Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010? Really?

Apparently, it's December 31st. The past month has just disappeared like maybe it always does when you're waiting and waiting and waiting. It's good for my psyche--learning to be patient. There's really not much I can do to make this baby show up. It should remind me in general to be remember there's only so much control I have over anything time-dependent.

So to remember what 2000 looked like and see if ten years is a good, patience-rewarding kind of time, I compare.

In 1999, Erik and I were dating but not married. We spent Y2K New Year's hiding out from the electronic apocalypse in Torrey. In June 2000, Erik and I went on a pre-honeymoon to England and Ireland (also, the James Joyce conference). In August, we got married. Friends and family came from all over the country and from all over the valley. I never new family could be so big. Thank you friends and family! For our regular honeymoon, we went backpacking in the Wind Rivers where we saw a black bear and a moose (it takes patience to hike far enough to see a bear, and to wait out the bear. We probably should have waited out the dangerous thunderstorm too). In 2001, my nephew Cam was born--he, like getting married, enbiggened my sense of family I would sometimes cry after babysitting having to leave him to go home. I hosted a writing retreat in Torrey for thirty of my grad school friends. I had lived in Utah my whole life and spent almost no time in the red rock desert. In the 2000's, thanks to Erik, I made up for that.

I also took my PhD exams. That was painful and an agony the opposite of patience.

In 2002, against my always-protestations, we got Cleo the dog. When we found out she had hip dysplasia and had to have two surgeries to fix the hips and she had to wait three weeks to walk, I got a better sense of patience through her. Of course, now, she just tries that patience by needing to be let out in the middle of the night. Plus, the Olympics. Yay.

In 2003 we went to Hawaii. This marked the beginning of my fear of flying which has now just morphed into my hatred of flying. I used to think I was afraid the plane would crash; now I think it was just a matter of fear of being trapped on the plane, not being allowed to get up to use the bathroom. I'm glad to see that that fear has been, in 2009 with the newest, inane TSA regulations, fully realized. We also went to New York for a ten day extravaganza with my sisters and then with my fellow grad students for the Salt Lake 8 reading.

2004. My niece Lily was born in September. Perhaps, if I love my niece and nephew so much, I should get on this baby-having plan. Start thinking about actually finishing PhD.

2005. Patience: Pregnant! Impatience: Zoe born almost two months early. Patience: Zoe in NICU for 20 days. Still. Best year ever. Plus, patience: finally graduating, finally getting a job. Go on job market.

2006. Craziest year ever: I went on three campus interviews. Took Zoe for some. I'm not sure if I attribute this to impatience but I did sneak Z and Erik on one job interview. I still fear that she got the dreaded RSV from my inability to be parted from her from another 4-5 days. Much patience: Zoe in hospital for 8 days. In terms of now, I must remember I'd rather be home waiting for the baby than in the hospital waiting for the baby.
Then, I crazily got a job. In Michigan. Leaving friends and family and niece and nephew. Far far from home. Good job. I made many, many friends there fast. I miss them but I don't miss the airplane ride with its several connections and the crazy hard weather. I don't mind snow but ice freaks me out.
Also, NEA. 2006: Big, if crazy, year.

2007. Niagara Falls. Hmm. Some years are a little limited. Patience? Had a good time anyway, whatever I was waiting for. Did apply for new job, impatient to get back west.

2008. Got a new job. Sad to leave my friends in Michigan. Glad to be heading back to the desert and my family.

2009. Crazy year. Who gets pregnant in 2009 and stays pregnant until 2010? I've been pregnant for some of all four seasons. Enmaddening. Patience. Working on it.
Also, Book. This Noisy Egg. Due to come out in early 2010. It took awhile for my book to be published, but I'm so excited. The anticipation, for both the baby and the book, as I wait for them to arrive, are worth, (and are not too trying since I'm now confident in their eventual arrival,) the wait. 2010 bodes well.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Gifts: The order

The stages of gift opening.
I first noticed it in my nephew and now that Z is older, I see it in her too. The Christmas calculation. As she opens toy upon toy each one registers in her head in some sort of hierarchy. The hierarchy goes:
1. I must play with now and abandon opening all other presents.
2. I will register this toy and ask for it by brand name after presents are opened.
3. I will set aside but later require in order to play make toys 1 and 2 more enjoyable.
4. This toy is cute but I’m way too old for it.
5. This toy is cool but too old for me.
6. When are my parents going to quit buying me this kind of crap?
7. Clothes. I will wear this after I step on them trying to get to toy numbers, 1, 2, or 3.
8. Clothes. I will never wear that.
9. Jammies. Did you really need to wrap these?
10. Gloves. My hands are plenty warm thank you, playing with these many presents.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Every week

Every week that I'm still pregnant past Zoe's preterm birth another superstition falls by the wayside. Most every possible reason I could come up with as to why Z was born early has fallen victim to logic.

