Pink or Blue (and What to Do)

boy or girlAssuming the little one isn’t too modest or squirmy, we may know whether to expect a boy or a girl as soon as next Thursday evening. I am simultaneously eager and nervous to find out; I suppose that makes it a perfect opportunity to correctly use the word “anxious.”

Ryan has his suspicions, but I haven’t ever felt any strong sense of gender. Some days I think in terms of masculine pronouns, and some days they’re feminine. Lately I’ve been visualizing a male baby only because I’ve been trying so hard to come up with boy names that I love — which is funny, because I feel as though I may have fallen out of love with my girl names, so I’m basically just a big mental mess in that regard. I’m not worried. It’ll all figure itself out. I have a hard time knowing what it would be like to raise a boy; I was never really around little boys growing up. As a result, when I think about the next few years, I tend to think in terms of a little girl, simply because my imagination knows how to fill in those blanks. I know I will be happy either way, especially if I eventually have at least one of each.

I know that there are ways that we could find out the gender earlier. There are blood tests your doctor can give you, urine tests you can buy, and independent ultrasound clinics you can patronize. But we haven’t really felt the urge to hurry it all that much. Now, if Shenanigan keeps his/her little legs crossed and refuses to let us know, we might consider an alternative option — we’d really like to know ahead of time! But for now, anyway, the appointed time is fine.

This doesn’t mean, of course, that I haven’t asked Dr. Google. And, as might be predicted, it was very helpful. According to Baby2See’s baby gender predictor, it’s a boy. According to BabyMed’s Gender Prediction Quiz, it is a girl. The AskManisha predictor says the baby will be a boy. According to THIS Chinese Gender Chart, it will be a girl… but according to this Chinese Baby Gender Prediction, it will be a boyBabyZone’s Gender Predictor thinks it’s a girl, too, but I express skepticism that the only contributing factors are my birthdate and the month of conception. The Mayan gender prediction method says it’s a boy, because the year of conception and my age are not both odd or even. If they were both odd, or both even, it would be a girl. The one at concludes that it is a girl, but then confuses the matter with the following explanation:

You are carrying the extra weight out front, so it’s a boy.
The hair on your legs is not growing any faster during your preganacy, so it’s a girl.
Boys are carried low. You are going to have a boy.
Sleeping in a bed with your pillow to the south indicates that you will be having a girl.
Your feet are not colder than they were before pregnancy. You are having a girl.
You refuse to eat the heel of a loaf of bread. You are having a girl.
Dad-to-be is gaining weight right along with Mom-to-be, which means that you’ll have a boy.
The maternal grandmother doesn’t have gray hair (dyed or natural), so a girl will be born.
You had morning sickness early in pregnancy, so you are expecting a girl.
You are looking particularly good during pregnancy. Therefore, it must be a boy, because girls steal their mother’s looks.
Your chest development has not been very dramatic during pregnancy. You should expect a boy.
Since the sum of the mother’s age at conception and the number of the month of conception is an odd number, it will be a girl.
You have a craving for salty or sour foods, which means that it is a boy.
Your nose hasn’t changed during pregnancy, which indicates a girl.
You have been craving meats or cheeses, so it is a boy.
Your baby’s heart rate is 140 or more beats per minute, so it’s a girl.

Having taken these tests and seen what their results were based on, I felt pretty confident in my own ability to create a gender prediction computer model. So I invite you — even if you’re not currently pregnant, BECAUSE IT IS THAT GOOD — to take my own Highly Accurate Scientific Gender Prediction Tool.


So? What do you think?

Silliness aside, I am feeling a little bit uncertain as to what to do after we find out. I think Ryan is in shout-it-from-the-rooftops mode. I know my students are anxious to know (they’ve been bugging me about gender ever since they found out we were expecting). And I certainly plan to make the gender known to the world before the baby arrives, although I am leaning toward keeping final name choices to ourselves.

gender-reveal cake: a cute ideaBut… do I want to do it right away? Do I want to go straight to Facebook and announce pink or blue? Do I want to have, as one of my very charming students suggested, a Pinterest-worthy gender reveal party? Stage a cute (or disgustingly cutesy) photo reveal? Bake blue or pink cupcakes and share them during our department prep period?

Do I immediately want to share the news?

I don’t know.

(In all actuality, the ultrasound is on my birthday and I don’t really plan to go straight home and plan elaborate gender reveal mechanisms, so it’s either going to be a simple “It’s a _____!” or it’s going to have to wait for a couple of days. Oh, and I’m not really at all sure that “Pinterest-worthy” is in my repertoire.)

