Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I think I'm going to raise this one for Cirque du Soleil. Shes already quite the tumbler, and I think if we trained her from a young age, like 4 or 5 weeks, she could be that star of the show that gets tossed through the air and basically flies. Then again, since she likes to kick and roll and punch so much, maybe she'd be better suited as a fighter, like Layla Ali or someone of the sort. Either way, she's destined for physical greatness. Or street yard brawls.

I can hardly believe that I'm 35 weeks pregnant. That's, like, pregnant. Very pregnant. For reals. So exciting! Yet, so, so terrifying! Every time Alex and I start to chatter about the birth, I get diarrhea. And then I think about how diarrhea is one of the symptoms of early labor. So then I get thinking about the power of thinking. In other words, when we mention something about the hospital, or maternity leave, and my stomach starts to churn, I now know to change the topic. Quickly. And be prepared to run to the restroom.

I keep thinking about what my mother must have been like at this stage when she was pregnant with me. I hear stories about when she was pregnant with my brother. At 32 years old, she had never even held a baby before. Or so the story goes. She flew out to Indiana to visit my Aunt Carol, who had just birthed cousin Ben, to practice holding a baby, learn to change diapers, and see what this motherhood thing was all about. Granted, she only had about 10 more weeks to go herself before Brian was due. But with me she was 38, she'd already raised a son to six years old, had another son, a baby who died at 5 months, and I was her first since the tragic loss, and the first girl. I've got to imagine that came with a lot of emotional baggage. My dad's memory is not only a bit dull for these sorts of details, but also biased. As is everyone's. Sometimes I like to think that's why I keep a blog. A diary can be written with a slightly too personal tone. By because I know there's a possibility others are reading may thoughts here, I can censor them enough that they would be appropriate for my daughter to read well into the future. If for some reason I'm not here to share all these experiences with her myself. One of my greatest regrets is that I have nothing to read from my mom's perspective. I always hold out that maybe there is a letter tucked away to me somewhere. But there wasn't one for my 21st birthday. The wasnt one for my college graduation. Not for getting engaged, married, or pregnant. Not for graduate school. And I'm assuming not for the birth of my first child. A daughter. I can fantasize all I want about what she would say to me, how she would be as my mother and as a new grandmother. But I'll ever learn her perspective about what it was like to be pregnant for the first time. What she feared about labor. The things my dad did to support her as a new mom. What she wished someone would have told her. Advice for raising a girl. Or how to balance both someone else's needs and your own. I don't get to ask all those questions, and when I do ask them of others, I know I get a very skewed, one-sided view of how they perceived my mom to be. I'd like to think that I would have one of the clearest, most accurate pictures of her. Then again, that's just another party of the fantasy.

On a totally tangential note, I go to the OB tomorrow. To get a strep B test. Which means a Q-tip up my butt. Uncool.

This is what 35 weeks is looking like. I actually feel better this week than I did those couple weeks when my hips were killing me.

And more pictures of the nursery, because Alex and I just adore it ...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


I was reading a posting on Jezebel today, and the write-up struck a particular cord with me. And not just because I happen to be carrying a daughter right now.

Here it is, the original blogpost:

I’m not a parent.

I’m beginning with this caveat so we can get the obvious out of the way and move forward amicably. Because I’m about to express an opinion on parenting, even though I’m not one. Non-parents expressing opinions about child rearing can put parents’ shorts in a bunch; you’re not supposed to do that. And while that type of thinking is an ad hominem logical fallacy, just bear with me and I promise that if you’re still angry with me after you’re finished reading, we can work it out over an Orange Mocha Frappuccino.

I’m at that age where most of my friends are either pregnant, already have small children, or are working on their second or third. I myself have thirteen nieces and nephews, and even more children of friends that I consider family. So lots of children, everywhere, all the time. Up with people!

But there’s a trend I’ve noticed lately that gets me as teary as that scene in Neverending Story when Artax drowns in the Swamp of Sadness. (You remember the one: the mournful-looking horse, his white body slipping inch by inch into the muddy water, as Atreyu struggles in vain to save his equine friend… excuse me a minute.) I say this is a “trend” because it’s happened a few times among my friends, and I’ve heard acquaintances describe this phenomenon, too. Each time I hear it, another wrinkle forms in my brain.

