Friday, September 25, 2009


In all the hubbub over the past two years of meeting Dr. Husband and falling in love and getting engaged and moving in together and getting pregnant and getting married (and getting nauseous and getting fat and getting varicose veins) I neglected to remember one thing: doctors don’t like me. Or maybe it’s that I don’t always like them. In any case, I’m the type of person with a note on file at one doctor’s office that reads, “Patient is very [emphasis theirs] skeptical of Western medicine”—because I declined her offer of Prozac samples to treat my lifelong habit of crying when I'm sad.

I just had my first bad OB trip, one of those visits where everything everyone says is wrong—so much so that you have to wonder, is it just me? Am I being overly sensitive? Should I have taken some Prozac this morning?

The crimes of the nurse and doctor are too numerous (and boring and inane) to chronicle here, so I’ll just give you a sampler, like a box of Whitman’s.

Nurse [suddenly interested—on my, like seventeenth visit—in my professional life]: Oh, you’re a writer! Are you published?

Need I say more? That question is like asking a doctor, “Have you killed anyone?”

Okay, it’s not really the same—but neither is it the end of our disheartening exchange!

Me: Uh…yeah…in some literary magazines and Seattle Metropolitan and—
Nurse: No books, though?
Me: I’m working on that.
Nurse: Do you write baby books?
Me [taking a moment to parse what she means]: Um…no…not really…my stuff has pretty much been for grownups so far.
Nurse: Oh. Well if you write a baby book, you’ll have to let us know! You’ll be the first writer I know!

Me: I’ve have this excruciating pain in my pelvis [and some other even more personal regions I’ll refrain from naming here] the past few days that I finally self-diagnosed as varicose veins.
Formerly Beloved Doctor [slipping on a pair of latex gloves]: Let’s have a look.
Me: Um… I’m actually latex-sensitive… not that it’s a big deal, but apparently it’s better if I don’t have a lot of exposure to—
Formerly Beloved Doctor: What are your symptoms?
Me: Well, itchiness.
Formerly Beloved Doctor: An allergy would be highly unusual.
Me [trying my hardest not to slip into apology mode]: Oh. Yeah. Um. Well… my last gynecologist told me it was better not to be exposed to latex if I’m sensitive to it because it could develop into an allerg—
Formerly Beloved Doctor [slipping on a pair of non-latex gloves]: Be sure to remind me at each visit. It’s habit to reach for the latex ones.
Me [in my head]: Right! Because that exchange went so well! And isn’t there a place somewhere on my chart for such tidbits?
Me [out loud]: Okay.
Formerly Beloved Doctor [peering between my legs]: Yep. You’re right. Varicose veins.
Me: Any suggestions?
Formerly Beloved Doctor: I’ve seen worse.
Me: But any suggestions for making this case less painful?
Formerly Beloved Doctor: Oh, they usually go away when you give birth.
Me [in my head]: Usually! Usually! I don’t even recognize my nether-regions anymore but that’s okay—these things usually clear up eventually?
Me [out loud]: So I just need to toughen up?
Formerly Beloved Doctor: …

The problem with being married to a doctor is when you have a doctor’s office visit like this one, he takes the mean doctor’s side! “She was probably just having a bad day” indeed!

I want apologies! I want do-overs! I want suggestions for how to make my crotch stop killing me! I want a nice, soft, squishy midwife!

But, yes, I still want an epidural, dammit.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Neither Snow Nor Rain

The mailman just came to the kitchen door and waved at the exact moment I was standing in front of the freezer, lifting up my dress and applying an ice pack to my crotch. (See “Things They Don’t Tell You About Pregnancy #927” or, as my mother refers to it, “Your latest problem.”) That will teach me to order cute baby clothes off the internet. Or maybe he was delivering my hemorrhoid doughnut pillow—which I naively thought I wouldn’t need until after I gave birth.

I suppose, as a mom-to-be it’s just the first of many semi-clothed encounters with the postal carrier, so I might as well get used to it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Toast!

Last night I dreamed that I was suddenly in charge of a family of seven—not me and Dr. Husband and five kids but me and Dr. Husband and three kids and those kids’ mom and dad. I had to get breakfast together for everyone, including the mom and dad who seemed quite pleased to be able to kick back and chill in the backyard while I slaved away over the toaster.

That’s what I made for everyone: toast. And it was exceptionally challenging. For starters, there weren’t more than three slices of any one kind of bread, and I’d never really thought about this before because I’ve seldom had to cook for seven, but it’s a lot more difficult to toast 14 slices of multiple sizes and shapes and colors and types of bread than it is to toast 14 slices from one loaf. Why? I’m not sure, but in my dream it was very, very challenging.

