Friday, November 30, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
But one item in particular had me a bit flummoxed. A bra. Not usually the sort of thing one woman loans to another. On the other hand, it looked quite new, barely worn, so maybe she hadn't really used it and thought I might have better luck. Like every other item in the bag, it seemed gigantic, but next to all those other giantess clothes it was hard to really get perspective, so I searched out the tag.
Lord almighty. Is that actually within the realm of possibility, that I will become a D-cup at some point in the proceedings? I'm generally a B, and could probably even wear an A if it wouldn't kill my ego to do so. My pre-pregnancy bra still fits just fine, though the girls have definitely changed and grown, probably because it's a B when it really ought to have been an A. I already had room to grow. But my goodness. A D? Really? That could happen? I'm still in shock.
Anyone else want to weigh in on how much their boobage changed during pregnancy?
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I fail to see the appeal of Harry Potter.
I really don't want you to explain it to me.
I very much dislike The Simpsons.
I think JAWS is the greatest movie ever made.
I will tell you why if you have a couple hours to spare.
I once opened for Trooper.
I once walked (yes, you can do that) a marathon in Rome.
I can't stand the music of Bruce Springsteen.
Though I am a child of the 80s, I missed most of the great pop culture stuff due to not having a TV.
Due to this I have excellent pop culture osmosis, and often know more about music/TV shows/movies I haven't heard or seen than many people who have.
I am about as OCD as you can be without ever having been diagnosed with OCD.
I once lost fifty pounds, and have kept about 90% of it off (until pregnancy).
I have problems with binge eating. I never had these problems when I weighed 200+ pounds.
I am not good at keeping in touch with faraway friends.
I have never(yet) owned a dog.
I love ice cream, and always will.
I believe that there is value in every life experience, though we are often unaware of what it is.
I got married at Butterfly World.
My favourite robot is Marvin from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
I love the English language and hate to see it violated.
I despise being lied to.
I hold ridiculous grudges against businesses/services/corporations.
I will forgive my friends nearly anything.
However, I write off acquaintances pretty easily.
That doesn't mean I despise them, it just means I stop caring.
I have an ex-husband.
At the age of 31, I paid a lot of money to legally change my first name. I have no intention of telling my mother.
I have a lifelong hate-hate relationship with my hair. If I had a prettier face, I'd shave it off.
It kind of irks me that it matters how pretty my face and hair are.
I don't wear makeup; not because I'm a feminist, but because I don't know how.
Also, I can't afford it and I don't really want to spend the time and energy.
I own a house.
I have a wonderful husband, who sometimes makes me crazy but most often makes me very very happy.
I have a younger sister whom I completely adore. She drives me crazy sometimes too.
I am a distance education student at Athabasca University.
I want to have a child.
I am a talented singer.
I like to take photographs of things that amuse me.
I don't usually enjoy doing things unless I am good at them.
I define my self-worth through my sense of accomplishment.
I am an impatient person. My dad used to say I had "all the patience of a boiling teakettle." He's right.
I am glad I'm a woman.
I am a Christian.
I am a feminist.
I am an arts person, and definitely not a science person.
I love to read. I think people who don't read are scary.
I am good at reading out loud.
I get uncomfortable at parties. I prefer more honest and intimate gatherings.
I will tell you pretty much anything you want to know about me - if you ask.
The best way to my heart is through my funny bone.
I have always known how to spell.
I don't like talking on the phone in front of other people. I don't know why.
My parents sent me to a psychiatrist when I was little. I have never asked them why - or why they stopped.
I think everyone in the world could benefit from some good counselling. It should be as accessible and de-stigmatized as massage or dentistry.
I don't have any secrets to send PostSecret, because I talk too much.
My best friend is a man. And he's not my husband.
I haven't slept with him, either.
I am a homebody.
I think people who complain that it's way past the year 2000 and we don't have any flying cars deserve a smack upside the head.
I love stand-up comedy.
I often offend people without meaning to.
I don't drink or smoke, and never have.
I have a strong aversion to the non-word "hubby".
