Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Job & Life Update

Well, it's been a while, so it's probably time for another episode of "What's Angie Going To Be When She Grows Up?"

Work has continued to be a huge stressor in my life, but since finding out about the baby I've been able to say, "Screw it" and blow off a lot of that stress. I had sent out a ton of resumes and not gotten much feedback. Because Illinois is almost as broke as the state of California, no one has any money to do much of anything, so no one is hiring, or they're cutting salaried positions down to hourly. If I was single or recently married I could do hourly, but these days we need my insurance. No insurance = big problem.

Telling The Boss that I was pregnant went over better than I expected. I was given an extension to sign my contract, and in that time frame I was hoping that either Graham would land a job that would allow me to go down to part-time or quit, or that I'd find another job. No dice, friends.

I chose to sign my contract after a lengthy discussion with Graham (in which I cried a lot) and a lot of praying. I really, really don't want to return to work there. I'd rather eat tar, I think. But, we really don't have any choice. We need my salary, especially with Junior on the way.

But, the hope/goal is for me to put in one more year at this school and then hopefully go down to part-time, because ideally I'll be starting grad school part-to-full time in the fall. We've put it off for me long enough, and in order for me to move forward professionally I NEED to get my Master's. Do be able to do what I want to do requires an advanced degree, and *ideally* with that degree I'd get a pay increase. If I worked for the city, definitely. If I worked in a school, likely but not guaranteed. If I stayed at my current job.....::pause for laughter because no one gets a pay increase::

On one hand, I'll get maternity leave thrown in there so that should make my working year much shorter. But, on the other hand, I'll be enormous for a chunk of that working year. Throw in some hormones, someone sitting on my bladder, and work-related stress, and WOOOO BOY! I'll probably start seeing maternity leave as a vacation and not a rest & recovery period.

I signed my contract yesterday and worked out a tentative leave schedule with my boss. If all goes according to plan I'll work up until the end. I'd really love to take some time off before Junior gets here, but with my luck and genetics playing a role in this little production it means baby will most likely be late. I'd rather have time off WITH baby than time home without.

And bonus! Christmas/winter break doesn't count as part of my leave, so I get an extra 2 weeks tacked on! And February is a short month, so if I took all my days I wouldn't be back at work until beginning of March. Squee!

After recent developments, I'm starting to believe that I'm being phased out at work. It's annoying, but I'm okay with it. If I'm not essential to the school and the work at hand, then why keep me on? And if I'm so bad at my job that they need to transition me out, why am I continuously offered a contract each spring? Makes no sense to me whatsoever.

(Aside: Signs Your Job Isn't Worth It: They start to phase out your position and you don't care.)

I'd love to go more in-depth about work, but unfortunately it's not "professional" and I'm hoping to finish this year with as much dignity left as possible, so I don't want to give anyone more ammo than necessary. And, separating ourselves now will be a lot easier--unless I somehow end up back there in a few years (but not likely unless there are some administrative changes). Working in a private school can get ugly when you start making choices about your own kids and their schooling.

So, that's that. NOT the outcome I was hoping for, but it's got a silver lining that comes in the form of maternity leave. And really, knowing deep down that this is the beginning of the end makes it that much easier.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Book Reviews: Names My Sisters Call Me, by Megan Crane

I'm a bit of a nerd when it comes to my summer reading. I like to work on books that I don't have time for during the school year. I focus on works like Atlas Shrugged and The Complete Works of Willian Shakespeare because I have the time and mental capacity to devote to them. But, like most people, I have a soft spot for those summer novels that you can polish off quickly and not really "think about" while you're reading.

I picked up Megan Crane's Names My Sisters Call Me on a whim a few weeks ago. It was on sale (cheap!) and I figured I could stand to read something light and less filling--kind of like a Diet Coke.

The basic premise of the novel is this: Courtney Cassel finds herself engaged to be married to her longtime boyfriend. As her mother eagerly plans her engagement party, Courtney finds herself wanting to bring her family back together. Courtney is the youngest of three daughters and hasn't seen her older sister, Raine, since oldest sister Norah's wedding six years ago.

The characters are pretty mapable. Courtney, the youngest, is driven by her career as a cellist with a symphony in Philadelphia. Norah, the oldest, is Type-A to a T and can't fathom that Courtney wants to reconnect with Raine for any other reason than to hurt her. Raine is the middle child and is a self-described artist. She's a typical wild child who ran away to California after ruining Norah's wedding.

As Courtney reconnects with Raine and tries to bring her family together, she starts to question every decision she's ever made in the last 6 years. She runs from committing to a wedding date and cringes at mentions of wedding dresses--almost annoyingly so. And naturally, there's Courtney's ex-boyfriend to contend with: a longtime family friend she finds living with Raine in California.

