Wednesday, August 30, 2006

You Have to Ask Me Nicely

Last night in the library's children's room, a librarian somewhat discourteously asked me to have Raisin refrain from spinning a rotating book rack.

Her request was completely reasonable, and I imagine spending 8 hours a day in that room can sometimes be Just Too Much.

Still. I am 8 months pregnant with twins. Pretty much every day you see me is the worst day of my life (movie reference, not meant to be literal). I would really have liked for her to stand there ... and with her Harvard mouth extend me some effing courtesy (movie reference #2, because it amuses me even if no one else gets it).

In unrelated news, The Cookie Cart today sold cookies with TWO causes. Not only did they help at-risk youth develop workplace skills, but they made a grumpy pregnant woman very, very happy.

Monday, August 28, 2006

How Much Pregnancy Whining Can The Internet Handle?

Raisin's birth story isn't where I thought it was. I was present at the birth, so reasonably I could reconstruct it out of my own head. But why do that, when I KNOW I saved it somewhere and I just need to find it again? Also, I clearly cannot post the "Where Raisin is Now" story without the "How It All Began" story, and that is why instead of those posts, which are only interesting to me, you are all getting more pregnancy blather which is, um, only interesting to me. Gosh, this is an awesome blog. (The other choices for blog topics today were a debate about whether capris can be formal and Why I Hate My Bra. Really, I think you should consider yourselves lucky.)

I thought I had learned about upheaval when I was pregnant with Raisin. Well, that was the river, this is the ocean, baby.

What surprised me most about pregnancy, version 1 was the way my primal self took over. I shook my head over emotional outbursts that could not be tied, even tenuously, to a Reason. I marveled, especially during the birth itself, at how my body just knew what to do. I have always tended much more toward the cerebral than the physical (read: I sucked at four-square), so it was bizarre for me to dwell so thoroughly in the world of the physical.

In version 2, this immersion is even more complete. I can vaguely recall a time when I could write a to-do list or pack a suitcase all by myself. I would even have gone so far to say that organization was one of my strengths. Now, not so much. I make attempts, I grasp at the straws of logical thought. But then somebody kicks my ribcage, or I have another contraction, or I am just so bloody tired that my shopping list peters out because I have started to sing something I heard on Sesame Street.

My brain has bowed so completely to the needs of my uterus that I actually find it hard to overdo. (That sound you just heard was the Jellyman snorting in disbelief, since virtually every evening I collapse, groaning, as soon as Raisin goes to bed. "How is that not overdoing?" he asks.) But I know better; if my brain were still in command, those piles of baby clothes would all be washed and folded and put away. I also know this is for the best. It is the Triumph of the Uterus that has kept my babies safely inside me this long. Oh, the loss of independence, it chafes, though.

And that, too, is vastly different from my first pregnancy. During the last trimester with Raisin, I certainly wasn't climbing ladders to clean cobwebs from the ceiling, but for the most part my activities weren't all that limited. I cooked, I cleaned, I worked, I managed my life the way I was used to doing.

I'm a Christian, and the church we attend focuses a lot of attention on ministry. There's a whole class, which I've taken, on finding one's personal ministry. What are you good at? What are you passionate about? How is God calling you to use those gifts in service? They don't teach you how to be the recipient. They don't tell you what to say when friends and acquaintances say, "be sure to call me if there's anything I can do to help." (I'm guessing they're not really interested in cleaning our gutters, for example.)

It seems simple on the surface. Fact #1: my friend has offered to help. Fact #2: I am drowning in laundry. Unfortunately, the simple equation fails to account for fact #3: I seem to be incapable of allowing someone outside my family to help me unless I am also gainfully employed. I cannot let her help with the baby clothes unless I spend that time on another project, like Operation Assemble Baby Swing. And then I apologize for the state my house is in, and explain that I'm dressed like a slob because I have to save the maternity outfits that fit for work days, and generally wear myself out faster than if no help had been offered in the first place.

Now, some single parent out there is reading this and wishing they could deliver a swift kick to my ample booty. And they are right. I'm swimming in blessings and complaining that the water is just too wet. My only defense is that the Uterus is in control, and she's temperamental.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Blah de Blah Blah

Before the babies are born, I'd like to do some posts about Raisin. I want to post her birth story, and just document who she is right now, while she's still the only child.

But all those posts are likely to be sappy and weepy, and I just did one of those, so let's explore some of the other random thoughts floating about in my head. That's always fun!

On the Grape Family Vacation this year, there were 4 kids present: Raisin; my uncle's two boys, ages 6 and 8; and my cousin's son, age 12. (My uncle is 16 years younger than my mom, making him much closer in age to my cousin than he is to my mom and her sister. That's why I have cousins who are younger than my other cousin's kids. Confused? Good, my work here is done.) Anyway, Raisin was very much in awe of the "silly boys," gladly oohing over the frogs and fish they caught and trying valiantly to keep up with them when they'd let her. To their credit, they are all great with her. Still, I think it's safe to blame them for the fact that at dinner one day this week, my adorable princess asked me to pull her finger.

