Monday, August 31, 2009


This has been such a profound year of change--I suppose it is only fitting that now we're adding moving to the mix. This week, we're packing up our things and Saturday, we're moving to Redlands, about 15 miles away, my old college stomping grounds. There's a bit of a full circle to all of this--I moved away from Redlands when I was 8 months pregnant; 19 years later, I'm moving back to Redlands, 6 months pregnant.

Both moves were financially motivated, in a way--19 years ago, we were evicted from our apartment after Matt was laid off from his construction job and we fell behind on our rent. We moved as much as we could out of the apartment before it was seized and padlocked, leaving things like our vinyl collection (including a Talking Heads album signed by David Byrne) and much of my college work inside, beyond our reach. Michael and I are not facing eviction now, but I have lost my work at UCR due to the economy, and he's received a 10% pay cut, and the rent on our beautiful house in Riverside is more than we can comfortably handle. We found a place that's almost $500 less a month in Redlands--it's not nearly as charming, but it's a sweet little house with a big yard and should be a cozy, affordable place to land. We were actually hoping to buy--Michael's eligible for a no money down VA loan--but the market is so competitive in Redlands right now, everything that's in our price range ends up receiving dozens of bids. There's a chance we'll be able to buy this rental, which would be a wonderful opportunity, but right now, I'm just glad we're going to be in Redlands at all.

Money isn't the only reason we're moving. Hannah goes to school in Redlands, and the commute is half an hour each way, which means that I'm in the car for about 2 hours every day that I drive her. This is not something I wish to continue once the baby arrives. So it will be much much easier for her to get to school after we move--she can even ride her bike--plus, she'll be closer to her friends, which is so important (and will probably be even more so when there's a baby in the house.)

I've been in nesting mode but have resisted nesting here, since we'd been hoping to move before the baby is born. It will be lovely to be able to settle into the new place and start getting ready for the birth and beyond. As we looked at houses, one of my main questions was "Can I imagine giving birth here?" I'm happy that we've found a home that seems like a great place to begin this next phase of our adventure.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

sleep deprivation

I understand now how sleep deprivation can be used as torture.

I have never been a good sleeper, but somehow I have been able to get by on little sleep over the years. Waking up every hour to pee during this pregnancy leaves me pretty exhausted in the morning, but I have been able to push through it and function pretty well. This week, though, I hit a wall. I was up most of Monday night, having strong Braxton-Hicks contractions; I've been having more of them lately, and they were feeling more intense than usual. I got myself into a bit of a tizzy that night, worrying that I was going into preterm labor, so between the anxiety and the contractions and the constant peeing, I got maybe an hour or two of sleep at the most. Tuesday, I was a total wreck. I was pretty much in tears the entire day, aside from moments when I pulled myself together enough to get some work done. I cried when I wasn't able to nap. I cried throughout my prenatal checkup, even though it ended up being reassuring--my cervix was tightly closed, not thinning; the baby's hearbeat sounded good; aside from being a sleepless wretch, I was healthy and not in labor. I cried on the way home, unable to stop the flood, even though I felt deeply relieved. And later that night, when, after a series of miscommunications with my daughter, I had to shop for camping supplies after 10pm, and the only place that was open was a WalMart--which I normally boycott--20 minutes away, I lost it. I was so tired at that point, I could barely keep my eyes open as I drove, plus I was sobbing, and once I stepped into WalMart all red-eyed, I was completely overwhelmed by the florescent lights and the rows of gaudily colored synthetic fabrics and my own moral distaste at being there, and I could barely move.

