This blog is not intended to provide legal advice, legal services or legal anything else. Don't sue me. All I have is debt anyway.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Long-winded musings

Husband and I talk a lot. Especially to one another. On nights when nothing's going on in the ICU, Husband will call me just to chat (of course, that doesn't happen very often in an ICU, having really sick people there and all). One of his co-workers commented on this recently. He was just very confused that we actually like talking to one another so much. (I guess he must not like talking to his girlfriend that much or something, I dunno.) But Husband and I like talking to each other. Even though we're in very different fields, and have different areas of expertise, we still find each other very interesting. We'll have plenty of conversations about medicine, and conversations about foreign policy. Husband will even read my graduate school books (he teases me because there's one in particular he's read that I haven't, a really long one on Iran... he's offered to tell me all about it before I take my comprehensive exams). Before Pregnancy, we used to spend a lot of time solving the world's problems over a bottle of wine, and years ago, when we still poisoned our lungs, through smoking packs of cigarettes. These days though, there's no more smoking (and hasn't been for a few years now), and if a bottle of wine gets cracked open, I only get a few sips which leaves the rest of the bottle for him, and that's just really unfair! But solving the world's problems... we're still on it, rest assured.

Anyway, I think Husband is pretty awesome. Oh sure, he's far from perfect, and it's possible that if he didn't work three nights a week, we may have killed one another by now. But perfect would probably annoy me much more than his quirks do. He suits me very well, in fact, and I think we bring out the best in one another. I am impressed by his strength and compassion, and he is always very supportive of me (and doesn't let me wallow in self-pity for too long when things don't go my way, a very bad habit I have). He's going to be a great dad, even though he is insecure about his faults, things like being quick-tempered and impatient. He thinks I'm going to be a great mom, even though I have my own (many) insecurities about that.

I asked Husband the other night if he thought I was crazy for taking so many classes right after having the baby, and if I'm just setting myself up for failure. I've been feeling less and less confident about the decision as we get closer to the unknown realm of actual parenthood. I know in reality that I just have to test the waters, and I might very well have to drop a couple classes and a few activities, but that I can make it through. However, I have this insanely pessimistic ability to picture myself screwing up everything I do, and if I weren't such a stubborn person, that pessimism might prevent me from jumping in and muddling through anyway. For example, I envision myself as this complete mess of a failure, having not showered in days, not brushing my hair, sleeping through every class, and my child just screaming at me every waking moment. I know it will be difficult, probably the hardest thing I've ever done, but I don't like to back away from a challenge. Even still, a semester off would be fabulous!

Husband has told me that if I want to take the semester off, I could. And that's a really huge offer, because if I did so, it would be an enormous setback for us financially, and would place a really large burden on Husband. Trust me, I've certainly been tempted. I'd love a few months off to just chill out and snuggle with Baby, maybe actually get some sleep on occasion. I'd hate to postpone graduation and/or my career any longer, but those are really secondary concerns to the financial ones. We depend on the residual student loan money to pay bills while I'm not earning a salary, and soon we will have many new expenses (the staggering amount of medical bills to pay off, insurance premiums for the baby, and just the added cost of the stuff babies need). It may have been more feasible before the medical bills, but it certainly isn't now. Also, it would pose an additional burden once I graduate and won't have an income until after I take the bar, but I would have already used up my grace period so my student loans would immediately come into repayment (I might be able to get an extra deferral, but I certainly couldn't count on it). Basically, we could do it only if Husband worked a significant amount of overtime, and also didn't take classes himself next semester, putting off his own graduation for an entire year. He's working towards his Acute Care Nurse Practitioner license, a more technical and much less physically demanding job. The physical demands concern us most. The ICU gets an extraordinary number of morbidly obese patients, and the big concern is that one day he's just going to blow out his back while turning a patient weighing six or seven hundred pounds, and not be able to work at all anymore.

Anyway, we've had a few in-depth discussions on this particular topic over the past few weeks. I told him flat out, no way, absolutely not. There is no way I'm going to let him work himself to death while I sit at home and snuggle with our baby. That would be incredibly selfish. Sure, I'm the one that actually has to grow the baby and give birth, which is pretty physically taxing, (oh is it ever!), so maybe it would be a fair trade in services. But Husband has just as much right to spend time with our baby as I do, and asking him to sacrifice so much precious time with his child just so I can spend more time with her, seems horribly unfair. (Not to mention we'd like to see each other too!)

Also, the baby doesn't need me there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. She needs someone to take care of her, feed her, change her, make her feel safe. That doesn't have to be me all the time. Since I'm going to breastfeed, she'll probably want it to be me, as I'll be a nice warm food source at her disposal. (So, at least for awhile, she'll probably like me best. That will change when she's a teenager, I'm sure!) But she's certainly not going to suffer because I go to class for a few hours a week. As much as some stay-at-home moms I've known (including my own mom!) believe their children would suffer irreparable damage from being apart from their mothers for a single moment, I really don't believe that to be so. If I took the semester off and stayed home with the baby, it would be for my own benefit, to recuperate, rest, relax, and snuggle. Which would be totally awesome if we had the resources to do it, but I certainly won't do it at the expense of my husband's health, career, and time with his family.

