People kept asking me if I was planning to take more than a year off of work to be with my baby. At which point I had to remind them that I didn't actually live in a civilized country...

If I had a year, I'd be starting a month of it now, you can be sure. Just not wanting to go to work. Had vicious heartburn last night and this morning. Every morning, my wrists hurt more than they did the morning before. I have great sympathy for carpal tunnel sufferers - at least I know that my pain and weakness will go away within at most a couple months of birth.

Still not so uncomfortable that I'm at the "my god, get it OUT" stage, but I'm getting there. It seemed like every time I had to get out of bed last night was harder than the previous time. Especially because my wrist pain intensifies as the night goes on - so it becomes much harder to use my hands to push myself out of bed, and my body isn't very capable of pulling itself around anymore. I need a little crane, or something.

Everyone at the shower figured I'd be a while yet, though, because they thought I was still carrying pretty high.

Have I mentioned yet that I don't want to go to work? Oh yes, I see that I have. Methinks I should talk to Eric and work about perhaps dropping down to 32 hours a week - between midwife appointments and just not wanting to be there, it's been hard to manage 40 anyway. That would let me take Wednesday of this week off, which would resolve my question of just when the heck I'm going to go shopping and do the prep for the common meal I'm cooking that night. Tonight I have yoga and tomorrow night I have the AASFA board transition meeting. The achy lazy sleepy part of me says that I should just blow off yoga - so many of the poses require supporting oneself with ones hands, which just seems like a bad idea. But there are other poses that don't, and generally I do find the yoga classes energizing, and I could use an energy infusion right now. Tomorrow will be my last board meeting for a while - tonight we hand off the torch to the new board, and it will probably be a couple years til I run again, so I feel like I should go to it.

Aiming for a new icon tonight - wanted to do it last night, but I feel asleep instead.
So I am very pleased to report that the shower went better than I expected. I spent a lot of time talking to my cousin Erin, who had her 4 1/2 month old baby girl with her. McKenzie was a lovely sweet and even-tempered baby - I hope I get one just like her! I also spent some time catching up with Theo, the daughter of one of my mother's good friends when I was growing up. I hesitate to really call her a "friend" from that time, because we didn't see each other very often, but it was fun seeing her again.

The two childhood friends that I mentioned were both unable to make the shower, unfortunately. It would have been neat to see them. But my mom passed their phone numbers along to me, so maybe after LB is born, I'll schedule a trip for us to visit my mom and them at the same time.

Speaking of visiting my mom, the uncomfortable conversation I was anticipating didn't even have to happen. My mom mentioned something about coming over after, "but just for a few days." Which I was easily able to segue into mentioning that Eric and I had talked about scheduling, etc, and thought that it would be best if she came over for the weekend about 3 weeks after the baby was born. This is all a far cry from what she was saying at Christmas, when she was talking about coming and staying 3 weeks! This should be much more workable, and if it goes well, perhaps we'll talk about another weekend a few weeks later. SeemsI have to give her ability to be astute a little more credit than I have been.

From the pile of stuff on my dining table and counter, you'd never know that we were discouraging physical gifts... Luckily, I didn't have any problems at the border. I didn't really think I would, but you never know when you're going to get some hardass customs officer who decides to give you a hard time just because he can, you know? As it was, I got a nice young guy who didn't give me any hassle at all.

Him: Why were you in Canada?
Me: My mom was throwing me a baby shower.
Him: What did you get?
Me: Some sleepers, some diapers, some blankets...
Him: So now you have to buy the rest, huh?
Me: Yup!
Him: Have a nice day.

We filled in quite a few gaps in our "layette." It's a good thing I like yellow, because we got 15 sleepers, all except 4 of which are various shades of yellow. That's what we get for not finding out the sex of our baby, I guess... Also some receiving blankets, socks, bibs, various toys. Two packages of disposable diapers - we're currently planning to use cloth diapers, but these will be good for backup and long trips out of the house, where it can be easier to deal with disposables. In sharp contrast to my earlier baby shower, we got exactly zero books!! We did, however, get a Baby Einstein and Baby Bach DVD.

