Arizona, You are Useless

I just made the mistake of checking the weather forecast for Scottsdale for our weekend getaway. Let me tell you, it sucks. It turns out, Arizona is entirely useless to me. The one time I need an actual desert, the weather forecast there looks like this:

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I am so full of rage, I just cannot even. All I can say is that it better be one heck of a spa day on Sunday to make up for the crap weather, otherwise, the trip will be completely worthless as the last trip that we take together before the babies come. I really should have just taken my chance with hurricanes in South Florida and opted for that. Playing against the odds would have suited me a lot better than this nonsense. Of course, I should have known and factored in the fact that the WESTERN HALF OF THE UNITED STATES HATES LESLIE. That should have been an important part of my consideration.

In the meantime, the maternity swimsuit I just got will completely go to waste as I sit around in my hotel room on Saturday.

Freaking desert. Why can’t you just be a desert?

Also Weather Channel “ugh” is not a strong enough word for how I would describe your weather forecast.

I Do Not Understand Why People Choose to Do These Things More Than Once

So first, the standard pregnancy update: As predicted, things just keep getting more delightful.  See, as large as I am getting to be, I am not going to stoop to complaining about a sore back, tired muscles, or the fact I cannot walk without spraining my ankle. Nope, all of those things are fine; predictable and fine. However, my remarkable string of failure at the doctor’s office continues.  This time around, I did not pass my three hour blood glucose test and so now I officially have gestational diabetes. Woot. I didn’t think it was going to be such a big deal, as the first time I did my own blood sugar test last night after dinner, my number came back a respectable 117. I thought to myself, “Oh, this is going to be easy to manage with my diet. No big deal.” I woke up today and my morning fasting number was 94, over the 90 it was supposed to be. I couldn’t get the meter to work for my post breakfast number, so four test strips and one breakdown later, I gave up.  Then my post lunch test came back 132, over 130. So yes, it has been a day of failure so far.

I keep thinking that with all of the anxiety that I have endured so far with bad test results, and my insane symptom checking about preterm labor signs (I could go into more graphic detail, but some things are best left unsaid), I am so glad that I am only doing this one time. I don’t understand why people choose to be pregnant more than once. Now granted, I am sure 24 year olds whose ovaries and uteruses function properly are speaking honestly when they are all, “MY pregnancy was the easiest thing ever. I just love being pregnant!” More power to those women. Maybe this is my non-maternal instincts who is already tired of reproductive failure side-of-me speaking, but the whole being pregnant thing clearly was not meant to work with my body. Now thankfully, due to modern science, we were able to trick that side of me into becoming pregnant forcefully against its will. This is just that side of me fighting back for all that it has been put through. I was not lying when I said I wish they could have just put me in a coma until I am ready to give birth. I think my good maternal instinct side will kick in once I give birth to these babies. Right now all it is doing is constantly reminding me all of the ways I am already failing these boys while they are still in utero. Like I said, every person has to experience what failure feels like at some point in time during their lives, and I have found that in addition to playing team sports, I am also no good at incubating babies.

So moving on to something else that I don’t understand why people do more than once – l don’t understand people who are addicted to home renovation and decorating. It is really a pain. Last week we spent cleaning out the downstairs as we are having our floors repaired and refinished this week. Even with hiring movers to do the heavy furniture moving, we still had so much back-breaking work to do. (Mostly David did. I am pregnant, after all.) Now here is a look at our respective upstairs versus downstairs.006005001Note: The crap on the fireplace mantle was also removed before they started work.  As were the curtains.

Now I am just thrilled to have to move everything back into its place after the movers return the furniture. I love organizing everything again. While I am at it, let me just also say, I love scheduling time for appliance deliveries and workers to come. It isn’t ever inconvenient at all.  I just hope we like the way everything turns out, because it will have to stay that way for awhile. I am not doing this again as long as we live in our current house.

You can say I sound bitter and ungrateful, but I am just choosing to blame my blood sugar issues.

Also, it is cold and rainy here.  So, maybe it is a lack of vitamin D. In any case, we are headed to Arizona on Friday, so hopefully it will be hot, sunny, and I can spend the entire time in my swimsuit and be a hypocrite about my desert-water issues.

