I've heard so many say that motherood changes your life forever. And I've nodded and said, "Of course it does." For me, this statement was elementary. It meant that there were no more spontaneous road trips. No more Saturday nights out at nice restaurants. No time to yourself. But that's really not what this means at all. I mean, yes, motherhood does change your life in these ways. But from my perspective, the heart of this statement about change is this: one 6 pound 10 oz little girl has turned my world on its axis with an intense, overwhelming, and all-consuming love such that I've never before experienced. I never thought I could love someone as much as I do my daughter. (I have a daughter!). This is what the change born from motherhood is about for me.

We arrived home on Friday. She is doing wonderfully. She looks like her dad. I have a hard time seeing me in her face. She has slept through the night since she was born. I've had to wake her up to feed her. My mom is staying with us for a week to help out, which has been great. We've had a housefull of visitors for the past two days, which has been both exhausting and gratifying (so many people to love and hold her). And there have been approximately 1 trillion photos snapped of Isabella in various friends' and relatives' arms. The poor dear now knows what it feels like to be Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, minus the ridiculously attractive parents.

I'll fill you in on the details of Isabella's birth soon. As I type this, she's fussing in the bassinett next to my bed. But I will tell you this now. I cried throughout the whole surgery. And not because it was painful (although parts of it were). And not because I was scared (although I certainly was). I cried because lying on that table, with my arms extended on either side, and hooked up to heartrate monitors, an IV, and a blood pressure cuff, with a blue tarp six inches from my face and extending vertically up to shield me from seeing the surgery, and with four surgeons pulling and yanking at my temporarily paralyzed body, the only thought in my mind was that my journey through the center of the hell of infertility was over. I was minutes away from having my baby, the one for whom I fought for over two years to have, and during that time, I truly believed I was the luckiest girl on the face of the earth. I still believe I am.

Isabella has a whole stockpile of faces she makes when she's about let one loose in her nether regions. This is one of her more endearing.

Isabella sings an aria during her tryout for La Boheme.

One of only three pictures in existence of me and Isabella. And no, I'm not kidding.

Thank you to Marie and Karrie for keeping everyone updated on Ella's arrival. And for everyone's well wishes on their blogs and on mine, I am so grateful and honored. I plan on printing these out for her baby book, so she knows how many people cared about her arrival into the world.

The Ending and the Beginning

My mom always used to tell me, "Expect nothing, and you'll never be disappointed." Some may call this the pessimist's anthem. I prefer to call it the realist's theme song. I truly never expected to be sitting here, at 39 weeks pregnant, typing my very last post before I officially become Beastie's mom.

This journey began 32 months ago, in December of 2003. I tossed the birth control. I bought a digital thermometer. I started charting my cycles. And we waited. And waited. And waited some more. We started seeing a specialist, a reproductive endocrinologist. We had tests and procedures performed. We arranged and rearranged our lives to accomodate surging hormone levels, follicle development, and inseminations. We watched our friends bring their babies into the world. And after two years, we had nothing to show for this physical and emotional upheaval but massive depression, a screwed up sex life, and empty arms.

Fast forward to November 2005, and the beginning of my IVF cycle. The needles. The shots. The ultrasounds. The egg retrieval. The transfer of two grade A, "perfect" embryos. And still, right up until I got the phone call from my doctor's office on December 18th, 2005, I expected another failure.

I look down at my belly now as I'm typing this, and I still cannot believe I am as blessed and as lucky as I am to have what I have, when so many women I know have gone through what I have (and more) and are still waiting. Why me and not them? I'll never know that answer.

All I can do is to be grateful.

For Rich-How can I put into words what your steadfast support and never-ending encouragement has meant to me over these long months and years of waiting? For constantly encouraging me to see the glass as half full instead of half empty (or bone freaking dry, as was most often the case with me). For letting me cry, for helping me to see our future together as a fulfilling one, even if we were never able to conceive, and for often being the only source of light in the dark cave I lived in for so long, I am forever in your debt. And for never buying me a cardboard baby. Thanks for that too. You're going to be an incredible dad.