Part of me wants to relish the secret for a little while, give us time to absorb this new bit of information and whatnot. Part of me knows I’m going to be ridiculously excited and eager to share.

Part of me wants to take me by the shoulders and say, “You are being ridiculous. Why are you thinking about all of this so much?” But it’s not like I’m stressed out about it. I am, despite all of the hemming and hawing I post here, enjoying myself immensely….

And I will almost certainly be blurting out the ultrasound results very shortly afterward. It’s just that, a week out… I’m not sure.


I love The Bloggess for her over-the-top irreverence and the wonderfully crazy things she has to say, especially in conversation with her husband, Victor. The other day, she posted an amusing exchange she and Victor had about a newborn baby who had become Internet Famous due to the unfortunate circumstance of being named Hashtag.

hashtag facebook post

A hashtag, for those who might not know, is something generally used in Twitter to categorize posts based on keywords. It’s a word (or several words with the spaces removed) prefaced by the # symbol. So, if I were a Twitter user and wrote a post about Black Friday, I might write #blackfriday at the end of the post; then, anyone who wanted to read only posts about Black Friday could search for that hashtag and my post would be included.

I share with many other people a certain amount of skepticism that this baby is actually named after a Twitter metadata sorting mechanism. Isn’t it possible that “Hashtag” was the joke name, a la Kermie or Shenanigan, that the parents were using prior to choosing or sharing the real name? I can certainly see myself uploading a picture with the caption “Welcome, Kermie Batman!” — either for a giggle, or because at the last minute we decided we were uncertain about the name we thought we were going to choose. And I have to admit, despite knowing all-too-well that people name their children AWFUL things, that part of me refuses to believe that anyone would saddle a kiddo with this moniker.

I went to high school with two girls who were named after car brands and a handful of kids whose parents had clearly never given up the ghost of their hippie days. I’ve taught students with some pretty unique names. But little Hashtag, if that’s really her name, joins a new pantheon of babies who are named after 21st century technology. Laura Wattenberg, the Baby Name Wizard, responded to the Hashtag story by pointing out recent babies named (or allegedly named) Yahoo, Facebook, Google, and Like (as in the Like button on Facebook). She also reminded us of an article she wrote in 2010 about babies being named after video game characters. (I’m pretty sure I have read about a child named Nintendo as well, but I can’t find the reference right now.)

In some parts of the world, parents must operate within rigorous legal parameters when choosing the names for their progeny; Dylan Matthews of Wonkblog recently wrote about countries like Denmark and Sweden with exceptionally strict naming regulations, including the prohibition against gender-neutral or -ambiguous names. In America, land of the free, there are relatively few restrictions on what we name our children. We aren’t allowed to use numbers or most non-letter symbols, and some states have pushed for a certain level of censorship, but otherwise we have free rein. Consequently: bizarro spellings (and misspellings), portmanteaus, inappropriate homages, and names we hope are urban myths like La-a (pronounced Ladasha) and Shithead (pronounced Shuh-thay-duh). In other words, Ryan and I are free to name our child Shenanigan — or Kermie, or Batman, or He Who Shall Not Be Named — but we can’t name her 820. Alas.

And after all, as Katy Waldman recently wrote for Slate, what’s wrong with some names over others? Why are some noun-names (Rose, April, Hunter) okay and others are not?

Why is it that you can call your daughter Wren but not Seagull? Why can my Southern colleague marry a guy named Tripper without thinking twice, but George Costanza draws fire for wanting to dub his firstborn Seven? It all seems so arbitrary.

When push comes to shove, I guess it really does come down to parental choice. But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel awfully sorry for the Hashtags and Seagulls of the world. Middle school’s gonna be rough.

Perhaps Not THE Single Most Attractive Thing You’ll See All Day

I am posting this for my own “scrapbook” and not because I have an overwhelming desire to show y’all the bizarre albino watermelon that has taken up residence under my belly button. To my future self and anyone who reads my blog even when I don’t post a link on FB: it’s shiny because I just put lotion on it and then used a flash to take a clear photo. That, or I suppose we could pretend I just got back from the gym and am “glistening.” That might be a fun thing to pretend.

Tiger Stripes

This morning I noticed that the stretch marks have expanded lower than they were before, into unphotographable territory. Some days they are more red than others; this morning is a “bad” one. (Quotation marks because I don’t really want to paint them as a negative thing; they just are and they really don’t bother me a bit. I’m just intrigued by them, especially since I can completely forget they’re there unless I make a point of trying to see them in front of a mirror.)

