Sunday, June 29, 2014

On Hospital Bags And Books

So I'm working on putting together my hospital bag - all the stuff they tell you to take to the hospital for when everything goes crazy and you somehow end up with a baby - and even weirder, they let you take it home with you.

First off, the lists of "what to bring" you find on the internet are just insanely long and full of things that mystify me. But it seems like they want you to way overpack. Maybe some people are having babies in resort-spas or something, I don't know, but my hospital is like fifteen minutes from my house.

If there's traffic.

And it's raining.

And also my in-laws live close by to us and hopefully my parents will be in town for the Main Event (which they may wish they had missed, if they really are there to see me fulfill my promise to scream as loudly as those women on those awful Baby Story shows my mother used to force me to watch with her - in her defense they did act as incredibly effective birth control for a squeamish teenager), so I imagine if we forget anything somebody can go get it.

But still.

I want to be prepared.

I want to be punctual.

Honestly, if I could somehow go in fifteen minutes early for labor, I would. I'm always on time! I don't like having to wait until things begin before being somewhere! I'm even fifteen minutes early to every doctor's appointment with a doctor who has literally never seen me any earlier than thirty minutes after my assigned appointment time.

(I do a lot of texting in the waiting room.)

I mentioned to a friend the other day some of the things I was thinking of packing in my hospital bag, one of them being a couple of books - probably some sort of unrelated fluffy memoir and then this book on parenting that looks awesome that I'm saving for my New Mom Sanity Kit.

My friend scoffed at me. "You're not going to have any time to read whatsoever. Why would you bring a book to the hospital?"

I blinked.

I have never gone anywhere in my entire life without at least two books on hand, not since I learned how to read. I keep at least two in my car just in case I forget to pack any in my purse and/or tote bag, which I think has happened exactly twice. I took books on a cruise when I was 18 (my mom has a photo of me, my older brother, and my brother-in-law all standing in line reading intently, in our own little universes). I take books on vacation and routinely have to buy more while I'm in whatever location because I finish what I took.

I take a book if I'm going to meet a friend I think may be late.

I take books to family gatherings.

I take a book on a walk if there's a possibility I will stop for more than three minutes.

Books come with me to work. They go with me on road trips. They are the first thing I turn to if I have nothing to do with my brain. I've been known to reward myself for doing chores by letting myself read a chapter, then finishing another chore, then repeat the process.

So I wasn't sure how to answer her or deal with the sort of faint sense of judgement I felt coming off of her words.

"Well... I'm bringing a book because that's what I do," I finally settled on.

It's not really adequate, I guess, but I'm not sure how else to explain it.

Having a book in hand is a basic fundamental part of my being.

I may not have time to read while I'm at the hospital, this is true. It's likely that I will be a mix of sleeping, holding a baby that seems eminently prone to breaking, trying to calm a crying baby, trying to calm a crying myself, and convincing people to sneak me venti lattes when Jason's back is turned.

But if there are five minutes, even just five, wherein there is the slightest chance of me getting to read a paragraph or two...


I've never gone without a book before.

I'm definitely not going to start now.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Tomboy Style, Plus One: 32 Weeks

Also known as "I have to dress up for work but I kind of don't care anymore, so take some all-black, suckas. Watch me wear all black. I'm like a New Yorker, right?"

Every once in a while I do need to dress a little more nicely at my job, for events we throw. And normally I go out of my way to actually put a nice pair of pretty dress-up pants on and a colorful, dressy top that will actually fit in with the idea that I am some kind of professional.

At this point, I think my workplace should just be happy I'm not wearing pajama pants.

I would if I could, you know.

I would if I could.

So basically, I ended up wearing something that screams out "at least I'm wearing real pants", and I think we're going to have to accept that compromise for the miracle it really is. Because I did spend some time staring at a pair of black yoga pants trying to decide if I could just wear them and have no one be the wiser.

In the end, I decided no. Someone would notice. What with them clearly being yoga pants.

Some weird stuff has started up; the third trimester is not for sissies, let me tell you internets. I don't even know how people can go around just shrugging off being pregnant, because this is work. And pretty painful sometimes, too. I have new respect for every visibly pregnant woman I've ever seen climbing stairs, or carrying anything at all. Or walking uphill. Or just existing.

