Thursday, January 29, 2009

Don't you wish you were eating at my place tonight? Or that blogs came with smellovision? Hurry home, Don, I'm starving...

22 Weeks

I had my 22-week ultrasound yesterday, and everything looks good. Perfect, even. Both the technician and the doctor were great about respecting my desire for a "surprise", so I am still completely in the dark about the gender. But the baby's important bits and parts are all present and accounted for; s/he's measuring "exactly right" for my dates (a relief considering the, ah, considerable weight that I've put on); my placenta* and the cord are just where and how they should be. Since I've been able to feel the baby so much, I was actually more worried about those two parts than about the Passenger, on the grounds that s/he's got to be at least mostly OK to be treating me as though I'm a mosh pit**. Incidentally, my hunch that this little one is more active than is usual was confirmed by the ultrasound tech, who asked, "Good grief, is it always like that?" because every time she stopped the probe to take a picture, she had to start again as she went back to the live image, as the baby was in a different position than before.

Gender prediction update: For those going by fetal heart rate: It was 147 bpm yesterday, for whatever that is worth, which I don't think is much... a little Googling found me this:

One of the first questions asked, and easiest answered, was, "Does the
fetal heart rate predict the sex of the baby?" We performed a t-Test of the
means for females and males and found no significant difference (mean for
females = 149.26, males = 149.38; p = 0.929; +/-1SD: females = 13.8, males =
13.1). The means were less than a quarter of a beat per minute (BPM) different,
with two standard deviations being approximately +/- 26 BPM for both genders. A
quarter of a BPM with that much variation is nothing.

I have two little snafus with the medical system, apparently. The first is that at my appointment yesterday, the receptionists forgot to check me in (you know, by doing that thing where they move my chart from the "incoming appointments" area to the "ready and waiting" spot where the doctors/nurses/techs can pick it up and call my name) even though I checked in with them and presented my new insurance card and all. So I waited for more than 40 minutes before finally going back up to the desk to ask what was going on, since I had to get back to work after my visit and all. That's when they realized their little 'oops'...that sucked.

The second is kind of weirder. I just got a call from the wonderful nurse practitioner at my OB's, wondering why I haven't been in for a prenatal visit in forever. Confusing, much! It turns out that the visits to the Prenatal Diagnosis Center are supposed to be in addition to regular, every-four-weeks visits with the obstetricians, which kind of explains why they never weighed me or asked me questions or any of that stuff. Back in the beginning of the pregnancy, when I got booted from the REs to the OBs***, I had an 8/9 week appointment, the "initial visit". On my way out, they had me schedule an ultrasound with the other clinic for 13 weeks. I had that visit, and upon leaving, they had me schedule a 22-week scan, which is the one I had yesterday. Apparently, in addition to those two ultrasounds, I should have been back to the OB at 12 weeks, 16 weeks, and 20 weeks, so I've missed three month's worth of appointments and literally haven't been checked out by a doctor since I was 9 weeks along.

OK, now I'm not completely clueless... I did kinda, sorta know that I was missing an appointment in there somewhere. It was in the back of my mind, that no doctor or nurse had weighed me, checked my urine, my blood pressure, asked how I was feeling, or anything like that since that first visit three months ago. But getting away from work to go to the doctor is a HUGE pain in the ass: the bank is this terrible combination of "retail" and "office". If I worked retail, I would have to work some weekend shifts, and would have a day off (or at least a morning or afternoon) during the week in which I could do things like visit the doctor. If I worked in an office, my hours would be more constricting, but it would be easier to just leave and come back as long as I scheduled well. Like an office, my hours are exactly business hours-- I work 8:30-4:45ish, Monday through Friday-- AKA doctor's-office-hours. Like retail, I can't leave unless we arrange for someone else to cover me; it's shift work. With the bank's hiring freeze, we're perpetually short-staffed, so getting that done is difficult.

The other thing is, I tend to view pregnancy as black-and-white. Either everything is going OK, or everything is ending terribly. I know that later on, there are things to look out for-- warning signals for gestational diabetes, pre-eclamsia, etc. But for the past few months, I knew how I felt; and between the ultrasounds, the textbook-perfect uterine growth, and the fetal movement, that everything was OK with the baby. I know how to eat well, take my vitamins, keep moving, rest. Pregnancy is something that essentially progresses on its own, you know? So I kept the missing-appointments-thing in the back of my brain, and rationalized that if I were supposed to come back, they would have had me schedule an appointment, as they do (somebody in the office really did miss the boat on that one). Until today, when Peggy called me wondering why I hadn't been in for an appointment since October. Whoops.