For My Friends-You have no idea how much it meant to me to have your shoulders to cry on, your ears to listen to me bitch and complain, and your compassion for the past two-plus years. Jenny and Marie and Andy and Caryl and Chris and Veronica and Dianne and others who lurk here but don't comment (you know who you are), I am so lucky to have had your support through every step of this crazy journey.

For My Blog Friends-Who would have ever thought that I could count among my friends people scattered all over the world, most of whom I'll never meet, but whose encouragement and love have carried me through the past nine months? The fact that you cared enough to stop by here and read about my thoughts and fears and hopes and dreams about Beastie and share your encouraging words is a gift. Thank you.

For My Fellow IF Sisters: Ours is a struggle few understand unless they've been through it themselves. You are the strongest, bravest, and most resiliant women I know. Don't let infertility define you, as I let it do to me for quite awhile. And for those of you still waiting for motherhood or those for whom the journey is over, I am honored that you have continued to return here to check up on me. I know it's not easy. Believe me, I know.

For God-Thank you for hanging with me, even when my faith was virtually non-existent. And thank you for teaching me to believe in miracles again.

For Beastie-Hi. I'm your mom. I'm going to meet you in less than 24 hours, although I feel I know you already. We've shared my body now for the past 39 weeks, and it's time now for you to come out. You might possibly be the most wanted and loved and highly anticipated baby ever to be born. I can't wait to hold you, to see who you look like, and to pass you to your dad and your Aunt Karrie, your grandma, your great-grandma, and all the rest of your family members. Everybody's waiting.

My c-section is scheduled for 9:30am EST tomorrow morning. Marie will have the news on her blog as soon as it's available. And later on tomorrow, Karrie will have Beastie pictures up on her blog. I should be in the hospital until Friday or Saturday, but as soon as I'm able, I'll post the story of the Beastie's arrival.

Until then...

Go Ahead, Take My Stapler

Yesterday was my last day in the office. Today is my last day of work (I work from home on Fridays). And while on Monday, I thought of working my last full day of work for 14 weeks in the office, the insanity of that particular idea emerged as the week went by. It wasn't as if I have a ton of close friends at the office to say a temporary goodbye to. My farewell tour occupied all of 30 seconds, from 4:50-4:50:30pm Thursday afternoon.

I work for a small company, around 70 people total, 25 or so of whom work with me in the US office, the rest in NZ. And with travel schedules, and me working from home two days per week, there's not a lot of "office comraderie." And 95% of my co-workers are men, so the opportunities for female bonding and gossiping in the ladies' are few and far between. And have I mentioned I'm the first and only woman to get pregnant in the US office? And that the rest of the women (read: 4) I work with are either past child-bearing age or unmarried and not thinking of children right now? And that besides the new administrative assistant we just hired, whom I believe is in her early 20s, there's no one remotely in my age group? I walk alone, my friends. I walk alone.

So it should come as no surprise to you (or to me), that I left the office yesterday without a whole lot of fanfare. Or any fanfare, for that matter. But unfortunately, it does irk me a bit. Now, granted, I didn't expect a shower thrown in my honor. After all, I do work with mainly men, who give as much thought to pregnancy and babies as they do to Tivo-ing Oprah and buying the latest Josh Groban CD. But I selfishly? stupidly? expected something. A card? A small gift from my boss? Something?

I think my resentment is a holdover from my former job, where I worked for seven years. There, I worked with predominantly women, although the male-to-female ratio wasn't nearly as unbalanced as it is at my current employer. And every time someone got pregnant there, be it their first, third, or thirteenth kid, a big deal was made. There were showers thrown. There were gifts bought. There was massive quantities of food consumed. And I attended each that I was invited to faithfully, whether I was particularly close to the mom-to-be or not. And again, I selfishly and stupidly thought, "Ah Ha! When I get pregnant, I'll have my turn finally. People will gather to celebrate me." Well, as you know, getting knocked up took a whole lot longer than I thought it would. And I left for my new job before getting pregnant.

