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Archive for September, 2009

Politics & Pregnancy

Hubby says politics seem to follow me around wherever I go.  But I think politics is just everywhere, so we can’t avoid it.

Last weekend, we received a form letter from our obstetrician’s office that the practice was switching hospitals starting November 1st.  We were more than a little irked by this announcement.  We moved from San Francisco, where we had an OB whom we loved, and had to find a provider here in New Hampshire.  We went with this particular hospital, Catholic Medical Center, because it has an excellent reputation for labor & delivery.  We had just gotten settled into the OB practice and found a doctor with whom we felt comfortable.  And now we got this notice.  Bleah.

Turns out there were some political shenanigans going on at the OB practice that led them to switch hospitals.  We are not privvy to the gory details, but we did learn that the practice is basically splitting in half, with three of the doctors going to the new hospital and three staying with CMC and joining their midwifery practice.  Thankfully, it sounds like our doctor is staying with CMC, so we will still be able to deliver there; we will, however, need to officially switch OB practices to the midwifery group.  Not optimal for a pregnant woman 10 weeks away from her due date.

I can swing with this, annoyed as I am.  It’s yet another decision we have to make in a year of major decisions.  I would like a respite, please.

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Yesterday, I had to take my wedding rings off because my fingers had started to plump up.  I will be 30 weeks pregnant tomorrow and the increased fluid retention in my body is causing some achy joints and swelling.  It took me a while to pry the rings off my finger; if I had waited a few weeks longer, they may have cut off my circulation.  It feels strange not to have my rings on my finger.  I typically do not ever take them off, for fear of losing them. 

I’ve recently been pondering my impending motherhood and the roles of women in general.  Taking off my rings reminds me that I was single not too long ago, without my current role as a wife.  I got married at the age of 38 and am now pregnant at 41.  Some would call me a “late bloomer.”  But does that mean that I was less of a woman before I got married?  Was I less of a woman before becoming pregnant?  Will I be more of a woman when I give birth?

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I realize these are all rites of passage for a woman in our society.  When I was single, I was bitter about the fact that women are not really celebrated until they get married and have children.  Who throws you a shower when you’re single?  Certainly, you can have birthday parties, but that’s different from a bridal shower or a baby shower.  It doesn’t mean you’re not loved, you’re just loved differently.  I went to so many showers in my 20’s and early 30’s and, as much as I wanted to honor my friends, it was hard not to think of when my turn would come.  And what if it never came?  Did that mean I was less worthy than my friends?

Of course not.  But I am struck by society’s expectation of women to get married and have babies, even in the 21st century, when women are often more educated and capable than their male counterparts.  And single women, especially.  Those who have put their careers before family are often powerful, gifted enough in their activism to help change the world.  Still, single women have a difficult time finding acceptance in the world.   Why is that?

The same goes for motherhood.  I was recently struck by this essay in the New York Times, written by a woman who gave up trying to have a baby after 8 years of infertility treatments.  You feel like you’re not welcome in the club of motherhood, that you won’t ever have that experience of being pregnant and giving birth—rites of passage expected to fulfill you as a woman.  But does that mean that a pregnant 16-year-old is more of a woman than I was at 38, single, but well-educated, well-traveled, and accomplished as a writer and community activist?  It seems an incongruous comparison.

Don’t get me wrong—I am thrilled to be pregnant and excited to be a mother.  It is certainly very different for me to be writing this from my perspective.  But it’s easy for me to have compassion for the single woman with no kids, who I was not too long ago.  And it feels horribly patronizing to tell that younger-me, “Don’t worry, have faith, it’ll happen for you too,” as if the ultimate goal for my life was to get married and procreate.  How that sticks in my progressive craw.

Instead, I think I would tell that younger-me: This is your life.  You have been given great gifts and opportunity.  Live it.

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Weekend in Maine

It was my birthday this past weekend and Hubby treated me to a weekend in Maine.  He had spent a year at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, so we got bed & breakfast recommendations from a friend of his who still lives in the area. We settled on Williams Pond Lodge, a newly opened off-grid establishment tucked off the beaten path near Bucksport, Maine.  Hubby’s friend highly recommended the food, which is what sold me.

We were not disappointed.  At the end of a gravel road, we were warmly greeted by our hosts, Dominick and David, who had bread pudding baking in the oven when we arrived.  When we were shown our room, I had to re-define my image of “off-grid.”  Hubby and I had lived off-grid for almost a year in Oregon in a very rustic cabin that was perpetually dark and dusty.  At Williams Pond Lodge, the rooms are impeccably finished, well-lighted (with compact fluorescent bulbs), with heated wood floors and a gas stove.  We had a private bath and lacked for nothing.  During the day, the room boasted a beautiful view of the pond.  This wasn’t off-grid.  This was posh.

