Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It's the day before Christmas...

And eerily, not a creature is stirring in my house. That's quite a feat, considering that this household is comprised of a prowly cat, a dog who is set off into fits of futile barking whenever he hears the slightest peep in the hallway, a strong-willed infant and two adults who are excessively fond of television, talking and iTunes (often all at once). But for now, the pets and infant sleep sweetly and my husband is probably the only person in the universe at the gym today. 

Our ambitions go no further than tidying up, taking showers, stopping in at the drugstore and setting all the presents up under the tree today. Then tonight...Piglet's first restaurant outing! We are going to take on the moderately priced Chinese establishment two blocks down...hah. And even the prospect of this gives me the heebie jeebies. God help me, but this is an inscrutable child. I was never destined to be one of those confident moms who seems to know without any doubt what's going on with her baby at any moment. ("He's hungry...Oh, it's been forty-three and a half minutes since he ate, he's gassy...Time for a nap, see, his eyes look tired...That's definitely an overtired cry!") No, I bumble along and attempt a mishmash of soothing techniques before I just lie her down and nurse her. No wonder she's in the 90th percentile for babies her size...the bar's always open. But anyway - all this to say that I still feel like her behavior is completely out of my control, and I have no idea what to expect tonight. A full-on screamfest (I have come to affectionately calling it her "angry baboon" screaming) could commence as we take our seats. Last night she inexplicably screamed the house down for half an hour. No idea why. And then out of desperation, we swaddled her up and she fell asleep shortly thereafter. 

Like I said. Bumbling. And she calls! Gotta run.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Deep Thoughts on Mommyhood (or, "Shove your bubble bath, Chatelaine")

Good work in keeping to the chosen theme, right? I know...but frankly, y'all should just be grateful that I'm not waxing philosophical about poop and lactating and oooh BabyGap just e-mailed me a 20% off coupon and zomg what should I buy?? Because these are the things I fill my husband's ear with I have correctly surmised, however, that he's more interested in those things than what Maureen Dowd or Arianna Huffington have to say today.

Today's topic is in a way the flip side of last week's. Or actually, in a way, its necessary complement...the yin to its yang, sorta kinda. I, again, have a bone to pick with my fellow moms and perhaps it is the mirror image of the mommy guilt issue: since when did motherhood become some kind of sick competition to see who can out-martyr everyone else??

Okay, yes, that was entirely rhetorical. I think we can all figure out when this happened. And that is, uh, the beginning of time, in a way. Good, virtuous, socially-sanctioned femininity has always been synonymous with self-deprivation and the suppression of self. You don't show off your smarts, lest you make others uncomfortable. You don't ask for much, lest you look greedy. You don't talk about your accomplishments, lest you appear self-aggrandizing. And when babies arrive on the scene? Sayonara, former self.

I guess I just didn't realize that this attitude was still in fashion. I stupidly believed that we'd moved past the motherhood as sublimation and self-denial era - thought it was as passe as wedge heels and wood beams, actually - but now I realize that that's just a high-larious trick we've played on ourselves. It's all smoke and mirrors, right alongside the magazine articles that tell us, "There there...mommies do so should really do something for yourself! Like, take a bubble bath! Yeah! That'll recharge your batteries, and get you all revved up for your next 24 hour shift of servitude!"

UHHHH...excuse me? I didn't sell my personhood for a bubble bath and weekly glass of wine, thank you very much.

My sociology professor taught us that the main characteristic of a status symbol is that few people can attain the coveted object: essentially, that once it becomes mainstream, something new, exclusive, difficult to attain and expensive takes its place. I feel like martyring motherhood is like the new status symbol. It's not enough to avoid alcohol and tobacco during pregnancy: now, you must fanatically avoid defiling yourself with sushi, chocolate, mayonnaise, Caesar salad and relaxing hot baths. It's not enough to breastfeed for a year and then introduce your regular old homogenized milk: now, you must breastfeed until the baby "self-weans" (oh, which apparently doesn't happen for at least two years! enjoy!), cut out dairy and spice and everything nice, and then search high and low to provide goat's milk (nutritionally superior to cow's, don't you know anything?). It's not enough to take a few months or even a year off with your new baby: now, you "belong" at home into perpetuity because your children "need" you. What kind of evil mother would entrust her baby's care to a STRANGER? Or even worse, deposit her child at the germ infested cesspools they call daycares? Never mind that you once had ambitions. Never mind that you had goals of your own. You will have to wait. 

It's a race to the unattainable ideal...and the more you elevate everyone else's needs above your own, the better. Because your babies are only small once and you can always go back to work later and become a world-renowned concert pianist at age 45, right? No harm, no foul.

The obvious question that I'm sure arises from this rant is...well, who cares? Who cares what other people choose to do? If they want to play the who's the better mommy chicken, why does that matter to me? Well, besides the fact that my inner Gloria Steinem is screaming, it's a simple matter of setting norms. It becomes the standard against which all women's behavior is measured and reinforces a certain mode of femininity as ideal. Anyone falling outside those parameters is "weird." A little Googling will demonstrate all too clearly how women marginalized in this way - who don't act in accordance with our ideal of womanhood - draw the short stick. Consider women who dare to, say, run for public office when they have small children at home (Sarah Palin); don't break down and sob for the cameras in the face of unthinkable tragedy (Kate McCann); or who don't play nice with the big boys (Hilary Clinton; Joan of Arc; you get my point). They have to contend with much more than just the judgmental glares and disapproving clucking of other mothers. Society throws the book at them.

