Sunday, May 31, 2009

Schubert Impromptu in E-flat, Op. 90, No. 2

Here is clip from a video* of Murray Perahia playing the next intermediate piece I'll be working on: Schubert's E-flat Impromptu (Op. 90, No. 2).

*The YouTube clip is from an encore Perahia played at Barbicon Hall, London, on Feb. 5, 2009. Warning: It cuts off before the end of the piece. If you want to hear a slower version, and one that doesn't cut off, here is Krystian Zimerman playing the same piece. I love the speed of the faster interpretation, but I also love the more relaxed sound of Zimerman's version.

I actually played this piece when I was in tenth grade (over 20 years ago!). Oh, to be completely honest, it's one of the gazillion pieces I started to learn, but never finished, when I was in high school. Deborah and I decided it would be fun, and not too stressful, and not too difficult (considering my limited time these days) to re-visit this one, which I've always loved. It's also a fun performance piece, in case I ever get up the nerve to play in front of anyone other than the cats.

In other piano news, we decided to set aside the Bach and Beethoven for now, but to keep working on Shostakovich's "Dances of the Dolls." Until I'm able to make a bigger commitment to piano, this will have to do for now.

Plus, I think Scout will love "growing" up to the Shostakovich while in the womb, and beyond.

Friday, May 29, 2009

"Distinct Libido Lift"

So, tells me that I should notice a "distinct libido lift" within the next week, now that I've begun Week 13. Oh, goody! Except ...

Sheltowee is moving to camp this weekend. The only man present in my life over the next 10 weeks will be my cat, Beau.

This is just so wrong, on so many levels.

I just hope Sheltowee has enough energy when he gets home on Saturday evenings to put up with my "distinct libido lift."

Family and friends ... please don't call us on Saturday nights, OK?


Thursday, May 28, 2009

My Head is a Grease Pot

All the pregnancy books say that your hair may change when you’re pregnant. It’s likely to become thicker, since it falls out at a much slower rate (but then it makes up for it later by falling out in record amounts post-partum). They say it’s not a good idea to color or perm your pregnant hair, since it could possible respond differently than expected to the chemicals. Then they say things like, “Fine hair may become thick. Thick hair may become fine. Curly hair may become straight. Straight hair may become curly. Oily hair may become dry. Dry hair may become oily.”

Well, guess what my dry hair has done.

It’s turned into a grease pot. It looks fine when I leave in the morning. Then, when I go to the bathroom mid-morning and look in the mirror while I wash my hands, I notice that the strands at my scalp are darker, and seem to be sticking together. I look like I’ve rubbed a big dollop of Brylcreem into my scalp.

YUCK. "The look" might work for a 50's kinda guy, but it doesn't work for me.

Guess it’s time to go buy me some shampoo for oily hair. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before.

What Course Should I Take This Summer?

I’m trying to figure out which Teaching Company course I’d like to take in the evenings after work this summer. I’m going to pretend it’s real school and take them just a few nights a week. I’m going to get the DVD of whichever course I order.

So here are the courses, with the descriptions from the Teaching Company website, that I’m considering. My comments on each follow in italics.

Introduction to Number Theory

Called "the queen of mathematics" by the legendary mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss, number theory is one of the oldest and largest branches of pure mathematics. Practitioners of number theory delve deep into the structure and nature of numbers, and explore the remarkable, startling, and often beautiful relationships that exist among them. Gain deep insights into the complex and beautiful patterns that structure the world of numbers, the branches of study that reveal these patterns, and the processes by which great thinkers establish new truths through dazzling mathematical proofs.

OK, so math has never been my strong point, but I’ve had people tell me that I would probably love this kind of stuff. Maybe that’s just what people tell people who aren’t good at math. But I really think I would enjoy a course like this. And if I hate it … well, at least I tried. And people who claim I'm "so left-brained" will be proven wrong, once and for all.

American Mind

Americans pride themselves on being doers rather than thinkers. Ideas are naturally suspect to such a people. But ideas are at the root of what it means to be American, and today’s habits of thought practiced by citizens throughout the United States are the lineal descendants of a powerful body of ideas that traces back to the first European settlers and that was enriched by later generations of American thinkers.

Behind this nation’s diverse views on religion, education, social equality, democracy, and other vital issues is a long-running intellectual debate about the right ordering of the human, natural, and divine worlds.

In their own times such great thinkers as Jonathan Edwards, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, William James, Martin Luther King, Jr., and many others engaged in lively and often contentious debate that helped mold America’s institutions and attitudes. Their approach was frequently honed by ideas from abroad—from Locke, Hume, Kant, Darwin, Marx, Freud, and Gandhi, among others.

This immensely stimulating conversation that made the U.S. what it is today is the subject of The American Mind, a series of 36 lectures that offers you a broad survey of American intellectual history.

I hated my seventh-grade American history class, and my hatred of it bled over into my eleventh-grade American history class, and my hatred of that led me to avoid American history classes completely when in college. So, while I have a working knowledge of American history, I’m far from an expert. And I think it would be really interesting to study American history in terms of the intellectual history. The idea really appeals to me.

Books That Have Made History: Books That Can Change Your Life

What makes a written work eternal—its message still so fundamental to the way we live that it continues to speak to us, hundreds or thousands of years distant from the lifetime of its author?

Why do we still respond to an ancient Greek playwright's tale of the Titan so committed to humanity's survival that he is willing to endure eternal torture in his defiance of the gods? To the cold advice of a 16th-century Florentine exiled from the corridors of power? To the words of a World War I German veteran writing of the horrors of endless trench warfare?

Most important of all, what do such works—"Great Books" in every sense—mean to us? Can they deepen our self-knowledge and wisdom? Are our lives changed in any meaningful way by the experience of reading them?

