Year-End Ramble: 2017

This year: Pick your best cussword.

2017 has challenged us in so many ways. It has strained our rights as human beings, divided us from friends and family, tested faith, broken individuals seemingly past repair. It has taken my family down stressful paths. Although we have been blessed with quality time and other graces, others have suffered deeply, and often silently.

Some time during the summer someone from church asked me to help out with organizing potato dishes for funerals. Cheesy potatoes are important to any post-funeral luncheon. People gather after saying goodbye to their loved ones and find comfort in sharing food with those who also love the dearly and recently departed. Their emotional needs are met through one of their most primal needs, by eating something delicious, something made with love.

Cheesy potatoes are only one aspect of the meal, but it’s a favorite among mourners. Lots of starch, and lots of cheese. Those elements in that combination are meant to fire off certain neurons that translate to comfort, which tries to coexist with the burden of grief.

After receiving this assignment, a few months passed, and no funerals had been planned. The first half of the year had been replete with passings-away, but I was not yet part of the funeral meal committee. Then the last Sunday of October the lady who extended the assignment remarked how quiet it had been, and I thought to myself that this was a good thing. I wasn’t opposed to doing the work, but I was glad that people hadn’t experienced that kind of heartache in our ward, at least for a few months.

Go figure the moment someone mentions how a thing hasn’t happened, the thing happens shortly after that. Later that week our ward received an email about the passing of someone from our ward. I researched the person and found out that he had suffered from depression. His beautiful obituary profoundly saddened me. Usually during these times I feel the most helpless, but this time I could actually do something. Never had potatoes seemed more vital. If the other parts of the luncheon failed, cheesy potatoes had to prevail.

I had a list of sisters in the ward who were willing to make the cheesy potatoes. It was my job to call these ladies to see who would be available to provide the potatoes that weekend. I came up with a spreadsheet and kept track of responses and commitments, which would also help with future funerals. Here, I deleted names for privacy:

Screen Shot 2017-12-23 at 6.51.03 PM
GF=gluten-free; LM=left message; nr=no response

The sisters who were able to help that weekend were very kind. I had never really been an active part of this kind of effort, and their love and solemn treatment of this responsibility humbled me.

The ladies made their dishes and dropped them off at the church the morning of the funeral. It wasn’t until the following Sunday morning at church that I found out the funeral had gone well, that the food was delicious, that the family was grateful for all the help and support. I had imagined everyone eating and sharing stories and feeling a degree of unity that only comes with grief over a mutual friend and family member. Potatoes were all I could do—and I didn’t even cook them but just called people on a list—but for this moment, they mattered.

I have several close friends whose lives are entangled with depression and anxiety. They navigate their brain chemistry and the changing seasons and pollution and other circumstances with medication and therapy and exercise and hanging out with loved ones. It’s not easy for them, fighting the grey. But they are brilliant and creative and so passionate about the earth and humankind. They are the best readers and writers and experiencers of life; they are musical and endlessly curious and know all the best cusswords (and usages). I am so honored to know them.

Reilly’s mom has had every excuse to spiral into depression, yet she pushes through with such determination. And a smile. And enduring positivity. She’s coming up on her first full year of bi-weekly cycles of chemotherapy for stage IV metastatic colon cancer. It’s hard to imagine her daily hardship of increasing weakness and regular wooziness, but she has kept busy with work and doing as much as she can. She’s had excellent care with amazing doctors, and she knows she is surrounded by so many people who love her. Everyone faithing her well seems to be making a difference. Her strength amazes me.

She and her family have seen a pet cross the Rainbow Bridge this past month. A Chocolate Labrador Retriever, Maya was a boisterous and carefree and previously big dog, until diabetes caused drastic weight loss, blindness, then finally loss of use of her hind legs. No one likes to hear the vet say what the best course of action is to minimize suffering, even though it makes the most sense and really is the most humane for the dog. It’s painful saying goodbye to a pet, especially after almost ten years of companionship.

