Saturday, March 31, 2012

Not So Standard

Our Friday nights have become very low key.  After we picked up our freshly bathed and coiffed animal from the groomers, MM wanted to check out this grocery store/restaurant in Westmont that he had heard about. So we went.

Standard Market is pretty cool. From the outside, it looks more like a place to hold a wedding reception rather than to shop for fresh meat, veggies and bread. On the inside, it kind of feels part-Whole Foods, part-small gourmet cheese and wine shop.


 




 

They also have a slightly upscale, cafeteria-style restaurant, Standard Grill. The menu is limited, but the food was solid. I had lemonade and a few slices of pizza.


MM had a burger, fries, and the soup of the day, clam chowder. I didn't get a photo because I was too busy eating his fries. Nom. We'll definitely be back.


Friday, March 30, 2012

Real Work (As Opposed to Elective Internet Research)

Lately I’ve been forgetting that I have a real job. And not only to I have a “real job,” there’s stuff happening there—arguably exciting stuff.

First, I moved into a new workspace. After three years in what had to be the shittiest cube on my floor, I have more privacy, a bigger space, an extra table just for kicks, natural light, and a view of downtown Chicago.



Fancy huh?

But that’s not all. I’m going to be changing jobs soon. A few months ago, my boss
approached me and encouraged me to apply for a director position in another department in our division (She prefaced this with the caveat that she didn’t want to lose me, but she knows these opportunities are few and far between, and she thought it was a good fit). For a variety of reasons—the final straw being the BFP pregnancy test—I decided that it wasn’t the right opportunity or the right time for me to apply for a new, more visible role in my division. Regardless, it was a nice surprise that my boss, my vice president and the hiring vice president all seemed to think I should be considering bigger and better things.

Anyway...

My coworker—who I had been told would also likely be applying for the director job—eventually ended up being offered this position, which opened up the opportunity for a few of us in my department to shift around. After some thought, and though it’s a lateral move, I decided to take his job. With the new job comes a raise (woo hoo!), a direct report, the opportunity to work on new projects, and exposure to more of The University (in my current job, I basically work with one other department).

Even though I’m still pregnant and choosing to take on a new role, the upside is that I’ll still be reporting to my current boss, which means I won’t have to figure out expectations or the kind of support I’ll have. There will be a learning curve, but it won’t be from the ground up, and I can handle that. And truly, after three years of doing the same projects with the same people over and over and over, I’m ready for a change.

Other than that… 

This week wasn’t a shining example of productivity. Lucky for me, I don’t feel the kind of guilt I used to when I spend the evening laying on the couch watching television.

Pregnancy I’m finally starting to feel our little girl move around and I think—I’m never quite sure—that I’ve felt her kick a few times. I’m sure over the next few weeks that her movements and kicks will become stronger.

Meals I did manage to make dinner a whopping three times this week. I think that’s a pregnancy record. Of course, I didn’t eat one of those meals for dinner, but I did take it to work for lunch, so as long as it didn’t go to waste I’m happy.

Workouts This was poor. I taught my Zumba class on Sunday and managed a 30-minute run on Wednesday and… that’s all folks! I was so lazy that when I woke up feeling run down with a slight sore throat on Thursday, I decided to cancel my Zumba class. I felt a bit guilty about that, but I got to take care of number one.

Speaking of Zumba I am starting to wind down my Zumba “career.” I have nine more classes to teach, and then I’ll be handing the reigns over to another instructor. The unfortunate thing is that I feel like I finally have hit my stride, after the initial January resolution attendance bump, my classes got smaller (normal for any fitness class), but lo and behold, every week I have a new person or two show up (in the middle of a session no less) who seem really pleased with the class and keep coming back.

Not only that, but despite losing some of the January “resolutionists,” I had a lot of people from my first 2012 session sign up for my second 2012 session—a solid retention rate and a lot more than I had from the last 2011 session to the first 2012 session. At least I’m going out on a high note.

Other Nonsense My husband and I have somehow managed to become “involved in our community” for better or worse. MM always was, he’s quite the man around town in our Chicagoland ‘burb, but now we’re working on a committee together to plan a family biking event.

