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It Takes A Village… Minus That Nurse

, , , , , , | Healthy | September 21, 2021

My husband and I had been trying for another baby for a few months when I finally got a positive pregnancy test. I called the OBGYN office and booked my first appointment, expecting it to be like the first appointments for my other two children where we previously lived: a physical exam, listening to the heartbeat on an in-office Doppler machine, addressing any concerns that might be revealed in the exam, and some counseling about healthy habits during pregnancy.

However, the appointment turned out to be just confirming the pregnancy, using the exact same sort of urine test you can buy in dollar stores (which I’d done at home). I wasn’t able to get an appointment to be seen for an exam until several weeks later, too late for any early genetic testing; it’s lucky I wasn’t planning to have those, given my family and personal history.

And for extra fun, when I gave the nurse my urine sample (in a paper towel-wrapped cup), she took it, stared at my two- and four-year-old, sighed, and asked with disdain, “If this comes back positive, are you keeping it?”

The office didn’t offer abortion services. Why would I have come if I were seeking that? If they had to ask about my plans for pregnancy, why do it so bluntly, and with the impression that three is too many kids for someone to have? It set the tone for all the rest of the pregnancy visits, wherein I was treated like a nuisance and a hassle. I was very happy to move in the eighth month of pregnancy and have my third child in a more welcoming environment — one which includes a few childfree-by-choice aunts and uncles who said I could have an extra child or two in their place.

Well, Hellooooo, Honolulu!

, , , , , , , | Working | June 22, 2021

I have been sent on business to Honolulu. I’m staying in a big hotel with multiple towers. After waiting in the outdoor atrium for my turn at the concierge, I get to the counter only to have the computer system go down. Ah, well, it happens. We wait patiently in the lovely Hawaiian weather, and when the system comes back, the concierge finds that the company has booked me into the business tower and, for once, instead of being on the second or third floor facing a parking lot, the concierge has upgraded me to be on the eighteenth floor, ocean view, for my patience in having waited as long as I have. Happiness!

Concierge: “Here’s your key, your pass to the workout room, and a map of the property. Just go down this path to the business tower.”

So, I go down the path to the business tower and up the elevator, put my key in the room door… and walk in on someone who clearly was not expecting anyone to be walking in on them given their state of clothing — or lack thereof!

Me: “Excuse me!” *Turning away* “Is this your room? They just booked it to me!”

Stranger: *Covering up* “Yes, this is my room. I’m booked in here for the week!”

Me: “Let me go back and find out what’s going on.”

I go back down to the concierge and ask what’s going on. From what I can gather, when the computers came back, they didn’t quite sync up completely with the occupancy database and she booked me into a room that the system thought was empty but apparently wasn’t. Ah, well.

But alas, there were no more similar rooms they could move me into, so I was back in the original booking: sixth floor, garden view.

And the air conditioner wasn’t working in the room.

I told this story to a friend who works in the hotel industry and he said that, given the way electronic keys work, it’s likely that when I opened the door, it canceled the previous occupant’s keys. The keycard gets paired with the lock when you put it into the lock and cancels any previous cards that might exist. That way, you can’t just keep your key and go back into the room after you’ve checked out. So, the guy probably had to talk to the concierge, too, about getting his key reprogrammed.

Thanks A Lot, Dad

, , , , , , , , | Related | November 26, 2020

I was laid off during the health crisis. I receive an offer for an even better-paying job, but it will take me out of the country and will take a long time to process my paperwork. As a result, I have to take another job to get me through the time period between the two positions.

The position I end up taking moves me from Michigan to Hawaii. The pay is substantially less than what I was making in Michigan but I figure that the experience working for the government is still very helpful for my career plans; plus, I get to live in a new place that few people get to experience.

While I know that living in Hawaii will come with its own unique drawbacks, the reality of the situation turns out to be worse than I anticipated. I’ve gone from having my own two-bedroom apartment to myself and putting thousands into my savings account every month to sharing a townhouse with two girls half my age who came to Hawaii to drink and party.

