Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Names and Such

Not to state the obvious or anything, but picking a name is hard! I really hate it. When we were picking a name for LL, we settled on his name fairly quickly, despite some ridiculous naming constraints (mostly self-imposed). (Those constraints are detailed here.) Not that we didn't have lots of doubts along the way. We certainly did. But we always came back to LL. Two years later, I still love LL's name. Love it. Never regretted it. But now I can't find anything else that I like. And it should be easier this time, too, because we're not working with any first-letter constraints for the first name. Here are the goals this time around, focusing just on the English-first-name issues, leaving aside the Japanese-middle-name issues and the Hebrew-first-name issues:

1. It has to sound at least vaguely Jewish. Kermit's middle name and last name will be Japanese, so it's important to us that his Jewish heritage be apparent in his first name. I'll admit that we're easing up on this restriction a bit the more we struggle with names, but we draw the line at anything too WASPy or New Testament. Which is a shame, because I really like some of the preppy WASPy names.

2. Nothing too off-the-wall. I don't want people struggling to pronounce it.

3. Nothing too high up on the popularity charts. In my perfect world scenario, everyone has heard the name, and thinks it's cute, but nobody personally knows anyone with the name. (Probably a pipe dream, I know, but I think that we managed to hit this one with LL's name.)

4. Some sort of nickname possibility. I always regretted not having a nickname, and I want the kid to have options.

5. It has to sound good with our highly unusual last name. This one is actually fairly problematic. Lots of names become really odd tongue twisters when paired with our last name.

6. Nobody in our family can have the name (this is a Jewish tradition/superstition). We'd prefer if it's not the name of any of our close friends or their kids, either. And, um, no ex-boyfriends. There's a name I like that fits all the other criteria, but I dated a guy with that name for like 3 seconds in college, and when I bring it up as a possibility, S says, "You mean like your ex-boyfriend?" So I guess that's a rule or something.

I keep reminding myself to be open-minded. When we picked LL's name, we weren't completely thrilled with it at first. We kept going back and expanding our list to include more names, but then we'd always (somewhat reluctantly) come back to LL. It took us a month or two of kicking the tires and using it in conversation before we were really comfortable with it. As soon as he was born, we knew it was right, but it took a while for it to seem that familiar. I'm hoping for a similar experience this time around, and I keep reminding myself that all names will sound slightly awkward to me at first, but I need to give them time. But the only way that's going to happen is if we manage to narrow to a short list early enough to give us time to grow comfortable with any of the names. So far, nothing.

On a slightly related note, we need to find a new mohel. We struggled long and hard with that decision last time, too, and ended up with a guy that we really liked. But apparently he retired sometime in the last two years. (Or moved away. Or died. I don't actually know which. But, um, he's not available anymore.) So now we need to find somebody new. Also, I'm not normally a gender-stereotype person, but female mohels seem "wrong" somehow. (I'm saying this as a woman in a male-dominated field, with a female rabbi and a male OB/GYN. These things normally don't bother me at all. But I just can't hire a female mohel. Not sure why. Is it just me?) And it turns out that most of the mohels (yes, more than 50%) working in my (fairly small) Jewish community are women. My synagogue has so far been very little help. Blech, decisions.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Today I am 20w1d pregnant with Kermit. (Now that we know it's a boy, we've given the Frog an official pre-birth name. Not enough kids named Kermit these days, don't ya think?) (No, we're not really going to name him Kermit.) (Though we haven't yet found any names that we like, so you never know.) (And Kermi is a cute nickname.) (S and I have a bet going to see how many of our friends we can convince that we're really naming the baby Kermit.) (We apparently have very gullible friends.) (But I digress.)

I am now officially more than halfway done. And I've resorted to the produce comparisons that I loved during my last pregnancy, to let everyone know that Kermit is already the size of a banana. Yikes. Way too much stuff that I still want to do before Kermit is born. Little things, like finish my dissertation and get a job and "fix" LL's bedtime routine and buy a new house. Complicating things a bit is the fact that pregnancy brain has officially set in, and I am a mess. I remember being a bit scatterbrained while pregnant with LL, but Kermit has brought me to a whole new level. Quick story from this weekend:

