A Note on Names

I kept my last name when Ahmed and I got married. It wasn’t for any ideological reason, nor am I particularly attached to the name. It was just the path of least resistance. I don’t like paperwork. I didn’t see a point in changing my name. So I didn’t.

As a fan of simplicity, I’ve also never been a fan of hyphenated names. A nice idea in theory but destined to break down within two generations. I mean, what happens when two hyphenated people get married? Is their kid stuck with some monster last name with four words and three hyphens? What about their kids?

“Olson-Dogan” also happens to sound odd. Too matchy-matchy. (I’ve joked about naming our son Roland Olson Dogan.)

At some point you just have to choose. So why not go ahead and get it over with and not saddle your kids with something that won’t fit on most forms and makes your name hella long to say or type every time you’re involved in another scandal? (I’m looking at you, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.)

So. When Ahmed and I have kids, it’ll be up to us to choose which one of us they “match” with. And yeah, that’s kind of awkward. I’m not going to lie. If we go with his name, there will be people at airports who look at our passports and ask if I’m really the mom of these kids.

But that’s better than Ahmed having to explain why he has kids with him who don’t share his last name. An airport security person may just assume I’m the nanny while they might suspect he was a kidnapper.

Another option is for both of us to change our name to some new hybrid name. In addition to doubling the damn paperwork, there aren’t a lot of good options with our names. Dolson? Ogan? Dogalson? Why would we want to change either of our clearly ethnic, meaningful names into a nonsense word?

There really are no perfect solutions here, and I recognize that we’re all doing our best. This is just my two cents. It’s more about the kids than it is about me, and my top priority is for them to have a simple, elegant, lovely name that will serve them well throughout life. One that fits them and gives them a sense of identity.

And Dogan’s the cooler name (in my opinion), and I got to gestate the damn kid (and hopefully another), so it’s a no-brainer for me. The kids’ last name will be Dogan.

Path of least resistance. Works for us.

Later on, if the different last name thing gets really cumbersome, the path of least resistance may be to go ahead and change my legal name to match everyone else’s. It’d be a little bit annoyingly conventional, but hey. Whatever works.

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Back to the Birthing Center

So, November rolled around and with it ObamaCare enrollment and my annual freak-out about dealing with our health insurance for the coming year. What it ends up costing is always so unpredictable, and what it ends up covering is never clear until you start getting bills. And then it’s still not really clear. You just kind of look at each bill and decide if you’d rather pay it and be done with it or ask questions. Sometimes they bill wrong — either in my favor, in which case I say nothing, or in their favor, in which case I argue. Providers sometimes offer discounts, too, if you act like you’ll otherwise have to pay it off in installments for a while. They hate that. Good thing I honed my haggling skills in the Middle East.

In short, American health care is a frigging stressful nightmare. I can’t even explain how jealous I am of my (often smug / bewildered) friends in Canada, Europe, and elsewhere who enjoy universal health coverage and just can’t understand why we Americans can’t get our act together. Why we aren’t marching in the streets demanding better.

Anyway. I calculated what it would cost if I gave birth in a hospital next year, and… it’s pushing $10,000 (including premiums + out of pocket max). This is a significant chunk of our gross income, and also pretty much all of the savings we’ve managed to scrape back together since the Great Fertility Tsunami wiped us out.

We live very frugally. Small one-bedroom apartment, $7-a-month cell phone plans, no cable, no regular Starbucks runs (we just make tea), mostly cooking at home, rarely going out, etc. The best things in life are free, right? And then occasionally we’ll splurge on something like signing up for three soccer leagues at once + sweet new cleats or a four-day meditation retreat.

Point is, that’s a pretty big number, and I was pretty bummed out about it. Especially since I never really wanted a hospital birth in the first place. The thought of it is already making my sphincters pucker. Like the way nurses keep changing shifts, and you have to remind each one anew what the birth plan is and what you want them to do and don’t want, and endure any who sigh or roll their eyes and generally break your mood or concentration at a time when you so desperately need to be relaxed and in the zone. I don’t want anyone trying to “manage” me or looking at a clock.

Nurses also, from what I understand, sometimes ply you with stuff you don’t need that the hospital ends up charging you a fortune for, and I’m just not here for that kind of thing. (During my very first visit to my OB — as much as I love him — a nurse presented me with a “gift bag” full of advertisements and formula samples. It really turned me off.)