It’s this: when pregnant women – smart, funny, fierce women I respect – say they don’t want daughters. Some even take to their Facebook pages to rejoice, at approximately 20 weeks, when they find out it’s a boy instead of a girl – or, in the case of one person I know, updates her status to complain specifically about the disappointment of having a girl.

I find these women fall into two camps:

#1: “I don’t want a daughter because girls are harder to raise than boys. Variations on this: “Girls are so moody and dramatic” or “Girls are manipulative and dangerous” or “Girls are easy when they’re young but watch out when they’re teenagers! Hoo boy!” or the ironic “Girls are too girly. I just can’t get into that stuff.” I cannot explain these women. I’m sorry. The best I can figure is that they dislike themselves, their sister, their mother, or someone else with a vagina, based on past experience, and the thought of producing another creature of the female variety makes their brain short and they say stupid things like, “Girls are just, I don’t know, harder on you emotionally.” They assign qualities of Disney villainess proportions – jealousy, anger, cunning, ability to talk to mirrors – to all female children. Because no male child has ever had these traits. Ever. Because children, little id blobs that they are, only grow to the complexity that the genitals between their legs allow, and no amount of guidance or learning will alter that inexorable course from the moment you know it’s pink or blue. Right?

Really, you should pity these women. Show them kindness. Love them. But do not try to change them; you will not be able to reason with them. Back the hell away. ABORT MISSION. There’s nothing you can do about it. Not one thing. Let’s hope she comes to her senses one day; maybe after her children have moved away and she starts wearing loose pants from Chico’s and likes chardonnay and goes on yoga retreats, it will dawn on her that all human beings run a gamut of personality traits and yes, she can admit now that her beloved son was a godawful moody kid.

The point is: you shouldn’t wait for this to happen.

#2: “I don’t want a girl because the world is harder for girls.” Surprise! It is! But when we’re not dodging rapists or avoiding math and science, we do like to have some fun (I mean, fun we can afford; our paychecks are only78% of our male counterparts’ checks). This is the camp that most of my friends agree is a more reasonable one – after all, it is The Truth. It’s hard out there for an XX. When women say this, it usually comes from a place of personal experience, and their hope is to avoid being part of a process that inflicts more pain on another human being – that is, giving birth to a girl. I can understand that.

But it’s still problematic. Because when women pull out this old chestnut, they are not only saying that if they could, they would choose not to increase the female population, but that they would rather participate in the status quo because it’s simpler. Let me rephrase: they would rather have a boy because they are complicit in the fact that being a male in our society is easier than being a woman – and, by having a boy, they have no intention of changing this. By having a boy, they can breathe easier. This is why women fret over the safety of their future daughters, but not over whether their future sons will be rapists or serial killers. (And if you have had such a worry, I salute you.) By this argument, we worry about having a victim, but don’t change the structure that produces the victimizers. So however sensitive and charitable this latter argument sounds, it is simply neither of those things.

Sex preference of any kind seems problematic because the reasons behind it fall short. After all, when parents wish for a specific sex, what are they really saying – that they’re hoping for a collection of personality traits? That they’re hoping to have their gender expectations fulfilled? How are they thus limiting their future child? I appreciate that people want to create the families they want. Sometimes, this includes yearning for one specific sex over the other, the result of a long line of societal conditioning about what it means to be “girl” or “boy.” We’ve all been trained well.

But not wanting a specific sex is even more problematic. Why? Because in a bona fide patriarchy — where rape and assault statistics are too high; where sexism runs rampant across all institutions and in media; where sex trafficking and genital mutilation still exist; where we struggle with the wage gap and lackluster maternity leave; where body autonomy and sexual reproduction rights are constantly under fire; and where women fight for basic education and literacy across the world — when you hope you don’t have a daughter, you are one more voice joining millions of others in silencing women.

If you’re one of those people who says she doesn’t want a daughter – I ask you: check your heart. Then hug yourself. And really think about it some more.

May I treat you to an Orange Mocha Frappuccino?"

