Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Final Countdown

It was an hour into our newborn basics class, and the scene looked like a case for Child Protective Services. The dad-to-be held the lifelike rubber baby doll by the foot, its head dangling about 6 inches above the table, while he grasped around for a diaper with the other hand. He dropped the baby on top of the diaper, pancaking it. His own head swiveled back and forth as he considered his next move. His eyes darted sideways to his wife, who, if the previous hour had been any indication, wanted to murder him in front of the entire class.

“Not like that,” she spat, snatching the doll from his hands.

I looked to my other side at JT, who also was watching the World’s Happiest Couple in action. Our own baby doll sat safely diapered on the table in front of him. There was no question he’d won the Daddy Diaper Derby, but based on Angry Wife’s wrath, there was no way we’d be pointing that out to our teacher who was on the other side of the room, helping another dad-in-training with his own diaper disaster.

“Remind me again why you said you have no idea what you’re doing when it comes to babies?” I whispered to JT.

He just shook his head and picked up a pamphlet on swaddling.

We’re just weeks away from Baby LaBar making her debut, and while I thought we’d both feel totally insane and overwhelmed by this point, I think we’re actually, dare I say it, doing OK? Neither of us has had any kind of meltdown, least of all attempted homicide in the middle of a parenting class. No one’s stormed out of Babies R Us in a frantic rage (and I shopped there TWICE during the holiday season). We’re getting along, getting things done, making decisions and, at this point, just really excited to meet our daughter.

(Note how I didn’t say the word “ready.” I know “ready” doesn’t exist in the world of preparing for a new baby. I don’t care if the nursery is stocked with enough clothes/diapers/wipes/boogie suckers to get her to her third birthday. “Ready” is a myth.)

The class was money well spent and included three hours of learning about everything from safe sleeping techniques to what to expect in the hospital. This was the only time JT got a little iffy. It was all the vernix talk that did him in, I think. When the teacher tossed in some umbilical cord chatter, he turned a shade whiter than the diaper he’d just put on the doll. I can’t blame him. I genuinely believe he has a phobia of anything related to hospitals, health care and general gross human body stuff. I’ve watched him nearly keel over when my ER nurse mom told a story about a patient with a necrotic toe who woke up to find it missing. The only logical explanation was that the man’s dog had mistaken it for a Snausage. Granted, Mum probably shouldn’t have told us that particular tale over dinner, but JT about passed out in his salad. So basically, labor should be fun for both of us!

Other than worrying that my husband will require more medical attention than me during the birth, I feel pretty good. Getting and staying comfortable is definitely more difficult than it was sans bowling ball strapped to my midsection, but I manage. Work is where I’m least comfortable, when hours of sitting with all that extra weight take their toll on my hips. I try to get up and walk around as much as possible, but when the baby starts moving around, the only thing that helps is getting my body as close to horizontal as possible. I lean so far back in my chair, it would be easier to balance my keyboard on my bump.

In all honestly, at this stage, there’s rarely a time when all my basic needs feel fully met. I’m either tired or hungry or have to pee or feel like I can’t breathe or have to pee or thirsty or have to pee. My mom friends tell me this is just to prepare me for the baby, who will feel pretty much the same way for the first few months of her life. I’ll try to remember to be sympathetic, but for now, I’m really excited for the day when I can go for a long run or even a brisk walk or up a flight of stairs or from the couch to the kitchen without needing to rest immediately afterward.  

But enough complaining. Right now, I'm all about focusing on all the joy happening in my life, and one of my Top Five Favorite Pregnancy Moments happened the other day. I was visiting Mum who was watching my two nieces. Raina, who’s 4, was snuggled up next to me on the couch when I felt the baby kick. Raina jumped back, her eyes wide. 

“Did you feel that?” I asked, and she nodded.

“That was your cousin,” I said. “She must have wanted to get your attention.”

Raina smiled and went back to snuggling, her tiny hand resting on my bump while Mum ran to grab the camera.

It was the sweetest moment and one I’ll never forget. I know so many more are on the way and honestly, at this point, I just can’t wait. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Best Gift Ever

It was a Christmas morning long after I’d stop believing in Santa, but that year my excitement was as high as if I still thought the man himself had been by my house. I had asked my parents for just one thing - a silver-plated, open hole flute.

(Pause for you to mock my dorkiness. No, really, I’m well aware I was doing myself no favors back in those days. In my defense, marching band was considered kind of cool in my high school. If by “cool” you mean “the football team liked us so the truly popular kids didn’t pick on us that much.” Oh whatever. The drummers were hot. Get off my back.)

I jolted out of bed, rushed downstairs and stopped in front of the tree. I surveyed the stacks of presents my parents had set out the night prior. My eyes landed on The One: a gift-wrapped rectangle the exact size of the busted old flute case I’d been lugging around for the last few years. My heart fluttered as I thought about how great it would be to tear into that paper, open the case and see my new prized possession. Taking that thing to school instead of the dented, tarnished old instrument I’d had since fourth grade was going to be the highlight of my year. (Again, mock away. I’ll allow it.)

“Parents!” I called, as I heard my brother padding down the stairs.

Kip came in from the garage while Mum appeared from around the corner sipping a cup of tea.

“Merry Christmas!” she exclaimed.

“Merry Christmas!” I matched her enthusiasm. “Let’s do gifts!”

“Someone’s excited,” Kip with a smile, as everyone settled into their spots around the tree.

