Friday, December 21, 2012

But What Do Cigarettes Have to do With Gun Control?

      I have recently gone back to graduate school.  As a thirty-something surrounded by mostly twenty-somethings, I am constantly reminded that I am old.  I was recently telling the story of how when I was in high school, our band director used to conduct with his lit cigarette.  My classmates were incredulous.  "But there's no way, you can't smoke in schools!  You can't even smoke on school grounds!" they said.  Ah yes, my children, there was a time not so long ago when you could smoke on airplanes, and in schools, and in restaurants.  You could go to Denny's, order coffee and smoke.  A local coffee house had cigar night.  If you went to a bar, you would leave reeking of cigarette smoke.  You could smoke in the workplace, any workplace, even if that workplace was a school or a hospital.
     So what changed?  People loved their cigarettes, in fact were quite addicted to them. Wouldn't we be liminting their freedom by banning smoking in public places? How do you get people to quit smoking or at least smoke less?
     Slowly they began to increase the tax on ciggarettes.  The price of a pack went from $2.50 to roughly $10.00 in just a matter of years.  They started to ban advertising to kids.  Joe Camel used to be as recognizable as Mickey Mouse.  Then they began to say no more smoking in schools, and then even smoking on school grounds became taboo.  They moved from having a non smoking section in restaurants to not allowing smoking, period.  And yes, this "they" happens to be our government.
     After this past year of shootings, maybe we as a society should begin to say I don't want your second hand gun smoke.  I'm not a 'gun owner/smoker', so why should I be subjected to to you smoke/gun fire.  I don't want you smoke/gun fire in my kids schools.  They, the government can affect change, they have done it before, in very recent memory.  Maybe if we stand up as a society and say this smoke is making us sick, we can make some simple but effective changes. Then hopefully there will be less Auroras and Newtowns and Trevon Martins.

Monday, December 17, 2012

What to tell your kids about school shootings

Friday, December 14th, 2012. Surely it had been “one of those days” for everyone–parents, teachers, students, the employed, the un- or underemployed. It was a busy, stressful day at the height of the holiday season, and when emotions were already high, tragedy struck in a place that could have easily been your town, your neighborhood.

Like you, I wanted answers. But with all my kids at home with me, I couldn’t exactly put on CNN. So I took the social media route. There were bits and pieces of a horrific story and a number of angry people assigning blame, but of course, no answers.

The next day, my husband and I created a bubble of cheer for our kids–games, Christmas movies, etc. I knew life couldn't continue on like that indefinitely, so I began to wonder what to tell my first grader, if anything.

Then I came across an article in the Albany Times Union: “What to tell, not tell, kids about shootings.” I read it because I thought it might help initiate the conversation. The link is at the bottom of the page if you’re interested or curious, though I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it.

Since the only advice I found was too vague to be helpful, I was on my own. Although I’ve been criticized for being “too honest” with my kids, I thought I should go with an age-appropriate version of the truth. When my son is about to make up a story, I always stop him and say, "Give it to me straight. I can handle it." And then he does. I should as a parent return the courtesy. He's an intuitive, rational kid. He too can "handle it."

Do I believe guns are partially to blame for this tragedy? Absolutely. Would I tell my kids this? Yes. I don't like guns and wouldn't want them in my house. I would hope, regardless of the law, others who have children or the mentally ill in their care would feel the same way.

I give a lot of credit to those who work with or live with the mentally ill. It's not an easy job (or an easy life). Even in an ideal setting-stable, loving household, good health insurance-some disorders are untreatable. Take away that stability and medical treatment, add a deadly weapon into the mix, and you can potentially get the Columbine, the Virgina Tech, the Aurora, Colorado, or the Newtown, Connecticut.

So back to my son, the first grader. Here's the message I hope to get across to him...