Today my manager is taking me out to lunch. Which is nice of him. I do love my manager. He's very easy-going, and let's me do my job independantly. I don't need a lot of hand-holding, and he respects that. But am I being silly for being bummed that I'm not getting a bigger party at work for my last day?

38 weeks: Final Belly Pic

At 18 weeks, way back in March, the Beastie belly was just barely noticeable. It was a mere bump. It looked like I had injested one too many bags of jelly beans, my early pregnancy craving.

And now, it looks like the creature that ate Manhattan. Here's me, at 38 weeks. (Karrie, take a good long look in case you don't arrive in time!) I know I don't look that big. If I had a nickel for every time someone told me, "Well, GOL-LY, you look like you're only seven months, if you're a day!" then I would be moving to a Tuscan villa right now. But let me tell you, I feel like I'm carrying around a mini-fridge in my mid-section. And see those pants? It took an act of God for me to squeeze my ass into them. I swear I split the seam running back upstairs to peel them off my body once Rich had taken this picture.

But you know what? I wouldn't trade the many pounds heavier body I have right now for the lowest-weight-of-my-adult-life one I had at the start of my IVF cycle back in the beginning of November for anything in the world. I can't walk up the stairs without getting out of breath now. I have a noticeable waddle. And I have a whole closet full of clothes which most likely won't make an appearance on my body anytime in the next six months to a year. But I am an infertile about to be blessed with a baby, and I'll never forget how lucky that makes me.

Why Blog Friends and Kiwis Rock

Someone I "know" via her blog is going through a tough time right now. She emailed me to thank me for my support, and she wrote about how great it was that blog friends, the people we never meet in person, who are spread out all over the world, are such enormous sources of support, comfort, and encouragement when the going gets tough. I couldn't agree more. I have a wonderful support system of friends in real life. But I also feel so close to many of you, the people who stop by here to read my words and leave comments on a daily basis. So much so, in fact, that one of my chief concerns in the next week is how soon Rich or my sister can have the Beastie birth news posted to Blogger exactly seven days from now. Ahhh!!!

I arrived home yesterday to a package from Dawn at Colorado Foodie. Dawn and I are blog pals, and have known eachother through our blogs for almost a year now. When I found out that my IVF cycle had worked last December, I received my very first "congratulations" card and gift from her (because I was telling NO ONE, except for a few very select people, and of course, the entire Internet via this blog). It meant so much to me then, as it still does now. And yesterday I received the most adorable baby blanket, burp cloth, and bib from Dawn, each with the duck theme and colors we used in the Beastie's nursery. Thank you so much, Dawn!

Last week, I received a gift in the mail all the way from New Zealand. The company I work for was originally NZ-based, and our Research and Development office still exists in Auckland. Given the distance, I only know a very few people from that office (the ones that have come to the US office to work for short periods of time throughout the 1.5 years I've been with the company), and I didn't think many of them even knew I was pregnant since I never made a company-wide announcement. They sent me the "Genuine New Zealand Buzzy Bee." What's a Buzzy Bee, you ask? Well, according to the little book that came with it, the Buzzy Bee is one of NZ's most famous icons, and is the traditional gift to many international VIPs, dignitaries, and celebrity recipients from Kiwis (as New Zealanders are called). Even the future King of England, Prince William, was given one as a baby. Beastie has something in common with Wills, ya'll!!

Exactly one week from now, at about this time, I'll meet my Beastie. And I still can't believe I've been given the chance to be a mom.

You Put Your Cankle In, You Put Your Cankle Out...

My great Aunt Mary is a perfectly lovely woman. My grandfather's brother's wife, we only see her a few times a year. Sure, she's a bit nosy, asks inappropriate personal questions, ("So, how much is Nancy getting in her divorce settlement?"), and can single-handedly run the Italian version of the Mike Myers "Coffee Talk" SNL skit ("I'm all verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves") with her roommate and sister, Rose. And she once gave me an entire box of broken Christmas tree ornaments as a "gift" when she was moving apartments. Strange. But Aunt Mary is a good egg.

