Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Starting School. Again.

Yesterday was the first day of school for me. As a student. I'm not teaching this semester, something that I'm having a harder time with now as the semester is commencing, but I am taking three (what I consider to be) really hard classes. This summer we should have had one easy-ish class and one RHC, but the RHC turned out to be somewhat of a blow-off, and it made me rest on my laurels a little. Now I have three bona fide hard classes, and okay okay, I'll tell you what they are: Chemistry, Microbiology, and Pharmacology. All in the interest of getting a degree that may actually get me a damn job when I finish. How absolutely novel.

Let's start with Micro, which was the first class of the day. I had already printed out the syllabus, like the good little geek that I am. Nothing looked terrible and even the lab seems interesting. Even though there's a shitload of material to learn, it all seems interesting and I'm more or less looking forward to this class. Right now, it's shaping up to be my favorite course. (If you had told me, even a year ago, that I would be saying this about a course like microbiology, I would have shot myself in the foot, but I can't deny the truth of it now.) The professor has a nice dry sense of humor and that will help. The only downside of this couse, as I see it now, is that it is in a traditional auditorium type of room. You know, with the little desks that slide up and over the front of your chair? I figure I've got maybe three more weeks to fit in this chair, and then the gig is up. We'll see what happens.

Chemistry: Seems like it won't be easy, but I'll get it. Not too inordinately worried here either. Professor has a fun Puerto Rican accent. All tests, no homework, and lab assignments, which seems pretty straightforward. Okay. Chemistry-- down.

Pharmacology: First of all, I had to override into this class without one of the prerequisites, but when talking to the chair of the program, she didn't think it would be a problem for me. This was the class I was most nervous about. Everyone has said how hard the class is-- it's all memorization and the grading scale is such that it's even harder to get an A. And Partner is not taking this class with me. I'm alone. All alone.

When entering the classroom, it was immediately apparent that many students knew each other. Probably because they are all in the same program. I recognized someone, and sat down with her and the people at her table. It was a good choice because there was at least one other anal type of student there. The woman I knew peripherally is not a dim bulb either, and the other woman seemed pretty with it also. After a few minutes into lecture, I started feeling better. I even managed to answer a few questions the professor asked. Some things I had no clue about, but wasn't stressed: with a little reading, I'd figure it out. Mostly she annoyed me by asking us things like, "Do you knooooow what volatile means?" or "What's is longer: 40 inches or 40 centimeters?" Grrrr. She made us change tables every hour, which is a little disconcerting on the first day of class. Everyone is a little nervous anyway.

My final group didn't engender any confidence in me, and to make a long story shorter, she ended up giving us our first homework assignment in this group and told us we could do the first problem together. Here's what it said:

Doctor orders: Tylenol X gr q4h prn pain, not exceed 4 gm per day. Pharmacy sends acetaminophen 500 mgm tabs. What should patient receive? How many tabs of the Tylenol on hand would each 4 gm?

What the FUCK? What the fuckity fuck? What the fucking fuck fuck? No one at my final table really knows what any of it means. Some kid has a drug dosage calculation book, where at least we can look up the abbreviations. But then what the fuck is a GRAIN of Tylenol?? Eventually we figure out part of the answer, but I'm left in the dust. The professor starts rambling about questions four and five and IV pumps and not IV pumps and I feel my heart beating in my chest so damn fast, I'm actually worried about what my stress is doing to the Cricket. I try to talk to the professor after class, but she's too busy setting up for her next class, she doesn't really give me the time of day. I walk out of class, tears stinging my eyes, and stand outside in the rain, crying in Partner's shoulder.

Later that night when my mother called to admonish me about something I hadn't done, I mentioned what a hard day I had. I told her about the Pharm class. Her idea of supportive mother advice was to note that perhaps I should have taken the prereq. When I explained that the drug dosage stuff wasn't even a prereq for the class, she said, "Well, if you have to drop it, you'll have to drop it." This did not feel remotely helpful to me. It just goes to show you can't dictate what people will say to you for advice. I wanted some petting: You're smart, Katie, you'll figure it out, Katie. You know, your dad could probably help you with this, Katie. Alas.

