Tonight, I made pie. It was, shall we say, rustic. After the Sproutling had gone down for the night (with much protesting, because what if she misses something, I don’t want to eat I’m so hungry but oh so sleepy DON’T MAKE ME SLEEP!), I whisked myself off to the kitchen to make the long-overdue pumpkin pie we’d been planning for a while with the leftover Seminole Squash. The first half had gone into a magnificent black bean pumpkin soup (I’m currently having a love affair with the smitten kitchen archives and the cookbook which was a Christmas present).
At Thanksgiving, I finally settled on My Favorite Pumpkin Pie Recipe, which is the Baking Illustrated Pumpkin Pie, only with fresh pumpkin (because, for some reason, the same people who think it’s perfectly reasonable to use fourteen different types of flour in a single recipe think that fresh pumpkin is just. too. damn. hard. and instead you should put canned pumpkin through the food processor, overload it with spices, and then recook it on the stove, making it necessary to temper in the eggs so they don’t scramble and then putting the whole mess through a sieve for a nice smooth texture) and my old faithful pie crust, which we usually make 4 at a time and freeze.
So I started off with the pie crust from the freezer, only it wasn’t quite big enough for the 10″ pie plate, which I was substituting because last time this recipe filled a 9″ pie, 6 cupcake molds, and a mini-cake pan. And then as I measured out the leftover pumpkin, I discovered I only had 1 1/4 cups instead of 2, so I learned how to overcook sweet potatoes in our brand new microwave (which is really confusing that they’re overcooked because I used the “sensor cook” setting). Then I wanted to pulse the potato in the little Ninja blender, only I’d used that for tuna at dinner and I really didn’t want the flavors mixing, and the baby needed a snack so I ran upstairs while the crust was blind-baking and the potato was resting, then back downstairs to mix all the ingredients together, only Cooks Illustrated wants you to recook the pumpkin on the stove to get rid of the canned taste and then temper the eggs in since it’s all hot, but since I was starting with FRESH, I figured what the hell, and then my crust came out looking like ragged parchment paper, oh just shut up and eat your damn pie. It’s not even a holiday, unless you count Pumpkin Spoilage Avoidance Day, and you’re getting a pie so say thank you and go wash the dishes for me.
Oh wait, I think I hear the baby again.
So I’m eight and a half months now, or nearly nine which is weird because we hit 9 months about 4 weeks before the “due date”. Or, for those of you who, like us, now count your entire lives in weeks, we’re at 35 weeks. Or, if you’re the chick behind the register in the grocery store, we’re at None Of Your Damn Business, Just Finish Scanning My Groceries Please I’m Thirsty and I Have To Pee.
The floor is very far away now. It’s like they moved it, just to piss me off. And the cats want me to pet them in the middle of the room, but they’re SO SHORT.
People ask me if I miss my toes. I actually get to see my toes quite a bit. They’re useful for grabbing stuff off the floor. And just last week, I even managed to paint them (copper base coat with sparkly glitter on top). Oh sure, I can only touch them if I’m sitting, but now they’re all sparkly, which makes me a bit happier when I look down and see how far away the floor is. What I actually miss getting to see? My upper thighs. I’ve been assured they are still there, but I have no proof of this.
My laptop used to actually be usable as a lap-top. Also, putting a napkin neatly in my lap before meals? Totally pointless. Between the belly and the table, I look down and can’t see even a corner of the napkin. And if I actually want to use said napkin, it’s now stuck under my belly. But if I leave it on the table, I’m crass. Can. Not. Win.
Remember how I missed sleeping on my back as of the second trimester? Silly me. I didn’t know how good I had it. Now, I miss sleeping lying down. Or with a normal quantity of pillows.
Somewhere in the second trimester, baby is supposed to “rise up”. Little Girl did not get that memo. Effectively, she “dropped” in the fifth month, somewhere around 24 weeks or so. So people telling me now that “Oh, but she hasn’t really dropped yet. You’ll see.” is a little obnoxious. When I walk down the stairs, it feels like she’s going to fall out. Some days, I swear when I take off my underwear, I’m going to see a little hand poking out. If she goes much lower, she’ll be crowning. So unless you’re a midwife with hands on my pelvis, please refrain from telling me where you think my fetus is hanging out, okay?