Ever since I was a kid, I identified one particular physical characteristic with dear Aunt Mary. Sure, I've seen them on others...strangers, though. People I didn't know. But Aunt Mary's, I was able to see close up. And even touch, if I wanted to. You see, Aunt Mary has cankles. And yours truly is a mere hair's breath from her very own kickin' set, my friends. And it ain't pretty.

As I've mentioned before, I've had a relatively smooth, symptom-free, uneventful pregnancy. Toilet-hugging nausea? Nope. Not me! The re-emergence of teenage acne? No, siree. Stretch marks in places I never thought were possible? Thankfully, no. But it seems as if the gods have conspired against me to make this last week of my pregnancy an exercise in strange physical phenomena.

Yesterday as I was sitting down at my aunt's house for our usual Sunday dinner, I looked down at my feet and noticed that they resembled two Easter hams stuck on the edge of my legs. They hadn't exactly doubled in size. But they are noticeably bigger. And while I am assured by Rich that they don't yet appear to be cankles, I figure it's only a matter of time before they do. Paranoid, I immediately gave my fingers close examination. They, too, are swollen and resemble stumpy Vienna sausages, although not to the point where I have to remove my wedding rings. Yet, anyway. And I can't quite figure out the timing of this. It's been relatively cool here recently, compared to the scorching 90 degree heat we've had in weeks past. And I haven't gained that much weight either (18 pounds at my last OB visit on Friday). So, what gives?

My What to tells me this kind of swelling is normal at the end of pregnancy. Increased blood flow, extra weight, hormone-cakes. It's just so disconcerting to look down at my feet and think, "That's not what they looked like yesterday."

And also, in the last week, my Beastie belly has begun to itch. I'm scratching it constantly, to the point where I'm not even realizing I'm doing it in public, until Rich points it out. It feels like wee little ants are crawling all over it. Again, another "normal" late-pregnancy issue, caused by skin stretching. But God, it's all just so bizarre. My body feels like a gigantic science experiment.

I feel as if I'm 24 hours away from discovering a sixth toe.

You're on Notice!

This is one of the coolest things I've seen in awhile, so inspired by L, I decided to create my own. 'Cause, you know, I'm never short on things to bitch about on this blog.

Want to create your own? Go here.

Summertime, and the Living is Easy

Warning: Rant ahead.

When you're nine months pregnant, sometimes even the smallest activities are difficult. For example, sitting upright without back support. Or standing for longer than two minutes. Or rolling over in bed. Oh, and also walking. The pressure on my pelvis is enormous these days. My back is killing me. And most days, I just feel uncomfortable. And gargantuan.

And hauling one's enlarged ass out of bed every morning to go to work, when one only spent what seems like five minutes asleep in said bed the previous night? Is torture.

To add insult to injury, I am married to a teacher. Who is off during the summer. And whom I leave asleep in bed every morning, while I haul myself downstairs to feed the cats, slug down some vile decaf, and then struggle to find two items of clothing that when worn together don't make me look like a colorblind three year old picked out my outfit for the day (and which also still fit) to wear to work. Have I mentioned my dear husband is asleep in bed during all this? I have? Ahem. Moving on.

Once dressed, I pack my bag, say goodbye to the the snoring man in my bed, and head to work, on the way to which I stop at my dear friend Dunkin's house for a slightly less vile decaf iced coffee to take with me to my office. The stairs up to the third floor taunt me as I pass them by, as I head toward the friend of the large, lazy, or otherwise encumbered-the elevator. And for the next eight hours, I'm working. Or "working." Can you see my air quotes? My mind isn't exactly 100% on my job these days. And the husband? Probably still sleeping.

I've come home on a few of the hotter summer days, exhausted from work and from hauling around the Beastie all day, to find the husband floating on a raft in our pool, the radio turned on, a beer sitting on the pool ledge. And it often takes every ounce of my patience not to whack him over the head with a noodle.

