Birthday Man

During your first birthday as a husband, we waited for Into the Woods to begin at Shakespeare in the Park at Central Park in New York City. We sat there while it poured rain until a couple behind us held their giant golf umbrella over us to provide a little relief. We sat for at least an hour and watched sheets of rain sparkle in the stage lights until they announced a rainout. We walked on Broadway in the 70-streets in our wet clothes until we found a place that served cake and hot chocolate. We ate cake and drank hot chocolate. We were two months into being married. You were helping me move my stuff out of storage to Utah. I was excited about sharing so many more birthdays with you.

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Today is your 3rd birthday as a husband, your first as a father.

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We began your birthday celebration last night at dinner. A little party, just the three of us. You and I talked while our daughter sat quietly and watched us until she started trying to stand, which turned into rolling over in her carrier. Then you held her while I ate. I watched you with her across the table from me and thought, man, how did I end up with this amazingness in my life?

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You have spent the last four months getting up in the middle of the night to rock our daughter. You’ve stayed home and fed her and changed diapers and sang to her and taught her to blow raspberries. I think she understands the time you spend with her more deeply than we know. You are totally killing it as a father, which not only inspires me but makes me ever so grateful that you’re my husband. And I know our daughter is grateful that you’re her dadda.

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Tonight, you have class, and that’s okay. I hope you have a wonderful and special day with lots of laughs and smiles and memories, and we look forward to more fun birthdays with you.

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Brain Lapses and Meta Sadness

Three little anecdotes, either because 1) the public shouldn’t know every lapse I have beyond three, or 2) I have been extremely alert and conscientious, and I only have three imperfections to report. You choose.

At church:

  • One time during the final hour of the three-hour block, I was walking around as usual, finding new people to talk to and asking people to offer the opening and closing prayers. I walked from the front of the room toward the left side (stage left/house right) and rammed my leg into a chair in the middle of the first row. An aisle divided the rows of chairs and my leg bumped into the first chair of the first row on the left side. It seems in a subconscious effort not to bump my tummy into anything, I leaned the upper half of my body away from the chairs while I let my legs continue in a straight line toward the chairs. It did not hurt, but I asked myself if I had bumped into more things I wasn’t aware of. No bruises, but a new weird self-awareness of my body.
  • Another day during the first hour of the three-hour block, Reilly and I were listening to one of the first two speakers. It might have been a young man who told a story about the time his mom told him not to eat candy in bed, but he kept a stash of candy under his pillow, and he checked the hallway to make sure his mom wasn’t coming to his room. He ate one piece, then another piece. He then heard his name in a whisper, so he checked the hallway again. No one was coming. He ate a few more pieces. He checked the hallway again, and no one was there. He ended up eating all the candy, savoring every piece. Then he heard his name again and his mom jumped out of the closet and busted him for disobeying the rules. When he concluded his talk (about obedience) and the congregation said “Amen,” I didn’t say “Amen.” Instead, I raised a sustaining (or opposing) hand. I realized what I’d done, but I leaned over to Reilly to make a comment about the talk and  didn’t look around. Looking around would have made me look guilty.

Just yesterday:

  • I met up with some coworkers for lunch up in Salt Lake. As in most cases where I don’t know people very well, I mainly kept to myself and listened to everyone else talk. One person ordered the white bean burger, another person ordered French onion soup, one person ordered the crab macaroni and cheese, and I ordered a blackened salmon sandwich. All the orders looked amazing (most food still looks incredible to me), but I want to talk about my sandwich. The decently-sized fish filet was well seasoned and perfectly cooked. It came dressed with baby spinach and a nice tangy mayo inside a sliced fresh ciabatta roll. Then there were a side of fries, which were also so very yummy. I cut my enormous sandwich in half, then I cut one of the halves into quarters. Everyone around me kept talking, and I listened while slipping into food ecstasy. While listening and occasionally interjecting nods and chuckles, I finished the two quarters of the sandwich and most of the fries, and almost an hour had passed. We paid our checks and I asked for a box, excited to get home and have my leftovers for dinner, perhaps even let Reilly have a bite. I readied the sandwich for departure. My coworkers and put on our coats and headed out. I did turn around and check the table to make sure I didn’t forget my wallet. Satisfied that I had remembered my wallet, I joined the others outside. When we got back to the office, I realized I left my sandwich at the restaurant. My heart instantly broke. I sulked on the train home. My forgotten sandwich is probably why I didn’t sleep very well last night. I’m still very sad about it.

