Sunday, May 24, 2015

Summer: Week 1

I've slept.  I've slept a lot, with the exception of a couple of days, when restless leg kept me very awake, and I've worked a bit on cleaning the house.  (It didn't get messy in one day, and it's not going to get clean in one either, unless someone comes to visit.)  My summer I class was cancelled due to low enrollment, so I've got the next six weeks off work.

The conversation here has been almost entirely about the weather, though.  The flooding has been severe north of town, towards San Antonio.  Three families from our church are currently missing--the father of one of the families was found and is in the hospital.  A tornado hit near school last night, though there was only property damage.

And in light of continued prayers that these families will be found safely, everything else--little worries and troubles--seem incredibly meaningless.

I've had all sorts of thoughts this week of things that I thought should go into my blog entry for the week.  Some of them I still have in my mind, but again, most of them seem very unimportant right now.

I will include this from this week--our blessing.  That's our girl.  It's the first good picture we've had of her little face.  She was opening her eyes and her mouth during the ultrasound and had hold of one foot with her hand.  She's exactly the right size and growing well and seems to be as healthy as a horse.  I saw the regular OB/GYN the day after this ultrasound, and when she was listening to the baby's heartbeat, Little Bit kicked the doppler, so I heard the wub-wub of her heart and then a pop that was her little foot connecting with the monitor.  It made the doctor laugh.

Here's her profile.  She weighed a little more than a pound and a quarter, and I have started to actually get weight back, rather than continue losing it.  I'm even getting some stretch marks across my belly now.

What was even more special was that Dear Husband was able to feel her move for the first time this week.  I've been feeling her quite a bit, but it's just now able to be felt on the outside of my belly. 

The next time I see the doctor, I will be into the third trimester.  It's a little odd, sometimes, to think that I'm going to be somebody's mom. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Weel 2.17: When it rains....

This week has been interesting.

The Coastal Bend has had some very interesting weather in the last week.  Monday and Tuesday nights were stormy enough that neither Dear Husband or I could sleep--it's hard to sleep, after all, when it's raining sideways, and I began to understand why our neighbor had put his hurricane shutters down.

Over two days, we got ten inches of rain.  Ten.  Naturally, this meant that the garage flooded again.  But it didn't just get some water in it, the way it has in the past--spreading over a quarter of the garage.  No, we had almost half an inch of water over most of the garage. 

And we still had boxes out there.  Cue the wailing and gnashing of teeth, and a trip to Walmart for a new mop and bucket, and sweeping water out with the rubber broom.  All well and good.

Wednesday morning, things were still pretty bad.  In fact, they'd gotten worse.  We couldn't make it out of our driveway to get to school on time--and I had a final exam to give at 8:00, but we very simply weren't going anywhere.  It didn't help that our electric went out about 5:15 that morning either.

We waited until some of the water drained off and headed into school.  Most of my students were there for their final--I'd told them all to wait, as I would be coming in a soon as I could, but I had some who were similarly flooded in to their houses--one student couldn't get out until well into the afternoon.  Campus was also flooded, and I have to admit, while I've had weeks of school cancelled for ice storms, even seen finals postponed....I've never had to wade to get to an exam before.  And wade I did, right across the parking lot, as the English building was pretty much surrounded by water. 

We'd let the landlord know what was going on, and he showed up at our house Wednesday evening, not long after we got home to find that we still had no electricity.  It finally came back on about nine, after AEP Texas dug up the lawn of one of our neighbors to get to something, and fortunately, thanks to a very well-insulated fridge, we lost nothing but the milk. (The same cannot be said for some of the boxes in the garage.)

The landlord came back out Thursday--I'd run to school to give the final makeup exam and to turn in my grades (yay!)--and did some other maintenance work around the house as well, like taking care of part of a fallen tree in the backyard that was too large for DH to get without a chain saw, as well as graciously changing out the chandelier in the front entryway for a light that doesn't hang down and upon which DH cannot continue to concuss himself.  He's dug a small ditch out by the side of the house, which come Friday, and more weather, served very well.

And here is where I would like to say how much I miss Bill Meck, the chief meteorologist from Lexington's WLEX-18.  DH was working graduation on Friday, down at the American Bank Center, and having headed down to the information center, he realized the weather was getting bad and called me, which was good, as I'd fallen asleep on the couch.  They'd issued a tornado watch, not that I would have known, because there was no alert that came through my phone (unlike the EAS flood alert that scared the crap out of me Wednesday morning), and because Corpus Christi apparently doesn't have storm sirens.  So I turned on the TV to one of our local channels and just wanted to bang my head against the wall.  Unlike other times, they didn't go back to regular programming--thank goodness---but still.