It took some Coronation Street and Indian food to finally calm me down. I'm not dropping the damn class. I'm going to figure it all out. If it takes a whole semester of Chicken Mahkni to get me there. I'm clearly going to have to confront some issues in myself-- I'm going to have to ask some people for help, not easy for me. I have a whole mess of nasty school issues tied up inside, and it appears this class is going to bring back up some of these things, but I'll be damned if I just stop trying and drop the class. I've been down the route before, and I ain't going there again. Wish me luck, confreres.

Starting school again, indeed.

Monday, August 21, 2006

A Collection of Fears Disguised as Complaints

17 weeks tomorrow. I'm not sure how that happened.

I'm still sick with "morning" sickness, albeit not quite as often as I was, it's still there. The nausea? Unrelenting. It seems that the only thing that makes me feel better is still french fries or french bread pizzas. Oh, or chocolate milk shakes. I don't know that I am feeding Cricket as well as I should be, but I'm taking the prenatals, except for when I forget. I'm going to boil some eggs tonight so I can try to get at least one egg a day. That way I know Cricket will be getting protein. I guess I need to go the store to buy some eggs first. Oy.

I guess I'm the exception to the rule that "usually morning sickness ends after the first trimester." I talked to my mom about this and she admitted that when she was pregnant with me, she was sick pretty much into her 8th month. Great. I can't imagine how I'm going to bend over like that if I'm still being sick at that point. When on vacation, I had to throw up into my handy-dandy bag in the backseat of a car while my parents were in the front seat and my partner sat next to me. I encouraged everyone to keep talking about whatever banality it was that we were discussing, but somehow, no one could and the sound of my retching seemed to echo off the beige seats. Finally I said, "Okay, I'm done! Now what about the property owners pool?" Nothing kills a conversation like a little barfing in the backseat.

But considering that that and my fatigue (which experts also said would end after the first trimester) are my only signs, I suppose I'm alright with it. I can't help but feeling like I'm not pregnant a lot. I'm still wearing (most) of my usual clothes with just a slight thickening around the waist. I'm dying to feel the kid move. A few times I've wondered-- is that it? But then realized it was a pretty constant beat and, geez, it must be my pulse. I'm still slightly uncomfortable talking to people about how I feel. "How far along are you," someone will ask. I reply in weeks and the querier will translate to months: "Oh God! Four months! How do you feel?" It's just not polite to respond, "Like shit! Thanks for asking!"

I beat myself up at night when I realize I'm on my back or stomach. Yes, still stomach sleeping. I asked Partner if she thought I was killing Cricket. She said no, but how can I feel so much guilt? All my dreams about Cricket have indicated she's a girl, but when I'm awake, he's a boy. And pretty much every single person who has held our ultrasound pictures has said to us, "I think it's a boy." We aren't going to find out. That's been the mantra. I wonder if finding out would make it more real? Because it's real, but not. Does that even make sense? Is there a baby in me? A wee boy or girl? Ultrasound pictures would indicate that was true, but the pictures are up there, and my stomach is down here. Just kick me already, kid, and let's get the show on the road.

A couple nights ago I had a dream that everyone was posting on their blogs about the baby things that were "must-haves." I think this has come from the fact that I was googling some baby products and realized I have no clue whatsoever and I am terrified about making the wrong choices. What if I choose a crappy stroller? What if I don't get the "right" developmental toys? I woke up in a panic about this. I'm not quite as panicked right now, but I still have no clue. And at what point do we start buying stuff?

A month or so ago we were at our lesbian fellowship dinner with people from church, and frog was commenting on the stuff she had already gotten for the future tadpole. She's written about this on her blog too and I had to tell her that scared the shit of out of me. Must be my superstitious Irish self. Or my cultural Jew. (Kenahora!) I told her I couldn't do it. Buy stuff. But then I thought today, "How did we get to 17 weeks?" and I thought maybe I should start thinking about getting some stuff. If I turn my head to the right, I can see the few things we have bought from the Osh Kosh outlet store in South Carolina. Seven things maybe? Ten? Two sleepers, overalls, some onsies, a pair of booties all ranging in size from birth to one year. I was dazed when we came out of the store. Then on the plane from Charleston to Atlanta, I had a small anxiety attack we attributed to flying and my vivid imagination. Looking back, I wonder if it was more about buying baby clothes than fear of hurtling through the air.

I start school again next week and taking three Really Hard Classes. And we'll break ground on the new house soon. So I'll be taking three RHCs, building a new house, trying to sell this house (and potentially moving into transition housing) , and stressing about when to start preparing for the baby. I feel like I've been asleep at the wheel, people.

