Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hello, jealousy, my old...friend?

So last night I had dinner with The Friend Who Unintentionally Makes Me Feel My Life is Shit (or FWUMMFMLS for short).  For obvious reasons I have not felt very jealous of her lately, which I consider a personal triumph.  I do recognize jealousy is a bad thing, and is especially cruel when it comes between friends.  I also recognize my jealousy of her is entirely my problem and has nothing to do with her – she’s just living her life, and by the way being a good friend to me.  “Now that I’m pregnant” (ha ha) I feel blessed enough that I’ve let a lot of my jealousy of her go, which has been great.  But I did feel a little twinge last night, and I’ll tell you about it.

She is now actively trying to get pregnant, and I’ve been helping as best I can – recommending books and web sites, helping her chart, etc.  She is 37.  And I believe that like all things in her life, an easy pregnancy will probably fall in her lap in the next couple of months.  And yet I find myself secretly wishing she’d at least have some disappointment, some anguish about it.  Oh, I absolutely want her to have a healthy baby – but I wish that for once something would be at least *kind of* a struggle for her.  Is that wrong?  Yes, I know it is.  And yet.

I try to wipe out these thoughts with the reminder that it will be fun if she has a baby right after me, that we can raise our kids together, help each other with childcare, it will be a blast, come on!  But then I think about all the advantages her kid will have that mine won’t.  First, a father.  And that breaks my heart more than I care to admit.  Then, money, and lots of it.  Her kid will have private schools, tons of activities, travel, camps, everything he/she desires.  A college fund.  My kid won’t have any of those things.  And I recognize that these are just “things”, and it’s not what you have but who you have, right?  And I’ve been marginally poor most of my life, and long ago learned when you’re poor you just have to get creative.  And that’s fine.  But…is it ok to admit it stings a little when I think how much easier it’s going to be for her to raise her kid than it will be for me, just because of finances?  Money is always my #1 worry, and I expect this to ramp up to epic proportions when I have a kid.  I dread the thought of constantly worrying how we’re going to make it.  But, I chose all this.  I choose to run my own business which is very unstable, I chose to have a kid on my own.  You get what you ask for.  But I asked for a rich husband, too, and never got one.  And yet she did.  And so our lives as parents are going to be dramatically different. 

Still…I comfort myself with the thought that that’s her path and this is mine.  And I like my path.  Sure, I’ll worry about money – but that’s my choice, too.  I can choose to not worry about it; worrying isn’t going to help, after all.  And my bills are paid, and I have everything I need.  That’s enough, isn’t it?  I get to be home with my kid all day which is huge and a gift I do not take for granted.  And we’ll have loving family and a huge dance community to help and be a part of our lives.  We’ll have so many wonderful things in our lives, none of which cost anything.  And my kid will just be different.  I’m not saying better, just different.  They are very career-college-winning-best of everything kind of people.  I’m very not.  So I hope my kid never feels like he has to impress me with accomplishments but that he can just be who he is. 

I remember once in school we were read a story about someone who was given a choice of a diamond necklace and the pretty carved wooden box it came in, and we were asked which choice we would make.  I was the only one in the class who said I’d take the box.  “What am I going to do with a diamond necklace?” I asked.  Now a box, that I can use. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Enjoying the last of the sloth

I admit it, I’ve been a real slob lately.  Before I could use the illness as an excuse, but being as it is *almost* gone now, I really can’t justify my lousy habits other than just that – they’ve become a habit.  My sleep patterns are just terrible; I stay up half the night watching documentaries on Netflix on my computer, then wake up many, many times during the night, then sleep half the day because I didn’t get any sleep the night before.  I would love to blame the pregnancy for this, but honestly I do this a lot, especially at this time of year when my event is over and there isn’t much for me to do.  So, it’s just me, being lazy because I can, putting everything off until the last minute, and only doing the bare minimum.  I keep up with my e-mail (sort of), keep dishes out of the sink, shower, walk the dog, keep clothes clean & put away, keep food in the house, feed the chickens, pick up the mail, pay bills, and…that’s pretty much it. 