And ultimately it does also circle back to the issue of mommy guilt. As much as I say I'm not going to play ball, these new norms worm their way into your head and surface to make you feel like crap when you're already doubting yourself. 

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mommy Fail No. 1

I keep a secret "see me in hell" list upon which Smug Mummies (heretofore "SMs") place in at least one of the top five spots, depending on my mood. Oof, but I hate those SMs. Even when in a moment of rare honesty I have to admit to myself that I actually agree with what they're saying, or can maaaaaybe see what they might be driving at, it's how they say it that makes me want to beat them with their own copy of Dr. Sears's Baby Book. 

"We've never had problems like that here. I'm glad I did my research beforehand."
"My heart just breaks for the poor babies whose parents let them cry."
"I haven't slept more than two hours straight in sixteen years, but I don't mind. I always knew that motherhood required sacrifices." 

*muffled shriek*

But keeping with the whole honesty thing I'm trying to go with here doesn't seem so wild and crazy that parents can get verrrry cozily comfortable in their ideas of what good parenting is when things are going well (at the very least, in their own minds - the rest of us can continue to shoot venomous looks when their pweshuses channel hooligan guerillas in the middle of JFK). My Piglet isn't really old enough to reflect good or bad parenting back at me yet, or so I've convinced myself. She's...small. And so, kind of a blob, if you will. We cuddle on the couch, nurse, sometimes get on the ground with her playmat, sometimes swing in the baby swing when mummy needs a minute to herself, and sometimes walk around the house and point out things ("Dog! Cat! Christmas tree! Mirror baby!") and then Discuss. But other than that, she doesn't have particularly fearsome needs. I'd lulled myself into thinking that this wasn't all that bad and that I wasn't botching it all up too badly.

And then yesterday. Piglet had her first set of vaccinations...which in and of themselves weren't a huge issue. She shrieked through them, but I think those were more shrieks of rage at being ignominiously stripped nekkid, examined and restrained by these odd people in white coats. Our bright idea was that, since Josh was taking part of the morning to go to the doctor's with us, we'd rent a car and do some shopping for the rest of the day. And oh! Let's see some apartments in Hoboken, where we're thinking of moving. 

I'm not going to go into detail about the horrors of the day, mostly because I don't want to read back over this blog and feel sick to my stomach every time. But suffice to say that a long day of being carted around, interrupted naps, pain in her thighs at the injection sites, and less-than-predictable feedings that occurred in the backseat of a car had a not-so-soothing effect on my sweet girl. I tried to downplay some of the fussiness as just business as usual, until the complete meltdown at 3pm. 

I will always remember holding my baby and just crying from guilt and fear because she was inconsolable; sitting next to her and not being able to comfort her through her screams (with real tears and everything) because we were in a BARELY moving car (#&#@^*$ing Holland Tunnel!) and I was too scared to take her out of her car seat. It all ended with a stupid fight with my husband, which cut our shopping trip short (or rather, nonexistant) and a horrifying hour-plus ride home where she wailed and cried the whole way. I can't believe I was so incredibly stupid as to think a day-long excursion after her first set of shots was a good idea?!?!

Now, with her chubby little body laying against mine for the last few hours, I still don't quite have enough perspective to write it off as one of those days. My induction into the world of mommy guilt is complete: I realize now that no matter what little tragedies befall us, I will always blame myself. And that doesn't even feel irrational. She's the most precious thing I will ever be given; how can every misstep, every miscalculation, every minute mistake not be magnified into an epic parenting fail that will replay over and over again in my mind?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

On Being Thankful

In a brazen affront to my Canadian heritage, I think I'm going to go with this whole Thanksgiving-in-November thing. Now, now. I's unnatural. Obscene, even. In fact it throws my whole compass of right and wrong, good and evil, etc etc, out of whack. I can only plead peer pressure as a defense. I mean...defence! Sorry!!

I do find that having Thanksgiving closer to Christmas can help lend a bit of much-needed gravitas to the entire holiday season. And truly, I'm the last person to generally feel sentimental over occasions that are, to me at least (as the child of immigrants), sort of "borrowed" holidays. Like that trendoid shirt you picked up years ago that never quite fits or looks right no matter how much you try to "make it work." 

For the first time ever, though, I feel like I actually understand the sheer enormity (for lack of a better word) of my incredible good fortune. It was like being jolted into another dimension, as twee as that sounds. Like many others in my profession, I'm inclined to be sort of moody and contemplative and deeply enmired in my inflated sense of self-importance (even though I do often try to confront myself with what a tiny, insignificant being I really am - truly!). There aren't too many moments of utter clarity of the sort I've recently had, starting with a little meme I read on an online forum I frequent called something like "2008: good or bad?" I have to say that I was honestly affected by all the stories...everything from deaths, layoffs, infertility, divorce. Sometimes multiples of these events happening to the same people. And I realized right there that I have never had so many bad things happen to me that I could characterize the whole year as "bad."

