Friday, July 31, 2015

Big News!

No, not THAT news.

Baby is still very much in utero, and not showing any signs of making his debut anytime soon. He's definitely running out of room, though.  11 days until D-day, and I'm really hoping he'll stay put until then.

No, I have other Big News. Stuff I haven't been able to talk about much because its all happening pretty fast, and its a little overwhelming.

This Girl on a Bike is Maryland. Just over the Bay Bridge to be a little more precise, without giving out my exact address. I'm gonna have to update my twitter handle.

After living in DC for 18 years, it is time for me to make some changes. For the first 18 years of my life, I lived in a small town in central NY State, right on the shores of Lake Ontario. My 'hood was mostly farmland. I love where I grew-up, and I loved the childhood I had because of it. I went to small(ish) public schools and spent a lot of time outdoors. It was quiet, safe and yes...a bit boring. By the time I was 18 and ready to leave home, I knew I wanted the opposite of what I grew up with. So in August of 1997, my parents dropped me off in Foggy Bottom in Washington, DC.  I specifically chose George Washington University because it was an "open" campus in the middle of Washington, DC. I spent the next 18 years making my life here, as a DC resident.

I consider my last 18 years as my "2nd Life". I did a lot of growing up here. From an 18 year old awkward teen-adult, to a now married & pregnant adult. My first roommate was a crazy French girl that grew up around royalty and taught me many things that my small-town experiences lacked. We spent years having crazy adventures until he she moved from DC to continue her globe-trotting, and now works with refugees all over the world. She was the first of many friends that I would meet from all over the world that came to DC. I remember U Street when it was mostly parking lots and only a few clubs (State of the Union, anyone?). Most weekend nights, I could be found at the goth night clubs where the Nationals now play. DC was NOT known for its night-life at the time (in fact, I remember my Parisian roommate being astounded at the fact that DC essentially shut-down at 10pm most nights. It was true. Except for maybe Georgetown, but that was still very much the bro-town it still is now).  In order to shop at a "decent" grocery store, I had to take the metro into Virginia. I had a bunch of odd-jobs until I finally settled on a career in law enforcement, and now work for the District of Columbia as a police officer. I moved into the building that I am now in the process of moving out of 15 years ago! I can't imagine not living here. I've watched my neighborhood go through so many changes. I lived through 9/11 here. I remember seeing the smoke from the Pentagon from the rooftop. DC has definitely shaped the adult person that I am now.

But, its time to start my "3rd Life". My priorities have majorly changed, and so have my wants and needs. It's no longer just about what I want/need, but what my family wants and needs. And although DC is a great place for raising a family (it really is!), its just not what we want anymore. I want to go home and NOT be the police.  I can't do that when I live in the city I patrol. I want peace and quiet at night. I want space, both metaphorically and literally. I want our kid to have the same kind of experiences that I grew up with. I do not want to go grocery shopping with my kid, and run into some jackass that I arrested. I don't need/want 15 restaurants within a .5 mile radius. We can still come into the city for the museums/events.

So, we are buying a house in Maryland. We chose that area because we have a few friends there, and we really like the area. Closing on the house is on the 10th. Yup, the day before I'm due! (Pleeeeaaaase, kiddo, just stay in a little while longer). That means we'll be moving with a newborn. No, we're not insane. Why do you ask? And if you are going to do one really big stressful, life-changing thing, why not do another? It's actually been helpful, in that whenever I start to stress about labor/delivery/caring for a newborn, I just starting thinking about mortgages, house payments, commuting & moving, and the stress from that basically cancels each other out!

Hello, denial.

And yes, this means I'll have to start driving to work. Shudder. Which means we'll need to buy another car. Ugh. These are major cons to our move. The commute is going to be at least an hour, each way. I'm not looking forward to it. I did research alternative commuting methods (maybe park at a metro, metro in to Union Station, keep a bike at the Bike Station, and then bike in.....but that would actually add way more time to my commute). The worst part? I'm also going to have to become.....a Maryland Driver. Yup. Oh, the shame. I might honestly cry.

The good part is that the area we live in (basically an island) has a pretty good bike trail system (it still needs a lot of work in getting connected to various places, but they are working on it). So, even though I may not do a whole lot of biking to/from DC, I can do a lot of biking at home. One of my major reasons for picking the house that we did, is that it is just down the street from an entrance to the bike trail. I'm hoping we can save the car trips for commuting/DC trips, and stick to bikes/the Vespa for just getting around/errand running/etc.

I'm going to miss so much about living in DC. The idea that I won't be able to just pop on home when I'm out & about in DC is going to suck. I love that I'm only minutes away from so many bike trails. Events going on downtown? I can get there in 15-20 minutes. I don't want to be a stranger/tourist in my own city. I know every crack in the sidewalk, every alley cut, every little quirk in a 2 mile radius from here. Just from running/walking/biking the same areas every day.

In less than a month, that will all change for me. I still can't fathom it. Definitely denial.

In the meantime, I have officially started maternity leave. I'm using this last bit of time before kiddo gets here to start packing. We haven't bothered unpacking/unboxing a lot of the baby stuff/gifts we've received since we'll just have to immediately pack it all up again. The apartment looks like a hurricane hit it. Ugh. Boxes and stuff just EVERYWHERE. Who knew a 1 bedroom apartment could contain so much STUFF. 15 years of stuff. Bah!

Anyway, if you don't hear from me much on twitter/facebook for a bit, this is why. Busy, busy, busy.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The final countdown

35 weeks today. I think this might be my last post until after the kiddo arrives.

