Sunday, April 29, 2007

Hobbit House

If wanting to live in a hobbit hole is wrong, then I don't want to be right...
I bought this magazine for Don just on the strength of the back cover. It made me dig out my big ol' graph-paper pad and pencils and start sketching floorplans for the first time in months. Now, if only that lottery ticket that he's bringing me tonight would have the winning numbers, we'd be all set.

Ben, the next time you're at work, find this month's issue of Fine Homebuilding, and turn it to the back cover... you will love it.

It's not the round windows and doors; it's the size, the woodwork, the stone, the gardens, the detail. I'm not sure I could relate to some very rich person who had this built to house his J.R.R. Tolkien collection, but I'd sure love to talk to the builder...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Warning, you maybe don't want to read this post. Seriously. Especially if you are perhaps male. It is graphic, gross, disgusting and maudlin. I have waffled for the past week about whether to write about my miscarriage or not... Even after a year and half of having a blog I am still not sure where the boundaries are; I never know how much to share, with my friends and with the Internet at large. This definitely crosses the boundaries into 'too much'. I am not writing this to be read but because I need to write about it... There are some physical experiences that change us forever, a first period, first sexual encounter, first pregnancy; they are like bridges that can only be crossed once.


To begin with, "..., but worse." If a medical professional tells you that an experience will be "like (something else), but worse", ask about the "worse". Get a definition for the "worse", get some parameters for what is normal and what is not. Otherwise you may find yourself standing over a toilet with cellphone in hand, wondering whether to call 911 or not. After the ultrasound on the 10th, that showed basically a dead ("stopped growing") embryo, the wonderful nurse-practitioner gave me a brief (too brief, in retrospect) run-down on what to expect next. The phrase "like a bad period, but worse" came up and I didn't pay too much attention; I was still reeling with shock.

So, I prepared for a bad period, stocked up with pads, Advil, ice cream. I was expecting to feel grief, sadness, pain... I was prepared for that. I was so distracted and consumed by the emotional side of losing this pregnancy that I wasn't thinking very much about the physical aspect; and after all I've had approximately one gazillion periods before. I knew it was coming all day on Monday. I had a continuous bad crampy feeling and an insistent pain in my lower back, and spotting... I thought, well I guess tonight it will begin. Sometimes, at least, miscarriages must actually resemble really bad periods; several days or at least several hours of heavy but controlled bleeding. And apparently sometimes they bear no resemblance at all and happen entirely in the course of an hour, making you think that you might actually die.

At the end of the Monday workday we are having the daily run-down with the manager; sales reports, news. I am very anxious to get going because the crampy feeling is getting worse, the pain has jumped through the Advil barrier and is making my thinking all fuzzy. On the walk to my car, I feel the bleeding start, but it's kind of a "whoosh", not a trickle. In the seven minutes it takes me to get home (a record, really), I've soaked my pad, my pants, and a good portion of the driver's side seat. I didn't know what to do. I rush into the house, try to take a shower. But I'm bleeding so much that it's pouring down the insides of my legs and down the drain, startlingly like the Hitchcock film. I try to get out and get dressed, but every time I hold a pad between my legs it is immediately filled with blood; it's more like peeing than bleeding. More like a faucet that's stuck open. Actually what it is really like is throwing up, but throwing down instead. That same feeling of absolute non-control, of violence. Finally I discover that the only solution is to just sit on the toilet. I try to call Don, but his cellphone is here in the house; I hear its cheerful ring as I call. I call his hotel, leave a message. I call the nurse on her private phone, leave a panicked message asking how much blood is normal-- can we discuss this, please. And also can we discuss the huge blobby things that are coming out of me that resemble those things that come with a turkey-- the gizzards or liver or whatever. PERIODS are, like, fluid. Not half-solid. I almost throw up but stifle it, because I'm already sitting on the toilet and don't want to barf all over my clothes that are still on the floor. Don calls me back. I tell him what's happening, and that I'm afraid if it keeps going like this that I will pass out or something. I ask him to come home as soon as possible, and to bring bleach and an extension cord.

