Monday, September 27, 2010

on realizations.

hello, blogworld.  i have been thinking about writing this entry for awhile, but each time, thought better of it.  perhaps it's because if i actually type the words, it makes them real.  and true.  and then i can't take them back, or pretend that they're not my reality.  in the interest of keeping it real, however, i've decided to forge ahead.

last week was my very first jury trial.  it was alternately the scariest, most exhilarating time in my career.  i worked harder than ever before, and for longer hours than i thought were possible.  it was challenging and frightening and exciting and nervewracking, and at the end of it all, i was exhausted.  exhausted, but i accomplished something.  it was a great opportunity for me, and i am really pleased with the way it turned out.  i am proud of the work i did for the client, and i am proud that my colleagues saw that, too.

after the trial was over, i was speaking with the judge, and i happened to mention that this was my first jury trial.  he was surprised, and then said that i was pretty lucky to have gotten to try a case by myself so early on in my career.  i knew that, and made sure to remember that each time i felt like i couldn't look through another deposition or each time i felt like i was going to fall asleep on my closing argument outline.  this is what i wanted to do.  and i am doing it.

when the trial was over, i decided that i could stop neglecting my husband and spend some time with him.  because of the way the final day had gone, i had had a banana for lunch and was so hungry i was about to knaw on my sausage-like fingers, so instead of waiting at some fancy restaurant, we decided to meet at culver's.  (very classy, i admit, but shut up... they have amazing chicken salad)  as we were sitting there, i started reflecting on the week and the trial gone by and i finally allowed myself to think about THE THING that i had been avoiding thinking about since this trial prep began.

i can't have it all.  i CANNOT have it all.  I CANNOT HAVE IT ALL.

when i first began law school, i had these visions of myself wearing a perfectly tailored suit, every hair in its place, my nails manicured, my legs demurely crossed, juggling a baby in one hand and a trial brief in the other.  and i thought, "of course this is possible!"  i can do this.  i can be the one person who has the perfect career and is the perfect mom.  i can be the martha stewart meets marsha clark, and everyone can marvel at how well i'm managing both.  i can show up to court, and wow the judge with brilliantly reasoned arguments, then run up to my kid's school with homemade cookies i made "just because."  i mean, i'm a good multi-tasker.  in law school, i always took a full course load, worked 20-30 hours a week, wrote for law journal and planned a wedding.  so, i mean, yeah, this career mom thing?  i can totally do that.  no problem, easy peezy.

except that it's not.  i cannot have it all in the way i thought i could.  i can have some version of "it," but "it's" not going to look like i thought it was.  i might be wearing a tailored suit, but it's probably going to have some baby spit up on the sleeve.  and homemade cookies?  john's going to have to make them, or we're going to have to head to wal-mart for those sinfully delish "better than sex" variety.  saying, or rather typing this, makes me feel like a failure.  like i'm giving up on something.  i can't help but feel like that.  because throughout my whole life, i've always been good at juggling all the balls, or, as tim gunn would say, "making it work."  but it's time for a cold, hard reality check.  i'm going to be someone's mother in 6ish weeks.  and the reality of what that means, and how that will change my life and my career is starting to set in.

i don't know what i would have done if i had had to come home to a baby last week.  i asked two of the partners at my firm what they did when they had jury trials and young kids at home.  without hesitation, their answers were, "my wife took care of it, and i just made sure not to leave the office til the kids were asleep."  and this was okay with them.  it has to be okay with me.  i have to be okay with letting john pick up the slack in these situations.  it's not that he won't do it well.  this is my own struggle.  to let him take charge of the things that i would rather be doing.

it was easy enough to ignore john the past couple weeks.  and i don't mean that tongue-in-cheek.  while i felt bad about the hours i was working, i knew he understood, and he's an adult... it's not like he can't entertain himself while i'm engrossed in my work upstairs.  but to ignore a baby?  what if the baby doesn't get it?  what if the baby just feels neglected?  what if the baby grows up thinking that his mom chose work over him?  what if the the baby is grown, reflecting on his childhood, and he thinks, "yeah, my mom was a good lawyer, but i wish she had spent more time with me instead of working."  i. would. just. die.

these are the kinds of things that i lay awake at night wondering about.  i'm not thinking about getting through labor or managing breastfeeding.  i'm thinking 20 years down the road... will i have made all the right decisions?  will my kids understand why i chose the way i did?  will they appreciate the choices i made?  they're the jury i'm most worried about.