We were at a restaurant recently that specializes in their tequila selection. The margarita side of the menu is extremely impressive. When our waitress was explaining the drink specials to us, she looked at me and said, “Well, of course you can’t have any of those, but we have a great selection of non-alcoholic drinks.” You know what, lady? There are studies that show an occasional drink now and then is just fine. It happens that the acidity of the margarita is more of an issue, but that certainly won’t stop me from tasting Ben’s. And, oh, right, it’s None Of Your Business.
Speaking of alcohol and pregnancy, if you take a look at some of the so-called “studies” out there, you’ll note most of them are based on junk science (repeat after me: correlation is NOT causation), or come to conclusions that expressly contradict their results (“We see that fewer than 4 drinks per week causes absolutely no harm, but there is no established quantity that is safe.”). Or, my absolute favorite, they’ll look at legitimate studies and conclude that women can’t be trusted to monitor their own alcohol intake and stick to a reasonable amount (“but what about the alcoholics??”), so therefore all women should be treated as if they were incapable of making rational decisions about their health.
MY body. Not your body. I don’t understand why this concept is so difficult. Don’t preach to me about what I can eat, drink, lift, or do. And DON’T touch me. MY body. MY belly. MINE not yours. If you have a concern, you can gossip about it behind my back like generations of catty people have done before you. I’m good, thanks.
I’m also getting tired of birth horror stories. We get enough of those through the media; can we agree that not all women are going to explode during labor? That it is in fact possible to have a normal, healthy birth without fear and suffering? That birth is a totally natural part of life, happens All The Freaking Time, and is actually less likely to kill me or the baby if we do it at home? (I have news for you: the infant and maternal mortality rates in this country are way too high for the teeny tiny percentage of home births to be responsible for them.)
Please don’t tell me I’m cranky because of hormones. I’m cranky because the world treats pregnant women like objects, because people insist on telling me how I feel, and because my own body is no longer a comfortable place for me to be. Wouldn’t you be cranky too?
Ben came home from the summer camp he’s teaching with a story about one of the girls in his camp. She’s allergic to dairy, eggs, and peanuts, and has to eat separately from the rest of the kids in the camp in a “peanut-free zone”. I can’t even begin to imagine how hard that is — at least with my allergy, I could sit next to kids eating things that would’ve harmed me. Food, in our society (and from what I can tell, most societies), is a social thing as well as something for nourishment. When we get together with people, we talk about meeting up for lunch or dinner, or grab a cup of coffee. For kids in public school systems or very busy summer camps, lunch time might be the only unstructured social time they get with their classmates. And that means that for those of us with allergies, it’s not just eating that’s harder, it’s socializing.
I do a lot of contract work, which means I eat a lot of first meals with coworkers. The allergy comes up in conversation. A LOT. I don’t mean to be one of those people who’s always talking about my digestive tract, but when someone suggests we go out for pizza, they keep pushing for answers when I say I’m not up for joining them there. Or the number of times I’ve been offered cake or cookies, and when I politely decline, I get asked, “What, are you on some sort of a diet?” Yes, I’m on the thinner side of the spectrum (a result, I would wager, more to do with a diet low in saturated fat, rather than due to a genetic predisposition or all that exercise I avoid), so when these middle-aged women scowl at me with their slowing metabolisms, criticizing me for a diet they think I’m on and don’t need, a lot of the time I will speak up and tell them it’s because of an allergy (although, more and more lately I stay silent). When we go to restaurants, I’m used to playing twenty questions with the waiters just to find out what I can safely order.
I deal with a lot of that crap when outside the house, but now that I’m an adult, I can declare our house a Dairy-Free Zone. Okay, so it’s not a hard and fast rule, and Ben will occasionally bring something home that’s his to eat, like a tub of yogurt from the cows I nearly went to college with or leftovers from a restaurant. But for the most part, he’s voluntarily restricted his own dairy consumption, which means very little in our house. Come to think of it, we lost most of the contents of our fridge from the power outage, and I don’t think any dairy has entered the house since.
