Sunday, February 2, 2014

Privacy Policy

I made the decision to publicly share the details of my pregnancy in an effort to encourage other women who find themselves in the same situation as me – unhappily childless, for whatever reason.  Although I recently realized I’m an introvert, I guess I’m a pretty lenient one, since I’m not shy about sharing personal stories or struggles.  I’ve been told I’m a transparent person (in the best possible way), and that the honesty with which I share my challenges has encouraged others.  So I don’t have a problem being open about this particular journey.

What I am wondering about, though, is how social media is going to play a role once this baby comes along.  I’ve seen both extremes with new parents – moms and dads who refuse to post any pictures or even the names of their children, as well as moms and dads who recount the grisly details of the baby’s most recent diaper blow-out – including pictures!  Most of my close friends have babies or toddlers, and it can be fun to follow their adventures.  Two of our besties, Matt and Jaime in particular, post a lot of pictures of their fun, cute little girls.  I like seeing them, probably because I’ve known all the girls since they were born, and spent time with them, and because we’re close with their parents.  We know their personalities, and mom and dad are not all about the “look at how amazing our kids are; they’re better than your kids!” mentality.  They’re fun, relaxed parents who have a great sense of humor about parenting and life in general.  And they do post about things other than their children.  They have interests besides their daughters!  They’re Christians who are involved in their church; Matt is a super-geek like Ross and myself and we like to talk about superhero and fantasy movies.  Jaime is a hair stylist and a thrifty fashionista and we love sharing our opinions on the latest trends. 

They’re people who are people first, then parents.

However, on the other hand, there are some mothers who make me kind of uncomfortable. Moms who are hyper-obsessed with their children.  Moms who post nothing but stories about their baby bellies, sleeping babies, and the all-natural, pesticide-free, organic kale, kefir, and pomegranate smoothies they are feeding their toddlers because fast food is an invention of Satan himself.   
Let me try to explain.  It’s not an issue of the organic, whole food thing.  In fact, that's something I've been considering more and more lately.  However, it is an issue of the fact that it seems like these ladies have lost their identities and see themselves solely as child-rearers.  I mean, I know a baby is going to dramatically change my life, and I’m concerned about maintaining my identity as a woman, a wife, a Christian, a writer. 

Things already have begun to change.  For example, last year I had (finally!) developed the healthy habit of daily exercise, dropped about 20 pounds, and was hoping to lose an additional 15 more.  With the diagnosis of a subchorionic hematoma and its subsequent bleeding, I was put on strict pelvic rest, which meant that, at least for a time, I could no longer exercise.  Initially I thought, what a great excuse for relaxing and putting my feet up!  Five weeks and seven pounds heavier, I was having a hard time looking in the mirror.  (Please note, I am only five feet tall, so a “few pounds” look and feel considerably heavier on me and are harder on my health than on a person of a taller stature.  I’m not just being “overdramatic” and “hormonal” about gaining weight.)  I’ve had to make changes in my diet, like any conscientious pregnant woman.  I’ve given up my favorite food, sushi, because of the danger it poses to the baby.  I’ve cut back on artificial sweeteners and caffeine.  I’m shunning cold cuts.  I’m, asking for my meat cooked well (blech!) rather than medium.  I’m trying to incorporate more fruits and veggies (very hard, since I’ve been too tired to properly plan my meals lately).  I’m not complaining about these things, per se, because all are part of my efforts to keep the baby healthy and strong.  But it does feel strange, realizing that, right now, my body is not entirely my own, and my decisions have to reflect that.

I don’t resent this child growing within me – no!  I’ve prayed for a baby for years and was crushed when we suffered our miscarriages.  I’m saying that, even now, I’m becoming conscious of how great the changes in my life will be once there is another little human in my house, and it won’t be easy. 
If we’re honest, we have to face it.  Human nature is selfish.  We want things our way – no matter what society or country we live in.  Humanity is at its beautiful best when it is able to set aside that urge and put others first, whether it means individuals taking our turn in line, donating to charity, giving up a seat on a bus, or, more dramatically, laying down their lives for others.  I’m saying that I’m already experiencing the sting of selfishness, long before my baby arrives.

As much as I want a child, the idea of being one-hundred percent attentive to a tiny person is sort of scary.  When will I sleep?  What will my body look like?  Will I ever “feel pretty” again?  What if I want to spend quality time with my husband?  What if I act like my husband isn’t even in the picture?  What else in my life will change?  Which brings me back to those militant moms.  Did they forget how to be people?  It seems to me that their very existence is devoted to nothing other than raising their children.  Reading their social media feeds is pretty much like tuning into the “my child” station 24-7.  It’s terrifying.  It feeds into the fearful question I asked my friend Jaime when she was pregnant with her third daughter, and we were discussing parenthood.  “Will I lose my identity?”  Basically , her reply was “You don’t have to if you don’t want to.  You’re still you.  You have other obligations, more love in your heart, more responsibilities and more challenges, but you are still you.”  That was reassuring.