I have just as strong an affection for actual sentences that contain juxtaposed opposites, such as "we were out in the garage" or "we're off on our vacation".
I have a rage reaction to misquoted idioms such as "for all intensive purposes" and "once and a while".
Practical jokes and gags make me very uncomfortable.
If I make a mistake while typing and don't notice it until I've typed a few more words, I won't use the mouse to selectively correct it. Instead, I use the backspace key and delete all the correct words back to the mistake.
I never get the fitted sheet aligned right on the first try.
I only use my left ear when talking on the phone.
I don't understand the need to call things other than what they are (Crappy Tire, compu-tor, etc.)
I believe that lifelong learning is the closest thing I've found to "the meaning of life".
I am scared of those weird inflatable flappity people they use to advertise sales at sports stores.
I give blood as often as possible.
I believe in vaccinations, and get my flu shot every year.
I once yelled at someone from the Health Authority because they wouldn't tell me where to get my flu shot.
Two weeks later, I had a job with the Health Authority.
I am planning to do another marathon.
I often parse made-up compound words incorrectly, like the SmartCar fortwo which I thought meant Fort Wo.
I get along a lot better with my dad than with my mom.
I lived in one house for my entire childhood until I moved out when I was 20.
My parents still live there.
My room is now a computer/sewing room.
I remember when we only had to dial 5 numbers on the phone.
I remember having a "party line".
I remember when modems had to be dialed, too.
I remember when you had to request a song on the radio instead of downloading it.
I remember when Michael Jackson was black.
I remember top-loading VCRs.
I think using the word "Huh?" makes even the most intelligent person sound like a drooling inbred.
I believe in global warming, and it scares me.
I believe in the power of prayer.
I believe in Santa Claus.
I think tasers should be outlawed.
I think children's rights should be revisited.
I am getting more open-minded the older I get.
I believe in way, way more than one right way to live.
I believe in the power of attitude.
I can't believe it took me 4 months to come up with this list.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
So, I'm kind of out of ideas for what to write instead. There's not much going on in baby-land (aka my belly) this week. We forgot to take a belly picture on the weekend so we'll have to wait till next weekend. I got some more maternity clothes loaned to me by a few friends, which is wonderful. I found out another dear friend is pregnant, which is overwhelmingly exciting. Babies everywhere, I tell you!
Meh. Sorry for the crappy post. Better luck tomorrow.
Monday, November 26, 2007
The good part is that about 10 minutes after the heave session, I feel great.
It doesn't happen every day, but it happens often enough (about once a week) that I am just too nervous to get off the Diclectin (anti-nausea medication). My midwife has reassured me that I can stay on the medication for the next 23 weeks if I want/need to. But I feel a little frustrated being dependent on drugs that way.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
- Weight has doubled in past two weeks
- Fat begins to form ad will continue to do so until birth (this is definitely reflected in the Widgetbaby)
- Placenta is continuing to grow at an amazing rate; by the end of this week, it will be large and well-established with a network of blood vessels that exchange nutrients and waste
- Baby’s eyes are facing forward, ears are in final position
- Baby is more flexible and can move head, mouth, lips, arms, wrists, hands, legs, feet, and toes.
- Baby will start to hear sounds from the outside world; may react to loud noises or rhythmic music
- Baby’s lungs are beginning to “breathe” the amniotic fluid (but the placenta supplies oxygen)
- Reflexes for swallowing, sucking, and blinking, are developing
- Baby and placenta are now about equal in size
Random Food Item to describe baby’s size: small pomegranate
Symptoms to expect:
- Noticeable swelling in my abdomen
- Uterus is changing shape from a ball to an egg shape
- Sinus congestion and bleeding gums to continue
Symptoms I’m having:
- Noticeable decrease in migraines – 3 weeks migraine-free!
- Starting to look more “pregnant” than “fat” (pictures coming soon)
- Sore hips
- Sinus congestion
News to me: “Keep in mind during this time in your pregnancy the power of touch is very strong. Your baby can feel your movements and your touch while in the uterus, so take some time each day to rub your belly and tell your baby just how much you love them. This helps comfort your baby and initiates the bonding process.”
