Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What's In a Name?

I have the incurable affliction of preferring to tell stories in order, from beginning to end. That's why I haven't updated this thing in a while. Contrariwise, I also have a tendency to ramble and jump off topic, only to skip through a dozen other topics before coming back to the one I started on. Let's see if I can keep my thoughts in order here.

Sometimes I have prophetic dreams. They're the most intense and realistic dreams I ever have. I don't always remember everything I dream, but these ones I can never forget.

When I was a child, I still to this day recall having a dream in which I was playing in the back yard with my neighbor friends who lived to houses up the road. I still remember every detail of that dream. We were running in a circle in the back yard, being chased by my pet ferrets (Pinky and Angel) whom we had let out of their cage. I had that dream the night before, and that very next day I experienced the dream as it had been down to every detail, including what my friends said to me for real.

I've had dreams that I think were glimpses into my past lives. In one I was a bonafide ninja, complete with that black outfit and sleek katana. I was fighting some enemy, chasing him through a warehouse. He caught me off guard and knocked me over the ledge of a walkway. I died when I hit the ground, and that's when I woke up. In another dream I was a flapper girl, only eleven years old, and I got hit by one of those gangster cars of the era. I died in on contact, and that's when I woke up.

When I was pregnant the first time, I recall having this very vivid dream of giving birth to four baby girls. FOUR. I was carrying all four of them, two in my arms and two strapped to my back somehow, into a doctor's office for a check-up. I think that was a pretty powerful clue into the gender of the baby that was never born. I miscarried that one at seven weeks.

This trend did not end, however. When I was pregnant with my daughter, currently 13 months old, I had similar dreams. Of course, I hear tell that every pregnant woman has baby dreams, so I understand that it wasn't too unusual that I did too. In every single dream I had, though, the baby was a girl. This leads me to choosing a name.

My husband and I struggled over baby girl names throughout the entire pregnancy. We were practically incapable of agreeing on any names we liked. For the longest time I was stuck on an R name, because of a trend my mother started that I wanted to continue.

There's a tradition in both our families, mine and my husband's. The firstborn son is always given the middle name of his father's first. My husband, for instance, is Jamie Lawrence; his father is Lawrence (Larry) Gilbert; and his father was Gilbert, though I don't remember his middle name off the top of my head. The same tradition exists in my family too. My father's name was David Nicholas; his father's name was Nicholas Frank; and his father's name was Frank something-or-other. My oldest brother's name is Michael David, but he stupidly broke that tradition when he named his firstborn son Michael David Jr.

Now, my mother's name was Becky Suzanne. She named me Stacey Renee. So I saw the opportunity for another tradition there. It looked to me as if she chose a first name that started with the first letter of her middle name. I like the letter R. I wanted more than anything to find an R name that I liked. There were a few. In the early months we were entertaining the names Regina, Riley, Ripley, and Ridley. My brother told me he didn't like Regina because he never met a Regina he liked, though I really love that name for the possible nickname of Reggie, for a girl. We found out that one of my cousins has a boy named Riley, which was disappointing. Though we both liked the names Ripley (hello, Aliens franchise) and Ridley (Metroid and one of my favorite directors), on paper they may look good but I was having trouble getting my mouth to say them clearly, without tripping over the letters.

For a middle name, we had no such trouble. We're both super huge fans of Joss Whedon's cancelled Firefly series. My favorite character on that show is Jayne Cobb. I love the way that version of the name is spelled. And even though the character is male, I liked it for a girl's name. A lot. I don't like it so much as a first name, though. So we decided that no matter what we'd use that name as a potential daughter's middle name. Our hats off to you, Adam Baldwin.

So one night, in about my fifth month of pregnancy, I had this dream. In the dream, we were at my step-mother's house after the baby was born. Again, in my dream, the baby was a girl. But in my dream, even after she was born, we still hadn't decided on a name. I left the baby on the couch, asked my brother Mike to watch her for me while she pooled around like a little newborn blob, and went outside to consult with my husband. There I asked him, "What do you think of the name Lilah?" And in the dream, he told me, "I like it."

