Saturday, February 27, 2010


It will be a while before I really begin to show. I'm fat enough to begin with, so it's not really easy to distinguish a baby bump under my normal belly.

Yet, I have started to notice a definite thickening right around the top of my underwear. It might not be very visible to others, but it feels different — firm, rather than soft, rounded, and thick. I suspect that it will be at least another month before I have a real bump, but this little change is helping me to feel pregnant.

My next appointment with the midwives is on Thursday. I really hope we get to hear the heartbeat.

Point and Pray

In Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America, David Hackett Fischer describes a peculiar method occasionally used by Puritans to name their children:
There is evidence that parents sometimes shut their eyes, opened the good book and pointed to a word at random, with results such as Notwithstanding Griswold and Maybe Barnes.
FB and I tried this method, first with a Bible, then with the US Constitution.

I opened the Bible and FB pointed. Result: Reconciled.

FB opened the Constitution and I pointed. Result: President.

Reconciled is actually not too bad, though it does sound a little defeatist. I like some of those old virtue names like Temperence, Thankful, Remember, etc. I maintain that Diligence and Vigilance would be good twin names.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Date Night

FB and I have decided that every Friday from now until Snapdragon comes will be Date Night. Whether we go out for dinner, see a movie, or just stay in and snuggle, we will protect Friday nights for hanging out together.

Last week, we had a lovely, multi-course dinner at a seafood restaurant. Tonight, we're planning on meeting at a pub and then coming home to some Netflix and Ben & Jerry's.

I am trying to savor this one-on-one time while it's relatively easy to go out.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Give Me Red!

I'm feeling much better than I was earlier in the week. I only had one day of real nausea and it never got too bad. I have started to have some acid reflux, which is new, but not terrible.

Over the past week, my cravings have taken a strange turn. From 7-9 weeks, I was craving rich things: mashed potatoes, steak, chocolate, cheese, etc. Now, I only want RED things: cranberry or pomegranate juice, red Jell-O, Powerade, Starburst, strawberries, plums, etc.

I suppose that consuming large quantities of fruit, fruit juices and artificially fruit-flavored things is probably not helping the acid reflux situation, but what can you do?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In the Womb

FB and I just watched the National Geographic documentary In the Womb. Meh. It was not great.

Some of the footage was interesting, particularly the 3-D and 4-D scans, but the whole thing dragged on a bit. The segment on the second trimester was especially protracted.

I wish there had been more context. For the most part, the narration played over the same dozen computer-animated clips over and over again, without offering a lot of comparative information. The most interesting parts were when the camera ventured outside the womb to show an in-utero surgical procedure or . . . well, that was really the only time. There were 1,000 shots of pregnant women's abdomens — strangely, every woman in this movie wears midriff-baring shirts for the duration of her pregnancy — but those clips were generally static and context-free.

I would have liked to see more charts and graphs, more discussion of complications, and more discussion of worldwide practices and statistics. I suppose they wanted to focus on the "typical" development of a single fetus, but it was frustratingly vague and general. The narrator didn't even offer basic information like how much the baby weighed at birth, which took away from the particular birth story. If they wanted to do general development, they should have included more statistics and variations; if they wanted to showcase a particular case as typical, they should have given the specific details.

In all, it was unsatisfying. And long (90 minutes). And I found the weird blue, zappy-sounding neuron theme really unsettling.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Feeling Pukey

These past 24 hours have seen my first real brush with pregnancy-related stomach troubles. There has been no actual vomiting, just a general feeling of unease and tepid appetite. It's not debilitating, but it is annoying.

My sympathies go out to all the pregnant ladies out there who have been dealing with this bullshit for a month or more.

16 and Pregnant

Ok, let's be honest: I watch 16 and Pregnant. I have my TiVo set up to catch it so that I won't miss an episode if I go to bed at 8:00.

I find this show incredibly depressing/infuriating, and I can only hope that teenagers who watch it are getting the same message I am: your expectations for your deadbeat boyfriend are totally unreasonable. I don't think it glamorizes teen pregnancy at all.

