State of the Union State of Mind

My children's handiwork.

My children’s handiwork.

I am too busy enjoying the State of the Union to do any real blogging:

At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious; that we would crush jobs and explode deficits. Instead, we’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health care inflation at its lowest rate in fifty years. This is good news, people.

So the verdict is clear. Middle-class economics works. Expanding opportunity works. And these policies will continue to work, as long as politics don’t get in the way. We can’t slow down businesses or put our economy at risk with government shutdowns or fiscal showdowns. We can’t put the security of families at risk by taking away their health insurance, or unraveling the new rules on Wall Street, or refighting past battles on immigration when we’ve got a system to fix. And if a bill comes to my desk that tries to do any of these things, I will veto it. It will have earned my veto.

                    –President Obama, January 20, 2015

(It's paint). And she's cute.

(It’s paint). And she’s cute.

So, yay, that. I was pleased with a lot of the speech. But one thing that has recently touched my life is the childcare issue. As I alluded to here, I was recently offered a job. A teaching job. Short term, full time. A semester of work at a local high school. I was excited about the idea: a chance to get back in the classroom, to see what it was like to be a working mom. But they were going to pay me less (after taxes) than I would need to pay for childcare. Now I love teaching. Like, I really love it. But not enough to lose money doing it. The kind folks–one of whom I consider a dear friend–who were going to hire me even asked if I would consider doing it at a loss for the experience (of which I feel I already have plenty) or for potential future opportunities (which I’m not actively seeking, and which I think will still be available to me). I said no. I’m not willing to disrupt my family life at a loss. And I think it’s nuts that we’re asking that question. It says a lot about how we value parents, teachers, and women. Now for me, this was a fun idea. A lark, even. But for a lot of folks it’s not. More paid leave and more support for childcare are excellent ideas, both.

More painted face. More cuteness.

More painted face. More cuteness.

There was lots of good stuff in that speech tonight. Let’s see where it goes…

And I’m including cute photos of the kids in case you didn’t feel like more politics.

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A Photo Essay of Toys That Offended Me Today at the Toy Store

Seriously? They had to slut up Candy Land? It's fucking Candy Land. I want a Napoleon ice cream bar and a chubby gingerbread dude, not Bratz dolls. Ugh.

Seriously? They had to slut up Candy Land? It’s fucking Candy Land. I want a Napoleon ice cream bar and a chubby gingerbread dude, not Bratz dolls. Ugh.

Stephanie's beach house. Great. Legos are marketed to little boys as a way to aspire to be superheroes or firefighters. Little girls are taught to be aspirational towards things like second homes to laze around in with their gal pals. Ok, so that sounds awesome, but it's still sexist and disgusting.

Stephanie’s beach house. Great. Legos are marketed to little boys as a way to aspire to be superheroes or firefighters. Little girls are taught to be aspirational towards things like second homes to laze around in with their gal pals. Ok, so that sounds awesome, but it’s still sexist and disgusting.

When discussing my Playmobil love yesterday, I forgot that they sometimes traffic in race and class stereotypes that make me profoundly uncomfortable. [Insert German joke here. Maybe about the Playmobil bank in which a miserly Jew counts his money in the vault...) Anyway, as you can see, only white people live in the country.

When discussing my Playmobil love yesterday, I forgot that they sometimes traffic in race and class stereotypes that make me profoundly uncomfortable. [Maybe it’s a European matter-of-fact racism thing; after all, Playmobil is a German company.–Insert German joke here. Maybe about the Playmobil bank in which a miserly Jew counts his money in the vault…) Anyway, as you can see, only white people live in the country.

Black people in Playmobil land live in the city. [Not pictured: Playmobil cop who's about to stop and frisk this unsuspecting innocent out walking his Dalmations.]

Black people in Playmobil land live in the city. [Not pictured: Playmobil cop who’s about to stop and frisk this unsuspecting innocent out playing frisbee with his Dalmatians.]

Here is the dragon motif advent calendar, complete with kitchy Asian writing and Samurai types. Hmm...