Historical Unions in a Name

After yesterday’s Scottish vote for independence, Great Britain survives.  I was worried there for a moment.  Since I am not a British citizen, I know that I don’t have any right to an opinion, but I wanted to union to survive. Maybe it is because I exist because of past unions between Scots and English.  That is my heritage.  My grandmother was an Armstrong (her mother was a McIntosh) and was pretty proud of her Scottish heritage.  However, that didn’t stop her from marrying my grandfather whose ancestors came from Southern England to settle Virginia back in early colonial days. My other grandmother was a Campbell by birth (certainly another Scottish clan), and married a Street.  Her ancestry was not 100% Scottish, owing to earlier intermarriages to Balls, Boyds and others.  The point is though, we are the result of the union between Scottish and English people, so I really value that historical political union.

I have been thinking a lot about this as David and I have been trying to think of names for our two boys.  I will admit, the biggest reason I was disappointed that I wasn’t having a girl was because I really wanted to name a daughter Marjorie, after my mother and after her mother.  I still am not entirely over that disappointment.  I think because these babies will have a different last name from my last name, I really want to give them something to reflect my side of the family too, and I feel like good first names reflecting the people that I respect and admire from my ancestry would do that.  David, of course, has a solidly English last name, so we have been focusing on some Scottish names, some of which were significant names in the ancestry of my family.  It is just hard finding the right mix that sounds right. This is the only option since David vetoed naming one of the boys Eden Hazard and the other Didier (after Drogba).

When your mind goes in too many directions…

I have actually wanted to write about a few substantial things lately.  A few weeks ago I wanted to write about racism in the criminal justice system, and Ferguson, and how I really wish that we had a restorative justice model that we could use in the US for dealing with these difficult issues. I thought about it the same time I watched this trailer for Children of Light, a new movie biography about Desmond Tutu’s life.

Then, I wanted to write about sports and domestic violence.

Then, I wanted to write about the North Carolina Senate Race.

But, I haven’t written about any of those things.

Last week, I was invited to speak at the International Municipal Lawyers’ Association’s Annual Meeting in Baltimore.  It was so much more fun than I thought it was going to be. It really made me miss practicing law, and working for a municipality in general.  I was privileged to meet many great city attorneys working in North Carolina, and also, caught up briefly with the managing attorney at the New York City Law Department, my old employer.  It is funny how one event could make me miss practicing law that much.  I like my job, I really do, but sometimes I long to be back in the thick of those courtroom battles, even at the same time questioning how well the American justice system works for solving all of our disputes (see the paragraph above for the need for something more substantive, and more inclined to truth-telling for deeply embedded problems like endemic racism in the criminal justice system).

I feel pretty lucky because one of the great blessings of my job is that I get to exist, at least on the periphery, of all of these issues and topics that really interest me. I may not be fighting the battles, but at least I get to engage in discussion about them. Sometimes, I miss being more intricately involved, but at least I get to keep learning and reconsidering what I thought I knew before. That is one of the most fun parts about my job.

I want to be a good example to my future kids in regard to caring about the world, and wanting to make it a better place. I want them to be engaged and be passionate about learning and taking that information and doing something positive with it.  It makes me sad when I realize so many other people increasingly seem to be withdrawing their children from the world, or rather only viewing the world as something that gives them pleasure or that should conform to their existing world view. One of the best ways that I can do that, in my opinion, is by doing what I really enjoy, which is continuing to work and teach and every day take those lessons I learn from those experiences home to them.

One of my worst problems in terms of being able to sustain a long-term legal career in one general area of law is that I am a generalist by nature, as I am interested in so many things, I get bored with doing the same thing over and over again. But, I also view that as one of my great personal strengths, in that there are so many issues and topics that I care about in the world. I am not sure what to emphasize for my kids. I mean, the truth is, in a real career sense, the generalist, like myself doesn’t fare so well in today’s economy that favors very specific and detailed specialization. But, yet, sometimes specializing too much runs into that insularity problem that I talked about before. I don’t know what the balance for this is yet.

