25 June 2008

Subway Commute

I want to follow up on my whining from yesterday. One thing that is really impressing me is how often NYers give up their seats on the subway so I can sit down. Not the guys plugged into their iPods, who are oblivious, but people who are on the train with the awareness that it is a shared public space.

It started 4-6 weeks ago, when I was still just a little bit ambiguously pregnant. People would tap my arm and offer, "Would you like to sit?" but like, "Pardon me for asking, but are you pregnant? I'm pretty sure you are, but not entirely, but if you are, maybe you want to sit?"

But in the last week or two, the people looking after me have become very insistent. If I try to turn them down, they will make a scene until I take the seat. The most solicitous people are mom-aged (what does that mean?) women from Queens. They look at least as tired as I am but they give up their seat anyway. The woman who stood up for me this morning (a) apologized for not noticing me as soon as I got on the train and (b) defended the seat from another lady who swooped in to snag it before I could hustle over.

It's embarassing to be fussed over like this. I've been trying to ride off-peak and at the ends of the train so I have a better shot at getting a seat without displacing anybody.

But it's also splendid to be treated nicely by total strangers on the subway, complete with small talk. The women who get up for me tell me about their pregnancies and their sisters-in-law in labor Right Now. It's comparable to the level of congeniality I've experienced with fellow comic book riders on the subway asking what issue I'm reading. For me, the subway is the key to understanding how the city can function, how people zone out in the public anonymity of their commute, except when there's something to suddenly join strangers in some common interest, before everybody heads back out into their lives. On a bad day, it's a train stalling with dozens of trapped commuters, but on a good day it's a veteran mom offering a new mom a lollipop for the walk home.

24 June 2008


Yesterday while I was at work the baby was kicking me all day. It was kind of like having a little helper while I reviewed documents, only not like that at all.

I went straight home from work and crashed out totally and slept until 8:30 when Jerry woke me up for dinner. I thought I was going to be up all night after the long hard nap, but by 11, I was asleep again, like a big slothful slug.

I wonder if all the kicking was what wore me out. Of course, it could have been the subway commutes -- hipsters didn't offer me a seat on either trip yesterday.

image: crowded New York subway

In any case, today is feeling like another big physical workout day for the baby. !

16 June 2008

Facility Tour

Yesterday we toured the hospital where I expected to deliver. It's on the Lower East Side, right next to the park in Stuyvesant Square. The park is nice, but the fountains are super lame. See? We New Yorkers should be ashamed of ourselves. If the Romans can keep up the wonderful gushing extravaganza of the Trevi Fountain, then surely we can do better than Stuyvesant Square's lame squirts.

Anyhoodle, the tour was actually pretty reassuring. We were told that Beth Israel is just finishing up a big construction/renovation of their maternity areas, so everything was super-sparkly new.

But the great part was our tour guide, an RN and parent educator who had a ton to say about American so-called health care standards and how support for parents is totally inadequate. She gave a big thumbs-up to NJ for requiring paid leave for parents with newborns, and urged us to get involved with activism for parental leave and breastfeeding support.

She said the hospital's procedures support skin-to-skin contact and rooming in, to facilitate breast-feeding. After weeks of reading horror stories about hospital nurseries run on sugar water bottles and feeding schedules, it was nice to see this facility making changes, and being proud of it.

After the tour, we stopped for lunch at Veselka. Perogies and kielbasa -- yum!

11 June 2008

Banana Dance

Yes, NYC heat wave. And we don't have air conditioning. Late last night a storm came in and blew out the hot sticky air, hooray!

But before the storm, we were sitting around after dinner and sweating and Jerry threw some bananas and milk and ice in the blender and made banana smoothies. So yummy! After we had settled in to watch Dexter, and had been sipping our smoothies for a few minutes, I felt a persistent twitching inside the top of the bulgy part of my abdomen, just below my navel.

"The baby likes the banana shake," I said. "It's kicking like crazy!"

Jerry said, "Really?" and his face lit up.

The baby was doing a banana dance! Like, "That's yummy! Feed me more bananas!" It was so cool.

Much later on, as the temperature finally started to come down, we were giggling about the banana dance, and Jerry did his own version with walking-fingers on my belly, doing the banana dance with the baby.

