Archive for November, 2011
It’s a ……

BOY!

R, H, and I are all stoked about having another boy.  I know how to handle a boy and it just seems like another boy will be the perfect fit for our family.  Honestly, I wouldn’t know what to do with a girl, for a variety of reasons, so it’s really best that we have another little guy.  Of course, it means I have to modify some of the things I say to H.  For instance, instead of tucking him in at night and telling him that he’s my favorite boy, I now have to say that he’s my favorite big boy.  His little brother will be my favorite little boy.  I think that works.

The reactions we have gotten have been weird.  A lot of people react with consolation, as in “Oh well, it’s OK, there’s lots of things that are great about having two of the same sex!” and they smile reassuringly.  Um, I’m sorry, I didn’t know that it was supposed to be ideal to have one of each.  I grew up with a little brother, who I adore and love very much today—but believe me, when we were siblings living under the same roof, we got on each other’s last nerve.  We didn’t engage in shared activities, we didn’t have overlapping circles of friends, and we didn’t even really talk that much.  We don’t talk much now, but the difference is that we genuinely love and respect each other now.  I would do anything for my brother now.  But when we were kids…..well, let’s just say that having a boy and a girl is not the ideal that so many people make it out to be.  Not that having two boys will guarantee that they are buddies either, but I also don’t think that having two of the same sex is automatic cause for consoling someone.  It’s kind of rude to do that, actually.

R’s family is ALL boys. R is the oldest of 3 boys.  R’s middle brother has 2 boys.  And now we have 2 boys.  I know that everyone was probably stifling their disappointment over it, but fuck it.  It’s my kid and he’s awesome, penis and all!

I had H deliver the news to my parents over the phone.  But when H called them, he exclaimed, “I’m going to have a little brother or sister!!”  My parents heard “sister” and were laughing and cheering (“Yay!  A sister!!”), at which point I had to grab the phone from H and correct them:  ”No, he’s having a little brother.”

“Oh, a brother!  Ok!”

It wasn’t their fault how their reaction came across, and they certainly didn’t intend any disrespect or anything.  It was just one of those situations where the communication kind of fell apart in a big way.  Still, because of how the conversation unfolded, I detected their disappointment, and it made me feel pretty upset.

I have to say that not finding out the sex with Holden was WAY better, because we didn’t have to go through the bullshit of dealing with other people’s reactions over the sex.  It allowed the pregnancy to feel more private and for me to feel more in control.  I don’t like having to listen to people’s feelings about something that I can’t change.  So, I guess I do wish we hadn’t found out ahead of time with this one.  Finding out hasn’t made me feel more connected to the pregnancy, and if anything, it’s spiraled me into even more of a funk because I have to engage in all of these ridiculous conversations with people.

As time has gone on, I’ve felt less connected to this pregnancy instead of more.  I don’t know why.  I felt awesome during my pregnancy with Holden—very healthy and stable and self-assured.  I don’t feel that way this time at all.  I feel like I am going to cry pretty much at all hours of the day.  I don’t have a lot of energy.  Once or twice a week I still feel queasy and icky.  I dread what things are going to be like when he gets here.  Is that awful to say?  Probably.  It certainly makes me feel guilty to think it.  I started writing privately (away from this blog), so I could be free to say all of the crazy shit that crosses my mind.  I’m trying to figure out what is wrong with me so that I can fix it.  I bristle at pretty much everything that other people have to say—I can’t take anything in stride.  It’s making me want to cut myself off from everyone and everything.  It’s difficult for me to be around anyone socially right now because nearly everything people say makes me feel judged and inadequate.  I feel like no one understands what is going through my head, and that no one can see that I am having a very rough time.  But if someone were to say to me “I know EXACTLY what you’re going through,” I’d probably deck them on the spot.  How could they possibly know that?  They can’t.

Objectively, there is no reason for me to feel so terrible.  Baby is healthy, I am physically healthy, R is doing well, etc., but still, there are all sorts of things swimming through my head that make me feel dread.  I feel like I have no control over my life, and that I’m just acting out some script that was written by someone else.

Don’t comment on this.  You don’t understand it.  I won’t feel better if you say something to me—I’ll feel worse.

I’m going to continue my private writing, I’m going to do my yoga, try to drink more fluids, try to get those vitamins down.  I’m going to do things with H and pretend that I’m OK.  I’m going to go cross-country skiing this winter.  I’m going to hope that these feelings go away.

