Woohoo!

1) Thank the person who gave you the award.

I have to thank the lovely and amazing ThanksgivingMom—of course the cupcake award would come from her! Someday I will be in California at a time when she’s free and then we’ll paint the town red.

2) Insert award into post.

3. Name 3 things you like about yourself.

1. I love my hands. I’m pretty bad at living in my body—with the notable exception of my hands. They cook, they massage, they write . . . and they haven’t swollen up at all yet this pregnancy, touch wood.

2. I think I’m hilarious. I think I’m funnier than anyone else does, and every couple of days we have a moment when I am actually choking with laughter at something that I said while Mr. Book looks curiously at me and waits for me to wind down. I have a little sing-song mantra that I share with him that goes “No one is as funny as me!” Those who know me can confirm that I think I’m funny—and may have something else to add. 😀

3. I’m a huge geek, which makes me happy. Not that there aren’t problems with my people, but I love gaming and comic books and my “geek inside” maternity shirt. I can’t wait to see the tiny dork or dorks we will raise.

4. Post a photo that you love.

This is perhaps obviously from our wedding; I have just mushed cake into my husband’s face, and I am laughing at him. He is about to laugh. My dad was pretty frustrated with the pictures I chose to go into our Official Wedding Album, this one among them, but this is so much better than the more posed pictures from that day. This is who we are.

5. Tagging Duties

Please, be tagged if you wish to be tagged; I’m lazy at this part. 😉

Wage Slave

I’ve been feeling very quiet these last couple of days; maybe it’s because the weather abruptly shifted from unbearable to almost cool. I’ve been cooking good things—saag paneer (but without the paneer, because I don’t like it) and chana masala and white chili and maple cornbread—and I’ve been feeling tired all the time. Any outing, however small or pleasant, is exhausting. So I’m upping my iron intake just in case it’s anemia and not the weather (unlikely, as I get plenty of iron in a vitamin, but my best idea aside from “nap more”).

I’ve been making more of an effort to really cook because my husband is having a hard time; he hates his job, which is reasonable, but it haunts him even in off hours and days away, and I don’t know how to really help with that. We talk, and I both listen and give useless advice; I’ve started buying beer because he likes to have one in the evening after work, and it’s a small thing, but I want to heap small good things up all around him. “I never thought I would be one of those guys, you know—” he said to me.

“The kind who like beer? I think that’s most of them, cookie pants.” I like watching him enjoy himself, and I am also privately amused by the picture of myself, visibly pregnant, lugging a box of beer from the bus stop home.

If there is a way to make Mr. Book feel better about life, I’ve got to find it. He has a terrible job, and while we have two possible exit strategies, they seem awfully distant and unreal to him right now. I had a job for awhile in college that was pretty bad for me—it finally got to the point where I had panic attacks walking to it every day, and I still wouldn’t quit, and finally being fired was almost a relief. I know what it’s like to have the kind of job that actually makes you want to kill yourself, and that you’d feel like an idiot for actually killing yourself over. But I was mostly able to leave it at work, and my husband can’t. I don’t know whether I can teach him to draw a line around work and step away from it, but it’s my best idea so far and it isn’t working right now. I should say that this isn’t a sudden change; he has been sad and hurt about his work for a long time. But right now I’m thinking about it more.

Won Over

My mother has taken an interest in the little bird. I asked her some questions about baptism—after all, she went through the ritual four times (not counting the once in her infancy), so I figured she’d be able to help me out. She was completely delighted to do so, and more than that, I think that planning for the baptism helped her to think of the little bird as someone who’ll be sticking around and doing family things; she talked about a gown my grandmother knitted and in which I was baptized (along with both of my sisters and at least one cousin), and I think she’s going to dig it out for the kiddo. She wanted to know who we want for godparents (and was pleased to find that she’d guessed right), and overall really surprised me. I had called wanted to know: How old does a baby have to be? Can it work out if the godparents can’t be present? Do they just wear white, or is there some other requirement? I got a lot more.

Of course, she has since emailed me to warn me that the gown is tacky and acrylic (which I sort of expected, knowing my grandmother).

We also talked about what they’d like to be called by grandkids; I knew going in that my mom hates “Grandma,” although I’m still not sure why. I had guessed (correctly, it turns out) that my dad would want to be “Granddad” after his own grandfather, a man who died when I was a preschooler and about whom fond stories are still told. My mom wants to be Oma, after her Tanta Sophie—my great great aunt. She also talked about why she thinks people look forward so much to being grandparents: They don’t get to appreciate the kids fully the first time around, because they are too busy and tired.