Don't get me wrong...I feel like I've experienced hardship in life, including poverty and stress and loneliness. But at this time, most of that is a distant memory. Even though I've never really stopped to think on it seriously before, my life right now is so full and so charmed. I won't even try to do it justice by trying to enumerate all of my big and little blessings. Just suffice to say that I feel more than a little shame for coveting as much as I do. We have our jobs (mine that allows me to take months off with full pay to be with my Piglet), our friends, our health...and perhaps most importantly, we have the amazing good fortune to live safe and secure. The news over the last few days has been so sickening that I could barely open the news sites to see the images of the utter carnage in India. There was also an editorial in the NY Times today describing acid attacks on women in Bangladesh and Afghanistan who dare to divorce their husbands, or go to school, or act in other uppity ways. As a woman of East Indian descent, now with a small daughter, these stories are especially chilling...there but for the grace of God. I now realize how I've been building away at my life with the happy obliviousness of someone who has never had to worry much for her safety or her savings or her daughter's ability to become anything she wants.  

I know I said I wasn't enumerating, but have to throw in that I'm incredibly thankful for a motivated, kind, involved husband whose valiant efforts at bouncing the baby have allowed this blog post to you baby! And thanks.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It only took six and a half weeks...

But here's the first of I hope many little letters to Piglet. Second if you count her birth story, really! (My apologies to those of you who don't drop by for tortured chronicles of poop and sleep deprivation...will get back to your regularly scheduled programming soon!) While part of me feels like she's always been here and I've been playing at this mommy thing forever, I know this time will just slip through my fingers if I let it. Already the storm of amateur photography has quieted around here. Which is bad! Even though her development feels so natural and, dare I say it, "organic," right now, I don't want to look back and be like, whoa, where did this toddler come from?

So, Piglet! I'm grateful that you're even giving me a brief moment to type this out. Not that you don't oblige me with lots of sleep on most days, but you're terribly unpredictable. Sometimes you unilaterally decide that, nah, you don't need no steenken sleep, and do nothing but catnap all day long. Other days, like yesterday, you take loooong deep sleeps. Right now you look like you're asleep but are squirming something fierce. It almost looks like you're fighting some invisible enemy in your sleep. Sometimes you do that when you've passed out on my boob - punching and flailing while latched. Funsies!

Life is nothing if not simultaneously unremarkable and amazing at the same time right now. We (unfortunately?) spend pretty much every day almost identically: parked on the couch and alternating between feedings, little breaks in the swing while I frantically try to put together dinner, naps, "chats" in your primitive baby babble, tv, internet (okay, the last two are for me). It's been an unseasonably frigid and wet November and I don't feel so good taking you out, especially since the last few times you've treated me to a tantrum whether in your stroller or carrier. I'll definitely have to time the next maternity leave better so as not to span over the winter! But even as each day passes in its sedate way, you've already transformed in front of my very eyes from a delicate blob of newbornhood into this bright little thing with the beginnings of a real personality and some marked preferences. I always thought I'd be saddened at how quickly you were growing - and there is a bit of that - but I'm also so excited at what's to come. The thought of being able to actually talk to you and have you understand...sit you down at the dinner table...take you to Tiffany's to pick out your first set of earrings (okay, the last is for me)'s really exciting!

The latest area of exciting progress is sleep, although I'm half scared to even write this down! Since we'd brought you back from the hospital you'd made it abundantly clear that you were Unimpressed with swaddling, and we'd backed off. Well, sorry, but we take it back :). After weeks of bleary eyed mornings, following long nights of your random sporadic wakings and bouts of inconsolable crying, we tried the swaddle again and it makes a world of difference to your sleep. We even invested in the "Miracle Blanket," a/k/a baby straightjacket. Not that you don't absolutely hate the thing, and spend a long time struggling and screeching, but once you're in it and asleep, zomg...heaven! Last night you slept from 11:30 to 5:30 without even waking for a feed. Incroyable! See? It'll cure what ails ya. Except that you haaaaate it! Haha. When we took it off you the first time you immediately threw your fists up by your ears like Rocky. VICTORY! It's a little surprising as the "experts" say that babies all eventually love the swaddle but you've remained firm so far. I have a bit of grudging respect for that - you're a strong willed little creature. Maybe we'll still get you on the Supreme Court even though your daddy didn't let me name you Eleanor.

Love, Ma

Friday, November 14, 2008


Yah! That's right! I'm back...and anointed in the happy glow of new motherhood! I'm a purdy picture with my hair "undid," not a lick of makeup on and unwaxed eyebrows. But I have a fabulously snazzy accessory in my five week old little GIRL! She's enough to make me look good! :)

Just to tidy up the last unfinished story...yes, I had the baby, obviously! I eventually ended up going almost two weeks overdue. As much as I tried to resist all the messy interventions, I had pretty much all of them, and everything culminated in an emergency c-section after 23 hours of labor. It was kind of crummy - not the surgery itself so much, but the recovery in the first few days. BUT I've been incredibly lucky since - no further complications, decent healing, lots of help from my fabulous husband and wonderful friends who are keeping me entertained and well outfitted in lovely baby stuff and cooked food. Thank you all! I actually never realized how popular I was! Hah! Or at least how popular a new baby makes you!

