Thursday, April 30, 2009


I hate being a cliché, so I’m reluctant to admit the only foods I want for lunch or dinner these days are pizza, hamburgers, BLTs, and grilled cheese sandwiches. For snack, it’s cheese Dortitos, Oreo cookies, and iced tea. I might as well buy a minivan, stock my closet with yoga pants, and start watching Everyone Loves Raymond.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Pastry By Any Other Name

Next in the lineup of domestic issues to be sorted out is the name thing—not the baby’s first name, which we more or less decided on within a day of getting engaged, but our various and sundry surnames. Dr. Fiancé is 100% adamant that his kids have the same last name as him—and that his last name not be changed. He’s less adamant—like maybe only 99%—that I should keep my last name. I, too, would like to share a last name with my children, though I’m seldom if ever 100% certain about anything, and though I’ve always imagined I’d keep my own last name when I got married, I never really imagined my children having a different last name than me.

I tried suggesting that Dr. Fiancé take my last name as his middle name and giving it to the kids as their middle name, too, and me taking Dr. Fiancé’s last name as my middle name so that we all have both surnames somewhere close at hand, but my Taurus of a fiancé was not inclined to change even his middle name.

And did I mention he’s morally opposed to hyphenation?

When we visited my aunt and uncle in North Carolina last month we found out that my cousin and her fiancé are jamming their surnames together—with no hyphen but with a capital letter in the middle, like an email address or URL with capital letters here and there for clarity’s sake. I was so glad my aunt told us this because I figure the more creative/unique/unusual solutions we hear about, the more normal hyphenation or middle-name-changing will start to seem.

One of my writer friends suggested we take the anagram route and came up with Strudel, which is a near anagram (minus a few letters) of our last names, and which, I have to say, totally rocks.

Dr. and Mrs. Strudel has a pretty nice ring to it, you have to admit, especially if you’re as fond of pastries as I am.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Living Dangerously

Dr. Fiancé put in a special request for chocolate chip cookies tonight. Without thinking about it, I licked the raw-egg-containing cookie dough off the spatula. I hope I haven’t killed our child.

Monday, April 06, 2009

The Sweet Smell of Spring

This is the first morning I’ve woken up and felt halfway decent in nearly a month. The movement of rolling over to see what time it was didn’t make me feel seasick. Hallelujah. I took a deep breath, turned back toward the spring sun streaming through the window, savored the moment, and immediately began worrying that the reason I feel better even though I have a few weeks left in the notoriously nauseating first trimester is that something bad happened to the baby-in-progress.

But then I came downstairs and the chemical-sweet stench of Febreze emanating from the leather chair I stupidly bought off Craigslist last year without giving it the sniff test was so sickening I nearly tossed the chair in the garbage (again). Ditto the kitchen sponge. And the soap. And the overly browned bits on the edge of my English muffin. Yep—still pregnant.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

I Am Not a Doctor

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I am not a doctor. According to my dad, I wanted to be one when I was three, but I must have changed my mind. It would have been a bad career choice for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that my knees buckle under when I so much as hear the words “bile” or “mucous.” I would have never made it through a dermatology slide show, much less an anatomy class. When I watch Grey’s Anatomy, I keep one finger on the fast-forward button, skipping the surgeries in favor of the banter. In college I only pulled one all-nighter and vowed never again. I like my sleep. I like my sanity. I like to have time to sit on the grass in the sun and write poems. I am more cat than crow, more inchworm than hummingbird.

Sure, I can run around crossing things off a list, accomplishing an impossible number of errands, but at the end of the day I feel dull and hollow—and possibly bipolar—and who needs that?

Dr. Fiancé and I have, as he puts it, “different ways of dealing with discomfort.” Namely, he throws himself into situations that cause it—hiking, kayaking, running, playing basketball, traveling to places that don’t have proper toilets, whereas I like to avoid such things. Life is uncomfortable enough as it is without seeking out blisters and sprains and fatigue and revolting smells.

Likewise, some people enjoy traveling to countries where they don’t speak English so that they’re pushed out of their verbal comfort zone. I, on the other hand, do not require a foreign tongue to feel challenged and self-conscious and misunderstood. An audience of two—or sometimes even one—is all it takes for me to develop performance anxiety.

This is all to say, my “approach” to “handling” the discomforts of pregnancy has caused some tension chez nous. Dr. Fiancé is of the school (specifically Harvard Medical School) that believes in pushing through discomfort. I suppose that’s what you have to do to make it through medical training, but it seems ironic—the people in charge of helping us take care of our bodies are forced to take such poor care of their own, deprived of rest and sleep and three decent meals a day. If you’re running yourself that hard, don’t you lose touch with what’s going on with your body? If you need sleep but aren’t able to get any, aren’t you setting some part of yourself up to mistrust the rest of you?

