Thursday, January 03, 2008

Am I Betty's Mom?

“Rae is a wife and mother and moved to the area three years ago. She has moved around a lot and recently came here from Philadelphia.”

This was how I was recently introduced after participating in one of those awful “get to know you” group exercises where you chat with another person for a couple of minutes and then introduce each other to the rest of the group. I was in a room of activists, doctors, advocates, professors and otherwise impressive females and I was already p.o.’d that I couldn’t introduce myself because I am a control freak and have carefully honed my “elevator speech” over the years to be able to explain who I am in 30 seconds. But when my partner skipped over my whole spiel and presented me as a wife and mother from f-ing Philadelphia I went from annoyed to shocked. "Is that who I am?” I thought. And I was kind of embarrassed! And then I felt awful for feeling embarrassed. And then, true to my Graham nature, I have stewed over this stupid introduction for months. Yes months. What. But I am declaring today that I’m very close to letting it go after just saying the following: if I am ever faced with a similar exercise in the future I will excuse myself to the bathroom for fifteen minutes and introduce my own damn self when I return to the group. I will say I'm a wife and mother as well as blah blah blah and I will not mention a place that I lived for less than a year as if it describes something about me! I'm now letting this go. Introduction, get thee behind me!!!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Flight or Flight Response

We moved a lot when I was growing up because my father was in the Mil…Library. My dad was a Research Librarian and for some reason that meant his upward professional mobility was tied to moving from university to university. Moving a lot had opposite effects on me and my brother. He has lived in Boston since he graduated college, and I can’t keep still. I even transferred during college. And there is no psychotherapy couch or PhD needed to diagnose this behavior as a flight response to stress or fear. After college I moved because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Then I moved because where I moved was not what I wanted to do. Then I moved to get a job. Then I moved to go back to school, which led to moving after I was done with school to a city I had no reason to move to. So I moved again. Then, last year, my flight response was triggered when I found out I was pregnant. But after going out to look at a bunch of town homes in Durham, my gag response to pregnancy kicked in and I went back to bed for six months. Anyway, now that I am a mother I realize that moving in response to stress is not the healthiest game plan in the world. In fact, I have used my new level of maturity and greater sense of perspective on life to develop an alternative behavior modification that I think is completely reasonable in response to stress. I buy lottery tickets.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Desperately Seeking Social

B and I are so trying to get out there and find our parent soul-mates. We found one couple that we like so much we are almost afraid to call them too often because we might scare them away. I want to ask them to go steady, but B thinks we should take it slow. So in an effort to play the field a little bit before we get down on one knee in front of this couple, we are basically setting up blind parent dates. To make these events more productive, I thought about taking out the following personal ad:

Married with First Kid Seeking Couple with Kid who don’t have a clue what a moby wrap is, who are comfortable with giving their kids the maximum dosage of Tylenol and gas medicine, who think pudgy mushy babies are healthy and adorable, who do not dress their kids up in higher fashion than they wear themselves, who do not think that Dr. Ferber is the devil, who like to start at 4pm and end at 9pm at the latest, and who don’t mind that we like to hang out at the house, drink beer, play cards and watch sports.

I know. I’m going to have to beat them off with a stick.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


stands for
Cutest Baby in the F-ing World Bar F-ing None - RECOGNIZE!

Judge not lest ye be a parent

After three months of being a mother, all I can say for sure is that I’ll never cavalierly pass judgment on another mother again the way I used to. And anyone out there who hasn’t had kids, please don’t criticize either unless you can walk a mile in a new mother’s shoes, which I challenge you to find because your house is a mess and it wouldn’t matter if you could anyway because the idea of leaving the house is freaking terrifying. Last week when I pulled up to Target to get baby gas medicine (a necessity that may be more important than food for my flatulent little beauty), I saw a baby inside a brand new Volvo with nary an adult to be found in the vicinity. Three and a half months ago my spine would have stiffened with indignation and an anonymous phone call to the authorities would perhaps have been placed. But after being a mom for only a short time, I hesitated. I recalled one day that I tried to rent a West Wing dvd from my local video store (again, I strongly caution against judgment). Here is how it went. Trip one to the video store resulted in me unlatching Betty from the car seat, navigating the store and the idiot 18-year old clerk, renting the fifth disc in season one, bringing it home, unpacking the car, setting Betty up in her buzzy chair, and realizing it was the “special features” disc with absolutely no stories. Trip two to the video store entailed packing Betty back into the car, again navigating the store with her gigantic Cadillac of a baby carrier, and discovering that the store did not have the first two discs of season two. Not to be deterred, I rented the third and fourth disc, packed Betty back into the car, and drove ten minutes to Blockbuster to see if they had the first two discs. I unpacked Betty, entered the store, and found that they did not. Ok, I said, packing Betty back into the car. I’ll just go with disc three and four. But wait. Where are they? Answer: not in the car, not in my purse, nowhere to be found. Dear Lord, did I put them on the top of my car when I was packing Betty up and drive away? Trip three to the video store entailed driving back across town, unpacking Betty and her Cadillac, entering the video store and having the idiot 18-year old look at me like I was the idiot as he passed me the discs I had never taken off the counter in the first place. So my hesitation in passing judgment on the absentee Volvo parent in the parking lot was based on the thought that perhaps this was the fourth or fifth time this parent had returned to the store and they simply could not bear to unpack the baby again. Not that the parent made the correct decision, mind you, but I submit that the episode may perhaps warrant a call for more drive-through retail options than a parent inquisition.

