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February 2009
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April 2009

I'm still pregnant. That's how I answer the phone right now, too.

Yup, still here. TODAY was this little one's due date, making this baby both overdue and the longest pregnancy I've ever experienced. The boys were all born in the week before their due dates, so I already feel a week overdue. COME ON OUT LITTLE GIRL!

At least I didn't have her in the car, on the side of the road, in a snowstorm, right? And as I said to Clay last night, "She has to be born eventually, right? She can't stay in there FOREVER?"

This is my fourth baby, so you'd think I'd be pretty confident on that point. However, I find late pregnancy makes me just as frantic and befuddled as it ever did. Last night Clay was showing me tiny little dresses, trying to cheer and distract me, and I looked at them and realized with a start that labor doesn't just mean I won't be pregnant anymore - it means I'll have a tiny little baby to PUT in those dresses.

This was more of a shock to me than one might expect. I seem to have quite the capacity to lose track of the obvious.

Poor Jennie went home Saturday. She missed her FFA meet, because the interstate between us and Wyoming was closed through most of Friday. I still managed to feel guilty about that, although I'm not sure how to justify it. Jennie was very gracious about the whole thing, even though I know she was disappointed. I suggested she stay another week, since she'd missed the meet already, but she pointed out that her school, her teachers, and her mother all might have a problem with it. So she'll be back to meet her sister this summer - probably in June.

So here I wait. I think I've tried everything to get this baby born - including acupuncture. None of it works. I have, however, decided that I could make my fortune if I could only find an effective way to market an over-priced ebook of labor-starting tips to women who are in the last days of their pregnancy. Because we will pay the price. Oh yes, we will.

And yet, continuing in the theme of me not making any sense whatsoever, I plan to go see my doctor tomorrow with a very compelling argument about why I shouldn't be induced. I think I have to work on my talking points, though, because at this point they boil down to this: I REALLY HATE MEDICINE and STOP BEING MEAN TO ME.

Okay, she's not ACTUALLY being mean to me. She's just being a doctor, which is an unfortunate side effect of all those years of medical school. Right now I'm regretting not finding a midwife to follow this pregnancy - especially since the doctor seems to view me, in my pregnant dotage, as a ticking time-bomb already. An overdue ticking time bomb? Now THAT right there is a recipe for pitocin.

Soon, I am told, this will all be over, and the new normal will begin.

Call me jaded, but I'll believe it when I see her.

The weasels say SQUEEEEEE

I was going to open this post with some claim about my mental illness number, because my secret wish is to be exactly like Joss, except married to my own husband, which doesn't even make sense, because Joss can only be married to Scott. Duh. But that would be disingenuous, because what I'm experiencing is nothing so cool as a skyrocketing mental illness number. No, what's going on in my head is more brain is being eaten by rabid weasels. I'll be having a perfectly normal interior-dialogue sort of conversation inside my skull, when all of a sudden there is a shrill squeal of wild destructive glee, and rational thought gives way to great bloody swaths of emotion and OMG WHAT AM I GOING TO DOOOOO?

Rabid weasels totally suck.

Here's the situation: I am still pregnant. Jennie is supposed to leaveway, way early tomorrow morning. She's not just going home, though. She's going to an FFA meet that's very important to her - important enough for her to get up and leave the house at THREE IN THE AM. Got it? So there's a deadline for this baby girl to show her face if her big sister is going to see her before this summer. And that deadline is rapidly approaching. I should probably be in labor RIGHT NOW, as a matter of fact.

I am not in labor RIGHT NOW.

NOW! Add to that background the following fact: we are currently experiencing a snow storm that is, by far, the largest storm we've had this winter. We're under a blizzard warning until tomorrow morning. Forecasts call for 8 - 24 inches of snow by 6 AM. Roads between here and Wyoming (which is where Jennie is going) are closed. Roads that aren't closed all around the Denver Metro area are very very bad - snow-packed and slippery. Are you with me?

This leaves me with the following thoughts/weasel-inspired freakouts: Jennie is most probably NOT going to make it to her FFA meet. I am pretty sure this is my fault, because she came down here for Spring break so she could meet the baby, whom I have failed to deliver. Shut up, the weasels say SQUEEEEEE. Therefore, Jennie will hate me for all time.