When I was awake, that very next day, my husband and I were sitting outside on the back deck of our single bedroom loft apartment in Akron. I recall this dream and how much I like the ring of the name Lilah. So I ask him, for real, "What do you think of the name Lilah?" He considered it for a moment, nodded, and said, "I like it." It seemed, at the time, that we were decided on a name, then. However, I continued to balk about it all the way up to the day of delivery. And we'll get to that story next time.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Keeping a Secret

Once we were confident enough that I wasn't at risk for another miscarriage, my husband and I excitedly spread the news of our expected baby-to-be to everybody we could think of. The most excited recipient of this news was probably my mother-in-law. I imagine that if both of my parents were alive today that they would have been equally elated. My childhood best friend's mother stepped in to fill that role for us, though. To this day I refer to her as my second mom, my mother's best friend, and call her K-Mom directly.

As soon as the cat was out of the bag, of course we got flooded with The Questions. The top two questions during my entire pregnancy were "When are you due?" and "Is it a boy or a girl?" These usually are the most common questions a pregnant woman gets, and from my experience they are also the most annoying. I felt like I was repeating myself several billion times over, often to the same people. What made it even more annoying was the fact that I did not have an answer for question number two, by choice. My secret, sadistic glee is that it annoyed my mother-in-law even more.

I understand that with today's medical technology that it is possible to determine the sex of an unborn baby only weeks after conception. Somewhere around 20 weeks, I think, is when it's most accurate. But I'm one of those rare breed of old-fashioned anti-girly girls who actually did not want to know the gender of my baby before she was born. Why? Nobody really seemed to understand my reasons why, but here they are:

1. I wanted to be surprised. I had dreamed up this preconceived vision of my future in which I was pushing and pushing in the delivery room and the doctor announces, like he's unwrapping a sparkly new Christmas present full of excitement and joy, "It's a boy!" Or "It's a girl!" Either way, I didn't want to hear, "Yep. Here's your baby girl/boy." Like it was just another day at the office of predictable, boring business.

2. I hate gender stereotypes. I hate that girls are expected to wear pink and purple, and that boys are expected to wear blue/brown/green. When I was a little girl, I didn't wear dresses if I could avoid being forced into them. I wore jeans and tee-shirts, hand-me-downs from my two older brothers. I played in the dirt. My favorite things in the world were Voltron, Pound Puppies and The Monkees. I got skinned knees. I liked my hair cut short. I wanted more than anything in the world to be a boy. I didn't, and still don't, want my child to be predefined and expected to conform to a specific gender stereotype.

3. I plan on having more than one child, which is why I wanted to avoid the onslaught of gender stereotyped products. I wanted the peace of mind and freedom to be able to choose neutral decor and clothing, to request it specifically on my baby registry. Not to have to search for butteflies or race car decorated accessories. Besides, I like neutral tones myself. It's more calming to me than OMG BLUE or OMG PINK that seem to dominate nurseries these days. I also want to be able to reuse all these baby items like the stroller, rocker/swing, bouncer seat, bedding and clothes. If I end up being cursed to have all girls, I'll cry.

4. I wanted to avoid a possible slew of pink, or at the very least postpone it for as long as possible. Of course, as soon as my daughter was born, my mother-in-law sent us piles of pink bombs in the mail. Clothing and toys and everything else girly she could possibly get her hands on. I. Hate. Pink. Naturally, my daughter, now 10-months-old, loves it. And I confess, I do a little joy dance whenever I see something frilly that I know my daughter would look cute in. We've phased out neutral. So if I do have any boys, hopehopehope, I'm going to have to buy more clothes anyway.

5. I get off on torturing people. It thrilled me to no end with evil shivers of happiness every time my mother-in-law begged and pleaded with her son to find out the gender of the baby and just tell her already! My husband was tempted, damn tempted, every time. We both knew, however, that he would be incapable of keeping a secret, so I never let him give into that temptation. They both got what they wanted anyway. They wanted a girl. Me? I wanted a boy. Still. That doesn't mean I'm not happy with what I did get. I love my daughter to itty bitty bits and pieces times a gabillionty. And I still smile like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas whenever I recall my mother-in-law trying to pressure us into finding out.

So all through my pregnancy I referred to the mysterious fetus growing in my belly as "the baby" or "it." My husband wasn't comfortable with the "it" factor, though. Since he was hoping beyond hope for a girl, he consistently called the baby in my belly "she." Just to counter him, I sometimes said "he" to balance things out, but mostly I remained neutral about the gender all around. I wonder if his insistence made it so. He and his mother said, "It's a girl." And hell, even my subconscious agreed. Whenever I dreamed about the baby, before she was born, in my dreams she was always a girl. That's even where I found her name....