I am disappointed with the low pay rate offered by my subcontracting company. I manage to talk them up a little bit, but the rates they offer for mid- and senior-level positions are still unusually low for my field. I figure that not all contracts are created equal and maybe the government just isn’t paying them that much. Oh, how naively trusting I am. I talk about my pay rate with coworkers with fewer qualifications working lower roles and they ALL make more than me. It turns out that I have a really cheap staffing agency.

I still have plenty of savings, but I’m cutting costs to stay within my temporary budget because I’m trying to save my money. This also means that I am unable to return home for Thanksgiving.

All in all, I am really not liking life in Hawaii. I’m talking to my dad, griping about my life, and discussing holiday plans.

Me: “I’m going to splurge this week for Thanksgiving. Instead of my usual five-dollar frozen pizza, I’m going to splurge for a ten-dollar frozen pizza.”

Dad: “We’re going to be having yams, broccoli casserole, stuffing, prime rib… a pie…”

Me: “Well, Dad, I wish you a happy Thanksgiving and a hearty f**** you!”

My dad just laughed.

As If Pregnancy Wasn’t Stressful Enough!

, , , , , , , , | Friendly | May 20, 2020

After a job contract is up, we’re moving back home from Honolulu to Seattle. My husband is wrapping up the last bit of work in Hawaii while I fly home with our two-and-eight-ninths kids. That is, I’m a couple of days away from being thirty-six weeks pregnant, nearing the end of the time airlines and obstetricians like pregnant women flying. I’m very excited to get back home.

But it seems like everything is working against it. Part of the highway is closed to film an episode of Hawaii 5-0. The line to check in is way longer than anticipated. And there’s a line to check that we’re not exporting exotic flora. And there’s a huge line for security. At the end of this line, I accidentally leave a carry-on bag, not realizing until I’m halfway to the gate, so I have to go back. And of course, my husband was unable to get a gate escort pass, so he can’t help.

I end up running as fast as an eight-month-pregnant woman can, pushing my two-year-old in a stroller laden with carry-on bags, dragging my four-year-old, both kids crying, my glasses slipping down my nose from sweat; it’s hot in Hawaii, and our trek includes an outdoor walkway. 

Fortunately, the plane crew knows we’ve checked in and a flight attendant is holding the door for us; they close it as soon as we’re through.

Out of breath and flushed, we make it to our seats, where the flight attendant and the passenger in the last of the four-seat middle row kindly help us stow our carry-ons and fold up the stroller. I notice the passenger’s eyes get big as he sees my obvious pregnancy bump.

“Don’t worry,” I reassure him. “I still have a month to go, and my older two weren’t early. I have no labor symptoms, even after running through the airport, and I really, really want to get back to the mainland. If I start labor, I’m crossing my legs until it’s too late to turn back.” His relief is palpable!

We make it back with no new passengers arriving, and a flight attendant even helps me from our arrival gate to baggage claim where my parents meet us. I get her name and let her supervisor know.

My youngest is born three weeks later, well after my husband has rejoined us.

Signing Yourself Up For Friendship

, , , , , , | Friendly | March 8, 2020

(My two preschool-aged children and I are taking the bus home. Both have speech issues, so we use some sign language as well as their gradually-improving English to communicate. The speech therapist says that signing is a great way to help them out; rather than not communicating at all, they just have trouble talking, which is resolved a few years after this story happens. I’m signing to them when two young men catch my eye and start signing to me. The following conversation takes place in American Sign Language. In ASL, it’s common to have name signs to avoid spelling out a person’s name every time you need to reference it.)

Young Man #1: “You three sign? Is one of you deaf?”

Me: “No, we’re hearing, but the kids are still learning to speak, so we sign in the meantime. I learned to sign in school, so at least this way they can tell me what they need!”

Young Man #2: “Oh, I see. Good thing you sign. It’s nice to meet you; we almost never see people signing!”

(Both young men spell their names and show their name signs.)

Me: “Nice to meet you, too!”

(I introduce both of my children by spelling their names and giving their name signs, and I introduce myself by spelling my name.)

Young Man #2: “Do you have a name sign?”

Me: “Huh. No, they just call me ‘Mom.’ I haven’t needed a name sign!”

(We didn’t come up with one for me and I still don’t have a name sign, but the young men and I got a good laugh out of my neglecting to think of one.)