ALSO! Roads! Snow-packed! Icy! And I could (theoretically) go into labor AT ANY MOMENT. DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS? I am going to end up being that woman on the evening news who gave birth to her baby on the side of the road. IN A BLIZZARD. WHILE HER STEPDAUGHTER HATED HER.

To sum up, I am worried about the following possibilities; Jennie will go home tomorrow. Jennie will NOT go home tomorrow. I will have this baby tonight. I will NOT have this baby tonight.

Oh, and weasels.

Hi! I'm still pregnant! And not in labor.

I forgot to mention how touched I was by y'all's happy birthday wishes. Well done, people! Especially Heather, who was first and remembered all on her own. Am impressed. And yes, you caught me. On Friday, as this part of the earth turned its face back toward the sun, I turned 38.

I didn't mention my birthday because it seems like a fairly unimportant event this year, what with the impending baby (whom I'm suspecting will be the world's first child to live out the many years of her life in utero - an arrangement that will only become more uncomfortable when she's 13 and can't stand me). Despite my blase attitude about it, friends and family really came through, leaving me feeling entirely blissed-out and spoiled. I am loved. It's almost enough to convince me that the whole "you're gorgeous and glowing" theory of pregnancy isn't so much revisionist claptrap, and that I'm not actually a hideous lumbering troll.

Of course, THAT can't be permitted, and so yesterday I waddled into Sephira for my birthday gift. Now, I love Sephora. Despite concerted efforts to improve my mind, I remain at heart a frivolous girly-girl. I enjoy the lotions and glazes and paints and powders, I really do. And Sephora is like...a wonderland of all things girly. Just owning one of their glossy back bags makes me feel a tiny bit daintier. And they give you a GIFT on your BIRTHDAY! And this year it was LIPGLOSS!

Since I was already there, I found one of the tiny, be-smocked young women who work there, to request a sample of a skin serum I've been wanting to try (another beautiful thing about Sephora - generous, happily supplied samples). As she scooped serum into a little plastic pot for me, we chatted about it.

"I really think you'll like this. It's a great product," she assured me. I nodded and grinned, just one of the girls, chatting about skin care products. She turned and handed it to me. "I mean, my mom just LOVES it, so I'm sure it'll work for you!"

And just like that, I was shooed promptly back into my late-30s place, mere inches from my 40s and NOT one of the girls.

Oh well. It's still not a bad place to be.

And I promise you, he IS responsible

Grrr, I growled at Clay. "Tomorrow's Sunday. Church again - and I'm still pregnant. I swear if I'm pregnant next Sunday, I'm not going."

"You could stay home THIS Sunday, if you want to," he said, completely unperturbed as though it were a normal thing for his wife to be growling at him.

And I know I could have, but I sucked it up and I went anyhow. The truth is I love my church - I love the people there. The problem is that the people there love me too.

Now, THAT sounds lovely and gracious, doesn't it?

I'm just in no mood to be fussed over. YES, I DO still seem to be pregnant, and YES, I suppose THIS child could be the one born after her due date, and YES, it's uncomfortable. I'm antsy and anxious and I want this baby born now, if not sooner. Jennie is here for her spring break - but only until early Friday morning, and I really don't want her to miss her sister. As silly as it may sound, if the baby isn't born before Jennie goes home, I'll feel as though I've failed her. C'mon out, little one!

Nonetheless, as I said, I sucked it up and went to church. And I'm glad I did, because everyone was so sweet and excited for us - but mostly because I heard, today, the most AMAZING comment I've received during this whole pregnancy, and now I get to share it with you all.

I was sitting and chatting with a woman who I obviously hadn't seen for awhile (she goes to the early service). She was gobsmacked to discover that I was knocked up. "When did THAT happen?" she kept asking. Clay walked up behind me, and she pivoted to fix him with a stern glare.

"Are YOU responsible for this?"

There was a moment of silence, and for a second I actually thought Clay was at a loss for words. But no, he told me later, he was just trying to think of a response that would be appropriate. In church. Surrounded by his children. He almost responded, "No, actually, she had an affair! Thanks for bringing it up!" But he opted for the more dignified route, and laid a hand on my shoulder.

