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The dawn of this new year finds me… tired. Happy, but tiiiiiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrrred.

I don’t know how many people read these surveys – maybe you’re like me, and you really enjoy reading them, but don’t tend to comment on them. That’s cool. If you don’t read them, that’s cool too. But if you DO like to read them, or if you are a person who likes the GIST of a thing, or if you are in a hurry, let me summarize the below: it’s an awful lot about the baby.

May the coming year bring you and your loved ones health and happiness, Internet! And plenty of sleep.

(This yearly recap quiz originated with Linda of All & Sundry. If you’re so inclined, you can read past versions of my responses: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009.)

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?

Had a baby.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Last year, this was as close as I got to making resolutions:

I don’t think I’ll make resolutions for the coming year, either. There are,

however, things I would like to accomplish. I would like to exercise more.

Eat better. (This has been The Autumn of Carbs, which is quickly turning

into The Winter of More Carbs.) Enjoy the happy part of anticipation rather

than perseverating on the nervous-marking part. Make sure that my marriage

remains a top priority, no matter what else is going on in our lives. Blog

more regularly. Have another garden. Paint the kitchen, dining room, and

the upstairs bedroom as well as put up artwork around the whole house.

Re-organize the storage area in the basement. Okay, this is degenerating

rapidly into a list of housework.

On that front, I continued to eat terribly (until the third trimester, when all I wanted was All The Fruit), worry a TON, neglect my blog, and plant a garden and promptly neglect that. But! We DID paint the kitchen, paint and decorate the upstairs bedroom (the baby’s room), and paint and add moulding to the dining room.

I think my priorities for this year (I’m pretending this question asked about priorities rather than resolutions) are keeping the baby alive, my husband, and trying to be better about juggling work, baby, marriage, household stuff. And I know that sentence lacked parallel structure, but I don’t know how else to say “my husband.” He’s a priority, and I want him to continue to be, and that’s that.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Well, you don’t get much closer to me than me. A few close friends also had babies, which has been tremendously fun.

 4. Did anyone close to you die?

No. We are so fortunate.

5. What countries did you visit?

I didn’t do a lick of travel. Well, I flew out to see my parents last March, but that was IT.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

More sleep.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

June 13 – This was the baby’s due date, and so was a major focus for me for nine entire months. Well, okay, eight entire months, since the baby had been cooking for a month by the time we found out about her.

June 28 – This is the day that I went into the hospital for my induction.

June 29 – The day the baby finally made her appearance!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Listen, I am going to say breastfeeding here because it was such a freaking struggle for so long. I think it took me a good six weeks to stop hating every second of it. It’s something I’ve wanted– and tried – to post about, because the one thing that helped me get through it (besides just getting through it) was reading about the breastfeeding experiences of other new moms. But it’s so tangled up with emotions for me that my first few drafts have all reached book-length before I even got past describing the hospital stay. You may be surprised to know that I exercise restraint before I typhoon all over my blog, but I do. Occasionally.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Well, we can just skip right past blogging, which has all but ceased entirely. (Not for lack of desire. Or even lack of post ideas. I am just so TIRED.) I think my garden was my primary failure, because, well, I am looking out onto my deck right now and the sad, overgrown remains of my poor neglected garden are STILL THERE, covered with about eight inches of snow. Sad. And gross.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Aside from the Daycare Colds my kid brings home every other week, I have been remarkably healthy. Thank goodness.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I love every inch of the baby’s nursery. We got some super sweet prints for the walls from Etsy that I have some vague notions of posting about at some point. I love my iPhone. But I think the best purchase was the breast pump. Tuna on rye, these answers are SO LAME.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

This is boring (SENSING A THEME?), but my husband deserves celebration and applause. My husband has always been a calming, supportive force in my life. But this past year, he was just… above and beyond. Dealing with me for twenty-five weeks while I lay on the couch and moaned with nausea and refused to let him cook anything or eat anything with a scent… then dealing with my constant fretting about the baby for the remainder of the pregnancy… then dealing with my anxieties AFTER the baby arrived… It’s all been more than enough for the guy to deserve about a thousand medals. But I was also surprised and touched by things like how wonderful he was in the delivery room, coaching me to push. And by how upbeat and We Can Do This! he was about everything in those dark, terrifying first weeks with the baby at home. And by how quickly and smoothly he slid into his new role as father. Don’t get me wrong – I had no doubt he’d be an awesome dad. But he has just been so good at it, so quickly.

My parents were also especially wonderful this year. My mom came out and stayed with us for a whole month, and did laundry and cleaning and cooking so my husband and I could get to know the baby. My dad not only flew home when the baby was late (he HATES to fly), but he spent hours on the phone with me, talking me through all my New Baby worries – which doesn’t sound like much, I guess, but it was. It was such a huge help.

And I really need to give a shout out to my boobs. They’ve had to take on some massive responsibilities this year, and they’ve really stepped up. My handy little Baby Connect app says that they have gone through both 212 hours of nursing and 21 hours of pumping AND that they’ve produced over 30 gallons of pumped milk. Way to go, boobs!

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

I have no idea. I’ve been pretty wrapped up in myself this year.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Aside from the normal – taxes, loan payments, mortgage, savings – we also had hospital bills, daycare, and fun things, like Baby Room Décor. Okay, so “most of my money” didn’t go to Baby Room Décor, but it was still more money than I care to admit.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Um. If by “excited” you mean “terrified,” then the baby, obviously. (And excited, of course.)

16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2013?

Berceuse by Chopin, which I listened to, on repeat, in the car on the way to and from work for at LEAST the last month of my pregnancy. Often while sobbing loudly.

Get Your Shine On by Florida Georgia Line

Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke

Royals by Lorde

Home by Phillip Phillips

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? Happier!