I was still in the toasting phase—I hadn’t even moved on to the buttering stage or the finding out what kind of topping everyone likes on their toast (Nutella? Jam? Peanut butter?) stage when it dawned on me I’d have to make them all lunch, too. How to do all this and get them to school (and in the case of the parents, work) on time? In the end, everyone was late and I forgot to write a note to the attendance lady so no one would get in trouble.

If I have this much difficulty making toast, how will I possibly make it as a Mom?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Things They Don't Tell You About Pregnancy #816

If anyone ever tells you that once you're done with your first trimester of pregnancy you're in the clear, barfing-wise, they're lying.

That's all I'll say.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Scents to a Woman

Apparently my used furniture karma has taken a turn for the better. I bought yet another dresser for the nursery last week—a cute little minty green one—after assuring myself that it passed the sniff test and the aesthetics test and the “not the same colors as my junior high PE uniform” test. When I mentioned my previous ill-advised dresser to the super nice young couple who sold me the new, cute one they told me they might be able to take it off my hands, as they make a living fixing up old furniture and selling it on Craigslist. I sent them a photo and innumerated the dresser’s flaws and told them I was more than willing to take a loss it just to not have to deal with trying to sell it myself—or letting it sit in the attic until Dr. Husband and I die and our child has to return home to sort through our effects. Holy crap, what’s the deal with this ugly dresser that matches Mom’s junior high P.E. uniform? And why did she save her junior high P.E. uniform? Hopeless.

This afternoon the super nice young couple came and bought it! For more than the lowest price I’d mentioned being willing to settle for! And they gave me tips on getting rid of the mildew smell on our bed—which the female half of the couple described as “like mildew and feet” and the male half described first as nonexistent then conceded was “like the smell on a boat.” “Right,” I agreed, “which is pretty much the smell of mildew and feet.” They suggested trying vinegar, and if that doesn't work try some sort of fire-be-gone stuff you spray on furniture that’s been in a fire, and if that doesn't work try polyurethane, and if that doesn't work, sell it on Craigslist. “It’s a really nice bed,” they both said. “Maybe you can sell it to a gay couple since guys apparently can’t smell,” the woman suggested.

I am now the proud owner of not two but one nursery dresser—and the stash of twenties in my wallet has been blessedly replenished and I no longer feel like such a regretful moron. Now, off to sort out the changing table situation as the Febreze-stinky leather ottoman taunts me from the corner.

Monday, September 14, 2009

In Good Hands

What is it with life insurance guys? Why must they always live up to their reputation? We had one—I’ll call him Bill because that’s his name and yet it doesn’t exactly give away his identity—visit us yesterday since apparently he needed to meet the missus before moving forward with our new policy.

He showed up at our house a HALF HOUR early and called from his cell phone and was all, “I’m sitting here in my car trying to do paperwork, but it’s really difficult here in my car. Where I’m sitting. Outside your house. Doing paperwork.” I was all, “Well, Dr. Husband just worked the overnight shift and I’m a pregnant stay-at-home writer, so NEITHER OF US IS SHOWERED OR DRESSED YET, YOU MORON, so hows about waiting until the time you were supposed to show up before letting the slimefest that is life insurance sales commence?” Or something vaguely like that.

Once we’d put on clothes and let Bill into our home, he was very impressed to learn that Dr. Husband is an emergency medicine doctor and very happy to share his every harrowing emergency room story with us… The time his son had a bad prescription drug interaction, the time his other son fell out of a tree, the time the son who he no longer speaks to because he’s “too much of a nonconformist” went off his meds—or something like that, I wasn’t really listening, I was just trying to sign my name as quickly as possible so he would leave our house so I could take a shower and start my day like a typical nonconformist—i.e. without a life insurance agent at my dining room table.

Bill stayed for half an hour—the amount of time it takes a life insurance agent to collect four signatures and two drivers license numbers and two Social Security numbers.

Oh, also in that time he managed to squeeze in lots of fawning over Dr. Husband (You’re a doctor! An emergency doctor?! That’s great! That’s so exciting! How interesting!) and to finally turn to me to ask, “So, you’re a homemaker?”

A homemaker.

I’d forgotten that word existed. I thought it had gone the way of the dodo, the laserdisc, and menstrual pads with belts.

I explained, tight-lipped, that I’m a writer. There’s a big difference! Sure writers stay home during the day and putter about the house halfheartedly wiping down countertops and absentmindedly making grocery lists—but we also write! We digest experiences and render them entertaining and enlightening. We’re like the stomach of the masses—or maybe the kidneys, or perhaps we’re more like—

Bill interrupted my internal monologue to ask, “So what's your annual salary?”