I can relate to the author's frustration. I hate it when women say, "I don't want a daughter," or, "I'd rather hang out with guys," or even, "I hate working with women." To me, this is so anti-feminist. How can you disrespect a whole class of people, and those with which you share a gender? I understand more specific complaints, like not wanting to spend time with a certain type of woman, but I would suspect that the same is true for a certain type of man, too. I was raised by a mother who always had wonderful groups of girlfriends, and nurtured these relationships as much as she did with her own husband and children. I, too, have followed in those footsteps. I cherish my close girlfriends - they provide me with so much love, kindness, and inspiration. I have always been very suspect of women who do not have female friends - particularly when my brother dates them. To me, that's a sign that something is not right. And I don't mean to say that women can't have close male friends - I think these kinds of friendships are just as important, and can offer alternative insight to life matters. However, I think it is essential for women to cultivate relationships with other women - friendships, family bonds, and yes, even having daughter.

And besides, what better way to change the state of womanhood than by raising a strong, educated, independent, kind young woman??

Saturday, February 25, 2012

And Baby Stuff of New

I couldn't very well give ALL the credit to the new/old retro clothes for Baby Girl, especially considering all the adorable ensembles received at her shower a few weeks ago. Also thrown in the mix are some others notable presents, beginning with a book that might come in handy.

Erika painted this!

Dee made this!

Barbara Heinzen knit this!

Rachel sewed this!

I have some crafty friends and some friends who are just great shoppers. At this rate, my daughter is gonna be one little fashionista! Whoever said having a baby was the grown-up version of playing with dolls?!?

Baby Stuff of Old

I never thought my mom fell into the pack rat category. But apparently there are some things that she just couldn't toss. Or didnt remember to go through. One of the fun surprises - for both our parents and ourselves - of moving into our very own house, was taking permanent ownership of the many boxes that had been saved on our behalf. Both Alex and I were amused to come across our baby clothes. Surprisingly, his mother saved only the very favorite tees. My mom, on the other hand, saved even the nasty, stained, hand-embroidered "Joanna" bibs and pilly nightgowns I wore as a child. We finally went through the huge box of my clothes, tossed the ones with too much lace or too many stains, and were left with several items to dress our own daughter circa 1980s. We can't decide if she'll be the coolest kid in SW Portland for rocking the original, vintage look, or if she'll end up paying $150 per hour for therapy to lie on a couch and talk about how her parents ruined her life, starting with her infant wardrobe. We have faith in the former. Here are a few of the items we hope she will sport proudly.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


The radiology tech yesterday - a big black man in his late 40s- said to me:
"We're runnin a but late. Just hang out for a few. Here, here's a chair for you, fat girl."

The two women nearby were palpably horrified, either offended themselves, or worried that I was going to burst into tears.

Not so much, friends, I bust out laughing instead, and said, "my husband calls me a fat ninja!"

The next day he pulled me aside, apologized profusely and said he talked to his sister the previous night about what he had said to me. He grabbed my hands in his and said "I never meant to be mean." I assured him, again, that I might be one of the only women in the world who is not only not offended, but even thinks it's funny! But I warned him to never call another pregnant lady "fat girl," because he risks getting cat-scratched in the face, or something to that effect.

Meanwhile yesterday two separate medical professionals, both mothers themselves, asked me how far along I was, then before I could respond guessed 24 weeks. O. M. G. If this was only 24 weeks and not 34 weeks, I'm not so sure I could handle working fulltime. I think my hips would split in half and I'd have to sneak a nap on one of the patient beds. MRSA-free, of course.

Anyway, here's what 34 weeks looks like. I certainly don't look like a ninja. Or a fat girl for that matter. But maybe a bit like I am smuggling a soccer ball under my shirt. And jello in the back of my pants.

Alex is so sweet. He randomly got me a present this week, and even wrapped it to surprise me when I got home from work the other day. It had a cute note saying something to the effect of "for you and the baby to start all your many great talks now." Any guesses for what it was? Was stumped. A stethoscope! So now he listens to the watery swooshy sounds of my womb every night before bed. It's so cute how his mouth opens into a little "oh" and his eyes kind of bug out when he gets excited to hear anything different. I'm convinced it's all gas that he hears anyway, but he swear little Frankie is communicating with us.