Monday, December 04, 2006


I think “nesting” is a pretty innocuous term for what I have been up to. Before going through it, I would have said the term refers to plumping pillows and washing the sheets to make your home comfortable for a new member of the family. Or some other sweet and happy activity like baking cookies. However, for me, it has been more about a last ditch attempt to become the sort of person I think I should be to have a baby. In practice, this has meant a new roof. New gutters. Trimming the bushes. I bought a swiffer mop. I bought Christmas cards in a store other than the dollar store and paid full price for wrapping paper. This weekend, B and I pulled everything out of our attic closet so that I could “organize it” which just meant we turned around and put everything back in, but in a different configuration. I have done two things which can only be categorized as “crafts.” I am also knitting a very very long and wide scarf. I really want to organize B’s shoes. Seriously, it’s on my list. My list also includes rearranging furniture in our attic and hanging pictures. And none of this would be so out of line if I actually had things done for Betty like, oh, installing her CAR SEAT? Or packed my bag for the hospital? Do I have bottles to feed her with yet? No. But I’ll be damned if I go another day without hanging Christmas lights outside! So what I've learned is that “nesting,” for me, means that it is more important to become June Cleaver than to protect Betty in a car collision. Great. Carry on.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Poignant Vignette

Scene: Rae and B sit at their favorite bar-b-que place. Rae and B both have plates of bar-b-que. B has a beer.

Rae: Can I have a sip of your beer?

B: Sure.

Rae (takes sip): Oh my god that is so good. (takes another sip): So, is this what they call “hoppy?”

B: Not really. Hops would add more of a perfumey taste.

Rae (still holding beer): Hmm. Interesting. After I have the baby you’ll have to sit me down at the bar and we can have taste tests.

B: Ok. Like a sampler.

Rae (takes another sip): Yes. Sixteen ounce samplers.

B (takes beer from Rae’s hand): Ok.

Rae: We’ll get a babysitter.

B: Mmm-hmm. Ok.

Rae: And one for Betty too.

B: Sure thing, Sweety. Sounds good.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Sweet swear words. Why hast thou forsaken me?

I just have to note somewhere that in the course of a week I have said, “crappola” and “frick.” Oh sweet lord. I knew it would be hard to quit cursing for me – it’s like breathing for me – but I never knew that it would lead to saying, “oh, rats!” for real. Who am I????

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The pink bomb has detonated

I think pregnancy is an experience that can teach someone a lot about what kind of person they really are. They used to say the same thing about alcohol when I was growing up -- that you can tell what someone is really like when they are drunk. Back then, it meant that you may act all nice when you’re sober but when you’re drunk you kick puppies. Or you may act all cool when you’re sober but when you’re drunk you sing along to Billy Joel songs. Anyway, I found out that when I’m not pregnant I’m all Women’s college, subscribe to Ms. Magazine, NARAL pin wearing and when I am pregnant anything the color of pink turns me into a mushy nurturer that just wants to hug it and squeeze it and do it’s hair with a pink ribbon. I’ve known for a while now that I’m going off the rails a little bit with my desire to own all things pink, but it was like seeing yourself from behind in a three-way mirror for the first time when I passed the door to Betty’s room this morning. Last night I put pink curtains up in her room which already has a pink carpet, sheets, blankets, changing table cover, and closet full of clothing. Last night everything looked just fine to me. This morning, however, thanks to the sun coming through the pink curtains, there was a pink glow going on along with all the other pink and frankly, I was a little scared. I saw it as if for the first time and there is just no question that I have crossed the line. I think I should enter this date in the baby book that Betty will never see: November 29, 2006, the first time mommy lost her mind. It will be in the book right after the date where mommy first felt too competitive on Betty’s behalf and the date where mommy first said something inappropriate about one of Betty’s playmates.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Basis of comparison

Here's me with my best girl KJ who threw me the cutest shower ever this Sunday and is simply the worst person to be pictured with while pregnant. After seeing this I took a mental note that wearing black is only slimming if you can fasten your zipper. Love must be given to this lady who made cupcakes and strawberry icing from scratch, put proscuitto in the celery garnish for bloody marys and looks this good on four hours of sleep.

Friday, November 17, 2006

This is the new low.

Because of the fact that my body temperature has been at an all time high during the pregnancy, I confined myself to the indoors with air-conditioning for the entire summer and saw maybe ten minutes of sunlight a day. Also, because I have not been able to predict how I would feel from day to day, I have foregone any beauty regimen that requires an appointment. The result is that at 34 weeks, I am a very pale and unkempt version of myself with an extra 35 pounds. So yesterday I tried to bring myself back a bit with a trip to my hairdresser. I love going to her because she is really fun to talk to and I never see her unless I get my hair cut with her. But the truth is, she always gives me the same haircut and it is never the haircut I feel that I am asking for. Usually it’s no big deal because curly hair is going to do what curly hair wants to do regardless. But this time, with every other beauty attribute in the crapper, I had a little more riding on the haircut than usual. So when I left her salon with the same haircut again, only much shorter this time because I had very tentatively suggested a change that resulted in her removing another inch of hair, I was totally devastated. And let me just say that devastated for me as a pregnant woman is like twenty times more intense than a normal devastated. Well, long painful story short, thanks to a pair of very effective scissors and a huge amount of irrational f*ck-it attitude, I can now wear my hair in two ways: a bun or halfway up in a barrette. Yes that’s right. I tried to cut my own hair. It is now an uneven choppy mess that has solidified the fact that for the next four months mirrors are my enemy and my only friends are large sizes and self-tanner.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Rant #57

I’m going to start a secret society of pregnant women who are getting epidurals. The ridiculous part of this idea is that the membership in this society would be like 90% of all pregnant women. Why is it so secret? Because women who decide to go through labor without medication LOVE TO TALK ABOUT IT and make the rest of us feel like we’re doing something wrong. To me it sounds evangelical when I hear talk about birth circles, being “natural,” and doing it the way women throughout history have done it. One of the things I hear that makes me want to scream is “your body knows exactly what to do.” Really. Then let’s just go ahead and look up the protocol for your body when the umbilical cord is wrapped around the baby’s neck. That’s funny, I think I see the word, “die.” I mean how bizarre is it that women who live in this country and have access to all of the advantages in modern medicine somehow want to deprive themselves of it and instead opt for the painful and nerve-racking experience that women had to go through five hundred years ago? What is that about? If I were a sociologist I would study the connection between the American puritanical tradition and the “natural” child birth movement. But I’m not so I’ll just enjoy the company of my secret society sisters who will join me in saying, “all the more for us.”