I think we could use this photo in an ad campaign to try to cut down on unprotected teen sex, though, don’t you? Juxtapose this sexy picture with a similarly-cropped shot of a teenage girl’s midriff? 🙂 “Hey look girls! This can be you!”


This morning, as my first period class (a freshman-level honors class) was coming in to the room and taking their seats, I overheard the following hushed conversation:

Girl #1: I think she’s starting to look more pregnant.

Girl #2: Shhhh! You can’t say that!

Girl #1: Well, I just meant — oh, well, maybe not. But I think she looks…

Girl #2: Shhhh!

I am very proud of the fact that I was able to pretend not to hear any of this and keep a straight face. I know what Girl #2 was thinking — saying I was looking more pregnant was tantamount to saying I was getting fat, and one wouldn’t want that. But truth be told, I was happy that Girl #1 noticed (and I know why she did). Most days, I’ve been wearing enough warm layers and loose shirts that I haven’t really been obviously pregnant. Today, though, I had the principal in to observe, so I took the opportunity to spiff up a little bit by wearing a maternity dress to work for the first time. And, as anyone who has ever worn such a thing knows, those empire waists don’t do much to obscure one’s “delicate condition”!

Me, Maternity Dress, 19 Weeks

This picture actually doesn’t emphasize my 19-week belly quite as much as the other one I took, but it also featured a profoundly bovine look on my face, so this is the one you get. Nevertheless, it does in fact appear that I have reached the point at which my belly swells out as much as my breasts.

Cute dress (over which I have been wearing a tie-front purple sweater for most of the day) is the brand they sell at that maternity shop in the mall; Mom found it for me at a secondhand shop, whoo-hoo! I’m also wearing fleece-lined gray tights… not sure how much longer regular tights/leggings will continue to fit. My black boots won’t zip up anymore, so I know I’m carrying some weight in my legs as well as my torso.

[Potential TMI bit; skip at will] At nineteen weeks, I’ve noticed a few more little changes here and there. That constant sense of impending nausea has drifted gently away, although anything that activates that deep-cough reflex (for example, a particularly raucous laughing fit last night) still threatens to throw digestion into reverse. My appetite is still not great, but I’ve gotten better at noticing when my blood sugar is low. For the past several days I’ve had a mild-to-moderate headache, which I blame not on the pregnancy but on lingering stress/upset from an inexcusably awful outpouring of abuse I received from a relative on Thanksgiving night. (Been trying really hard to not let it get to me, but some things are easier said than done.) I’m feeling fatigue again, which is probably due to returning to work after five days off for Thanksgiving, and still loudly wondering why in the world they put so many stairs in our school.

The neatest change is that I am pretty sure that I can, occasionally, feel Shenanigan moving around in there. It certainly isn’t what I’d be able to identify as kicks or anything yet, but it seems to match up with what I’ve been told to expect. Sometimes it feels like gas burbling (isn’t that a ladylike thing to say? note to world: pregnancy is not ladylike) and sometimes it feels like a very mild muscle spasm. Other times, I just feel a sort of vague tightness in there. For the first time, I’m aware on a sensory level that there is Something In There; my lower abdomen has become heavy in a foreign sort of way, kind of like I’m wearing a heavy fanny pack around my waist or something.

[Back to neutral ground] In obliquely related news, I learned that two students that I know (they were never actually in my classes, but they were in an extracurricular I ran and in my room a lot with their friends) had a baby over the weekend. The new parents are sixteen; I very much hope that they have good family support and can make this work, one way or the other. I know a lot of people can find their partner at that age and have a very happy family together, and I know that teen parents can be amazing parents. But I also know that, no matter how much they love each other and that baby, no matter how much family support they have, their lives are going to be very different, and harder, than they would have otherwise been. They have my best wishes.

Audience participation time! What disqualifies a baby name for you? If you had a name that you really liked for an impending baby, and then that name was used by a relative… coworker… friend… former student… You know what I mean? Does that “ruin” the name for you? And what about the inverse: if you know that a name you like is the #1 Top Choice of a friend or family member — who may not actually be currently pregnant — should you strike it from your own list? When does a baby name become “off limits”?

L&D Tour

Today the stars aligned in such a way that R and I were actually able to go on a tour of the Labor and Delivery wing at our OB’s preferred hospital (the one that is practically connected to his office — so preferred for us as well, as much as any hospital is). I had already taken the virtual tour but wanted to see the real thing.