Anyway, I happened across an article about the show that showcased a novel criticism. Jami Quesenberry, mother of eight, says of 16 and Pregnant:
I found those shows so depressing that I am afraid they may encourage abortion . . . The one girl who responsibly decided to put her baby up for adoption, at least in the episode I watched of ‘Teen Mom,’ was still depressed with her decision after five months . . . The other mothers [on the show] had lives that seemed stifling . . . If a teen watched that show, she may decide to terminate her pregnancy rather than go through what these teens are going through.
Well played, madam. Quesenberry has blocked the show in her home, presumably so that her eight children don't get the wrong idea about teenage pregnancy being all depressing and shit.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Name List

I have been suggesting baby names to FB since long before Snapdragon was conceived. Some have been offered in jest, but others are serious attempts to gauge his naming style.

In general, he has not been very excited about coming up with names of his own, content to accept or reject names that I offer. I told him that he will need to come up with his own name list at some point, but he is of the opinion that he should wait until we know the sex before he puts in too much effort. I've tried to convince him that there's no time like the present (the baby might be shy! the ultrasound tech could be wrong! if you make 2 lists now, you can reuse the other one for Snapdragon 2.0!) but to no avail.

Frankly, I cannot wait another 8-10 weeks to make my lists. I'll need some time to live with names to make sure that I can love the same name for seven months straight. My tastes fluctuate.

So here are my Top 5 lists, as they stand at the moment, with explanations, nicknames, etc. Anyone who is reading this blog better chime in and tell me what they think, since FB isn't really ready to engage on this subject yet. The first-name, middle-name combos are not set in stone — they can be shuffled around.


1. Amalia Pasqualina (nickname Mollie)

pro: middle name honoring my Papa, suitably Italian with our Anglo last name, neither name popular (though Amalia is close to Amelia, which is very popular), super cute nickname

con: very girly, trouble pronouncing first name (I say ah-MOLL-ee-ah, others might say ah-mah-LEE-a) Pasqualina is weird to English-speakers, it's a lot of name

2. Una DeAngelis (no nickname)

pro: middle name honors my family, I LOVE Una, easily pronounced in many languages, unusual, but not baffling

con: rhymes with tuna, somewhat unusual, no nickname potential if she really hates it

3. Susanna DeAngelis (nickname Una)

pro: I'm not kidding when I say that Una is my favorite name at the moment, I like Susanna but not Sue or Susie (Zuzu is ok), Susanna was a top 10 name in 1710 but it's not a top 1,000 name now

con: Una isn't the most obvious nickname for Susanna, there's a lot of nasal short a sound with this combo

4. Ellen Mathilde (nickname Nell)

pro: Ellen honors many women in my family (including my mother, Mary Ellen, and her grandmother, Nell), Pete has a whole line of Mathildes in his family and I got rather attached to them after doing their family tree this past Christmas, both Ellen and Nell are easy to spell/pronounce

con: not Italian, Mathilde is an unusual spelling of Matilda, could replace Mathilde with Modestina (my adorable great-grandmother's unfortunate name)

5. Cecily, Harriet (nn Hattie), Lydia, Luna, Philippa (nn Pippa)

pro: I like these names

con: they are not family names and I can't really find a way to justify them other than I think that they are cute


1. Benjamin Pasquale (nickname Ben)

pro: my grandfathers are Benjamin and Pasquale, there have been 4 generations of Benjamins in my family (grandfathers and grandsons — it skips generations), yet it is the most palatable name in a family of Manfredos, Armands, and Ilarios, Ben seems like a sturdy name

con: I have a brother named Ben, so they'd be Big Ben and Little Ben forever

2. Benjamin Conrad (nickname Ben)

pro: see above, Conrad is FB's grandfather's name

con: see above, I don't like Conrad very much

3. David Americo (nickname Dave, I guess)

pro: David is one of only two names that is in both of our families (the other is Armand), Americo is my great-grandfather's name (my dad, Mark, was named after him while my grandparents were trying to assimilate)

con: it's ok I guess, FB's brother's name is Dave (Big Dave/Little Dave), I like Americo better than I like David

4. Walton Pasquale (nickname Walt)

pro: I've always liked the name Walter, but FB's middle name is Walton, which is close enough, middle name honors my grandfather

con: it sounds pretty WASPy, which it is

5. Oliver Pasquale

pro: I like both of those names, FB's great-great-etc. grandfather, Oliver Fiske, died in the Revolutionary War, thus making our kids eligible to join the DAR

con: Oliver is pretty popular in our neck of the woods, if I had an Olly, we could never have a Mollie

That's where I am right now. There are other names that I like and could learn to love, but this is what I have at the moment.