Monday, October 23, 2006

Different nests

Yesterday I had to perform an act that went against every nurture bone in my body: I sorted through my books and selected about a third of them to give to the goodwill. The reason that this was difficult is that after living in my parent’s house for 18 years plus a boomerang summer, I am conditioned to surrounding myself with books and magazines like a bird feathering the nest. Ever since I can remember, my parents have been engaged in a never-ending cycle of first acquiring books and magazines and then devising systems and structures that will hold all of them. Bookshelves lined the walls of every house we lived in and when the books outnumbered the shelves, they were added to the stacks of periodicals that capped off any available counter or table. After living on my own for ten years now, I have a strong suggestion of this behavior in that I have kept every book that I ever bought and obtained shelves in which to keep them instead of letting them go. But there is a major difference between us that I had to face up to yesterday which is that in my parent’s house you will find The London Review of Books, Art in America, Winston Churchill and Wittgenstein, and in my house you will find Jane magazine, a Sue Grafton mystery and the Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. So, in an effort to create room for the nursery, I acknowledged that I do not really need to hold onto the whole Jan Karon series for the rest of my life in the same way my parents hold on to a set of Shakespeare plays. This also led to the bittersweet realization that Betty will not grow up in the thoughtful academic environment I did, but holding on to paperback Stephen King novels isn’t going to change that.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

High Score

I think B and I broke the world record on quickest registry experience ever. The way registering works is that the baby store gives you a laser gun that scans the barcodes of the items you want to add to your list. The effect of this method is completely predictable to anyone who has met my husband. Before I could say how does it work or where should we start, B was shooting away at baby bottles and pacifiers in full video game mode where the objective was to identify the category of item(s) sold on each aisle and shoot to kill anything pink in that category. Occasionally he would pause to look at the scanner and report cheerfully on how many items he had scanned. At one point I thought about putting my foot down to try and figure out what we would need, but the truth was, I found the store completely overwhelming. The bottle section alone was at least sixteen feet of different brands, sizes, packages, combinations and colors. I did at least try to keep in front of him so I could get a general idea of the aisle before he entered the arena but it just turned out to make me laugh the whole time because all I could hear was the scanner going off behind me like an approaching assassin. We must have looked like maniacs because each aisle we went through had little packs of parents and shoppers reading tags and referencing guidebooks and we would blast in, hit some buttons, touch some fabric, and shoot out the other end. The majority of our time was spent in the clothing section where B shot anything that had the word “daddy” on it and I selected any item that came in a three-pack or was made out of really soft material. Final score? 65 items in forty minutes.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Seven weeks of torture or ten weeks of panic?

When the third trimester hit I went into a tailspin of panic and somehow talked myself off the ledge by signing B and myself up for a seven week birthing class to be held in a yoga studio with a former doula. And yes. I knew it was completely not the class for someone like me who would prefer to be as far removed from the birth process as possible but what can I say. I needed a security blanket. So we went to the first class yesterday and started off on a great foot by being thirty minutes late because I got the starting time mixed up. “Not a problem,” I whispered to B as we waited for the nine other couples to adjust the circle and make room for us. “That means the class will only be an hour and all we missed was introductions!” This was the last optimistic thought I had because next question the teacher asked was if everyone had already purchased a book about birthing and we were the only ones who had not.

After that, the teacher talked to us about anatomy and stuff while I wrote notes to B stating all of the reasons why I thought one of the husbands was almost certainly gay. Then she introduced the concept of a “birth plan” where you state ahead of time where and how and with who you want to give birth… which is probably a relevant idea for people who have plans other than, “maximum drugs, minimal cutting.”

And then, with absolutely no warning, we were told that it was time to watch a birthing video. B and I turned to each other in terror and agreed that it was rather early on in a SEVEN WEEK CLASS to jump into the visuals. But being too self-conscious to leave we followed the class into the next room and tried to sit as far away from the TV as possible. The only thing I saw during the part of the video where the baby came out was a nano second of TV screen and three minutes of B’s shoulder.

The video was followed by an acupuncture therapist who spoke about the benefits of acupuncture for ripening and opening things and all I could think was how the only needles I cared about are the ones that would carry the epidural fluid into my body. It was at this time that I realized that the class was not an hour and a half as I originally thought but TWO and a half hours. For seven weeks. OMFG.

Finally, it came time for the ending relaxation session and I settled myself between B’s knees and leaned back on his chest. The teacher turned on some chanting music that I have only heard in yoga studios and can’t begin to describe other than to say that I’m sure that the only place you can buy it is in health food stores near incense and body wax. After the teacher talked us through the relaxation of our faces, throats and abdomen, B’s phone started to vibrate and he pushed me away to frantically search his pocket for the phone before it would start to ring. After several seconds of snapping the phone open and shut and hitting buttons we were back in place but I spent the rest of the relaxation period fighting the inappropriate giggles that some people experience during funerals.

And then on the way out we were asked to sign up to bring snacks one week and I did it. I may find the class to be of zero relevence to my lifestyle and preferences, and it probably hurts me more than B to go, but something about it provides me with a feeling that I am preparing myself and I'm just not ready to let that go.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Cry for me, argentina.