And then, as suddenly as it began, it slows back down to a trickle. It's been about an hour at this point. I try the shower again, clean myself up, get dressed again. Leave another message for the nurse telling her I seem to be OK now, just a little weak and shaky. Clean up the bathroom as it resembles a crime scene, hope Don comes home soon with the bleach. Sometimes the environmentally-friendly, grapefruit scented cleansers are great. Sometimes you need the hard stuff, like when you bleed all over the bathroom and really need to scrub away the memory of what just happened. NOW, it is like a really heavy period. All I feel at this point is relief, just sheer relief that I'm no longer hemorrhaging blood, that I didn't pass out, or have to go to the ER. I also realize that it's a real blessing that I had that doctor's appointment, that ultrasound. What happened was pretty terrifying but at least I was expecting it, or something like it. At least I had the phone numbers to call. I think that if I hadn't known ahead of time that I was going to miscarry, I would have called myself an ambulance, gone to the ER. Although it was a bit surreal, I'm glad that I had a week to process the knowledge of the loss before having to deal with the physical miscarriage.

Somewhere at this point my nurse calls me back, profusely apologetic, something about the power being out in her part of town. (Did I mention that this whole time, the weather was being freaky? If I were still in Texas I'd have been worried about a tornado on top of everything else. It was very cloudy, windy, stormy. The perfect backdrop if this had been a scene from a Shakespearean drama or Harry Potter book. Perhaps lions were walking about downtown, but I didn't see them.) She tells me that everything sounds normal, that it does happen like that sometime, that I should rest for the remainder of the evening (cue sarcastic response here, because I was planning on going out clubbing...) and that if anything else happens or I need her, to call again. She's very nice, and she reassures me that this is not my fault... because I had to ask.

Don comes home a bit after that, with a gallon of bleach, an extension cord, take-out burgers, and a sympathy card; it was like a selection of props for an improv comedy sketch. I bleach the bathtub, the toilet and the bathroom floor. Run all of the affected clothing and towels through two wash cycles. The next morning, I use our little carpet-shampooer thing to scrub out the car's upholstery, the orange cord stretching across the lawn and into the house. I just didn't want to be faced with any dark, bloody reminders of that evening.

And I've been bleeding and cramping ever since, but gradually, less and less. I'm hoping it will end today. Perhaps I should have mentioned that my periods are usually only two days, three at the worst. It's SATURDAY, for crying out loud I just want this to be over with. The whole week, I've felt tired and just drained... I can't tell if it's a physical reaction to the pain and blood loss, or an emotional one. With a little perspective, I can see that I was being a bit naive. Of course the end of a pregnancy, no matter how short, is going to be different than a period, and not just as a matter of degree. If your uterus has spent the last two months creating and growing stuff, that stuff is going to all come out and it won't be pretty. The pains had, I think, more in common with labor contractions than with period cramps, at least in the way they worked to just shove everything outwards.

Now what I am hoping is that this incident indicates that I have an incredibly efficient uterus. I mean, just over an hour to evict everything? Maybe this this a preview of the real thing, and I will someday have one of those 3-hour labors you hear about. There's probably no correlation, but it would be nice...

Anyways, if you read this whole thing and have the urge to throw up, don't say that you weren't warned. Sorry.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Nothing Left to Say

Gunman Kills 32 PeopleOn Virginia Tech Campus

In the words of the bank's courier, Bruce...

"This is some fucking MESSED UP fucking BULLSHIT, man. What the fuck is wrong with some assholes? Man. Fucking hell."

What can I possibly add to that?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Very Cliche'd Post about Beaten Paths, Etc.

