July 2011

Today is the first day of my judge’s month-long vacation. When the courtroom goes “dark” like this, the courtroom staff is available to float and work in different courtrooms as needed. As it’s summer, there are a lot of dark courtrooms, which means we have a more than normal number of available personnel in addition to people specially assigned to float to where needed. These latter people’s job description is “floater.” I am not a floater, I’m an assigned clerk, whose courtroom happens to be dark right now. I’ve been dreading this dark month, and I’ve made sarcastic half-joking comments here and there that they’re probably gonna float me to Compton or downtown or something. Coworkers reassured me that wouldn’t happen, because I carpool to work from 40 miles away. Mr. W works near me so he drives us both to and from work. Carpooling means I don’t have a car available, and there had been a memo issued some time ago from the topmost supervisor of the county that gives carpooling priority over having a vehicle available per person. (Except, of course, if you’re a floater by job description.)

So I checked in before 8am this morning. I had beaten every supervisor to work but the administrative secretary said she’d let the supervisors know I’m in my courtroom, awaiting assignment, when they got in. (I’ll make a note here that other clerks don’t even come in at 8am like they’re supposed to; they get in around 9a, some deliberately, to avoid being floated out.) At 8:10 a.m., the district supervisor called me to make sure I was there and available. I explained that floating out of the building would be a difficulty, as I carpooled as usual and don’t have a car. He said he didn’t think that would be a legitimate reason for “downtown,” who would just tell me to take public transportation to go where I am assigned to go. He said he’d call me back if he heard from “downtown” that I’m to be floated out.

10 minutes later, that supervisor called me back and said that I’ve been assigned to go to Compton Courthouse (14 miles away, but through seriously dangerous and questionable neighborhoods). I reiterated that I don’t have a car, I don’t know how to take public transportation, and to figure out a train or bus route from work to Compton would not only be time-consuming, but stressful. Plus, I’d have to figure out how to get from wherever the train or bus dropped me off to Compton Courthouse on foot. Someone told me I’d have to switch buslines in Watts (major gang and high crime territory). I’m unfamiliar with public transportation and with the area, so I could see myself wandering around, lost, pregnant, and getting harassed by people. While 6 months pregnant with a baby that cost me $26,000 to conceive. The supervisor told me that “downtown” doesn’t care that I’m 6 months pregnant, although he does. He asked if I could take Mr. W’s car to Compton. I’m actually not sure I’d be insured in his car, but it’s his car and I’m supposed to strand him at work while I’m off to Compton and I don’t even know when I’d be able to leave to go home? They couldn’t ask me to do that if I’d carpooled with a coworker, so this should be no different. I told him I’d have to call Mr. W and check with him on that.

Mr. W was, of course, not happy with this situation. He didn’t want me wandering around Compton by myself, period. It’d be different if I weren’t pregnant and had my own car. As it is, driving is difficult for me because any abdominal pressure, such as that by a seat belt, causes Allison to repeatedly hit and push against the pressure. It’s very distracting and it’s okay if I’m driving locally for 15 minutes, but it’d be a serious issue driving an hour to work in crazy stop and go traffic, then half an hour or more depending on traffic to Compton while trying to figure out where I am and where to turn.

My supervisor called me back to check status at around 8:20. As courtrooms don’t even unlock their doors until 9am, t’s still early enough at this time to rearrange floating employees, which is often done in order to make the best employee fits depending on what any person is able to do. They had already made a change this morning; another dark court clerk was supposed to be in Department W, but because a family law clerk called in sick, they pulled that dark court clerk from W and put her in family law, then put another dark court clerk into Department W. A floater clerk was in another department where the regular clerk was on vacation. I asked twice if the supervisor can make rearrangements in assignments, since none of the other 3 clerks are pregnant, and all of them have their own cars available to them. He said he didn’t have any other options. I called Mr. W back and told him this, and could not stop the flow of tears. I thought it was so messed up that they’re favoring the other clerks who were ABLE to float out, but making me take a health risk when I was both pregnant and didn’t have a car. Very quickly, that supervisor called back. It was pretty audible by my voice that I was very upset and tearful at this point. He said that if I were his wife, he wouldn’t be comfortable with me going out to Compton, either, and that if I was having physical stress symptoms, that I have an option of taking sick time for today and he would then tell downtown that I’m going home sick and is unavailable to go to Compton. But then, I would have to bring in a doctor’s note. I told him I’m taking that option and spent the morning on the phone trying to get an appointment with local Kaiser hospitals to see me.