I am glad that I did, because there was definitely a case of “fast food restaurant menu” syndrome going on between the virtual tour and the real thing. I mean, I suppose these luxuriously spacious rooms do exist, or they’d have nothing to photograph, but we certainly didn’t see anything that looked like these pictures from the tour:

View 1 of labor/delivery room

view 2 of labor/delivery room

The room we actually went into was at best half this size — probably a third. Granted, there were several couples in there along with the tour guides, and many of the people in there had protruding bellies. Crowd or no, it was positively claustrophobic compared to this room (which looks large enough for a small dance routine on that shiny wood floor). The room they showed us wasn’t really large enough for any sort of labor techniques like walking, sitting on an exercise ball, or getting on hands and knees. Nor was it really big enough for more than one companion, and while I certainly wasn’t planning on having the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders in there or anything, I had thought it possible that, say, Mom or someone might be there for part of it….

I am going to be honest: I didn’t really like it. I didn’t hate it. But after seeing these pictures, and hearing so much talk about the “wonderful maternity suites,” I was underwhelmed. I mean, I don’t feel like I need to go changing our plans or anything — that would probably require switching OBs, and I am happy with him — but I wish it was… nicer. (I’m assured, though, that I won’t actually care all that much when the time comes.)

Also in honesty, I think a big part of my less-than-enthusiastic response was that while we were going around the ward, the doors to the maternity operating room (where they do Caesarians and other labor-related surgeries) opened and they wheeled out a gurney with a blanket-wrapped woman on it. She was awake and smiling, and I know rationally it had nothing to do with any of my bad experience, but it still made me feel all awful inside. I think it sort of colored the entire tour for me, which is dumb and unfortunate. And easily put aside.

Anyway, they showed us the L&D wing, and then took us up to the recovery rooms, which were not especially inspired or anything (you’d think, given that they’re not really expecting to need to do much in those rooms, that they could do better than a 3-inch-thick mattress) but perfectly adequate. The best part of the tour was hands-down the part where we walked past the nursery, complete with zoo exhibit windows, and we all threw on the brakes and stared at the three wee ones within. The one closest to the window got swaddled while we were there, and was pretty unamused by the process up to the point when he (?) was actually burritoed. Settled down very quickly after that. 🙂

I did really like the people there (nurses, etc.) and I like the fact that my OB knows, likes, and trusts them. I like that they are very pro-natural birth. (Fascinating sidenote: when the tour guide nurse asked if any of us were planning on an epidural, not one person raised her hand. The times, they are a-changin’!) I like that they provide all kinds of support, classes, and extras, including a big jacuzzi tub, exercise balls, etc.

On a related note: got some book recommendations and am now reading Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method. I like the idea of having a lot of tools in my repertoire but wasn’t too keen on the big price tag for the class, so I’m hoping that I can glean the benefits — or at least some of them — from the book. So far I’ve enjoyed the introductory materials, if “feeling surges of outrage at the way things used to be” counts as enjoyment. Looking forward to some good informative/thought-provoking reading.

More Naming Shenanigans

We still have a few weeks before we find out the gender (unless we do as our friend E did, and go to a private ultrasound place for an early peek — congrats on expecting a son!) and so our talk about names still hasn’t gotten very serious. (Although a friend posted this article on my Facebook, and I was disappointed to see several of my favorites on the list! Not sure how much creedence to give it….)

There is a famous (for all the tastiest reasons) pizza joint in town called Flying Pie, and every day they pick a person’s name or occupation/hobby and put it up on their outside billboard. If it’s you up there, it’s “Your Day” and you can make your own free pizza. They keep a website, too, so that you can see if your name is coming up in the near future. Well, Ryan had the excellent idea of just waiting to see what the name of the day was when our baby was born, and naming him/her that! So, basically, if our baby were to be born on 11/23, s/he would be named Marley (which at least is fairly unisex). Born on 11/26, and he (hopefully) would be David. And if s/he were born on 11/28, s/he would get to go through life as Sing Opera Baker. I think the idea has promise….

I like Irish-y names, but not necessarily the challenging spelling-pronunciation mismatches. The other day, I had an epiphany. If you take the girl’s name Shannon (which is the Anglicized form of the Irish name, Seanán) and the boy’s name Flanagan (also Irish) and put them in a blender, you come up with the perfect baby name.

Shannon + Flanagan +  = Shenanigan Baker!!!


This is my new favorite. I am officially lobbying for this. Haters gonna hate.

