Monday, December 27, 2010

Because it's Monday: Google Voice

This is icon for social networking website. Th...Image via WikipediaI set up Google Voice to transcribe my voicemail. I thought it was only going to transcribe messages left on my Google Voice number, but after my brother left a message on my regular phone, Google Voice sent me the transcription. Which was:

"Owner, or Christina okay. Yeah, Hi Bob on Thursday so if you are but also with the relation of course,so you know that I'm here or you assembly them either Wednesday saying that night because there ifyou're on, thinking about the silver blue through mailing address. Now. So, demand now, she. "

At first I was slightly confused. Then I realized... my brother left me a message in Spanish.

Poor Google Voice! It tried so hard...
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What's in a name?: Baby Edition

Naming another human being is weird.

I have four cats. I have not named any of them.

When I was little my siblings and I had cats and named them, but that was different. All names were approved by The Parents (whether explicitly or not), so it wasn't something I did ON MY OWN. I had approval from An Authority Figure.

Naming Troy Emmitt, the fetus, was like naming a character in a story. Because it wasn't real -- naming my fetus was like naming my GPS (her name is Gloria, by the way. She's very friendly, except when you go the wrong way and she has to recalculate... that irks her a bit. But I digress...)

Unless you count those community-chosen cat names when I was, what, twelve?, I'd never named another living being.

So, suddenly, I'm in charge of naming a baby? An actual PERSON? A person with his own thoughts and opinions?

That's scary.

Freddy and I didn't tell anyone Troy Emmitt's name until he was born. Freddy and I discussed the name, of course, but since we named the baby after his grandfathers, we chose the origin/tribute rather than the name, really (we didn't get to choose what baby's grandfathers' names were). And we -- Freddy and I -- decided baby'd go by his initials, instead of his first (or middle) name. So, really, we picked his nickname for him.

Um... I hope he likes it...?

Because of my freakouts during the pregnancy (Troy Emmitt was a bit of a diva; throughout the pregnancy he kept having scary test results or sonograms, even though there was NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT. Ornery fetus), I asked Freddy to call Troy Emmitt by his fetus name, not his future baby name. So we didn't even use the name until after The Birth.

It was weird.

I called him "the baby" for the first few weeks. It took me time to get used to using his actual name.


What if we picked the wrong one?

Should we have gone with those names? What was he going to think of his Spanish middle name (my dad's name)? Should we have used the English equivalent of that name? Was he going to hate having to spell it out for people all the time? Do the names sound weird because one's in English and the other in Spanish? What about his first name -- we used Freddy's dad's first name, even though Freddy's dad went by his middle name. Should we have used that instead? Is he going to like going by his initials, or is he going to think that's too cheesy? HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW THIS STUFF???

Kid was barely a few hours old and I'd already screwed up, scarred him for life.

Freddy and the grandmas used the baby's name so casually, so confidently. As if it were, like, his name; as if it was supposed to be his name, and there wasn't anything wrong with it.

So, after a while, I started using it, too.

He seems to like it. So far.

We'll see what he has to say about it, you know, once he starts talking and stuff...

And after all the hullabaloo about his real-life name, I had to figure out what to call the little booger here, on the blog. Freddy suggested Freddy, Jr., which I vetoed because WHAT ABOUT ME?? I thought about Criss, Jr., but that's not fair to Freddy, and Criss-Freddy Jr., is just silly.

I thought of Little Red, short for Little Red Cryin' Dude, also in honor of his carrot-top mop. Or Red Hulk, as my sister observed (srsly, you should see him change colors when he get mad), which is fitting considering how much radiation the guy got in utero thanks to all the extra sonograms he made us give him.

I came up with a few others, I think, but they were all equally not good.

So I'm going with MonkeyBoy. Which is what his daddy calls him. (It's what his daddy called the cat, but the cat's been demoted. Now the baby's MonkeyBoy. The cat's just plain ol' Gus now.)

(In case you're wondering, by the way, yes, we have called the baby by the cats' names. Both of us. More than once. More than one cat name. It's OK, though, I don't think the kid noticed. Or the cats.)

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Letter to Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann, by @misakyra #mooreandme

I've been enjoying my ignorant bliss under the excuse that my baby needs me (which is not really an "excuse" when I spend a large amount of my non-work, non-sleeping time with his little head attached to my boob, which does make it hard to hang out online and/or type stuff and such), so I've avoided reading up too much on certain current events. Sadly, sh!tty things keep happening out there in The World, even when I'm not there to read (or blog) about them.

But other people are out there, keeping up with all the sh!t that's happening, and writing things like this. Which is much better written than anything I could have done.

So, please, go read Cassy's Open Letter to Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann.

(But also take a moment to chew on this for a bit: the women in the Assange case are lucky. At least there is public outrage over what's happened to them, and the way the media has treated them. Because they're cis. When a trans woman is raped, we don't hear a peep, do we? Even if, somehow, the media bothered to report on a trans woman's rape and the media did to that woman what Olbermann and Moore are doing to these cis Swedish women, would the rest of the Internet notice? Would Salon and its cis feminist bloggers show anywhere near the same outrage?)
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thankful Thursday

I'm thankful for:
  • my beautiful, healthy baby boy who just turned two months old!
  • the breastfeeding-friendly hospital where I gave birth
  • my OB, who treated me like a person, respected my wishes about my birthing experience, and was open, honest, and compassionate throughout the pregnancy and birth
  • my Freddy, who's an awesome daddy
  • my mom, who took care of me and The Boy during those first weeks, even if she got no sleep and put a ridiculous amount of miles on her car driving from and to Austin...
  • my long-distance doula/pregnancy-and-birth guru, Marcy
  • Lacey, supernanny extraordinaire, for taking care of my sweet baby when I'm at work
  • my mom-in-law, another awesome babysitter. And so much more.
  • all the awesome #bfing and #clothdiapering moms on Twitter who answer all my ridiculous questions. IT TAKES A VILLAGE, people. And online villages rock.
  • my NaNoWriMo co-MLs, who picked up my slackery-slacker slack this November. (I was busy. Baby busy. I wrote a whopping 1,765 words. w00t.)

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Quick thoughts: On Being a Parent, On Being #Prochoice

The more I learn (first-hand, in this intensive long-term crash course) about parenting and what it really means to be responsible for another tiny, needy human being twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for as long as you both shall live it takes, the more I'm convinced that anti-choicers have no clue whatsoever what "A BABY" actually means.

Either that, or they're angry, bitter people who really, really hate women.*

*(Yes, women can be misogynists too.)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

International Transgender Day of Remembrance

Today is International Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day when we remember trans men and women who have died, victims of hate crimes due to their sexual orientation.

As a cis feminist, I know I'm part of the problem. Most of the names on that list (and please realize the list is really much longer; these are merely the crimes that were reported) are trans women of color. Traditionally, "feminism" has ignored cis women of color; while we're "getting better" about thinking of cis women of color when fighting for "women," we have a long, long way to go when it comes to supporting and fighting for trans women, and especially trans women of color.