This is already pretty lame, considering I’m unable to leave to go home sick as I still don’t have transportation, so I’m stranded at work anyway. No local Kaisers had any openings today, and coworkers only had the lunch hour to give me a ride to any Kaiser anyway and turns out Kaisers don’t take appointments at lunchtime. The Kaiser appointment lady, who was very sympathetic, suggested I ask my regular OB (45 miles away from work so not commutable at lunchtime) to fax me a work restriction letter, excusing me from work today and from high-stress floating. She sent an internal email to have my OB or his nursing staff contact me ASAP. I was contacted around 10am by my OB’s nurse, who said that the doctor wouldn’t be in until 1:30pm today but that it was unlikely he would write me any such note to restrict my work due to the pregnancy, because there was no physical reason why I couldn’t take public transportation. She said lots of people in the country take public transportation to work regularly. (Okay, but they do this regularly by choice, not because they were unexpectedly told, morning of, to figure out a way to get to a different and unfamiliar location in a dangerous area while pregnant. And I’d also have to figure out how to get home from Compton after dark. Good gawd.) But she said she would talk to the doctor about my request when he got in, given how stressed I am about the situation. She said something about “fraud” if he were to claim I couldn’t do something I can. Let me note here that I also wouldn’t eat or drink the entire day when I’m floated out on public transportation, as Compton Court doesn’t have a cafeteria and I couldn’t go out wandering the streets looking for places to eat. Not good for pregnancy.

Here’s where friends make work worthwhile: Coworker Sandy, who had the week off on vacation, saw my distressed cry on the social networking site and wrote me an email. She said she’d be in the courthouse area for a doctor’s appointment at 1:30p, and offered to swing by the courthouse to pick me up and take me home after her appointment. I accepted gratefully, and now that I know I can get home a little early, I made an appointment with my primary care physician (not my OB) for 4:40p. I couldn’t believe he happened to have a same-day opening. Things were looking up! I was going to get my doctor’s note after all.

Coworker Sandy’s medical appointment ran later than she’d expected and she picked me up outside the courthouse with her husband at 3:15p. I was at work for 7.5 hours already when I was officially out “sick,” having to burn 8 hours of sick time, but I was so grateful to be able to leave finally. Given the time and the bad traffic, we all decided it’d be better for them to take me to the doctor’s appointment directly, then Mr. W can just meet me there and pick me up and go home on his way home from work. On our way, my regular OB’s office called me, and this time a different nurse spoke to me. She said the doctor wants to make sure I have a medical reason, and not a transportation reason, to give me work restrictions. I didn’t have to make up a thing; this IS considered a high-risk pregnancy by definition as I will be over age 35 at the due date, and I HAVE been having round ligament pains for 2 months now (they asked), it IS uncomfortable for me to sit in a car for extended periods of time, and I DO have difficulty driving so I DO have someone drive me to/from work daily. The letter restricting my driving to 10 miles/day and prohibiting long transport periods, such as would be required with public transportation, was prepared to apply immediately until late November, the duration of my pregnancy. It would be in an envelope waiting for me at the reception desk of my OB’s Kaiser hospital (nearer to but past home) which would be open until 5:30p, nurse said to pick it up anytime before then. Whew!

I was soon dropped off at the Kaiser halfway between work and home, where my appointment was this evening, then Coworker Sandy and her hubby went on their way home. I walked in, checked in with the receptionist, who informed me I’m in the wrong building. Okay, point me to the right building, and I’ll walk there. “No no, you’re in an entirely different facility,” she explained. “Your 4:40 appointment today is in [a whole different city farther south].” OH, CRAP. “You can still get there in time,” the receptionists said, looking at the clock reading 4:10.

I got on my cell phone and called Coworker Sandy. “I messed up!” I explained, she laughed, told her husband to turn around for me, and said they’d only made it one light down. Soon they picked me up where they’d dropped me off 5 minutes prior. I called Mr. W from the car to tell him the hospital I’d told him earlier to pick me up at is the wrong one, and to meet me at the correct one. He confirmed the correct one, then gave some cross-streets, which I passed on to Coworker Sandy and her hubby. The two of them said they were familiar with that Kaiser and would take me there. The freeway was horribly, horribly congested, and they passed the exit I’d expected them to get off on. I asked what exit they were going to, and they both gave the name of one of the cross-streets that Mr. W gave. I’m not very good with directions, so I let them go where they appeared to know to go. Exiting at that street took an extra 15 minutes through sluggish traffic, and when we got off, her husband said, “This doesn’t look right.”

Turned out, hubby got two street names confused because both street names started with the letter “A.” The one he gave them as the intersection of the hospital made us overshoot by 6.5 miles, which isn’t a big deal except that it took 10-15 extra minutes each way, making me now late for the appointment. I tried to call the hospital to tell them to keep my appointment, I was running late, but couldn’t get a number for that facility directly. Instead of being 15 minutes early as I was told to be, I was 10 minutes late when I ran in there, and hoped for the best. There was a check-in line at reception (first time ever in my experience at that facility), so I did a self-check-in at a kiosk. I wasn’t sure I did it right, but I was distracted anyway as Mr. W called me and turned out, I think he’d beaten me there, because he was right behind me. We took off to the appointment waiting area and I was very shortly called in.

