Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Professional Prego Stands Her Ground

Typically, I only sit down to write an entry when something or someone applicable crosses my mind. I try to keep my blogs upbeat and meaningful, and always on task to the mindset of pregnancy. Today, I sit here thinking – what has been going on with Jackie and Kangaroo lately? It dawns on me that we have been undergoing a lot of change and growth together, and as of late, we have unfortunately been under quite a lot of stress. I hate to be a whiner, I want this pregnancy to be blissful and without complication, but I also want it to be honest. Honestly, this body and mind and soul has been tested these last few weeks, and only with the help and guidance of loved ones and my beautiful heirloom tomato have I come out with the strong willed attitude I’ve always strived for. Here is the story of Jackie and Kangaroo’s first big road block:

I am the manager of a fine dining restaurant in the white mountains of New Hampshire – a position I take pride in because of the amount of work it took me to achieve. Among other responsibilities, I help to orchestrate the flow and direction of lunch and dinner service five nights a week as well as designing an exclusive wine list that requires constant maintenance and change. First and foremost, I am a bartender who provides a high quality of food and drink service backed by a wonderful staff and the best food this area has to offer. I brag about my job, I love this restaurant, and would never do anything to discredit it.

That being said, there has been and will always be a level of stress associated for anyone in this position. I bring it home with me almost everyday, wondering if my inventory will be sufficient, or if my service was what it consistently should be. I regard my stress level as healthy, a sign of respect to the people I serve as well as the establishment that I strive to make the best in any way I can.

There is a widely known level of respect in restaurant work that is represented almost exactly by the numbers 1 and 5 – as in, 15%. If you dine out relatively often, you should definitely be familiar with the amount of work that goes into waiting on you – and most people do. As a matter of fact, I am so rarely disappointed with a tip, the conversation some servers are forced to have with themselves (“what did I do to deserve this?”) hasn’t crossed my mind in a very long time. It is, however, impossible to disregard this self-chat when helping to serve friends, colleagues, or anyone you otherwise have a distinct and definable relationship with. In my case, adding insult to injury, I was pregnant and dealing with 7%. Embarrassing, shameful, what did I do to deserve this?

The unspoken rule to this business is don’t say anything. Don’t stand up for yourself or question the inadequacy of the gratuity, just move on – take the good with the bad.

Kangaroo had a better idea, and I’m so glad she did.

I am a professional, growing another person inside my body, waiting on people for a livelihood – please don’t suggest that I simply ignore what could possibly be an error in counting (or alcohol-induced judgment) and just move on. This isn’t just my life anymore, Mama has to bring home the bread for what is soon to be two mouths.

American girls tend to be mislead from childhood – that if you work hard at something, it will always pay off in the long run. Don’t get me wrong, my job has paid off for me financially, I do very well. I wish I could say the same for the amount of respect and support I receive for performing well so consistently. I was suspended, without pay, for a week, for confronting my 7% slap-in-the-face.

Someone with thick skin, someone like me, would normally take this standing up – but it’s not just me anymore. The Roo-hormones got the best of me – the absolute best of me – and I spent days in a dark place, up against a road block I never anticipated. Even the jubilation of Mama Lisa in town couldn’t entirely tear my mind away from my professional catastrophe. There was no amount of meditation or mantra that could bring my spirits up, and for the first time in my life, the words “I think I am depressed or something,” left my lips. What a weak feeling to admit – like staring at a brick wall you know you have to conquer, but nobody left you the rope to climb over it with.

Then, late one night, after Stacey was snoring next to me, I was left to my own devices, and the barricade crumbled to the ground….


He groggily answered, “Wh-wh-whaaaaat?”

“I just felt our baby move.”

And a simple smile crept over our faces, and a lot of things seemed O.K. again. The baby inside me now moves and grooves to her own beat – much like her Mommy and Daddy – almost every hour of everyday, and nothing in my life has ever made me so unbelievably joyful.