I feel awkward, "unqualified" to write about this day, about these lives and deaths, about these women's lives, because as a cis woman I know nothing of what they face. I was going to post a collection of links, like Arwyn at Raising My Boychick did, but since she did it already I'll be lazy and link to her. (Yes, I realize I'm a cis woman linking to another cis woman. But she has a good collection of links.)

You should also read It Makes Sense at Questioning Transphobia. (Actually, this whole archive is good reading material.) And Helen's post at Bird of Paradox. And Remembering Our Other Dead by lucypaw.

As someone else just tweeted, my voice is not one that needs to be heard or centered today, so I should stop writing and let you go read the posts linked above.

I just want to leave you with a thought, especially if you're a protected, cozy cisgendered person like myself: yeah, very few of us can fathom murdering another person, committing the acts described here. But that's not where it starts.

How many times have you heard someone make a joke about Ann Coulter being a man, and using that as a way to attack her political views? How many times have you laughed at that joke (or RTed that comment)? How many times have you sat there silently while a friend made that comment, without challenging the transphobic attitude that inspired it?

How many times have you laughed at a sitcom where the guy is put down by being called "a girl"? Or his worth as a man, as a human, is questioned because he does something "girly," and crossing gender boundary lines like that is an unforgivable sin?

Words have meaning, and they have power. Pay attention to how you use them, and how those around you use them. Let's work to make transphobia and transmisogyny NOT be so unquestioningly mainstream, so that next year's list can be at least a little bit shorter.
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Sunday, November 14, 2010

6wS: "But I don't WANNA be Jedi!"

Doesn't he look dandy in his Halloween outfit? It's from Build-A-Bear. For serious. (Which s why there are ear holes on the top of the robe's hood.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"American Family Values" At Work: Working Breastfeeding Moms Don't Need Breast Pumps

There are not enough cuss words in the English language for me to express my opinion on this. Go read the article, Jodi does a much better job of discussing this rationally than I could:
IRS Fears Women May "Abuse" Tax Credits for Breastfeeding Supplies |

Freddy and I were planning on using his flex spending health care account thingie money to buy a breast pump, especially since he needs to spend the money by the end of the year and doesn't have anything else to spend it on. But I guess that's just trying to ABUSE THE SYSTEM!!!

Maybe I should just quit my job so I can feed my child as God and nature intended -- with breastmilk, not some chemical substitute. Of course, that would mean Freddy and I would have to go on some sort of government assistance program. That's a much better option, right, IRS?


Until it comes out of the womb (i.e., becoming an ACTUAL life). Then, we'll screw you any way we possibly can...

Monday, October 25, 2010

On Parasites and Choice

Behold! The last vestige of Troy Emmitt's parasitehood.
The umbilical cord stump fell off this morning, which caused much rejoicing for Freddy and me because we were a little freaked out that it might have gotten infected. We noticed some greenish-yellowish crusty stuff on The Boy's onesie and at the top of his gDiaper, and looking at the cord stump itself it has some yellowish-greenish goo in it. Didn't exactly look like pus, but it didn't exactly look healthy, either...
We had not been cleaning the stump because the hospital hadn't said we had to, and my books said you could clean it or leave it alone. However, the presence of goop prompted an emergency trip to the store to buy some alcohol (er... for cleaning, not drinking).
After a while we noticed that the stump looked... less attached. So maybe it wasn't infected, it was just detaching. Which was a MUCH preferable situation.
(Plus, it just looked so yucky. And it icked me out every time I had to change his diaper.)
Then, this morning, Freddy showed me The Boy's clean and clear (and not infected) belly button. Whee! The stump was gone!
Freddy asked if I wanted to keep it. Part of me wanted to throw it away, because it was yucky and it had caused me stress. But part of me felt sentimental, and wasn't ready to throw away that nasty, crusty, dried-up stump.
It was, after all, the source of his life force for 39 weeks and two days. (A life force he sucked out of me, like a good little parasite.)
Now, he still sucks his food source from me, but that's because I CHOOSE to breastfeed him. If I wanted to, I could let him have a bottle and let Freddy or one of the Grandmas take over; breastfeeding is borderline torture right now because my nipples are cracked from a bad latch I keep thinking I can fix myself. It kinda sorta seems like it's getting better, but then at the next feeding the pain when he latches on is so fierce I'm surprised I don't draw blood each time I bite my lip.
But I keep doing it. I keep letting him feed off me, I keep letting my day revolve around his needs and his feeding schedule, even though it's wearing me out mentally and emotionally and taking its toll physically -- even though I have such an easy out, now that he's no longer inside of me, attached by the umbilical cord.
Because I WANT to breastfeed him. See how this works? I CHOOSE to put up with the sh!t and pain and "minor inconveniences" because it's for something I WANT. Some people would make a different choice when faced with this same situation -- some people would make the same choice as I when faced with a worse situation; some would make a different choice when faced with a less challenging situation.
This doesn't make any of us "better" people than the others, it just makes us people who exercise our God-given free will.

Monday, October 18, 2010

6wS*: LOOK WHAT FREDDY AND I MADE!!!1!!11!!!!!

Troy Emmitt BananaLaffyTaffy-TheBatman

*Yes, I KNOW it's Monday. SO WHAT? I just had A BABY. I've been BUSY. I'm allowed to post a 6-word Sunday on a Monday.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Even fetuses know the difference between a fetus and a baby!

Throughout the weekend (and before), Freddy and I did all the things you're supposed to do to trigger labor. All the normal things, and even some off-the-wall things. (Freddy REALLY wanted Troy Emmitt to be born on 10-10-10.) Nothing happened.

Then I realized why Troy Emmitt doesn't want to come out. Even he, a teeny, tiny little fetus, knows that there is a difference between a fetus and a baby. He knows that as soon as he comes out, he stops being Troy Emmitt the Fetus -- he'll become a Real Baby Boy. And he likes being Troy Emmitt, Fetus Extraordinarie, doesn't want to become [Real Baby Boy Name].

See? Even fetuses get the difference.

Now, I feel sorry for Troy Emmitt, and I know that I, too, will miss Troy Emmitt the Fetus, but we gotta do what we gotta do. So we're going in to the hospital tonight, to start the induction process.

I know Troy Emmitt's going to be peeved that we're doing this to him, instead of letting him stay in there, all fetusy, forever, but once h becomes Real Baby Boy, I think he'll get over it.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Like parents, like fetus...

You know, maybe the anti-choicers are on to something... maybe fetuses really are sentient beings with complex thought processes after all (er... who somehow lose this ability as they squeeze through the birth canal and revert to creatures whose only thoughts are HUNGRY! WET! sleeping... HUNGRY! sleeping... WET!! HUNGRY!...)

Since Friday, I've been seriously wondering if instead of calling Troy Emmitt "Troy Emmitt," we should have called him "Bruce Banner." This kid has been exposed to so much sonogram radiation, I truly won't be surprised if he comes out green. (The rage part he's going to have regardless -- I mean, look at his mom. Need I say more?)