The nurse there was very sympathetic and kind of horrified at what happened at work, and told me that the next time this happens, I should call her team and they will figure out a way to problem-solve for me. I thanked her. She took my blood pressure and said she was surprised it was within normal ranges. I explained that the numbers she was looking at, 122/76, was high for me because most of the time both numbers were close to/under 100. My primary care doc was great as always, and immediately proceeded to write me a work restriction letter after I explained what happened today, and what its effect on me was. (He diagnosed me with acute stress reaction, and said I appear to have had an anxiety attack in the morning. At the peak of my stress this morning, Allie uncharacteristically went crazy in my stomach at a time when she would normally be still; dr said this is not unusual given the stress hormones I was producing.) His letter didn’t deal with my pregnancy as much as my stress reaction, although it also indicated that I am a high-risk pregnancy patient. It orders “Modified Activity” to apply to both work and home for a month:

Patient is 6 months pregnant. No driving or public transportation. If patient needs to be floated to another work place, please provide her with other means of transportation.
If modified activity is not accommodated by the employer then this patient is considered temporarily and totally disabled from their regular work for the designated time and a separate off work order is not required.

So, if my supervisors ignore the letter and force me to float without providing transportation, I can immediately be off for whatever’s left of the month on full disability, which means they have to pay full salary and not dock my sick time. Awesome. Now I have a general note to cover the duration of pregnancy, and a very specific note to cover the next month we’re dark. By the way, I talked to another dark court clerk who 3 times in the past 2 weeks immediately put in a sick time off slip in lieu of being floated out of the building, and she said the supervisors never required her to bring in a doctor’s note. The rule is that a doctor’s note may be required for 3 consecutive days of sick time off, but is not required for one day. People call in for 1 day all the time, doesn’t mean they’re going to a doctor. So I think that’s another point of unfairness, although I jumped thru that hoop anyway cuz they made me.

Since my doctor very efficiently got me in an out, Mr. W thought we could make it to the other Kaiser to pick up my letter. It was 5:10, and we had 20 minutes. There were some slow people in traffic that Mr. W drove like mad to get around, and I ended up running up the door to that Kaiser at exactly 5:30. The automatic doors wouldn’t open, and they had closed either precisely on time, or a few minutes early. I was still in rush-rush mode and stressed, and was nauseated by that point and my head was hammering. Mr. W patted my knee and took me to a local Italian restaurant for dinner. I told him I still want to take tomorrow off on stress, especially since I already have a doctor’s note, so they can’t request another one. He said he would call in tomorrow to stay home with me, and go with me to pick up my OB’s letter, and we’ll catch a movie in the area afterwards.

Looks like I’m starting my weekend early. Looking forward to seeing college roommie Diana on Saturday. She’s in town for the weekend and we’re going to the Hollywood Bowl for a summer Philharmonic concert.

P.S. Earlier, I received an email from another coworker, who found out about what happened today. She offered to leave on a half-day tomorrow so that I would be placed in her courtroom to cover her instead of being told to float out again. It was very sweet of her, but thankfully, unnecessary. Late morning, a floater coworker who heard about what happened came by and found me, and offered to go to Compton in my place because he felt that as a floater, he should’ve been sent out first. I thanked him and told him I had already opted for burning a sick day. My coworkers are super-awesome.

Wednesday, I had a tremendous tire adventure. I changed all 4 tires for the first time on the Lexus, pretty good considering the car’s 5 years old and has 32,300 miles on it. Apparently those high-performance stock tires were only meant to last 15,000 miles. I’d brought the car into the dealership for a recall check, and they observed that my rear tires were almost bald and the fronts were worn pretty badly on the insides (normal wear on sports suspension, which tilts tires inward in the front for better traction). They quoted me $885 for the 4 tires including mounting and balancing, plus $169 for alignment. I don’t know whether this would include the mandatory tire disposal fees and taxes, and it was already too big of a number for me. I’m used to the Accord Coupe’s tires costing $110 each.
I left to go shop around, and after researching, ended up buying the exact same tires (Bridgestone Potenza RE760 Sport) from Discount Tires, and they installed, mounted, balanced, disposed, taxed for just under $850. Their inspection revealed that my suspension is perfectly fine, so because they saved me an alignment, I was fine paying an additional $70 for their replacement program on all 4 tires. I never thought I’d think a grand on tires is a good deal, but that appears to be the norm from my research, and I got away with really good, high-performance, higher-wear tires for under a grand, and if anything happens to them for the next 3 years, they’ll be replaced for free.
The young guys working at Discount Tires/America’s Tires were very knowledgable, friendly, and professional, and many of them have those same tires on their own cars, which they take on the race track on weekends and drift. They must’ve looked at me and my old tires that lasted 32K+ miles and thought, “Man, this car’s wasted on her, the old folgie.”

