I stayed up all night and wrote (and sent) a long email to Ruth. After getting a couple of emails from her that really didn’t sit right, I had just sent a “That date works, anyway bye” kind of email (uh, slightly more tactful than that one), and then announced that I was never writing back ever, and that she’s not invited to my birthday party. The problem was, in part, that the only response I had to her emails was pretty rude, and I can’t imagine it being helpful to actually send that kind of response. But she had raised an issue that it seems important to address at least at some point—she thought that we might be stressed about how our relationship is going to change. So I decided to write an email that was about what’s going on and also wasn’t really a response to hers. When I emailed her about the pregnancy, I was careful to sound extremely positive about it; I was trying to give her cues on how to react, which she didn’t really go for. So this time, I didn’t worry about sounding positive, and I don’t think that I did. I’m going to put some of the highlights up on this site because I’m looking for feedback: probably should have done that before I sent it, but that’s just not how I roll.

“I think that our situation is definitely going to change, and I wonder what that will look like. The pregnancy is bringing up again some of the grief I have over Cricket, and that’s hard and weird, as much as I’m looking forward to the baby. I’m not going to take that out on you, and I have no intention of closing the adoption, but it’s eating up a fair amount of my emotional energy right now. I guess I feel like part of not taking it out on you will involve not talking as much while I’m pregnant, if only because I’m so preoccupied by the stuff that isn’t your problem. And of course things will get a little more complicated logistically once we’re four parents of little kids trying to set up a meeting, but I’m sure we’ll figure it out.”

I also asked what her ideal adoption would look like, emphasizing that I’m not trying to change our agreement or hint that major changes need to be made, but that I asked my husband last week and found out that he and I have pretty different answers, and neither of us has the same answer that we did when I was pregnant with Cricket. Funnily enough, the biggest difference was something I would not have expected: when I asked how many visits he would want, ideally, he said “They should visit us once a month.” When he asked me, I admitted that I was thinking more like once per season—and I prefer visiting them up north to having them come here.

Now that I’ve sent it, I feel pretty good. I don’t think I’ll hear back this month, as they are pretty busy, but before I felt like I would have to write the next email, and now it’s not my problem anymore. That’s a less than gracious sentiment, huh?

A Request

So we’ve hit twelve weeks, everything seems fine, and I’m going to officially ask for whatever hand-me-downs people feel like handing down. I really don’t want it to feel to anyone like I’m shaking people down; this isn’t a post I planned on writing when I peed on that stick, but enough people have asked that I thought I’d talk about things we would appreciate and how I imagine that would work. Please do not feel obligated to send baby things to an internet stranger! That said, I have felt the desire to give things to people I only knew through their blogs before—if you feel something like this, than boy have I got a post for you.

We are not planning to cloth diaper, so those supplies handed down would be wasted on me. I feel a bit guilty about it, but when it comes down to it, we don’t have any laundry facilities in the building and I think it would be kind of nightmarish.

We’re trying to go pacifier free, although this may sound naïve; heck, I don’t even know if those get handed down. But just in case.

I don’t really care about properly gendered baby clothes. As I’ve mentioned before, I already have blue stuff and pink stuff in the hope chest—handed down clothes of any color are welcome. Oh, and I don’t have any little coats or sweaters or anything, and I am going to have an end-of-November kidlet, and those might be good. Do they need sweaters? Or do you just roll them up in blankets like adorable burritos? The kid will probably be big, as Cricket was 9 pounds, 12 ounces.

I’ll go ahead and mention a couple of big things that I really don’t expect to get this way—a changing table and a glider. I felt guilty about putting a glider on the registry until I realized that we really don’t have any chairs (four dining room table chairs that are really not designed for long-term or sleepy sitting), and it would be a great benefit.

I don’t know what kind of toys babies actually need, but if there are things you think a baby should have and want to send to an internet baby, bring it on!

I’ve knitted a couple of hooded baby towels and some washcloths, but honestly don’t know how many of those (or blankets, or burp cloths, or bibs) are actually enough.