In the meantime, Ryan and I have asked our students to offer their ideas. There have been many perfectly nice suggestions, which I’m tallying up, but there have also been many goofy/strange/wonderful/silly suggestions. And because we’re all Web 2.0 and stuff (do people still say “Web 2.0”?) I made a Tumblr of all the crazy things our students want us to name our baby. You really have to check this shiznit out.

Baby Name Suggestion Box!

Some of the wonderfulness you will encounter therein:

There are already several pages worth of fantasmic suggestions; I highly encourage you to take a look. (Let me know which your favorites are!)

November Checkup



We had a doctor’s appointment last Thursday and I completely forgot to write about it — oops. [EDITORIAL NOTE: I am back-dating this to the correct date.]

It was just one of the “show up once a month so we can kick the tires” sort of appointments. Naturally, both doctors had deliveries at about the time of the appointment, so we ended up with a really long wait for our five minutes. But it was worth the wait, because we finally got to hear the heartbeat!


Fetal heartbeats, by the way, go “whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh.” Not “ba-dum ba-dum ba-dum.” They also go 150 bpm and make your husband grin like a little kid for a couple of hours.


The doctor said that the heartbeat was just right, that my uterus was exactly where he would expect it to be, and that I should exercise and massage my legs when they get crampy. He very nicely did not comment on the fact that my legs — which I hadn’t anticipated being examined — were less than perfectly smooth and ladylike. (Which, of course, I know a doctor doesn’t care about. But I’ve always been self-conscious of that.)


As of November 15, I am 17 weeks pregnant. Batman Kermie is just about half an inch longer than my iPhone 4, which is EXTREMELY difficult for me to get my mind around. I haven’t really felt Junior yet, so even though my stomach is expanding, I’ve seen pictures, and heard the heartbeat, there’s a big mental break between the peppermint-striped exterior of my belly and the idea of a 5-inch-long baby doing gymnastics in there.

17 weeks diagramAfter the appointment, we went and checked out the new Whole Foods. That was a zoo… but we did get a tub of beet chips (sooooo good) and some cherry ginger juice (so good with nausea) and a peach-colored Christmas cactus. I love looking at all their pretty produce. But I don’t love looking at their prices or being run over in the aisles by enthusastic North End organic-foodophiles.

Well, I think that’s a wrap. I’ll try to do better about posting next time.

Kermie Batman Update

It occurs to me that I haven’t actually written about how I’m doing, pregnancy-wise, since November 2… Did I ever mention that I got into blogging because I was so bad about maintaining a regular journal?

This may end up being a little lengthy. I can’t imagine that you’re reading this stuff unless you really like me or are really bored, so I won’t bother apologizing for rambling. 🙂 I’m honestly just trying to record things for my own memory/records,

Anyway, I am 17 weeks pregnant, which means that there are about 160 days left before the party gets started.

Tummy, Part One

In just the past few days, I’ve noticed a shift in my appetite. Before, I was constantly HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF. Now, I’m finding that I have relatively little appetite — or perhaps, I’m just back to my normal appetite. I am not waking up hungry, and many mornings find that I struggle to actually eat breakfast. I think I need to find something new and “exciting” for breakfast… maybe fruit? I begin to get that hunger-heartburn feeling by 8:30, so I’ve been grazing at work. And then I’m hungry again for lunch, usually before actual lunchtime, but it’s not the same sort of “I’m going to be physically ill if I don’t eat RIGHT NOW” thing that I had during the first trimester. The biggest thing is that I’m not having any cravings or aversions — it’s just that nothing sounds particularly good. Nothing sounds awful, either. Honestly, if you ask me what I want to eat, the answer is going to be, “I want someone to decide, and put the food down in front of me.” The part of my brain that cares what I eat has gone dormant….

Tummy, Part Two

This morning, I was thinking about writing this update and was pleased to be able to write that my pukiness had apparently completely gone away. That’s about when I had a coughing fit (I’m getting over a head cold) that ended up with me crouched over the toilet doing deep-breathing exercises while my stomach and esophagus did war with each other. My digestive tract has apparently been reprogrammed to slam itself into reverse at the slightest provocation — not out of any sort of real nausea, but — I believe — because of overcrowding.