Sometimes people are broken. They need help, but maybe no one listens or maybe the people who love them don't know what to do. Then they might become to broken to fix. And if they want to hurt themselves or other people, they'll find a way...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Corn, Gay Marriage and the Bible

     I got into it with a Bible thumper online.  I love to mess with them.  They think they are the only people who actually read the Bible and that no one else has any clue what the book actually says.  I'll share the thread. but first let me give a little back ground information. 
     I live in New York, where gay marriage was legalized just over a year ago. Recently, a lesbian couple approached Liberty Ridge farm to plan their wedding.  Liberty Ridge turned them down and was stupid enough to tell them why.  This has blown up on the local news, on Facebook.  This is their peak time of year, as they have a haunted corn maze, and people are talking of boycotting.
     I was following the news story on WNYT's website.  Click here to view the story and the original thread. There was a hateful comment posted so I put in simple reply of "God is love and all who live in love live in God. John 4:16"
     Then another poster commented "God alo condems homosexuality read up before using religion in your defense."
     My response "Leviticus may, but Jesus never does. I've read up quite a bit, thank you very much."
     And he counters "Just fyi king james 1 corinthians 6:8-10 Jesus comments God bless this isnt a fighting a match everybody should be free from forced culture god loves everyone its a personal thought we should only pray for the lost not argue".
     Then I went onto say "1 Corinthians is an Epistle of Paul. Paul never actually met Jesus, so I do not necessarily take that as straight from the horses mouth. It does go to show that many parts of the Bible do conflict. It is not a perfect book. For example in Matthew, Jews repeatedly called are the chosen people, while in the gosep of John, it says Jews are dogs. This one verse in John was used to justify perscution of Jews for years, but that never would have been Jesus' intention, as he was Jewish himself."
     This is the part that I love, when he totally loses it "Answer one question why do people who truly choose to live in sin (homosexuality) always alter the word of god to excuse the guilt of unconfessed sin. I will end it at this if you are a christian who believed jesus died on the cross for our sin then you believe the bile as truth written through the prophets if you dont then you might be of a different faith not a true practicing christian which is fine but dont use god in your defense for protecting homosexuality that would call him a liar and you wouldnt want the consequences for that."
     I love how he makes assumptions about me based on the fact that I don't believe hate belongs in a Biblical discussion.  So I countered "I am Catholic, and have studied history and theology. I am also a woman, happliy married to a man. We have 3 beautiful children together, though some may consider our twins an abomination as they were concieved using fertility treatments. I am not altering the word of God. I just pick and choose just as you and others do. Is it okay for my husband to beat me as long as he uses a stick no thicker than his thumb? Would it have been okay for him to impregnate my handmaiden since I could not get pregnant on my own? Is slavery okay? The Bible is full of things that were allowable that we no longer tolerate in today's society, and other things it deems sins that we no longer seem to care about, like eating pork and shellfish, or getting tatoos. I choose to believe that the over arching message of the Gospels is about Love."
    So there it is, I'm a godless heathen and destined for Hell. 
    It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  There is still some question as to the legality of Liberty Ridge denying them the opportunity to have their wedding there.  The legislation that approved gay marriage did include verbiage to prevent religious instutitions from being forced to hold gay weddings.  It never mentions private businesses however.   Some are saying that it infringes on Liberty Ridge's freedom to force them to host gay and lesbian weddings. Maybe, but would it be okay for them to deny another event that was maybe not so politically charged?  What if a religious group wanted to bring the Sunday school to the corn maze?  Would it be okay for them to deny them?  What about if it were a group of African refugees from EMMAUS?  Would that be okay? How about if they decided to let the Boy Scouts come because their group is anti-gay marriage, but not the Girl Scouts who have a more inclusive view on the subject?  I'd love to hear some (rational) thoughts. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Great Time Saver . . .