In retrospect, this should have been my first clue that something was up. Kip smiling at anything other than another person’s misfortune is wildly out of the ordinary.

I lunged for the box but Mum stopped me.

“Save that one for last!” she screamed as she fumbled with the camera case. “The camera’s not ready yet.”

Temporarily deflated, I reached for another one instead. For the next twenty minutes, I watched the rest of my family open all their gifts while tearing open the occasional one myself - some clothes, some candy, a few books. All lovely, but nothing compared to what I knew my last gift contained.

Finally, the box labeled for me was the last remaining under the tree. 

“Go ahead,” Mum said, as she turned the camera on me. I grabbed it, feeling the familiar weight of its contents and smiling. I tore into the paper and saw the signature shiny black of the case. I liberated it from the rest of the wrapping and set it on the floor in front of me. I looked up at  my parents with an appreciative smile.

“Well,” Mum said, seemingly as excited as I was. “Open it!”

I took a deep breath, clicked the case’s two fasteners open, and there, amid the lush blue velvet padding, sat…...a pepperoni stick.

“Wha?” I stammered, beyond confused. I looked up and saw each member of my family rolling on their sides, laughing their heads off.

“What...how...why?” I asked, still not quite processing what had happened. Where was my flute? What the hell was with the pepperoni? Why did my parents hate me?

"We got you!" Kip said through tears as Mum continued snapping shots of my perplexed face. 

"You got me?" I asked incredulous. "You got me what, exactly? Lunch meat???"

Then, looking down again at the pepperoni stick stuffed so perfectly into the spot where the flute should have been, I couldn't help but laugh too. I had to give them credit. It was a well played prank. Granted, I'd prefer to be playing my new flute, but hey, what could you do? 

Turned out, I need not worry about that, as Mum reached behind the couch and pulled out my old case. She opened it, and nestled inside was the exact flute I'd asked for. 

I loved that thing, but in all honesty, I haven't played it once since high school. It sits on a shelf in my old bedroom at my parents' house. The story, however, has been told countless times since that Christmas so long ago, and not one year goes by that I don't think of it and laugh. (My parents never let me forget it either - a couple years after the flute incident, I made the mistake of asking for an umbrella. You can imagine what I found in its place under the tree. Some years, they just flat-out gave me pepperoni sticks as presents, not in place of something else. Whatever. Every family has their thing, right?)

I guess some gifts aren't really the kind we can open, but rather the things that stay with us for the rest of our lives. I know, I know. How's that for some holiday cheese? 

Luckily, I have just the thing to go with it.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Round Three

Two trimesters down! According to my weekly email from The Bump, my child is now the size of an acorn squash!


The Bump emails and their use of various types of produce to illustrate our baby’s growth have become a running joke between JT and I. Rather than use any fruit or vegetable with a clear, easily associated size, they go for the most obscure references we can imagine. One week, I received notice that my baby was now the size of a sweet potato. Um? Sure. Because sweet potatoes come in just the one size. Other comparisons have been made between the baby and a papaya, a rutabaga and an eggplant. The week she went from a banana to a pomegranate, I became convinced my child was not merely growing, but morphing much like some kind of X-Men shapeshifter. That’s fine by me. So long as she doesn’t decide to try out a turn as a watermelon before her due date.

I also loved when the emails told me to “Get ready for some kicking!” in week 29 when our little ninja has been holding karate practice in my uterus for more than two months now. Typically, she alerts me of her presence first thing in the morning with a few hi-yas, then settles until late morning when her tai chi lesson starts. She likes to stretch again after lunch, and by the time I’m home on the couch, she’s in full Rockettes mode. For the longest time, JT couldn’t feel any of this. Then one night, as we were watching TV, he rested his hand on my belly and I felt one of her roundhouse kicks. JT did too and jumped an inch off the couch.

“She kicked me!” he yelped, eyes wide as teething rings.

“Well, she didn’t kick you,” I explained. “You just happened to be in her way.”

(Of course, he already knew that, but I felt compelled to defend her seeing as how JT’s biggest concern these days is that his daughter won’t “like” him. “What if she doesn’t like me?” he asks again and again, and I patiently explain that seeing as how I, in all my control-freak glory, likely will end up being the disciplinarian, so I’m sure she’ll reserve the bulk of her resentment/hysteria for me while JT will get nothing but love and cuddles and “Number 1 Dad” mugs.)

Her workout schedule has become fairly predictable, but from time to time, I inadvertently end up irking her. If I dare deviate from her preferred sleeping position - me flat on my back, head slightly elevated, doing my best impersonation of a corpse - the child goes BAT SHIT. As a lifelong stomach sleeper, this has been an adjustment. Did I say “adjustment?” I meant “annoying.” If I so much as lean to one side, she riots. I’ll try it sometimes, when she’s been still for awhile, and within seconds she’s in there flailing about like someone who just walked through a spider web. Sometimes, I don’t even do it on purpose but shift in my sleep, and she wakes me up immediately to let me know 1. this will not be tolerated and 2. there will be consequences. Then the little brute pummels my insides for the next five minutes to drive the message home. I’m not gonna lie. She scares me a little.