In addition to all the loot, we also got a bunch more cash, so there's a big shopping spree coming up this week or weekend. There are a bunch of pricey things that we still need to buy, like the combination playard/changing table/bassinet that we're going to have for downstairs, stroller, etc, so we'll go through it pretty quickly, I imagine. But I think we've definitely got enough to finish buying all the things we'll need to get us started, which is great.

All in all, a pretty good day. A long day, with a lot of driving, so I'm tired - but I'm four weeks away from my delivery date - I think tired is likely the name of the game from here on in...
My mother is hosting a baby shower for me today with my relatives from her side of the family. I consider them to be a pretty unpleasant group of people, and haven't seen any of them in about 10 years. But I'm sure I'll be able to be civil for the 3 hour duration of the shower.

There's a small chance that a couple of my childhood friends will be at the shower too. If that pans out it will be utterly surreal - our friendships kind of fell apart when a) I moved away to live with my Dad and b) they both got pregnant at age 17. Our lives kind of wildly diverged after that point, and we found ourselves without much to talk about on the rare occasions when I visited Windsor. It will be really weird if they make it to the shower - I'm just having my first baby, and they've both got teenagers.

The peace and tolerance part will be needed for coping with my mom all day. And I do mean, all day. I have to meet her at her house at 11:30, so that we can meet a couple of her friends that are driving up from London. Then we have to drive to Kingsville, where my mother grew up and where the shower is being held (because most of my relatives still live around there). Shower from 1-4. Not sure what's going to happen after that - if Mom has a lot of cleanup etc to do after the shower, maybe I'll be able to leave, and she can get a ride from the friends we're meeting this morning. In any case, it will probably be 6 by the time I get home.

I was hoping to have some company for the trip, on the off-chance that I go into labor somewhere in this whole process. But no one was available - and with a schedule like that, can you blame them? Eric really doesn't want to go, which I understand, and he has stuff to do around the house that's been put off far too long and really shouldn't be delayed any longer (cleaning fish tanks). So I'm going by myself - I don't show any signs of heading into premature labor, so it should all be fine. Hopefully I won't get hassled at the border for bringing back more than my allowance of gifts - I tried to encourage people to order online and have things shipped to me directly, but it doesn't appear that that worked.
I've touched on this a little bit before in my LJ, but I think it's worth revisiting.

Being pregnant has been very good for my body image. For the first time, I really like looking at my naked self in the mirror. I've really loved watching all the changes my body has been going through, and how powerful and strong it feels. I've always been a little disconnected from my body. Didn't pay much attention to my dress, hair or general appearance. Partly because I'm lazy, partly out of some women's studies/feminist refusal to let these things matter, and at least partly because I just didn't want to have to think about it, because I didn't like what I saw.

So being pregnant has helped to change that. It hasn't completely "fixed" it - I still don't like to think about my fat jiggly thighs and butt. But I am definitely living in my body a little bit more now. I know that staying in my body is going to be really important during labor, so its really good that pregnancy has made me connect, rather than disconnect even more (a reaction I could easily see happening to some women).

Whether I'll be able to maintain such positive thoughts after labor is still up in the air, of course. My firm, burgeoning belly giving over to a loose, flabby, stretched-out mass is no doubt going to put my body image to the test. But breastfeeding seems like it will provide another avenue for me to learn to connect and appreciate my body for the wonders it can do.

Home Visit

Mar. 24th, 2004 05:34 pm
My home visit went well. I feel bad because I don't have a lot of questions at these appointments, I feel like I should have more. But I've read a lot of stuff, so I think I've just learned most of what I needed to.

I would never have thought of myself as someone with tough abs, but once again they couldn't get a confirmation of the baby's position. So they went ahead and did a vaginal exam to see what they could get from that angle. That wasn't very effective either (LB did *not* like being messed with and was doing her best to get away), but they're 80% sure the baby is head down. Hopefully my next visit will be more clear.

Blood pressure was up, but still very good (110/70). Little bit of swelling, but nothing unusual for my stage of pregnancy. Fundal height of 34 1/2 inches - right on target.