I just keep telling myself that I'm almost eight months, which means that soon we'll be in the serious homestretch where things could go crazy at any time. Literally any time.

Of course, then I panic and realize that any time actually means any time, and realize our nursery isn't ready and neither is the house and oh lord how are we going to do this and then I curl into a little ball on the couch and rock back and forth.

Or I would, if my stomach didn't ensure that I can't actually curl into a ball anymore.

Tomorrow I have the first of my baby showers. I fully expect to feel terribly confused and somewhat out of place, because I've only even been to like three baby showers in my whole life and, uh, definitely never been to one that was being hosted for me.

I vaguely remember enjoying my sister's baby shower, back more years ago than I am currently willing to admit because I'm tired of my awesome niece insisting on growing up whenever I'm not around, darn it. But I have no idea what actually happened during said shower - my only clear memory of the whole thing is of the stroller Christina received. Oh and I think she had really good mints at hers. I remember liking the mints.

And it was only a year and a couple of months ago or so that my friend Sarah had her baby shower, which definitely was fun. I remember eating way too much food. I can do that now, too, and no one can judge me! Yay!

So there you go; either I'm terribly unprepared for baby showers, or I'm going to really enjoy them because I haven't actually experienced very many. And also food.

In Case You Want to Recreate This Mess:
Cardigan: J. Crew, old, same cardigan in current colors here
Shirt: Liz Lange for Target Maternity, here
Pants: Gap Maternity, here
Necklace: Bought at this awesome store in Bryson City, NC
Shoes: Skechers via JCPenney, similar. Look, I basically live in supportive sneakers now. Fancy shoes are for other people. I am not a "you can wear high heels during pregnancy" blogger. I mean, I couldn't wear high heels before.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


You guys, those things take over your whole brain. Last night I was babbling to Jason about birth plans and hospital stuff and babies and the raising thereof and finally just sort of wound down to a stopping place. Then I apologized, but it's such this monumental thing and they just stick their little tentacles in and take over.

Do I do things that are unrelated to this?

Oh yeah, all the time.

I have lunch with friends, I read books about ethics in corporations and about America's obsession with huge houses/real estate in general, I make coffee, I sporadically clean things for about five minutes before I decide I don't care about cleanliness anymore. I brake for squirrels. I talk to my dog.

And yet, the whole time, every time I sit down to write here, those little tentacles sneak their way in and whisper baaaaaaabies... let's talk about baaaaaaaaabies...

Well, today I have decided we're going to not.

How's that sound?

1. I made this grilled corn and tomato salad for dinner the other night, and made a huge amount so we could eat it at work for a couple of days for lunch, too. In our veggie delivery we got like six ears of corn. I love me some sweet corn, so I'm always happy to get as much corn as those people are willing to throw at me.

So you take grilled corn (you want to do it right after the grilling if possible, but grill operatin' is men's work 'round these parts, so Jason grilled 'em up for me one day and I made the salad the next. It still worked.) and cut it off the cob, then mix it with lime juice, cut up tomatoes, sliced red onions, basil leaves, and some other stuff. I left most of the 'other stuff' seasonings-wise out.

Instead I served it on a bed of greens with this spicy southwestern salad dressing I made. I ended up adding more jalapeno that was in the recipe (and added some to the corn salad thing, too) because the dressing was NOT spicy enough. Oh, and extra cayenne. Actually I had to up the amounts on everything. And I used greek yogurt instead of sour cream, but Jason's legendary hatred of mayonnaise seems to have faded with time so I used mayo like the recipe said for the other half.

Duke's, of course, because you don't buy the wrong mayonnaise around here.

Pair it with grilled sausages that I cut up and threw over the salad and then some queso fresco (pasteurized, thank you prego-police for asking) on top of that and there were noms. Noms were had.


2. Target is having an awesome Buy One, Get One Half Off apparel sale? Only I can't really be involved in it at this point since A. I am the size of several small whales glued together right now, and B. I have no idea what I will look like in four months when (hopefully) things settle down a bit over here. So I just have to drool, and be sad.

And then drool some more.