In this course, Professor J. Rufus Fears presents his choices of some of the most essential writings in history. These are books that have shaped the minds of great individuals, who in turn have shaped events of historic magnitude.

This course does not analyze the literature or discuss it in detail; rather, it focuses on intellectual history and ethics. What Professor Fears does is to take the underlying ideas of each great work and show how these ideas can be put to use in a moral and ethical life.

Beginning with his definition of a great book as one that possesses a great theme of enduring importance, noble language that "elevates the soul and ennobles the mind," and a universality that enables it to "speak across the ages," Professor Fears examines a body of work that offers an extraordinary gift of wisdom to those willing to receive it.

From the Aeneid and the Book of Job to Othello and 1984, the selections range in time from the 3rd millennium B.C. to the 20th century, and in locale from Mesopotamia and China to Europe and America.

I salivate when I read this course description. Plus, the first lecture is on Bonhoeffer. 'Nuff said.

Philosophy of Religion

The central questions of this course are:

- Can humans know whether the claim "God exists" is true or not?
- If so, how?
- If not, why not?
- Are these first three questions actually useful?

These questions have perplexed us since the first moment we were capable of asking them. Philosophy of Religion invites you to explore the questions of divine existence with the tools of epistemology, the branch of philosophy that concerns itself with what we can know.

In Professor James Hall, Chair of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Richmond, you have an unusually qualified teacher. The son of a Baptist minister (who himself later became a university professor), Professor Hall first trained at a seminary before taking his doctorate in philosophy and embarking on a teaching career nearly 40 years ago.

I listen to a lot of preachers and apologists, and I read a lot of Christian apologetics and atheist/agnostic apologetics, and half the podcasts I download have to do with these topics. So, as you can see, the idea of the philosophy of religion interests me … but, believe it or not, I never took a Philosophy of Religion course in college. I think it’s about time I took one.

Iliad of Homer

When John Keats first read Chapman's translation of the epics of "deep-brow'd Homer," he was so overwhelmed, so overcome with the joy of discovery, that he compared his experience to finding "a new planet."

When you join Professor Elizabeth Vandiver for these lectures on the Iliad, you come to understand what enthralled Keats and has gripped so many readers of Homer.

Dr. Vandiver is a recipient of the American Philological Association's Excellence in Teaching Award—the most prestigious teaching award available to American classicists—and several other major honors for teaching excellence.

Her compelling look at this epic masterpiece—whether it is the work of many or indeed the "vision" of a blind poet who nevertheless saw more deeply into the human heart than almost anyone before or since—demonstrates why she is held in such immense regard.

Like most English majors, I’m familiar with Homer’s Iliad, but I’ve never read the entire thing cover to cover. I have a copy of it, of course, plus a companion study guide, that I started reading a couple of summers ago, but I kept thinking it would be so much more fun to study it as part of a class, with an expert who can provide more food for thought than I can come up with myself. This course will allow me to do that.

Oh, I love playing school. More than anything. Which course do you think I should take this summer?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Prenatal Appointment Today

Today was my monthly prenatal appointment. I weigh about the same as before. I read People's "Most Beautiful People" issue while waiting for the doctor, and there was a picture of some famous person I'd never heard of, with her daughter ... and her daughter looked like Ella! And her daughter was mentioned as being one of the "most beautiful people"!

Anyway, the doctor felt my belly to make sure Scout was alive and kicking and my uterus felt normal. That went fine, except for the fact that he saw my yellow underwear. I'm wearing it with a purple dress, so I was very tempted to say "Geaux Tigers!" but managed to restrain myself.

He told me I'm 13 weeks today. "Hmm," I said. "I didn't think I would be 13 weeks until Friday."

"Nope," he said. Then added, "The ultrasound gave you a due date of December 1, but we're keeping it as December 4 in our records." So, according to yesterday's ultrasound, I'm 13 weeks. According to the previous one, I'm 12 weeks 5 days. According to, I'm 13 weeks, 1 day. So it's all pretty close.

So that was my exciting appointment. I really wish I could go home and go to sleep now.

A Step Back, and Worries

Yesterday was good. This past weekend was good. Today is not so good.

I’m nauseated and dead-tired. I feel just like I felt five weeks ago. I was so happy that the symptoms were subsiding, and here they are again, back in full force. I’m sure they’re still subsiding, and that this is just a “flow” moment in the ebb and flow of the first trimester’s retreat, but still … I really just want to go home and go to bed. I know I could sleep for two or three hours.

On to more exciting things: My next prenatal appointment is today. I’ll meet one of the OBGYNs that I haven’t met yet, and they’ll probably draw some blood to accompany the ultrasound screening.

Oh, yuck. I just dry-gagged, right here at my desk. Luckily, it was a quiet, inconspicuous gag, a modest gag, a gag worthy of such a fine southern lady as myself. But still, it was a gag. Oh, the nausea.

This morning I woke up and wrote. I have so much to think about, so much on my mind that needs to be flushed out via morning pages. I worry about a lot of stuff, Scout’s health and happiness being at the top of the list. But there’s other stuff, too:

- What am I going to do about my job after Scout is born? I don’t want to quit (and I couldn’t quit, even if I wanted to), but I don’t want to drop Scout at daycare every day while I go pursue my career. It just seems selfish and unfair to poor Scout. I want to be with Scout, particularly in these early years.

- What will my biological mother’s relationship to Scout be? She wants to be “grandma.” Something in me just really rebels against that idea, of her being "on equal footing" with Mrs. Gwen, whom I consider my real mom. She (my birth mother) brought it up to me weeks ago, shortly after I told her I was pregnant. Later, she apologized for bringing up something that could potentially be so stressful for me. But I’ve stressed about it ever since.