     I recently tried Shop Rite's personal shopping service.  It was convenient, no doubt.  Since I broke my foot, it has been a God send.  I highly recommend it for anyone who has too much to do and not enough time.  The best part is that it is a free service!
     The way it works, is you go online and pick out your groceries.  This can be done late at night in your jammies, while breast feeding a newborn.  You can shop right from the sale flyer which is handy.  It also lets you know which items are on sale as you go through the categories, for instance, if you type just pasta, you'll find that Barilla varieties were on sale this week.  If you click on produce, it will show you what is features this week, giving you the heads up for what is ripe and in season.
    Once you have shopped a few times, it saves your previous purchases, making it that much easier to go in and re-click what you've previously bought.  I usually start here, because lets face it, I buy the same milk, bread, cereal etc. every week.  They also have a neat feature, where it gives you recipe ideas, and at the bottom, it gives you the option to click on any ingredients you would need.
    One suggestion I would make it to give them some liberty when it comes to substitutions.  I had ordered juice boxes that were on sale, and because they were out of the flavor I had requested, I got zero juice boxes.  The next week I made a note to say, if one flavor of juice boxes or yogurts was out, to substitute another flavor.  Same went for the meat, if they didn't have the exact cut of steak I had requested I was more than okay with an alternate being substituted.
   You do usually need to give them a day's notice.  I usually do it the night before, and have been able to pick up first thing in the morning.  You get to pull up to the side entrance, which is covered, great on even a rainy day.  You run in, and your groceries are already all set to go, bagged and all.  There has never ever been a line.  Just that alone is such a time saver.  Then you hand them your preferred form of payment and you can be on your way.  They will even help you out to your car if you ask.
     Just as a foot note, no, I'm not an employee, nor have I been paid or give any swag.  I just found this such a wonderful time saver.  It is also a money saver, since they stick to my list and only my list (my husband loves this part).  There are also no little helpers throwing extra cookies in your basket.  I just wish they had this when I was pregnant with the twins!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Emily Rose: A Pregnancy Story, Part 6: Fashionably Late