Head Case

I think when you have been dealing with infertility issues as long as I have, it seems entirely reasonable just to expect that you are going to keep getting negative results to things.  It is hard to fathom that a good result is possible because I have been dealing with negative results for so long.  Last week I had two doctors appointments – a regular checkup at my ob-gyn, and our fetal echocardiogram ultrasound.  Everything was fine at both.  From what the ultrasound tech and the doctor could see, both Baby A’s and B’s hearts looked fine. Of course, that doesn’t account for things that they cannot see, as no ultrasound is foolproof.  Both babies growth measured just fine, if slightly ahead of schedule.  At my ob-gyn, based on my fundal height measurements, my uterus was already measuring 32 weeks.  When you are halfway through your 22nd week, that isn’t necessarily something that you want to hear.  I am trying to imagine what the size of my uterus will be when I am actually 32 weeks.

Of course, I will take being enormous and uncomfortable at 32 weeks any day over my babies coming prematurely. I hope to be large and accepting of it right up to 37-38 weeks pregnant, at which time I have a normal induction/C-section, whichever is better. Ever since last week’s appointment, I have been obsessing about pre-term labor. There is no medical reason right now that I should be obsessing over preterm labor.  To the best of my knowledge, I haven’t been experiencing any of the symptoms of preterm labor, although I am constantly fretting that I don’t know exactly what a contraction would feel like, so how would I know if I have had one or not?  At the ultrasound, I was told that one of the babies is incredibly far down, which the doctor said wasn’t anything to worry about, as with twins, they are just trying to find any space that they possibly can find.

In the past week my comfort level has dropped off tremendously with this pregnancy. Every day I feel new aches and pains, and I feel so much pressure in my belly, I freak out about what is normal and what isn’t normal.  I have never been at this point with a pregnancy before and I will never be at this point with a pregnancy again, so I just don’t know how things are supposed to be feeling and I know I will never be expert at it. I know with two babies the discomfort level at this point in the pregnancy is much higher than what it otherwise would be, corresponding with my much larger uterus size. I just freak out because I don’t know if any of this means anything about premature labor.  I hate being so obsessively worried, but I am, so there you go. I don’t think it is an irrational fear, as I know multiple pregnancies put a woman at a much higher risk of premature labor.  I just wish that I could force myself to think about something else.

The good news is that my doctor scheduled a biophysical profile for me tomorrow, so before I head out of town to speak at a conference, I will hopefully get yet another reassurance that things are fine. Then, I have another follow-up at my regular ob-gyn on Monday.  Seriously, some people get annoyed at how many doctor’s appointments they have, but I find them incredibly reassuring. It was a stark shock to my system when I stopped seeing Dr. Fritz, my fertility doctor, on a near weekly basis, so I am incredibly thankful for living in a place where it is easy to access good prenatal care, as I am so grateful for what modern medicine has done for my life. Without it, I certainly would not have made it this far.

Here is a picture from my ultrasound last week of Baby A (Baby B we couldn’t get as good of a shot, because he is so far down), trying to valiantly shield himself using his arms and legs from the blows and kicks of Baby B. Yes, those two are still going at it in the womb. I hope they will be less violently-disposed towards each other outside of the womb in 14 or so weeks when they make it to the outside. (I apologize if you are one of the people who find ultrasound pictures made public distasteful or 3D ultrasounds creepy).

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Fully Vested

   I know it is pretty trite to say “I just am sooooo busy, I haven’t had time to blog,” but I don’t know of any time in my life when that has been a more true statement than in the most recent interval of time for me. I feel like this fall semester has been busier than ever as in addition to teaching, I am chairing a professional organization committee, working on two faculty committees, trying to write a book review that is due next week the same time I have to be presenting at a conference of municipal law attorneys in Baltimore, writing an article for publication that is long overdue, and serving on a search committee.  That is just the major work obligations.  After work, David and I have been interviewing nanny candidates, attending birthing and childcare classes at the hospital (in addition to my multiplicity of doctor’s appointments which are double the amount of normal prenatal appointments), and just decided to throw in tackling some fairly major home improvement projects we would like to get taken care of in advance of the babies coming. Thankfully, when David isn’t travelling for work he has been able to field the parade of workers coming to our house to offer bids on such exciting things as tree removal, floor refinishing, and installing new HVAC systems.  I have a feeling once the actual work starts on all of those things, it will get even crazier. 