I wish I had some profound thoughts to share on the transformative experience of becoming a mother, but it's too soon to be waxing philosophical. Every day is so different, and every hour brings with it a totally different spectrum of emotions. Sometimes I am just frazzled. Just two days ago she decided she wasn't going to nap all day and I was a little crazy by the end of it. That night wasn't a treat, either. But since then she's actually been a bit of a peach! Some days I just look at her sweet face and it's almost like I can actually feel my heart about to burst. Other times I am so bothered and bewildered - she's just so wee and unpredictable and inscrutable. Other times I want to hold her and just cry...about what, I couldn't tell you, but it has something to do with overwhelming joy, I think! Emotion just overtakes you in the weirdest way. Much probably being hormone-related ;). 

Hmmm, now has anything else interesting transpired since I disappeared into my blissfully insular maternal bubble? *ponders* Oh yeah. The world's financial system is in shambles. Horrible news! But then we elected Barack Obama president. Wonderful news! And then California banned gay marriage. Horrible news! But then Elizabeth Dole lost her Senate seat. Wonderful news! Haha. What a ride.

Anyhow - this is probably all I can squeeze out of my frazzled brain for now - but thanks to everyone who's been following our little journey so far. *wave*

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Day 15 of my captivity. The Madness sets in...

Naaah, I'm just keeeding! Or at least, if this is the banal servitude of forced domesticity (I am barefoot and quite pregnant at this moment, after all), I think I'm okay with it! You should see the stuff I've accomplished in the last little bit. There's been the tempest of cooking, plus the dinner I've made almost every single night, plus lots of what Josh likes to call "deep cleaning," like pulling all the DVDs out of the drawers and dusting them. Fun times, and I mean that with only a teeny bit of sarcasm. Obviously if this were my every day, all the time job, it would get pretty old pretty fast, but as a novelty it's kind of fun to play chatelaine.

I am now 13 days away from my due date, but as well-meaning people keep assuring me, this means (less than) nothing. I could go weeks later than that, or I could give birth now - or I could have already given birth and no one's told me yet. Unlike most other women I know, I'm mostly okay with still being pregnant. The "get this thing out of me" urge hasn't quite kicked in yet, probably because I've had a low-key leave so far and am keeping myself fairly well-entertained. Definitely, I'm a lot more tired than I have been, my feet are painfully swollen, my hands look like I have rubber bands tied around my wrists, and the few minutes I spent on my knees scrubbing the tub and bathroom floor yesterday were probably ill-advised. But I am proud to say I walked all the way home from the OB's at 72nd and 5th (a normally 20 minute walk that took closer to 40), so I can't be as decrepit as I fear.

Now as far as keeping oneself entertained while on leave from the office (when boozing and vigorous exercise are sadly not options, and one's husband has firmly limited the number of calls one may make to his place of employment), I have found daytime television and a mix of silly/serious reading to be quite instructive. Rediscovering one's girlish love for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert is always time well-spent, although watching too much of The View will destroy any remaining shred of faith you have in the intelligence of your fellow citizens. Oh, and waiting a daily celebrity news show will quickly cure you of any vague addiction you think you may have to HTH!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Officially off of work!

As of tomorrow, I am officially away with leave!! WOOT! For my first time in, well, ever, I am bossless! Until the sproglet arrives, of course. Expect to see some serious blogging!!

And I've already been pretty productive! I had some Ambitions for the weekend and was overall quite successful, if I do say so myself. We washed all the baby's clothes; got the room set up; picked up all the last minute stuff we need from Babies R Us; I cooked and froze blueberry muffins, cheddar cheese biscuits, one serving of pomodoro sauce and four servings worth of lasagne bolognese; and we still managed to squeeze in a sort of "last hurrah" fancy dinner at Perry St. last night. Hah! This baby thing is going to be a piece of cake! *ducks before lightening strikes*

Tomorrow, I'm hoping to keep up with the cooking/freezing roll I'm on and make some mushroom, spinach and ricotta ravioli, banana-chocolate bread and shrimp shumai. Aaaand then later in the week, pierogies, vegetarian chili, Mexican black beans, corn bread and pizza dough. Meep! I haven't cooked this much in ages and had kind of forgotten how much work it really is. I had to wash a sinkful of dishes like four times today, and Josh did a couple of his own too. This had better be worth it!

FYI, the lasagne I made tonight was AWESOME...seriously, one of the best lasagnes I've ever made. It makes six decent sized portions, when served with salad and/or bread. Enjoy!

Lasagne Bolognese

12 sheets of oven-ready lasagne (the kind you don't need to boil - trust me! It works!)
1 8 oz bag of mixed shredded Italian cheeses (Kraft is good)
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
meat sauce
Bechamel sauce
fresh basil, rolled up and snipped into little bits

Meat Sauce
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 lbs of lean ground beef
2 carrots
2 stalks of celery
1 large red onion
4 cloves of garlic
1 1/4 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
2 - 28 oz cans of diced tomatoes
Italian herbs to taste (I used dried bay leaves, thyme, rosemary and sage)
1 tbsp sugar

Bechamel Sauce
4 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
2 cups whole milk
freshly grated nutmeg


1. Make meat sauce. Start by heating butter and olive oil together. Add chopped carrots, onion, garlic and celery and saute for approximately 10 minutes.