An almost 19-week update

We had a big day today.  Today was 11-11-11.  Today we found out our baby’s sex.  We had the big anatomy scan, and the baby looks awesome.  Baby is measuring larger than average already (Baby is estimated to be 10 oz.!)  But we all know I make big babies, right?  Holden was with us during the scan, and he got to participate and get pictures.  The baby was VERY active during the scan.  Scary, because Holden slept through his entire anatomy scan when I was pregnant with him.  My placenta is low, so I have to get a follow-up exam at 26 weeks to make sure the placenta is still not sitting too low.  I’m up 8 lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight, which is great (although a certain family member has complained that it’s “not enough.”)  Whatevs.  My blood pressure is looking good.  I’m still feeling nauseous sometimes, and I haven’t taken my prenatals in 3 weeks because they just make me feel worse.  My midwife isn’t worried, so I’m not either.  We’re not revealing the baby’s sex just yet.  I have some family members that we need to tell first (it’s best that they hear it from us, rather than Facebook or a blog), so I won’t be updating that information here for a while.  Sorry.  I know you all are dying to know.  But I promise I’ll let you know by the end of the month.  My brother doesn’t even know I’m pregnant yet.  Gah.  It’s hard to be so far from family, sometimes.  But sometimes it’s really, really nice (like when they think 8 lbs. isn’t “enough” weight gain for being 19 weeks pregnant).

Anyway, I’ve made massive headway on getting the baby’s room more organized.  The baby’s room is still functioning as our office, but I think we’re super close to being able to move some of the larger pieces of furniture to their new home in the guest bedroom.  Rob and I have thrown out/recycled massive amounts of stuff in an effort to get things more organized.  Hopefully soon I’ll be able to start patching the walls in the baby’s room and maybe painting the trim.  And as soon as Holden’s new dresser arrives, his old furniture can be moved into the baby’s room.  Progress.

Last weekend we celebrated Rob’s birthday and had a wonderful day.  It was sunny and unseasonably warm for a November day in Vermont.  We went on a little hike at Mt. Philo (trust me, not challenging AT ALL), but it was still so nice to be feeling well enough to get outside and get some fresh air.  I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get out and exercise more really soon.   I have cross-country skis on my Christmas wish list; I know that cross-country skiing will be great for me this winter when I want to get out into the crisp, clear woods, and exercise my legs a bit.

Check back soon to see whether H will have a little brother or a little sister.  Sorry for the suspense!

Yoga, anyone?

Since I’ve been feeling okayish lately, I allowed Holden to convince me to do some yoga in our family room the other morning.  I practiced yoga weekly when I was pregnant with Holden, starting at some point in the 2nd trimester.  I really felt that it helped me to relax, in addition to keeping my muscles and joints in good shape.  Well, the other morning I got about 15 minutes into my little yoga routine, and I became so winded and lightheaded that I had to stop or else I would have thrown up.  It’s crazy to me how much stamina I’ve lost since August when my exercise came to an abrupt halt due to all-day/all-night nausea.  I tried yoga again yesterday (at Holden’s insistence), and I got in 40 minutes of a pretty decent routine.  I was only mildly nauseous at certain points, but afterward I felt pretty good, and this feeling continued for the rest of the day.  I’m going to keep at it a few times each week, and one of these days I’ll actually start cashing in my passes for weekly prenatal yoga classes (it seems that so far, there is some sort of scheduling conflict every single week that prevents me from going).  All in good time, right?

Other than that—I’m just checking off the days till the end of the semester.  I only teach 5 more classes, then we have our final.  I grade almost every single day of the week just to stay on top of things, even on days when it’s just me and H.  I will grade for 15 or 20 minutes with H in my midst, just to get the pile down to a more reasonable level.  The class I am currently teaching is a brand-new prep for me (I’ve taught EIGHT different preps since 2006, if you can believe that).  Considering that it’s a new prep and it’s a class I’ve never even taken before, I feel like I am staying on top of the workload fairly well.   That said, the class isn’t especially interesting to me (it’s more squishy psychology than actual science), and a very large portion of my class was failing at midterm (about 1/3).  How could so many students fail?  Do I expect too much of them?  Well, the truth is that the failing students either never come to class and/or never turn in any assignments.  Their failure reflects a complete lack of effort on their part, rather than me being an unreasonable hardass.

My feelings about teaching have become increasingly negative over the last few years.  I never wanted to be a teacher.  I wanted to be a scientist.  But somehow, here I am, doing something that I never intended to do.  I liked teaching in the beginning.  I was excited about sharing interesting things with students.  I was excited about helping them learn all sorts of important skills.  I was excited to learn a few things along the way as well (in terms of both course content, as well as pedagogy).  But now….I’m greeted by such apathy each time I walk in the classroom.  My students don’t seem to care what they learn (or even, if they learn at all).  I try to get them to read.  They don’t.  I firmly demand they get off Facebook during class.  They do—but only for a few minutes.  I ask them to reflect on what they have read.  They ask “Can you give us a rubric?”