Okay, I had to come back and edit this. I AM happier, for the most part. The baby has truly brought untold joy to this household. But on a day-to-day basis, I think I may be sadder. Not for any REASON, just… there are all these feelings associated with having a baby that I’m dealing with All The Time. Worries and inadequacies and frustrations and TIREDNESS. Plus, I have lingering anger/sadness about the whole birth experience that I wish would just Go Away. And have I mentioned the worrying? I am so constantly focused on What Could Go Wrong that it’s hard to just sink into the happy parts, you know?

b) thinner or fatter? Thinner, but that’s cheating since I was four months pregnant at this time last year.

c) richer or poorer? Poorer – hello, daycare!

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Going outside when the weather was nice. Sleeping.

I am also going to add that I wish I’d been better about keeping up my relationships. I have all but lost contact with two of my dear friends, and that sucks. And it’s entirely my fault. I’ve been so wrapped up in me and the baby and I have chosen, time and again, sleep or sitting in front of the TV with my husband over calling a friend and staying in touch.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Fretting. Crying.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

In my house, for the first time ever, with a real tree my husband and I picked out together (with the baby) and decorated together, with my parents and my in-laws and my sister-in-law.

21. Did you fall in love in 2013?

I fell in love with the baby, of course. She is such a sweet, fun, funny little girl. I can’t wait to see what she’ll do next, who she’ll become.

And, barf, I  know, but I fell in love with my husband all over again as we approached this Big Life Change together, and as I witnessed him transform into this even better version of himself.

Okay, you can stop gagging now.

22. What was your favorite (new) TV program?

Justified. I can’t even begin to explain how much I love this show. And to think I almost never saw it because I hated the TV promos for it so much!

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I can’t really think of anyone I hate.  

24. What was the best book you read?

Well, it certainly wasn’t any of the books here.

25. What did you want and get?

A baby!

26. What did you want and not get?

Um. Diamonds? I don’t know how to answer this.

27. What was your favorite film of this year?

I don’t recall seeing a film. At all. That doesn’t necessarily mean I didn’t SEE one, but there you go.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I was 32, and I cannot for the life of me remember what I did for my birthday.

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Being able to just LET GO and not freak out about EVERYTHING.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

For the first half, stripes and polka dots because it seems like maternity wear creators all banded together on the belief that if you’re pregnant, you need to emphasize that fact with lines and circles. For the second half, fluids of various kinds.

 31. What kept you sane?

My husband. My iPhone.

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

I have no idea.

34. Who did you miss?

Mr. Sandman.

35. Who was the best new person you met?

The baby.

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.

Sleep when the baby sleeps. Sleep when the baby is awake. Sleep as much as you can because it will never be enough.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m gonna make this place your home.
Happy New Year, Internet!

I wish there were a shortcut to Knowing the Secrets to Doing a New Thing.

What I mean is, you know when you start something new? Not, like, a new puzzle or a new TV series. But something BIG – maybe you got a new job, or you just joined a gym, or you are taking a class to help expand your mind or develop yourself professionally or just get out of the house for a while, I don’t know your life. Whatever it is, it’s something totally new to you, but also something that takes some getting used to.

What I want is something to help speed up the “getting used to” process.

When I started my cuurent job, for instance, I wish that someone had told me that we could use these other bathrooms. There’s one bathroom – which holds a single person at a time – in our department, and I thought that was that. But! It turns out there are other bathrooms! With multiple stalls! That we can use, too! That would have been something I would have liked to have known right up front.

Or, our department has this food club, where some people in the department make food for the other people in the food club, on a rotating basis. Membership in the club is extended to everyone, but if you decline to be in the club and bring food, then you are also opting out of eating the food. But one of the new employees wasn’t invited into the club, or she didn’t understand the rules, or SOMETHING, and so she was eating the food. And someone in the club (not me) was GLARING at her! That’s the kind of thing I mean, where, sure, you find out eventually. But man, it would be nice to know up front on day one, so you don’t feel like a butt.

OR, here’s something else! There were these recycling bins in our department, and I kept putting my Coke cans and water bottles in them. And eventually, a big passive aggressive sign appeared that said, this is for paper only, jackhole, stop leaving your non-paper items in here. I’m paraphrasing. But man, I felt like such an IDIOT when I found out! THAT would have been nice to know!

Getting used to something new is tough enough without having to navigate this ocean full of pointy reefs and bitey sharks and sunken ships. I mean, the waves are making you seasick as it is, wouldn’t it be nice if your new shipmates – or the freaking CAPTAIN – would say, “Hey, guess what, on your starboard side is a pod of dolphins, and you’ll want to avoid those… and up ahead there’s a patch of shallow water, so keep your eyes out” so you don’t accidentally blunder into the dolphins and then they get all irritated and scoffy. (I knew I went too far when I started typing “starboard,” but by then I was in too deep.) (That last bit was a TOTALLY UNINTENTIONAL ocean pun.)

All of this is to say that starting the baby in daycare has taken some getting used to. And I STILL, three weeks of full-time daycare plus four weeks of part-time daycare in, I STILL feel like I am sailing in circles with the jib wrapped around my eyes. (I really have no idea what I’m talking about.)

For instance, on the first day, I brought in a big pack of diapers per the form that the daycare had given me – a form specifically directed at Things to Bring on the Baby’s First Day. And one of the caretakers asked me, “Did you write the baby’s initials on every diaper?”

Well, no. The form told me to bring in three extra outfits and to put the baby’s name in THOSE. But initialing the diapers? That hadn’t occurred to me. So she sat there and wrote the baby’s initials on every single diaper, while I sat there holding the baby, holding back tears (first day of leaving my baaaayyyyybeeee), and feeling like an entitled, inconsiderate jerkbag. And I offered! Of course, I offered to help her! To do it for her! And she shook her head and said no, she’d do it, but really, it was important for me to initial every diaper in the future so that the caretakers didn’t have to do it when they should be feeding or soothing or rocking or playing with one of the many other kids in their charge.

And THEN. I was parking in the parking spot closest to the door. Hey! It was open all the time! Why not?!

Except… a few days into doing this, a sign appeared on the wall of the building in front of the close spot. And it said something like, “Don’t park here, jerkbag. This spot is for the daycare bus.” I’m paraphrasing.