We scheduled the rest of my appointments. One of the midwives was sick and not able to make it today, so I'll have another home visit with just her in 2 weeks. Then weekly visits after that. They're still working from my later due date, so we have visits scheduled all the way through to May 13, but I better not go that long!
Little Bean is pushing out against my right side, as is her habit. But today she's pushing up and out, and I can feel the pressure on my lower ribs. OUCH! Time to try to remember the "giving your baby room" torso lengthening postures from yoga class, I think.
Just in case anyone's been wondeirng, I have been sleeping a little bit better these last few nights. Hooray! Waking up unusually early, though - between 6:30 and 7:00! I've still had episodes of tiredness during the day. Not sure if those are sleep deprivation related, or just my body responding to all the work it's doing.

I'm still having pain in my hands and wrists in the middle of the night and first thing in the morning, but it hasn't gotten any worse. That should just go away after the baby's born and I start losing some of this excess fluid.

I've moved into rapid baby growth stage (LB is supposed to be putting on about 1/2 lb a week) and that means that my belly is getting bigger and more awkward. Getting into or out of chairs is hard. I get stiff easily, and I'm having twinges in my hips again, both at night and during the day.

Speaking of chairs, my chair at work is reasonably comfortable for working on my computer, but if I'm trying to read at my desk then I have to sit on the edge of the chair or else I squish my belly. Sue brought me over a birth ball last night - I'm planning to use it during labor, but I'm taking it into work today in the hopes that it might be more comfortable to sit on at my desk. We'll see.

I have my midwife home visit tomorrow, which means I have to go out to the store tonight and pick up the last of my birth supplies, since I have to show them that I have them. Hopefully we'll be able to confirm the baby's position tomorrow. Judging from the position of the bed-shaking hiccups LB had this morning, I'm pretty darn sure she's head down.

And that's the baby news.
35 weeks have gone by, and there are 35 days to go. Pretty scary, huh?

My baby this week:

Your baby now weighs about 5 1/4 pounds and is approximately 18 inches long. These days your belly probably reminds you of the movie Alien. Your baby's elbow, foot, or head may protrude from your belly when she stretches and squirms about. And soon, as the wall of the uterus and the abdomen stretches thinner and lets in more light, your baby will begin to develop daily activity cycles. This week, your little one is sporting new fingernails and has a fully developed pair of kidneys. Her liver can also process some waste products.

There's much less amniotic fluid and much more baby in your uterus. You've probably put on between 25 and 30 pounds, and your weight gain has hit its zenith. Even your belly button it's gotten bigger and has popped outward. (Ed. - Hah! Not mine!) You may be feeling breathless now that the top of your uterus is up under your ribs. Try getting down on all fours to take deeper breaths. And although the pressure on your bladder will make the bathroom your second home, don't slow or stop drinking water - your baby needs the fluids. Just stay away from diuretic drinks like tea and coffee, which will make you have to urinate even more often.

Thing I have discovered that it's difficult to do when 35 weeks pregnant:
Wash the dishes - I just can't get close enough in to the sink and end up straining my back uncomfortably.

Things I have discovered that I am physically incapable of doing when 35 weeks pregnant:
Reaching the levers that pop the trunk and the gas cap of my car when seated in a regular driving position. I have to open the door and turn sideways first.

Baby Books

Mar. 21st, 2004 01:05 pm
Here's a list of books we got for Little Bean at the baby shower last week. Posted here for interests sake, mostly. Comments are welcome - one of the most fun things of the shower was people saying "Oh, I loved that one..." etc.

Board Books
Color Zoo, Lois Ehlert
Baby's First Signs, Kim Votry and Curt Waller
How Do I Love You, P. K. Hallinan
The Runaway Bunny, Margaret Wise Brown & Clement Hurd, illus
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
Playtime with Rainbow Fish
Doggies - A Counting and Barking Book, Sandra Boynton
Happy Baby Day
Good Night Gorilla, Peggy Rathmann
The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats
The Foot Book - Dr. Suess's Wacky Book of Opposites

