I’m Feeling Fine

Seriously, I’m gonna start coming up with stupid, sarcastic responses to that question. How are you feeling? I know this is apparently one of those things pregnant women have to put up with (preparing me for the touching stage? who knows) but I swear I get asked that a dozen times a day. Always the first question right off the bat. And then the conversation stops when I say I’m feeling fine. Did that answer disappoint them? Were they expecting me to say I feel like shit? Maybe a pregnant woman who feels great is too boring or something. Sometimes I feel (and I should point out that I’m not directing any of this at anyone in particular, this is just a completely generic pregnant lady vent) like the rest of my life and what’s happening in it is now irrelevant because of the baby. Nobody seems to want to talk to me about much except how am I feeling. So, yeah. That’s fun.

18 weeks

However, on the positive side, we have our ultrasound on Tuesday! So excited. Assuming we do find out the gender (because I’m prepared for the possibility that we might not be able to get a clear enough picture), I will not be announcing it until the shower in late September. My mom doesn’t want to know till then, and I want to respect her feelings, but it’s also our baby and I frankly have to know who’s in there. So if I don’t let you know–nothing personal. I don’t want to tell too many people (i.e. anyone outside my closest circle of girlfriends because let’s face it, someone’s gonna have to know) because it will inevitably get out on Facebook and mom will hear via third party and that will be a situation I don’t want to get into. So, tight lipped till the shower reveal. Which will be more fun anyway, I think, because that way we can play gender reveal games and have the cool reveal cake and–my biggest reason for waiting–not end up with 5 million pieces of pink/blue clothing, etc. Today our neighbor had a yard sale and they had some baby stuff, so we made out with a nearly brand new Pack n’ Play with a changing table, a toddler stroller, bath toys, and a couple boxes of clothing all for $20. Major score! It just doesn’t make sense to buy everything new because let’s face it, baby stuff is expensive and most of the time you don’t use it for very long (especially clothes), which is why some baby things are just fine second hand. I saw the Pack n’ Play out in the yard this morning when I went to work and when it was still there when I got home I knew I had to grab it. Definitely will come in handy when we visit MeMe and Papi. 

Cameron and I are going to North Carolina tomorrow to see his uncle Scott and girlfriend Denise get married. They recently moved out to Wilmington from Colorado. I have never been to that part of the country (well, I was there as an infant, but I’m not sure that counts) so I’m excited. We get in late on Thursday but have almost all day Friday to ourselves, so we are planning to spend the day driving out to the coast to see some of the sights, hopefully including some Civil War sites. The wedding is on Saturday and unfortunately we have to leave very early on Sunday, so it will be a short trip, but it will still be nice to get out of town for a while. The craziness has officially descended upon us and I am at that stage when I would rather drive 40 minutes down the valley to go grocery shopping than brave the Safeway here. I will do anything to avoid going to the grocery store here right now–which usually means sending Cameron. Sorry hun. 

In parting, check out this big guy who was outside my office window at work today! 

 

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Huzzah

Woohoo, a non-pregnancy-related post! Instead, gratuitous photos. Of myself. Yay!

This weekend, the Colorado Renaissance Festival opens. We’re going down for our first of hopefully many visits this year. You might think Ren Faire is a pretty geeky way to spend a day at what is basically a giant over-priced outdoor shopping mall full of weirdos in costumes and food on sticks. And it is, sort of. But for many of us weirdos out there, ren faire is a lifestyle. When you’re a rennie you do things like shop for “normal” clothing and don’t buy anything unless it could potentially do double duty at faire. You know how to undress in your car in a dusty parking lot and change into garb without anyone ever seeing a shred of skin. You know what “bodicegasm” and “kilt check” mean. There are many qualifiers in the “you know you’re a rennie when” game and I’m sure I coincide with way more of them than I’d actually care to admit when it came right down to it, but whatever.

Ren has been an amazing part of my life since I was 12. I have met some of the most amazing people at ren. 3 out of my 4 bridesmaids I met at faire. I have met some pretty rotten people too, but that happens wherever you go, so you have to learn to take that with a grain of sand. I have gotten to travel to new and interesting places around the country just to go to a ren faire. I have collected more favors from friends I have met throughout the years than can now fit all at once on my hat. I have had the opportunity to perform and try different characters and make some people very happy. And I can’t wait to start bringing my kids to this world. It really is more than the costumes and food and music and atmosphere. It is, like I said, a lifestyle.

This is the only picture I can find on my hard drive of my first trip to Ren. I know I have a whole roll of photos somewhere from this trip that I will have to find some day.