We are planning to do babywearing, and slings of all varieties look exciting and useful from here. If it matters, I am a tallish and busty (and hippy, sigh) woman, and my husband is thin and super tall.

I don’t think these things get handed down, but we’ve registered for stuff like baby shampoo, baby motrin, and disposable breast pads. If they do get handed down, then yoo hoo!

I can’t think of anything else. We don’t have a nursery theme. If you want to send something and don’t have my address, I will probably give it to you—I started handing out my address on the internet as a very young nerd and haven’t been burned by it yet, so either my judgment is pretty good or people are just mostly awesome. And I can’t say this enough: This is not a shakedown. If you want to send best wishes, I can use as many of those as I can get. 😉 If you do send something, I’ll thank you on the blog (and privately, of course) unless you ask me not to. If you are localish and want to hand me something in person, I will probably bring you food. Oh, yes—thank you. For reading, for sending something, for wishing you could, for wishing us well, for just being cool dudes.

Can’t Lose What You Haven’t Got

I realized the other day while looking longingly at tiny cotton dresses on the internet that maybe some of Ruth and Nora’s concerns are justified; I am thinking less about Cricket and more about the kid I’m growing. Oh, I still think about him every day, but it does feel as though my focus has shifted.

There are a couple of reasons for this that I can see—one, of course, is that the pregnancy is new and my dreams about this maybe daughter are new, and I’m pretty hormonally wired to be obsessed with the possibly her right now. I’ve started dreaming about a baby girl with a head full of black hair almost every night (and I have no idea where that is coming from. Any child of mine is likely to be born bald as an egg, and with a couple of charming skid marks to boot), and I’m eating with her in mind (…mostly. The strawberry ice cream in the freezer is just for me), and I’m starting to set up a nursery, for heaven’s sake. This kid-to-be is with me all the time, and I’m making plans for this kid, and my thoughts are with this one.

The other reason that comes to mind is that our open adoption just isn’t that close; I’ve seen Cricket six times since the adoption, which is less than every two months, and it’s not as though he and I are exchanging emails or having heart-to-heart chats on the phone. I know that this is more contact than a lot of open adoptions entail, and I’m not complaining—we couldn’t afford to drive up there every month even if they wanted us to come. But the result is that I feel pretty distant from Cricket, and I don’t really know what he’s like, and our relationship is very weak. He doesn’t know who I am, and my ideas about who he is are pretty unformed. And we’ve got time to work on that, years and years—but right now I get to get close to another child, and I can’t be close to him. Dawn has talked about how important it’s been for her daughter and her daughter’s birth mom that they all live in the same town, and I’m starting to get that: I am terribly jealous of Pennie’s relationship with Madison. At the same time, even if we lived in the Emerald City, I don’t think Ruth and Nora would want that kind of adoption.

Ruth has told me in the past that it would be best if I could wait a long time to parent so that nothing is taken away from Cricket, and so that he doesn’t feel like his adoption is inexplicable. She was talking about a lot longer than not quite two years. And I can see that right now, some of my mental energy is being diverted from her son. But I think that would matter a lot more if we had a close relationship—Cricket has no idea that I’m thinking more about the baby-to-be, because he doesn’t think about me, because he has no idea who I am, because I’ve seen him once this year. He isn’t losing anything, because he never had it.


Well, now I am really, officially pregnant. I needed a clinical test to submit to the state as part of getting insurance, so I went to a place a friend had recommended to me to get tested. It was weirdly suspenseful; for the last couple of days, I’ve been entertaining the possibility that the test would be negative, and that I’m just sick or having a hysterical pregnancy or something. But no. And after I got the positive confirmed, I just wanted to cry. Isn’t that strange? I had spent the bus ride out thinking about the visit I made to a crisis pregnancy center with my mom in Illinois back in the day.