I know my mom well enough to know that this may have been an isolated good day rather than a lasting change in perspective, but it was still good to see; shoot, if she cares about the kid only when she’s around him, that would be better than Mr. Book’s mom will manage, I guarantee it.

Her Craving

I keep trying to figure out what my pregnancy is like, and what it’s supposed to be like. It’s not going all that well; so far I’ve tried my other pregnancy, my mother’s first pregnancy, my omi’s pregnancy with my twin uncles (one of whom is disabled), and several crisis pregnancies that I’ve only read about. None of them really fit, and I’m trying to instead figure out why I need to do this.

My pregnancy with Cricket does seem like the most obvious model—I am having a boy again, I am pregnant by the same person, I’m due right around the same time, and my parents are being completely weird about the whole thing. On the other hand, I really need to think of this as importantly different, and of course it is; no one is going to take my son at the end. My mom’s pregnancy with me is appealing in some ways—she ended up starting a family, I was a very wanted baby—and I even bought a Cadbury Fruit & Nut Bar when I went grocery shopping last entirely because my mom talks about eating them all through her pregnancy in Ireland. But there are some pitfalls, too. My mother drank (moderately) throughout her pregnancies, and she went on to have a really rough time as a new mother. I want to be different. I don’t think I’ve talked much about my omi, my grandmother, but trust me when I say that you do not want her for any kind of role model under any circumstances.

Why do I need some kind of Jungian pregnancy? One of my less attractive qualities is a need to feel safe that tends to manifest as a need to have a lot of control over my environment. I have gotten less and less bonkers about this over the last several years, thank goodness, or I’m sure my sweetheart would have given in and smothered me by now. I need to know what is going on. And now, when I’m pregnant, I really have no idea what’s going on—I check in every month or so with people who have some reason to believe that things are fine, but that’s all I get. Going off of antidepressants (just one so far, I’ve stayed on the second one for awhile longer) has added to my anxiety; almost every day I decide at some point that the little bird has died. If I have some model for this pregnancy, then I can believe that I know what’s going to happen, and I can relax a little—except that none of my models are relaxing. And I know, of course, that parenting is going to be hundreds upon hundreds of days of having no idea of what comes next. I am going to need to let go even further so that I can be a good mom. But my God, right now I can’t even check his breathing, and I don’t even really like Fruit & Nut bars. I want a thread to follow.

I think that’s what pregnancy books are supposed to be for, and I read mine bit by bit, over and over again: this week he is able to feel my movements, next week he hits the one-pound mark. Having information about what’s going on and what’s coming is good, which is why I already have a stack of parenting books as long as my arm. But I’m realizing what I need more than a model pregnancy is to pay close attention to what is actually going on, and what I’m really feeling and wanting, and find a way to just let the things that I can’t force happen. And then, probably, I’ll be able to fly.

My Homeopathy

Ever since Dawn appeared on the Creating a Family podcast, I’ve been going back and listening to their archives. I started with the old adoption shows, reasonably enough, and then I ran out and started listening to infertility shows. I did worry about secondary infertility after Cricket—some time after I got pregnant with the little bird, on a night when I was doubting that I was actually pregnant, Mr. Book let me know how annoying my baseless worry about infertility had been, and that I was pregnant now, so for God’s sake! I can worry at a professional level, and I don’t doubt that it’s super irritating; unluckily for Mr. Book, he can be awfully funny when he is aggravated. So now I am learning about ART and many other things. When Mr. Book sees me wearing headphones these days, he gives me a flat, disbelieving stare and shakes his head. I guess it is a bit weird. . . .

Most recently, I was listening to a podcast on the use of traditional Chinese medicine to treat infertility. Once of the first callers explained that she was trying to conceive, and that her doctor considered her (at age 42) to be of advanced maternal age, “but I don’t believe it.” The TCM provider agreed, saying that she doesn’t believe in advanced maternal age—and, for that matter, she doesn’t believe in infertility. The host was a bit startled, and asked for clarification: the TCM provider explained that if you open yourself to life, you will get pregnant. It’s as simple as that. What bothered me, and what I’d really like to hear about from those with experience  (since I don’t have personal experience with infertility), is that it sounded to me like this blames women for their inability to get pregnant or carry a baby to term. If all you have to do is open yourself to life and you are not getting pregnant, you are failing. Maybe I’m looking at it the wrong way, and please correct me if so!—but it seems like a pretty tough row to hoe. There’s nothing wrong with trying to have a baby at forty, of course, but suggesting that if it takes any more time or effort than it might take a twenty-year-old, that is your personal spiritual failing and not biology . . . I don’t like it.