The superstitions, erased:

Stress doesn't do it. Then: the lit mag's budget was cut in half. As editor, it was to be my primary source of income for the next year. Egg worked 60 hour weeks. I was finishing my dissertation. I'd never been pregnant before. Now: tenure-track, program director, furlough, Egg tries his hand at freelancing, Z coughs, book needs fine-tuning, book needs rewriting, book is coming out! but needs serious proofreading and marketing, economy, H1n1, Z's cough cough cough all fall long. (Maybe stress is the antidote to preterm labor. They don't call me Dr. for nothing.)

Lifting stuff doesn't do it. Then: garage sale, baby showers, gardening, nephew. Now: laundry, Christmas presents, ridiculously heavy school bag, daughter. (Admittedly, I gave lifting a rest between weeks 28-35 but now, I lift and lift on the off chance something will kick off this party. No avail.)

Exercise doesn't do it. Then: hiked the foothills behind the capitol. Now: ran, then walked, the forest (now not so much walking with the snow and the laziness. Not exercising also doesn't do it.)

Baby gifts don't do it. Then: several massive baby showers. Now: several individual gifts, still amounting massively.

Falling down doesn't do it. Then: didn't fall. Now: fell on Friday. Scraped my knee. Tore the one of two pair of maternity pants I like. Still, nothing.

Visiting the hospital doesn't do it. Then: never had opportunity to go on the tour before Z was born. Now: went on tour. Had a little PTSD. Hate the hospital. Asked about wireless. Felt a little better when I heard I could indeed be online whilst giving birth.

Altitude doesn't do it. Then: 4,400 feet elevation. Now: 7,000 feet elevation. Nope. Not so much.

There are a few other possibilities but whenever I ask the doctors (then and now) what might have happened with Z, they shrug. No one really knows. With this pregnancy, we could have started weekly progesterone shots when I began my first trimester but no one really knew how much that would help. It helps for babies born before 32 weeks but maybe not so much for water-breaking, 33 weekers. When I asked if we should start them, the doctors shrugged and asked me what I thought. I told them they only call me Dr. for fun. Egg thinks Z was just impatient. That thought makes me imagine Z in there with some really sharp fingernails stabbing the amniotic sac until she got her way. Possibly, but then what would make this one any more patient? Same genes. Same stubborn way. Maybe this one stubbornly wants to stay in.

This is good. Really good. I didn't even mention that I'd gotten past the Z date here because that too would have been superstitious and jinxy. But now I'm afraid of full term. Big babies. C-Sections. Only three weeks off before the whole thing (see stress) starts again.

Still. I'm mostly on break as of tonight. Maybe I can write this week. The last week. Ever. I wrote a lot during Z's first year but that was absent my current, very good but very full, (see stress) life. I'm going to write about the other possibilities of how these things work. And how they don't.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Long night

It snowed all day. There was an inch on the ground when I woke up. By ten, Erik had shoveled the first six off the driveway. It went on like that all day. Z went to school for a couple hours but E picked her, after stopping by the store for snacks, up by lunchtime. They closed campus. I didn't have to go anywhere. Classes are over. I just have portfolios to grade. If there was a good time to be snowed in, it was this week. Except that I'm 35.5 weeks pregnant and possibly prone to early labor. Two feet of snow and the road hadn't been plowed yet.

So Erik kept the driveway clear and I made hollandaise sauce for the salmon while counting Braxton-Hicks contractions. I seem to always get contractions when I cook. They usually go away. And they did. Z went to bed at 8. We watched the Closer and the new Men of a Certain Age (sidenote: Eh. Maybe the show will make it. Not quite convinced).

Something made me wake up at midnight. I went to the living to look out at the streetlight. It was still snowing. Sideways. The Ponderosa Trees, which are made for this weather (one hopes) were bending over like I'd never seen them. I moved away from the living room--the room surrounded by the tallest trees--in case this wind and snow was too extreme, even for them. 35 mph winds and a dry, dry summer. Maybe the dryness had loosened their roots from the ground.