The thing is, I am a very simple woman with very simple tastes.

If this were last year, or the year before, I would react in a very simple, predictable fashion.

I would be loading up on all the cardigans ever right about now. I pretty much live in their Boyfriend Style cardigans year-round at my job and through much of fall and winter even on the weekends. That means I need more of them, right?

I suppose I could still load up, since cardigans are one of the few garments that remain unaffected by my current sea-mammal-shape, but... we have this thing going on where we were hoping to be able to feed ourselves and pay our bills later.

I know, I know; ridiculous, right? Fashion means sacrifice!

I keep trying to explain that to Jason.

He is unmoved.

3. NPR's article on how our propensity to take so many photos of those 'special moments'  may be the thing making it harder for us to actually remember them.

This is actually something that's been studied before, in that nebulous prehistoric era where smartphones had not yet come into being, and had found similar results - that the more photos one takes of those moments you want to remember forever... the less likely you are to actually do so.

We don't make memories entirely based on visual images, of course; the sense of smell is one of the strongest memory-triggers the human brain reacts to. Think of the time you've smelled a particular kind of pie baking in the oven and immediately thought of some other moment in time where you had a similarly awesome pie. Maybe it's just me thinking about pie.

But this little article, which is bookended with a mommyblogger who talks about being in the park with her children taking photos of them, looking up, and realizing every single parent had their nose in their phone and thinking... Is this it? Is this what my kids will remember?... I think it's a good reminder. I go through spurts my own self, where I'll take fifteen million cell phone photos and then a few weeks where I take very few, if any, and most of those are of my animals.

Taking photos on vacation? Yeah, go for it. But if you spend every waking moment taking photos of the Eiffel Tower or that awesome croissant you had for breakfast or the way French people are glaring at you, well... you may remember the taking of the photos and not the actual places you were, the taste of that croissant, the chocolate you bought two doors down after breakfast, the way the elevator felt when you rode up the Eiffel Tower in it... but you'll have gotten a great shot for Instagram, right?

(I am a massive hypocrite who loves taking vacation photos, by the way. So this is as much me hassling myself as it is anything else.)

4. I am a sucker for pretty things, you guys. I really am. And I love this pretty thing.

It's a print for the wall, all those beautiful flowers in all my favorite colors surrounding Thomas Ken's Doxology, the version I grew up singing and the one I like the best.

Here's a close-up:

I love the look of it. The artist does a bunch of other similar things, as well, and has a very pretty shop. I suggest you go scroll through! It's Lori Hetteen's shop Cherry Sparrow over on etsy.

If ever I come into random-etsy-money, it's one of the first things on my list to buy. Especially because the greens in it go perfectly with my mental fantasy of what my kitchen's going to look like one day.

Sssshhh, don't talk to me about finances and how much it costs to re-do rooms and what that means when we're paying for childcare and stuff. Just let me dream.


5. I have begun, at random, getting catalogs from a clothing brand called Sundance, apparently started by Robert Redford. his name shows up on all the catalogs, at least.

I have no idea why, they just started arriving a few months ago.

Here's the problem; these clothes are absolutely perfect for the kind of person I am.

They are also like a hundred dollars more than I ever want to spend on any one item of clothing.

This is torture. It's like being shown all your favorite foods and then being told you can't have them because some rich people are willing to pay $50 for that cheeseburger so they're going to sell it to them. For fifty dollars. And I'm over here, like, but my water bill...

But the clothing is beautiful. Okay, some of it gets a little pink in ways I don't much like, but... hippie skirts! Hippie shirts! Hippie jewelry!


But especially that dress up above there (I don't care that it's short! I'll wear it over skinny jeans!) and then this necklace right here:

I would wear that necklace for days. Many many days.

Which I would have to do in order to justify spending that much money on a hippie necklace.

(and look, I didn't talk about pregnancy or babies for one whole post aren't we all so glad?)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014

I'm Sure She'll Bring This Up In Therapy In Thirty Years

I had to run to the doctor's today for a quick ultrasound, just one of those "well, look, your baby's still alive, now go out there and we'll all pretend you're not eating your weight in french fries every chance you get" sorts of things.