In other news, a customer brought me a baby present-- a tiny UVA hoodie and booties-- and a card. The card was a really nice thank-you for some things I'd taken care of for her at the bank... it was so sweet and so unexpected that I cried.

I was doing so well with all of my goals and plans lately: bringing lunches, making dinners, saving dollars, cleaning and organizing. Yesterday, though, I totally fell off the wagon. I was so revved up from my ultrasound that the idea of going home to work on the house for awhile just didn't seem appealing. So I went to Barnes & Noble... and bought a slice of cheesecake, a caramel macchiato, and a magazine... and spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening in their cafe, reading books... Thus neatly killing my financial, house-keeping, and dietary goals simultaneously. I am nothing if not efficient, apparently.

*Is the placenta mine, or the baby's? Neither? Or both? It's really the most mysterious part of the whole deal, to me.

** I've heard expectant mothers say that they must have a little soccer player in there. HAH. I think we've got either a little rugby player, or a heavy-metal/ rock concert enthusiast, as it's not little feet I feel but whole head and body slams... ALL THE TIME.

*** Now that you're pregnant we have no further interest in you! Go back to your regular doctor, please!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Boy/Girl Symptom Scorecard

Urgggh I was sick yesterday. I would have guessed the flu, or maybe the plague, except that I really feel fine today. Sinus headache, aches and pains, and a pulled muscle (an ab just below my ribcage, I think from swinging around a few boxes of coin at the bank) just to round things out. It's possible I was dehydrated. I'm also wondering if it was because I wore a pair of new pants without washing them; sometimes I have allergic reactions to the chemical crap they treat new clothing with, but usually pants are OK, being so far from my face and all.

My mom sent me a huge box of maternity clothes and baby clothes for my birthday, just in time because I've outgrown everything I own and can't find ANYTHING here to buy, that will work for work. I tried Target's maternity section: nothing. That was really annoying because it's a long-ish drive up there and I'd received a tip that it was the place to try. I tried Old Navy, and didn't find anything there in their maternity, but I DID find a pair of dark-brown cords for the weekend that fit beautifully, in clearance. (Right now their size 14 fits me just right; usually I would wear a ten.) I didn't realize that it was "take an extra 50% off clearance" day, so when the pants rang up as eight dollars, I almost fell over. Now I have all of these maternity things from mom; I just have to try them on, and, if they fit, wash them before wearing. Totally stoked.

For those keeping track boy/girl:

I'm carrying very low so far, although at 21 weeks it may be too soon to tell.

"Morning sickness" or "pregnancy sickness" was definitely present for the first trimester, but it was never really bad and disappeared by 14 weeks or so. It was much milder, for example, than one friend's and two coworkers, and they all had boys. (You know who you are!)

I'm pregnant in my face-- it's rounder and chubbier than usual!-- but my skin looks good, if I may say so. That's kind of a mixed signal, there.

The fetal heart rate has measured consistently high, in the high 170's to 180's. I have an appointment next week, so we'll see if that is consistent.

Emotions are a mixed bag. For the most part I've been on a pretty even keel, although it is hard to judge these things oneself. I have had less patience with work, but work has gotten considerably more difficult and stressful in the past few months, and that has nothing to do with the pregnancy; I notice that everybody I work with is showing signs of stress and grumpiness. There have been a few episodes, like the recently documented Meatloaf Fight, but I'd say that I really am my usual laid-back self, all things considered, for whatever it's worth.

Anybody that knows me 'in real life' knows that my bum's been pregnant for years; I am so ass-positive that it would be impossible to judge anything from that region. With my overall Hubbard-squash shape, it is hard to tell... Judging by my pants, though, my butt, thighs, and hips are more or less stable so far, compared to my belly. Compounding the issue is the fact that I've been eating like a hippopotamus since getting pregnant, so even if I AM gaining in those areas, it probably has more to do with Ben & Jerry than with the Sprout Within.