I should probably disclose that I start out pretty skeptical of traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, aromatherapy, and most forms of alternative medicine. I will drink ginger tea when I’m having an upset stomach, so it’s not as though I have a deep aversion to useful herbs, but my views in the area overall are pretty conservative. And yet, when I was pregnant with Cricket, I took homeopathy tablets at my midwives’ insistence, despite the fact that I agree with James Randi about that course of treatment. I think that’s why the TCM lady bothered me so much—women in vulnerable positions are being sold a bill of goods, and I don’t like it.

Grandkids

First off, I would very much like to thank blog reader Molly for the adorable and large-ish baby clothes; it turns out that overalls for toddlers are jaw-droppingly adorable. I also blew my monthly allowance on a toddler t-shirt with a pterosaur on it, which is basically an unrelated fact, but it did arrive on the same day. (I’m thinking teeny cowboy boots for next month—my husband is interested in pooling our allowances and getting a board game.)

My mother has apparently been pressuring my awesome sister Kate to have a baby. Kate is married, but she’s also 23, and she and her husband prefer to wait a few years—seems reasonable to me, the 27-year-old pregnant one, but our mother was pregnant with me (her first at)—oh, shoot, math time—wow, 23. Of course, my mother had four children and would have been delighted to have more, so she was on a slightly different trajectory than her three daughters are. As stupid as this is, when Kate first told me, my feelings were hurt for a minute: Why does our mom want Kate to bear grandkids yet find herself unable to give a crap about my little bird? Then, of course, I more reasonably snapped into feeling bad for Kate. Kate has responded I think very sensibly—by getting a puppy.

Errors

I made two mistakes this weekend. I got badly sunburned, which is now my excuse for not posting in a timely fashion—you should see my hopping little limp, it is the latest thing! But second, and grosser, I tried to find pictures of what the little bird looks like at this point online. Note to self: do not google for fetus pictures unless you want really gross/manipulative post-abortion shots!

I had at one point planned to commemorate on the blog the day that it became illegal for me to have an abortion (because I am strange), only to find out that there is no cutoff date in my state. That is pretty cool, I think, although I hadn’t known that there were any states with this set of laws. So this is really just a short post that isn’t exactly about abortion, and I am feeling too sorry for myself to feel guilty about it. More after I have completed a series of cool baths….

Small Mercies

I’ve been craving tofu recently, which means that my lucky husband has been eating it all week. (Luckily, he genuinely likes it.) My cravings seem to be about 60/40 for healthy stuff/garbage, so I’m able to mostly eat the things that suddenly seem necessary. I bought some vegetarian Omega-3 supplements because I dimly remember the midwives being panicky about my unwillingness to eat fish oil a couple of years ago—and Cricket turned out wunnerful, so it’s got to be unnecessary, but I had a brief period of concern that lasted just long enough to let me order some pills from amazon.com. I’ve also gotten probably a dozen different fliers in the mail begging me to quit smoking. I’ve actually never smoked a cigarette in my life; I’ve got mild asthma and was too odd to feel much peer pressure as a teenager. All of these fliers speak to my pregnancy, and I know that these probably just turn up at people’s houses, but it’s still a bit peculiar. Heck, Parenting magazine started turning up in our mailbox, and I don’t really know how that happened.

I had an appointment with the midwives yesterday, and in four weeks I have gained no weight at all—I’m delighted, since I got huuuuge with Cricket. I also had to get stuck for gestational diabetes just because he was such a big baby; lucky me, even if I pass, I get tested twice. Mr. Book hasn’t been able to go to the last couple of appointments, and while I don’t care (it feels pretty normal for me to go alone, and it’s not like anything exciting is happening), he does. Unfortunately, when I’m making the appointments a month ahead of time, there’s just no way of knowing whether he’ll be off work—and the odds are always against it. Still, I made sure that he’d be able to go to the ultrasound, which is really the only interesting visit.

Haven’t heard back from Ruth in a couple of weeks, so am less confident that there will be another visit anytime soon, but am putting a birthday card in the mail for her today. It took me a long time to pick one out, but finally I found one with creepy balloons on it that struck me as hilarious.