I know I'm being silly. After all, as every single one of my family members like to tell me, I could have been a teacher too. (To which I respond, "Probably not, as the carnage in my classroom at the end of the day would be enormous." Patience and I? Not friends.) And he has done a huge amount of work around the house in getting everything ready for the Beastie, while helping me with whatever I ask him to do (usually). But the green-eyed monster is out in full force. I should be the one lounging by the pool and relaxing! I'm the one who needs to lay down after heaving myself up the three stairs to our kitchen! I'm the one carrying the baby, dammit!

I hear Bulgaria is lovely this time of year.

Is Motherhood a Bore?

Because nothing is better for a pregnant woman than rising blood pressure, I thought I would tackle this article. It actually took me awhile to formulate my opinion on what I thought of this. It wasn't as cut and dry as it seemed on first blush.

The author basically states that most of the routine tasks of motherhood (including driving her 10 and 12 year old sons to their sports practices, making their lunches, watching them in plays, and attending their various activities) bore her to death.

She says that highly intelligent and educated women with careers are abandoning their jobs to take on their new "career" as mother, and are playing with fire to the detriment of their marriages and their senses of self because of the child-centric world we live in.

Mothers who don't put Junior's karate practice above their own ambitions are made to feel guilty, and are stigmatized as bad mothers. She points out that as mothers, women are not meant to have their own adult lives, or at least one that doesn't include their children, and that if you don't cater to your child's every whim, then you're not acting as the proper "mother martyr" you should be.

The point of the entire article is that once a woman becomes a mother, her entire sense of self is often swallowed up with the never-ending tasks involved in motherhood. Mothers' goals and desires, interests and passions often come secondary to those of their children. And her point is that she finds this ridiculous, that the vast majority of these tasks are dull for her, and that because of these feelings, she's made to feel as if there is something wrong with her because of the new cultural norms that have created a universe 100% focused on satisfying the needs and desires of one's kids.

Here's what I think. In one way, the author is completely on target. I think we do live in a society that is completely focused around children. I can think of several parents I know who literallly do not leave their houses to go out with friends, attend a party, or go out to dinner unless the plans include their kids. And it's not because they can't find a babysitter either. I completely agree with the experts the author cited in the article who say that research shows that child-centered parenting is creating a generation of narcissistic children who cannot function independently, who enter the real world totally ill-prepared, and whose demand for constant attention from adults is enough to send any parent over the bridge.

And I applaud the author when she says at the end of the article that her refusal to make every minute be 100% about her kids has created well-rounded, creative children who are capable of playing independantly and who are not demanding.

That said, upon finishing the article, I asked myself, "So why did this woman have kids in the first place?" To be fair, it's not clear at what point she realized that much of childcare is routine and not earth-shatteringly interesting. But then again, she had two kids, not one. You'd think that if she was so bored to tears by taking care of the first, then she wouldn't (or at least shouldn't) have had the second, right? Did she want to avoid the social stigma (itself a part of the "child-centric" world we live in) associated with those who choose to live child-free? (By the way, I think the choice is a wonderfully valid one, because what's better-A mother who enjoys her kid-free existence and who takes the necessary precautions to ensure she doesn't bring an unwanted child into this world, or one who has an unwanted child who recognizes each day that her mother never wanted her?)

But I also think it's sad that when the author says that when she does try to have fun with her kids, for example by taking out the Monopoly board, they just say, "don't bother, you'll just be bored, mom." To me, that is not a well-rounded and creative child. That's a child who has learned that he's not important to his mother.

The bottom line is this. When Beastie is born, I know he or she will change my life. It's silly for me to pretend that's not going to happen. But rather than identify myself as "Beastie's mom," as some women do, I want to identify myself as "Kristi with a kid." I still want to be me. I want to be able to carry on intelligent conversations with adults about politics, social issues, The Amazing Race, and whether or not the Buffalo Bills will be able to eek out a single win this season. I don't want my conversational focus limited to what percentile Beastie's head circumference falls into, or how many diapers I change in a single afternoon. I want to be able to go out for coffee with my friends, and take up running again so I can work off the Beastie weight. And when Beastie enters school, I fully intend on being an actively involved parent, but I plan on maintaining my own outside interests as well. Because I believe if I can't, I won't be a good mother. I will be a miserable one.