I mean, I don’t want a mommy blog.  I don’t want my writing to revolve around baby food and poopy diapers and unidentifiable rashes.  I want to keep writing about all the things that are important to me – my husband, my faith, my family, fashion, my cats, science-fiction, cooking, and yes – my children will absolutely make that list!  But I also want to respect their privacy and I don’t want to get into a place where I begin to  lecture other parents on how to raise their kids.  There is way too much of that already with the fiery breast vs. bottle debates, the vemonous battle between the vaxxers and the anti-vaxxers, the outspoken crunchy moms and the, um…slightly-soggy moms?  Yes, I will raise my children in the church and openly share my values and beliefs with them.  Yes, I will vaccinate my kids.  Yes, I plan to breast-feed.  Yes, I passionately and fervently believe that I will be doing the right thing for my children, but I am also determined to maintain an open mind in regards to parents who choose to do things differently (unless those things put my kids in danger). 

That being said, my friend and former college roomie Megan and I are considering starting a blog together.  She is a very funny lady who also happens to be a vegetarian, a leaning-to-the-left liberal, and a homeschooler of her three wild kids (one of whom has some different needs).  I know Megs well, and I don’t consider her “crunchy” or “weird”.   She is also a person first, then a parent.  She is a dedicated runner, a loyal and supportive wife, and a part-time professor.  She loves her kids.  She also loves spending time away from them.  She is secretly a little bit geeky.  We don’t see eye-to-eye on everything, but she’s a person who makes me laugh and whom I admire.  She’s one of the people who can talk about how passionate she is about the way she eats, and it’s neither annoying nor preachy.  We've agreed that we won't be discussing politics, and it will be a PG-rated blog (much to the sassy Megan's dismay).  Politics, religion, and otherwise volatile subjects will be discussed on our personal pages, if we desire, not our co-blog!  We're thinking of calling it "The Kid/Cat Club".

That is something I can hook up with.  Stories about her three kids, and the antics of my three cats, maybe some recipes, our adventures at work – what could possibly result but endless hilarity?

And that’s one thing all my new-mom friends seem to agree on…with a small screaming human being clawing constantly at your breast, you definitely need a laugh or two to get you through the day…

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Pretty Kitty Roller Derby

So, no, I haven't thrown up during my pregnancy.  Awesome!  I'm very fortunate! 

But our newest kitty-cat has more than compensated for it.  In every possible way.

Apparently, Lady Freyja the Gray is not adjusting particularly well to being a housecat.  In the beginning, she was kept in her own room, with her own food and litter box.  She went in the box and ate all her food, trying to escape the room each time the door was opened.  We played with her each day, brought her toys (which she rejected) and pet her soft fur.   Sometimes the other two cats would pay her a quick visit, under our supervision.  We called her the "Princess in the Tower".   Once we got her to the vet, who put her age around Thor's (2 1/2 to 3 years) and seemed surprised that she was in good health for a stray, we began the process of giving her run of the house.

It has not gone well. 

Loki seems to resent being the "middle child" and has made that very clear to Freyja.  Although Freyja is a larger, older cat, she lets Loki boss her around.   Loki has determined that Freyja is "allowed" to live on top of the chest of drawers in our front entryway.  She's sometimes "allowed" to sleep on top of the kitchen counters (these are Loki's rules and they do not jive with mine.)  She's also "allowed" to sleep on the couch, provided that Ross or I am on the couch, too.  If she ventures too far away from the living room or the hallway, Loki tears after her like she's got wheels, fur flying.  Per Loki, Freyja is not "allowed" into the basement...which has created some pretty putrid potty problems upstairs.  After the fourth pile of fresh poo that was waiting for us after work, we called in the big guns.

I texted my baby sister Jules, who is in grad school to be a vet.

I shared my concern that Freyja was regressing due to anxiety and territorial problems, and both she and her "cat expert" colleague agreed.  They suggested temporarily putting a litter box near where she likes to poop.  In the kitchen.  UGH!  That worked for a week or so, until it wasn't cleaned to Freyja's liking.  That day, she punished Ross by taking a potty break right in front of the front door.

At our wits' end, we finally tried moving the covered box to right next to the front door, underneath the (unused) writing desk in the entryway.  She is definitely using it now, and, at least since it's winter, we're not noticing any particularly unpleasant aromas from it. 

But she's also been having other tummy troubles.

She horked in Ross's shoes last week. 

It wasn't entirely her fault.  Since, according to Loki's Law, she is not allowed on the floor, she had to vomit from on top of the drawers.  Ross's work shoes happened to be directly underneath.

She's thrown up a few times since then, and I don't think it's what she is eating so much as how fast she is eating.  Terrified that Loki will attack her, I've seen her gulp her Friskies faster than Garfield downs a tray of lasagna.  Of course, cat physiology isn't entirely different from that of humans, and if they eat too quickly, guess what happens?

I actually caught her puking the other day.  It was a pretty gruesome sight.  She seems fine otherwise, and she's been cleared of worms by the vet, so the only thing that seems to make sense is that she's been agitated.  And I know that it's not Thor doing the terrorizing.  Oh, Loki.  Sometimes you are so very like your namesake...

I guess all the cats are cooperating in order to prepare me for motherhood.

How sweet of them.