Monday, January 19, 2009


I celebrated my birthday Saturday in typical fashion, by mopping a lake of water from the kitchen floor and doing dishes in the bathtub. Nothing like a frozen, busted pipe to help highlight the day! On the bright side, the kitchen floor has never been cleaner. On the extra-bright side, none of the water seems to have penetrated the down-stairs kitchen, the one that Don has spent six months renovating. When Don and I went to Lowe's yesterday to get the replacement parts he needed to fix the sink, everybody else there seemed to be getting the same stuff, and the stock of valves and hoses looked as though it had been ransacked. Guess we weren't the only ones in the neighborhood to forget about leaving the cabinet doors open and the tap dripping. It just doesn't get that cold here very often, so one forgets the routines.

I also got a pedicure, for the first time in many months. When I walked in, the proprietress looked me up and down and said, "You look different!" This has got to be the best, most discreet inquiry I've heard, because there are so many possible answers: "Well, I'm pregnant!", "I changed my hair", or whatever. So much better than a direct, "Are you pregnant?" that could be embarrassing if the answer were 'no'. I've gotten to the point where I'm visibly pregnant, for the most part; a nice change from just looking ten pounds heavier than usual. The pedicure was a birthday treat (from me), but I also consider it a frugal expenditure, because I get the worst in-grown toenails, and a pedicure is still cheaper than repeated trips to a foot doctor. Then again, I am a master of justification-- just ask me about the Ben & Jerry's that I'm consuming for the calcium. (What?)

This morning the baby was doing his usual acrobatic routine of thumps and kicks, and I could feel one kick quite clearly with my hand that was resting on my belly-- the first time I have felt anything externally. So I woke Don up and made him roll over, so that he could feel. The baby immediately stopped moving. So it's going to be like that, little fella, huh? Being difficult for mama already? There are sometimes these funny little kicks directly to my side, that make me think of when swimmers reach the end of a lap and do that turn-kick thing on the side of the pool to start the next one; I keep waiting to get one on each side so that I can time the laps. Less funny are these new kicks straight down, that I guess are probably hitting my cervix but feel exactly like a punch to the Girl Parts and are about as pleasant as they sound. Still, I welcome any and all movement, even the crotch-kicks, since nothing keeps me calm and relaxed like knowing that the baby is still alive. It's a good feeling.

Don and I reached our goal of no-dinners-out-until-my-birthday, perhaps our longest stretch of home-cooked meals to happen while we were both employed. That bit is going really well, especially since I've been quite good about keeping the kitchen clean, the biggest obstacle to cooking in my home. I've been trying to get some of the other rooms under control, too, and have filled two big boxes with clothes for Goodwill. Today I will actually drive them there and drop them off, which I have discovered through trial and error is the only way to actually get said boxes out of the house. It's funny that just having the good intentions and filling the boxes isn't enough; they will sit in the corner of the bedroom forever without that crucial last step. This should help a little with the ongoing Laundry Issue. I figure the more goals I get done in January, the better, since New Years ideas tend to fade with time.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


We are twenty weeks pregnant, this week. Twenty weeks! Half of the distance to forty! It boggles the mind, really. I feel good, amazing. I worry that I shouldn't feel good, that there should be a high price to pay for successful gestation; I've seen it with my friends and colleagues, their constant sickness, heartburn, enormous ankles. Shouldn't I be feeling like that, too? With the exception of some insomnia, I feel great. If it weren't for this semi-constant, sneakers-tumbling-in-my-dryer feeling and my changing dimensions, it would be easy to forget about the pregnancy entirely. Maybe feeling worse will come again later.

Work is dragging me down, getting more and more stressful just as I start to find that I really don't care about it at all; not the best combination. This is not a great time, apparently, to be in the banking industry, even with a solid company. Wage freezes, hiring freezes, bonuses cancelled... It's grim. We're shorthanded one position that won't be refilled anytime soon, so it is two people doing the work of three. (Except that it isn't, can you guess who has to do more?) With just two people day in and day out, even little things like taking lunch breaks become difficult. This is the first week of the semester, or what we call "Oh Hell, the Students are Back Week"-- one of the busiest times of the year. I just have to think, it will be easier next week, and afterwards.

All my little 2009 projects and goals are a fun distraction from work. It's nice to have the readily visible results that come from cleaning or organizing something (or keeping it clean); from making a substantial credit-card payment; from maintaining a bank account balance. I'm hoping that with enough time, little things like bringing lunch to work will become a habit, rather than something that requires a lot of time and thought, but it's working really well so far.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Vacation, part 2

So, last night I just made a quiche for dinner and everything was fine.

I have my cellphone back, finally, making the last two weeks the longest I've gone without one since 1999.