When it comes to things she hates, there is one thing higher on the list than side sleeping: seafood. So much as a whiff of the stuff and my stomach starts to roll, which is odd considering seafood is my favorite thing to eat ever. Crab legs, lobster, shrimp - these are usually my most loved meals, yet I had to stop and take a breath just now to calm the chaos in my belly from merely typing out the words. This really hasn’t been a problem for me, other than having to avoid meals I’d usually die for, but it’s been no fun for JT, whose favorite local hangout is a bar near our house that specializes in - you guessed it - seafood, oysters specifically (insert embarrassing gurgle emanating from my gut here.) The few times he’s hung out there, I’ve been able to smell him before he even parked his car in our driveway. Once, he came upstairs and crawled in bed with me before taking a shower. It was as though an enormous slab of salmon that had been left out on the bar for a week amid a sea of ashtrays sidled up next to me. The urge to puke wrenched me awake, and as JT showered, I heaved and heaved. In the morning, I could still smell the fishy stench everywhere so I had to strip all the bedding, gather up everything he wore or touched that night and burn it. OK, not really, but I definitely doubled up on detergent for that load of laundry.  

Other than that, this leg of the pregnancy has been all about relaxing for me. I can see the end of this peaceful, quiet tunnel, and know I can’t even comprehend what’s on the other side, so though my instincts have been telling me to do something every single minute of every single day, I’ve actually been letting myself just veg. I guess I’m nesting. I spend most of my down time feet up on the couch, book in hand, music playing, or maybe watching some inane movie I know I’ll never have time for in the coming months. It’s been a little boring, but I’m OK with that. My house is still in order. The nursery is coming along. I’ve just tried to quiet my inner madwoman who’s always harping about the next project, the next repair job, the next the next the next. For now, as far as I’m concerned, the only thing I really need to worry about is giving my baby a comfy, calm space to grow.  

And sleeping upright far, far away from any seafood.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Up a Wall

As you guys already know, I can be way Type A when it comes to things around the house. I know this. I embrace it. Trying to change it would be like asking a drug addict to just, you know, stop liking drugs so much. Ain’t gonna happen.

As my husband, JT is well aware of my neurosis. My incessant need to control my surroundings rarely jibes with his DGAF attitude toward most household chores. He truly couldn’t care less if the dishes are done, the floor is swept or last year’s Christmas decorations ever came down. He’s not lazy - if I ask him to do something, he does it. It’s just that the little things that are on most homeowners’ radars, like bagging leaves or fixing broken heaters in the dead of winter, don’t seem to occur to him. Honestly, I’m not even mad. I’m jealous.

Suffice it to say that when JT and I set out to paint the nursery, we had different approaches. We were only doing part of the room. The pale cream colored half stayed the same while we covered a few accent walls a much warmer greyish/taupe shade (it’s a wonder I don’t write for Better Homes and Gardens). I wanted to meticulously edge the walls, making sure there was no overlap where they met the ceiling or baseboards. He wanted to slap paint on a roller and go to town. We actually made a pretty good team, and after about two hours, we were done. We high-fived and called it a day.

The next day, I swung open the nursery door and about toppled over. The room was a disaster. It looked like a massacre of an entire taupe-blooded civilization had occurred. Streaks of the hue ran atop the original paint in haphazard patterns but in no way coated the former color. It was clear a second coat was in order, so I popped open the paint can and got to work.

It only took about 45 minutes to run over the walls again, and this time, I was convinced it was perfect. Until I took a step back and my eyes landed on one particular corner. The intersection of two walls, one taupe and the other cream, looked like I’d painted it while jumping on a trampoline. A wonky line of taupe paint bled over to the cream wall. I mean, I’m pregnant so I’m fairly certain I hadn’t been drunk while edging that particular spot, but all evidence was to the contrary, and it needed to be fixed stat.Just looking at it, knowing it was there in all its awful imperfection, made me uncomfortable. Because that’s how crazy I am.

I decided the best plan was to cover the mistake marks with the cream paint, so I traveled down to the garage and stood in front of the wall of paint cans left there by my pals Jason and Bec who owned the house before us. Most are marked with their corresponding rooms, but I couldn’t find one labeled “Nursery,” so I gathered up a few that looked close enough and hauled them back upstairs. I set about opening the first one, stabbing at it with a screwdriver in attempts to loosen up the thick layer of paint that had formed around the lid.

JT appeared in the doorway and watched me for a moment.

“Whatcha doing?” he asked, leaning against a non-newly painted wall.

“I’m...argh....repainting...ugh….that corner!” My stabbing worked and the lid popped off.

“OK,” he said. “Why?”

“Because it’s all messy,” I said. I stirred the long settled paint, dipped my brush in and carried it over to the wall. I dotted a teeny bright white spot on the offensive area. Clearly not a match.

“Babe,” JT said, watching as I pounded the lid back on can No. 1, then started the struggle all over again with can No. 2. “It’s really not that big of a deal.”

“It is to me!” I cried, popping this lid off with more ease. I rushed over to the wall and swiped a splotch of wheat colored paint. Strike two.

“No one will ever notice that,” JT said inspecting the corner and wiping off my most recent mistakes with a towel.

“I notice it,” I said, gathering up the two cans to take back to the garage and grab more.

“Babe,” JT said again, this time with a “slow your roll” tone. “You get that our daughter is going to grow up and probably draw on these walls or want to hang stuff or ruin them in some way, right?”

“I do,” I said, stopping in my tracks.

“So they’re never going to be perfect,” he continued.

“I know,” I said, peering at the corner and feeling a shudder run up my spine.

“So, seriously, just leave it. It’s fine,” he said, taking the paint cans from my hands.

I looked at the corner again. I knew he was right.