Fortunately, I was finally able to reach Michael by phone--he had been at a rehearsal--and he drove out to the store to join me. I sat on a bench in a daze while he knocked items off of Hannah's list and did whatever he could to get me to smile. When I got home and saw that Hannah hadn't done what she had promised to do to prepare for her school camping trip, I lost it all over again. Michael gently led me to bed, where I wanted to be able to just fall into oblivion, but instead I kept crying, softly but insistently as Michael tried to comfort me. And just as I thought the tears were subsiding, a giant wail ripped through me. Suddenly, all sort of inhuman sounds flew out of my mouth--I felt like a wild animal as I cackled and squalled and keened, totally out of control. I've never felt anything like it--it was as if some pocket of grief and pain opened up inside me and came rushing out through my throat. I could almost see it leaving my body, like a fire breathing dragon. It felt wonderful and horrible all at once, cathartic and terrifying. Afterwards, I felt much better and was finally able to sleep. I'm still exhausted, but I feel like a human being again; a sense of calm has returned to my center. I'm not really sure what happened that night, but it was clear that something needed to be released.

I'm taking calcium and magnesium now at bedtime, which is supposed to help both quiet the contractions and quiet the mind; hopefully it will do the trick. My mom asked if there was anything she could do to help--I told her she could hit me over the head with a frying pan, but surprisingly she won't take me up on my offer. Last night, I actually had a three hour stretch of sleep--the longest uninterrupted span I've had in a while--and even though I was up for a couple of hours in the middle of the night, I slept another couple of hours after that, so I think I'll be fine for the day. Hopefully whatever demon I unleashed Tuesday night is gone for good (maybe I had been briefly possessed by an evil spirit in the Miley Cyrus section at WalMart; it seems plausible--that store has some nasty energy!) I hope everyone out there is rested and refreshed; I hope one day I will be again, too!

Friday, August 21, 2009


Last night, I dreamed that I was on a plane with Asher, who was in my arms, maybe a month or so old. I was having a bad allergic reaction to something on the plane, so the flight attendants put me on a ledge outside the door, thousands of feet above the earth. I had to hold on to a railing with one hand and Asher with the other, and at some point I wasn't sure I could keep my grip on either one, with the cold wind whipping around us. I started to bang on the airplane door with one of my feet, yelling "Help! Let us in!" thinking that allergies were a much less worse fate than plummeting to our doom, but I was told they couldn't open the door mid-flight. They would, however, make an emergency landing in Finland, where we could get on another plane. The dream is a bit fuzzy from there, but I remember how good it felt to put my feet on solid earth again.

Flying while six months pregnant was much less fraught than the dream, but it had its legs swelled up like water balloons on both flights, even though I drank a lot of water and tried to get up and walk around a fair amount (easy to do, since I had to use the restroom about every 20 minutes, thanks to all the water, and Asher using my bladder as a trampoline.) I've heard women talk about their ankles disappearing during pregnancy but I had never experienced that before, other than on these flights (and a while after landing.) It's a very strange sensation. And Asher either really liked or really hated the sensation of take off and landing, because he kicked like crazy when the pressure changed.

Our honeymoon/familymoon was wonderful, though, full of good food, good theater (from Billy Elliot on Broadway to the most charming and brilliant one man show at the NY Fringe Festival), good people (I wish I could have seen all my New York friends while I was in town, but our time was so packed, it was impossible to fit everything in. I'm grateful for moments with my brother and sis-in-all, as well as my agent and my editor at Ballantine, all of whom were wonderful.) We had our own little apartment in the East Village, one of 20 vacation rentals owned by a non-profit organization that feeds the homeless in the area, so it felt as if we were really living there, not just visiting. I miss being able to walk down the street and pick up Himalayan food or Jewish deli or the most amazing vegetarian Thai food I've ever tasted (spicy watercress "duck", hello! And lychee rice pudding brulee, made with coconut milk...heaven.) We had a chance to explore so many different parts of the city--I feel as if we got a good, thorough taste of the Big Apple (Michael had never been there before, so it was a great introduction for him, and Hannah and I got to see a lot of the city that we had never experienced before.)