Week 29 is definitely the low-water mark of my pregnancy. Not only have I gone over the weight gain chart as defined by the fried food haters at Pregnancy Weekly, but I also “strained” my back and came down with a cold. When I say strain, I mean an intense sharp pain that goes across my whole back and prevents me from driving or putting my pants on. And when I say cold, I mean just a regular average cold, but the first one I’ve had in my adult life that I can’t take down with a dose of Nyquil. The result is that I am feeling very, very sorry for myself. So sorry for myself, in fact, that I am shamelessly campaigning for sympathy. I have found that carrying around a box of tissues gets the ball rolling nicely by extracting the obligatory question, “do you have a cold?” I am also naturally limping a little bit, but there is no reason to walk around with my hand on my back other than to indicate I’m wide open and ready to receive pity. It is working so well that I think I may be featured in the next Oxfam campaign.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Not hot mama. Big mama.

I am fully aware that I checked sexy at the door about three months ago but after this weekend I locked the door and shoved a chair under the knob. This weekend I purchased a belly support system which is constructed of a wide strip of white elastic that fits under your belly and around the small of your back. Wearing it is worse than the combo of pregnancy panties (picture very large briefs) and low riding jeans, which I accidentally wore together one day. To me it is worse because there is velcro involved, which adds intentionality and sound effects. I have noticed that there are some women out there who totally own their pregnant bodies and exude hotness as a result, but personally, I don’t feel a whole lot of ownership when I have to look in the mirror to get the band in place because I can’t see where it is if I look down.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Appearing tonight...

Sleep is one of those things you only notice when you do not have it. Sort of like electricity or plumbing, you rely on its functionality on a daily basis but never take a moment to think about why or how it works. Lately, I have nothing but moments to think about it because apparently sleep has stopped working for me. Actually, to be precise, sleep only works sporadically and I have no idea what makes it stop or go. I feel like Woody Allen when I talk about it because I whine and analyze to the camera constantly and find my opinions on the topic fascinating. I can also be kind of Meryl Streepish about it but that performance is reserved solely for the benefit of my husband and only shows at 4am. One night I was a little Courtney Love about it and took some Tylenol PM, but I had such a sleep hangover the next day I kicked the habit immediately. Most recently I became kind of Howard Hughes about it when I bought an expensive pillow and started to develop an OCD way of setting my bed up at night. Anyway, at this point one byproduct from my lack of sleep should be completely obvious, and that is the fact that I’m watching an insane amount of television.

Monday, September 25, 2006

WWBB: What Would Betty Buy?

B and I are totally getting the house ready for Betty. With her in mind, we have made or will soon make the following improvements to our home:

  1. a new cordless phone system
  2. the addition of high definition to our cable package
  3. a new mattress and box spring…for us
  4. new bedroom furniture…for us
  5. a new stove
  6. a new dishwasher
  7. a new roof
  8. a new gutter system

I had a funny feeling that B and I were focusing on our own needs a little bit too much when we discussed what kind of car we should get for our second car and argued between an old muscle car or an old Cadillac. I knew we had gotten off course because Betty would never want us to commit to a car with terrible gas mileage and would probably prefer a cute hybrid like Cameron Diaz drives

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Case law

Like a creepy stalker, I have become a person who blatantly stares at other people. Not all people -- just people who are pregnant or who have kids. The reason I do it is to take note of what is acceptable and what is not when you have your kids with you. On Sunday, for instance, B and I went to a Sports Bar to watch a game and I saw a mother there with a baby that had to be 4 or 5 weeks old. The fact that she was sitting behind me did not stop me from turning around in my seat every five minutes to see what they were doing. Score of the Eagles game? Not sure. But I can say that the baby was bottle-fed twice, took a nap, and did not cry one time. That mom does not know it, but she has set a precedent for me that I too could be there with a baby. An example of a negative precedent happened during a recent trip to Target where a dad continued to shop at a leisurely pace while his daughter was in the middle of a Category 5 tantrum. I don’t know what I would have done if that had been me and Betty but I do know that I was close to smothering my own face with a pillow in an effort to make the noise stop. Anyway, so far, my creepy and voyeuristic Lexus-Nexus research leads me to believe that the verdict will depend on the volume level of the experience rather than the location.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Baby steps

When B and I bought our house we made a major miscalculation. Not in the financial sense – I mean we calculated correctly that we would be dead broke if we bought it. But in the sense that we thought that with the ownership of a house would come the enjoyment fixing things around the house, keeping our lawn nice and working in the garden. This turned out to be not-so-much the case. We don’t mow our lawn, I hate working in the garden, and the things that need to be fixed inside the house stay unfixed until we can afford to pay someone else to fix them, which means we had a bucket in our bathroom for three months catching a drip from the toilet. Now, my concern is that I have assumed that because I am going to have a baby, I will become a mommy. In the literal sense this is true, but will I have tissues on hand to blow her nose? Will I have healthy snacks available? Will I have entertainment alternatives to television? Will I ever get past the fact that I think breastfeeding is so icky I can’t even look at a cartoon illustration of it? Judging from my prior house miscalculation the answer to the above is probably no. But I can point to some small signs that I am moving towards mommy-hood in that I suddenly love everything pink, I bought antiseptic wipes for the counters, and I have started to make sure I put the caps back on my medicine bottles. I’ll try to take some comfort in the idea that this is what is meant by “baby steps.”

Friday, September 15, 2006

Buckley for EOTY 2007

As many people know, the Congressional campaign season has begun in earnest. What people may not know is that I am also in the midst of a campaign season myself because I am the current Employee of the Year for 2006. As the incumbent I feel I deserve another term to finish the initiatives I started such as free chocolate on the desk, signature smiley faces in my professional memos and the addition of soft rock on the phone system while people are on hold. The only problem is that I will be out of the office for three months in 2007 on my FMLA sabbatical, which will allow other contenders to take the spotlight in my absence. Therefore, I have begun my campaign in earnest by politely pointing things out that I’m doing well because I’ve heard that people love that. I use the “cc” option on my email to include everyone I’ve ever known professionally in my correspondence so that they can keep up with my day to day activities. I introduce myself in meetings as the 2006 EOTY (eeeyoteewhy) and have submitted a request to our office manager for that designation to be added to my business card. I am also working on setting up a meeting with the Mayor to introduce myself and offer him some constructive feedback, after which I will provide the Town newsletter with an exclusive expose on what happened at that meeting. It’s a lot of work in addition to my regular duties but since this greatness was thrust upon me I feel I am honor-bound to live up to the EOTY office and prove that working mothers can still have it all.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I'll take the option with no pain, please.