I can't wait for Jerry to be able to feel the kicking from the outside. I think I'll probably get even more smoothies when that happens.

06 June 2008

Vivid Dreams

The pregnancy websites talk about vivid dreams. I had one this morning, which I remember in two parts. In the first part I was one of a group of young people in some kind of custody. The setting wasn't a prison -- it was more like somebody's house. One of the things I did there was to look around the room for a weird little stool to sit on, because I didn't like the chairs there.

In the second part, I was travelling in what seemed like a train compartment with Jerry and a little blond boy. Out the window to my right was water, and a big surging wave rose up in the water and then it got huge and knocked me back in my seat. I was sliding backwards, thinking, "relax, it will be alright," but Jerry was shouting down to me because he didn't know what was happening to me. And then, startled by falling backwards, I woke up.

I think these were both dreams processing what I'm reading about labor. I think the first part is about going into a hospital for the birth. In the dream I'm one in a group and whoever's in charge is trying to treat us all the same. And the central tension is whether I have autonomy to make myself comfortable, or whether I might be punished for looking after myself.

In the second part, the surging wave is a labor contraction, and it knocks me back away from Jerry too fast for me to explain how I feel or how he can help. I think the little boy was the baby, sitting with Jerry watching me figure out how to work with my body in labor.

The wave dream, like I said, was startling. It made me jump and wake up. But neither part was scary-scary. And for all the horror stories that the epidural crowd tells about the pain the drugs prevent, and that the physiological-birth crowd tells about the cascade from continuous internal fetal monitoring to c-section infections, in both parts of my dream this morning, the emphasis was on how I was managing my present situation, even if it seemed pretty out of control, without being distracted by being afraid of what might happen next.

05 June 2008

Physical Stuff

This afternoon I was walking to the restroom and I looked down and realized my feet are turned out. Like, I tried to rotate my legs at the hips to make my toes point forward, and my hips resisted the rotation.

This is new. And it's not covered in any of the pregnancy books. I wonder if I'll get my old alignment back after delivery.

* * *

Speaking of body stuff in the pregnancy books, a lot of the books urge women in their 4th and 5th months not to get upset by the changes in their body shape. How perverse is our beauty culture, that our books offer reassurance that it's okay to be getting rounder!? It's absurd to aim for a flat tummy, when we will look like this at 20 weeks!

It doesn't matter what Jerry feeds me, I have every expectation that I'm going to be huge come October. And I feel proud of my good start now. And that wouldn't feel as subversive as it does if we had a culture with a healthy attitude about women and reproduction.

03 June 2008

The Word is Out

I've read half the pregnancy books on the shelves. I've set up a registry of tiny onesies and wooden rattle toys. I've howled over Darla perking up at the prospect of a meal, and over Gwen Cooper eating pickles out of the jar. Even my OCD is satiated, doesn't want to digest any more content. And it's 4.5 months to go.

So, biting my truand pen, I write.

* * *

The first thing to do is to catalogue all the things it has been affectionately called since we first detected its presence:

From the Aunts:
Sparkly (Krystal's precog dream)
Cousin It (Stephanie)

However, Jerry and me have imagined it progressing through the various kingdoms of the biologist's taxonomy:
Little Bean (which we seem to have unwittingly borrowed from Amanda and her family)
Little Froggie
Little Lemur
And, new this week, Little Avocado

We're grappling with whether Avocado represents a regression. Avocado, of course, is the vegetable comparison on the pregnancy websites to help us visualize the size of the fetus. So, while we now are imagining the baby as big as an avocado on the rack at the fruit stand, we are temporarily abandoning the image of those lemur-eyes and monkey fur that seemed appealing a few weeks ago. Understand this: we were imagining a very tiny lemur. But now I'm definitely showing, and Jerry is beginning to wonder how he is going to see over the expanse of my belly in a few months when we're watching TV together slouching on the sofa. The enormity of what is coming is overwhelming last month's wonder over the thought of 2 new arms and 2 new legs.... and lanugo!

* * *

After I attend tonight's Guild meeting, virtually all of my friends in NYC will know about the pregnancy. The next thing to figure out is which out-of-town friends should get a phone call, and for which ones will an email suffice. And which ones can find out soon enough on the infernal f*cebook.