Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Dental Hijinks

I tried for the second time to get that damn tooth of mine seated for a permanent crown. No dice. I got into that dentist's chair and immediately started sobbing. Couldn't stop. Dentist (who is also pregnant, about seven weeks behind me) didn't even get a chance to shoot me full of novacaine. I'm not sure I mentioned the first round of this experience. The actual root canal procedure itself was a breeze compared to drilling out the temporary crown and prepping my tooth for the permanent one.

The problem with the first time we tried this was that I had just been in the car accident not much more than a week before. Something about the drilling sound, vibrations, and pressure just absolutely freaked me out. We're talking hyperventilating through sobs freak out. We're talking nightmares for two days freak out. We're talking sudden flashbacks of the experience in the middle of meetings and commutes freak out. Yes, we're most likely talking post-traumatic stress disorder freak out.

I tried all weekend to settle myself and prepare for this morning's trip to the dentist. Frustrated Mark because he kept trying to get me to be rational about the whole thing and I just couldn't manage it. Pissed myself off because I had to reschedule the damn appointment AGAIN this morning when I couldn't settle down enough to even try the damn procedure. Also slightly miffed with Andrew because if he weren't tossed into the equation, they could pump me up with some laughing gas or happy pills to get me through this procedure.

By the way, what kind of sense does it make that the docs were willing to put me on anti-depressants for the rest of my pregnancy back when I had my work stress insanity in April but they're not willing to let me take one little anti-anxiety pill to get me through an hour or two of dental work? Are the drugs really THAT different? I was and still am much better equipped to deal with work stress and pregnancy symptoms than I am to get over irrational freak outs about a dental drill. Hell, I'm better equipped to deal with the stress and mild depression symptoms (which I'm still not convinced I really had, but apparently I worried a couple of docs who supposedly should know better) than I am to sit in a chair that months ago had a spider on it. And a very small spider at that.

Anyway, the third time has to be the charm for this permanent crown prep because the temporary crown cannot last for another rescheduling. Oh, and meanwhile, my dentist whom I love has decided to opt out of my insurance network as of this weekend. So the cost of the crown prep will likely be $100 more than it would have been today, had I managed to swallow my fear. Or I can always try to find a new dentist to try this procedure out with. Me no rikey my options. Stupid tooth.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Suddenly Pregnant, My Brother the Bugler & Other Stories

It's amazing how many people have commented on my Big Fat Belly this week now that I've started wearing maternity tops. I haven't suddenly gained a pregnant belly, but that's what everyone seems to think. It's probably just a matter of perspective. My belly has reached the right proportions that the eye can't just chalk it up to a little extra chunkiness, there has to be a kid growing in there. There are a few people I haven't managed to tell in the area, and I'm sadistically looking forward to seeing them at some point this summer now that I'm showing. I like the sort of life changes that you see before you hear about them, the positive ones, anyway.

In other pregnancy news, Andrew let me sleep through the night last night. Of course, it's because he wanted me to sleep for a good three more hours, but still. I fell asleep around midnight and woke up just before six with the usual "gotta pee, gotta eat" urge I usually wake up to a 3 AM or so. Too bad today was a work day, though, otherwise I would've fallen back into bed. Andrew's still miffed about me not getting more sleep as he's been kicking at me regularly this morning.

And with no seque, my mom told me about my brother's experience as part of a Marine color guard. Skipping past my confusion because I thought he had officially left the Corps and wasn't in the Reserves or anything that would require him to be in a color guard, I found out that my brother can bugle. Probably not as well as the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy from Company B, but that's not gonna stop me from calling Brad that when I talk to him next. Gotta hand it to those Marines: they don't miss a thing in training, especially when it comes to color guards.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Drew's Room

I could talk about how the workload at the DDJ managed to get a notch worse this week. Or I could talk about how Muse is damn near liquifying brain cells, trying to get me to write, or at the very least outline. But I decided it would be much more pleasant to talk about the decor in Drew's room. (I've always like Drew as a nickname for Andrew; now I love it. :))

Before we knew we were having a boy, Mark and I decided we wanted to go with gender neutral regardless of our child's gender. Blues, yellows, greens, stars, moons, teddy bears. We found this amazing nursery pattern at Babies R Us. Isn't it great? We're going to highlight the gorgeous sage green. Unfortunately for Andrew, the nursery will be coexisting as our study until Mark graduates and we're able to jet on out of here and (hopefully) into a house with at least three bedrooms. It'll make for an interesting look. The rocking chair that Mark brought with him from his family's home will be perfect for nursing Drew and soothing him on rough nights. And we're slowly but surely building our collection of fun baby books and such.

