Archive for the ‘volcano’ Category

one hundred percent gestation

today is volcano’s duedate, though apparently not her birthday (unless something truly dramatic happens in the next twelve hours).  I had thought that I was supposed to be physically miserable at this point, but I haven’t once found myself thinking “I am SO SICK of being pregnant.” my feet aren’t even swollen! as much as I am looking forward lying on my stomach again, I can stick it out a little longer.

still. I am ready. the funny thing is that we’re actually not ready, not the way most people seem to be before they have a full-term baby. there is no lovingly decorated nursery for volcano, although she has diapers, clothes, and a minicrib more or less ready to go. (I have to move the mickey mouse ears out of the crib, among other things.) there’s a carseat still wrapped in its plastic, hanging out in her yiayia’s closet, since we don’t have a car, or an empty closet. I’ve crossed off about half of the pre-baby to-do list, watched some youtube videos about hip-safe swaddling techniques, and officially stopped teaching until january. I’m shocked at myself for feeling this way, but that really seems good enough to me.

the other funny thing is that suddenly everyone seems compelled to tell me, “you look great!” I’m pretty sure that’s code for either “you look really pregnant!” or “are you sure you’re actually nine months already?”  depending on whether they know what I used to look like. (last year’s students saw me in the hallway in september and said, “you’re so big!” this year’s students, upon learning that my duedate was less than a month after the start of the year, said, “no! you’re too small!”) I feel like I got pretty lucky with my pregnant body, but I still think the swallowed-a-basketball look is more peculiar-looking than anything else. I haven’t really taken any deliberate belly shots, but I guess today is as good a day as any for a volcano portrait:


see, I’m trying to be chill.

I’m very grateful that, even though I am on the small side, all hand-wringing over the size of my baby has ceased. with pharmaceutical help and a lot of effort, I’ve gained a perfectly respectable amount of weight (27 pounds!), and at our forty-week appointment today the midwife leaned over my belly and said, “you’re a big girl now! time to come out!”

ready when you are, volcano.

my parents, baby name trendsetters

volcano and I have made it to the third trimester, which I suppose means it’s time to get serious about preparing for her existence as an independent creature who needs, among other things, a place to sleep and a legal name. to my surprise, the hardest part of choosing a name for volcano wasn’t settling the question of her last name (spider and I each have our own, though they are similar enough that my suggestion to give volcano a mashup was half-serious). it was performance anxiety.

“I just don’t know how we can ever do a better job than your parents did,” spider said. “I mean, rabi [w]. it’s such a great name.”

I agree with him, of course. I love my weird, unfamiliar, arabic name. it’s not the rarity that makes me like it so much, but the fact that I’ve never met another rabi in my life probably makes it easier to feel like the name is perfectly mine. I don’t think my parents set out to give me a completely unique name, but they do seem to have been way ahead of their time as baby-namers. I’ve always been kind of fascinated by their accidental anticipation of the zeitgeist, but our recent delving into baby name data has thrown it into even clearer relief.

in 1981, my parents went to the hospital with two baby girl names that are so unusual you can’t find any real data about them, and gave me the one that caused so many disgusted reactions (“you named your baby girl after rabies?”) that they freaked out and decided to add something a little more normal and feminine. thirty years later, that name had climbed to the top of  the charts.


wolfram alpha estimates the following age distribution for people named audrey:


and the most common age is all of two years old, which means even the five-year-old audrey I knew might be able to claim she was an audrey before it was cool. I don’t identify as an audrey, but I’m still impressed with my how my parents were nearly a generation ahead of the trend. even moreso when you consider that, if I had been a boy, I would have been named jasper. for the first twenty five years of my life, whenever I mentioned my alternate-universe moniker, people would visibly cringe. “wow,” they would say, “you really dodged a bullet there.” even people who thought rabi was too boyish or foreign or just plain abnormal agreed that it was a huge win that I hadn’t been saddled with a name as hideous as jasper.

and then, three years ago, I heard someone in the next aisle of the grocery store tell her toddler, “jasper, don’t poke the peaches.” he, too, was a little ahead of the curve; most of the jaspers in the world are still two and under.


by the time my sister was born in 1984, my parents had either forgotten about jasper or remembered a conversation my father had with a friend he lived with in spain. according to the story, during a wine-soaked evening, the two men had agreed that dylan was a solid name for a baby boy, belonging as it did to both dylan thomas and bob dylan.

