Whenever I wonder where all my brain space went

bill cosby confusedEvery so often I wonder where the heck all my brain space actually went. I look back to a time when remembering things was easy and think to myself, “what the heck happened? What is actually using all those powers of being able to recall things in my head that now can’t seem to recall if I walked the dog this morning or not.”

And before you go all, “but you complain about pregnancy brain all the time! Don’t you think it’s that?!” I have had this complaint for the past, say, 8 years. So unless I’ve been pregnant that entire time, you can zip that comment right up, thankyouverymuch.

I didn’t realize where all this brain space had actually gone until I was cleaning and turned on the Pandora station “Summer Hits of the 90s“. If you had any sort of formative years in the 90s, I highly recommend this station – you will not be disappointed. However, I think it will make you come to the same conclusion that I have been forced into:

All of my brain space has been used up by lyrics to songs made in the 1990s.

Yes, seriously.

You may get schooled by the acne-faced adolescents on Teen Jeopardy! nowadays but dangit if you can’t remember every damn word to “No Scrubs” by TLC. Or “My Own Worst Enemy” by Lit. Or “All Star” by Smash Mouth. You get the idea.

Try the station out and tell me I’m wrong, 90s kids. I dare you. 

I DARE YOU.

Don't even act like you didn't wear overalls. Don't even TRY.

Don’t even act like you didn’t wear overalls. Don’t even TRY. Good god, the 90s were a confusing time.

The single most expensive dog toy to ever be manufactured…

sophie girafe…is called Sophie la Giraffe.

Don’t be fooled by the fact that it’s sold at reputable baby retailers such as Buy Buy Baby, Pottery Barn Kids, and Amazon. You might think that this adorable, chic “teether” that you are convinced you have to have as soon as you become pregnant is for your baby.

You would be wrong.

I am now convinced this teether is actually the world’s greatest marketing ploy of all time by a dog toy manufacturer to offload an overabundance of rubber squeaky giraffes to unsuspecting, hormonal mothers who will think that an adorable box with French on it and a cute story about a little factory in the French countryside making their own perfect rubber formula since the 1950s for children to teethe their perfect little French baby teeth upon will sell these little rubber giraffes en masse.

Whoever realized this potential market for an overproduction of giraffe dog toys is a genius.

Sophie is one of those registry items that appears on almost everyone’s registry magically, even if they don’t specifically remember registering for it. I think the fact that the toy is adorable helps the cause immensely. You are immediately brought back to imagining a simpler time with more adorable toys that your grandmother might have played with before walking uphill both ways in the snow to school. Perhaps teething on this adorable French giraffe will create a cultured, art-loving, bilingual child, you think to yourself. Images of your child with a chef’s hat cooking up gourmet 5-course meals at the age of 6 flash across your hormonal eyes. This is it, you think, this is the key to motherhood.

What they don’t tell you is that Sophie la Giraffe, in all her adorable retro-chic French countryside rubber, is the only toy my dog has ever wanted or will ever want in his entire existence.

Forget gourmet-cooking bilingual children, what’s actually in that special French countryside rubber is dog crack.

My general problem is that my fur baby (dog) and I have been together for over six and a half years. Almost every toy that has been brought into the house has been brought with the sole purpose of furthering his enjoyment and happiness in life, and whether that happiness is achieved by tearing said toy to bits within five minutes or by hoarding it for a year as his own personal security toy is completely up to him. How am I supposed to explain to him that all of a sudden these toys that look almost identical to every other toy he has ever been given are suddenly “off limits” because of a (as of yet) nonexistent being that is coming to live with us in a few months? You can’t, that’s how. If I can’t understand it, my dog shouldn’t be expected to, either.

sophie la girafe and Brinks

“Oh please oh please oh please oh please oh please oh please oh pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease”

I have been fairly successful in hiding the toys that are for Wee Connor away from the dog, and, generally, he’s been uninterested in them. Except for Sophie. Sophie makes me realize what a Border Collie he actually is with his obsessive-compulsive memory and attention span that is longer than 90% of adults’. There is something about her that makes him go insane, and were it not for a $23 price tag, I would probably just give her to him. At the moment, my attitude is that $23 is too much money to just go out and buy another Sophie, but seeing as that appears to be the inevitable outcome, I have decided that Sophie la Giraffe is officially the single most expensive dog toy to ever be created.