We were invited to a birthday party at a friend's house on Saturday. I asked her if there was anything that we should bring, and she said YES, bring a booster seat for LL to sit in during dinner. It was the only thing that she asked us to bring, and she actually reminded me about it several times. Fine. Saturday afternoon, I packed up LL's diaper bag for the evening, got everyone ready to go, locked up the house, got in the car... and halfway there, I realized that I forgot the booster seat. We turned around and drove all the way back home. S stayed in the car with LL while I ran in for the booster seat, locked up again, and we were on our way (again). We got to the friend's house, and I reached down to pick up LL's diaper bag, only to realize that when I walked out the house, I grabbed my work bag instead of LL's diaper bag. So, instead of diapers and pajamas and food for LL, I had research papers and computer cords. Great. S told me to just go to the party with LL, he would drive home (again) and swap bags. Fifteen minutes later, my cell phone rang. It was S. When I locked up the house the second time, I used S's house keys... and never gave them back. He was locked out of the house. He had to turn around, come back to our friend's house (again), get the keys from me, drive home (again) to switch bags, then drive back to our friend's house (again). All because I'm a blathering idiot.

In other news, I am constantly hungry these days. After not gaining any pregnancy weight at all for so long, even though Kermit was growing normally, my body finally realized that it was sort of cannibalizing itself to make it all happen, so consuming extra external calories would be a good thing. Here at the halfway point, I am now up 2 pounds. Which is perfect, since it allows me to gain the recommended one-pound-a-week for the rest of the pregnancy without making my overall gain too out-of-whack. My weight gain goal with LL was 25 pounds, but I kind of assumed that I'd go way over that. (All of my friends, every single one of them, gained more than 45 pounds with their pregnancies, and I figured I was doomed to follow in their footsteps.) Instead, I gained 28 pounds, which I considered an unqualified success. Thus, my goal this time around was a repeat of last time, which looks doable.

On the gestational diabetes front: I'm still meeting with the nurse once a month or so, despite everyone's belief that I don't actually have gestational diabetes. (As I suspected, my blood sugar goes up only in response to stress, regardless of what I eat. If I'm relaxed and I eat a big 'ole slice of cake, my blood sugar stays nice and low. If I have a "bad dissertation day" and eat half a bagel, my blood sugar goes up. It's weird, but wonderfully predictable.) I'm following a few GD guidelines for food, but I bend the rules a whole lot. I'm not drinking any beverages with carbs in them, so no soda or juice or sweetened tea in the past 2+ months. And I've definitely decreased portion sizes for rice and pasta and bread. But I'm not doing anything even approximating counting carbs. I just make choices, usually, for foods with more protein and vegetables and fewer standalone starches. But then I just follow my hunger in determining when and how much to eat. And I'm still eating desserts fairly regularly. Every once in a while, when nutrition information is available, I look up how many carbs are in my meal (yeah, I tend to look it up after the fact). Leading to a lot of conversations with S where I say things like, "You know how I'm supposed to eat 45g of carbs at dinner? I just ate 95g instead. Think it will matter?" And then I test my blood sugar and nope, it didn't matter, I'm still normal. I've been warned that insulin resistance can change dramatically after 20 weeks, so I'm still testing myself multiple times a day so that I'll know if I need to start being more diligent, but for now, I'm rather enjoying getting a pat on the back from a professional every month who looks at my food charts and validates my level of nutrition. So, yay.

One other piece of random information. At last week's ultrasound, we discovered that Kermit's placenta is at the front (so, towards my stomach instead of my spine). Front placental placement is a bit rare, but apparently has zero medical significance. It does, however, provide me with a bunch of practical information that I had been wondering about. It explains why I felt Kermit kicking so much later than I felt LL, since the placenta cushions those early movements. It explains why Dr. M kept having a harder time than normal finding Kermit's heartbeat, since the placenta muffles sound a bit. And it explains why I kept complaining that the ultrasound pictures we were getting of Kermit looked so much "fuzzier" than LL's had, since we were seeing the images through an extra layer of tissue. Mystery solved!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Job Hunt

I hate applying for jobs. Hate it. Each time I've been on the market for a new job, I only really applied to one or two, and then took one of those when they were offered. (So, I'm also not very experienced at the big job hunt thing.) The last time I was seriously on the job market was in 2003, when I became so fed up with my current job that I vowed to quit by the end of the month, even if it meant being completely unemployed. I sent a single email to a friend at another company asking if they were hiring, and then I threw up my hands and gave my two weeks notice the following Monday morning, unemployment be damned. By the time those two weeks were up, my friend had arranged an interview, I'd met with my future manager, I'd gotten an offer, and I accepted it. Easiest job hunt ever.