He wasn’t being mean, he needed an answer for his paperwork.

I grimaced and told him the answer.

He was kind enough to reply, “Well, that’s something!” and, more importantly, he was kind enough not to laugh.

Thank you, Bill the Life Insurance Guy.

But please don’t ever come back to my house. Even if you're on-time.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dog Daze

I searched the web today for the “best daycare in Seattle.” All that popped up were places that will take “loving care” in a “home away from home” environment for my “kid in a fur coat.”

When I searched for the best playgrounds in town I discovered all the hot spots for “tiny four-legged tots.”

I never thought I’d say this, but apparently it's too bad I’m not gestating a canine.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Nosocomephobia: Who Knew?

Today we toured the hospital where I will be giving birth sometime in the next two months. Like so many other aspects of this whole pregnancy adventure, educating myself on exactly what I can expect from my hospital experience was not exactly the calming, empowering, anxiety-reducing experience all the books promise it will be. It was, instead, terrifying.

Yes, it’s helpful to know where to park and which button to push in the elevator, but aside from those educational gems, the tour merely served to remind me how much I hat hospitals. I mean, I reminded Dr. Husband as we approached the entrance that I know hospitals are no big deal for him but I hate them—I’d just forgotten how visceral my hatred is. And “hatred” probably isn’t even the right word. It’s more fear than loathing—as evidenced by the tears that sprang to my eyes the instant I saw a very unhappy-looking woman being wheeled down the hall on a gurney by a lone nurse. She wasn’t screaming or writhing or behaving in any way like a laboring woman in a movie or television show, she just looked like she would rather be anywhere else in the world doing anything else in the world wearing anything else than what she had on.

I simultaneously wanted to crawl up onto the gurney to snuggle her and to run away shouting, “Sign me up for a home birth!”

If only midwives could administer epidurals.

Fear of pain, fear of dying, fear of needles, fear of scalpels, fear of forceps, fear of anesthesia, fear of episiotomies, fear of nurses, fear of tubes, fear of beeping noises, fear of antiseptic, fear of hospital gowns, fear of hospital food, fear of bedpans. For as long as I can remember I’ve been plagued, too, by the fear of my slippery, slimy newborn being dropped on the hard hospital floor. I mean, I suppose the doctors have had plenty of practice catching babies, but would it kill them to put down a few towels?

It would probably be good for me to visit the labor & delivery wing a few more times before I have to go there for real, to desensitize myself a little. I’ve heard that fear slows down the labor process, and the last thing I want is to be there any longer than I have to. But I have a suspicion that exposure therapy won’t work all that well if I just stand there thinking, “I hate it here, I hate it here. What’s that smell? I hate it here.”

Thursday, September 10, 2009


In the process of preparing the house this summer for the baby’s arrival, Dr. Husband and I switched the guestroom from the one across the hall from our bedroom to a cozy, quiet little room in the corner of the basement. A friend visiting from Minnesota tested out the new room for a week and declared it to be “perfect.” Perfect, too, it turned out, was having the guest room not right outside our bedroom. Not that Dr. Husband and I were up to anything worth spying on, we just fare better when we have our privacy. We’re more relaxed, more ourselves, more likely to brush our teeth while naked when there’s nobody else upstairs with us. Many of our favorite moments of our wedding were the ones where it was just the two of us in the car driving from one event to the next, either quickly processing some relation’s antics or just sitting quietly holding hands and enjoying being a tiny little team.

So it was with some horror that I realized recently that not only are Dr. Husband and I getting a baby out of this whole pregnancy deal, we’re also getting a housemate—one with an 18-year minimum lease. I had this flash of our son (we still don’t know the baby’s sex yet—I just keep picturing a boy) at age 13 living in the bedroom across the hall from Dr. Husband’s and my room, and the whole proposition seemed suddenly absurd. In no way have we been in the market for a housemate—particularly a teenage one! Some days the proximity of the next-door neighbors feels oppressive—and they’re hardly ever home! Why are we suddenly inviting this adolescent stranger to come live in our former guestroom and hog the TV and eat all the best snacks? It took a few moments of Lamaze breathing (hee—hee—hee—hee—whoooooo) before it occurred to me that by the time the boy is 13 he won’t be a stranger, and he won’t feel like a guest. First he’ll be this screaming, fussy suckling who keeps us in a state of sleep-deprivation so severe that we forget what it was ever like to have peace or quiet or privacy. By the time he’s 13 we’ll probably be rather used to him and rather able to be ourselves around him.

“Yeah, either that,” Dr. Husband deadpanned when I told him all this, “or we can just send him to boarding school.”