Friday evening, Don and I had the same idea; it happens sometimes. Idea = get out and do something/ go somewhere instead of sitting quietly at home contemplating things. I wanted to do something extravagant, useless, girly. Something nice for myself that didn't involve calories. I felt icky, heavy and unfeminine... I think any woman that's been pregnant knows that womanly feeling that comes with it; the new-found joy in curves, the rediscovery of their purpose, the slight innocent smugness of easy fertility. Losing a pregnancy reverses that feeling with crashing gears. For me at least, it makes me feel un-womanly, incapable and in, what kind of woman can't hold on to a pregnancy? OK, from what I've learned recently, a great big percentage of us. Apparently everyone I know and their mothers too have miscarried. But that doesn't help a lot psychologically, I still feel kind of broken and useless.

So I asked my girly-girl coworker friend (who is always made up, manicured, and dressed) about a manicure and was directed to one of these all-purpose waxing/mani-pedi places. I had my nails done, my first manicure in almost two years. I wanted a bright, cheerful, defiantly happy color, something that declared, "Maybe I lost my baby but I am still a woman, and I will have another. And I can be girly if I want to, so THERE. If I want to act like the girl from Legally Blond, that's my business." Obviously the declaration is just from myself to myself but it is a statement nonetheless. Unfortunately, the color is now driving me crazy because I accidentally picked out Barbie pink, almost fluorescent. Not exactly 'me', even a me that's trying not to be me for a bit. I guess they're cute, and the paint is keeping me from biting my nails, but eesh... Barbie.

I also had my eyebrows waxed. Is it stating the obvious to point out that I've never done that before? I didn't know that they go back over with tweezers and clean up the results, so after the waxing bit was done I thought, "well that wasn't too bad!" and then almost cried during the constant pluck-pluck-pluck of the tweezers. They look good though. I felt refreshed and renewed upon leaving the shop. The nurse called with the blood-test results right afterwards; they exactly confirm what the ultrasound showed, so that's all tied up together. Nothing to do but wait for the inevitable.

Don's idea was to treat ourselves to a nice night out, something better than Chili's or Friday's or pizza, so we went downtown. I'm sure I've described the downtown area before, but it's basically just one street about 8 blocks long, blocked off from car traffic and lined with restaurants, bars, art galleries, and etc. Very expensive, for the most part. We've thoroughly explored the street and have either tried, wait-listed or eliminated every restaurant there. So when the place where we were going to eat was closed, we ended up turning down a side-street that was rather dark and unpromising... and yet has a wonderful restaurant that we had never seen before. A nicely crowded bar with a jazz pianist, warm atmosphere, and fantastic steaming bowls of pasta that were as good as the Italian place that we originally had in mind.

It is an interesting alchemy that sometimes it is easier to be alone together in a crowded place than in an otherwise empty apartment. Sitting on bar chairs on either side of a tiny tall table, leaning forward to hear each other over the ambient conversation and live music, drinking wine instead of just water, I felt warm and happy and relaxed for the first time since Tuesday. We didn't avoid the subjects at hand-- actually we got into a rather heated discussion about placentas, of all things. Don's confidence that this will all work out, that we'll be pregnant again in no time, that the next one will stick, is comforting. Part of me is screaming, "but that's what you thought this time and look what happened!" and yet his attitude is contagious nonetheless. The happy feeling isn't permanent, of course. It only lasted for the evening and was much assisted by the Chardonnay. But for right now, it's enough to know that it's possible.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Heaven in a Fed-Ex Box

Gosh, I have been so distracted by this impending miscarriage thingie that I almost forgot to post what I was already writing about previously. Silly Mara. Anyways.

A few days ago, I guess it was Monday night, I come home to find this... this huge box on my doorstep. A box really big enough to store, say, my computer or something. And it is from Becca, which bodes really really well, because she manages a luxury chocolate shop; I will not name it for the purposes of privacy but... one of the best brands, no question. So a box from Becca is always a good thing.