I’ve never lived in a place that I felt so compelled to get involved, but it’s a great way to get to know our neighbors and it can be fun (but sometimes frustrating). Of all the places I’ve lived, this is the first where people seem really interested in getting involved and getting to know their fellow community members.

The Weekend Cometh Thank goodness. MM and I have some time this weekend to get a few items off the Before Baby to do list I put together, and I’m hoping for some relaxing + productivity. We’ll see.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Mid-Pregnancy Bump

It’s been about a month since I wrote about pregnancy being overrated, but I think I’m starting to understand how “they” get you into this racket and convince you to come back.

You know how formerly pregnant women talk about how the pain of labor and giving birth isn’t something they remember? And there’s evidence that nature designed it that way to make sure we’d be up for a round two or three? Well, I’m wondering if what formerly pregnant women remember when they wax poetic about those special nine-and-a-half-or-so months is what I’m going to call the mid-pregnancy bump (ha!).

Now I imagine some women have wonderful, no-symptoms-or-uncomfortableness-ever pregnancies with energy from day 1 to day... too early for math. I imagine some women feel completely connected to the little dot on the ultrasound screen from the moment they see that BFP pink line. I imagine those women are being 100 percent honest when they tell you that they loved every minute of being pregnant. I was not/am not one of those women. At week 16 or so, when everyone around me was telling me I should start to feel better, I had stopped dry heaving in the shower every morning, but I still felt pretty off. Then that changed.

Pregnancy is magic, I’ve decided. There’s no science involved whatsoever. One day, you’re getting intimate with the toilet while swearing “never again,” the next you’re practically leaping through the streets in your adorable, show-off-the-bump maternity clothes announcing to the world how amazing it is to have this little person growing inside you and casually mentioning his/her sibling who is years away from even pre-production.

This--the mid-pregnancy bump--is what I imagine a lot of women look back when they tell you they loved pregnancy. Because this part, which I would say started for me around week 18 and then kicked into high brainwashed gear when we had our 20-week ultrasound, is pretty cool. Here’s why:

You look pregnant. As opposed to, you know, looking like you put on a few or 15 pounds. But you’re not so big that you’re uncomfortable. So you get to enjoy the pregnant lady perks, but you aren’t experiencing many, if any, of the downsides.

Now, I’m going to be honest here. I’m not having a cute basketball pregnancy (you know what I mean). As I told my sister, I am stomach from my boobs to my business, which is less cute and does not always immediately read as “baby bump” if you don’t know I’m pregnant. However, I have tricked myself into believing that I am adorably pregnant and feel compelled to wear clothing that shows off that area as much as possible. Blame pregnancy brain.

Your energy does return, at least sort of. I can function now without feeling like, if I do not lay down right here, right now, I am going to keel over and die and I am not exaggerating (I’m exaggerating... a little). I still want to go to bed early. I still need a serious nap after too many errands or too much excitement. I still don’t have a lot of desire to fill my weekends with social commitments. But for the most part, I feel like myself again, capable of getting shit done as well as procrastinating.

The whole part about the baby inside you starts to get real. I can honestly say that I did not feel connected to this baby early in the pregnancy. Maybe that’s not normal, but it’s my experience. While I was focused on “we’re having a baby,” the actual tiny human thing involved seemed ambiguous. I would read or hear about pregnant women who really loved their yet-to-be-born babies, and I kind of wouldn’t get it. I didn’t not love my baby, per say, but I didn’t feel this overwhelming sense of connection and active... well... love.

I imagine that being visibly pregnant makes a difference, but around this time most people also start to feel the baby moving. Unfortunately, because my placenta is anterior as opposed to posterior (essentially creating an extra barrier between the baby and my stomach), I’m still just guessing as to whether or not what I’m feeling is movement, but the doctor told me it should be obvious in the next few weeks as she gets bigger and the placenta likely shifts.

But for me, it was the 20-week ultrasound that brought all of this home. Holy shit. That’s an actual baby. She has arms, legs, feet, hands, an adorable profile with a tiny nose and lips. She’s a she, and she’s our daughter. I am not ashamed to say that the approximate 20 printouts of the ultrasound the tech gave us are sitting on my bedside table, and I look through them at least two or three times a day, often pointing out her feet and hands to my husband who seems less amused by this ritual each day. My earlier ultrasound pictures... yeah, I should probably try to find those.