I went back to bed only to hear the barking seal cough of the croupy child. By the time I got to Z's room, she couldn't stop coughing and couldn't catch her breath. Her vocal cords were inflamed and snake-like mucus had wrapped itself around them. Hospital or no? I thought of our friend's kid Tyler, who, with the croup, had truly stopped breathing and turned blue. They lived 2 minutes from the hospital. We were, in the snow, at least 20 minutes away.

Still. She'd had it before. I, unlike Tyler's parents, had albuteral and a breathing machine. I plugged it in and sat her up. She hacked and pressed the mask to her face as if the machine was producing oxygen. It wasn't. Just medicine. But it worked a little. I was sitting there, thinking how lucky we were to have a nebulizer, electricity, heat, medicine and a big bed we could all fit in. And then the power started to flicker. There was no way we could stay here without electricity. The nebulizer was the only thing that kept us from the ER. The lights flickered and the pine needles bent to brush the windows. The wind was louder than the machine. Z's cough was louder than both. The albuterol helped a little but we needed to get the swelling down. We had both children's ibuprofen and tylenol. I gave her some of both and then took her into the bathroom and ran a hot shower. I sat with Z in my arms on the toilet until the steam opened her throat and she could inhale all the way to the bottom of her lungs.

The ibuprofen/tylenol combo seemed reduce the swelling. The power stayed on. I gave her another half an albuterol. I lay down with her until she said I was making her too hot. That was a sign she would probably make it without going to the hospital. I went back to my bed. She coughed again at 5 but not like before. The trees were still bending in the wind but not breaking. I fell back asleep.

This morning, the road is plowed, Erik is halfway done shoveling the new foot of snow, Z is outside helping him in her snow pants and boots. We're still here. The sun is shining which means one is really not snowed in. Which is too bad. Because in the daytime, being snowed in is a comforting luxury.

Thursday, December 03, 2009


I'm behind. It's December 3rd. Today is the last class of what shouldn't have been such a grueling semester. I figured out what a good part of the complaining has been about. I'm about 13 times less efficient than usual. Or at least I've convinced myself that's what's happening. It's not facebook; it's pregnancy. We will continue to believe that until January. And then we will blame "the unknown," as my sister and her kids call incoming baby, for further lack of productivity.
I talked to my doctor yesterday. I've never been this pregnant before, I said. It's weird. It's kind of OK. I like seeing weird alien-like movement underneath my stomach skin. But I'm also pretty done. It's been stressful trying to make it past Zoe's over-early birth date. Now that I'm two weeks past, I'm like really? It takes this long to make a full-size baby. I'm at 37 weeks on the solstice. That seems sufficient to me (and to the doctors. That's what they consider fully full term). Did I mention the unknown's head measures two weeks ahead of schedule. So if I'm 35 weeks on Sunday, his head measures 37? Is this efficient, Mr. Unknown? I think not.

So for boring reminders mainly for me so I can continue in my inefficient efficiency, I must make a list of things to do before I forget and fall back into the hole that is facebook. I'll have to do this weekly, at least, since my short-term memory is not what it once was. And once, it was composed of sieves and sand.

Before December 11:
  1. Contact College of Arts and Letters PR person about Spring events by Dec. 11 Include book signing? Can I have two signings in Flagstaff? Is that over-reaching?
  2. Rewrite foundation grant letter. Apparently, I did it all wrong.
  3. Grade portfolios.
  4. Go by office at 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday to pick up said portfolios.
  5. Make meeting with Sustainability Masters student for prospectus meeting.
  6. Explain Creative Writing assessment plan to chair and Administrative Assistants.
  7. Finalize recruitment letter.
  8. Write 3 more critiques.
  9. Organize these 8 letters of rec into their myriad forms, folders, envelopes, independent online stations, Interfolio. Try to get right student's letter in right envelope. Proofread one more time?
  10. Order books for Spring. Book orders were due Oct. 15. but I still haven't settled on the books.
  11. Send contract for American West poems.
  12. Visit hospital.
  13. Address labels for review copies of poetry book!
  14. Take Z to see Where the Wild Things Are. It can't be more scary than the Christmas Carol we saw thanks to our real estate agent.
OK. That's not too much as long as I'm not forgetting anything. It's the forgetting and then remember at the wrong time and then forgetting again part that fails me. Dear blog, don't fail me now. Maybe I can get this dude to send little taser-like messages to me every 15 minutes that I'm not working on one of these listeds. The internet/blogs are made of electrons. They should do more than suck my brain in.