   Yet in spite of the busy, I feel pretty good about things right now.  I had a bizarre moment today that put some small perspective in my life that had been lacking.  It happened on the line at Brueggers Bagels this morning. The line was ridiculously long and slow-moving, which is the kind of situation that makes me seethe with internal rage under normal circumstances. I don’t know why I have so much hostility towards inefficiency, but there it is.  At some point while waiting in the line, I noticed that the law school dean was a few people behind me in the line. Now, it isn’t unusual for me to spot him at Brueggers in the morning, as I have seen him many times before. I have seen him so many times, in fact, that I know it is ridiculous for him to have to wait in line, because he orders a certain type of bagel plain, grabs a cup for coffee and that is it. There is no elaborate dozen bagel cutting with fifteen different types of toppings.  It is straightforward and he should be in and out of there in about two minutes, maximum.  So when I finally got up to order my more elaborate Skinny Zesty Egg White on Whole Wheat, I first asked for his bagel in a bag so I could give it to him and so he could get out of that ridiculous line.

After that, my mood turned and I started thinking about why and this is the conclusion that I came to – all of this business is attributable to something that I love, and that I feel like I have lacked up until now; that I have a community to which I belong to. See, this year marks the start of my fifth year working at UNC.  That is the longest I have worked anywhere. Before now, I flitted about the country – New York, to Seattle, to DC, to here, and I never felt the need to be a part of anything termed “community”.  But now, here we are worried about making our home a safe, comfortable place for the babies and I know the dean’s bagel order by heart.  One sister is in town, my other sister is only three and a half hours away, and if only may parents were closer, I would get to feel entirely like how it feels to be home with family.  Sure, I might temporarily be losing the community feeling of all those North Carolina basketball games, as we give that up for a year to focus on other priorities, but it never has felt better to be a Tar Heel. My doctors know me by name, not by chart (thanks in part to my extroverted medical school sister who is universally beloved).  David and I have the first yard political sign of my lifetime (Kay Hagan for Senate). We are invested in where we are and in making it better.  That feels good. It only took a bagel for me to realize that.

Sporting Sacrifices

I have decided I am not going to renew my men’s basketball season tickets this year. I spent a considerable amount of time pondering this decision, and I came to this conclusion, reluctantly but decidedly. First off, in considering how many new expenses David and I have headed our way related to babies and child care, I cannot really justify spending $1,300 on season tickets this year (Interesting how priorities change considering a few short months ago I had no problem spending $1,300 for tickets to one single Chelsea match in London). Furthermore, I am doubtful I would even be able to take advantage of the tickets once I purchased them, considering how winded I was yesterday just teaching my class. I cannot imagine how I will have the energy to saunter down to the Smith Center and walk up the stairs when it is November or December. Then, after the babies come, I doubt I would even be able to go to a single game for the rest of the season.

So those are the entirely practical reasons I decided to take the season off. However, that really isn’t the end of it. Lately, I have become more disillusioned with university athletics generally. I am not thrilled with the NCAA’s plan to let the big six conference in essence, “regulate themselves” when it comes to things like paying players or making rules regarding relationships with agents. I have disliked all of the conference realignment and how it has changed the character of the games. Remember the good old days when every team played every other team in their conference at home and away and that determined who was the conference champion? You know, kind of like how the British Premier League still works for soccer? Well, all of that is out the window now. I hate broadcasting and network contracts for college sports. I hate how Bubba Cunningham wants to raise money to redo the Dean Dome to create more “luxury boxes” for even more revenue. I hate how UNC’s once pristine reputation has been dragged through the mud over a never-ending series of sports scandals (including the newest one involving the football team and alleged hazing just this week). Basically, I am tired of what college sports have become (at least the revenue generating ones).

In the past couple of years, I have completely replaced watching College Game Day with watching the Saturday morning British Premier League coverage anyway. Sure, I realize that big money infects European soccer in a major way, but at least it isn’t some racket that is claiming to “educate” students at the same time. At least Roman Abramovich isn’t claiming to offer a first rate education to his select group of “scholar-athletes.” And also, at least in the Premier League, every team plays every other team twice, once at home and once away so there never is the level of controversy over who the real champion is.

I don’t know if anything can save my once beloved activities of watching college sports now that money has pretty much ruined everything.