I didn't take any pictures at all on my vacation, which was stupid. And sad. See, my brother is a fantastic amateur photographer (with a fancy camera), who takes beautiful, artistic photos of the landscape, the sky, all that jazz. My sister has a cool new digital, one of those flat, pocket-sized, take-anywhere ones that is great for capturing spur-of-the-moment candids. The pictures she got of our sledding adventure, alone, are worth the price of the camera. Parents sledding equal great pictures. Four-months-pregnant sister, looking like the Michelin Man in ski pants and a parka, also sledding, is priceless*. Hopefully she will be emailing these to me soon, so that I can share the hilarity here as well. But my camera is neither impressively hefty and amazing, or sleek and tiny... it's a seven-year-old, 3.14 - megapixel digital that still works well enough but somehow never made it out of my backpack, because theirs were just so much better, why bother? (The answer, apparently, is "because they will forget to share their pictures with you afterwards, and you will have none of your own.")

I managed to get wrong-sized sweaters for half the family. My sister and my mom got each other copies of the same book, which was pretty funny. (There's a lot of reading-material overlap in our family.) My dad's New Year's Eve toast, (which we did at 11:00pm because I couldn't stay up any later, justified by the fact that by then it was midnight in Texas and 1:00am in Virginia) made me cry: "To this time next year, when we will meet here again but will also be joined by the newest member of the family..." There's not too much else to say about the trip, as 85% of it was spent sleeping, eating, and lounging, which while wonderfully relaxing and restorative does not make for amusing blog content. I will post sledding pictures should I ever receive any.

*Thank God nobody has a video camera, or the potential footage of me spreadeagled at the bottom of the hill, entangled in the sled, a foot deep in snow and hollering for help, I would never live down. You know that classic I Love Lucy scene of a heavily pregnant Lucille Ball trying to get out of the easy chair? This was worse.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Hell in a Meatloaf Basket

"A hint for not buying lunch: make enough dinner that you have leftovers for
lunch the next day. Also, big pots of things (like chili) or baked trays of
things (like lasagnas) are easy and provide ample leftovers for lunch the next

This is what I usually do when I want to brown-bag my lunch. It's a good system usually... until it all fell apart last night. It started when I realized that I hadn't been to a bookstore in over two weeks and was suffering major withdrawal pangs. Since I hadn't planned on giving up that particular addiction any time soon, I headed to Barnes & Noble right after work, knowing that I had plenty of time until Don would be home. There, I found this book. Now, I really liked Chocolat, but then I read Five Quarters of the Orange by the same author (Joanne Harris), and hated that one. This new-ish book, The Girl with No Shadow, was apparently a sequel to Chocolat. It's interesting when an author can vary so widely in his or her own writing, that one of the books is on my favorites list, and the other isn't even on the bookshelf... like Orson Scott Card. I love Ender's Game, but pretty much can't stand anything else he's written. Go figure. I kept trying, though, until something in Ender's Shadow made me throw the book across the room. But Card annoys me by pretty much hacking his own work to death. The Harris books just threw me because the first one I read is rather light and fluffy and fun, and second was dark and disturbing, totally different in tone; not at all what I was expecting.

So to make a long story short, I stayed at B&N way too long, completely engrossed in this novel (which turns out to be a lot darker than Chocolat but really, really good, for anyone interested; not depressing like Five Quarters) when I realized I must head for home--bought the book and the new Mothering magazine, and camped out on the sofa until Don got home. See, we were just going to have pancakes and bacon and maybe some eggs, which doesn't need to be started ahead of time... it's a no-time kind of meal. When Don got home (at close to 9, I think) I was almost done with the book-- it's a psychological thriller in a way, very suspenseful-- and I had to finish it before I could do ANYTHING else, which Don understands because we've been together for eight years so he knows that nothing comes between me and the last two chapters of a book. So he said he could start dinner and make me some tea in the bargain; I said I had planned on bacon and pancakes, did that sound OK? And if he could start the bacon frying I would be done with my book before it finished. And he said OK and wandered off to the kitchen, which is when everything went to hell.

