work and babymoons

Holy cow. I normally don’t like blog posts that start out really apologetic for not posting more often, but seriously, it has been a long time.  Since my latest appearance, I have been doing two things (and only two things).  Working, and going on vacations. Specifically, babymoons.

First, working.

The type of work that I do (I am a lawyer) is basically a glorified hourly position. Sure, I am salaried, but there is a “minimum expectation” (code for “we can fire you if you don’t do this”) that I will bill (not work, bill) 2,000 hours a year. This means that if I am not actively doing client work, it doesn’t count.  So those hours that I spend sitting at my desk waiting for someone to give me something to do? Those don’t count.  Same with required client development, administrative tasks, and anything else that my boss tells a client we will do for them as a freebie in order to bring in more work.  Also, lunch, or those 10 minutes you talk to your mom in the middle of the day, or your co-worker’s birthday cupcake party, or a bathroom break. None of that counts.  If you are pretty efficient, you can bill 8 hours and work 9 or 10.  But some days, I come to work, don’t have much to do, and although I am here from 9:30 to 6:30, I walk out having billed only 5 or 6 hours.

So, what, you ask, is 2,000 hours on an annual basis (okay, you didn’t ask this, but I am telling you anyway, because I love the billable-hours rant)?  It’s 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, every day other than 10 federal holidays.  Gosh, I wonder why new moms struggle with this job. Anyway, that means that if I want to take a vacation, or am sick, or if i have one of those 5 or 6 hour days, I have to make up the time later.  I know, wah, wah, cry me a river, I make boatloads of money to work that much. But it’s a lot of pressure at the end of the year, when the end date for those 2,000 hours is approaching.  At my particular firm, that end date is October 31 (so that they have time to tally up the hours and pay bonuses out by the end of the calendar year).  Coming into September, I was about 125 hours behind, from aforementioned vacation days and slow periods.  I had basically given up on making it. It seemed kind of insurmountable, working an extra 60-70 hours each month on top of full time, but then I got staffed on a crazy-busy project and started working 17 or 18 hour days (plus an hour commute each way), and the 2,000 hours bogey was suddenly within sight.  Anyway, 8 weeks and some exhaustion-related braxton hicks contractions later, I hit my target hours.  The bottom line for me, hitting those 2,000 hours, is a pretty big bonus, that would make it so that I could, if I so chose, stay home with the baby for an additional 6 months without pay. So that was part of the driving force.  And also, I didn’t exactly have a choice about the 18 hour days, so it at least gave me a reason to do that.  At the end of the day on October 31, I had a grand total of 2,002 billable hours.  Hopefully, I didn’t mis-count my hours, because that is sort of uncomfortably close.  But I made it!  And then I took a nap.

Now, the babymoons.

In October, smack in the middle of billable-hour hell, we had planned to take a cruise with the kids.  My wife was adamantly anti-cruise for a very long time because she thought only old people went on them.  I lobbied for years, and finally, we had a long weekend with the kids, couldn’t think of what to do with them, and got a great deal.  And so, in honor of Christopher Columbus enslaving/exterminating native populations in the Bahamas, we took the long weekend and visited the Bahamas ourselves (although we did not enslave anyone or bring disease).  As I have sort of vaguely mentioned a few times, the kids are not that kicked up about the fact that we are having a baby (yes, still).  So we thought it would be fun to do something all together, one last hurrah for the family of five before we are a family of 6 and there is a long list of things we can’t do because of nap schedules and age restrictions and the like.  Of course, we did not phrase it like this to the kids, we just said, “Yay! We’re going on a cruise!”  The kids had a great time. The wife is a total convert.  I am, weirdly, a little freaked out by the whole experience.  Here are the pros and cons of the cruise, for me:

Pros:

1.  No cell phones or wi-fi.  This means I can’t work. At all.  It also means that the then-13 now-14 year old had a forced break from all social media. She was super-pissed about this at first, but for the 4 days we were gone, she was seriously so much happier than I have seen her in a long while.  Apparently that horrible feeling you aren’t cool enough in high school but get to leave at the door when you go home, you don’t so much get to leave at the door when you are literally getting numerical popularity rank updates on an ongoing basis in the form of Instagram likes.

2. No planning of what to do.  We just kind of showed up and had a vacation. We didn’t have to decide where to go to dinner, or what the schedule was, or anything. We just turned up, put on some sunscreen and had a vacation. After years of planning trips with kids, this was such a relief.

3. It was really fun. It was cheesy, yes, but fun. We were all just sort of relaxed and happy, bopping around doing fun activities and playing a LOT of shuffle-board, while totally unreachable by the outside world.  Did I mention no cell phones or wi-fi?

