Preparing for the Bugpocalypse


Buster sits on my lap while I type, contemplating what delicious spider he may eat next.

Buster sits on my lap while I type, contemplating what delicious spider he may eat next.

A summer pregnancy in the D.C. metropolitan area is pretty gross. There’s a lot of butt sweat happening, for me and for everyone else within at least a 100-mile radius. It’s also pretty buggy. Mosquitos and fire ants seem to be the things that like hanging out at our house right now, and these, unfortunately, do not list among the bugs that our cats enjoy hunting and eating. They’re way into spiders right now.

With this bugginess in mind, I recently realized that the birth of our firstborn will likely coincide with the emergence of the 17-year cicada. We get cicadas every year in this area, and I generally enjoy them. They chirp soothingly in their trees and remind me that I live somewhere with well-defined seasons, and I usually only see about two of them with my actual eyeballs each summer. We’ve been in the D.C. area for a bit over six years, which means we missed the last batch in 2004. (For those of you who are pro-math, there are different broods of periodical cicadas, so the fun isn’t strictly limited to every 17 years.) From the pictures I’ve seen of the 2004 brood, they might have actually been kind of neat looking, with neon orange and black stripes. Like a bite-size, winged tiger. As best I can tell, this year’s cicadas are just bug-colored, with bulging red eyes for flair. Neighbors and other folks who survived the last brood describe the whole affair as being downright apocalyptic. I’ve heard multiple and detailed accounts of cicada exoskeletons crunching under your feet like fall leaves from the moment you walk out of your house. Gross.

"Hello, friend. Have you heard the Good News? The time has come to accept Cicada Jesus as your personal bug-lord and savior." Photo from

“Hello, friend. Have you heard the Good News?”
Photo from this place.

It may shock you to learn that this post isn’t about how I’m concerned that the swarming cicadas will descend upon my baby’s face and lay eggs in his ears that won’t emerge until the moment that he’s blowing out his candles on his 17th birthday (though the thought has crossed my mind). Mostly, I’ve just realized that the bugpocalypse will coincide with various members of our Southern California-based family coming out to help with the baby, half of them (my side of the family) visiting us for the very first time since we moved. The women in my family, myself included, have always been the types to prefer an air-conditioned hotel room to the disgusting majesty of nature. I’m imagining my mom and sister landing at Washington-Dulles International Airport in late July or early August, stepping out into DC’s late-summer swampiness, and immediately having 25 Jumbo Tootsie Roll-sized bugs land in their hair. They will then head back inside and take the next available flight to anywhere else, and I’ll get a text when they’ve safely landed in, say, Minneapolis, saying that my child will be welcome to stay with them if he decides to attend UC Irvine for his undergraduate work.

So we’ll see how that goes. There’s always the possibility that we’re going to narrowly escape (or perhaps already have escaped) said bugpocalypse; if this handy map from the Official Website for the Mid-Atlantic Cicada Database Project is correct, I’m nestled safely just outside of the blue zone. Suck on that, Virginia!

The Robot Ghost of William Henry Harrison & Your Unborn Child

I’ve read in several places that as pregnancy progresses, it’s very common to have a steady stream of sometimes bizarre, baby-related dreams. I have my standard dreams that come up every once in a while (and have since before Andy and I were even considering having kids). It usually involves me becoming aware of the fact that I gave birth to a baby several days, weeks, or months earlier, and then further becoming aware that I have misplaced said baby, as I realize that I haven’t seen him or her since we got back from the hospital. Sometimes, instead of having misplaced the baby, I’ll become aware of the fact that the baby is about 11 months old and I don’t have any recollection of ever having fed him. I will say something to Andy like, “Have either of us been feeding this baby that we apparently have?,” and Andy will respond with something like, “Yeah, I left him a bowl of split pea soup like a week ago. I didn’t see him eat it, but the soup is gone so I’m sure he’s fine.” I’ve actually had fewer of these dreams since becoming knocked up, which I suppose is a good sign. I guess I’m no longer concerned that I’ll be caught off guard by the arrival of a baby, since I’ve peed on a stick and seen pictures of his skull and feel him kicking me in the ribs right this second.

As my own pregnancy has progressed, I’ve mostly had a stream of bizarre, work-related stress dreams, but occasionally the fact that I’m pregnant will factor in. Last night’s finally tipped the scale to be pregnancy-related with a dash of work, and I’ll share it with you, because you look like the kind of person who wants to get a better view of the inner-workings of my brain.