The last story is the saddest because it’s my biggest, most tragic lapse during this pregnancy. Not pregnant, I’ve forgotten my food at restaurants, but I haven’t been this pathetic about it. While I can certainly blame “pregnancy brain” for this indiscretion, such blame will not bring the sandwich back. I guess I could also blame my hormone-befuddled brain for my intense affinity for sandwiches (HOLY CRAP I LOVE SANDWICHES), without such affinity I would not be in deep mourning.

So far this morning I had breakfast, did some homework, and did some yoga. My tummy feels good, Baby Girl has been moving around, and my back has responded well to the stretching. I even had a small second breakfast while writing this post. And I may even be up to making my own damn good sandwich for lunch.

I can get through this.

30 Weeks

Tweety Bird!

30 is 3/4 of the way there.

75%.

I feel like I should have something amazing to report from today’s doctor’s visit.

Well, the awesome thing is that we’re going to have a baby in about ten weeks. Can’t just brush that off.

From today’s visit itself? Let’s make a list:

Beepee: At every visit the nurse takes my blood pressure. Today it was 100/60. It’s been around this low the whole time so far. Baby and I are just chillin’ together. You know, smokin’ weed.

Eye urn: Since I’m at 30 weeks, the doctor wanted to know iron levels. The nurse pricked my finger and took a microslide of blood. She used my middle finger because it’s less sensitive than the other fingers. I leaned over to Reilly and said, “That finger is less sensitive!” The nurse laughed and said, “And also pretty mean!” The nurse came back after a few minutes to report that my iron is great. She even gave me a cool Tweety Bird band-aid.

Mo billadee: The doctor asked me to get up and sit on the cushy table-chair thingy covered in hospital paper. He observed from the way I stood that I still move pretty well.

Art beat: Reilly has become an expert at finding the baby’s heart beat. He put the gel on my tummy and the microphone where it’s supposed to go and voila! rhythmic swishing. The doctor said that Baby sounds awesome.

Maize your: The doctor stretched a measuring tape from one end of my bump to the other. He took about two seconds, and when he saw the length — whatever it was, and whatever it means — he said, “Perfect.”

Quest yons: The doctor answered our questions about taking a labor and delivery tour at the hospital we’ll be going to. He said the hospital will let us preregister so that we won’t have as much paperwork to sign on delivery day. He told us to ask the lactation specialist about breast pumps. He also said that if an emergency arises or something happens before 36 weeks, to report to Utah Valley hospital. All very useful things.

Phoo duh: We thanked the doctor, left the clinic, then went to a sandwich place to eat Philly cheesesteak sandwiches. All to mark a successful visit.

Ten weeks left, everyone.

A Test of Just Station All Dye a Bead Ease

Pretty colors!

One early morning in January, May went to the lab to undergo a three-hour glucose screening. Workers at the lab had instructed her to fast for 10-12 hours and only drink water. They told her to bring something to do because she would be at the lab building for about three and a half hours. Since the lab opened at 7:15am she stopped eating around 6:45 the previous evening. She made sure to drink lots of water, though she’d already drunk half a gallon during the day. Even though she wanted to snack throughout the night, she knew she could say no to herself.

Just after 7am, May checked into the lab the morning of her appointment. The lab assistant behind the counter verified her name, address, and insurance information. The lab person wore a Gryffindor jacket, which somehow helped her make sure the lab received the order for the screening from May’s doctor. She told May that a phlebotomist would call her name shortly, so May and Reilly sat in the waiting area.

Reilly came, aww.

At 7:15 a nice lady called May’s name and brought her back to a room where they draw all the blood and drink it as an elixir to prolong life. The phlebotomist — we’ll call her T — told May they need to take an initial draw to make sure her glucose levels weren’t already elevated. Once they determined the levels, May would then drink the stuff.