I also know this whole motherhood thing is going to challenge me on so many levels, but at least this one I can see coming. I know kids are messy and unruly and wild, but I also know that’s part of what makes them wonderful. And I’m going to have to give in to that chaos to a degree if I’m ever going to stay sane.

Right then, I decided to let the botched wall serve as a reminder of my need to calm the heck down. Hopefully, I’ll remember to look at it whenever my daughter has dumped her toy box and the entire contents of her closet in the middle of the room for the 10th time that day and laugh.

And I’m not even worried about her drawing on the walls. I bought the paint that lets you just wipe that stuff right off.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Let the Shame Spiral Begin

I couldn’t believe my luck. It was playtime at Smiling Tykes Preschool, and out of the two dozen other toddlers, I’d scored the ultimate playtime prize. Most days, I never made it to the toy box fast enough. My shyness and disdain for the rushing horde of my peers usually kept me in the back of the pack where I’d end up with a box of half-broken crayons and a book whose every page was already defaced with a doodle. But not this day. On this day, I’d decided it was my turn for glory. I’d watched too many other girls spend playtime reveling in the splendors of the coveted item, and now, that feeling would be mine. So when my teacher announced we were free to pick out our toys, I mustered up all the speed my tiny legs could manage and hurled myself at the big wooden box. There, on top, was the floor-length, beaded green ball gown fit for any princess worth her weight in sequins. Our teacher had probably plucked this gem out of a donation bag some spinster sent to the school a decade prior, but to us, it might as well have been haute couture. It’s puffy sleeves, cinched waist and taffeta-stuffed skirt were all mine for the next 20 minutes. Granted, it was easily a woman’s size 6, and therefore laughably large for our 4-year-old frames, but none of us ever cared. It wasn’t about fit. It was about ownership. 

As the other girls looked on dejected, I stepped into the dress and pulled its sleeves up over my shoulders, feeling myself transform from an awkward pigtailed wallflower into a graceful, regal woman, the envy of all around her. I spent the entire playtime either legs crossed, perched on one of the tiny plastic chairs as though watching over my court or taking a quick twirl to watch the translucent “crystals” shimmer.

What I Thought I Looked Like:

What I Probably Really Looked Like:

Other girls who had never bothered to talk to me stopped by my makeshift throne to touch the gown’s satiny fabric or tell me how pretty I looked. I couldn’t have been more pleased.

Because the thing is, I knew this moment was about more than playtime. This was me showing myself that if I just put aside all the incessant anxiety I had about every single little thing, I could really be somebody. Putting on that dress was the first step toward my new future as a cool, calm, confident person, I just knew it.

Apparently, I’d been concentrating so hard on imagining my new life that I hadn’t heard when the teacher informed us that play time was over, and we needed to return our toys to their rightful places and get back to our desks.

“Rachel?” she asked, snapping me out of my daydream. I looked around and saw all my classmates hustling back to their seats. My heart sank as I realized my moment in the sun was over, but as my peers started to glance quizzically my way, I knew the dream had to end. I crouched down, picked up the bottom of the dress and, for reasons I’ll never understand, opted not to step out of the gown, but yanked it up over my head instead.

I instantly was immersed in a sea of green, blind to the outside world and in direct danger of toppling over backward as the hefty material rendered me top heavy. I yanked again, but the dress didn’t budge. I could feel the tug of my hair and realized the dress had somehow adhered itself to one of my pigtails. I began to panic. Even through the forest of material, I could feel 24 sets of eyes on me, judging, wondering what exactly the heck I was doing. I honestly didn’t know myself. I just knew that I’d become the center of attention, but for all the wrong reasons. I had to fix this. I had to get back to normal. I just wanted to be the quiet girl no one looked at again. Why, oh why, had I even tried? Wasn’t this what I’d always feared more than anything? To me, the idea of embarrassment had always been far worse than any monster under the bed and now here I was, meeting it face on. Well, dress-covered face on.

With one more mighty tug, I managed to get the dress entirely over my head, where it stayed in place like a cathedral veil. My racing heart and pounding ears convinced me that for now, this would have to do. So, with the dress still attached to my head and dangling down to the floor behind me, I walked over to my chair and sat down, as if Nothing Ever Happened.

Every single face pointed at me froze in an expression of utter shock and confusion. No one said a word. Even my teacher remained silent as she cocked her head sideways like a perplexed puppy. For what seemed like an eternity, we all stayed that way, nobody quite sure what to do next, least of all me.

Finally, my teacher walked over to me, bent down and asked if I needed help.

“Yes, please,” I muttered, not able to make eye contact.

She took me by the hand and led me to the bathroom connected to the classroom. The door wasn’t even closed before the eruption of laughter coursed through the room. After much shimmying and unavoidable hair pulling, I was free from the dress. But I knew I’d never be free from the shame. I returned to class as the students mercifully quieted down. No one spoke about it for weeks. Then, one day, the boy in class I harbored a secret crush on responded to my playful jab about his drawing of a house being “silly,” with, “Well, at least I don’t have green hair!” and the entire room burst out laughing all over again.

That was my first taste of embarrassment, a feeling I’ve actively avoided since. Of course, there’s no way to entirely escape it, but I’ve found only buying dresses that I can step into helps.

This all has got me thinking about embarrassment, why it affects us all so much and really, why we even care. If you can remember your first embarrassing story, or even a not-so-long-ago one, I’d love to hear it, either here or at rfweaver@gmail.com. Maybe if we talk it out, these things won’t seem so scary any more.

