Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A clean kitchen

I visited my parents for a week in February and it was wonderful. My mom had the week off and we spent time shopping for baby clothes and maternity clothes, going on walks, and talking in the car. She cooked dinner for us and I was struck by how pleasant the kitchen was to be in, especially since my mom cleans the kitchen up right away after a meal. After a vacation is frequently a good time for me to make changes to my daily routine, so I decided that I would try to keep my kitchen cleaned right away after I made a mess.

It's been two weeks and I love how my kitchen feels less like an energy-draining clutterfest and more like a place where I can make anything I want. Sometimes I will actually make something without it feeling like a huge ordeal since I get to start with a clean kitchen. I'm less resentful of my own messes when I'm still enjoying the food that made the mess (there's nothing worse than scrubbing curry out of a pan when you've already eaten all the leftovers). And since my new rule is "clean it right away" I don't have the option to do it later or procrastinate it.

Another habit I started after my vacation was making a "power hour" list of non-repetitive chores that I want to do at some point, with the goal of working on something from the list each day. I have a lot of non-repetitive chores at the moment since I need to clear out the upstairs room for the new nursery. So far I've gone through lots of old files and shredded many of them, I've gotten rid of a huge desk, and I've moved some stuff around (some of it is just going downstairs and some of it is in my "donate" pile). I like having the list because if I think of something, instead of having it hanging over me as all this stuff I'm meaning to get around to, I can break it up into smaller chunks and feel like I've worked on something (even though I'm still sleeping about 10 hours a day and I need to take lots of breaks). I still don't know where to put some things, like all my scouting stuff, but I know it's an issue I want to work out so hopefully I can think of a solution while I'm doing other things.

Monday, February 03, 2014

confronting my own sexism about the value of motherhood

When I found out I was having a girl, I didn't feel especially excited. In fact, I felt a teensy bit disappointed. I felt like, "oh, she'll probably grow up to be a stay-at-home mom like me." Don't get me wrong, I am fairly confident that my future daughter will be lovely and awesome; I think this is more about my feelings about what it means to be a mom.

I feel like I shouldn't feel this way. I know, objectively, that being a stay-at-home mom or any kind of mom is a big sacrifice, and moms are awesome for sacrificing themselves for their children, and that many mothers find their lives rewarding and worthwhile. I also know that being a mom will be messy and full of cleaning and child-wrangling. It seems like a lot of work that doesn't get accolades. Moms who brag about their kids are seen as annoying, and whining about momchores is seen as kind of petty; there's very little outside recognition for being a successful caretaker. I guess since I've never experienced being a mother myself, I don't have the feelings of "I love [my] children and this is so rewarding!" All I have right now is what I see other moms doing on mommy blogs and on forums and most of the time it doesn't sound especially exciting to me? It sounds like thankless work that is never over.

It's hard for me to admit that being a mom doesn't sound all that fun/cool/rewarding because I know lots of people who are moms, and some people who would like to be moms but aren't. I am grateful to be pregnant, but I still feel anxious about becoming a caregiver. Parenthood feels like a big self-inflicted burden. I'm not just anxious, I'm a little scared. I know that I'm going to mess up in my future parenthood, and all my research and study can't substitute for real-life experience.

I'm also subject to "worldly" arguments/trolls that women who stay at home and have kids aren't contributing to the world. Of course women who raise children are contributing to the world--where else is the next generation going to come from? But I feel like the way parents affect the world through their children is harder for me to appreciate than someone who works and "makes a living." Someone working at a job affects lots of other people every day, but the effect is small in comparison to the effect a mother has on her children. But men in this situation get to have careers and be a parent who affects their children deeply, which doesn't seem fair. But fathers (or whichever parent is away most of the day) might not affect a child as much as that child's primary caregiver (maybe they do?)?

When it comes down to it, I'm afraid of change. I'm committing myself to becoming a mom for the next 18-30 years, depending on how many children I have. One thing that has cheered me up is knowing that many women pursue a career after their children are grown. Having a child doesn't mean I'll never have a "real" job again, and some women work while their children are still growing up. Although if I were to go back to work, I'm not sure what I'd do. I'm confident that if I had a job, I would do well at it, but my various job experiences don't point me towards a specific job title. Even if I wanted to get a job, I'm not sure if I could get one.