- Why can’t I work? OK, that question isn’t worded right. I can work, and I’m getting work done every day. But I’m just so uninterested in it. I would rather just look at baby websites or write or practice piano. The thought of working on the 706 manual template at work just does not appeal to me. At all.

- Whatever shall I wear? I’m not big enough for maternity clothes, and I’m too big for most of my form-fitting clothes. I’d been wearing loose skirts and belly-forgiving “Sunday best” clothes every day, but then Mrs. Gwen and I went shopping for maternity clothes this weekend. They are sooo comfortable. I’m wearing them right now, even though, according to most people, I don’t look pregnant.

I keep thinking, if I could sleep better, or if I could take a few days of vacation, things would just be so much easier. I feel like my brain is stuffed full of scratchy pink insulation, and all my thoughts are sweaty and sluggish and running out of oxygen.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ultrasound No. 2

Today, Hubster and I (and Scout’s Grandma Gwen) went to the doctor’s office for Scout’s second ultrasound. The purpose of this ultrasound was to help screen for Down Syndrome and several other genetic defects. For me, the real purpose was to see the baby again, and to let Scout’s daddy and grandma hear the heartbeat. :)

So, here’s an image from Scout’s latest photo session. Don’t try looking for a teedler or any other sex organ … nothing’s there yet. Or if it is, it’s not visible. It won’t be for another 4 to 6 weeks.

Of course, this image is so grainy that it's hard to see anything at all. So I've drawn in some identifying features. I've added a thought bubble so you can tell where Scout's brain is.

Grandma Gwen said Ella looked like this when she was in the womb (minus the helpful identifying features). I took that as a compliment. It means Scout has half a chance at being just as cute as Miss Ella.

Scout is about 2.5 inches long and had a whoosh-whoosh-whooshing heart rate of either 162 or 168 bpm (I don't remember what it was exactly). I know, that's in "girl range" according to the old wives' tale. Scout was also doing crazy somersaults throughout the whole ultrasound. There were also some hiccuping-like motions. It was kind of cute, in an ultrasoundy kind of way.

Many thanks to Trinda for helping me scan the ultrasound pics!

Ultrasound No. 2

Today, Hubster and I (and Scout’s Grandma Gwen) went to the doctor’s office for Scout’s second ultrasound. The purpose of this ultrasound was to help screen for Down Syndrome and several other genetic defects. For me, the real purpose was to see the baby again, and to let Scout’s daddy and grandma hear the heartbeat. :)

So, here’s an image from Scout’s latest photo session. Don’t try looking for a teedler or any other sex organ … nothing’s there yet. Or if it is, it’s not visible. It won’t be for another 4 to 6 weeks.

Of course, this image is so grainy that it's hard to see anything at all. So I've drawn in some identifying features. I've added a thought bubble so you can tell where Scout's brain is.

Grandma Gwen said Ella looked like this when she was in the womb (minus the helpful identifying features). I took that as a compliment. It means Scout has half a chance at being just as cute as Miss Ella.

Scout is about 2.5 inches long and had a whoosh-whoosh-whooshing heart rate of either 162 or 168 bpm (I don't remember what it was exactly). I know, that's in "girl range" according to the old wives' tale. Scout was also doing crazy somersaults throughout the whole ultrasound. There were also some hiccuping-like motions. It was kind of cute, in an ultrasoundy kind of way.

Many thanks to Trinda for helping me scan the ultrasound pics!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Hubster's Friend's Psychic

Hubster has a Facebook friend, actually a friend from high school whom he hasn't be in touch with since high school.

Well, this Facebook friend has a psychic. She went to her psychic for a reading the other day. Here's what the psychic said, out of the blue:

"Who's Dan? He's going to have a baby girl."

(For those who don't know, Hubster's real name is Dan. But I only call him that if I'm really mad at him. Which is such a rare occasion that I'm surprised I even remember his name at all.)

So many people have been guessing what Scout's going to be. Some say they know, without a doubt, that Scout will be a boy. (How can you know that?) Others just know, without a doubt, that Scout will be a girl. There is brazen confidence on both sides.

I ought to set up a betting pool. One where I win, no matter what.


That's what it says on my pregnancy calendar today: Congratulations! Actually, it says:

Congratulations! You have completed your first trimester!

I'm very proud of Scout for making it this far. I'm proud of myself for not having a nervous breakdown. I'm proud of Sheltowee for not once losing patience with me.

I'm so glad my first trimester is over. I realized recently that I've been "lucky" in terms of morning sickness, fatigue, etc. The baby books all say that these first-trimester side effects typically subside between weeks 12-14. Mine actually started to subside at Week 11. I know, it's only a week before what the experts say, but ... a week is a long time when you feel like crap.

My boobs still hurt, but not as bad as before. I'm still not sleeping well because of having to get up so many times to pee. But life is definitely better than it was.

Here's what our Scout looks like this week:

And here's what tells us:

The most dramatic development this week: reflexes. Your baby's fingers will soon begin to open and close, his toes will curl, his eye muscles will clench, and his mouth will make sucking movements. In fact, if you prod your abdomen, your baby will squirm in response, although you won't be able to feel it. His intestines, which have grown so fast that they protrude into the umbilical cord, will start to move into his abdominal cavity about now, and his kidneys will begin excreting urine into his bladder.

Meanwhile, nerve cells are multiplying rapidly, and in your baby's brain, synapses are forming furiously. His face looks unquestionably human: His eyes have moved from the sides to the front of his head, and his ears are right where they should be. From crown to rump, your baby-to-be is just over 2 inches long (about the size of a lime) and weighs half an ounce.

Yes! Nerves! Synapses! The things that will help Scout learn to love to read! It makes me misty-eyed thinking of a little brain forming.