I've put 30 years into establishing a pretty solid identity for myself. I know who I am, what I stand for, and what's important to me. But I also know my world is about it be turned on its ear with the arrival of one small little baby. It's finding the balance between "Kristi" and "Mom" that will prove challenging. I know there will be days when I'll long for my child-free life, when the everyday drudgery of motherhood will take its toll, even though it took years, a whole lot of cash, daily and nightly needles in the ass, and a small miracle for me to get pregnant in the first place. But I know this going in. I'm not under any delusion as to how much my "about-to-change" life will at times in no way resemble my former one. And that's the point I think this author is missing. Yes, motherhood, because of the cultural norms we've created regarding its "proper" execution is demanding, often unrewarding, and sometimes downright boring. However, with the right support system in place, a proper balance is possible and, in my opinion, actually desirable, in order to be a good mom.

So, what do you think?

The Anniversary Gift

Friday, August 4th was my fifth wedding anniversary. Rich and I exchanged cards earlier in the day. Then we went out to dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant, one that's about 30 minutes away from our house, and because of this we save our visits there for special occasions.

We ordered our respective "usuals." Gnocchi for me. Filet Mellanzani for him.

After dinner, we went to Blockbuster and rented the first two discs of the first season of Lost, and The Weatherman. We came home, ate popsicles, and watched the movie. Then we went to sleep. That was our anniversary.

Our anniversary gift to eachother was an expensive one this year. We started planning for it back in December of 2003, and it took much longer to arrange than we thought it would. It was costly, too, in more ways than one. And it's going to arrive late. But despite the problems with ordering, packaging, and shipping, it's the best and most amazing gift we could have given eachother.

Beastie arrives in 15 days.

Beastie Couture and Household Takeover

I didn't want to find out Beastie's gender, and even though I wavered when it came time for our 19 week ultrasound, I'm glad I didn't cave in. Now, of course, with less than three weeks to go, I am so anxious to find out if Beastie is a boy or a girl.

There's only one issue that's really come up in not finding out whether Beastie is male or female. And that's the issue of the Beastie Take-Home Outfit. I didn't have a hard time decorating the nursery in "gender-neutral" colors, because I probably would have done that anyway, although there were some cute sets designed specifically for girls or specifically for boys that I may have purchased had I know the gender. And picking out the furniture and the baby gear (swing, bouncy seat, pack-n-play) etc. wasn't difficult either, since I basically went with my favorite color (green), which, yes, is gender-neutral.

But when I surveyed the Beastie clothes I do have, I realized that while I have a wide array of onesies and sleepers in every conceivable shade of yellow possible, as you can see below, Beastie does not yet possess any "outfits." Why, you ask? Because as we learned this past weekend, clothing manufacturers do not make gender-neutral outfits.

Beastie's shower schwag, washed, folded, and ready to go.

We were on the prowl for a "take-home" outfit for Beastie this weekend. We went to Babies R Us first, since we needed to pick up yet a few more things. Nada. Loads of cute girl outfits-little dresses, skirts, and jumpers. Loads of cute boy outfits-overalls and jeans and Hawaiian print shorts. But nothing that could be worn by a baby whose gender is not yet known.

Then we hit the mall. We went to The Children's Place. Nothing. Then we went to Macy's. Zilch. Then we went to Sears, and finally made the decision to buy two "take-home" outfits, one for Beastie to wear if he's a boy, and one to wear if she's a girl. Both are a continuation of the duck theme going on in the nursery. Behold, the "gender-specific" Beastie couture.

If Beastie has girl parts, she shall wear this home from the hospital:

And if Beastie has boy parts, he'll wear this home:

I've mentioned before that my house is completely overrun with baby gear. It's finally somewhat organized.

