Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mary Hannah

Disclaimer: yes, this is yet again a post related to my pregnancy. If you can't stomach it, feel free to visit again later. I have a few non-baby posts planned.

This weekend I am having my first baby shower. Premature? Possibly. In T-shirts you still can't tell I'm pregnant. But when it's your last chance to be around family until Jr. comes, you take it.

Last Friday I had a doctor's appointment and mentioned this to him and asked if it was possible to have my 20-week ultrasound a week and a half early so we could find out the gender for the baby shower.

"No." The kind of "no" that is not open to negotiations.


Sure, if there's a problem, they can see it better after 20 weeks, blah blah blah, but obviously the man has never doomed his child to wearing exclusively yellow and green.

So we took matters into our own hands and went out that night to a commercial ultrasound place and splurged a little on our own ultrasound.

Nobody panic. Our child does, in fact, have legs. 

This place is such a better experience than hospital ultrasounds. You lay on a bed with sheets and pillows. They have couches for your family. You can go back for free as many times as it takes to find out the gender.

Speaking of gender...we have a problem.

"Roy" is a GIRL!

 (I will decline to show the ultrasound picture that establishes that).

And Roy-a, Royamina, Royderella, and all other attempts to feminize Roy just don't have the same ring to them. 

For now, we've settled on Mary Hannah--a family name, and I think a good name for a Christmas baby too. And little Mary feels even more real to us, even though Isaac is panicking. "Do you think she'll want to wear sparkly shoes?" And, "I don't know how to raise a daughter!" And, "What if she turns out too girly?" 

As if I could raise a girly daughter even if I wanted to.

Don't worry, he already loves her. We both do.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Belly Obsession and a Parenting Warm-up

I have noticed a strange cultural phenomenon, which seems to pervaded not only our families but all of America.

It is an obsession with pregnant bellies.

Any internet article you read about pregnancy inevitably includes a picture of a pregnant woman, shirt rolled up gazing lovingly down at her belly (always without stretch marks--where do they find these people?). Caressing it.

The first thing anyone wants to know is how big my belly is. And as soon as I tell someone I'm pregnant, their eyes go automatically to my midsection. It is a human reflex and it is unstoppable. I do it too, even unwillingly. I could no more stop it than stop closing my eyes when I sneeze. 

Among bloggers, the belly shot is also irresistible. You have all seen it and many have done it yourselves--the photo log of the growing belly. As a reader, I can't help but be fascinated by how that thing grows and how big it gets by the end. It's weirdly intriguing. 

And strange as it is, I am as drawn into the process as anyone else. In no other circumstance would I be thrilled to find myself unable to button jeans, or to feel my abdomen spilling out in beer-belly like fashion when I sit down. It is appalling to watch numbers on the scale rise and yet feel reassured somehow. In the end, my growing belly is a sign of something I've wanted a long time, and, impossibly, I am pleased to feel fat. 

So, succumbing to peer pressure, here's my first belly shot, at 17 weeks. Although the camera angle obviously enhances the size of the bump, that was unintentional. My photographer didn't want to get up from the couch. 

A few notes on pregnancy for me:
-I was only nauseous for about a week during my first trimester. However, I developed a strong aversion to anything, um, healthy. To this day, I can't remember why I used to think eating vegetables was so important. I guess salad is okay (smothered in ranch and croutons). But why did I used to spurn cheese? And nachos? And buffalo wings? (I haven't actually had any wings since getting pregnant. But I think about them. Every day). And pizza? I think pizza is the perfect food. 

-On the food note, I currently have the eating habits of a hobbit. Breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, luncheon, afternoon tea, etc. No matter how much I eat at breakfast, I'm ready for more in 2 hours. No bueno.

-I feel pretty energetic except I take a nap every day (or would I do that anyway, being unemployed?) and I try to walk 3 miles most days. Because of bleeding problems I had in the first trimester that haven't gone away, I'm avoiding more vigorous exercise until after I deliver. Sigh.