I wake up several times during the night, but usually I'm able to fall back asleep pretty easily. On Tuesday night, I made the mistake of attempting conscious thought before drifting off again. Conscious, not rational. It occurred to me that I have no emergency formula stash, that I haven't sterilized a single bottle, and that I haven't swaddled a baby in two years. Obviously all things that need to be addressed before any more SLEEPING goes on. Honestly. (For those who are concerned, I managed to restrain myself until last night to buy the formula, although I was sorely tempted to send the Jellyman on an early-early-morning grocery store run. I have plans to sterilize bottles this weekend, and to look up the swaddling technique and practice on a doll. Because then I'll be ready for the babies to come. For sure. You know, once the room is painted, the crib's made up, and all the clothes are folded and put away.)

Oh, and I have kind of maybe sort of decided what to do about Apple being breech. I am leaning toward scheduling a C-section during week 38 (4 weeks from now). If I go into labor before that, we will do what seems best at the time. It's not much of a plan, but it's something.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Fish Stories

Raisin learned the quintessential Minnesota skill last week: she "caught" a three-inch sunfish off the dock (my dad baited the hook, put the line in the water, saw the bobber go down, reeled in the fish, and removed the hook from its mouth, but Raisin was present and may have had her hand on the pole at some point -- that counts!). Then, my dad taught her to say "great big fish!" with her arms outstretched so she could tell the rest of the family about it.

With some interruptions, my extended family has been taking these collective vacations at least since my own childhood. The scenery is a little different -- when I was a kid we camped, now we rent cabins on the other side of the lake. The cast of characters has changed some -- those of us who used to beg to spend all day in the water are now explaining to our kids why they can't.

Most things are blessedly unaltered. Every year, we play the same games and tell the same stories. (Do you remember the time we left the Nerf ball out overnight and a skunk chewed it into pieces? Or when my aunt was SURE another picnic table would fit in the screen tent because she had "measured it with her eye?" I can no longer tell if I actually remember the events, or if I've just heard the stories so often they've become part of my memory.) We mercilessly tease for mistakes made years ago, but we also make each other laugh harder than any of us get to do anywhere else.

These trips formed a backdrop to some of my best memories, my most important moments. These are the people who know the best and worst of me, and who love me no matter what. This is the village that raised me, and now they are raising my daughter, too.

Friday, August 11, 2006


Tomorrow is the first day of the annual Grape Family Up North Vacation Extravaganza.

Raisin's agenda: "Go swimming, Mommy? Go on the boat! Where Mommy lifejacket? I wanna go on vacation NOW!" (Since we've been "practicing" riding in a boat on the couch in our living room, I wonder what she'll do when confronted with the real thing. Also, she believes that one can catch fish a la Ernie: "Here, fishy, fishy, fishy!" I have no comment about whether I have encouraged this belief for my own amusement.)

Jellyman's agenda: Have an occasional beer in the presence of adults who won't whine that they can't have one too.

My grandfather's agenda: Fish. Preferably without my offspring present, as she may have inherited my tendency to drop lucky fishing poles into the lake. Play cards. Quarter antes are acceptable, nickel antes are better.

My agenda: Every few hours, pretend to try to get up out of a chair so my grandma and mother will screech, "What are you doing!? What do you need!? Sit back down, I'll get it!" Also, sleep.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Well, Shoot. Now What?

People, I am flummoxed. Here are the facts of the case:

The Jellyman and I had pretty much decided that I would not return to work after my maternity leave. It was all unofficial -- I certainly didn't want to give notice before exhausting my benefits, and I was trying to keep an open mind in case all of a sudden going back to work seemed like a really good idea.

Given the costs (both financial and emotional) of finding and paying for a good day care for three kids, though, staying home just seemed to make sense.

Until my new boss told me that upon my return from maternity leave, she is prepared to offer me a promotion, a raise, and a flexible schedule. She can't offer me part-time, but is willing to consider just about anything else.

Also possibly relevant: my new manager was promoted to this position. She is one of my closest friends at work, and until 2 weeks ago was my peer. As my peer/friend, I had told her of the possibility that I might not come back.

Also also: I have done no research into daycare/nanny situations that would suit our schedule and budget.

I have no idea what to do. I don't have to decide today, since the offer won't be final until my leave is over (kinda silly to give a bunch of new responsibilities to a woman destined to crap out on them at any moment).

For now, I am adding this to The List of Things I Will Think About Tomorrow, Because I Am Scarlett O'-Freaking-Hara And I Can. (See also: "weight gain, pregnancy" and "delivering twins, you want me to do what now?")