So T poked May’s vein in the crook of her right elbow and took a small tube’s worth of blood. She bandaged the tiny hole-wound and wrapped her elbow with red medical stretchy cloth tape. May then went back to the waiting area. Ten minutes later T came out and told May that she “passed” and handed a small bottle of clear liquid to her.

Drinky drink

T then gave her instructions:

  1. Drink the stuff within five to eight minutes (of now).
  2. You can drink water throughout the three hours, but no eating.
  3. The stuff might give you some nausea, but that will go away.
  4. If you end up vomiting, you have to do the test all over again.
  5. Try not to vomit.
  6. No gum or mints.
  7. You can get up to use the bathroom, but don’t walk around a lot.
  8. Draw blood every hour for the next three hours.
  9. You don’t have to wait for us to come get you; you can go ahead and come back to the room when it’s time.

T then gave May a piece of paper with times for blood draws.

A schedule!

T was super nice and reassuring. She asked May if she had enough water and to let her know if she needed more. Then T walked back to the blood room.

May twisted the lid off the bottle of stuff. She poured some of the stuff into the small paper cup that T supplied and began drinking. She asked Reilly to take a picture during this part of the process. May did not hide her disgust.

How unflattering.

The worker at the front desk told her that the stuff would taste a little bit like Sprite, but a lot sweeter. It did have a lemon-lime flavor, but have you ever drunk anything so sweet it tasted bitter and tacked onto the roof of your mouth? Cloying is the word that comes to mind.

Why was May even doing this? The Monday before she took a one-hour glucose screening at her doctor’s office. Similar procedure: 12-hour fast beforehand, only water during the fast, orange stuff (that made her feel woozy) instead of clear stuff, draw blood one hour later. The office called her three days later (which was later than usual because of the New Year’s Day) to tell her that glucose levels were abnormal, and that she would have to schedule the three-hour test. In the days leading to this longer test, May and Reilly read about gestational diabetes on the internet, just enough to get worked up to a moderate frenzy on the inside but managed to stay calm and cool on the outside. May also began glugging more water. She bumped up from a half gallon to three quarts each day. Why would her glucose levels be high?

So now May was sitting around in the lab building waiting area. She read, played games, talk to Reilly, and watched people struggle with the check-in kiosks. Slight nausea emerged but soon subsided. The only thing she looked forward to about the blood draws were the different colors of the stretchy cloth tape:

8:25 – purple; right arm, no problems because my right arm veins are trusty.

purple!

9:25 – blue; left arm, which had never been poked because the veins there aren’t as big as those in the right arm. But May didn’t want four holes in the same vein.

blue!

10:25 – pink; left arm. T had trouble getting the vein to shoot so she moved the needle’s tip around inside May’s arm for nearly 30 seconds until blood shot in a quick and steady stream into the tube. “Come on, vein,” she said, coaxing it. This did not hurt but was weird anyway because a needle was waving around inside May’s very own arm, and that’s just a weird thought.

pink!

Each time May went back to the blood room T asked how she felt. On one of the screens in the waiting room T’s bio appeared. It said she’s been a phlebotomist for 21 years and has drawn blood over 140,000 times. Experienced and nice. And early in the morning, when it seems easier to be nice.

The last time T drew May’s blood May said that the last hour of waiting was the longest. T sympathized. She also seemed pleased to learn that May would not be driving home. She said that she hoped May had a good lunch planned.

May asked how soon the results would come. T said she’d send the tubes to the lab right away and have the results in a few hours, but the lab would notify the doctor’s office. So if May doesn’t hear from the doctor’s office within the next day, she should call them. May thanked T for all her help then went out to a late breakfast with Reilly. French toast, eggs, sausage. Nothing overboard, but very delicious. May really enjoyed eating after not eating for 15 hours. Which is the longest she’s gone without eating since before she became pregnant. Six! months ago.

The next day May meant to call the doctor’s office at 4pm but forgot. And when she remembered the office had already closed.

The day after that May told herself that she would call in the morning. When she had been at work for about an hour, she got up to use the bathroom then talked with a coworker for about five minutes. When she got back to her workstation, she saw that she had a new voicemail message. She listened to the message from the doctor’s office and returned the call.

The results came back from the lab. Levels are normal. May does not have gestational diabetes.