It was a similar situation; when you apply for state insurance, instead of mailing them a still-dripping home test, you have to get a doctor or someone else to test you, and since most people applying for state insurance can’t pay out of pocket for a doctor’s visit, many of us end up at places like Planned Parenthood or slightly icky crisis pregnancy centers. My mother made an appointment for me in Illinois, since I was wanting very much to just wait and get medical care once we’d moved to California—there are valid reasons why this was a dumb plan, but I’m often extra stubborn when I’m kind of scared. We showed up at the young women’s health center, I peed in a cup, and then we waited and filled out forms. The nurse called us into a back room and handed me a picture of the food pyramid (funnily enough, I got an updated version of the same handout today), then started talking about when I could come back for a follow-up appointment, and then I blurted out “So—am I pregnant?”

The nurse froze for a second and said, “I’m sorry, I thought you knew . . . yes.” And I don’t really remember the rest of the day after that. I had taken a home test and gotten a positive, but that didn’t seem official in the same way that a nurse telling you the same thing does. I remember getting there while they were closed for lunch and sitting on their steps with my mom, looking at the parking lot; I remember sitting in the waiting room, especially because it was the first time I’d ever seen that special waiting room programming which is half fake/lame health content and half ads; and I can’t even remember what the nurse looked like.

Once nice difference is that this place is focused on creating “capable, confident mothers,” and the staff seemed warm and helpful. I may be going back to learn to sew. (I knit and crochet, but can barely sew. Free lessons would be good.) It looks like more like a home than a plasma donation center. They encouraged me to come back for an event on Saturday, and I just might.

Win Some, Lose Some

We have a crib! I’d like to publicly thank reader Joy, who gave us an infant car seat, too—we also got to meet her and her charming kids, who are absolutely delightful. In a week or two, I probably will put up a list asking those who are willing for help, talking about what we want or need . . . but I’m glad that we went and picked up the crib, as driving it home really made us feel like Seriously, For-Real Expectant Parents. Aztec is really angry about the crib, and keeps trying to pointedly shred the mattress with his claws. Of course, he’s front declawed (we got him that way! I know that it’s a barbaric practice and all, and I wouldn’t choose to have it done to a cat, but I have to admit that it’s awfully handy in our second-hand kitty), so this is both funny and a little pathetic. I look at him, his ears set back, glaring at me as he tries frantically to rip up the mattress with claws that aren’t there and think, Kid, you are going to be so mad once there is a baby.

I’ve been trying to figure out what to do about prenatal—and I guess natal—care. Yeah, I’m going to be eleven weeks in a couple of days, and I haven’t worked that out yet. Last time I didn’t see anyone until I was almost into my second trimester, and my impression is that there isn’t much useful they can do before then; I already take vitamins, I know that I don’t have any diseases, and my husband and I both have A+ blood, so there’s no worry about that. If I was having an ectopic pregnancy, I would already be dead. But I know that I need to get this worked out, especially after a conversation with the Mister this weekend.

Here’s the problem: I don’t have state insurance yet, although I’ve turned in an application. When I was in California, I went to a midwife and had a birthing center birth. The midwives accepted state insurance, but there was better than two thousand dollars in medical fees that was not covered—Ruth and Nora paid that. My parents told me that if I kept the baby, they would pay that money back, and believe me, I keep thinking of that offer now; there’s no way we could pay that kind of money, so I probably won’t be able to have natural childbirth. This breaks my heart. I’ve been trying to figure out a solution. I talked to Mr. Book about having the child alone at home, and he f.r.e.a.k.e.d. out. I know that it’s kind of a stupid idea, but the idea of having an IV and having to stay there for more than a couple of hours after the birth and not being able to eat while I labor and and and—it just distresses me. I also have a problem with hospitals, which I understand isn’t at all unique, but it has led to panic attacks in the past, and I don’t want to add that weird personal trauma to childbirth.

Well, I think I may have found a clinic staffed by nurse-midwives and run by a hospital that could work; I should probably call them and schedule a consultation. Their website suggests that they’d be open to the kind of birth I want to have. So I’m hopeful—but still worried.