2. Add 2 lbs ground beef and saute at medium-high temperature until no longer pink (note: you may need to drain some of the fat/liquid out). Deglaze pan with white wine and simmer until almost entirely evaporated.

3. Add canned tomatoes, chicken stock and herbs. Bring to a boil, and then decrease heat to very low setting. Cook slowly for one hour, stirring periodically.

4. Add salt, pepper and sugar. Continue to cook at low temperature for another hour. Very little of the liquid should remain by now.

5. While meat sauce is cooking, make the Bechamel (aim for about half an hour before the meat sauce is ready and if you're ready to cook the lasagne, preheat the oven to 375 F). Pour milk into microwave-safe measuring cup and nuke for 2-3 minutes, or until hot.

6. Melt butter and flour together for 1-2 minutes (lots of books will say to get NO color on the flour, but I think a sliiight toast is okay). Add hot milk to this mixture very, very slowly and whisk to avoid lumps.

7. Keep the Bechamel at a low temperature and barely simmer until thickened. Add grated nutmeg, salt and pepper.

8. You're ready to assemble the lasagne now! Use a tsp of vegetable oil to thoroughly grease a large casserole dish (you want one large enough that you can fit three pieces of lasagne side by side with room to spare, since it'll expand). Put a very small amount of meat sauce on the bottom.

9. Put down the first three pieces of lasagne. Add a layer of meat sauce, a layer of Bechamel, shredded cheese and snipped basil. Repeat this step three more times, so that you have four layers in total. Note: you probably won't need all the meat sauce, so make sure to save and freeze - you can keep at least two cups aside, I would say.

10. Sprinkle Parmesan on the top layer and wrap well with foil. Bake at 375, covered, for 30 minutes.

11. Remove foil and bake for 15 more minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for at least five minutes.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

My lungs are now officially walnut-sized.

It all became so clear to me this week, when I was sitting peacefully in my office, chatting on the phone and suddenly realized that I was actually slightly out of breath. Being an asthmatic, that's not a totally new feeling for me, except that it usually doesn't strike when you've been sitting in a chair for hours with no allergy symptoms or cold weather or anything to trigger it. Huh. It's a little embarrassing to be panting on a conference call, but if people can't be understanding at this point I honestly can't be arsed to explain anymore. I've fully been wearing flip flops to work all week too - feet having swollen to twice their normal size - but if I'm not going to exploit my sad condition now, when will I?? I mean, I'm still waiting for someone to offer me car service into work in the mornings, and yet nothing. Inconsiderate bastards!

I have three weeks of work left and oh, what a comforting thought that is. Aside from the physical annoyances, I just feel like the psychological break is so needed . . . just to have a bit of time to be my own little individual human unit before chaos is unleashed. Part of me can't wait to get this parenthood thing started already, but thinking rationally, the nine month waiting period makes sense! Presumably to make sure that by the end you're really, really, REALLY ready! Next time I'm going to plan this whole nesting thing a little better . . . maybe with a late fall baby, or early spring due date. Something seems a lot more right about settling into domesticity in order to welcome new life at that point, you know? Instead, I fear I'll be stuck indoors, draped over the air conditioner until Oprah's on.

Switching gears for a second - for those of you who kindly inquire after Tommy (our client on death row in Alabama - some great developments on that front. The Alabama Supreme Court granted us a stay after of all things, an inmate in another institution came forward claiming that he committed the murder that Tommy was convicted of. If I'm lying, I'm dying. As I've said a million times in total disbelief, you can't make this stuff up! We can't say where this will all go, as that Court hasn't given any instructions on what they want at this point (such as a hearing, DNA testing, whatever), but where there is life, there is hope. I'm so proud of my Team Tommy!!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Oh, shit.

Has it seriously been a month since the last posting? Go ahead . . . I deserve your scorn. BUT, first, to catch you up . . . on things general and particular about being seven months pregnant, as well as petty little things from my life, of course.

1. So about being seven months pregnant. FYI? Now, it's not just jackasses who look appalled when you tell them you have a whole two months to go. No, now regular people, who generally know better, look at your belly and ask, in accents of horror, if you're really going to be getting any bigger?

2. Oh and also, when you're seven months pregnant, the assigning partner at your firm may think it's a swell time to staff you on a massive regulatory investigation/multiple class action matter. You may have heard rumors of this whole "auction rate securities" mess . . . Wall Street's latest debacle. In short, it means big-big problems for investment banks and fat-fat fees for law firm partners and long-long hours for their associates. In theory it wouldn't be such a big issue because on an individual level everyone is fairly understanding about the whole pregnancy thing, but I am also on like eight other cases . . . not to mention the fact that my death row client is scheduled for execution on Thursday. Anyway. Moral being, just as you actually start to feel shitty again, people decide that they may as well make things worse for you. Fun!