but my sister was a girl, so she didn’t get to be dylan. instead, she was given yet another name that is currently dominated by the two-year-old set. I think there’s a decent chance that supervising volcano’s future playdates will feel oddly reminiscent of the scene in my own 1980s childhood living room, just because of the names.

zoey_voyager        zoey_agedist

although they settled on it back in 1984, my parents didn’t get to use my brother’s name until 1991, so he’s not quite as far ahead of the curve. the most common age for people named dylan is a relatively mature nine years.

dylan_voyager                          dylan_agedist

it’s still kind of impressive, right?

the name we’ve chosen for volcano falls somewhere in between the total obscurity of rabi and the on-the-cusp trendiness of the other names my parents used. it’s a normal enough name that I won’t be surprised if volcano meets a few others in her lifetime, but I wouldn’t really care if it were in the top 100, because I like it. it’s a name I would be happy to have myself.

still, I smiled when I plugged my own name into wolfram alpha, after looking up those of my siblings. while it correctly figured out that those words were names of people, this is what it spit out in response to rabi:


if the internet had existed in 1981, I wonder if my parents would have willingly given me a name that I would share with an island of fiji? and a volcanic island at that! I guess I really don’t fall too far from the naming tree after all. (no, volcano’s name isn’t really going to be volcano. don’t think I wouldn’t do it, though.)

showing and telling

I still haven’t really wanted to tell anyone that I’m pregnant. It’s mostly because I haven’t gotten over the fear of how awful it would be for something to go wrong, and to have to say so over and over. If not for the obvious physical clues, I would rather like to just wait until volcano is here and then say, “hey, guess what! I have a baby now!”

but of course it is becoming somewhat obvious, at least to people who know me — those who don’t would not be unreasonable to assume I am just a bit round in the middle — and I didn’t think a surprise maternity leave would be the nicest thing to spring on my principal, either. so I started… not telling people exactly, but not keeping it a secret either. (I suppose that’s the pregnant equivalent of not-not-trying.) and once I let some of my students in on it, everyone at work knew without me having to make a big embarrassing announcement.

while I am still pretty shy in response to “how are you feeling?” and “how is the baby?” questions from adults, I have been surprised to discover how much fun it is for the students to know about the baby. they are adorably and hilariously overprotective, telling me not to bend over or stand on my tiptoes. (for some reason these admonishments are endearing when they come from sixteen-year-olds, even though when adults tell me my backpack is too heavy it makes me want to start doing cartwheels down the sidewalk just to spite them.) when I stand at the doorway to greet them as they come to class, they say “hi rabi! hi baby!” spider’s ninth grade students come to crowd around my doorway and ask, “are you rabi? are you spider’s wife? is that spider’s baby?” they rub my belly and squeal. they describe my child to me:

if it’s a boy, he gonna be the star basketball player. and he’ll be tall and a good science student. he likes to read too and he’ll be smart but not like in a dorky way. if it’s a girl, she’s gonna be the valedictorian with a real articulate speech. she will be a popular girl but not like ‘yeuchh’-popular. she gonna know how to dress.

somehow I don’t mind any of this.

today we went to the hospital for the comprehensive anatomy scan. after being pretty excited about it for the past week, I spent most of the morning in a muted panic, worrying that volcano would be missing a heart valve or a kidney or a cerebellum. depending on what I’m wearing, I can still make my belly disappear almost entirely, and when it does, the students freak out: oh no where’s the baby is it okay? I tell them everything is fine, pull my clothes tight against my body, point to the place where the baby is kicking me. and I think I might not survive that question if I didn’t have such an easy, happy response. so while the ultrasonographer calmly narrated her measurements of all volcano’s features — four-chambered heart, three vessel cord, right leg, left leg, head circumference — and spider joked about the giant feet, I just cried, silently and unblinkingly, in grateful relief.

I suppose it would be easier to tell everyone if it were easier for me to believe myself. I think I, too, am waiting for volcano to come out and say to me, “hey, guess what! you have a baby now!”

for now, she just does her best by prodding me with her giant feet. I do my best by continuing to imagine her four months from now, fully gestated and plumped with babyfat, sitting on the other side of my body. it could really happen.