You know you’re only halfway there, and that’s cool. I’m excited to meet our little girl, but I’m not ready to meet our little girl. She needs a lot more time before she’s ready for the outside world, but I some more time too. We have a list of pre-baby to dos that keeps getting longer. We have classes to take, basic baby skills to learn (my husband and I are baby novices), gear to purchase. Oh, and I have to mentally wrap my head around this whole labor and birth thing (as much as possible). I’m not there yet, which is why this part of pregnancy seems so great... because I’m not ready to be not pregnant and I know it.

Yes, there are still downsides, but for me, things are going pretty good. My skin looks like shit (downgrade), but my hair looks pretty amazing (upgrade!). I’ve had to give up sleeping on my back (though I was a back and side sleeper before), but--I almost hate to write this because I don’t want to jinx myself--but I’m sleeping through the night more easily now than I was in the first trimester. I have some kinks to work out from time to time in my neck, hips and back, but I don’t have any persistent pain. So basically, I have nothing to complain about. I’m hopeful that I can hold on to the mid-pregnancy bump at least another eight weeks or so. And maybe I’ll end up being one of those women who tells you how great pregnancy is. Just remember when I tell you that, I probably can’t remember all of it.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

She or He?

Five years ago next month, I met a guy who “wasn’t my type” (read: clean cut, athletic build, had a job) at a dating event called Nerds at Heart. That guy turned out to be MM and eventually, in August 2007, we started dating.

But before we started dating, MM got in touch with me after the dating event to express his interest. We emailed a few times, and I was flattered (he seemed like a “nice guy”), but not interested. I was interested in the other guy I had been on a few dates with who was decidedly more complicated, sort-of employed, had a questionable back story, and was, of course, a writer. That guy, while much more tortured, turned out not to be such a bad dude either, but definitely not the best choice to fill the role of Lou's life partner (or even Lou's longer-term boyfriend).

So while I was dating “the writer” and letting MM down gently (I was honest that I was seeing someone else and the timing just wasn’t right vs. just ignoring him--probably one of the smartest things I have ever done), I had this dream. In it I met a child--a baby still really, maybe just over a year, 14 or 16 months. The baby had dark hair and olive skin--in other words, didn’t obviously resemble the blond and fair yours truly--but I knew, without a doubt, that the baby was mine.

I remember waking up and very seriously trying to figure out where this kid came from. The guy I was dating--not that I planned on having children with him--was similar to me in complexion. No one from my past really matched up.

Of course, it didn’t really matter at the time, but the dream had such an impact on me that it stayed with me for all these years. And when I started dating dark-haired, olive-skinned, part-Filipino MM and eventually realized that he was, as they say, the one, I remembered the dream and knew that the baby, a little girl, was ours.

But of course, one questions themselves when it comes to these kinds of things, and since becoming pregnant, I’ve forced myself to not become too convinced about having a girl, even when in the first trimester I dreamed about a girl a handful of times.

We found out yesterday morning that we are indeed expecting a girl. I am all--at the same time--completely shocked and not at all surprised. And, crazy or not, I believe with all my heart that this baby is that baby from nearly five years ago--the Universe giving me a hint about and maybe a push toward my not-so-distant future.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Other End of the Spectrum

A couple weeks ago, I read “Bringing Up Bebe.” It’s a quick read that offers a glimpse into French parenting. In short, the book makes French parents seem more balanced and less likely to make their children the center of their universe than American parents. The book left me feeling like, OK, that was an interesting perspective, maybe I can handle this parenting thing if I don’t go over the over the top subscribing to one philosophy of parenting or another.

So what did I do? Like any normal crazy person, I downloaded Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way by Mayim Bialik (aka Blossom on Blossom, aka Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory). Mayim’s book chronicles her experience raising her two boys using attachment parenting principles. So how does this book compare to the French? Basically, if I was looking to find the opposite end of the spectrum in brand spanking new parenting books, this was it.

According to Attachment Parenting International, “The essence of Attachment Parenting is about forming and nurturing strong connections between parents and their children.”