But man! I never would have parked there if I had KNOWN! I am not actively campaigning for Biggest Wad in the Universe!

It ALSO would have been nice to know that there are no bills or invoices or whatever. I seriously feel like an absolute idiot telling you this, because maybe this is The Way of the World and I have just been sheltered or something? But I thought that if you render a service, you BILL the client for it. If not for the client’s benefit, but for your own record-keeping purposes. But this daycare just expects you to pay every week. Which, OF COURSE. Of course they expect to be paid! That’s not my issue here! I am not one to shirk my financial obligations! I AM NOT A SHIRKER! But I was just going along, thinking, I wonder if they will send out the bill monthly or whatever, I mean, we paid our first week up front before the week started, and there was a deposit to hold the baby’s spot, but whatever, I was waiting for a bill.

But instead, I got a phone call at work – and yes, of course, if you are trying to collect money from your delinquent clients, you WOULD call them at work! I get that! – and I thought it was an emergency with my baby and I had about thirty seconds of my heart just up and leaving the building while I shouted “Hello! Hello! What’s wrong?!” into my phone, before the administrative person said, “Yeah, jerk lady, you need to pay us.” I’m paraphrasing. And you know what? It is TOTALLY REASONABLE to think I’m a jerk if I don’t pay you! But man, I wish I had KNOWN that there was no billing. (Now we are set up to make online payments, which I foisted off on my husband, so that’s good and everyone is getting paid. Stop shaking your head at me.) (Interesting note: The only credit card the online payment accepts? Discover.)

But here’s the rest of the “getting used to it” that I’m wishing came with instructions.

It’s the whole drop off process. When I first went back to work, I would take the baby in without her car seat, because it was warm and I was the one picking her up (so the car seat could stay in my car the whole day) and I really relished those extra snuggles on the way in the door. So I would go in, hand over her bottles, and just kind of stand there until one of the caretakers took her from me.

But then one day I happened to get there at the same time as another parent, and he brought his kid in INSIDE the car seat, and put the car seat – kid inside – on the floor near the toy chest, and said something like, “Is this a good place to leave him?” And the caretaker said yes, and the father left, and the kid stayed there.

So… Is THAT the preferred way to do drop off? To just…leave the kid somewhere so that the caretakers can keep feeding other kids breakfast or changing diapers or whatever?

Since then, I have been bringing the baby into daycare in her car seat, and then taking her out (snuggles), and then putting her in her crib. But… I don’t know if THAT’S the preferred thing to do either! And of course, I have the added anxiety of wondering how long she stays in the crib, staring at the ceiling, wondering why her mother has abandoned her.

But I wish the caretakers had said, Day One, “This is what you do.”

(By the way, I have asked questions of the caretakers. But they do this very unhelpful thing where they say, “Oh don’t worry about it! You do whatever you want!” Which is nice – I mean, I think they are trying to make it easy on ME, which is kind and appreciated. But it is not HELPFUL in understanding what I really should be doing.)

I wish I’d known that the daycare’s primary means of communicating with the parents is via a bulletin board. (Which hangs above a sign-in/sign-out binder that I ALSO didn’t know about until, oh Week 3, at which point I found out that my baby didn’t even have a sheet in the binder, so it’s not like I could have been filling it out ANYWAY.) Because that bulletin board is how I discovered, on a Wednesday, that the daycare was closed the following Monday for an in-service day or something. Luckily, my mother-in-law was able to watch the baby all day that Monday, which was the beginning of my first full week back at work, and so it would have been bad form to take a sick day or whatever.

And I wish I knew what the REAL policy about shoes is. There’s a big sign on the door to the infant room that says, “Please remove your shoes.” But… many of the parents do NOT remove their shoes.

And the caretakers wear shoes. So… am I needlessly removing my shoes every morning and every evening? I would honestly PREFER a room that doesn’t allow shoes in it – I mean, my kid has a tendency of shoving her face into the floor and licking it, so I think the cleaner the better.

(If you are poised, right now, to say “Germs are good for babies!” or “A little dirt never hurt anyone!” or the like, please refrain. Because I KNOW these things. But that knowledge does not make me okay with my kid licking tiny bits of gravel and bacteria from bathroom floors and leaf parts off the floor. Her immune system is going to get PLENTY of beefing up, believe me.)

(Since I’ve already headed down a side road, let’s go even further off course so I can tell that you that the whole “No Shoes in the Infant Room” policy is one that really gets right up under my goat. Right up in there. [You know I’m picturing a shaggy old billy goat, the kind with a white beard and a long-suffering expression and really beautiful eyelashes.] Every daycare we looked at had some sort of no-shoes policy. One daycare had shoe covers. One daycare claimed that their caretakers had special shoes they only wear inside the infant room. But none of those floors is free of Outside Influence. In one daycare, it was okay to wear street shoes in the crib area, but you had to put your shoe covers on while in the play area. But the caretakers – I watched this happen – would wear their shoe-covered shoes into the crib area. Where non-shoe-covered shoes had the habit of walking. Thus exposing the shoe covers to the dirt/bacteria from the uncovered shoes. Or! Like in my daycare. You can wear your shoes in the main hallways of the daycare. You only take off your shoes before entering the infant room. But the caretakers don’t remove their shoes when they walk through the hallways. So there is no point in them wearing Indoors Only shoes. I know this is a big deal to no one but me.)

(This is along the lines of food service prep workers who wear gloves to make food? But also, they wear the gloves to open the microwave, or to pour new rice into the rice container, or to open doors to the storeroom, or to operate the cash register. The gloves are not there to protect YOUR HANDS, they are there to protect MY MOUTH.)

(Also, recently, I went to a sandwich-type place and asked for a wedge salad, and I watched as the food prep person grabbed a brand-new head of iceberg lettuce from the fridge, all fresh and wrapped in the same plastic wrapper that my iceberg from the grocery store comes in, and she just chopped off a wedge and plopped it on a plate, no washing or anything. Do you know what face I’m making? The Face of Incredulous Disgust, is what. At least it wasn’t spinach! I mean, iceberg is tightly contained enough that it is the least grimy of all the lettuces, in my experience. But STILL. You WASH THE LETTUCE when you are preparing a salad for someone to eat!)