Fashionably Late
Dear Emily Rose,
I must say, little one, you kept me guessing most of the summer and made sure I was paying attention. Contractions would come, and go, and would increase in intensity at inopportune times and then taper off as soon as I started logging the time of day. By the end of July, I was technically “full term” and more than ready for D-day. Yes, the summer had been long and hot, but worse than that, I was losing the ability to carry on with life as usual.
My due date was August 14th, but I thought with all my signs of readiness, I would go into labor early. I could feel it in my bones...and my joints, tendons, ligaments, nerves, etc. I didn’t even consider that I might go past due and wasn’t mentally prepared for August 15th, the first day late. How could this happen!? Each additional day was another day of worrying. From what I read, there were few if any medical advantages of letting a pregnancy go post-term. There were only disadvantages–the placenta deteriorates, babies grow too big, cords get pinched, bones get broken, C-sections are more common and necessary. The list went on and on. And to add to my unease, I had to smile through the mockery and commentary provided by friends, family, and even strangers everywhere I went. I should try spicy food, and castor oil, or a trampoline, massages on weird body parts, horseback riding, and sex (c’mon people, let’s be realistic). I was almost at a breaking point...WOULD EVERYONE JUST LEAVE ME ALONE! Fortunately for those around me, I held my tongue and maintained the poise of a New England housewife.
After five unrelenting days and sleepless nights, I finally went into real labor. I was lying in bed around 3:00 am, hoping sleep would knock me out for a little while when my contractions went from typical (a few mild to moderate ones an hour) to startling (strong and three to five minutes apart). My labors have traditionally been long and gradual so this abrupt transition was scary. I waited a little while anyway just to make sure the contractions remained strong and frequent. I woke up your father at 4:00 and we were in the car with your two sleepy and confused brothers by 4:15.
So, your father doesn’t need an excuse to drive fast and since he had the best excuse that life could offer and no cars in front of him, he drove even faster than usual...I think. I was too busy wincing through bumps on the road and watching the clock to pay much attention to the speedometer. By 5:00 am, I was dressed in the hospital’s finest and being hooked up to various monitors and tubes. Since my contractions had such an overwhelming presence in the room and I was three centimeters dilated, I received the “all clear” from the doctor. Then the waiting began, and for a while, I was waiting in pain. The nurse told me that I needed to finish a bag of IV fluid before they could give me an epidural. If this was a rule that doctors supposedly live by, I didn’t remember it from my previous experiences. It seemed like a cruel joke. The nurse did at least add something to my IV to “take the edge off.” The edges may have dulled on those contractions, but they were still pretty damn sharp. 
It was daylight by the time the anesthesiologist arrived. I was one needle stab away from relief, or so I hoped. But more time passed and the relief was neither thorough nor immediate. Epidurals always worked for me within minutes so you can imagine my frustration when the pain just wouldn’t go away. And meanwhile, all four of your grandparents and your brothers returned from breakfast. The chatter, the hovering, the filtering in and out of the room, the door slamming, and the inquisition never seemed to subside. Does it still hurt? Do you feel pressure? Did they check your dilation? Mommy, what does this button do...? The noise, which may have been ordinary and unnoticeable to everyone else, was like a runaway freight train in my mind. I put a lot of effort into staring at your father until he picked up on the cue. He set a plan in motion that helped the crowd disperse. I could finally hear my own thoughts again. This helped me realize the epidural was only working well on the left side of my body. I rolled onto my right side, and before long, my lower body went numb. For the rest of the morning, I drifted in and out of an anesthetized haze, thankfully pain free. 
By 11:30 am, the room was full of activity again, this time with medical staff. They brought in the baby station, the table with the surgical implements, and lastly, the doctor. My water broke when he checked my dilation. And just like that, I was ready to push. I expected to be going full force for hours. I’m glad your delivery fell shy of my expectations. Ten minutes, three contraction, and twelve pushes later you came out pink and screaming. You didn’t stop screaming or open your eyes until you were in my arms. I felt the same at first sight!
And so, Emily Rose, you were born on the 19th of August, 2012, at 12:31 pm. You weighed 7 pounds, 8.7 ounces, and you were 18.5 inches long. These are the boring facts. Someday, if and when you’re inclined to read this, the numbers won’t stick with you. Though this pregnancy narrative ends here, I’ll start your life story for you so you will know more about your beginning than what’s provided on your birth certificate. My pregnancy wasn’t exactly ideal, yet you would never be able to tell. Not a single problem seemed to find you. I know I’m your mother and I’m supposed to tell you how perfect you are. Since no doctor could refute the claim, it must be true. 
What else? Well, in no particular order, you breathe loud and fast, and your hands move all over the place when you’re hungry. You latch on for breastfeeding like a little vampire (ouch!) and when you’re inconsolable, my voice can usually calm you down. As a backup, Disney princess songs (someone besides me will finally appreciate them!) and the mommy sway seem to do the trick. You had a rough first week, but by week two, you seemed to understand that nighttime was for sleeping. Even so, I could give you the most comfortable crib in the world and you would still prefer to sleep in a little ball on my chest. And, Emily Rose, you are growing so fast, almost an ounce a day. I already fear that if I close my eyes for too long I might miss something. I’ll never get a chance to write about every giggle, every smile, every first, but know that I will never take them for granted. What comes next for us? I couldn’t tell you. No matter what, we’ll take baby steps together. We may not accomplish great things or travel long distances, but we’ll grow stronger from every fall. I hope you’re as excited as I am...
With much love,

Your Mother

Friday, August 3, 2012

Kiddie Groomers

A friend recently posted this on FB: 

"I wish there was a place you could drop off your kids to have them bathed, then pick them up clean in an hour or so.... You know, like a dog groomer for small filthy humans."

Oh yes I thought!  This is what I need!  Absofrickenlutely! 

I'm imagining that I can throw the kids in the car in their skivvies and drop them off, get a nice cup of coffee, and come back to find them smelling sweet with their hair all done up pretty.  Or even better, you could drop them off at night, filthy from the day's play, catch a bite with your spouse, and pick them up in their jammies.  They would then fall peacefully to sleep on the car ride home, at which point you could put them into bed without waking them.  It's a nice fantasy.  

