Monthly Archives: June 2007

Pregnancy Update—Week 17

Friday, June 15, I had an amnio. Not everyone over 35 has an amnio, but it’s becoming increasingly common as technology improves. When you get pregnant past 35, you get put into the “advanced age mother” category and receive all kinds of literature about birth defects (fun!). Then you get to choose between getting a CVS (chorionic villus sampling) at 12 weeks, an amnio at 16 weeks, some preliminary tests (that are totally safe, but not totally accurate and may give false positives for birth defects) to help you decide if you should have one of the other tests, or nothing. Maybe it’s because I’m “over 35,” but I didn’t want any surprises. I wanted to know the sex of the baby (boy), and I wanted to know that everything else was okay, too. After some research, we determined that the CVS is just too risky and that the amnio is pretty safe—safer than getting your appendix out at eight weeks, that’s for sure. Why is 35 the magic number for getting an amnio (in fact, they don’t let you get one if you’re under 35)? Because 35 is the age at which the risk of having a miscarriage from the amnio is the same as the risk that your baby will have a birth defect. The biggest one thrown around is “Down Syndrome,” but there are 20-something defects an amnio tests for. The risk of anything going wrong is .5%—and that’s anything going wrong, even if it doesn’t lead to miscarriage. So for the first trimester I was constantly worried about miscarriage. Then I just couldn’t wait to get the amnio overwith. The amnio itself is scary. They stick a big needle in you and tell you not to exercise for the next 48 hours. Then, if all goes well, you have to wait up to two weeks for the results. Kind of like waiting for the results of an AIDS test, if you’ve ever had one of those (I’ve had many.)

So the day of the amnio came, and Martin and I went to the prenatal place together. First they did a long ultrasound, which is when we found out it was a boy and got to see the chambers of the heart, the parts of the brain, etc. It was a lot of fun. He was opening his mouth and moving his arms—just like I mentioned in my previous “update.” Then, once the ultrasound is over, the doctor comes in and does another ultrasound (he’s quicker, but shows you all the same things), then asks if you still want to go through with the amnio. “Yes,” I said. And then he uses the ultrasound to see where to put the needle, then he marks my stomach, then in goes the needle, and it barely hurt at all—less than getting my blood drawn. It was in for a minute while they sucked out two vials of fluid, and I held my stomach in during that time to avoid any pain. Then he pulled it out—that was the most painful part—and voila, it was over. The reason I’m going into so much detail is that I think a lot of people hear amnios are very scary and painful, and mine wasn’t at all. It was no worse than getting my blood drawn. If all is well, they call you and, if you don’t answer, leave a voicemail message saying, “We have some good news for you!” If all is not well, they call your OB and let her deal with it. So I was very happy Tuesday afternoon to get a voicemail message that said, “We have some good news for you!” I called right back, but she didn’t have much more information. “Everything looks great,” she said. It was a happy day. And now I can stop worrying and start shopping for baby furniture, I thought.

Well, one last note about worrying. I still have a lot of “birth plan” decisions to make. After flirting with the idea of a home birth (my sister-in-law had both of her children at home), I’ve decided to go with the hospital, and maybe I’ll blog more about that decision later. I’m still trying to decide whether I want an epidural (my plan until now was not to get one, but I’m reconsidering), whether I want a doula and whether I want to invest in this $1000 German contraption that makes birth a lot easier called Epi-No. Lots of decisions to make. And a book to write. Oy vey. I have much to do.

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A Day of Bliss

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River’s End, where the Russian River meets the Pacific

Two weekends ago, Martin and I spent the weekend at the Russian River. We did a steep (and hot) nine-mile hike the first day and drove around, swam and played games at a dive bar in Monte Rio the second day. And we love it up there. We went back Sunday for a day trip. We had BBQ at the Village Inn on the river and then kayayed up and down the river for a couple of hours. It was beautiful, hot, sunny and SO nice to be on the river. Rivers remind me of Michigan. Many, many people in Michigan have cabins on lakes somewhere “up north” where they boat or canoe or swim around. Like the Russian River, lake water in Michigan is placid and warm, not stormy and freezing like the Pacific Ocean. I’ve been tossed under enough times on a surf board to really appreciate kayaking up a river that moves so slowly you can kayak UP it. I would write more, but I’m too tired.

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Writing, reading.

I’ve been reading a lot of craft books lately. (I’m sick of pregnancy books.) The more I learn, the more I look at my manuscript and think about how much work I still have to do. Right now I’m reading Deepening Fiction, parts of Burroway’s Writing Fiction and the Squaw Valley Community of Writers’ book Workshop in a Book. I’m learning about plot and use of detail—when it’s too much, when it’s not enough. Memoir writing is very similar to fiction writing. You need character development, you need a plot, you need a balance between scene and summary. Some people think writing memoir is easier than fiction because the author knows what happens next. But you don’t. Not only do you have many, many beginnings, middles and ends to choose from (and conflicts, climaxes, etc.), but you are limited to telling the truth. So you have to choose which arc works best while remaining within the confines of reality. I find it very difficult! And one piece of advice that I came across in one of the books I’m reading is to master the short story before attempting a novel. In other words, master scene, plot, characterization, etc. BEFORE trying to write a book. I didn’t do that. I wrote many chapters of my book before I wrote my first short story, which I wrote in the fall of 2005. In other words, I’ve been learning to write WHILE I’m writing a book, which has made it all that much more challenging. I hadn’t taken any creative writing classes before I attended Mills, or started writing my book. The only creative story I remember writing was “Christie Goes to the Olympics,” which came in second place in the third grade writing contest. It lost to my good friend J’s “How the Leopard Got Its Spots.” (J is now a film producer in Hollywood.) Otherwise, I’d written hundreds of news and feature articles—a whole different ballgame.