As a kid, it was a lot harder. At home, my parents kept dairy products for themselves (why shouldn’t they? As adults, we have the privilege of choosing our own food). At school, I ate my packed lunches because I could never have anything from the school cafeteria. And in elementary school, the lunch time teasing was pretty bad. I remember being chased around the lunch room with cartons of milk, having drops of milk flicked at my bare skin, string cheese wiggled in my face. Kids are really cruel about things they don’t understand, and in big settings like a school cafeteria, it’s really hard for the five adults present to keep an eye on three hundred socializing kids (had they even understood what was going on, and at that point, I’m not so certain they did).
So when Ben told me about the seven year old girl with the food allergies, who had one classmate who could sit with her because of the peanut allergy, but then shook a pudding container in her face and wiped cheese on her leg? I cried, and I don’t think it’s just the hormones this time.
I thought back to seven-year-old me and what I so desperately needed to hear.
Being a kid with allergies is so hard. All the grown-ups think they’re helping by giving you special cheese and a special plate of things you can eat. And yeah, sometimes that stuff is exciting, like when you go to a vegan restaurant and you can order anything on the menu. But special is only special when it’s, well, special. It’s only exciting when it’s different, when you can spend most of your time being normal. I can’t even count the number of times I cried myself to sleep because I just wanted a stupid ice cream cone like everyone else. Or the times I made myself sick because “well, a little bit will be okay”.
But you know what? What I eat now is normal. In our house, our normal “butter” is Earth Balance. When I say “please pass the milk”, it’s usually soy (although sometimes coconut or almond). And if I want, I can have ice cream for dessert, because we bought some at the store and it’s okay. I can open our refrigerator and eat anything I want to. And it’s No. Big. Deal.
And those decadent dairy-free desserts I make for myself? Most of the people I share them with can have dairy no problem, and don’t even care that what I made is cow-free. At Thanksgiving, my dairy-free pumpkin pie is regularly topped with whipped cow-cream. The raves I got for my dairy-free pumpkin cheesecake! And you know what else? Our wedding meal was totally dairy-free. And most people never even knew.
So hang in there, kiddo. It’s hard now, I know. But when you’re done with school and living on your own, you get to plan your own meals. And then whatever you choose to make is normal.
Can I rant for a moment? (Ha! Like you can stop me.)
Everybody I talk to, and I mean, like, EVERYBODY, seems to feel the need to tell me what a terrible idea it is to be pregnant during the summer.
A little math for you. Pregnancy is 37 to 42 weeks. Depending on how you calculate it, that’s either 9 or 10 months. The year consists of 12 months, of which 3 are considered summer. So, theoretically, if you conceive PROMPTLY in early September, AND you have a regular, average-length cycle which falls at the appropriate time in the month, AND the baby doesn’t decide to hang in for 42 weeks, then the baby will be born sometime in late May. And that is the ONLY way to avoid being pregnant during the summer.
Okay, now I know what they mean by “pregnant in the summer” is “visibly round and pregnant while it’s hot outside”. Most people forget that the first trimester even exists, after all. But here’s the thing: even if you’re not pregnant, it’s still hot in the summer. And that late May baby? Well, now you have a tiny baby who’s complaining about the heat, instead of an adult woman who has been through many summers and knows how to dress for the weather. Or turn up the A/C. Or put ice in her water. I could be wrong here, but I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to put ice cubes in baby’s milk. And if it’s breast milk, then… Yeah, let’s not go there. Ow.
Don’t forget the perks of summertime — the pools are all open, you can wear almost no clothing and it’s socially acceptable, and frozen treats are available at every corner. Really, if I’m going to be going through a period of my life when my body temperature is unregulated, that sounds like a pretty good deal to me.
Besides, we’ve been having a 100-degree heat wave this July. If I’m having terrible hot flashes of pregnancy, I gotta say, I don’t think it’s any worse than anybody else this year. Ben has more trouble sleeping through the warmer nights than I do. And our little girl has very graciously decided not to become a little tiny furnace. There was one day I thought she might, but it was 102 outside and we had no electricity in the house, so it could have just been me feeling warm.
So please, to anyone out there who says, “Pregnant in the summer? Are you crazy?” or (my favorite) “You know, family planning could have avoided that”, please remember:
It’s none of your damn business when we decided to have our baby.