She sent me an Easter basket. Except instead of a "basket", it is an enormous ceramic mixing bowl-- the size you would use to let bread dough rise in, for example, or maybe plant a geranium in for the front porch. Huge. And instead of "Easter candy"-- marshmallow Peeps, jelly beans, candy eggs-- it was filled, filled, with fine chocolates. Truffles. Caramels. Candy bars. A rabbit. And instead of a "Happy Easter" card, it had a card that depicts chocolate Rabbis coming down a conveyor belt as someone says, "You idiot, I said chocolate RABBITS", with "Happy Easter/Passover/Etc" inside.

I took some pictures (after ripping into it like a pig, unfortunately) but they don't do it justice-- the bowl is much bigger than it appears here:

I have literally never seen so much chocolate of this quality in one place. I mean if you don't count being in the store itself, obviously. I wanted to take some of the truffles to work for the meeting tonight, but Don argued vociferously against the idea, pointing out that chocolate lasts a long time, we could put some in the freezer, etc etc etc. He likes chocolate as much as any woman I know, quite unusual for a guy I think. Becca's gift is going to go down in history as one of the BEST PRESENTS EVER. Definitely a hall-of-fame-er.

When I went to the doctor Tuesday, I learned that I have gained 4-5 pounds in the last 6 weeks, something I promptly (naturally) forgot about after the ultrasound. Until several hours later, when I was stuffing my face with chocolate, and I kind of realized that I have to do something with the weight... either count it towards my next pregnancy (which probably won't work very well) or lose it, or just be heavier. Don is of the opinion that we will get pregnant again so fast that it will just be part of that, but it took us some months of trying the first time...The problem is that I carry all my weight generally in my ass and hips region, where I really can't see it, or feel it, or whatever. But this little bonus pregnancy poundage is sitting right in my belly. Which I was fine with before (pregnant! belly! it's all good!) but now what? My pants fit funny. This is the most I've ever weighed-- almost 160. (Too much information, I know.) I know, I know. It's sweating the small stuff when I've got much bigger things to obsess about. It's just how I deal with life, I guess.

The only decision I've made about it is that the chocolate should be savored, not devoured. It is very special stuff, not a bag of Hershey's Kisses that can be emptied in the course of a single movie-viewing. Filling myself with chocolate isn't going to make me OK again, it can't bring my little embryo back. (Although if it could, after Tuesday I'd have like quintuplets in there or something. I really ate that much.) So I am going to stop drowning myself in the stuff just because it's here. Take Don's suggestion and set some aside for later-- eat each piece with consciousness, purpose, rather than mindlessly hand-to-mouthing it.

Hmmm. One thing that I just remembered is that at the doctor's office, they had me weigh myself, and do my own pee-in-a-cup. They said it would be part of every visit: instead of just plopping down in the waiting area with a magazine I was to step into the back, use the scale and the bathroom (and a Dixie cup and a magic marker), and then go back and wait. Oh and then they just ask what the scale number was! It intrigued me because of course we are all capable of weighing in, remembering the number (like anyone could forget) and using the bathroom, but I've never had a doctors' office that actually acknowledged the patients' ability to do simple tasks. Or that would take their word on the weight rather than having to see it. It just makes so much sense, because by the time the nurse or doctor is ready to see the patient, half of the little distracting tasks are already done. They can have the urinalysis finished by the time the patient is in the examining room; I know they did with mine because I asked about my kidneys and was told that I tested clean, no signs of a bacterial infection. So they ran that test before I was even on the table. What a great system!