What exactly does this mean? For Mayim, it means that her and her husband have not been away from their children in five years, save three date nights. It means that they practice the family bed and have all slept in the same room for years. It means that she and her husband balanced their work schedules so that one of them was always able to be home with the kids. It means she breastfeed her sons well into their toddler years. It means she practices “elimination communication” and her kids did not wear diapers.

While there are many things in this book I will not even attempt to do (i.e., elimination communication), many of the principles were fascinating. And there were a few principles, including babywearing and gentle discipline, that I definitely believe are worthwhile. (To be far, I’ve become slightly obsessed with the idea of babywearing.)

Other parts of the book provided ideas and a valid perspective with pieces that I could take away, while leaving the rest. Her section on breastfeeding, while I don’t necessarily know that breastfeeding until toddler-hood is the best thing for me and my baby, definitely made me consider how important breastfeeding is to me and the potential uphill battle it can present.

She is honest that this way of life is not for everyone. For the most part, she is able to maintain a fairly non-judgmental tone. My biggest problem with this book is her discussion of staying at home to parent your child. She repeatedly said each family has to make their own decision about childcare and working outside the home. But that statement came with a big BUT. For someone who plans to go back to work full time, it felt like a bit of a guilt trip.

Yes, Mayim says she understands that not all families can live on just one income, but do you really need all those luxuries? Do you really want to leave your baby? Is going back to work really the best choice for your helpless little one who is forming the attachments that will make him or her a functional adult?

Um…I don’t know. 

I do know that my husband and I could probably get by if I stopped working completely, but there are many reasons for me to go back to work, including that I don’t know if “getting by” is the best case scenario for our family right now. I do understand the arguments both ways. But for someone who “respects” other parenting choices (and for the most part seems to understand that all attachment parenting principles are not for everyone), Mayim lays it on pretty thick when it comes to staying at home being the “right” choice. My reaction is likely a result of not being 100 percent sure about this daycare thing, and yet, I don’t plan to change my mind (which doesn’t mean I won’t change my mind).

Overall, I did think the book was a quick and easy read with some interesting ideas, many of which I will forget about. On another positive note, her book includes other reading and resources, many of which I didn’t know about and have already found helpful. But I think she’d definitely disapprove of the French.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Unexpected Lessons

Now that I’ve reached the halfway mark of this pregnancy, I realize that, instead of just bitching about being pregnant, maybe this journey deserves a glass-half-full assessment. 

Despite a crap-tastic first trimester and the desire/need to sleep constantly, this pregnancy has had some unexpected benefits. My blog has long been dedicated to fitness and food. Particularly when it comes to issues surrounding diet and weight, I have struggled to maintain balance, and my views about what it means to be leading a healthy lifestyle and staying on track with a healthy diet continue to evolve. It’s no secret, if you’ve read this blog over the years, that emotional eating has oft sabotaged my best laid plans and good intentions.

Pre-pregnancy, I was serious about facing my issues with emotional eating. I had, arguably, gotten better about fighting the urge to “zome out” while eating, instead attempting to be fully aware of what I chose to put in my mouth and why, even when I chose to eat (and overeat) because of stress, boredom, sadness, loneliness, etc., versus hunger. If nothing else, it was a first step on what is no doubt a long journey. Except that with my pregnancy--despite that fact that I do sometimes stress about other weight-related issues--emotional eating seems to be a non-issue. Surprising? It has, and continues to, surprise the hell out of me.

So where is this coming from? The first trimester is pretty easy to explain. Mentally, I had no desire to eat. Physically, eating to much actually made me fell awful. Normal hunger cues didn’t really apply. I got hungry, but normal stomach rumblings didn’t happen, mostly I just felt sick. And eating too much or eating the wrong thing would make me sicker. Emotionally, I was a bit of a wreck, as pregnant ladies can be in the first trimester with the hormones and whatnot, but taking those feelings out on food was really not an option. To be honest, I tried a few times. Those attempts did not go well. Like so many things in life, I learned the hard way.

So how about now? The second trimester, for all the exhaustion, has brought with it a wave of... what’s the term... emotional balance. Before, facing these eating issues required facing some of the relationships and situations that caused me anxiety, but now, I’ve been blessed with a case of what, I believe, is techinically called “not giving a fuck,” but not in the way that I let my world crumble down around me.