This year Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, and other ailments have ambushed or harrowed loved ones’ journeys.

My mom broke four toes when she slipped from an elliptical machine. But she hasn’t slowed down. This is both annoying and endearing at the same time. I love her for that.

Friends in Florida and in/near Texas or with family in Puerto Rico endured hurricanes and are trying to repair their lives.

Friends who married their high school sweethearts nearly 20 years ago have gotten divorced.

Other friends are enduring similar trials and heartache.

Earthquakes. Fires. Volcanoes. Shootings. Tax cuts. Health insurance. Church. #metoo.

How do people find comfort? What helps them in their agony and despair?

Z’s diagnosis was not as much of a bombshell as the anticipation of her diagnosis. This expectancy involved asking myself (after wondering what I did wrong) how I would handle this situation, what our “new normal” would be, how we would teach our innocent, nonreader of emotions to defend herself against monsters and assholes, among a plethora of other questions. But once we obtained a diagnosis, a wealth of resources became available, I found out several families are in our ward who have children with autism, and Z’s ABA therapy has helped her little personality emerge in ways that that weren’t obvious even six months ago. We have received an outpouring of support and love from so many caring people. You know who you are, and we are infinitely grateful. Thank you for your acceptance, kindness, and generosity.

This past year I have looked forward to Sunday dinners in Payson and Saturday donuts with my family. Family visiting from Florida. It has been nice to go on occasional movie dates with my perfect husband. To travel, to take long breaks and relax in our home. It has been rejuvenating to hang out and eat pizza with friends and discuss actions for lessening the hate in this world. Like a good nap or fresh air.

I have enjoyed picking apples and peaches and trying to make pies and making toffee and brownies and other little goodies to share. But I have also found calmness in literally tearing down walls (maybe figuratively, too?) and building shelves and painting and caulking. I have nurtured new friendships. I have explored more good music, movies, books, and television. I have discovered Twin Peaks while rediscovering the treadmill. My heart pumping, blood flowing, and sweat dripping are sometimes all I want out of life. It feels so good.

I have marched.

Voted.

Contacted my senators and representatives.

We have also relished hosting a quarterly lecture series in our home, where we listened to speakers/friends talk about a variety of subjects: Satire (Reilly), the Poison Control Center (Reilly’s sister, Amber), Horror and the Family (Jon Smith), and Fan Studies (Melissa Beattie). What an exciting reason to gather with friends!

Yes, there’s a shload of darkness and nonsense in the world right now, and we make it through one day at a time. Probably more like an hour—or even a minute—at a time. Sometimes at the end of the day things don’t look brighter. We’re still sad or confused or hurt. It is ok to feel this way. And sometimes all we want to do is pull the covers over our heads and cry. It is ok to do this.

It is ok to bring this version of ourselves into 2018, because 2017 was ruthless. Pick your best cussword. You know: it’s complicated. I may spend the first part (or majority) of the New Year swimming in my covers, trying to find/push away sunlight and coming up for air/holding my breath.

This supply of oxygen, though, the most significant mercy that came out of 2017, was that many of us took the time to listen to each other. Even though we have disagreed on many fronts, a greater striving for understanding has risen from our immediate social circles, communities, and the world. This has sustained a hope I will always cling to.

I want to keep listening to you. I want to bolster the comfort and love of real friendship between us. I want to be there, to be the equivalent of cheesy potatoes for you. Something full of love.

Or I could just make cheesy potatoes. And hug you with them. In 2018, and in years to come.

You matter to me.

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.

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.

The First Trimester

You guys.

I’m pregnant. There is a baby in my tummy.

As of today, I’m 14 weeks, one day along. That means about 26 weeks to go. Of course I’m counting weeks. And counting weeks is sort of like waiting for water to boil. Or watching grass grow. It sort of makes the weeks drag, but the days themselves pass quickly. How weird: being pregnant is being in a kind of time dichotomy.