May will continue to eat well and maintain drinking three quarts of water a day and go for short walks. Nothing will really have to change.

May let out a little “yippee!” on the phone and the front desk worker at the doctor’s office laughed. Sure, lots of women get gestational diabetes, and lots of those women go back to being perfectly healthy after pregnancy. May would have taken it in stride and managed just fine, but still, she and Reilly are extremely relieved.

Sound Education

I mentioned before that as my belly has expanded my belly button has also increased in size. Because I often have to find a purpose in everything that happens, I surmised that the bigger belly button might also be used for feeding Baby.

My belly button used to look like this, more like a slot-shaped abyss. Things like lint and crumbs would be lost in there forever:

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Now my belly button looks closer to this, which makes it so much easier to clean:

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Here are some food items I’ve considered giving to Baby through my belly button. My first idea was a carrot, since that seemed most likely to fit:

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Then I also thought about Red Vines, since they are also a skinny food:

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I also wondered how junk food like French fries (since Red Vines aren’t really junk food) would affect Baby:

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Then I started thinking about protein and how important it is to Baby’s development. I thought about how much Baby might appreciate a steak:

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But then again, Baby might like something a little lighter:

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As you can see, my new belly button could really come in handy.

The other night I discovered another way to help Baby. It was around 2 or 3 am, and I had some trouble getting to sleep. I was getting frustrated and thinking of ways to fall asleep, and I decided to listen to some music on my Kindle. When it’s late at night and Reilly’s already sleeping, I usually plug in some earphones into the Kindle and watch Netflix or Hulu or listen to music.

Up to this moment, Baby had only listened to music from the regular speakers from a regular stereo system. And the stereo was never up close. Maybe the late hour caused some delirium, but it occurred to me that I could use my earphones so that Baby could listen to music with me. I decided to try sharing my earbuds with baby:

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I put one earbud in my ear, and the other earbud went into my belly button. Baby and I listened to music for about an hour. Of course I made sure to keep the volume low.

Baby seemed to like certain types of French music, like Carla Bruni’s “Quelqu’un m’a dit”:

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She didn’t like “Comme des infants” by Coeur de Pirate:

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And she seemed to hate “Satellite” by Indochine:

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But Baby seemed to calm down while listening to classical music, such as violin concertos performed by Hilary Hahn. And the last song I played before going to sleep was Patty Griffin’s “Heavenly Day,” which we both agree on:

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I can’t wait to see what else Baby likes to listen to.

My Worst Complaints

My main complaints are not that pregnancy has cramped my style, or even that I really get very many cramps at all. Because I don’t. My experience so far would hardly register as a pregnancy. Do I even look pregnant? I feel pregnant, I guess. But why don’t I feel more so? Maybe the pregnancy fairies wait to unleash bigger symptoms on my being in the next four months.

I haven’t gotten sick. Already almost halfway through this pregnancy, and I have yet to get legitimately sick, like catch a cold. Or vomit for real. I’ve gotten a couple of headaches and occasional heartburn, but usually more water and rest make them go away. I hear about pregnant women suffering because they can’t take certain medicines while they’re sick, and since I haven’t gotten sick, I feel somewhat left out of this crowd. What do I have to do? Eat more junk food? Drink less water? Sleep less? Get more stressed out? Hang out with more sick children? There’s got to be something.

Everything still tastes delicious. Aren’t some foods supposed to taste gross by now? If I have aversions to certain foods, it’s because those foods digest weirdly and not because of their taste. For example, spicy foods are so delicious, but they make my stomach hot for hours. Like Popeye’s chicken. But at least I can say that I have cravings for salty things. And vinegary things. But those aren’t the only things Baby and I love. We still love fresh fruits and vegetables. I mean, I made this fruit salad the other day with mangoes, oranges, apples, and pomegranate. I secretly want to hate it because I feel I’m supposed to hate a lot more food than I do, but there’s nothing more delicious right now.

My hair is too shiny. And it’s thicker. What the heck? And it’s the biggest waste of time because I spend way too many minutes in front of a mirror passing a brush through my hair. With every stroke, the hair gains luster, and I keep brushing to see if it will keep getting shinier. And it does! I feel that maybe I’m developing a weird Marcia Brady obsession and Jan will appear at any second and tell me to shut up about my vanity. Thing is, even if I don’t brush my hair, it’s still shiny. My life is so hard.

