Author Archives: dredgereport

From Poppy Seed to Cantaloupe

Only 5.5 weeks left. Or, more realistically, 3.5 to 7.5 weeks left, since “normal” due dates are distributed over a 4-week period (2 weeks before the estimated date, 2 weeks after).

This is the time when the baby’s apparently not doing much in the way of development, just fattening up like a Christmas ham. I get the weekly e-mails from BabyCenter that tell me what’s up in fetal development and size – they started out describing it as a poppy seed, and now she’s  the weight of a full-on cantaloupe.

The good news is that I feel better than any pregnant woman at 34.5 weeks has the right to. All of the back and pelvic bone pain is pretty much gone, I have energy, I’m sleeping decently and have even got somewhat used to side-sleeping. I’m coping at work despite it being pretty stressful now and then.

Are we ready? We’re ready-ish. In terms of sundry goods to dress, feed, house, clean and entertain this baby, I’ve ticked off almost everything on my list. I bought a glider and dresser and lots of baby clothes on Craigslist — nothing but the second best for our child! And Amazon thoughtfully supplied the rest. Yesterday I “set up” the nursery, which involved moving things around and taking things out of packaging. But truthfully, there are no nursery decorations or themes. Just as weddings aren’t for the couple getting married, and funerals aren’t for the dead person, so too beautifully-decorated nurseries are not meant for the tiny creatures that will inhabit them. I may break down and buy some jungle-themed decals, but that’s about all I can promise. It’s a rental, and we won’t be in this house for more than another year anyway, so best not to make things too difficult to tear down when we leave.

I’m looking forward to 5 or 6 more weeks of just being a couple and relaxing, especially since I love fall like nobody’s business, but on the other hand…I’m totally excited to meet my daughter. The time has flown.

Travel Jinxed

I think that’s going to be it for us and traveling for awhile, because this weekend we had (another) terrible travel experience. Busted travel plans are the worst, but when a formerly-reliable airline disappoints you for the first time ever, it feels like a personal betrayal somehow. Oh, JetBlue. You were one of the good ones!

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Things Mexican-American Husbands Say

Me: “Can you look up a recipe for enchiladas for this week?”

Him: “Sweetie, you don’t need a recipe for enchiladas. That’s like having a recipe for sandwiches.”

The Past Year In Financial Planning

It’s been like this:

  • Combined finances, including all savings and checking accounts. Dealt with resulting hilarious overdraft issues during the transition.
  • Researched and bought life insurance (worth a post in itself).
  • Researched, hunted, and finally got a new place to live.
  • Shut off utilities at old house, turned on utilities at new house.
  • Researched and bought renter’s and landlord insurance.
  • Got a renter for our old place and put together a semblance of a lease document for her.
  • Switched car insurance.
  • Titled and registered our cars in Oregon and got new driver’s licenses here. Total cost: $650, I kid you not.
  • Researched, toured, and got on waiting lists for various expensive daycares.
  • Researched and hired (and paid) a midwife and a doula. BTW, the doula still hasn’t cashed my deposit check after 2 months UGH.
  • Sank a lot of money unexpectedly into our cars and our cats.
  • Researched 529 plans (I’ll only have a month to set this up so it’s live by the end of the year, but we’ll have until April 15 of next year to throw cash at it for the juicy state tax deduction).
  • Rolled-over an old 401K into a Vanguard IRA — so much easier than I thought it would be. Seriously, don’t put this task off anymore, people.
  • Figured out how to cope with a reduced income while I’m on maternity leave.
  • [in process] Researching wills, living wills, power of attorney, and just-what-the-heck-is-a living revocable trust, anyway?

It’s just contracts and cash from here on out until we die, isn’t it?

Why I’m Having A Home Birth

Warning: Long post, and medical/ birth jargon ahead.

I’ve been thinking about how to write this post for months, and I’m still not quite sure I’m going to get it right. So here goes: In about two months, my husband and I will hopefully be welcoming a baby girl into our family. We’re choosing to do this via a home birth (versus in a hospital).

