Monday, July 15, 2013

Who says pregnancy makes you emotional?

Have you heard of that website, Reasons My Son is Crying? I've been thinking lately that Shane could start a similar one, reasons my pregnant wife is crying. I'm told this is quite common among pregnant women. When we were in Wasilla, Shane's cousin and I laughed about some of the things she cried about during her first two pregnancies. Her husband joked that he didn't realize dish soap commercials were so emotionally laden before.
Honestly, my emotions have felt rather steady. For the most part. I'm just a little bit more prone to tears. So I've been reading the news a bit less, never sure what will set me off. Shane, thankfully, usually hasn't been around for the crying jags I have had, and he's done his best to ignore the ones he has seen. When I'm quietly snuffling because of my book, he politely pretends that I'm behaving completely rationally.
There are some things which I can admit, even while I'm crying, are thoroughly stupid to cry about. Sometimes I don't even know why I'm crying, but it feels damn good to get it out so I just go with it. So, in the interest of letting other pregnant women know they're not alone in their tears, and giving everyone else a good laugh, here are a few of the things I've cried about recently:

The secondary character in my book who was dying of cancer finally died. Of cancer.

I saw a picture of a wedding dress on Pinterest (which looked nothing like mine and, actually, I thought was rather ugly) and it made me remember my own wedding day. I didn't cry on my wedding day, but damn if I didn't cry over the memory of how happy it was.

I read a story in which a mother disowned her son for being gay. I wondered how any parent, ever, could do that to their child and sobbed my heart out. I kept whispering to my belly that I will love her no matter who she is.
And now I'm crying over that one again.

I realized that one day my daughter will tell me, and think that she means it, that she hates me. Then I remembered the times I told my own mother I hated her and cried even harder. Then I simply cried because I missed my mom. (This was before they visited.)

I cried because time goes so fast, and before I know it I'll be sending my baby off to college, or off to travel the world by herself. Then I laughed because I haven't even birthed this child yet, but I still couldn't stop crying so I was both laughing at myself and crying.

I cried because my dog won't live forever.

I cried because my husband is wonderful and I'm so happy with him. Seriously. I think he'd done the dishes or something silly like that, and it moved me to tears.

My all-time favorite, however, happened a few weekends ago. Shane was doing some maintenance on his computer so he turned on "Finding Nemo" on his laptop. He fell asleep in his computer chair at some point, then woke up enough about an hour later to stumble into bed. (A grand total of about one foot. It was quite the feat, I'm sure.) Anyway, "Finding Nemo" was still playing, looped, on the laptop when I woke up. So I made myself some breakfast and took it back to the bedroom to watch the tail end of the movie. (Get it? Tail end? So bad.) Shane woke up to the sounds of me weeping uncontrollably and asked, "What's wrong?" I managed, between sobs, to stammer out, "D-Dory's missing!!" Ever the gentleman, Shane did his best to muffle his laughter in his pillow, but seeing him laugh made me laugh too and, once again, I couldn't stop crying while I was laughing so it was a bizarre combination of the two.

I should also add, in case you were wondering, that I am not a pretty crier. I don't get cute. My face contorts like an Olympic gymnast and I get red-rimmed eyes, tear stains, and blotchy cheeks. My nose runs, then stuffs up so I spend the next half hour sniffling. When I say these things have made me cry, I mean that I cried. No adorable couple of tears slipping down my cheeks like in a movie.
So the next time you need a good laugh, go ahead and imagine what I'll cry about next. I'll probably end up laughing about whatever it is myself, even before the crying has stopped.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Everything else