My nails grow too fast. This is pretty much the same issue as my hair. Instead of trimming and filing my nails every week and a half or so, I now do this almost twice a week. I’m used to typing with shorter nails, and now the tips of my nails tap against the keys, and it feels funny. Also, now there’s heightened enjoyment from Reilly when I scratch his back. So now it seems that he wants me to scratch his back all the time. He says his back itches, and I wonder if it’s the dry weather or if he just wants to feel my nails. This burden is almost too heavy to bear.

It takes longer to get cold. Although cold itself is not a cause for illness, I believe it’s a major part of why I haven’t gotten sick yet. I’m producing extra heat from gaining weight and the energy it takes to grow Baby. The added warmth generally deprives me of a complete pregnancy experience. At night, I end up kicking off the covers while I’m sleeping. At the end of the day when I’m in the privacy of my own home, one of the first things I do is bare my tummy and fan it with cooler air. I want to be cool all the time, but I can’t. If I could bare my tummy on the train or even at the grocery store, I wouldn’t have this complaint.

My wedding ring still fits. I guess there’s still time for swelling to take over my whole body, but I had expected to have trouble sliding my ring on and off by now. It still fits as well as the day Reilly proposed to me, and I worry that when people look at my hands they won’t even know that I’m pregnant. I guess since I’m craving salty foods, I could eat more salt and retain a lot of water, and that would aid the appearance of a real pregnancy. Then I would get the all the attention I seek! Because attention is all I want, ever! And then maybe more people would try to rub my tummy.

Only two people have touched/rubbed my tummy. And they asked first. Who knew that I would feel so excluded or less pregnant because not enough complete strangers have tried to touch the baby bump? Who knew that I had such a yen to slap away unsolicited hands that came near me? This seems a pretty easy fix. I’ll just slap people’s hands regardless of their trying to touch my tummy. Or to give these strangers some context, I’ll grab their hands and bring them close to my tummy and then slap them away. Yes, that’s a much better solution.

My linea negra is crooked. The bottom half runs perfectly down the middle of my abdomen below my belly button, but the upper half is about an inch off-center to the left. This could indicate that Baby will be a rebel, a noncomformist. Baby will draw lines incongruous with society’s expectations or worse, Mommy and Daddy’s. But we will be prepared for when Baby won’t color inside the lines. Baby will be a bad driver and discourteous double-parker. If Baby takes up gymnastics, Baby will purposely land outside the lines and accumulate deductions that result in lower scores. And Baby will develop an affinity for asymmetrical hairstyles.

My belly button looks like a circle. My navel used to look like a little coin slot, and now it appears definitively wider and round. The only explanation I have for this is that Baby needs more ways to get nutrients and another passage for feeding. I will start putting food in my belly button and hope for the best.

I usually try not to complain unless I can come up with productive solutions. While it feels so much better to get these issues off my chest, I’m glad that I can take positive actions to address these very legitimate and real-life concerns that will affect the world forever. I guess the biggest thing to do is just give it time.

Last Thursday My Appetite Decides to Go Berserk

Yesterday during my monthly doctor’s appointment, I was acting like a first-trimesterite: small-stomached yet gassy; low-energy; surprise peeing. Now it’s 3am on Thursday, October 3, 2013: I have to pee, I’m wide awake, and I’m starving.

I’m used to waking up around this time, having a snack, drinking a glass of water, lying in bed unable to sleep, reading my Kindle (lately it’s David Sedaris) until 5am, dozing off to half-consciousness until it’s time to kiss Reilly goodbye for work, use the bathroom, have another snack and drink, then sleep for real until around 8am.

Today, I slip from my bed into the stillness of the wee (I’m leaving the pun: deal with it) hours. I use the bathroom and shuffle to the kitchen for a drink of water. I take out the peanut butter and smear it onto a slice of soft whole wheat bread. I like this bread; it’s like white Wonder bread in its texture but offers necessary fiber and nutrients. And I like this peanut butter. It’s the generic kind from a local store, but it’s chunky. Somehow chunky peanut butter saves me the impossible effort of using my tongue to scrape plain creamy peanut butter from the roof of my mouth. These kinds of things are important to me.

