New Mama Musings

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Tiny Bubbles

In the past week or so I think I've been feeling the baby move. I say "think" because it really just feels like gas bubbles and nothing definitive, the way you'd expect another human being moving around inside you would feel.

I've heard some women describe the sensation as "the flutter of butterfly wings." How poetic is that? It figures with all the belching and passing of gas that goes on at my house that my child's movement would feel like gas bubbles.

Is it too much to ask that this kid inherit my inability to burp on command? My husband has already handed down his, er, "gift" to three of his offspring. Let's spare this last one. Or at least spare his mother.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Is It Nesting if You'd Rather Be Resting?

This past weekend I shared with various friends my plans to tackle a few items on my long-running to-do list, including cleaning out my clothes closet, hanging a mirror in our bedroom, and tacking up some trim that's been sitting in the basement since we moved in a year ago.

Inevitably, I heard, "Oooo! You're nesting!"

Now, I know these people mean well, and are merely excited for me, but I admit to being a little annoyed. I have always been the kind of person to clean, organize, and improve things around the house. Once I even ripped up the linoleum in the kitchen of a place we were renting to uncover the wood floors underneath. (I do not recommend this kind of investment of time and energy in a place owned by someone else, however.)

If anything, I'm dragging my heels at our new place. I have two pages of a notebook (college-rule, thank-you-very-much) filled with things I'd like to get done around the house, hopefully before the baby comes. I don't want to do any of these things; I would much rather curl up with a copy of In Style and a rerun of Gilmore Girls.

But if I want to find my spices in five seconds rather than five minutes, or be able to fit my maternity clothes in my closet, or not be woken up by the sunrise pouring into our bedroom through curtainless windows, then I'd better get busy.

Excuse me while I drag my sorry ass away from the computer and start actually accomplishing something.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

May the Best Man Win

One of my earliest memories takes place in the back of our next-door neighbor's station wagon. The year was 1976 and I was five years old. I was getting a ride home from school along with my neighbor's kids, one of whom was my best friend Linda, also five at the time.

Somehow the subject of the ongoing presidential race between incumbent Gerald Ford and Democratic nominee Jimmy Carter came up. Linda informed me that Ford was the guy to vote for and that he would win; I hotly replied that Ford was stupid and Carter would win.

Lest you think that Linda and I were some kind of politico child geniuses, I should mention that I don't think either of us knew what the hell we were talking about. What we did know was who our parents were voting for.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the kind of influence I hope to have on "my special little guy" as he grows up. Although all parents want certain things for their kids, I know that the kind of adult you turn out into the world is partly beyond your control. (Okay, mostly beyond your control.)

Still, that doesn't stop us from hoping, or trying. (I remain a staunch Democrat, by the way, so I know that some things stick.)

I would love to pass on to my son my love of reading, liberal outlook, concern for the environment, money management skills, and responsible work ethic. I hope from his dad he gets my husband's passion for music, grasp of abstract concepts, people skills, spontaneity, and the ability to laugh at himself.

What I'm really hoping for my son is that he take the best of us and leave the rest of us, as the saying goes, but that he also forge an identity that is uniquely and amazingly his own.

I can't wait to see how he turns out. And if he becomes a punk rocker or a literary journalist, that might be okay with me.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Halfway Through

I'm twenty weeks along today, which technically means I'm halfway through.

I'm not sure if I should qualify that statement with "already" or "only." Get back to me in a few months.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Reason #67 for Wanting a Baby

Yesterday when I came to work the two-and-a-half year old I nanny for was not happy to see me. Her mom and dad have both been working lots of hours, and I walked in right as her mom was getting her out of bed.

"You can't come in! Go away!" Not the warmest welcome I've ever received.

I do understand, however. I know she loves me and likes to spend time with me -- it's just that your mom is your mom, and no one can take her place.

Which brings me to one of the many reasons I wanted to have a baby to begin with. In the past twelve years I've had four nanny jobs and become a stepmom to three. Always the bridesmaid; never the bride.

As much as I've loved the kids under my care, and as much as I consider my husband's children part of my family, the truth is, I'm on the periphery.

At work I can be undermined or let go at a moment's notice (not the norm, thankfully). And no matter how wonderful and loving and fun I am, and no matter how emotionally unavailable and psychologically damaged the mother is (also not the norm), I can't compare to Mom. I'm always second best.

