Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Butternut Squash

Things are great here at 29 weeks. S is home safe and sound, in time so that we could celebrate our 5-year wedding anniversary on Sunday with a nice dinner and a stay in a fancy hotel. Most importantly, the hotel had air conditioning, so I was able to escape the heat for a bit. (The high here on Friday was 99 degrees. Our house doesn't have air conditioning, because it never gets that hot here. At 1am, as I was still unable to sleep, the temperature inside the house was still above 90. I can barely describe how much it sucked.) The weather has now returned to normal (temps in the high 60s to low 70s, right where I like them). Barack is kicking up a storm, but isn't making me quite as seasick as he was last week. While in Israel, S bought a mezuzah for the baby's room, as requested, along with a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Eric Carle) in Hebrew, which is very cute. Life is good.

My main update for this week isn't so much a change in me as it is a change in everyone around me. (Okay, maybe it's a little about me, too, but I'd prefer to blame everyone else.) During the second trimester, as we were announcing the pregnancy to friends and family, everyone was excited and friendly. Yes, some people offered us advice, but it was mainly of the "hey, this worked for me, if you want to try it" variety. (Cures for morning sickness, lotions that helped with itchy skin, books that were particularly helpful, that sort of thing.) Nothing too overbearing, nothing too obnoxious, nothing that I didn't mind ignoring if it didn't sound right for me. Everything was very upbeat and well intentioned.

Lately, though, the comments and advice have taken a decidedly darker turn. Instead of happy suggestions of things I might like to try, everyone seems to be focused on dire warnings of horrible things that might happen. I'm a pretty independent person, fairly level-headed, so I don't really believe half of what people are saying, and I seriously doubt the degree of doom being predicted if I don't listen to the advice, but I have been more hormonally emotional lately, so I have to admit: it's starting to get to me. A few things of late:

1. A looooong tirade from J. about the horrors of circumcision, and how much she absolutely hated doing post-circumcision care, and how the entire circumcision experience was the most horrific thing she's ever had to do. Keep in mind here a few things: (a) we're Jewish, we're going to have a bris, so this is a done deal for us. Statements about the horror of it all are absolutely not going to change our minds, it's only going to add anxiety about the event itself. Also (b) J. herself (also Jewish) has not one but TWO sons. Both are circumcised. So, even experiencing the "horror" for the first one didn't actually stop her from having a bris for the second one, and she doesn't actually expect it to stop us, either. So the whole point of the tirade, I think, was just to make me dread it. Thanks.

2. A discussion with my boss about maternity leave somehow morphed into a speech about exactly how excruciatingly painful each of her labors was. In graphic detail. The milder parts of the speech included the phrase "worst pain imaginable" several times. It's not like "labor is painful" is headline news or anything, but do you really need to beat me over the head with it? At work?

3. An innocent comment to L. over dinner about how we've pretty much decided on a pediatrician left me with almost an hour of warnings about the horrible things that can happen if we choose a bad one. I could sum up what I took away from the discussion with one sentence: don't choose a grossly incompetent pediatrician. What L. clearly wanted me to take away from the discussion was: if you don't choose the absolute best possible pediatrician, based on criteria that was important to L. and therefore should be of utmost importance to everyone, and which would clearly lead me to pick the exact same pediatrician that L. chose... our baby might die. Variations on exactly how the baby could die were sprinkled throughout the discussion, with an emphasis on how I, personally, am in a position to prevent it, if I only choose the correct doctor.

4. I ran into M, a former coworker who is now a respected professor at an excellent university. He congratulated me on my pregnancy. Then he went into detail about how his first child was born while he was in grad school finishing his PhD, and the baby completely derailed all progress on his research for 2 years, until his wife quit her job to stay home full-time with the child, thus allowing M. to ignore his family for a while to buckle down and finish his dissertation. He assured me several times that, if my husband was going to keep his job, he could all but promise me that I would never graduate. Ever. As I tried to explain my plan for balancing family and school, he kept shaking his head and calling me naive.

I have lots more examples, but this last one sums up why they're starting to get to me: it is actually possible that all these people are right, and I'm just being naive. Maybe things really are going to suck for a while, and maybe a lot of that will end up being my fault because I make crappy decisions. As much as I don't think they will; as much as I believe that it's possible to find a happy balance; to make an occasional sub-optimal decision without it ruining anyone's life; to make a mistake and then be able to move on from it... the overall message seems to be this: I only believe that now because I'm naive. (Of course I'm naive -- every first-time parent, by definition, has never done this before.)

It's just a lot easier to smile, and to look forward to the next several months, and to maintain my optimism, when everyone around me isn't trying to convince me of something else.


  1. AH yes - the unwanted assvice - I can discount all of those examples, my lil one was circ'd and it has been absolutely fine, My labor was incredibly easier than i ever imagined, yes there are moments of OHMYGOD what do i do now , and I can't do this because it's feeding, changin, dinner, laundry time.. but life is life and you already know that better then others.

    As for the assvice - wait til the lil one os born and EVERYONE is an expert except you! THe assvice just flows and flows

  2. I don't understand why people do that! (The assvice, I mean) Do they really think they are helping by a) freaking you out, b) making you feel bad or c) making you worry even more?!

    I know it's easier said than done- but try not to let those dopes bother you!

  3. All I can say is to do your best to ignore all the assvice. Most of these people have probably blown their experiences way out of proportion anyhow. And yes, I do think you can find a balance between school and family. People do it with work and family all the time, and when you're in grad school it's pretty much the same thing.

  4. I have no idea why people think that striking fear (or shame or doubt or any number of other less-than-fabulous emotions) in the heart of a pregnant woman is a good thing, but it does seem to be common. I doubt it'll stop any time soon, but I hope you find a way to ignore it.

    Just keep reminding yourself that all these people survived the experiences that they are now using to terrorize you. So even if post-circumcision care sucks and labor is excruciating and striking a balance is hard, you too will get through it, and will hopefully remember how much you hated the assvice and choose not to pass it on :)

  5. I don't get it either. I didn't circumcize my son, not because I have a problem with it but I just didn't really care either way so why bother. Clearly, you have a reason to so why try to freak you out over it.

    Labour wasn't that bad. Okay, so I did have the epidural but only about 2 hours before the baby was born. Was it enjoyable? No, but it's not like I was ignorant enough to not know there would be pain involved. When childless women tell me they don't want to have the pain of labour I tell them that clearly they're not ready for children yet, when they are they will just deal with it.

    Ya, school and a baby will be hard but if you want it enough you'll do it and be fine.

  6. I totally understand how you feel. although naturally optimistic, i of course have anxieties about how i will handle work etc -- and it is really aggravating when people give assvice (love that word and the rating system LOL) that just makes things worse or gives you new things to worry about. I just try to take it with a grain of salt ;)

  7. Just wanted to leave a vote of confidence in the school-work-life balance. I've personally known three women who got pregnant and had children during their PhD work. All three graduated and all on time (well, insomuch as one can graduate "on time") and none had a stay-at-home-husband. So, it can be done. I've seen it with my own eyes.

    (I feel like an evangelist right now.)


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