Some nurses are absolute saints, including the lovely one who gave us the St. Francis tour. I 100% believe St. Francis is the best hospital in the state to give birth in, and a part of me is a bit sad about missing out on that experience.

But I’ve always felt that going to a place full of people who need serious medical attention for something as routine as giving birth seems like overkill. In my case, expensive overkill. And now that I know the baby and I are doing really well at the halfway mark (he’s such a busy wiggle worm! And I feel fantastic, and hungry as a horse), I feel more confident that things really can go just fine.

I bitched about the vagaries of American health care on Facebook, and several people suggested a home birth or birthing center. I realized I didn’t have a really good argument against those things. In the vast majority of cases, it’s a toss-up which method is actually more dangerous, and a hospital birth is simply not what my heart desires. I just felt kind of scared / guilted into it. And I don’t feel great about that.

I talked with my doula, and she said the midwife I had spoken to earlier had a sterling reputation and also a more relaxed pace than some more profit-driven centers, with fewer clients and more attention. She’s also laid-back in her approach — not a hoverer — and I appreciate that, too. She’s just there to monitor the heart rate, manage the space, catch the babe, and deal with any exigencies. Husband and doula are there to pamper me.

I called the midwife and asked her what she did when things went seriously wrong and how many times it had happened. She said that in the past decade, she’s had to ride in an ambulance with a patient four times, and each time everyone was fine. (The protocol is to call St. Francis at the first sign anything might be amiss and transfer the records and alert the doctor on call so he’ll be waiting in case a transfer is needed. St. Francis is less than four miles from her birthing center.)

I like it. Cautious but not overly cautious.

Here’s the main part that gives me pause: If something does go wrong at the birthing center, and I get transferred to the hospital, I’ll end up paying the midwife PLUS the hospital. If the baby needs NICU time in addition, we’re looking at paying $18,000 in health care costs next year. If we end up stuck with someone “out of network” (and I doubt we’ll be conscientiously checking everyone who touches us in the case of an emergency — it’s a pain in the ass in the best of times trying to figure out who’s in your network), costs could spiral out of control.

BUT, if we get lucky and the birth is healthy and the baby is healthy, we’ll “only” have to pay about $5,000 in health care costs in 2018.

Sigh. It’s weird how much choosing our medical plan for the year feels like gambling…

Of course, if my midwife notices any problems at her check-ups, she’ll send me to a specialist (or just send me for an ultrasound), and if it turns out to be something risky, she’ll send me back to my OB and the hospital long before I ever go into labor.

So that’s the plan for now. I haven’t talked to my OB yet. I’m hoping I can just quietly cancel my next appointment and quietly disappear, and then nonchalantly come back and pretend like nothing happened if I get sent back to him. 🙂

But I’m actually really excited about a birthing center birth, and it’s a good feeling. I feel like I’m heading back where I belong. My motherly instinct spidey senses are tingling in a good way. The quiet, the space, the privacy, the intimacy, the autonomy, the unhurried pace… sounds like how it should be.

A Note on Raising a Boy

Let me start by saying again that never in my life picturing raising a boy doesn’t make it a regrettable reality. It’s simply the truth. I never imagined being a journalist in Palestine, either, or marrying a Turk after I spent so many years learning Arabic. 😉 Life unfolds in its own way, and I’ve learned to roll with it.

In fact, it’s precisely when things don’t pan out like you imagined that some of the most intense learning and growing can happen. I have no doubt this will be similar.

Here are some of the things I’ve been thinking, for better or worse, since learning the news:

I was all set and ready to raise a strong, confident girl. She could wear “girl” clothes or “boy” clothes, do “boy” things or “girl” things, whatever she wanted. I’d teach her to stand up for herself and go after her dreams, never doubting she could do anything she set her mind to.

When I found out it was a boy? I kind of felt at a loss. Society already teaches boys to be strong and confident. Almost too much sometimes. So what is there for me to do?

It’s a silly question, of course, and the fact that it even occurred to me attests to the degree of brainwashing I still have to deal with. Because it’s actually harder in a way to raise a good man than to raise a good woman.

Society craps on women less and less as time goes by for doing “boy” things, after all. I mean, there’s still sexual harassment and assault everywhere, and an entire male-centric history of the world that tells women they are marginal players at best. Virtually all the “great” explorers, scientists, philosophers, leaders, and authors? If you look at almost any educational curriculum, it’s men, men, men, men, and men.