One bright side to this whole steaming pile of crap that is this week is that I really do (so far) like the doctors' office, nurse-practitioner, and hospital that I will be using, if not for this pregnancy than for the next. It would suck if on top of everything else I had gotten a bad vibe from them and had to start over in my search for care. I haven't actually met the doctors yet because the first visit is always with the MSN/NP, but it bodes well. Both the doctor's office and hospital are within 2 1/2 miles from the house, a 5-minute drive. I love small cities. This morning, I left the house at 7:00, got to the hospital (for the follow-up blood work) at 7:05, got stabbed right away (the lab opens at 7, so there wasn't a wait yet), went to the coffee shop, was home by 7:23. Don't have to be at work until 10:00, so maybe it wasn't the best plan, (could have slept later) but hey, time to write this post, right? Since I will (I hope, someday, please) be delivering at this hospital, it's nice to know how close-by it is; it makes staying home longer an option, or returning home, or whatever.

Body-Brain Disconnect

The more I think about it, the more annoyed I am with myself. Not for the (impending) miscarriage, which I know is a "fluke" (at least so far) and "probably because of the embryo and not because of you" (which is less comforting than it sounds, although I do hope it's true...) but because I apparently totally suck at reading my body at all.

First, I harbored all kinds of doubts about whether I was at all fertile. I secretly believed that I'd never get pregnant naturally, or at least not easily. But I was wrong, that was all in my head. Two months of concerted effort, and there-ya-go.

I had NO IDEA that I was pregnant, until my period was two or three days late. Even though we were trying to get pregnant, I didn't have one single inkling. I always thought I'd be one of those women who just knew, from the moment of conception or at least a few days later. But I was convinced that I was PMS-ing and that the period was on its way.

And now, I've been carrying along an embryo that "stopped growing" three weeks ago-- is there a difference between "stopped growing" and "died"? Is there a medical difference, or is it just semantics because to say "your baby died a while back" sounds worse than "it stopped growing"-- as though it might start growing again any minute? Because it doesn't work that way, "stopped growing" is really just compassionate slang for "it's gone". It has been about five weeks now that I've known about the pregnancy, five weeks since I peed on a stick and got a great blooming positive. And yet for three out of those five weeks, I was talking to, dreaming about, writing about something that was no longer here. And I had no idea.

I feel as though I don't have any more insight into my own body than into a total stranger's. Why can't I *tell* what's going on? The kind nurse explained the pregnancy hormones, the ones that are still in my blood, still telling my body that I am pregnant. I'm not crazy to be experiencing as much or more morning sickness and other symptoms as I was a month ago. It takes time for them to diminish, and when they do is when I'll miscarry.

Packing my purse with maxi pads and Advil is bizarre, surreal. Am I cramping inside, or is that just the effects of withheld emotion?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

9 Weeks Down, No More to Go, It Seems

The doctor's appointment did not go well. Okay, to say it that way sounds almost flippant, which is not how I feel. The long and short of it is that the baby I'm carrying seems to have died a few weeks ago and I can expect to miscarry any time now. Ultrasound showed a fetal 'sac' that stopped growing at 6 weeks' gestation...

And the weird thing is that I could tell, before the nurse said anything, that it wasn't good. Not because I'm good at reading ultrasounds or anything, but because there was this tangible shift in the energy in the room as she looked at the screen, in that 20-second gap before she started explaining what we were looking at. Before she even had a chance to say anything, I had to ask the questions... I asked her before she could tell me, if there was a baby in that sac. Yet somehow it didn't help any, except maybe to make it easier for her, I don't know. It can't be easy, being the person to deliver this news.

And she was so nice. She has obviously told hundreds of women that their pregnancies aren't viable, and yet hasn't lost touch with the fact that for each of them, it's the first time...

She explained that this is "normal", or at least common-- what the hell does normal mean, anyways? How normal can it be? Common. That it probably doesn't affect my chances of getting pregnant or staying pregnant again in the future, but that they can do some tests to make sure, something about progesterone and blood-clotting stuff, I don't know. That we can start trying again, almost right away. She gave me her cell-phone number and said I could call her anytime at all. (any time at all, all you gotta do is call...and I'll be there... what, don't Beatles lyrics pop into everybody's head at odd intervals?)