No, this brand of “not giving a fuck” dictates that I take care of no. 1 first and foremost, and worry less about numbers two through whatever. With the elimination of the anxiety and stress I created for myself surrounding any number of things (social commitments, people drama, changes at work, family issues), the desire to eat emotionally has kind of disappeared. That’s not to say I don’t overeat from time to time, but when I do, it’s usually in the vein of “this tastes really good, nom nom nom,” and before I know it I’m a bit overfull. The insane thing is that without all the messy emotions to identify, I’m actually able to say things like, “Crap Lou, you’ve eaten too much, you’re not going to be hungry for dinner/lunch/snack time/second breakfast.” And then--even insaner--is that if I’m actually not hungry or not that hungry, I actually don’t eat, or I eat a very light meal if I feel like it’s in the best interest of Baby + me to have something.

What the hell, right? Did it really take me getting knocked up to learn these lessons? Will all of this clarity and balance surrounding food disappear when the baby arrives, or will it stick? I really don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that right now, I’m doing my best to recognize this new-found balance and acknowledge the reasons this might be happening, and maybe, just maybe, I can carry this with me beyond the pregnancy--not just for me, but also for the Baby, you know, the one who I’d rather not have following in my emotional-eating footsteps.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Pregnancy Twins

Most celebrities don’t reveal exactly when they are due, but lately it seems like several sort-sort stars and reality TV veterans are announcing their due-this-summer pregnancies.

What does this mean to me? Well, nothing really, except PREGNANT TWINS! Is that a thing? Probably not, but whatever. Seriously though, some people get to share the pregnancy journey with Beyonce—um, you know, in spirit—I get to share it with these hot messes:
  • Snooki of Jersey Shore fame 
  • Sienna Miller of Jude Law former-girlfriend fame 
  • Vanessa Minnillo of married that guy who used to be married to Jessica Simpson fame
  • Kristin Cavallari of that show on MTV/fiancĂ© to Bears QB fame 
  • Kourtney Kardashian of Kardashian fame 
  • Elizabeth Berkley of Showgirls (aka, the best worst movie ever) fame 
Happy Friday!

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

The Big Reveal

It's really no wonder that in the last week or so, I've started to get comments about "the bump."

First of all, I think I'm becoming one of those completely technology-inept old people because I cannot figure out why this photo is grainy. Whatever.

So, here it is... I'm about 19-and-a-half weeks and definitely showing on my way to take advantage of the warm (but windy) weather with a run.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Like The French Do

At The University, one-third of my department (roughly 10 out of 30 people) has had a baby since I began working here. So when our creative director read the parenting book du jour, Bringing Up Bebe, she decided to pass it around to the other parents, parents-to-be, and other “European types” (whatever that means) in the office. Since I’m “on deck,” I got to read it first.

Bringing Up Bebe reads as part memoir, part parenting philosophy. The author, American Pamela Druckerman, chronicles her experience raising three young children in Paris and the differences, in her opinion (largely, I think), between American and French parenting styles. (Fun fact, Druckerman also wrote about her experience trying to plan a threesome for her husband’s 40th birthday. For the record, I DO NOT think discredits her as a parenting book author, but it’s kind of an interesting career turn. Or maybe not?)

Druckerman is upfront about her ambivalence toward French culture, living in Paris and being an expatriate in general. I don't know if this is to gain street cred with middle America (though she does embrace a neurotic New Yorker identity), but she is honest about the difficulties making connections with other French mothers who seem indifferent to the kind of insta-bonding us ladies in the U.S. have a tendency to do, particularly when we have something like motherhood or impending motherhood to bond over. Though she backs up her claims with extensive research and expert opinions, exactly how much of the American vs. French parenting differences are real or perceived is anyone's guess, but the premise is that from a very young age French children are better behaved than American children, and French parents, unlike American parents, are unwilling to make their children the center of their universe.

Some major differences, according to Druckerman, include: French babies sleep through the night as young as six weeks (nearly all French babies sleep through the night by three months); French toddlers can to sit through meals with adults without disrupting and are capable of entertaining themselves for periods of time; and young French children are expected to greet adults, be polite, try new foods, and solve their own problems among other things. The major difference, according to the author, is that the French regard children, even babies, as tiny, autonomous humans capable of understanding far more than we give them credit for and able to function as such from a young age. Not that the French neglect their kids, they just give them more freedom within a framework (a cadre) of clear boundaries. Moreover, French parents seem unwilling to allow children to completely rule their lives allowing for much more relaxed family atmosphere where women are able to maintain balance. Not to mention that the French seem far less interested in engaging in competitive parenting.