I'm starting to really feel the pregnancy. Up until a few days ago, I felt fine. I didn't feel "pregnant" unless I looked in a mirror and saw my belly. I could still tie my shoes and touch my toes. My feet hadn't swelled into boats. I didn't have any aches and pains. I felt little kicks and punches, but they felt more like muscle twitches (thank you, anterior placenta for being a cushion). All the horrible things that other women told me would happen during pregnancy...didn't.

And then I woke up last Saturday. I was completely prepared to ride into work as usual. But then I noticed my finger joints really ached. And my back. And shoulders. And neck.  And what the heck is this really heavy thing around my midsection? Trying to turn over or even get out of bed was an ordeal. I wanted to go in one direction, kiddo had other ideas. And those cute little "kicks" and "punches"? They are full-on belly spasms. The alien chest-burster doesn't seem like a fictional character anymore.  And what is even happening to my belly button?! Riding on a bicycle just doesn't seem appealing at all right now. I had promised myself that when it stopped being fun, I wasn't going to force myself. So I think I might be done with bike commuting for a bit. MIGHT be. I'm still going day by day. I don't feel miserable, but my willingness to hop on a bicycle in the summertime heat & humidity has gone way down.

These last few weeks are going to be pretty busy. I'm still working full-time (currently scheduled up until D-day, although I might take some time off before). We still have some things to purchase for the kiddo (he has all the basics, so it's not urgent). I need to pack my hospital bag. Tour the Labor & Delivery wing at the hospital. Read up on breastfeeding. And there's some other big changes going on at the moment that I don't want to reveal just yet. But this is all happening so FAST all of a sudden, and it's getting so REAL. This kiddo will be here NEXT MONTH. No longer a theoretical concept, but an actual, real, tangible (screaming, crying, hungry) person that we'll be responsible for. Yikes.

Anyway, I got scolded again last week for riding my bike. At least this guy had the decency to "warn" me before lecturing me ("Sarge. I'm gonna warn you, I'm gonna sound disrespectful for a minute..."). He launched into a rant about how I was out of my mind for still riding a bicycle, have I looked in a mirror (because I'm not aware of my own pregnancy??) and blah blah blah. I was on my way out the door, so I didn't stick around to listen it. Just nodded my head, "uh-huh-ed" him and was on my way.

So I figured this post could be about how to handle "well-meaning" people that feel the need to voice their opinion on your choice to bike commute while pregnant. Actually, this could apply to bike commuting in general, pregnant or not.

  • Understand that you're probably not going to change their minds. People that feel its okay to lecture another grown adult about their choices are pretty firm in their own beliefs and opinions. So, if you do decide to engage, be prepared to either shrug and walk away or let them know that you heard them, but you don't agree. And then ride your bike anyway.
  • Be an example. I've found the best way to handle people who think bike commuting is "crazy" is to just do it. Show them it's not a big deal and that its completely normal by doing it. After awhile, they give up. And then it will seem strange to them when you DON'T ride your bike because they got used to seeing it.
  • What I hear most often from people that think bike commuting is "dangerous" is that its because of the "crazy drivers" out there. My response is usually "Aren't you a driver? Why not make it safer for me by driving more carefully?" Or with my coworkers: "Yup. If only there were people out there that had the legal authority to stop these drivers and enforce traffic laws...maybe when you are out on the street, and you see one of these "crazy drivers", you DO SOMETHING about it".
  • Ride your bike anyway.
  • I also point out that I've been in far more car "accidents" then I've been in bike "accidents", and that I'm more concerned about being injured in a car than I am being injured on a bike.
  • I let them know I've been bike commuting in a city for 5 years, and that I am very experienced and competent at handling my bicycle.
  • Ride your bike anyway
  • My bike commute is my daily meditation. It prepares me for the work day ahead, and then helps me decompress on my ride home. I need it. It keeps me sane. A sane me is a happy me, and a happy me is a more pleasant supervisor/coworker.
  • The exercise is good for me and the growing baby. It's actually ideal because the riding position distributes the weight in a way that it takes the load off of me, and encourages the baby to position himself correctly for birth. The motion is also nice for the baby.
  • Don't accept the invitation to an argument. If someone is being rude, it's perfectly fine to walk away in the middle of their rant. I don't mind having discussions, but I won't do arguments.
  • Ride your bike anyway

Being a pregnant bike commuter can be challenging because there's an element of sexism involved. When a person tells me that I'm "crazy" for the simple act of riding a bicycle, what they are really saying is that I'm not capable of deciding for myself what is safe/acceptable/healthy. I often get asked what my husband thinks of my choice. Then there is the "THINK OF THE CHILDREN" pearl-clutching that is usually a thinly disguised veil at controlling someone else's behavior (and not at all about THE CHILDREN). I could go on a whole rant about my experiences as a pregnant woman in the workplace, especially a traditionally male workplace, but this isn't really the blog for that. I'll just say its been.....frustrating. It seems that the only people not invited/allowed to define what a pregnant woman is capable of are the pregnant women themselves. Instead policies & procedures are created by people (usually men) who seem to think that being pregnant is equivalent to being injured/ill and refuse to acknowledge that pregnancy is its own uniquely female event. For instance, the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act says that pregnant employees are to be treated as any other employee with a short term disability. Except...I'm not disabled. I didn't break my leg or arm. I'm pregnant. It's not the same. Yes, certain accommodations need to be made, but I should be the one to decide what they are. Anyway, I digress. Ride your bike. Don't listen to the haters.

The next time I post here, kiddo should be here. Forgive me if I go radio silent for a bit, because I might be a bit overwhelmed. See you on the other side!

Edited to add bump picture....just because:

My usual commuting outfit. Thank goodness bike jerseys stretch.