A few “also rans” are mentioned occasionally, like Marie Curie — exceptions to prove the rule. I remember as a kid thinking of myself as an “honorary man” because I wanted to do something “great” with my life. It took me many, many years to stop hating my femininity for the weakness and smallness it supposedly represented.

But there are still many important things withheld from men, and withheld almost absolutely. I could have done “boy things” with a girl pretty easily. It’s not so “acceptable” to do “girl things” with a boy. Many people cringe visibly if you talk about a boy wearing a pretty dress or dancing silly and graceful and free or accessing his deepest emotions. Even me sometimes, ever so slightly, before I catch myself. Name almost any stereotypically “girl” thing, and it’s hard not to think, “What use does a boy have for that?” Not to mention, I’m not stereotypically ‘girly’ in a lot of ways. I’m still dealing with my own internalized misogyny, and I’m supposed to be teaching a boy how to value the feminine?

And does all this mean I don’t want to be stuck in the role of teaching “girl” stuff to a boy because I still believe “girl” things are inherently less valuable than “boy” things? (A more charitable interpretation would be that I’ve generally been drawn more to “boy” things, and teaching my interests to a boy will be less subversive than teaching them to a girl.)

And I know what society does to sensitive boys and men, and it’s not like society does particularly nice things to boys and men in general. Demanding “confidence” without teaching or expecting access to deeper emotions, the results can actually be quite brittle—and extremely dangerous. “Strength” without intelligent sensitivity is a rather blunt instrument.

Some men take all these “lessons” and end up clueless and entitled, a toxic mix of false bravado and brute force, just taking what they want, what they feel they deserve, and letting the emotional shrapnel fall where it may. Or the blows or the bullets.

But I can’t imagine that’s a very satisfying life. Is Harvey Weinstein a happy person? Donald Trump? Anyone so closed off from empathy, he classifies the entire world as either conquests or enemies?

As a friend of mine who is not raising any boys recently said: “I imagine the hard part is raising him to reject the privileges he’s offered.”

(EDIT: With all the chatter I’ve been seeing / participating in on Facebook these days about teaching boys — and girls — about consent, that aspect of raising a child just seemed to go without saying, but it’s definitely worth mentioning, and incredibly important.)

I’m speaking in very broad strokes here. But as hard as it is to demonstrate to girls that they have just as much value, talent, and potential as boys, it may be even harder in this society to teach boys that they don’t have to be hypermasculine to be worthwhile. They can be a good, solid, happy, sensitive person without being in any way less than the jock down the street. They don’t have to objectify women—or anyone—to feel secure and like they belong in the world.

A friend who’s a high school teacher posted about how she overhears teenage boys talking about sex (and girls) in crude ways. But then she gets comments in her anonymous questions box in which boys seem desperate for real connections. This is so sad to me, but also hopeful. Aggressive and arrogant is not the “natural” state for boys, necessarily. Even raised in this society they end up hungry for more.

Other people wrote on the same thread:

Talking about emotions and desire for connection requires vulnerability, which requires confidence and trust in your milieu, both of which are in short supply in high schools. Othering to establish an ingroup by talking about sex without regard to emotional connection (thus objectifying the female involved) is a way of feeling less vulnerable.

Toxic masculinity means you’re only allowed to talk about [sex crudely], and that’s not something you’re going to put into an anonymous questions box because it’s already a constant topic of discussion.

The hormones are intense and will make you want to f**k anything. But it’s also when a lot of things in your life become unmoored, and you’re desperate for validation and to figure out love outside of family. It’s only manly to talk about the first one in public, though.

It seems like a sad way to live, and it’s incredibly pervasive. Incredibly hard to escape, especially in Lord of the Flies scenarios like high school. (Or worse, middle school — years I barely think about other than remembering lying in bed fantasizing about killing myself.) What on earth can I do for a tender, playful little boy in the face of all that? It’s one of the many frightening aspects of raising a boy I just never thought about.

(A part of me genuinely wants to get the kids walking and talking and then move to some jungle village in Costa Rica.)

Of course, if I’d had a daughter, those pre-conceived notions of mine might have been way off. It might actually be better to come into this with a blanker slate. I also feel like it’ll fundamentally change the way I think about and relate to men. To see how they get their start, how they grow, from their very first precious, helpless, desperately cute moments. I know what it’s like to grow up a girl. I have no idea what it’s like to grow up a boy.