Early on (first trimester), we had the nuchal-something scan, where Troy Emmitt decided to have a thick neck and no nasal bone. Which threw everyone in a tizzy, thinking he had some chromosomal abnormality. We went to these fancy specialists, with their fancy-shmancy super-powered sonogram machine, and looked at Troy Emmitt, only to find out everything looked "normal" now. We did an amniocentesis and everything... to find out the little bugger was fine.

All that fuss, for nothin'.

But because of that abnormal scan, we've been doing biophysical profiles every week for the last [something] weeks. (We were doing them monthly before that, and maybe every two weeks... can't remember. There've been LOTS of them.)

He scores high on all the BPPs; our appointments are a lot of, "Fetus looks good, mom looks good..." I think we bore my OB sometimes. She's sick of seeing us.

BUT THEN FRIDAY, little Mr. LookAtMe!!! decided to have a "prominent aorta." Again, everyone got all worked up over this. We scheduled an emergency appointment with the specialist doctors and their super-powered sonogram machine, and made the grandmas worry all weekend long.

You know what the fancy-shmancy super-powered sonogram showed? Nuthin'.

Normal-looking aorta.

Now, Troy Emmitt, prima donna that he is, decided to turn the wrong way to make it hard for the nice doctor to get a good look at his heart (he even used this fetus-harasser vibrator thingie, to make Troy Emmitt turn around, but the boy refused to cooperate), and we're under orders to tell the pediatricians at the hospital to make sure to check for heart murmurs and other stuff after he's born, but everything's fine so far.

Here I was, thinking this fetus was just a fetus, floating around drinking his amniotic fluid (and peeing in it, and then drinking it. Yeah, fetuses are gross. They drink their own pee), and hiccuping like nobody's business, but all this time he's been actively, purposefully doing these things to call attention to himself. Just like his dad, he's a tooter-face. Attention hog. Prima donna, just like his mom.

Little stinker.

Dude's not even born yet, and he's this much trouble?


Freddy and I are in for a rough ride, aren't we? (I can hear the grandmas laughing... Are they saying something about karma...?)

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Pregnancy Sucks: Under Pressure

You can't compare pregnancy to anything else. Not even parenthood.

Yeah, sure, "It's easier to take care of them in there than out here!" Well, that depends on what you mean by "easier." Yes, "in there," I don't have to DO anything to feed Troy Emmitt; once he's "out here" feeding him will require action on my part, or the part of one of the many other people who will be caring for him once he is no longer part of my body.

But that's the problem.

EVERYTHING I eat, he gets.  Once he's out, if I'm breastfeeding, he gets most of what I eat, but there are ways to get around that -- I can wait until the offending food is out of my system before feeding him again. If I formula feed, I don't have to worry about that at all. But now? Nope. I eat it, BOOM! immediately, he's eating it.

If I'm not eating enough, he's not eating enough. If I'm not drinking enough water, he's not getting enough water. If I have caffeine, he's having caffeine. And while it may be "fine" for an adult woman to have ONE caffeinated drink a day, it's not "fine" for a newborn to have that same amount of caffeine injected directly into his bloodstream. So imagine what that does to a fetus that's even younger and smaller than a newborn.

Same goes for any medicine I may need to take. Fun, huh?

Same goes for any involuntary actions and feelings.

If I'm stressed out, guess what! He feels it. Yeah, sure, tell me to "relax" and not worry about stuff. BECAUSE THAT'S GOING TO TAKE CARE OF IT.

I can make myself LOOK relaxed. I can take deep breaths and smile and sit quietly -- that's not going to make the stressful situation or feelings go away, it's just going to make those of you outside of me feel better about it.

I can refrain from talking about the stressful situation, but I can't stop my mind from thinking about it. Trust me, I try -- my mind's going to go there. I can try to focus on other things, but it's going to find a way to go back to it.

I can control the outward appearance of "stress," but I can't control my body's physiological responses to it. And the fetus feels the physiological responses, not my outward demeanor.

But, FUN AS THAT IS, it's not just that.

Right now, I'm the only person in the world who can feel Troy Emmitt.

Yeah, you can put your hand on my belly and feel that foot that just kicked me in the ribs. Or you can put your hand on my belly and feel the rhythmic thumping of his hiccups. (You, however, can remove your hand when you get bored, and stop feeling these things. I'm stuck with them 24/7. Yeah, it was cute at first. Exciting, and all that jazz. But after a while? I just want to sit, okay? I want my body to stop doing these weird things.)

But whose responsibility is it to check kick counts daily? Is he moving? Is he dead? When was the last time he moved? Is he moving enough? Has the frequency of his movement changed? Has it changed enough that I need to contact my doctor, let her know something may be wrong?

We found out about halfway(ish) through that we were at a higher risk than most for a stillbirth. That's nice. So, besides dealing with everything that life involves, I need to be constantly attuned to my uterus and its movements -- because a decrease may mean my fetus is dead. And the only person who can be in charge of this oh, so pleasant task is ME. No one can relieve me of this duty, or take over for an hour. Just me!

So far, I'm 37 and a half weeks and I haven't killed the kid yet. He's still moving around in there. So that's good.

But yesterday we found out he has a "prominent aorta." Which could mean there's something wrong with him, bad enough to require surgery once he comes out, or it could mean nothing at all.

I don't know if you noticed, but yesterday was Friday. Which means today's Saturday, and tomorrow's Sunday. Monday doesn't show up until AFTER that, so that's how long we have to wait until the other doctors can do yet another sonogram to look at this uppity aorta and decide if it's nothing, or if it could be something. If they say it could be something, then we get to go to yet another doctor to do yet another test to see what sort of something it could be.

(Remember that "stress" thing? Yeah.)

We've been having weekly sonograms for seven weeks now. Why did this aorta thing not show up in any of the other sonograms? Did it just grow from last Friday to this one?

That's what would make the most sense, right? This abnormality JUST NOW developed.

So... where did it come from?

What happened NOW that made this thing screw up?

I currently have two huge, red scratches on my left thigh from when one of the cats tried to get in my lap when I was sitting on the toilet. I also have several smaller scratches on my hands, from when I had to pick up the other cat to get him out of the bedroom, and he felt he should stay in there.

Throughout the last eight months I've accumulated quite a collection of bites and scratches from our four cats. Three of whom are known hunters. Who kill and eat wild game. (If suburban rats, mice, and birds are considered "wild game.")

You know why pregnant women aren't supposed to garden or change the cat litter? Because there are bugs in dirt and cat feces that can cause birth defects. These bugs are not just in cat feces, but in cat bodily fluids; the reason we focus on the cat poop is because that's how most people interact with bodily fluids or excretions.

These bugs come from cats eating raw meat. Like rats, mice, and birds (wild and suburban varieties).

Despite living with cats for pretty much all my life, at the start of this pregnancy I did not have the immunity to these little bugs, which means if I was exposed to them sometime during the pregnancy, I could make Troy Emmitt have some nasty, horrible birth defect.

I've been getting scratched and bitten by cats who kill and eat raw meat. And now my fetus has a "prominent aorta" -- a potential birth defect.

You do the math. What is any rational person going to assume?