Things I’m looking forward to: Feeling the baby move. I am quite impatient for this at times. It usually becomes obvious for first-time moms sometime between 18 and 20 weeks. Chris, on the other hand, is wigged right out about being able to feel a kick from inside my belly.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
This woman's issue, though, was that nearly all her friends were pregnant as well, and that although they are further along than she is, she is bigger than them. She "popped" really early on, and from two months in could no longer hide her belly. While inside I grumbled and thought, "I should have such problems," I could really understand why she was upset. As the instructor told her, our society puts such a (false) value on our bodies, and it's really hard to adjust to those bodies growing and changing beyond our control. Gaining weight is thought to be a sign of laziness, lack of discipline, and ignorance, not a sign of health and new life. It's very difficult to separate "fat" from "pregnant".
Thursday, November 22, 2007
But since I have to post, I will mention that I recently learned from my yoga instructor that the sore hips I've been having lately are quite common in pregnancy, and could be due to relaxin, the hormone that causes your ligaments to, well, relax. So that the baby can exit and all.
She said she experienced the same thing in her pregnancy, and that massage really helped. This means I will have to give in and do something I've been avoiding for months: pay someone to rub my ass.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
I've undergone some changes as well. At the same prenatal yoga class where I had that amazing lightbulb moment, my instructor mentioned something in a very casual, throwaway tone but it has stuck in my mind ever since. She always leads us through a very relaxing meditation at the end of class - we will be lying on our backs with the lights dimmed and our eyes closed, bodies loose across our mats, breathing deeply in the quiet room. This time, she led us through the same meditation but in a seated position, because she wanted us to be able to get into that relaxed state in any position, in any place. "During labour, you won't always want to lie down. Or maybe you're not able to. And late in labour when the contractions are coming quickly, I want you to be able to get into your meditative state quickly, so you can let go of the contraction as soon as it leaves, get some mental and physical rest, and get ready to welcome the next contraction." I was shocked by that phrase, "welcoming the contraction". Why would you welcome it? It means pain, noise, clenching, weariness! Who would welcome such a thing!
As if in answer to the question I hadn't even asked, the instructor continued, "You welcome each contraction because with each one, you are closer to your baby's birth."
It was so simple, and yet I'd never thought of it. What a vast improvement that attitude and mindset could make, if I was able to learn it and truly internalize it. What an incredible way to get through labour.
That is the labour I want!
There is a third member in our birthing team, Janice, a good friend who has an amazing instinct and knowledge about infants, children, and family dynamics. She mentioned to me that she wanted to become a doula, and I all but insisted that she do so, and become *our* doula specifically. She graciously accepted. It is hard to tell sometimes who is more gratified and honoured by this agreement, me by her agreeing to assist me in such a personal way, or her for being asked to participate in such a life-changing event. In any case she is preparing diligently for the experience, both by talking to me (and listening to me, hoo boy she does a lot of that) about what I want from her and from labour, and by reading and learning all she can.
Janice has just informed me that she has found a doula workshop that fits into her schedule, which is thrilling for both of us. I am also planning to register Chris and I for a Birthing From Within workshop in the new year. My hope is that after all three of us have taken our various workshops, we can gather and spend some time together, sharing what we've learned, our hopes and goals for the birthing experience, and our plans for how the various roles will be fulfilled.
(By the way, I heartily recommend The Birth Partner for purposes of figuring out how labour works, what will be going on at each stage, and what a dad, doula, or other support person can do to help. It's an invaluable tool, and will likely be even better in the next edition (Feb. 2008).)
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Wow! Another two weeks have flown by already. Here you are, 14 weeks old, and I’ve missed my third period. With every week that goes by, you feel more and more real to me. Just last week, we got to hear your heartbeat for the first time, which was an unmistakable sign that you are in there, happy and healthy, and that I didn’t just imagine you! Your dad and I were so excited to hear that sound. In fact, we even recorded it and sent it to some relatives. I play it once in a while when I want to remind myself of how lucky I am, and feel close to you again.