3. Getting set up for a baby is hard, y'all. I have the wonderful good fortune of having kind and generous friends and family who have been sending lovely things and supporting my online shopping habit with gift cards, and in fact had a really sweet baby shown thrown for me last week. Now I just have to make those last few purchases of Necessary Things. But with what guidance? Besides Google and mommy boards? I narrowly escaped buying a $300+ organic mattress, mostly because my husband has been threatening to separate me from my credit cards. Honestly . . . I'm not even close to the type of person who would buy an organic mattress. But then I started to think about it . . . and think about how much I had spent on my diaper bag . . . and my baby carrier . . . and my froufrou stroller . . . and my all-natural baby bath products . . . and it was like, "Am I really going to choose the neurotoxin-leaking, cancer-causing, LETHAL crib mattress just to save a couple of hundred bucks?"

4. Many popular baby books are really annoying. I picked up a few birth books that I couldn't even bring myself to finish, they were so completely inapplicable to anything I was actually interested in learning about. Apparently I haven't even gotten to the really evil ones yet - some girlfriends tell me that there are some out there that are incredibly harsh and obnoxious towards working mothers, basically implying that if you need two incomes to survive you're bad with money and should never have had kids in the first place. That particular gem was pinned on Dr. Sears, the grand poobah of crunchy parenting . . . can't say I've checked to make sure that was correct, though. I've also read that he's a conservative Christian and extremely homophobic. Some choices quotes from Becoming a Father: How to Nurture & Enjoy Your Family (which, caveat, I found online and not in the book itself):

"The growing child should see that important family matters require a mutual decision-making process that involves both mom and dad, but I believe that dad is primarily responsible for making decisions." (p. 194)

"'I don't want my son to grow up to be a pansy,' exclaimed John, a new father. His sentiments are shared by most men." (p. 200)

"I am personally concerned that our society tends to approve of lifestyles [sic!] such as homosexuality. Society sees this as an 'acceptable alternative.' I can accept a person as a homosexual without having to approve of the morality of homosexuality." (p. 208)


I am off now to pretend to work . . . but just to address a couple of questions that came up in comments!

1. YES, childcare is a lot more expensive here than I've ever heard of it being in Canada. I'm looking to spend around $2500 a month for daycare, $3000-4000 a month for a nanny.

2. Ohhhh whoever brought up Loblaws . . . you don't even know how lucky you are. I miss grocery shopping in the commercial equivalent of an airport hangar! I even miss Sam's Club (that's right, I said it . . . lightening's going to strike me down now, right?).

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Trying to type quietly (?) in my living room as my mom is sleeping on the other couch. Yeah! My mom! She had been mildly threatening a visit all week but I hardly took her seriously, considering the prices of the flights (YYZ to LGA - $800!) but this determined woman got herself a connecting flight through Cleveland (aieee!) with some frequent flier points. So far I'd call it a successful visit! I've only had a few moments of meltdown hysteria, but, in my defence, I am six months pregnant, and she fusses. A lot. I was gripped with a murderous rage yesterday when she screamed - actually screamed, twice - when I got "too close" to traffic waiting to cross the street. Too close being like within eight feet.

But all in all, otherwise fairly laid back and non-controversial! She came bearing gifts of books and articles on mothering, and we had a fun mani/pedi afternoon yesterday. Then we went to one of my favorite Italian restaurants and spent my stepdad's money with abandon (thanks M!). Today I think I will convince all to head downtown for brunch at my most favoritest brunch place, which I never get to go to since it's allll the way down in the East Village, then perhaps on to some shopping, and then maybe we'll go see Wall-E tonight! That should make the husband unit happy and I only live to please him. Hee!

My mom leaves tomorrow morning and then I head in for my last four days before vacation! Sweet, sweet vacation. Thank goodness. I am so done with work for a bit. I was coasting along with lots of work, but nothing crazy pressing, until the last fire drill on Friday afternoon. Kind of two fire drills, really; in my one case, the senior associate just started really contemplating the work needed to be done for next week's depositions and thought he could take me along for his ill-planned ride once he figured out all that he wanted to get done. HAH! I am only slightly ashamed to confess that I kind of hung him out to dry on this one. But honestly! I have been bugging him about preparing for these deps for over a week and did everything I could to prepare on my own, considering his lack of focus and direction, and I am tired of having to pay the price for other people's poor planning - his in particulaire! The other drill was also directly and indisputably caused by the partner not paying particular attention to the regulator's deadline for production on our case and so, after gently reminding him of this point, I had an "urgent request" at 3pm, when I was planning to leave at 5 to meet my mom at my apartment. !!! Managed to get that done with lugging a box of documents home with me. Anyhow, surely you see my well-founded annoyance and frustration. And that's not even including the e-mail updates from all weekend about how my staff doesn't quite understand how to do basic administrative tasks. *clutching hair*

In toto, some of this stuff is making me seriously nostalgic for home (in case you don't know where that is for me, it's Canada...Toronto, specifically). I just! Parks. Having a freaking car of our own. Grocery shopping (Loblaws...waaaah) in a BIG ASSED STORE, as God in his infinite wisdom intended. Other people my age with children. A job that doesn't suck the life out of me a good 90% of the time. Family. Parking lots. Reasonably priced childcare. I know we're nowhere near ready to make a Big Life Decision like moving back yet but Manhattan can really weigh on a person...especially one used to malls.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The First of the Great Parenting Debates