Bravo, Sophie marketeers, with your French countryside rubber story and your ability to conjure up images of well-behaved French gourmet chef children. Bravo. Je vous salue (I salute you)!

Reasons I’m crying while pregnant

Have you ever seen the blog (now book) called “Reasons My Son Is Crying“? If you haven’t, it’s a good laugh. The premise is exactly what it sounds like – people take pictures of their children crying when their child is crying for reasons where the only reaction to the sobfest is a picture and a mention in a wedding toast 20-30 years down the road. Examples include “the neighbor’s dog isn’t outside today” or “her shoelaces were too floppy” or “Chipotle was closed” (which, to be fair on that last one, I hear ya, buddy.).

I started thinking that perhaps I could start my own list inspired by this titled, “reasons I’m crying while pregnant.” Everyone told me what a ridiculous emotional wreck I would be and that my emotions would make no sense whatsoever and that I could go through every emotion ever in the matter of 5 minutes. I am here to tell you all that everyone was right. I think the worst culmination of these emotions, though, are the random outbursts of tears that seem to suddenly exude from my face leaving my poor husband standing there holding me asking, “why are you crying??? What’s wrong???”

I would like to present to you a few of those reasons I have given to him.

“There were no Brussels sprouts at the grocery store.”

brussels-sprouts-vitamin-c-lgI came home with a perfectly suitable vegetable alternative, by the way. Normally by the time I am cooking dinner I would have forgotten that I even wanted Brussels sprouts, but since I’m pregnant apparently, I cried when I started dinner. And as I cried and my husband hugged and asked what was wrong, all I could muster was, “there were no Brussels sprouts at the grocery store.”

“I don’t want to make dinner tonight.”

Let me preface this: I normally love to cook. However, one night, when I got all the ingredients out for dinner and started organizing them, I burst out into tears. It wasn’t that I wouldn’t eat the food once it was done or I had had a particularly horrible day, or that I was extremely tired. It was literally the thought that I had to cook that meal, that night. It wasn’t even that the thought of going out was appealing, either. I guess I just wanted the food that I had in my refrigerator to Mary Poppins itself into a fully prepared state in front of me. (Not that that wouldn’t be awesome any time at all, though.)

I think we ordered Indian food to go. It was awesome.

“I’m too tired to move.”

so so so tiredThere is simply no preparing you for the level of tired you feel during the first trimester of pregnancy. I imagined being tired, sure – your body is doing all sorts of things to create a liveable space for a human for 9 months and I get tired just rearranging my closet – but I never, ever imagined that the “tired” people spoke of was actually “energy level of a coma patient.”  There were points in the first trimester when petting my dog felt like more of an effort than running a 5k. One night getting up from the couch to go to bed just proved to be too much to think about and, you guessed, it: waterworks.

“I learned the wrong language.”

In preparation for my trip to France, Luxembourg, and Belgium I decided to pick up a new hobby a few months ago of re-learning French. It has since become a minor obsession. However, my husband and I really want to introduce Wee Connor to Spanish as a language by reading him books, showing him movies, and maybe even talking to him in Spanish as much as we can so that he can pick it up “naturally” (whatever that means) and easily, and then hopefully keep it up through school.

I don’t even know if there was even something that prompted it, but one day I just looked up with tears in my eyes and whimpered, “I learned the wrong language! And now I’ve been learning French and the baby is coming in two and a half months and if I’m too stupid to not use run-on sentences like in this one even that how am I going to fit in another language into this dumb pregnancy brain?! WHAT HAVE I DONE?!?

Real life.

“I want Entenmann’s chocolate doughnuts.”

I know they’re processed food crap.

I know they’re processed food crap.

I know they’re processed food crap.

I want them anyway.

THERE IS NO WINNING. SYSTEM OVERLOAD. Loading tear ducts. Commence cry.

“I have no idea.”

Sadly, this is the single most given reason I have for when my husband asks me why I’m crying.

Because the truth is, I don’t. I don’t have any idea why I’m sitting in front of the TV sobbing during Jeopardy. Or why rearranging the pantry made me so happy I involuntarily burst into tears.

