Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Diary of Pregnancy

33 weeks:

~ We had some baby robins on our neighbor's back porch. They've flown away now, but when they were around they chirped eagerly for food, throwing their heads back like they were ready to eat anytime. They awakened my mothering instincts--it took all my self control not to bring them water (it was so hot). And now that they're gone and the empty nest is still out there, I feel like I observed in a matter of weeks what will take Baby Leopard 18 years--they went from utterly dependent and flightless to gone. (Francisco loved them, too--he now wonders if every robin he sees is one of our robins grown up.)

~ More baby shower thoughts: I've been to about a million baby showers in my life, especially at the church I grew up in when I was young. I never liked them very much--I found it mind-numbingly boring as a child to watch people open gifts, and I didn't really like any baby shower games. When I found out we were expecting, though, I realized that I did want a party to celebrate the baby. And, after having my very own baby shower, I realized what an important community function they serve--they are a show of care and support from family and friends as you enter a new phase of life. They let you know that your baby is being born into a community that cares for it already, and they let you know that when you need help, those people will be there to help you. Plus, they are a great picture of continuity: I remember looking at pictures of my mother's baby shower before I was born, and several of my great aunts and relatives were present at both my mother's shower and mine. I feel ever so grateful that even though I moved away from my hometown a dozen years ago, I still have such wonderful family and friends there.

~ We went to our first birthing class. It both gave us lots of information, which is helpful, and let us know what we're in for, which is anxiety-inducing. All I can think of now is labor and wondering how I'll handle it. And wondering which of these seemingly hokey relaxation techniques could possibly help me!

~ Speaking of labor, the mass readings this week made me think of it even more. From Romans 8:
18I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
22We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
This made me think--the pains of childbirth were Eve's curse for sin, and Adam's was pain and effort in tilling the soil. Of course, pain and effort in tilling the soil now often applies to women, too. And, funnily enough, we now force/allow men to accompany us into the delivery room, so they get to join us in the pains of childbirth.

~ I tell my husband everyday how thin he looks. My mother and sisters look way thinner too. I wonder if part of it is that I'm getting thicker.

~ Birth Reborn by Michel Odent. Oh my--what a hippy, crunchy book. Written in the mid-80s, the main idea is to feel free to go with your instincts during childbirth. He criticizes Lamaze breathing methods for trying to control women, arguing that they automatically know within themselves what to do if they just let it out. Including all the screams. All of the naked birthing pictures in this book are pretty entertaining.

~ I'm having Braxton Hicks contractions (the fake ones that are your body getting ready for the real ones). I've abandoned my wedding ring (it still fits, but is tight at the end of a hot day).

34 weeks:

~ I joined the pool a couple of blocks from my house--so it's me and a bunch of little kids in the water, but I don't care because being in the water is basically the only place I feel comfortable now. Plus, since I'm wet when I get out of the water, I can tolerate being outside, which is a nice place to be in the summer. I've also taken up a bit of letter writing again, which is pure bliss.

Monday, July 14, 2014


I've said before here that I really hate paying for parking, right? I avoid it at all costs. Today, Francisco went to our yearly doctor's appointment (to get the whooping cough vaccine) and we had to pay $4.00 to park for an hour and a half at the hospital. (And there was no avoiding it because the hospital campus was far removed from any city streets or metered spots.) Ridiculous! I'm so glad I'm not giving birth there; I can't even imagine what parking for that would cost.

Also: turns out I'm a crunchy hippy girl who doctors hate. The doctor decided that we can do nothing for my back pain during pregnancy because he just wants to give me an MRI. Isn't it insane for the first step to be a thousands of dollars MRI when I'd just like to see a chiropractor?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Diary of Pregnancy

30 weeks:

~ I hadn't noticed any hormonal mood swings until I hit this week, and then I felt them intensely for a couple of days (update: ongoing; poor Francisco. At this point he knows that his main job is to buy me ice cream and he's done fabulously--we haven't run out yet).