Part of me recognizes, though, that this is the last time I will ever be able to live like this.  After March – only six months from now – this kind of life will be but a vague memory.  I will be a slave to a baby, then chasing after a toddler, then getting a kid ready for school for twelve + years.  Am I up for all that?  To be honest, I don’t really know; but I do know I will rise to the occasion because I will have no choice.  It’s cool.  I’m ready for it.  Once the kid is in school I might be able to indulge in the occasional afternoon nap.

Nausea is starting to pass, although it’s still there; kind of a thin film that follows me around all day.  Still, my eating patterns have changed – I am able to cook now, which is wonderful, and eat full meals, which also means I don’t have to eat every hour on the hour to keep from feeling sick (I used to wake up in the middle of the night and eat something because I’d feel sick).  The new thing is weird stretchy abdomen feelings.  Been kept up a couple of nights because of achy pains that feel a bit like gas pains in my right side, and I feel sharp pains when I stand up quickly or move a certain way.  Apparently this is all perfectly normal, however.  I still don’t look pregnant – just bloated.  But I find I can’t suck my gut in, so something must be happening down there.  I am looking forward to having a belly, I’ll admit.  However I’m not looking forward to strangers giving me unsolicited advice or *gasp* touching me.  Hopefully my usual standoffish nature will prevent a lot of that from happening.

Been reading about this call for infertility coverage on a lot of blogs and of course I’m all for it.  I never delved much into the healthcare system until I started this whole process – the insurance I had before I pretty much never used, but of course now I’m in doctor’s offices all the time, and have been pretty surprised by what I’ve learned about our system.  I noticed a lot of emphasis on free birth control, abortions, etc, all things to prevent babies, but absolutely nothing if you want to have a baby and it’s not just happening like magic.  Seems like kind of a double standard there, doesn’t it?  It must be that the prevailing attitude is that people who seek out fertility treatments are somehow doing this “electively”, as if having children is something people do on a whim of vanity like liposuction.  The fact that the first thing I was asked when I went in for my very first prenatal visit was “are you planning on terminating?” says where the priorities are in this country.  It’s kind of disturbing, but I understand unfortunately that a lot of single women who go to their doctor right after a positive pregnancy test may, in fact, be planning on terminating.  And I’m pro-choice and all, but seriously?

I think of how close I would have come to never having children had this IUI not worked.  Despite my earlier predictions and plans to pursue mini-IVF, the fact is I just plain don’t have the money, and I would have realized this by now.  I could have done one, maybe two IUIs more and then just had to stop.  Yet if there were coverage – even only partial coverage – I could have continued until I met the goal.  And then there would have been another fine American to add to the tax payer pool. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Cranemakers

Have I mentioned how much I love the show Cheers?  I think everyone has a guilty pleasure childhood comfort TV show, and for me Cheers is it.  It reminds me of my Boston childhood.  And in my defense, the show is actually pretty intelligent and well written and genuinely funny, unlike a lot of 80s sitcoms.

Other than the one in which John Cleese plays a marriage counselor, The Cranemakers has to be my favorite episode, one which I’ve Tivo’d and watched many, many times.  For those unfamiliar, the Cranes, both highly cerebral psychologists, get pregnant, and instantly turn into “that couple” – the ones that think they invented pregnancy and annoy all their friends with their constant harping about it.  Then they decide they want to forge a whole new world, away from all this materialism, and raise their child to only eat what he can kill, whittle his own furniture, and live off the land.  They take a weekend in a woodland cabin to try it out – and within hours of freezing with no electricity or running water decide they were delusional and return to the city and get over themselves. 

This episode is brilliant on so many levels.  Even as a teenager when I first saw this it gave me a list of things NOT to do – to not be that person who annoys everyone with constant pregnancy/baby stuff, to not be that person who thinks they’re the first one to ever procreate, to not be that person who thinks they’re going to outdo everyone else with their high-minded idealism about childrearing.  That for thousands of years we’ve “had it all wrong” and I’m going to be the one to have all the answers – OR that what we’ve naturally evolved to is all wrong and our ancestors had all the answers (never mind they all died at 30 of scurvy…but that’s another story). 