Actual Representation of President William Henry Harrison by James Reid Lambdin, 1835.

Actual Representation of President William Henry Harrison by James Reid Lambdin, 1835.

My place of employment had acquired Walt Disney World’s “Hall of Presidents” for the summer, which I was of course quite excited about. As I was shutting down the attraction for the day, Animatronic William Henry Harrison calls me over to his robot death bed, and puts his hands on my belly. He says, “I want you to know that my child is going to be healthy. . . Actually, I don’t know if he’s going to make it, but you’ll survive the birth, and that’s the important thing.” It’s worth noting that, since I don’t know what William Henry Harrison looks like off the top of my head, he instead looked like Caesar Rodney, Continental Congressman from Delaware and signer of the Declaration of Independence. You’re probably wondering: What kind of nerd knows off the top of their head what Caesar Rodney looks like, but not President William Henry Harrison? I don’t know the answer to this question, but it’s been plaguing me all morning. The robot ghost of President Harrison went on to give me some other words of wisdom, but I wasn’t really listening. He was definitely trying to tell me that I should name the child after him, and while I like both the names William and Henry, I don’t particularly want to name the baby after a man who died because he refused to wear a coat while giving the longest inaugural address in American history. I was also busy trying to decide whether or not he needed to be told that the child wasn’t actually his.  (I decided against it; why cause him grief on his robot death bed?) As the attraction shut down and his candle went out, and the work lights came on, Animatronic William Henry Harrison was swallowed back into the floor from whence he came. And Animatronic George Washington briefly hit on me on my way out the door.

So that’s what my brain’s up to these days. How’s your brain? Wait, I just noticed a new “Add Poll” feature on this blog template. Please vote below.

"I am the ghost of William Henry Harrison." "Then why do you look like Caesar Rodney?" "Because you don't know what William Henry Harrison looks like."

“I am the ghost of William Henry Harrison.”
“Then why do you look like Caesar Rodney?”
“Because you don’t know what William Henry Harrison looks like.”

In Which I Did Not Accidentally Murder My Baby This Time

If you saw my real-time freak out from night before last, you’ll know that I’ve accidentally been taking aspirin and the equivalent of an extra cup of coffee LIKE EVERY DAY since I found out I was pregnant. I emailed the doctor, and first thing yesterday morning also called the nurse advice line to see how freaked out I should be. They called me back yesterday to say that if the aspirin was going to murder my baby, he’d be murdered already. And that I should for sure stop taking it so I don’t accidentally murder him later.

There is a fetal heart valve that needs to close, or open, or something in the last trimester, and taking aspirin can fuck this up. I had been under the impression that there was a 100% chance that by taking any aspirin in the third trimester you for sure fuck this up and then your baby either dies or has heart problems forever and then you have to live with the guilt and your marriage is ruined because your spouse resents you for accidentally murdering the baby, but apparently it’s just a thing that COULD happen. The nurse said if I’m still worried about it by the 36 week ultrasound we can have a look at heart valves, but that for now I should stop having a stress stroke and just switch to Tylenol.

So now I’m taking Tylenol. Tylenol, P.S., is a joke pill that does nothing. But it also won’t murder the baby, so it’s got that going for it.

And, since I feel it would be inappropriate to post twice in a row without a picture, here’s my pregnant lady selfy, taken for the benefit of this morning’s update email to my California family to let them know how giant I am, and how the baby’s heartbeat was good at the last appointment, and how I almost accidentally murdered him but it turned out fine.

31ish Weeks: The point at which you become big enough that hobos stop you and ask if you've got any names picked out.

31ish Weeks: The point at which you become big enough that hobos stop you and ask if you’ve got any names picked out.

Conquering the Nursery

I did it! I’m a beautiful genius!

I had big plans to do all the things today, but, after waking up at 11:45 am after nearly 14 hours of antidepressant-side-effect-induced sleep (maybe more on that later), I was pretty sure I’d blown it. However, BEHOLD!

The most amazing tree painted on any wall in the history of painted trees.

The most amazing tree painted on any wall in the history of painted trees.

I finally painted the damn tree for the damn nursery so I can do a damn pictorial family tree for the damn baby. Damn. Note to the many family members who have not yet provided photos for this amazing and admirable craft project, in spite of exactly two months of gentle nagging from me: The next phase of the nursery project is me going through shoeboxes looking for that picture of you at my wedding where you are in the middle of eating cake and sneezing at the same time, and you have red eyes and that weird double-chin because it was “taken from a bad angle.” To those of you who have already submitted your completely appropriate pictures: Thanks! The baby will like those.