My same friend mentioned above (who’s not raising any boys) says people at her daughter’s fairly progressive school are more and more relaxed about boys doing “girl” stuff. Boys come to school with painted nails and stuff, and no one cares, though it’s pretty hard to escape gender-norming anywhere. She said, “There’s a lot of ‘Yes, I know so and so said that’s just for boys/girls but they’re wrong.'”

In the end it’s up to him what he’s into. So I’ll give him options and see what lights up his eyes. And if anyone doesn’t like any of it, they can take it up with me.

I’ll model respectful communication and female strength and worth as well as I can, and my husband will model his own genuine dignity, strength, and worth.

We obviously won’t be his only influences, though, so there will be a significant degree of struggling against harmful social indoctrination.

It will be an adventure, that’s for sure.

Okie Meditation Retreat 2017

I did this same retreat back in 2014, when I was just starting to grasp that our journey to parenthood might be a long and excruciating one. The retreat is held in silence (no icebreakers, no introductions, no small talk — just humans) and solidly scheduled from 7am until 9pm with two yoga sessions and four meditation sessions every day plus meals, meetings, workshops, and some breaks to let us walk meditatively around in the lovely fall scenery of the rural setting.

The meetings can get intense. They always start with beautiful music and readings from history’s great mystics to nourish the soul, then the organizers speak for some time, then we break up for art therapy or journaling. Then, if we choose, we all share what’s coming up for us with each topic and assignment.

It was always fascinating and respectful; even the longest meetings seemed to fly by.

It was a deeply important experience to me, because it helped me get a handle on my constant directionless fear and anxiety at the time:

“I named [my fear] Fred and pictured him as a lonely guy in a huge fire station randomly pulling at bells and alarms because no one had trained him properly and he didn’t know what else to do. I explained to him that I needed him alert and watchful, not making meaningless noises all the time. I told him he was valuable, and he would be even more valuable… if he stayed rested up in case there was a real emergency. After quite a bit of back-and-forth, he seemed to believe that made sense.

Now when I feel anxiety gnawing away at me, I try to remember to say, “Fred? Is there a problem?” Usually he says, “Uh, no, sorry. Old habits,” and he shrugs apologetically and I smile, and I feel much better. It’s just Fred knocking around. There’s really nothing wrong at this particular moment.”

I did something similar with my ego at the time. Instead of trying to push it away or deny it, I made friends with it and gave it some guidance and training about boundaries and appropriate behavior. When the ego knows you respect it — and you have its number — it’s less likely to act out in harmful ways. Believe me, it’ll still get you sometimes, but little by little the inmates can get to know their asylum and their place in it a little better, and you start to find more harmony and fewer noisy wars within yourself.

Then, of course, three very tough years passed, and finally now things are actually pretty good (knock wood), but I’ve been trained in the past three years to always expect the worst. It’s become very hard to enjoy this life even when it’s good.

My confidence has also taken a lot of hits. For example, I’ve spent far too much time in the Google research rabbit hole and on Facebook in the past few years trying to avoid or deny problems that felt all-consuming, including the fertility hell itself plus the fact that all that denial was robbing me of a chance to work hard at work worth doing. (I could have written four books by now instead of just two if I didn’t waste so much precious time.) And the whole thing would make me feel bad about myself and unworthy to write anything worth anything.

It was a tight little self-defeating spiral, and every time I tried to claw out of it, I’d find the old patterns reasserting themselves before I knew what was happening, and I’d have that much less confidence I could ever get out of it.

I know it sounds ridiculous, and I feel ridiculous writing it. But I have addictive / compulsive tendencies in my DNA, and while I managed to stay away from drinking or gambling or running up huge credit card bills I couldn’t pay, Facebook and internet research became my drugs of choice. Addiction is “a brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences.” And I’d say wasting half your life on things that make you miserable counts as adverse consequences.

But it seems like such a “silly and harmless” addiction, it’s that much easier to be in denial about it, even as you sit down determined to finish Chapter 9 only to “just check your Facebook messages” and then look up and realize four hours have passed and you’ve written off the day. Again.

When your addiction is just a tab away from your work, it’s that much easier to indulge and feel like it’s no big deal. Like an alcoholic bartender.

Facebook is not inherently bad, of course, any more than drinking or gambling or credit cards are inherently bad. But when it becomes a compulsion that eats away at your life and work, something needs to change.