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Finding Out

By mid-February of 2010, I was pretty sure. My husband and I were eating dinner, enjoying a quiet evening, when it occurred to him. He looked up from his plate and said, “Not to jinx it or anything, but….” He didn’t even have to finish the sentence, because for several days I had been thinking the same thing. My period was late, by at least a week.

I said, “I don’t know. I’ll have to check the calendar when we’re done.” For several days I didn’t want to jinx it myself. One time a couple of years before that I had a miscarriage. At that time, I was only seven weeks along. I had only just taken a pregnancy test to confirm my suspicions. I had only just made a doctor’s appointment with an OBGYN for confirmation. Before I even got a chance to have a doctor’s confirmation, however, a heavy period had started up. Turns out I had miscarried. But that’s a long story for another time.

That other time I had announced it to the world, loudly and proudly, the very second I found out and the over-the-counter test showed me a pretty pink plus sign. We were so excited. A major part of our agreement to get married was the dual desire for children. After a slew of medical and financial problems in the early years of our marriage, we decided we were ready to try, and try and try. So of course when the first time we tried without “protection” yielded a positive result, we were ecstatic. There were dances of joy and everything. Then the miscarriage.

So this time, understandably, we were reluctant to tell anybody. I checked the calendar after dinner and nodded to myself. “Yep,” I said. “Almost a week off.” And my period has always been regularly reliable. I never missed a month. I could practically time it to the moon cycle. Four weeks from the first day of my previous menstrual cycle, I was absolutely guaranteed to start up the next one. So when I was late by a couple of days, and because I was “feeling it,” I knew. But just to be sure, this time we took about four over-the-counter pregnancy tests.

Mind you, we didn’t actually take four OTC tests just to be sure. No, we took four of them because the ones we bought were the cheapest ones available for sale. And because they were the cheapest ones available for sale, they were also not the most reliable. Four OTC pregnancy tests, and I still wasn’t sure I was pregnant. These cheap Equate, generic brand, tests had a funky way of revealing the results that could have possibly been “false positives” according to the insert. Every single time I took one of the tests, the — disappeared and only the | part showed, which made absolutely no sense whatsoever. There was a shadow of a nearly invisible — that showed with the | for all of a half second before vanishing like disappearing ink. This happened four times!

So I made an appointment with an OBGYN, a large practice going by the company name of Paragon. I felt like the luckiest woman on the face of the planet, because this group had midwives, and I was super psyched about having a midwife instead of just a doctor. My brother took me to my first visit because my husband was working. He was more excited than I was, I think. Myself? I was more anxious and uncertain than anything.

The midwife I talked to had no idea I wasn’t sure about being pregnant, which is kind of funny in retrospect. Here I was, all nervous and unsure, wanting to be absolutely 100% certain, and she already thought I was. She offered me congratulations after congratulations, gave me a “new mom-to-be” care package. At the end, realizing I hadn’t peed in a cup for them, I asked, “Aren’t you going to do a test?” She stared at me as if I were some alien creature for several minutes and then asked, “You mean you don’t know if you’re pregnant?” I explained the thing about the Equate cheapo pregnancy tests. She sounded surprised. She informed me that really the tests they do in office are the same as you get over the counter, and she had never heard of an OTC test giving up results like that before. Ironically enough, they didn’t even have any tests in their office that day. So she scheduled the lab techs to do a blood test on it along with all the other panels they usually do.

The next day I went in for my very first ultra sound. Everything was really rushed that first month. My husband again was working, so my brother took me again. I know my husband’s a little jealous and disappointed that he wasn’t the first one to see our baby-to-be, but that’s okay. He sees so much more of her than my brother does these days. The very instant I saw that little baby seed in my belly, I knew. It helped that I was told “after 8 weeks, your chances of a miscarriage are practically nonexistent.” Sure enough, I was just 8 weeks along at the time of the ultrasound. But we still waited a few weeks before we made The Big Announcement….

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Blogger Revolution

Everybody wants to be a blogger, especially after they have children. If you're a woman, you're known as a mom blogger. I get the impression this means that you are somehow magically transformed into a much better blogger than any other blogger on the face of the planet.