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, Dr. Suess
A Fish Out of Water, Helen Palmer & P. D. Eastman, Illus.
Stranger in the Woods, Carl R. Sams II & Jean Stoick
The Big Green Book, Robert Graves & Maurice Sendak, Illus.
Duck on a Bike, David Shannon
Here Comes Mother Goose, Iona Opie, Editor and Rosemary Wells, Illus.
The Trumpet Swan, E.B. White (one to grow into)

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Judi Barret & Ron Barret, Illus.
Sheep in a Jeep, Nancy Shaw & Margot Apple, Illus.
Beady Bear, Don Freeman
The Big Orange Splot, Daniel Manus Pinkwater
Harold and the Purple Crayon, Crocket Johnson
So Many Bunnies - A Bedtime ABC and Counting Book, Rick Walton & Paige Miglio

Activity Books
Pat the Bunny, Edith Kunhardt (a companion volume to the better known "Pat the Bunny")
Tails, Matthew Van Fleet
Soft Shapes Counting (with fish!)
Clownfish (a bath book)
Now you can find out whenever the mood strikes you! I just added a pregnancy countdown to my userinfo page. It looks like this:


Mar. 19th, 2004 11:15 am
Feeling and looking huge today. I think all that stretching yesterday was the baby repositioning, cause I seem to be carrying a little lower today and feeling some pressure in my pelvis that has me thinking the baby is starting to move down. Nothing really extreme yet - I don't feel like the baby's head it stuck between my legs, for example, and I'm only waddling slightly more than usual - but things just feel a little different.

My dad and stepmom are coming to visit for the weekend. The big plan for the weekend is painting - definitely Little Bean's room, and hopefully also the downstairs hallway and entryway, and maybe the upstairs hallway too. My stepmom is bringing along her sewing machine so she can make some modifications to the curtains we bought a while ago. We had hoped to put up the wallpaper border in LB's room as well, but unless there's a shipment of wallpaper sitting on my front porch when I get home today, that will have to wait. As I mentioned in an earlier post, fitting the cosleeper in our bedroom is going to involve some slight rearrangment of furniture (besides removing one of the nightstands, we have to shift the bed over by about 4 inches) so if my Dad helps get that done this weekend, then it will be already to go when it comes time to move the cosleeper into the bedroom.

I'm going to call a pediatrician today to make an appointment to check them out. It's Liberty Pediatrics, which everyone raves about - they are cosleeping friendly, support informed/selective vaccination, and will come to your house for your first postpartum visit! They don't accept my insurance, but my midwives tell me that they are willing to work out special arrangements for New Moon clients. So I have to see what those arrangements are, and then figure out how that would work with my insurance. And investigate other pediatricians if it's going to be too expensive or annoying.

And that's what's up with me and LB.
Space is getting tight in my uterus, it would seem. For the last several minutes Little Bean's been trying to stretch out, and apparently having a hard time of it. I'm feeling a lot of pressure both at the top of my abdomen and on my cervix. Which is really kind of amazing, if you think about what that means about just how big the baby must be to be reaching both those spots at the same time!
In case anyone wants to see, there are pictures from my baby shower here. They're mostly just folks, but there are pictures of all of the fabulous onesies that people decorated, and those are really cool! The party was in the Great Oak Common House dining room, so you can see some of that too.
I'm supposed to drink all this water, right? And the water will help with the swelling which is causing my wrists to ache and annoy me. But drinking water gives me heartburn, which also really annoys me. And of course, since dehydration is the number one cause of premature labor, I'm going to keep drinking regardless, but I just wanted to express my irritation with the inherent unfairness of the system.

I know, I know - life's not fair, get used to it. But still.

Long Day

Mar. 14th, 2004 09:19 pm
Today was a long day. Up early this morning, cause that's when I wake up. Drove across town to pick up Holly's baby shower gift, then stopped at Arbor Foods to pick up ingredients for Tuesday's dinner. Then home for a few minutes before wandering over to the common house for my baby shower.