TL;DR: when people ask me if I'm excited to have a baby, I guess I should say that I am excited--but I'm also nervous and anxious about it.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Looking back on my infertility

So, you know that I'm pregnant now, and it took about two years for my body to get pregnant. I'm excited/nervous about having a baby, and I feel blessed to have this opportunity. But at the same time, I can't help thinking that there are plenty of other couples who have to cope with infertility, and I want to sort out my thoughts about that.

I know that two years of infertility is fairly common. Other families I know have had to wait 6, 10, or over 20 years to have children. Some couples never have children even though they want them (even though the Ensign infertility stories never end that way). So in some ways I feel weird being like "Hey, God has blessed me with this pregnancy! Sorry God didn't bless you the same way." I guess you could say the same for getting married, or other life "milestones," but to me, dating and going to college were things I felt like I had a little bit of control over. With my fertility, since it was unexplained, I feel like my getting pregnant had very little to do with me, and a lot to do with divine intervention. Which seems really unfair to other couples that aren't getting that divine intervention, I guess? But everyone is different, and has different trials. So even though my infertility isn't a trial I'm experiencing right now, and hindsight is 20-20 and all that, I'm reflecting on how my relationship to infertility changed over the course of last year.

At the beginning of last year (2013), I was having a hard time. Every month I was hopeful that I would get pregnant, and it seemed like being hopeful just made each month more disappointing. I was very open about how I was having a hard time with it though, so many of my friends and family started (or continued) to pray for me, which I'm grateful for. The hardest part for me was when my husband said in a blessing not to worry about it and that I'd have children in the Lord's time, and I just needed to be patient (and then our home teacher told us the same thing). I felt like that should have been a revelation I should have received. I felt some comfort when I prayed, but not a reassurance that I'd have children. I felt like I had to be okay with my life even if I never had children. Looking back on it, I'm reminded of D&C 46:13-14: "To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world. To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful." Only instead of about Jesus, it was a revelation about me, and I had to believe it.

Anyway, I decided to stop defining myself by my infertility so much. I got more into organ playing and baking weird breads and other self-improvement-type things. I think accepting myself the way I was was an important part of not being bothered as much by my failure to get pregnant. As time went on, infertility seemed like less of a huge obstacle in my run to make a family, and more like a landmark in my life's journey. I expected each month that I wouldn't get pregnant, which made it less disappointing. When I was ready, we went back to the fertility specialist, although I got pregnant before we tried artificial insemination.

The month before I got pregnant, I felt healthy enough to fast, and instead of fasting desperately for a child, I fasted for patience (I had completely forgotten this was mentioned in the blessing). So as you can imagine, I was really surprised when I became pregnant. In some ways, I'm worried that the child I have will be some terror that will really teach me patience. At the same time, I'm looking forward to it. I know that I didn't have to bear the burden of infertility for very long, and I hope that I'll be sensitive to other couples in my life who are in that situation.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Summary of 2013

So, I keep a daily pen-and-paper journal, and I don't know if anyone will ever want to read all of that. I've summarized this last year mostly for my records, and you can read it if you like. Throughout the year I practiced organ, studied kanji on WaniKani, and tried to get exercise (usually with yoga or DDR). I helped my sister a little bit with her upcoming relationship-sim called Personal Space.

January: I had every intention to learn how to ski, but all my plans fell through, although we did go cross-country skiing. I watched the anime GOSICK. I visited Portland with Adam and enjoyed the Japanese garden, science museum, and Powell's.

February: We played lots of Ni no Kuni, helped Adam's sister build her computer, and played some board games (like The New Science and Pandemic). I felt sorry for myself for not getting pregnant. We visited Adam's friend and his family in Austin, TX, where we had some excellent BBQ and enjoyed the sunshine.

March: We got called as cub scout leaders in our ward. Adam gave me a blessing that said I needed to learn patience (re: having kids thing). I suffered from sinus pain and baked a lot. I hosted a party for some of my online friends, which was fun. My gallbladder pain started, so I spent the last half of the month on pain medication and watched lots of Downtown Abbey and played lots of videogames.

April: I had my gallbladder removed. During my recovery I watched Kino no Tabi and probably a lot of other TVWhen I made it back to church "everyone kept asking me how I was and I was tired and didn't want to deal with it" (my journal). I came to appreciate how easy it is to ask people about and assist with their physical health (versus asking people and helping with their emotional health). I really did love how much support I had from my ward and family after my operation. At the end of the month I found out that my uterus is normal.

I bought The Modernist Cookbook: Home Cooking for Adam's birthday, which has greatly influenced our culinary lives, including inciting us to buy a sous vide cooker. We had my grandparents and cousins over for a big dinner where we cooked sous vide steaks for everyone, which was a bit stressful but turned out well.