We were talking about going to Manhattan in November. Doesn't that sound just great? I love the city. And then we went to the antique market yesterday. After walking around for about an hour and half, I said to Partner I didn't think we could go to NYC after all. I mean, I felt like I could go home and sleep for hours after only a few hours at the Washtenaw Farm Council grounds. How could I be in the city? I'd surely die.

And I know this all sounds very kvetchy, but when I think about it, this is all about feeling scared and unprepared. Am I still throwing up because there's something wrong with the baby? Am I so fatigued because I am just not exercising or is there something more insidious at stake? Everyone one of the items in this catalogue can be culled down to that binary: is it just X, or is something going wrong? For the most part I feel good and confident about most parts of our life even though this post doesn't show any of that. It's just that I am 17 weeks tomorrow. And holy shit, you know?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Pix Pages Two: More Vacation

Dolphins are an integral part of our vacations in South Carolina. These two kept me occupied far too long and I have numerous pictures of the mama teaching the kid to fish. These pics are taken from my favorite part of the beach: the breach between our island and the island next to us. It's a sure thing to see dolphins here at any time of the day. There are also sharks. This is why I never swim across to the other island, although apparently this year my dad did it and he came out unscathed. I suppose that is some sort of lesson to me. When we're lucky the dolphins come and swim near us at the beach. I know it's probably not healthy for them to get as close to us as they have been in the past, but I love it. They get so close they look you in the eye. I love to hear their breath. I talked to this dolphin a lot in my head, telling her I had a baby too. I know. Geekness again.

Every spring oodles of loggerhead turtles head up on the beach, dig nests and deposit their eggs. This is something I would like to see, but we never get there in the spring. Sometimes, however, it ends up that we can see when the nests hatch. This is a nest that the turtle patrol was digging out because the tide had come so high, it was being washed away. They dug out the eggs and then dug a new nest for them further up the beach. You cannot tell her, but the eggs look a lot like ping pong balls. In this nest, there weren't only eggs though:

These turtles were apparently hatching too soon! I wish I had put my hand there so you could see the perspective. But they were about the size of my palm, maybe a little bigger than that, but not much. And these are loggerheads! They grow to 300 pounds! (I, of course, wanted to post more pictures of this, but blogger is fucking around with me again.) The "turtle patrol" noted that there was still yolk on the turtles, which meant they weren't ready to swim out to see yet. The hatched turtles went right back into the new nest with the eggs. I hope they are alright. Apparently the ghost crabs will eat the eggs, so when the turtle patrol marks the nest, they put a tube of PVC piping next to the nest with some lunch meat in it. This diverts the creepy ghost crabs and voila, turtles live!

I spent a lot of time at the beach (when not reading) thinking about how our lives were going to change so much so soon. I know I have no clue as the extent of this, but we're trying to be realistic. For example, we love to get to the beach early and just camp out there all day. We realized that if we planned to be at the beach next August, it would be drastically different. You just can't be at the 98 degree beach all day with a six month old. We want one of this little pop-up beach cabana things, but the fact of the matter is, it's just too damn hot to be outside all day with a baby like that. And then when the kid gets older, we won't be exactly napping and reading at the beach all day. I watched families who were at the beach with their young kids. They schlep down a ton of shit, are there for an hour and a half, and then schlep all shit back up the boardwalk. To say we relished this vacation is an understatement. I know we're starting a new phase of life that is totally exciting, it's just all going to be so different. So, so different.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

You Scream, I Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream

I really never expected that I’d be able to go the whole week and not call about the GD results, but as the week wore on, my resolve got stronger and stronger. Toward the end of the week, I had what I think must have been some round ligament pain—very painful pain—and I contemplated calling the midwife’s office. But I didn’t, and do you know why? Because I was afraid they would tell me the GD results then too. And by that point in the week, I didn’t want to know anymore. I was enjoying following the sage advice of my midwife: enjoy it while you can.