This time around is probably going to be a bit more challenging. I've decided not to do the academia tenure thing, and I'm not interested in a post-doc, so I'm just applying for research positions. And they have to not care that I'm pregnant. And they have to be local, because S and I don't want to relocate. And they have to not care that I'm pregnant. And the economy sucks. And did I mention that I'm 20 weeks pregnant?

When talking to people about my pending job hunt, I've been mentioning two competing factors: (1) I didn't want to start interviewing until I was sure about when I would graduate; and (2) I wanted to interview before the pregnancy was showing. Well, now that the defense is behind me, I have a likely answer to (1) -- I'll be graduating in January, within days of my due date. Which is both convenient and a bit awkward. Mostly because it has now made point (2) rather impossible. Even though I have still not gained an ounce of weight, I suddenly popped yesterday and am definitely showing. I noticed it yesterday morning, and several people commented on it during the course of that one day. It literally happened all at once. And while I might be able to hide it a bit with some careful wardrobe choices, none of them are at all flattering.

So, we'll see. I've informally applied for 6 jobs. Two of them won't require interviews, because I've already worked for people there and they're just checking to see whether there's an opening that makes sense (though both have privately mentioned that the immediate maternity leave makes it a hard sell, and they'll definitely be able to make me an offer if I talk to them next summer, after the baby is born, but probably not if I insist on doing something while pregnant. Which is illegal I think? But I'm not interested in fighting about it right now, especially with friends). Two others are at places where I have numerous personal contacts, so I'm hoping to at least get interviews, and then deal with the maternity leave thing later. The last two are more of a stretch, but two of my former managers know people at those places, and they're putting in some phone calls for me, so we'll see.

But the waiting and the doubting and the stress of interviews and the feeling of being judged and the endless waiting? Hate it.

Monday, August 16, 2010


When LL was just a few months old, we had a big playdate with several friends in the area who all have children around the same age (give or take 18 months or so), most of whom are girls. On the way home, S said, "Let's have a girl next." And I laughed, for many many reasons. LL was still so little, it seemed ridiculous to even be talking about the "next" one. Also, it's hard to ignore that we would be lucky to get pregnant again with any child, much less being picky about the sex. And even if we wanted to be picky, it's not like we had any control over it. But, S had made his point: he loves LL, but he also wanted the experience of raising a little girl.

In the months since then, S has mentioned several times that he thinks it would be fun to have a little girl. And while I agreed with him a bit, mostly just for the variety of it, it has never been as important to me as it obviously was to him.

When I got pregnant with the Frog, S admitted that he really wanted it to be a girl. And I started getting worried about dealing with his disappointment if it wasn't. I've spent the last two months playing up the advantages of having another boy. Brothers close in age are more likely to play together! Both me and S grew up in older-brother-younger-sister families and we didn't get along with our siblings at all; wouldn't brothers be fun?! If we had a girly-girl, neither one of us would have any idea how to relate to her! Boys are so much easier during the teen years! And we can reuse all of LL's infant clothes! If we were royalty, you'd be thrilled with having boys!

Meanwhile, I started to chat with friends who have multiple boys. (Statistically, half of our friends with 2+ kids should have boy-girl combos, but in reality, less than a third of them do. Almost every single one of our friends has either girl-girl or boy-boy children, leaning heavily towards boy-boy.) Most of them admitted that they had a mild preference for a girl the second time around, but their husbands were much more invested in the outcome. One of my friends put it this way: "When we found out our second was a boy, my husband was visibly disappointed. He came around by the time our son was born, but it took a month or two."

Today was our big fetal ultrasound. While we waited for the exam, I reminded S that the most important thing was that the baby be healthy. And he acted a little defensive and told me that of course that's most important, and he wasn't going to be upset no matter what the sex turned out to be. And besides, we'd always said that we might maybe possibly consider trying to have a third child, so it's not like this is our definitive last chance for a girl.

So, the results of our ultrasound: the Frog is healthy. Strong heartbeat, measuring one day ahead of the estimated due date. Scarily for me, this baby is measuring smaller than LL did in all measurements (length, weight, abdominal circumference, femur length) with the glaring exception of head circumference, which is noticeably bigger. (I ended up with a c-section with LL after 23 hours of labor because of a rare condition called CPD, in which his gigantic head was demonstrably too big to fit through my pelvic bone. We still have several months of growth ahead of us, and a lot can change, but an even larger head doesn't exactly support my odds of a successful VBAC.) I'm doing the ostrich head-in-the-sand thing about the head size, so ignoring that little tidbit, we can see that everything looks great.