-I used to be a calm, rational person that rarely got angry (except when playing Risk) and rarely cried. I was generally sensible. And while I hated getting hungry, I never felt like throwing a tantrum if I couldn't have food immediately. 

That person is no more.

And in other news, we decided to start getting in the parenting groove by adopting a kitten. 

Meet Aspen.

We like to take pictures of her from every angle. We laugh at everything she does. We will employ any means of bribery necessary to get her to cuddle with us. And when Isaac calls to ask how I'm doing, I mostly tell him how Aspen is doing.

Yes, I think we've already got parenting down.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mormons, Moms, and Master's Degrees

I have a conundrum.

Earlier this year, months before we knew about Roy, I applied to nurse practitioner school.

This has long been a dream of mine--not only to get more schooling, but also to be a nurse practitioner. I've loved bedside nursing but am ready to close that chapter. With Isaac finishing school, and having no idea when any offspring would arrive, I decided it was finally time. I applied to a 2-year Master's degree program, and I got accepted.

Four days after my acceptance letter arrived, the doctor's office told me I was pregnant.

That was an amazing, beautiful, happy day. And that night, as we went out to dinner to celebrate, our delicious Indian food was overshadowed by this troubling question: "What do I do about school?"

More than 3 months later, I still have not decided. Granted, this is from the girl that will try 15 flavors at the ice cream counter and still second-guess my decision, but indecisiveness aside, I also think this is a difficult question. Most Mormon (Latter-Day Saint or LDS) moms stay home with their kids if they are able to do it. There are abundant exceptions to this rule, especially in these days of modern parenting and in this economy. But in general, that is the truth. My mom was a stay-at-home mom for 17 years until she became a single mom and had to work. But she never graduated from college and started out at minimum wage. She engrained in me the need to do better and get my own education.

I planned my whole life to be a stay-at-home mom. I firmly believe that family relationships are the greatest source of joy and satisfaction we can have in life. Working with lots of old people, I have found that in old age, children are your life. People that choose not to have them (if they have the option) often regret it deeply as they age. I still firmly believe that. Truthfully, I still want to be a stay-at-home mom. With a Master's degree.

I have examined the problem from every possible angle.

I have talked to moms that went to school part-time while their children were young (even very young) and loved it. It was their break for a day or two a week, or even just a few hours a day. They say their children benefitted from learning to mind other people, they were still around plenty, and they feel that having more education blessed their families. Also it opened up more chances to serve other people.

I have talked to other moms that chose not to pursue graduate work so they could focus on having children, and felt that was the right choice for them. Others had kids just as they finished a program, but then they felt obligated to work to keep up their skills, and their lives thereafter descended into chaos.

I don't want our lives to be chaos.

LDS church leaders teach that women can do a great deal of good staying home with their children. In fact, they say the greatest good they will ever do will be within the walls of their own home. But they also encourage women to get all the education they can.

A guidance counselor at BYU Idaho summed up the difficulty for young LDS women this way:

[A young LDS female] is likely to perceive her duties as:
-get as much education as you can;
-go on a mission if you feel so inspired;
-get married if a worthy man asks;
-stay home with your children if you get married and are able to have children; 
-provide for your family if your husband dies, is disabled, or leaves you; 
-provide for yourself if you stay single or somehow lose your husband; 
-help provide for your family if your husband gets laid off or your family encounters other difficult 
circumstances…and so on.
There are no certainties on the list.

I love being a women, but that is a bit of a tall order.

In reading extensively on the subject, I've found that women in America in general (whether religious or not) debate this topic of education vs. motherhood vs. career hotly. It is guaranteed an emotional and highly controversial discussion. Take, for example, this front-cover article on the Atlantic about why women still can't "have it all"--but that is the fault of corporate America. And this response that contends that no one can "have it all", and that corporate America is not to blame.

I hate decisions.