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31 Weeks

This past week was execrable. Third trimester is going okay, except I think the hormone floods are wreaking havoc on my emotions and causing some interesting mood swings (bursting into tears as you fold your laundry for no apparent reason would generally be categorized as a mood swing, yes?) Work was stressful, J. had a stressful job interview, I was exhausted, chores seemed to loom larger than usual, our cats are fighting constantly and making our lives a living hell, and oh yeah, on Thursday morning — right as J. had to leave for a doctor’s appointment — I discovered that his cat (note how I don’t say “our” cat) had peed all over my purse and its contents, including my wallet, work I.D. badge, checkbook, and miscellanea. It was a total loss, so I just threw away the purse and wallet and tried to get rid of the smells by running my credit cards under hot water before I had to get out the door. At least my phone and tablet weren’t in it. BTW, it’s the second purse she’s ruined in 18 months, and that wallet was one of the few possessions I’ve had since 2003 that I haven’t lost or trashed or had stolen. I bought it when I was in Bologna, Italy for a few days and losing it to cat disaster had me weirdly emotional for a bit.

All this, and I started feeling really woozy and getting heart palpitations, feeling like my blood was pumping REALLY LOUDLY throughout the day, but a call to my midwife reassured me that it’s totally normal because of all the new blood I’ve got circulating (30-40% extra compared to pre-pregnancy, which, if you stop to think about it, is kind of gross in a sci-fi way).

And my job, man! It’s normally really pleasant and tolerable, but these past several weeks have been filled with pointless meetings, and me being bombarded with phone calls, e-mails and guest appearances of the one co-worker that I truly can’t stand (who thinks he’s my boss but is in fact no such thing nor anything close to it). On Friday things calmed down and I no longer felt like my head was spinning.

My due date is in 2 months, which can’t be right, can it? We still have so much to do, like: Learn How to Take Care of a Baby, and Set Up A Nursery. Here’s to calmer days ahead.

Spirited Away

I did something for you, dear readers. I booked and took flights on Spirit Air so that I could come back and give you an unbiased opinion as to whether it’s ever worth flying them. Spoiler alert: Never. No. NOT. Don’t ever, EVER give this airline your money. Don’t. Won’t. Shouldn’t. Shouldn’t have.

You’ve probably heard about Spirit’s awful reputation by now, but I had to see for myself. We flew to Dallas over Labor Day to to get family-reunited and birthday-celebrated and baby-showered.  Normally I fly one of the big legacy carriers to DFW (American, Delta or United/Continental), but this time Spirit popped up in my ticket searches and their tickets were stupidly cheap. Their business model is simple: undercut all other airlines by an obscene margin, take airports’ cheapest, least-reliable gates (that would otherwise go unused), target customers that would otherwise be taking Greyhound buses (not flying), assess gigantic fees on everything from bags to drinks to seat reservations (!), treat said customers like dirt, PROFIT.

The true brilliance of this model lies in the hundreds of thousands of chumps just like me who looked at the ticket prices and said, “Huh, it can’t be that bad, can it? It’s just a few hours in the air, and I’ll save so much money!”

In the end, you might save money, once you take into account all the fees. But you will definitely lose your mind and want to cry. Spirit was the only flight I’ve ever taken where police had to escort passengers off the plane for a verbal altercation that had happened between some parents of screaming children and the, uh, not-too-understanding young gentlemen who sat in front of them. But they only removed the parents and the kids, not the guys who threatened the family and the flight attendant! So that was strike 1. I’m all for removing problem passengers, but be fair about it.

And then there were the old-as-shit planes with tiny busted seats, the total lack of refreshments (literally, they charge you $3 for a cup of water, and by the way did I mention how delightful it is to be 7 months pregnant and dehydrated on a red-eye flight?) On the day we were to fly back to Portland, their website wasn’t working, so we couldn’t print our boarding passes. We got to the airport and the Spirit area was so chaotic that when I got to a kiosk to print out the passes, it told me I’d missed a cutoff to do so, and would have to pay $5 a pop to get them at the front desk. I mean, WHAT THE WHAT? Luckily, the front desk lady was either exhausted or incompetent or both and didn’t charge us.

Spirit requires you to pay $13-16 per person, per flight to reserve an actual seat; otherwise they’re randomly assigned when you check in, with no guarantee that you sit next to your traveling companion. She assigned us a few seats and they weren’t together. When I asked if they could be, I think she took pity on my pregnant ass and re-did the seating so we could sit together.

And then the flight was 2 hours late, with no notifications on the monitors or by the gate staff. They did hustle us between 2 gates several times, though.

