Monthly Archives: November 2008

39w4d – the end of an era

In this case, the end of my gestational career. The scheduler at the hospital asked how I would celebrate my last night of pregnancy, when it hit me. This is the end of something, arriving later than expected.

I could have used the three extra weeks the first time around. But this time, with MDs predicting early deliveries, I found myself walking slowly, stunned, through November, getting bigger. And unlike the first time, beauty and peace came to my face and body the farther I went. People remark on my appearance, kindly. The combination of waddle and sashay is enough to get a measure of amused attention.

Ben came in to see my “biiiiig belly” and hug it, saying, “I can’t wait for you to see you, little one!” My mouth is dry, given that my last beverage was at 4:57am. I’m looking forward to little one too, and a tall cool glass of water.

see you all in a few!


Filed under mother, Motherhood, pregnancy, pregnant after 40

39w2d: naming and identity

My name is a product of my mother’s world – the time at which she got married, her religion, her class, her husband and where she lived. A throng of foo-Maries came out of the lower-to -middle-middle class Irish Catholic Northeast in the 50’s and 60’s, and in spite of my birth year, I got a fifties “foo”. Drop the Marie from my full name, and you end up with something that sounds less like a person and more like a media construct – so common, there are, according to a former reporter at CNET, at least three women with that name  and spelling in high-tech pr and media relations.

My birthname, also a foo-Marie, had a more distinct path. Sans surname, it’s shared with Elvis’ little lady. With the birth father’s name in place, it is the name of HRC’s pr counsel back in her First Lady days – which gave both my birthmother and me a little chuckle. As dowdy as Janet is, I never saw myself as a Lisa, much less a Lisa Marie, so I left it alone.

Ben came into the world early, and with a list of 19 possible names. Five days later, he was Benjamin, even though his father had vetoed it months before. I wish I could say we’re doing a better job this time around, but no.

The working list we had for some time had only 5 names:

  • Lucia
  • Maria
  • Natalia
  • Lily (H’s choice)
  • Julia, then Rosalind (my choice)

It’s heavy on the latin names, because they can be pronounced in Danish and English. Of course, the usual rules apply – ex-lovers and annoying classmates and colleagues have wiped out a slew of perfectly reasonable names. H is beginning to think Maria sounds too religious. I have to explain to him that Lily Frystyk N. sounds to me like the star of the morning shift at a 24-7 German strip club… even if it is the name of his paternal grandmother.

His new test, no doubt inspired by the political season, is what name looks best on a lawn sign. But as someone with one of those names, I’d like to give her a little more than that. And so the list is very long, even though it is populated with names that he has pre-vetoed. (Like Benjamin.)


Filed under "getting ready for baby", adoption, babies, baby, children, identity, naming

39w1d, and the last of private time

If I’m lucky, I get about 2 hours a day now of private time – between 2 and 4 am, in the room that H and I share as an office. I sleep on the new raised air mattress I bought for H on election day, an investment in his circadian pattern and sanity, or so I thought.  (Family visitors will claim the spare bed for the next two months, depriving him of comfortable respite from my tossing, turning, and snoring.)

Two days in, the prince found a multitude of peas in his new sleeping quarters, and in an effort to preserve my own sanity, I gladly switched places with him. (In general, as long as I can lie down on something firm, I can sleep. I don’t know how it will go when little one arrives and we retake the bedroom/co-sleeper.)

So now I wake around 2, for a late-night constitutional, and then I find myself with my thoughts. The small footpath lights in the backyard caught every last, late gilded leaf from the japanese maple, whose branches arch from the back eastern fence to the glass doors that are now my “bedroom” wall. My first night, I could still see some green in the thatch of leaf cover – now, there are only the last of the hangers-on, clinging in daylight as squirrels ravage the slender branches for food and Ben’s entertainment. At this late hour, the branches are quiet.

The clock in the office with a face that reminds me of my elementary school, and a red second hand that moves in a way that I can only describe as simultaneously staccato and vibrato – that wonderful sound as it advances second by second, but a wavering hand that signals a constant need to be reined in.

The tock-tockle of the clock is not the only sound in the house. Ben, who has shared my internal clock since birth and co-sleeping, usually stirs with a string of undecipherables, telling urgent stories in his sleep, peppered with “MommyDaddy” – an all-purpose call to parent arousal from across the rambler.

