Monday, March 23, 2015

7 Things Never to Say to a Pregnant Woman

 --Me at 37 weeks--
 (And yes, I have indeed heard all of these over the course of the last 8+ months):

1. "My daughter's due at the same time as you, and she's already gained THIRTY-TWO pounds this pregnancy!" (said incredulously, as if she's never heard of any woman gaining such a massive amount of weight by the time she hits 8 months)

(To which I awkwardly reply): "Lucky her. I've gained almost 40."


Lesson Learned: Just don't discuss weight (especially concerns about how much weight that the pregnant woman has gained). Unless you can improve the silence by saying that you gained 79.2 pounds with your first baby (not twins) and that you think I look cute as a button (and not just because I'm round), just don't go there.

2. "Oh, I'm just so excited for you guys! You spent quite a long time trying, didn't you?"

(To which I wryly smile and say): "Huh. I didn't know two months was a long time..."

Lesson Learned: Just because someone has been married for awhile and doesn't have kids doesn't mean that they are having problems. Other lesson learned--I don't have many issues with being forthright about issues that other people are usually more private about. So if you don't wanna know, think before you comment.

3.  "I know you SAY you want a natural birth, but let met tell you..."

I've heard this one too many times to count. Unless unforeseeable circumstances (involving medical necessity) come up, I will be having this baby naturally if it kills me.

I'm considering designing t-shirts that say, "Positive birth stories only, please" and wearing it to any gathering of women (large or small), ESPECIALLY baby showers.

Lesson Learned: The birthing process is a personal decision, and you should be supportive of whatever direction the birthing mother is taking. I don't judge women who are having (or have had) epidurals or C-sections, so why should they judge me?

4. Other Person: "Oh, you look so cute pregnant now."
Me (half-joking): "Hey, what do you mean, NOW?"
Other Person: "Well, you're not looking just fat and chunky anymore. You have the cute pregnant belly that's obviously from baby and not from bloat."

*awkward silence*

Lesson Learned: Pregnant women already feel fat and chunky enough without people pointing it out to us (even if it's served up as some kind of backhanded compliment). I think being pregnant has made me like the Queen of Receiving Backhanded Compliments lately--it's both amusing and completely aggravating at the same time.

5. "Well you just look miserable, don't you?"

This is something I've never understood--with sick people or pregnant people or just plain tired/depressed/stressed-out people, what does it help for someone to point it out to you? This particular comment just baffled me particularly because it was said when I truly had been feeling GREAT that week and especially that day (and I'm actually still feeling pretty great on pretty much most days, thankyouverymuch). 

Lesson Learned: Pregnant women like to hear they have "The Glow." Just say that to them, even if they look like they're retaining water, not sleeping at night, and/or acting hormonal in general. I'd take "The Glow" over "miserable and tired" any day.

6. "Whoa--you got like, REALLY pregnant all of a sudden. Guess there's no hiding it anymore, eh? *wink, wink*"

What I want to say to this?

(putting on an innocent voice): "Oh, I thought there was only one degree of pregnant--you either are, or you aren't. Guess I was wrong."

Lesson Learned: Are you getting the picture yet? Anything mentioning the general weight or size of the belly or pregnant women in general is officially off-limits to everyone but the woman's ob/gyn or midwife.

7. "So you're still around, huh? When's that baby coming already?"

True fact: the earlier you get this in the pregnancy, the more depressing it is. And I'm sure that the closer to the due date I get, the more annoying it will be.

Lesson Learned: Maybe you should just stop talking to me about the pregnancy. Or at least ask me about something else for a change. Maybe Matt and I should go forward with our plans to design t-shirts that say "More than just a belly" across the front with "Alternate topics of conversation" written across the back.

Oh, and to answer the Universal Question I seem to get every hour:

No, we don't know what we're naming the baby yet.

***Note: I really am okay with you asking about my pregnancy, especially because I know you mean well. Just preface everything with how great I'm magically still looking, and I'll be perfectly content to spill everything you want to know :-)

Monday, March 9, 2015

I Would Procrastinate My Own Labor & Delivery If I Could

 Each month this year, I've decided to focus on just one area of my life intensely rather than pull my mind in a million different directions with a whole list of goals and expectations having to do with everything from how many books I'll read to how much exercise I plan to do. For January, I focused on finances with my spending freeze. In February, I focused on trying to fit in 10,000 steps a day to work on my activity level.

Now, for March, my big focus is:


Rather ironically, I've been intending to work on my procrastination problem for years now. Way back in high school, I realized the depth of my problem when I pulled a true all-nighter to finish a huge writing project I'd kept putting off for one of my classes, and I ended up finishing it at 6:50 a.m. in the morning--just in time for me to get ready for school and head out.

That was a big wake-up call.

But it wasn't enough, apparently--just a couple years later in college, I was taking a British Authors class and had put off the 8-page paper until the day it was due. The essay had to be submitted by midnight, and I woke up that morning with some kind of flu/fever/congestion nastiness. So, completely hyped up on Mucinex and Advil, I typed up the essay in a frenzy, not even sure if I was making sense or if I was remotely fulfilling the parameters of the assignment.