So this retreat was about looking myself in the face and making this change happen by whatever means necessary. (I didn’t take my computer and don’t have a smart phone, so it was a nice four-day “detox.”) Addiction, feeling unworthy, and feeling uneasy even in good times — these seemed to be my main issues, and it was time to deal with them square-on.

We started this year by talking about how our animal minds have a bias toward paying attention to and accentuating negativity but how we can consciously train ourselves away from this default behavior. Yes, our minds come with “factory settings,” which have helped us survive and become an incredibly resilient species. And growing up without secure attachments in a culture that has its priorities incredibly screwed up can mess with you even more. (They said about half of Americans grow up not even securely attached to their own parents or caregivers. Yikes.)

But miraculously, our minds also have something called “neuroplasticity,” which means our brain patterns can be changed with practice. Our incredible brains can actually rewire themselves! (Let that sink in for a minute. It’s pretty damned gobsmacking.)

So we started by listing all the things we loved in the world, and it was so easy to let this list flow. My God, there are so many good things in the world. So many lovely people. We can forget that with the daily barrage of awful news. It was kind of jarring to compare this long, lovely list with the way we tend to go about our days complaining about everything.

We talked about some of the ways our brains adapt to seemingly overwhelming stimuli, e.g., through avoidance (addiction can fill this role), denial, dissociation (numbness), intellectualization (processing life through concepts, not direct experience), and somatization (storing emotions in our body).

Instead of berating ourselves for these mechanisms, the organizers encouraged us to meet them with mercy. To talk to them and make friends with them. And then maybe gently suggest that they’ve run their course, and we’ve got this now.

Being a little bit kind to yourself — even the parts that you hate — can be so counterintuitive to hyper-competitive Americans. We feel like we have to beat ourselves into submission. And that just doesn’t work very well. It’s certainly not sustainable. And I was shocked at how hard it was to be kind to myself. It felt very foreign and made me squirm. Seeing my screw-ups and allowing them as part of being human sometimes — this was hard. But it also felt amazing. And it also started, finally, to feel like transformation was really possible. Just looking yourself in the eye and choosing to neither hate nor flinch — this can really change things.

It’s also OK that my life is good, my husband is supportive, my son is on the way, and I’m about to finish a novel that means so much to me (even if it never means much to anyone else). I don’t have to flinch from that, either, or feel like I’m unworthy or everything will go to crap at any moment. It is actually an option to relax and enjoy this. I’ve had some bad luck and I’ve had a lot of good luck, and the bad luck usually passes eventually (one way or another) and the good luck should be savored and cherished.

And sometimes, out of the most impenetrable muck, a beautiful lotus blooms. No muck, no lotus. So maybe it’s really all good luck if we look at it the right way.

The most heady assignment was probably imagining living to a ripe old age and writing our ideal obituary. It was pretty effective in focusing us in on what’s truly most important to us. None of us wrote that the most important things to us were money or status, that’s for sure. My summing-up paragraph at the end:

“What mattered most to Pamela was a healthy, happy family, making life better for others, and seeking the truth no matter where it led, with unshakeable faith that the universe was worth knowing, and so was every jot and being within it. She wanted others to know and love the universe as much as she did, and more.”

And that’s really the take away message of the retreat: You have to make friends with all of it. You have to make peace with all of it. If you reject any part of the universe — or yourself — you are fragmented from yourself and the universe, at war with what is. Even if there’s something about the world you want to change, you first have to truly meet that thing and accept that it is what is right now.

But coincidence or kismet, I was reading The Darkness of the Light Chasers at the time of the retreat, and during the retreat I read the part about how the author took different aspects of her personality — including the ones she could hardly bear to look at — and met them as distinct individuals within her psyche, all clamoring to be known and respected.

After all, we are all lazy and hard-working, ugly and beautiful, fit and slobby, judgy and accepting, kind and cruel, graceful and awkward, arrogant and insecure, confident and humble, easygoing and repressed, paragons of integrity and flaming hypocrites.

We ALL have all of these traits within us and countless more. If there’s a trait we strongly deny in ourselves, that’s where we most need to go. That’s whom we most need to meet. Because denying or disrespecting parts of ourselves makes that part wild and grumpy, and to try to get us to pay attention to them, they act out and cause us to behave in inappropriate ways.