And that's about as far as we've gotten with the nursery. We probably won't get much farther, though, since we know it's likely that we'll be moving right about the time Drew's six months old. It's still a heck of a lot of fun to think about.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Allow Me to Introduce...

...my son, Andrew Thomas. Poor thing isn't even breathing air just yet, but he waves hello all the same--much to my bladder's annoyance. We had our spiffy ultrasound last week. Got to see Andrew's spine, heart, stomach, bladder, arms, legs, the lens of his eye. And, of course, we also got to see the organ that clearly defines Baby as Andrew. The technician gave us the usual disclaimer that only seeing the body part in question at birth would make everything 100% certain, but that third leg really couldn't have been anything else.

Mark and I had names picked out over a year ago when we decided to give this parenthood thing a whirl. And that's why Baby already has a name. So while I might occasionally reference this thing growing inside me as Baby and Junior, I'm going to be using his actual name more and more often. That way I also get used to the idea of having a boy, as intuition had me convinced Andrew was female. I promise that'll be the last time I inflict such horrible gender confusion on my son, though. But if Baby the Second is also a boy, then all bets are off. :)

Monday, May 23, 2005


Baby let me have steak this weekend!!!! A nice, medium-well, juicy piece of beef smothered with portabello mushrooms. I'm taking advantage of this sudden OK for beef by making a roast this weekend. Our menu can expand beyond chicken now. And there was much rejoicing.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

"Mandatory Overtime"

Just as everyone was packing up on Friday afternoon, our Esteemed Manager (I'll call him EM from now on, and feel free to come up with other fun descriptors that begin with the letter E) decided that a particular project was falling behind and the team had to come in on the weekend to work on it. Technically, this isn't my project, and I'm only a "backup" member of the team. But I had to come in anyway. I had been planning on going in anyway as the project that is actually mine is also falling behind, and due slightly before this other one. The DDJ is still as awful as ever, but I'm not letting it bother me quite so much. Mainly because I came to a couple realizations: 1) I may have the skills and enough power to try to make things change around here, but if the Powers That Be refuse to listen to me, then it's SOL for them; and 2) I've got meeting minutes going back to November that clearly lay out how I had said we should handle a particular issue and more minutes that clearly indicate that no one was doing anything about my suggestions, so it won't be MY ass on the line if things get SNAFUed in a hurry. Plus I think my job's protected due to being pregnant at least until three months after birth. Then they can fire my ass.

Ah, the DDJ. I've got my application into my dream job, so keep your fingers crossed, that 1) they'll interview me and 2) they won't mind hiring a woman who is quite obviously pregnant and will be needing maternity leave just about the time she'll be fully trained at her job. :)

Friday, May 20, 2005


Today got into the 90s. And we're still in spring. Ick. I'm going to be very pregnant during July and August, and they're shaping up to be very hot months. I went on a maternity clothes run tonight, hoping to find some of those nice, loose, flowy skirts that never get wrinkled (or are just crinkly enough on their own that you can't tell). Found some light maternity t-shirts that will help, but no skirts. I think I'm going to check out Babies R Us this weekend and see what they have. My mom's friend's daughter recently had a baby, and she sent me all her maternity clothes. Unfortunately, she didn't have to work during her pregnancy, so I'm lacking in the nice pants/capris/skirts department. Plenty of good shirts, though. Oh, and I better pick up some maternity undies this weekend too. Junior likes to sit very low in my belly, right about where all the underwear elastic is hitting. Baby may not mind, but my bladder is beginning to feel like it's in a pincer attack with the elastic and Junior's enthusiastic punches and kicks.

And if anyone has invented one of those personal climate control suits, send one my way please. I have a feeling I'm going to be wishing I could walk around in a 68degree bubble for the next couple months.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Writing Status

Writing. Writing writing writing writing. Even my revised goal of finishing a draft of The Masque before Baby's Big Day seems less and less likely. I'll be very happy if I can finish my "Princess Incubus" short and submit it to a writing contest before Baby's Big Day. As for the on-line writing course for Strings of Betrayal, I'm slowly but surely getting caught up after lagging two months behind. And I still can't make up my mind about the fate of Human Dignity.