The Lower Half

It would appear that my pelvic bones have already started shifting around. My tailbone is exceptionally sore, to the point where I sit on a pillow at work and have a hard time getting comfortable on our sofa. I’ve had occasional pain in the front end as well, but noting noteworthy. The worst — and I do mean THE WORST — are my poor legs. (That’s me making a conscious decision to pity them rather than blame them for the situation; these appendages are pissing me off!) Twice, I’ve had severe pain in my left leg, focusing on the inner thigh muscles and knee. Well, for the past 36ish hours, I’ve had severe pain in the right leg, which has gone from the underside of my thigh up into the upper thigh and knee today. (We’re talking the sort of pain that makes you heavily limp and causes you to seriously reconsider anything that involves walking.) I’ve tried resting and elevating, and even tried a warm epsom salt bath, to no avail. Today I tried an ice pack and have found that it is actually helping!



Good to know, good to know… except now my ice pack is warm…


That sounds like a lot of complaining, so I’ll mention a nice thing. In the past few days, I’ve noticed that my complexion has changed — very slightly, maybe even imperceptibly. I won’t leave the house without face powder (and I use a kind of powder that is sort of a combo foundation/powder) but recently, I’ve noticed that I kind of look like I don’t really need it. Either this is that whole “you’re glowing!” phenomenon, or it’s just because we have new lightbulbs in the bathroom. 🙂  Regardless, I’ll take it.


It is a good thing that I am a fan of secondhand clothes, because if I were the sort of gal who couldn’t deal with thrift stores I’d be going naked for the next several months. Target has about three racks of clothes (“Overpriced,” “Inappropriate for Work,” and “Fashioned for Pregnant Teenagers”); J.C. Penney has stopped carrying maternity clothes; Motherhood is entirely overpriced. I hear a rumor that Gap sells mat clothes, but they’ll be even worse than Motherhood.

Fortunately, I live in an area that is heavily populated by populations that believe in heavily populating, and who also believe in donating unwanted clothes in good condition. And DOUBLY fortunately, I have a mom who is FULL OF AWESOME who has gone around to the better thrift stores and found me a beautiful wardrobe of like-new maternity clothes. Between what we found at thrift stores, a rare “good day” at Burlington, and a very fun trip to Shopko (cardigans and peasant blouses!) I now have:

  • a couple of pairs of jeans
  • slacks: khaki and gray
  • corduroy pants: brown and black
  • a bunch of sweaters
  • a bunch of cute blouses/tops
  • a couple of cute lightweight jackets

The thing that I still need is plain t-shirts. Many of the sweaters are cardigans, and I need lightweight little tops that will go under them. Might be a Target trip… or maybe Ross would have something…

ALTHOUGH! I discovered the other day that has a maternity section, with some very cute stuff. You have to order online, but shipping is only a dollar. (Per item, I assume.) And, of course, at Walmart prices. (Certainly Walmart quality, too, but hey, we’re not talking about investment pieces here.)

Tummy, Part Three

This brings me around to the external aspects of the belly.

I often wish that I had the sort of physique that would translate into “cute pregnant lady” — you know, the women who stay slender but have the lovely, well-defined bump. Several of my friends and coworkers fall into this category, as will my sister. I am of a different stock; good old-fashioned Irish/German peasant stock, I suppose (although a character in a book I’m reading described someone of my physique of being a warrior woman akin to Queen Maeve). I am larger of width and limb and imagine that I will probably simply grow outward in a general sort of way rather than developing the adorable basketball bump.

As of right now, I really just look like I’ve grown entirely too fond of pizza. I’m definitely “showing” but not in a recognizably pregnant sort of way. Proof of my expansion is that I have developed stretch marks in a nice little picket-fence pattern underneath my belly button; I invested in some body butter from The Body Shop (thank goodness for their less-perfumed offerings, like Olive and Vitamin E) and have been liberally slathering that on, not so much to eliminate the marks as to keep everything hydrated and elastic.

My kitty, d’Artagnan, has taken to insisting upon sleeping on said stomach. I suspect he can hear or feel something in there and is concerned… or perhaps it’s just warmer than the rest of me. He’s a fan of warm things this time of year. Both he and Paisley have finally gotten the memo about not stomping on poor Kermie Batman, which is a nice change.

In Conclusion…

In conclusion, it is now time for me to stop typing because I have to get home, let Paisley out, and go to a doctor’s appointment. (Not an exciting one, although I hope this time I actually get to hear the little one.) Anxiously looking forward to early December, when we get to have our full ultrasound appointment; my friend B had hers yesterday, and now has a picture of her wee one waving to her!

Open to Suggestion

When my friend A — a middle-school teacher — was first pregnant, she put out a box for name suggestions and got some great (and funny) recommendations. I loved the idea and knew that one day I wanted to do it, too.

