaiming cheerily, “It’s going great!” when anyone asks how it’s going.

* People will tell you, “Nap when the baby naps!” These people either have nannies or no children. Because it is impossible. Do you know who naps when the baby naps? The one who doesn’t worry about the cleaning, pumping, cooking, bill paying, and working from home. That person does not nap when the baby naps.

* You wait feverishly for your husband to walk through the door in the evening. Then you spend much of the time he’s home eying him with suspicion, wondering if he thinks you laze about all day napping while the baby naps.

* You wonder how you were ever, even for one nanosecond, a snot with your own parents. You also wonder why you didn’t call them every day of college just to let them know you were still alive.

Finally, the most important piece of wisdom I’ve gleaned:
* Babies are awesome. They have beautiful eyes and their hair smells like cinnamon. The first time they give you a genuine smile it goes a long way to diminishing the junk above.

Hello, Baby

September 17, 2009

It was 2:30 in the morning and my husband and I were driving over D.C.’s silenced streets, bound for the hospital. The only sound from outside my open window was the truck’s engine and the ambient noise of the humid summer night. Inside it was just Wolfmother’s “Vagabond” coming from the stereo because we were both quiet, processing what was unfolding. As we drove past the monuments they glowed under the moon.

It had been a dyslexic version of the classic scene that night. Instead of waking with a start and calling the hospital, we were awoken by the hospital calling us at 1 in the morning to tell us we could come in. With the baby deciding to hang out for an extra week, I was supposed to be induced on a Wednesday. With every baby in the D.C. metro area deciding to be born on that particular Wednesday I was delayed until Thursday morning. “We’ll call you when a delivery room frees up,” the nurse had said Wednesday evening as the wait dragged on.

Finally, at 3 a.m. on Thursday we settled into our delivery room. It was dim and cozy and we reveled, albeit sleepily, in what we knew now were the waning hours of quiet in our lives. The last of You and I.

As it turns out, there would be more of those hours than we expected. An early induction drug did nothing, necessitating the high-octane juice later that morning. With that came an epidural. (Gotta love a process that makes you actually ask a doctor to stick a needle in your spinal cord.) And then came…nothing. Over the next 16+ hours things progressed only so far and that wasn’t far enough.

Around 8:30 that night the baby played her high card. Through the epidural that kept me from feeling contractions so strong the monitor printout read like the screen of a treadmill set to “Alpine Adventure”, I felt her kicking. Like crazy. “That was odd,” I thought. A minute later the doctor and a nurse came hustling in the room and asked if I’d felt the baby moving. Shayeah. The baby’s heart rate was dropping at the same time that her sudden activity indicated some sort of distress, the doctor said. It was time to consider that a c-section was likely necessary.

Up until this point the best word to describe labor would be boring. Too drugged by the epidural to get out of bed. Too overwhelmed by the experience to read or do a crossword puzzle. Clockwatching becomes the pastime. When the doctor starts talking emergency c-section it becomes un-boring. It becomes terrifying. When she asked what my feelings were about having the procedure I said, “I do not care about the type of birth. Just get the baby out now.”

The minutes that followed were the cliched blur: husband getting into scrubs, me telling him to follow the baby and not me after she came out, me telling him to save the baby and not me if something went wrong, me telling him not to remarry or I’d haunt him if something went wrong, anesthesiologist asking questions, residents who looked like they were 18 introducing themselves, wheeling to the operating room, staring up at the glaring lights, arms strapped out on both sides, “Can you feel this?” and through it all, uncontrollable shaking due to the nerves or the anesthesia or both. “Stop shaking or you’ll screw them up,” I told myself. Also through it all: my husband’s head right next to me, eyes locked on mine, whispering to me through his mask.

At 9:42, our baby came into the world. You and I became The Three of Us.

Because of something hinky that had happened when my water broke earlier that day I’d expected there would be problems at her birth. I didn’t expect to hear her cry. I’d spent the afternoon preparing myself for the likelihood that there would be initial respiratory problems and that silence would likely mark her arrival. But at 9:42,  through my anesthetized haze, I heard her cry. Loudly. Sustained. This baby was peeved.

With good reason as it turns out. The umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck. Because of her ample carriage she’d been jammed in with little to no chance of moving. One side of her face initially showed the signs of being smushed. Her check-out of the Hotel Tummyington had not gone smoothly. A stern letter to the management was in order.

Luckily, in the days that followed she agreed to forgive us. Because she is perfectly lovely.


This is What Two Weeks Left Feels Like

July 23, 2009


That is all.

We’d Better Shape Uppp…Ooh Ooh Ooh!

June 15, 2009
IMG_1332Us nervous before childbirth and parenting class. So much to learn about babies!
IMG_1337Us after class. WTH? We didn’t learn anything about babies.