It's the same with being a stepmother. My husband completely supports and facilitates my relationship with his kids, but they're still his kids. I'm at the mercy of their mother, who in the past has told them that I'm nothing to them, tried to convince them that they don't like me, or told them that if I chaperone one of their field trips (my stepson's idea) it would "kill her."

Things are better now -- thank God -- and I have a good relationship with my stepkids, but I'm not their mom.

I realize that in a few years this baby boy of mine will tell me, "I don't want you -- I want Daddy!" and later on, as we butt heads during the teen years, maybe even, "I hate you!"

But I'm his mom. Not the nanny. Not the babysitter. Not his dad's wife. His mom. And I couldn't be more excited.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

So, a Pregnant Woman Walks into a Bar...

Last night I dreamed I went to my baby shower, but it was held in a large lounge-like bar where everyone was drinking tall, fruity drinks. Come to think of it, I didn't really know anyone there, and I didn't see any presents.

Who the hell threw me this shower, anyway?

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Entry in which I Reveal the Baby's Gender

I had my second ultrasound today, in a little office up on the seventh floor of the hospital I'll be delivering in. They took me right away, which was much appreciated because I was required to drink 32 ounces of water an hour prior to the appointment and by that time I really had to pee.

I laid down with my husband sitting beside me and the lab technician put the gooped-up wand on my bare belly. She took all kinds of measurements of things I couldn't really distinguish, and then she let me use the bathroom before finishing up the ultrasound. Perhaps there is a God.

After that she noted the vital organs, including the kidneys and the heart (we saw all four chambers). It was interesting but I really wanted to see things I would recognize, and I was so happy when we saw a little foot. We saw the outline of the baby, with the spine running down the baby's back, and a leg, and then an arm, moving back and forth. That was the thing that amazed me the most -- it's a real baby, with a real arm, and it's moving in there.

I had told the technician at the beginning that we wanted to know the gender if possible, and about 3/4 of the way through she said, "You wanted to know if it's a boy or girl?" She pointed out the tip of the penis and said it was definitely a boy.

I immediately said, "I knew it!" (and of course my husband said, "You didn't know nothin'!"), not because I have some special mommy instinct now that I'm pregnant, but because pretty much all of us were hoping for a girl. My oldest stepson said he always wondered what it would be like to have a sister who didn't have Down Syndrome, his sister keeps asking if it's a boy or a girl with the emphasis on girl ("Maybe girl? Maybe boy? Maybe GIRL?"), and I wanted a girl, well, just because.

Plus we had a super-cool name picked out for a girl and unless we want our son to get the crap kicked out of him on the playground, we won't be able to use it now.

But don't get me wrong, little son of mine. I am definitely very excited to meet you and I love you already. Penis and all.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Baby-centric Behavior

I haven't even felt the baby move yet, and I fear I'm becoming one of those women who are overly focused on their children. You know the kind I'm talking about: the type whose license plate reads "TJSMOM" and who not-so-gently leads the conversation back to her kids whenever someone wants to discuss such triviality as, say, the war in Iraq.

(Now, if my sister is reading I want to ASSURE her that this does not apply to her. Her kids happen to be exceptionally intriguing human beings. Plus our family is way too cheap to pay extra for a personalized license plate.)

It's difficult to focus on much besides the huge changes awaiting my body and my life in general. I like to be prepared for things, so although you veteran moms out there may laugh, I've been reading as much as I can about labor and birth, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, and anything else baby-related. I've lined up a doctor, a hospital, a doula, a chiropractor, and a prenatal massage therapist.

And sometime in the next five months I'll have to teach my husband how to do laundry.

So instead of drooling over the J.Crew catalog, I'm surfing the web for cool maternity tees. Rather than hoping my weight goes down, I'm watching the scale to make sure it's going up. And although our current president's arrogance and idiocy is never far from my thoughts, I'm more likely to discuss the pitfalls of pitocin and episiotomies.

Stay tuned for the thrilling adventures of New Mama as she shares more than you ever wanted to hear about swollen ankles, afterbirth, leaking breasts and baby poop. In return, I promise to try to read a newspaper occasionally.