But unlike the truly stolen moments I have now – rushing off alone in the car to a coffee shop or market, seeking the reassuring solitude of a public snack among kindly strangers – these are the only ones I’ll have for some time, or at least until the MD says I can get back behind the wheel.

Tonight, my thoughts are all over the place, from practicing positions in case of cord prolapse; figuring out if I can take Ben to the hospital for a tour before B-day; why it is that chocolate brown seems the worst possible color for a renovated bathroom, no matter what my smart neighbor the realtor is telling me; the 35% loss in our savings since January; the uneasiness I feel when considering prospects for employment; and ransacking my brain for techniques for being respectful and not angry/heartbroken when my mother’s age and inability as well as her innate timidity and fear of so much of the world is here, in my home. When I can get her an appointment at Seymours for a wash and set. Wondering when the contractor will finish the bathroom, and will little one be toilet-trained by then.

Then 2 becomes 3 and 4 slides into 5, and I know I need to do two things – take another slow-release iron pill, and find a way to slow my mind, squeezing in another 2 hours before Ben is at the head of the mattress, reminding me it’s a home day, and that means pancakes.

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Filed under "getting ready for baby", anxiety, children, families, family, Motherhood, women, worry

warp and weave, knots and hooks, and whether a rug takes an undue beating

I spent some time today thinking about the ways I’ve approached solving some problems and making concerted efforts to avoid others. By remaining as simple as possible, but no simpler. Respecting consistency, but not a foolish one. Learning from mistakes, golden rules, sitting with one’s self and being honest about what’s working and what isn’t. Struggling with my own delusion, until epiphany comes in the form of a phrase, such as, “It can’t be everyone else’s fault..” or “Is there something I don’t know here?”

As one of the more resplendent rugs from a beloved room in my life loses its warp, knots come undone, the yarns themselves are unraveling. Carpet beetles. Short, bitten filaments. I only have a view of this room now; it’s not a primary residence, though it is a place I remember inhabiting with so much fondness, my bare feet in the pile as much as on it, and a small hook in my pocket.

The rug is made, I imagine, in the middle eastern tradition, though the flaws no doubt were inadvertently introduced – no issue with introducing deliberate errors with the goal of avoiding hubris.

I loved the patterns, the juxtapositions of color, the big tableau/picture, how things fit together. The day I left the room was the day I knew I couldn’t contribute to it in a way I felt was adequate – my attempts at repair could be labeled, at best, as meaning well, or worse, as good intentions. I thought I saw some problems in the weave, in the warp, but my fingers weren’t fast or skilled enough to make the repairs.

Over time, I have seen the yarns fray, though I’m not sure it’s foot traffic or something more innate. Wool doesn’t last forever, no matter what the tapestries of Ghent may tempt us to believe. But this has made me wonder – so many places where it comes undone cannot be the work of a single loosened knot. What happened? How could I not see the many places, now gaping and rent, that other, more deft hands struggle to restore to some degree of opacity?

But maybe, just maybe, rugs are meant to be worn, foot paths making little gullies in the yarn arabesques, since they’re made for the floor, beneath our soles. Those using them are only human, and perhaps can’t be expected to always look for the big picture. They have to get from here to there, one corner of the room to another, to another doorway. Their door, their way. Maybe they spill their coffee on the way. Or maybe they just got tired of the rug.

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38w6d: long, closed, contemplative

Yesterday, at the OB’s office, there was a moment where I felt less like an expectant mother and more like my purse – the ob rummaging through me to find a cellphone, or in this case, a cervix. What she found was long, quiet and closed – not unlike my cellphone by the time I find it. No sign of labor, or of the tenant’s plans for moving day.

After some earlier emotional arguments at home, this news was a little less than welcome. I had whispered to her that this would be a great day to come out, that Mommy had already driven to the hospital, she had the keys and her baby bag in the back seat, and we could get this squared away in no time. Just mommy and baby.  But in a disturbingly familiar display of stubbornness (wow, does that spelling look wrong), she has decided to prove all qualified and certified medical professionals completely wrong. “I won’t make it to term? Well, induce THIS.”

Admittedly, the stress of my mother’s visit is a contributor to her reticence to exit. My mother came to “help”, but she is a rather frail 79 who has nearly lost her hearing completely and refuses to wear a hearing aid. Parenting issues and flashbacks abound. I had thought I was big enough to follow through on letting her come – she is doing this as much for herself as for me – but I’m faced with the ugly reality of my rather unforgivable smallness. (Don’t tell me I’m not. This is not false modesty.)