Somehow this devolved into lots of talk about germs. Let’s make a sharp turn over someone’s shrubbery and through the leaf pile on the curb and try to get back onto the original pavement of this post.

Ah yes, here we are: Getting back around to my original point, I just really wish that someone would sit down with you (not YOU, really ME) and spell out all the little quirks and rules and “the handbook says the day ends at five, but no one leaves before five thirty” and “we say that you can sign up for parent-teacher conferences, but no one really does” and “the daycare may be open until six, but the caretakers really hate staying until six and will talk about you, sometimes in front of other parents, if you have the habit of showing up at 5:59” and “your list of Must Bring items includes a sleep sack, but we don’t ever put your kid in a sleep sack, so save your money” and on and on so that you can do things right the first time, and not feel like a jerky idiot after you accidentally find out you’ve been Doing It All Wrong the whole time.

It is entirely possible that becoming a mom has made me even MORE neurotic than I was to begin with.

One year ago today, as I was driving home from work, I decided that it couldn’t hurt to stop at the grocery store and buy a pregnancy test.

Twelve months later, like magic, there’s an honest-to-goodness BABY in my life. (Okay, so it took less than twelve months from pregnancy test to actual infant. The baby is, after all, nearly four months old at this point. YES I KNOW I AM A TERRIBLE BLOGGER.)

I’ve wanted to post about the baby – I mean, obviously, the baby is kind of top of my mind these days. But it’s difficult.

First, from a practical standpoint, it’s hard to write about the baby while still maintaining my (loose semblance of, yes I know) anonymity. Part of that – and part of a deal I made with my husband – is that there will be no photos of the baby online. Not here, not on Facebook, not on Twitter. (Although apparently we don’t have control of OTHER people posting photos of our kid online GAH.) But because I want to post cute baby photos and talk about cute things the baby does, well, the “being anonymous” and “no baby photos online” things are kind of a blog blocker.

Also, I am not sure how to write about this baby while still making the blog about ME. You know, being able to write freely about my experiences and feelings while still being protective of the Future Grown Child and whatever embarrassment/anger my posting might cause someday.

And second (third?), there’s not a lot of TIME to write these days. The baby sleeps a decent amount, but I have this inability to move the sleepy, snuggly baby off my person to the crib, which I am sure you can understand. (Also, sleeping on my person is the way the baby sleeps best.) When the baby is not sleeping, that means near-constant Doing Things. Sure, they are not things that really involve a lot of actual DOING – more like “walking/bouncing around the house” and “reading Sandra Boynton books aloud, or sometimes Margaret Atwood if the baby so requires” – but still, they don’t really offer a whole lot of time for blogging.

Thirourth, I am still ridiculously emotional about All Things Baby, so I am having a hard time just getting ANYTHING down. For example, I really wanted to record the story of the birth. Like, REALLY. And even create, out of the birth story, an edited version for the blog. But I can’t get the whole story down! It makes me cry (not because anything really BAD happened, just so you don’t worry) because it was such a Big Thing, and I get upset thinking about how RAW everything was – EMOTIONALLY, sheesh – and then I get all nostalgic for the enormous amount of time that has already passed, and then I start picturing first steps and high school and doctoral degrees and my possible future grandchildren and ACK. SOB. No writing gets done.

But I miss blogging. I miss YOU. I mean, I get little tidbits about some fellow bloggers from Twitter, which is awesome, but I miss TALKING to you about the whole shebang. All the details. I have so many questions! I have so many conflicting emotions that I want to discuss with you! I want you to fall in love with the baby the way I have!

And some little non-photographic details about the baby, in case you are curious:

We had a baby girl.

She made her appearance 16 days after her due date. (Yes, SIXTEEN DAYS. Where is my medal?)

She shares a first name with a queen and a civil rights activist. (It is a family name.)

She is – so far; I am well-versed in The Law of Babies Will Prove Anything Wrong You Put About Them on the Internet – a very easy-going, happy baby who sleeps well. (Although she has clearly ruined my ability to craft elegant sentences, or even sentences with a semblance of clear grammatical structure.) (I know, I know – don’t blame the baby.)

She is constantly in motion – even while sleeping: she rotates in circles throughout the night. She wants to gogogo all the time. The day after she entered her third month, she rolled over, as if to say, “Okay, conquered THAT milestone – now what?” and now is trying valiantly to get up on her hands and knees so she can begin to crawl. SIGH. Slow DOWN, Baby!

We really lucked out with this kiddo. She is very quiet – so far, not (again, tempting fate here) really a crier. She really only cries when she’s hungry (or hurt – as I know from the two-month shots), and fusses a little when she’s tired or bored. She likes to be held, but doesn’t like to be fussed with. She is lately experimenting with some dolphin noises, which I currently find adorable (check back after she’s been doing it for a few weeks).

She already has so much personality. I feel so incredibly lucky that she’s mine.

Her smiles knock me dead.

I am so in love with her.

So, I totally got an iPhone. Thank you very much for your helpful comments. I am still not sold that it was a great idea (so expensive!), but I am trying to ease into it. And I think that once I have a bitty baby to photograph 8,000 times a day, I will really appreciate it.

Speaking of which…

Internet, I am appealing to your collective kind nature here:

Please tell me your (PG) “getting labor started” stories.

Because I am ready to get this labor started, and it’s just NOT STARTING. My dear friend Kristina even gave me her No-Fail 3 Step Process and it did not work. Okay, so I only managed two of the three steps, but STILL.

Anyway, I have tried all the methods. (Except I am not drinking castor oil or eating sardines.) And will probably CONTINUE to try all the methods because I have to do SOMETHING while this baby decides whether to show up. What I really want here is COMFORT, possibly humor if you have some to spare.

What I do NOT want are horror stories about being 45 weeks pregnant or being in labor for 108 hours or… anything else that is horrible.