BGP

A couple of you asked about why Ruth and Nora have blocked my parents on Facebook, so it seems like an auspicious time to write about the adoptive parents and the birth grandparents.

I love my parents all the way up and down, and I really enjoy my relationship with them—they are funny, generous, clever people, and it makes me sad to realize that I won’t see them again this year. They are also a bit nuts, especially my mom: I know, nearly everyone says that about their parents, but I think I’ve got a pretty good case. There was some abuse in my childhood, which is one reason why I placed Cricket; my mom is not that person anymore, but I don’t know whether she could tap back into that scary place if she had to live with children again. We’ve had worse times and better times together over the decades, and my pregnancy with Cricket was definitely one of the low points. My mother said some pretty awful things, and the ones which involved threatening to kidnap Cricket I passed on to Ruth and Nora. I was trying to do the right thing, and I don’t know whether I guessed right—I do not now worry that she will get in the car and go try to steal that toddler child, but I was definitely not sure about that earlier on. She also made a “joke” about kidnapping him the one time she met Ruth and Nora (to Ruth and Nora), the day before my wedding. This was around the same time that she told me that the first of her daughters to have a baby “and keep it!” would get a whole bunch of presents for the child from the eager grandparents. She definitely got less stable and more mean when I was pregnant and then when Cricket was tiny, and Ruth and Nora definitely picked up from me that I was hurt and freaked out by her.

Since then, she has mellowed out a great deal. She asked very early on whether she could send him a birthday card, and I dutifully passed her request along. Ruth eventually sent her a letter with a return address, and while I have not read that letter,  my parents characterize it as a pretty clear “you should feel free to invest in him, but know that you will never get anything back—he will not visit, he will not write, you will not see him.” My mother sent a polite reply, then a birthday card and a book for Cricket. She never heard back—it’s been seven months now—and while that’s not unusual (Ruth is really not very good at letting you know that yes, she did receive that whatever, thank you!), my mom has gotten the message. I feel bad for her. Ruth is the kind of person who cuts people out of her life, even family, if they can’t maintain appropriate boundaries or consistently be good people; that’s not a bad policy, but it’s not what I’m like, and it would never allow a person to keep up a relationship with my mom. She is just going to say hateful things to you sometimes, not in a fight, just in a conversation.

I guess at the heart of it, I think that my mom is a good person and Ruth doesn’t. And I can see why she wouldn’t; Ruth saw my mom grab Cricket and start handing him to people, she heard my mom threaten to take him, ha! ha!, and I think she holds a grudge on my behalf for some of the things my mother has said about the adoption. I think everybody’s parents let them down sometimes—I have some really gory examples to share, but I don’t know how qualitatively different my experience is from anyone else’s. (I should add here, maybe, that my husband does think that they have done some extraordinarily bad things as parents; he thinks more about those things than I do, I suspect.) I did have to talk to a therapist for quite some time about the fact that I don’t have to be a mother like my mother, although Lord knows I will make my own terrible mistakes. I love my mother, and I want her to love my sons.

“Like”

Facebook has created some weird adoption moments for me. Ruth and Nora have my parents blocked, and are friends with me, the Mister, and my sister. Over the last few months, they’ve started putting up short videos of Cricket; Kate watches them, I watch them, and the Mister doesn’t. There were several visits put up after our visit, and two of them made me particularly uncomfortable. In the first, Cricket and the Mister are playing together on a piece of playground equipment. Kate saw this one before I did, and when I watched it, I said something like, How weird,  Mr. Book is so obviously about to cry. Kate hadn’t realized that that’s what his face meant—I talked to him about it, and apparently most people don’t read him very well, which is probably a blessing—so I may be the only one who watches that video and sees my husband on the verge of tears. That’s probably a blessing. In the second video, Cricket is trying to cross one of those bouncy bridges and keeps getting blocked by other, older kids. He hovers uncertainly for a bit, then he scoots over to me, and I put my hand on his back in a comforting way that looks super momlike to me. It freaked me out a bit to see that.

This week, they put up a short video of him scarfing down raspberries, which he apparently loves. I almost put up a comment—I love raspberries, my husband loves raspberries like nobody else I know—but I’ve never commented. I only ever “like” their videos. Their friends comment, and I read those comments, and I can’t see it being appropriate for me to leave one. I think it’s okay to like them, though, as they are titled things like “Cricket and Mama Susie on Bridge.”  I hope so, at any rate.