We were in the state less than 24 hours. Here’s a brief rundown of what we ran into:
- The “Service Areas”, which consist of a single, overpriced, run-down gas station with typical gas station bathrooms. Putting a plastic plant in for ambience does not make up for the fact that you haven’t mopped since last Christmas and that the purse hook is broken.
- Stop signs at the end of the merge ramps. Seriously, people? Just because car manufacturers advertise how fast a car can go from zero to sixty does not mean I want to test it just because I had a fetus step on my bladder.
- The hotel swimming pool and it’s non-functional filter. When I go swimming in a chlorinated environment, I have certain expectations. Like being able to see my feet in the 3′ depth and not getting choked by the tiny little bugs that have drowned themselves in the filth that is the hotel pool. This isn’t just me being pregnant and finicky — there were two children, at about that eight to eleven gee-I-love-dirt phase, who not only commented on the water being gross, but subsequently got out and decided to sit on the lounge chairs until their mother came back to retrieve them.
- Did I mention there was a dead bug firmly attached to the inside of our shower curtain?
- The complimentary hotel continental breakfast, which consisted of pencil-eraser scrambled “eggs”, soggy cold potato wedges with onion and peppers, and Canadian “bacon” with sugar-free maple flavoring that drooped off the fork. Even the orange juice had an off taste. Figuring even they couldn’t manage to screw up a banana, I went to check out the fruit… And found a grey, spotty mush of a banana peel that theoretically contained fruit. Ben then took me to Brueggers, where I got a lovely bagel sandwich and some real juice.
- Somebody up here just couldn’t resist a sale on “One Way” and “Do Not Enter” signs. We are not unintelligent people, but poor Ben was baffled by how to get into the Bruegger’s parking lot, and then again on I-95 on how to *leave* the “service area”. (Again, I reiterate, a McDonald’s plus a gas station does not make a “service area”.)
I’m sure people who live in Connecticut or love Connecticut or just like to be contrary would like to point out to me that several of these points are specific to the hotel we were in. I would like to make it clear that I am cranky and really don’t care. I had never been to the state before, and this is the first impression it chose to make. Now I can check it off my list and Be Done With It.
Ever feel like you’re just trapped in one of those days when everything is doomed to be
broken? And not normal broken, where stuff just breaks. Oh no. We don’t get normal broken
around here. See, a couple weeks ago, we went to turn the light off on our ceiling fan and
the switch broke. With the light on. Over our bed. At bedtime.
So we unscrewed all four bulbs, went to bed, and contacted the landlord in the morning. Two
weeks later, the repair people are finally supposed to show up at noon today (the repair
company is slow, not the landlord), so I’m waiting until they get here and can fix the
switch on our ceiling fan and we can once again have light in the bedroom. It’s terrible,
but I’m sort of half-hoping they’ll have to replace the entire fan, because then maybe we
can get a nice neutral looking one instead of this FABULOUS 70s faux-wood laminate with
gold trim. I would like one of the cheap white ones that blends in to the ceiling. And has
more than one setting for fan speed. A remote would be awesome too, but I’ll settle for a
chain that’s not extended by a piece of yarn.
And if that weren’t enough for today, the internet died. And not one of those wake up to
find it off days. No, I was in the middle of stuff when suddenly pages stopped loading
without warning. The laptop doesn’t connect either, and, more importantly, the router has a
pretty orange light where the green one for internet connectivity should be. So I called
Verizon and waded through their menus. After being on hold for 20 minutes, I called back.
We’re about ten minutes into the second phone call. After this, I call again and stop
playing their pretty menu games. I will just mash buttons until a human picks up. I can
understand a long wait at lunch time or after work hours. But at 10:30 am?
So, finally got a human (and she’s very nice). She suggested an outage in Suitland due to a
car taking out a utility pole, which seems a bit far to actually be affecting us, and
according to her system won’t occur until 11:23am (they have very advanced systems at
Verizon, it seems). Then she did a little network magic on her end, and suddenly I had
internet again. But, of course, she had absolutely no idea why it went out in the first
place. Figures, right?