Gah.  My most recent Supremely Irritating Moment was following one of my classes earlier this semester.  I had passed along job information to my students, as I do from time to time, as a courtesy to them.  I think it’s important to help connect students to resources and potential contacts in the field, so they aren’t out at sea following graduation.  The job information I sent to them was from a local organization that connects workers (usually students) with families who need personalized assistance for their autistic child.  The contact from the organization was familiar to me, as I had arranged for her to come give a talk at our institution last year, when I was serving as the department chair.  A couple of my students pursued the job opportunity (yay!), and set up interviews directly with the families with whom they might potentially work.  Sounds good, right?  Well, of course, there was an issue with one of my students.  Or, I should say, there was an issue with the mother of one of my students.  When the mother found out that her daughter would be working with an autistic person, she FLIPPED OUT, and contacted the freaking college president, demanding that he intervene and save her daughter from what was certainly an unsafe and unsavory job.  What followed from that was a complete overreaction on the part of the college.  The Director of Counseling Services, Residence Life, etc., convened at my student’s dorm room at 7AM to tell her not to go into work because they agreed it seemed sketchy, and they wanted to make sure it was safe.  So of course, my student feels panicked and probably feels like she can’t trust the information I’ve given her.  At this point, the Dean calls me at home, demanding an explanation.  I told her that the position was legitimate, that I had personal contact with the representative of the organization, etc.  I told her I was only trying to help the students.  More phone calls were made, and basically the college determined what I already knew—that the position was safe.  The student’s mother continued to insist that her daughter not work in this position, even though her daughter is 19 and can legally make whatever work-related choices she wants.  In the end, the student gave a big “F U” to her mom, and pursued the job anyway.  I don’t know whether the student got the job.  I don’t really want to broach the subject with her.  I do feel that the officials at the college made some poor assumptions about the kind of work I do with my students, and that they were way out of line to assume that I’d just pass along any kind of job posting to my students, without first vetting it.  I felt like my employer took the mother’s uneducated side, and left me standing there alone, to defend myself.  It made me furious.  And it’s the last job opportunity I will ever send along to my students.  I don’t need this kind of bullshit for $3000/semester.

So this is absolutely, definitely the last time I teach.  I hate it (can’t you see why?) and it’s not getting me to where I ultimately want to be.  I’m not learning anything new, and I don’t even have the satisfaction of watching my students learn (because they aren’t putting in enough effort).  I’m tired of parents and administrators making student progress a problem of the teacher.  The teacher has a role, sure, but it’s not all on me.  No fucking way.  I’ve gotten as good with teaching as I’m ever going to get—I can run a discussion for 3 hours without Powerpoint, videos, or any other crutches.  I can talk about controversial subjects, like the evolutionary basis of rape, issues of race, gender, and class.  I can write learning outcomes that rock.  I can mediate any conflict under the sun that comes up in the classroom (and sometimes outside of it).  There’s nowhere to go from here.  I can’t get better at this.  It’s not that I’m the best teacher ever (I’m not), it’s just that I’ve reached my personal ceiling.

I have so many more thoughts on this—which is why I am up at 6AM pouring my heart out.  I’ve been grieving the loss of research in my life.  I know that sounds incredibly cheesy, but grief and loss are the best words for it.  I trained for so long to do something, and I can’t do it because the economy sucks, and no new jobs are being created, and the fucking baby boomer scientists won’t retire, and here I am, teaching the fuck-up children of those baby boomers.  I’ve never been to therapy in my adult life, although I do think I need to go to therapy for this—so I can move on and stop dwelling on the sense of loss I feel.  It’s not an opportune time for therapy, though.  I’m having a baby in 5  months, and I’d rather dwell on how awesome that is.  But I feel like it’s hard to think about the pregnancy right now.  When I was pregnant with Holden, I was overjoyed.  We had wanted to get pregnant for over a year, then I had a miscarriage, then I got pregnant with Holden.  By the time I was pregnant with Holden, I was very used to the idea of being pregnant (we’d been wanting/expecting it for a while, and we were stoked that it finally happened).  During that time, I was happy with my postdoc, and felt like I was getting good advising (I wasn’t).  But that’s besides the point—my perception was that I was in a good place.  During this pregnancy (which completely took us by surprise–more on that later), I feel like my professional life has unraveled in a way that is irreparable.  I know that’s probably not true, but that’s certainly how it feels.  I’m still waiting on hearing back about that second postdoc opportunity that I was informally offered back in August.  I’m starting to feel anxious about it, and I just want to know what the fuck is going to happen.  I’m starting to feel like it might not work out.  What can you do?

There’s nothing I can do.  I have no control over this situation.  And I hate that.  All I *can* do is practice some yoga a few times a week, take some deep breaths,  love my little guy, and pretend that everything will work out.  And if I have a girl, I will refuse to perpetuate the myth that having a career AND motherhood is possible.  Because it’s fucking not.