And enjoy I did: I ate dessert nearly every night. Whether we were out or stayed home, you can bet there was some sort of ice cream or pastry at the end of the night. It may have only been a bite, and shared more often than not, but I was still sure to get every sweet morsel off the plate. However there was a dark side to this. Even though to kith and kin I was bravado about being sure I did not have the gestational diabetes, in my heart of hearts, I still worried. I’m not a small girl, folks, and that weighed on my mind. I thought about my grandfather’s diabetes and my great-grandfather too. And it may have been in my mind, but I felt sure I saw my father’s eyes boring into the dessert plate on more than one occasion. There’s no judgment like silent judgment. And then my own dark thoughts set in. What if I did have the GD and still was eating all the sweeties? Bad mother and the kid hasn’t even been born yet. Bad mother!

The Sunday we got home, we were driving to church and both of us were starting to feel the stress seep slowly back into our lives. We outlined to each other some of the things we were worried about, and high on my list was calling the midwife’s office to get the GD results. I dreaded it.

After all, how could I get the results when I hadn’t even found this yet? (I did taste the Sticky Toffee Pudding variety though, and I’ll just say, it works. Quite nicely.)

We lingered after church at the coffee hour, which was very nice, and came home to do some last minute straightening up for the open house. It was at that point I decided I should finally listen to the messages on the answering machine. You have four messages. First one: Laura Bush. Second one: George W. Bush. (I kid you not. Recorded messages, albeit, encouraging me to vote for the incumbent Republican in the primary election. Buahahhaha!) Third message: Partner’s aunt. Last message: Nurse from midwife clinic. Telling me. My tests results. Were. Completely. Normal.

This gleeful news has inspired me in myriad ways. One, I bought white bread. We haven’t had white bread in the house since, well, ever. I suppose that’s a small lie; we’ve had white bread if you count a baguette as white bread, but yesterday I bought sliced Italian white bread. I am drinking cranberry juice and Gatorade sans sentiments de culpabilité. And it’s wonderful. And I even found the Mayan Chocolate ice cream at my favorite grocery store yesterday! (It would have been okay if I had never tasted it. I didn’t quite live up to my expectations.) Monday even Aunt NYC was in town and brought me this, which I’ve managed to have a few tastes of, and it must be said, I have out and out relished that I wasn’t doing horrible things to me or Cricket. I know this isn’t carte blanche to eat crappy— But it sure is nice to eat to eat a sweet and not feel overwhelmed by guilt.

It’s probably short lived though, because my own guess is that they’re going to make go through this particular version of purgatory again at 28 weeks. Until then, I’m going back to being the bon vivant.

Picture Pages One: Or What We Did on Vacation

1. This is the north beach. It's about a 7 minute walk from my parents house down a long boardwalk, which if no one is on, I'll ride a bike and cut that time in half. One of my favorite things about this beach is the fact that hardly anyone is on it. This is clearly low tide; at high tide, the water comes all the way up to those dunes you see in the distance. This year I was a little surly because there seemed to be more people than ever. That meant that there will be people sitting within 30 feet of me sometimes. This is my ideal beach.

2. Read. Read. Read. I read two Sun Magazines, Vanishing Acts -- Jodi Picoult, Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner (not my favorite by her), Charms for an Easy Life by Kaye Gibbon (great), The Laments by George Hagen, Bread Alone- Judith Hendricks, and The Language of the Threads- Gail Tsukiyama. This is what going to the beach means: open chair, read book, eat sandwich, go in ocean, read more, ocean, read more, ocean, read more (continue loop.) Have I mentioned more than once that reading is my favorite thing to do ever? That probably makes me a giant geek, but I don't care.

3. Have close encounters with wildlife: This is on the boardwalk. Well, okay, it's not on the boardwalk anymore, but it was, and it clearly did not like me coming down close to it to snap it's photo. I don't know what kind of snake this is, but I bet Brother K will know if he's reading. It's probably poisonous. I'm not sure I want to know that either. All I know is that this bothers me far less than the spiders that are the size of my head. All I can say is that if I can see a spider's joints, that bugger is too big. My friend Gabby once told me about a spider that lives in Australia that hides under the visor of your car. And it's huge. It's one reason I will never go see her in Oz. Snakes, sharks, poisonous algae? No prob. Big ass spiders = too scary for words. And I could give a shit that the visor spider (the Huntsman?) is not poisonous. I would die anyway from fright. Anyhow, this is not Australia, and this is a snake in South Carolina, not scaring me very much although maybe it should.

(There are more pictures than this, but blogger, since yesterday, has eaten one separate post and will not let me put anymore pictures up here. In the interest of proving I am still alive, I am going to truncate this particular post and hope that someday again blogger will cooperate with me.)