Here is the dragon motif advent calendar, complete with kitschy Asian writing and Samurai types. Hmm…

I am literally speechless. But I am amused that the price has been reduced to see if they can unload this deeply troubling toy by making it cheaper. "Sure, it portrays a ridiculous amalgamated stereotype of an indigenous person, but it was such a bargain!"

I am literally speechless. But I am amused that the price has been reduced to see if they can unload this troubling toy by making it cheaper. “Sure, it portrays a ridiculous amalgamated stereotype of an indigenous person, but it was only $6.99!”

Hopefully this will help you simmer down after that tour through offensivetown. Little Liebchen attempting the smooth stretch move to put her arm around Das Big Boy.

Hopefully this will help you simmer down after that tour through offensivetown. Little Liebchen attempting the smooth stretch move to put her arm around Das Big Boy.


My politics as usual

I always promise things like I’m not going to fucking swear on this blog, or I’m not going to get political.

But then I break those promises because both swearing and politics are important to me.

You should vote tomorrow. You should vote no matter what, because it’s the socially responsible thing to do. Of course, if you share my political beliefs, I extra hope you vote, because we lefties need to mobilize. I’m afraid we’re going to get creamed tomorrow.

Massholes, here’s a ballot question cheat sheet (thanks to NGB for posting this on FB!):

ballot questions

I’m voting no, yes, yes, yes. In short, it just makes good sense to peg gas tax to inflation so we can maintain infrastructure and discourage the driving of gas guzzlers. Recycling is good. Expand it. Duh. Casino gambling doesn’t bring enough good, permanent jobs to cancel out the social ills it brings (which disproportionately impact the poor). And our region is saturated with casinos such that I doubt the projections of wealth it will bring to the state. And paid sick time is a no-brainer. Employers should allow sickies time to heal without worrying about job security and encourage them to keep germs at home.

I’m voting straight Dem. It’s what I do. You’ll do what you do. To those who are usually Dems but are thinking about Charlie, I just want you to know that I worry about socially important programs in a Republican administration: education, early intervention, mental health programs, etc. All the things we agree are important in the wake of a tragedy, but then cut funding for when we want to reduce gov’t spending.

We Democrats do a really bad job of synthesizing our successes and beliefs. So here’s this infographic, to note our accomplishments (thanks SMW, for posting on FB–yes, I’m stealing my political material from Facebook. That doesn’t make me look very good, does it?):

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Apologies for using my blog as a soap box. It’s not what you come here for. I know that. But just pretend we got drunk at a party and I started talking politics. It happens. And usually I get loud and spill my drink on you, so at least you escaped that outcome.

Whether we agree or not, go do your civic duty!

And here is a skunk jack-o-lantern that Herr Husband made because Das Big Boy loves skunks. Hopefully that will amuse you.

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Horizontal Happy Dance

Horizontal Happy Dance sounds naughty (none of that here; I’ve been on “pelvic rest” since basically the moment I found out I was pregnant. I just mean that I’m happy). But I’m very afraid of jinxiness, of reminding the gods to even things out, of the proverbial plummet of the other shoe. But that doesn’t mean I can keep my good news all to myself.

First off all, I got to employ my fantasy Facebook status after all: “It’s official. I can say it. I’m the most pregnant I’ve ever been, and thankfully, my daughter will be born into an Obama presidency.” (It’s yielded an impressive 91 likes).

As you know, all of my candidates won, which was a wonderful relief, and which gives me renewed hope for our country and the direction in which it’s heading. I stayed up watching results, and ultimately fell asleep just as Barack took the stage. One weird thing about sleeping downstairs is that we have a TV in our room, something I’ve never had before (and which in general I don’t want). It’s like being in a hotel, especially since my whole life is room service (Damn it! Bedrest-as-glamorous-false-impression continues!) The election and its attendant anxieties helped take my mind of my uterus and its attendant anxieties, and the good results of course helped my mood. All of it took my mind somewhat off my cervical length check this morning. And because the appointment was so early, we had no time to sit around and worry before heading to the hospital. So I only had a chance to be panicky in the car, and then as Herr Husband wheeled me through the hospital, and then as I waited for the ultrasound.