They may be "easier" to take care of "in there" than "out here." But you know what would be nice? NOT being the one and only person to blame.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

#Preggo Goodie Bags: Someone Get On This

When I went to my OB for my first pre-natal appointment, they gave me a StrongMoms bag with some swag. I love bags, it's an obsession with me, so I was THRILLED.
(It wasn't until I started reading the brochures and stuff that I realized StrongMoms is a Similac thing. So when the cats chose to pee on the bag a few weeks later, I was not too bothered about it.)
The bag contained some useful information, like the brochure from the doctor's office detailing the three trimesters, what medications were considered "safe" during pregnancy, and what I could and could not have done at the dentist. But most of the other stuff? I could have done without. (Seriously, ViaCord, HOW MANY TIMES are you going to "remind" me of my "SPECIAL OFFER!!!1!!" to bank my baby's cord blood with you??)
You know what would have ACTUALLY been helpful?
  • A portable fan. Battery powered. Two, actually: one to keep on a desk (or other surface), another to wear around my neck.
  • An overnight maternity catheter. Or a nine-month supply of overnight Depends.
  • A bib. Large enough to cover the overgrown boobs and overgrown belly.
  • Coupons for unlimited quantities of healthy, antioxidant-rich dark chocolate. Redeemable at any store, nationwide, throughout pregnancy and the child's first year of life. (Once the kid's a year old, he/she is old enough to ask you to SHARE the chocolate, so the magic's gone by then.)
  • Optional: sign reading "Yes, I'm pregnant. Due in _____. My doctor says I'm just the right size, thank you."
What am I missing, ladies? What else would a USEFUL #preggo goodie bag contain?


Due to reader input, it has been decreed that the coupons for unlimited quantities of healthy, antioxidant-rich dark chocolate do not carry and expiration date. Once you get pregnant, you get free chocolate for life, for yourself and your child.

(Are you listening, Nestle? If you wanna win back the mom demographic, you'd better quit your unethical practices and get on this chocolate coupon thing.)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Letter to my 33-week fetus

Dear Troy Emmitt:
I see you have inherited your mother's impatience. (Of all your mother's traits, I guess that's not the worst one...)
I'm really, really anxious to meet you, too, but you still have to bake for another seven weeks or so. As much as I'd like you to come out and play now, you really shouldn't. So please stop trying to bust out through the walls of my uterus.
I know it's getting cramped in there, with you getting bigger and all (put on the fat you need, but don't feel a need to overdo it, okay? Seven or eight pounds is big enough). The kicking is fine, too, just keep in mind I know you're strong, you don't need to prove HOW strong you are. Your daddy will be more than happy to play Karate Kid with you once you're out, so save some of those moves for him. No need to use up all your moves now, on Mommy's organs. (She'll still need to use those after you get out.)
Anyway, just wanted to let you know we love you too, and can't wait to meet you... BUT WE DO HAVE TO WAIT. So please stop pushing on my lower abdomen -- that's not the way out anyway. In about six weeks or so we'll start making the cervix open up, so be looking for that. And make sure to stay head-down, don't try to pull any breech business, please. (Trust me, it won't be fun for you, either, so don't try it.)
Now, to keep you busy between now and then, I'll leave you with this song, that sorta makes me think about you every time I hear it:
(I loved the song before, but now that I know it features an impromptu, choreographed 80s-style dance number in a grocery store... I think this has to be my FAVORITEST SONG EVER.)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Out of the mouths of babes (or, Sex and the City... and Horses)

Cover of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun"Cover of Girls Just Want to Have FunFreddy is not a fan of Sarah Jessica Parker.

I must say, myself, I have a dear, dear spot in my heart for Sarah Jessica Parker, Helen Hunt, and Shannen Doherty, for having starred in Girls Just Want to Have Fun (a.k.a THE GREATEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME).

I also owe a debt of gratitude to Sex and the City (the series; have not seen the movies yet): after going on a whopping two(?) dates in high school and spending all my college years (all six of them) with the same (controlling, abusive) boyfriend, SATC was my instructional video on dating and relationships. (Also loved He's Just Not That Into You [book, haven't seen the movie], because, sometimes... he isn't. And you need to move on, because you're worth more than that.)

Freddy's experience with SATC is a litle different... a (supposedly monogamous) girlfriend of his flippantly informed him that the show "inspired" her to be "liberated" and sleep with another guy when she and Freddy were dating (in a supposedly monogamous relationship), because that's what "modern women" do (or something). (Now, I watched all six seasons of the show back to back, thanks to Netflix, and I saw nothing in there about cheating on your super-awesome boyfriend... but I digress.)

Author's note: I, myself, prefer monogamous relationships. Clearly, so does Freddy -- which is good, we match. I have no problem with people in open relationships or polyamorous relationships, because that's what works for them. But you gotta pick one! And make sure your partner(s) and you agree on which one y'all are in!)

Because Freddy has this resentment, which he has projected onto the main star of SATC, he jokingly likes to point out that... her face has some horse-like features.

Yesterday, while hanging out with Freddy's sister and her kids, SJP's episode of Who Do You Think You Are? came up in conversation... and Freddy, gentleman that he is, asked if any equine members were discovered in SJP's ancestry. At his sister's confused expression, I explained that, in Freddy's opinion, "Carrie Bradshaw" looks... like a horse.

Freddy's horse-loving 10-year-old niece, taking things a little too literally, asked, "Do people ride her like a horse?"

Well... that role did call for her to be in the "cowgirl position" quite often...
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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Simon's Cat in "The Box"

Since I can't muster the energy (or find the time) for a real post, I'll share this with you instead:

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The Solution to the Name Game Conundrum!

Feminists, we have a problem:

If you get married and take your husband's last name, you're an appendage to said husband. And that's BAD.

If you DON'T take your husband's name -- either because you never married him or because you married him but kept your own name -- then you still have YOUR FATHER'S last name, which means you are an appendage to your dad. Which, honestly, is kind of creepy in an icky way... so let's not go there.

(Oh, and... if you happen to NOT be part of the monogamous heteronormative binary borg... well, you're screwed. We have no idea what to do with you. Sorry, polys, genderqueers, and lesbians.)


Because, really, ladies... who wants to be an appendage? Let's face it -- appendages only look good on the Flying Spaghetti Monster, who knows how to wear his noodley appendages with style. And we know neither your husband nor your dad are the FSM. (Really. Don't blaspheme. That's just not cool, dude.)

So, what's a gal to do?

We need to have a last name, but the two options open to us right now are YOKES OF THE PATRIARCHY. And we radfemz won't STAND for that -- WILL WE?

Didn't think so.

This leaves us only one option:

(Actually, it leaves us two. Because I am SO GOOD, I came up with TWO awesome solutions to this problem.)

1) We must make up our own last name.

And you can't pick someone else's name, because that's being an appendage to that other person. AND WE DON'T WANT THAT. (Remember?) Just pick something cool, that you like. And make that your last name.

For example: I shall heretofore be known as Criss L. Bananalaffytaffy. Freddy shall heretofore be known as Freddy Thebatman.

When Troy Emmitt is born, he'll hyphenate his parents' names (so he'll be Troy Emmitt Bananalaffytaffy-Thebatman*), until he's eighteen. On his eighteenth birthday, he'll pick his own last name, to replace the hyphenizationing.

