Sunday, February 27, 2011

Do you know what you're having?

The big question everyone wants to know when they find out you're pregnant: Do you know what you're having? No, I don't. But hopefully I will in less than 12 hours.  The anatomy scan ultrasound is scheduled for a bright and early 7 am!

It's funny because people keep saying "oh, I'm sure you wouldn't mind either way." And while I think that this will ultimately prove true, I do have some anxiety over the issue, anxiety that is proving artistically fruitful as you can see in the monologue below. A few friends and I are participating in the SWAN Day (International Women Artists Day) festivities here in Pittsburgh and are putting together a monologue performance art piece that will be part of a larger performance show at the end of March. As it turns out, all three of our pieces are revolving around motherhood and--surprise, surprise--guilt. 

So read below. Some of it is exaggerated for dramatic purposes and poetic license, but the anxiety is oh so real. And don't judge me too harshly. I anticipate that I'll be feeling very different in a mere 12 hours. 

Do you know what you’re having?
Do you know what you’re having?  Is it a boy or a girl?  Do want to know what you’re having?  When do you find out what you’re having?  Are you feeling a “mother’s intuition” yet?  Boy or girl? Boy or girl Boy or girl?  

Answer: Yes, no, maybe.  Assign to whichever question you feel fit. 

I’d like to say that none of this matters.  Of course I want a healthy, happy, sweet little bundle when this is all said and none.  But does it matter?  Yes. A lot.  Because…well…oh hell, just shame me now.  Just do it.  Call me names—hypocrite, back stabber, an awful mom already. Make that horrified look that I know you’re all gonna make.  That gaped-mouth, wide-eyed, nose-crinkled in distaste look that all grandmother’s seem to have perfected and that we will all perfect someday.  Just shame me now.  

Great? Are you done?  Because here’s my real answer to your question: I am TERRIFIED of having…a…b..b…b…baby…baby…baby…girl! 

But why does it scare you? All you gotta do is put em dresses and tie pink ribbons in their hair! Doesn’t a boy scare you even more? What’s so wrong with having a girl? I have a girl and I love it! Are you crazy who wouldn’t want a girl??? 

Answer: Because I know what it’s like. I know what it’s like to think that pink, frills, pearls, and ruffles are the only way to express my femininity. To obsess over my body. To obsess over my body becoming my mother’s body (check—that’s happened).  To spend countless nights on my knees going “Dear God, It’s me, Alyssa. When will I get my period?” To spend weeks upon weeks of my life cursing God for giving me my period as I curl up into a ball on the floor in pain. To dream of being a princess only to realize that Prince William is never going to come to America, we are never going to find each other at University, and that…damn…he’s now officially taken. To weep over loves come and gone and then go right back out there and do the same thing over and over and over and over. 

Who the hell would want to go through that? And do I really want to go through that all again in this mini-me whom I’ve created? But, I mean, I guess we’re still alive, right? If we can do it, so can the she who is maybe in my belly?  Maybe?

Thursday, February 24, 2011


"Ms. Alyssa, don't you care about kids anymore?," says Elizabeth, a student I work with at one of Pittsburgh's public schools. This was the quote of my day yesterday. It made me stop in my tracks and think about what it is I do everyday and the meaning I find in my life's work.

But to back up for some context: remember in a post a long long time ago I mentioned that I had TWO secrets to share? Well, here is the second one...

Are you ready?
This is big....
Super duper big....

(fanfare please) I have a new job! On Tuesday, March 1, I am starting at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre ( as the Director of Education and Community Engagement.

Whoa. Are you feeling overwhelmed yet? Because I am. A new full-time job AND a new baby = totally new life. I'm excited and terrified and nervous all at the same time.

So Elizabeth said this profound statement to me after I announced that I would no longer be working at their school anymore because I had found a new job. "Ms. Alyssa, don't you care about kids anymore?" Did she make me feel guilty and sad? You bet she did. For a number of reasons.