And then S, who had been standing at the foot of the bed, stumbled a bit and had to sit down. Because he had seen the same thing that the ultrasound tech had seen: an unmistakable little penis. We're having a boy!

S was quiet for the rest of the exam. (Actually, first he held up three fingers and whispered, "Ready for number three?" with a small wry smile, but after that he stayed quiet.) He says that he just needs a few days to get used to the idea, which is fair. And I pulled out every gender stereotype I could think of in an attempt to get him excited. You know you would much rather go to football games than dance recitals -- we might have just dodged a bullet! But I should probably just give him time to get used to the fact that we're not going to have the boy-girl family that he grew up with, that I grew up with, that his cousins all grew up with, and that he had always pictured for us.

In the mean time, I have to go plan another bris!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


One of the benefits of keeping up with this blog throughout my pregnancy with LL is that I have a resource to refer to, week by week, to see what to expect this time around. When I'm feeling particularly crappy, it helps to read my posts from last time and see how they gradually got more upbeat about side effects, reminding me that things do get better. But, there's a downside to having that journal from last time: it emphasizes for me just how different this pregnancy has been.

I'm a little over 18 weeks pregnant right now. Middle of the second trimester, almost halfway there. By this point with LL, I was done with the morning sickness entirely, which had been replaced with frequent migraines and back pain. I had told all of my friends and coworkers about the pregnancy, and was happily planning my maternity leave. I had started looking at stuff that I wanted to buy for the baby (didn't buy anything yet, but I was looking) and we had already received several baby gifts in the mail. I was almost done crocheting a blanket for the baby. I was wearing maternity pants every day, since my regular pants had grown too tight and uncomfortable. I had gained 5 pounds. S and I were tossing around a few names (though nothing serious until we found out the gender). We had started clearing out the room that would become the nursery. And I was feeling regular light kicks from tiny LL.

I know that every pregnancy is different, blah blah blah, but I still expected a fair amount of overlap. But, it's not happening. Comparing that list to this time around, the only commonalities are the frequent migraines and back pain. That's it. Everything else is different. I'm still getting morning sickness, worse than it was for most of the first trimester. I've barely started to tell my coworkers (it's leaking out slowly this time around) which means that many of our friends don't know yet, either. I have no idea what I'm going to do about maternity leave, because I don't know if I'm going to have a job. We have done zero shopping for the baby, and have received no gifts. I haven't so much as bought yarn for a blanket, much less started working on one. I'm still wearing normal clothes, which fit just fine. I'm 2 pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight. S and I haven't mentioned a single baby name. We don't know where the baby is going to be sleeping, because we don't know if we're going to be buying a new house before the baby arrives, so nothing has been done for a nursery. And I've just barely started to feel some kicks, and I'm not completely convinced that they're not just my imagination.

Some of these things are entirely under my control -- if I wanted to tell people, I could. And nothing in particular is stopping me from discussing names or looking at new strollers or crocheting a blanket (other than, um, writing my dissertation, which has a self-imposed deadline of "before I go into labor," but it's not like I'm not procrastinating on that with everything possible under the sun). Still... I'm not feeling any particular drive to get going on the baby stuff yet, either. My defense is, of course, partly to blame -- I'm been very very distracted by getting through that ordeal. And now that it's over, the dissertation writing and job hunting are sharing front stage. But not gaining weight and not showing and not feeling many kicks... those things have kind of combined to make this pregnancy feel very abstract for me, even this far along. I'm not particularly worried about those things (lots of people don't feel kicks until closer to 20 weeks, and the baby is growing normally so I've been told not to worry about the lack of weight gain) but still... it seems to be making me feel more "distant" from this pregnancy than I was with LL. And that makes me a bit sad.

We're hoping to find out the baby's sex at next week's detailed ultrasound, which should help me to put an imagined face to this oh-so-abstract baby. I'm hoping that the sex information helps to make things more real for me. In the mean time, I forced myself to buy something for the baby, something that I can look at to hopefully start some of the baby daydreaming that consumed me during my pregnancy with LL. I bought this onesie for the baby this week. Appropriate, no?

Monday, August 9, 2010


Alternate title for this post: "... In Which Nicky Learns (Again) that the World Does Not Revolve Around Her."