Alex is already becoming a little nostalgic for this pregnancy. It seems he doesn't want it to end so soon. "Right now when I cuddle you I also cuddle the baby, and vice versa," he says. "When she's born, it won't be as easy to pay attention to both of you at once. She'll cry and stuff." I probably will be crying too babe, I think. But instead reassure him that we are in for three solid weeks of all cuddling together, nonstop, with breaks for feeding and sleeping and visitors. But I can relate a little bit. I love the anticipation and hope and pondering that comes with a first pregnancy. There are just so many unknowns that make this adventure so exciting.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Downpour. As in another party, showered with friends, gifts, and general love and support. And sweets. Here are more photos than are suitable for one blog post, in no particular order, to remember the day by. Really, it felt a bit more like a weekend celebration, because so many ladies were here from out of town. There are few things in this world that feel as good as spending hours with the girlfriends I hold nearest and dearest. I'm just so grateful that so many were able to share an anticipatory celebration of Baby Girl Close - but I still think they're crazy for fronting the airfare just to see my fat preggo self with no baby to coo over! Thanks, in particular, to Rach, who planned the whole shin-dig. A hostess with the mostest, per usual. To my favorite ladies, thanks a million, and I can't wait to pay forward the same love, support, and generosity that you have all showed me. My mom would be so proud of the network of women I have surrounding me.

Face off: Logan vs. Gizmo

I love pregnant friends. Here's wishing each one good health.

We missed you Kathleen!

My favorite ladies: WR + BFFs.

My sweetest husband. Stopped by for the end. To finish of the cake and check out the new toys.

Pregnant women shouldn't wear grey. Dress looked better in person. Awful in photos.

What's a baby shower without my favorite baby?!?

Erika, always up for a foot rub. Yes!

Alex teaching Logan to play some tunes.

Face off II: Logan vs. Harlow. Or maybe they're just going for Baby Close's new digs.

Dee's AMAZING quilt. I can't wait until Baby Close can appreciate not only the handiwork, but the amazing history of friendship and stitching that this quilt represents for me.

Logan helps me unwrap the gifts.

Raining cats and dogs. Or onesies and ruffle-butts.

The ladies.

And Gus, in the background.

Hostess with the mostest!

The beehive cake was BEE-autiful. And yummy to boot.

Erika and Logan.

Screen Time

Alex and I have been chatting lately about children and screen time. I had this assumption that I was going to be permanently attached to the couch, and thus the television - repeating the feeding and napping cycle - for the first couple months of Baby's life.

However, in baby class, we got a handout about eliminating screen exposure for the first few years of a kids life - including in infancy. This had me in a bit of a pickle. Not because I am afraid I'll miss my homies on Parenthood too much (and by the way, there's no way we're giving up nightly Jeopardy - it's bound to make our baby smarter anyway), but simply because I sort of assumed things like television and iPhones didn't matter in the first few months. I figured we wouldn't have to start worrying about screens and whatnot until the baby started paying attention to the external stimulation. When her eyes start to wander to the nearby flashing colors or noisy boxes, that's when we were prepared to make due without the everyday comforts of 21st century technology.

We've even considered having a "no battery" rule. In other words, no gifts or toys for the house that include batteries. Why would any child want to read something as simple as a book in silence when they could have some over-stimulating device honk, beep, flash, strobe, and essentially throw a baby rave?

Alex, in agreeance with our future, battery-free life, made this "poignant" analogy:

"It's like masturbating. If your kid discovers how good it feels to masturbate, why would they ever want to do anything else?"

I'm not sure I understand his exact train of thought here, especially given that newborns aren't typically prone to masturbation, but I think I get the takeaway message. Needless to say, I think we'll play it by ear. I'm sure there will be a laundry list of things that we've said "we'll never do," and life just has a way of not always letting us be in control. Which is just part of this adventure of parenting.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Peter Rabbit

I stitched this up the other day for fellow baby mama Jess Franzke, who happened to have her shower on the same day. And we are due only 6 days apart. It appears we are on the same schedule. If I don't hand embroider for a few days, I start to feel withdrawals. What next then?