The good news? I go to my crit group nearly every Tuesday (there are some Tuesdays where I need sleep more than I need writing comraderie). I am being mentored by a published author on a monthly basis, maybe twice a month after the insanity that is May passes the both of us by. And as soon as I get the OK about using the author's name, I'll share it and my experiences with our mentoring here. I participate in the Forward Motion Think Tanks fairly often. I blog as often as I am able--which, you'll note, seems to be more often. And, of course, rarely does a day pass that I don't think about my various projects and manage to jot a note here and there.

So writing is still a part of my life despite the vagaries of my job and my pregnancy. It's not occupying the part I'd like it to play, of course. But I'm dealing with that necessity a bit better each day. It's still going to frustrate me. And maybe I'll figure out a way not to let it bother me quite so much by the time Baby and Baby the Second are out of the house. By then I'm sure I'll have a host of new Issues to work on. :)

As I go through these thoughts on my writing and it's place in my life in the past, present, and future, I'm reading with interest Holly Lisle's struggle with her own writing future. She seems to have reached a point where she doesn't want to propose (sell) a book and then write it. She'd rather do what us amateurs have no choice but to do: write the book THEN sell it. I confess that I'd rather do things that way for the rest of my writing career, but that's mostly because I'm an organic writer and I discover the books as I write them. Makes it hard to sell a book before it's written. As I will be providing only supplemental income with my writing when I no longer have to deal with the Dreaded Day Job, I may be able to get away with writing books then selling them. We'll see.

And that's the writing status as of today. Primary goal is to finish and submit "Princess Incubus". Secondary goal is to finish a draft of The Masque. Of immediate concern is finishing up my last couple weeks of missed assignments for the on-line course.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Rough Essay

Holly's doing a little contest to give away her ARCs of Talyn. I remember reading the first chapter or so of this when she posted them special at Forward Motion sometime last year or perhaps even the year before (isn't the cover art beautiful?). I pre-ordered my copy of this book last night, alongwith Holly's Last Girl Dancing and the new Harry Potter. (I also ordered the last Tori Amos album I need to complete my collection; no one keeps Strange Little Girls in stock.)

Anyway, when Holly posted the contest, I knew I had to enter. Not because I had to have the ARCs, which would be cool, but because of the topic of the essay contest: rediscovering honor. I've known since Thanksgiving that I have to write at least a short story about my brother's experiences in Iraq. I've also known since then that I'm nowhere near the kind of writer I need to be to do that story justice. But I've also known that I can't just leave the story unwritten. So here's the essay I entered into the contest.


I haven't seen my brother since he came back from Iraq the second time. I'll have a chance to give him the fierce hug that's been building at our family reunion in July, but until then all I have is a picture of him receiving his Purple Heart.

He's one of only a few Marines in uniform. The rest are standing in formation, at attention in the grass behind him. There's an SUV, a couple of civilians, and a trashcan cluttering up the background. My brother has the medal pinned to his chest, and he's shaking someone's hand.

But it's his eyes that I see right away whenever I look at this picture. I see him watching an improvised explosive device fling two of his men from the truck and send shrapnel into the driver. I see him fighting to save the life of the young man who didn't make it. I see him hearing the news that the two other men in the truck were honorably discharged, one without a foot, one with severe damage to his arms. I see him waking up suddenly under the bridge his company protected, thinking it was a bad dream but the bandage on his own arm telling him differently.

I see honor. I see its price. And I know I will never look at a Purple Heart without the same mix of pride, despair, anger, and relief that I feel right now.


There are a couple of details I wasn't able to put in the essay due to the 250-word limit. But that's only part of the reason why this little essay is just a glimmer of a beginning for the story I want to write about my brother. Love ya, Baby Bro.

Alive & Kicking

A few weeks ago, I felt the first flutterings in the general area of my womb that could've been attributed to Junior's active limbs. I've been paying attention for more certain signs of movement, but I didn't get a clear "Yes, this is definitely Baby kicking" until last week. I had just indulged in a plate of nuggets and fries, my usual late-night snack. I was laying in bed, watching a taped episode of The Simpsons. I decided to press in slightly to see if I could get a definite response from this thing growing inside me. Sure enough, I got a mild little thunk back that couldn't be anything other than Junior. So I had Mark repeat the process. Evidently we had annoyed or excited the kid, because Baby responded to Mark's mild pressure with a vehement soccer kick that most likely could've been seen had Mark's hand not been on my Big Fat Belly.