After my tires were done, I drove my suddenly quiet car over to Ann’s new house and she, her hubby Mark, and I went to the Orange County Fair. The goal was to let her try this year’s new gimmick, deep-fried Kool-Aid balls. When I saw this in a news article, I’d sent the link to her, and we’d been talking about it since. Last year, I’d discovered a deep-fried butter article and sent that to her, and she did go to the fair and try that, too. I wonder what they’re going to deep-fry next year. But anyway, we weren’t sure we’d find it since a friend was just recently at that Fair and had never heard of the Kool-Aid balls. As luck (good or bad, I’ll let you decide) would have it, it was one of the first things we came across. Ann spotted a giant sign immediately:

(BTW, at 5.5 months pregnant, I weighed myself this morning and I weigh 131.6, up 0.1 lbs from what I weighed 2 weeks ago, when the doctor told me to watch the weight gain and restrict it to half pound per week from this point on. Yay.)

There were a lot of large people in the fried foods line, we observed. I lined up in a significantly shorter line farther down for crepes, and ordered a grilled chicken pesto salad crepe, and noticed that everyone in line in front of me was fit or slender. Interesting. Anyway, I didn’t try the Kool-Aid balls. Ann wasn’t too impressed, saying the fried butter last year was better. The Kool-Aid balls were apparently just donut holes in which red punch Kool-Aid powder was mixed into the dough, then deep-fried. She said the doughy innards didn’t have much taste, altho the more fried outside seemed to have been sprinkled with Kool-Aid powder and did achieve more tang of flavor. She felt sick after eating those and some globules of deep fried zucchini strips, and didn’t eat anything else. Mark had a giant hot dog in a giant bun buried in giant amounts of condiments. I’d never thought of mayo as a hot dog topping. At one point Mark got up and left the table to look at some exhibits, and Ann and I were approached by an elderly couple, the woman in a wheelchair. The gentleman asked politely if they could share our table (I guess the farther back ones would make for difficult wheelchair maneuvering) and I told him of course. It then occurred to me I didn’t even check with Ann, but she didn’t seem to mind. The couple had purchased deep-fried Oreo cookies and offered one to me as I was curious to them. I did not allow Allison to have that, but the two of them said it was good and showed me a cross-section of one they’d bitten into. It looked like fried yellow cake (batter) with a doughy black center (Oreo). Ann said she’d had it before and the oil makes everything soggy inside.
It was fun wandering around the fairgrounds with them, people-watching, exhibit-examining, animal-observing. At the livestock section, a goat had just given birth to two little does about 45 minutes before we’d gotten there. She had already licked her girls clean, altho her rear was still seeping some bloody goo. Animals are so resilient. Mama goat doesn’t even look tired, and the baby goats were already walking their tiny, wobbly fuzzy bodies to mom’s teats and nipping at them, eyes open and everything. Farther down in another pen, some giant sows were laying on hay sleeping on their sides. Their tender sat on the gate, explaining to a bunch of onlookers that the sow behind him is expected to give birth the next day, signs being the changes in her behavior, teats, and she’d begun lactating a bit. Mark leaned against this gate and watched the sow, as Ann and I wandered around all the pens and looked at other goats, chicken, chicks, etc. We returned to the sow section a couple of times and had a good laugh at how many people were gathered around the pregnant sow, just staring, when she was on her side asleep the entire time. What are they looking at? Nothing was happening or going to happen, apparently, until the next day.
Anyway, I think I’m now vegetarian again. The Fair does this to me every time.

Flip Flop Girl gave birth today. Congrats, Flip Flop Girl (Christi) and Wilco (Mike)! Kyden gets a baby…uh…sister? Brother? They posted photos of the baby wrapped up burrito-style, but still won’t tell us the gender! By the way, the parents themselves didn’t know until the new baby showed up, having instructed their doctors not to reveal the gender to them on ultrasound and other test results.