She explained that because I am still so early, I can miscarry naturally and don't have to have a "procedure"-- a surgical abortion to scrape out what's left. I guess that's a relief, to be spared the D&C, but sitting here waiting for what will feel like "a really heavy period" is nerve-wracking. I called in sick today-- the appointment lasted to the point I was supposed to be at work already-- but I have to get a grip by tomorrow. I have only today to wallow in my yoga pants, sobbing into my soup. Tomorrow I must pull myself together and present a professional face to the world, or else tell my bosses about all this and ask for some time, which seems like a bad idea. If I get pregnant again soon, I'll need all the time I can take then, I don't want to waste it now.

I was sent to the hospital to get my blood work done: they test my HCG or HGC or whichever it is today, and again on Thursday, compare the two numbers to confirm what the ultrasound showed. She said that there's a chance she could be wrong, if I'm wrong about my dates, and the blood work will give more detail.

But I know my dates perfectly. This pregnancy was no accident or surprise, so I was keeping close track... I know that my last period started February 3rd. I know that I ovulated either the 15th or the 16th, I know that I took the pregnancy test on March the 6th, when my period was 2 or 3 days late. There's no way in hell I could be only six weeks along instead of nine-and-a-bit, no way. It's a fool's hope.

Right now I feel weirdly calm, something that would have helped me at the hospital... I was crying all over the place and people were staring; or not so much actually staring as doing that not-looking-at-the-upset-person. They probably thought I was dying or something, nothing as simple as a botched up pregnancy. I've talked to my mom and to Don, of course. Everybody else is going to have to be put on hold for awhile.

Monday, April 09, 2007

A Suggestion for the Majority

It's funny how people that are of the majority--any majority-- take for granted that everybody they meet are of the same group. Being Jewish, I don't celebrate Easter. Obviously. Easter is so *not* a holiday f0r Jews that it's hard to describe how much of a non-holiday it is. Christmas is not a holiday for us, but I know a lot of Jewish folks that celebrate elements of it anyways-- a string of lights here, a Christmas tree there. Even in my family, my mom fills our stockings every year, a remnant from her own upbringing. Christmas has become so secularized that it is almost like a December Thanksgiving, divorced from its religious foundations. But I don't know any Jewish families that celebrate Easter, even in the most secular terms.

Last week, Don and I were watching an endless History Channel show on the Plagues of Egypt (How they really could have happened! Really!) that was being aired as an homage to Passover. Apropos of nothing he turned to me and asked, "So is Easter a holiday for you people?"

I thought he was asking, "a holiday for Jewish people", which as I said earlier is *so not a holiday* that I just stare at him as though he's a two-headed idiot-- he knows that. Also, he doesn't generally refer to my people as 'you people' if that makes any sense. But what he was actually asking was if Easter was a Bank holiday. "You people" as in, "You people that get paid holidays for Memorial Day and President's Day and Columbus Day and gosh knows what else while I can hardly take a regular weekend once a month and then I finally get a day off and the damn bank is closed." So we sort of stared at each other in confusion for awhile. It was fun.

I don't wear an "I'm Jewish" sign. I don't really "look Jewish", except to the most observant of observers: those people that are fascinated by origin and are prompted by my unusual coloring to ask, "Where are you from?"-- or to make their own guesses; I've heard everything from Brazilian to Romanian.

So all of last week, I hear the usual "Happy Easter"s, the "What are your plans for Easter"s, etc etc etc. It's just this sort of blatant assumption that we all belong to the same good ol' country club that I don't understand. I don't assume that other people celebrate the same things that I do. I didn't wish any strangers a happy Passover last week. When the release date for Harry Potter was announced, I didn't demand of my customers what their plans for reading the Last Book are. When the Democrats swept the elections last fall, I didn't assume that everyone I know would be thrilled just because I was. Why assume that anyone is like you or unlike you until you have some reason to believe that they are?