Monday, August 07, 2006

Decision Made

I'm enjoying eating too much to call for the results. I decided that this morning after I was done puking. (And yes, throwing up still seems to be part of my daily routine.) Last night there was fresh shrimp with pasta. And then ice cream. Really wonderful ice cream. I'm going for a week of living large, and that way if I do have the GD, I'll know I had one last hurrah. If I don't have it, well, okay, it's vacation. In the South. Where it's almost a rule that I will need to eat lots of buttery grits and bread pudding and something fried.

It's also our anniversary. And since I can't have a drink like everyone else around me, I'll be damned if I'm not having a piece of cake.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Three Hour Update

After we'd been at the three hour glucose "test," Partner looked at me and said, "It's like being in jail." And it really was.

This morning started out great-- I don't want to gross you out too much, but let's just say whilst in the bathroom things were happening from all ends. This kid is challenging my multitasking skills already.

Once we got to the lab, we realized it was in the basement of an older building, decked out in Victorian style. The chintz was almost too much for me so early in the morning. The second realization was that the lab had one loveseat and a bunch of other really hard uncomfortable chairs. It was awkwardly silent in the waiting room.

The good news is that we didn't have to endure the three hours there; we had our own little room, complete with 1950s style hospital bed and 1960s style recliner. And and changing table I'm not sure I would have put a doll on. The receptionist thrilled us by bringing a small television into the room, but then announced it didn't get reception. There were, however, some movies we could watch. Greatest hits from the 1980s: Pretty Woman, Three Men and a Baby, some flick with Shelley Long.

The room was small. Did I mention that yet?

When I talked to my midwife about the test yesterday, she noted that if my fasting blood sugar level was above 95, they wouldn't even do the test, so I inquired about this immediately. Not that I wanted that to be the case, I just would have liked to avoid the glucola. "Nope," the blood drainer said, "We don't even test the blood here. It all gets sent out." Bah.

Two hours into the test, I threw up. It had to happen-- I hadn't had anything to eat and Lord knows my stomach hasn't been cooperating lately.

The room was freezing. Did I mention that yet?

As our time ticked down, we started taking photos with our digital camera that a 15 year old boy could be proud of, in particular, the innards of our mouths. Boy, do I have a lot of cavities.

Once we were free, we both stood in the sun for a few minutes to try and get the blood moving again in our veins. Then we wanted to eat, so we headed off to a fantastic hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant. It was there I had my anxiety attack. I think that is all it could have been. Everything felt normal, and then suddenly I felt like my pulse was racing. It wasn't. I felt my face get hot. And it was. I couldn't eat a thing and we hustled out of there quite quickly. Once we got in the car, suddenly everything started to feel okay. I have no idea what triggered it, other than the stress I must have felt about that stupid test and the relief of it being over. It's certainly happened to me before: When I took the GRE, I went back to my friend Irish's houses, who noted that my entire right side was shaking. It's possible I can get to stressed out about things.

If I pass, I get to do the one hour again (and probably fail again) at 28 weeks. If I fail, well, then we cross that bridge when I get home from vacation.

Because that's where I am going tomorrow! The beach awaits! We are, I think, taking a laptop, so some vacation posts may be in order. I have this highly unlikely fantasy that I will feel the Cricket move for the first time while in the ocean. At any rate, the midwife advises me to live it up while on vacation in case the results of the three hour come back saying I do have the GD. If I can restrain myself from calling for the results on Monday, I'll do just that.

Hopefully next time you hear from me will be from South Carolina. If you don't hear, it just means I'm blissed out with a book at the beach.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Eat Up!

I'm on the high carb diet counting down to the three hour. Friday morning, 8:00.

Here's the skinny: My one hour test came back at 140, which I thought was normal. Apparently not. Apparently our midwives like to see the number 135 or lower. This seems a little like splitting hairs, but okay. I'll do the three hour.

I just thought I'd get to wait until we were back from vacation. The nurse at the midwife clinic thought otherwise. She thought I should get there immediately. ASAP. No time wasted.

Because the one result was so high, I wondered? Whatever-- I'm doing it on Friday morning. Not happy, but hoping that because I was so close on the one hour, I'll "pass" the three hour.

Fingers crossed, friends.