The best part about feeling Baby move is the reassurance and realization it brings. This child is no longer just something that makes me exhausted and sick. I have regular tangible evidence that this is a person, living and growing and learning and preparing itself for Real Life. It's amazing what these kicks have done for me. I've slept so much better. And the mornings have been so smooth, almost even normal. I'm still a little tired during the day, but it's not the bone weary exhaustion it's been. I feel more energized. Of course, this could just be a couple of good days and the swing back is somewhere on the horizon. But I feel pretty damn good right now, and that's what counts.

I do find it really strange that when I was just "sick" with no real tangible evidence of pregnancy (beyond that which could be obtained at a doctor's office) I couldn't feel normal. But now that I've got a creature kicking me from the inside, I'm back to my usual self. Pregnancy sometimes seems so bizarre as to be an abberation, not a normal part of life.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Mystery of Three

My mother is the oldest of eight children. The youngest, my aunt DeeDee, is only three years older than I am. She got married three weeks before I did--I was a bridesmaid in her wedding and she was my matron of honor. I found out earlier this week that she is expecting her first child three months after my own first enters the world. I told her that if our second children our separated by some increment of three, I will start an investigation. :)

She's just starting out on this crazy thing called pregnancy. It seems so long ago that I too was fretting about how long I had to wait for my first OB appointment, or first discovering the joys of a constantly full bladder, or first realizing that sleep would be an elusive yet often demanded thing for the next year or so, or wondering if it would be possible to mainline antacid as a means to ease heartburn. She hasn't experienced any morning sickness as yet, and I'll keep my fingers crossed that she doesn't.

It's nice to have someone I know very well going through this with me. DeeDee's not close by, but she's close at heart and that makes me feel a whole lot less alone in this process. Maybe alone is not the right word. But I didn't have anyone I knew to share this with who's going through it too. It's nice to have that now. Plus I get to share the little nuggets of womanly and motherly wisdom that I've been learning along the way instead of just taking all that wisdom from others. Makes me feel useful, even when I can't be bothered to drag myself off the couch or out of bed on the weekends.

So congrats to DeeDee and her husband Mike. Now when we all get together for my grandparents' 50th anniversary in July, I won't be the only one waddling or stretching out clothing. I'll have to make shirts: DeeDee's will say "Grandchild on Board" and mine will say "Great-grandchild on Board".

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Fun Quiz

Via Kat, a nice time-waster. I found the results pretty well in-line with how I think of myself: overall, balanced. :)

Your brain: 80% interpersonal, 100% visual, 100% verbal, and 120% mathematical!

Congratulations on being 400% smart! Actually, on my test, everyone is. The above score breaks down what kind of thinking you most enjoy doing. A score above 100% means you use that kind of thinking more than average, and a score below 100% means you use it less. It says nothing about how good you are at any one, just how interested you are in each, relatively. A substantial difference in scores between two people means, conclusively, that they are different kinds of thinkers.
Link: The 4-Variable IQ Test written by chriscoyne on OkCupid Free Online Dating

Monday, May 09, 2005

Two Heads Not Better Than One

I am two people right now. No, not in the "quick get the crazy pills" sense, but in the "philosophers might have some fun with this" sense. This miracle of life can get pretty mind-boggling at times. To think that this child can't survive without me is pretty daunting. My body is sustaining myself and Junior. And meanwhile, Daddy is only having to deal with some second-hand impacts. Lucky duck. He contributed some nucleic acids, maybe some vital proteins, and that's it. Everything else has been all Baby and me. That leaves me wondering exactly how men came to be and still are the "dominant" sex. I don't mean to sound bitter or sexist. It's just one of those things you think about during a bad bout of morning sickness. Right along with the thoughts of "we've been doing this for HOW many thousands of years and evolution hasn't found a better way to create new life" and "can't we just lay eggs like lizards".