I finished the book in no time, came to the kitchen to check on dinner and my tea, and what is in the frying pan? NOT BACON. The last two slices of meatloaf (our previous night's dinner), mashed and crumbled into bits, and a big bowl of mixed-up eggs on the counter. That meatloaf was supposed to be my lunch for today, alongside a big heaping of the broccoli-rice casserole that went with it. I had tender, loving plans for that last bit of meatloaf, and I WANTED BACON AND PANCAKES THAT NIGHT. (There may have been some pregnancy hormones involved.) In ten unsupervised minutes, Don basically destroyed two whole meals. Naturally he refused to see it that way, claiming that he was "just" trying to use up some leftovers. You would not believe the argument that resulted from this situation, in which I was completely, 100% in the right at all times and Don was a meatloaf-destroying, plan-changing, BAD COOK*. Who didn't even realize that if I HAD wanted eggs, WHICH I DIDN'T, I would have wanted them FRIED which is the ONLY way I've eaten eggs since getting pregnant. We basically resolved the issue (such as it is resolved, although I'm realizing now that I am NOT OVER THIS AT ALL, you just don't fuck around with a pregnant woman's food, OK?) by agreeing that if for some reason the dinner plan changes between the living room sofa and the stove, it will be by mutual agreement, and not UNILATERAL, ARBITRARY, Bush-White-House style decision-making. I mean, it hadn't been thirty seconds since he said, "yeah, I can start the bacon", when he made the indecipherable plan to destroy my meatloaf instead**.

So today I had to buy a bagel sandwich from Bodo's for lunch. And as the husband is banned from the stove, he's on permanent dinner-dishes duty instead.

*Who luckily does not have a blog of his own.

** We have a fundamental difference in theory about what constitutes a "leftover" and how they should be treated. My thinking is that many dishes, like soups, stews, chili, spaghetti sauce, casseroles, and similar lend themselves very nicely to second and even third appearances, often getting even better with time. Others, either because they don't reheat as well or just because they don't make as much at a time, go very well for lunch the next day or two. Sometimes, a single ingredient can be re-purposed, with a little planning; for example the regular brown rice left over one day becomes part of the broccoli-cheese-rice casserole the next, while the purposely doubled batch of cheese sauce from that casserole goes to the freezer for next week's macaroni and cheese; or the intended bacon of last night, of which I was going to fry up the whole package and use the second half in tonight's frittata. Don somehow doesn't see any of that as "leftovers"; to him, it isn't "leftovers" unless you take bits and pieces from several different meals and throw them together to make something new, unrecognizable, and frankly disgusting. During the argument last night, he claimed that we "never have leftovers!", which left me baffled. To me, anything that you spend ONE evening slaving over, but get to enjoy "for free" the next night too, is leftover! We eat leftovers by MY book more often than not: every time I make spaghetti sauce, or chicken soup, or a stew, and we eat it again... and usually again. But I guess to him it isn't leftover if it's not hashed up in a frying pan and mixed with a scrambled egg. I don't get it. I just know that he's banned from unsupervised helping until I feel better about this whole thing.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The first week is easy

With typical first-week-of-the-year fervor, I throw myself into my new goals: home-cooked dinners, brown-bag lunches, three days in a row. The dishes, done at night, two days in a row. Don and I have set a mini goal-within-a-goal of no dinners out or meals brought home until my birthday on the 17th. As we usually eat out (or have take-out) two or three times a week, this is no small commitment. I would have tried to make it one month, but we always eat out on birthdays. It's tradition. It's a steakhouse. Come on. Don is the real winner in this deal, because I get off work at 4:30 or so; he gets off around 7:00-- if we're lucky. I go to the grocery store, I cook. He comes home to food. Also, since he pays for most dinners out, it's his bank balance that wins. It's not that he doesn't cook or can't cook, just that he does so on the weekends, if he has a day off. I start thinking about dinner in the morning, if I don't already have a plan. That way I can thaw something, hit the store, whatever, before dinner time. Don starts thinking about dinner when he gets hungry for dinner. I've seen him come home from work at 7:45 in the and take something out of the freezer to thaw... for that night. This is when I get pissy and insist that we go out, since who wants to eat dinner at 11:00pm? I don't know if this is a gender divide, or just a two-different-people thing, but it's easier to just take over dinner and plan the menus. I get no small comfort in knowing, for example, that we're having pancakes tonight, and that we already have all the fixings.