The Ballgame

Mr. Book and I are both sports fans: I’m most into baseball, with moderate interest in hockey, basketball, and college football; he’s most into hockey and baseball, with moderate interest in college football and a passing interest in European soccer leagues. I’m from California, so I root for the Angels and the Ducks; he’s from Toronto, so he roots for the Jays and the Leafs. We’re able to keep it friendly at least in part because both of his teams are terrible—not to go into excruciating detail, but the Jays are perpetually fighting for last place in their division and the Leafs have been really brutally mismanaged for most of the last fifty years. When I was growing up, the Angels were always terrible, so I know what that feeling is like, and it’s left me sort of a wary fan—I’m always waiting for the team to blow the game for no real reason—but now they’re pretty good, and have been for a few years, and it’s a nice feeling.

Last year, I decided that we needed to hash out our sports strategy as it relates to futurekid. I made what I thought was a reasonable proposal: “I get the Angels, and you get the Leafs. The Jays will never have a prayer and you know it.” This is just fact, folks—even if the Jays weren’t perpetually a lousy team, they’re in a really tough division. And my husband knows it. He dug in his heels, though, and scowled when I added these

to the hope chest. A month or so later, however, Mr. Book came to me and conceded; futurekid/s can be Angels fans. He won’t fight it. I have a theory about how this is because he realized that his Jays will never have a prayer and that it would be tantamount to child abuse, but he finds this version of events really frustrating for some reason. 😉

Meant to reply to Mia’s comment yesterday but didn’t get around to it—I don’t at all understand a gender preference that doesn’t end by the time you see the baby. Before I got pregnant with Cricket, I only ever wanted a little girl—then I got pregnant, and after spending many months with the boy and then meeting him, now I long for a boy—so I take it for granted that once I see the kidlet, I’ll just be delighted. Guess I should be grateful, if not everyone’s preferences are so malleable.

Thanks, Legolas

Sorry for the blackout yesterday, folks; I was in bed with a migraine, feeling sorry for myself. I have a pretty solid migraine routine, but it ordinarily involves Excedrin in a pivotal role. Thanks again to everyone who has offered hand-me-downs—it makes me, geekily, think of The Lord of the Rings—“You have my bow!” “And my . . . changing table!” With one exception, whom I’ve already emailed, I think we’re going to wait until twelve weeks before asking for stuff. You know, just in case. But I would like to say that I have no problem dressing a son in “pretty pretty princess” rompers or a daughter in “lock up your daughters!” t-shirts. At least in the privacy of the Casa Book—or for the purposes of horrifying my mother. 😛 Seriously, though, we have both pink and blue clothes in the hope chest, and any futurekid will get to wear them all.

I read an argument on a forum I like about whether it is permissible to be disappointed when you find out the sex; I was really surprised to hear some women I think of as friendly or cool talking about how since some women can’t conceive, you are some kind of monster if you feel let down by the sex of your baby-to-be. I don’t know. I can admit in the privacy of the blog that I would prefer to have a son, but I know that I’d be overjoyed to have a daughter—I have a preference, but my overwhelming preference is just for a healthy child. In the end, I’d like to have either one of each or two sons, but if I end up raising only daughters, I’ll love the crap out of them. I don’t think wanting one or the other makes you a bad person. My sister Kate wants me to have a girl very much, but that’s in part since a baby girl would be given her middle name, and she and her husband will be godparents to our first futurekid. Kate and her husband are now planning to visit us on their Thanksgiving break (they’re both in school—she’s in grad school and he’s getting his bachelor’s after finishing his enlistment with the Marines), and she’s hoping that I will either have the baby while they’re there or right before they arrive. It’s certainly possible. I’m due (according to my mother’s iPhone) the day before Thanksgiving, and Cricket was three days early—and apparently second children come earlier? This is what I’ve heard, anyway. My mom went more than a week late with all four of us, so I don’t know that her experiences are a useful guide. (She also never got morning sickness!) Of course, with Cricket I had a “come out, come out!” program that I started at week 37—it involved evening primrose oil and black cohosh tinctures—but I’ll probably start that up again this time, too. After all, even a bit early, the kid was almost ten pounds—I can’t afford to go past my due date!

I am finally letting myself get really excited about the bean. On Sunday I went through the hope chest and pulled out things that we’ll want as soon as a kidlet is born, and I was really getting into—I can’t wait to smell our kid.