The scene: Saturday’s childbirth and baby care class at one of our nation’s august university medical hospitals.
The commitment:
It was going to be a long day–9 a.m. to 5 p.m.–but we knew it would be worth it.
The equipment:
one blanket, two pillows, notebook, pens, snacks, a bag lunch, two bottles of water (me), six-pack of Diet Coke (him)
The outlook: Given our lack of expertise in the areas of ushering babies into the world and their care and feeding afterward, I said solemnly to my husband as we headed out the door, “It’s probably the most important class we’ll ever take in our lives.” This would even mean it usurped typing, which prior to this time I considered the most important class I’d ever taken in my life.

9:02 a.m. – After riding on the filthiest parking lot elevator in Washington, D.C., and snaking through an empty labyrinth of hospital building corridors we arrive at our destination. Even though we’re only two minutes late, the instructor waves us in without smiling so she can continue a shpiel that appears to be a good five minutes under way. We weren’t even the last couple to arrive. Here’s a tip: when half of your class roster has to lean against a wall or use the loo every five minutes, build in a grace period before you rip into lecture.
9:03 – In a special form of torture for the preggies, they hold this class in an empty floor’s lounge where they’ve apparently turn the air off because there aren’t any patients around.
9:04 – The instructor is saying something. Hope it’s not important because she’s barely rising above a whisper. The entire time her face never breaks from its dour expression and her commitment to monotone delivery is awe-inspiring. I feel I’ve made some headway when I make out a New England accent.
9:10 – We’re only 10 minutes in and our instructor, railing (quietly and without r’s) against newspapers using sensationalistic terminology in articles about childbirth says, “Newspapers have really gone downhill in the past few years.” Suuuuper. My husband cracks open the first Diet Coke of the morning.
9:20 – In a classic case of “be careful what you wish for,” I’m now wishing we had one of those hippie dippy crystal-purifying instructors that I’d initially feared we’d get. Instead I’ve got Whispering Katharine Hepburn the Newspaper Detrahctah.
9:23 – I realize that this class will in no way cover baby care — diapering, feeding, bathing, etc. — when she plugs a separate course covering those topics. Apparently I misread this one’s description. Suuuuuuper.
9:45 – Forty-five minutes in and the instructor finally looks at her class syllabus, mentions a broad topic — timing contractions — and then offers no actual information saying, “We’ll go over that later.” This will continue for the next hour.
9:50 – Needing a distraction and a snack, I dive into my baggie of apple slices. Incidentally, if you ever want to see evidence of the sham public lives pregnant women lead, watch the snacks that get pulled out at a communal meeting of their kind: apple slices, unsalted almonds, carrot sticks. Muhuh. Like we all weren’t eating spoonfuls of Duncan Hines frosting dredged through Cap’n Crunch the night before.
10:00 – The instructor divides the men and women and has each group list three positives and negatives about pregnancy. The women struggle to condense the negatives to fewer than five items in the 10 minutes allotted. My husband later reports that the men cranked out their lists in 90 seconds and talked about football the rest of the time. One guy was lamenting that his wife’s due date was initially projected to be August but then they determined it wouldn’t be until early September. The others apparently counseled him that this was nothing to worry about, provided she had the good sense not to deliver on a Saturday.
10:10 to 10:50 – The instructor provides excruciating detail about what will happen at the hospital. But not about the kind of events for which excruciatingly detailed description might actually be helpful, such as the particulars of the eviction of the baby from its uterine condo. No, she details how many questions the admitting desk worker will ask, explains how the identification bracelet will go on our wrists, demonstrates how the nurses will use hand sanitizer as they enter the room, and so forth. (I. Kid. You. Not.)
10:55 – I write the first of two notes to my husband on my otherwise-unmarred notebook sheet: “But what will the chief resident have had for lunch that day?”
11:10 – I write my second note to my husband, “If we don’t start getting some actual useful childbirth info pronto I’m all for bailing at the lunch break.” He looks at me lovingly, seemingly convinced that he made the right decision on our wedding day. He pops open his second Diet Coke to toast his good fortune.
11:15 – The only other notes that have made it onto the paper are: “Call doctor when contractions start.” “Bring iPod and speaker dock to hospital.” “Ask neighbor to look after Dakota when we go to the hospital.”
11:40 – The instructor puts in a DVD about childbirth. Finally, we’re getting somewhere! We watch a short segment about the three stages of labor: Moderately Painful, Really Painful, and Sweet Fancy Moses Get This Thing Out Now Painful. Then we watch an actual childbirth video. Twenty minutes before lunch. Much wincing and “oh God”ing ensues.
11:55 – Time to get out the pillows and blankets and hit the floor for breathing exercises. In five minutes, the instructor offers a series of relaxation techniques that might calm me down were I in a moderately long line at the DMV but would be unlikely to help while going through what I just witnessed on the DVD. I resolve to get a pre-natal yoga DVD.
Noon. Sweet, Blessed Lunch-Breaky Noon – “Get the pillows and I’ll grab the bag and let’s get out of here,” I whisper with urgency to my husband as if we’re planning a bank heist. He obliges and we bolt for the door.
1:30 – In the fern-dotted, air-conditioned Georgetown Park, we buy Mrs. Field’s cookies and sodas. We are happy, we are free. It is then that we realize we’ve cut class to go to the mall, buy junk food, and hang out with our significant other. High school rules! Take that, authority!