Cons:

1. The food buffets.  They are truly frightening.  I can’t say more because I don’t like to think about it.

2. The drinking.  I am a big drinker (seriously, I love to drink) and even I was a little horrified by the sight of the pool deck bar at 4 pm on the day we left Florida and headed out to sea.  On the other hand, all 3 kids can now do the Cupid Shuffle in the midst of a herd of wasted and uncoordinated adults, so I guess that’s something.

All in all, a great trip for everyone.  And 4 much-needed days of relaxation for me in the middle of billable hour hell.

The second babymoon, which was just for myself and the wife, was this past weekend.  The kids were with their dad for Veterans Day, so we took Friday through Monday and snuck off to the Turks and Caicos.  This is the view from our little balcony (and also the only picture on my phone — the rest are still on the real camera, so in 3 years when I get around to uploading them, someone can see them).

T&C

We did a lot of sleeping (both in bed and on the beach), a little exploring, and a lot of eating. And, ahem, “re-connecting,” shall we say.  It was so nice to actually spend time alone with my wife for the first time in weeks.  Also, let’s be honest, this will be the last time in a long time. We are entering the crazy-busy holiday season, and then we will have a new baby. It was nice to be reminded why I like her so much.  She’s so funny. And thoughtful.  And buys me ice cream whenever I want it.  If you are pregnant or your partner is pregnant, and you’re thinking you don’t need to take a babymoon, I respectfully urge you to change your mind.  Maybe you don’t need to in the strictest sense, but if you can swing it, it’s wonderful.  You don’t need to go someplace fancy.  I am honestly only about 90% certain our hotel did not have bed bugs, for example. But spending time with the person you have chosen to make this baby with, away from the to-do lists and chores and jobs and friends and kids, even if it’s just the Holiday Inn 2 towns away from where you live, is so nice.  And you can just pay off the credit card later, whatever.

And now, to keep you hooked on the saga that is my life, later this week I will tell you all about how and why I changed obstetricians at 29 weeks pregnant. And also, at some point, the nursery.  I know, the suspense is killing you.

“vacation” (or, things that are much more difficult while pregnant)

Well, internet, I wish I could say that I missed you in the week that I was camping in the woods upstate, but honestly, I love a good technology break every now and then.  This one was driven less by a lack of cell service (which is my favorite kind of technology break) and more by a lack of chargers.  I’ll take what I can get.

We had the kids for vacation this past week, and decided to camp.  We ended up in the Finger Lakes region of New York State.  You want to know what is not as fun pregnant as it is when you’re non-pregnant?  Camping.  Getting up in the night to pee is always a pain in the ass, but it’s actually much worse when you have to get up, put on boots in the dark, walk through the mud up a hill with a flashlight, and pee in a cement building with spiders in it. While not waking up the dog.  Also, you realize that your children are actually very active sleepers when you are trying to fall back asleep afterwards to the harmonious sounds two out of three of them flailing around like fish out of water in their sleeping bags.  Also also, hiking at 1,000 feet of elevation is noticeably more difficult when you are pregnant.

I was honestly surprised I struggled so much with all of it.  Everyone says the second trimester is the best of pregnancy, and I sort of expected to feel more like my non-pregnant self.  I do feel better, but I am definitely still pregnant. This camping trip was a big reminder of that.  I move slowly, I tire more easily, and I need to eat more often.  Things that I used to do easily were a chore, and things that used to be a chore were basically impossible. So yeah. Still pregnant over here.  And bending over repeatedly to put up a tent?  Not all that easy while pregnant.

All complaints aside, there were some good moments.  The kids had apparently never walked on active train tracks before, and found it super-exciting.  Also, when they asked if they could climb down a muddy cliff by hanging on to tree roots to go swimming in a natural pool at the base of a dam, in violation of both park rules and common sense, they were totally shocked when the answer was yes, and my psychic-or-something wife had actually packed all of our swimsuits in the day pack. My wife, the dog and I also swam in the pool, and we had all just changed back into our clothes (except the dog, who wears the same fur coat no matter what she’s doing) when a group of teenage boys came careening down the same muddy cliff to illegally swim in the same pool.  Sadly, I don’t have any pictures of all of this, because let’s be honest. Carrying around a fetus and a water bottle on the hike was enough of a struggle; I wasn’t about to also be carrying around my camera.

The kids are still sort of working through their feelings about the pregnancy, so when we dropped them off with their dad for the weekend and met up with our old friends at the beach, it was a relief to let my guard down, relax and just be happy about it again.  Also, sleeping in a bed was nice.  Still, the fatigue of the week really caught up with me yesterday, and I was basically unable to do anything but lie around whinging about nausea and vague abdominal pains which may or may not be this “round ligament pain” I have heard about.