Apparently week 25 is the third trimester, which I have to say really snuck up on me. And as much as this marks the home stretch (emphasis on stretch), it also marks a day of reckoning for me that is quickly approaching. So far I have been skipping along week to week in a very eastern mode of living-in-the-moment and put off any thought of how I’m going to get to know Betty on the outside. I have not read ahead in any book or let anyone talk to me about it, so I am pretty much in the same mind frame I began with, which is the mind frame I have always had about pregnancy. And that is that the whole idea is insane. Why someone would do this voluntarily is beyond my comprehension. I can’t escape the issue forever, obviously, but I hope no one will stop me from hoping for the doctor to offer me an option that I haven’t heard about yet where I get to go to sleep and wake up with a baby - without any kind of cutting, thank you very much. And frankly, why that has not already been made an option for women is testament to how screwed up health care has really gotten, if you ask me.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Halfway there

Since moving away from New Jersey I have come to view it less harshly and have even developed a perverse pride of my Jersey blood after witnessing people from other states struggle with some kind of Jersey Turrets Syndrome where they are powerless against asking about exits and mentioning refineries and smoke stacks. And ever since the HBO series, “the Sopranos,” portrayed it so glowingly, Jersey expatriates have been provided some kind of blanket mob cred, which I’m not too proud to roll with. Anyway, I think when I moved away there was some kind of microchip implanted in my brain that invokes the song “living on a prayer” by Bon Jovi every time someone says, “halfway there.” Ever since I passed the twenty week mark in my pregnancy someone will ask me how far along I am and say, “oh you’re halfway there” and without knowing they have pressed play on the chorus of that song that seems to be on a constant loop inside my head lately. This microchip idea is not a new theory of mine because I already hold it responsible for my steadfast delight in all things airbrushed; my firm belief that all businesses should be open 24-hours a day; and my inability to express myself verbally without using the f-word and the word “boom” when I draw a conclusion or provide driving directions.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Choosing my sources

Most of the time, Peggy from King of the Hill is my Oprah who I look to for advice about everything from clipping my toenails to choosing my life partner. With one exception: on one episode her son Bobby hurt himself and she rushed to the computer to google his symptoms and said, “I swear, I don’t know how people raised children before the internet.” After being pregnant for five months, I can say that people probably raised their kids without knowing everything they could know about how to do it, but they were also able to function without the paralyzing knowledge of worst case scenarios for every situation. After my first expedition into the internet world on the subject of pregnancy I was pretty sure that I had miscarried and was no longer pregnant due to the horror stories I encountered from WebMD and pregnancy chat rooms. When an ultrasound technician told me I was still pregnant I swore to never google on the topic again. Recently, I gave it another try and thought it would be less scary because all I was looking up was, “back pain sleeping pregnancy.” But no. It turns out I was probably experiencing pre-term labor. What? The thing is, no one goes on the internet and writes, “I had lower back pain during my pregnancy that turned out to be nothing more than lower back pain and I sucked it up.” They write about the urban legend that their girlfriends who have never been pregnant told them about. Whatever. I’m sticking to Paris Hilton searches from now on because there is no such thing as scary information on that topic.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Scientific breakthrough

Because Google has replaced the left side of my brain, I know that peroxide is an example of an “unstable chemical.” I am here to expose to the world the previously unknown unstable characteristics of a well-known chemical identified by its household name of “Fiber.” The scientific process of examination I undertook is unconventional. I call it “using too much of something.” I applied this process during my scientific examination of how eating ginger will affect the symptoms of nausea. In the course of a single day I consumed ginger tea, ginger hard candy, candied ginger, and yes, gingerbread. After this experiment, the result was that the smell of ginger actually induced nausea, which was a scientific breakthrough that will be fully discussed in the Spring, 2007, New England Journal of Medicine. After this successful and illuminating experiment I turned my focus to a widely regarded remedy for constipation known as “Fiber." In the course of a day, I consumed a serving of high fiber cereal, an apple, a bowl of vegetable soup, a bran muffin, and a salad. The unstable nature of this chemical was subsequently revealed and can only be described as, “explosive.” Suffice it to say that I had to take a half day off of my regular job to fully document the results which will be discussed in the Fall, 2007 issue of Viz.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Bucklegram

Similar to a Labradoodle, a Dalmador, or a Schnoodle, Betty will be a genetic cross-breed of Buckley and Graham characteristics and features. B and I agree that with our genetic codes there will be no escaping curly hair and big noses, but further than that we’ll have to wait and see. We think there is a high probability for nerd tendencies because I have been known to carry that banner and B has a wide geek streak that comes out during star trek episodes, discussions of cloud formations, and anything outer-space related. The play-well-with-others characteristic is a total roll of the dice because B and I couldn’t be further apart on that spectrum: he genuinely likes people whereas I like to be far far away from most people. Athletically, it would be for the best if she took after her Buckley side, but no matter what B says, she’ll do best to utilize her Graham side during board and card games. Either way, people will like her more if she falls in the Buckley category for her competitive nature as mine tends to exhibit itself in accusatory challenges, the phrase, “that’s bullsh*t,” and downright cheating. Physically, for her sake, I hope she takes after me in the foot department, and takes after B in the calf department, but either way her booty is going to be smoking.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Kick it!