I got to play some multiplayer DS games with my sister-in-law, including Diamond Trust of London (I'd had the game for a while, but hadn't had a chance to play it with someone--it's cutthroat!). We rode the Heber Creeper on their "chocolate lover's" night--the chocolate was okay, and going with our friends and my in-laws was pretty fun too. Going up the Salt Lake's Japan festival was also fun. I decided not to write for a videogames site because it didn't pay very well.

May: I started taking walks with my neighbor and got to know her better. Adam bought a gas grill, which he loves. We had a cub scout BBQ where we let the kids dress their own burgers and pour their own soda, which might have been a mistake, but hopefully they learned a little about how much ketchup they like.

I bought some Icehouse pyramids and became fascinated with teaching myself games from reading the rules and how to write clear instructions for games. My breadmaker died and I became interested in sourdough bread starters and eventually managed to make my own. I decided to stop reading so many games blogs and stopped following Twitter for a while. We had various people over for BBQ, which was delicious. I visited a sinus doctor who said I should have sinus surgery, but I decided not to get surgery. I got tested for allergies too (I'm allergic to shellfish, but not other kinds of fish). I did some hiking with Koko, supposedly in search of wild mushrooms.

June: Adam went on a business trip, and I hiked Squaw peak while he was gone. I read an issue of Real Simple, which "has lovely pictures but it doesn't really explain how to do anything." I felt self-conscious about not working or being much help to people outside my house. I interviewed for a part-time job at the library, which included tests in spelling and shelving, which was a little more intense than I anticipated (I didn't get the job).

We looked at some houses in Provo, potentially to buy them, but I didn't really like how all of them seemed ginormous and had two kitchens, so we decided to buy land and build on it instead. We hosted a dinner for Adam's family for Father's Day. I bought a Bosch mixer to help with baking bread. I went to Colorado with my cousins for my other cousin's wedding, and it was fun to hang out with family. I started to play Animal Crossing because peer pressure. I visited my parents in California, which was fun, except my temporary crown fell out and I had to go to the hospital for an ulcer I had. But I treasure the memories of biking around the bay and eating Mom-cooked food.

July: I started taking ulcer medication, and my self-consciousness about my usefulness as a person continued: "I wish I could confidently and competently perform some valuable task for others." I had a root canal (part of the reason I got an ulcer was because I was taking a bit too much ibuprofen for my tooth pain). We went to Jackson, Wyoming for a vacation with Adam's family. I went horseback writing and whitewater rafting, and we played lots of fun games together. I got to see Belle & Sebastian live in Salt Lake. My extended family had a reunion at a lodge by Aspen grove, and Adam and I were in charge of food (although lots of relatives helped). It was a little overwhelming, because my extended family is pretty big, but I think no one got food poisoning or went hungry. I played Magic: The Gathering with cousins, as well as other games with other people.

August: Our church time changed to 11, which made attending church less miserable. I went to a weeklong organ workshop where I learned a fair bit about organ technique and playing, and also got motivated enough to take private lessons. Also I learned that Richard Elliot is the angel of the organ. We went to some friends' houses for dinner. I dealt with more stomach and tooth pain. We dogsat two dogs for a week, which was sometimes fun and sometimes a little overwhelming.

September: An EGD found that I didn't have an ulcer, so I decided it had healed and I would stop worrying about it. I made 100% rye sourdough, which was a disappointment. We went to SLC Comic Con, which was fun but also super crowded. We had a fertility consult with a doctor in Sandy (the other fertility center wasn't completely covered by our insurance). I edited some fiction for two people I know. I played some dating sim games on my Vita (research!).

October: I found out that I was pregnant, but I didn't want to get too excited yet. I was really tired most of the month, so I played lots of videogames like Pokemon and watched lots of TV. I built a lego haunted house for Halloween. We saw Richard Eliot play the Poulenc concerto up in Alpine, which was amazing. My dad visited for a weekend. I felt pretty (morning) sick on my birthday, so Adam did his best to make it fun. I stopped taking organ lessons. I craved sour things, like borsch and lemon bars.

November: I started taking Zofran for my nausea (along with unisom and vitamin B6), which helped me throw up less. I wrote, "I feel so discouraged when I read about my pregnant friends actually getting stuff done."  I ordered a cheese pizza one afternoon and ate it the rest of the week. I watched Adam play Skyward Sword. I read a bit of research on evidence-based birth practices and started doing some prenatal yoga. We announced my pregnancy to our families/friends, and lots of people were happy for us. I started watching lots of Bones.