I'm lucky in that my kids love baths, but my house does not.  The bathroom floor is by far the cleanest place in my house as I mop it every time they take a bath.  I tend to avoid bathing them in the second floor bathroom for the sake of the ceilings.  

They also love to brush their teeth, but they have do do it themselves.  I guess they are doing okay because we had zero cavities for 60 teeth at their last dental appointment.  Flossing is another story, one that ends in someone being tied up with floss, usually the dog.  

Hair on the other hand is a disaster.  All 3 of my kids were blessed (or cursed) with my curly hair.  There is no getting a hair brush through this mess.  If left unattended, it can dread, as in like a dread lock.  I gave up on long hair for the girls and instead did short bobs this summer (not like the child abuse mullet my mother subjected me to as a child).  

Fingernails are another dreaded project.  I have to wrestle them to the ground and practically sit on them to cut their nails.  And their toe nails - yuck.  I can generally bribe the girls with nail polish, which leads to my son wanting also nail polish.  It's hard to come up with a good reason why he shouldn't have his done like his sisters, so you go ahead and give in.  What color does he want?  No not the nude pink that you try to pawn off on him hoping no one will notice.  He wants every color of the rainbow, and proudly shows it to everyone he comes into contact with.  You haven't lived until you son's pre-K teacher comments on your son's rainbow nail polish.  

In general, trying to get out of the house to go anywhere is a project with three small children.  I have to get myself ready to go first, but by the end I'm a sweaty mess.  I've tried doing it the opposite way, and dressing the children first then getting dressed right before I go out the door, but then I come to find the children in various states of undress.  And those 6 socks that I managed to find and get on little feet are now 3 socks.  The dryer has nothing on my children when it comes to losing socks.   And gloves, gloves are way worse than socks.  I tried sewing them to their sleeves.  The little stinkers ripped them off.  This year I may have to make use of the staple gun. I'd also like to know when clothing manufacturers stopped making mittens in favor of gloves?  Mittens actually keep your hands warmer, and you only have to worry about getting the thumb in the right place.  I have to do 30 fingers each morning. I pity the poor pre-K teachers who have to do 100+.  Unfortunately that is not a task can't be farmed out to the Kiddy Spa.  I'll just have to suffer through the next few winters.  If my kids end up with frost bite, please don't judge me too harshly.  

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Emily Rose: A Pregnancy Story, Part 5: A Spring (Not) So Sweet