Here's a 3D ultrasound of a 12-week-old fetus:

If I didn't know any better, I would say that was a 3D ultrasound of Elvis in the womb.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Happy Today

Today is the last day of my first trimester. If Scout and I survive through tomorrow morning, we'll have crossed a major goal in the world of pregnancy. Scout's chances of surviving to term will skyrocket. My chances of not pulling my hair out or beating my head against a brick wall will also skyrocket.

I've actually already started to feel somewhat normal again. I even ran a mile yesterday. A whole mile! Not the 5, 6, or 7 I used to run on Wednesday nights, but I take what I can get. It's a miracle that I had the energy. For the last 6 weeks, I've barely had the energy to put one foot in front of the other, especially after work. Yesterday? I was raring to go. And if my bladder hadn't prevented me, I probably would have run a little farther.

Overall, I'm thankful that the bladder prevented my running farther yesterday. By doing that, it prevented me from pushing myself too hard--something I did not need to do on a warm day like yesterday.

I don't like to include the words "push" and "bladder" in the same sentence. Not sure why.

So anyway, I'm celebrating today. Tomorrow will be the first day of my second trimester. I'm starting to show, just ever so slightly. I still don't look "pregnant," but I can definitely tell the difference.

(My mom would be so proud--now that my belly is just a little too big for my jeans, I'm having to wear cute clothes every day--little sundresses, skirts and blouses, etc.--because those are a bit more forgiving to the expanding belly.)

So, dear readers, this isn't much of an update, but I felt compelled to write something on this most wonderful of days. It feels like graduation day. To my first trimester, I say goodbye and good riddance.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Do You Love Hymns?

If you do, consider participating in the Top 100 Hymns poll going on over at Semicolon.

A Snob's Pet Peeves for the Day

1. People who use the word “factoid” when they mean “fact” or “small fact.” The suffix “-oid” means “like” or “resembling.” Kind of like an asteroid resembles a star (aster = star), or a humanoid is a non-human that has human characteristics. So when you call something a factoid, you’re saying it resembles a fact, but it’s not actually a fact. Of course, I’m sure the descriptive-loving Webster’s probably says it’s OK to call a fact a factoid, but I disagree. Webster’s, remember, is the same dictionary that recently admitted “ginormous” and “w00t” into its pages, if I recall. Just because Webster’s says it’s OK doesn’t mean it’s OK. People, learn your English. Be better than Webster’s.

2. When the Subway sandwich artists use a mayo- or tuna-covered knife as an aid to closing a non-mayo, non-tuna sandwich for a mayo-hating, tuna-hating person like me.. Or they use their pickle-juice-covered gloves to make a non-pickle sandwich for a pickle-hating person like me. Or they use wear their gloves to grab a rag and wipe off the counter before adding food to your sandwich while wearing the same gloves.

3. Dumb English majors. I always get excited when I meet someone who majored in English. To me, it means that they had higher ideals in college than in simply getting trained for a job. To me, it means they care about big ideas, about art, about philosophy, about all the things that really matter. It also means they’re people who love to read and write and were willing to spend four or so years exploring the wonders of literature and writing about the ideas encountered. So when I meet a dumb English major, I get a little upset. I think, “What are you doing in my tribe?”

I know. I am a snob. But it’s how I feel. Maybe the pregnancy hormones are making me irritable. But I’ve come across exactly four "factoids" that weren't really factoids, one mayo-laden knife in my Subway sandwich, and one dumb English major, all in the last 24 hours, and I am fit to be tied.

Monday, May 18, 2009

200 More Days, & Some Car Talk

Well, Scout’s due date is 200 days away. According to my pregnancy calendar, Scout’s fingers and toes have begun to grow soft nails, and Scout’s intestines are developing.

Meanwhile, my nails are getting harder and harder, and my intestines are feeling, well, not as good as they could. But the morning sickness wasn’t a problem this morning, so I can’t complain.

Now that I have a baby on the way, I’ve decided that I need to get a baby-friendly vehicle. That, and my 2001 Neon is getting tired and we were planning to sell it this year anyway. Here is my number-one pick for a new Scout-transporter:

It’s a silver 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan with about 31,000 miles on it. Sheltowee and I are hoping to go to the dealer and look at it today. We’re also going to consider a couple of other vehicles while we’re there.

Here’s the other used minivan they have on their lot:

It’s also a 2008 Grand Caravan. It has a lot more “bells and whistles” than the silver van, but it also has twice as many miles on it. It’s not significantly more expensive than my number-one pick, so I’ll probably test-drive it, just to see how I like it.

There are several used SUVs to choose from as well, though I’m really not crazy about SUVs. I would much rather a van. Among the SUV choices are a 2004 Explorer and a 2006 Explorer.

We won’t be looking at new cars. If we were, I would definitely consider the Ford Edge.

But it’s upwards of $30,000, and I just don’t see us spending that much money on a car, new or not.

The other choice is my mom’s Chrysler 300, which she and my dad have offered to sell me for a very reasonable price. It's not my style, and not the ideal car, height-wise, for toting a baby, but the deal itself is hard to turn down.

So we’ll see what I end up with. It’ll be sad to say goodbye to my trusty Plymouth Neon. It’s been a good car. But it’s time to move on.

The Cutest ... for Six More Months

I joked with Miss Ella that her reign as World's Cutest Baby will end in approximately six months.

Scout had better be really cute in order to out-cute Miss Ella, though.

More pictures at my sister's blog, here.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Week 11

Ah, yes. Time for another picture of the smooth-bottomed girl that is not me. Here's what our Scout looks like about now:

Happy 11-week birthday, Scout! It looks like Scout and I both have survived to Week 11 of pregnancy. Here's what they're telling me on I'm going to replace "her" with "Scout."