i've grown up in a time when i can honestly say (with the exception of a few ignorant comments by a few ignorant individuals), i've never been faced with sexism.  my parents always made sure i knew i could pursue any career path i wanted.  that they would support me whether i wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer or a teacher or a stay-at-home mom.  i remember coming home from college on one of my breaks, talking with my dad about something, and we got to discussing the value of education.  and he was explaining that education is so much more than just a piece of paper, that the experiences i was having and the people i was meeting were just as important as the classes i was taking, and that, if after i graduated from college, got married and started a family, i wanted to stay at home and raise my kids, neither he nor my mom would be upset or disappointed or feel like i was "wasting" my college education.  i remember scoffing at the idea.  me?  a stay-at-home mom?  i was going to new york city, and i was going to live in some high rise apartment.  i was destined to be some powerful litigator, working 90 hour weeks, commanding an impressive salary that i was just too damn busy to spend.  well, fast forward a few years, and that's not exactly the life i'm leading.  my point is, i was taught to dream big, and i did.  i set goals and i accomplished them.  and that's something to be celebrated.  but in the midst of celebrating, no one stopped me to say, accomplishments lead to big middle-of-the-night dilemmas.  would it have stopped me from setting the goals i did?  i doubt it.  would it have changed the career path i was on?  not likely.  i'm just recognizing that on the way to getting to where i am, i never really stopped to wonder how it was all going to come together.

i guess i thought i'd work like my dad did, but still get to have the relationships with my kids that my stay-at-home mom has.  but, i realize now, i can't have it all.  i'm not always going to be there the way my mom was for me and my brothers and sisters.  it seems simple enough to say, even think, even type.  but when i start to really ponder about what that means, it makes me want to cry.  i am not going to be the one who's there when my kids get home from school.  i won't get to hear about their days the minute they come charging in the door.  i am not going to be the one who gets the phone call that they're coming home sick, and i have to take the day to comfort them.  maybe i won't be the one they call out for in the middle of the night.  don't get me wrong.  i am so lucky that john is able to be home.  and i am so glad he will share a special relationship with our baby that a lot of fathers don't get to have.  but the flip side of that is... i don't get that.  i'm giving it up.  and i HAVE to be okay with that.

i can spend my time regretting my choices and hating where i'm at.  and if i choose that route, i'll suck at work AND at home.  i have to accept and embrace my situation.  afterall, i've paid a lot of lip service to our impending arrangement when asked about it by family and friends.  "oh i think it's going to be great to have john home" or "john's going to take care of this and this and this and this, and i'm going to work."  when it comes to implementing the plan, though, how the hell does anyone know if it's going to pan out the way we're thinking it will?  what if this is a big flop and i can't handle it?  what if i can't deal with missing my baby?  what if i get jealous and resent the fact that john gets to spend his days with our son while i'm at work?

i usually refuse to consider these options.  i tell myself that the decision's been made.  it's a decision we've discussed and planned for countless times, so damn it, there's no reason to rehash it.  but when i do let myself consider it for a minute, i am flooded with a barrage of questions that don't seem to stop.  what if? what if?  what if?  WHAT IF?

i don't know how to answer any of these questions.  i don't know that anyone can answer them... today, tomorrow, or ten years down the line.  maybe the answers don't come until the babies are raised, happily embarking on new adventures with their own families, and john and i are sitting in some quaint cafe in europe, retired and reflecting on the fact that we done good.  at least i hope that's where this is headed.  because the other option... that i spend the next 20 years second guessing every step of this journey... is just too overwhelming to accept right now.

i have admitted to myself, you guys and everyone else who knows me that i am, indeed, a worrier.  i like to have a plan and i like that plan to be set in stone months before it ever needs to be implemented.  so maybe you can write this blog entry off as the fault of an anxious mind of a lady that's a little tired of being so pregnant.  maybe that's not so far off.  but, in the event you can relate or offer some reassurance, that would also be much appreciated.

Monday, September 13, 2010

on lounge pants and crying at the chinese buffet.

i hope i can say this without jinxing anything, but it's officially "lounge pants" weather, right?  some people anxiously await football season, some just call it "fall," and around here, it's lounge pants time.  for as long as i've known my husband, he seems to be most content in what he refers to as "lounge pants."  to be honest, before we started dating, i'd refer to these things as pajama pants or sweatpants, but john loves his lounge pants and the moniker stuck. 

now while i fully support my lounge pants-wearing husband, i generally prefer to be a little more pulled together during out-in-public forays.  unless i'm hungover (which i'm not & haven't been for a while, ya'all) or out of town, i usually opt for a nice pair of jeans and a hoodie for my girl about town errand days.  i have this nagging worry that i'll bump into a client or a co-worker while out, and then, no matter how competent and professional i want to appear later, they'll always just seem me as missus lounge pants. 

