Sunday, December 25, 2005

We are cranks. But at least we're cranks together.

We walked out of the Chronicles of Narnia after an hour. Part of it was that we got almost the last two seats in the theater; they weren't bad seats locationwise, but we happened to be next to the world's two most annoying people - popcorn-bag-crumpling, loud-talking, constant editorial commenters. There's nothing I hate more than that.

I might have ignored it or politely asked them to be quiet if we'd been enjoying the movie, but I hated it. I thought the acting was atrocious, and I hated all the child characters except for the little girl. When the first talking beaver arrived Andy and I looked at each other and got up without a word.

I'm sort of depressed now; I had wanted to leave for a while before we did, but I was fighting the temptation because I didn't want to succumb to total crankdom. But now we're back home and nothing is open and there's nothing to do and no one is around.

I am sad.

Merry Christmas

This may be the strangest Christmas I've ever had. We usually switch off on holidays, spending one Christmas with my parents in New York and the next with Andy's family in West Virginia. This year, our year to be in WV, we have a wedding to go to on New Year's Eve. It would have seemed like a loooooong trip if we'd gone to WV on the 23rd like we usually do, so we decided to spend Christmas by ourselves and go to WV on the 27th.

We put up our tree a few weeks ago like usual, but it seemed a little hollow. We did a tree last year when I was pregnant with Joseph, and even though we didn't have children yet, it didn't seem weird. This year, decorating for Christmas felt a little bit pointless. I keep thinking that Christmas is really for kids, and we don't have any. Of course, I didn't realize this until I'd made Andy drag the tree and all the ornaments up from the basement, so we put it up anyway.

Last night I wanted to go to church, something I haven't done in a long time. I was raised Catholic, but I don't really consider myself religious anymore. But even though I disagree with almost everything about the church, I always loved going on Christmas Eve. I loved the decorations, the music (religious carols are so moving...the secular ones do nothing for me) and the feeling of solemn anticipation. So this year, we decided to go to the church across the street, which we've never set foot in despite living here for more than two years.

I wanted to go to midnight mass, but this church didn't have one, so we went to the 6:30 p.m. service. It turned out to the the service where the children of the parish did a little pageant - while the priest read the Jesus story from the Gospel, the children acted it out. They were adorable...they were in costume, and at the end of the reading, they all stayed in their tableau while the singer sang "Silent Night." I don't know what exactly happened, but suddenly I was sobbing; that carol has always made me tear up anyway, but seeing all those children and hearing the song about the birth of a child just broke my heart. It never occurred to me before how much of Christmas is about babies, and birth, and the anticipation of birth.

The other strange thing was that other than that, whatever I was hoping to feel at the service didn't happen. It left me as cold as church on any other Sunday does, which made me sad. The last time I felt the way I wanted to feel in church last night was when I used to sing with my college choir and we did our big Christmas concert. So I think from now on, instead of going to church, we'll just go to that. I'm glad I went last night, because it made me realize that I'm just not Catholic anymore. I'm not sure exactly what I believe, but when I go to church, I feel nothing.

After church we went out to dinner; we had wanted to try a new Middle Eastern place, but they were closed, so we ended up at a Chinese restaurant in Cambridge. It was delicious, and we were one of only two tables in the entire place, which felt weird but not in an entirely bad way (Andy, the hermit, was in heaven).

This morning the cats gave me their Christmas presents (nearly simultaneous yakking - thanks, just what I wanted!) and then we exchanged our own gifts. I'd gotten Andy tickets to see the Dave Brubeck Quartet; the show isn't until June, which prompted Andy to say he hoped Dave Brubeck would still be alive by then. Assuming he is, I think I'll make reservations at a downtown hotel and a nice restaurant and make a whole evening of it. I'm generally a rather uninspired gift-buyer, but I was proud of this one. My gifts from Andy were the professional-grade hair straightener my cousin the newly minted hairdresser recommended; it sounds like an unromantic gift, but I really wanted it, and it works great. He also gave me a Maneki Neko - ever seen those little cat statues in Japanese restaurants? They're supposed to be good-luck charms; Andy had seen one in a store window in Chinatown and said he just had to have it for me. I think we could use some good luck in this house, no?
It's sunny and fairly warm here; I took the cat for a walk (don't ask) and we sat outside for a little while and watched the people go in and out of the church; I love seeing little kids in their Christmas outfits. In a little while we're going to see the Chronicles of Narnia movie, and then we'll make dinner. We had a brief panic last night when we realized we had completely flaked on going to the grocery store - we'd had grandiose ideas of making a roast or steaks or some kind of fancy dinner, but by the time we thought of it, on the way home last night, all the grocery stores were closed, and we'd used up most of what was in the fridge over the last few days since we're going to be gone for a week. We had about resigned ourselves to eating frozen turkey burgers and tater tots (hey, Christmas turkey!) but at the last minute, we found some canned tomatoes, so we're having chicken Parmesan and spaghetti with homemade sauce. Could be worse.