A lot of the ideas and parenting “tactics” in this book seem like common sense. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t without its flaws. I don’t know much about French parenting (or parenting in general), but I do think a lot of her American parenting examples represent an upper-middle to upper-class style of parenting that can be found concentrated in places like New York City.

Druckerman also spends a several pages about the societal pressure in France for woman to immediately drop the baby weight (in part to maintain their sexiness for their mans), which, she says, is not something that American women are concerned about. I tend to disagree with this. Maybe there’s less pressure in the U.S. to be “sexy” within weeks of giving birth (let’s be honest, that’s not exactly a priority of mine now), but the urgency Americans place on dropping the baby weight seems to border on fanatic. Maybe we just don’t do it as well as the French do? But that doesn’t mean the pressure isn’t there.

Another sticking point with me was Druckerman’s discussion of the division of household and parenting duties in the France. Based on Druckerman’s observations, overwhelmingly, French women go back to work (they also seem to regard being a stay-at-home-mother as not a valid choice, which seems problematic). However, management of the household and the majority parenting responsibilities also falls to women, where women in the U.S. report a more equal divide. While Druckerman doesn’t exactly seem to spin this in an overly positive light, she says that women in France appear to be less disgruntled with their husbands than American women do. Maybe so, but I personally would have a hard time swallowing what seems like a 70/30 split in household and parenting duties with my husband.

Regardless, I would recommend this as a fun (and fast) read to other expecting parents. As I read more about parenting in general, there are so many competing ideas, that it seems very easy to become 1) completely overwhelmed and confused about what the “right” way to raise a kid is; 2) dogmatic about a particular set of principles; 3) entrenched in a perceived ideal that will be impossible to maintain 100 percent of the time and will ultimately lead to constant feelings of crushing guilt. Even on non-mothering specific websites, an article about, say, breastfeeding or co-sleeping will spark controversy in the comments and cause the claws to come out about the right or wrong way to raise your baby. While I don't plan to begin telling people that I will be "raising my children French," in the midst of all the noise, Bringing Up Bebe was somewhat refreshing

However, I have no doubt we’ll soon see a dozen more parenting books featuring hard and fast rules about French parenting. Because that’s what we do in American, right?

Saturday, March 03, 2012

To Have or Not to Have

For some women, the decision to have children is easy: Either it’s something that, given the right set of circumstances, they know they want and will do, or they have absolutely no interest in the child-making, -birthing, -raising experience. Then there’s people like me who can’t make up their minds.  

When MM and I were engaged, we were on the same page about having kids--the “yes, we will have kids” page. In my excitement over the rest of our lives, I had the feeling that we might both be up for taking the parenting plunge quickly, rather than waiting a year or so to get settled into married life. Somehow that bright idea faded, and when I started thinking about having kids again, I was far more tortured about the prospect.

Why? Because MM and I had a nice life together. We had time to do the things we wanted to do; we had the expendable cash (for the most part) to do them. No longer blindly floating around in the post-adolescent, quasi-adult stage (and staying out too late and drinking too much), we were living the lives of professional, functional adults. This was a life that could be lived indefinitely and happily. Why screw it up by introducing a baby into the mix? The argument in favor of having kids was harder to define, it swirled around feelings of, “well this was the plan...” and “what if we regret not having kids?” 

While MM said he wanted kids, he was ultimately on board with whatever decision I wanted to make (which sounds nice in theory, but is infinitely frustrating). I also had the suspicion that if I didn’t make the decision, he’d fill his life with so many other projects, he’d forget about having kids until it was too late (if he ever remembered at all).

So it was left to me, in typical Lou-fashion, to agonize over my baby ambivalence. Sure, I had time--I was/am only in my early 30s--but it didn’t feel that way. If the plan is to have two kids, then you’re talking at least three years of baby having, maybe more depending on how the whole getting pregnant part goes and how far apart you want the siblings to be. So, yes, there was time, but it felt like I should KNOW. Ya know?

