Kevin made me call back the vet because when we went to pick up Ellie, the bill came to about $2000, which was quite a bit higher than the high end ($1300) of the original estimate. I would never have called on my own; I would have just assumed the medicines and such ended up costing more than they'd estimated, and said oh well. They called us back late yesterday to tell us that they're very glad we called because they have a new computer system, and we'd been over-charged $1072, which they were now refunding to us. What's funny about this is that not only would I have let this go on my own, because I have an unreasoning habit of trust in authority, but Kevin would have let it go on his own, because he truly hates talking to strangers, especially for this kind of customer-service thing. Together, we are a thousand dollars richer than we are separately. Of course, if we lived separately, then maybe one or the other of us would have taken immediate responsibility for lifting the baby Tylenol out of harm's way and Ellie would never have had to go to the vet at all, so we might be two thousand dollars richer then. :-) I'm not sure what the moral of the story is, other than perhaps 'keep an eye on your bills, because people using computers make mistakes.'
In general, babies are expensive. I am reminded of this because while we got tons and tons of stuff at the baby showers, there are still some items left for us to purchase, totalling about a thousand in cost. Baby monitor, safety gates, diaper genie, glider and ottoman. Some are essential items, some just useful. A thousand is a lot better than it would have cost us without the showers -- we basically don't have to buy *any* clothes at this point, for example -- so I'm not complaining at all. Just musing. There's all those diapers to come too. I'm glad I'll have a decent income next year, with the Northwestern gig, though it may be a bit tight for a while, because they won't pay me most of it until spring 2008. Luckily, we have friends who can afford to loan us money as needed. It's nice to have rich friends. :-)
Can you tell I'm fretting about money a bit? Partly it's because of the Kriti Festival. We priced it a bit higher this year, and maybe that's why pre-registrations are fewer this time around? I'm not sure. Actually, I'm not even sure if pre-registrations are fewer -- maybe this is how many folks we had registered three weeks out last time. I should keep better records. We're currently running around $3K in the red, and that's not counting optional but would-be-really-nice elements like a reception before the keynote speech. Some of that will definitely come in between now and then, but possibly not all. How do other groups handle possibly not breaking even? For us, it pretty much just has to come out of my pocket -- the only alternative is not paying our keynote speaker her honorarium, which obviously is not an option. (The other costs are fixed in advance, and paid in advance -- space rental, program book printing, etc.) Kev and I aren't really in a good financial position this year to make a $3K donation to the arts, even if we'd like to. We'll just have to cross our fingers and hope that some of our publicity efforts pay off in increased registrations. It'd also be good just to have more folks attending -- we've got a really extensive festival program set up now that would very nicely accommodate around 150-200, and we're expecting about a hundred folks at the moment. More would fill out the rooms in a pleasant way. At least the program has come together beautifully, into what I think will be a great event. What more can I do at this point? Just cross my fingers and hope people come.
I'm not so much fretting about baby girl, thankfully. I think I spent much of the first seven months of the pregnancy anxious about her a lot of the time. For months I was convinced that a) I wasn't really pregnant, b) I would miscarry early, c) she had died and I hadn't noticed, d) she would have Downs or one of the trisomies, e) she had died (that one recurred a lot), f) she was otherwise malformed. And then there's the ongoing anxieties about whether I have done her irreparable harm by a) forgetting and eating a few slices of brie, b) falling down four steps of stairs, c) not getting enough extra protein for her brain to develop properly, d) forgetting to take my prenatal vitamins once or twice recently, e) not getting enough calcium -- that one's almost certainly true, since it's only in the last month that I've started being good about taking a calcium supplement, though that's more a problem for me than her, thankfully, since she takes the calcium she needs first, and it's my bones that have theirs leached away. Those milder anxieties are still there, but even they've calmed down a bit in intensity, and her regular kicking sessions reassure me every hour or so that she's still alive. Generally, I'm feeling fairly calm about the pregnancy itself right now. (Still trying not to think about the birth, because I suspect I'll get freaked out again if I do. Birthing classes in two weeks...)
The best part of being pregnant is the kicking, I think. It's so surreal, having a little creature inside you; I can't describe it properly. Alien and weird and fun. I don't talk to her (as some pregnant women do, apparently), not out loud. But I think at her a bit sometimes. Tell her to be a quiet, good angel baby when she comes out -- not a crying, screaming daemon baby. We'll see if she listens.
I also like having a round tummy. I'm obviously pregnant at this point (with seven weeks to go), and I like it that people notice and say nice things to me about it all the time. So far, no one's touched my stomach without permission, though I'm sure it'll happen. I don't think it'll bother me too much. Right now, I get comments from the parking lot attendants near work, for example -- the lady at the desk says, "Hi, momma," when I come in, and the valet guy told me Thursday to "Drive safe, both of you." It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy when they do that. :-) Like we're in this together, somehow -- that my pregnancy is a communal endeavour, and they all have an interest in taking care of us.