It's been a fun and busy few weeks, hence the lack of posts. We went to a wedding in Wasilla (staying for free in my in-laws' motorhome), and my parents came up for nearly a week, both to visit us and to celebrate the wedding of two of their college friends. (Cute story, the couple dated in college, broke up soon after because he wanted to leave the state, and then met again last year and fell back in love so they got married.) In between these events, I spent a few days frantically cleaning my apartment, both to make it presentable to my parents and because my dad is allergic to cats, so I did my best to get rid of as much cat dander as possible. (It seems to have worked. He sneezed a lot but his eyes didn't itch, and the sneezing might also have been caused by the smoke.)
Ah, the smoke. We've been keeping an eye on the reports about the Stuart Creek fire, just out of town. Not only has it been blowing clouds of smoke into habited areas, it actually caused a temporary evacuation before they started getting it under control. Thankfully, we've had some rainy, wet weather which has been helping the firefighters. It's still almost 85,000 acres on fire, but the weather is helping to keep it from spreading toward homes.
And, it's sent a small boon our way. Some family friends live in the hills, not anywhere too close to the fire (they didn't have to evacuate) but they can see it and theirs is a very woodsy area. It got them thinking about what their fire danger is so they wanted to make a fire break. Unfortunately, they're an older couple and the wife is in poor health so she can't do much. So they hired Shane and another friend of ours to work on clearing out a bunch of the black spruce around their property. They're not clearcutting, but they're thinning it out both to make it less likely to be eaten up by a fire and more palatable to firefighters, should they be needed. As Kathy pointed out, "After the incident in Arizona, I can't blame them for being wary. And they'd take one look at our property and say that there's no way they're coming out here just for one structure." It's just been a couple of afternoons of work so far, but they're going to re-assess over the weekend--they have family visiting right now--and then see what other help they'll need from Shane next week. (Am I a bad person for hoping that they'll need at least a week's help more?) As for the trees, anything which can be used for firewood will be (the other guy working on this is going to haul most of it home) and some of the logs have big burls on them, so it was suggested that those get sold to the Alaskan Bowl Company or another local artisan. So they're being cut down, but they're not being wasted.
This isn't the only odd job that has come Shane's way recently, either. My boss retired and immediately after, she and her husband packed up and left the state to be closer to their kids. They called on Shane to help with the packing up, which worked out well for everyone. We're not making boatloads of money off these jobs, of course, but any little bit helps.
My odd jobs, however, disappeared. I was hoping to do the summer opera ('Carmen'), which pays a decent amount for the work they ask. At least, for music in Fairbanks it pays well. (And really, half the point is that I get to play my violin, the money is just extra.) But that fell through, due to the wedding in Wasilla and a few other factors. Even worse, I just found out that the fall FLOT show will be starting November 15th. Since my due date is the 11th, there's no way I can do this show ("Willy Wonka and the Choclate Factory"). I'll still get to play, hopefully (I can do the Fairbanks Symphony, depending on the concert dates) but I won't get paid and, darn it, I love doing the FLOT shows! Missing out on one is disappointing. I do have a wedding which I'll be playing for (and probably getting paid a few dollars for), so the music season isn't a total monetary loss for me yet.
If those are my only real complaints, though, it should show you that life is pretty good right now. Shane's summer class started, so he's got more to keep himself busy these days. I hate how he gets when he's jobless because not doing anything just makes him grumpy and irritable. I understand it, to a certain extent. He gets bored and lonely being at home all day with no one but the pets for company. Hunting for jobs is boring and annoying, and being rejected for job after job is disheartening. He's still applying to new positions, of course, but the pickings are slim right now, which adds to the frustration. Having even small things, such as his class and the odd jobs, helps a lot. I'm glad, for both of us, that he's got plenty to do right now.
As for me, I'm mostly in good spirits. At 22 weeks I'm starting to feel quite large. And apparently looking it, too, enough for the FedEx guy who delivers to work to feel confident enough to ask me when the baby's due. (I told Shane this and he said, "Bold move, sir!") For the record, the delivery guy said November 13th. I kinda hope he's right, since that would mean I'd only be two days overdue. :)
I'm still trying to enjoy most of this, or at least look at it clinically. My stomach is big enough to be getting in the way, which is both funny and depressing. I'm finding it hard to do small things like put on my own socks. (For shoes, I've been wearing slip-ons.) I weighed myself again after several weeks of forgetting to, and saw a number on the scale much larger than anything I've ever seen before. Even knowing that I'm gaining the proper amount of weight and not extra, it still made me want to cry. Then again, lots of things make me want to cry lately.
I have had a number of people tell me that I look great, which helps. And when I actually see myself naked in the mirror, I end up thinking, "Really, I'm not that big." I just feel like I am. My belly button is just on the edge of being an outie, but isn't there yet. My balance doesn't seem to be too far off yet, and I think the yoga is helping me with that. However, it does seem as if my walk to work is getting harder by the day. Getting up the hill is a supreme effort of will, and people look at me with a mixture of pity and awe when I make it to the top, sweating and panting. My stamina is so bad right now that, the last time I took the dog on what used to be our medium length walk on a weekday evening, I came home and told Shane, "That can only be a weekend walk from now on. It's too much, when I've already spent over an hour walking earlier today." And then I collapsed onto the bed and didn't move for a while.
I am totally nesting. Mentally planning, preparing for what's to come and all of the changes. Trying to figure out even more ways to spend less money, to make things out of what I already have and just to, you know, prep the nest. I started reading Dr. Sears's "The Baby Book", and although I was leery when starting it I'm actually rather enjoying it. They do advocate attachment parenting, but everything comes with, "Of course, every baby, parent, and family is different so if this doesn't work for you, don't do it." It's not only backed up with anecdotes but with science. And there's a good dose of relationship advice, too, for how to deal with the changes a baby introduces to a marriage (or a partnership, or whatever) and how to deal with some of the conflicts that naturally occur. I don't expect Shane to read it, but some of it would be helpful for him so I've been passing along things that I think he'd appreciate knowing. The fact that there is so much geared toward fathers, and that so much of the book focuses not just on what the mother could/should be doing but also on possible roles for the father is great. So many new parent books completely ignore the dad, and Dr. Sears says straight out that fathers have a different, but just as important role, from the mother. I really, really want Shane to understand that. I'm terrified that I'm going to make him feel inadequate, or that I'm going to take over everything and make him feel left out, both of which are quite common for new moms. I have grand plans for things like leaving Baby with Shane in the evenings and taking the dog for a short one-on-one walk, but who knows what my feelings will be after Baby is actually here? Will I get possessive of her? Will I get bossy (which I tend to do) and know-it-all-y? Shane doesn't have much experience with kids or babies, but I have lots thanks to my years as a babysitter and nanny. So I hope I keep all of this in mind and that I don't push my husband away when he's learning his role as Dad. I think the biggest thing which will help me is just that I am as excited about seeing him morph into his role as a dad as I am about meeting our baby. I know he'll be a great father, no matter what.
And there I go, starting to tear up again. Dammit.