Not the world's most ideal Christmas, but we have each other, and we have the Pad, and that's the best we can do for now. I have high hopes for 2006.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I'm about to leave for my first prenatal appointment with Dr. R. She had said when I first met her that she might try to hear the heartbeat at this visit, but at 9w4d I think it might be too early. It sure would be nice, though. I'd hate to have a visit go by with no reassurance that everything's OK in there.

Wish me luck!

Update: Yay for a boringly normal appointment! Have I mentioned how much I love these doctors? I had a long intake session with the nurse, who answered all my questions thoroughly; then she tried to hear the heartbeat with the doppler. She tried for a long time and wasn't getting anything, but she had reassured me that it might be too early. Strangely, I wasn't really nervous. After about five minutes she gave up and said that Dr. R would try again when she came in.

Dr. R came in and did all the normal poking and prodding and said that my uterus was perfectly on track size-wise. Then she, too, tried the doppler, and after about five minutes of pressing hard, she found the heartbeat. It was hard for me to hear at first - definitely not the clear, loud, "whoof-whoof-whoof" I was used to hearing with Joseph - but she said that was because it was early. She estimated the rate at 160 and said that was great.

In two weeks I go back for the Early Risk Assessment, which is a blood test combined with that new nuchal translucency ultrasound. I'm looking forward to getting another look at the Pad. Other than that, though, Dr. R. says I can be on the normal prenatal visit schedule, so my next "real" visit is in four weeks.

I think I'm starting to believe this is really going to happen.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Ready to have a baby? Stop reading stupid magazine articles.

Someone on a board I read posted this link today. Here's part of the beginning:

"Women agonize over the trade-offs between family and career. Now, thanks to Amalia Miller, a young economist at the University of Virginia, there is a new and particularly vivid way to think about those trade-offs.

On average, Miller has found in a new paper, a woman in her 20s will increase her lifetime earnings by 10 percent if she delays the birth of her first child by a year. Part of that is because she'll earn higher wages—about 3 percent higher—for the rest of her life; the rest is because she'll work longer hours. For college-educated women, the effects are even bigger. For professional women, the effects are bigger yet—for these women, the wage hike is not 3 percent, but 4.7 percent.

So, if you have your first child at 24 instead of 25, you're giving up 10 percent of your lifetime earnings. The wage hit comes in two pieces. There's an immediate drop, followed by a slower rate of growth—right up to the day you retire. So, a 34-year-old woman with a 10-year-old child will (again on average) get smaller percentage raises on a smaller base salary than an otherwise identical woman with a 9-year-old. Each year of delayed childbirth compounds these benefits, at least for women in their 20s. Once you're in your 30s, there's far less reward for continued delay. Surprisingly, it appears that none of these effects are mitigated by the passage of family-leave laws."

Maybe I'm overly sensitive, but that strikes me as supremely annoying. As someone who'll be having her first child about a year later than she wanted to - hey, maybe I should be glad my son died! It saved me a lot of money, eh?

I felt like that was an irrational reaction, but then I got to this tidbit:

"So, professor Miller did something very clever. Instead of comparing random 24-year-old mothers with random 25-year-old mothers, she compared 24-year-old mothers with 25-year-old mothers who had miscarried at 24. So, she had two groups of women, all of whom made the same choices regarding pregnancy, but some of whom had their first children delayed by an act of chance. That's a fairer comparison—and it confirmed the 10 percent earnings hit."

Gee, maybe I'll try that the next time someone I know has a miscarriage. "Think of the bright side - you'll increase your lifetime earnings by 10%!"

Meanwhile, I would venture to guess that any woman who's lost a pregnancy or a child would gladly take a 100% pay cut to have that child back. I know I would.

Friday, December 09, 2005


The last week or so, the nausea has kicked in a big way. Last year, right between 7-8 weeks was the worst of it, and it seems to be the same this time. I remember that after about 8 weeks, it got more sporadic - I kept thinking it was gone for good and then it would come back to taunt me.

The Pad apparently is quite the picky eater. So far he/she loves iced tea - I had been avoiding it because of the caffeine, but it's one of the only things that quells the morning nausea. However, his/her first experiment with oriental rice crackers, which I usually love, did not go so well (eating half the tub in one sitting probably did not help).

I have to learn to eat several small meals instead of letting myself get hungry and then eating a giant meal all at once. It makes me feel like I'm going to die. I ate a vat of Pad Thai yesterday and while I enjoyed every minute of it, I did not enjoy the next few hours.