What say you?

In Defense of Weddings

Recently, I happened across an article bemoaning the high cost of weddings. In general, I think that critics of expensive weddings make some good points — the median cost of a wedding in America is $17,500, people could use that money for other things, the wedding-industrial complex has lots of arbitrary "musts" designed to fleece consumers, we don't need no piece of paper from the city hall, etc. I certainly understand the appeal of eloping and then spending nearly 20k on a fabulous trip (that $ wouldn't buy you a garden shed in my city, so I won't say "or house").

Yet, I will speak in defense of spending serious money on a wedding.

When FB and I got married in 2007, we spent nearly $10,000 on our wedding and it was totally worth it. If I could live that day over again for a mere 10k, I would do it in a heartbeat.

We did not have a fancy wedding — we got married in the little church up the street from my aunt's house and had the reception in her back yard. I bought most of my flowers at Stop & Shop and cut many of the rest in my mom's and aunts' gardens. Another aunt made the invitations. I bought my dress for $110 off the rack at Macy's. The bridesmaids' dresses were $100 at the mall. We played music off of FB's iPod over a sound system borrowed from my uncle.

So where did all that money go?

We spent money on the things that would make the day great for our 150+ guests. We wanted to give our families and friends one wonderful day of enjoying one another and I think we succeeded in that.

About $1,000 went to cake. Rather than get an elaborate wedding cake, we bought about 30 cakes from our favorite bakery (Pastiche in Providence, RI) and had a cake buffet. Rather than choose one or two flavors, we ordered a bit of everything: cheesecake, carrot cake, lemon chiffon, chocolate, fruit tart, chocolate-raspberry torte, etc.:

Another $1,000 went to drinks: beer, wine, soda, water, and coffee. Three kegs of Sam Adams (lager, stout, and summer ale) took up a chunk of that, as did 2 or three cases of wine. There's a local soda maker up the street from my parents' house, so we got a dozen different flavors of soda in glass bottles. We filled some big tubs with ice and put pitchers on a table and people helped themselves.

About $3,000 went to food. My mother and aunts made vats of pasta salad and potato salad, piles of cookies, and vast fruit plates. The bulk of this money went to a friend-of-a-friend who is a BBQ competition champ — we hired him to bring his setup and make pulled pork, spare ribs, bbq chicken, and grilled vegetables:

An additional $1,500 went to two large canopies. It turned out to be a spectacular day, weather-wise, but you can never tell in New England. If it had been drizzly, we would have been very thankful that we had those tents, so I can't regret the money we spent on them.

About $2,000 went to the photographer. It was a big expense, but we treasure the pictures we have from that day. We had her take family portraits of all of the nuclear families and extended families, with everyone looking their best and all together in the same place. We gave those pictures as Christmas presents and everyone has them framed in their houses now.

There were other expenses here and there that made up the last little bit — church fees, gifts for the bridesmaids and groomsmen, a few hundred dollars on flowers, etc. In general, we didn't spend much on anything that wasn't directly related to making this a good party. I've been to plenty of un-fun weddings where I have eaten overcooked chicken and cardboard cake while attempting to avoid the dance floor, and I didn't think my family would appreciate enduring that on my behalf. Instead, we blew 10 grand on the best barbecue ever and it was awesome.

Perhaps I remember my wedding with affection because my beloved grandfather had a devastating stroke a few weeks later, so it was the last time we were really all together as a family. When I look back at the pictures, I see my mom talking to my mother-in-law's friends and my grandmothers eating lunch together while my high school friends play badminton with Pete's cousins and the younger kids splash in the pool. Both of our families are musically inclined and many people brought instruments, leading to an hours-long cross-family, friend-inclusive jam session. Everyone got to chat with everyone else and enjoy free beer and good food.