Here is Beastie's "downstairs nursery." Since I'm having a c-section (Boo! Hiss! says the nasty lactation consulant), I didn't want to be running up and down our stairs all day long to the nursery. So here's the room that's set up for diaper changes and naps.

And lest you think that babies have no utilitarian value for their parents, I present to you two fabulous books my friend Veronica's boyfriend just sent us. These will be the first books I read to the baby so that Beastie can start earning his/her keep.

7 Foods I Miss the Most Meme

The lovely Sher and the lovely Shannon have both completed this meme, and I thought I'd give it a whirl myself, since lately I am all about the food. It's supposed to be "10 Foods I Miss the Most," but I could only come up with seven. And not a mention of breasts to be found!

1. Zweigles hot dogs: Believe me, I know. Hot dogs are grosser than gross. They're made of pigs' ears and butts and toenails. And considering I haven't eaten red meat in 12 years, the fact that I'm missing this food at all surprises me. I blame pregnancy! Anyhow, Zweigles hot dogs are somewhat of an institution here in my part of the world. They're a locally owned company, and these were the hot dogs my papa cooked up on the grill for almost all of our summer family gatherings at his house when I was a kid.

2. Cheddar cheese and Sociable crackers: When I was a kid and spending summer days lounging by my grandma's pool, we always took time out to watch The Price is Right at 11am. And during this hour, my grandma would make me lunch, which almost always consisted of a bologna sandwich and cheddar cheese on Sociable crackers. It's probably more the childhood experience I miss than the cheese and crackers, but I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've had these crackers in the last 20 years.

3. Snowcones: Another food staple of summers spent at grandma's house. Let me set the stage for you. Me and grandma: swimming in her pool. Ice cream man: ringing his trucks's bell to call the neighborhood kids to buy his overpriced ice cream. Me: racing out of the pool towards the truck like a bat out of hell and screaming "SKIPPY!!!!" Grandma: rushing to find her change purse stuffed with quarters for the sole purpose of feeding my habit so I could pay the man whose truck I had lay down in front of to stop. And I always bought the super-frozen, rainbow snowcone.

4. Grandma's sauce: my grandma used to make an enormous pot of her sauce every Sunday. We used to have Sunday dinners at her house, rather than my great aunt's where we have it now. I haven't had her sauce in over 12 years (it's a meat sauce, and I don't eat red meat), but I can still remember what it tastes like. Gram still makes it, but when she does, my macaroni is topped with Ragu's meatless sauce. I know. It's blasphemy.

5. Soda in tiny glass bottles. My grandfather was a signmaker. He created the signage for many of the businesses in my city, and held some big accounts for 7Up. Being the kind of businessman he was, he often took payment from 7Up in the form of soda (or pop as we call it here in upstate NY) because he knew he had 11 grandchildren who were over his house all summer long, and who drank pop like it was going out of style. And he always used to bring home these tiny glass bottles of pop (no more than 5 inches tall) to stock his refrigerator with. Does anyone remember Like soda? That was one of my favorites.

6. Pizza Express pizza (U.K.): When I visited London for the first time in January 1997, my friends and I happened upon a Pizza Express restaurant. Think "upscale, trendy pizza restaurant" and not "Pizza Hut." I proceeded to have the most delicious pizza I've ever tasted, outside of Ray's Pizza in NYC. When I moved to London later that same year, I dined on Pizza Express pizza at least once every few weeks.

7. Dippin Dots: Okay, so it's only been a few months since I've last had them, so I guess I can't technically be missing them all that much. But I love them so! And it's been so hot here! And they would taste so good right now!

If you do this meme, let me know. I'd love to read your answers.

Another Post About Boobs: Less Controversy, More Judgment

I think I shall declare the first week of August National Breast Week on Interrupted Wanderlust. All my posts will be about breasts in some form or another (the posts, not the breasts).

I kid.

But I do want to share the experience I had in my Adventures in Breastfeeding class this past weekend. It was three hours long. It was an exhaustive overview of how I will be spending my days, pretty close to 24/7, in three weeks' time (did you know newborns eat 8-12 times per day?). And it was served up with a healthy portion of good old-fashioned judgment and guilt on the part of the instructor.