So now, I’ve got 45 min until the repair folk are scheduled to show, during which time I
think I need to have second breakfast, and maybe call the community management people to
figure out why we haven’t gotten our pool passes yet. See, preggers wants to swim this
summer, so they better FIX IT.
I am so, so tired of getting screwed around by big companies.
I have spent at least five hours on the phone with Carefirst arguing over who has my health insurance and why can’t I have it. At first, I discovered it had been completely and illegally cancelled without any sort of COBRA notification, only to find out three days later that that’s actually legal as long as they mail me the paperwork and promise to turn it back on with no lapse if I just give them 50% of our current income because really, it’s no problem to increase the premiums by more than 50% while at the same time losing half our income, right?
So I asked about individual plans and got the run around for quite a while until I finally managed to track someone down who could transfer me to Sales and Marketing (because, you see, if I am applying for a new plan, I am no longer an existing customer, but am now once again a NEW customer; nevermind that I have been with Carefirst for five years on four different plans). And so they transfer me yet again, only to discover it is now 5:02 on Friday and Sales goes home at 5.
That must be nice.
After a whole entire weekend of waiting and nail-biting (and seriously, these nails are fabulous, so it’s really not fair to chew them), I finally get to talk to Sales on Monday, at which point the first of the seven people who I have spoken to mentions that, yeah, I could get you on that plan but not until you’re uninsured for at least a month, but oh by the way it won’t cover pregnancy anyways. None of them will. Didn’t you know that? Also, she hung up on me.
During all of this time on the phone, I have probably cried about fifteen times. See, here’s the thing about pregnancy hormones: it’s not that I’m emotional, it’s that I just feel everything REALLY STRONGLY. And when I feel things REALLY STRONGLY, said emotions have a tendency to come out of my eyes because they have nowhere else to go. I’m actually rather proud of how well I’ve held it together, finding out I am not only unemployed and pregnant, but unemployed, uninsured, and pregnant. Oh, right. And not just uninsured, but uninsurable.
I called the Maryland Health Insurance Plan, whose phone line is staffed with people who are really lovely but hampered by quite a lot of red tape. The upshot is that I could qualify for a plan because I was disqualified due to pregnancy, but only after the COBRA election period has expired, because having to pay 50% of your income qualifies as having access to a health insurance option (in the interest of saving rant space, we’ll just let that one go). In other words, I have to wait seven weeks to apply and then another five to actually get insurance, which is a total of twelve weeks AKA three months to get insurance that will cover pregnancy, a condition which only lasts for a total of forty weeks, AKA nine months. So I need to wait A WHOLE TRIMESTER. They do understand that pregnancy is a *temporary* condition, right? Because really, if I were very much further along in the process, I would nearly have to wait until I was no longer pregnant to be covered for being pregnant. At which point I could just apply for the insurance I’m being denied.
So my best option to get covered for health insurance is to get a new employer-sponsored health plan. Except I am now visibly pregnant, enough so that I got asked by the lovely lady at the farm stand when the blessed event was. And I said, September, which is why I would like some of your local honey because I am denied my anti-histamines and it appears to be one of the nastier allergy seasons out there. And she said here you go at a fabulous price, and also would you like some local asparagus?
Ahem. I digress.
So I am now quite visibly pregnant, having been asked three times in the past three days by different people who do not know me well enough to notice a change in silhouette. Which means as soon as I walk into an interviewer’s office, the first thing that will leap out to them is not my witty banter, nor my competent air of organization. Oh no, his or her first thought will be, “MATERNITY LEAVE. OH HELL NO.” And then out I will be, still unemployed.
Never mind that I’m unemployed because of an employer who oh-so-illegally created an extremely hostile work environment enough so that not one but *two* long time employees pointed out they were trying to force me out. And yet, I live in a state where corporations are being courted for their headquarters locations (and associated taxes, or really lack thereof, because who taxes corporations anymore anyways?), so even if I had a MOUNTAIN of evidence (of which I only have a small, well-documented mole-hill), I could not actually take them to court and succeed in getting anything other than a pat on the head and a “Hurrah, nice try.”