Friday, February 17, 2012

My DIY Guy

Alex is ashamed. I'm proud. He built us a media cabinet! So yeah, it looks a bit like a modified chicken coop, painted white, but it's worlds above what we've used the past several years. And he just drafted it up, bought the parts, and did it all himself! I'm impressed. The only other thing I've ever seen with such handicraft is a wooden paper towel holder he made in high school. His parents still use it to store their Brawny wipes. So obviously we are at the beginning of our DIY careers, but I'm just so excited that we are both still so excited to do projects around our new house - it's been almost two months and the novelty still hasn't word off. That's a record for me!

And here's our newest gallery wall addition. Alex warned me that we can't cover each square inch of every wall with a hodge-podge of frames and knickknacks, so I promised him this would be our last. For now. But I am so pleased with how it turned out. It's one of the walls in our living room. There is an actual theme, which is just old B&W pictures. We managed to gather several that each have some sort of personal connection. From left to right, top to bottom: a photo of Alex's paternal grandmother and her girlfriends from the 40s or so; Alex's mom and aunt riding bikes as little toddlers; my mother and me, in a matching outfit form her father while stationed in Japan, and with matching haircuts to boot; some of Alex's family members at Yosemite, in what looks like the 50s or 60s; a photo my maternal grandfather, Popsi, took when he was overseas in WWII; my mom and her dad on her wedding day; my immediate family, dressed in old fashioned garb; my dad on a pony in the 50s; and Alex's dad and aunt as little tykes, probably around Christmas in San Francisco. Anyhow, I love the look, and doubley love the fact that everything is family history, even if we can't identify everyone by name.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Boy, oh boy, has the last week continued to be rough on me. I think I'm suffering from a bit of that "antepartum depression" I've read about. Or maybe there's just been a major shift in hormones. But I have been a sad, sniffling mess. Not the kind of mess that cries during the intro of Grey's Anatomy because of the moving music. And not the kind of mess that throws a tantrum when Fred Meyer is out of my favorite brand of conversation hearts (Brach's, not Sweehearts). But the kind of mess whose mind wanders off into the dark clouds, whose heart feels heavy, and who heaves big sobs during a hot shower just because she feels inconsolably sad, alone, and broken. So inconsolable that going to work is not even an option.

I know, I know, where's the tiny violin. Life is good. I have a job in a field I love, a fabulous new home, a healthy pregnancy, and a no-less-than-perfect husband who waits on me hand and foot. But that's not really what depression is about. Truth is, knowing I have all these things to be grateful for only contributes to my self-loathing for feeling less than ecstatic about my life.

No one thing appears to be the trigger for this low of lows. Although I know that reading Motherless Mothers contributes to my feelings of sorrow. It makes me think about what I had, and what I don't have anymore. It makes me think about having a daughter, and the chance of not being there for her. It makes me wonder why no one took me under their wing after my mom died. Like everyone paid attention and empathized with me for a while, but then I was supposed to be grown enough to deal on my own. But is any woman ever really grown enough to enjoy life without a mother? Let alone at 19 years old? And how about at this significant transition in a woman's life?

I heave a sob when I think about how alone in this world I feel. And another one because I know people do indeed love me, but that it's not always enough. I sob when I think of how the one person who is supposed to know me and love me most, left me. And I sob harder when I think I could be setting up the same landscape for my own daughter. I sob because my mom never wrote me a note or life instructions to read as I grew up. I sob because I wonder if that means she didn't love me enough. I sob because she really was such a great mother. And I sob because I think about how fantastic she would have been as a grandmother.

I fantasize about what our relationship would be like today, more than 10 years after her death. I imagine we would be close, and that she would have been an intricate part of this process with me. Maybe not in the "come to the OB with me," but more in the "hey, I've been feeling this way, did you ever experience that with any of your pregnancies?" I fantasize about what role she might play in the actual childbirth process. I imagine that I would have wanted her at the hospital the whole time, just in case, but that the delivery room itself would have continued to be just the Alex and Jo Show. I envy my friends, pregnant celebrities, fictional TV characters, about their maternal relationships during this time. Which in itself is interesting, since only about 15% of women with living mothers even include them in their birth experience. But for those of us left without the options, we have only our fantasy versions of our mothers to rely on.