No, wait…


Being Fired Wasn’t In My Birthing Plan

June 3, 2009


Yet, here we are, a little more than nine weeks away from the baby’s arrival and it appears that within the next 24 hours my union is heading toward a strike. (It’s a tad confusing but here’s the deal: I work for a large, national union. Within that union’s headquarters, I’m one of about 550 workers who are members of a staff union.) Contract negotiations between our staff union and the national union for which we work appear to have broken down almost entirely. Which means as soon as we go on strike, I become an “at will” employee. “At will” = “Fireable.”

Now, I’m a glass-half-full kind of gal so I’m not going to focus on the fact that at best, I’m about to not get my paycheck for the duration of a strike of indeterminate length, and at worst, I will not get my paycheck, retirement benefits, or health care for a determinate length of time with that determined length being forever. Instead, I’ve compiled the seven best things about this situation:

1. If I lose my job, we won’t need to pay for daycare!
2. I can finally put my puffy paint-pen sorority discount to use again. The sign may say “Hey Management, Go **** Yourselves!” but the dot letters and pink posterboard add a nice feminine touch.
3. I’ll get lots of beneficial exercise by walking on a picket line for eight+ hours a day.
4. In protesting health care cuts for dependents, I’ll become the first picketer in history to have a picture of a fetus (my own) on a sign and not be complaining about abortion.
5. After listening to me address a couple hundred people in the atrium of our headquarters about why the CEO is a hypocrite, this baby will likely infer I am either a tough cookie or just plain crazy. Either way, I think it bodes well for an easier time disciplining her later.
6. Apparently if you sing a few songs over and over during pregnancy, babies are more easily soothed by them after being born. But thus far, I’ve been a little slack about singing to her every day. Now I’ll just be able to yell, “Hey hey, ho ho, Disrespect has got to go!” to get her to fall asleep.
7. Contract disputes hurt more than contractions. I know this now.

Part II: I Say Traditional, You Say Pohtahtoe

May 27, 2009


After I warned him last night that I would be using him as the Lucy to my Ricky in this morning’s post, my husband mounted an indignant tri-part defense, starting with, “Any man who says he wants to be in the delivery room is lying.” Other attempts: “You don’t want to be in there either!” (Response: No, but if I’ve got to be, you’ve got to be.) “So you’re saying that if I were having surgery on my prostate, you’d come stand there the whole time?” (Response: If I was allowed, of course.) Steeee-rike three.

However, in his next at-bat, he swung for the fences. And to borrow a line from The Royal Tenenbaums, “Immediately after making this statement, [Bird’s husband] realized that it was true.” He looked at me, his expression softening and his tone now serious, and said, “I just don’t want to be in there, seeing you in pain, and not be able to do anything about it.”

Heart. Melts. Here.

Navel Gazing

April 10, 2009


My bellybutton is starting to do something odd. Previously a round cherubic choirgirl’s “oh” it is now flattening to a disaffected teenage girl’s “meh.” If my bellybutton were a movie character it would be Juno. This better be temporary.

That is all.


Here Be Monsters!

February 19, 2009

If you think that video with the two young lasses and one beverage container is the most disturbing thing on the internet, you have clearly not seen the video below.* During a chat last evening outside of my husband’s newspaper, his colleague Mike–who recently welcomed his second adorable offspring into the world–mentioned that you can see a baby moving in the mother’s stomach near the end of pregnancy. Now, I assumed that he meant there’s an occasionally faintly visible tappa tappa tappa or something. But no, he meant a full-on, undulating belly sea sent roiling by the eight pound, six ounce Loch Ness Monster inside. If I thought I was freaked out standing there on the sidewalk I had another thing coming when I got home. Specifically, I had YouTube coming.

This is just one of many horrifying results when you search “baby moving in stomach.” The miracle of life never looked so utterly creepy.

*Yes, I realize I’m costing myself untold Google traffic by not putting the actual name of it in this post. Baby Bird doesn’t need the miscreants looking for it shuffling over to her site and leaving their slimy disgruntled comments all over a post about say, baby blankets or baptism party cakes.