Thursday, August 28, 2008

On my walk home from the bus stop yesterday, I was imagining the two potential scenarios that might unfold during my ultrasound the next day. I closed my eyes (briefly, because I have enough difficulty walking and not tripping with my eyes open) and pictured the ultrasound technician saying either "it's a boy," or "it's a girl." And I pictured the reaction I would have to each. Both involved tears, naturally, but the emotions were slightly different. And I felt a little guilty about that.

I think Julie of A Little Pregnant summed up my feelings about gender really well in her post last March, when she found out that she, her husband Paul, and their son Charlie would be welcoming another little boy in August. Before her ultrasound reveal, people would ask her if she wanted a boy or a girl. Her response:

"Even being sure I'd asked it myself at some point, I had no idea until recently how common the question was. I was asked it an awful lot when we recently went south, by relatives I hadn't seen in years. The assumption seemed to be that we wanted a girl, since we already have a boy. That the experience of raising a girl would be qualitatively different, and something I'd not want to miss out on.

"That may be true; I wouldn't know. It's hard to imagine, because I don't think of Charlie as a boy, if that makes any sense. I don't identify his fundamental personhood as belonging to one gender or another...That he is occasionally bouncy and loud I chalk up to the fact that his body needs regular exercise and a venue where noisemaking is not only allowed but encouraged. His love for helping in the kitchen and doing housework is not a sign of any gender affiliation; rather it's the mark of a three-year-old's eagerness to do what his parents are doing. He is a boy, but I see his sex as incidental to the person he's becoming, rather than utterly essential. I seem him as simply — simply! — Charlie.

"Ultimately, I can't fathom a girl being any different. I know many people feel that girls are intrinsically different from boys, that biology implies destiny to a certain degree. I know there are forces beyond my control that influence how our children grow up and what roles they eventually assume...I don't feel that's sufficient reason to formulate a preference in that direction."

Julie has summed up here basically what I feel about who Charlotte is as a person, and the relationship of Charlotte the person to one aspect of her identity: her gender. And I know that a lot of people disagree with me (and Julie) about this, but I maintain that many of the so-called "genetic" differences between boys and girls are actually more a result of nurture, not nature. Not all of them, of course, but many. So I don't see Charlotte's love of cuddling and feeding her baby doll as any more "natural" or indicative of her true identity than her devotion to chucking projectiles, balls and otherwise, across the room.

So I felt guilty when I found myself feeling a little bit sadder when the ultrasound tech in my imagined scenario said "it's a girl!" As I explained to Jeff last night, it's not that I wouldn't be happy with a little girl. I mean, Charlotte's a girl, and look how rad she is! It's more that I'd be a little wistful, wondering "what if?" What would things be like with a boy and a girl? What would it feel like to have a son and a daughter?

And, of course, there's the fact that that scenario replicates my own sibling situation. I grew up with a younger brother. That relationship informs all my thoughts about kids and siblings. I have to admit that I always envisioned a situation where we'd have a daughter and son. Especially after we had Charlotte first...of course the next one would be a boy! Isn't that how it works?

But then I'd look at sisters I know (my cousins Angie & Monica, Amy & Laura for example) and remember how I'd feel slightly envious of their relationship when I was growing up. Maybe Charlotte would get to experience something I never did.

The truth is, no matter what we ended up having, Charlotte would be experiencing something I didn't. Even with a younger brother, there's no guarantee her relationship with him would be the same as mine with Scott. And Charlotte isn't a carbon copy of me (thank goodness); her relationship with any sibling would be a new creation, not a mirror imitation of someone else's relationship with someone else.

I knew all that, but I still went into the ultrasound with a shaky stomach and shallow breaths. I was nervous, or anxious, or...something. Jeff and Charlotte sat by, watching the baby on the "scream" (as Charlotte put it) in the darkened room. But as the tech took all the measurements, pointing out the three-vessel cord, the four-chambered heart, the head and stomach and kidneys and thigh bone all of proper length, my nervousness faded. I found myself focusing on the baby, the little person-to-be in there, and that baby's health. Everything looked good. The baby spazzed out just like Charlotte had during her big scan, kicking and punching and rolling around randomly. I could feel the movements and see them correspond on the screen.

So when the tech finished all her important work (including playing the galloping heartbeat not once, but twice, at Charlotte's request) and zoomed the little wand down to the baby's southern hemisphere, I had almost forgotten about that part of the scan. Almost, but not quite. I caught my breath again as I thought I caught sight of something on the screen.

"Charlotte," the tech said, locking in on something on the screen. "How'd you like a baby brother?"

And just like I predicted, I cried.
Boy or girl?

Stay tuned to find out later today!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

This past weekend, Jeff, Charlotte and I traveled to Kansas City to take in a Royals/Tigers game.

The weather was beautiful, perfect for an early evening game. Jeff speculated on our way there that we'd have no trouble getting tickets at the gate. "I'm pretty sure the Royals never sell out," he said.

We were both surprised to see crowds of people and long lines at the ticket windows. It turns out there was a concert following the game; many people only bought tickets to the game because it was bundled into the deal with the concert. We were lucky enough to get two seats in the upper deck. We made it to our seats in time for the first batter.

Charlotte held up remarkably well, lasting all nine innings with the aid of peanuts and a hot dog. She sang along to "Take Me out to the Ball Game" and cheered "Yay, Tigers!" when appropriate.