Hands off my cervix. Haven’t you heard I’m on pelvic rest?

We had to wait a few minutes for Dr. Ralston, the high risk doc (Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist). I wanted him there for the exam because he’s the one who saw me last week, and ultrasound is very subjective so I figured he’d have the most consistent perspective. I also like him because he answers all of my questions well and thoroughly, and is very honest, direct, and cautious. He also has a good sense of humor, which is good because I make awkward jokes when I’m nervous and he laughs at them.

The news: I actually seem to have gotten some cervix back, and the funnel seems to be narrower (he theorizes it probably expands when I contract, but he felt he could give me credit for more closed length than last week or the week before). It was better! Now, let’s not get too excited. One’s cervix can increase and decrease in length. (Imagine moving your fingers up to lengthen the neck of an inflated balloon, or lowering them to shorten the neck of the balloon. That neck is my cervix. Get your fingers off my cervix!). But still, he felt I was stable enough that he doesn’t feel the need to see me next week (unless anything changes). So I don’t have to go back for two weeks! And things are stable!

We’re not allowing ourselves to get excited, but being stable is so much better than having scary changes. And we hit another milestone tomorrow: 28 weeks gestation, which is a big one in terms of brain health–kids born after this gestational age are less likely to have major brain bleeds.

Then Nanny Sunshine sent us this adorable video of Das Big Boy performing Humpty Dumpty, which she taught him. Perhaps next she can teach him the Humpty Dance, except she’s ten or fifteen years too young to know it. So that will just have to be his mother’s job, once she’s done being a Victorian consumptive. (Take a minute to imagine Emily Brontë teaching you the Humpty Dance…**)

Toddlers are very good at living in the now.

So it’s been a good twenty-four or so hours for us. I’m trying to accept it without getting excited or thinking too far into the future. I’ve been through this before and know how quickly things can turn around, or go from good to bad. Time for more efforts at Zen from Hipster Hausfrau…

I’ll try to take a lesson from this guy.

 

 

 

**It should be noted that I consider Emily Brontë more of a Romantic writer than a Victorian one (though Wuthering Heights is of course in part about the clash of these two worldviews…). But she’s still the consumptive I’d want to teach me the Humpty Dance.


We Have at Least a Tie!

No, not in the election. Let’s hope for an Obama landslide. Actually, I don’t need a landslide. A slim win would be just fine. I don’t want to get so greedy on the political front that the gods screw me on the baby front. It’s a delicate balancing act when you want two things very badly.

First things first. I voted. In my wheelchair. And I looked like this:

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Vote for bedhead! Don’t worry. I kept the fleece zipped up until I emerged from the polls. But wanted to expose the Obama shirt for the photo op. Because you, dear reader, are supposed to use this photo to make me famous. Chop, chop!

Now I know lots of people vote in wheelchairs because they use them every day. And plenty of people have to overcome far more than I did to vote (voter suppression, losing everything to a hurricane, etc). So I should probably stop lobbying for the Congressional Medal of Honor for my bedrest voting efforts. But I’m proud that someday I’ll be able to tell my daughter that I cared enough about her rights as a woman, and her healthcare, and her education, and economic and social justice for all Americans that I voted from a wheelchair. I can also tell her that in addition to voting straight Dem, I voted for medical marijuana, assisted suicide, and alcohol sales in our dry town. Weed, narcotics, and booze–yay, America! That ought to make her happy. That and the fact that I cared enough about her safe gestation that I–have I mentioned this already?–voted from a wheelchair.