1. Unlike some people who find a new job because they hate what they're doing, I am the opposite. I actually really love the work I do right now. Not necessarily the long drives, the communication hiccups, and the whole "working 5 jobs at one time" juggling act, but working with the kids and teachers--absolutely. All the organizations I currently work for--Prime Stage Theatre, Gateway to the Arts, the MGR Foundation, City Theatre--have been amazingly wonderful to me and have provided me with significant opportunities to learn arts pedagogy and refine my teaching skills. Plus, the people at all of these organizations are wonderful. I will miss them all dearly.
2. The job I'm moving into involves significantly less teaching and much more administration. Now, I can't deny that I'm a good administrator. I pride myself on my organization and leadership skills, but will I miss being in the classroom? Absolutely. I will jump at every opportunity the Ballet has for me to teach because it is those interactions with students that make what we do so worth it. I plan on bringing in some recent artwork and cards made for me by some of my students as a reminder that they are the reason why I do what I do.

Despite all this, Elizabeth, it's not that I don't care about students anymore. In fact, it's just the opposite. I care about them more than ever, especially now as I'm moving into a job that has the potential for me to reach many more students through the programming that the Ballet offers and as I am embarking on my journey to motherhood with my very own personal "student" to shape, mold, and grow into a hopefully caring, respectful, intelligent person. I care about students more than ever in my life.

But thank you Elizabeth for keeping me on my toes (ballet pun very intended ;-p)

Monday, February 21, 2011

So. Much. Stuff.

I'll admit it: the last week I have been full-force, head-on, 100% American consumer. This whole pregnancy and baby thing is compulsive. Buy buy buy--you need this, you need that, you must have this, oh have you tried that? Mind you, not that shopping wasn't unbelievable fun last Thursday when I dropped a lot of jing on new clothes for me (both maternity and professional clothes). Mind you, not that starting the registry today at Babies R Us with my friend with Courtney wasn't also fun (in hindsight it was fun--during the experience I thought I was going to pass out from being so totally overwhelmed...thank goodness Courtney was there to calm me down and talk me through it!).

But I have to stop and wonder: do I need it all? Is it all necessary? Does it have to be new or just good enough to make it through numerous spit ups, drool, and other accidents without completely falling apart? Am I a bad parent already for not making sure I have everything the books say I should have? No, no, good enough, and no. Of course I want my baby to have the best start in life, but do I need to be wearing uber expensive maternity clothes to do that? No. Do I need to buy a separate bassinet when I can just use the one in the pack n play for the first few months? No. Do I need to buy everything or can I get ambitious and start making what I need? Well, the latter is my ultimate goal--we'll see what happens. On my list of things to make: boppy pillow, nursing cover, moby wrap, soft baby rattles, bibs, burp cloths, and other little trinkets. Because ultimately I'm trying really hard not to get wrapped up in the idea that I need everything in order to get started being a parent. It's really just too much to think about. And if it's too much to think about, it makes me think that it's probably all not worth it. I'll get the essentials and go from there.

So that's why I've been borrowing as many maternity clothes as I possibly can (thank you to the many friends who have donated already to the cause: Lynn, Meredith, and Courtney). That's why we bought our nursery set off of Craig's List after careful research and consideration because we couldn't justify spending so much on something that would be outgrown in so little time. That's why we're borrowing other things from friends (that and we don't have much storage space left in our house!). And that's why I'm excited to hit up the garage sales as soon as the weather warms up to see what I treasures I can find.

Because stuff does indeed help make life easier, but only when you're not buried in it (and debt...have you seen the prices on some of this stuff? Unreal!).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Milestones: The Blue Period

No, I'm not sad.  This is just a photographic homage to Picasso.

Milestone 1: I began using a rubber band to hold my jeans together in early February.  They're just too tight otherwise.  The rubber band of choice just happens to be blue.  Then I graduated to a Bella Band that was lent to me by a friend. Can you say lifesaver??

Milestone 2: We have purchased a nursery set!  Crib, armoire, dresser, and glider rocker with ottoman--not bad, I'd say.  Plus, it's used (yeah for being environmentally friendly and thrifty) and in excellent condition. The rocker is below--oh so comfortable--and once we get the rest of the nursery set up, more pics will follow!

 Milestone 3: The bump.
December 26, 2010--approximately 9 1/2 weeks along
January 26, 2011--approximately 14 weeks along
February 16, 2011--approximately 17 weeks along