Today, I am back in my beige cube in Manhattan, slogging through the workday.  It’s tough to say that it was a “good” vacation, which is what everyone asks you when you come back from a week away, given the emotional drama with the kids and the unexpected difficulties I had with the camping trip.  But I did have time for the blister caused by my work shoes to heal, and I did actually have a day to lie around whinging without any work to do, so I suppose in that sense, the week away from work was a success.

twelve weeks, and also thirteen

I am a bit behind on the posting, not because nothing has been happening, but because so much has been happening.

1.  I hit 12 weeks, and had my ob appointment with the man doctor.  Surprisingly, I very much liked the man doctor.  He spent over an hour talking to my wife and me about our various genetic testing options, how the pregnancy was going, and who even knows what else.  So we have decided to stay at our current ob practice, and I am so grateful I can cross this stressor off the to-do list.  The sonogram portion of the nuchal translucency screening put us well into the normal range, which was a relief.  The man-doctor also noted that I have a “very prominent uterus.”  I think this means that it sticks out.  I knew this already, because I could feel it in my tummy, well above my pubic bone, and also, at 12 weeks, and only 4lbs of weight-gain, I looked like this:

12 weeks selfie

Normally I avoid the following: (1) selfies taken in a mirror with an iphone, (2) crappily lit pictures, and (3) pictures that show how messy my room is, but whatever. I look pregnant!  Also extremely tan.  I promise it’s all from an hour here and there on the beach, with sunscreen, and not from unnatural sources.  I just tan sort of naturally.  Anyway, that is the picture I have, so that is the picture you get. My mom tells me her belly was “prominent” early also, which is weird because when I asked her what she remembered about pregnancy, the only thing she could come up with was that her hair was very tangled.  Now that I am actually pregnant, and I mention symptoms or pregnancy goings-on, she always says, “Me too!”  I guess, given that 30 years have elapsed since her last pregnancy, things are a little fuzzy.

2.  On a high from the doctor’s appointment, we decided to break the news to the kids.  They were… not pleased.  Well, at least the Big One was not pleased.  I am sure you can imagine that this is a vast understatement, as thirteen year olds generally manifest displeasure in a rather dramatic fashion.  We’re trying our best to help her work through it, but if you have ever tried to communicate with a teenager about something they don’t. want. to. discuss. you will understand the difficulty we are having.  The Boo is generally silent on these topics anyway (“these topics” being her thoughts about things, or her feelings), and our Boy Child just wanted to know that we were going to ensure it was a boy so he could have a brother.  I am glad that the Boo is headed off to Denmark today, as it will give her some time and space to process how she really feels about the baby with someone she feels safe with, and without her sister trying to convince her it’s horrible and her parents trying to convince her it’s great.  Not that we have been anything but supportive of however she feels, but she’s not stupid. She knows we want her to be happy and excited about the baby, like we are.  Our little boy is just relieved that some of the tension in the house has dissipated, so that he can get back to what really matters:  going to the swimming pool.  It is summertime, after all.  Let’s not ruin it with a lot of stomping around.

I have to say, it’s disappointing that their reaction was so negative.  Pretty much everyone else has been happy-to-ecstatic about the baby, and obviously we are, too.  And yet really, when it comes down to it, the only people whose reaction I care about are these kids.  I hope that they can get used to the idea, and even become a little excited. At least my mother is over the moon. She is actually knitting booties. I didn’t even know babies wore booties anymore, but our little peach will have some, courtesy of grandma.

3.  Week 13 started yesterday, which means that I am officially in the second trimester.  I also got the full results of the nuchal scan from my doctor’s office – everything is fine, and I am considered very low-risk.  With this great news, and the fact that I have needed to wear maternity pants all week, I decided to tell my office that I was pregnant, even though we don’t get our full genetic test results back for a week at least.  My first boss asked a million questions, most of which I thought you weren’t allowed to ask.  Like, whether we used an anonymous donor.  Really!  I wanted to tell him that the donor was David Crosby, but I think he would have actually believed me, and then the joke would have been wasted.  I just answered with as little information as possible, saying that we used an anonymous donor through our doctor’s office, and then he proceeded with his list of questions you are not allowed to ask. Telling my other boss went fine – no inappropriate questions were asked, and the whole thing took about 2 minutes.  And now here I sit, officially Pregnant At Work.  In celebration, I bought a bunch of relatively ugly but work-appropriate maternity clothes at Target.  Okay, not that ugly, but, you know. Not really cute either.

great-grandparents

This weekend, I was supposed to fly to Michigan for my grandmother’s 90th birthday.  She and my grandfather, who is also pushing 90, are really quite active and well, all things considered.  Then, there was a freak thunderstorm that lasted the exact 30 minute window that my flight was supposed to be taking off.  The flight was cancelled, and I couldn’t get re-booked until the following day, after the 90th birthday party was over.  Needless to say, I declined the opportunity for an 18-hour trip to Michigan, with 6 hours of driving from/to the Detroit airport.