"Yes, I am. I assure you, I'm COMPLETELY responsible."

Ready or not

The boys were doing their school work, and I sat on the floor of the girls' room, looking around me in bewilderment. This baby, this little girl who is lodged between my hip bones and my ribs, with seemingly no intention of ever leaving, already has too much stuff. She'll be sharing a smallish room with her big sister, and I was completely at a loss about where to put everything.

People have been so generous, welcoming our daughter-to-be with such gifts. Dresses and socks and shoes and blankets. So much pink and so much love. I'm humbled, much as I was by the outpouring of love when Clay and I married. 

As I sat and sorted through piles of clothes, snipping off tags and building a mound of pink, yellow, green, and more pink to be washed, the boys wandered in and out, trailing books and papers to be checked. Soon I found myself surrounded by piles of clothes, discarded tags, teacher's manuals, and two forgotten workbooks (handwriting and spelling - Raphael and Max, respectively). 

Tre came in and stopped in his tracks to survey all the stuff. 

"This baby's spoiled already," he declared.

"Eh," I said, "babies don't want much, other than to be held and fed and have their diapers changed when necessary. To see the faces of the people they love. She doesn't care about any of this stuff." I looked around, at the blankets and socks and bouncy seat. "But yeah, you're right. Look at all this stuff."

He looked at me, then looked again.

"Are you okay, Mom?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. It's much to do still."

He looked around, then grabbed a box. 

"Let me help. I'll put this together."

He pulled a diaper pail out of the box, tossed the instructions aside, and set to assembling it. I watched him scowl at the pieces, inspect their shapes in that sober, manly way guys have when they're putting something together, and fit it all in place. 

I can't help but compare the home Tre came to as a newborn to the home that's ready for this baby. I was such a child myself then. Money was so tight, and the future was so foggy. Not only was there no new diaper pail, there was very little security waiting for him. He came home in a second hand car seat, to a second hand crib, a stack of second hand clothes, and two very young parents without a clue. By his side I learned some of my hardest lessons as a mother. If I could go back and stock his nursery, I'd fill it with with all the toys and clothes and gear that he didn't have. But even more, I'd stand next to his terrified, immature mother, and hold her hand.

Tre unfurled the liner and fit it into the diaper pail. He closed the lid, then stepped on the pedal to open it and peered inside to be sure it was all in place.

"There," he said, presenting it to me, "all done. See? There's not too much to do. Just let the rest of us help you."

I nodded, mute. He asked if there was anything else he could do and I reminded him he still had Algebra to do, so he scooped up his book and loped back out of the room.

I watched him go, fingering the meltingly soft cotton dress in my hand. 

Maybe he didn't get everything his little sister is getting. But somehow, I think he got enough.

An everyday miracle

Just last week sometime I was leaving unsolicited advice in the comment section of a blog. The writer of the blog talked about how her six year old son was suddenly afraid to read, and I responded by saying that I'd taught three boys to read, and they all did the same thing. They start out thrilled with the magic of phonics, of A says aaahhhh, and B says buh, and suddenly you can put together three letters-that-make-sounds, and you have a WORD! The first word all three boys read was RAN, and they carried it around on a 3X5 card, reading it for people and beaming.

But then they cross a line, and they're able to learn more than they're able to process, and the printed word becomes threatening and awful and MAKE IT GO AWAY. We spend a year or so dancing gingerly around the concept of reading, with me reading to them a lot, them looking at books with lots of pictures and small amounts of non-threatening text. Slowly but surely they build skills and then one day, like magic, they suddenly become readers. Some book catches their eye, and they pick it up...and read.

You can always tell if you catch them reading as they walk up or down stairs. That's a dead giveaway. The line has been crossed, and will never be un-crossed. It's like giving birth all over again. Look, honey, it's a READER!