The class consisted of four couples, and two single women, there without their partners. It was taught by a lactation consultant at a hospital in my area (not the one where I will have Beastie). To her credit, before I go on to mercilessly bash her, the instructor was very knowledgable, and though her delivery wasn't dynamic, she showed some helpful videos, demo-ed the pumping equipment very well, and allowed us to practice positions with some dolls, which, while it sounds creepy and disconcerting, actually helped me quite a bit in figuring out what's comfortable and what isn't.

At the beginning of class, the instructor went around the room and asked each woman to introduce herself and her partner, and say what she hopes to learn from the class. When one of the solo girls confessed that she was there to make an educated decision about whether or not she wanted to breastfeed because she was still unsure, you would have thought she had just told the room of people that she was considering raising her child as a disciple of satan.

The instructor launched into full-on attack mode, telling the poor dear that OF COURSE breastmilk was best for the baby, and how she ought to at least give it a try, and that she had breastfed all of her children until they were each nine years of age. Okay, I made up that last part, but my point is that instead of saying, "Well, you're in the right place," this woman clearly needed to insert her opinion on matters, concerning a personal choice that had nothing whatsoever to do with her. It immediately smacked of the recent Department of Health and Human Services ad featuring a pregnant woman riding a mechanical bull and accusing women who don't breastfeed their newborns exclusively for six months of irresponsible parenting, and it pissed me off.

The instructor then asked all of us if we were taking birthing classes. I told her I wasn't because I was having a scheduled c-section. She asked me WHY I was having a c-section, with an expression on her face that clearly conveyed that she equated this form of having a baby right up there with Tom and Katie's silent Scientology birth. Well, gee. I guess I figured a natural birth was so messy and painful and unnecessary that why wouldn't I opt for a major surgical procedure and have a doctor slice open my abdomen, move my bladder, slice open my uterus, extract the Beastie, and then sew me up, with a much more painful recovery period as a result? I mean seriously, who wouldn't opt for that if given a choice.

See, bitch, I have no choice. I had a disease. My entire colon was removed when I was ten, and because of that, my doctors recommended a c-section. I told her this (minus the "bitch" part), and she still had the audacity to say, "well, it's really better for the baby if they allow you to go into labor." Yeah, I'll make sure and tell my doctors that my breastfeeding instructor thinks I ought to go into labor. I'm sure they'll get right on creating a new birth plan for me.

At the end of class, I asked her when I could begin to pump so Rich could help feed the Beastie, because I didn't want to freak out Beastie too early in switching between bottle and boob. And again she curled up her face in disgust and asked me when I planned on returning to work. Um, see, that's none of your beeswax. I asked you at what point could I introduce a bottle (filled with MY BREASTMILK) so as to not confuse the baby, but also to ensure that I could get some freaking sleep and so Rich could help out with the every-two-hours-feeding schedule. She assumed I wanted to pump because...GASP... I would be abandoning the baby after a few weeks to return to work so we can afford such luxuries as paying our mortgage and buying cereal. When she learned it wasn't for 14 weeks, she was all smiles and sunshine again, and told me the later the better. Clearly, she figures, breastfeeding ought to be a mother's responsibility only. God forbid dad or grandma or Aunt Karrie give the baby a bottle filled with the exact same stuff.

I learned a lot from the class. I'm learning even more from the massive amount of take-home information given to us. But I could have done without the guilt and the judgment and the personal questions. As with everything related to a woman's body, breastfeeding is a choice, plain and simple. And women should never be made to feel guilty because they can't or choose not to breastfeed their infants, or because they want to give their babies a bottle (of breastmilk OR formula) once and awhile.

Quick Snapshot:

  • 34-year-old writer and
    mother to a daughter
    born in August 2006 following
    IVF and girl/boy twins born in October 2008 following FET. Come along as I document the search for my lost intellect. It's a bumpy ride. Consider yourself warned.

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