Archive for October, 2006

Those People

It’s official: Heidi and Lenny are going to be Batman and Robin, respectively, for Halloween. We purchased costumes for our dogs this evening.

I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

In our defense, although our first reaction to the costumes several weeks ago was “cute!” and then, “no way are we going to be ‘those people!,” the reason we decided to get them is that they bark at people who walk by and look pretty scary. We thought it might be a little easier on the kids if they were in costume. As a bonus, we get to chortle over how absolutely ridiculous they look. And they do. And it’s funny. So we’re kind of ‘those people’ anyway.

Yes, we took pictures.

No, we still haven’t found the cable for the camera. As soon as we do, I promise we’ll post pictures of one dog saying, “what is this f***ing thing?” and the other saying “what costume?”


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In position

Since I wrote that rather pessimistic post on what it might be like for Boomer to grow up in Iowa as a minority black child, I’ve been doing some thinking. First, the whole thought process has made me aware of just how important diversity along racial, class, and cultural lines is going to be for our white son, and not just because he’s going to have brothers and sisters of color in his family.

Second, I’m rethinking the school issue. Here there is a perfectly acceptable neighborhood well within our price range with a good number of aa families. Unfortunately MOST aa people in CR live there; though there are black families in our current neighborhood, the ratio is still pretty small. I say “unfortunately” because ideally I’d like to see every CR neighborhood mixed, and the whole culture to be positively inflected in that direction (one thing that still bothers me about Iowa in general is that there is going to be a big gap in time between the influx of aa people from Chicago and the appearance of larger-scale, accepted alterations in the local culture; a look at the Mexican immigrant situation here will give you a clue). Anyway–this neighborhood is looked upon with some trepidation by most other residents of CR, who clearly have not lived in Pittsburgh and know that two shootings a year five blocks from your house does not constitue a major threat to your personal safety (a man was just shot at the ATM of the bank we used to frequent in our old, mostly white neighborhood in Pgh; THAT bothered me). But we’ve driven around and are getting to know some people there and really like it. It’s tree-lined and pretty like the other neighborhoods here, with big old Victorian houses and parks. It’s convenient to downtown but it’s not crowded or noisy.

What convinces me the most, though, is our trip to one of the neighborhood’s high school football games. What I saw there made my jaw drop, and it’s probably because I graduated from a small, very de-facto segregated high school ten years ago. I saw black kids, white kids, a few asian kids, biracial kids, and kids I couldn’t categorize leaning on each other’s shoulders, playfully pushing one another, making out, running around, standing in popular-kid packs and sitting in loser-kid packs. I saw their slightly more segregated parents call out to parents of other races and ask them if they were going to be at the such-and-such next Tuesday, and informing them that they had saved seats. In short, I saw that the overwhelming majoring of people at the game, teachers, students, parents, grandparents, etc. , were relaxed and comfortable about interacting with people unlike themselves in appearance or culture or class. I reiterate that my high school was NOT like this growing up–the lunchroom was severely divided, and if you were dating a black boy you were most certainly on of the school whores. And I was thinking as I observed this–and felt it, which is more important–that it’s not perfect, and there are certainly things I’m not seeing here, but I could see my kids at this football game. My white kid or kids wouldn’t be from the only mixed family in town and my aa kids would see plenty of faces that reflected theirs and have plenty of adult role models to help guide them through facets of aa life in American that Attic Man and I will not be able to.

Friends of ours here did raise some concerns that aa kids are still way overrepresented in detention and special ed, and wondered about what kind of message that sends to all kids. It does trouble me. But I’m also thinking about what an opportunity that might be to help our kids deal with the harsh realities of racism early on. What good is raising them in a perfect laboratory of racial harmony (as if there were such a place) just to throw them out into a world that is certainly not?  I also wonder about the inconsistency between what our friends told us and what we saw at the game.  Might it be worse in a school with only a few black kids?

The class issue is important to consider, too. True, it looks as if aa people are overwhelmingly lower-middle class here. But so what? What am I teaching my kids if I only want them to see black lawyers and teachers? That being lower-middle class is a sin, a crime, a wrong way to live? Ideally I’d like to see all kinds of role models for my aa kids and for my white kids to see people of color from all classes to reinforce what we’ll be teaching (all of) them, which is that there are many different ways to ‘be’, and that these ways of being are not always in our control. In the meantime, this is our reality.

As for churches…we’re kind of stuck on that one.  We went to one Mass last week that by all appearances was one long, collective nap.