So, I suppose it's true that if we had eloped and saved that $10,000, we could have invested it and spent it on Snapdragon's college education in 18 years. But we wouldn't have had that day, and we would have been the poorer for it.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Baby Sale

I saw this ad on another blog I read. Who knew you could just buy them?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I Can't Complain . . . But I Will Anyway

I really cannot complain about my pregnancy symptoms. I have had practically no nausea — a few smells make my stomach flip over, but I haven't spent a minute writhing in agony and I haven't thrown up at all. My boobs are bigger, but they don't hurt. All of my cravings have been for fairly reasonable things (hotdogs, anchovies, chicken salad, plums). My face is still an acne-swollen mess, but I can cover it up with foundation when I have to teach and I don't care too much about it when I'm home.

This is the upside of having my mother's body. I will never be tall and I will never be thin, but I can pull off this pregnancy thing no problem. Let's hope that the similarities hold out til the end and I have a short, unmedicated labor.

I know I'm having a much easier time than many women, so I feel bad complaining about my one prominent symptom, but what else are blogs for?

I am SO GODDAMN TIRED. I went to bed at 11 last night, slept until 10 (with two bathroom breaks), and by 2 p.m., I was ready for a nap. This was after I took a shower, ran errands for one hour, made lunch, and sat on the couch folding laundry. This is the extent of my ability to exert myself at the moment.

On Thursdays, I teach two two-hour seminars, one from 10-12 and the other from 2-4. About halfway through the second seminar, I was writing on the chalkboard when I felt my knees begin to wobble and my voice give out. I sat down and got through the rest of class, but the exhaustion just hit me like a cartoon anvil. I took the bus home instead of walking because I could barely put one foot in front of the other. It took me a full day to recover.

Luckily, I only have to go into work on Mondays and Thursdays. The rest of the week, I can sit on my couch and read or write. Theoretically, I could go to the gym in the morning, but in reality, I only end up going about once a week because it takes so much out of me.

I hear that some women get a second wind in the second trimester. I'm looking forward to that, though it is still a full month away.

Carnegie Stage 18

Tired of comparing your embryo to fruit? Check out these amazing photographs of embryos from the University of Michigan. Snapdragon is currently 45 days post-ovulation, putting him/her in stage 18.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Tonight, I had a mushroom-anchovy-olive-eggplant-onion-and-pepper pizza for dinner. And it was delicious.

A Quilt for Snapdragon

I started this quilt in the fall and finished it in January. I don't have a sewing machine, so it goes pretty slow. In retrospect, a white background is not such a great idea for a baby quilt — maybe I'll use it as a crib liner or something. Not that I care much if it gets dirty — it's all cotton (washable) and I can repair it if it gets damaged.

I am a novice quilter. Really, I just like to buy pretty fabric and it sometimes (rarely) makes its way into a project.

My least favorite part of quilting is the planning. I'm terrible at the math/measuring/cutting part and can never get the geometric shapes to line up the way they should. In short, I am not a precision quilter.

That's why the Cathedral Windows pattern is perfect for me. The quilt grows under your fingers and you can stop whenever you feel like it. It's also pretty forgiving of my inability to get blocks to line up exactly. Even though I use the same template to cut out all the pieces, they never seem to be exactly the same size. This pattern allows me to fudge it a bit. One final perk: I can use all the scraps I've been saving for years.

If you are interested in making your own Cathedral Window Quilt, follow this excellent tutorial via Hyena in Petticoats. It has good step-by-step pictures for all you visual learners out there.

You can choose your own colors — I made up this pattern and it worked pretty well. I'm a little disappointed that the orange and yellow sort of run together, but I like the blues, purples, and reds. Next time, I think I'll try single-color inserts — that way, you get an interesting visual effect where you can't tell if it's the inserts or the background that you're supposed to focus on.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

What to Expect When You're Expected

FB and I have been reading What to Expect When You're Expected: A Fetus' Guide to the First Three Trimesters. It's very funny — doubly so if you have suffered through the condescension of the original What to Expect. It uses the same format and font.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who didn't lose her sense of humor when she got pregnant.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


One of the nice things about my grad student schedule is that I can stay home on days when I don't have class. Mondays and Thursdays are my big days: class and meetings from 10 til 4. I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but it's all I can handle right now.

Yesterday, I walked to campus, attended my meetings, and walked back. I got home around 5:30 and collapsed on the couch. By 9:30, I was so tired I was practically delirious, so I went to bed and slept until 10 this morning.

I have never been this tired in my life, not even after soccer hell week in high school.