A chapter in Workshop in a Book that I found entertaining is called “Fear of Finishing.” It states that no finished book will live up to the hopes and expectations of the author. No finished book will be as good as what the author intended it to be, or thought it could be. So by not finishing a book, the author can keep dreaming about what a fantastic book it would be if only she DID finish it. She can fantasize about the awards she would win and the money she would make. The true fear is, of course, that the book won’t win any awards and won’t make any money, if it gets published at all. That keeps a lot of people from completing their books, but I don’t plan to be one of those people! My deadline for myself is Thanksgiving, although I’m aware that I may not meet that deadline and that that’s okay. But I will at least have another draft done by then, a draft that is better than the last.

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It’s a boy!

I had another ultrasound today and, well, I was right! My guess was that it was a boy, partly out of instinct and partly because every friend of mine who has had kids has told me that I was going to have a boy because I haven’t thrown up once (except from the appendicitis) and have had a relatively easy pregnancy. We got to see everything today—the face (well, looks like a skeleton on the sonogram at this point), the parts of the brain, the chambers of the beating heart, the stomach, kidneys, spine, legs, arms, hands,  feet, etc. Pretty cool. I’d post a picture, but they’re just photocopies this time, and it’s difficult to tell what is what.

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I can’t drive 25

I had a really crappy couple of days this week. Tuesday the editor I decided to work with on my book told me that she didn’t want to work with me because she didn’t think she was the right fit for the project. I took that as, “I think your book sucks, and I don’t want to waste my time working on a project that doesn’t interest me.” I was depressed for the rest of the day. Then yesterday things got worse and, to top it off, I got a speeding ticket in the afternoon. I noticed later that there was an RIP sign that read “Don’t drink and drive” on the street where the cop stopped me (He ticketed me for going 40 down Marin, near my house, which is a 25 mph zone. NO one goes under 40 on that road. The speed limit used to be 40 there, and they lowered it to 25 after a kid got killed, but no one follows the new limit.) Anyway, I think the recent death caused the cops to crack down on speeders this week, and I got unlucky. I think bad things often happen in twos or threes because when you’re cranky or agitated you tend to attract bad; I probably would have been more careful when I saw the cop (and I did see him) had I not been in such a bad mood to begin with.

On the upside, I hired a new editor and will meet with her next week. I also got into the Squaw Valley Writers Conference with a scholarship and am looking forward to attending in August. They only take 24 nonfiction writers, so I was happy to be accepted. I also turned in my first book review for the Chronicle two weeks early. The editor was happy with it and will give me another assignment soon.

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Pregnancy Update—Week 16

Well the honeymoon trimester lives up to its name. I’ve been almost feeling like a normal human these past three weeks. The downside is I feel like I have a perpetual cold (or allergies). My nose is always stuffed up, and I’m constantly sneezing. They say the first trimester is like having the flu; the second trimester is like having a cold. It’s true.

I’ve stopped worrying about gaining weight, which is a good thing and a bad thing, because I also haven’t been going to the gym much lately. Although I still eat a lot, so my weight gain has slowed to a normal pace. I went on a long hike Saturday (eight miles). The first half was steep and the weather was hot, so I kept stopping to check my pulse and drink a lot of water. I really shouldn’t have been hiking in that heat at all, but it felt so good to get outside and get some exercise. I tried to remember the last time I hiked and kept thinking of January when I would hike in Redwood Park to study my vocabulary flashcards for the GRE. Then I remembered—how could I forget?—that we hiked 80 miles in Patagonia in March. That seems like years ago. That’s how my life is—rushing from one thing to the next, never looking back, the past seeming like another lifetime. One difference I noticed while hiking is that I became out of breath easily. I reminded Martin that one of my pregnancy books says your body is doing the work of climbing a mountain when you’re pregnant, “So I’m climbing two mountains right now, and you’re just climbing one,” I told him as we hiked up through Austin Creek State Park. I have climbed just twice in the past six weeks, and I have only four more weeks to climb until next year, but I’ve started doing yoga again. I still can’t do a backbend because of my surgery, but I can do most of the other poses.

I haven’t been sleeping well. I wake up two or three times a night. This morning I woke up for the third time at 5 and was so wide awake that I just got up and started reading. I’ll try to take a nap later.

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So it’s Steve Perry’s fault

I came across this on IMDB.com:

SPOILER ALERT: Rocker Steve Perry refused to let The Sopranos creator David Chase use his classic song “Don’t Stop Believin'” in the mob show’s final scene until he knew the fate of the drama’s leading characters. The ex-Journey frontman kept Chase waiting until three days before the long-awaited finale aired in America on Sunday. Perry is a huge Sopranos fan and feared his 1981 rock anthem would be remembered as the soundtrack to the death of James Gandolfini‘s character Tony Soprano – until Chase assured him that wouldn’t be the case. Perry says, “The request came in a few weeks ago and it wasn’t until Thursday that it got approval, because I was concerned. I was not excited about (the possibility of) the Soprano family being whacked to ‘Don’t Stop Believin”. Unless I know what happens – and I will swear to secrecy – I can’t in good conscience feel good about its use.” And Perry was so true to his word, he didn’t even tell his family the song featured in the finale. He adds, “I didn’t want to blow it. Even my wife didn’t know. She looked at me and said, ‘You knew that and you didn’t tell me?'”

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