There are many womanly things I'm no good at, including the application of makeup, the doing of hair, and the knowledge of obscure terminal illnesses. That smart alecky statement might give the impression that I actually think I'm cool for being no good at these things, but that's just a cover-up. I know I'm a freak and I'm not particularly proud of it. I'm not particularly ashamed either, but I'm not proud.
Mostly, I just accept myself for who I am, but there is one lady category in which I am so ignorant that I think I may need a crash course: pregnancy. I'm thirty three years old. I've never had a kid. I want to make a baby soon. I think I'm almost mature enough to be a mom. My plan is to get my party on until the end of 2010 and then revisit my three year old new year's tradition of not drinking. But instead of abstaining until Valentine's Day, I will abstain until I have birthed a child. Oh, and I'll quit my BC pills (obviously). And I will give up coffee, because that's what I'm supposed to do... uh, right?
Okay, okay. I should give myself more credit. I know that I'm not supposed to drink coffee while I'm pregnant. But I think I'm supposed to give it up beforehand, too. Or at least I know someone who did that, but I'm not totally sure why and I didn't know her well enough to ask. This is my very problem. Most wannabe moms I know (especially those in the thirty or older crowd) are quite knowledgeable and purposeful in their pregnancy quests, and I still don't know anything about this stuff. I don't even know how I'm supposed to find out about it. I think that there are some books that I should be reading, but I don't know which ones.
To get myself started, I'm hoping I can track down R, a woman I've met only twice. R's husband K is the grandson of Dan's grandma's best friend. I first met this young couple two summers ago and though they cannot know it, they had a profound impact upon me at the time (you can read all about it in this ancient myspace blog post, in which I renamed them Frank and Karen). R and K are eight or nine years younger than me, but in some ways, far more mature. Both of them are very sensible and hardworking, strong of will and body. I was initially struck by their down-to-earth money management skills, so much that they inspired me to take a personal finance class that completely changed my life. If I had never seen them again I doubt I could forget the impression they made upon me. But when we were reunited a year later (they hosted us for a couple days after Dan presented at a conference in San Francisco), I was even further moved by the way they handled themselves as the parents of a baby boy. To this day I am especially in awe of mother R.
R is a pediatric nurse who has long wanted to become a midwife (at the time she had decided to put that goal on hold, as nursing and child-rearing were more than enough). She chose to have her son at a birth center under the care of a midwife, a decision that most of her colleagues considered completely nuts. Without getting into a lot of personal details, I will say that R made several decisions about her pregnancy and her child-rearing methods that are contrary to conventional medical wisdom, of which I know almost nothing. I did not know, for instance, that doctors warn mothers against sleeping next to their babies, because they may roll over and suffocate their kid. But R pointed out that on the rare occasions that happens, the mother is usually drunk or drugged. So, you know, use your common sense and don't sleep next to the baby if you're wasted. Or don't be a drunk mom.
R's general take on conventional prenatal and postnatal care is that it's so focused on prevention/caution/avoiding medical malpractice suits that it essentially encourages women to be freaked out and worried all the time. That can create other problems for new mothers and their children. Being a healthy, young and educated woman, she chose instead to live by this mantra - "It's going to be fine." She said that statement to me several times during our visit and she truly was the picture of serenity. And her baby? He was a dynamo! Hearty and strong, just like his parents, he was turning himself over at just four months. He smiled lots, too.
So, yeah, I admit it - I want to be a mom exactly like R, though I know that isn't physically possible. In lieu of that, I'm going to enlist my grandmother-in-law's help in tracking her down. I'm hoping that a quick email and a request for sources will get me off to a good start. I just have a feeling that R has some good ideas for an older lady like me, who feels pretty sure that despite her lack of knowledge, this baby-making endeavor is going to be fine.