Why in the world would I ever allow a harem of mean-spirited and disrespectful women have any impact on the happiness of my pregnancy? Seems silly now, looking back, but it is just how seriously I take my employment. I love meeting new people, and giving great service to my regulars – I really do! I need to put my hormones aside and remind myself that the world is full of good people, and I’m one of them. Good people have to put up with not-so-good people everyday, and as long as God is watching over us, Kangaroo and I will be just fine.

Nudge, nudge, wiggle, wiggle, nudge, poke – I think she agrees.

**Servers and Bartenders are faced with the same financial trials and tribulations as any other career-oriented person on the planet. Keeping in mind that most servers are paid between three to four dollars an hour, and bartenders typically get a dollar or two more: If you receive good service, it is considered courteous to leave 15% of the price of your tab. When you are garnered with exceptional service, 20% or higher is standard. Simply expecting quality service without the anticipation of leaving an adequate tip should be considered theft of services, or at the very least, bad manners.**

Friday, April 9, 2010

Shut Your Mouth When You're Talking to Me

A Brief List of Comments to Avoid with Pregos

1 – Are you having twins?

2 – Looks like you’re having twins!

3 – I can’t believe you’ve already outgrown your clothes.

4 – You really might be having a girl, my friend who had a girl gained weight all over, too.

5 – You are bigger than you should be at this point (especially bad when spoken by a medical professional who is nor your doctor, or an OB-GYN)

6 – Maybe you are having a boy and a girl.

7 – Don’t drink coffee! You’re hurting your child! (After explaining I allow myself several small cups a week)

8 – You will be overdue, admitted with Pitocin, and receive a C-section. (I am not kidding, a total creeper sat at my bar and told me this after I revealed my strong desire to have a 100% natural home birth)

9 – You will always retain some of this weight.

10 – You haven’t gained all that weight in your ass yet…. You will!

An Even Briefer List of Comments Encouraged with Pregos

1 – You are glowing.

2 – You are beautiful.

3 – You are all belly!

4 – Don’t worry, women were designed to give birth, you will do great.

5 – You and Stacey will be the best parents!

Kangaroo? Are You There?

I am nearing my 18th week of pregnancy! I am nice and round, gaining more energy (and weight) everyday, and steadily adding to my nesting pile of baby goods. All in all, I fit perfectly into almost every pregnancy symptom there is. I eat a lot, I sleep a lot, I cry a lot, and I worry – A LOT.

This morning, I convinced myself that a coffee cramp was my baby dancing around in my belly. I literally bounced around for another 10 minutes trying to recreate the feeling because I am abnormally anxious about feeling my little one move. Anywhere from 16-20 weeks, a woman will begin to feel her bell pepper wiggle and jiggle – apparently, I will be waiting a few more weeks for this sensation. The stir is supposedly so mild sometimes, it is often mistaken for gas or completely written off and not noticed. However, I have been paying very close attention. I am waiting, not so patiently at this point, for ‘Roo to show Mama some love.

The first few weeks of my pregnancy were so worrisome, so heartbreaking, I don’t think I will relax until he is here. With every prenatal visit, my heart enlarges, but conversely races right along with the baby’s pace – now an even 150 beats per minute. Everyday that passes, I see myself and Stacey turning more and more into the parents we are destined to become just 4 and ½ short months from now. We are scared – not of our ability to parent, but of everything else. Why don’t I feel him yet? Is he growing at the right pace? Am I growing at the right pace? Don’t holler at the dogs, the baby will hear you!

It’s the natural stuff, I presume. You’re supposed to worry for your children, their health, their future. At my first prenatal visit, Doctor Jessica put a tiny machine on my belly, and within 2 seconds, swish-swish-swish, Hi Kangaroo, Mommy hears you! This last time, I cried for a solid minute of sheer terror before she located my bundle with the same instrument. It’s these times that remind me that I am really going to be a mother. I am so concerned with the health and wellbeing of this child, words or songs or blogs could never describe it. I’m going to be a mommy, I’m going to be a mommy, I’m going…..oh! Another coffee cramp?