How Scout is Growing:

Scout, just over 1 1/2 inches long and about the size of a fig, is now almost fully formed. Scout's hands will soon open and close into fists, tiny tooth buds are beginning to appear under the gums, and some of Scout's bones are beginning to harden.

Scout is already busy kicking and stretching, and these tiny movements are so effortless they look like water ballet. These movements will become more frequent as Scout's body grows and becomes more developed and functional. You won't feel Scout's acrobatics for another month or two — nor will you notice the hiccupping that may be happening now that Scout's diaphragm is forming.

How your life's changing:

If you're like most women, you're feeling a bit more energetic now and your nausea may be starting to wane. (Yes, this is the case!) Unfortunately, you may also be suffering from constipation (caused by hormonal changes, which can slow digestion) and heartburn (hormones again, relaxing the valve between your stomach and esophagus). Just remember, all this discomfort is for a good cause.

Don't worry if nausea has made it impossible for you to eat a wide variety of healthy foods or if you haven't put on much weight yet (most women gain just 2 to 5 pounds during the first trimester). Your appetite will likely return soon, and you'll start to gain about a pound a week.

I haven't weighed myself in a week, but I would guess that I'm putting on weight. I've been eating things like veggies with pesto sauce, turkey enchilada casserole, and meatpies. Plus, I haven't been exercising very much (due to the fatigue). But since I do seem to have a little more energy in the last few days (not counting yesterday), I think I may be able to start exercising regularly again.

I've also noticed a change in my attitude. Instead of worrying about how Scout is going to affect my job, I'm now wanting to ignore my work in favor of planning Scout's nursery.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The "Old Wise Tail"

Heh … on a baby forum I’m on, they were talking about heart rates and how a fast heart rate for the baby is supposed to mean it’s a girl, and a slow heart rate is supposed to mean it’s a boy. Normal range is 120-180.

Well, at the ultrasound, the heart rate was in the 170s. It was in the 160s when I heard the heartbeat the other day. So, according to the “old wise tail,” I’m going to have a girl.

Of course, it is an “old wise tail,” one that has been scientifically disproven (though my friend Lori said it held true on all of her kids) so who knows.

I don't think anyone will know, except maybe our sonographer, until the day Scout makes his or her debut into the world.

No Maternity Clothes, & Woe is Me

My pregnancy calendar for today says “You might start wearing some maternity clothes now.”

Well, not quite yet. Maybe in another week or two. Right now I’m at this awkward in-between stage, where my jeans are profoundly uncomfortable, but my belly isn’t nearly big enough to fit into maternity clothes. So I just feel fat.

I don’t think it’s pregnancy making me gain weight. I think it’s all the extra calories. My weight gain has been in my butt and thighs, which is where fat just seems to like to settle on me. Even when I was at my biggest, I always had a small waist and stomach.

So that’s where I am now. The hips, butt, and thighs are a little bigger, but my stomach hasn’t changed all that much. So no maternity clothes for me. Not yet. For now, I’m just wearing loose dresses and skirts that I’ve had in my closet for years, but have rarely worn.

A few other things: The morning sickness has become less frequent, but I have it again today. Hopefully it will go away altogether in another couple of weeks.

The fatigue hasn’t been so bad following nights when I actually sleep. Last night wasn’t such a night. I was up probably 14 times to pee (seriously), plus my mind was racing. I am feeling terrified, depressed, angry, bitter, and frustrated.

Yes, “happy” isn’t the word to describe me these days. It’s not all about the pregnancy. Well, the “terrified” part is. The “depressed” part is probably due to the lack of Prozac in my system, but it also feels like it has something to do with the fact that I feel like I’ve wasted my life. The “angry, bitter, and frustrated” parts are related to a lot of things—depression, frustration at work, the fact that our house looks like a tornado hit it and I don’t know when I’m going to have a chance to clean it. I desperately need a “free day” to do all this stuff (and play piano, and write, and exercise, and do a million other things I’m too exhausted to do after a full day of work), but whenever I get free days, I end up pissing them away on nothing because I’m too tired and depressed to feel motivated.

I know this is a really depressing blog, but I tend to be a depressing person when I don’t have my drugs and I can’t sleep, exercise, write, or play piano.

I’m not happy that Sheltowee will be leaving for camp soon, because that means I’ll be home by myself for the next 10 weeks.

I really hope the second trimester is better. I’m worried that this depression isn’t so much a first-trimester thing, but is instead an off-the-Prozac thing.

Right now I feel like the biggest relief would be to run head-first, full-speed ahead, into a brick wall.

When I say I hope Scout has Sheltowee’s even-temperedness, this is what I mean. I do not want a kid who has to deal with depression the way I have.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Scout's Heart

I heard Scout's heartbeat today for the first time!

Mine went "whoosh ... whoosh ... whoosh ... whoosh ... whoosh." (A good runner's heart rate, have I).

Scout's went "whoosh-whoosh-whoosh-whoosh-whoosh."

I cried. I wish Hubster could have been there. I didn't realize they were going to be able to "play the heartbeat" yet, but the midwife said we might be able to hear it since I'm thin. So we tried it, and it worked.

At first all we heard was my slow hearbeat. For like five minutes. Of course, I was getting all worried thinking, "What if Scout isn't alive in there?"

Then ...


Yep. Scout's still there. Heart beating at a healthy 160 bpm.

I go in for a second ultrasound in two weeks to test for Down Syndrome. This is a standard procedure for those of us who are of "advanced maternity age."

Hubster will be with me. I'm going to ask them to play the heartbeat again for him. It was so cool, and I hated that he wasn't with me to hear it for the first time.

Whoosh Whoosh Whoosh

I heard Scout's heartbeat today for the first time!