Part of what makes time slow down is how excited we are to grow our little family! Sometime in the middle of March I got the chance to hold a baby who was born a month premature. She was so little, and as I held her, those urges emerged more strongly than usual. I went home that day and talked to Reilly and the conversation went like this:

Me, “I think it’s time for us to have a baby.”

Reilly, “Okay, let’s have a baby.”

And that was that.

As a part of having things to report to my doctor every month, I’ve been noting observations each week of my pregnancy. The following chronology includes a few highlights.

Week 1: My period happens.

Week 2: Magic.

Week 3: Continued magic. And then we make a zygote!

Week 4: I start to experience lower abdominal weirdness that I call “hot stomach.”

Week 5: I miss my period and suspect I’m pregnant. I also start waking up around midnight every night. One night after lying awake for about two hours, I decide to take a home pregnancy test, and this happened:

That IS a second line.

A faint line is STILL a line, right? I wake up Reilly. We talk and laugh and become giddy. I go back to sleep. Later that morning, we make an appointment for a blood draw the next week.

Week 6: I have a blood test to confirm pregnancy. During a lunch break at work, I call the doctor’s office two days later for the results. From my workspace, everyone in the room can hear everything I say, so I use vaguespeak such as:

  • “I had some blood drawn, and I’m calling about the results.”
  • “Hmm, I think it’s actually closer to 7.”
  • “So, do I need to schedule a follow-up?”

Week 7: Bloating plus my pants do not make a balanced or very comfortable equation.

Reilly smells my forehead and tells me it smells like a baby.

I have begun to pee my pants in very small trickles. This is the most wonderful experience of my pregnancy so far.

I must have orange juice! I go buy a carton and have a drink, and it is the most delicious thing I have ever tasted.

I want Thai food! Reilly takes me to a Thai place, and it’s the most delicious thing I have ever tasted.

Week 8: I want chocolate chip cookies! We pick up ingredients for cookies and bake them. They are the most delicious thing I have ever tasted.

Week 9: Oh, hello, nausea. You do realize I’m trying to sleep, right? It’s 1 and then 2 and then 3 and sometimes 4 in the morning. I grab a snack and sip of water and often fall asleep in time to wake up. This probably is the most wonderful pregnancy experience I’ve had so far.

And it really would be awesome if I could just stop peeing my pants.

Week 10: I haven’t vomited yet, even though nausea keeps nagging me. But I have started dry heaving, which I guess is better than kneeling at the toilet, blowing chunks.

Reilly is glad that someone is around who now farts more than he does.

I want a Taco Bell quesadilla! Reilly brings one home, and it is the most delicious thing I have ever tasted.

Reilly comes with me to my first official OB appointment. I pee in a cup, which is no problem whatsoever because I am now at least a sporadic trickle-fountain of pee. The doctor examines me; his nurse takes three vials of blood for testing from my arm. THREE! VIALS! That seems like a lot of red from someone who still doesn’t quite weigh 100 pounds. I imagine all that blood is for baby vampires. My contribution to society. The doctor gives me a book, which is super nice of him. When we get home, I flip through the book, and then I immediately hand the book over to Baby so that everyone’s prepared (FYI, the photo is actually from the next week where I have an official ultrasound, but i wanted to feature the book here):

Of COURSE Baby reads!

The day after the appointment, I Gchat to some friends the beginning lyrics of Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All.” I wonder how someone can make the enormous logical jump from me singing, “I believe the children are our future; teach them well, and let them lead the way” to thinking I’m pregnant. Someone who thinks laterally, most likely. If you happened to ask me directly the day after this appointment about my pregnancy, you would have caught me in an especially vulnerable and happy-truth accepting mood, and I would have told you the happy truth.

Week 11: The nausea starts to subside a little, but I’m still dry heaving. Chewing minty gum lessens the nausea, but chewing it too long triggers my gag reflex. It’s annoying.

You’ve figured it out: everything I crave is the most wonderful thing I’ve ever tasted.