A couple years ago B and I went to a Pixies concert in Philadelphia and met the cutest button of a girl from North Carolina while we were having pre-show cocktails on the veranda of the venue… What I actually mean when I say cocktails is beer sold in a plastic representation of a guitar and when I say veranda I mean the designated smoking area to which we retired in 10-degree weather. What. Anyway, we met her after B used the empty plasitc guitar to rip a killer air guitar solo and the primary thing I remember about her besides the fact that she was like five feet tall in platform shoes is that she showed her enthusiasm with, I kid you not, “high-kicks.” That’s what she called it, anyway, “high-kicks.” So she would say something like “I am so psyched to see the F-ing Pixies!” and then kick her leg really high. And she would wind up for it by starting out with her leg behind her so that she could achieve maximum height and velocity. It ranks as one of the funniest things I have ever seen (below B’s impression of an Olympic track runner but only just). Anyway, I have been picturing Betty like this girl because she has been hauling off with the kicks lately and it is a nice image for me. Like when I eat something delicious she shows her appreciation with high-kicks… Thanks Betty! I liked it too! Or when I sit at my desk, talk on the phone, try to go to sleep…whatever! She’s totally into it! Betty’s great.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Betty wont play that

I count myself as lucky that I married a man who cares nothing for products and fashion. He’s a very handsome t-shirt and jeans guy who rocks button-ups for holidays and dates. The up-side to having a down-home guy’s guy for a husband is that I get to be the flashy one with questionable taste. i.e., I can buy jeans with gold embroidery because there is absolutely no danger that B will do the same. The only down-side is B’s unfortunate habit of wearing white tube socks and black leather slip on shoes with shorts, which I have let him know on several occasions is almost the same thing as screaming “I hate you” at the world. You could say it is somewhat of an “issue” with us. But lately I have become more zen about his unfortunate choices below the knee. Why? Because ever since we got the news from the ultrasound technician that the baby was probably not a boy, I’ve known that I will no longer have to bear this burden alone. I rest easier because I know for a cold hard fact that any daughter ever will cut a Daddy down before allowing him to even drive her to school without looking correct. He really has no idea - I almost feel sorry for him.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Project Destroy-my-faith-in-humanity-way

I’ve often heard people who do not want kids mention that the world we live in is too messed up to bring another human being into it. I’ve never subscribed to that particular reason for not having children because I always had all the reason I needed in my empty refrigerator and bank account balance. But last night I saw the light in this argument after an exceptionally disappointing episode of Project Runway. For those who do not follow this paragon of reality television, a female fashion designer was kicked off the show for designing a dress that made her model, possibly a size 2, look “fat.” One of the judges, also a female and obvious dues-paying member of the girl-on-girl crime club, said something like, ‘we can’t believe that as a female designer you would design something so unflattering for a woman.’ This was upsetting because the designer was adorable and had cute designs, but also because the guy who did not get kicked off had designed something that was so tight on his model that she literally couldn’t walk and the judges gave him credit for it because it made his model look taller and slimmer. Since even Cher can’t turn back time, I’m having a baby, and she will be exposed to this madness whether I like it or not. And it suddenly became terrifying to me that somehow I will need to explain to Betty a) crazy body image issues, b) sexism from males and females, and most difficult of all, c) why Mommy still watches Project Runway.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Why Betty will be a genius

This weekend I was the beneficiary of a divine and miraculous connection that was similar in nature to the big bang. Apparently there is a product on the market for lactose intolerance called Lactaid, which allows the intolerant among us to eat dairy without any of the unpleasantness that is normally associated with the experience. Simultaneous to this discovery was an entry in my normally punitive pregnancy week by week guide for this week that suggests eating more fat to encourage brain development. I’d explain more, but it has been thirty minutes from when I ate a frozen yogurt so I feel Betty's intelligence would be better served if I spent my time in pursuit of an extra-cheese pizza for lunch.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Betty's first picture

Here is a shot from our ultrasound two days ago.
The technician said she is pretty sure the baby is a girl.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Completely Reasonable

Although I can’t claim to be a textbook case of how to behave during pregnancy, I make up for some of my weaknesses with a remarkable aptitude for rationalizing my behavior. Yesterday I was horrified to realize that throughout the course of the day I had eaten ¾ of a pound of hamburger. I did the math when I was in bed last night thinking how virtuous I had been for eating a bag of baby carrots and an apple, when it occurred to me that I had tacos for lunch… and the rest of the leftover tacos for dinner. I have not had a hamburger since I got pregnant because meat hasn’t really been very appealing –especially if I can’t smother it in cheese – but the old el paso sang a siren song to me yesterday and I made up for lost time. The fact is my gringo heart will always belong to the hard shell and ground beef that cannot be found on any authentic Mexican menu, which is funny because I am actually taking a trip to Mexico next week... Anyway, this thought process led me to the conclusion that I am subconsciously engaging in a cultural assimilation, which would absolutely excuse the amount of hamburger I ate yesterday and then some. And this explanation allowed me to fall asleep guilt/worry free, which rationalizes my rationalization, thank you very much.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Rant #35

Here is something that my lovely husband had to hear me rant about recently: The one and only book we refer to for pregnancy information has a week to week format that describes the baby’s development and what is going on with me physically for each week. This is week 18 and apparently the baby is five ounces, can hear loud noises, and will experience anxiety if I get stressed out. Now the book didn’t come out and say, “don’t get stressed out or you’ll hurt the baby” but why else is that information relevant? And don’t they know that by simply informing you that you are harming the child if you get stressed out they are going to stress you out? In my experience, if I am even just a little stressed out, the absolute worst thing to say to me is, “relax” or “calm down.” Anyway, for me, this information felt like a last straw of some sort. I mean, it’s not enough that I have given up booze and rare meat, can’t digest dairy (that means no pizza, no ice cream), feel exhausted all the time, have hormonal surges the likes of which I have not felt since I was thirteen, am about ten sizes bigger than I was three months ago, or produce stinkier gas than my dog? In the midst of the most life altering thing I have ever done, I also have to avoid getting stressed out??? What’s next? No reality television? No pools? No wedge heeled shoes? No US Weekly? No pedicures? Do I need to start whipping myself in the morning?