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I was hooked enough to go for the costume the next year. I think it’s fascinating to watch the progression of garb (read: the money I spent) as the years go by.

stephfairy

As you can see, I rocked the fairy look for a couple of years: (I think this one was 2004) Ironically, about 5 years later I would come back to this very same spot and do a fairy shoot with some friends, I’ll post those later.
mefairy

2005 was the year I started working at the faire and the real obsession began.

Extremely sunburned after working a different spot the day before without sunscreen.
Extremely sunburned after working a different spot the day before without sunscreen.

2006, the year I graduated high school:
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I can only find a handful of photos from 2007, which is okay because I had come back from my first year of college 30 pounds heavier (no joke) and so none of them are particularly flattering. So we’ll skip to the next year, which is when my pirate character, Zoë, started to take shape. See that gold corset, by the way? I spent the entire year previous paying that sucker off with tips. 2008 was a big year for me. I spent that summer working at ren faire and at Elitches, the local amusement park, on the entertainment crew. It was also the year I moved into my first apartment. It was an exciting summer to spend at ren faire but it was also exhausting.

Photo by Nelson Chen
Photo by Nelson Chen

2008 was also the first year of the Santa Fe renaissance festival, which has to this day been my favorite faire ever. I took my pirate character there and got to play around for 2 days and it was just spectacular.
zoeestavan

In 2009 my whole family traveled to the Arizona ren faire in February. It wasn’t the first time I’d gone to a big faire (Santa Fe is quite small) outside of Colorado, I’d gone to one of the faires in New York in 2006, but it was the first time where I got to meet people from the ren enthusiasts’ online forum, where I’d been an active member for several years.
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Back at Colorado, 2009 was another exciting year. I was made supervisor at my booth and I worked with some great people. I started dancing this year, and I was feeling very good. I even had a [short-lived] romance this summer. I can always tell when the summer was particularly good, because there are a lot of pictures. I probably have more pictures from 2009 than any other year.

Photo by Delaney Wade
Photo by Delaney Wade

Photo by Delaney Wade
Photo by Delaney Wade
Photo by Gary Gervais
Photo by Gary Gervais
Most of the members of the online forum. Activity and participation seems to have died down some in the last few years, but some of the same people are still there and are still great.
Most of the members of the online forum. Activity and participation seems to have died down some in the last few years, but some of the same people are still there and are still great.

2009 was the year I introduced my fairy character, Fritzie. She was born out of a photo shoot done with a very good friend of mine, Charlotte, who is (the best, if I may say so) face painter at the faire.

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(In this picture I’m standing on the exact same chain I was sitting on in the picture from 2004.)

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Later that year I took Fritzie to the Santa Fe faire too.

Also that year, I went to the Maryland Faire for the first time, for a gathering of the online community called Rendezvous. I am still longing to go back to that faire. (Luckily, a few friends are about to move to Baltimore, which may mean I’ll have an excuse to visit in a few years.)

A very good friend, with whom I am still in contact today.
A very good friend, with whom I am still in contact today.

2010 was the year that things started to peter down for faire in a weird way. For me, a big part of it was that it was the year I met Cameron, and I was definitely no longer using faire as a potential place to flirt and find romances. Many of the great girls I had worked with for so many years were also starting to work in the beer booths and I didn’t see them as much. We did attend Arizona in the spring and Santa Fe in the fall. But like I said, the number of pictures I have of a particular year is an indicator of how good the year was–and I have very slim pickins as far as that year goes. Also, early this particular year, I had a very upsetting falling out with someone with whom I had previously been very good friends with through faire, and due to the fact that it had to do with a very unwelcome sexual advance that took place at faire, it put a very bad taste in my mouth for me and I found myself not enjoying it as much as I always had. It took me a really long time to come back from that one.

In 2011, I returned to work at faire very much at the last minute. I had just graduated college and had moved in with Cameron, and I had hoped to be working full time before the faire started. That didn’t happen, and so I called my boss the weekend before faire opened and begged for a job. Not only did he give me a job, but he gave me a job as a beer wench, which makes you a ton of money. So it ended up being okay in the long run, though I hated being away from home every weekend for two months. (Faire was too far away from our place in Fort Collins to drive back and forth each night, so I stayed with my parents halfway during the weekends. I had done that for several years, but it was different now that I was living with Cameron.) I missed Santa Fe that year due to work conflicts and though we had made plans to go to Scarborough, a big faire in Texas, the plan fell through literally within hours of departure. I still haven’t been.

2012 was a much more exciting year because for the first time, I did not work the faire and just got to go to play. (Though I was roped into working a couple days)

I also made it back to Santa Fe, just a few weeks before the wedding.