About 10 hours ago, when Christi was in the hospital (actually, she’s still in the hospital), she posted a question on her social networking site. “Drugs or no drugs? …that is the question.” I know that when she was in labor with Kyden, she had tried to hold off on getting the epidural as long as she could, hoping that if she stalled in getting to the hospital, etc, it’d be too late to administer the epidural so it wouldn’t be a choice she’d have to make. However, the labor ended up being so painful that she took the option for pain control once she was in the hospital. I don’t know which way she ended up going with Baby #2, but as she was laboring away, her question brought about a flurry of opinions online. 10 women (and actually, 1 man) emphatically encouraged her to get the drugs. My position is that she should do what she wants and make the decision based on her personal reasons, but that as she is aware, my decision for myself is to go without to avoid potential side effects to mom and baby. Apparently this is a hot topic and made some people unhappy with me, and argue that the possible side effects I briefly referred to (spinal fluid leaks, colicky baby, less responsive baby, lower IQ later on in life, prolonged labor, which are based on studies I’d read before I made my preliminary decision) are not conclusively proven. (I later elaborated on what I’d referred to by quoting study results, but I’ll save readers the long quotes.) One friend made a point of telling me details about her own labor experience, which sounded painful and atypical in that she had complications with her delivery, which resulted in a long labor ending up with epidural and c-section. Her logic was, would I opt for open-heart surgery without pain medication if I was told I’d recover faster afterwards? Also, is it really necessary to have super-smart Einstein children anyway, even if it were proven conclusively that epidurals do affect the baby’s future mental development? The other women’s logic in response to Christi’s question were based on things like “why suffer?”, “no need to traumatize yourself with screaming pain.” I think my friend’s situation is something separate, but the other women’s reasons are very mother’s-comfort-oriented (which is the point of administering the typical epidural, anyway.)

It sounded like from the tone of my friend, who shared her painful labor details with me to make her points, that she took offense from thinking I’m condemning mothers who get epidurals, told me not to “knock it,” and defended her son’s IQ (in that her labor is not responsible for a baby’s IQ). Another mother on Christi’s conversation thread who used an epidural also defended her toddler’s IQ by saying how many words he knows at his age.

I get where they’re coming from: they feel that someone (me) saying she doesn’t want an epidural because it can potentially negatively affect the kid’s development is the same as me saying because they used epidurals, I’m saying they are bad moms or have dumb kids, but that’s not what I’m saying at all. I said multiple times on Christi’s conversation thread that it’s each mother’s personal decision. Some women have paralyzing fear of pain and WOULD be traumatized without major pain control. Others have extreme situations, like my friend, which cause doctors to have to intervene and perform emergency surgery so that the mother and baby wouldn’t be endangered. Others have low pain tolerance, period. These people understandably get epidurals because the benefits outweigh the cost.

What I’m saying is, I’m not one of those women, unless something unforeseen happens during delivery and the doctors have to intervene (in which case I’d give them carte blanche to do whatever is necessary to save lives). I’m someone with high pain tolerance, who doesn’t take pain relievers generally, so assuming delivery is normal, I would make the choice to go without. Like I told my friend:
I’m not knocking it. She asked for for or against, and she knows my position for my personal decision. I explained that it was a personal decision for both her and for me and that I’m not telling her to do or not to do. I’m not saying across the board there is no reason for someone to take pain meds for any given situation. Obviously your situation called for pretty severe intervention or it would’ve been impossible. Open heart surgery is not the same thing as natural childbirth where it’s an option to go natural or not. (BTW, I don’t consider your situation to be an option, it was a requirement given what was happening during your labor.)
Given a choice when an epidural is being administered simply to take away mom’s pain during labor, my decision is that given the risks involved in an epidural for both mom and for baby, I would rather take the pain to prevent the POSSIBILITY of problems. I didn’t say the studies were conclusive or that I believe every woman who uses an epidural is wrong or will have a negative outcome with her child. If someone has pain phobia or high sensitive to pain/shock/trauma, obviously it would be better to have an epidural. I am not one of those people. I choose to suck it up in order to give even a smidgeon of extra possibility of advantage to this child. To me, all the comments of “why suffer?” do not hold a candle to anything I can do for the benefit of this child. I will suffer, I will sacrifice, I will go natural, I will get over it. That isn’t important to me. This doesn’t mean it isn’t important to other women who do NOT want to feel pain if anyone can help it, or women in your situation who have complications and need intervention. But like I said repeatedly, it is a personal decision, it was yours, it is Christi’s, and it is mine

Stats show more than 50% of laboring women opt for epidurals. Where are the other 50%? There was ONE woman on Christi’s conversation string who opted to go without an epidural. She said she liked being able to get up right away afterwards (epidurals numb the bottom half so that walking afterwards isn’t going to happen) and liked that she didn’t need an IV, but that others told her that it was worth it to them to sacrifice those things just to avoid labor pain. I don’t disagree with any of them on their decisions; it was their decision for their delivery style. But it’s not my decision. I don’t know why it seems that women who use drugs seem to want (pretty badly based on other responses to Christi’s question) other women to use drugs, but those who don’t really don’t care despite having their own reasons for their choice.