NOR do I want admonishments to “let Nature take its course.” Because I AM. I am not at my doctor’s house, begging her to induce me.  No, I am writing this cranky blog post. Nature. Course. I GET IT.

And yet I am tired, Internet. (I know, I will be tireder when the baby arrives. I should sleep now.) (HA.) My belly weighs about a thousand pounds. I wake up 89 times a night to visit the restroom or wonder excitedly whether I’m in labor and then pout glumly when I am NOT, AGAIN. I go to work every day and have to endure, about seven zillion times, “You’re still here?!?” and “What are you DOING here?” and “Where is that baby?!?” Everyone I know is suddenly keenly interested in texting me to find out whether I’ve had the kid or not. (Have not.)

My parents are arriving in the next couple of days, having taken off work specifically to be here for This Joyous Event, and having picked a week so far past my due date they were SURE that there would be an honest-to-goodness infant here when they arrived. IT WOULD BE NICE TO HAVE AN INFANT TO PRESENT THEM.

Also, it’s hot. And my everything is swollen. My toes are so fat, the toenails are digging into the toe meat of the toes that used to be safely out of reach.

Also, the weekly emails that I signed up for to tell me that the baby was the size of a kumquat* or a honeydew melon or whatever? THEY ARE NOW TELLING ME WHAT IT’S LIKE TO HAVE A ONE-WEEK-OLD.

Please, tell me something comforting. Something that YOU, in my position, would have liked to hear.

In return, I am posting the first photos of myself ever in the history of this blog.  It may be an inadequate payment, but this is all I have.

Me, at 21 weeks.

This was back in the day when I could still button jackets and sweaters and such.

This was back in the day when I could still button jackets and sweaters and such.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me, at 35 weeks.

 

35W 5D 2

This was when I felt pregnant, but still cute-ish. I could wear my rings, I could wear shoes. Life was good.

 

Me, at 41 weeks.

 

41W 2

No rings. No ankles. No baby. COME OUT, BABY! COME OUT!

 

Actually, I don’t even need any Surefire Ways to Get Labor Started stories. I will take ANY stories that will distract me from the fact that there is no baby. ANY STORIES**.

 

 

* One week? The fruit the email compared the baby to was a durian fruit. Listen, I know what a durian fruit is because I’ve watched the Food Network for many years. But… it’s not a COMMON fruit. And, even though I happen to know what it IS, I still have never seen one in real life. It’s not something my local grocer puts out among the peaches and the mangoes. PICK A FRUIT EVERYBODY KNOWS, EMAIL. Also, one with less of a reputation for smelling and tasting like garbage flavored morning breath.

**As long as they aren’t horror stories about birth or labor or being overdue.

 

What with all the recent hoopla about privacy vs. national security, I’m kind of feeling like going off the grid. But for the purposes of this post, I am going to stuff that feeling deep inside my closet, you know, behind the twenty pairs of jeans I haven’t worn in five years.  And let’s move rapidly along, because (as usual) I need your advice.

You see, my husband just got a “special offer” email from Verizon, and the special offer is $100 off an iPhone. And he and I are both up to renew our contracts. And we are also about to have a child, which seems related in my brain but probably isn’t.

Anyway, he and I have both had flip phones for the past approximately one thousand years and we are jointly wondering whether we should just bite the bullet and get iPhones or not.

Now, before you jump to the comments section and say, “Yes! Buy an iPhone! It’s the best thing ever!” I would like to discuss it, you know, one-sidedly, as one does in a blog post, for a bit longer. (You: Total shock that I wouldn’t want to end a post after just 180 words.)

Now, if I know anything about the iPhone, it’s that it inspires some sort of rabid fandom that totally erases any measure of practicality or reasonability (or at least it SEEMS SO, from the vantage of an iPhone skeptic)… so if you are right now heading to the comments section ANYWAY, I would like to plead with you to put on your most practical response pants and respond in as practical and frugal a manner as you can. Because the “it’s so cool!” argument just isn’t compelling enough to win me over.

Here’s my case AGAINST getting an iPhone.

1. It’s expensive.  Getting an iPhone means paying for a) the phone and b) the data plan and c) some ludicrous phone upgrade fee that Verizon has drummed up ON TOP OF the normal cost of having a phone.  And, since there’s no way my husband is getting an iPhone and I’m not (FAIRNESS), we’re talking a doubling of those things. Based on a rough estimate, getting iPhones will cost us an extra (approximately) $800 this year, and an extra (approximately) $500 a year after that.

Listen, I get that different people make different choices about how to spend their money.  I have no problem paying $6 for a pint of raspberries if I am in the mood for raspberries, but I cannot stomach the thought of paying more than $6 for a tube of mascara, even though I wear mascara Every Single Day.  I don’t have any problems with YOU paying $80 bucks for your mascara, if that is what you choose to prioritize in your budget. That’s totally FINE. I probably spend a great deal of time longing for your luxurious eyelashes. It’s just… not how I choose to apportion my funds. (And you might be totally SHOCKED that I am happy to spend so much on such a small amount of raspberries, which go bad so quickly you really have to eat them over the course or a day or two. Which is FINE. I’m not forcing you to buy raspberries.) Anyway, the idea of paying an extra (EXTRA) $500 a year just to have a fancy phone that I’ve never really needed or missed before seems, well, to borrow Swistle’s term, STARTLING.

And the thing is, well, we’re having this baby. And I hear that babies are expensive. Plus, I’m taking some time off work for maternity leave, which means that – even with my job’s extraordinarily generous maternity leave policy – I will be earning less than I would otherwise. Plus then there’s the cost of daycare once I go back to work. Plus the cost of HAVING the baby.  So. Expensive. What I’m saying is, even though we are fortunate enough to be able to consider spending an extra $500 a year (GULP), it would still be an expense that would require budgetary cutbacks elsewhere, and, frankly, it seems like a perfectly RIDICULOUS amount of money to be spending on what I see as a Fun Gadget Luxury Item.