Also, I'm very supportive of the idea of Husband being able to take care of her so much, of us being joint-caregivers. He wants to take care of his daughter, and he's very excited about it. He has plenty of experience with babies, much more than I do, and he's not one of those guys who's all excited about "being a father" but at the same time doesn't think being a father means stuff like giving baths, changing diapers, getting up for feedings, etc. I love that plenty of men now want to take care of their children too. Our brother-in-law is a stay-at-home dad to our two nieces, while my sister-in-law pursues her career, and has been since the oldest was born. I think that's pretty awesome, and good for them! Not everyone agrees with that, however. I've seen a multitude of posts on those mom message boards from women who honestly believe that fathers could just never love their children like they do, will never understand that bond, and just couldn't take care of their children as well as they could. (How sexist is that? Poor Husband is always getting discriminated against. You wouldn't believe the amount of crap he actually got from faculty while in nursing school about how men shouldn't even be nurses.) The notion that a father just can't bond with a child as much as a mother can, that I will automatically love our daughter more and in a way Husband could never understand just because I grew her... it's just really shameful. Not only does it diminish the role of fathers, but it indirectly insults adoptive mothers as well, that obviously they could never fully bond with a child because they didn't give birth to them. I'm sure most of those women saying such things are just trying to make themselves feel more important, but I don't think they realize how degrading it sounds that only mothers can really provide care for their children. I applaud any parent caring for a child, male or female, biological or adopted. I don't see the need to pat myself on the back as a superior human being just because I will have given birth.

Anyway, so these are the random things running through my mind (and our conversations) these days. I love that Husband is always ready and willing to sacrifice so much for me, even though he surely knows me well enough to realize I would never let him do it. I love our marriage, because we share the same vision of what we want our lives to be, as equals. And more recently, I love that he actually thinks our little girl won't have him completely wrapped around her finger, a child with a 75% chance of having big brown eyes to fill with crocodile tears, pitifully whimpering, "But, Daddy, PLEASE!" and getting carte blanche for all she desires. I have plenty to be thankful for, and although I'm getting dangerously close to sounding way too sentimental and making myself throw up as a result, Husband has provided me with all that I value most, starting with him.

On that note, I'm taking a brief blogging hiatus for the holiday. I will update if anything important actually occurs, but otherwise, I will be finishing my outlines!

Happy Thanksgiving!!


TriLawyer said...

You are quite a woman. Congrats. Have a great Turkey Day and try to relax, will you?


Shelley said...

You have lots to be thankful for -- enjoy the holiday (and the time to talk). It made me smile to read your post, because there are some definite similarities between your husband and Matthew -- let's hear it for men in nursing! :)

I didn't take much time after the peach was born - actually, I was emailing clients and opposing counsel while still hooked up to a magnesium sulfate drip the day after delivery. (Something the peach will no doubt be in therapy for later.) I don't know if I would have changed that if I could, if I would have taken more time off before jumping back in. Economics and the needs of clients just took priority.

I do know that I was not operating at 100% (even compared to having a pregnancy brain) for a couple of months. It was really hard for me to learn my new limits - that before pregnancy, a task might take me half an hour, but after the baby was born, it could take all day because I just didn't get any uninterrupted time. (And now that she's older, sleeps less, and is more demanding, that might take two days.)

Oh, hell. I don't know where I was going with this - it's late and the peach is teething. Can you do 3/4 time and still get all of your financial aid? It might be good to give yourself a little breathing room.

K said...

I just recently discovered your blog, but this was the post that will have me hooked! I wish you so much luck at the end of your pregnancy and I hope you and your husband have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

CM said...

Don't be so hard on yourself. It's great that you and Husband have an egalitarian marriage, but childbirth is not an egalitarian event. The physical and mental burden will fall disproportionately on you. You will endure labor, you will need time to recover physically, and if you're nursing, you will spend about 6 hours a day feeding the baby and you will get up every few hours at night. Your husband cannot do these things and they are exhausting. I realize you have lots of other concerns, especially financial, and I am not trying to make any suggestions about what you should do -- it's just that you keep saying it would be "selfish" of you to take time to recuperate after childbirth. It's not selfish, it's necessary! Your whole family needs you to be rested (as much as possible, anyway) and in good health. Even if you feel that you need to jump right back into your old schedule, I hope you'll try to get some help and take time to recover. Believe me, the first month or two after giving birth is not all sitting on the couch happily snuggling with the baby. It is a lot of work.

Sorry, I don't mean to scare you (or to preach)... I just think you should cut yourself some slack!

Good luck with the end of the semester.