One of the things I was looking forward to this weekend, though, was telling my grandmother I am pregnant.  Partly, I was looking forward to this because it would mean I had actually succeeded in telling my grandma before my mom blurted it out.  But partly because my grandma is fantastic, and I wanted to tell her in person.  Since this was not to be, I called my grandma to personally say I was sorry for missing her birthday party, and to deliver the big news.  It went something like this:

Me: Grandma, I have some news to tell you.  We’re expecting a baby!
Grandma: WHAT? [she doesn’t hear well over the phone, or maybe just could not believe what I had said]
Me:  I’M PREGNANT.
Grandma:  Well well, how’d you two manage THAT?
Me:  We had an anonymous donor, and had a procedure at the doctor’s office.
Grandpa, in the background:  WHAT’S GOING ON? [he doesn’t hear well at all, regardless of whether there is a phone involved]
Grandma:  (to Grandpa, and basically everyone else in a 3-mile radius) SHE’S PREGNANT. (to me) Well, honey, that’s just lovely!  How exciting!

My sister was there later in the day, and apparently my grandmother kept saying how excited she was, and how much she loved babies.  After one of these exclamations, my grandfather said to her, “You know, the only thing that would be more surprising is if you were pregnant.”  Good point, Grandpa.  That would indeed be more surprising.

Nathan

My wife has one very particular concern about having a baby:  Europe.  She wants to go to Europe.  And not “Europe with kids” — grownup Europe, of staying out late, riding around on a Vespa, doing a bike-riding wine-drinking tour, and the like.  “Don’t worry,” I tell her all the time, “we can still go to Europe after the baby!”  She has pointedly asked me how, and I usually just point out that it’s not like we’re constantly jetting off to Europe as it is. After all, we already do have those three existing kids.  But she is right, that they spend 30-40% of their time with their father, and they are old enough to be left with Grandma sometimes, and they will be out of the house (sniffle, tear) much sooner than the new one.  So Europe-without-kids is much more likely if there is no baby in the picture.

Over the weekend, we were going to go to the grocery store, but decided to swing by Home Goods on the way, just to see if there was anything we couldn’t live without.  But it didn’t open until 11, and it was only 10:40, so to kill the time, we stopped by PetSmart to get some dog food and kitty litter for Meg the Dog and Bella the Cat.  There were, as always, baby kitties who needed adopting, and I wanted to hold one.  I am decidedly the “cat person” in our relationship, whereas my wife is firmly the “dog person.”  Nonetheless, it was my wife, not me, who fell in love with a fat orange cat with half his tail missing from a stint living on the streets.  “What if they kill him?” she whispered in my ear.  “He needs us.”

“We’re a no-kill charity, but we do get the cats from high-kill shelters. So adopting one of these guys makes room for us to foster more cats from the kill shelters.”  Apparently the cat-lady volunteer also had feline-like hearing.

We laughed at ourselves, put the fat orange cat down, and headed to Home Goods.  My wife stood over with the large, weird wooden chest we decided to purchase, while I waited in line.  And this happened:

photo 1

photo 2

 

I guess you know what happened next.  We went back and got the cat.  We brought him home, and we named him Nathan.  As we were walking to the car, my wife said, “What the fuck is wrong with us?  We can barely handle our life as it is.”

“Yeah,” I said. “But he’s going to be so happy.  And so are we.”

“Yes.  I am already happy, in fact.  I don’t know why I always worry about Europe.  We’ll probably just freaking go. Life’s too short to worry about how we’re going to fit it all in.  We just will.”

So, meet Nathan.  Sorry that every picture he is eating and/or blurry and is never looking at the camera.  If you have ever tried to take a picture of a cat with your iPhone while an 8-year old harasses him, you understand.

photo_4[1] photo_3[1] photo_2[1] photo_1[1]

And that, my dear friends, is why don’t have to worry about the things you’ll miss out on if you have a baby.  If they’re really important, you’ll just do them.  As my uncle once famously said to his 22 year old son, “If you’re constantly worrying about the consequences of your actions, you’re never going to have any fun.”

(PS for the more observant folks:  Yes, he is in a room with bright pink carpeting.  That is because the girls’ picked it out when the Big Thing and Boo were about 7 and 5, respectively.)