I am talking myself out of this iPhone right here in this first bullet. But! I promised my husband I would ask you to weigh in, Internet, so I shall soldier on!

2. I don’t actually NEED an iPhone. I think a phone is probably a need. I mean, it’s not topping Maslow’s hierarchy or anything, but I think it’s reasonable to say that having a way people can get in touch with you and a way that you can get in touch with others in an emergency is a necessity.  But that’s A phone, not an iPhone.

Now, I know most (all?) people use their iPhones for more than just phoning. Texting, Facebooking, emailing, web browsing, photographing… plus other things I’m sure I’ve never even THOUGHT of.  But… I have a computer for email purposes. I have a camera. I don’t really use Facebook (although when I do: computer). And my phone texts just fine – well, it SENDS texts just fine; it does not receive texts quite as well: sometimes I get texts from people (with iPhones, no doubt) that appear as just a series of squares – and besides, I’m not a big texter to begin with.

Sure, there have been a few isolated times when I’ve felt like having an iPhone would be really handy. When you’re halfway between home and a store you need to visit, but you don’t know if the store is open on Sundays and you really don’t want to drive the extra 30 minutes just to SEE if it’s open on Sundays, but it would be a real pain to have to drive a whole HOUR to the store next weekend… THAT is when an iPhone would be useful. Or when you’re at the mall and you see a tie that you think your husband would LOVE, and it’s even on sale, but the sale ends today and your husband is stuck at the hospital and also is very picky about ties… it would be so nice to just snap a picture of the tie and text it to him for an immediate response.  Or when you’re at the grocery store and you see that baby back ribs are on special and you would LOVE to make ribs for dinner, but you can’t for the life of you remember the ingredients for the sauce… it would be great to be able to look up the recipe right there in the meat aisle.

But these “man, I wish I had an iPhone” occurrences are – for me, at least – fewer and farther between than you might expect.  Really, I get along just fine with my little flip phone and my computer. I don’t mind taking photos with my camera – it’s very easy to upload them to my computer and the quality is, as I understand it (which is not very well, I’m just trying to be honest here), better than you might find with an iPhone photograph.

3. In general, the iPhone “culture” annoys me. I really hope you don’t take offense here, Internet, because I am sure YOU are perfectly polite when it comes to your phone habits. But it seems to me that iPhones engender a kind of… electronic dependence and a self-prioritization that I don’t find particularly savory.  I am thinking of the people who bring their iPhones to work meetings and leaf through emails during the meeting. Or the people who set their iPhones on the table during a meal and respond to texts or Facebook posts while we’re eating/conversing.

I get that things are now very different from when I was kid. Our culture places a premium on connectivity, and the ability to be in-the-know and involved at all times, anywhere…  and in-person interaction has dropped in value… and the boundaries of social acceptability have loosened to embrace our electronic devices…

But it annoys me, okay? If you and I are at lunch, I want to talk to YOU, not watch the hilarious YouTube video someone linked to on your Facebook page or wait for you to scroll through the funny message your brother just texted you before you complete a sentence. I find the whole thing disruptive and disrespectful and yes, I fully realize that I sound like a crotchety old bag shouting “kids these days!” and “stay off my lawn!” but that’s how I FEEL. And I don’t want to give in to that pull to be connected all day every day, to turn into a person whose attention is only half on her companion and half on whatever it is people need to constantly LOOK AT when they have iPhones.

Also, I don’t want my HUSBAND to turn into one of those people. He had a smart phone a few years ago, when his parents still paid for his phone service. And I recall that he always seemed to be looking something up – at lunch, he’d Google the craft beer on the menu… Or we’d be walking through Target and he’d compare the price of the vacuum we wanted to buy to whatever Amazon was selling it for… Or we’d be waiting for a movie to start and he’d look up the latest sports scores. I don’t know. What I’m saying is, while I FULLY ADMIT that perhaps my memory of this is distorted, and that it wasn’t as bad as I remember it was, it drove me CRAZY and I don’t want that to be our lives. I want to pay attention to each other when we’re together.

(As a potentially-relevant-or-not aside: I remember going on car trips with my family where all I wanted to do was curl up in the back seat and devour the latest Christopher Pike novel, and my father would constantly interrupt me to suggest that I look outside at the scenery! Look at those cows! What an unusual rock formation! Isn’t the Blackfoot particularly full this year? Back then, I just wanted him to leave me alone so I could read. But now I completely understand where he was coming from. Adulthood: Unlocked.)

Also: STOP USING YOUR IPHONE WHILE DRIVING IT’S DANGEROUS.

Okay, so those are my reasons NOT to get an iPhone.

Solid reasons, no? And yet here I am, really and truly contemplating getting an iPhone ANYWAY.

Here are my reasons FOR getting an iPhone.

1. It seems like having an iPhone and being a parent complement each other quite well.  I suspect that I will want to take nine billion pictures of the little one in the coming months (and years), and that doing so will be MUCH easier with an iPhone rather than having to keep my camera on hand TOO.

Plus, while uploading photos from my camera to my computer is no big deal, it seems like it will be much simpler to just… text a photo I’ve just taken on my phone to my husband or my mother-in-law or whomever.  In fact, it sounds like I could do all that one-handed, while nursing or holding a sleeping infant.  And, since I always have my phone on me, I wouldn’t have to worry about the baby doing something adorable and photo-worthy while we’re out grocery shopping, or whatever, and I don’t have my camera on hand.

Plus, middle-of-the-night feedings/shushings/inability-to-sleepings. You, Internet, have taught me the value of an iPhone for easy, one-handed web browsing or Twittering or blogging.  We do have an iPad, but even that seems unwieldy if I am trying to nurse and read at the same time.

Plus, apps. Like apps that track nursing frequency. White noise apps. Apps you can use to distract a slightly older child while in the waiting room of a doctor’s office. I don’t even KNOW, but I get the sense that they are a godsend for a multitude of reasons.

Plus, FaceTime.  This baby’s grandparents ALL live far away. Same goes for Auntie and Uncle.  I imagine keeping in touch is much easier with FaceTime – something that even my off-the-grid parents will be able to use, since my mom just bought an iPad.

