A Moment of Jen
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Thursday, March 20, 2003
posted by Jen at 3/20/2003 10:27:00 AM

Thanks to everyone who sent in explanations of what the losing-my-tooth dream could possibly mean. No surprise -- it's an anxiety dream, representing fear of losing control or worries about -- you guessed it -- a child. See, my subconscious makes sense!

Meanwhile, I've made it through two out of three of my hospital sponsored baby-education classes. Here's what I've learned so far.

1. Breast milk -- it's good stuff! And you should really consider feeding it to your baby! Because they like it! And it's good for them! It will make them healthy and smart! (My favorite part of that class was when the instructor said, "If any of you are worried about your nipples, meet me in the bathroom and I'll check them out for you." Like I need something else to worry about right now.)

2. Legos -- bad! Do not let your little kids have them! Also, jawbreakers and gobstoppers!

I was talking about this to our friends Sharon and Alan and they came up with what I think is the perfect analogy. It's like high school, where some classes are divided into honors and academic and remedial tracks, and for others they just put everyone together. The hospital classes are along the put-everyone-together lines, where you've got people like me, and my Bradley classmates, who've taken hours of classes and read all the books about childbirth and childcare and thought a lot about what labor and delivery will be like, to the point where we're all Birth Nerds . . . and then you've got people who haven't thought about it much -- or at all -- so they really do need information like "breast milk is actually much better than formula." Or "do not give your children toys small enough for them to inhale."

Meanwhile, two of the seven couples in our Bradley class have had their babies already -- couple one at thirty-seven weeks, couple two at thirty-five weeks (that mom was actually supposed to be in the Infant CPR class last night). This is all starting to convince me that in spite of my sense that I will simply stay pregnant oh, say, forever, that there is actually going to be an actual baby at some point in the not-too-distant future.

On the plus side, it also allowed me to give Adam the name ultimatum -- as in, "we really should settle on one now." (Of course I know that there's a greater statistical probability that I'll be pregnant until mid-May, and we've still got plenty of naming time, but better safe than sorry, I guess).

We know what we're having, and we've been kicking around the same three or four names for months. There's the name Adam loves that I'm meh about. There's the name I love that he thinks sounds more appropriate for livestock or a pet than a baby. There's the other name I love that he thinks sounds too much like the name of another person in his family, which I think is a bogus reason for not using it, but I understand that marriage is about compromises blah blah blah.

And then there's the name that we both adore that, unfortunately, I've already used in one of my books (and no, we are not naming our baby Cannie, smart ass).

For a while, we had the idea that we'd go into the hospital with a few name possibilities and just see which one seemed to fit the baby best. But after months of rigorous viewings of "A Baby Story" on TLC, and seeing what fresh babies look like, I'm worried that I would be tempted to name the Bun something like Squishy McScreampants. Which doesn't go well with my husband's last name.

So I think Name Number Four is going to be the winner, and sixteen years down the road when the Bun comes to me with a copy of GOOD IN BED and an accusatory look, I'll just.....well, I don't know what I'll do. But I've got sixteen years to figure it out, right?

Okay. Enough about my pregnancy. Click here to read about Dahlia Lithwick's (she's two weeks and change ahead of me).

And in other reading, I loved Mrs. Kimble, and recommend it highly. It's the story of Ken Kimble, preacher turned real estate magnate, Christian turned Jew, and the three very different women he marries. I'm almost done, and so far, the book's been gripping, and poignant, and sad, and, I think, of interest to anyone who's been through their own parents' divorce.

And it's interesting to me that it's getting one of the same criticisms that GOOD IN BED got, way back when -- why is this guy (the husband in Jennifer Haigh's book, the father in mine) such a bastard? Why does he do the terrible things he does? Why would anyone continue to seek the love and approval of a man who's a cipher, a mystery, or evil incarnate (depending on the critic)?

But Ken Kimble, chameleon, didn't phase me. Because I think that Haigh has gotten the emotional truth of men who walk away just right. The truth is that there are no answers. You (where you is the wife or the child who got cast off like an old suit) never find out why. And, really, what could "why" ever be that would make sense? It's one of the universe's great unanswerable questions -- how a man could walk away not just from a wife but from children, reinvent himself again and again and always find a new woman to fall for him and start another family with him. I don't think there's a rational answer that makes sense. I think men like Ken Kimble and Dr. Shapiro are ciphers at their hearts, mysteries to their families, to their wives, maybe even to themselves. They're blank blackboards on which women write their dreams. And there's no other way for a writer to describe them except for being null at their cores.

Anyhow. I think Mrs. Kimble is a wonderful book. The author's going to be in Philadelphia next week, and assuming I'm still mobile, I'm going to be there.

I also loved SLEEP TOWARD HEAVEN (bad title, great book), which is about a women's prison in Texas, and three women who are all connected in ways that become clear as the book unfolds. It's funny and sad and redemptive. Read it now. Thank me later. (Also, I just noticed that on Amazon, you can buy both books together at a reduced price. Is Amazon reading my mind?)
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