And maybe we’ll all realize that at one point or another, we’re all little girls with green dresses stuck to our heads.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Size (Evidently) Matters

Lady at Walgreen's: "Oh! Someone's having a baby! How far along are you?"

Me: "Five months."

Her: "Wow! Really? Man, at five months, I was twice your size!"

Me, in my mind: Yay! I feel good!

Literally ten minutes later at a restaurant:

Random acquaintance: "How far along are you?"

Me: "Five months."

Her: "Wow! You're HUGE!! And you still have so far to go!"

Me, in my mind:  I suck so bad.


I love the fact that people want to chat with me about my pregnancy. I gladly will talk to you about it all day. I can go on and on about what it feels like to have her moving around in there, what we want the nursery to look like, how great my doctor is, anything. I'm dangerously annoying right now when it comes to this.

But the one thing I don't love doing is defending however much weight I've gained/not gained over and over to people who are usually strangers and therefore, not my doctor.

I know I'm a little over cautious in my dealings with people. It's part of being selectively shy. In social situations, I usually think of 50 things I could say before convincing myself they all make me sound moronic. So I opt to say nothing and end up coming off as cold and disinterested. It's why I've had more than one friend tell me, "I thought you were really bitchy when we first met." It takes them a while to realize that I am bitchy, but not in an intentionally standoffish way.

So because I don't usually say anything to strangers, let alone offer up my thoughts on the size of their bodies, it's always a bit jarring when one does it to me. I'm never quite sure what to say. To the "you're not gaining enough weight" people, my initial reaction is, "Do you want to look in my freezer? Because half-eaten cartons of ice cream don't lie."

When it comes to the "You're HUGE!" people, I want to slap them. No! What I really want to say is, "I'm not sure why you think it's OK to say that to me." Then just see what they do. What could a reasonable response to that possibly be? The only real one is the truth: "I want to make you feel bad about yourself because in some weird way it makes me feel good about myself."

More likely, they'd say something like, "Wow! Those hormones are really amping up your bitchiness!"

And maybe they'd be right. But here's the bottom line. Instead of perpetuating society's brutal obsession with how much weight is too much, what women REALLY should look like and (the worst of the worst) what's "normal,"  why not talk to me about literally anything else?

Give me any baby-related topic, and I will have you so bored within two minutes, all you'll be thinking about is an escape plan, not my waist size.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Round Two!

“I just wish she would stay still for one second.”

The extremely nice yet understandably frustrated ultrasound technician continued sliding the scanner over my belly as the image on the screen wiggled around like a tiny interpretive dancer.

“This does not bode well,” JT said from his bedside chair.

It had been over an hour, and the Love Bug had not stopped moving for one single second, rendering the tech’s job of getting clear image of the heart nearly impossible. Her little arms shot forward Macarena-style, blocking the view. Then she’d flip over and sway her legs like a synchronized swimmer. I’d tried everything - lying on my side, walking around, bathroom breaks. None doing. This little chick was in the middle of her morning swim, and she wasn’t stopping for anything.

We had ascertained earlier that she was indeed a “she,” a surprise to both JT and I. For reasons neither of us could verbalize, we’d both kind of thought the baby was a boy. JT always used the male pronoun when talking about it, and I was looking only at boyish bedding during my online searches of nursery decor sites.

But instantly upon finding out, we were both overjoyed. I immediately switched my mindset from blues and greens to all things purple for the nursery. JT, the man who makes his living as a pro-wrestling authority, established some ground rules. No daughter of his would ever become a WWE Diva, nor would she ever date a wrestler.

I started sending him things like this:


Finding out the sex definitely gave me another, “This is really happening!” moment, which have become commonplace since starting the second trimester. Hard to believe we’re halfway done!

Second Trimester So Far:

Yay for the return of energy! I’m still not at 100 percent pre-baby levels, but I no longer have to physically hold my head up starting around dusk each day. I’m still sleeping eight-plus hours a night - hopefully a habit the baby just loooves - and waking up refreshed most days. I’ve been going into work earlier, ending my 11-year streak of working 10-6. But once my old lady bedtimes started translating to a 6:30 a.m. wake up (which I’m seriously hoping makes getting up with Baby LaBar ever so slightly easier), it became silly to sit at home killing my mornings sipping decaf while watching “Will and Grace” reruns until it was time to get ready for work.

I’m very aware that this quiet down time spent gently slipping into my day will be desperately missed in coming months, but you can’t stockpile time, and for now, I’d much rather get home and get dinner on the table before 8 p.m. 

It’s also good I’m eating earlier because I’m hungry often. OK, all the time. I wake up at night sometimes starving but refuse to become a midnight snacking cliche just yet. Save something for Round Three, right? I can easily eat breakfast and be ravenous by the time I get to my desk an hour later. I’m trying to carry as much fruit with me as possible and do pretty well, but the less-than-beneficial snacks continue to creep in. I’m a sucker for chewy fruity candy these days and don’t dare suggest I eat my turkey sandwich without a side of sour cream n’ onion chips or Cheetos. I won’t listen to such madness.

All these empty calories have to end up somewhere, and my ever-growing baby bump is more than happy to provide the rental space. It seemed like one day I was thinking, “Hm, I really haven’t put on any weight yet. I wonder if everything is OK? Should I be worried? I know - I’ll worry just in case.” Then a few days later, it became, “Crap! Ten pounds in one week! How the hell is this happening? This can’t be right. It can’t be safe! Now I’m really worried! Arrghhh!!!”