So I went and moved stuff around in the pantry so I had room to hide.  There'd already been a funnel cloud over my neighborhood earlier in the week--which again, we never knew about until afterward because there was no siren and, oh, yes, we had no power.   (The NWS office in Corpus Christi really needs to do a better job.)  There was a funnel cloud over the children's hospital downtown--which was right down the street from the arena where DH was, and then they had the hook echo on the radar over our neighborhood.  Two tornadoes were confirmed that day, though neither were in town, and eventually, it all went out to sea.  The street flooded again, but the garage did not!

But all of this has made us determined that we need to get out of this house as soon as possible, so we went to the bank Saturday morning and should be approved for a home loan later this week.  Now we can start looking in some kind of earnest.

I turned my final grades in on Thursday.  The emails about how my students "can't afford to have failed English" started promptly Friday morning.  (That's what happens when you don't complete one of the major assignments, imagine that.)  My grades were not stellar this semester--out of about a hundred students, I gave out five As, three of which were in my sophomore lit course. My composition students did not do well at all, and I was more than a little disappointed.  That said, DH says that the college graduated ~750 students with 900 degrees or certificates on Friday night, and that's not too shabby. 

Summer classes start the day after Memorial Day, so in just a little more than a week.  I'm teaching Mexican-American Literature during Summer I, and I'm more than a little apprehensive about it.  After all, my ethnicity can be described as Extremely Irish, but I can teach students how to read the literature, and that should be the most important thing, I think.

DH has just gotten in from mowing the lawn.  We finally broke down and bought a gas-powered lawnmower last week, which has made DH's life much easier, since he can use it to mow the backyard, which he couldn't before with the manual, since it kept getting stuck in the sand.  That meant he was spending every evening out in the backyard with the weed-eater until the charge ran out, trying to keep the grass down.  He doesn't have to do that anymore, thank goodness.  He's now attempting to cool off, as it's already oppressively hot (and humid) here, even though it's only May.  What August will look like doesn't bear thinking about.

So it has been an eventful week here, to say the least.  But I have the next week off, which I will partly spend prepping for my Summer I course, but also partly vegging out.  I see maternal-fetal medicine tomorrow morning, so I should have new pictures of the little one tomorrow, which I'm very much looking forward to, particularly as I've started to really be able to feel her move about and kick this week.  (She very much disliked the storms, by the way.  Takes after her mommy that way.)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Week 2.16 - My First Mother's Day

Well, my first mother's day according to Dear Husband.  I wasn't so sure, since Little Bit isn't even here yet, but he insisted.

And to be honest, I felt a little weird about it all day yesterday.  Sometimes the thought that I'm going to be a mom hasn't sunk in entirely, and at other times, it sinks in far too well. 

These feelings were all compounded by the party we went to Saturday night.  It was a department get-together, and several of my colleagues came and brought their children.  One of the kids was an adorable and precious seven-month-old little girl, who quite happily submitted to being passed around.  I spent part of the night with her wiggling in my arms, looking around to see what was going on, having my shoulder gummed, and occasionally, watching her reach out to my husband to get a better vantage point.  (Her daddy has a beard, so she didn't shy away from DH the way my cousin's daughter did the first time she saw him.)

One, watching DH hold and bounce this tiny baby, I knew that his worries were unfounded--he's going to be a great daddy, and probably spoil Little Bit rotten.  (I just know she's going to like him best, because he's never going to be able to tell her no, and Mommy's going to have to be the one to administer punishment when something goes wrong.) 

On the other hand, while I loved loved loved holding this little girl, I felt that sudden and unrelenting terror settle back down on me, and it hasn't quite gone away.  I know parenting is not the idyllic scenes you see in laundry detergent commercials.  I suppose I've been trying to manage expectations, but while the "what if?" game often works for most regular anxieties, it actually makes this particular brand of anxiety worse.  This was compounded a bit this week by a very bad bout of vertigo--the kind that I haven't had in probably ten years.  But everything is just fine--Little Bit was moving about quite happily, and I went home with a prescription for Antivert, and unless I get up out of the bed too fast, the vertigo is gone.  But for a couple of hours on Wednesday, DH and I were both completely and utterly terrified.  And again, everything is just fine.

Honestly, I don't know how people do this.  While I'm excited for Little Bit to get here, I'm also scared to death, and that's been kind of what has made me so boggled over Mother's Day.  I know excitement and terror are all part of being a mother, but in about four months, I'm going to have a tiny little person I'm responsible for, and I can't keep a house plant alive!  Whose idea was this?