 

1621

So, Thanksgiving is racist. We can all agree on that.  In the past, I have refused to celebrate it, but then I discovered the only thing that accomplished was depriving my family of my presence and mashed potato-eating abilities (of course, I was a vegetarian at the time), and depriving me of an opportunity to pause and be grateful for 10 minutes before moving on to the next thing.  Since then, I have come to embrace it.  You know, sort of.

I would say one of the things that sucks the most in life is having to share the kids on the holidays, including Thanksgiving.  This one and the 4th of July are particularly difficult to stomach, since their “other parent” (i.e., not my wife, but the OTHER other parent) is not American.  So they don’t have family traditions, etc. over at that house.   Meanwhile, my wife and I are cooking a turkey for ourselves.  Or, getting blindingly drunk with our friends while watching fireworks, whatever. Some holidays are easier to manage than others.

Anyway, back to the point at hand, which is that we don’t have the kids for Thanksgiving this year.  Sad.  So, my wife wanted to celebrate by having a Thanksgiving-esque dinner at our house tonight, but only without a turkey, because (1) we didn’t want to steal the real-Thanksgiving thunder, and (2) the kids, frankly, do not want to have two Thanksgivings. They want one, on the actual day, and then okay, do something Thanksgiving-like with the other set of parents.  But you can really only handle so much turkey in one week.

So, my wife wanted to cook something that would have actually been eaten in 1621. Isn’t that ambitious?  She decided, after  some quick internet research, that this was either duck, quail, or venison.  Since the kids are anti-duck (don’t ask me why they’ve eaten duck when I haven’t even eaten duck, let’s just suffice it to say that they have, and they were not fans), and we thought quail could be hard to come by, that left us with venison.  Specifically, that left us with this venison stew:

stew

This is a wild mushroom and venison stew, created by Emeril, recipe/credits here.  Alright, we think. We head to Fairway to buy the requisite wild mushrooms, parsnips, venison, and other odd whathaveyous that the recipe calls for.  We do not come up with veal stock (WTF, is that a thing?) and we do not come up with venison.  At least, not enough venison.  We do come up with one package of venison chops (12 oz) and some buffalo meat. My wife decides the buffalo is “close enough” to venison, so we toss it in the cart and out we go.

When we get home, we notice this review, that the stew is fabulous, here are some tips, oh, and by the way, “[t]his is intermediate level cooking. If you are a beginner try another recipe.”  Um, what? You would think we would have been tipped off by the exotic ingredients, but we were looking it up on our phone on the way to the store, so, you know.  We weren’t.

Undaunted, I rolled up my sleeves to make this last night after the kids went to bed, because unlike the real Thanksgiving, our Thanksgiving-esque is on a school-and-work night. Which means it needs to be finished by sticking it in the oven to warm it up, not cooked from scratch immediately before eating.  That’s when we noticed that the prep time was 2 hours and 45 minutes.  Because of this, I opted to just dive right in and start cooking shit, rather than chopping up all the millions of vegetables ahead of time.  It went… okay? I guess?  I didn’t exactly “dice” the things that called for dicing, but a coarse chopping will do fine, right?

Somewhere around 11:30, when it was all finished, I checked my work email.  Unbeknownst to me, there was a bunch of work-crap happening between 10 and 11:30. Whoops. Thankfully, the other associate resolved it, otherwise I would have had the opportunity to START WORKING again at 11:30.  The law firm is a cruel and unusual place.

My point, really, is this.  Being a working parent is sometimes the most horrible, difficult, exhausting thing.  There is never enough time for anything, so you just cut out sleep, trying to add more hours into the day. After all the stew hullabaloo last night, we also had to get up to drop our car off for new tires at 7 am (we had a flat, so it couldn’t wait anymore).   After we dropped our car off for the tires this morning, my wife left for work and I got the two elementary-aged kids ready for school.  And THEN I realized I had no car to take them in.  So, we walked.  Even though it was too late for that, even thought it was freezing out, and it was a cello day, and we could only find one mitten for one of them.  We just dealt with it, and we laughed the whole way there, talking about squirrels and their nut-finding abilities, and a hawk that flew over my daughter’s head while she played on her friend’s trampoline, and balancing on the curb even though we had no time for that.

And I realize that this is the stuff that kids remember. Holidays, yes. But also how hard we try to make things special for them, and the crazy things we introduce them to, and how we live our life, taking what comes, fitting it all in, doing it all, even if we sometimes do it all poorly and half-assed and exhausted.  My kids will be flexible, they will take life as it comes and roll with the punches, they will just use buffalo instead and walk to school on a cello day.  This is Thanksgiving in our house, because this is life in our house.

 

timing is everything

I wish I could say that the whole insemination process has been great, because I am so very in-tune with the wonder of my feminine cycle.  In reality, it is a frustrating pain in the ass.