Not much else is new. The "new job" (i.e., extra responsibilities with not-yet forthcoming extra money and title) is busy this week, as I have some budget stuff due today and I've never done the budget before. I did speak to my former boss on the phone yesterday - she and I got pretty close in the last few months, especially after Joseph died - I hadn't known it, but she had had fertility problems and several miscarriages before having her two sons (now 2 and 27 months). So it seemed natural to tell her about the Pad, even though I'm not "out" at work yet and won't be for at least a month. I think she was more excited for me than my own mother, which was nice. I miss her.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I had a discussion with my therapist this week about something I've been thinking about for a long time. Sometimes I wonder if I'm coping too well.

That sounds weird, doesn't it? Shouldn't I be glad that I'm doing OK? And I am, I really am. But sometimes I wonder if I should be feeling worse.

I'm excited for Christmas. We put up our tree this weekend, even though we're going away right around Christmastime. Andy was a little more skeptical about it than I was - he doesn't see the point when there are no kids around (this doesn't really have anything to do with losing Joseph - he said the same thing last year). But for me, it just would have seemed depressing to not acknowledge the season at all. Of course I think about how Joseph should be 7 months old at Christmas. I should have pictures of him in the little Christmas frame my mother bought me last year. I should be taking him to sit on Santa's lap. But even though I'm not doing any of those things - I'm not sorry that it's Christmas.

I don't mind seeing friends' babies or holding them or hearing about new babies. I get hit with random waves of sadness, like I did at the christening last weekend. I get annoyed at the friend who's a month ahead of me in pregnancy who ordered a glass of wine when we were out last night and went on and on about how she wasn't going to be paranoid. I wouldn't have cared about her doing it once, but she did the exact same thing when I saw her two weeks ago. It's her second child and I'm sure she thinks, "Well, I had one healthy baby so I don't NEED to be careful." I would never wish harm on her or her baby, but I do get angry at people who are blase about the risks. I feel like they're looking at my seltzer and thinking, "Yes, it's good that SHE's being careful since HER baby wasn't healthy, but nothing like that could happen to me." (Maybe I'm reading into this incident way too much. I don't know.) But even though I have moments like that, I can still get joy out of my friends' and families' babies.

I don't want to be defined by my loss. I remember one of the very first thoughts I had when the doctor told me Joseph had died was the fear that I would forever be known as the woman with the dead baby. I don't want to deny that it happened, that Joseph existed, that I am a mother. It's something that has changed me forever and I wouldn't wish that away. But I don't want to be JUST the woman with the dead baby.

I have moments when I have the urge to be that woman - when I want to bring it up in conversation, maybe just to hear the other person acknowledge it - but I try to resist that urge. Then again, sometimes it seems like a natural part of the conversation and when it does, I talk about it.

I don't really know where I'm going with this. I guess sometimes I wonder if I'm normal - if I somehow skipped over some part of the grieving process. Would it be more normal for me to still be bitter? To blame myself? To want to avoid everyone and everything? Because I've been through all of those stages.

It's not that I didn't grieve. It's not that I've forgotten my son. I will never forget him. It's just that six months later, I feel like I'm healing. I am excited about the Pad. He or she will never replace my baby; I'll never pretend that the Pad is my first child.

I hope Joseph forgives me. I guess if there is any part of him out there anywhere, he would want me to be doing OK, right?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Huge sigh of relief

Baby - check. Heartbeat - check. 126 BPM. I nearly cried with relief right there on the table.

I also felt privately vindicated because even though I'm 8 weeks today by LMP, I knew I was only 6w6d according to my chart. The doctor was sorta skeptical, which is why she ordered the ultrasound in the first place. Anyway, the tech said that HP is measuring...wait for it...6w6d. Hah!

I can already tell I'm going to love this practice. For one thing, I like that they have an ultrasound unit there in the practice - at my old practice you had to go to a separate facility for the ultrasounds, so the techs didn't know who you were and the doctor wasn't there. Here, it's all right there in the office, so the doctor (it wasn't my doctor, Dr. Riley, because of the schedule change) comes in afterward to meet the patients and check things again. Plus, the tech knew about Joseph, which amazed me. She understood exactly why I was nervous and did everything she could to make it better.

Afterward, I met Dr. Riley's nurse, who also knew my whole story, and she hugged me and practically jumped up and down with happiness at the good news. I feel like quite the pampered celebrity in this office already. They decided to take all the initial pregnancy bloodwork today, as long as I was there (nothing I really have to think about, unless Andy gave me syphilis sometime in the last few months).

Of course I had to call my parents. I didn't tell them about the pseudospotting; I figured why worry them? I just told them that an earlier slot opened up and I took it. I thought my dad was going to cry, too, when I told him that everything looks good.

I know I'm not out of the woods (and I guess I never really will be until it's all over) but it's good to know that the odds are pretty good from this point.