It makes sense I guess. I mean, I know children desperately want that: to be seen, known, respected, not dismissed or downplayed. Why should I be surprised that the ‘children’ within me want the same? This universe longs to know itself. It longs to be known.

So in a number of meditations I waited to see which part of myself wanted attention, and then I approached them, humbly and respectfully, and asked them who they were and what they wanted from me. I recoiled from some of them initially, but I put that reaction aside and approached each with total kindness and patience. And to my shock, they all had something wise and valuable to share. They were all people I ended up liking. Even Lazy Lina and Unworthy Ula. Hell, even Facebook Fanny turned out to be a hoot. But now she’s calmed down and isn’t in the driver’s seat anymore.

What was actually harder for me was approaching the aspects of myself that are supposedly positive, like Brave Beverly or Industrious Isabelle. I was afraid they’d be full of themselves and fooling themselves, or just uptight and boring. But they were pretty cool as well, once you got to know them, and pretty down-to-earth.

I introduced Industrious Isabelle to Lazy Lina, and at first they hated each other. But they talked for a while and eventually made friends. There is space for both of them in my psyche. Sometimes I’m lazy, sometimes I work hard. And now I know both of them, and neither is scary or out of control, nor are they at war with each other.

It may all sound a bit schizophrenic, but it’s working for me. I’m feeling better than I have in years. It’s really strange and sometimes disconcerting being kind and curious about myself. It’s so much easier and more natural to beat myself up. But I am, after all, a reflection of the universe that created me, and I love the universe. So maybe it’s not so crazy to love myself, too.

I came home and had my husband disable Facebook on my browser during working hours except for the lunch hour + ten minutes to use whenever I choose. So far it’s working wonderfully, and I don’t feel nearly as compulsive as I did before the retreat. I feel more free and open. I’m also working on instituting daily rituals of yoga, meditation, and journaling to keep things on track and expand on the work I did at the retreat. (I still have a lot of aspects of myself to meet and befriend, after all.)

Life can be really good if you let it be, and I’m taking steps to let it be. It feels like a big leap forward after many years of stagnation. Like a huge breath of fresh air.

P.S. I still have the preggo munchies, and I ate like a beast when I was there. So much good food. People were saying my bump was visibly larger by the end, and he’s also started moving more and more. I love it every time. It’s like the clock starts again — the clock on him being OK. I was twenty weeks on Sunday. Halfway there!!

Announcing…

So… it’s officially official now. My OB today looked at the report and said everything looks “excellent.” I’ll take it. (I’ve also gained ten pounds, right on track, yay!)

Scary but so exciting to be so public all of a sudden. Felt like this time would never get here!

Our announcement:

After four long years, our first child is due to arrive planet-side in March 2018. We can’t wait to meet him ❤

Honestly never knew if we’d see this day 😀

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Think I’m Gonna Have a Son

I’ve always loved that song — Danny’s Song:

People smile and tell me I’m the lucky one
And we’ve only just begun
Think I’m gonna have a son
He will be like she and me, as free as a dove
Conceived in love
Sun is gonna shine above

And even though we ain’t got money
I’m so in love with you, honey
And everything will bring a chain of love
And in the morning, when I rise
You bring a tear of joy to my eyes
And tell me everything is gonna be alright

So our firstborn is gonna be a son! He looked great on the ultrasound (to me anyway — the ultrasound tech couldn’t tell me anything but gender and a few measurements), and I’ll go to the doctor tomorrow to get the final word. The tech couldn’t get any foot pics because he was kicking around so much. We said he’s practicing his soccer skills already.

To be honest, I’ve always envisioned having a daughter. I never really thought much about having a son. But since I’ve been pregnant, and kind of assuming it would be a girl out of habit (just a vision that started in childhood of having a daughter and handing down my precious garnet birthstone ring), every now and then I would remind myself, “It may be a boy, you know.” And every time, I’d feel a warm glow in my chest. The same warmth I felt when Ahmed asked me to marry him.

I guess my mother’s intuition isn’t as bad as my sense of direction 🙂

We didn’t get any really great, clear profile shots because the kid was either moving around or kind of bunched up most of the time. (He flipped all the way from head down to head up during the course of the scan.) I think this was the best one.

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Baby facepalm?

The heart rate was 136 (it’s been averaging about that lately on the home doppler), and he was measuring at 19w1d length-wise, which is exactly what he is, and ten ounces (though weight measurements — or rather, approximations — via ultrasound are notoriously unreliable; not sure why they bother).