Besides, if a doctor could guarantee me that my child’s health would magically benefit if I got open-heart surgery without meds, I would seriously consider doing just that.

Something new I read in re-researching this today, some other study found a correlation between epidural use and that child’s future (teen/adult) addiction to drugs. I tried to find this study to be more accurate in saying what kind of drug addiction, etc, but couldn’t find the study, so for now I’ll disregard it. Another new thing: studies seem to point to correlation between epidurals and hyperactivity in kids for up to the first 7 years of their lives. This is the stuff that scares me, altho I realize that website isn’t exactly impartial.

I don’t remember well which week of pregnancy I’m in. I don’t know how other women answer immediately when asked. I need to use the due date calculator each time. This is for today:

Today is Monday July 18th 2011.
You conceived on Monday February 28th 2011
and your due date is Monday November 21st 2011.

140 days have passed since the conception,
and you are 126 days before your due date.

You are 22 weeks into your pregnancy,
and you have 18 weeks to go.

You are in the 2nd trimester.

53% of your pregnancy has passed, there is 47% left to go.

Dardy found an article that features an Australian diver’s photographs which document, for the first time ever, a fish using “tools.” It was suspected that fish may use tools to help them, but it was never shown until these photos. The article explores the definition of tool usage — some say because the fish used its mouth to hold and break a clam against a rock, that it’s not tool use because it didn’t hold the tool. Others say tool use shouldn’t be defined by hand-holding, because there are species that don’t have the same limbs and appendages but still use something to help it do something else. And what about people who lost or are unable to use their limbs, but who use their mouths to accomplish tasks? Are they not using tools?

So Dardy comments, “fish may use tools? what is the definition of using tools? (fish have no limbs.) still pretty cool.”
Me: I’ve seen my dad’s parrotfish pick up a mouthful of pebbles to spit at another fish invading its territory, so I guess that’s like using tools, too.
Dardy: pretty cool. “unintelligent” animals showing signs of intelligence is a nice surprise.
Dardy: the next thing you know, an amoeba will be writing poetry.
Me: I would LOVE to read amoebic poetry!
In cool viscous flows
I drift and ooze with the rest
Invisibly by

Yay, I read the mind of an amoeba and wrote down the haiku it composed (since it can’t use tools yet to write or type). Rebecca had implied a couple of times today that I’m more psychic than I realize. Funnily enough, that topic was touched upon, too. Continuing on the thread of conversation comments:

Me: Have you seen “I Am Legend?” It explores “unintelligence”/”desocialization” as perceived (erroneously) by man, i.e. Will Smith.
Dardy’s friend Neal: Cindy… That’s sort of freaky you said that. Two posts above this one on my [social networking feed], a friend just linked something that has a picture from “I Am Legend” o_O
Me: we’re all tapping into the same psychic marrow! 🙂
Neal: Apparently! Spooky…
Dardy: wow, that’s great amoebic poetry. i haven’t seen the movie.
Me: Yeah, that’s one talented amoeba.

Last weekend, I was sitting at our Lake listening to an old-school R&B band perform, tucked into a low beach chair, when my right arm was pushed away from my side where it had been pressing. Simultaneously, I felt the now-familiar internal muscle spasm sensation where my arm was pushed. And that was when I realized, what I’d been feeling inside since like week 15 can now be felt from the outside. Maybe it’s because of the deep bass vibrating my insides, but she kept up her rhythm movements through the rest of the concert. It still kinda wigs me out a little, cuz it’s so similar (identical, except for location) to having a gas bubble moving around.

It took until last nite before it occurred to me to actually put my hand on my abdomen to feel for the jolts externally when I was feeling them internally. As I sat in my big plush La-Z-Boy rocking recliner reviewing some Escrow refinance docs with Mr. W on the computer, Allison continuously broke my attention by her attempts to dance a jig. I pressed a hand gently on the area she was jostling around in. She responded with a movement every 5-8 seconds. I mentioned this to Mr. W, and asked if he wanted to feel it. “I don’t think I’d be able to feel that,” he said, but I pressed his hand onto the same spot my hand was, and for a moment, I thought Allison wasn’t going to cooperate. Then she gave her daddy a high-five, in two different spots, one right after the other. Mr. W’s face lit up. “That’s neat!” he said. Then we both turned back to the Escrow docs, altho Allison really did not settle back down for more than 20 minutes at a time the rest of the night. Last nite was her most active night; usually she’ll move a bit after I’ve had something sweet, like fruit or juice, or if I’m laying in a way that puts pressure on a part of my abdomen, cuz she’ll gently tap at the pressurized spot in protest. But last nite, she was just rockin’ and rollin’ all on her own for a long time.