But back to the two people, one body thing. I can definitely say that two heads are most certainly not better than one. Simple case in point: food. I miss steak. Juicy, spicy, covered in A-1 steak. Baby clearly is not interested in this delicacy. I'll think about the taste of steak and start to salivate. Then I think about swallowing a bite of steak, and my stomach gives the negative anticipatory rumble. This dichotomy has me bothered enough that I haven't even tried to repeat this thought exercise with something like salmon. I should really start building menus that I can stash somewhere and just start having all of these Lost Meals as soon as Junior's out and about. That's assuming that the little runt won't decide to take issue with any of the Lost Meal byproducts showing up in breast milk. At least then I'll be able to pass the kid over to Mark for him to deal with whatever unfortunate results occur.

Similarly, having Baby's input on my life right now makes getting work done interesting. I'll be all excited about getting some writing done, and Baby will promptly decide it's Nap Time. It's to the point where a successful weekend is one in which I've conned this child into letting me clean the bathrooms or balance my checkbook. At least I can get a lot of reading and TV-watching and music-listening done. Baby seems to enjoy the Simpsons and Whose Line and CSI, but can't be bothered to let me stay awake through the Star Wars trilogy and finds Law&Order unimpressive. Baby loves Carol Berg's fantasies and Nevada Barr's mysteries, but isn't very interested in Lemony Snicket or the morning paper. Tori Amos is a fave, especially the really melodic piano bits, and the string-quartet awesomeness of Bond is appealing, but nearly all radio stations are a no-go--at least while I'm driving. In short, it seems Baby really likes me to laugh and think and dream. While I certainly loved these activities before, I get extra joy and reward from them now. It's interesting.

OK, so I guess two heads can be better than one. Rather, this second person growing inside me is finding some ways to give back as it takes sustenance from me. Maybe Baby will feel so generous as to let me enjoy a big steak this summer.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Snap, Crackle, Pop

I finally snapped last week. All because of warm milk and turkey sandwiches, or rather the suggestion of them.

Week 15 of my pregnancy had been fantastic, notwithstanding all the damn car minutiae we were going through. Week 16 brought back the joys of bad sleep and morning conversations with Earl Chunks, my trusty green bucket. By the time I got to Week 17, I was starting to fall asleep in meetings at work and losing concentration during simple tasks. I called my OB to try to convince him that the normally trivial pregnancy symptoms of exhaustion and morning sickness were having a profound impact on my life and health. I thought for sure that mentioning that I had run a red light and caused a car accident most likely due to exhaustion would finally get this guy's attention. But no. He comes back with warm milk and turkey sandwiches as the next fix to try. This came the day after I was seconds away from quitting my job because I had just gotten a new pile of work and no help to get through it. I lost it.

Week 18, this week, of my pregnancy saw me at home, taking a week off from work (without pay because my three remaining vacation days are spoken for with family trips) so I could try to get some sleep and get on top of all this stress. And, of course, find a new OB. I did get a lot of sleep, and most of my mornings were fine, although Baby can't seem to let me go longer than ten days without finding fault with something I ate for breakfast. But trying to get on top of the stress has been rough. I had some heart to hearts with Mark to find the best ways for the two of us to deal with my stress and his stress without creating more stress. I progressed further in my quest to accept the reality of my current situation: energy levels that I can't depend on, rough mornings, lots of naps, strange reactions to even the mention of some foods, etc. But when it came to figuring out how I might handle returning to work, I kept coming up empty.

Then I realized a couple of things. One, that I've dealt with exceedingly stressful situations before in my life and emerged just fine, and even weathered the storms with a helluva lot more grace. Two, that in those previous situations I had the comfort of knowing exactly where I was going in life (career in research) and of good, unwavering health. Three, that while I now have life goals and direction again, I am unable to proceed toward them with the gusto I would like due to Mark's needing to finish up his degree and my needing to bring home the bacon until he's got the letters after his name to do so. Four, that I can't rely on my body at all to be healthy at any given time. In short, nearly all of my strength is tapped in just getting through the unique stress and health issues of each day, sometimes each hour. So it's no wonder that a downward spiral in my work situation combined with the extracurricular joys of a car accident and root canal are all converging to make me a basket case on a regular basis. I've got to learn new coping strategies because the fallbacks of life direction and health are no longer givens that I don't have to worry about.

So while I don't necessarily have any answers to make the months leading up to October 3 any easier, I at least have a better understanding of where I am and why things get to feel so overwhelming. And knowing those things will hopefully help me see warning signs well in advance of the snapping point I hit last week.