Wisely, B does not answer these questions and tells me I look great.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I'll take a bored on the rocks, please

If a tree falls in the forest but no one is there to hear it, did it make a sound? Or alternatively, if I am not out having cocktails, is it really Friday night? I’ve pondered this recently as I sit at home on a Friday night and try to think of what I ever did with myself before I was of legal drinking age, and just what is so great about Friday night if you aren’t sipping a mojito at a bar and reviewing the new season of Project Runway with your friends? One might suppose that your ability to sleep late the next day differentiates the night from the rest of the week, but this is an aspect of Friday night that, to my mind, just rubs salt in the wound. It means I stay up later than I would on a Thursday night -which may result in one more sodoku puzzle or another re-run of Law and Order. Hardly a bonus if you’re trying to convince yourself you are not a loser. It also doesn’t help that my dog seems to have more of an agenda for Friday night than I do and doesn’t seem to think that playing dress-up with her fits into it.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

First Impressions

As if this baby were a mini-Martha Stewart, I have begun to worry about how our house looks and whether it is ready for a visitor with consummate taste and white kid gloves to check the dust level. When we moved in the house, the basement was a dump – I mean that literally and figuratively because the previous owners had left behind a whole bunch of their crap and, following suit, their dog had also left behind a whole bunch of his crap. We were doing about a million things when we moved in, so we cleaned what we could in the basement and then pretty much shut the door and avoided it for the last year. On Sunday I forced us to tackle the situation and clean out the basement. Now, if our infant wants to look at the hot water heater or needs a hammer for any reason, the room will not put me to shame. I am also trying to remove all of my stuff from our second bedroom so that the baby will immediately have a room to itself. This means cramming our tiny bedroom with furniture to the point where there is hardly an inch to maneuver, but if our child wants to just shut the door and get away from it all, he or she will be able to. In my very best case scenario, our baby would not see any torn screens on the porch and come home to a side yard that is not full of weeds taller than its parents. And in a perfect world there would be tidy garden beds, but I am fairly certain any offspring of mine won’t know the difference in that category, so I’m ok with letting that one go.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Starting to show?

So I got up today and B was all, wow! You're really starting to show. I can't see it personally, but he took a picture for posterity.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Secret food journal

There are lots of dos and don’ts for what you can eat during pregnancy. In order to help you pay attention, many sources will advise keeping a food journal, which I have done somewhat sporadically... But if I stuck to it yesterday was a day that I would not record anything because if I did, it might be used as evidence against me later on. However if I were forced to write down what I ate, this is what I would write and what it would really mean:

Breakfast: Whole grain toast and fruit (A bite of B’s pop-tart and a fruit smoothie with extra sugar because I was too lazy to use a spoon and there was an avalanche when I tipped the bag over). Mid-morning Snack: Chocolate protein drink (Mochachino with some milk). Lunch: Pita with lean meat and vegetables (Pizza with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, and green peppers). Afternoon Snack: Peanuts and juice (Snickers and a coke). Dinner: Salad with chicken (Salad with chicken because I ate like a college freshman all day).

Monday, July 10, 2006

George Michael's still got it.

So my taste in food these days has been really bland. I like fried things with ketchup and honey mustard, smoothies, tuna sandwiches, and plain pasta. If you come at me with garlic, curry, or basically anything seasoned beyond salt and pepper you can just keep walking. And apparently this taste for the bland applies to anything musical as well. Before I got pregnant, I had been listening to rap like it was my job (when I close my eyes and picture it I am SUCH a baller). But now the jam to me is an easy listening mix of some Lionel Ritchie, Peter Cetera, Seal, Phil Collins, and REO Speedwagon. It has made me wonder, as I drive along and sing with feeling about Careless Whispers, if this is the beginning of some kind of chemical mom transformation. One that begins with Light FM and moves through the stages of practical haircut, jeans with white sneakers, t-shirts with Walt Disney characters, and finally culminates in the ubiquitous mini-van. If so, I’m just saying, mini-vans come with televisions and automatic doors these days and personal airvents for each seat...maybe I could do worse.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The gift and the curse

My sense of smell is nothing short of bionic at this point. I smelled a cigarette butt that was in someone’s pocket from across the room, and I can smell our basement on the second floor. I think I can smell the difference between coke and pepsi, although that has not been fully tested by an impartial third party. My new favorite thing is a lavender candle that sits by my bed that I don’t even have to burn to be able to smell. Anyway, if I could be an X-Men character I would be the one that smells out enemies and dangerous situations. When I was not fighting crime I could use my powers for the benefit human kind. I could smell out designer or fake, for example. I only wish that I could turn my nose off for the unpleasant smells. Poor B practically has to go through radiation decontamination when he gets home from work because I can smell raw seafood on his clothes. I also have started to take a ridiculous path to the bathroom at work to avoid a rite-aid perfume wearer who obviously believes that more is more.