I told Mr. W that I wish I had an ultrasound machine so I could see what she was doing in there. She doesn’t just poke at one area like she used to; now it’s a tap on the left side, then almost immediately, a brush in the middle above my belly button, then a tap on the way left side of my abdomen. What movements is she making? Supposedly at this stage, we can hear her heartbeat with a stethoscope on my stomach, and she’s having sleeping/waking cycles. Maybe she’s an active dreamer.

Official music video by one of my fave indie artists, David Choi. “By My Side,” new, and relevant. 🙂 (By my side, by my inside, same diff. haha)

The cutest video I’d seen in a long time, and I have yet to come across an original song by David Choi that I didn’t immediately love.

Mr. W expressed a concern last week that I was “gaining too much weight too fast,” which put me in a paranoid tizzy. He said he based this opinion on the fact that pregnancy weight gain guidelines tell new mothers to expect a one pound per week weight gain toward the latter part of pregnancy. My usual weigh-in is morning just after I use the restroom, and based on that, I’d put on 8.3 lbs at almost 21 weeks along. Given the 20-lb limit the OB placed on me for total pregnancy weight gain, and the fact that I have 19 or so more weeks of pregnancy to go, at this rate it looked I would blow past 20 pounds. So I was totally bummed.

At the OB appointment last Friday, I voiced this weight gain concern to my doctor. He didn’t seem particularly troubled, saying that a jump in weight gain at this point IS expected. Then he looked at the numbers on his record for me. The bizarre thing is that altho Allison was conceived on Feb 28 with my weight in the mid 120s (and all medical records around that time verified this weight), on May 3 when I had my first visit with this OB, I weighed in at 120. So of course he recorded that as my starting weight, which isn’t accurate. The appointment on Friday was in the afternoon after lunch, and I had come from work and was in full work clothes, so I weighed more than I normally did on my morning appointments, and it made it look like I weigh a few pounds heavier than I really was. So the doctor was a TAD more concerned that at 21 weeks, I appeared to have a 14-lb weight gain. =P He basically told me not to diet or lose weight, but to get some exercise in daily, and to not eat out much, to avoid juices and sugars, and to cut down on carbs and increase protein. He increased my total weight gain goal from 20 lbs to 25 lbs, cutting me some slack, and told me to make efforts to not gain more than 1/2 lb per week from this point on. So I was totally bummed, feeling like a failure when I left there.

Yesterday at my parents’ house, my mom, totally uncharacteristically, made mention of her opinion that I appear to not have put any extra weight on my person, that only my stomach got big where the baby is. Mr. W pointed out that the doctor said I gained 14 lbs. Mom reiterated that none of the weight gain was on me, she said she could tell. She’s usually the first to point out when I gained a couple of pounds, so I hope she’s not just being nice for nothing now. Meanwhile, I’ll work on diet and be more stringent with cutting carbs and stuff, and try to get more exercise in. I was able to take a brisk hilly 3 mile walk over the weekend without panting myself silly, so this must mean my extra blood supply has finally kicked in. I was getting tired of the breathlessness I’d get from even short spurts of minimal physical activity, like climbing a flight of stairs.

P.S. In good news from the OB visit, my 2nd trimester screen test results are in, so compiled with the data from the first screen, my odds of having a Down Syndrome baby went from 1 in 400 to 1 in 10,000. Everything else came out within normal or good ranges, too.

I had some long conversations with the stepkidlet yesterday. She’s devastated right now; after 6 months, Beau broke up with her last week because he feels that his attraction to and desire for her is a “sin” so despite the fact that they never did more, and never intended on doing more, than hold hands and have the occasional kiss (sometimes that would cause him to have a “sinful thought” and he’d immediately pull away from her, claim he’s “fallen” and immediately get on his knees and pray), despite the fact that 90% of their activity together involves religion (going to various churches, reading and discussing the Bible together, praying, singing worship songs, writing each other loving God-centered letters), he has decided that they need to not be together because if their flesh is weak and they desire each other, they should concentrate solely on Jesus right now. Uh, hello. Jesus has brought you someone like-minded with whom you can have a Christian life and future, and you throw that away because you’re attracted to her? Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth.