Both of these scenarios could have turned out badly, and had I failed the assignments/classes (or, let's be honest, gotten anything less than about a 93%), I really probably would have worked on mending my ways. But they didn't---I received accolades for both projects, so my procrastination only seemed to get rewarded, triggering a vicious cycle.

The problem doesn't just extend to homework though--the first year of applying to PT school with Matt, we put it off until I about had a complete stress meltdown when we were waiting on a critical verification that came literally hours before the Oct. 1st deadline. And now, about a month away from my due date, I am no closer to a "nursery" for the baby than I was when we first found out I was pregnant, I still haven't selected a pediatrician, and I haven't even started on any lesson plans for the long-term sub that will be stepping in for me when I'm on maternity leave.

Everyone please say a prayer now that our baby girl comes at least a week late (ideally 10 days late--that would just be really grand with my work schedule and everything).

Basically, I've realized enough is enough though, and now that my procrastination problem will seriously affect someone else who I'm supposed to be in charge of if I don't get a handle on it, I figured I'd better get my butt into gear now before she makes her debut.

My first step in my non-procrastination goal for the month was to buy myself a planner, so I picked myself up a 2015 Moleskine planner from Amazon and have been planning out my weeks using three different colors of pens--red for anything work-related, blue for anything church-related, and black for everything else. Each morning, I think about what I need to get done that day and try to plan accordingly. Each night, I check off what I've accomplished and prepare myself mentally for the next day. If something doesn't get done (which hasn't happened yet but very well might), I will move it to the next most convenient time slot.

The second step is to devote some of my nighttime reading minutes to finally working my way through The Now Habit, a book on overcoming procrastination that I've put off reading for years. (Yeah....) I've discovered that constantly feeding my mind with inspirational words about whatever it is I'm working on is a definite key for my success in that area--I know some people can do stuff without researching it to death, but I'm not one of them.

Third, I've created a master list of "Nagging Tasks" that have been put off for months that keep weighing down my life the longer they don't get done (think setting up dental appointments for us both and taking a load of furniture and other old possessions to charity). This idea was inspired by Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project, where she says, "[S]tudies show that one of the best ways to lift your mood is to engineer an easy success, such as tackling a long-delayed chore. I was astounded by the dramatic boost in my mental energy that came from taking care of these neglected tasks." I've done this in the past, and I've found that it is enormously freeing to get these long-procrastinated tasks out of the way so my mind can be clear to focus on other priorities.

I know that one month won't be enough to fix a problem that's been steadily worsening for my whole lifetime, but I figure it's a start. Simply focusing on that more than anything else so far this month has already harvested some positive changes for me.

Wish me luck. (And really---please send up a little prayer that our baby will just stay right where she is until at the very least her due date...)

Friday, March 6, 2015

It's True---Money Bought Me a Better Life Last Weekend

After three years of teaching a whole unit on how money doesn't buy happiness (while my classes read A Christmas Carol), you'd think I'd be pretty dead-set sold that no amount of money could improve my life that much.

Last weekend, I discovered how very wrong I'd been.

Apparently, the amount of a tax return to the tune of about a thousand big ones is what it took to significantly improve our quality of life.

The purchase?

A new mattress.

But not just any mattress, friends--after years of back pain due to a too-firm, too-old, too-small bed, Matt and I decided to take the plunge and get ourselves a deluxe king-size, pillow-top Serta mattress.

We're wondering now how we ever did without it.

Of course, our old mattress was pretty bad---Matt's back problems had gotten so uncomfortable that we were considering finding a physical therapist, and I wasn't sleeping much at all (although I had taken to blaming the fact that I'm almost 8 months pregnant). For years, we had thought the problem stemmed from everything else--Matt's hobbies of intense dodgeball and racquetball games, my carrying a heavy purse, both of us maybe having slept in a weird position...

Nope, nope, and nope.

It was the mattress.

We now know this for a fact because we've had the mattress almost a week and magically, all our back problems have flown out the window, and I am actually getting a pretty restful night of sleep, even despite the fact that I still have to get up twice (once around 12:30 A.M. and the other time around 3:30) to use the bathroom. As a hardworking teacher, I've always looked forward to bedtime, but now both Matt and I actually daydream about it during the day--it's been like sleeping in a really nice hotel for the past 6 nights, so we feel like our bedroom has become kind of like a vacation in and of itself.

Who knew, right?

In other news, I cut off almost 8 inches of my hair last month, and hardly anyone noticed. (Except my students---7th graders notice EVERYTHING.) Even though there are times I miss longer hair, it was such a relief to just chop it off---no more split ends, and no more super-long drying, washing, or straight-ironing times.

Oh, and I have the day off today because we just finished up the second trimester at the school. Yesterday, all my colleagues were high-fiving and freaking out that the school year is 2/3 of the way over, but for me, the end is closer still---

I'm due in less than 6 weeks.

And we still don't even have a crib.

So I guess it looks like both us and the baby will have gotten ourselves some new digs to sleep in---

Let's just hope she doesn't come early since we're not planning on buying one until the end of the month...

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