*"Bananalaffytaffy" goes before "Thebatman" because you have to follow alphabetical order. Otherwise, chaos ensues.

Now, I know this option will not work for EVERYone, because some people like to have a little more continuity (or "lineage") in their families, so they can go on genealogy websites and find out if they're related to anybody famous. This is why I've designed Option #2:

2) Instead of a last NAME, everyone gets a last NUMBER.

For example, the last four digits of your Social Security number. Or your driver's license number.

So, let's say my number is 0805. And Freddy's number is 2010. I'd be Criss L. 0805, and he'd be Freddy 2010.

When Troy Emmitt is born, his last name number will be THE SUM of both his parents' last names numbers. (GENIUS, isn't it?) So he'd be Troy Emmitt 2815.

Let's say one day he marries a girl named Eugenia 3715. Their kids, my grandkids, would have the last name number 6530. See how simple it is? And you can totally trace family histories by subtracting. Everybody wins!

So, who's on board with this plan?

Monday, August 02, 2010

What's in a [last] name? NOT THAT MUCH. So get over it.

There's been lots of hullabaloo lately about "feminists" getting married, and changing their last name to the Evil Evil Man's last name, and how this MUST MEAN that these feminists are NOT feminists -- THEY ARE IMPOSTORS!!! They are SARAH PALIN!!! RABID PANIC!!!!

Seriously, people?  THIS is what we need to fight about? A freakin' last name?

Feminism's treatment of non-cis, not-heterosexual, non-white women is not stellar. That's a big strike against it. Some feminists are working to correct that, learning to check their privilege and actively work to help those that need it most.

But then... other "feminists"... pull this crap : Can I be an Appendage to a Man But Still Call Myself a Feminist? 

Really? Just because a woman decides to get married, she can't be a feminist? Just because she decides to change her last name, she's not a feminist? Just because she does the dishes while her partner is working 12-14 hour shifts at work, she's not a feminist?

If that's what "the cool feminists" do, then no thanks, dude.

Maybe I'm the one who's all backwards. I mean, here I thought "feminism" was about women breaking free of the roles imposed on them by outside parties (otherwise known as the kyriarchy), and pursuing their own happiness, their own dreams and ambitions, instead of someone else's.

Apparently, "feminism" is being part of the FemBorg. It's all about teh manhatingz. And if you break the rules, even just a little bit... YOU'RE SARAH PALIN!!!!

Now, since social equality is all about doing the dishes, does that mean I'm the patriarchy? Because Freddy's the one who does the dishes at home (his and mine). And the laundry (his and mine). And the cooking -- his and mine, even though I'm the vegetarian who requires special meals.

Is there a Feminist Handbook where I can look this stuff up? The rules are starting to get confusing.

I make Freddy do all the household chores (because I'm a lazy bum, and I spend all my time blogging and tweeting). But... I like pink. And I wear dresses. And I shave my legs (er... most of the time). And my armpits (slightly more often than my legs). 

Can I still be a feminist if I wore a pink dress at our wedding?

Can I still be a feminist if I got married?

Now, if you're going to tell me that I'm a bad feminist for getting married when same-sex couples and couples where one or both partners is trans can't, then I'm going to agree with you. Getting married was a selfish move on my part, very self-centered. If you want to take away my feminist card for that, then I'll agree with you, and hand it over.

But if you're going to tell me I'm a bad feminist because I got married in a dress and had a party, I'm going to laugh in your face.

And the name thing? Are you bleepin' serious?

My last name was "Cox." Have you ever taught high school with the last name "Cox"?

You should try it. It's fun.

You don't even have to teach high school -- an ex-boyfriend's friends thought it was HILARIOUS to ask me, "What's your middle name, Sucks?"

Freddy's last name is WAY COOLER than "Cox." First of all, there are a bazillion Coxes around. (And I'm not related to any of them.) Freddy's last name? Totally unique. And pretty.

When I get an email address assigned at work, I don't have to have numbers or anything weird after my username -- it can just be "firstinitiallastname" because THERE ARE NOT SEVENTEEN BILLION OTHER PEOPLE WITH THE SAME LAST NAME IN THE DISTRICT.

That's pretty nifty, I think.

Had I had Freddy's last name when I graduated college, I bet the university would have sent me MY diploma in the mail, instead of Renee Marie Cox's diploma. (There were 5 of us with the same last name in the College of Liberal Arts that semester, if I recall correctly.)

You know what else has ALWAYS bugged me? That my last name (Cox) was shorter than my first name (Cristina). I HATED that as a kid. I wished I could have gone by my mom's last name, Donovan, because THAT one was a decent length.

Freddy's last name? LONGER THAN THREE LETTERS.

So I changed my last name when I got married.


I am "an appendage."

Meh. Good to know.

Come on, people... Don't we have bigger fish to fry than last names? 

Women are bullied into unwanted and unnecessary C-sections daily, and our maternal mortality rate has risen thanks to this. Doesn't WOMEN DYING rank a bit higher than their chosen last name? 

Or what about the women who will die because of lack of access to a safe abortion

Or what about the legalized discrimination against trans women? Denying protection to our most vulnerable sisters, which will inevitably result in (even more of) their deaths.... but that's NOT NEARLY AS IMPORTANT as your last name!!!

Dunno... seems like there are better things on which to spend "feminist" blog space than petty name-calling. No?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

THIS is why it's not a baby until it comes out:

Because you can have a biophysical profile at 39 weeks that shows everything is going just the way it should, that you have a happy, healthy fetus, and then two days later -- with no warning, with no indications, with no reason -- you have a stillborn.

Because of my abnormal AFP screen in the first trimester, my OB has warned us that we are at a higher risk for something going wrong (read: stillbirth). This is why I'm getting a sonogram at every appointment, to make sure the fetus is moving the way he should, his heart is beating the way it should, that he's drink-breathing his amniotic fluid (and his pee) the way he should, etc. If he starts to get lazy, lethargic, or his little fetus organs don't look as active as they should, she'll want to induce labor (or go for a C-section) to get the fetus out and fix him.

Just what every pregnant mom wants to hear, right? "Hey, by the way... that baby you thought you were having? Yeah, he's likely to die, for no reason at all, before he's even born. No, we don't know what causes it. No, we don't know how to prevent it. We just know to tell you about it so you can spend the next three four months freaking out."

At our appointment Tuesday, our OB shared the above story. It happened to one of her partner's clients, just the week before.

I'm feeling better now (our appointment was Tuesday morning -- and, of course, this was the first appointment where I only took a half-day off work, same for Freddy. I really needed time to sit with him, talk about all this... but no. Had to rush to work from the doctor's office, without even time for a quick lunch); have had time to process all this and accept it. Sort of.

It's beyond infuriating that I have absolutely no control over this. I do everything I'm supposed to do. I eat good things, have severely limited my intake of processed crap, eat organic fruits and vegetables, don't eat fried crap. I rest, don't exert myself physically (picking up heavy items, etc.), listen to my body when it's tired. I've modified my lifestyle to accommodate this fetus. And now he's going to quit on me for no reason? Make me go through all this, just to wait until the last minute to die for no reason? WTF, fetus??