Making room for baby, i.e. nesting Fairbanks style

Oh my gosh, the endless lists of "must haves" for Baby. Some of them are great, some of them are totally ridiculous. I'll never understand why a changing table is on so many "must have" lists. It's safer and, frankly, easier to change a kid on a mat on the floor or the bed or the couch or wherever you happen to be. Even more ridiculous, a "wipe warmer"--because you simply can't swab your baby's butt with wipes which haven't been heated up first.
However, there are, of course, necessities which Baby must have. Some of these things are even more urgent because of where we live and when she'll be born. A November baby in Fairbanks? I feel a little crazy for doing that. It could very well be -40 by the time she arrives. (Of course, being Fairbanks, it would probably warm up to near 0F soon after, then back down to -40, then hover around -15F, and all in under a week.) Some of the things I see on baby lists make me laugh. "You don't really need more than 3-4 sleeping outfits, and maybe 1-2 hats." HA! That's what Baby is going to LIVE in for the first few months! Onesies will strictly be under-clothes, as another layer to help keep her warm.
It might seem crazy, or paranoid, that I'm thinking so much about how to keep her warm. Keep her inside, you might be thinking. Well, in the winter our apartment doesn't stay that warm. It's old, it's very drafty. The thermostat might say 70F, but away from the thermometer who knows what the temp really is? Sometimes, probably closer to 60F in the bedrooms. So my biggest concern is how to keep Baby warm enough. She can't have blankets to sleep with at first, because they're a health hazard. I would let her sleep in our bed, but we have the pets who also sleep in our bed (and kicking them out now would cause other problems) plus all the blankets which we sleep with. (There was a case of SIDS in my family--not my generation, but a sibling of one of my parents--and it has always terrified me. So I've been reading as much as I can about it and risk factors for it. It helps me worry less.) Since babies can't really regulate their temperature well, keeping her warm is a priority.
So we have stuff that can be ignored, but some still needs to be obtained. That will be fine, we'll figure it all out. Then the problem is, where to put it? And, how do you do all of this on what is, essentially, a negative budget? (Money for this will have to come out of savings.) In a small apartment (I almost said "tiny", but that's not strictly true--our cabin was much smaller--but the bedrooms are tiny so it feels like less space) where will she fit? Accommodations will have to be made in some things, such as needing more storage space for all of the new stuff we'll have to have. I'm not even talking toys, I mean clothes and cloth diapers and such. Books. Bottles, when I go back to work. (And a freaking breast pump. Not looking forward to that.) Heck, even just toiletries (like baby nail clippers and diaper rash cream) and towel space in the (itty-bitty) bathroom. And, doing all of this in a rental where I'd really rather not put holes in the walls, where we can't change too much to suit us better.
So I've been looking around our apartment with a very critical eye. More decluttering! More cleanup! Finding space wherever possible and thinking about how we can rearrange things to work better for our new circumstances. As stupid as it sounds, Baby will be living out of our closet for a while. There are no doors on it (and, honestly, no space for doors) so we'll hang a couple of curtains for darkness (using sticky hooks and a long, thin dowel) and she'll be both easily accessible and we won't have to worry too much about doing things to wake her up, like turning on a lamp. (Most winter evenings, we hang out in the bedroom together anyway, so we'll be right there if she needs anything.)
This also means that we need to clean out our closet. The clothes are no problem, we've already done that. But our closet is stuffed with my craft supplies, mostly yarn. Half-finished projects abound. So one of my goals for the summer is to complete many of those half-finished projects, if only to get them out of the way. I've already started on a couple, and for some I need to buy a few other things before I can finish them, but it shouldn't cost too much.
I think I'm going to be buying a lot of those sticky hooks soon. In addition to the curtains over the closet, I was also going to get enough stuff to put curtains up over our back door (which we can actually feel the heat leaving through around the edges during the winters) and some for the bathroom, to utilize what is currently empty wall space. I have plans, and hopefully pictures will follow soon.
We're not doing much with the spare bedroom right now (other than continuing to declutter and organize--that's where Shane's crap is in boxes and he needs to clean them out) because we'll have family visiting a bunch during the first few months of Baby's life. My parents will be here for at least a week, Shane's parents (and possibly grandfather) will be here for a short time (although not staying with us, since the visits will coincide), and I'm hoping that my brother will come up for a bit toward the end of my maternity leave. After family visits, then we'll talk about turning it into a nursery. We'll sell the queen sized bed that's currently in it, get a better crib (more on what we've got now below), and it should be about that time (4-5 months?) that it's less urgent to have her in the room with us all the time.