I tend to ovulate late.  My cycles are kind of long, and last month I got a positive ovulation kit on day 18.  So when the nurse suggested I come in on day 10 so they could measure my follicles and predict when I would ovulate, I balked.  I explained that my cycles were on the longer side, and my ovulation on the later side.  But what if it wasn’t late next month?  She countered.  Okay fine, good point.  So I agreed to come in on day 11, which was Wednesday, and have the follicle-measuring sonogram then.

Only, as I predicted, it was too early.  Or I wasn’t going to ovulate this month, but I tried not to think about that.  Either way, there were no follicles developing at this point, but it was too early to tell why.  So I had to wait, and come back later.  Usually, they will ask you to come back in three days, but three days from Wednesday was Saturday, so they scheduled me for today, Monday.

Saturday night, I got a positive ovulation kit.  This was on the heels of a family-wide fight about the new baby and the bedroom arrangements (which ended beautifully, by the way, as our family-wide fights tend to — with long pent up feelings expressed on all sides and a new understanding of each others’ viewpoints).  So here we are, all of our emotions raw, needing nothing more than a little down-time as a family.  I pee on the stupid stick, and I get that fucking smiley face looking back at me.  Of all the times.

What this means, though, is that I have to go in on Sunday and get a sonogram before they can thaw my sample, to see if I have any follicles at all, or if I am surging but not ovulating. Then, if the timing is right, we would wait while they would thaw the sperm and we would do our first insemination. HOWEVER.  We have three kids and a new puppy, and do not actually want to bring all four of these creatures to the insemination.   AND it’s Sunday, so it’s not our normal doctor.

Also, it’s our one-year wedding anniversary.  And have I mentioned we are on vacation on an island, which is only accessible by boat, and where there is a decided lack of appropriate child-care?

Without even really thinking about it, we decide that we will take the ferry off the island, pile everyone in the car, drive to the doctor’s office, and leave the kids with the dog in the parking lot watching a movie on the iPad.  Hooray for electronic babysitters, and a stellar parenting moment.  Only when we go to get in the car, the battery is flat.  It’s possible at this point that I chucked the dog’s towel across the parking lot and announced that it was hopeless.  We are now late as well.  We decide to compound the lateness by stopping for bagels, much to the delight of everyone in the car except the dog, who is not allowed a bagel.  I figured that once you’re already late, there is no point in being late AND HUNGRY ALSO.  This chaos is our life.  I wish I could say it was abnormal, but to our kids, this was just another Sunday.  Good thing we are having another baby.

We jump the car, get the bagels, and drive to the clinic, with my wife artfully dodging “slow” drivers the whole way.  When we arrive, our oldest daughter loudly asks, “Why are you having a meeting at a building called HUMAN REPRODUCTION?” Oh yeah, did I mention that we had vaguely told the kids we had a “meeting” to go to, but did not go into detail as to what it was?  We figured that the oldest, at least, would figure it out if she wanted to, being nearly 13 years old and well aware of the fact that we are trying to have a baby.  So, I’m guessing that she figured it out.  Our general approach to questions we do not want to answer is to either not respond at all, and hope they get distracted, or to respond with words that are beyond their vocabulary, in order to confuse them even more.  Before she can ask again, the dog goes ballistic, trying to get a bite of the little one’s bagel, and everyone is appropriately distracted.  Success.

We go in for the sonogram, which is…. inconclusive.  My follicle’s at 17mm.  Some people do ovulate with 17mm follicles, but not all that many, I guess.  Usually it’s around 20mm.  We hem and haw.  Do we do the insemination, and risk that it’s too early?  It is our anniversary, after all, which is bound to be good luck, and we did drag the kids and dog here to sit in the parking lot all morning.  We decide to go for it.  The doctor recommends that he also take blood to confirm the hormone surge, and anticipate when I should come back.

My wife runs outside to check on the kids, and recommends that they move from the overly-hot car to the shade of a nearby tree.  She leaves them lounging on the grass, playing with the puppy and watching Wall-E.

An hour later, and I am lying on my back, while my wife holds my hand, waiting for the doctor to come back in.  And you know what’s playing on the radio?  “I see a red door and I want to paint it blaaaaaaack.”

“Do you think we are allowed to ask them to change it?”  I wonder.  “This is creepy.”  I am so nervous.

My wife just looks at me and starts imitating sperm to make me laugh.  It works.  Also, the song changes to “Bobby McGhee,” which helps.

The insemination itself is uneventful.  The doctor makes a joke about the speculum.  It feels like a pap smear and mild period cramps at the same time.  It is over before I know it.

I drink a glass of champagne that night, because it’s my anni-fucking-versary, thankyouverymuch, and over the champagne and the review of wedding photos, I look at my wife.  “I’m totally pregnant,” I tell her.