Now, statistically, the most likely possibility is that everything turns out fine and all this worrying is for nothing. But there's no way of knowing that. There are ways of knowing it's NOT going to be fine (if the biophysical profile comes back with poor results), but even as "good" BPP can't say that everything will be hunky-dory.

Freddy and I both had to go back to work after this appointment (the first time neither one of us took the whole day off -- I had to rush to work from the doctor's office, didn't even have time to eat lunch. Of course, this was also the day we'd done the glucose test, so I'd had nothing to eat all morning except for two hard-boiled eggs and a super-charged artificial-sugar drink), so we had no time to sit and talk about the news.

(It wasn't truly news-news, since we'd already talked at our last appointment about the need for monthly screens until 32 weeks, then weekly screens, to make sure everything was "okay." But when you throw the word "stillborn" in there, especially right after "perfectly normal screen," it changes things a little.)

Freddy and I had started calling Troy Emmitt by his real name, Blanky McBlank, when it was just the two of us. We used his real name when talking about him inside my belly, when talking about his nursery, when talking about what he'd be like when he grew up. We'd started talking about him as if he were a 100% guaranteed, real baby.

I know there's never a guarantee. Even if he's born, he could die of SIDS in the first few weeks after birth. He could catch some easily-preventable disease at the doctor's office, from some kid who's parents believe Jenny McCarthy's crap and decided not to vaccinate their kids. We could get in a car wreck on the way home from the hospital, or on the way to the grocery store, or on the way to daycare. He could get leukemia. There's a bazillion things that could happen.

But in each and every one of those scenarios, before that death happens, I have a baby to have and to hold. I can see his face, look into his eyes, hold him, hug him, SEE HIM before he's gone. I have something before he dies.

When we got home from work that day, I told Freddy, "I want to go back to calling him Troy Emmitt."

Freddy paused for a second, then said, "Okay."

I was going to explain -- I had my speech all rehearsed. But I didn't need to.

"No, I know," he said. "You know it's going to be okay, right?"

"Yes, I know."

Except we don't. But that's okay.

I can deal with losing Troy Emmitt. I know he's going to go away, eventually -- when he becomes Blanky McBlank. But I can't deal with losing Blanky McBlank before I even get a chance to meet him.

This is why it's not "a baby" until it comes out. Because too many things can happen before the fetus finishes doing it's thing. Too many -- wanted -- fetuses never become babies.

This doesn't mean the loss of a wanted fetus is not a terrible, horrible loss -- please don't be that naive or ignorant.

This means that there is a significant difference between a fetus developing inside a woman's uterus, and a baby living outside of it.

Monday, July 05, 2010

How is your pregnancy going?

It's going really well. Most of the time.

(Like, the other day, when I was driving home from work and stopped at the green light because my #preggo brain thought it was a four-way stop . Because on my way TO work the first intersection after I exit the freeway has a four-way stop sign, so of course the first intersection after I exit the freeway on my way home FROM work would be the same, right? Clearly.)

I have resigned myself to the fact that I need to write everything down, because if I don't, it didn't happen. Kind of like the dude in Memento (but I use Post-Its instead of tattoos. Can't find a decent tattoo artist at work).

I have had an extremely easy pregnancy (so far). My 24-hour sickness in the first trimester was mild; I was very picky about what I wanted to eat, but I could eat, and as long as I was munching on something throughout the day I was fine.

Freddy works at a health-food grocery store, so I have access to all sorts of healthy, organic goodies daily. He texts me before he leaves work asking me what I want to eat. And he does all the cooking (and all the cleaning, and all the laundry, and all the cat-duties...) because he is, pretty much, the Bestest Hubby And Dad-To-Be In The World.

(Seriously: I come home from work, sit on the couch, get waited on hand-and-foot, and after I pass out around 9:30 he gently wakes me up and takes me to bed. Once I get home from work, I do NOTHING.)

Troy Emmitt has been kicking healthily, but he likes to give me a few good kicks, so I make Freddy stop what he's doing to come over and feel them, and then Troy Emmitt stops. But Freddy has gotten to feel a few of them... and you should see how his face lights up when he feels those little kicks.

I also have an extremely accommodating job where I sit most of the day, so I don't have to worry about overdoing it physically or straining myself. I cannot imagine how miserable I'd be (and how stressed and unhealthy Troy Emmitt and I would be) if I were still in the classroom, teaching full-time, dealing with parents and administrators and grades and all that blah-blah...

Tomorrow we have our 24-week appointment, where I get to drink the glucose stuff to test for gestational diabetes. I'm either going to ace the test or fail it miserably... but I've been really good about getting my sugar from natural sources, so I should do well. My body's so used to processing massive amounts of sugar, I'm probably going to metabolize (or whatever you do with it) all that glucose in half the alloted time. (How does that glucose mixture compare to a bag of cotton candy, washed down with regular Coke? Anybody have stats on that?)

Last week Freddy and I started our Bradley childbirth classes, so I've been doing my exercises and counting my protein intake. I thought I was doing really well nutrition-wise, eating 65-75 grams of protein a day. Well, according to Dr. Bradley, I should be getting 80-100 grams of protein a day. EIGHTY to ONE HUNDRED grams of protein A DAY.

They give you this little chart to fill out, and though it looks a little intimidating at first, I've actually done well so far. I just have to make sure I eat, the right things, pretty much all day long.

So, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to eat some hard-boiled eggs and get back to reading NATURAL CHILDBIRTH THE BRADLEY WAY.

Ask, and Criss shall answer.

It [was] my birthday! Wanna give me some water? @mycharitywater

I'm really bad at this... this is the second mycharity: water campaign I've started and then forgotten to advertise...

So, belated, but here it is! I turned 33 on Saturday. I have lots of stuff, including a PUR water filter attached to our kitchen faucet, so I can have extra-clean purified drinking water whenever I want. Talk about privileged.

I whine about having to walk down the hall and around the corner to get to the water fountain at work, to fill up my water bottle. There are people who have to walk miles to get to any water, and it's not even clean or fit for drinking.

So, instead of asking for stuff for me this year, I want to ask for water for those people. Because they need drinking water way more than I need another Hello Kitty trinket (trust me, I have plenty).

How about you skip that frappuchino or ice mocha this week, and give the $5 to me mycharity:water?


Monday, June 14, 2010

"Tiny" #preggo rant

Let's make a deal: you abstain from commenting on my body shape, and I'll abstain from commenting on yours. Mkay?

Oh, I know... silly me! I'm pregnant! That must mean my body is now part of the public domain! (At least that's what the politicians keep telling us, isn't it?)

Well.... sorry. WRONG.

Still my body. If you want to touch it, you'd better ask permission first (and be ready to have it denied).

I'm five and a half months pregnant.

Yes, I'm sure. Yes, seriously. Why would I lie to you? What purpose could that possibly serve?

Kindly put your eyes back in your sockets.. there you go, that's it. Better?

Again, I'm really very sorry, but "You're so tiny!" is NOT a compliment. I'm effing pregnant -- I'm not supposed to be tiny, I'm supposed to be PREGNANT.