I’d write more, but after a shower I’m off to sign a release for my records to be sent to a new OB practice I’m switching to (yay!). The practice has only four doctors and I can continue with them past delivery. AND my primary doc does peds as well! I don’t have a recommendation for her as a doctor per se, but friends of ours know her from the social justice community here, which is a very good sign indeed. I’ll just be happy to have my OWN DOCTOR every time I come to the office. I’m happy to get off the assembly-line.

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For Family and Friends

We’ve received an inquiry about our baby registry info. I’ve updated our previous registry (which disappeared with our old ‘due date’), which can be found on the “Baby Wishlist” link under “Stuff We Want.” It’s sparse at the moment but I’ll be adding to it today. Also, if you’re the ‘cute outfit’ kind of person, the biggest gap in the Snapper’s wardrobe seems to be in the 6-9 month range.

If you’re looking for something that Attic Man will appreciate, he will be doing all the nighttime stuff, including bath and storytime.

Since I don’t like asking for gifts (especially as we had such a nice shower earlier this year, and have the basics covered), this will be the last on the topic. Thanks for asking!

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Feeling Better; Bradley

This week is going less miserably on the swelling issue, though I have to wonder if it’s real relief or just acceptance on my part. Muscle memory is a good thing–couldn’t type without it right now! I have been elevating my feet most of the day, an easy enough thing to do while reading. Also, the housework is finally under control to the extent that there are no big jobs left, just daily maintainance. My body is thanking me.

I am still ready to have this baby, but in a different way. It’s not so much about wanting to get him the heck out of my body but about coming to a place of mental and emotional acceptance about the birth experience. I’ve spent the majority of the third trimester combing through birth books, from Hypnobirthing to Birthing from Within to balanced overviews. Ultimately I’ve settled on the Bradley Method, for a couple of reasons. First, most of the general texts cite it as statistically the best method for avoiding medical interventions like pain medication and cesereans. Although it’s not significantly distinguishable (as much as its proponents like to claim!) from Lamaze or Hypnobirthing or other forms of natural, relaxation-and-breathing type methods, it’s simpler, more streamlined, and less training-intensive than the other methods. Everything is very common sense. The only things to learn are some good labor positions (developed by a team of midwives, doctors, and physical therapists), and the rest is all just practicing with your birthing coach so that you can work together well on the big day. The idea is for your coach to guide you through relaxation and to be your advocate with professionals. He/She’s also supposed to know the signs of the various stages of labor so that you go to the hospital at just the right time. The other thing that I like is that everything is in one book–I had a whole armful of books for Attic Man to read until I hit this one. Everything one needs to know (as far as I know!) about labor and delivery is in one place.

We’ve been practicing every night and it’s done wonders for my attitude about the pregnancy and my fears about delivery. I’m shifting my focus away from being miserable and toward having a welcoming heart toward my son. And birth is now more about letting go and trusting my body and my husband, whatever happens, be it ‘natural’ childbirth, give-me-my-stinking-epidural birth, vaginal, c-section, or otherwise. A wonderful image occurred to me recently. I am afraid of the ocean. I respect its power, and as much as I crave the water, it scares the hell out of me. Attic Man, on the other hand, is very much in tune with the waves and the tides. He loves the big waves and can float on his back without fear. He has a very healthy respect for the ocean, too; he’s a worry-wart and safety freak. But he knows that the proper response to something that powerful is to admit that power and surrender to it. This is why I love going to the beach with him. This summer he guided me through feeling more comfortable with the water. He was such a gentle teacher–when I got scared he supported me, but he also calmly encouraged me to let go more and more. He placed himself between me and what I feared, and gradually I was able to trust the water the way I trusted him. I was able to completely relax and enjoy our time together. This is how I know he will be good in labor. Many women describe their contractions as waves, so I think this memory will serve as a good visualization for me when they come up big and strong. I don’t expect it to be painless, as Hypnobirthing promises, but I do completely trust myself, Attic Man and my own body to bring our child into the world.

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So there’s also this longing to hold him on the outside, you know?  That’s a need for presence, too, because in a completely different way pregnancy is an abstraction, which is like an absence.  Sometimes, even at this stage, it doesn’t seem real.  I know this (can be) especially true for fathers/partners.

Abebech, I am lying on my side, most definitely, with all kinds of pillows to get just the right position.  What else can a girl do?  Attic reminds me that it is only 35 days until my due date. (and I remind him that it may be 40 days until the Snapper actually arrives!)

It also occurs to me that I’ll be doing this stay with me/get away from me dance the rest of our lives.  I’m still doing it with MY parents, who did it with theirs till the end.