I'm slowly identifying our "must haves" and narrowing down the list to specific products that I think will work for us. Because so many family members have asked about it, Shane and I are capitulating and coming up with a baby gift registry. (I'm sort of ambivalent about things like baby showers--not comfortable being the center of attention like that, but understanding that other people are excited as well and want to show their love for us and for Baby. And, honestly, a registry means less stuff for us to buy and it means we get what we need, not crazy crap that we don't have room for.) For instance, an Ergo Baby carrier, which my parents have generously (super generously) said that they wanted to get for us. I did a bunch of research about carriers and decided on this one because it's got the proper seating for Baby (some can cause hip dysplasia), because it has a nice hip strap so that Shane and I don't kill our backs using it, and because of the heavy weight limit, meaning that we'll use it for many years. I already know from my years as a nanny that I love baby carriers (so handy) and really, for our climate, it will be so much more useful than a stroller or even a jogger. Who wants to push one of those through the snow? And, it would be too cold for Baby to go out in one of those during the winter. With a carrier I can snuggle her up to me, under my coat (but with plenty of breathing room, don't worry--no zipping it all the way to the top or anything stupid like that) and take both her and the dog for walks. Even better, since carrying a baby burns more calories than pushing a stroller, it will help me get back in shape that much faster.
We already have a cradle (which my MIL bought for us, and which will fit nicely in the closet), and people have gifted us so many things already. J & L, who are having a boy this time around, gave us a whole load of baby clothes which they deemed too girly to re-use for #2. I sorted them into piles by size last night and we should have plenty of baby clothes up until about 6-9 months. Even then, one of my cousins recently had a baby girl and she has offered to send stuff up to us. At the very least, she's sending a few more maternity clothes and newborn cloth diapers which her little girl has already grown out of. Since her family lives in Texas she was worried that clothes for her girl probably wouldn't work for us (summer baby in Texas to winter baby in Fairbanks? probably not) but 6-9 months is probably about the size our two climates will converge so she'll send up those baby clothes. Because people have been so eager to buy things for us, and give away old baby things they don't need anymore, we haven't had to buy a single thing for baby so far except some of my maternity clothes. We even already have two sizes of snowsuits (courtesy of my MIL) so she'll stay nice and warm all winter when we go out. (Seriously, these remind me of the little brother in "A Christmas Story"'s suit. "I can't put my arms down!" And me being me, she'll probably have four layers on underneath anyway.) I am so, so grateful for everyone's generosity.
Lastly, I am, of course, trying to figure out what I can make that we will need. Things for the apartment (like an actual bumper under the door to keep the heat loss to a minimum, rather than just a towel), and things for baby (hats! sweaters! cloth butt wipes! changing pads so she doesn't pee all over the floor or bed!), and things for myself. And doing all of this on my $0 budget. I've got old sheets which I can cut up for some things (a flannel top sheet--the bottom sheet got torn to shreds years ago--which can be made into said butt wipes and part of the changing pads, a random pillow case which can be made into the door bumper, etc.) and for others I will have to stretch our budget to make room for a few (mostly used) materials. I have a bit of an idea on making a nursing top or two for myself, using parts of clothes I already have but can't really wear anymore. (Thanks, cat, for putting holes in the boobs of my t-shirts.) It's an experiment, so we'll see how it works out, but if not then it's not a loss anyway. What am I losing, a shirt which can't be worn and can't be donated? Oh no!
The one thing that I feel the most pressure about now is time. It's running out rapidly, and while in some ways I am starting to feel like being pregnant is taking forever, I do know that November is going to be here in what will later feel like the blink of an eye. I have so much to do between now and then! I'm starting to resent the time I have to be at work because it feels totally useless. There are so many more practical things I could be doing with my time, rather than sitting at a desk! As well as time, though, there's also my energy levels to think of. It's waaaay better than the first trimester, but I'm still needing more time to sleep than I normally do, and I tire easily. So we'll see how much I manage to get done. If I do get these projects completed, I might actually remember to take pictures to share. Hopefully.