(Which I totally did last night. But in my defense, my friend Liz introduced us to a new Greek place we hadn't been and I also ate my weight in hummus, dolmades, and gyros. So there.)

When I settled onto the table today, the ultrasound tech said, "Okay, we're going to go in there and see if she's growing."

"Pffft, I could tell you that," I replied. "And so can all those exciting new marks on my stomach."

"Oh, stretch marks are a new thing for you, huh?" She asked, sympathetic. There are women for whom the appearance of stretch marks constitutes an existential crisis of sorts, after all.

I just laughed. She actually couldn't get any readings for a minute, I was laughing so hard. When I was finally able to stop myself, I said, "Oooooh no. I reached my adult height by 13 years old. Trust me, they're not new. I just wouldn't say I missed them or anything, is all."

So we went through the whole process - she printed out pictures, told me what this little blob of static means as opposed to that one. Sometimes I recognize things without being told. Some things are just immediately recognizable. She assured me that I'm still having a girl, and I replied that that's good, since I would be very confused if the Wee Baby Faulk decided to switch things up in there now.

Once we were done, she and I chatted for a couple of minutes while she looked at the measurements on her screen.

After a second, she stared down at my legs. So did I. They still looked like legs to me.

"Um," I start, this seeming as good an opening line as any, "What?"

"How long are your femurs?"

"... my femurs?"

"Your baby's femurs are measuring really short. That's usually a soft marker for Downs, but we'd know if your baby was Downs by now. Do you have really short femurs?"

"Well... I am five feet six inches and routinely buy pants made for people who are five feet tall just so the ends won't drag."

"Hm," She said, nodding thoughtfully. "Stand up."

So I stood up. I'm very cooperative.

"Yeah. Yeah, you've just got short femurs. Well, it looks like she's going to take after you on that."

"Aw, poor thing."

"It's not the worst thing in the world."

"Well, no, but my in-laws are all willowy and skinny and have long legs. My husband has nice long legs. His sister is basically a supermodel."

"Oh. Well... she'll be fine."

So there you go, Wee Baby Faulk.

This is what I passed down to you, mother to daughter.

This is my gift to you, from the genes of my farmer ancestors going back generation upon generation.

You shall have short femurs.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Tomboy Style, Plus One: Week 30

I wore this yesterday, to a class I had to take at our local hospital prior to all the madness that's about to ensue. I was going for "hospitals are usually way too air-conditioned but also it's summer and I'll have to leave the air-conditioning, however briefly, so I should plan for that too."

In a room full of pregnant women, one of two things is going to happen; either everyone will paint a sunshine-and-roses portrait of glowing womanly happiness, trying to outdo each other with how wonderful the process is and our baybeeeees and what not...

or you get what happened in my class yesterday.

There were eleven of us, and we were asked to pick our favorite part about being pregnant.

Every single one of us started our reply by pointing out we weren't really enjoying it all that much at all, and I felt myself breathe a sigh of relief.

Three women described having friends that are in a similar stage as them, and getting to go through the process together as being their favorite part. Most of us said feeling the baby kick or move around.

One very honest woman said getting to eat all the ice cream she wants without feeling guilty.

I had a feeling this was going to be a good class.

Most of the day was a blur of videos and note-taking and a folder with all sorts of gross information in it that we are meant to peruse in order to prepare. The videos were gross, too, but they don't let you take those home with you. My main comfort was that at least it wasn't like the really ridiculous video we had to watch in high school sex ed about "the miracle of birth", which mostly involved a lot of interpretive dancing meant to represent things, leaving us country kids still learning about basically everything from rumors in the hallway.

Although I do have pretty clear memories of the interpretive dancers, because I always wondered what choreographing those things had to be like.

"Okay, now I'm going to represent the sperm, and you represent the egg. What do you think the egg is feeling, now, as it meets the sperm?"

"I... think it's an egg. Eggs don't have feelings."

"Well, what are you feeling?"

"Hungry, mostly. Can we go eat some eggs?"

It was actually a pretty good class, overall. We did breathing exercises and the whole, like, listen to your body and trust your body thing that all the books are telling me. We did have a funny moment, though; after the first video, which profiled three women giving birth and let me tell you, it was just an extravaganza of fun, the woman sitting next to me raised her hand.