As for adoption, this whole contemplation gives me new insight into just how complicated–does anyone really understand it?–the presence/absence thing is when you factor in multiple parents and real (not just cyclical, natural) losses.

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Presence and Absence

Before I get to my post, I have a list to get off my chest.  Understand that I’m very, very happy that the Snapper is still safely in my little oven.  However, I do not love being pregnant and as the due date approaches my state becomes more and more frustrating.

all of my fingertips are numb. i can no longer take walks because i have internal swelling in my feet which makes walking for more than five minutes absolutely excruciating, with a popping sensation in my right ankle to make it even more wonderful.  i feel, physically, like absolute shit most days.  to improve the foot-swelling i elevate my feet, which exacerbates the heartburn. i hate not being able to feel the little features of the Snapper’s body through my skin because of the numbness. wanting to sleep 11 hours a night is cutting down on productivity.  a salesperson ignored me yesterday which prompted a long crying jag. i can’t switch to that nice doctor’s regular practice when my regular insurance kicks in because they just don’t allow that.  i want to see a doctor every time i get a checkup.  i want someone to take my symptoms seriously and not just say “it sounds pretty normal” as if it’s normal to start limping five minutes into a walk.  i’d be so screwed if i had other children.  as it is the dogs are not getting walked. turning over in bed is a major undertaking (har, har).  my feet hurt all the time even though i am not on them most of the day.


So, anyway, the Snapper was doing one of his snazzy dance moves late the other night (we were both up til 2!  thanks, son!) and I was thinking about how it’s getting to be time that he had his own life and I get mine (to the extent that I can) back.  I don’t care if he wants to be wiggly, but he should be able to wiggle with as much room as he wants and on his own terms.  I have now reached the point where the movement is not always special and bond-worthy.  Sometimes it is just a nuisance.  I’m thinking that it’s becoming that way for him, too.  Poor thing will not stop having hicupps after birth, though.  I’ll just get to stop sharing them with him.

For so long this pregnancy was about presence or–and this may be the more important point–the longing for presence and the evidence thereof (back when I couldn’t wait to feel him move).  One of the things that separates it from our adoption-process experience is that the waiting in this case is so full, whereas when we were waiting for not-Boomer it was so painfully empty.   Anticipating the child’s arrival late in pregnancy is about wanting him to get the heck out and fulfill his potential as a unique, separate individual (which of course I’ll mourn as well).  But waiting for not-Boomer was about yearning for that bond and feeling the emptiness as a wound, not as relief.  Then there was the absence we anticipated he’d experience from his mother, which would have been a wound (for both of them) for different reasons.  Then there was the absolute absence: before he was born, knowing that he was not ours in any way, shape, or form, and after his birth, learning that he never would be.   There’s something in that experience of loss that makes me feel guilty for wanting to be separate from the Snapper.  This week one of us in this little community lost a baby.  My cousin lost hers at seven months.  It feels wrong to complain, no matter how normal and healthy it is to want what is good and right, to want to be rid of the Snapper, for him to leave my body and come into the world where he will not be as safe.  It seems a crime to be so blase when I know that the children we plan to add to our family after the Snapper will lose their mothers in some way.  You can’t hope to have a normal emotional experience of pregnancy when it comes literally one month after a major loss.  Loss is woven into it.  I hope that that fact becomes productive, that it will make me a better mother to this child and subsequent children, in whatever manner they come to us.

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Well, it happened.  Only my third day home and I found myself snuggled up with a mid-morning snack (very healthy, I’ll have you know), and “Bringing Home Baby.”  Gak.  I told myself that the Weather Channel is not really TV and wouldn’t lead to other things.  Just like dancing DOES occasionally lead to sex, the Weather Channel, for someone with an addiction as strong as mine, is enough to get me to TLC.  It wasn’t all that informative or entertaining.  But it did keep the silence of the house away, which I hate.  Next time I’ll leave NPR on or pick a CD.  And if I want to know what the weather’s doing I’ll just look outside.

I’m off to do a gazillion errands.  This morning I actually got up and stayed up with the dogs, so I had a chance to do the dishes, clean the stove, pick up the living room, do a load of laundry and wash out the vacuum cleaner filters before 9 a.m.  This means I can do my internet time and a mall walk (it’s cooooooold and wet here) before it’s time to dissertate.  I imagine there will be a nap in there, too.

In other news, now that I know what position the Snapper is in, I discovered that all this time the little round thing I have been stroking is his butt.  I’m a butt-toucher.

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