By the way, LOL about wondering how I was gaining so much weight so fast. For the answer, one need only look in any drawer of my kitchen. From Starbursts to salted caramels, ice cream bars to blocks of cheese, it’s not exactly a riddle. People ask me what I’m craving. Um...food? Literally, everything. Sugary, savory, whatever, bring it on. I’ve added two frozen waffles to my morning breakfast of eggs and bacon. I snack all day, yet I’m still starving by the time I get home, and eat seconds for dinner almost every night. I’m a pickle jar away from being every pregnant lady in every movie ever. But I will say that I am staying active, walking a couple miles a day a few times a week and jogging when I feel up to it. I’m terrified of what the winter months of my third trimester hold. Add the holidays to the equation, and I might as well just rent a circus tent now.

One bonus to gaining weight: maternity pants. They are the most comfortable piece of clothing ever conceived (ba-dum ching!). I love them so much, I’m actually bummed it’s not socially acceptable for women to wear them all the time. How can we make this a thing? If I start it, will you all do it too? Someone call Anna Wintour.

I’ve also been reading as much as I can about babies - books, magazines, blogs, other mom’s diaries. I’ve been gathering as much information as I can while trying to avoid the Super Scary Ways Everyday Objects Can Kill You articles my doctor advises I ignore. I started with some of the longstanding bestsellers, which I’ve found to have varying levels of helpfulness. “Bringing Up Bebe,” for example, offered some suggestions on how to Frenchify my child, or make her into a calm, quiet, mini adult with perfect manners, a distinguished palate and more sophistication than I’ve managed to muster up in my three decades. Things I took from this book:

When you’re baby is screaming, do “The Pause.” This means listening for a minute to see if you can hear what your baby really wants rather than just grasping around for every diaper/binky/bottle within reaching distance the second she stirs. I can get behind this on paper. In practice, I don’t stand a chance.  

Expose your child to every food imaginable. Serve meals in courses and force them to at least try a portion of each. LOL!!!! I’m sorry, but I’ve seen children eat. Most food ends up in their hair or on the floor before you can scoop two spoonfuls their way. Courses??!! LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLMAO

American maternity leave allowances SUCK compared to other countries. No argument there.

Don’t play narrator. This will make everyone around you hate you, your child included. This I totally agree with. There is nothing worse than seeing those parents hovering around their children at the park barking every option at them until the kid's eyes start to spin. “Do you want to ride the slide? How about the swings? Did you see that bird?! OMG another slide! What do you want to do first? Slide? Swings? Slide?! Bird!? AHHHHHHH!!!!!!?” Just NO. Let your kid just play. So what if that means she roams around aimlessly and stops to inspect a piece of grass for 10 minutes? Just leave her be.

You have three months to get your figure back if you want to be like a French woman. You will also apply makeup daily, DGAF about breastfeeding in order to maintain some “mystery,” never eat anything you bake with your child and barely acknowledge her presence in public. Kill me.

I much more preferred Anne Lamott's "Operating Instructions," a brutally honest look at her first year raising her son. One of my favorite lines, after she's spent another agonizing sleepless night with her colicky baby and decides to just go ahead and forgive herself for not being the World's Best Mom: "I think we're all pretty crazy on this bus. I'm not sure I know anyone who's got all the dots on his or her dice." I'm thinking of getting that stenciled on one of the nursery walls. 

Much more fun than reading up on all the ways I can screw up my child was registering for my baby shower, thanks entirely to my sister-in-law and mom of the two most precious little girls on the planet, Nik. I honestly don’t know what I would have ended up with had she not been there to steer me in the right direction. Probably 47 ridiculously impractical purple infant outfits and a pack of baby wipes. My favorite part was when I paused in front of a display and asked her in all seriousness, why a new mom would need a brush for her nipples.

“Do they get, like, extra dirty?” I pondered, inspecting the bristly product before me.

“Yeah, those are for cleaning the bottle nipples, not yours,” Nik said with way less mocking in her tone than I would have gone for.

Did you guys want to start shining my New Mom of the Year Award now, or…?

But honestly, her advice was so helpful as has been most of what people have been telling me since I announced my pregnancy. I’ve gotten a lot of tips, solicited and otherwise, perhaps the best of which came from a co-worker who approached me at my desk one morning a couple days ago.

“I know you’re getting advice from everyone under the sun but do you mind if I give you some more?” he asked.

“Shoot,” I said, bracing myself for the “Your Life Is Over” talk so many people have been excited to enlighten me with lately.

“I’m going to tell you something not a lot of people will,” he said. “My advice is this: Enjoy it. No one tells you how much fun this is going to be. It’s hard, yes, but there is so much to enjoy and it goes really fast. So have fun with it.”

I was shocked, and so so happy. I thanked him, really meaning it. Best advice ever. It’s what I’ll try to remind myself when it’s 3 a.m. and I’m desperate for sleep and sanity. Or when the baby hasn’t stopped screaming for what seems like an eternity and I’m wondering what exactly I got myself into.

Because I know those moments are coming. But I also know I already love this baby more than I knew I could. I can’t imagine how that will grow in coming days, months and years. I’m so ready for it. And I plan to enjoy every single second that I can.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

When the Right One Comes Along

I'd like to preface this post by saying this won't become a regular thing, I promise. It could lead to JT's ego growing and frankly, we don't have the extra room in the house, what with the baby coming and all.