In the end, everything wraps up neatly. There was only one sub-plot that truly surprised me, and I felt that's because Crane spent much of the book with Courtney lamenting marriage and commitment while trying to decide which sister annoys her the least, all the while ignoring her mother.

I found myself annoyed with Courtney. For such a driven, career-focused 20-something, she certainly is a whiner. Maybe I let my own life experiences and assumptions interfere in my reading, but I couldn't imagine why a woman so overjoyed at being engaged would suddenly run from setting a wedding date and talking about her past with her fiance. For the love of Peter, Paul, and Mary! You're choosing to marry this man--get with the program! I was practically a child bride (23) and there was nothing I wouldn't talk to Graham about. When I met old friends, when someone I knew way back when chose the news of my engagement to flirt with me, when I stopped for Starbucks...nada. I really can't imagine why Crane chose to make Courtney so fickle about her fiance.

Norah and Raine are pretty stereotypical characters, and as different as they are they're also very similar. Both can't think about anyone other than themselves, and both choose to manipulate Courtney and blame other members of the family for it. By the time the book comes to it's climax, I said, "IT'S ABOUT DAMN TIME, COURTNEY! GAH!!!" because I was so fed up with the character manipulation from the older sisters and the wishy-washy protagonist who just couldn't sit the eff down and talk herself straight.

BUT...of all the readers of this blog, and of all the people who might still pick up this book regardless of my review, only two of them are probably going to agree with me. If you don't have a degree in literature, you're probably not going to be as snobbish about "chick lit" as I am. If you spent your college years building bridges or robots or doing just about anything other than reading the masters of English lit, consider yourself lucky because books haven't been spoiled for you yet!

This book is fun. It's silly, it's an easy beach or plane read, and it's not written for nerds like me. As much as I criticized, I enjoyed it. I liked being able to check out and not focus on theme and metaphors. My summer reading list is full of books that will ask me to do that, but this was just for fun.

Bottom line: Don't expect a life changer, and you'll enjoy this book. It's chick lit at it's finest.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Book Reviews: Belly Laughs, by Jenny McCarthy

Shortly after I found out I was pregnant, a friend of mine lent me a buttload of books to read. I was excited to get started, but I was also a little overwhelmed. I decided to start with Belly Laughs because it was the shortest of all the books so I figured it'd be a good way to ease me in to all the catch-up reading I'd be doing this summer.

Everyone told me to read this book. I don't think there's a pregnant woman or mom in my circle who didn't say, "You should read this book! It's sooooo funny!" So I figured, "Jenny's from Chicago. Hell, we lived in the same neighborhood and attended the same church! Surely her sense of humor will be one I can relate to and we'll have a few chuckles at my expense."

Sadly, that was not the case. Jenny prides herself on being crass and upfront and no-holds-barred, but I wasn't impressed. She made a name for herself by being all those things, and she takes it upon herself to say, "Hey! I'm pregnant! Let me get in your face and tell you what's really going on down there!" It comes off like she's a pregnant high school or college student telling all her friends about pregnancy at Starbucks.

This book is just a bunch of stories from Jenny, and they all start out basically the same way, "This one time, I got pregnant, and ca-RAZY things happened to me!" I'm not impressed, Jenny. She tries to be funny, but I didn't laugh. Not once. And it's pretty easy to make me laugh!

If you want a book that has anything important or vital to the health and well-being of your gestating child, this isn't it. But, if you're the rare woman who is all alone in a sea of non-breeders, a book like this could be your only clue to the "extra" stuff that happens to your body. But if you're like me, just ask your friends and family to be extra honest about things and save yourself $8.99 and 2 hours.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

An update--and a big one!

Why hello there, friends! I finally decided to update after my friend Heather pointed out it's been damn near a month since I last posted, and boy...this is a big one.

I doubt anyone besides our family and friends reads this thing, but *just* in case there's a random follower...surprise! I'm preggers! ::gasp::

Yeah, that's pretty much what I did, too. Let me explain. (Ahem, dads and moms and anyone else who this might get too uncomfortable for, stop reading now. I'll do my best to censor myself, but if you know me IRL, I don't censor well, if ever. Sorry...?)

Also...this is probably pretty IF sensitive. I have so many friends dealing with infertility, so if it's a bad day--stop reading.

My last period was in late February. When I skipped my March period, I didn't think much of it. Why? Because.....

1.) I'm a dumbass.
2.) I was a dedicated BCP taker, same time everyday. 99%, right?
3.) My body and I, particularly my ovaries, have a wonky history.
4.) I'd taken two packs back-to-back in January and February, and like clockwork my body will skip it's next period. Why? I dunno. So when I skipped my March period, I figured my body was doing it's thang.