I guess it sounds funny for me to say that I want to feel close to you, when you are inside me – after all, how much closer could we possibly be? But the truth is, most of the time there aren’t many signs of your existence. Sure I’ve gained some weight, and sure I don’t feel perfectly healthy all the time, but those things could be easily explained away by other causes. And while I think about you a lot, and even talk to you sometimes, you don’t answer back at all. So this one-way communication can feel a little lonely, sometimes. But that will all change over the next few weeks, when you will begin to make your presence completely obvious by moving and kicking strongly enough for me to feel.
According to the expert websites, these days your time is filled with thumb-sucking, making faces, and playing with your umbilical cord. Your body is also hard at work as always, growing stronger and bigger every day. Already I can’t believe how fast you are growing – some websites say you’re already 5 inches long and weigh 5 ounces.
An exciting piece of news this week was that your dad and I might have found your name. We’re not completely sure yet, but we both really like this name and feel good about it. This is big news as usually we don’t agree on names at all. In fact, one of the reasons we want to find out whether you’re a girl or boy is so we have fewer names to argue about. So if we find out in a few weeks that you are in fact a girl, we may already have a name ready for you, and can start practicing it. But if you’re a boy, we’ll have to go back to the drawing board. (I’ll tell you a secret: I already have a favourite boy name picked out as well, but your dad needs some convincing.)
A lot of our friends have had a rough couple of weeks lately with one thing and another, and it just makes me so much more grateful to have you, and to have your wonderful dad by my side supporting me. He already loves you so much and I know he’s going to be wrapped around your finger in no time. You may not have the most money or the best toys, but you will be more loved than you can imagine, and I’m pretty sure that’s what counts in the long run anyway.
Well, time for me to sign off and get back to work now. Keep growing and changing, little baby, and we will see you in May.
Monday, November 19, 2007
This date has never been far from my mind, through all the events of the spring, summer, and fall. I asked Chris if he'd remembered what today was, but he doesn't have the head for dates that I do (which in this case is perhaps a blessing). He also said he's been so focussed on our "real" due date - which he quickly amended to "current" due date - that he's obliterated the other one from his mind, somewhat. I don't blame him for this at all, but I'm just not capable of doing the same.
I feel like I should mark today, somehow, but I don't know how other than acknowledging it here. I feel okay, really - a bit wistful and melancholy for what might have been, of course, but on the whole I am in a good place and I am confident and happy about our current pregnancy. I'm past 16 weeks now, which is all kinds of crazy - I've missed four periods, I'm nearly halfway there, we've heard the heartbeat and are soon to see the ultrasound and feel the baby kick. These things are a pretty solid consolation for dealing with the loss of our November baby.
But I also want to note here two other things that have helped me heal in the past six months. The first was using my skills as a singer/songwriter to compose the following, which I call "ftb" (for the bean).
The sun is setting, evening’s comin on
Stars are appearing, another day is gone
You are my little one, and I love you so
Gently rocking, sweetly singing, soft and low
So goodnight, my little one, goodnight
Hush now and close your eyes, everything’s alright
Soon I’ll have to let you go but now I’m holding tight
So goodnight, my little one, goodnight
You grew within me and brightened every day
Til the day they told me you had gone away
You left an emptiness that only time can fill
But here inside my heart you’re with me still
So goodnight, my little one, goodnight
Hush now and close your eyes, everything’s alright
Soon I’ll have to let you go but now I’m holding tight
So goodnight, my little one, goodnight
I’ll never know the reason why
Before we said hello, we had to say goodbye
Our hopes and dreams will wait and then
Someday you’ll be with me again
So goodbye, my little one, goodbye
I’ll keep your memory close as the days go by
(Hush my dear one, sleep serenely, now my lovely, slumber deep)
(Mother rocks you, humming lowly, hush my dear one, go to sleep)
Now it’s time to let you go, no more holding tight
So goodbye, my little one, goodbye
Goodbye, my little one, goodbye
I don't know if I'll ever get to record it, as I can't get through it without breaking down. But it was important for me to write it.