My two best friends from college, both moms, both done with the baby-having years, come to visit me about once a year or so in Chicago. We plan few activities and mainly devote large amounts of time to problem solving any major life issues we are experiencing. It’s like an extended group therapy retreat with the people who know and understand you (and can say things to you that others cannot) better than anyone else in the world.

In fall 2010, I posed this question: Should MM and I have kids?

My friends are pretty honest about the trials as well as the triumphs of parenthood. But while the trials are clear; the rewards are less definable. Though I think they want to say, yes, have kids, they seem to waver on what direction to point me in. After all, if I have kids, where will we all go for kids-free girl time?

Fast forward to summer 2011. My friends make the sort-of annual pilgrimage to Chicago. I’m in a new (old) house, in a new neighborhood, but little else has changed. We spend hours sitting around my kitchen island chatting. And of course, keenly aware that my current birth control prescription running out, I bring up the big question again.

OK guys, we really need to figure out if MM and I should have kids.

One of them looks at me and says this: Lou, if you didn’t want to have kids, you wouldn’t still be asking this question.

Simple. Brilliant. True.

It hit me then that I was never going to be able to come to the conclusion that I didn’t want kids. I could hang in limbo indefinitely or I could take the plunge, but I was never going to be able to say, “Not for me” and go on with life never again questioning my decision.

From that moment on, I haven't wavered once. I also don’t doubt that many women can go through the same torturous process I put myself through and come to the opposite decision with just as much confidence.

But I still can’t fully answer the question as to why we decided to go down the baby-having road. Maybe it’s part fear of regret or societal expectations, but I think it’s more than that. There’s the excitement about MM and I creating something that is greater than the sum of our parts. There’s the hope that this adventure will be rewarding. There’s the knowing that we’ll never look back and truly wish we didn’t have kids (moments of extreme frustration and classic Lou dramatics notwithstanding). But mostly, it’s still undefinable, and I’m OK with that.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

The Emergence of Pregnancy Brain

I’m 32, not what I’d call a “young” mother-to-be, but of pretty average age for a professional, urban (or urban-suburban, as I like to think of myself and my home just outside of the Chicago city limits) dweller to be starting a family. So while it took some time to get to this place, suddenly a lot of women I know crossed the line from being not-a-mom to being a mom (or mom-to-be). And, if you have mom friends and/or pregnant friends, you’ve probably heard of the phenomenon called “pregnancy brain.”

Is pregnancy brain even a real thing? I think the answer to that question is it doesn’t really matter if it’s real if you're already convinced you’re experiencing it. Maybe it’s an excuse, but I’m pretty sure I haz pregnancy brain.

MM and I have been attempting to plan our Austin babymoon for about a month now. We originally planned to go in May, but the NATO/G-8 Summit mess has put every law enforcement agency in the Chicagoland area on high alert. My husband, he works at one of those agencies, and May is shaping up to be a hectic month as they ramp up for the big event. So we decided to go in April instead.

I got my vacation days approved then spent an evening with MM and my computer (in bed of course because that’s how I roll these days), typing our credit card number into airline reservation, credit card reservation, and hotel reservation forms. We’re flying into Austin on a Saturday, spending two nights “near the action” (I haven’t figured out if the “action” is in downtown Austin or some other Austin neighborhood/area, but according to my Texas friends, we’re staying in a central spot), then we’re heading 30 minutes outside of the city to a spa, where we’ll stay for three days before heading back to Chicago.

Sounds lovely, right?

It does. Except that I woke up this morning (nearly a week after we booked the trip) thinking to myself, “Didn’t I request to go to a continuing education workshop in April? What was the date of that?” complete with the sinking feeling that I had overlapped the dates of our vacation with the dates of the workshop.

I had. The good news is that I hadn’t actually signed up for the workshop yet, so at least no one is out a bunch of money (me or my employer). But I had to have a conversation with my boss that started with me saying, “I’m completely losing my mind…” So that whole continuing education goal (the easy goal) from last year’s performance review? Yeah, I am kind of SOL on that.

Of course, it’s truly no big deal because my boss really doesn’t care, and she’s fine to send me to something bigger and better next year anyway. I just feel like moron.

But hey, the babymoon is officially happening! Glass half full!