Throughout pregnancy my body has actually shocked me with the surprises it has had in store for me, but this new-found “sobbing at a moment’s notice” thing has really thrown me for a loop. I recognize it as ridiculous and as something that didn’t happen ever before, but also as something that I’m probably just going to have to learn to deal with – or, more appropriately – that my husband has learned with incredible grace and compassion how to deal with.

So, the moral of the story? If you don’t want to spontaneously burst into irrational bouts of crying…don’t get pregnant.

Anything could happen – taking a breath.

Decisions, decisions, decisions and why I’m doing what I’m doing for the next little bit. First, a bit of background.

For the past three years, I have been working remotely for a very small company specializing in technology consulting for nonprofits. It’s been a good job. It allowed me to live in 3 cities in 3 years (Winston-Salem, Chicago, Charlotte) without the stress of looking for a new job. It expanded my skillset and knowledgebase in a considerable way and allowed me to test and try new skills I would not have had the chance to otherwise explore in a larger, more structured company. I could adjust my hours to work around my schedule. Just like with any job, there were things I really loved and things I didn’t love so much. To think that you will love every aspect of your job, to me, is an exceptionally ridiculous expectation that needs to be smashed out with a tire iron, and fast.

All of a sudden, though, I got pregnant and started thinking. I personally urge you never to do this, mostly because the last thing your pregnancy brain needs on top of trying to figure out why your keys are suddenly in a purse you haven’t used in a year and a half is an existential crisis. But there I was, looking at this old purse, wondering if maybe, just maybe, I shouldn’t just think about whether I liked my job, but whether I even liked my career I had been going through the last 5 years. And what would I do once this little baby thing came bopping around in my life?

Suddenly, things became clear. First, I needed a cookie. Second, a new life plan.

This is where the interactive piece of the programming comes in. Please hit play and then continue. (Or don’t. It’s not required.)

I started obsessively reading articles and interviews about the different “sides” to the story of “working vs. parenting” or “having it all!” or “not having it all, it’s impossible!”, or “leaning in” or “leaning out”. The amount of blogs, books, articles, and materials I discovered would actually shock you. I started thinking and pondering about life, and about how maybe it wasn’t the downs and annoyances of my job that was getting me down, but actually it was that I hadn’t ever really stopped to think about what it is I want to be doing.

Six months ago or so, something in my gut told me having a baby was the right choice, and luckily something in my husband’s gut told him the same thing. (I think mostly it was the fact that we were forced into the decision one time before with tragic results, but that experience altered our mindset on having children now instead of five years from now, but that’s a whole other bag of beans.)

Maybe there was something to this gut thing after all. And maybe there was another decision there I could listen to, given the opportunity to breathe a bit and hear it.

Then, as I should have known would happen, Bill Watterson unexpectedly came into my life to help the decision along.

For those who may not know or remember, Bill Watterson is the cartoonist of Calvin & Hobbes, my all-time, bar-none favorite comic of all time. I credit Calvin & Hobbes for teaching me things my parents tried to enforce into me, and, more realistically, for giving me an outlook and perspective on life that I all too often forget I cherish. I can sit and look through the Calvin & Hobbes full anthology I got my husband for a birthday for hours. I love Calvin & Hobbes and everything the strip throughout its years conveyed.

Shockingly, it wasn’t a true Calvin & Hobbes comic that made the difference. Instead it was an excerpt of a commencement speech Watterson gave to Kenyon College in 1995 that cartoonist at Zen Pencils, Gavin Aung Than, put into a tribute to Calvin & Hobbes about his own life that sealed the deal. [Below as well.]

The decision to step back and make a decision was there. I talked to my husband obsessively. We looked at the realities. We talked about the hypotheticals. We ate more cookies. I cried.

And then…I made the decision.

I quit my job.

I handed in a resignation over the phone, shakily, and tried to come up with an answer to the inevitable slew of “so what’s next??” questions that would reasonably be thrown at me by family and friends when I told them about my decision.

The real answer is that I don’t know what’s next. I still love tech, and I still like what I’ve really started doing in my job recently, more or less. It could very well be that when I take this break, I’ll want to pick it back up. It could be that I want to pursue another life interest more regularly. It could be that I will find something entirely new that I want to do, and if that’s being a mom, that’s being a mom. Something I am sure of, though, is that whatever I land myself into next, be it another job or not, I will have had the opportunity to know that’s what I want to do and that it will be something I know will fulfill me.