Pretty much everyone knows that I have a not very seekrit obsession with online forums (not chat rooms mind you - chatting hurts my head - but more like discussion rooms). Usually these forums are about a whole lot of nothing but the parenting ones are actually pretty informative and marginally a better use of my time. I still can't shake the feeling that I'm a freak of nature in comparison to a lot of the other moms on there, though...everything from where I live, to where I work, to my plans for breastfeeding and vaccinations and child care seem to fall squarely into the minority view. It doesn't make me feel unsure of myself or afraid that I'm going about this all wrong (well, not more than usual, anyway), but it does make me wonder as to how the lack of good examples ("good" in the last loaded sense; just "good" meaning an example I would actually want to follow, that fits with my life) in my life are going to impact how I end up parenting.

Right now, I have no idea what September is going to bring. That's scary enough...and then there's the issue of five and a half months later, when I need to head back into the office. I haven't sorted out the full time vs. flex time issue, or childcare beyond the first few months, or how we're going to manage with J's increasingly stupid travel requirements, etc. Perhaps naively, I have no real fears about how my marriage will be affected. I mean, I know that logically things will be different, but having had the good fortune and sense to marry a hyper-responsible, considerate and hard-working man, it's never even occured to me that he wouldn't pull his weight and more.

This article from the New York Times, however, suggests that this assumption on my part could be a wee bit over-optimistic. It's a long article, but I'd strongly recommend it to anyone who is interested in sex equality issues, especially with regard to co-parenting. It's given me a lot to think about:
  • increased "flexibility" in women's work being seen as the reason why she "needs" to do more around the house: the article seems to suggest that this is an issue of perception (so, regardless of what the woman actually does outside the house, the couple perceive her work to be more "flexible," whatever that means!) and perhaps even unconscious "life choiecs" and trade-offs along the way that result in the woman working a more flexible job. I would never have thought my job to be particularly flexible, but from a comparative perspective, it is. My firm is one of the few that actually allows flex-time schedules (what they privately think of it of course is another matter...). J's job, while not quite as demanding in terms of raw hours necessary, simply couldn't contemplate a part-time schedule since he's the manager.
  • women asserting control over the home: this isn't talked about explicitly as a control issue in the article but I think that it is, or at least it would be for me. The article is absolutely right in that, seeing that society still largely views the home and parenting as being the woman's primary responsibility, any perceived defects like the children being dressed a little funny or a messy house are assigned to being the woman's "fault." And so women are more invested in the results! Aside from that, however - and this is huge - many women take ownership over household and childcare duties because it sets them up as the "experts" in that particular area. I see it all the time on the mommy boards. Often the same women who complain about their husbands' lack of involvement in the households seem to be pretty smug about how their baby can only be comforted by mommy.
  • setting up roles of "master" and "apprentice": I absolutely see how this has already started! It's alarming really. J, bless him, barely still understands what we hired the $1500 doula for. Fair enough; at this point his life hasn't changed quite enough for him to be fully engaged in all of this, and I don't think that's making excuses. But I'm the one who has done the reading on the diapers we'll need, and the stroller I want, and what vaccinations are important and when sleep training should start. I just assumed he'd get up to speed once I explained it all to him and the baby was here, but have we already anticipated and accepted the "helper role" for him?

Of course, the big question that looms over all of this - assuming that such idyllic co-parenting is even possible and desirable - is now...are we really willing to play ball? This isn't just about J stepping up, of course; I'm talking about me. Would sharing the household tasks mean that I'd have to start taking out the garbage? Giving the dog his baths? Learn how to make coffee that doesn't taste like hot liquid poo? The whole thing will call for some co-effort :).

Off to post the article on the mommy boards...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Week 3 of consistent blogging!

That's got to be some kind of record. But I think I've figured out the secret to all of it, and that is . . . don't feel the need to wait until you have something interesting to say. Really! People will read all kinds of your ruminating crap!

I keed, I keed. I am so amazed at and grateful for the comments, so thanks to those of you who pop by! Truly, I have no expectations that anyone will actually read this, so that's a welcome surprise. Cake for all! Or try one of these chocolate cream cheese cupcakes I made last week!

Josh and I have been home since Thursday and it's been so fab, except for the fact that I haven't really done anything I told myself I'd do. Except get a mani/pedi and go grocery shopping and catch up on Vanity Fairs. Normally perfect long weekend activities for a loser homebody like myself, but actually, the purpose of taking this time off was purportedly to purchase something for our poor, as yet unprovided-for sproglet. I shit you not when I tell you that this child has nothing to his or her name except for a onesie announcing that he or she was "Made in Mexico." Great for a giggle, but seeing that that cannot be worn anywhere outside the house, fairly limited utility.