I've been blogging since before blogging was cool. Since 2002! Back then, blogs were treated much the same way Facebook is now. Most people used them as social networking tools and hardly posted anything more than single sentence "status updates." The "like" feature didn't exist in those days, either.

In the beginning, I was reluctant to blog. An Internet friend of mine kind of urged me into it, saying essentially that "all the cool kids" were "doing it!" She gave me an invitation code, because back then you couldn't just jump to the site and sign up. Sorry, Google+, but your invitation only idea isn't original. Nothing is.

Blogging wasn't even known as blogging when I started doing it. I'm not even sure there was a term for this newfangled phenomenon. The top dog of blogging services back then was LiveJournal. When I started, I found that I couldn't stop, and for years I was posting something nearly every other day!

Back then, I felt special. I felt like I was important, like what I had to say had some kind of meaning behind it. Of course, I wasn't really posting about much of anything at all. At first I was sucked into the meme craze. I was taking online quizzes and posting the results on what kind of teenager I was or if I made a good girlfriend.

Then I started treating it like an offline journal. Before the digital revolution, I actually kept a collection of handwritten ones. Sometimes I still revert to "the classic." There's something very cathartic about picking up a pen and scratching words onto a piece of paper, something more personal about it. A girl can put a lot more feeling into what she writes when putting those thoughts into a notebook instead of on a screen. Plus there were some things I wrote off screen that I would have never dared to share with the public. Now, I don't care so much.

Sharing the most intimate details of my personal life with the entire world didn't make me famous, though. Nor did it make me any kind of special. Though it felt nice to share my innermost thoughts with my "circle" of friends. It felt even better when occasionally someone commented on what I had to say. My online life was my kind of social circle of friends. I had, and still have, more online friends than I do real physical bodies to interact with in real life. I'm only famous amongst them.

What's funny? When I became a mom, I actually started blogging a whole lot less. Oh yeah. That's right. I'm a mommy now. I already fail at being a mom blogger, because I haven't been blogging about it since the moment my baby was born. Shame on me! Well, maybe I can start to make up for lost time....

Lilah Jayne Miner
October 4, 2010
9:06 PM Eastern Time

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Accept No Imitations

Let's begin with an introduction.

Hello. My name is Stacey Miner. Elsewhere, throughout the unending far reaches of cyberspace, I am known by many other names. Most notoriously I am known as the pseudonym of Ehzoterik. This is a pen name, or handle, or alternate identity that I have claimed since January of 1999. Originally, and still, it was the first user name I ever created for the Internet Service Provider best known, America Online.

Alternatively, I am also known as the Nefarious SM, and before that, before I was married, I was the Infamous SJ. Easily, one can plainly see, those letters stand simply for my initials. What the J stands for should be obvious, but the name it represents is something I will leave you to discover another time.

Once upon a time, I was a Community Leader volunteer for the very same company mentioned above, AOL. Then, not only was I known as Ehzoterik, but also as Host Game Random and later Host Novl Reader. I obviously switched from moderating one community to another. Again, those are stories best reserved for later. Perhaps some day you'll get to know me better. My history is as great and long as I am winded. The one thing I am best known for is my uncanny ability to ramble my fool head off.

This is my first blogspot appearance. I am known more frequently to post alternatively on LiveJournal, under an account I've had for seven years! It should come as no small surprise that my user name on that service is also ehzoterik, and if you're ever feeling curious enough to take a look, here's a direct link to all those meandering thoughts:

My father once told me that I was writing stories since the moment I first learned to hold a pencil. He never did say I was writing them when I first learned to write. No. I remember clearly that he told me it was only when I first learned to hold a pencil. I never had to know how to form the words back then, but it was clear to them that I had a vivid imagination and loved to tell tales.

Later in life I of course finally did figure out how to write. I learned my letters and proper sentence structure and here I am today. I fancy myself a writer, but currently have nothing to show for it. I have never published anything, unless you actually count the one poem that put into one of their anthologies. Only one that I know of for certain. Today I have nothing to support my claim of infamy, but perhaps some day I will.

Perhaps this is the beginning, the start. I think it's about time I do something with my talent, and I can only hope that this is where it will all begin. You never know, and neither do I.