A Spring (Not) So Sweet
Dear Baby Emily,
I’m not usually a superstitious person. Not everything that happens has a higher meaning or is part of some “master plan.” So when the weather grew too warm too soon, I appreciated it for what it was–a chance to enjoy the outdoors for the first time in months. I didn’t see it as a sign that something in my world
For the first day of the March heat wave, I was at the playground with your brothers after school.  Everyone else in the community seemed to be out too. The kids were in shorts or spring dresses and the parents were mingling with the enthusiasm you would expect after a long winter. I wish I could say I was among them, laughing, gossiping, but I still didn’t know anyone that well and I wasn’t feeling the best in the world either. At this point, I wasn’t too concerned. It was warm, almost too warm and at twenty-ish weeks, I wasn’t yet “cured” of my first trimester symptoms. So I sipped from my water bottle and watched life happen around me. Unfortunately, I let your brother sip from the water bottle too. A couple of days earlier he had a fever, a cough, and a few bouts of vomiting. It was hard to tell what was wrong with him, but Tylenol, toast, rest, and fluids helped him bounce back to his rambunctious self in record time. I should have known that kids are resilient. And me? Pregnant and with the weakest stomach in the history of stomachs? Not so much...
We went home to get popsicles and within twenty minutes of our arrival, I went from reading a book outside, slightly under the weather, to vomiting my guts out every eight minutes (yes, I timed it). And I couldn’t catch a break even hours later. It was time to call my doctor. He asked me if I thought I needed to come to the hospital. I didn’t want to sound like a weakling so I hesitated to say yes. I had a feeling I was going to end up there anyway and I should have just said so, but I let him try his pharmaceutical approach first. 
So your father went to retrieve the anti-nausea medication with a little more kick than the one I had already tried in my medicine cabinet. Because of a hold up at the pharmacy (the prescription was late to arrive and they gave him a hard time because he mentioned that I was pregnant), I endured about an hour more of vomiting before the drug arrived. After the end of an eight-minute cycle, I swallowed the pill and went to bed. And just as I expected, 7 minutes and forty-five seconds later the drug was out of my system. We tried but failed. I was admitted to the maternity ward soon thereafter. 
From what I could remember, they took good care of me. I had a rough night, though. But gradually the stomach bug from hell lost its punch. By the next morning, I could eat and drink again and once they adjusted my blood potassium level, I was free to go home.
By early May, I had overcome “the plague” and a nasty stint on antibiotics for a UTI. I was feeling better at last. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. Since our delusional landlord decided to put the house we were renting on the market for WAY too much money, we had to move AGAIN (I just counted...I’ve moved 15 times in my life, and despite what your brothers say, I’m really not that old).  Was I Overwhelmed? Yes. Your brother’s school year wasn’t over yet, we had less than a month’s notice, and I wasn’t supposed to lift anything over twenty-five pounds. Was the task impossible? No, so I did my best to stay focused and stay strong.
The day before moving day, I had to take a break from the madness for a doctor’s appointment.  I was actually looking forward to it. For once I wanted to give him a good report. And on the drive there, I had an epiphany about your name. Your father and I had already decided your name would be Emily, but your middle name proved to be more of a challenge. So when I came up with Emily Rose, I thought it was going to be one of those nice spring days where nothing could go wrong. 
The appointment began with business as usual. I was due for my glucose tolerance test. No problem, I thought. I passed that test two times before and I even said, “sugar makes me happy.” Next, we moved right along to the sonogram and then he asked me if I had any questions.        
“Do you usually deliver your own babies?” I asked. My second trimester was ending so I thought that was a fair question. I didn’t know how they divided up the deliveries. Was it by chance or by assignment? Since he seemed to claim me as his own, I assumed I would be working with him through your birth and beyond. 
“We try to, BUT...”
And MAN was it a big “but!” He told me he was leaving the practice. I listened to his brief and vague explanation in shocked silence. And I must have had a you’re-breaking-up-with-me expression on my face because eventually he interrupted his monologue to ask, “Are you OK?”
“Yeah!” I said too quickly. I shook off the expression and dismissed his concern by changing the subject. “So should I start seeing someone else?”
The gist of his answer was “yes, that’s a good idea,” but I zoned out. I was too busy trying to keep my tears in check to listen. After that, there was an awkward good-bye/good luck in the hall and that was it. Bond broken. Easy come, easy go...right?  Well, it may have been just business to him, but I take things personally when they concern my health and my baby. I didn’t know anyone else or trust anyone else, and at nearly seven months pregnant, I was ready to walk out and never come back. 
I gave myself a few hours to be an emotional wreck. Then I had to put the situation from my mind until the move was over.      
A week later, I still hadn’t made a decision about a hospital. Thanks to our new location, I had two additional hospitals to consider within a reasonable distance. I was starting the research for a switch, but I thought I might as well get the glucose test over with first. 
I went in, drank that awful flat orange soda, gossiped with other mommies in the area (one of which provided the dirt about my doctor’s departure), and left an hour later without much worry. Like I said, I passed it twice before. 
Then I got the phone call. I failed the test. Yeah, that’s right. I failed, and I don’t usually fail tests, not gracefully anyway. I had to take the 3-hour test a few days later. In the end, I didn’t officially fail, but I was considered “borderline” for gestational diabetes. So I dropped sweet beverages, candy, ice cream, and baked goods from my diet. I know in the long run I’m probably healthier without all of the above. I try to remember that when I’m choking down whole grain “cookies.” But I’m pregnant and irrational so I find my mind drifting to chocolate, and brownies, and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. 
So, Emily Rose, just to summarize, over the spring I lost the lining of my stomach, my doctor, sugar, and my home. And when it’s four in the morning and I can’t sleep, do you know what I miss the most? The sugar…(sigh).