I've always had some trepidations about having kids--I think that's something that particularly happens when you have a mental illness.  I'm desperately afraid that there will come a day when it is no longer well-controlled, and I revert back to long periods of depression and occasional bursts of anger, in which my facility with words turns ugly and they spill out without care for where they land.  I'm afraid that this will be something that I genetically pass along, and I don't want to see Little Bit suffer in any way.

DH says that the fact that I'm worried about it--and the fact that I can recognize when it happens--means that it's going to be okay, because I'll keep a close eye on it, and that of course, he's here to help with that too.  Still, it scares me.

And I think about my mom and the difficulties she had raising us--particularly Middle Brother, who is still too smart for his own good.  (Love ya, Bro.)  But keeping him occupied and challenged--and therefore out of trouble--was a full-time job, and she had me and Youngest Brother besides.  (We were fortunately model children.)  And at the same time, all three of us kids had medical issues at one point or another in our lives.  My mother didn't leave my bedside for a week and a half when I was in the hospital, despite being in the middle of a lupus flare that had been brought on by the stress of having a child in the hospital.   Needless to say, I'm praying that Little Bit gets her daddy's constitution.

And in other ways, it feels odd.  We went out and bought a real lawnmower yesterday.  DH has been using a manual one--like from in the 50s--but it simply does not work on a yard that's primarily grass growing out of sand, and he was having to weed-eat the yard every night, because the charge on the weed-eater only goes for about twenty minutes, which was not nearly enough time to weed-eat the entire yard.  So we bought a gas-powered mower, and brought it home, and he commented that he was feeling depressingly adult.

I looked down at my belly.  Now he feels depressingly adult?  But I got the sentiment.  We're still going to be fun, aren't we?  I mean, half of what we have for Little Bit already is geeky in nature.  (Actually, this poor child probably doesn't stand a chance on that front.) 

For those who haven't had kids yet, and see the idyllic photos of pregnant mothers or parents and babies?  Bullshit, guys.  Yeah, I feel like that sometimes, but most of the time, not so much.  I'm just terrified.  Oh, and let's not forget the guilt that's already setting in.  I only have a Ph.D. (and also thousands of dollars of student loan debt).  I can't stay home with the baby full-time.  For one thing, we can't afford it--particularly with the aforementioned student loan debt.  Plus, again, I have a Ph.D. that I've worked for over ten years to get.  And I'm not saying that there aren't moms out there with advanced degrees who stay home with their kids, but here's what I'm referring to as the Modern Mother Dichotomy of Guilt: Keep working and you're abandoning your kid to the vagaries of daycare and mediocre education OR Stop working and waste the last five/ten/thirteen years of your life and your education to stay home.  Also, there's maternity leave--I'm not planning on taking the full twelve weeks--see above student loans.  I'm going to take four to six weeks--depending on how things go--and then go back to work.  No, Little Bit is not going into daycare--her grandma is going to come stay with us for a while.  But I would have loved to have taken maternity leave for the entirety of next semester.  But again--can't afford it.  (Insert complaint about the US being the only developed country--and one of only three in the world--that doesn't offer some sort of paid maternity leave.)

There is nothing wrong with my choice to keep working.  Fortunately, I have the benefit of having a reasonably flexible schedule, and I may not work summers after this.  It'll depend.  But the guilt is still there because of a societal expectation that I fit into one category or another.  Well, screw that.  (Guilt still there.  Dammit.)

DH kept asking me yesterday if I was okay.  And I was, really, but all of this was going through my head.  It hadn't coalesced yet--that doesn't really happen until I sit down and "write myself out."  Was I okay? Probably not, and then again, probably so, since I know this isn't anything that every other mother out there has to deal with.  It's enough to make you take to your bed.

But I have final exams to finish this week and grades to enter in, and speaking of which, it's about time I got up and headed into the office.  Whee.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Week 2.15 - Finally

This is really the first chance I've had to sit down and write up my blog this week.  Things have been very, very busy.  This is the last week of classes--finals start Thursday (thank goodness!), but there's been a lot going on. 

Friday, we had our yearly assessment meeting, where we went over papers by a random selection of sophomore lit classes to see how they were stacking up to our program outcomes.  I brought Derby pies to assessment, because I'd discovered that no one down here knew what one was.  They were a hit, which was great.

This weekend and Monday, I worked on formatting our program review.  I'm almost done--we have a few tweaks yet to make, but a document over 200 pages long is almost complete, and thank goodness.  I think we all could throw up the next time we hear the words "program review."  That said, we have some recommendations that are getting passed along up the chain, and hopefully we'll be better off for it.