I agonized and agonized about when to tell AdvisorA about my pregnancy. I kind of didn't want to mention it to her until I had a job, lest she decide to tank my letters of recommendation. But I also didn't want her to find out from someone other than me, which would make things even worse. And once everyone at my university knew... well, it was just a matter of time. So I decided to just bite the bullet and tell her already.

I sent her an email, letting her know that I was pregnant. I re-worded the email several hundred times before finally sending it off last Monday. And I immediately regretted it, but there was nothing to do but wait.

And wait. And wait. And wait. Because she never wrote back.

I spent all week convinced that I had made a horrible mistake. And hating AdvisorA for whatever rationale she was possibly using to not respond. Maybe she was so angry that I was further ruining my career that she couldn't bring herself to respond? Maybe she was trying to decide whether to tell me outright about her plans to give me bad recommendations, or just do it quietly? Maybe she was so happy that my defense was over that she didn't feel the need to read anything from me ever again? Maybe she was busy plotting exactly how to ruin my life?

Because, you know, it's all about me. No other possible reason that she wouldn't have written back.

Yesterday, I found out that AdvisorA's mother died. She actually passed away two days after my defense. And she's been busy, you know, mourning and planning a funeral and stuff. Not really responding to email.

When I found out, I sent her an email with my condolences. (I'll send a card, too, but I wanted something to reach her as soon as possible.) And she wrote back, almost immediately. She thanked me for my note. And she told me that her mother's last "good" day was the day of my defense, and her mother was very happy for me and for AdvisorA that the defense went so well. And she told me that she had seen my email, and congratulations on my pregnancy. And it brought her a measure of happiness to know that life was going on. And she wishes that some of her mother's spirit will live on in my unborn child. And a friend of hers had a baby who was born around the time that her father died (many many years ago) and she's always doted on that child, as a way of remembering her father. And because of the timing, with my defense and my pregnancy announcement and her mother's death, she will always feel a special bond with my child as well.

Um. Yeah. You all know how up and down my relationship with AdvisorA has been, but this one really threw me for a loop. My next post will probably return to self-indulgences about dissertation writing and toddler temper tantrums and pregnancy complaints, but for now... yikes. I'm appropriately sad and chastised and grateful for everything that I have.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Completely Unimportant Dilemma

Please be sure to read the title, so that you know that I am completely aware that this is a ridiculous thing to be wasting brain cycles thinking about. Nevertheless, brain cycles are being wasted, and I don't know what to do. Also, there's a certain comical absurdity to the situation, so I wanted to share. Advice appreciated.

Let's say you're a PhD student about to finish up grad school. You have an advisor (let's call her AdvisorA) who has been less than supportive for the past two years, even though you had an excellent relationship early on. She cut off your funding after you had a baby, insisting that having a child proved that you weren't serious about your career, and she didn't want to waste more time and money on you. She takes weeks to respond to emails (unless it's about something that impacts her, in which case she always responds within the hour), and you went months without speaking to her on the phone. She lives in a different state, and each time she has visited your university in the past 18 months, she hasn't even mentioned it to you until she's at the airport to fly home again. She took 6 weeks to review the single dissertation chapter that you sent to her so far, and even then, she had very few comments, and they were more aesthetic than substantive. She put you through hell leading up to your defense, and even the morning of the defense itself, you weren't sure whether she was actually going to show up, even though "showing up" just meant sitting in front of a video conferencing camera at her own university.

You're feeling good that your defense is over, but you still need to interact with AdvisorA for a few more months. She still needs to sign your final dissertation, and you need her to write letters of recommendation for you for jobs. But you're looking forward to being done with her after that, and you assume that she wants to be rid of you, too.

It's now the day after your defense. You innocently check your email and discover... wait for it... that AdvisorA wants to be your "friend" on Facebook. How do you respond?

I've asked around, and even people who get along really well with their advisors aren't generally "Facebook friends" with them. And all the professors that I've casually talked to have expressed shock that a professor would ask a current student; in fact, they all talked about agonizing about whether to accept friend invitations from their students (generally undergrads), but have never heard of it happening in the other direction. So, I'm kind of at a loss. And it's not like I'm posting drunken photos that I don't want her to see. I tend to post occasional photos of LL, and innocuous status updates at the rate of 3-4 per month (things like "I passed my defense!"). I'm not concerned about "hiding" things from her. It's more that I'm pissed off at her, but I don't want to get her more pissed off at me while I still need stuff from her.

So far, I've just pretended not to have seen the request. But at some point, I should respond. Any thoughts?