well, the above used to be true.  i happened upon a lovely pair of maternity lounge pants, and if i thought i could get away with it, i think i'd wear them to the office.  (with a blazer, of course!)  we are in brand new territory, folks.  on saturday night, we had dinner with some friends at what i would consider the most upscale of the mexican restaurants in our town.  now granted, the place boasts a menu of entrees that cost approximately $10, so it's not exactly 5 star, but it's certainly not on the level of some of my old mexican haunts from college.  anyway, i put on lounge pants for said excusion and never thought twice.  it didn't occur to me until the next day that i had attended a "social event" while wearing lounge pants.  is this the same as grocery shopping with my hair in curlers?  because that might be where i'm headed next.  (ok, not actually, since i don't wear my hair in curlers, but some faux pax equivalent is probably on the horizon.)  maybe this doesn't seem like that big of a deal to anyone, and maybe it's not.  before i got pregnant, and in the beginning stages of the first trimester, i set a lot of "goals" for myself.  "i'm never going to..." and "i absolutely won't..." or "of course, i'll still..."  and it's sort of funny how differently i feel now.  wearing lounge pants to a mexican restaurant isn't the end of the world.  just don't tell my former self. (or stacey london, for that matter).  rules?  well, they're meant to be broken.  and all i can say as we move further into trimester three, is that you have to be flexible. 

...and more new territory... crying. all. the. time.  for. any. reason. whatsoever.  or for no reason at all.  last night a few things happened.  i decided that i was tired of pretending my feet were exactly the same size as they've been for the past 10 or so years of my life, and john and i made the trek to target to see if i could find some plain black pumps in 1/2 size larger.  i don't know if it was the brewing storm, the salty mexican food the night before or what-have-you, but every shoe i was trying on, in every size was cramping my pinky toes and making me feel crazy.  i tried a shoe with a more rounded edge, which i thought might work better as compared to my preferred pointy toe style, and i tried on a 7.  (i usually wear a 6.5).  no dice.  i grabbed a 7.5; it felt just as tight.  the 8 was uncomfortable, too.  at that point, i started to feel like i was going to cry.  i was uncomfortable, there were shoes randomly scattered all around the aisle (not from me, from previous messy shoppers... and i HATE trying to shop amidst chaos), and i was trying to convince myself that a hideous shoe wasn't so bad so i could proceed to buy it and wear it every day for the next 2ish months.  all of the sudden i felt overwhelmed, and thank god john was there to talk me back from the ledge.  he suggested we check out video cameras (since he is insisting we need one to document the arrival and milestones of the little one).  after a jaunt around the electronics section, we promptly left and john convinced me that what everyone (he, me and little fetus) needed was some chinese buffet.  at this point, i am powerless to fight him on anything so we head over to asian king buffet (which john informs me is a misnomer as there are no kings in asia, only emperors).  we're having a lovely little dinner, when all of the sudden i start thinking about my beloved family and friends and how nice the weekend had been (my sisters hosted my baby shower, and man, was i showered!  the overwhelming outpouring of love & support from my loved ones is still mind-boggling), and proceed to start crying at the buffet.  of course john thinks this is because i didn't really want to go out to dinner, so he's apologizing and asking what's wrong and telling me he's sorry and that we can leave.  i'm half laughing, half crying now, and the whole scene is just getting more and more ridiculous.  and in between laughter and tears (which probably sounded really horrible to the other restaurant patrons; sorry, guys!), i'm explaining to john that we've hit a new pregnancy milestone: crying at the chinese buffet. 
so there you have them.  my personal pregnancy milestones.  lest you think i'm not exuberantly awaiting the arrival of our little peanut: i assure you... (just like in saved by the bell) we're so excited, we're so excited, we're. so. scared.  haha.  in the midst of all these weird changes and uncomfortable moments, there are amazing times where i am awed by the furious kicking of this tiny little person, by fleeting images of holding my son (in about 2 months, or less!) and many upcoming visions of the memories i'll create with my new little family.  i would be completely fake & off base, though, if i neglected to mention these other milestones (see above).  in the interest of being completely honest, there you have 'em...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

parade of horribles.

as they say, ignorance is bliss, right?  well, if it's okay with everyone, i'd like to remain blissfully unaware.  (yes, this is in regard to pregnancy related information).