Mine went "whoosh ... whoosh ... whoosh ... whoosh ... whoosh." (A good runner's heart rate, have I).

Scout's went "whoosh-whoosh-whoosh-whoosh-whoosh."

I cried. I wish Hubster could have been there. I didn't realize they were going to be able to "play the heartbeat" yet, but the midwife said we might be able to hear it since I'm thin. So we tried it, and it worked.

At first all we heard was my slow hearbeat. For like five minutes. Of course, I was getting all worried thinking, "What if Scout isn't alive in there?"

Then ...


Yep. Scout's still there. Heart beating at a healthy 160 bpm.

I go in for a second ultrasound in two weeks to test for Down Syndrome. This is a standard procedure for those of us who are of "advanced maternity age."

Hubster will be with me. I'm going to ask them to play the heartbeat again for him. It was so cool, and I hated that he wasn't with me to hear it for the first time.

Ella's Mom's Side of the Family

Here's a family pic from Ella's baptism weekend.

Left to right is my brother Ghent, my dad and mom, Miss Ella, my sister Mu (Ella's mom), me, Hubster, and Mu's husband Stu.

"Mu and Stu" are actually "Megan and Stephen" to most people, but I'm one of those people who can't stand not to use nicknames.

I think Ghent looks like Dr. House. And Ella looks like a cutie patootie.

That "Natural Glow"

People are telling me I have a baby bump. They are lying, or blind, or victims of wishful thinking. I do not have a baby bump. I have baby bloat, and perhaps a bit of constipation-related doo-doo bump, but no baby bump. Not yet, anyway. Give me a few more days. Or weeks.

This weekend, people were telling me I was glowing. I was not. I joked that the "glow" was actually the cold sweat of nausea. But I think the glow was actually due to the miraculous powers of Jergens Natural Glow Lotion for Fair Skin Tones.

So there. Now you know the secret to my arresting beauty. I'm a fake tanner, at least during the summer ... though, in all honesty, I don't think the word "tan" would ever describe my skin tone--even if I slathered my bod with Jergen's Natural Glow twice a day, every day. I'm happy if it turns anything darker than shocking white.

So, my daily pregnancy calendar says that, today, "Your baby's face is well-formed." I wonder what Scout will look like. I'm imagining a bald, blue-eyed baby in dire need of Jergen's Natural Glow. (Just kidding about the Natural Glow bit. But I bet little Scout will be fair, considering the throng of pasty-white genes crowded onto its tiny chromosomes.)

Whatever Scout looks like, I hope he/she has his/her Daddy's smile. Sheltowee has the sweetest smile in the whole world.

P.S. Oops, I almost forgot ... here is a picture of me with Baby Ella, showing off my "natural glow."

My Pretty Little Niece

Ella is now six months old. She was baptized on Sunday, May 10, and my sister had a party for her afterward. Here she is at the party, still in her baptism dress.

Admit it: She has the sweetest baby smile ever. You know it's true. And just look at those ever-so-kissable fat rolls on her arm!

Want to see more Ella pictures? You can find them at my sister's blog.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Happy Week 10, Scout!

Today I begin my tenth week of pregnancy. Which means Scout was conceived, oh, about eight weeks ago.

Congratulations, Scout. You've made big strides this week, from reptile to duck to human. And today you officially graduate from embryo to fetus. Here's what you look like right now. As shown by my added label, the "mother" in this picture is does not correspond to what I look like right now.

One thing I was thinking about last night: Little Scout is going to bring Sheltowee and me together like nothing else can. I mean, Sheltowee and I are already close (or course), and the bond of love is stronger than ever. But Scout ... Scout will be a living, breathing bond. A mix of me and Sheltowee. A tangible, visible, living, breathing result of our love for each other. It's pretty amazing to think of it.

Here's something funny ... Several people have asked me if we're really planning to name the child "Scout," regardless of its sex. I have to explain that, no, Scout is the baby's "in-the-womb" nickname, just like "Lima Bea" was Ella's in-the-womb nickname. (At least, it's what I called her.) I can't imagine referring to Ella as "Lima Bea" now, and I probably won't be able to imagine calling young Scout ... or Water-Wee, for that matter, by its "in-the-womb" nickname, either.

Another funny thing: People ask me if I like being pregnant. Do they not see the look of nausea on my face? The dark circles under my eyes?

And one last funny thing: No one who has ever been pregnant has asked me that previous question. :)

Wiped Out

(Warning: Complain-y rant ahead.)

“What is wrong with me?” That’s the question I keep asking myself, and it’s a question I want to ask my doctor … but I’m sure she’ll just laugh and say, “You’re just pregnant, that’s all!”

But really … everything I’ve read says that it’s good to keep up with exercise during pregnancy. On the Runner’s World forums, pregnant women are posting about the 10K they ran during their fourth month, or the half-marathon they kept training for even after learning they were pregnant. I got some DVDs of pregnant women doing exercises for pregnant women, and I wonder how they had the energy to even make the DVD. I barely have the energy to watch it.

I am a zombie. Walking is a hassle because I literally have to pee every 15 or 20 minutes. I certainly can’t run anymore, thanks to the fatigue and the fact that my pregnant boobs can’t deal with the pain. On the Runner’s World forums, they say to “get a good bra.” Well, I have good bras. I’ve been running for three years. I know what constitutes a good running bra. But if crossing my arms across my chest causes me to gasp in pain … I don’t know if they’re any bra out there that will make running pain-free.

But I don’t have enough energy for running anyway. I’m morning-sick in the mornings—and yes, I’m trying the Saltines and the ginger ale and sea-bands and all the suggested remedies—and then the exhaustion hits me in the early afternoon. From about 2:00 until I go to bed at night, I’m completely useless. I literally feel like I’ve taken a huge swig of Nyquil. The whole body and brain shut down.