I've been wanting Alex to read this book, so he can perhaps understand my intermittent sorrow a bit better. Motherless Mothers has been making quite the impact on me the last few days. It very obviously resonates with me, in a way I hadn't anticipated pre-pregnancy. I have been highlighting the portions that speak to me, and am re-typing them here, for posterity. And because the author, Hope Edelman, writes with so much more clarity than I am able to:

"I hadn't anticipated the existential aloneness I felt during the postpartum period ... Once I became a mother, my own mother was suddenly nowhere and everywhere all at once."

"Loss - real and imagined - is a part of a motherless mother's landscape in a way that most friends, husbands and coworkers can't understand."

"'Being a good mother' ranks high among most motherless mothers' goals - to be the mothers they didn't get to have, and to be the mothers their mothers didn't get the chance to become."

"Sometimes I suspect I'm longing more for a mother than my mother, for the archetypal wise woman who would swoop into my household at exactly the right moment, bearing a scrubber sponge in one hand and a tube of diaper cream in the other. 'Go lie down,' she would say. 'I've got everything under control. And when you wake up, I'll show you how to do it all.'"

"Many women interviewed for this book spoke of motherhood as an experience that restored their equilibrium, their self-esteem, or their faith."

"So many motherless daughters report having intense grief episodes after the births of their first children. You can't mourn as a motherless mother until you are a motherless mother."

"Most psychologists agree that the mother-child bond is the most primal and essential bond a human can experience, and its loss is one of the most emotionally painful events a child can endure."

"When someone does pay attention to the small details of her welfare, a child absorbs the message that all her needs are important and, by extension, that she is valued and that she matters."

"Even as a woman recognizes what is to be gained by a birth, she is also aware that fundamental pieces of her identity will soon be lost."

"For motherless women, a first pregnancy is mainly a psychoemotional experience. She is preparing to assume the role that has previously absence and loss ... Of all the trigger events a motherless daughter will encounter in her lifelong passage through mourning, a first pregnancy and birth top the list."

"Seeing other other women with their mothers ... causing her to feel unhinged from a maternal connection at the exact moment her own entry into motherhood was about to be confirmed."

"I'd prided myself on being a survivor, on taking care of myself in times of extreme distress. I was far less adept at letting others take care of me, though that was often what I craved most."

"I thought during my first first pregnancy, my mother was the one who would have been most interested in this child's development and in my pregnant self, the one who would have called in the middle of a day just to see if I was feeling tired."

"This mother of my fantasy was all-knowing and constantly available, with encyclopedic information about pregnancy and birth and with one hand perennially resting on the phone. Pure fantasy? Maybe. Maybe not."

"Two-third of women with mothers in the control group survey report they did receive emotional support during pregnancy and after birth."

"... the person who's known you longest, and the best. It's so easy to idealize. It's so hard t know for certain how the future might have unfolded otherwise."

"A full three-quarters of the women I interviewed face-to-face admitted they's wanted a daughter during their first pregnancies, usually as a means of reproducing the mother-daughter bond they'd lost."

"Childbirth marks the instantaneous transition from being a woman with neither mother nor child to being a mother with a child."

"Women with a history of mother loss ... may need extra support throughout labor and delivery if sadness, fear, and grief episodes come and go ... In some motherless daughters, labor and delivery can also unlock fears of dying as their mothers did, and of leaving their helpless children motherless."

"This seemed to be an especially difficult moment for women who had relished the attention lavished upon them during pregnancy ... may have been the first tome since childhood ... that anyone cared so much about what they ate, how well they slept, and their overall level of comfort and contentment ... acknowledge how disconcerting it was at first, indicating that women who are already sensitive to being left behind may be vulnerable to slight feelings of abandonment at this time."

"For motherless women, the most critical aspect of birth doulas is they exist to take care of you ... For the duration of a woman's labor, they'll mother her, which, depending on her willingness to be mothered, can help her traverse the emotional bridge to motherhood in sync with the physical journey."

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