Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Ruth with her thumb

This is a picture of Ruth from the ultrasound on January 14. I was 26 weeks pregnant; Ruth was about 14" long and weighed about 2 pounds.

Baby with thumb

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

On one of her namesakes

As most readers well know, we're going to name our daughter Ruth.

Her first namesake, my father's mother, passed away several years ago. She was Irish, the child of immigrants. She raised four children (three boys and a girl). She smoked like a chimney and had a ribald sense of humor. She was incredibly tiny too -- I don't remember her as much more than 5' nothing, about 90 pounds with beautiful white hair (I am told she was sort of auburn/copper penny before going prematurely white).

Her other namesake, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, was the 2d woman appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993. She grew up in NYC, the child of an immigrant father and just-barely-born-in-the-US mother. She recently quipped on PBS' The Jewish Americans, "What is the difference between a bookkeeper in New York's garment district and a U.S. Supreme Court justice? One generation."

RBG went to Cornell and then onto Harvard Law School where she was one of only nine women in her class. She transferred to Columbia Law when her husband, also a lawyer, took a job in NYC. She was the first woman to be on law review at both institutions.

She worked as a researcher and then as a professor. In 1972, she started the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) Women's Rights Project (WRP). The Project was somewhat self-interested in that she discovered she was paid significantly less than her male colleagues while teaching at Rutgers' thereafter, she began litigating discrimination cases.

WRP argued the landmark Frontiero case. WRP went on to win in Turner, which struck down a law making pregnant women ineligible for unemployment benefits. She was also instrumental in getting the Pregnancy Nondiscrimination Act of 1978 passed in Congress. Eventually, the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project -- which has litigated and won some of the most important choice victories -- grew out of the WRP.

It isn't that we expect our Ruth to become a Supreme Court Justice or to graduate summa cum laude from Harvard (though, neither would disappoint!). Rather, in naming our Ruth after RBG, I hope that she will have an immediate, ever-present reminder of what she could accomplish, of possibility, of leadership, of legacy, and of wonder.

Monday, January 14, 2008


This morning's ultrasound went very well. My placenta has moved up and out of the way -- a big relief since partial or complete placenta previa (where the cervix is partially or wholly covered by the placenta) means a C-section.

The baby is weighing in at 2 lbs. or so and measuring right on target. We saw her swallow and wiggle her legs. I'm also measuring right on target -- I've gained just about 10 pounds at 26 weeks. Assuming I gain the recommended pound per week from now until her due date, I'll have gained around 25 pounds in total. So where does all the weight go? Here it is broken down:
--Baby: 6 to 8 pounds
--Breast tissue: 1 to 3 pounds
--Larger uterus: 2 to 4 pounds
--Placenta: 1.5 to 3 pounds
--Amniotic fluid: 2 to 3 pounds
--Increased blood and fluid volume: 4 to 6 pounds
--Fat stores (necessary for breastfeeding): 6 to 8 pounds

The baby is frank breech (bottom down) with her arms crossed in front of her chest and her feet pointing up. My midwife (I had a regular appointment immediately following the scan) said that many babies are breech before 36 weeks. They'll keep monitoring the situation but as long as she turns before 36 weeks, I am all set. If she doesn't turn, I can do some exercises to encourage her, undergo an external version, and/or try acupuncture.

The ultrasound tech gave me some print outs of the baby including a very sweet shot of her with her thumb pointing toward her mouth; it looks like she is getting ready to suck her thumb. You can see her fingers curled in a loose fist. Daniel will scan it in in the upcoming days and we'll post it for all to see.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Roughly 15 weeks to go.

The New Year has brought some nice changes: a bonus and raise at my job. The raise brings me back up to what I was making when I worked for Evil, Inc. only 18 months after departing. And really, the incredible, overwhelming joy I felt at leaving Evil, Inc. was worth the pay cut.

And some not-as-nice changes: Sleeping is becoming more difficult. On my back is not recommended as it can decrease blood flow to the uterus. I try to switch sides during the night but rolling over is a task and I usually wake myself up. Combine that with an active child-to-be who believes that my bladder would make a comfortable resting place if only she could kick or punch it into exactly the right shape.

Stairs are not my friend. I bolted for the 5:20 express the other evening and just about passed out from the run up two flights of escalator stairs and then through Union Station. I'm not waddling or anything, but my previous life as a seriously fast walker is over, at least temporarily.

Great things: Daniel has felt the baby kick several times now. And played her a bunch of tunes from his new mp3 player. She either really likes or really despises Le Tigre -- there was vigorous kicking and rolling. Bad Religion seemed to garner a response too. I've forbidden the playing of Devo into my belly button. What if -- perish the thought -- she were to like it?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

For Folks Reading this via Blogger

If you're interested in my (non-baby related) trip to Iraq late in 2007, you can get the whole story (probably in inverted order, so watch the dates!) at:


Well, it's the new year, and also therefore the year in which Ruth will arrive.

At least, we hope - but I think medical technology will have something to say about it if M's pregnancy heads toward its 70th week or so.

Things have been pretty quiet, pregnancy-wise. I finally got to feel Ruth kick from the outside a couple of weeks ago, which was pretty neat. She's developed enough that she can apparently be startled when I sneeze, too. My mp3 player bit the dust right before Christmas, and I'm waiting for its replacement to arrive, but when it does I can start playing her some music (thereby locking in her bad taste early on - I promise to keep the Devo to a minimum, for M's sake).

For Channukha, my brother gave us a copy of My Mother Wears Combat Boots, which has proven to be an interesting read. I was especially intrigued by Mills' discussion of running a cooperative childcare - it's something I'd like to try. Reading up on alternative parenting, anarchist parenting, etc. has made me sensitive to the way in which I've largely not interacted with other children in my environment (typical that I realize this now that I'm having a kid). For instance, while M has a relationship with our friends' twins, I don't really - and even she helps out with them much less than another couple of mutual friends. I'm now determined to bring Ruth around with me to stuff as much as possible (especially when she's young, I can wear her in a sling a lot) and try to integrate her into my life. But I'd also like to find ways to connect with other parents around, etc. And I know that we may meet some other parents through parenting classes, prenatal yoga, etc. - but I'm worried that those may largely be folks we have nothing in common with except the fact that we're going to have a child.

Anyway, this is kind of incohate at the moment. I think a lot of my concerns about having a child work better redirected into a positive project. The most useful perspective I've gained by reading things like the Mills book is a different view than the one peddled to fathers - even "alternative" fathers, in books like Lindbergh's - that children change your life primarily through forcing you to "grow up" and give up a lot of your self-indulgent pursuits. Which is true, but seems now like a very partial perspective. Which is more radical, after all - going to lots of shows? Or building a community-based child care group and modeling noncoercive discipline?