December: I started listening to the Book of Mormon while doing jigsaw puzzles, and then Adam and I did some jigsaw puzzles. Adam likes to look at the box and pick up a piece to find exactly where it goes, whereas I like to find a piece that fits into a particular gap. I'm still pregnant, so I guess I should plan on having a baby next year? I've been researching things like breastfeeding and cloth diapering. We're looking forward to Christmas and spending time with Adam's family, and visiting my sister and my family afterwards.

Analysis: I've learned a bit about baking and cooking, and I kept practicing organ and studying kanji all year. My goal for my life right now is to have a healthy pregnancy and baby, as much as I can influence that. I've also been thinking about how I can get overly attached to my own opinions, and I'm trying to be less attached to my opinions (it's kind of hard). I should also probably try to be more social, although with getting pregnant I think my hermit tendencies have been amplified. I almost feel like I have no idea what my life will be like after I have a baby (assuming all goes well), so I don't want to disappoint myself into making goals I might not be able to reach. I'm pretty happy with my life the way it is now though.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Pregnancy becomes a way of life

I'm pregnant, starting my second trimester, and I feel like I am starting a new lifestyle (which I guess is true). It's a little like when I started wearing glasses or after we got a dog. I'm now a member of the people-who-have-been-pregnant club. At first I was really excited to be pregnant, and I relished my body's changes. Now I'm not as excited about it and it feels more like a semi-chronic condition that I have to work around.

None of my jeans fit anymore. In some ways I feel like "yay!" but I also feel like my own body image has to shift. I never felt like the ads revolving around being skinny affected me, probably because I was/kind of am skinny. I haven't even gained that much actual weight yet, but my uterus is ballooning up. When I was looking at sweat pants the other day I almost felt like explaining why I wasn't buying a small, and then I was like, seriously? Who gives a crap! I used to wear pants that were a bit too big because I liked baggy pants, but then I went through this "my clothes should fit me" phase but the downside is that I grew used to my body looking a certain way, and now that I know it's changing, I just have to get used to it again. I feel like I can't buy anything that fits anymore though, because I'm just going to grow out of it.

I'm still worried that I could miscarry again. I guess I feel like I'm trying to be a little detached so that just in case things don't work out, I won't be devastated. I do feel like I have put a significant amount of effort into this fetus though, even if it is in the form of extra hours of sleep, throwing up, and sitting around not feeling great. I don't want to buy any baby stuff too soon though, even though I'm probably most fit for putting a crib together now rather than later. If I miscarry, all that stuff I bought for the baby will just hang around reminding me of my loss (I haven't actually bought anything yet). I'm kind of excited for when the fetus is developed enough to hear though :-).

I don't want to end like this because I'm not actually feeling sad and body dysmorphic all day; it's just something I've been thinking about from time to time. I've been doing this prenatal yoga routine 3-5 times a week and I love it. I love the part where the narrator says "let your inner goddess shine." That's part of my religion too! There's also a Bollywood song where one of the lines is "I see my god in you." We're spirit children of our Heavenly Father and Mother, so I think seeing spiritual parents in another person is within LDS doctrine, and a good way to try to love others.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Sailor Moon's Theology

I recently finished reading the Sailor Moon manga. It's ridiculous magical girl stuff everywhere. I felt like the first ten volumes were TOO MUCH action and not enough character development (thank goodness for SuperS). But I did find the theology (lore?) of Sailor Moon to be really kind of interesting. Spoilers ahead!

Tenets of Sailor Moon lore:
-Sailor Moon is the savior of the world in an epic struggle against evil
-She and Tuxedo Mask are like... the protectors of our universe?
-Evil/chaos must exist if good exists, like light existing means darkness exists
-Every planet has a guardian who has a special sailor scout crystal (is she always a woman?)
-Everyone has crystals that are like their souls, which exist outside the physical body

Okay, I'm not sure where I was going with this. I think the part I liked about Sailor Moon was that she learned how to become a semi-divine being, and that in the end she had to do it not just out of love for her friends, but a love of peace.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Japanese Ghost Stories


I know you are wondering what other media you can consume to prepare for Halloween. If you want some short and scary cartoons, try Yamishibai. Some of them I didn't think were scary at first, and then I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about them. But I think the scariest to watch was "Hair," because it was about a little thing that went wrong with something completely normal. Let me know if you watch/like them!