As promised

I’m at Orlando International Airport, about to head back to DC after a delightful spring vacation. But no Trip to Florida for a Mother-In-Law’s Birthday would be complete without a picture of me in my fabulous, hand-me-down maternity swim suit. Varicose veins have been largely cropped out for your protection.


Non-Adventures in Glucose Screening

I had wanted to post this immediately after my last doctor’s appointment, but I was on my way to a fabulous Florida vacation & wasn’t able to get my act together. These are the dangers of having a super-fabulous lifestyle.

Apparently at my March appointment when my doctor told me they would give the the glucose drink at my next check up, she meant they would physically hand me the bottle of orange goo. And then they’d tell me to remember to drink it an hour before I show up at my May appointment. And then, in May, they’d draw my blood and tell me how much gestational diabetes I had. So I did waste a good donut-eating morning on rice cakes, but the good news is that I get to eat all the donuts I want on this vacation, because no one has yet told me that I can’t.

For the image to go with this post, I’d wanted to take a picture of the giant orange drink, but I left it in my work fridge. Then I was going to do an artist’s rendering of said drink in crayon, but I forgot about it until I was already at the airport. Then I was going to make one on some kind of a drawing app, but then fuck it. So use your imagination. And if you’re real nice, later I’ll instead post a picture of me in my amazing, hand-me-down, maternity swim suit.

Adventures in Glucose Screening

I do my 25-ish week checkup in four hours. This is the one with the glucose screening, where they have you drink a bunch of jelly bean juice, wait for an hour, and then they tell you you’re diabetic now. At least that’s how it seems to go with my lady friends. The risk factors for gestational diabetes include being overweight pre-pregnancy (check) and having a family history of diabetes (double-check: both sides of the family! So, Yahtzee?)

Goodbye, sparkling lemonade. I'm heading out; I hope I can drink you tonight.

Goodbye, sparkling lemonade. I’m heading out; I hope I can drink you tonight.

I apparently don’t have to fast in advance of this test, but dry toast is the only approved food. I’m having rice cakes; I hope that gets the job done. (I say “apparently” because I was stuck in meetings all day yesterday and couldn’t call my doctor to find out if I had to fast. I texted my mother-in-law to see if she’d call my doctor to see what the deal was for me. So officially, this is second-hand information.) I’m going to bring a bag of rice cakes along with me during my travels today, but I’m prepared to be super hungry. Because I don’t want rice cakes; I want 27 chocolate donuts. And some sparkling lemonade.

Fingers crossed that everything comes back negative; I really want to have some lemonade this afternoon.

Freaking Out About the Nursery

WPA print from the 1930s, and the sort of thing that should be all over the nursery. Via

WPA print from the 1930s, and the sort of thing that should be all over the nursery. Via

The time has come: We have to prep a nursery (a.k.a. the far end of our bedroom) right quick, before I get too big to be an effective decorator. There’s been a little bit of a delay, you see. Apart from me generally feeling like crap much farther into my pregnancy than is generally considered acceptable, I’m kind of freaking out about the colors. We know we want to do a “Forests of North America” theme, but I have concerns about the exact color scheme. Because if I choose incorrectly, Fetus Pal will grow up in a visually oppressive environment and it will be my first failure as a mother. I think I’m going with Benjamin Moore’s “spruce green” with “pinecone” trim (or more accurately, their generic equivalents from Home Depot). But what if “pinecone” causes the baby to have a daily rage stroke? My cousin Katrina is having a baby a couple weeks after me; should I steal her nursery scheme and switch to aqua and yellow? These are things I need to be concerned about.

Because Andy and I both spent several years working in attractions at Disneyland; we can’t just pick color. All rooms need a theme. Just so you know what goes on in our house right now:

What our guest room looks like (in my vision). Photo from

What our guest room looks like (in my mind). Photo from

Parlour: 1840s Parsonage Land

Basement: Tiki Lounge (soon to be converted into Father-In-Law’s Living Quarters Land)

Guest Room: George Washington’s Mount Vernon (work in progress. We mostly got as far as painting it bright green like his dining room, but we have plans.)

Kitchen: Kitchen Land (but a 1950s kitchen, so it’s okay.)