In short, it wasn't uncommon for me to get periods late (i.e. in the middle of a pill cycle, especially when I was on Yaz) or even skip them entirely. My body likes to do its own thing. In pre-pre-conception appointments with my OB/GYN, we'd discussed my concerns. And, like most OBs, she tried to soothe my concerns by saying that if we were trying for a year and trying resulted in nothing but negative pregnancy tests and ulcers caused from T-TTC stress, we'd look into fertility treatments, etc. She knows my history and knows it well, and because I had been on just about every BCP known to man since 2006, roughly, she also warned me that those damn helpful little pills could have me loaded with hormones that could probably make it difficult for us to concieve. Graham says, "Let's try not to worry about it or cross that bridge till we come to it."

So, we weren't worrying. Besides, we were roughly a year from (probably, had everything gone our way) "trying" anyway. That would put us in, "Let's have a baby in 2012" territory, and again, only if everything went our way. That doesn't always happen. I had convinced myself that I would be 30 or close to it by the time we had a baby.

We were living and loving life. We were actively planning trips to Florida and Ireland, and I was dreaming of trips to Aruba or Jamaica for one last hurrah (or 13 last hurrahs) before we "settled down."

Let's fast-forward to Late April/early May, 2010.

The last weekend of April, I got ridiculously drunk/fun at a wedding. I don't know what got to me, but I just. kept. drinking. I don't even think I drank that hard in college! Something kept compelling me to down, "just one more" of some weird and mysterious eckto-cooler that a Polish bartender named Kasia had whipped up for me. Let's say this:

Bad things happen when you have this particular exchange with a very Polish bartender from God-Knows-Where Poland.

Me: "Aaaaaaah! OHMIGOSSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHH! You're so preeeeeeeeeeeeetty! Whatsyername? Kasia? Kash--ee--yah! Will you make me your favorite drink?"

Kasia: ::bottles from behind and under the bar, some with dust on them, come flying out of nowhere and Kasia shakes that little martini canister better than James Bond on date night::

Me: "'s so preeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeetty!!!! Just like yooooooooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuu!!!! UUuuuuuuuuhhhhmmmm....whatdoyoucallit?"

Kasia: "Um, I don't know."

Me: ::gulp gulp glug glug:: "Wait, what? Did you say something? Mmmm....deelicious! Thanks Kasia! You so preeeeetty!' ::chug chug chug::

Me: ::slams glass down:: "I'd like 36 more of those, please."

Okay, so that last part didn't go *exactly* like that, but I DID go back to Kasia a number of times for that green mystery drink. Boy, was it good.

The wedding was Saturday night. On Sunday we were getting ready to go to my parents' for dinner and Scrabble. I was sitting in the living room checking my email. I stood up, and BAM! Running to the toilet. Odd, but I laughed it off as not being able to drink like I used to.

Another weird thing that happened to me that day and all week: I was burping. Not belching, but just little burps, almost like hiccups. I couldn't shake it, either. I took everything...tums, pepto bismol, etc. I even drank a little more soda that week thinking I'd drink enough, burp, and go on with my life.

I ignored the initial puke-and-burp incident thinking it was just a side-effect from drinking myself stoopid at the wedding. Graham laughed at me for being a lush. Then I puked on Tuesday. And again on Wednesday. And again on Friday.

First weekend of May. I had finally convinced one of my best friends, Jess, to come visit me. (I'd link to Jess's blog, but it's uber-protected because she doesn't trust people. It's one of the many things I love about her.) (I'll also have to do a Jess post sometime.) It's evening, and I still haven't seen AF. At this point, I'm not worried. I think I have no reason to be worried. I wasn't in denial, I just didn't even see pregnancy as a possibility. My friend LOG and my husband convinced me to drive my grumpy self to Walgreens to get a pregnancy test. The whole way to the Wal I was all mumbles and grumbles. "This is a waste of money and a waste of time. PAH!"

The plan had been to test ASAP, but I got home and 2 seconds later Jess pulled up! Can't very well say, "Hold on! I'd love to catch up, but first I need to prove I'm not pregnant!" Besides, I wasn't pregnant, so no need to run and test, right? Right.

We talked for a few hours, and right before I went to bed I tested and waited the 2 or 3 minutes or whatever. 2 lines. "Huh, that's weird," I said to myself. To make things even more interesting, those lines weren't, "Is that a line? I dunno...maybe if I hold it up to the light and squint..." Nope. Dem lines was dark, yo. I even went back and looked at the directions again, thinking I did something wrong. (Because I can pee wrong, ya know?) Then it hits me: I tested at night! HA! No wonder I was getting a false positive! I showed it to Graham and I maintained that I had done something wrong, and not to worry--I had two more tests in that box. I'd test negative tomorrow morning and be done with it.