But it was off-grid.  The whole establishment is powered by solar panels and propane.  With high-efficiency appliances and careful conservation, Williams Pond Lodge does just fine with their renewable energy.  David, who is the gourmet chef, prepared elaborate 3-course breakfasts each morning, featuring homemade granola & fruit, crab meat & asparagus frittata, Scottish oat pancakes with almonds & orange zest, and our choice of baked goods, including apricot & white chocolate scones and pecan caramel sticky buns.  We were spoiled and pampered.  And all of this off-grid.

The best thing about Williams Pond Lodge, however, were the hosts themselves.  On both nights, Hubby and I stayed up late talking with David and Dominick, sharing our life stories, dreams, and lefty politics.  Their hospitality made it easy to feel comfortable. They even invited us to homemade pizza for my birthday dinner. We felt we made instant friends with this warm, loving couple.  Hubby later joked that he brought me San Francisco in the middle of the Maine woods.  No wonder it felt like home.

If you’re in Maine, check out Williams Pond Lodge (www.williamspondlodge.com).  And if you’re a Maine resident, vote No on 1 in November.

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Williams Pond Lodge Bed & Breakfast. 100% off grid.

 

Our hosts, Dominic & David

Our hosts, Dominick & David

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Low-maintenance Baby

My mother told me yesterday that she hoped we would have a baby who was like me.  I thought she meant she hoped our baby would be a good eater, the way I was a good eater.  Chinese people like good eaters.  But my mother said it was more than just being a good eater.  She said I was a good baby. 

Evidently, I was not a screamer.  I was a pretty quiet and content baby.  I learned to amuse myself in my playpen and would play quietly by myself for hours at a time.  I didn’t require a lot of attention from adults.  I was a born introvert and continue to value my time alone.

Also, Mom says I was potty trained quite early.  She said I rarely wet my diaper because I didn’t like sitting in my pee or poo, that I would wait until my diaper was being changed and then relieve myself.  This helped my mother potty train me before I was a year old.  She said I was an easy baby.

I’d never heard these stories of me as a baby.  My mother–how shall I put this–is not someone who is prone to easy compliments. So it is quite touching to hear her fond memories of me.  It’s nice to hear that she hopes our baby will be like me.

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New York Story

We spent a much-needed weekend away in New York over the Labor Day holiday.  It’s been about 4 years since we’ve been to NYC. My goal was to see friends and eat good food.  Since I grew up in New England and my brother went to Columbia, I’ve visited NYC numerous times and had done most of the touristy stuff.  Hubby had not, however, so the one destination we agreed to was to go up the Empire State Building.

We stayed with our friends Edmond & Ruth Chow, who live in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn.  Edmond was in my writers’ group in the Bay Area. He is a wonderfully talented poet who masquerades around as an electrical engineer PhD during the day.  Ruth is a recovering lawyer who is currently finding contentment in a multitude of knitting and quilting projects. (While we were there, Ruth crocheted the edge around a swaddling blanket for our baby.)  The Chows have been in NYC about 4 years and Edmond says he’s over it.  When he first arrived in NYC, he was going to poetry readings every night and reveling in the city cultural life.  Now he says the readings are the same poets over and over again and he’s less impressed.  

I had always thought New York was too big and too much stimulation for me.  San Francisco was just my size.  But after listening to Edmond, maybe I could handle New York with enough time and patience.  The frustrating thing, however, seemed to be the difficulty in developing community.  People live in their own little worlds and don’t reach outside of their bubbles much.  What I love about San Francisco is the community I’d developed there, over the 6+ years I’d lived in the City.  But it seemed that community was more difficult in New York.  Despite being surrounded by people, cities could be the loneliest places on earth.

 

Baby's first visit to New York.

Baby's first visit to New York.

 

Since we were in New York and taking public transportation everywhere, I tried an impromptu experiment of subway etiquette.  How many people would give up their seat to a pregnant woman?  I had lamented the fact that we left San Francisco before I was obviously showing, so that people would not stand up for me, but now that we were in New York, I would have plenty of opportunity to exercise my pregnant woman priority. 

So out of five subway rides on which there were no seats available, one person stood up to offer me her seat and two people (kids) scooted over to make room for me.  One lady standing in the doorway yelled at her son, “Get out of her way, she’s pregnant!” though he wasn’t really in my way.  And on the street, a yellow cab almost ran me over.  To be fair, I assumed people would notice me because I’m pregnant, but in New York, no one really does.  It’s a cruel world.

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