~ I'm beginning to get uncomfortable--mostly my poor back. It always hurts when I write at my laptop for hours and hours on end, but now I have a paper deadline and a perpetually achy back. Not a good combination.

~ If I give birth to an ice cream cone, it will be my own darn fault.

~ I'm really grateful that I haven't had any trouble sleeping so far. This would be a terror for me--I love my sleep. In fact, I'm sleeping more than ever.

~ Baby hiccups: much faster than adult hiccups.

31 weeks:

~ There are two allowed sleeping positions: my left side and my right side. I feel like a rotisserie chicken, turning from one side to the other all night.

~ It's super weird to have a baby in there. Half the time, I feel like it's the greatest thing ever, and half the time I feel like it's that alien bug that's in Neo's abdomen in the Matrix.

32 weeks:

~ I think I'm nearing the point of discomfort. When I'm walking, it feels exactly like I have a 3-4 pound baby sitting directly on my bladder, which is more or less what's happening, as I understand it.

~ When I'm out and about in the heat I try not to look down at my ankles, because I'm scared of what I may (or may not find). It hasn't actually been bad yet, but you never know and you don't really want to see that.

~ In the never ending category of things I spend time being anxious about: What if he comes early and I'm not ready??

~ Gaining enough weight has been a constant source of stress this pregnancy. The midwives never seem worried, but that's probably because I eat like it's my job. Probably at the end of the summer the baby will come out at 10 pounds, and I'll feel very foolish for having worried. But right now, I worry. And what a conundrum: eating sometimes makes me actually ill, it often gives me heartburn, there's just not as much room in my stomach, and yet I have to do it. The time in life that I'm probably least interested in food is the time it's most necessary. Sigh.

~ The midwife at my most recent appointment literally suggested that I eat peanut butter crackers in the middle of the night. Francisco thinks that he would enjoy this; I do not.

~ Prenatal yoga is great--it makes me feel like my rapidly changing body is still mine and still strong.

33 weeks:

~ The Baby Shower. Mama Leopard, Ilana, Stearns and Gypsy threw a lovely shower for Baby McCrary. It was such a nice combination of relatives and old friends and reminded me how supported I am in this endeavor: I am very grateful. Tons of my gifts were such lovely handmade baby blankets, which I can't wait to use. It was a brunch and of course the food was amazing; Mama Leopard is quite a good cook (quiche and sausage casserole and blueberry and raspberry bread and black raspberry muffins and fruits and vegetables). And--best part--there were no baby shower games!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Friday, July 11, 2014

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Vacation Day 3

We started the morning at mass at the lovely St. Francis Xavier in the city, which we'd never been to before. Sadly, their electricity was out (and had been for 24 hours; this seems to be a big problem in this city) and so we had some problems hearing.

Not my picture.
And then we went to the Barnes museum. I've been wanting to go for ages and was first thwarted by them moving the museum downtown (we don't approve) and then by busyness. Now that I've been, I want to go every month. (It is free on the first Sunday of the month.)

The collection is wonderful--much bigger and more serious than anything I anticipated. It's focus is impressionist and post-impressionist art, but what's really wonderful is the presentation: Barnes set the place up in his own idiosyncratic way in which everything--Early Christian art, African art, Chinese art--is displayed side by side. I've never seen anything like it, and it brings out overlaps and similarities that I'd never contemplated. For instance, the distortions of bodies in African figures are not unlike the bodies in the art of Picasso and his contemporaries. The Barnes points out the ways in which impressionism and post-impressionism are not at all something new.

(Plus, since it gives you a nice range of the work of people like Cezanne and Matisse and Picasso and others, you see not only the pictures from the height of their career, which are exhibited at ever major art gallery around the world, but also the breadth of their work. It makes you realize how homogeneous major art galleries are--every one has Cezanne's mountains and Picasso's cubism and Monet's waterlilies or hay bales.)