Still, I go to the gym and get on the treadmill to walk a measly 3.6 mph. If I’m lucky, I’ll make it 1.5 miles (stopping a couple of times, of course, to go pee). When I walk on the treadmill, I have to hold on to the bars so I can put my head down and shut my eyes. I know that’s dangerous. But I literally can’t keep my eyes open, or my head up.

Then at night, I can’t sleep. That’s the worst—to be so mind-numbingly exhausted throughout the day, then not to be able to sleep at night. It doesn’t help that my house is in a shambles, as we’re having wood floors put in since the cat destroyed the carpet. The cat pee went through to the underboards, so we had to have the underboards unexpectedly replaced. Which means it took the wood-floor installers an extra day of work. And they had another job yesterday and today, which means they won’t be back until Monday. Which means Dan and I are sleeping on the couch. Our dressers are in the garage. Our living room is packed full with books and furniture from the bedrooms. There’s nowhere to sit. And once the floor is in, we’re going to need to move all this stuff back. And Dan works god-awful hours and isn’t home half the time and is getting ready to move to camp, where he’ll be for 8 weeks while I’m being pregnant and tired and cranky at home.

It’s enough to make me want to cry. Then I think, “Should I really feel this depressed? Am I justified in feeling this depressed? Or is it because I had to get off the antidepressant when I found out I was pregnant?” Always that second-guessing. Are my feelings justified by the circumstances? Or are they merely a result of my messed-up depression-prone head?

One thing I haven’t done much of since I got pregnant is write. I haven’t been writing in my journal. The only “personal” writing I’ve done has been on this blog and my other blog, A Sort of Notebook. It’s probably good that I haven’t been writing. When I’m depressed, writing tends to be a way of spiraling myself deeper into the depression. Then I get really depressed.

(several hours later …)

Well. I started writing this early this morning, then I got focused on the help standards document at work. Thank God for work. It keeps me sane. I feel much better now that I’ve created a beautiful PDF of this document. And oh, it has the loveliest of Tables of Contents!

I still feel wiped out. But at least some of the depression is lifting.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Scout, I Think You're Going to be a Human!

Wow. One day after you became a duck, Scout, I read this in my daily pregnancy calendar:

9 weeks 6 days
Thursday, May 07
"Your baby very clearly looks like a baby now."

No more reptiles, no more amphibians, no more birds. Scout, you have now graduated to bona-fide mammal. You look something like this:

Whoa ... I just realized something. Just realized it, right now as I'm writing this.

I feel closest to Scout when I'm writing on this blog. When I'm not writing, I just feel kind of displaced, not myself, but some tired, cranky, bloated person who's going to birth a baby sometime in the distant future.

But right now, when I'm addressing Scout, saying silly things like, "Now you're a duck!", I'm aware of the reality that Scout is a real, live person.

I wonder ... is this because I'm a born writer, or is it because my primarily interaction with people is through electronic/social media such as e-mail, Facebook, blogs, etc.?

I know. It's because I'm a writer. And once again, writing helps to make things real.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"Development of the Heart is Complete"

That's what it says on my day-by-day pregnancy calendar. As of yesterday, Scout's heart is completely developed.

Here are a few other developmental strides Scout is making this week:

- Scout has well-defined fingers and toes (the better to play piano and run and hike with, my dear). (They're still webbed, though.) Cartilage and bones are begging to form.

- The nose tip and upper lip have begun to form. The nose tip! How many times will that little nose tip get kissed in Scout's lifetime, I wonder?

- The tongue and larynx are developing.

- The eyelids, while still closed, are developed completely.

While all this development is going on, Scout is working on his/her swimming skills, paddling around in a little bag of fluid. I guess the webbed fingers and toes are helping with that.

Congratulations, Scout. You have advanced from reptile to duck. And not only are you a duck, but you're a duck with a heart.

(Charming photo from

Monday, May 4, 2009

Monday Randomness

1. I thoroughly enjoyed being a spectator at the Flying Pig, but oh, how I wanted to be out there with the rest of the runners! I’ve already decided that, God willing, I’m going to start training for the next annual Flying Pig Half-Marathon in February of 2010. That will give me three months to train. I bet I can do it.

2. I hate the words “preggo” and “preggers.” I think “preggo,” in particular, is the ugliest word ever—yet it seems to be a popular term. Blech. I prefer “pregnant”—yes, the actual word. Even better is “with child,” even though it is a bit antiquated-sounding. But “preggo” and “preggers” just sound so … coarse.

3. I’m back in touch with my friend Jammie J. in California. I’m thrilled to be back in touch with her. I’ve missed her.

4. I’ve begun reading Sacajawea by Anna Lee Waldo. I remember my mom reading it when I was a child, and how she went on and on about how wonderful it was. I’ve always wanted to read it; you might say it’s been on my personal reading list since, oh, about 1980. I finally started reading it yesterday and am already 60 pages in. I’m going to like this book.

5. I’m also reading Uneven Ground: Appalachia Since 1945 by Ronald D. Eller. I’m taking a break from it, though. I haven’t read fiction in a while, and I was really craving fiction.

6. I don’t see how people in their first trimester manage to be productive at work. I feel like my brain cells are deteriorating by the millisecond. I honestly feel like I am shutting down mentally.

7. I’m a little over two-thirds of the way through my first trimester. I am so ready to be 3/3 of the way through.

I Love Helen, and Scout

This morning I went to the coffee shop and told Helen I was pregnant. I knew she would be thrilled. Helen, a grandmother several times over, absolutely loves babies, especially newborns.

After she squealed in delight, she looked at me kind of funny, then said seriously, “It’s going to be okay, you know.” Not “Congratulations.” Not “You must be so thrilled!” But “It going to be okay.”