All in all, a very fun experience.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Somehow the last week and a half have been full and busy, yet when I look back I have a hard time remembering any specific thing we've done. The days run together into a blur of quick shopping trips to Iowa Street (the main business drag) for the various small things one needs when one moves, such as extra wastebaskets, a curtain set, extension cords, etc., unpacking random boxes (speaking of which, we're still missing a box of kitchen goods somewhere. I keep needing random things, like my garlic press, and discovering that thing is in the mystery box), going for quick walks around our new 'hood, and just getting settled in. It fills the day, but doesn't make for very exciting prose.

I've been going through some changes in the last two weeks, too...namely physically. Suddenly there are clothes in my closet that are off-limits: too-tight pants or too-short shirts. I actually wore a maternity shirt (one that isn't very maternity-y, but still) the other day. I distinctly remember when I began showing like this with Charlotte, and it was about a month later in my pregnancy than I'm showing this time. I wanted to be more diligent about chronicling my growth in pictures this time, so I guess it's time to bust out the Nikon. I'm 19 weeks along, if you're counting.

I'm also feeling a lot (a LOT) of movement out of this baby already. Today while I was reading on the couch I actually saw several kicks/punches through my abdomen, a phenomenon I recall happening later with Charlotte, too. It was very cool, if again a bit reminiscent of certain scenes from Alien (or Spaceballs, if you prefer). Charlotte likes to feel the baby kick, although I don't think she's patient enough to really feel anything. The bigger movements later on will no doubt impress her.

Some funny recent Charlotte quotes:

While Jeff was attempting to put Charlotte down for a nap:
Charlotte: You make ME so mad. You make me SO mad. You make me so MAD. You make me so mad, okay? You make me so mad all day. You make me so very mad. (All said in a very pleasant tone of voice).

Still trying to nap:
Jeff: You can suck your thumb.
Charlotte: No, I can't do that. I'm too worried about it.
J: Why?
C: I can't suck it. Cuz I'm worried about the thing. It's occupied (ed. note: here I think she meant ocky-pied as in "ocky"). It doesn't taste very good.

While Jeff and Charlotte are outside coloring with chalk, Charlotte asks Jeff to draw a baseball. He complies. She proceeds to surround it with wobbly lines.
Charlotte: I'm doing the miracle.
Jeff: The miracle? What? Why? How is that the miracle?
Charlotte: I'm drawing the spinning, the round and round and round.

This morning when I asked Charlotte what she'd like for breakfast:
Charlotte: I think some string.
Jana: Some string? String cheese?
C: NO! No string cheese! Some STRING!
J: I don't know what you mean, then.
C, sighing: Oh, mama. Just get it.
J: Well, I can't get it if I don't know what you mean.
C: Yes, I think you can.

While Charlotte was coloring and I was on the couch, reading:
Charlotte: Mama! I found a color for you! It is your favorite.
Jana: Oh, thank you!
C: Now you will color with it.
J: Oh, I will, will I?
C: Yes. You will get off the couch, and say "thank you Charlotte," and we will color.
J: Sounds like a plan.
C: Get off the couch NOW, mama!
J: moving slowly

That last one had me laughing for some time. It's what we say to her in the bathtub when she needs to sit down. I had no idea she'd appropriate it in such a situation, but it worked.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I'm sitting in a bookstore overlooking "Mount" Oread (I'm sorry, I have to include the quotes. It's a hill, people!) on the campus of the University of Kansas. The last week has been a whirlwind of unpacking, acclimating to our new home, and exploring our new city. The week before that was an even bigger whirlwind, perhaps even a cyclone, of tying up loose ends in Athens, throwing everything we own (save three suitcases) into a moving truck, and driving 775 miles (over three days) to Kansas.

Looking back, I'm really glad we decided to spread the trip out over several days. It gave us a nice buffer between the loading and the unloading, and it limited the hours we spent trapped in a car with a two-year-old who would only interrupt her medley of songs to ask rhetorically, "What do I want, mama?" in a tone that can only be described as petulant. Or perhaps whiny. What she wanted was a mystery. It was typically some food item we didn't have on hand.

Overall, Charlotte did very, very well, and has continued to do well. She loved staying in hotels, swimming in the pools, sleeping in the little cribs. And she loves our new house, and is adjusting well to her "new" bed, which is really just her crib mattress on the floor. We hope to transition to a toddler bed or a twin soon.

Jeff and I feel the same way about our new house: it's fantastic. The space, people. THE SPACE! It's so huge compared to what we were used to, and even what we were expecting. Our living room alone is about the size of our former first floor. And the kitchen...well, we had three people in there at the same time the other day, and none of us felt crowded! I couldn't be alone in our old kitchen without feeling claustrophobic. We're still getting a few things unpacked and put away, but my mom (a.k.a. Hurricane Kathy) descended upon the boxes and lo, there was much unpacking and organization. It was wonderful.

Today is our first day in our house with just the three of us (plus the baby in utero, I guess). It feels a bit quiet. Charlotte misses having a grandparent around to command to read to her, feed her, hug her, etc. But it also feels like this really is our home...not just a strange, temporary place we were filling with our stuff.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

We're here! And so is our stuff!

We'll be spending the next couple of days getting moved in, but I'll try to post a bit if and when I can.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

And...we're off!

The truck has picked up the trailer, and as soon as we take one last walk-through, we're outta here.

Kansas, here we come!