Morning comes, and I go to the bathroom. I was so proud of myself, too. See, when you have a lot of pregnant friends, you tend to pick up on things like, "Pee in the morning because it has a higher concentration of hcg and you'll get an accurate test result."

I test.

I look down.

I see another set of lines.

My jaw drops.

I say to myself, "Holy $#!%!!!"

I check the instructions again, just to be sure.

I go back to Graham and deliver the news.

We have a long, long conversation.

I text my cousin Katie (a mom 2.5 times over) and ask her what I should do first if "hypothetically" I was pregnant.

Long story made even was a discussion-filled weekend.

I told my friend Jess first, not only because she was here (that made it easier) but also because I had to tell SOMEONE. I had to say it out loud--I had to make it real. It just felt so weird! I never thought I'd ever be able to say those words out loud. I was very tentative to say something, even then. I thought for sure that the moment I said it out loud that I'd miscarry and this whole adventure would end then and there. Even worse, I wasn't sure how I felt about that. Would I be relieved? Disappointed? Those pregnancy test commercials are hokey, but damn if they aren't right on with the rush of emotions you feel all at once. I think the only one they neglect to share is, "GAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!! WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

I already had a doctor's appointment scheduled for that Tuesday, and right away we scheduled an appointment with my OB. May was filled with appointments with my doctor, and even fuller with blood draws and genetic testing.

The funniest part of all those appointments? Getting my little "check out" paper and reading, "Diagnosis: Pregnancy." (C'mon...that's at least chuckle worthy, right? Reminds me of Diagnosis: Murder!)

Right away we started me on prenatal vitamins and I got off my multi-vitamin and iron pills. We came up with excuses and had to avoid all mention of the words baby, kids, pregnancy, and children. Awwwwwwwkward. Probably not so that everyone else noticed, but we sure as hell did!

We launched right away into teaching ourselves everything we had missed in the early weeks and the planning period we were supposed to have had. When I finally had an ultrasound, I was 8 weeks pregnant. GASP. That's a lot of fetal development missed and effed up thanks to my coffe, Mountain Dew, and binge-drinking-at-weddings habit.

I am so blessed to have had people to lean on in those first few weeks. I think I could have collapsed emotionally if it weren't for my cousin and some kickass betches I call my friends. Not only their advice, but their trials and pregnancy stories helped give me some guidance while I was scratching my head and saying, "No freaking way...."

We--mostly me--were nervous to tell our families until I passed some safety milestones. In a way, it's all mental and in my head, but I was so worried that I'd get attached to this idea, say it out loud, and then it would all be over. Telling Graham's family was easy--they have a family website/message board that makes it easy to share news. We told them after I had a doctor's appointment and brief ultrasound and saw the heartbeat again. After that, I ordered little cards to send my family because we don't have a website like that. Once they all knew, we made it "official" by announcing it on Facebook, thereby making it law. (Because we all know that it's not true until you read it on Facebook.)

Telling my boss took a huge load off at work, too. The stress level there has been through the roof, and getting pregnant has made things significantly less stressful. Unfortunately that means more stress on other people, but selfishly--well, some of them have been the cause of a lot of my stress, so I don't feel bad giving it right back to them inadvertently.

And now...well, that basically brings us up to date. As of today I'm 16 weeks, 3 days pregnant. I'm officially in the second trimester--4th month, even! I'm still throwing up pretty often, though I've gone from "everyday" to "every other day" or "every 3 days". I'm still tired, but I don't mind that. I love to sleep, so being exhausted as hell and sleeping at 9 p.m. each night is kind of a bonus!

(Sidenote, my boss thinks I'm having a girl because I look "drawn" all the time. I know I'm pregnant have my hormones are going hogwild here, but you can tell me I look like hell. I'm a big girl, and I own mirrors. I know I look like I've hit middle age 20 years too early!)

We haven't been very good at taking photos each week, but I think we're going to get better starting now. Looking at these 3 photos kinda makes me say, "Moooooo...." but I'm also really astounded at the growth I'm seeing. When I look down or look in the mirror I don't see much of a difference (though my waistband says otherwise). When I look at the photos, I'm pretty impressed.

Below is 11 weeks, taken before Mary's graduation:


Here's 14 weeks, 6 days at the Patton-Davis wedding a few weeks ago (and here I thought this dress made me look un-pregnant. Bwahahahahahaha!):

Looking drawn (heeheeheeheehee) at 15 weeks, 6 days:

So yeah. I'm the incredible expanding woman. Lookout, Batman! I grow people!