The shower was much fun. The mystery of why so little from my registry had been purchased was solved when I opened up a card containing a generous check from all of my Great Oak neighbors. And unbeknownst to me, Sue and Sarah had asked everyone to give us a book, so we've ended up with the beginnings of a wonderful library of children's books. It was really fun to hear everyone saying "Oh, that's a good one..." or "That was my favorite!" as I opened them up. Sue and Sarah threw a most excellent shower. We played some shower games, but not the dumb ones. One of them was - to use wine tasting terminology - a blind vertical tasting of baby food, where the goal was to guess what was what. I got 6 out of the 8 right. Nobody managed to guess the turkey and rice... Another really cool thing that people did was to decorate onesies with fabric paint - which turned out really, really great, and we now have many lovely creative onesies for Little Bean to wear.

I was completely wiped by the time the shower was over. But my day was far from done. Completely inadvertantly, Holly and I had scheduled our baby showers for the same day, an hour apart. So I drove across town to Holly's shower, where I mostly collapsed like a lump. Even the chocolate fondue for dessert didn't perk me up very much. And now I'm home, and about ready to collapse into bed. My left hip has been bothering me off and on all day, as it stiffens up anytime I sit for too long. Baby's probably settled against my pelvic bone in a way that's pinching a nerve or something. In any case - ouch.

I'm off to take a hot bath and turn into a pumpkin. Good night, all.
I'm 34 weeks pregnant. It's inevitable that I'm going to be retaining some water - my blood volume is now 1.5 times where it was before I got pregnant. I have a totally normal and acceptable amount of retention.

That said, the hydraulics of it all are kind of interesting. At night, after I've been on my feet all day (or even just sitting in a chair at work), the blood has all pooled in the lowest part of my body - my feet - and I'll have puffy ankles and tight shoes. In the morning, after I've been lying down all night (excepting the inevitable trips to the bathroom, of course), my feet and ankles are much less puffy, but my hands and wrists are a little swollen and sore. Let's hear it for physics and fluid dynamics.

In terms of quanitity, I slept better last night than I have in the last week. In terms of quality - well, let's just say that I didn't think there were many things that could go wrong at a baby shower, but somehow I still managed to have bad dreams about several of them all night long.

And because I love you all, and want to make you laugh, I now give you "The Incredible Shrinking Belly Button!" This woman (me) once posessed a normal belly button. And then she got pregnant. And rather than flatten or pop out, as many pregnant women's belly buttons do, this woman's merely shrunk. Gaze in awe and wonder. Giggle unmercifully, as her midwives and childbirth educators and friends do. Ladies and gentlemen:

The Incredible Shrinking Belly Button )
So if you're wondering what this post was all about, now I can tell.

As an exercise for our last childbirth preparation class, we had to make a "birth bundle." A piece of fabric, wrapped around 3 items - one to symbolize yourself, one for your partner, and one for the baby. The idea is that this little bundle is something to have with you during your birth, and that the items within can help remind you of the things that are important to you.

It's been a busy week, so I didn't actually manage to assemble my birth bundle. But I did decide what to put in it, and presented my "virtual" birth bundle during class. Here are my symbols, and why I chose them.

Baby: A dried bean, of course! It was only after I truly felt comfortable and welcoming of this baby that I felt the need to be able to call it something. And as we all know, it's been Little Bean ever since. And a bean, like a baby, symbolizes growth and potential.

Eric: A piece of bloodstone. I've described Eric to some people as my rock. He's very strong, both physically and personally. He rarely doubts. When I'm afraid of what's to come, I know that I can hold on to him and be safe. He's like a big rock in the middle of a stream - the water rushes by on both sides, but the rock doesn't move. I chose bloodstone because our baby's birth will tie the two of us together with bonds of blood as well as bonds of marriage and love, and also because birth is a bloody business and bloodstone (for those who buy into such things) has curative and preventative properties when it comes to complications of the blood.