Bathroom: French Provincial Land

Bedroom: Unfolded Laundry Land

So, I feel pretty good about adding Forests of North America Land into the mix generally, but I worry about the exact execution. I got pretty bored of worry about my health and the physical wellbeing of the increasingly large fetus living inside me. So I’m switching to worrying about nursery decor for now. It seems like the right thing to do.


According to Your Chart, You’re the Worst

I didn't have any good photos of bungee-jumping fetuses, so here's my dimly-lit 21-week bump pic instead. Now I am every other pregnancy blog in the world. Look upon my bump, ye mighty, and despair!

I didn’t have any good photos of bungee-jumping fetuses, so here’s my dimly-lit 21-week bump pic instead. Now I am every other pregnancy blog in the world. Look upon my bump, ye mighty, and despair!

After breaking up with Dr. Eyeshadow, I got myself in to see a new team of highly recommended Ob/gyns. I had sooooo many reservations about letting go of the doctors at my previous practice. Okay, I had two reservations: 1) I hate confrontation, and 2) It seemed like it was going to be a tremendous, administrative pain in the ass. But I successfully did it. After acquiring my chart from Dr. Eyeshadow’s office, I can confirm that she did not listen to a damned word that came out of my mouth. Towards the end of my chart she was also using a lot of exclamation points to emphasize sentences I never said, characterizing me as a bit of an unmanageable bitch. (“Patient EXTREMELY insistent she doesn’t want to come in for appt. tomorrow!!!” No, I asked if I should still come in tomorrow, and you said not to unless there was a problem. I said something along the lines of, “Okay, that sounds good.” I hate you.)

I hand the chart over to my new doctor, who sits down with me as she’s reviewing my paperwork and says, “So, according to this you’re having an elective C-section?” No, that’s just Dr. Eyeshadow not using her listening ears. “Okay,” says the new doctor, “I’m glad to hear you’re not going that route, because it’s a major surgery with a long recovery time, and it’s especially difficult for patients with chronic pain like yours. It isn’t that it’s a wrong decision if it’s something that has to be done, but we would want to consider it carefully first.” So Dr. Eyeshadow was totally planning on slicing me up and ripping a baby out of me without having this conversation. And she wrote at the top of my chart in giant letters that the whole thing was my idea. So, it seems that switching practices was a good move.

I really like the new doctor. She, like my uro-gynocologist, is of the opinion that it’s safer for me to take a Category B drug that helps with bladder spasms than it is for me to not get any treatment and get into car accidents. (By the way, I only needed to take Pyridium for three days before the spasms basically stopped and I was able to live and sleep like a human again.) She also recommended a screening that the previous doctors ought to have talked to me about, had they looked at my chart. Also, I came down with a stupid damn chest cold the other day, and she recommended Robitussin DM, Benadryl, or cough drops, instead of soup. Dr. Acula expressly forbade cough drops (let alone any of this baby-killing Robitussin craziness) the last time I felt contagion coming on. “No, is medicine. Have some soup.”

Another nice thing about the new doctor: She delivers at Sibley Hospital in way Northwest DC, where all the rich people have their babies. I had a doctor’s appointment there once. That place is a magical fucking fairy land. And there’s an Au Bon Pain in the lobby. You can get a cobb salad in between vaccinations. Plus, it’s a 30-minute drive from our house and a 19-minute cab ride from work, unlike Inova Fairfax where Doctors Acula and Eyeshadow deliver (allllllll the way on the other side of the Beltway in Annandale, Virginia). Although Inova Fairfax is very well regarded, and I hear it has the third largest maternity ward in the country (and therefore, if anything goes awry, there are a thousand doctors in the hallway who have seen your crazy thing 100 times and can hop on into your delivery room and fix it), I had growing concerns that I would go into labor during rush hour and end up delivering the baby in the emergency lane of I-495 after sitting in traffic for several hours.

I haven’t come up with a name for the new doctor yet, apart from her legal name, which I feel I should withhold in case I accidentally misquote any of her medical advice (example: “My doctor said bungee jumping will make the fetus strong!” when she actually said something something banjo music) and y’all follow it (“I want a strong fetus! Let’s go bungee jumping!”) and then it goes poorly (you and your fetus explode immediately after jumping off the cliff because of altitude or science or something) and she gets sued (by your widower, because my doctor inadvertently exploded you and your fetus). By the way, please don’t take any of my hearsay from this blog to heart. Check with your doctor first before you take Benadryl or go bungee jumping or make soup. Or at least promise not to sue me. I’m just telling you what (I think) I heard.