One night, I lie in bed, trying to sleep, and Reilly is up doing his homework. He hears me dry heaving and brings me my water bottle full of cold water (which Baby loves), kisses me on the forehead, and asks if I’m okay. And that? Seriously, one of the best experiences of my pregnancy so far. My husband rocks.

We’re not yet ready to announce the pregnancy, so we outright lie to Reilly’s parents so that we can borrow a car for me to go to an ultrasound appointment. Since Reilly can’t be there, I get a little DVD made during the ultrasound so he can see what happened. Under Baby’s direction, I cut five minutes from the original DVD and added a few titles to show you how adorably Baby moves:

Week 12: We tell our families the news. Everyone is excited and congratulates us. I text the announcement and the due date to my brother, and he responds. You probably don’t need me to tell you that the word I smudged begins with an F:

Bro's response

Week 13: This week is the cusp of the first and second trimester.  Baby loves fresh foods like salad and homemade meals, but sometimes Wendy’s chicken sandwiches, and ice cream and cream puffs. From the way my stomach feels after I eat, I can tell that Baby does not like onions, broccoli, and olives.

We are grateful for the opportunity to bring life into this world. The prospect of being parents is quite exciting, but I also imagine it to be pretty overwhelming. I wonder once Baby is born, after looking around or even just breathing the air, if Baby’s first cries would sound like, “What the HELL, Mom and Dad?” And then Reilly and I would look at each other with simultaneous worry and assurance and explain that it’s all right, little one. We’re here. We’ll guide you through this mess and teach you to see beauty and goodness.  You’ll learn the power of kindness and sympathy and understanding, and you will find joy in this life as we find joy in you. We’ve been praying every night to be prepared to be good parents to you, and we’ve been blessed with tremendous support from the best family and friends in the world. Together, we’ve got this. We’ve got you. We’re so happy you’re here now, though it feels like we’ve already loved you for so long, and we know we can love you beyond forever. Our moments together will pass in a blur and through a slurry, often at the same time. Hang on tight.

26 weeks to go.

A Dream about Lunch

Morgan Freeman was in my dream last night. He was homeless in Salt Lake City. I ate lunch with him every day. We didn’t eat by ourselves, though. About 6 other strangers ate lunch with me and Morgan Freeman. We passed around buckets of chicken and ice cream while we sat on a curb somewhere near the Gateway shopping center.

It took about a week in my dream to realize that I was eating lunch with homeless Morgan Freeman in Salt Lake City. Did the others know? Did they care? Once I knew that I was eating lunch with Morgan Freeman, I wanted to ask him all sorts of questions about his acting career. But no one else seemed interested in Morgan Freeman. They just seemed to enjoy sitting together at the same time every day to share lunch.

I don’t know where the food came from. It was fried chicken and ice cream every single time. And they came in large buckets. Not fried chicken buckets, but large industrial-sized plastic buckets with a metal handle. I don’t remember tasting the food in my dream. I do remember using a large metal serving spoon to scoop melted ice cream onto a thin paper plate.

No one talked during our lunches. The dream itself might have been completely without sound. Frustrating. Why have homeless Morgan Freeman in my dream if I can’t hear his distinguished Morgan Freeman voice?

During this dream, I couldn’t wait to go home and blog about having lunch with homeless Morgan Freeman. This dream was one of those moments that felt real, that felt like I was fully conscious.

So you can imagine as I emerged from deep sleep and broke the surface of wakefulness how disappointed I was that I didn’t really eat lunch with homeless Morgan Freeman. Think of the decreasing likelihood of the combination of these factors becoming a reality:

  • Homeless Morgan Freeman
  • Homeless Morgan Freeman in Salt Lake City
  • Homeless Morgan Freeman in Salt Lake City having lunch with moi
  • Homeless Morgan Freeman and I sharing giant buckets of chicken and ice cream on a SLC curb near the Gateway Mall

Virtually possible, but otherwise impossible.

Which is why it was just a dream.