Really, it has nothing at all to do with being Jewish. I have friends that are atheists, friends that are Pagan, and friends that seem to celebrate every religion indiscriminately (yes, I'm talking about you, Ben) There are lots of folks that don't fit the mainstream mold, especially when it comes to religious, non-secular holidays.

If you ask me about my Easter, I either have to lie--"Oh, very nice, how was yours?"--or politely offer a correction--"Oh, well actually, I don't celebrate Easter..."-- depending on how much information I feel like sharing with you at the moment. Mainstream Majority People, don't make me choose between lying, which I hate, and disclosing personal matters, which I also hate. It's a no win situation for me, an awkward one. And I know that you're just trying to be polite, trying to make light conversation while I process your transaction. I understand that. So how about we talk about the weather, instead? The weather is an all-out equalizer; rain falls on Jew and Gentile and atheist alike. We all feel the cold or rejoice in the sunshine. Is talking about the weather cliche? Of course it is, because it serves a purpose in casual conversation that religion never could. So how about you just ask me how my weekend was, or how I'm liking this nice spring day? Then we can chit-chat wholeheartedly.

Friday, April 06, 2007

9 Weeks Down, 32 To Go...

Argh, long time no post. Mostly due to, you know, the overwhelming tiredness that's been the topic of many posts now. So, I'm not going to talk about being tired today just to shake things up a little.

I will mention the hunger, because the longer this goes on, the weirder it seems. Both the pregnancy books I've read and the tales of other preggers ladies seem to focus on morning sickness, on finding foods you can stomach. They really don't address this ravenous, constant hunger that I've been experiencing all day long. I thought that this was a later-on-in-pregnancy thing, not a 2nd-month thing. At my doctor's appointment on Tuesday, I may ask them to take a look around to make sure that I don't have any extra passengers in there or something. Other things I will ask about:

Drugs I can take for my sinuses, which are crazy-awful right now. Tylenol doesn't do much for a sinus headache. I hope they can prescribe me something safe, or at least recommend an OTC.

Kidneys. Why do my kidneys hurt? It's very strange, almost like a kidney infection but without all the other symptoms. It's a mild sort of pain, more uncomfortable than intense. This is not addressed by the books either-- I'm assuming it's just one more thing made weird but it does worry me a tad that nobody else seems to be having kidney pain.

Don and I have fallen into the habit of calling the baby--which has graduated this week from an "embryo" to a "fetus"! -- "Grain of Rice". This comes from my referring to the baby's size as such, whenever Don says something like, "I don't think you are setting a good example for the baby right now" or when he tries to talk directly to my stomach, or other age-inappropriate stuff. But now it is bigger than a grain of rice and I decided that we needed to upgrade to a new nickname. Don's contributions: "Puffed rice? Rice cereal? Rice Crispy Treat!" Me: "No!" He also claims that I'm not so much 'eating for two' as eating for a platoon. Seriously, he's having way too much fun with this pregnancy thang, including the fact that I'm too tired to whack him when he says things. Whoops, mentioned the tired. Drat. Sorry.

But on the bright side, the "morning sickness" isn't too bad at all. As long as I keep food in my stomach, I feel OK. And since I'm hungry all the time, it's no hardship to eat. I feel a little queasy, a little dizzy, I get car-sick even when I'm the one driving. But no throwing up or major nausea, nothing compared to what other women seem to go through. I wonder if we'll be able to hear the heartbeat on Tuesday. Nine weeks is kind of early for that--unpredictable. It'd be nice, though. Confidence-building. I've never felt so vulnerable as I do right now; I've never felt as though I had quite so much to lose. Instead of feeling more womanly and adult, I feel girlish, shy, small and self-protective, as though keeping the world at bay will somehow help me hold onto this grain-o-rice. Logically I know that's not possible, but I walk down the street with my arms folded. I'm gaining weight but am taking up less space than usual...It's quite strange.