Archive for July, 2010

July 19, 2010

Like Child, Like Mother?

Over the last seven months I’ve learned a lot about pregnancy.  Early on, one of my first observations was that pregnant mothers are like children in a lot of ways—we need a lot of sleep and a lot of snacks, and tend to get grumpy when one or the other is lacking.  Sadly, I’ve just had another similar revelation, this one less cute and more unfortunate.

My mind seems to have reverted to that of a kindergartener.

I’d read that pregnant women sometimes have trouble remembering things.  I’m going to translate that to trouble thinking in general.  I imagine this is because we are often tired, thirsty, hungry, and shall we say, kind of emotional.  Mental capacities are not exactly in the driver’s seat these days.

In the last week, however, things have gotten even worse in my brain. I think little Peanut is finishing up a growth spurt, which takes just about everything out of me.  Then consider, too, being stressed out about finding a new place to live (which, thank goodness, we did!), exhausted from traveling from midtown to Brooklyn to the Upper East Side four out of five nights last week, and dehydrated from the 90+ degree weather and spending maybe a little too much time in the sun.

Excuses, excuses, I know.  But the fact is, I can no longer remember bank PINs, perform simple mathematical calculations without a calculator (or John), or tell my right from my left.  I’m beginning to think all those alphabet and counting books for little kids are as much for mothers recovering from pregnancy as they are for children learning these things for the first time.

My evenings and weekends for the next two weeks are packed with friends coming to visit (yay!), catching up with folks in the city, packing, shopping for rugs and A/C units, and choosing paint colors. All of these are wonderful things, and I’m grateful to have such fantastic ways to spend these sunny summer days in the city with great people and my favorite guy.  But at the same time, I see that I’m going to need a carefully thought-out strategy to get through it all.

(I’m picturing the army guys from Toy Story called into duty! Go, go, go!)

Option #1) Get moving on that nap room idea a couple of us have tossed around at work.  Good idea in theory, but time is of the essence, and corporate approvals for those sorts of things take much too long.   VETO

Option #2) Expedite nutrient consumption.  I’m tempted to double up on my prenatal vitamins, but I haven’t done enough research on what too much folic acid would do in my system, and I don’t want to end up in a Jessie-Spano-vs.-caffeine-pills situation.  VETO

Option #3) Take better care of myself: pay better attention to what I’m eating, drink three times more water than I think I need, and get more rest.  I’m home alone, but I can hear John, my mom, and an assortment of friends cheering for this one.

With so much going on, I know it’s hard for a lot of people to slow down and take time to really relax.  I realize tonight how much more important this is for me right now, with this little baby growing inside.

Come to think of it, this was the message of the Gospel reading yesterday at Mass.  Martha was worried and anxious about all kinds of things, trying to get lots of stuff done and in order.  Her sister, Mary, on the other hand, was taking the time she had with Jesus and spending real quality time with him—time to reflect on her life and her relationship with God, time to recharge herself so that she could better do the other work she had in the world.  I think this is what I need, too—time to chill out, focus on what really matters, and trust a little more that everything’s going to work out.  I guess I’m putting the pieces together a day late, but better now than never, right?

July 11, 2010

The Printer Whisperer

I suppose it is only natural that new parents try to figure out character and personality traits in their children while they’re still in the womb.  Especially after the fourth or fifth month, when the baby has a visible presence and is already necessitating changes in both parents’ lifestyles, it’s hard not to try to imagine who in the world this little person is.

I am of the mind that you have always been exactly who you are.  Some experiences will change us some, of course, but I believe for the most part we each have an innately true self, and life is a journey of uncovering that, piece by piece.  With this in mind, once the baby started moving, I was looking forward to sneaking a peek at what makes our little Peanut unique.

Seven months along, though, the evidence isn’t as strong as I had hoped.  Everything the baby’s been doing is pretty much by the book.  On track and healthy, yes, but any insight as to personality is sadly lacking.

Basically what we know is twofold.

Observation number one: Our child does not, will not kick on command. When I feel it kicking, I tell John to put his hand on my belly so that he can feel it, too.  But the child seems to know that we’re waiting for it, and refuses to move again while we wait.  I have spent an inordinate amount of time (perhaps all mothers have?) watching my belly in anticipation of a foot swishing across it.  I try to be quiet now, and just let it happen, but I can never see the next movement coming, can’t seem to find any pattern at all, other than the child’s own whim.

Observation number two: It will, however, kick and wiggle more when my mom talks to it.  Hmm . . .

Conclusion: Our child has a shy, somewhat stubborn personality (which I suppose that should be expected of any child of mine) and it loves its grandma (which is something else we shouldn’t be surprised about).  Needless to say, this is not as profound a revelation as I’d hoped to have at this point.

On the other hand, there is one thing that is definitely unique about our child.

I don’t believe in magic, but in this situation, something strange seems to be at play. The network printer near my cubicle at work sometimes performs a cute little jamming routine, in which it will persistently fold single sheets of paper into accordions with smudges of ink in a single column down the left side of each page.  A message on the display gives directions on how to clear the jam (Open Door A, etc.), which a conscientious employee will do, only to have to repeat the whole process three or four times before reason gets the better of her and she gives up.