Me: The first two were pretty easy for to figure out - in that way that symbols are supposed to work, they just came to me, and very quickly. Mine was a little harder. But I thought about what I'd like to be reminded of during the trials and tribulations of labor. And the phrase that kept coming to mind was "strong but flexible, can bend without breaking." I'm stronger than I realize. Even physically, but certainly emotionally. I have great stores that I can draw upon. And I'm flexible and bendable and really not all that breakable. These are all traits that will be important, not just during labor - when I might feel like I just can't go on - but also when I take that leap into the great unknown by becoming a parent. I pondered various natural materials for a while - reeds, woods - but ended up settling on wire. But I didn't know what form that should take, in terms of a physical something to put in my birth bundle. Quick - to the Internet for answers! After reading your many excellent ideas, I decided that my symbol/item for myself would be a Slinky. A coil of wire, it fit with my basic idea. And it's a big spiral, and spirals are potent symbols of the feminine and the cycles of life. And it's fun - a reminder to not take myself too seriously, and to always seek the fun and joy in everything I do, including my labor and Little Bean's birth and growing up.

Even though I didn't have time to assemble all these items before the class last night, I do actually have all of them in the house somewhere. Whether I'll wrap them up and have them with me at my birth, I don't know. But I found that just going through the thought exercise was really valuable to me. I got all teared up when I talked about it at class, and I'm even a little teary now.
There's a baby coming, and we've got a bunch of things to do before it gets here...

Call the diaper service and set things up with them
Order a sampler pack of diaper covers so we can figure out which ones work best for LB
Make an appointment to meet the pediatrician we're thinking of using
Decide on a pediatrician
Paint the baby's room
Put up the wallpaper border in the baby's room
Figure out which car seat we want, and buy it
Figure out which sling I want, and buy it
Assemble the rest of my birth kit
Buy whatever baby stuff we need and don't get at either of my showers

I'm sure there's more, but while I was thinking about it, I thought I'd write these ones down. Feel free to add your suggestions to the list - I'm sure I'm missing things.

Oh - glider rockers. Love em, hate em? One of my neighbors is selling hers for $100 - it would normally retail for $300. We have an old fashioned wooden rocking chair (need to find a cushion for it), but gliders sure are less work to use. And comfier too. But we hadn't really been intending to get one, and Eric's not real fond of the color or style. Thoughts?
Little Bean is doing well, and so am I.

The midwife is pretty sure LB is head down, but she couldn't be 100% sure because she couldn't actually feel her head. She could feel her back, and what felt like shoulders, but her head was deep enough into my pelvis and - get this - my abdominal tone is still strong enough - that she couldn't poke her fingers in enough to actually feel her head. But given that I'm getting most of my movement up high, it seems a likely bet. Last night my belly looked like something out Alien - when I was in the bathtub the baby was pushing it out on one side about 1/2 an inch higher than the other side. It was totally bizarre. No sign that I'm carrying posterior, so all is good! If they can't get some confirmation on position at my next visit, they'll do a vaginal exam to see what they can feel from that direction.

Speaking of my next visit, in two weeks they'll be coming out to do our home visit - a chance for them to make sure we've got all our supplies in place and that they know where they're going when the call comes. I'll be back in the office two weeks after that, then we have weekly visits until it's time for LB to arrive!

No glucose in my urine this time, blood pressure still great, only the desired amount of swelling in my feet and ankles. And so far, I'm only up 20 pounds from my pre-pregancy weight. So everything's going along swimmingly. LB had a spritely 156 bpm heartbeat, which is why she's a girl today (girls tend to have higher heartbeats than boys, although this is not a universal truth). If the baby is head down and already that far engaged in my pelvis (as seems to be the case) then I might start the pregnancy waddle real soon now...

And in other news, the pediatrician that I really want to see but that doesn't take my insurance has a special arrangement with my midwives to be able to take their patients anyway. You just have to pay them upfront and wait for Blue Cross to reimburse you. I'm going to book an appointment for Eric and I to go in and meet with them and find out all the details. They'll do a housecall for the baby's first post-natal checkup, which is just awesome. Seems such a pity to not have to leave the house to have my baby but then have to leave two days later to take the baby to the doctor!

Speaking of doctors, I need to call mine as soon as I post this. I have a new mole on one of my breasts that I was a little worried might interfere with breastfeeding. I showed it to my midwife, who wasn't sure if it would be a problem or not. But she was concerned about its coloration, so wants me to have it checked out by a dermatologist. The sooner the better, so it it needs to be removed it has time to heal before I start breastfeeding.



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