"Um. None of those women got an epidural." The class exploded into a series of women muttering that they had noticed the same thing.

The instructor nodded. "Yes, the first video is a little bit more about unmedicated births."

There was an audible murmur of unease throughout the room.

"Okay," The woman next to me continued. "That's good. So... when do we see women who had an epidural?"

 Obviously, we're not entirely confident in those breathing exercises.

In Case You Want to Recreate This Mess:
Cardigan: Target, here
Tank top: Target, here
Skirt: Christopher & Banks, ancient, similar here
Sandals: Minnetonka via TJ Maxx, similar
Necklace: Bought out of my gift shop, similar here
Purse: Ameribag, similar here

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Tomboy Style, Plus One: Week 29

I have got to figure out a way to start taking these photos in the morning, before the sun is all the way up. Taking them in the afternoon is too much heat and sun and sweat and squint.

Not that it would help that much; it's still just... just hot. Like it always is, every year, but good Lord.

I want you to know that my house is very, very air-conditioned right now. And I still sometimes loll around moaning about the injustice of it all. Usually after I've eaten, because about ten minutes after I eat now I spend the next forty or so being one hundred million degrees.

Okay, so that's probably an exaggeration, but I do find myself continually surprised that the air around me isn't super-heated enough to melt things, or at least to cause some kind of newsworthy meteorological event to occur.

If I took these photos at 6:30 in the morning, though, that would cut into my coffee time.

My coffee time is very important to me.

I can't give you much in the way of developments this week. Every time anyone asks me how I'm doing, I have a tendency to reply, "Still gestatin'," and leave it at that. Because really, that's about all I do now.

Well, and also chores. And work and stuff. Work is super busy right now, which is nice because I have something to do with my brain all day, but also pretty exhausting because I am hauling this considerable bulk around everywhere I go.

And also it's hot.

So basically I come home and I'm a slug.

It's a pretty thought, I know.

This is what happens when I try to take pictures of my shoes indoors.

All three of the animals have joined me in Slugfest 2014, by the way; they are all sprawled out on our couches taking up every conceivable spot of space. We have two couches and somehow they still do this.

There's not 100 pounds of animal between all three of them, but they have ensured that I am incapable of relaxing in my own living room without inconveniencing at least one of them, which I won't do because they are all our beloved spoiled brats who are in for a serious rude awakening soon enough.

For now, I let them sleep.

In two months, ain't nobody going to be sleepin'.

In Case You Want to Recreate This Mess:
Denim Shirt: Land's End, similar
Tank top: Land's End Canvas, similar
Maxi skirt: Liz Lange Maternity via Target, here
Shoes: Old Navy espadrilles, old, similar
Necklace: Out of the gift shop I run at work

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Evening Flowers

One of the African daisies on our front stoop, at nearly 8:30 last night.

I may hate the heat and curse at the humidity, but there is nothing like still having enough light to take photos when it would be a miserable sad pitch black nothing in December.

What is not pictured is Jason sort of patiently waiting for me to finish, and me repeating "just... just one more. Wait, no, I'll be done after this one. No, that didn't work, one more time..." for a solid seven minutes because he couldn't get in the house until I stopped sitting on the steps.

I am nothing if not a giving and a selfless wife.

Monday, June 2, 2014

It's the Newest Pregnancy Health-Food Craze

At the doctor's today, I was weighed in.

"Huh," I said out loud. "I've lost weight since I was in here last time."

The physician's assistant kind of laughed and said, "Yeah, you sure did. Just a couple of pounds, though." She fills out the form and is cheerfully talking to me, clearly not worried.

"Um... is it normal to lose weight this far along? I'm supposed to start gaining like crazy right now, I thought."

"Oh, it's normal," She replied. "It happens sometimes. You've probably been trying to eat super healthy, right?"

I debated how to answer that question.

Finally, I just said "Yesterday, I ate three doughnuts and then in the afternoon like a pound of chili cheese fries. That was it."

There was a long, long moment of silence.

"...Chili cheese fries?" She asks, her voice a little plaintive.

"They were delicious."

One more long beat of silence.

Then she shrugged and said, "Fair enough."