Speaking of her safe gestation. we have at least a gestational tie between my two children! I’m twenty-seven weeks and five days pregnant with Baby Girl HH, which is as pregnant as I was when I delivered Das Big Boy. But Baby Girl HH has some advantages that her brother didn’t enjoy. She has all her amniotic fluid. She’s a girl, and they tend to be stronger. As a friend put it, “What is it with those white baby boys?” (They statistically have the worst outcomes of all preemies–although my little white boy has done great). “They’re entitled.” I told her, “They have a sense of privilege and expect the world to cater to them.” As it turned out, Das Big Boy was a fighter. And I have no doubt that his sister will be, too.

Today Das Big Boy survived his transition to a new class at “school,” which he will attend without a caregiver. Since I went on bedrest, he’s shown an increase in social anxiety, especially with children his own age. There have been a lot of tears. But he did great today. According to the teacher, he did very, very well for his first such class. Huzzah!

I have my dear auntie visiting today, Le Gigi was here for a while as she took Das Big Boy to school, and Nanny Sunshine is here. I’ve gone from being a Victorian consumptive with a doting mother to one with three handmaidens and a footman (my dad was here earlier, too). Oh dear. I’ve fallen into the trap of making bedrest seem glamorous again. Don’t be fooled. My hips are killing me from lying down for so long, and I’ve started making old man grunting sounds when I do stand up (you know, to go to the bathroom, my only truly sanctioned activity).

Happy Election Day (please, oh, please let it be happy), and happy tied-for-pregnantest ever day, too!

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Gratuitous supermodel photo of Das Big Boy.

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And another.

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And another. In the spirit of democracy, feel free to vote for your favorite look in the comments.


Still Here

I stalk a few pregnant lady and preemie mom blogs, and I always worry when they don’t post. So here I am. Where I always am–in bed. (Actually, I’m mostly on the couch but right now I’m in bed. And eating pretzel m&ms. Sometimes I worry that I make bedrest sound awesome. Hopefully you are wise enough to know that is so not the case. But if you’d like a litany of complaints, I’d be happy to oblige).

Nanny Sunshine started today and was every bit the goddess I knew she would be. Das Big Boy adores her and she’s super helpful to me. Listening to them play with playdough in the kitchen today (they made a sheep), I was overcome by a sense of peace. Pretty incredible sensation for someone who spends most of her time trying to mentally glue her cervix shut.

Tomorrow. Election Day. Big one for many reasons. Go, go, go, Barack, Elizabeth, and Joe!

Baby Girl HH, you stay put.

Below is a gratuitous video of Das Big Boy amusing himself with a game he invented.


Pregnant Men, Voter Mobilization, and the Goodness of Mankind

Target features in yet another post today! You’d never know I was a local-biz supporting liberal by the way my blog persona seems to shop. Target is actually my grocery store of choice for things I don’t buy at crunchy-suburban-yuppie places like Volante Farms, which has the best local produce and apple cider donuts and goat cheese flatbread ever. One day, Das Big Boy and I whizzed around shopping at Volante (back when I still whizzed. I still whiz in the four-year-old boy sense. Like constantly. Because you’re supposed to stay superhydrated when you’re at risk of preterm labor, mostly because it makes medical people feel like they’re giving you something to do). Anyway, as we whizzed in the shopping cart, I grabbed a sixer of said donuts in their plain white bag. Das Big Boy gleefully shouted, “Donuts!” ’cause I’m the awesome mom who’s kid can identify donuts that have essentially been brown bagged as he shops in a mecca to fresh fruit and veg. But anyway.

Fatty and delicious. Like me, these days.

Target carries Das Big Boy’s superfatty (aka, delicious) Liberté yogurt, which you should eat if you ever need to gain weight. It has 260 calories in six ounces and tastes like melted ice cream with extra butter, or something like that. Delicious, or de-lick-ous, as Das Big Boy would say. And so much cheaper at Target than anywhere else. As ‘Burban Bestie pointed out (she’s also done a Target run for the Husband Hausfraus), we eat a nearly alarming quantity of yogurt around here. And I can get it cheaper at Target, so I do (big box shopping justified?). Along with store brand junk food cereal (Marshmallow Treasures and Honey Graham Crunch), which I account for with the iron fortification. And the fruity goop packs that we feed Das Big Boy because he still kind of hates food.