The question of the age seems to be, “can women [parents] really have it all?” (I put parents there because I think this is a parent issue – excluding dads from the conversation of wanting to stay at home with their children is just as sexist as assuming all women should do is cook and clean.) Lately, more and more people have essentially come out and said no, having it all means compromising some of everything, including the Pepsi CEO, Indra Nooyi, in a candid and extraordinarily honest interview I encourage everyone to read. The answer I have arrived at after delving deep, deep, deep into the crevices of the Internet is that there is no answer to “the question”, I think. Will staying at home all day make you miserable and stressed? That doesn’t make you a bad mom, person, or human. It makes you honest. Will being at a job you might not necessarily need to be at just because it’s something you’re “supposed” to do “in the path of life” make you miserable? Well, then, I say think long and hard about that, too, and not just what your friends or family would say about it. Making a choice about what to do and when you do it should be looked at as that by others: a choice, and if they don’t see it that way, then stand tall and don’t shrink back. I’m personally blessed to be able to take this time to evaluate and have some time with the new kiddo. Many are not, and I recognize that fully. But personally, knowing that I really want to be doing what I’m doing is going to make our whole house life better, just like the moms who know they want to be working should be able to work without the scorn of others.

It’s that gut talking again, and it’s not just about cookies.

So here I sit, decision made, a week and a half to go in my job scared out of my gourd that I not only have a baby coming in fewer than 90 days, but that I’m going to wake up in August and actually have my freedom ahead.

Anything could happen.

o-WATTERSON-900

I am woman! Hear me have an incredible guilt trip!

The crib arrived! THE CRIB ARRIVED! THE CRIB ARRIVED!

in crib with cat

And you thought I was kidding about the “place for my cat to sleep” thing. And yes, that’s me.

I really have a place for a little person to sleep! And, if any/all of my baby pictures were any indication, my cat will have a cozy place to nest herself, too!

One of the great things about working from home is that if the delivery people show up, you’re there (assuming they decide to drop something off at your door instead of at the leasing office, which is a 50/50 crapshoot and in which case I can never seem to get to the office at a time where I can pick up a package. But I digress.). So, when the crib showed up at my door I got extra excited, and not just because I would talk to a human being in person.

I pulled the box inside my apartment and stared at it.

I asked my dog if I should maybe just open it, you know, to see if there were any visible signs of damage. My dog said it was all cool. Remember, all: working from home for three years.

I opened the box. And then, you know, I made sure to take all the packing materials off to just double-check for damage.

Then something came over me. If I call it pregnancy brain it’s a disservice to pregnancy brain, because it was more that some little voice in the back of my head said, you know, you’re not half-bad at assembling things. I bet you could put this together. To which I replied (again, working from home for 3 years does NOT a normal sense of self-conversations make), AM pretty good at assembling things, brain! You’re right! I am woman! Rawr!

And so it began. I went into action mode. I laid out all the pieces and parts just like the directions said. I made sure to cross-reference the different sizes of screws and bolts and be familiar with each type, and then I just did it. I assembled the crib all by myself. Now, it could be that this crib was excessively easy to assemble (which it was, by the way), but suddenly I looked up and it was done.

I AM WOMAN. I CAN NOT ONLY WATCH AN OUTRAGEOUS AMOUNT OF ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK IN ONE SITTING BUT I CAN ASSEMBLE A PLACE FOR MY CHILD TO SLEEP ALL BY MYSELF.

Hear me roar!

As I sat there admiring my own handiwork and feeling empowered the phone rang. It was TLH, telling me that he was on his way home. I immediately told him of my triumph and assembly skills expecting some sort of, “Wow!” or “You deserve even more chocolate than normal because you’re normally amazing and this is extra amazing!”

Silence.

“Did you hear me?”

“…wait…you put together the entire crib? It’s done?”

At this point, I realized I may have fumbled the parenthood ball a little bit. I just had to figure out where I went wrong.

“Well, um, maybe some of the screws need to be tightened, now…um…is that…ok?”

Silence again.

Uh oh.

“Well, um, it’s not like that’s the one thing I wanted to put together or anything and that you imagine doing for your firstborn son or anything, you know, a father putting together his son’s crib.