So today, we took my unemployed, uninsured pregnant self down to look at car seats because what I should have spent the afternoon doing was looking at grainy black and white pictures of my insides and finding out whether it’s a little boy or a little girl who is currently screwing up my life but will someday make me oh so very happy but instead I have been jerked around by insurance companies and had to reschedule for a week and a half later (which doesn’t sound very long, but seriously, it hurts, ok?). And by pure sheer happenstance luck, we ran into an amazing lady who does not actually work for the company but used to in the SAFETY department and currently is a CAR SEAT SAFETY TECH. And while she is not allowed to make any particular recommendations on a particular brand and/or model, she could very firmly point us in the direction of the appropriate safety studies (or lack thereof) and not-suggest-but-you-know-what-I-mean a couple things to research. And most importantly, she could answer my ever-burning question of why can I not find any blasted SAFETY data on a car seat (I do not care how well it fits in a shopping cart; how well does it prevent INJURY and DEATH while inside a CAR? I want a CAR seat, not a SHOPPING CART seat. But while we’re at it, does anyone happen to know if the shopping carts are actually tested for their baby safeness?)
If you’ve read through the rest of this rant, I’m sure you can probably guess the reason. Because, in this country, (say it with me now) corporations have more rights than individuals. So when data came out that six child seats went flying off their bases, NHTSA was not allowed to publicize which models. Oh, also, NHTSA is not actually responsible for most of the testing. I think. I’m a little fuzzy on that, because in my research, I have actually yet to figure out who IS responsible for safety testing of car seats. I think it might be the manufacturers, and we all know how well that works within the food industry.
And so now I’m awake after having been asleep for only about three hours because I’m having dreams comparing the relative safety of a convertible carseat versus a food processor, since really, that’s about the level of safety data we have out there, and honestly, I could put my child in a crock pot strapped to the back seat as long as it’s rear-facing, because WHO HAS ANY DATA TO PROVE ME WRONG?
Oh, did I mention our power got cut off today? It turned out it was for routine maintenance, but we were concerned it was for nonpayment since, well, we haven’t gotten a bill since November and they can’t tell us where our bill is or who’s been paying it. They’ll get back to us on that one.
I have been having… issues with technology lately. Well, to be honest, I’ve been having issues with my phone. My lovely, wonderful, two year old Palm Pre, which I absolutely adore. Honestly, I would have to love the phone to put up with all the crap it’s been giving me lately. I will always argue that WebOS is the number one mobile operating system. I will also never disagree if anyone wants to point out that Palm makes terrible hardware. This is why so many of us were excited about HP buying Palm, since HP actually knows how to make hardware and were purchasing our beloved software.
But the cell phone networks have us in a corner. Not all networks support all phones, and to purchase a phone, you get stuck in a two-year contract with a one-year phone. My contract is up next March, but my phone started dying this March. (Yes, I know I referred to it as a two-year-old phone; it was not a brand new model when I got mine.) In March, I took it in to the Sprint store, where they gave me a whole new replacement phone. Silly me, I thought that meant I should be good for another year.
Fast forward. Last week, I finally got fed up with the ever-dwindling battery life when I woke up to find it dead on the charger. I took it in, and they replaced the battery free of charge. Hooray! Now I’m back to… a four hour battery life? Also, now every time it runs itself dead (once or twice a day, depending on how many phone calls I receive), I have to pull and replace the battery before I can plug it in to charge.
Cell phone networks being the wonder that they are, Sprint is willing to offer me a $75 discount on a new phone if I sign a two-year contract. That works out to $3.13 a month for the privilege of not being able to upgrade when I next want to, to being trapped on a network that has announced they will not be getting the next phone I want, to being held hostage so that the company can be guaranteed of one more tiny phone bill a month (and tiny really is the word; I pay a pretty small amount for one of the big networks). So that paltry $75 doesn’t really seem worth it, especially when you consider that a new phone with similar capabilities to what I have will run me about $450. Right.
Ben and I have been debating for weeks as to what to do with my phone situation. We just upgraded him to a new phone last month, so he now understands how a smartphone can completely change the way you interact with technology. I don’t know what we’re going to do, but I hate feeling hamstrung by giant corporations.
If this is the future, well, sometimes the future sort of sucks.