Your glucose-deprived mother :(

Monday, July 16, 2012

Universal Truths of Parenting

Safety scissors barely cut construction paper, but will easily cut hair.

The length of the pause before the scream is directly proportional to the severity of the toddler's injury.

A child will always want the one someone else has, even if an identical item is offered, especially if  that someone else is a sibling.

If you are not paying attention, shoes will end up on the wrong feet more than seems statistically possible.

When in a rush, the slow child must do everything themselves, but when mom is sitting and eating, a simple task like getting a spoon out of the silverware drawer is beyond the zone of proximal development.

Clothes a child once refused to wear become beloved items when you try to hand them down to a younger sibling.

Daylight savings time is intended to ruin your life.  At least, it seems that way.  Also, at some point in June your children will refuse to go to bed because "it is still in the day."

Halloween is just one big orgiastic sugar fest. Let them binge. Then throw the remaining candy away come November 1st.  

Valentines Day is the new Halloween.  Seriously, must every card now include candy with it?

The first year is spent anxiously awaiting their first word and first step. You spend the next dozen or so telling them to sit down and be quiet.

The days are long but the years are short, so enjoy them as much as you can.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Emily Rose: A Pregnancy Story, Part 4: From Blue to Pink

From Blue to Pink
Emily Rose,
Our snowless winter in Vermont was as dreary as late November, only colder. And it lingered on. I suppose it was an ideal time to be housebound. When I stared out the window and saw only the bleak and the brown, I didn’t feel guilty for existing in slippers and pajamas. 
At the time most pregnant women start to feel some relief from their first trimester symptoms (around twelve weeks), mine were at their peak. Evenings and nights were the hardest. I had trouble holding down a protein-rich meal for dinner and if I chose something light to eat instead, I would wake up in the middle of the night hungry and nauseous. Either way, I was stumbling to the bathroom at least once a day. 
I was starting to think I would never feel better. Even though I had another OB appointment coming up, I doubted the practice’s ability to help me. The first impression they made on me was a lasting one. And if they didn’t pull through and make me believe they were caring and competent enough to deliver you, Emily Rose, then I was determined to take my business elsewhere.
When the doctor (a different one than last time–THANK GOD) came into the exam room, I was surprised by his age. He was old enough for me to have faith that he knew what he was doing, but still young compared to most of the other doctors I’ve dealt with. As we chatted, I decided his age was a character strength. He could relate to a thirty-something-ish woman without coming across as unnatural. I certainly appreciated that. And since my symptoms were severe, he prescribed an anti-nausea medication and said, “You don’t have to suffer.”
I almost left the doctor’s office in tears once again, yet this time it was for a different reason.  I didn’t feel as alone as before because I had a doctor I trusted. He became an essential member of the team that would bring you, little one, into the world.
February was more endurable after that and by mid-March, winter had more or less petered out. Even though it was cool and damp on the day of our crucial, gender-determining ultrasound, I was dressed for spring and feeling optimistic. My intuition told me you were a girl, but I had my doubts too. Your father and I had reached a level of acceptance that things don’t usually go according to plan. I was ready for anything, I guess, but I was still biting my lip, hoping you were a girl from the moment the ultrasound wand made contact with my rounding stomach. 
After all the other essential parts of you were measured and photographed, there was only one thing left to find out. I tried not to move or even blink as the ultrasound technician circled and contorted the wand around. She didn’t say anything for a long time. My lower lip probably had deep trench marks by the time she said, “I’m not seeing any boy parts...”
Some parents would rather not know the gender of their baby before birth because there are so few surprises in life to enjoy. While I admire the fortitude of those who prefer to wait, I never regretted finding out early. I instantly felt more connected to you. Those flutters and tiny kicks belonged to a girl who will likely have blue eyes, wavy brown pigtails, and freckles someday. And I needed that image to hold on to because my pregnancy was about to become one wild ride.

Mother Dearest