Naturally, there's also the end of the semester catching up on stuff that I've got to do.  I did cringe a bit earlier this week, though, as my department chair stopped to tell me that even if I wasn't giving a final exam--which was fine, since they do have a final assignment that kind of works as an exam--anyway--I had to have my students come in during the final exam period from now on.  *sigh*  I felt like a grad student again, to be honest.  And I'm not in trouble or anything--I didn't know we were supposed to do that--but it just served to underscore once again that I'm still junior faculty, for all that I've learned over the last year of teaching here. 

In the meantime, Mogo has become very active in the last several days, particularly in the evenings.  I've been drinking iced tea by the gallon, and I have to admit to indulging in the stereotypical pregnant snack--pickles and ice cream.  Shut up, I didn't have them together, just one after another.

I've also been very grateful this week for my kitties!  The bugs are driving me CRAZY.  Flies keep getting in the house, much to my chagrin, though Dear Husband has been going after them with the Bug-A-Salt, which is exactly what it sounds like--a salt gun he shoots at flies.  (I'd much rather clean up the salt than deal with the bugs.)  His cat is also quite the flycatcher.

They'll tell you that everything's bigger in Texas.  This is also true of the bugs.  What's creeped me out has been what is referred to in polite company as a 'palmetto bug.'  What it is, in reality, is a very large, very scary, flying subspecies of cockroach.  Naturally, the assumption is that your house must therefore be nasty and not clean.

Yeah, no.  Palmetto bugs are simply part of living along the coast.  Everyone has them, no matter how clean their house is (though SCRUB SCRUB SCRUB OMG SCRUB EVERYTHING), and everyone hates them.  And what freaked me out was when I noticed that Ding was watching something over my head in the bedroom...and looked up and saw one crawling along the wall.

I shrieked, Ding kept close watch, and DH came and rescued me and flushed the offender down the toilet.  Ding then sat in the bedroom for several hours afterward and watched to make sure it didn't come back, and cuddled up to me--as in the picture to the right--to protect me.

Trust me, I'd *much* rather find the dead one in the floor that they've caught than a live one, and I am telling you, while I know people have been concerned about the cats when the baby comes, the cats are staying, because I am way, way, WAY more worried about the bugs than I am the cats.  WAY more worried.  I feel much better with the deadly hunters on watch.

Sorry, just had a full body shiver.  (A friend of mine who is a recent transplant to Orlando is having the same issues and the same reaction.)

And note that this does not include the mosquitoes!  Mosquito season in Texas goes from April to November, and they're already fogging neighborhoods.  This is ridiculous, and like the palmetto bugs, the mosquitoes here are again, much, much larger than their counterparts in Kentucky or Tennessee.  The kitties have been chasing them too, but we will definitely be investing in a mosquito net for over Mogo's crib. 

It has not all been doom and gloom here, though.  We did go out to the beach on Friday afternoon and spent the afternoon out there, which was undeniably pleasant.  I got a little sun, but not burned, thanks to copious applications of sunblock (see, I'm learning).  We took a little cooler out so we had drinks and a snack, and read on the beach for several hours.  We were expecting the water to be cold, so DH hadn't brought his swim trunks, but it was actually quite warm once you waded out into it, so he will bring them next time.  I don't want to get into the ocean while I'm pregnant, though apparently, the college has an amazing pool, and one of my friends has suggested using it during the summer, as it will be cool and help buoy my weight.

We also took a break Saturday afternoon to go see the new Avengers movie, which did not quite live up to expectations, but was still entertaining, nonetheless. 

We have an end of semester get together for the department this weekend--I'm going to make a key lime pie and some brownies for it.   (Yes, after once again scrupulously scrubbing my kitchen.)  Like I said, finals start Thursday (thank goodness!), and all of my students have their papers due this week, so for finals WEEK, I only really have presentations and a final exam to give, which isn't too bad, though I'll be taking most of the week to grade all of those papers.

And really, the last week has been really good. I've been able to see students really making strides over the last few weeks, and if not academically, then certainly personally.  I've been really proud of some of my students who are working past some really hard times.  There are some who probably need beaten about the head with a reality stick too, but most of them have figured it out.  I'll know more when I get my grades all situated, which is how I can really judge how I'm doing.

And of course, as soon as I'm done, I start putting together syllabi for my summer courses.  Mexican-American Literature and ENGL 1302, here I come.  (But after a couple of weeks break.  Trust me, I need them.)