So, as you can see, there has been A LOT of change in many ways over the years, and through it all ren faire has sort of been this thread that weaves itself in and out. I love it. I spent most of the morning going through my garb to make sure everything was clean and didn’t need repair. Best of all, Cameron is coming along tomorrow. He’s only been once, a year that I was working, and it was a bit of a culture shock for him, so tomorrow he’ll get the real insider’s experience. And, because he has no excuse not to wear his kilt, we’re going to get him a few more pieces to his garb so that he doesn’t look like a total outsider. 😀 I know this year will be different, with the pregnancy, and I’ll have to be more careful with the heat and dehydration, but I still couldn’t be more excited.

Oh, and for the record, my parents do faire too. And they are fucking fabulous. That’s them in the Santa Fe photo with me above. They even get to walk in the parade.

Holy Negativity, Batman!

The internet is a scary place for a pregnant woman to be. So much information on so many subjects from so many sources, much of which is not even correct. It’s the WebMD effect. We panic so we look online to self-diagnose, and only make ourselves feel worse when in reality the problem is nonexistent.

So where do we go when we need a cyber shoulder to cry on? To commiserate with other women about our crazy symptoms and our doubts and worries? I mean, bless our significant others, but sometimes they just don’t understand when we’re hormonal and feeling sad and crazy and worried. And that’s okay, it’s difficult for them to understand because they (supposing our significant others are men) can’t feel what we feel. Mine has accepted this. He tells me “I can’t understand what this feels like, but I am always here for you to vent.” But sometimes that’s not enough, sometimes we actually need another woman to tell us they’re going through the same thing and reassure us that we’re not crazy. Well, I thought, back at the beginning of this pregnancy, that online message boards like the one on TheBump.com would be a good place to connect with other pregnant women who were going through the same thing I was. 

Holy moly was I wrong.

I signed up on The Bump shortly after learning I was pregnant and started poking around some of the message boards and birth month clubs. I didn’t post much, just small comments here and there, but mostly I just observed because I was more interested in seeing if other women were experiencing and posting about the same things that I was. I quickly learned through several weeks of poking my head into these message boards that I was in the middle of a cesspool of negativity and that it was definitely no place for me to be.

What I noticed first were the women who had been on the boards for a long time, those who had spent many months in the TTC process or planning to become pregnant. These women had definitely created a clique. They seemed wary of outsiders and newcomers, which seemed silly to me because there will always be newcomers to a pregnancy board with open membership. If you still had that “newbie” badge on your screen name or didn’t have more than 6,000 posts, you were not welcome in this community. They seemed snappy with the women who were new to the board and did not want to spend the time wading through the pages upon pages of topics to see if the question that was burning at the top of their brain had been answered before. So the women who had been there for a while gave grumpy responses akin to “how come you didn’t look this up first?” instead of being a gentle receiver and just answering the damn question. There seemed to be this insinuation of, “I’ve been on this board longer, look how many posts I have, clearly I’m better and more knowledgeable than you.” The ones that bothered me the most were the ones responding to questions about what all the abbreviations mean. TTC, DH, LO, all of them…they seemed to be annoyed that some women weren’t invested enough to learn what they meant.

That leads me to the next issue I began to see with these boards: the people who sat on these message boards all. day. long. A new post was responded to within minutes. Some women started daily topic posts that always seemed laced with negativity. Things like “Throat Punch Wednesday” in which you state the person who is annoying you today who deserves a punch in the throat. Complaints about your significant other, your mother in law, your doctor. Bitching about people on other message boards! The posts saying “I just got my 5th ultrasound and I can’t understand how some women go until 20 weeks to have one!” That bothered me because I am waiting for my one and only 20-week ultrasound, and that’s due in part to my insurance. Not everyone has an insurance policy that will cover an ultrasound every other week. But just because I didn’t get to see a blob on a gray screen at 8 weeks doesn’t mean I’m any less pregnant than you are. 

Then there were the arguments about parenting preference. This is a pretty hot topic, but man, some of the women on these boards are just vultures. No matter what the question at hand, whether it be breastfeeding or cloth diapers or co-sleeping or WHATEVER, the conversation devolved into total mudflinging over whose ideas are better. Everyone taking everything personally because there’s no context or tone of voice on the internet and it’s easy to get offended when you can’t tell where the other person is coming from. I just couldn’t understand why people couldn’t just discuss differences in opinion politely, learn perspective from others, and move on. Who cares if your parenting method is different from someone else’s? What works for you may not work for someone else, so live and let live. Move on and get a life. 