What I DIDN'T say in my long, unsolicited advice comment was that wee Raphael had yet to cross that line. It happens right about age 7, I said, but that's a waaaay oversimplification. Tre got there right around his seventh birthday, but I swear Tre read the developmental milestone list in utero and committed it to memory. Max didn't get there until almost NINE years old, largely because he - ahem- needed reading glasses apparently. And he had tracking issues. Until those things were ironed out, letters were way too fiddly and unreliable for him to establish a relationship with them. And wee Raphi? Well, things tend to come easily for him. And if they don't? He rejects them with extreme prejudice. It's a battle I fight with him all the time. I swear his natural ability is going to end up being his greatest weakness if he doesn't get over it.

So here he is, three months from turning eight, and still not much of a reader.

Until today.

I caught him walking up the stairs, nose stuck deep in the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

"Close the book when you're on the stairs," I said.

"Mmm-hmm," he answered, TOTALLY not listening to me.

One day he was someone who could decode words, but didn't care to all that much. Today he's a reader.


An everyday miracle, perhaps. But a miracle nonetheless.

What it feels like, being in the final weeks (days? hours?) of a pregnancy

You know that moment, on the 4th of July, when just enough light has drained out of the sky that everyone below is distracted, looking up and wondering if it's time, NOW, for the fireworks to start? A bird flies by, a straggler headed for home, and the white flash under its wings makes a dozen heads whip around to see if this is it. Children ask and re-ask, when? Soon? and parents shrug and try to distract them with glo-sticks. Everyone knows something good is coming, but no one knows exactly when, and a few people are just hoping there aren't any fatalities. The air is full of equal parts boredom, excitement, and fear.

And you, the pregnant woman? Are the whole knocked-up sky. You're huge and have no control whatsoever in when the show will begin and you kind of wish people would stop looking at you and your ankles are swollen and your analogy has completely broken down and you don't care because you're slightly irrational and quite grumpy.

Pregnant woman are allowed to anthropomorphize months.

Do you know what happened last night? Tre was making pizza for dinner, and he'd mixed up the dough and left it to its yeasty thing, and I was setting up the baby bed in my bedroom when he went to roll the crust out.

Um...I DO still make dinner sometimes. Not tonight, Max made spaghetti tonight. But other times. You should stop judging me.

Anyhow, there I was, getting the baby bed assembled, and Tre called me to come look at his pizza dough. "Mom, there's BLACK THINGS in the dough," were his exact words, I believe. That's something to get your attention, so I lumbered out to the kitchen to have a look.

Okay, to be honest, Clay was putting the baby bed together. I was giving helpful suggestions, which I think we can all agree is a VITAL part of the assembly process. I know Clay appreciated it.

Tre held out a lump of dough to me, and I pinched off a bit with a speck of black. Close inspection revealed...a bug. I just tried to Google a picture of it, and I threw up in my mouth a little, so you'll have to take my word for it. Use your imagination. There were bugs in the pizza dough, and, as it turns out, bugs in my expensive bread flour.

Look, IT HAPPENS, okay? It doesn't mean that I'm some sort of slovenly huge pregnant woman who lets great billowing mountain ranges of dog hair grow under the couch. I mean, I AM that sort of huge pregnant woman, but just at the moment, and the flour bugs were not my fault. This is my first experience with flour bugs in my long and sordid housekeeping career. In case you're wondering? They're gross. Now stop judging me.

So we pitched the flour and the dough, and I went back to standing helpfully beside Clay as he wrestled with bars and springs and things. In no time, he had that puppy assembled, and he took us all out to dinner. We went to a salad buffet place, which seems like an odd way to describe a restaurant devoted mostly to muffins and pastas and potatoes, but whatev. The kids were thrilled, and we had the most lovely evening. I sat in the middle of my family, Clay on my right, Raphi on my left, Tre and Max across from me. We talked and laughed and everyone ate as much as they could, which took me a while, because I'm all jammed full of baby at the moment, and can't fit very much food in at any one time.

You know, February was sort of a bitch. Pardon me, that was crass. But it's true. There was too much going on around here, and I had too few reserves to deal with it all. But we got through, and here we are in March. As of tonight I am 36w4d pregnant. My family is pretty much happy and okay. Any day now, I'll be holding my daughter. The baby bed is set up, the buggy flour is thrown away, and for the first time in a while I feel like everything will probably be just fine. I still can't take a full breath, but I can breathe.

Bring it on, March.