PS At my OB visit today, I cowboyed up and asked for a referral to a counselor. I don't know if I'll make an appointment, but I feel much better just having the option available. Thank you all for your kind concern.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Rules

For the remainder of my pregnancy, I do not wish to discuss the following topics:

1. Whether I am outgrowing my maternity shirts. Honestly, co-worker who suggested this possibility, what were you thinking? Not only am I probably more sensitive about my size than at any other time in my life, but I am hormonal and emotionally unbalanced as well! You are lucky I didn't sit on you. (PS, to the other co-worker who cannot believe that I am having twins because I am so small -- you are my new best friend, and I do not care if you were lying. Lie to me some more.)

2. My work schedule before delivery and my work schedule after maternity leave. No matter how many times you ask me, the answers will still be I don't know and I don't know (Well, technically I do know but I sure as heck am not burning any bridges until I absolutely have to). I am here until I'm gone. The end.

3. I definitely do not want to have this conversation again:

Other Person: You're still here! How are you feeling?
Me: I am tired.
Other Person: Yeah, just think how tired you'll be after the babies are born.

Thank you. I hadn't thought of that! I mean, I totally have never lain awake at night, desperate for sleep, but unable to get any because I am terrified at the thought of TWO newborns who will need me 24 hours of the day. Also, having never parented a newborn before (Raisin having been born 6 months old), I really have no idea how they behave, so it's a good thing you're here to point it out.

4. Projects the Jellyman and I had planned for our house. For example, someone asked the Jellyman last week why The Tree is still standing in our backyard. Except it was phrased like, "weren't you going to get that taken care of?" And I heard "slackers" clearly implied at the end of it. (Might just be me.)

Instead, please let us focus on the freaking awesomeness of the Jellyman. He is currently running our household almost 100% on his own, as I frequently have to lie down after washing one dish, require help carrying a load of laundry up the stairs, and am far too emotionally volatile to deal with Raisin's two-year-oldiness consistently. This is in addition to all his work to move his office downstairs and get the nursery ready for the twins.

And last night he told me, without sarcasm, that he felt lucky to be married to me. This is a prince among men, people, and the next person who implies that he could be working harder is going to get their ass kicked. Right after the mean co-worker from #1, and right before the President.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Forcing My Mind Open

I have not read Linda Hirshman's book. I have just read about her, for example on Parenting Pop Culture. I didn't like what I read.

Then I saw her on "The Colbert Report" (I know, I know. But honestly, is "real" news that much better?), and I did not hate everything she said.

I still disagree with her, a lot. The whole "marry down" thing makes me throw up in my mouth a little. And, while defending her "all moms must work" theory to Colbert, she said something like, "Just because women choose to stay home doesn't make it right."

Now, feminist isn't the first label I usually slap on myself, so maybe I'm missing something here. But I kind of thought that the point of any civil rights movement was choice. As in, being free means having the right and the opportunity to choose your life. I suppose Hirshman would argue that women aren't really choosing, but I can't agree from where I stand.

Anyway, at the very end of the interview, just as I was firming up my mouth in self-righteous indignation, Colbert suggested that all moms could work "one house over," caring for the neighbors' kids. Hirshman responded, "Well, at least if they did that they would get Social Security."


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Dear NSA, I Am Only Kidding

According to "The Daily Show," which honestly is where I get most of my news, the President weighed in at 196 pounds at his recent physical. My first thought was that this is uncomfortably close to my own weight.

Then, I realized, "If it weren't for those pesky Secret Service agents and the fact that I'm toting two extra humans around in my abdomen, I could totally take him."

I know it speaks to some deep-seated issues on my part, but that really made my day.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

There Art Thou Happy

(Romeo and Juliet, Act 3, Scene 3)

Today I am grateful because:
  • Blog readers send me nice comments when I moan, instead of telling me to get over myself.
  • I got some sleep.
  • This zit is FINALLY going away.
  • It rained.
  • Raisin didn't have to be asked to give me a bye-bye kiss this morning.
  • The Jellyman has been working his butt off to get our house ready for the babies.
  • I have not been banished from Verona.
  • I can walk outside without fear of heat exhaustion.
  • I've made it through one more day.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


I have put off writing this post, because even in my head it sounds unnecessarily whiny. It is, but I have decided to write it anyway. This blog serves as my journal more often than not, and maybe if I just have my whine out, I can move on.

Every afternoon, I fight tears. Every day, I find myself thinking that I cannot do this anymore. I am too tired, too weak, too heavy, too swollen, too sad. Nobody signed up for this version of me. My husband deserves a better wife, my daughter deserves a better mother, my work deserves someone who gives a damn.

We all know I'm not so good with the change. The transition from mother of one to mother of three scares the shit out of me. I think what scares me most is that I might spend the next several months as this woman, the one who is making it through each day -- and that is all.

But I don't want my life to be something I survive. I want it to be something I live and enjoy and love. In my better moments, I imagine myself surrounded by three kids and I am overwhelmed by the joy I feel even at the thought of silly giggles and small confidences and sweet kisses. I believe I will make it to that day and that I will know this was all worth it.

I just wish making it there weren't quite so hard right now.