Oh. Crap. I get it now. Yup. Loud and clear.

I immediately began trying to backtrack, but there was only so much backtracking I could do before I backed straight into a fully assembled crib.

I am woman. Hear me whimper quietly and apologize.

The assembled crib, with the most adorable stuffed giraffe I have ever seen. And the hind quarters of my dog because obviously.

The assembled crib, with the most adorable stuffed giraffe I have ever seen. And the hind quarters of my dog because obviously. If you look closely enough, you can actually see my shame wafting out of the crib like odors in a cartoon.

TLH walked in the door and I sheepishly showed him the finished crib. He inspected my work, and tightened the screws and we put it into the nursery, which is honestly just an amalgamation of pieces of baby stuff with no rhyme or reason or decorating. I swore to TLH I would let him assemble the changing table, which enthused him far less, probably because of the whole “a sleeping baby is way more fun to think about than a pooping baby” thing.

I’ll chalk this one up to a complete bumble on my part. It wasn’t the first, and certainly won’t be the last. TLH of course forgave me as he usually does, and did help assemble the changing table, suggesting that we do it together like civilized adults in a partnership. (The guilt! THE GUILT!)

At some point we’ll get around to the decorating stuff, too.

I hope.

P.S. If you are curious about what crib we got – it’s this one, the Jenny Lind convertible. It’s well-priced (~$199), very sturdy, and, in my opinion, adorable. And, clearly, it’s easy to assemble, too. I love this crib, and, as it stands right now, would absolutely recommend it. I’ll probably even write more about it later and why I chose the crib I chose. Once I get over the guilt.

I’m 6 months along? Are you sure about that?

what come after 6There I was, going along, minding my own business, being all pregnant and whatnot, and then I did some math when I turned 26 weeks pregnant.

What does that mean, you ask? I am officially 6 months pregnant now. I don’t know how this happened. Who authorized this?!

There is just something different about hitting six months that seems to make it all seem…real…er.

I started thinking about “6 months” in a variety of different ways, such as:

  • Two full work quarters
  • Half a year
  • 3 months to go until we get an incredibly needy roommate who is going to depend on me to sustain him, which is a sign he clearly needs to reassess his applicant screening process
  • 90 more days to go until my fur babies receive a new human puppy sibling
  • Half the time I’ve lived in Charlotte
  • 11 weeks to full term

Then I started looking up gestation periods of various animals, because clearly that is a normal thing to do.

Baby baboon sez: I judge your internet usage.

Baby baboon sez: I judge your Internet usage.

Hint: if you are a mom, or ever plan to be a mom be glad you are neither a sperm whale nor an elephant. Also, apparently, I have now surpassed the healthy birthing time for a baboon. These are things I cannot un-know.

Something about the idea that there are only 3 more months to go seems absolutely absurd to me.

All of a sudden this nursery with a few assortment of random baby items stacked haphazardly in it actually needs to come together. The closet we love to hang our millions of coats and jackets we gathered while in Chicago, along with all spare linens and general crap we have amassed, needs to go somewhere since this little person is going to have more stuff than I could ever imagine. Then, lord help us all, the organizing and sorting of baby “stuff” is another thing. Didn’t we have 6 months left 10 minutes ago?!

And, while we’re at it, where the hell is this glorious “nesting instinct” that’s supposed to kick in magically? Can I get me some of that stuff to jumpstart this nonsense?!

The thing is, I know it will get done. There is no use freaking out when I do, in fact, still have three months left. That’s another quarter of a year! I still have to tack on a baby puma to this little baboon! (Yes, I know, I’ll stop now.)

For the time being, I need to harness that zen energy (zenergy? anyone?) I found a little while back and just start little by little really making progress on this baby readiness stuff. And when that fails, all-out panic and tears will ensue. Maybe I’ll even get a dose of the nesting thing so many people keep talking about.

All I know is, 6 months has never seemed quite so short or so long a time.

P.S. In case you were curious, sperm whales take anywhere from 15.7 months to 19 months to fully bake (which is 1.3-1.6 years) and elephants take 20 months (1.7 years). THE MORE YOU KNOW. YOU’RE WELCOME FOR THAT.