now, i'm not being naive.  i've researched the things that seem important to me right now (the hidden secrets of cloth diapering, a complete and detailed list of all the baby things you absolutely do not need, and some do's and don't's associated with breastfeeding).  but i'm not too keen on delving into every single, solitary fact and/or detail associated with being pregnant, giving birth or raising the baby after he arrives.

i'm sort of a pregnant procrastinator, truth be told.  i mean, we've been slowly putting the nursery together, piece by piece, and we could probably kick it into high gear and finish it off pretty quickly.  and i think we have most of the basic essentials we need to welcome baby home.  and i do have a living will, advance directive and durable healthcare power of attorney (while sitting at the doctor's office during my glucose test, i texted a work colleague and asked her if she could finalize these documents for me before the baby comes.  she immediately called back in a panic, asking if everything was alright.  i suppose that might be worrisome; my legal mind was just going about business as usual).  but the list of things we haven't done seems so much more numerous than those we've completed.  we haven't toured the hospital, we haven't taken any classes, we haven't decided on a name, and we haven't filled out a "birthing plan."  and that's fine by me.  as i said, i like the whole ignorance is bliss thing, at this point.

so, why is the rest of the world insisting on sharing gruesome pregnancy tidbits with me?  seriously.  i can't go anywhere these days without someone sharing some god-awful birthing story or their tragic experience with breastfeeding.  thanks for your efforts, people, but i'm fairly certain it's not going to be that helpful to me to know that your next door neighbor needed 4 stitches following the birth of her first son.  can you believe that last week someone actually shared this story about a friend of a friend of a friend who lost her baby at 33 weeks, even though, up to that point, she had had a completely normal pregnancy?  ok, thanks, lady... add that to the list of things i need to worry about before i fall asleep tonight (1. are those interrogatory answers finished?  2. did i pay the electric bill?  3. is someone going to sue me for malpractice? 4. will my baby up and die on me tomorrow?)

today's unnecessary pregnancy tidbit was brought to me courtesy of some of my bosses.  a few of us were milling about the office later than we should have been, discussing i-can't-even-remember-what, when the talk turned to giving birth.  (and with an office full of male colleagues, except for my female partner in crime, i'm not really sure why this happened, or always seems to happen.)  anyway, i was informed by one of the partners that many women bring home the placenta.  they use it in their gardens.  or they plant a tree with it.  or... [cross my heart. swear to god.  this is what i was told.] they. eat. it.  they eat their placenta.  my first question was, "in america?"  maybe that's naive, ignorant, or worse, but i guess there's this whole part of our culture about which i know nothing.  and, really, i was happy to know nothing of the people out there eating their own placentas.  i mean, i think there's a word for that, and i think it starts with a C and ends with annabilism.  no, really.  if you think i'm being judgmental, i'm sorry.  i just don't get it.  the human body is crazy and amazing and i have an appropriate amount of what i would consider reverence and awe over it, but eating a by-product?  i guess that's where i draw the line.

i'm a worrier.  i think about things that shouldn't even cross my mind for months or years to come.  i mean, i think about things i'm going to need to instill in my high school age child, who, as you know, has not yet even made his appearance in the world.  but there are some things that even i can't condone thinking about.  and one of them is placenta-eating.

here's my sincere apology if this post has offended you.  you're welcome to fry up a nice big pan of placenta, if that's what floats your boat.  me?  i can't be sure, but after giving birth, i'm thinking a nice steak, and an ice cold miller lite.  but again, that's just me.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

it's the little things.

there are a great many things on which i'd love to write, but i just don't have the time right now.  for now, though, i have a very special thank you in mind.  this one goes out to...

my ankles.

for the last 2-3 weeks, i've been battling water retention issues in my lower extremeties.  it has not been particularly fun.  as you may remember, i can't wear my suits to work, and i've slowly accepted that, but no heels?  i'm sorry, i just can't give up the heels, too.  i can only take so much, my friends.  however, the other option, squeezing swelled up feet into formerly comfortable dress shoes... well, that's not so appetizing either. 

well, a concerted effort to drink as much water as possible, coupled with extra exercise and a weather shift to cooler temperatures has brought my ankles back down to normal size.  i can comfortably wear my precious, size 6 1/2 bandolinos without incident, thank you very much.

in a world filled with hearings and court appearances and temporary motions and jury trials, i needed this victory.  i am now off to court, approximately 2 inches taller, thanks to my beloved heels.  did i ever think i'd feel grateful for the day i could wear my normal work heels?  of course not.  but it's the little things, i tell you.  savor the little victories.