I chew my little sandwich slowly, appreciating the textures of the bread and peanut butter. I think about putting honey on the sandwich, but I decide against it this time. I finish my glass of water and head back to bed. I turn on my Kindle and make sure the brightness is on the lowest setting. I do a crossword puzzle then turn to a collection of David Sedaris’s early essays called Naked. I read and giggle to myself until my eyelids get heavy. I go online and check out a pregnancy website that tells me at 14 weeks, Baby is the size of a lemon (3.4 inches, 1.5 ounces), producing urine, sucking a thumb and wiggling toes, and growing lanugo. I keep Lanugo in mind as a possible baby name. Lanny for short. Or possibly Nugo. Names are so versatile these days.

For about 15 minutes I close my eyes until Reilly’s alarm clock goes off. I shift to my left side and resume sleep until the alarm sounds again 20 minutes later. Reilly asks how I slept, and I say, “No.” And Reilly says, “Aww, I’m sorry.” Then I go back to sleep while Reilly gets ready for work. He leaves around 6am, and this morning my stomach actually feels empty. Like a hollow space. Not filled with air, but a true void. It has probably been at least 14 weeks since I’ve felt like this.

I drag myself out of bed around 7am and make a bowl of oatmeal. Reilly does not like oatmeal, something about sliminess. But I love the stuff. I don’t like cooking it to absolute mush; if it’s possible to cook the oats just past al dente, that’s the way I like it. Then there’s milk and sugar or brown sugar and cinnamon and fruit. Sometimes nuts. And it’s steaming hot and the way it slides down into my stomach comforts me, like a good hug or a well-written paper. It’s filling and delicious and nutritious and delicious and just oh-so-delicious. After I finish the bowl of oatmeal I slump onto the couch and smile as my tummy thanks me. The pleasure is all mine, tummy.

But my mind kicks into high gear just after a few minutes: What’s the next thing to eat today? I cut up an apple and leave the slices out so I can snack on them throughout the morning. I make another peanut butter sandwich. I put the wheat crackers on the counter just in case I want them, too. I boil an egg. And I grab a handful of trail mix and munch on it while I try to plan the day’s menu.

DANG, Baby. You be making some demands. I mean, Baby’s growing, so it makes sense that Baby’s hungry.

I thought I had a pretty solid plan for eating. During the first trimester, my stomach moved food so slowly, and I got full more quickly. So I figured that I could eat a smallish meal every three hours or so. This morning I have an inexplicable and unstoppable urge to cram all the food into my mouth all the time. That leaves the previous plan null and void.

Bottom line: eat more. MORE! FOOD! NOM NOM NOM NOM! I’m so much hungrier now, and I need to listen to that. And this is how I listened today:

  • cheese quesadilla with salsa
  • baked chicken, vegetables, with leftover rice
  • pasta with alfredo sauce and vegetables
  • orange juice
  • trail mix throughout the day
  • ice cream
  • cereal and milk
  • turkey sandwich and fries
  • about three quarts of water

What’s sort of surreal is that my wee-hours book last week was Portia de Rossi’s memoir about how she overcame eating disorders, Unbearable Lightness. It’s a very honest and raw account of her experience with food and how she withered away to 82 pounds. Ms. de Rossi invites readers inside her head during those very obsessed and miserable years of her life. And it’s not like her head got inside my head, because I wasn’t counting calories the way she was. But I found a certain degree of comfort in the discipline of eating at the same times every day. And then Baby requires a lot more food quite suddenly, and I find myself being thrown from this daze of discipline. And I have to find new awareness. And the thing about awareness is meta-awareness: I have to know that I have to be constantly conscious of this other little human inside me. And this constant consciousness translates to nurturing, protecting; it becomes real motherhood.

As of last week’s appointment, I have crossed into triple-digit land, and I think I’m here to stay for the duration.

Am I always going to try to end these blog posts with a little depth and cheesiness? Looks like it. But I like depth. And I really like cheese, so maybe I’m going to tend my motherly duties and make a sandwich.