I'm very aware of my size. It's one of the reasons I asked my OB if I was big enough when I saw her two weeks ago, at my last appointment. (You know what she said? SHE SAID I WAS FINE.) I really don't need you making any comments on my weight or size, thank you. Notice how I'm not commenting on your size? See how nice that is, my NOT telling you what's wrong with your body size?

Just in case this isn't sinking in (heck, if I had to tell you the first part, I doubt you'd be clever or aware enough to get the second part without having it spelled out for you): three months from now, when I'm huge, I'm not going to need you to tell me how huge I am. I will be aware, trust me.

Also: if you meet a woman who tells you she's, say, six or seven months pregnant, and you think she looks HUGE... you don't need to tell her that. You don't need to ask her if she's sure she's only six or seven months. I can guarantee you she knows how far along she is. And that she's aware of how big she is.

All you need to do is shut your huge mouth and smile. If you must speak, congratulate her.

It would be really nice if people stopped feeling the need to tell women what their bodies are supposed to look like. Pregnant or not.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

how did calling hubby Freddy come about(sorry, I'm sooooo out of the loop!)? Also, congrats on the fetus! Do you plan to find out the gender or keep it a surprise?

Freddy and I met while doing Picasso at the Lapin Agile (a play by Steve Martin). His character was called "Freddy," so that was his name as I blogged about my suitor. It's stuck. :D (He likes having a code name. It's almost like a superhero alter ego.)

The fetus is doing quite well; doctors say he's growing just like he should. And he's doing his fair share of pummeling me, mostly around my underwear/pants waistline... which makes me wonder if he's getting squished? I've noticed while my belly is not growing at the rate I'd like it to, the hip/butt/thigh area is picking up the slack, so my pre-preggo underwear is tighter than it used to be...

We found out the fetus is a boy (or will be born one, at least... he'll let us know later if he has other plans). I'm trying to avoid the barrage of blue, but it's hard. Not that I want to dress him in pink (not EVERY day, at least...) but what about some PURPLE clothes? Or YELLOW? Apparently, baby boys are only allowed to wear blue, light blue, dark blue, or green-and-brown. Meh.

He already has a "This is what a FEMINIST looks like" onesie, courtesy of his Aunt Marcy, so, overall, I'm happy with his wardrobe. :)

Ask, and Criss shall answer.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Why I Chose to Have an Amniocentesis

I want a natural birth: no drugs, no cutting, no steampunk-wannabe machinery like forceps or vacuums. Biologically/evolutionarily speaking, my body was made to grow fetuses and birth them, to ensure the survival of the species; I trust God knew what He was doing when He designed my body (wide birthing hips and all), so I want a chance to do it the way God and nature intended before a doctor comes in with drugs, needles, and a scalpel. (I understand medical interventions are sometimes necessary, and if I happen to be one of the 10% or so of women who need a medical intervention, I will be very glad for the technology. I just want to find out if I NEED it before it's automatically used on me.)

Because I want a natural birth, I'm reading hippie-granola books by midwives (Ina May's Guide to Childbirth) and other natural-birth advocates/supporters (The Birth Book); and maybe that's why they seem to be slightly anti-testing. Both books, while presenting the issue in a way that respects the reader's opinion, warn against much of the tests that OBs routinely run on pregnant women during their prenatal care, including amniocentesis.

Ina May cites the risk of miscarriage due to an amnio to be 1 in 300; Dr. Sears cites it as 1 in 200. Ina May's book was published in 2003, Dr. Sears's in 1994 (my copies, at least). Partly due to these numbers (and I'd heard even before reading the books that amnios can result in miscarriage), I told myself, and family members, that I was not going to get one. (Besides, who really wants to have a huge needle stuck in their stomach? Poking holes in my uterus and amniotic sac, and disturbing my fetus?)

Even after we had the 12-week NT screen, which showed a thick neck (3.9 mm) and no nasal bone -- soft signs of Down Syndrome -- I was still against an amnio. When the bloodwork came back not denying the original findings, I was still against it.

When the doctor first told us that the sonogram showed the possibility of a chromosomal abnormality, it was a shock. It was different and it was an unknown; I can't recall exactly what happened in what order in those days, but neither Freddy nor I were worried about the possibility of a child with Down Syndrome -- the problem where the other two types of abnormalities, which are fatal 95% of the time and my doctor, who works with the Baylor Health Care System, "a Christian ministry of healing," said even that religious hospital would recommend (and perform) an abortion.

(Dear Antis: if any of you are still lurking, I know medical facts make your heads hurt... but that doesn't mean medical facts are not true. Thank you.)

I wanted confirmation that we were NOT looking at Trisomy 13 or 18 (the almost-always fatal ones, hardly carry to term); Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome) was not a concern/problem.

It became even less of a concern as we educated ourselves on Down Syndrome and talked to people about it. A friend of Freddy's has a niece with Down Syndrome, and her words stuck with me the most: "I want to say I'm sorry, but there really isn't anything to be sorry about."

Four weeks after the initial shock, we finally had an appointment with a geneticist. I still said I did not want to have an amnio, so part of my wondered why we were even going to talk to the geneticist (the dude who does the amnio), but my OB said this guy would do a super-duper sonogram and look for other stuff as well -- plus, if we took a blank DVD they would record the sonogram -- so we went to the appointment.

At this point, Freddy and I were almost excited about having a child with Down Syndrome (as opposed to an "average", 46-chromosome kid). Through the parents of children with DS we had met, we'd gotten a glimpse into that loving and supportive community. We were no longer afraid, now that we knew more about it and understood what it would entail. Raising a kid is not all rainbows and roses no matter what kind of kid you have; you're going to have challenges no matter what. Some of our challenges were going to be different than what we had originally anticipated, but we were okay with that.

We also realized that if anyone was going to have a child with special needs, this was the family that child should be born into. Freddy's sister just got her Master's in Special Ed, and is a Diagnostician for one of the school districts around here. My mom's a child therapist. My brother's getting his Master's in [I forget the title but it's] working with children with special medical needs -- and, interestingly, he had just finished a research paper on mothers of children with Down Syndrome. My sister is a Montessori teacher, who reminded me that Maria Montessori began her method working with children with mental retardation and other special needs (and, under her care and instruction, these "deficient" children began to out-perform the "regular" children).

We have family close by to help and support us, and on top of all the informational resources built in to our family, we have the means to afford the child's medical needs (physical, intellectual, and emotional). If anyone was going to have a child with special needs, why should it NOT be us, when you look at it that way??

When we met with the genetic consultant, she went over our test results in more detail. She said that given our sonogram and bloodwork, we had a 1 in 5 chance of having a child with Down Syndrome. We had not heard those numbers before; I think (please note that what she said and what we heard could be two totally different things -- there was a big wall of emotional static through which her words had to travel) my OB said we had a possibility of having a child with Down Syndrome, and I guess I'd assumed that was doctor-speak* for "you're having a kid with Down Syndrome."