Frankly, there are some real bitches on these websites. And I don’t know where all the malice is coming from, maybe it’s the sole fact that you are shrouded in anonymity online and can more or less say whatever you want and get away with it. But shouldn’t these message boards be places where pregnant women can create a helpful, loving community where questions are asked seriously and sincerely and everyone is supportive of one another? Maybe that was the original idea–but that’s clearly not what’s happening there. So I quit, because I don’t want or need that negativity in my life. Let others keep it and let it turn their children into little monsters. Mine will grow up in a household when differences are accepted, new ideas are welcomed, and everyone is loved no matter where they might be coming from.

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(Ooh, looks like WordPress heard my complaints and went back to the original template for new posts!)

Things are good at High Elevation. The nice weather seems to come and go. We had some hot weather and then since then it’s been kind of cool and rainy from time to time. More springlike I guess. The good news is that there is still a lot of moisture up top–when Trail Ridge Road opened about two weeks ago, there was still almost twenty feet of snow up at the top. They’ve had to close it a couple times since then because of snow and bad visibility and ice. The runoff has been moderately slow and the river is running high but not too high, which is a much needed relief after last year’s extra dry season.

Last week I left my job at the bank. I had intended to ride it out until the baby came, but it really did become unbearable. Management was…well, intolerable. I don’t want to go into too many details because frankly it’s not worth my time or effort, but needless to say I’m glad I left. I’m especially glad that a new opportunity came my way which allowed me to leave–in short, a friend in town who owns a local internet company came to me and asked if I was interested in working for her company and running their office. The pay is better, the hours are way better (seriously, who could complain about working from 9-3?), and the environment is just phenomenally better. I get to open up the windows when it’s nice and listen to the river sweeping by. It’s far more relaxed and management has confidence in me that I will finish my tasks without needing to constantly be hounded or followed around. It also appears that they will be flexible with coming back to work part time (a couple days a week) after baby comes, if I so desire, which is something I really couldn’t have done at the bank. I had planned on just being a stay at home mom, but if the opportunity presents itself and works out with our schedule, then I’ll look into it.

We had an OB appointment on Monday. Everything is still good to go. Baby’s heartbeat was 155, but since we have the doppler and tend to listen at home every couple of days, I already felt pretty comfortable about that. I’ve only gained 2 pounds since the beginning of this pregnancy, but the doctor is not too concerned about that. He said he would only be concerned if I had lost weight, and since baby is still so small, drastic weight gain is not really necessary at this point. (Or at any point really. That mantra of “eating for two” is kind of a fallacy. Baby is so small he/she does not need me to eat two meals.) So, I’m pretty pleased with that still. I was kind of worried of ballooning up but my weight has been pretty steady and I’m eating well, so I am not terribly worried about it right now. We have our ultrasound on July 2! This will more than likely be the only one we get during the pregnancy so I’m very excited. Hopefully we will be able to determine a gender too–but, this more than likely being our only one, if he/she is not cooperative, we are pretty much SOL and we will be forced to wait. I am still not having many concrete cravings, but I am craving juicy things. Pickles and clementines especially. I don’t know that there’s a way to explain that without sounding like I’m writing a porno, but you can probably imagine where I’m coming from.

I have been reading “Bringing up Bebe” by Pamela Druckerman. I’m finding a lot of wisdom in it. If you’re not familiar, the author is an American woman who had her children in France and found out about all the cultural differences between American and French parenting. My dad is French, and I feel like, in reading this book, many of these parenting methods make sense because I recognized that it was, perhaps indirectly, in part how I was raised (at least the parts that have to do with teaching your child things like, eating your food at dinnertime and respecting your elders). There is a very engaging section on getting baby to “do her nights,” or sleep through the night. In France it is fairly common for babies to start sleeping through the night starting as early as six weeks (though more commonly at 2-3 months). Obviously all babies are different and parenting never goes according to plan, but I think it’s helpful to have a loose structure for how you want to raise your child. Basically everything I read in this book aligns with how I feel naturally about how children should be raised, so I think that’s a pretty good sign that this is a road we should at least attempt. Can’t knock it till we try it!

In a weird way I still feel myself struggling to “connect” with this being inside me. Maybe that’s because it’s still so early, maybe it’s because I haven’t felt movement, I don’t know where it comes from. I definitely have these moments of connection where I feel that magic, but they seem to be fewer and farther between than I would like or would have expected. But I do have these moments of pure excitement of the moments we will soon have with our child. First Christmas, exploring the pumpkin patch, cooking treats together and doing crafts…all these moments that I see in the future happening soon. I really can’t wait to get there. Only 5 months until it all starts!

This week’s produce comparison is….