Supreme Ruler of the Universe Buckley

We’ve been talking about names since before we even agreed to have kids. Betty Buckley is a favorite because we figure with that name she would either be the most popular girl in school or a complete hellraiser. But she could also just be Betty, totally normal, and that’s cool too. I think it is funny the way some parents name their kids as if they are giving them an identity, like Ceasar and Prince (not the rocker, but a guy I know called Prince Taylor). I mean, are you serious? Do you think you are somehow instilling the qualities of a ruler into your child? If so, then why not go for King, Zeus or Apollo? I got two emails today from a woman named Delight Allen that were very charming to be sure… but still. And Hope… that name just bugs me. Like hope for what? World peace? Free love? Or like your child has to be named the literal way you feel about her? If I did that, depending on my hormone balance, we could wind up with Fear, Trepidation, Elation, or just plain I’m not Ready Buckley. B’s suggestion along this vein was Rock Your World Buckley, or Rules for short.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Dropping bombs

I’m going to be frank. I have never experienced gas like this in my life. I used to call B Toots McGillicutty because he’ll sound the horn once or twice every morning like clockwork and likes to perform a little reverie in the evenings if we are watching TV. But I can’t talk anymore because what I produce these days is like napalm. It has brought B to his knees and also made him move more quickly than I have ever seen him move before. And beyond the fact that I feel like some kind of monster, I also feel I have lost a very important upper hand in the relationship; a moral high ground of sorts. Every time it happens (I am but a vessel, I can’t control it) I sense a little credibility falling away. If this continues I fear I will have lost all claim to the remote, any veto power on movies, any preference for grilled not fried, netflix choices, pizza toppings, justification for expensive toilet paper, who sets the alarm clock, closet space, and who is responsible for oil changes. This list may not seem coherent, but they are all things I have put my foot down about it the past. Their loss would be like a harmful radiation effect. For now I still have a tenuous stake in our major purchases, but if my feet start to stink then I might as well just go ahead and state my preference for the color of the brand new Charger that B will feel completely empowered to go out and purchase.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Team Buckley

The gleam in a daddy’s eye usually refers to a man thinking lustful thoughts about a woman. In B’s case the gleam is caused by the vision of a Carolina Hurricanes jersey with the name Buckley on it and his offspring in it. Therefore, one of our most sincere wishes for this child, beyond health of course, is that he or she will inherit B’s athleticism. We have discussed the alternative and politely agreed that our child’s career in athletics, with my genetic input, would be an uphill battle. Not that B hasn’t tried to elicit some kind of athletic response from me. In fact, through his patience and my determination, we’ve gotten to the point where I can play nine holes with him as long as we stock me up with plenty of old used balls, play best ball, allow me to use a tee on the fairway, and do not keep my score. With this victory, he has stopped the horrific practice, thank God, of tossing me things out of the blue like keys or grocery items. Deer in headlights was all he ever got with that particular tactic. But I would imagine that this child, very early on, will have things, soft things, tossed in his or her direction. I think all we’ll need to see is a reaction of any kind and we can rest easy.

Buckleys at the beach

Yesterday, B and I took a road trip to Carolina Beach and spent the day enjoying beautiful weather and perfect water. Besides the normal things we do at the beach: eat, sleep, eat, swim, eat, and play cards, we engaged in a new game called what kind of parents will we be/what kind of kid will we have? We decided the following: 1. B will be the type of dad to hurl kids into waves. 2. Our child will be the type to enjoy being hurled into waves. 3. If we have a girl, she will definitely wear a cute green bathing suit that has an ice cream cone on the front and the word “chillin.” 4. She will not be allowed to use water guns until she has learned to respect the phrase, "not in the face sweety." 5. We will use spray on sunscreen. 6. Water wings are cute in and out of the water… they will be had. 7. We will consume cold bud lites while watching our child build sand castles. 8. Our consumption will not stop us from retrieving said child when he starts to wander. 9. We will have every toy and inflatable device known to man and bring every single one to the beach. 10. We will probably forget half the toys when we leave.

Saturday, July 01, 2006


So that is my EPT test and also me with my EPT test and a plate of poptarts. When B and I found out we were enciente I immediately requested a box of strawberry poptarts with icing. I think every female has a particular food item that is not by any means allowed to cross the threshold of her home because its mere presence causes her to transform into a ravenous animal. Maybe not every female, but for me, that item is strawberry poptarts with icing. So naturally, when I found out it was the time in my life to start gaining weight, I welcomed an eight-pack box into my home, fully prepared to enjoy at least four before work. I call this picture, "optimism" because shortly after it was taken my stomach completely went off the program and allowed nothing to enter it that contained sugar, dairy, vegetable, or more than 75% carbohydrate (read, sugar). B wound up finishing the box of poptarts, and has developed a taste for them, albeit the frosted brown sugar and cinnamon flavor, which he has stocked in our cupboard ever since.

Friday, June 30, 2006

The size also rises

This is day three where my waistband is cutting off my oxygen intake. It is casual Friday at work today, so I put my casual Friday work jeans on this morning – my conservative jeans that are appropriately high in the waist and not too tight – and there was no amount of deep knee bending that was going to stretch them into my new shape. Standing up, the jeans look fine unless you happen to catch a glimpse of what happens at the top of them. It’s a Mount Vesuvius of tummy. So, in 95 degree weather, I put on a sweater. Totally reasonable. I think Angelina Jolie rocked this getup during her pregnancy… in her worst nightmare. Anyway, after three days of this it is clear that I need to start shopping for my casual Friday mumu post haste.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

I have a big announcement...

One thing I think is hard to do, for some reason, is tell people at work that I’m pregnant. Why do I feel that saying “I’m pregnant” is too much information, thank you very much? I’ve been on the receiving end of someone telling me and it feels fine, happy, and normal. But sending it out there has been awkward. Yesterday I told someone I really like and I must have spoken kind of softly because she said, “no, I’m good, thanks.” So I let it go. I also tried to get comfy with it by using the euphemisms like being in the family way, knocked up, with child, eating for two, and bun in the oven which has been just as embarrassing because those phrases only work if you live in the 1950’s or if you are reading them in a book. Because I compulsively google everything, I just found a list of joke euphemisms for being pregnant and the number one was “suing Trojan.” Perhaps an Andrew Dice Clay approach is the direction I need to point in, but the last two times I told someone today I made a gesture with my hands that showed a big belly which would indicate that I am headed in the direction of no words at all.