Many times these past few queasy weeks I have wondered—frequently out loud—how other women do it. How do pregnant doctors-in-training get through residency, for instance? Do they just accept the fact that they might throw up on a patient? I’m scared to throw up on my car. And do they just not worry about the fact that their brains are muddled with raging hormones and thoughts of food and waves of nausea and that those distractions are probably preventing them from performing at the level to which they’d previously been accustomed? Am I a wimp for, say, feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of teaching creative writing to high school kids once or twice a week, working on my own writing, planning a wedding, keeping up with the rigorous travel schedule Dr. Fiancé prefers, tending to a house and yard larger than any I’ve ever lived in, growing a baby, and trying to remain gastronointestinally intact?

Dr. Fiancé is worried he won’t be able to have the adventures he’s always dreamed of if I don’t push myself harder. I’m worried my child might grow up with a dead father and a mother in prison for homicide.

Sweeter Than a Hallmark Commercial

Dr. Fiancé and I took a long walk this morning, heading a litle further north than we normally do and ending up near one of Seattle’s premeire private schools—the “artsy fartsy” one that still manages to look like a place the Obamas would consider sending their girls.

One of the beautiful old brick buildings had a porch with an old-fashioned rocking chair swaying in the breeze and a memorial plaque that included the Charlotte’s Web quote, “It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.”

“It would be so cool to walk our kids to school,” I said, all casual-like, flicking the pregnancy-induced tears out of my eyes. Why wouldn’t I want to send my kid to a school with quotes like that on the wall? And maybe a better use of my energies isn’t to talk Dr. Fiancé into public school, which, frankly, I’m ambivalent about, but to make sure our kid gets lots of art classes and access to rocking chairs and Charlotte’s Web quotes.

“I’d be thrilled if my kids went here,” Dr. Fiancé beamed. “It’s a really good school!” Then he took my hand in his and we headed home and then to the antique jewelry store to look for old, arty, classy wedding rings.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Paper Trail

I’m feeling a little better today, thanks to the twice-daily dose of drugs that hopefully are not messing up the little person growing inside me. Armed with a nausea-reducing travel mug full of Keifer and a constipation-reducing Fiber One bar, I ventured on yet another wedding-related errand: the stationary store.

It has finally dawned on me that our wedding is not going to be the cake-and-champagne-in-a-picnic-shelter-in-a-nice-park-type-affair that I’d imagined we could throw for, like $5,000. We have numerous meals and tons of logistics and multiple means of transportation and, clearly, a dress that’s going to cost more than $15.

All of a sudden yesterday the plan of our wedding invitations seemed not just daunting, exhausting, and taxing in my newly nauseous state, but kind of not fair. My 13-year-old future half-brother-in-law had invitations that look like tuxedos made for his upcoming Bar Mitzvah. Yes, it might have been more his mother’s doing than his own, but still, shouldn’t I be allowed to have invitations made for my wedding? I don’t need them to be engraved or even letter-pressed, and I don’t need envelopes inside of envelopes inside of envelopes with ribbons and shiny lining and all that crap. I just need them to look like I didn’t make them myself with Microsoft Word clip art.

The woman at the stationary store was perfect—a young woman who collects old ephemera and would be thrilled—seriously thrilled—to come up with the design I have in mind, based on antique train tickets. (Did I mention that one of the means of transportation at our wedding is an antique steam train?) She’ll make an invite with a tear-off RSVP card attached to the bottom. There’s perforation involved, which adds a few hundred dollars, of course, but I figured out I can do that myself with a sewing machine or some sort of roll-y tool that I’m sure is available somewhere on the internet. I can handle that much D.I.Y., even in my current condition.

It feels so good to have someone helping—someone with the tools and the skills and the know-how, not to mention the unbridled enthusiasm for all things wedding. I got kind of lonely making our save-the-date cards, just me and my jam-prone laser printer and the sound of my own voice cursing.

Dr. Fiancé asked where exactly the bulk of the cost of the invitations comes from, and I explained we were mostly paying for someone else’s design work. “So it’s like art?” he asked. “We can hang one of them on the wall later?” Unclear whether he was being sarcastic.

Either way, he gave the project the thumbs-up and quickly busied himself looking for train-themed stamps on the internet.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Maternity Wedding Dress Shopping Expedition No. 1

What is it that makes so many brides—and their mothers—lose their sense of humor? I mean, I assume they once had one, these ladies scowling at me from their risers and three-way mirrors as I step up to my own riser and three-way mirror, my giant belly protruding from a series of cheaply made wedding gowns like the world’s largest marshmallow popping out of its bag.

I reply to their stares with a smile and a belly pat, saying in a tone that I mean to be simultaneously reassuring and ironic, “It’s just a pillow.”

They do not crack a smile, not one of them.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009