Why and how I gave up pregnancy websites

inconcievableIn all of my friends, I am one of the first to have a baby. While even a year ago this thought would have been absolutely INCONCEIVABLE! (If you are not imagining Vizzini from Princess Bride right now then we have a very serious communication problem), a lot can happen in a year and here I sit, six months pregnant, baffled by the fact that I have gone 6 months without wine magically sustaining a lifeform inside of me.

While I have gotten a lot of advice, both solicited and not, about children, pregnancy, babies, and life in general, much of which is great, these people’s well-intentioned advice doesn’t change one fact:

The Internet is still there, and it’s full of crazy.

Oh, you think you understand crazy, you say? You’ve actually read some YouTube comments? Well, friends, let me explain something. Until you’ve gone to a website devoted to pregnancy/children you don’t know jack about crazy.

It took a while, but I have pretty much kicked the habit of pregnancy/motherhood websites. If I have a specific question, such as, “oh crap, how many weeks pregnant am I?” or “how big is this mass of growing human inside my belly?” I’ll go look. But otherwise, I pretty much have stopped. I still read blogs, I still like picking up tricks I might not know from people who are going through the same thing I am, but the obsessive stalking of the baby-driven sites? That habit is kicked. It wasn’t easy, but here is my progression of how this occurred.

1. I peed on a stick, and the lines turned blue.

ralphie

2. I got really, really excited.

kerm

3. I realized that I was actually going to have a child. For the rest of my life.

scurred

4. I told my husband, and I got really, really excited again.

poppin1

5. Repeated steps 2-4 approximately four thousand more times.

6. Went to doctor and confirmed pregnancy.

7. Signed up for every “baby website” I knew of, and made accounts with the baby’s due date in it so that I could get “personalized reminders”, which, as I would learn later, would largely consist of explaining how large the baby is in comparison to various fruits and vegetables.

typing furiously

8. Became fascinated obsessed with these websites. Tried to find information for what you’re not allowed to do anymore. Get excited when you come across the “no scooping the litter box for the next 9 months” thing.

sunglasses computer

9. Started reading the “community discussion” areas of these websites.

are you kidding me

10. Tried to realize that women are concerned, hormonal, and everyone has their own path to follow on this journey of motherhood.

all peaceful

11. Ha, just kidding, abandoneded that ship immediately. I then lost almost all hope for the future of the country and/or world.

sheldon cooper

12. Started getting freaked out that you’re not getting freaked out about all the stuff that other people are getting freaked out about, or that you’re not as creative about things to be scared of as the rest of the pregnant populace. “Am I supposed to be worried about running the dishwasher?!? I didn’t even think to ask about the ability to take the dog out for a walk!” I immediately wondered if this meant I was a horrible pregnant person and if not worrying about such matters means that you are automatically inferior.

girl freaking out

13. Then, thankfully, I read Pamela Druckerman’s Bringing Up Bébé and realized that, in fact, there are places in the world, namely the rest of the world, where this sort of insane worrying and brooding and general freaking out doesn’t happen and is, in fact, frowned upon. Pregnancy is looked at a time to be zen with the world. Commence lightbulbs.

reading realization

14. I really started thinking about these pregnancy websites and what their original intention for use was: as a resource. Have a question about something? They’re a great place to go. Need to obsessively worry about every moment of every day and every aspect of pregnancy, motherhood, getting pregnant, and the like? Probably not mentally healthy for me, or the baby.

think

15. I put down the laptop/iPad/iPhone. I went and lived my life. And immediately, shockingly, felt better. I wasn’t worrying about if everything I was doing was “right or wrong”, and just used common sense, with the baby websites as an occasional help for things I might need some guidance on like symptoms. But generally, it turns out, if you put down the extra voices your voice might just be good too. The support is great sometimes, but other times I just needed to go out and live my life instead of comparing my life and my pregnancy journey to others’.

Talk about zen, man. I can has it.

walk away

And that’s how it happened. Do I still love motherhood blogs? Of course! I love reading about other people’s journeys. I have found some great hints and tricks, and that’s what my goal is here, too – to give what works for me, and try to help others know they’re not alone. Do I still go to these websites occasionally? Duh. It’s the Internet. But do I obsessively check them for new articles that can instill fears in me I didn’t know I should have? That, my friends, that is what I gave up.

And I’ve never been more glad I did.