2. It seems inevitable. Okay, I realize that this reason is pretty ridiculous. But it really does seem like non-smartphone options are going the way of the cassette tape.  If, in a few years, we’ll be forced to buy a smartphone anyway, why not jump on the bandwagon NOW when we can take advantage of all the kid-specific benefits listed above?

In other giving-in-to-peer-pressure justificationism, I am also growing weary of not being able to see texts from people with smartphones… Of missing out on cute photos because the screen on my flip phone is the size of a postage stamp… Of being the last person to respond to a work email because I only check my email on a computer… Of getting half-incredulous, half-mocking, “THAT’S your PHONE?” comments when I get a call. Everybody’s doing it, and I am tired of resisting.

Okay, so you’ve heard my reasons FOR and my reasons AGAINST. Now, I would love to hear YOUR thoughts.

If you were to step inside my brain, to try to really understand my reasons FOR and AGAINST, even if they are completely opposite from YOUR reasons for or against owning an iPhone, what would you say to sway me one way or another?

Why do you love your iPhone, if you have one? What are its most practical uses? What makes it worth the money?

What reasons FOR or AGAINST and I overlooking?

This is one of those posts where I make you decide who is right and who is wrong. The people you are choosing between? Me – the really-not-so-great-at-blogging-lately-blogger you adore – or my husband – a guy you don’t even know.

I am going to try my best to explain each side in as unbiased a way possible, so as to keep your judgments strictly fact-based. But you must take a side. You MUST.

Listen, Internet, I need you to really FOCUS here. Because your vote is SUPER IMPORTANT. After all, we are about to bring a CHILD into the world, and teach that child the Right way to do things. And since one of these responses is so clearly WRONG, the WRONG Spouse needs to be educated before the baby arrives.

THIS IS FOR THE BABY.

(As always, please recall that whenever I write a post that forces you, Internet, to take sides between me and my husband – which I have done, to this point, just a few times, not counting this post which is really not interesting enough to require such a lengthy disclaimer – I feel morally obligated to reference Temerity Jane, who writes similar-enough-that-I-feel-morally-torn-type posts [only better and with more hilarity]. [This is purely a moral obligation, not a Temerity-Jane-imposed obligation.])

Let’s get right to the situation shall we?

First, you need to imagine that you are standing in your kitchen, minding your own business, possibly cursing the very dishes you are washing for the ten BAJILLIONTH time because dishes never END, EVER, while your spouse is upstairs doing – let’s be charitable here – some household chore that is equally necessary and irritating, when you hear a loud crashing noise from the second floor.  (You may have to imagine that you live in a house with a second floor.)

Now, the crashing noise is… distressing in that it’s not a normal Household Sound (me: momentarily glad I don’t live in a house where crashing is NORMAL) (the baby: not yet) and so you run to the bottom of the stairs and you yell up to your spouse.

What is it that you yell?

One of us, in such a situation, would yell, “What happened?”

The other would yell, “Are you okay?”

Now, before we delve into each of these responses, let’s imagine two other scenarios.

Scenario #1 (okay, really #2 if we are counting the Loud Crash as Scenario #1): You and your spouse are standing in the afore-mentioned kitchen and one of you is loading dishes into the dishwasher and the other of you is puttering about the kitchen, getting dinner ready or putting groceries away or some such.  Then one of you – you, your spouse, doesn’t matter I guess; this is YOUR imagination – trips over the dishwasher and cracks a toe or a shin on the corner and yelps in pain.

What do you say?

“Are you okay?”

“What happened?”

Scenario #2 (really, #3):  You and your spouse are settling in for an evening watching Mad Men or Justified or [insert your own wonderful TV show with adorable leading man here], and one of you carries the bowl of popcorn while the other carries the drinks.

Just as you reach the couch, one of you trips, flinging popcorn/[drink of your choice] all over the couch and the floor and everything.

Okay, if your FIRST response isn’t laughter, what is it?

“What happened?”

“Are you okay?”

In my house, one of us almost exclusively responds with “What happened?” and the other responds with “Are you okay?”

“Are you okay?” is the more appropriate response because it defines the other person’s well-being as the asker’s priority.  Things get dropped/broken/spilled; people trip. But what is important here is whether the dropper/breaker/spiller/tripper is all right. Understanding whether the person is okay will also help the asker determine what to do next:, i.e. calling 911 or offering a hug vs. grabbing a towel/vacuum cleaner.

“What happened?” is the more appropriate response because it pinpoints the cause of the crash/trip/pain.  It allows the asker to assess the situation clearly and formulate a clear plan of action for dealing with the situation.  If the cause of the crash was an accidental backing-into-a-stack of books, that’s a whole different beast than if it were caused by a person fainting or falling down the stairs or being pinned under a bookcase. If the trip into the dishwasher was the result of a slippery floor or a failure on the spouse’s part to make it clear that the dishwasher was open and in the way, well, that’s different than if the tripper just misjudged the distance between shin and sharp corner.

“Are you okay?” is NOT an appropriate response because it does nothing to solve the situation or prevent similar situations in the future. Plus, usually, your spouse can SEE, with his/her own two eyes, that you ARE okay, so what’s the point in asking?

“What happened?” is NOT an appropriate response because it implies blame in a situation where the dropper/breaker/spiller/tripper might already feel stupid and embarrassed. Plus, it doesn’t acknowledge any physical pain that may have resulted from the drop/break/spill/trip, which might be more important to the dropper/breaker/spiller/tripper than some knocked-over books or popcorn-covered couch cushions.

It is so very clear to me that one of these responses is WRONG that I am practically shaking with the wrongness.

I have no doubt that you will take my side in this. NO DOUBT. But let’s all try to be fair and reasonable when explaining which is right and which is wrong and why.

GO.

Oh Internet, if I have one complaint about being pregnant (besides morning sickness, which, ACK), it’s the TIRED.  It has seriously cramped my blogging style. Not to mention my ability to garden. SHEESH.