The second thing was a miscarriage butterfly necklace from La Belle Dame jewelry. The instant I saw this necklace, I knew it would be an important piece of my journey. It was as if by wearing the necklace on the outside, I could let go of some of the pain I was carrying inside, and still feel that I was acknowledging and honouring the life and death of my first child, not forgetting it in the name of "moving on". I chose to have the November birthstone - topaz - added to the butterfly as well. There has rarely been a day since I received the necklace that I haven't worn it. Every once in a while I wonder when I will feel okay about not wearing it every day, but I am accepting of the fact that that day hasn't come yet.
So, those are my healing tools. Those, and talking/journalling. I hope if anyone else out there reading this has the same kind of loss, that these tools might be of help to you as well.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Last week, I decided that the drive-through delivery was the right one for us.
Features of a drive-through delivery:
- You will labour at home (with your midwife in attendance) for as long as possible
- Late in labour, you will arrive at the hospital, check in, and deliver the baby there
- If all goes well and both you and baby are in good health, your midwife can discharge you as early as three hours after the birth
It differs from a typical hospital birth in that it is known that the family wants to go home as quickly as possible, so unless there is a medical reason for mother or baby to stay under observation, home they will go. Obviously, a drive-through birth is only possible under a midwife's care, not a doctor's, and one of the reasons midwives can accomplish it is that they will be coming to your home to check on you and the baby in the next 24-48 hours, and will visit every few days after that. Doctors don't do that, and so they insist that you stay in the hospital for a few days to be observed.
I'm really pleased with this decision, because we can still claim to the Pushy Grandparents that we are giving birth in a hospital, but meanwhile will spend as much time as possible both before and after birth at our home. I feel it's an acceptable compromise. Of course, as mentioned earlier we are not going to tell the Grandparents our decision until after we tour the hospital, so we can pretend it was the luxurious rooms and private baths that convinced us, instead of giving any indication that we are doing this simply to shut them up.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
We did pretty darn good. I learned that I am calm even when she fusses repeatedly - I remember my sister commenting that I was much calmer with her second son than I was with her first, as if the intervening years had taught me the valuable lesson that sometimes they're just going to fuss, and there's little to nothing you can do about it. When my older nephew was that age, I feared that his fussiness meant I was doing something wrong, and I would nearly always hand him back to his mom to "fix" it. But that lesson is now firmly in place, as well as the confidence that comes with it. I was willing to try different things to soothe her, even trying something that didn't work a few minutes ago, knowing that there weren't really going to be disastrous consequences; the worst that would happen is the soothing wouldn't work, which would just prompt me to try something else.
It was a fun and positive experience to jumpstart our parenting experience, and I know we'll be called upon again to help out our friends. They're even keeping track of the hours so we can trade child care back and forth when it's our turn, which is very appreciated.
For one thing, it only provides one each of the following: Morning Sickness, Headache, Backache, Heartburn, Low Energy, Feeling Blue, Totally Exhausted. One is not nearly enough - this is seriously misleading to would-be mothers! There is also only one "Feeling Better" sticker, which I guess you are only supposed to use after you are sure every last symptom is gone for good, because that's the only sticker of its kind.Also, I looked long and hard, but there is no "Threw Up At Yoga Class" sticker. Nor "Breasts Feel Like Rocks" or "Hormonally-Fuelled Argument with Daddy". These are serious omissions!
And what about the day that your protein craving was so strong you polished off three giant hamburgers? There should at the least be a "Food Craving" sticker. "Libido Confirmed Dead"? Who can forget that day? These omissions seem especially shocking when you consider there is a sticker for "New Shoes".
Another amusing feature is that there are several stickers relating to the birth of the baby: "Water Broke", "Contractions Start", "Went to Hospital" and "It's a Boy"/"It's a Girl". There's only room for one sticker on each square, so I guess I have to drag labour out for four days in order to fit these all in.