We had a couple of scary moments--we got fake mugged after bowling in Harlem (not something we expected to do while we were in town, but my brother was shooting a show for AMC there and used us in the background as extras.) We had just gotten into a cab to head back to our place when a guy flung open the driver's door and shouted "Give me all your money!" Our hearts were pounding like mad until (and for quite a while after) the driver started to laugh and told us the guy was his brother. Not a cool joke. And in another cab ride, a drunk and very belligerent guy started to punch the car as we were stuck in traffic, and then started to assault our driver through the open window. Michael said "Hey, man, there's a pregnant woman in here", and then the guy started to scream at and lunge toward Michael's window (proof that not every one defers to the sanctity of pregnancy--or reason, for that matter.) Aside from these moments, it was a fun, delicious, satisfying trip. I'm glad we were able to get away before the baby comes and travel will be more complicated (although hopefully we won't ever have to cling to the side of an airplane!)

Monday, August 10, 2009

off to the big apple

We're about to head out to the airport (hopefully they'll let me fly with my big belly--I keep thinking about that scene in Away We Go where they don't let Maya Rudloph's character fly, even though she's only six months along--just about where I am now.) I'm not sure if I'll have a chance to blog on the road; if not, see you here when I return!

Since the link I tried to share to the wedding photos didn't work earlier, I'll leave you with a few family shots. The first is my family (my kids, my parents, my sister and her family), the second is Michael's family (his siblings, nephews, parents and stepmother, plus our sweet flower girl, Lily), and the third is everyone together, along with friends who were part of the wedding.

Have a wonderful week!

Monday, August 3, 2009

not swine flu

A couple of days after reading how swine flu is particularly devastating for pregnant women, I got sick. Of course, I imagined it was swine flu, and I was going to end up in a coma and spontaneously abort and experience every other horrendous known complication and some that haven't been recorded yet--ah, the morbid imagination of a pregnant woman! Thankfully, I just have a particularly nasty cold that morphed into an even nastier sinus infection. I haven't been this sick in a long time. Michael was really sick, too, but is a couple of days ahead of me in the infection-cycle and is doing much better now, so I have hope that I'll be feeling fine before our honeymoon (which will really be more of a familymoon, since Hannah is going to join us. We're going to New York from the 11th-16th. Since we first met doing a Broadway musical, albeit a community theater version, it makes sense that we should go to a real Broadway musical--in this case, Billy Elliot--to celebrate!) Part of me is enjoying the illness-imposed downtime--life has been so hectic lately, I think my body was telling me it was time to take it easy for awhile--but I would enjoy it a lot more if my head wasn't throbbing and leaking.

Before I got sick, Hannah and I went to the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in LA to see some sketch comedy. I was in line for the bathroom before the show started, and overheard a couple of women in the audience talking. One of them said, "If it's a boy, his name will be Asher", which blew me away. I almost turned to them to tell them that the baby in my belly is named Asher, but didn't want to seem like the creepy eavesdropper that I am, so I just kept it to myself--and then tried not to seem like a creepy eavesdropper when I realized that Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss was standing right in front of me in line. Her sweetie, SNL's Fred Armisen, a featured performer in the show that night, came up and gave her a kiss and looked at her with such love in his eyes, it made me very happy for them both; they seem like such a sweet couple. According to stories online, they're engaged, but it looked like he was wearing a wedding ring. Anyway, that's enough gossip mongering and namedropping for now. Back to good old fashioned names...

Hearing about this other potentially impending Asher, I wonder whether there is going to be a sudden wave of Ashers in the world. When I named Hannah, I never imagined there would be a surge in Hannah popularity (I was very surprised to find three Hannahs at storytime at the library when she was a toddler). According to a baby name website, Asher was the 206th most popular baby boy name last year--not too widely used--but it has been rising in popularity since 1990, so we shall see if our Asher is one of many in the sandbox.

Speaking of which, my eyes feel like they're full of sand, so I should sign off and rest my non-swine-flu-infested body a bit more. Hope everyone is staying healthy and happy!