Well, today is the day!

Help Name Baby Baker!

If you’ve never wrapped a shoebox and its lid separately (this was my first go at it) then let me tell you that you would be astonished at how difficult it is. You can see that this isn’t exactly a Martha Stewart quality wrap-job.

There are two: One for me and one for Mr. Baker, whose kids have actually known longer than mine have! He has sixth graders, so I anticipate some cuteness from that direction.

I took mine and set it up in what I thought would be a fairly inconspicuous spot, right before my 4A class arrived.

Suggestion Box

Well, I guess it wasn’t very inconspicuous, because about five minutes into class I start getting some really funny looks from a handful of freshman boys who sit in that general part of the room, and then there was a mad rush (accompanied by very suspicious giggles) to the suggestion box. (I am at least half convinced that I now have a half dozen slips of paper in the box that say “Penis”…)

Finally, one boy — whose English isn’t 100% — just couldn’t take it anymore.

“Miss!” he called out.


“Are you going to get a baby?”

I tried my best to take his wording in stride, but I just couldn’t do it. Everyone was giggling. So I told him that yes, I was going to get a baby, that they were having a great sale on infants at Babys R Us that weekend. (He thought that was pretty funny.) And then, of course, I had to make an official announcement, because it turned out that none of the kids in 4A were tapped into the grapevine. They were super sweet; a few kids clapped, several congratulated me, one boy told me he thought it was weird to talk about babies at school, and another insisted on handing out papers for me.

(I asked the weirded-out kid if he hadn’t ever seen Dumbo, and what was so weird about a big bird bringing me a baby? It turns out that the difference between freshmen and sophomores is that sophomores would have just laughed, but freshmen all squawk and protest that “That’s not where babies come from!!!”)

They also all wanted to know if it were going to be a boy or a girl, and then wanted to tell me about various people they knew who had birthdays near my due date.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of (good, bad, and ugly) names they — and Ryan’s kids — offer up. And of course I’ll be sharing them. 🙂 Stay tuned!

My Single Issue


Here, on my personal website, I’m going to write down my justification for voting the way I will tomorrow. If you, on YOUR personal website, would like to write about why I’m wrong or stupid or horrid, that is obviously entirely your right. I have deactivated comments on this blog post, because I am not interested in comments telling me that I’m wrong/stupid/horrid. I’m not starting a discussion here; you’re not changing my mind, and I’m sure I’m not changing yours. Your arguments in opposition are not welcome here, and frankly, I don’t care if that makes you angry or disappointed in me or whatever else my refusal to engage in debate inspires. Take it to your own house. 

It was at some point in college that I first realized that some people chose their political parties/candidates based on a solitary political issue. It seemed that — in my area, anyway — the vast majority of these single-issue voters focused on abortion. Many of my thus-thinking friends and acquaintances gave me the impression that they would vote for ANYONE, no matter how heinous or poorly-qualified, so long as s/he were the pro-life candidate. I began to regard single-issue voters with disdain, not because I disagreed with their beliefs regarding abortion, but because it seemed so irresponsibly myopic of them to ignore everything else about a candidate in favor of one overriding concern.

Much to my surprise, I find that I am becoming (have become?) a single-issue voter* — and my issue is health care.

“It seems to me that most people who are voting for Obama are just doing it so that they’ll keep getting their handouts,” said a voter being interviewed on something Ryan shared with me yesterday. This comment made me angry, but I do understand where a belief like that comes from. I’m not going to stick my head in the sand and pretend that there aren’t people who take advantage of the system, who fail to uphold their end of the social contract. Certainly, there are people who gladly allow others to take care of them and theirs, rather than taking care of themselves. And sure — I don’t like that very much. Not only do I find it unfair, but I believe they are doing themselves and their descendents (and their society) a grave disservice by not being productive members of society.

What I fail to understand is how people like that voter can’t see that their net is cast too wide, that in refusing charity to the freeloaders they are also refusing mercy to good, contributing citizens who need help through no fault of their own.

How about my family?

If you’re a USAF veteran and work every day since you are seventeen years old, paying taxes, voting, going to church, attending parent-teacher conferences, saving, volunteering, incurring no debt, buying no expensive cars or airplane tickets, making house payments and paying bills on time — shouldn’t you and your spouse be able to go to the doctor? Or, as anti-Obamacare voters would prefer, should you just go and die because, at the age many people get to retire, you got laid off and have had to take a series of low-paying jobs that provide inadequate or nonexistent health care?