Perhaps my favorite part of the way that the Barnes is set up is that he connects fine art and folk art: painting is displayed with metalwork on the walls--often something ornate, but sometimes something as simple as a ladle or a spatula. There was a ton of Pennsylvania Dutch art and furniture (as well as loads of other styles of furniture and decorative arts). This draws connections between folk art and some of the folk art themes in post-impressionism.

There were just loads of really lovely Matisses. However, I realized upon seeing so. many. that I really, really can't stand Renoir. I can't even look at it. And there were tons. It's just so soft and fuzzy and sentimental, and reminds me of instagram filters. Bleh.

There were plenty of artists, too, that I wasn't familiar with. The Barnes introduced me to Charles Prendergast (frame-maker mostly, and occasionally an artist; the brother of another cool [more famous] Prendergast artist):

The fact that the artworks are displayed without attention to chronological order and without any little plaque telling you the painting's title and time period and medium meant that you focused less on those sorts of things (although that information was available) and more on the beauty of the picture, and how it related to the other artworks in the room.

The galleries were much larger than we anticipated, so it took us hours and hours and lots of breaks to make it through the whole thing. During one break we shared a cup of coffee to keep us going--because I haven't had a lot of coffee for the last 32 weeks, it really makes me sit up straight and it makes Baby Leopard hop all over the place. Francisco and I sat in the lobby for a while watching Baby Leopard's kicks shake my whole belly like a volcano--he had us laughing.

Although we don't like the new building as a whole, I found this lobby ceiling stunning (taken with Francisco's phone):

After visiting the permanent collection, we went to the Cezanne exhibit. It was fine, although a bit small. The focus was on Cezanne's still lifes and especially on his apples. It even likened his skull paintings to his apple paintings, and drew connections between the tablecloths in his apple paintings and the mountains in many of his other paintings. (As a whole I will say, though, that the Barnes itself adopts a psychological explanation of its art's meaning, which I find a bit shaky.)

To revive ourselves, we went for the best breakfast sandwich in the city at OCF Coffee House in Fairmount (also one of our favorite coffee shops in the city; it's perfect; we wish it were in our neighborhood). Another plus is that they serve brunch all day. No getting shut out by early morning deadlines.

And then back to the art--The Rodin Museum--which, like the Barnes, had been closed the whole last time I lived in Philly:

Unlike the new Barnes, the Rodin Museum has a beautiful building.

Photo credit: Francisco
Photo credit: Francisco
By the time we were finished we were so tired that we had to postpone our dinner plans. The upside is that our anniversary celebration will just have to continue... (I'm a bit over-ambitious in my planning, in case you can't tell.)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Vacation Day 2

We realized in many of our anniversary activities that we're pretty nerdy--all the tours that we went on for fun were either just us or just us and some people who were much older. First, we toured Cedar Grove, a historic Quaker home in Fairmount Park.

And in the process we came across this arch (there were two--one on either side of the road):

We had lunch at the Victoria Freehouse in Old City, where I learned that, due to not really drinking for that last 32 weeks, I can get nearly tipsy on 5 sips of Chiswick Ale (which we drank in honor of the town/tube stop we stayed at in London during our last visit) (I love to annoy Francisco and pronounce the "w").

Then we headed over to one of my favorite little museums in Philadelphia, the Rosenbach.

The Rosenbach is a rare books library set in a lovely old house (two brothers lived there together--one was one of the foremost rare book dealers in America in his time; the other was an antique dealer; needless to say, their house is lovely).

They also have Marianne Moore's papers and her living room, which I think is exactly my style of decorating. I would be perfectly happy to live in her living room (complete with her T.S. Eliot footstool and her e.e. cummings birthday card).

Not my picture.

Sadly, we missed out on the all-you-can-eat ice cream festival, which is, in my opinion, the ideal pregnant woman activity. Francisco tried to make up for it by buying me a Bassett's ice cream cone (which is an old, much-loved Philly brand of ice cream). And by buying me my own half-gallons for home. It only partially made up for it, though.