A few weeks back Emily, one of my favorite ladies in the office, did just that, and eventually went back to her desk, dejected and frustrated.  A minute later I got up to attempt to clear the jam, as I had a print job following Emily’s and didn’t realize she was unable to really fix the printer—through no fault of her own, of course.  The printer obediently finished her document and then mine.  When I called Emily over to tell her the job was completed, she was flabbergasted.

“It’s my baby,” I joked. “It’s a magic baby that has a way with printers.”  Ha ha, right?

Except that last week, it happened again.  Emily was struggling with another bout of the printer’s defiance.

“Come bring your magic baby over here, would you?” she asked.  The printer had repeated its jamming cycle at least twice at this point.

I walked over to the printer, stood in front of it, and what do you know?  The last seventy-five pages of Emily’s document printed without another problem.  This time, I was a little bit flabbergasted.

As much as we joked about the baby being a bodybuilder after those first ultrasound photos, and as much as I’ve recently thought about it wanting to participate in the World Cup, like right now, it seems there’s really only one thing for sure about our baby at this point: it’s like the horse whisperer, except for office equipment.

Well, nothing wrong with a future in IT, right?

July 7, 2010

The Month of John

So it turns out that the only thing harder than attempting to blog while on vacation is attempting to blog during the one week between vacations.  In some ways (mostly those having to do with this blog), June was a lost month for me.  We went on vacation—twice—with family, which was a wonderful way to get away from the ordinary. We didn’t go far, but we had such a great time with each other, we really didn’t need to.

I spent a lot of our time away thinking about next year, when we’ll have a nine-month-old Peanut with us.  Now I’m sure traveling with all the baby paraphernalia won’t be the most fun we’ve ever had. But things like baby sunscreen (please pray with me that this baby has John’s skin and not mine!) and floppy sun hats, building sandcastles and splashing near the edge of the surf with aunts, uncles, and grandparents mean that as great as this year’s vacations were, next year we’re probably in for the best week of our lives.

June was more than vacation month, though.  For me, it was the Month of John.  Check this out: John takes the first level of the CFA exam, then we go on vacation #1 (with his family), then his first Father’s Day, his birthday, a surprise birthday party, and then vacation #2 (with my parents).  Can you pack anything else more wonderful in a span of a mere thirty days?

I love celebrating other people’s birthdays, and John’s is, of course, at the top of my list.  I’ve been excited about the Month of John since May: planning a Father’s day gift (Jets onesies for the Peanut), scheming the party, drafting cards in my mind.  But this year we’ve had so much more to celebrate.  John studied for the CFA for months—staying in when there were other more exciting things to do, sacrificing sleep, balancing study and work to make sure he still had time to take care of me and be with family and friends for occasions like Confirmations and graduations.  And I know he did all of that not with a career goal in mind for the sake of his own success, but because we believe it will likely help him later on to provide the best he can for his family.

This incredible effort, combined with Father’s Day and his first birthday since we’ve been married, was a great opportunity for me to think about what makes John the friend, the husband, and the father that he is.  When we honored him for his birthday on vacation #1 (during dessert we all take the opportunity to share what we admire or appreciate about the honoree, a family tradition), there was so much love in the room.  We talked about his kindness, his generosity, his humility, and how he’s used his accomplishments to benefit others.  With the rest of his family, I am so proud of him, and beyond grateful for him.

As I thought about what I’d say that night, something a little different struck me.  Spending so much time together now that we’re married and live together, I try to remind myself not to take advantage of our time with one another.  I try to remember just a year ago when I couldn’t wait to come home to him every evening, to spend every weekend with him. I don’t ever want to take our precious moments together for granted.  In light of this new dynamic in our relationship, I got to thinking about what I’ve learned about John these past nine months and what I most appreciate, especially with the birth of our first child in the near future.

That afternoon, I’d been watching John and his siblings down by the water. I noticed John skipping a stone on the water.  Wow, I thought, John knows how to do so many things (that I don’t!)—how lucky this child is to have him for a father! I started to think about the last time I was on vacation with John’s family, when I learned that John can fillet a fish.  After four years of dating, I had no idea he possessed this skill.  Needless to say, I was wowed.

Most of the clan

In really thinking about the fish and the stone, I realized it’s not that John knows how to do things, but that he is willing to learn how to do things.  He’ll watch something, think it through, ask questions and listen to the answers, consider his approach, and then, both more carefully and more boldly than I, will try something new.

I realize this is a trait I’ve had the unique opportunity to learn from him, and I believe it’s something that will give our children an amazing perspective on life.  I’m sure that he will  be a fantastic example of kindness, charity, and faith, as well.  But this ability to think something through was one I hadn’t explicitly considered before. I think this is missing in a lot of our world; it’s something I know I need to work on!  But in the meantime, as the Month of John has officially drawn to a close, I come away with a renewed gratitude for the example he sets for me and for those around him, and most of all, for our Peanut.

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