If you’re a recent college graduate who earned two degrees with honors, who lived at home throughout school and drives a used car, who doesn’t go shopping or barhopping, who doesn’t go to concerts or even full-price movies, who has never spent the extra money for a fancy haircut or manicure or spring break vacation, who now works full-time — but splitting that time between two half-time jobs, neither of which offer benefits — shouldn’t you be able to go to the dentist or the opthamalogist or the gynecologist before you get married without wondering if it will wipe out what little savings you have?

If your husband was a WWII veteran, and you were a civilian employee of the Army during wartime, and you worked every day until retirement even with crippling arthritis, and for the rest of your retirement you lived modestly and honestly — shouldn’t you be able to have medical care to address your failing hip prosthesis, or your blurring vision, or your aching teeth, in your old age, without having to decide whether to purchase food or pain medication?

How about my friends?

If you and your young husband worked hard at multiple jobs, doing the right things, waiting to have babies or buy a house, and then your husband required an organ transplant and used up his lifetime allowance for insurance coverage — shouldn’t he still have a right to live? Or, as anti-Obamacare voters would prefer, should your lives just be over because, heck, you used up your allotment, and it’s your own fault if you need another transplant (or a prescription, or an x-ray, or a doctor’s visit) in the future?

If your child was diagnosed with a minor medical issue at birth, which was thankfully treated and corrected before the toddler years, but then you changed jobs (and with it, insurance providers) — shouldn’t your small child still have the right to insurance coverage despite having, once upon a time, had a medical condition?

If you and your spouse are college-educated, hard-working parents who did everything they were supposed to do in the order you were supposed to do it, up until the point when your spouse died of cancer, leaving you the sole caregiver of young children — shouldn’t you be able to take your children to the pediatrician? Shouldn’t you be able to buy your prescriptions without worrying that it’s a choice between necessary antibiotics and food on the table?

Tell me what any of those people did wrong. Tell me what else they should have done. And don’t you dare tell me “People in need can be supported by their families or their churches or by independent charities instead of the government,” because I don’t see any of you doing anything to help any of them. A church or a charity can only help so many people, and extended families too often look the other way when the shadow of personal trouble and tragedy begins to fall.

NPR ran a piece yesterday that included an interview with a man with some serious medical issues (not anything that he brought upon himself in any way). He had been denied insurance because of his pre-existing condition, and his only hope to continue receiving any sort of medical treatment was Obamacare. He talked about a friend who would express sympathy at his plight, but who insisted on voting for Romney — and how, eventually, he felt he could no longer be friends with this person, because he supported Romney knowing that a Romney administration would likely cost him his life.

I feel for this guy. I look around at people I know who are voting, deliberately or not, to eliminate Obamacare, and while my head tries to tell me not to mix relationships and politics, my heart cringes away from them. It wonders, how can they be so cold? How can they be — and yes, I’m going to say it, and you can be angry if you’d like — so un-Christian? How can they look at that little “R,” or that “LDS,” or even an issue like gay marriage, abortion, immigration, or defense (none of which, I’d argue, Gov. Romney has an authentic opinion on) and believe that issue outweighs real human lives right here at home?

They’re trading ideology (or worse, some random demagogue’s endorsement) for my friends, for my coworkers, for my sister, for my parents, for my Grammy, for me. And yeah. It makes me pretty much not want to know them anymore.

So tomorrow, I am placing a vote in the name of mercy and in the name of love and charity and in the name of Jesus and in the name of my friends and family members who have HOPE now. I am placing a vote against those who would rob them of that hope. I am placing a vote that will have absolutely zero impact on the electoral votes allotted from my state — hell, they’re already allotted — because I could not sleep at night knowing that I had failed to take a stand, however symbolic, against self-righteous selfishness and cognitive dissonance.

And if Romney wins, and succeeds in overturning Obamacare… if, in some small blackened part of my soul, I hope that everyone who voted for him finds themselves in a position where they have no hope — a position that would have been ameliorated by reformed health care in America — well, God please forgive me. I am only human… angry, defensive, and human.


* I’m fortunate in that the candidate who supports my views on health care also lines up with my views on most other subjects. I know that in focusing on health care and supporting President Obama, other issues that I find important — issues that have a major impact on my friends, family, and countrymen — will also be supported, and that makes me pretty happy. Maybe that means I’m not truly a single-issue voter, but honestly… at this point, I’d overlook a helluva lot of flaws to support a candidate who will uphold health care reform.