Anyway, I am presented with a rare few hours of wakefulness that are free for reading and writing and, well, here are some things.

  • I’m pretty sure it was a Mother’s Day kind of thing, not a personal targeting of ME, but all the TV ads lately have been so baby centric. Which means that every time I watch TV I end up sobbing over a Target ad or trying to convince my husband that we NEED to buy a Subaru.

Hormones, man. Am I right? These moe-foes is CRAZY.

  • You know I’m an anal-retentive over-thinker a planner, right?  So I have been continually perplexed by trying to plan for something that is so very unknown.  It would be nice to have some diapers in the house when the baby gets here… but… how do you know which SIZE the baby will need? Some babies need newborn size diapers. Others are big enough to skip right past them – or to need them for a super short time. And what about clothing? How many newborn onesies do you NEED? Like, reasonably? And how many 0-3 months?

And why is infant clothing sizery so CONFUSING? Does 0-3 months mean “big enough for your kid to grow into between age just-popped-out and 3 months”? Or does it mean, “some newborns will fit this outfit, and some 3-month-olds will fit it, just depends on your particular baby, and you won’t know for sure until the kiddo gets here so better not take off any tags or do any laundry”? These things are making it very hard to plan.

  • Now that it’s no longer winter and I can’t hide behind coats, people are noticing – and commenting on – the belly. So far, no one has tried to touch me. Which is a huge relief. I must give off a tangible forcefield of I Will Slap You If You Put Your Hands On My Abdomen.
  • There is, though, the one Checkout Girl at my local grocery store who notices me every week and makes a comment… even though it’s clear – CLEAR – that she is confident she’s never seen me before in her life. It’s actually kind of funny. We go through the same song and dance every week. “Oh congratulations! Do you know what you’re having? How far along are you? My sister had a baby FIVE WEEKS early, so you just never know!” Every week. EVERY WEEK. It’s gotten a little tiresome on my end, although she’s so sweet about it I really shouldn’t complain. But I have been contemplating switching things up on her next time. Telling her I’m due in December. Acting offended and saying I’m not pregnant. You know. Mean things that poor sweet Checkout Girl does not deserve.
  • Speaking of people at the grocery store saying sweet things: A twenty-something girl in front of me in line the other day spotted my belly and her whole face lit up and she exclaimed, “Oh, happy baby!” like someone might do after discovering it was your birthday or anniversary. It was adorable.
  • One of my former coworkers is pregnant, with her second. When we were exchanging all the pertinent details – how we’re feeling, due date, whether we’d learned the sex – I discovered that she and her husband know the baby’s sex… but are keeping it a secret. I’ve never heard that one before – have you? I mean, I know some people don’t find out the sex at all… and some people keep the baby’s name a secret until the birth… but I’ve never heard of keeping the sex secret. I don’t approve or disapprove – whatever, dude – but I found it interesting because I’ve never heard of it being done.
  • I spend half my time trying to reassure my coworkers that I am totally FINE, there’s no reason I can’t carry that (really not-heavy – I’m not an idiot) small box of letters to someone else’s office or attend such-and-such work event that involves standing and I can certainly walk up the stairs or down the street to lunch… and the other half I spend feeling petulant that my husband doesn’t forcibly prevent me from emptying the dishwasher.
  • By the way, I dutifully took your (Swistle’s) advice and went looking for a rocker/recliner after I wrote about gliders many moons ago. But I ran into trouble immediately. Firstly, it was harder than y’all made it sound to find a chair that both rocks AND reclines. Secondly, the ones I did find were ooogly. Then, my in-laws bought the uber-expensive Pottery Barn glider I’d been drooling over in the first place, so I stopped looking.  Hopefully it is exactly what we need.

(The matching ottoman showed up several weeks ago. But… the actual CHAIR has yet to materialize.)

  • Can we talk about the hospital bag? I’m pretty sure I should pack one… and I’ve read ALL THE LISTS on the Internet (including Emily’s massive and wonderful hospital bag compendium), and yet I just can’t bring myself to pack things. For one thing, denial, probably. For another, what is the actual BAG you need? A mini suitcase? A gym bag? One of those reusable grocery store bags? I feel like just knowing what size bag I need will help immensely.

Also, I feel like I have to BUY STUFF to put into the bag. Like something to wear during the delivery. I’m not going to go all out and buy one of those Pretty Pushers gowns or anything – that’s just not my kind of thing. But I would like to emulate the girl in one of the horrific videos we watched during our birthing class: she had a sports bra and a little tennis skirt type thing on that made her seem simultaneously modest and well-prepared and also sporty. Who doesn’t want to feel sporty while pushing a human out of her nether regions?

Of course, I OWN sports bras. But… They are mainly pre-pregnancy sports bras, which means that a) they are really tight these days and b) they aren’t nursing compatible and c) they are obviously totally inadequate for Giving Birth.

Another thing I need? Clothes for the trip home. Supposedly, I will look/feel around six months pregnant when I leave the hospital. Fine. I have clothes I can wear. But… are they really the RIGHT clothes? It will likely be hot outside, so I don’t want leggings. Plus, I hear that tight things aren’t so comfortable right away. But if I don’t wear leggings and some sort of loose top, what do I wear? I have a black sundress that would work – cotton, comfy, and if it gets soiled I won’t care. But… do you really leave the hospital in a sundress? That seems inappropriate, somehow, but I don’t know WHY. So then I go back to leggings… but what SHIRT would I wear? Don’t I need a nursing top? If so, I have to BUY one. (Which, yes, I guess I will have to do at some point ANYWAY, but sheesh. So much BUYING STUFF.)

By the way, these are the ridiculous circular arguments I am having with myself about EVERYTHING on my Hospital Bag list.

  • And then what about the baby’s coming home outfit? I fell down a coming-home-outfit wormhole the other day from which I barely survived… and I STILL don’t know what it should be. Partly because I don’t have any idea HOW BIG THE BABY WILL BE. GAH.

Okay, Internet. That’s all I have for you.

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