A testament to Herr Husband’s smouldering masculinity.

Well, one of the things that happens when your life spins into medical crisis is that sometimes you forget to pay your bills. Like the Target Card bill (yup, I got one to save another 5%. This blog seems to have taken a turn decidedly away from Hipster and towards Hausfrau. I’m going to have to do something about that.) So Herr Husband called Target to explain the situation and get them to waive the fee, etc. But the card is in my name. So he just said he was me. Didn’t disguise his voice, didn’t say he was my husband. Just called and said, “I’m having problems with a pregnancy and was in and out of the hospital all last week and totally forgot to pay my bill.” And the Target people wished him well in his pregnancy, waived the fee, and assured him that his credit report wouldn’t be affected. Now, I know Herr Husband isn’t a bass, and I’m certainly no soprano, but still. Maybe they didn’t want to add to his/my misery by saying, “Perhaps the problem with your pregnancy is that you’re a dude.”

We have two more things to address today: one is the election. I’m compulsively reading FiveThirtyEight to make myself feel better. Several of my Dem friends (also known more generically as my friends) are superanxious and I’m trying not to catch it (I’m looking at you, Dr. S, ‘Burban Bestie, and TinaLou.) But I was anxious about one thing–voting! How can you vote on bedrest?! It might be too late to get an absentee, and I don’t totally believe in them anyway. Don’t they only count them if things are close? Plus, I want to set a good example for my children, both external and fetal. And I just love voting. And this election is so fucking important and if you haven’t figured that out yet, or if you are still undecided, then I’m sorry, I find you baffling. Now obviously, Barack is going to carry MA, despite it being Mitt’s alleged “home state,” (even if Mittens refuses to name it by name–and thanks KTZ for pointing that out!). But our senate race is close, and my house district, which is that of retiring liberal legend Barney Frank, is also closer than I’d like. So while I was at the hospital for the Halloween episode when they wouldn’t let me leave, I asked the doctor. “I have one more incredibly important but somewhat strange question.”

“Yes?” she said. I’m sure she thought it would be about my vagina or something.

“Can I vote?” She laughed. And said I could. She was especially pleased to learn that I had access to a wheelchair, and said I’d be able to cut the line.

If I can vote in this condition (aka, consumptive Victorian), you can go vote. Unless you’re going to vote Republican, in which case, it’s cool. Feel free to stay home.
Also, holy shit, Hausfrau family, do I look like Oma here? Weird.

So the important question now is, “Can we turn me into an internet sensation?” Pregnant liberal on bedrest cares so much about America that she insists on voting…Preemie mom wants to be sure her kids have access to healthcare no matter their preexisting conditions… Think about it and see if we can find a way to use this to make me famous. Because, you know, that’s what this is all about: not my baby’s health, or that of the country, or the many other people who have to overcome far greater challenges to get their votes cast…

Finally, I can’t keep harping on my challenges without sending thoughts and big love to those struggling in the wake of Sandy. Yes, I’m a Boston ‘Burbite by birth, and probably a lifer now (or at least until my kids go to college), but I’m a Brooklynite at heart. And I can’t imagine what folks all over the city and NJ are going through. I feel bad whining about my individual problems when so many people face such uncertainty and loss. So I wanted to at least acknowledge that. Of course, I was particularly touched by the story of the babies at NYU Langone being evacuated from the NICU, in part because I know how deeply hospital staff care about those babies, and how hard they would work in that impossible situation to keep them safe. Amazing. We also have friends from our NICU days who live in Staten Island, where devastation has been widespread. They had to move to the hospital (where they already have to spend too much of their time!) with their adorable son to make sure his medical needs stayed met during the storm. It’s a scary time for everyone, especially those who were already vulnerable. Big thanks to all of my NYC friends who I know (thanks to Facebook stalking) are donating time, money and goods to help those in need. And thanks to all those who have been bringing me the love.

See? People are good.

A final message from Das Big Boy.  Feel free to make him an internet sensation as well.