I paid the balance on my Discover card today, too. It's funny that I was complaining about not getting any benefit from these falling interest rates, because apparently, I am. I checked to see what interest rate I would be paying on the card if I didn't make the full payment, and it's a lot lower than I remember-- like 4% lower. So I checked my other card (which also has a balance, boo), and the interest rate on that one has fallen to less than the interest rate on our mortgage. You know how people take out home equity loans to pay off credit card debt? I'd be better off getting cash advances on this card to make mortgage payments! OK not literally, because the cash-advance rate is always higher than the purchase rate, but still, it's quite funny. The rate on that card has always been really low because it's an associate special through the bank, but I guess falling prime rates really do affect credit cards. Who knew?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

2009 Goals


1. Finish lower apartment so that we can rent it: should be done by end of January.
a. Rent said apartment. (Hopefully this is already accomplished but just in case.)
b. Use rental money to help pay mortgage, make extra mortgage payment, and build savings.

2. Figure out some kind of system for organizing finances, other than keeping it all in my brain. This may be a year-long project.

3. File taxes ASAP, using real professional person, not computer software. Hope to be done by mid-February. (Pray for a refund.)

4. Pay off credit cards... AGAIN. (Stupid credit cards. Stupid holidays.) Do not accumulate more debt.

5. Figure out a way of working together with Don, so that we can live off of one income should we want to come baby-time. Right now we each have our own checking accounts and spend our own paychecks, with little if any financial accountability to each other... Somehow we need to come together and create a plan, a system, or a budget that will let us use just the one paycheck for his-n-hers.

6. Which leads to, finding a way to do without my income, pitiful though it may be. Cutting "expenses" like: meals out, coffee-house lattes, new books, and all the other little extras that eat up our pay.

7. Which leads to, making those changes ahead of time, to increase savings before the baby actually comes. (Starting right away, since we're due in May or June.)


1. Get house clean enough for company by end of January, as opposed to the smelly pit that it is currently, so that we can have friends in without shame.

2. Figure out exactly how we're going to arrange spare room to make a combination nursery/guest room/ computer room in a 9x12 space. (This may require a magic wand.) Must be done by end of April.

3. Move futon into said room, buy new sofa for living room. (Ignore contradiction to financial goals above.)

4. Dig and plant garden in the spring.

5. New chickens.


1. Switch hutch with kitchen table.
a. Take laundry room door off hinges, replace with curtain.
b. Baby gate to keep dog out of laundry room.

2. Figure out a way to light fridge.

3. Cook dinners at home.
a. Plan menus a week at a time.
b. Go grocery shopping once a week or so, instead of all the time.
c. Do dinner dishes AFTER DINNER, so that kitchen isn't overwhelmingly messy the next day, leading to another dinner out. This is actually a financial goal.

4. Get freezer and pantry good and stocked up for late pregnancy/ early baby weeks; lots of meals ready-to-eat.

5. Look into getting a big, upright freezer.


1. Keep walking every day.

2. Maybe sign up for a prenatal yoga class or similar?

3. Drink special tea daily.

4. Try to freak out/ panic less often.

5. Let everything else, like work, just roll off my back and not stress me out.


1. Don't let work stuff (i.e. management, coworkers, and customers) get under my skin. Leave it all at work, so to speak.

2. Get everything in really good condition so that when I leave for maternity, nobody is cursing the mess I left behind.

(That's it. I don't have a lot of work goals right now. Pretty much just, "stay afloat".)

This is a really ambitious list, so I'm not expecting to nail everything on it; I just think it's better to aim high. If I can accomplish half of every category, that would be great.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Vacation-- Day 1

My flights from New Mexico back to Virginia yesterday, were perfect. Unfortunately, it will take ten perfect air-travel experiences to make up for the horrors of the trip out there. I had to get up very early, before 4 in the morning, in order to drive from here to Richmond. I didn't mind, though, because with the time zones and everything it would still be morning in New Mexico when I would get there, so I would probably be able to catch up with a nap then. Ah, "would", and the conditional tense. Conditions changed.

The first flight, from Richmond to Dallas, seemed to be going along OK until the captain announced that nobody could land at DFW due to thunderstorms. So, we entered a "holding pattern" (read: plane circles the city, tilting and turning until I'm good and sick) for half an hour... Until the captain announces that, actually, we are being re-routed to Austin for the time being. This is a bit upsetting as I have a connecting flight to catch, but I figure that if no planes are able to land, then nobody is taking off either, which should delay my second flight as well.

The landing in Austin takes us down through the far end of whatever storm system is over Dallas, making it rougher and more turbulent than any landing I can remember. I had to use my Little White Bag for the first time in probably ten years. Is there anything more embarrassing than throwing up in public? Let me know, because I sure can't think of it. Once we're on the ground at the Austin airport, we sit. And sit. There are maybe ten other planes in exactly the same situation, having been turned away from DFW airport and waiting to return there.