Friday, November 16, 2007
The woman, Regan, who was about my age, brought us into a meditation and spoke about the power of breath, especially during labour, to nourish us and calm us. She asked us to focus on the question, "What do I need to know to give birth?" and to just let any answers that might occur to us be accepted and welcomed. Then we spent a moment in silent meditation.
As we sat in the darkened room, our eyes closed, noises began to surface and build. Eventually, I had to open my eyes to see what was happening. It was Regan, shifting around from her meditative position, making low moaning noises that built into shouts, pounding the floor, crying in a mixture of pain and ecstasy, shouting with a broken voice, that she was going to throw up, that she wanted someone to make it stop. I could not respond to this with my logical, thinking mind, but had to accept it in my intuitive mind and respond to it emotionally. I closed my eyes again and let her noises wash over me, let her experience become my own. I felt peaceful and accepting. I felt like a strand of seaweed that moves with the tides.
After she brought us out of the meditation, we talked about what she had done and our responses to it. Regan told us that she had simulated a 90-second contraction, but that not everything she did would happen to every woman, and not in every contraction. Instead, she had aimed to roll all the experiences into one, to show us a broad spectrum. One of the women talked about her recent learning about the importance of the low moaning sounds, that they help to open up the lower part of your body and make room for the baby. It was then that I had my lightbulb moment.
I realized, in the space of a second, that I had made those low gutteral sounds before. I had instinctively squatted and rocked, moaned and shouted, even pleaded for the pain to stop. I remembered how the experience had become instantly easier to bear as soon as I stopped trying to think my way through it and just obeyed my instincts, listened to my body and gave in to what it wanted.
Excerpt from my journal, "Miscarriage Story", May 7, 2007:
When miscarriage results from a blighted ovum, the amount of tissue or "results of conception" are fairly minimal. In my sister's words, "golfball-sized" at a maximum. In my case - and in many other women's cases, from what I've read - the miscarriage can be quite a different experience. What I experienced on Saturday evening was no less than a mini-labour. I had contractions, I had to push, I was grunting and moaning and obeying my body to get the baby out. And when it finally came out, it was immediately apparent what had happened - I could feel it ~slithering~ out of me. It was without a doubt the strangest thing I've ever felt. But I was immediately filled with relief, because that was unmistakably *it*, and that meant the pain and the ordeal was over. It was done.
It was large, this fetus, this thing that had been living and breathing and swimming inside me only a week before. It was a little larger than my fist. No wonder it was so much effort to expel it.
I was glad I had read so many birth stories online. Once I started listening to my body and admitting what was really happening - "Oh. The reason my body hurts, then feels okay again, then hurts again, is that I'm having fucking contractions" - it got easier. Once I stopped hiding my pain from Chris and instead asked him to come support me, first by rubbing my back, then by pulling my arms and talking me through the contractions, once I let myself feel free to make the noises and get in the positions I needed to - it was a lot better. I felt that I was in control of the situation, and my body was in control of what it was doing, and I just had to keep up with it.
But the lightbulb moment was this: when I sat and listened to Regan simulating the same experience last night, I didn't see my past. I saw my future.
Not for one second did I associate anything that was happening with my miscarriage. I didn't reflect on the pain associated with that loss. It didn't enter my mind or heart at all. All I saw was the future birth of my baby.
Isn't that incredible?
Thursday, November 15, 2007
One of the tidbits passed on to me during my training was that sometimes, the boss would ask her to pick up a box of donuts for the staff. “When he does, I always get them from the grocery store, not the donut shop – the ones from the donut shop repeat terribly.” It was the first time I’d heard that term, and I asked her what it meant. She told me it meant that the donuts would make everyone burp “donut flavour” for hours afterwards.
That was the first time I heard that term, and in fact it was the last time I thought about it for many, many years. But these days, I have occasion to remember the phrase often. Some might say constantly. Because these days, in the glorious second trimester of pregnancy, it seems there isn’t a food on the planet that won’t repeat on me.