*doctor-speak being the result of years of malpractice lawsuits and if-I-say-anything-too-definitively-I'll-get-sued-either-way-so-everything-is-iffy. Please note I am not blaming doctors for doctor-speak; that's a result of our sue-happy culture. I am not blaming lawyers, either, because lawyers don't hire themselves.

A 1 in 5 chance was different. Maybe we were making all this fuss for nothing.

1 in 5 was actually a pretty small chance. 20%. We could know for sure if we did an amnio, which we could do that same day, and the lady said that the chance of miscarriage was more like 1 in 500 to 1 in 1,500; for this practice, it was closer to 1 in 1,000 because this is what these doctors do all day, every day (the higher chances of miscarriage happen when the doctor doing the amnio is not properly trained or as experienced in doing them).

So the numbers we were given at the geneticist's office were quite different from the numbers I'd had in my head before the appointment. I had a lower chance of having a child with Down Syndrome than I'd thought, and a much lower chance of complications of miscarriage from doing the amnio.

When we had the sonogram (where we forgot to give the doctor the blank DVD so we didn't get it recorded... but we're going for our follow-up on Tuesday), the doctor said everything looked like it was developing at the "normal" rate, all body parts were proportional, etc. (He also pointed out all the fetus's organs, and said they were all working well... which I'm glad he said, because I couldn't see anything he pointed at. I saw the heart, because it was blinking. Everything else? No clue... that's why I'm not a doctor.)

According to what the doctor saw in the super-duper sonogram, that 1-in-5 number seemed to be leaning toward the other 4 instead of the 1.

I hate not knowing. Not knowing the sex of the baby for those 16 weeks (12, really, since the first four I didn't even know I was pregnant yet) had been bugging me enough. I like to make plans, I like to know so I can daydream about how it's going to be.

I didn't want to go around making plans for a special needs child, tell people that we might have a child with Down Syndrome, only to find out in October that nope, just kidding! I already felt like a poser because of the few people we had told and talked to about it. Like we were walking around telling this story to get attention and sympathy when we didn't even deserve it.

(And, if I was going to have a child with special needs, I was going to go around making plans. This is why we did the NT scan to begin with -- to be prepared. If we were going to have a child with Down Syndrome, I wanted to know all I could about it. I wanted to find a pediatrician who knew all about it as well. I wanted to have physical therapy scheduled from the beginning, and anything else I might need to set up for my child. I was making plans to get my blasted last four credits for my blasted Master's so I could quit my full-time job and teach part-time at one of the local colleges, so Freddy and I could work out a schedule where one of us was home with the baby and we wouldn't need daycare, but would still have a way to, like, buy food and pay the mortgage and all.)

So we did the amnio.

It took two minutes, and didn't hurt any more than drawing blood, really. Even when Freddy made me laugh WHILE THE NEEDLE WAS IN MY STOMACH.

I made a point to look at Freddy, you know, for support (in case it hurt). The doctor said that it usually hurt the father more than the mom, because the father was the one looking at the needle. Which is why I thought Freddy would look AT ME, but no. He looked at the needle, fascinated... and started making faces. Like, "ZOMG, that's HUGE!" faces. Which, if you know Freddy, he was likely to do before he even saw the needle, just to mess with me.

"It looks like a beer!"


"No, look! It looks like he's drawing a beer! It even has a head on it and everything! Just like it's coming from a tap!"

Well, if you're making me laugh while the poor doctor tries to draw some amniotic fluid from my stomach without poking the fetus, then you can expect the fluid to be a little shaken up and bubbly, I guess.

The one surprise I had when they did the procedure was that I had to rest the next 24 hours -- as in, bed rest. No going to work the next day (even though I work in an office, relaxed setting, and I sit all day). The nurse and doctor told me before they did the procedure, and they were very accommodating about letting me come back and do it another day, when I had time to arrange for time off, etc., but I wanted to get it done then (impatient? Who, me??) and I had already taken that day off work so might as well do it.

But I was surprised that I had not heard that before; that an amnio is a two-day procedure (you get it done, you rest the whole next day). My books didn't mention it, and my OB hadn't, either (not that I'd asked about the details, but still). I'm lucky that I have a flexible job and an understanding boss, so I could call in and tell her I'd be out the next day, but I realize many women do not have that option.

If I were still in the job I had last year, teaching public school, I would not really have had that option. Leaving lesson plans for being gone one day (for the appointment) would have been hassle enough -- calling my department chair to tell her I was going to be gone ANOTHER day, and no, I didn't have lessons ready? Plus, when I went back to work at this job, I had the luxury to sit all day, and take it easy. In the classroom, I would have been expected to stand for most of every class period, walking around monitoring the students, and stand in the hallway during each passing period (where kids running in the hall and playing around with their friends can easily bump into you).

What if I worked an hourly job, in retail or food service? A) That would be TWO days of no work = no pay, and B) that's a huge amount of physical strain, when the care sheet the doctor gave me said to take it easy, no exercise, for two weeks after the procedure.

Sure, I know an amnio isn't a "necessary" procedure by the strictest definition, but it was necessary for me. I had to know what I had to prepare for. No, I was not going to abort if I found out my child was going to have Down Syndrome (and by the time we met with the geneticist we had pretty much ruled out Trisomy 13 and 18; my OB said she would have seen other signs/physical deformities if the fetus had one of those abnormalities, so that was no longer an issue), but I needed to know what to prepare for. How much my life was going to change. Other pregnant people deserve that same opportunity.

They poked me on a Tuesday, and by Friday afternoon they had the preliminary results. 46 chromosomes, two of each, no extras (except for the last one; that wasn't two of the same, it was one X and one Y).

Freddy and I both felt that a part of us was disappointed with this news. We were looking forward to the challenges, and joys, unique to having a child with Down Syndrome (and I no longer have as good an excuse to stay home, so looks like I'll still be working full-time after Troy Emmitt* arrives).

*I wanted to TWILIGHT the names and call him Emmittroy, WHICH IS SO MUCH BETTER DON'T YOU THINK??? but Freddy said no.

I am glad we went through this experience. I know there are a bazillion things that could still go "wrong" with the pregnancy, and a bazillion things that could still make Troy Emmitt a child with special needs. Now, Freddy and I know we can handle it, and we found out we can handle it before post-partum depression and the stress of living with a newborn set in. If we do find out, at birth or shortly thereafter, that Troy Emmitt has special needs, we know we can cope and we don't have to go through the same shock period we already went through. (It's still going to be a shock, I'm sure, but we know we can get through it).

Also, I'm 32 years old, will be 33 when Troy Emmitt arrives. Just two short years away from the magical age of 35, when BAD THINGS happen more regularly to pregnant women. I want at least a second child. Before all of this happened, I was a little scared of trying to get pregnant again so "old," because I was afraid of the unknowns and thought that "different" was "BAD." Now I'm not scared, because I feel I can handle it, and I know Freddy, and the rest of our families, can.

My books warn against testing because the results can often be false positives (like mine was), and this causes unnecessary stress. I had a false positive, and Freddy and I did go through a period of stress, but I don't regret it. I'm glad we did the testing, because now I know more than I did before -- not so much about the fetus/future baby, but about myself, and about Freddy.