“I know,” she says.  “I can feel it.”

The next morning, we get a call from the doctor’s office, saying that my blood work showed that it was almost certainly a false positive on the pee stick, and I should go in for another sonogram because the insemination was in all likelihood way too early.

So, this afternoon, I go in for the third sonogram in under a week.  Thus, this man is the third stranger who has looked into my vagina in 5 days.  He informs me that I’m NOT totally pregnant, because I haven’t ovulated yet.  But my follicle is a ripe 21 mm, so I’m going to ovulate any day now.  He offers me a shot to make me ovulate in the next 24 hours, which I decline.  It seems a little early to me to have shots of hormones and who knows what injected into me.  It’s the first month!

On my way back to work, I run into our old babysitter in the subway.  I say “old,” but I mean she used to be our babysitter and isn’t anymore, not that she is actually old.  She is actually the same age I am (which is YOUNG).  We make plans to go to the beach.  I am forced to tell her that we are trying to have another baby because I am so excited I can’t NOT tell her, and also, what am I doing on the upper east side in the middle of the workday?

I go back to work, and pee on the stick again.  It’s an O, not a smiley face, so I am not surging (according to stick).  Apparently the smiley face guy does not know about my 21mm follicle.  Maybe I peed on the stick too early?  I decide to try it again tonight before bed.  I have decided that I will not get pregnant this month, and that I should not get my hopes up.  This is the month where all the crazy shit goes wrong, not the month for getting pregnant.  But it is also the month we figure out the timing, which will help us in the future months.

I call my wife, and tell her about the babysitter and the 21 mm and the pee stick.  “You’re definitely getting pregnant tomorrow,” she says.

“I know,” I say. “I can feel it.”

So much for not getting my hopes up.

talking about it won’t help

Our oldest daughter is 12, going on 13.  My relationship with her has always been the most challenging.  Maybe this is because she was the oldest, so she’s the only one of our three kids who really remembers life before I came along.  Maybe it’s because we have the least in common (I can’t believe she doesn’t like to read!).  Maybe it’s because she reminds me so much of myself at her age, and how hard middle school was — sometimes I think we never really recover from the trauma of middle school.  Whatever the reason, our relationship can sometimes be tough.  She thinks I pick on her, and that I am the STRICTEST PARENT EVER SO MUCH STRICTER THAN ALL HER FRIENDS WHY CAN’T SHE STAY UP UNTIL 11 DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR LIKE ALL THE NORMAL PEOPLE.  Etc.  You know, normal 12-going-on-13 stuff.

She told my wife, a few days ago, that she doesn’t want the new baby.  More specifically, she said she doesn’t want ME to have the “stupid thing.”  She has some difficulty in saying, or even hearing, the word baby, so she has kind of named the baby the “stupid thing.”  She seems to have formed pretty clear views on who’s fault it is that we’re having another baby (mine) and who has betrayed her by going along with this crazy scheme (my wife).  And, she stated, in a matter-of-fact way, the other kids don’t want the baby either.

Last night, my wife and I were standing in the front yard “discussing” the difficulty that comes with raising a 12 year old, who is about to go into the 8th grade.  We “discussed” the length of her shorts (too short!) and how it came about that she has an instagram account before she turned 13 (parental caving!), and how many hours per day she should be allowed to be on it (less than she is now!).  We talked about my relationship with her, and then, we talked about her feelings about the baby.  When my wife told me about the conversation they had, I got defensive.  “Well, good thing a 12 year old doesn’t get to decide what size our family should be,” I snapped.   You know, a really loving and compassionate reaction.

“We need to work through this with them,” she replied.  I am making her sound really mature and level-headed here, which is of course annoying, because I’m the one telling this story, so I am supposed to be the one who comes across in a better light.

“I know,” I sighed.  The kids are bound to have feelings about a new baby, and not all of them will be positive.  My friends assure me that once the baby gets here, the kids will love him or her.  I am not so sure.  I think it will swing between extremes – she will sometimes love the baby, she will sometimes resent the hell out of the baby.

Then, she came downstairs and informed us that her windows were open, and could we please stop talking about her, because it was upsetting her.

Oops.

We followed her into her room, where we discovered that she had changed out of the shorts that sparked the conversation.

“You didn’t have to change your shorts,” I said.  “I’m caving, you can wear the shorts.”

“I just really don’t think they’re too short!” she said.  “But it’s fine. Whatever.”

We ran through the things that we had been discussing, giving context to the shorts discussion, and the Instagram discussion.  “What else did you hear?” my wife finally asked.  “We need to talk about this, to make sure you understand what we were saying.”

“It doesn’t matter,” our daughter replied. “Talking about it won’t help.  You’re not going to change your mind.”