I nearly started crying. While it’s been truly wonderful to hear all the words of congratulation and see all the joy on people’s faces, it’s also been a little strange. I'm still trying to adjust to this whole "being pregnant" thing, and the idea of impending motherhood. It feels a little weird to be congratulated on something that I didn’t train for, study for, or in any way try for. So to hear someone immediately reassure me that everything would be okay … well, I needed to hear that. And I love Helen for picking up on that, and for saying it.

I know things will be okay. I’m getting more of an emotional attachment to Scout now, particularly since seeing the ultrasound. I have a weird feeling like I love Scout. It’s a weird feeling because … oh, I don’t know why. How could I not love Scout? It’s a little baby with a little beating heart, and it’s growing inside me. That’s reason enough. Whether or not Scout was planned, truly doesn’t matter.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Time for the Pig to Fly!

It's 5:44 a.m. and Janet's getting ready for her big race, the Cincinnati Flying Pig Half-Marathon. We stayed with some friends in West Chester, OH, Friday night, and last night we stayed in the Embassy Suites across the river, in Covington, KY. The race begins at 6:30 and we have a mile of walking to get to the finish line.

I'm a little sad that I won't be able to run it, but my body is now in the business of baby-making, and running will have to wait. Someone asked me why I didn't just walk the half-marathon. Ha. I'm lucky if I can make it two miles walking these days. The exhaustion prevents me from walking much more.

So my exercise for the day will be walking to and from the start/finish line, and going to several points in the race to cheer Janet on. This will be her first half-marathon, hopefully the first of many. It's 56 degrees Fahrenheit, currently cloudy with a 30% chance of rain. Actually, make that a 100% chance of rain at this very moment. It's supposed to warm up to 64 degrees, so it should make for decent race weather.

Time to get moving. Janet's pinning on her number and is just about ready to go!

I'll post some pictures from the race later this week.

Friday, May 1, 2009

And So We Begin Week 9 ... Again

I thought Week 9 started last Sunday, but, according to the ultrasound and Scout’s adjusted gestational age, Week 9 actually starts today. Just what I needed … five more days added to the first trimester. Argh.

To be honest, I have a lot of mixed feelings going on today. The predominant one is depression.

It was a month ago that Mary was killed. So often, we say things like, “Oh, it seems like it was just yesterday” when we talk about big, life-changing events, whether good or bad. It doesn’t feel like it was just yesterday, though. It feels like it’s been at least a year. It’s not that I feel like I have a year of mourning behind me, a year of distancing, of cushioning, from the initial shock; between Mary’s death, and the secret of Scout, and tax season at work, it’s more like the past month has dragged on for an eternity.

I found out about Scout the weekend before Mary died. Monday evening, as we drove to South Carolina, Mary and I talked about having kids. She asked me if Dan and I ever planned to have them. I answered truthfully, “No, we’ve never planned to have children.” I wasn’t ready to tell anyone about Scout yet.

Tuesday morning before I left for work, I mentioned that conversation to Dan. I told him how, when I finally did tell the world that Scout was on the way, Mary and I would laugh over the fact that I’d had to dodge her question that night on the way to Anderson. It never occurred to me that that day—the day we would laugh—would never come. If it had, that would have been this past Wednesday. Instead, it was the day Mary’s parents came to clean out her desk.

I found out about Mary that Tuesday morning after she was killed, less than an hour after my conversation with Dan. Several hours later, I had my first prenatal appointment. My sister came up from Brevard to drive me to the appointment. I was too distraught to drive. I spent most of the prenatal appointment crying to the midwife, sharing the horrible news, vaguely hoping the stress wouldn’t hurt the baby.

People have talked to me of the “circle of life,” and how God has blessed me with this child, even as I lost a friend. I don’t know. I tend to be cynical when it comes to speculating about what God does or doesn’t mean to do. Yes, it was an oddly good feeling to know that there was new life growing inside of me. But Mary was gone.

My second prenatal appointment was this past Wednesday, the day Mary’s family came to clean out her desk. It was another day of wildly mixed emotions. As they cleaned out her cubicle, I stood there dumbly, and numbly, just watching. They gave us some of the little stuffed animals Mary kept on her desk. I got a little reindeer. It will be Scout’s.

I know I’m rambling. I’m just not much in a mood for blogging this morning. It’s a dreary day. I think I’ll go get Scout some yogurt.

Mary, and Wordsworth

Mary's family came to the office this week to clean out Mary's desk.

Even though all of her stuff is gone now, I still feel a sense of shock and surprise when I walk past her cubicle. It still seems weird--and so wrong--not to see her there.

It made me think of this Wordsworth sonnet. Wordsworth wrote the poem about his daughter Catharine, who had died years before. He turns to share something with her then realizes, with double shock, that she isn't there anymore.

Surprised by joy--impatient as the Wind
I turned to share the transport--Oh! with whom
But Thee, deep buried in the silent tomb,
That spot which no vicissitude can find?
Love, faithful love, recalled thee to my mind--
But how could I forget thee? Through what power,
Even for the least division of an hour,
Have I been so beguiled as to be blind
To my most grievous loss?--That thought's return
Was the worst pang that sorrow ever bore,
Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn,
Knowing my heart's best treasure was no more;
That neither present time, nor years unborn
Could to my sight that heavenly face restore.

The circumstances are different for me, of course--Mary was a co-worker and friend, not a daughter--but I understand the sentiment better, perhaps, than before. It's hard not to feel the shock, then the sorrow, all over again, when I walk past Mary's empty chair.

Blogging Elsewhere

Hi, Strangers! I've been blogging with my friend Anh over at Then a Gentle Whisper . Check it out!