Anyway, somehow this conversation led to me talking about a friend’s mom’s faith and how this mom clings to prayer as her sole acceptable answer to anything “wrong” in life. This woman found religion fairly late in life and is an avid believer. As her health slowly fails, instead of taking her doctor’s and family’s advice to eat better, get some exercise, help herself strengthen her body, she has told her family that she will just pray on it and if Jesus sees fit to heal her, He will. So she does nothing. I think she’s taking her religion so far as to use it as an excuse for crippling inaction at this point, and I had crossly said to my friend, “How is your mom so sure that the answer to her prayers isn’t her son researching and sending her advice on what superfoods to consume to heal her body?” It didn’t matter; her response to her son giving her information on studies and nutrition is always, she won’t do anything affirmative for herself except pray, and Jesus will save her. I kinda thought Beau had this mentality; instead of working on what he feels is a weakness toward temptation, instead of acknowledging that the two of them are doing so well in this relationship despite his perceived sinful temptations, he was just going to run away, break Stepdaughter’s heart, and “work solely on his relationship with Jesus” away from her, and pray for strength. Where the “sin” comes in is that he desires someone who is not his wife. Given this mentality, the only way he could get married sinlessly is if he married someone he were completely unattracted to, or if it were an arranged marriage — good luck with the chemistry post-marriage. I told Stepdaughter briefly about my friend’s mom, and she in turn told me this story.

A man’s raft collapsed in the middle of the ocean and he was treading water, praying fervently for Jesus to rescue him. A tugboat comes by and some men yell over the side, “Do you need help? We can throw you a lifesaver and pull you in.”
The man said, “No thanks, I’m praying to Jesus to save me.” So the tugboat went on its way.
Later, a cruiseship passed by and the crew yelled over to the man, “Are you okay? We’ll lower a lifeboat for you to climb aboard.”
The man said, “That’s okay, I’m praying to Jesus to save me.” So the cruiseship left.
Next, a helicopter came over him and shone a light down, and a man says over the loudspeaker, “Sir, we will throw down a ropeladder for you to hold onto so we can airlift you to shore!”
The man said, “That won’t be necessary, I’ve been praying to Jesus and He will save me.” So the helicopter flew away.
The man soon tired and drowned. Upon his spirit’s arrival to heaven, he went to Jesus and said, “Father, I prayed and I prayed! Why did you forsake me?”
Jesus said, “Are you kidding? I sent you a tugboat, a cruiseship, AND a helicopter, and you refused them all!”

God answers prayers in ways man may not expect. Doesn’t mean you should squander the gifts around you.

Mr. W has been going around introducing people to “Allison” already. I’ve had greetings aimed at my stomach. My mom asked if he was disappointed, and without hesitation, he said “no” with a big smile. I kinda believe him. In the car coming home from the gender-revealing appointment, he had looked over with affection and patted my knee a few times, and I know he was thinking about his upcoming daughter. Back before we had decided on the method of conception, and before it was confirmed that Mr. W was still producing live sperm, we had considered alternative methods of bringing forth a child. I didn’t want to get too hopeful that Mr. W could genetically father anyone at that point, so I pretty much made myself okay with the probability that the child would come from donor sperm. I had already talked way back in the blog about how his Gamer Bro had generously agreed to donate his swimmers, which was something Mr. W had discussed with him hypothetically out of my presence. Mr. W saw it as a way to at least “keep it in the family.” But I didn’t like that idea so much because I think it would really confuse relationships and identities of too many people later on for the kid. I liked the idea of an anonymous sperm bank donor, because there are so many genetic tests and background checks done on these donors and their “product” that I would be pretty much guaranteed better DNA (or at least, more defined DNA) than if I were to haul some guy in and offer up his goods to the fertility doctor. It wouldn’t be hard to beat Mr. W’s genetics, I’d told myself, considering I can screen out people with a family history of heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension, etc. But it’d be hard to beat Mr. W’s looks. =P Seeing how Mr. W has responded so far to this pregnancy, how he’d light up when he saw my stomach (up 8 lbs now), how he spoke of Allison, how he’d gently pat the bump when I went to bother him when he’s on the computer, and then turn to smile at me contentedly… I’m really glad I don’t have some random guy’s kid in here.

By the way, the name Allison (and Allie/Ally) appears to be quite the hit.

OH. Some people have asked how the stepkidlets are handling it. The stepson asks to see his dad’s iPad application that shows how big the baby is (life size) anytime he’s over, and had expressed his hopes that it be a boy. The stepdaughter was so excited that she called me the evening of my diagnostic ultrasound last Wednesday to ask for results. I told her it appears to be a girl, and she was SO excited she kept laughing into the phone and saying, “YES! Haha! I was telling people this is my LAST CHANCE to have a sister! Yay! Does [stepson] know? He was telling me that you guys find out the sex today.”
I said, “No, I was afraid to tell him. You can tell him so you can rub it in.”
She said, “Yay! Okay! Now I’m gonna go tell everyone I know!”
Later, the stepson texted his father.
“Grrr, I was hoping for a boy.”
Mr. W responded, “Well, it MIGHT be a boy…without a penis, scrotum, testicles, etc.”
Stepson texted back, “Well, in that case, I guess it’s better that it’s a girl.”