Cereal. Muffins. Rice cakes. Fruit juice. Salad. Hash browns, for Pete’s sake – how bland can you get? And when I actually eat something spicy, like the chili I had the other night – oh Lordy, watch out. I’m sure glad I ate that on an evening when Chris was out so I didn’t have to try and maintain any level of decorum. Even my prenatal vitamins make me burp.
Actually, let’s be more specific. All these foods (and vitamins) make me feel like I need to burp. And in general, the entire happiness of my day and the physical comfort of my being rests on whether or not I can manage to do so. If I can’t, there is no joy in Mudville. Perhaps this is to help me relate to my newborn in coming months, when s/he doesn’t know how to burp yet and is in great discomfort and I have to help?
This seems to be just one more way in which pregnancy makes me feel, not young and vital and alive, but about 25 years older than I actually am. Along with the heightened progesterone which makes me warm enough to act like a menopausal woman – it’s November and I still can’t stand to wear long-sleeved shirts – I can now finally relate to a bunch of fifty-year-olds who had to be cautious about where they bought donuts so they wouldn’t be paying for the experience all afternoon. And let’s not forget the bone-tiredness that makes me pause as I slowly get out of bed and say, “Oh, I feel so old.”
I guess it makes sense that pregnancy and old age would feel similar, as they are both experiences wherein your body is no longer under your direct control.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Well, it was a shining moment to be sure, but it didn't alter my life the way I expected it to. At least, not right away.
What the experience of hearing the heartbeat has done, at long last, is drive home once and for all the truth, the reality of this pregnancy. Or to be more specific, it has driven home the fact that there is more going on than just pregnancy; this is only a means to an end, and the end result that we're waiting to meet is really, truly in there. There's a baby inside me. I thought I understood that, but I really didn't.
All last night I felt vaguely anxious, as if there were things I needed to be doing but couldn't figure out what they were. In the light of morning, I think I understand the source of that feeling: I realized with great peace and understanding that I'm going to have a baby, and that I haven't really done anything to prepare for it. We haven't bought a crib, or any clothes, or even cleaned out the nursery yet. We haven't found any names or even come to any agreements about how to choose a name. We haven't really done any baby-related - as opposed to pregnancy-related - preparation or research. And while in my head I understand that I've got lots of time, logically, my emotions are on a different track, and can't quite relax until a few decisions have been made.
This is where I kind of wish I had a book or a resource or even a person to give me a checklist for the second trimester.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
We also got answers to our home-vs-hospital questions, and all the answers were satisfactory enough that I would feel okay about having a hospital birth. We are going to keep that tidbit secret from our parents until after we have the hospital tour, however, so we can pretend it was the lovely large private rooms, and not their constant nagging, that convinced us. I'm not too keen on starting my life as a mom with the grandparents so aware of their ability to nag me into submission.
But best of all, I found out I have a Pelvis Made for Birthin'. The midwife checked my pelvic bones and the spaces between them just to get an idea of whether we'd need to worry about a baby getting stuck, and she was awed by the vast amounts of space provided for easy baby egress. Finally, an aspect of pregnancy I am good at! I am absurdly proud.
Monday, November 12, 2007
I've read many, many birth stories and have often googled "home vs hospital birth" to read about people's opinions, experiences, and even scientific statistics. It's tricky to divide out all the factors, though, because in many areas midwives aren't allowed to attend hospital births; so if you want a midwife, you're birthing at home, and if you want a hospital birth, you're getting an OB-GYN. Here, I can have a midwife attend my hospital birth, which seems to be an entirely different third category. For example, the statistical increase in interventions with hospital births would not apply with a midwife-attended hospital birth.
In general, I have a hard time getting a full picture of what a midwife-attended hospital birth would be like.
I've read a lot of stories where the woman is admitted to hospital and then labour slows down, or where her water has broken and labour needs to progress (be induced?) but this isn't happening. So the woman and her partner are told, "Get some rest tonight, we'll [perform whatever intervention] in the morning." Then to facilitate a good night's sleep, they are interrupted every 10 minutes all night long by a nurse taking vital signs. (For a good example of this, see Riley's birth story.) That's the kind of nonsense I want to avoid. So the question for Lillian is: what kind of presence/responsibility do the nurses have when I am being attended by her, not a doctor?