I’m not going to post any junk shots. I think we all know what a baby penis looks like 😉

Not gonna lie. It will be an adjustment. I’ve always pictured a girl so clearly in my mind, and I had some awesome girl names picked out that I was really excited about. We also already have six grandsons (and zero granddaughters) on my side of the family, so “another boy” isn’t nearly as exciting and novel as a girl would be.

I also don’t know what the heck to get a boy that will incorporate his birth stone, aquamarine. Plus I have three little girl figurines, holding a golden 1, 2, and 3, to mark the first three birthdays. (I got 2 and 3 when I was a baby and found 1 at a flea market when I was in California for my embryo transfer for this little one.) I’m not sure if that will mean anything to a boy. (Of course, it may not mean much to a girl, either, if she doesn’t care about figurines the way I did when I was little.)

At least my stuffed animals are firmly unisex. 🙂 And my garnet ring was stolen by my brother’s friend’s unattended toddler a while ago (eaten? thrown out of a car window? buried? I’ll never know) when she toddled into my room and found it in my jewely box. By the time I realized it was gone, the whole family was on the road, and the ring was never seen again. I still have my engagement ring to hand down, etc., but I may yet have a daughter (or daughter-in-law) for that kind of thing.

It’s weird to me that I’m hung up on gender whatsoever. (By “gender” I mean “sex” here, but “hung up on sex” sounds like something else, so I’ll just use “gender” for clarity.) Gender doesn’t necessarily tell you much about a person at all. And it’s not like I’m going to suddenly change any major color schemes. I’ll choose colors based on what I like, or what looks good with the baby’s skin, not what gender the baby is. And a boy may like sparkly things as much as I do. (I’m a raccoon, basically.) And of course the kid would have had a built-in same-sex soccer role model either way.

And it’s not like I liked frilly dresses as a kid, though now I think little girls prancing around in dresses are so cute. I guess boys can prance around in dresses, too, if they wanna. Or not — up to them. 🙂

Just goes to show — life has a way of not coming out exactly like the pictures in your head. And that’s part of what’s wonderful about it. How many more surprises are still to come?

So yeah, it’ll be an adjustment, but I don’t think it’ll take me very long to adjust, and I know this little guy will steal my heart in no time. I’m alternating between calling him Cassini Dean and Julian Ali in my mind. (These are the only two names I’ve come up with so far for a boy, just offhand-like, and neither will probably work in the end, since it would be nice to have a name that works well in Turkey, too.) There will only be nicknames until the child is born, because the name has to fit the child, and we won’t know what fits until we see him.

Him. So that’s it. No more flipping pronouns back and forth. No more “it.” He. Our son. 😀

Crazy how much more real it seems all of a sudden…

Target Run!

I should cool it with the exclamation points, I know. I’m just excited lately.

And I realize pretty much no one but me is going to care about posts like this, but what the heck. It’s my blog. 😉

So I keep resisting buying anything “maternity” because (a) it’s kind of jinxy, (b) I’m not really far along enough to need it per se, except for my mammaries, and (c) I was kind of hoping I could make it the whole way without needing it at all — just wear baggy stuff and call it good.

But I finally got fed up with wearing sports bras that don’t fit anymore (and I pretty much refuse to deal with underwires right now), so I headed to Target to see what I could find.

And I may have gone just a little overboard. I just kept finding cute or practical things for really nice prices, and I ended up with two bras (one for going out, no wire, one for lounging that fits beautifully and is crazy comfy) and four shirts. Luckily it only cost a total of $85.

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This one I can wear even after I give birth, and it’s insanely soft.

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You gotta have at least one shirt that shamelessly shows off the bump. I can wear this with some cute flannel shirts for a layered look.

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If we end up going to a nice restaurant or something.

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Sooooo warm and comfy. Perfect for wearing around the house when it’s too cool for a t-shirt but not cold enough for a fuzzy robe. I can also wear it out of the house for an extra warm layer.

I am generally not someone who shops a lot, and certainly not someone who enjoys it. (I still have a lot of the clothes I wore in college. I’m known for spending all day in a mall, miserable, and coming out with, like, a pair of socks. Or some shirt I never end up wearing.) So four shirts (and two bras!) that I really love in one day — all for well under $100 — feels like a massive victory.

I guess all I needed was a pot belly for inspiration?