“It will help,” we urged.  “Just tell us.  Even if we don’t change our mind, maybe you don’t quite understand what we were saying.”

“You don’t necessarily know all the background behind everything,” I told her. “You may think you heard one thing, but really we were talking about something completely different.”

“Something is still bothering you.” My wife said, “Just talk to us about it.”

“No,” she said.  I wonder where she got her stubbornness from.  “It won’t help. You won’t change your mind; I know you won’t.  So I don’t want to say.”

This went on for some time, so I will spare you.  Finally, my wife said, “I think she is talking about the baby, but I don’t really know, because she won’t say.”

“Is it that you don’t want the baby?” I asked her.

“Stop saying that!” she said, “I don’t want to talk about that stupid thing!” and she ran out of the room.  So I guess, yeah, it was the baby.

In a way, she is right.  Talking about it won’t change our mind.

Later in the evening, we went to pick out all the things we will need for the next member of our family, who happens not to be the baby, but to be a 7 week-old puppy named Meg, who we are picking up this weekend.  For the first time in what felt like months, my tween-age daughter and I were laughing about things together.  We both wanted the pink collar, everyone else wanted the green one. “We have the same fashion sense,” I said.  “Come look at the baby kittens!” she said, dragging me across the store.

We joked about how much our cat, Bella, was going to HATE the new puppy at first.  “I think they’ll be friends, though, once they get used to each other,” my daughter said.  “Don’t you?”

“I do,” I said.  We moved on from collars to gates for the doorways.

“This is so fun,” she said.  “I just love picking out all this stuff.”

“You think this is fun,” my wife chimed in, “wait until we get to do it for the baby.  It’s even MORE fun.”  Our daughter didn’t respond, but she did smile, just a little.  So I guess maybe talking about it helped a little after all.

life as it is

About a month ago, we had one of the greatest family weekends ever. We did gazillions of chores (including painting our bathroom, replacing a faulty outlet that has been driving the whole family nuts, and planting peas and new grass seed), we went to gazillions of kids’ sporting events (okay, really just one baseball game and one soccer game, but that is enough, isn’t it?), we had our ex-babysitter and good family friend over for dinner and a bonfire in the backyard, and we played board games. As my wife and I drove to Home Depot to pick up a few things, leaving our now old-enough kids home on their own, I confessed.

You see, I desperately want a baby. I think about pregnancy and small toes and sleepy baby snuggles on a daily basis. But our family has gone through a LOT of changes in the last five years. My wife and I have each moved cross-country, I moved in and became the parents to three kids, we’ve had four job changes between the two of us, I spent a year staying home with the kids, I went back to work, and we got married. And sometimes, just sometimes, I get a little bit afraid that throwing a baby into the mix is going to upset our delicate balance, which we just barely seem to have achieved.

I haven’t wanted to admit this to my wife, because I worry that being a *few* years older than me, and having already birthed three kids, she might be ambivalent about adding to our family. I sometimes am afraid that she will latch onto any lack of confidence in our baby-making plans and turn it against me. Even as I write this, I know how ridiculous that is. My wife is an incredibly loving person. She would never actually turn my own fears against me to get her way. If she was feeling ambivalent about the baby, she would just tell me. But she hasn’t, so she isn’t. She is actually very, very excited to have a baby with me. So I sucked it up, and I admitted to her, “You know, it’s been so nice. Sometimes I am wish we could just put the baby thing on hold and just BE, for a little while.”

My wife laughed. “Me too! But really, I don’t want to.” She correctly noted that none of us were getting any younger, including our kids, and we wanted them to all grow up in the same household. But also, the baby isn’t going to show up immediately. That’s the beauty of a 10 month gestation period. Even if we were to get pregnant right away, we are still a year away from our new baby, which means that we have a whole year to enjoy our family as it is.

When we talked to her about our plans to have another baby, our oldest daughter, who is twelve, was worried. She liked our family just as it is, she said. “There are three pictures on the wall. There’s no room for a fourth,” she reasoned. My wife reminded her of her reaction when her sister was born — after a few hours of amusement, she asked if we could put her baby sister back now. I reminded her that for a while, it was just the two girls, and the family seemed whole then — but imagine it without their pesky little brother. It just wouldn’t seem right. And so, we told her, this is how it will be with the baby. The family seems whole now, and it is. But after the baby is born, we will not be able to imagine life without our youngest child. Sometimes, in these moments of loving my family just as it is, I share a little of my oldest daughter’s worry. But then I remind myself of what we told her. I have no doubt that this family of mine has enough love to grow by one more person, and that once our new baby is here, we won’t be able to imagine life without our youngest child. And that new normal will become life as it is.