Now I do have a “simple is best” approach, as you know – I don’t want tons of unnecessary crap in my kid’s life, I want him/her to read books rather than playing hours of video games, get out and play, have some social/community awareness, etc.  And those are all good impulses, I believe.  But I am entirely willing to accept that once I get into the game of parenting that all bets are off, and there may just be times when plopping the kid in front of Barney is easier than having them fuss and pull on me and prevent me from cooking dinner, or promising ice cream after a doctor’s visit isn’t necessarily bribing but just making the experience less traumatic.  I don’t have all the answers.  At the moment I have no answers at all, actually.  I figure like most first time moms I’ll just do all the research I can and then see what works based on the kid’s development and natural personality, with the understanding that I’ll probably make a lot of mistakes along the way.

I remember when all of my friends started having kids and suddenly they could do nothing but talk about baby stuff.  Breastfeeding, sleeping patterns, judging other parents and how irresponsible they all are.  And I listened patiently, because I understood this is their whole life right now and things like keeping up with current events or seeing the latest movies have become a low priority.  But god, I don’t want to be that person.  Eventually they did come back to the real world, but those first years were tough.  I remember I had one friend who used the sentence “now that I’m pregnant” at least fifty times during one lunch and I wanted to strangle her.  Of course in retrospect I was probably just jealous…but that doesn’t make it any less annoying.  Already with the few interactions I’ve had with friends since I’ve been “out” I try to only talk about it when asked…and then shut up after a reasonable amount of time and say, “So, how are you doing?  What have you been up to lately?”  I want people to know I’m not going to turn into a zombie just because I have a kid.  I’m still me.  I lead a full adult life up until this point, am very interested in what goes on in the world, and want to be engaged in it.  I know it’s totally natural to lose yourself in motherhood, especially initially when it’s really physically demanding, but I hope, I hope I can keep some vestige of myself in there.  I want being a mother to be an aspect of who I am, not ALL of who I am.  Is this possible?  There’s only one way to find out!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

It's who you have

Been thinking a lot about family lately, and friends, and the concept of community in general.  Since I was so isolated for so long due to being ill, it was a real breath of fresh air this week to resume some of my normal activities.  I DJ’d a club Thursday night and then went to a party Friday night.  Both nights involved a lot of people coming up to me and congratulating me in hushed tones.  I wanted to ask everyone, “who told you?” just out of curiosity but didn’t, because it doesn’t really matter, and it’s public knowledge now anyway.  But yes, the positive support from my community has been great.  Again, I think being older, perpetually single, and someone who’s given a lot to the community helps people be happy for me – and I’m sure seeing how happy I am helps them gauge their feelings about it.  Anyone who wonders, “was it an accident?” probably can tell by the look on my face that it most certainly was not and I’m thrilled. 

Oftentimes these days I ask myself, “what would you be doing right now if not for this?” and the answer always comes back, “you know, I really don’t know!”  And then it makes me think that I probably would have come to this conclusion whether my aunt dying kicked me into gear or not – because at a certain point having a child really is the only thing left to do.  That’s the great thing about being an older mom – I feel “done” in my life, as in, I’ve done all the things I wanted to do, so it doesn’t have to be about me anymore.  I won’t feel robbed of experiences or frustrated.  I’ve had a lot of relationships, I’ve done everything professionally I wanted to, I’ve traveled the world, I’ve met a lot of people.  It’s time for it to be about someone else for a while, and I feel completely ready for change and a whole new life experience.  Someone mentioned to me, “your life is going to change a lot,” and I said, “I know!  Isn’t it great?”  I don’t think that’s the response he was looking for, ha ha!  But what can I say?  When you’re ready you’re ready.  Some people are never ready, and that’s ok, too.  I’d rather people be honest about what they want in their lives than just go along with the herd.  But I always knew I wanted children; it was always on my mind.  So it was something I had to *at least* try to make happen. 

