Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Brief History of Pregnancy

To put it bluntly: 

Pregnancy is bullshit.

Now in the eighth month of my second - and, trust me, final - pregnancy, I have come to the conclusion that this is the type of painful oppression that could only have been invented by some rich, land-owning, white Christian MEN during the Victorian era.

Image: Public Domain

Men: Grumble, grumble, these women these days and whatnot, grumble grumble.

Buford: Hey. What are we going to do about these women? I mean, they're nice to look at and all, but we need to come up with more ways to keep them as immobile and uncomfortable as possible, before they start wanting to vote and drink in pubs and stuff.

Orville: The other day my wife expressed an opinion! About politics! Where does it end, brothers? WHERE DOES IT END?

Silas: My daughter wants to be a doctor when she grows up. How am I supposed to feel like a man in my own home when faced with that sort of perversion?

Merrill: My maid wants a living wage. How...I...what....I don't even...

Orville: Shhh, there, there.

Buford: Calm down, dudes. Like I said, what can be done about this?

Orville: What if we cut off their feet? Like, at birth? We just cut off all baby girls' feet.

Buford: I like where you're going with this, but let's hear some other ideas.

Silas: We could just drown all baby girls. 

Buford: No, no. We like our women. Without them we'd have to cook our own meals, and I'm not having that.

Merrill: What if we make them carry the babies before they are born? You know, those babies that just appear out of nowhere? We can make women do that part. Not for, like, ever, but less than a year. Say, nine months or so.

Buford: I like it. I like it a lot.

Orville: Ok, but we have to make it really uncomfortable. Like, painfully so. With bloating, and gas, and cramping, and stretching, and back pain, and insomnia. Not enough to kill them, but enough to keep them away from our humidors and brandy snifters.

Silas: And if they complain, we'll tell them they are being unwomanly, and that everything they do is bad for the baby. If they move around too much, it's bad for the baby. If they don't move enough, it's bad for the baby. If they eat too much, it's bad for the baby, but if they don't eat enough it's also bad for the baby. And if they think mean things about the pregnancy, or us, or anything at all ever, that is the absolute WORST thing for the baby, and may destroy mankind as we know it.

Buford: So, gestating babies it is, fellas?

Orville, Silas and Merrill: Yes!

...I may have made this up.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Taking Care of Babies

A lot of people assume that being pregnant while already taking care of a preschooler must be stressful.

And it is. But it's not nearly as stressful as being pregnant while working a pink collar administrative job for a bunch of grown-up babies.

Here are some differences I've noticed, between my first pregnancy with the Juban Princeling, and this one.

When the Princeling, who is now three, asks the same question 15 times in a row, I get only mildly annoyed. The way you do when the car door doesn't shut all the way on the first try, so you have to open it and slam it again. I know that repetition and consistency are part of a little guy's emotional and cognitive development, and that gives me more patience than I realized I had in me.

When the eight adults I supported at my job asked me the same question 15 times in a row, I wanted to stab them in the eyeballs with a plastic spork from the office kitchen. Apparently, the higher up in the company you are, the harder it is to understand the very complicated and multi-step process of printing an email. (Husband: "Why does anyone need to print an email?" Me: "I DON'T FUCKING KNOW.") I know that some people get Ph.Ds in email printing, and that the great minds of the 21st century have written dozens of books on the topic, and, like 19th century German philosophy it seems like one of those arcane things that no one really understands, but after I show you how to do it five or six times, a healthy, functioning adult should really be able to click on the little printer icon by him or herself.

If I'm writing, or reading, while home alone with the Princeling - yes, sometimes I do things other than devote 100% of my attention to him 100% of the time he is awake, OMG CALL THE PARENTING POLICE!!1!!! - and he comes up to me and asks, nicely, if I want to play with him, about 9 times out of 10 I will close my book or my computer and play with him. Because he's three, and there will be a baby in the house soon, a baby I can't close and put away, and because my son is so goddamn cute and sweet I just want to fucking eat him up, and when he holds his toy cars out to me and says, "Mommy, do you want to play with me?" it would take a cold, hard person indeed to say no. And also, all through my pregnancy he has taken good care of me, finding ways to work around my limitations so we can still play together, and that just breaks my heart, and I want to scoop him up and snuggle him and tell the rest of the world to fuck off.

When the eight adults I supported at my job interrupted me, it was generally, a)while I was working on an actual work project for work; and b)so I could drop everything and do personal work for them, like book their family ski vacation or send flowers to their wives or track down the $100 ear phones they left on a plane. (Me: "If these ear phones are so important to you, why'd you leave them on a plane?" Boss: "That's not the point. Just find them.") So then I've got one boss asking me if I've booked a babysitter yet for his teenage children for their trip to Aspen, and another boss asking me where he should take a client to lunch, and another asking me which is the best hotel for a girls' weekend in Vegas, and another telling me if her sister calls to say she's on her way, and another demanding to know why this work-related project isn't finished yet. And then there's me, ending up on bed rest a few weeks before my due date.

The Princeling naps for 2 1/2 hours every afternoon, allowing me some quiet downtime in which to write, or take a nap, or watch reruns of AbFab while eating Double-Stuf Oreos and texting my gay husband Patsy.

At my old job I had to eat lunch at my desk because I was responsible for answering 12 phone lines: my eight bosses, plus the main line, plus backup for the three partners. And without fail, every day, at least one person in the office would walk by and snark on what was eating, because, you know, it's totally other people's business if I'm eating penne pasta and a Coke while pregnant. (Actual comment: "I'm a little scared of that drink on your desk.")

So...yeah. Is it an ideal situation taking care of an active, imaginative, and attention-demanding 3-year old when I'd rather be spending my days in a warm bath so I don't feel the strain of my enormous belly? No. But it beats the crap out of ego-stroking, up-managing, and priority-juggling eight grown-up babies, who, in real life are actually nice people, but at work become non-functional.

