If you’d kidnapped me and stuffed me in a burlap sack and tossed me in the trunk of your car (which, btw, I now know is much more difficult than it looks on TV) I might feel only slightly more bewildered about how the last few months transpired. I’m writing from the kitchen of my apartment in Indiana. I repeat: Indiana. I haven’t lived in the Midwest or the Midsouth (as we like to call our natal homeland) in about 15 years. I wasn’t sure I’d ever come back. And yet, here I am.
A few observations. The thunderstorms are at once exhilarating and terrifying. On my first night here the skies roared and the windows rattled and I felt sure the large oak tree in the yard was going to fall and kill me while I slept. The people are friendly. In the first week I lived here, so many people made eye contact and smiled that I actually stopped to check my reflection in a store window, convinced I had something on my face. The face-checking was a subconscious reaction, and I didn’t even understand why I’d done it until several minutes later. See, in Seattle, people work really really hard to avoid eye contact. Pacific northwesterners go about our business unobtrusively, and expect others to do the same. There are no shared moments with strangers–we’re all too busy checking our smartphones or listening to NPR on our iPods. So when perfect strangers made willful eye contact and smiled, I assumed I had food on my face.
The bus “schedule” is aspirational at best. One need not look up the time table and plan accordingly. One simply needs to bring a large cup of coffee and stand at the bus stop and wait happily for the bus to arrive in its own good time. The three-stop People Mover at my new university is the most confusing form of mass transit I’ve ever used. There are two unlabeled trains that an announcer calls “Train 1” or “Train 2” but on the real time map Train 1 and Train 2 are color coded and labeled “North” and “South” which is pretty confusing since they are often headed in the same direction. I’ve yet to master this thing.
Stop lights and stop signs are a mere suggestion, and signs that instruct drivers to yield to bikers at trail crossings are routinely ignored. On the upside, I can take two different bike trails to work, and I’m not forced to ride between moving traffic and parked cars the entire way. Moreover, the trails and roads are FLAT! And when Indiana makes a “rail to trail” system, it removes the train tracks (take note, Seattle!). No going over the handle bars for this girl. Once was enough, anyway.
Two mom families are exotic. Yesterday we met our new doctor. Her administrative assistant gave R a blank stare when she said she was married and then provided my name and contact information. She couldn’t figure out what titular box to check under my name. She said she’d just check ‘life partner.’ R said, “How about checking ‘wife’? We are legally married.” The other admin assistant had to coax the first one to just try clicking the box. They were both apparently astounded that it worked. Once we got past that (and a few other) awkward moments, we met our new doctor.
Dr. K is a thin, athletic looking woman with fierce pale blue eyes and a calm, laid-back demeanor. I like her bedside manner a lot. She’s very down to earth and open to questions and ideas. She’s also open to any birth plan, but warned us that the more specific the birth plan, the more likely the birth won’t go according to plan. R and I agree that our only birth plan is healthy mom, healthy baby. Everything else will be decided as we go. We’ll take child birth classes soon, and we’ll read up on ways to manage labor but we aren’t going to cling to one approach to this. We’ve never done it before, and we simply don’t know what to expect from the labor itself or from our reactions to it. So we don’t want to set ourselves up for failure or feelings of disappointment in how we managed the labor and delivery. We explained this to Dr. K and she said that she thinks this is the best approach for first time moms.
We do know we want to breastfeed the baby, and we want to spend the first hour together as a family without medical interventions (unless mom or baby are in distress). I didn’t even have to say that, because Dr. K beat me to the punch. She asked if we plan to breast or bottle feed, and said she prefers her breastfeeding patients are undressed and ready for skin to skin contact with the baby for the first hour of life which is exactly what we wanted. As long as Bean is crying and strong, Dr. K will hand her right to us the second she emerges. No bath, no futzing with her. Just time with moms. That sounds lovely.
R will be 31 weeks on Monday. Our baby girl is thriving in utero. She’s measuring 4 days ahead, and favors her left foot. She wouldn’t let go of it so we couldn’t get a good look at her little face at yesterday’s ultrasound. The sonographer was kind to try to give us a 3-d look at Bean but she wasn’t very cooperative. She just wanted to eat her toes. We did get to see her practicing breathing, grasping her toes, and opening and closing her mouth. It was pretty spectacular.