Of course I would start a post about our one-year wedding anniversary with a jab at JT. But teasing is such a big part of our relationship. It's never malicious - more like taunting your high school classmate in the cafeteria because you secretly wish he'd ask you to go steady, or whatever it is kids do these days. When I was young, we just "went " with people. Like, "I'm going with Tommy." Going where? Denny's? Second base? We never clarified. But trust me, it was all very exciting.

JT and I have been going together for more than four years now. Those years have included an amazing first date (worth it's own post down the road), vacations with family and friends, moving in together, a beach proposal, moving into our first official house, an amazing wedding, more trips, and recently, the news that we're expanding our little family in just a few short months.

I will never forget the sense of calm I felt on our wedding day. There were a million reasons not to feel that way, most of them pouring from the sky in the form of relentless raindrops. Our day went nowhere near as planned, and instead of swapping vows in my parents' spacious backyard, we crammed 40 people into their living room. As guests got situated as best they could, I waited upstairs in my childhood bedroom, listening and just trying to take it all in. I felt excitement. I felt joy. But I never felt scared. Because I knew I'd done the right thing. JT is the best man I have ever met. Marrying him was a no-brainer.

We are different in so many ways. He loves being social. I am Queen of All Introverts. He's aggressive when it comes to work and business. I'm more of a "see how things play out" person. He's incredibly thick-skinned. I get offended before people even open their mouths.

He loves pro-wrestling. I build jigsaw puzzles for fun. In what world does that couple make sense?

But where it counts, we're the same. We make each other laugh. We make decisions together well. We love our family fiercely. And that's why I knew we were ready to start our own.

I know I give him a hard time on the blog from time to time (or every post). But beyond all the insignificant stuff I gripe about, he is genuinely the kindest person. For my birthday a couple weeks ago, he bought me a set of chairs and table I'd had my eye on for our front yard. I had emailed him a link to the set a few months prior, so the gift, while incredibly thoughtful, wasn't really a shock. What surprised me was what he said as he gave it to me.

"I wanted to get you something I knew you would like," he said, lugging the huge box housing the set into the living room. "But I like this too, because I know you and I will sit on it as we grow old together."

Honestly, the box could have been empty, and I still would have considered it the best gift I've ever received.

(I love this story so much, I won't even tell you that when he put the set together the next day, he mysteriously ended up with about 10 extra pieces. Or that the chairs are really meant to be decorative only, but that doesn't stop him from sitting on them most evenings, watching cars go up and down our street like an octogenarian Neighborhood Watch president. I call him "Pappy Creeper." But I digress....)

 In all honesty, JT, you make me happier than I've ever been and I'll do my best making you feel the same for the rest of our lives. Or at least until those chairs give way.

Love you, babe! Happy Anniversary!

Please enjoy a listen of the song we played during our first dance: "When the Right One Comes Along": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lECJ2bu0Kv8

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Hey, Baby!

I came home from work one hot June evening to find JT on the deck, soaking in some sun and calming down after a busy day. I went out to join him, and he filled me in on all the chaos he’d dealt with - juggling multiple assignments, interviews, deadlines and meetings.

“Blah,” I said. “That’s a lot. But you did it! Gimme a hug!”

He did and as I pulled away, a throbbing scorched across me as if I’d just taken a wrecking ball to the chest. The surprise of pain paused my breath, but it quickly subsided.

“What the hell was that?” I wondered, as JT continued his story. I hadn’t done any pec exercises since, well ever. Why was I so sore?

I knew with absolute certainty.

I was pregnant.


The next day, I stopped at the drugstore on the way home from work. Twenty minutes later, the digital reader on the test spelled it out for me: Pregnant, 3+ Weeks.

A smile I couldn’t even try to conceal slapped itself across my face. I wanted to tell JT right away, but I knew he’d had another doozy of a day and needed some downtime after work to get into a good headspace.

So again, I  joined him on the deck, though I won’t even pretend that I listened to a word he said as he recapped his stressful day. I waited until I could tell he’d relaxed.

“Well,” I started sitting upright in my chair. “I hope you won’t mind finishing that nice bottle of wine in the fridge.”

He looked at me quizzically. Allowing him to tap into my stash usually required much more than a stressful work day.

“I’m pregnant.”

He froze. Then, as realization washed over him, he broke into the biggest smile and rushed over to me.

“Careful!” I exclaimed and guarded my chest as he scooped me up into a hug.

After weeks of waiting for doctor’s appointments, privately filling in our closest loved ones, and nearly bursting from wanting to tell every person I encounter, JT and I have reached a point where we’re comfortable going public about the pregnancy. And it’s been so wonderful to share our joy.

Since finding out, I’ve been keeping notes on how things have been going. I’m 19 weeks right now, so some things have changed since I started the following recap. Stay tuned for a second trimester check in coming soon.

And thank you to everyone who has shown JT and I so much kindness as we prepare for this amazing change in our lives. We love you!

First Trimester: Round One!

How I Feel:

Contrary to every chick flick I've ever seen, I did not immediately start vomiting during inconvenient moments ( important business meetings, celebrity interviews, etc.) the instant I peed on a stick. I actually never got nauseous at all, except for once when I was working on a story about butchers and found myself in the middle of a narrow freezer stuffed with moldy chunks of aging beef hanging from metal hooks. And I'm fairly sure that had nothing to do with pregnancy.