Seven weeks! Somehow, that sounds much more immediate than two months. Yesterday Kevin said that if she came now, he wouldn't know what to do with her. We haven't researched much yet about feeding and cleaning and umm...well, whatever else you're supposed to do with actual babies. We're well-up on the pregnancy itself, but the baby, not so much. Maybe we'd better start reading...
I do wish that all the extra pregnancy weight (18 pounds so far) had settled in my stomach. I'm trying not to fret about it too much, but there's definitely some on my thighs and butt and breasts -- enough to take me from a M/L to a definite XL. Sigh. In last weekend's baby shower photos, my face looks like a big round ball. Kevin tells me not to worry about it, that he'll help me exercise after the baby's born. At least the weather will be warm then, and we can take lots of walks with her in the stroller. Some folks, I know, lose the weight right away with breastfeeding, or so they tell me. That'd be nice. But I have more than a few friends and relatives who put on substantial weight with pregnancy and never did take most of it off afterwards. Isn't that the far more common outcome? Sigh. I tired of being fat. I don't require skinny, but normal-sized would be nice.
And my hair is a bush. I got a haircut, but it's still ridiculously thick. It's a pregnancy thing -- did I mention that your hair stops falling out during pregnancy? My hair was thick to begin with, so this is not the boon that it is for most women. I'll be glad when all the extra falls out after the baby's born.
Oh -- she's kicking now! (Say 'hi' to my journal readers, baby...) It still startles me sometimes, especially when there's a particularly fierce kick in the side. It doesn't ever hurt, thankfully, but it can be a bit distracting, especially when you're trying to lecture or hold a meeting. :-)
The fibroid-degenerating pain is pretty close to constant these days, but mostly mild. Sometimes it gets bad enough that I take Tylenol; once it got even worse, so that I took the Tylenol with codeine (which makes me sleep well, but then makes me groggy for the rest of the next day, so I'd rather not take it too often). I can cope, but it's wearing, especially when combined with getting up several times a night to pee and general pregnancy exhaustion. I'm usually okay until about dinnertime and can get a lot done, but at that point, I collapse into an almost-weeping heap. (Sometimes actually weeping, but mostly not these days.) I lie on the couch and watch tv or read and feel guilty about everything I'm not getting done. Though really, I've done most of the urgent stuff at this point. Just a few more important things to take care of before she comes.
My to-do list includes: talk to IRS about DesiLit's 501(c)3 status, re-apply for citizenship (I filed the wrong form, sigh), pay taxes, do a proper syllabus for the Asian-American lit class I'll teach at Northwestern next spring, arrange a brunch with Anita Desai, get the bookstore to sell books at the festival, order ribbons for the name badges, make Ellie's follow-up vet appointments to make sure she didn't sustain any long-term damage, sew canopy and curtains for the gazebo so baby and I can sit out there even when it's sunny this summer, finish sending thank-you cards for baby showers. Plus all the ongoing stuff: keep the house in order, finish prepping the garden, keep up with grading and course prep, etc.
Despite the length of that list, it's actually much less hectic now than it was the last few weeks. I do have a bit of time to read now, and have just started Tim Pratt's Hart and Boot. I liked the title story very very much. Yay, Tim!
There's a female cardinal outside my window right now -- oops, she flew away. She'll be back. I like her orange beak. It's like a tie on a guy -- it says, 'I may dress kind of drab in general, but hey, check out all the personality in this tie!' We've positively identified a pair of cardinals and a couple little house sparrows, after close comparison with the photos in the bird book. Kevin thinks he's seen juncoes as well, but I haven't noticed them yet. The cardinal makes a cute chirping call -- the book says it also has a whole bunch of songs, but we haven't heard them yet.
You know what I'm really looking forward to? Singing to her. I used to sing all the time, when I lived on my own, but I mostly don't, living with Kevin. Just don't want to bother him; my voice is not so great and I occasionally wander off-key. But she won't mind; I know this because all the little kids I babysat for when I was a teenager absolutely loved it when I sang to them. I know lots of songs, and can sing for hours and hours without repeating. (I know a few musicals almost entirely by heart, for example.) It's going to be lovely to have someone to sing to.
I'm going to go try to write a bit now, after I eat some oatmeal. You know, I didn't use to like oatmeal? I thought it was slimy and gross. Now I have a bowl of apple-cinnamon instant oatmeal almost every morning. (Kev makes his from scratch, but I am not nearly so patient.) It's one of the nicer small things about getting older -- I like all kinds of foods now that I used to think were disgusting: avocadoes and legumes and mussels and even eggplant, as long as it's not too mushy. I hope baby isn't a picky eater; I want her to enjoy everything this world has to offer. Okay, not quite everything, but everything that's good for her. Even eggplant.