I don’t want to disrespect my former life and paint myself in any way as lonely, pathetic, “incomplete”, or anything like that.  I hate to make my former self sound like some desperate cliché, because that’s not true.  I was happy in my life before.  But so much of life is about how you feel about your future (pretty much our entire economic system depends on how optimistic people are feeling at any given moment), and that was one problem I had – my future just seemed to stretch out ahead of me like this vast void.  Other than my international trips, I really didn’t have anything to look forward to, and then when my income took a dip I wasn’t able to afford that anymore, either, and I was really left with a situation on my hands.  What, exactly, am I going to do with myself for the next 30, 40+ years?  At a certain age you can’t really do radical things like sell everything you own and move to another country and start over (well, you can, but “Eat Pray Love” notwithstanding, I would guess most of the time this doesn’t work out so great), and for me I’ve spent so many years carefully cultivating my life here in LA, the idea of chucking it all because I’m bored seemed reckless to say the least.  So, then what?  Continue internet dating in the 1% chance you might meet someone halfway decent?  Keep setting up groups and clubs that everyone drops out of once they have families of their own?  Become an animal hoarder?  What?  And none of this solves the problem of wanting so much to be a mom but not having a partner to make this happen.  So a wish and a prayer and a catheter and a vial later and here we are.

On one of my favorite TV shows, “Locked Up Abroad”, one of people profiled, a woman who spent time in a Peruvian jail for drug smuggling, said something I’ve never forgotten.  In talking about her own greed and desire to make an easy buck, she says later in life she realized “it’s not what you have, but who you have.”  I think I finally have enough maturity to recognize that it really is who, not what, that makes you happy in life.  So to my family, and my friends, and my blog family, and my little unborn nubbin, thanks for being my “who”!

Friday, September 23, 2011

2nd trimester, here I come!

It was with much joy that I watched my WTE pregnancy app click over to “2nd trimester” at midnight.  Not that this means anything to me – I am still sick, still not showing.  But it is certainly a major milestone.

I also came to a decision about what to do about the house, and about the stuff.  I realized the idea of not doing anything was a) stressing me out and b) kind of depressing.  So I have to make some changes around here in order to fulfill my nesting needs and make me feel organized.  Somehow the idea of baby stuff being slap-dash all around the house in every available corner just wasn’t making me feel good.  The weeks after the baby comes home are going to be chaotic and sleep deprived enough – I know myself, and I know that having everything in its place and a place for everything will make me feel better (ie, more in control in an out of control situation).  So, nursery it is.

After much thought I came to the conclusion that I don’t need to put the wall back per se but just rearrange some furniture (and get rid of a couple of things) to create the illusion of a room.  This way it’s not a commitment in case I hate it or it turns out to not be practical.  I didn’t think I’d need a nursery because the baby will sleep in my room…but then I realized I need a place for all the baby’s STUFF.  And as much as I don’t want a bunch of crap, like it or not I’m going to end up with a bunch of crap.  So I need a central location where all the crap can go and be OUT OF SIGHT.  This way too my room can stay my room and not be overrun with baby stuff, and I can have a nice space to put a rocking chair, changing table, toy box, etc.  Just thinking about it makes me sigh with relief.  My whole house doesn’t have to be strewn with cheap plastic crap, hooray!

With much searching on Etsy my preliminary nursery concept is elephants.  There are just so many darned cute elephant lamps, garbage cans, planters, banks, rattles, and figurines I could have a blast with, all with a 30s – 50s flair.  And I like the idea of muted mid-century colors like grays and blues and whites. Mostly, it’ll be fun to spend the next few months piecing it together – looking for wallpaper, a rug, a nice vintage print for a curtain for the one window, a new light fixture, paint colors, fun little vintage decorative pieces.  Should be relatively cheap (most of these items are under $20) and will entertain me.  So, it feels good to come to a decision about the whole “stuff” issue which has been haunting me.

Completely knocked out by the announcement on Facebook tonight that my friend, the married friend with the daughter that announced her pregnancy to much fanfare and made me wonder how different the reaction to my (non-) announcement would be, has miscarried.  She must have been at least a month ahead of me, maybe even two.  SO sad for her and her family right now.  It reminded me again (as if I’ve forgotten) how tenuous all of this stuff is.  I had a dream last night that I miscarried and was sort of on edge all day.  Now I feel like I need to keep my fingers crossed again for a while.