Let me just back up a smidge here. As usual, Dickens + work = total exhaustion by the end of the run. This year was nothing different, but add a growing pregnancy, and the amount of functionality left over at the end of any given day is something in the negative range. To be fair, my office desk chair was my personal torture device. An hour and a half sitting there could swell up my feet and legs and put my hips in enough pain that I was done for the day, but I have to do it for 8+ hours a day, four days a week during the run. That was a bad way to go to begin with. Days at Dickens were oddly comparatively easy. I'd be up and moving about frequently, sitting briefly, and wearing my boots that helped keep my feet closer to normal sized.
Additionally, every year a certain amount of things are planned to be accomplished each month, and it seems like every year, the list of things planned for December doesn't well take into account that the university is closed for 2 weeks of that month. This means that getting everything done before winter closure requires heroic efforts at the best of times. I was also trying to get my partner Jo-Ann (and the half-dozen project managers who she'll be working with) ready for my leave. About 10 days before close, they decided they could get the carpets in our offices replaced over the holiday, but that to do so, we'd have to pack up everything in our drawers or on our desks and store them in an empty office. This was pretty much the straw that broke the camel's back for me. I could ~almost~ get it all done with only a few late nights, except that I needed to save most of a business day to pack my office while 35 weeks pregnant.
Now my manager had been experiencing some stress, and she was concerned that I wasn't getting my partner and the PMs sufficiently ready for my leave. About 2 weeks before close when she kind of freaked out, I asked for specific suggestions on what else I could do to make her more comfortable and Jo-Ann more ready. (Meanwhile, I confirmed with Jo-Ann that she felt like she was pretty ready.) I got two action items, which I handled over the next week. Then we met again about four days before close. She spent 90 minutes of our 30 minute meeting telling me that 1. I'd done a rotten job of prepping Jo-Ann, 2. I wasn't behaving like a lead, and 3. it was too late and there was nothing that could be done to fix it now. Also, performance evaluations were due the week before I was planning to return, so that was another issue that she'd just deal with. Now, at the best of times, this would've been a very stressful conversations. At 35 weeks pregnant and exhausted from Dickens season, this led to me going out behind the building afterwards to call my husband and cry. A lot. This was not my best day ever. Once I'd pulled it together, I went back in and finished the items on my to-do list, then ran an hour late to my breast-feeding class, and spent most of the rest of that class quietly trying to stop crying again. If there was one thing I thought I was good at right now, it was my job. I've been doing it for 10 years and this I have down. Breast-feeding I may totally blunder through. How the hell do I work a breast pump? How do I handle all the bags and bottles and whatnot? How do I do this at work and keep up with my job? And seriously, how do I get a human from the inside to the outside of my body through a 10 cm hole that didn't exist a few hours earlier?!
So that was the low point. Dinner consisted of several ounces of New York Super Fudge Chunk.
But, I survived the week and managed to avoid another conversation with my manager. I finished the Zimbra 7 videos I was working on and got them signed off. On Friday I packed my office. On Friday night, I felt really really bad. Every time I stood up, I had a contraction. I tried drinking water. Still happened. I tried eating dinner. Still happened. I tried lying down. Still happened. I tried showering. Still happened. Eventually, by 9 p.m. I gave up and went to bed. My body said it was done and I let it be right.
Then there was the last weekend of Dickens. It went swimmingly well. It also meant Gaskell, which now that we're committee members we can't just skip. I sent Erik and Jessica to teach the class, and ducked out after my second lead shift to check us into the hotel. This led to a moment of "maybe I'll just take a little nap..." and 2 hours later I headed back to Dickens to finish the day much refreshed. Then I worked the door at Gaskell with my feet up most of the time and let people drop by and chat with me. It was actually lovely. We headed back to the hotel at the end of the night, and got a decent night's sleep before trekking the 3 miles into the last day of fair. We had a lovely and insanely crowded final day and I got one final turn with my King of Kings/Lord of Lords card, and many many complements from friends who were resetting their standards of what could be done at 8 months pregnant.