So self-directed trips alone to the hospital give me time to be with little one, and with my son, focused on things that matter to me. I can reassure myself that I won’t be in housewifery exile forever, though the economic conditions of this region may conspire to make that feel like the reality. I’m quietly excited both for her arrival, her growth, and a new real job. I’m better prepared for what will mostly be a solitary parenting experience, regardless of marriage license and/or marital status. I line up documents and questionnaires, prepare for sleeping places and nursing stations throughout the house, pry out of H whatever it was I last did to piss him off so he’ll drop the silent treatment, and get familiar with 42, mother of two.

The catch is how to get everything else done smoothly, incurring the fewest number of complaints, while allowing myself the space and brain function to imagine and execute the next steps so important to take. If I get 6 hours a night, I think I can pull it off.


Filed under children, mother, Motherhood, parenting, women

37w4d, or no limits on term

Now what?

After months of hearing about my risk and unlikelihood of making it to term, here we are, term +4. Flirting with 190 lbs, but never quite staying there long enough to close the deal. Keeping true to my typical low blood pressure (a hoot of a revelation for anyone who has experienced my temper).

Little one spends a lot of time in variations of transverse lie – sometimes, she sits upright on the left side. Other times, she rolls over onto her side, a huge bump protruding from my left with no symmetrical match. Then there are those legs, stretching and kicking to the appendix, the right hipbone, and (I’m beginning to think) into my actual right leg.

Ben pats my belly and asks “Little one, when are you coming out?” then tells me “Mommy, she’s not ready yet.” When H starts to show signs of wear, he takes one peek at my profile, and the caring returns.

I walk into Ben’s school and the coffee shop each day to shocked expressions. “What is going on? When is she going to come out?” I’m left with shrugged shoulders, a smile, and a sore back.

On another note: yesterday in our house, we all celebrated the impending arrival of a smart and gifted president, grateful to those who waited in lines in the last month, and those who took on more dangerous challenges in the decades that preceded us.

I remembered ’04, taking Ben in a carrier to the polling place, and crying through Kerry’s concession speech. I swore I would have traded the Sox WS victory for the 04 election. So a few weeks ago while watching Garza pitch circles around the Sox in game 7, I whispered to God – ok, can we make a deal? I won’t complain about the Sox getting knocked out if my guy wins in November. Who knew God was also a broken-hearted feminist red sox fan?

Last night, I started whispering to Little one, patting her and telling her, “It’s ok, you can come out now. You’ll be safe. We have a chance to make a better world, from the bottom and the top. So it’s ok – it’s ok – we’re going to make it better, and we need you to help.”


Filed under mother, Motherhood, Obama, Politics, pregnancy, pregnant after 40, reconciliation

mandelieu dreaming

Waddling slowly through the house to my desk, I sat down to find photos of my former colleagues from a favorite part of the world. My work frequently took me to the south of France, and this particular meeting was on the Cote d’Azur, in a town called Mandelieu-La-Napoule. There were photos of the small stony beach by the hotel, the palms readying themselves for wintery rains, the smeared sunlight that rainier seasons bring.

I remembered three meetings there, and the careless pleasure of sleeping in a hotel room with the balcony door ajar, courting February’s cold for the chance of a mediterranean lullaby. I remembered my first dinner, then my second, at a Michelin two-star. And of course, the delight of noisette after noisette, where even hotel millefeuille pastries put many high-end treatmakers stateside to shame, effortlessly.

Culinary indulgences aside, there is the wonderful smell of the sea, the alternating perfumes of mist and pinewood smoke (not to mention the relief of the first shower after 19+ hours of airline travel). Sure, the Gauloise and Export A’s are unpleasant and a bit of a shock, but it can be headed off with a quick walk to the terrazzo.

This time, though, the meeting came in October, when one wouldn’t need to be a polar bear in order to dive or at least splash into the soft waves. Old friends and new faces mixed around in the water (surf seems a little too vigorous a term, even if it was the sea).

Little vignettes delivered in photos, and in the occasional email from the scene, left me dreaming of the best of the work experience, which can best be described as the right people in the right place – with those in place, anytime can be the right time.

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Filed under Food, france, pleasure, work