I don't know what my aversion to buying my baby stuff is! For the first three months, granted, it's that kind of scary time and you don't want to incur the attention of the gods by stockpiling too much. Then you rationalize that you have a teensy apartment and it wouldn't make sense to start getting stuff too early. Fair enough. Then you get busy at work...then you start formulating excuses...oh wait, that's just me. Most parents are chomping at the bit to get to Babies R Us while I spend hours surfing the net and bookmarking cute stuff that I never purchase. Even Josh, who is the farthest thing from a consummate shopper, is starting to be like, "Doesn't this baby need some stuff?" I think I'm just afraid of the inevitable avalanche that's going to ensue. And also, maybe, I'm sort of in denial about the whole baby thing. Or at least the imminent arrival of said baby thing.

Today. We shop! Really. Once Josh wakes up (we're lucky if it's 9am these days), I drink my coffee, eat, do my cardio and Pilates DVD, eat, check my e-mail obsessively, eat and formulate a plan of attack. Hopefully starting with brunch...

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Springy sunshine on a Saturday morning...and the hater-ade is on tap!

Life is so good. My darling husband, gone off to the nether regions of the world for the last six days (a/k/a Toronto, Ontario), has returned to our dusty and haphazardly maintained abode and is sleeping sweetly on the couch. And yet the dog is napping next to me! Hah! The cat is asleep on the dining room table and meanwhile, no one is sleeping in the chichi dog bed purchased only last week.

By 1pm this afternoon, I had already gotten a lovely 75 minute prenatal massage at Bliss in Soho, bought myself some new goodies from Sephora and maternity wear from - le gasp - The Gap, and visited a bag that I thought I wanted at Banana Republic. Sadly, upon seeing the bag in real life, it was immediately obvious that it was Just Not On. The thing is significantly larger than my torso (yes - even pregnant)! But otherwise, a lovely morning, and when Josh got in we took a little stroll down Second Avenue and had brunch at our favorite French restaurant. Hence the napping, bien sur.

Nerds love Saturdays. Now you know. Why? Well, the Saturday Times, of course! Already two gems and I haven't even worked my way through the Style section yet. The first article just pulled at my heartstrings, and yes, you know me so well, it's about food. Farmer's markets in San Francisco, to be's like this Sharon Otterman woman has a direct window into my soul. *sigh* And she's whispering, "Leave your fugly and frigid East Coast life...come frolic in the Ferry Building, where the Acme sourdough loaves are always fresh and the Cowgirl Creamery is just a few steps away...You could just stop in on your way back to your palatial abode in Sausalito..." *whimper* I would pick up my life and move to San Francisco for the food alone in an instant. Ocean schmocean. People who wax rhapsodic about French food have never been to California, simple as that. Culinary Philistines, really.

The other article is just funny because it's a little window into my future. Park Slope: Where is the Love? is a delightful reminder that while I may have narrowly missed the one way ticket into the suburbs of New Jersey, I am still "twee"! A cliche! Have to Park Slope we go come September when the lease our current Upper East Side pad is up. By way of background, Park Slope is an increasingly ridiculous little neighborhood in Brooklyn of all places that has, in recent years, become the place to be for yuppies and their designer dogs and overscheduled offspring. It's hilarious because, as the article points out...this is Brooklyn. A couple of years ago no one would even come to a party at your house if you lived in Brooklyn. When you hail a cab to go there you still have to be half apologetic when you tell the driver your destination. Personally, I've been there about 10 times in two years, mostly for court appearances.

Park Slope in particular is achingly fashionable and correspondingly expensive. The type of apartment that we'll need will cost about $3500 a month (really, a total bargain, compared to any desirable neighborhood in Manhattan...but still!). But despite my best laid plans the outcome is inevitable. We are a stereotype. And painfully uncool.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Alright simmer down. I know. I'm not going to go around announcing the resurrection of this blog until blogging has been re-establish-ethed. And of course I don't have any reason as to why I stopped the last time around. Got bored...of myself, I guess. Especially since my updates would literally have been like, "Worked 14 hour day. Came home. Husband was asleep. Dog ignored me." for months on end. As for the reasons for re-starting, well, I have to give credit to my friend Megan and her endlessly entertaining pregnancy blog...and also since I am hopeless at the "pregnancy journal" thing, this will essentially accomplish the same thing.

Anyway, yes, that's right, I'm pregnant - due in September! I'm still a little stunned by it myself. I honestly didn't even really believe it until my upper stomach started protruding and I was like, "OK...that cannot be fat (unlike Lower Stomach Situation). Right??" Now, unless something very odd is happening to my digestive system, there's really no mistaking the sensations in there. It's a little alien life form kicking up his or her feet! Very cool. In about a week's time I've have one of the final ultrasounds and get to take a better look at all of his or her little appendages and stuff. I may even be inclined to share pics, so bewarned if the contents of my uterus aren't something you'd like to take a gander at over your morning bialy.

Today my plans consist of entertaining myself with a girls' brunch at my friend L's house and then coming back here Josh just left for a six day business trip (!) to Canada and so I am free to work allll afternoon and allll evening and allll night if I really really want to. I figure, though, that the re-commencement of blogging may force me to do more things. Just out of shame if nothing else! Like, "I can't go blogging about the three hours I spent comparing strollers today. Let's go to the Guggenheim!" Hee!