And then it was break. Winter closure at Stanford is terribly civilized. Yes, there was a frantic hunt for Christmas presents. Yes, there was a trip to Sacramento for the usual family Christmas events. There was also lots of sleeping in and one day where I never left the house and never changed out of my slippers. This is a truly magical thing. I would never plan a vacation like this, but having it happen on an enforced basis is really good for me. We went to the movies. We went out with friends. We went to parties. We played video games. We prepped baby things. We lounged in bed and read. We played Ticket to Ride on the iPhone. We had a truly lovely time. And for the first time in months, my hips felt really pretty good. During the second week, I went to my 36 week prenatal appointment and got my disability paperwork from the doc. Prior to break, prior to bad scenes with my manager, it seemed a little silly to take weeks off BEFORE the baby arrived, but who was I to argue? Now, at 36 weeks, having unwound for a week, I knew it really was the exact right thing. My office chair was a torture device and I needed to get away from it if the little alien was going to make it to term. So, I went back for 3 whole days and left with three weeks until my due date.
On that Friday, I thought, "So wow, I'm legally disabled. I don't feel different from yesterday. Ha ha." Now, I should know better than to call out the karma fairy. On Saturday we had an awesome baby shower. I feel incredibly loved by my friends. On Sunday, we went through the stuff from the shower and some hand-me-downs and lets just say that our little girl will never go naked. She has so many clothes. (She does however need some more diapers ASAP. Amazon Prime to the rescue!) She also has adorable toys, books, and decor. Where we're going to keep it all is another issue. Ah well. Life goes on and everyone figures this out.
On Sunday night, I felt a bit... off. By 2 a.m., I needed to throw up. By 4 a.m. that task had been thoroughly accomplished. Back in bed, I warned Erik that our plans for the day were likely off. He headed off to the first day of class. I headed back to the toilet to bond some more. We were becoming very close. Food poisoning seemed the likely culprit. A call to Kaiser suggested that as long as I was able to keep some fluids coming and not running a fever, that I could just ride this out. At around 1, I made a mad dash for the bathroom and didn't make it. Erik got home just in time to clean that up for me as I crawled back to bed. Unfortunately, I wasn't done and by evening I was dehydrated and feverish. Another call to Kaiser got me sent to Labor and Delivery. We arrived a little before 10 and they promptly started an IV and gave me some Tylenol and anti-nausea meds. 1 liter of saline later and I went from a 130 heartrate to a much more normal rate. The wee miss experienced a similar drop. They sent us home around 3 in a much improved condition. We'd previously wished for a tour of Kaiser L&D, and now we'd had it. Careful what you wish for eh?
Tuesday was also spent in bed. Wednesday was almost functional. By Thursday, I was feeling mostly okay and tried catching up on stuff around the house. There had been a plan for things to accomplish this week. My plan was smashed to tiny pieces. Still, I could accomplish the maternity photo shoot with Rachel, put off from the originally planned Monday time. But in this process of being sick and being a poor host, the space alien had dropped into a lower orbit and now pretty much nothing fits. A fashion crisis ensued, but really, I should just have faith in Rachel. She can work wonders with her camera and I'm so grateful to have her to capture us and make us all look amazing and gorgeous. I finally pulled it together and headed over and she made beautiful magic.
The set is found here
So here we are, less than 2 weeks til the due date, and still trying to convince the wee miss day by day that she wants to stay put for as long as possible. We'll see how that goes. Each day we tell her she can't come today because of some important thing - Christyn's graduation/birthday party, we need to wash the car seat cover, friends visiting on Monday, theater tickets on Tuesday... there's a list. And so far, she's cheerfully obliged. We're still hoping to make it to 1/23/12 for totally silly reasons
. (Plus, she could be a zwiefacher. Plus it's the first day of the Dragon Chinese year.)