I have friends who have told worse tales about being trapped on the runway for hours, having flights delayed or canceled with no notice, totally clueless flight crews and gate staff, refund hell, and more.

Let my experience be a cautionary tale to you: It isn’t worth it. It just isn’t. I saw the fares that were 40-50% below all the other airlines and I was seduced! Don’t you make the same mistake! You’ll pay that 40-50%, just in insane fees and time and hassle instead.

Post-Adulthood

I guess I’ve been an adult for awhile now, whether the criteria is legal (18+) or emotional temperament (I’ve been getting a good night’s sleep for years). But the baby-prep process has thrown me into this strange netherworld where it often feels like all my time outside work is about doing adult-like things. The moment when I really felt like I had achieved Peak Adulthood was when I found myself researching 529 plans for my unborn daughter. This kid isn’t even born yet and I’m still paying my own student loans and I’m already planning for her college expenses which won’t even be incurred for another 19 years.

Researching and touring day cares, monthly midwife appointments, working with an agent to buy life insurance (a nightmare I should detail in a separate post), trying to chase down rent from our new tenant, hiring a doula, procuring items for the baby, mustering up the will to finally get our cars titled/registered/licensed in Oregon (next week, I swear!), not to mention the usual laundry/cooking/grocery shopping/cleaning chores. DAMN, so this is adulthood. It’s exhausting and annoying.

The worst part is, so much of the stuff I listed above has forced us to use the phone and make actual calls, which is an affront to my generation. Wake me up when literally everything I could ever need to do, buy, research or handle is online.

Placebo Medicine

This just in! Hippie shit works wonders to reduce excruciating back pain! In the past 5 days I got a massage, had a chiropractic session, and went to acupuncture. I can’t pinpoint whether one of these sessions was responsible, but overall my back pain is much improved since last week. No more sciatica and walking around is no longer hugely painful.

A few thoughts on so-called “alternative medicine”:

  • A number of studies show that certain types of alternative medicine can be effective in treating certain intractable physical and mental conditions. However, many of these studies also show that the placebo effect might be in play.
  • The placebo effect is perhaps the strongest and best-tested hypothesis in modern medicine. Recent studies have shown the placebo effect to be even stronger when the patient had to pay more for a placebo. Maybe the placebo effect works best when the patient not only wants to believe that the medicine/treatment/etc will work, but when he or she is heavily invested (time, money) in that outcome.
  • People who routinely denigrate complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) or “Eastern” approaches to health care treatment would do well to learn a little bit more about how much of Western medicine is not evidence-basednot well-vetted, ineffective, and sometimes downright dangerousHint: It is a lot, though we don’t know exactly how much. This is particularly true for conditions that still do not have well-defined physiological origins, i.e. low back pain or chronic headaches.
  • Even if you don’t “believe” in CAM or mind-body approaches, you might try them anyway if nothing else seems to be working for a given complaint or condition you have. Just make sure that you a) want to feel better and b) pay a decent amount of money.
  • Homeopathy is still bullshit.

Now go feel better.

Trente Ans

I turn 30 on Friday and I can’t goddamn wait. No, for real. My 20s were good to me and for me but I’m ready to ascend to the next level in the video game of life. I am grateful, in a weird way, for all of experiences I had in my twenties that helped make me who I am today, like:

  • Graduating college
  • Living in Paris for a year
  • My first real, long-term relationship, which was mostly a disaster but taught me oh-so-many important things
  • Moving about a million times (builds character!)
  • Finally settling in Portland (found my home)
  • Making a lot of friends and losing or letting go of a few
  • Grad school? I’m glad to have gone, I guess.
  • Adopting a cat that, it is universally agreed, is pretty much the best cat ever
  • Getting my career, such as it is, off to a pretty solid start
  • Awful awful awful stupid stupid stupid dating and hook-ups that made me truly appreciate a) being alone (which I was, for most of my 20s) and b) finding the right person
  • Finding a wonderful partner and marrying the crap out of that guy
  • Growing a baby

I’ve also gotten older, wiser, a little healthier, a little mellower, and a lot happier overall. Getting drunk no longer really appeals to me. Going out just because I’m afraid of “missing something” is a thing of the past. Having a squishy baby and a fat 401(k) account and an occasional really nice bottle of wine are more my speed, and my risk-averse ass ain’t gonna apologize.

Here’s to my 4th decade.

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