After about an hour and a half on the tarmac, we finally re--fuel and take off again for Dallas, which takes forever considering you can drive between the two cities in less than three hours. Once again the landing is so rough that I use another bag... eugh. By now the flight that should have taken 2 1/2 hours has taken more than four. I haven't eaten anything except a bag of pretzels, which was wasted anyway. When we land at DFW there is no gate for us, (being that every plane that had been rerouted is back and they're all waiting to de-board) so... we sit, on the tarmac, again. For a long time. It is during this time that I find out that my second flight was not delayed, but cancelled entirely. Why? WHY? It is two days after Christmas, and every flight is completely booked or close to it. How can they cancel a flight and expect to squeeze all 160 people (or however many fit on a 747) on standby for the rest of the (ALSO FULL) flights to that destination? It makes no sense.

By the time I actually de-plane, I'm starving and actually pretty out-of-it. My sister, who was supposed to be on the same (CANCELLED) flight to Albuquerque, met me at my gate and explained the situation to me. She, having been at the gate when the flight was cancelled, managed to get a confirmed seat on a later flight. I, however, had to get on standby, after being told by the gate attendant that not only was every flight to Albuquerque for this day booked solid, but also the next day and the next. And, unfortunately, there are about 90 other people also waiting on standby seats, all in exactly the same position as me. Also, unfortunately, each flight left from the other end of the airport, so I (and the other gazillion people doing the same thing) had to scoot from Terminal C to D, back to C, back to D... repeat as needed. Did I mention that I am still pregnant? And that I carried on all my luggage rather than checking it? Hoofing it all over DFW lugging my baggage, unable to eat, was a BAD combination. I end up waiting on standby for the next three flights, before finally boarding a plane again. I have never been so incredibly glad to actually get on a plane. It just seems so weird to think that you can buy your air tickets four months in advance, check in first thing in the morning to confirm your seats, and still be confronted with the possibility of not getting to your destination. What other industry could work like that?

KK and I were supposed to arrive in Albuquerque about 11:10 am. She ended up getting in about 6:00, and I about 7:30, which isn't bad at all considering that I was afraid of not getting to New Mexico for days. What was bad, was that Albuquerque wasn't our final destination; Mom and Dad's vacation house is about three hours away, north of Taos. So my brother and Dad had set out first thing in the morning to come and get us, and ended up spending all day hanging out at the airport waiting for us. Once we had both finally gotten in, we of course have to drive the three hours back to the house. We get to the house around midnight, which is 2 am Virginia time, making my total awake-time almost 24 hours. The drive from Taos to the house is so mountainous and twisty that I threw up for the third time that day, thankfully at the house and not, say, on the side of the road. Small blessings.

Need it be said that we all of us did nothing the next day, but sleep? Apparently, at some point in the Albuquerque airport, I dropped my cellphone on the floor without realizing it. We couldn't find it that night at the house, but as I was sleep-deprived and barfy I didn't worry about it at the time. The next morning we got a call (on my brother's phone) from a nice lady who had found my phone at the airport and is in the process of mailing it back to me. So, if I've been ignoring anybody's calls, don't take it personally; it's because I've been without cell phone for over a week (a truly strange feeling).

I know that observing human behavior at the airport is passe and over-done, but it really is interesting to see how people react to adverse situations. For three flights, I had to wait with the dozens of other booted passengers desperate to get on a plane. Standby is computerized and in order, so you can see exactly where you are; for example on my first standby I was number 50-something. For each subsequent flight your place in line remains stable, so your number drops as the people ahead of you get on planes. By the time I was on standby for the flight I eventually boarded, I had dropped to number 12. The vast majority of people seem to both understand the system and comply with it, realizing, I guess, that there is nothing else to be done. There is also a lot of commiseration, even camaraderie, among the stranded. But there are always a few folks that just don't know how to act. Their situation is so terrible, they must whine and bitch and moan, loudly, for all to hear. Hello, we are all in exactly the same boat! All of us were supposed to be on that cancelled flight; all of us are in the uncertain position of waiting. All of us had confirmed, paid-for seats at one time that no longer exist, and are now stranded. YOUR problem, that you seem to need to broadcast all over the airport, is no bigger, no different, than that of the other 50 people shuffling from gate to gate with you. You are not as special as you seem to think. Seriously: read the manual, "How to Act".