Besides. The Princeling is hella cuter than all of them combined.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

We've Gotta Get Out of This Place

I need a vacation.

Like, seriously need a vacation. Not in an "Gee, my life is so crazy, I could sure use a break, golly!" way, but in a "I am about to claw my own skin off if I don't go somewhere new soon" way.

I know there's some crazy statistic out there that claims most Americans never leave the country, and few even leave their home states, but I am not one of those people. I am a traveler. I like to go places. Mostly for the food, and, in my adult life, for the hooch: I've had reindeer in Finland, vodka in Russia, bignets in New Orleans, pizza in Chicago, oxtail in Spain, microbrew in Colorado, falafel in Israel, ale in England, wine in Italy, and, once in South Africa, some weird homemade moonshine someone brought to a party from, I don't know, Botswana or something, that caused me to black out for a short while.

Before my first son, the Juban Princeling, was born I overheard a man in an elevator tell his friend, "My wife and I just got back from vacation. Our first one in 15 years without the kids."

I vowed then and there to never be that guy. 

Three times my husband and I have tried to get out of town. Three times we have been thwarted by fate's fickle douchiness. 

In 2008 we booked a trip to Paris for a week. OMG did we get into it. I bought a "French for Your Trip" CD, the Lonely Planet guide to Paris, and my friend who had lived there briefly as a model - you know, as you do - inscribed detailed notes on a map for us. The Princeling, who by then would be seven months old, would stay with my parents in Miami while we ate bread and cheese and wine in a French park and slept in a French hotel room not littered with pacifiers, burp clothes, and spit-up stains.

Then we decided to move, from Manhattan to Brooklyn. And moving ain't cheap. And we had just finished paying off the massive credit card debt we had accrued while "nesting" in anticipation of the Princeling's birth. Something had to give, and that something was Paris.

Our next attempt at a child-free vacation happened in February 2010. For my birthday we booked ourselves three nights in a quaint little bed and breakfast upstate, complete with in-room hot tub. My mom would come up the week before and fly back to Miami with the Princeling. For weeks I had visions of spending my birthday sipping champagne in a hot tub while my gorgeous and awesome husband fed me chocolates.

Instead, my mom got stranded here in the Great Blizzard Snowpocalypse of 2010, and by the time she managed to get home, not even the promise of three days with the Princeling all to herself could convince her to take him off our hands. My gorgeous and awesome husband even offered to fly down with the Princeling and then return three days later just to pick him up, but no. My parents had seen the Awful Beast that is February weather in New York, and, like the survivors at the end of a zombie movie, they boarded up and went radio silent for a while.

Most recently, my parents - who clearly felt guilty about their post-Snowpocalypse, end-of-zombie-movie behavior that RUINED MY HOT TUB AND CHAMPAGNE BIRTHDAY (hashtag: firstworldproblems) - booked us on a week long cruise for this past April. I'm not a fan of cruises generally, but I didn't care. By the time they offered I was so desperate to go somewhere I would have taken a trip to Kabul. 

My husband and I booked our on-shore activities. Scuba classes in Cozumel. Horseback riding among Mayan ruins. Ziplining in Costa Rica. And OHMYGOD SEVEN MORNINGS OF WAKING UP WHENEVER THE HELL WE WANT TO WAKE UP. No one whining at us that the hot dog we made that he asked for is "too yucky." No one screaming "Bah!" into our faces when we tell him he can't have a lollipop for breakfast. No one responding with, "You could do it," when tell him to clean up his toys. Just my loverman and me, in places that are not New York or South Florida, places where our parents and child are not. Paradise.

So of course that never happened, because my dad was diagnosed with cancer last February and was scheduled to receive his first chemo treatment the week of our cruise. Just to spite me. We just could not burden my poor mother with both a 60-year old chemo patient AND an energetic 2 1/2-year old. If we had any doubts about this, in March I had to have emergency surgery to remove my gall bladder, and would still be recovering come cruise time in April: no booze, no ziplining.

My point is, it's not for lack of trying that the hubby and I haven't made it beyond New York or South Florida for the past four years. We're not those creepy parents whose lives come to a screeching halt with the arrival of kinderfolk. We are more than happy to dump our offspring on his grandparents so we can bust out our passports and try new foods and alcohols in exotic locales.

Because of my dad's cancer (calm down, he is 100% fine now. He even took a trip to Paris - !!! - and Amsterdam in October.) we made many visits to Miami in 2011, some just me and the Princeling, others all three of us. And now, with the imminent arrival of the Duke of Juban (ETA: March 2012) we feel we've earned the right to a Florida-free year in 2012. Oh, I know. Boo-hoo, we had to go to Florida. But we didn't go to fun Florida. We went to visit our parents, which, even in Florida is pretty much like going to visit your parents anywhere else. A couple of nights we went out to dinner in Miami, and I think we saw some movies. 


That's why we are making 2012 the year we finally take a proper vacation. With the kids! I don't even care. The Princeling is a fun guy, let's schlep him along. His baby bro, too. A friend suggested we do a family-friendly all-inclusive resort, and I found one in Barbados that has a nursery for the Duke and a Kid's Club for the Princeling so that from 9am to 5pm every day our kids can be other people's problems while the two of us glue giant frozen margaritas to our hands and go kayaking, possibly both together. AND WE ARE GOING. I don't care if we all die trying. I don't care if five hurricanes block our flight. I don't care if we all have to travel in body casts. I don't care if a giant earthquake rips open a chasm in the east coast and Balrog comes out. Come Hell or high water, we are taking a goddamn vacation this year.

This, I vow.