This was good because had I been getting sick, I would have likely not had the energy to drag myself to the bathroom. Or hold back my own hair. Because while I was not sick, I was EXHAUSTED. I permanently felt like I'd pulled an all-nighter. Which was ironic, as most nights I was in bed by 10 or, if I was forcing myself to stay up, asleep on the couch by 10:03.

Other than becoming a functioning zombie, I felt pretty great. The realization that what I put into my body actually really mattered now meant clearer skin, less eye puffiness and a sharpened focus. Plus, prenatal vitamins are magic. Within a week of introducing them into my daily routine, I had shinier hair. And for the first time in my life, my nails grew past the quick. As a chronic biter, I never dreamed of nails strong enough to be manicured minus an acrylic applique. I felt a little like Bella in that one “Twilight” movie – not the one where the baby crushes all her bones from the inside (that comes later, right?). I felt like Bella after Edward turned her and she woke up looking like herself, just more alive, despite technically being dead, but whatever. Lusher hair, laser-sharp eyes, general sultriness she definitely didn't have before. I felt like that but without all of the I-hate-everything attitude that seeps into every Kristen Stewart performance.

How JT feels:

I would never presume to speak for him, but he seems cautiously happy. He keeps saying the goal for this stage is to keep me healthy and him sane. I think he’s afraid he’ll end up breaking the baby, but I’ve tried to reassure him that he will be fine. I’m thinking giving him diaper duty for the whole first month should eliminate any initial fear on his part, right?

How other people feel:

So many people had such lovely reactions to the news of my pregnancy. We got lots of well wishes, thoughtful cards, assurances that we'd be great parents. It was so fun to tell our families and all our friends, see their genuinely sweet reactions and bask in all the love and joy.

Yet when it came to telling some people, there were a few reactions that sucked the wind out of my sails faster than you could say “diaper genie.” A quick glance at a few mommy-to-be blogs proved I was not alone in not loving some common responses people (usually relative strangers) have when first hearing your big news. Some universally loathed reactions include:

Reaction #1: Your life is over.
Generally delivered by parents we barely know who still remember the carefree existence they had before the days of early mornings and children's programming.

Here’s the thing: I've heard this a million times. I know my life is going to change in ways I can never even begin to understand right now. I know whatever that new life is will pale in comparison to my current situation in many ways, particularly in the arenas of sleep and social life. I also know that I’m nearing my mid-30s, have had a really great life so far, and am ready for a new chapter that’s not so much about me. Bringing something I love more than myself into the world will be scary, for sure. But I don’t see it as an ending. To me, it’s the beginning. (God, I can hear the people who love to say this laughing at me right now. Again, I know you're right. Just do everyone a favor and quit saying it, OK? It's a huge bummer. K, thanks.)

Reaction #2: Thank goodness! I was starting to think something was wrong. It's about time!
Mostly from people who also asked me about how many children I planned on having before I'd even had my engagement ring sized.
To these people, all I have to say is relax. No one on this planet will ever do things the exact way you want them to, when you want them to, in the exact manner you would. People do what they want to do, when they want to do it. I know you want people to be happy. But they’ll get to that happiness when they’re ready, not when you decide they’re supposed to. OK? We good? OK.

Reaction #3: I knew it.

This reaction was my least favorite, as it dissipated any excitement at the news. And made me feel like I looked like a whale when I was barely showing. When you’re abundantly aware that your body is gearing up for some major shape shifting, vanity is king, people. A bit of advice: even if you’re not surprised, fake it.

Other than those few less than pleasant moments, it’s been a really sweet experience so far filled with little pockets of extreme excitement and anxiety. I met a student doctor at my first appointment, who seemed genuinely pumped to tell me they’d be taking me in for my first sonogram that very day.
“You’ll get to hear the heartbeat!” she squeaked with an enthusiasm I hope she doesn’t lose during her career.

I was so happy, I couldn’t form words so I opted for a goofy grin instead.

“And,” student doc said, leaning in toward me. “You’ll get to find out if there’s more than one.”


The hell? More than one? I felt my grin flip over as the realization washed over me. More than one? Why had I never thought of that? Oh, this does not bode well. I’m going to be a terrible mother! I’ve been so busy being happy at the thought of one, I never let myself think there could be more!

Student Doc saw my expression and immediately backtracked.

“I am so sorry! I didn’t mean to upset you! I just thought…..”

I know what she thought. She thought she was talking to a competent human being who would, I don’t know, have at least a passing thought about the possibility of multiple births.


But then, just as I was making a mental list of all the baby books I should buy seeing as how I knew literally nothing about being a suitable pregnant person, the ultrasound technician scrolled over my belly and a quick whooshwhoosh came through the speaker. It was my baby’s heartbeat, strong and healthy and right there where it was supposed to be. I looked up and saw my (single) little Love Bug for the first time, right there on the screen above me. I couldn’t have kept the smile from returning to my face and after the tech printed out a picture of the sonogram, I carried it around all day and stared at it, already so so in love.

And that’s pretty much how I felt through the entire first trimester. Happy, content, tired, overjoyed, anxious. Round Two started a few weeks ago, and it’s been equally wonderful and scary. (post on that coming soon)

For now, I’m just really trying to savor every moment both because I know how fast this beautiful experience will go and because I know my life will never be the same once it’s over. For right now, it’s all about enjoying what I can, when I can.

Assuming I have the energy to stay awake.