And then we went to a used bookstore. Used bookstores are fraught places for us in that we love them, but we have no more room for books on our shelves. Before our recent move, we gave them boxes and boxes and boxes of books that we weeded out, and then got 200 dollars in store credit. The problem is, now we are buying more books. (We moved from a house with ample built in bookshelves to a place in which we had to rely on our own measly ten sets of bookshelves.)

Also, Francisco is the best at anniversary gifts ever:

(I don't have a lot of experience, so really I'm just making that up, but he makes me very happy.)

Monday, July 7, 2014


Today I used microfilm in my research. I thought that microfilm was long gone!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Vacation Day 1

I know this should be called a stay-cation, but that's not my favorite world. So: the vacation in which we stayed put, in honor of our anniversary. First, we were thwarted: even though it was the Fourth of July, all the breakfast places that we can walk to were already serving lunch by 10:40. So Francisco whipped us up some fancy-pants breakfast sandwiches (perhaps my ideal food, especially since I've been trying to eat a lot of protein).

Shadow picture!
Then, we headed north of Philly for some fru-fru blueberry picking (this wasn't quite the real thing: it was organic with birds nets and a too-cute market with apple cider donuts for sale--that's Francisco's ideal food).

Blueberry picking is my favorite Fourth of July-adjacent activity: I think they lose money on me, since I eat as many as I pick.

Then we headed over to the shore for a couple of hours, somewhat spur of the moment--the Fourth was overcast and rainy, but cleared up in the evening. This worked out well for our plans--the traffic wasn't bad; the beach was quiet; and no one even charged us to get out there. We got to take a walk and it was relatively cool (read: bearable for me) and enjoy the golden hour and watching some surfers.

We closed out the evening with some Mexican food for Francisco (his other ideal food. Since we haven't found any Mexican that's good in Philly, we make a point to stop for it when we travel), and a fireworks-studded drive home. Seriously: we felt serenaded by fireworks the entire way--there was one point at which we were on a bridge crossing from NJ to PA with quite a view, and we could see a dozen displays erupting simultaneously. Incredible.

P.S. Oh my goodness--the Jersey Shore is so stereotypically the Jersey Shore--we passed so many party houses full of 20-somethings. I don't even know how to describe it--there were loads of overly tanned people looking for love or at least a good time.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


Uh-oh: Francisco disabled ad-block pro and so a targeted ad got through. It was for skittles. I always wondered what silly people targeted advertising works on. The answer: pregnant women.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Random Assortment

~ "When Suits Become a Stumbling Block."

~ Oh my goodness: this can't be real (also--an unfortunate title): "School drops Cougars as team name because it might offend women."

~ "Email me offline" (from a listserve email): stupidest phrase ever. How does that even work?

~ Charming tidbits from PAL on Carey McWilliams:
Carey was not your usual Jersey Boy.  He was, in fact, an Orangeman and so somewhat anti-Catholic.  He once told me that if we were in Ireland, he’d have to kill me (probably joking).  He was once the discussant on a panel at which I gave a paper on Flannery O’Connor. His comment was he was sure it was good, but he wasn’t about to read O’Connor and find out for sure. ...
After the talk, we had a party in an upstairs bar in downtown Rome, GA.  I think the statute of limitations is up, and so I can admit it got out of control and many people–including Berry students–came who were not invited.  I’m not saying any Berry students actually drank alcoholic beverages.  In fact, I don’t think they did.  But they did line up with the gift of whiskey to get to talk to Carey.  He told them all kinds of wonderful stories and flattered them shamelessly and made them promises (all of which he would have kept had they insisted) for hours.  The liquor bill was astonishing, and I had no fund to pay for it.  Fortunately, the bar was about to go out of business, and the bar tender told me not to worry about it.
~ "The Brave New World of Three-Parent I.V.F."
In Britain, national law prohibits altering the germ line, but Parliament is very likely to vote later this year on whether to allow mitochondrial replacement to move forward. Likewise, this February, the F.D.A. held a meeting to examine the possibility of allowing clinical trials. If either gives the go-ahead, it will be the first time a government body expressly approves a medical procedure that combines genetic material of three people in a heritable way.