My next question is to do with who is with me during labour and birth - and, just as importantly, who isn't. I want my husband, my midwife, and my doula, and that's it. I want to know if there is a limit on who will be allowed in the room (for example, the hospital may also be filling the room with nurses, so will there be room for those who are important to me?), and what allowances can be made to keep the rest of the world out.
(There's a whole can of worms there to do with the fact that my mom believes she is invited to the birth, whereas I have no memory of ever extending that invitation. That will need to be addressed, but I'm not up to it just yet. I'm sure there will be extensive future blogging on this issue.)
As soon as you let yourself in for a hospital birth, I believe, you let yourself in for your labour/birth or at the very least the early hours after birth to be a much more public experience than they would be at home. As Rhea put it, "Any idiot with a balloon bouquet can get into a hospital." So I have questions about visiting hours, and about how soon we could leave the hospital after birth assuming everything is normal. I've sort of picked up that because midwives visit mom and baby every day for the first week or so after birth, the typical hospital policy of keeping us both there for observation for a few days may not be necessary.
If I were to consider no one's feelings but mine, the birth would be at home and we would then cocoon into ourselves for a few days for a babymoon. After all, there will be a brand new person in our family and we will all need time to get to know one another. But at the same time, I don't feel I can ask loving grandparents to stay away for the first few days of their grandchild's life - after all, they will also be eager to meet and fall in love with the new member of their family. So Chris and I will have to discuss what our boundaries are, and how they fit into the differing environments of home/hospital birth.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Chris and I just learned that good friends of his, whom I have met on a few occasions, are 14 weeks pregnant (we are 15 weeks). Pretty exciting! We are already sharing tips on prenatal yoga and prenatal workshops - will be wonderful to share this adventure with another couple.
Went to church this morning and shared the news with a few friends as well as the Pastor, who had known about our miscarriage and prayed with us about it. It was wonderful to give him good news. Another church friend, Kathy, touched my belly and then snatched her hand away and apologized. I told her I didn't mind at all, that I didn't find it rude (that may change when it's a stranger doing it!). I understand completely the magnetism that pregnant bellies have: people want to touch them, to lay their hands on and bestow their blessing, to be part of a miracle happening right in front of them. As I said, I'm sure I'll be less forgiving when a stranger does it, but this was the first time it happened, so I was just happy and full of smiles to be part of the Mommy Club.
Oh, another first the other day - I wore one of the maternity shirts my sister loaned me, specifically one with a baby-related logo that removes all doubt about whether the wearer is expecting, or just a little overweight. Sure enough, when I went out running errands I got a few comments and questions: How far along, When are you due, etc. Again, I may eventually tire of this sort of inquiry from strangers, but for now it's kind of fun to be "out" and enjoy the attention and positive wishes.
Yeah, so much for having nothing to say. Enjoy the belly pics.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
What’s happening with baby this week: S/he may be learning to suck his/her thumb, and also making faces: squinting, frowning, and grimacing. The scalp hair pattern is developing, and the hair follicles begin to produce pigment. Eyebrows may also appear. The heart is pumping about 25 quarts of blood a day (by birth, it will be about 300). Baby can bend elbows and wrists, and make a fist. Baby is now much better proportioned, with legs now longer than the arms and the body longer than the head. Bones continue to get harder every day, and baby continues to practice breathing by inhaling and exhaling amniotic fluid. Lanugo (soft, downy hair) covers most of baby’s body, but will likely be gone by birth. It is thought that this hair protects and insulates the skin from the fluid.
Interesting fact: If the baby continued to grow at the same rate as s/he does in the second trimester, s/he would be thirteen feet tall at one month of age.
Baby is about 4 inches long, and weighs 1.75 ounces.
Random Food Item to describe baby's size: an orange.
Symptoms to expect: Abdominal pain, leaking breasts, nosebleeds, hair changes, skin changes. All the websites say I should be able to feel my uterus as it has now risen above my pubic bone, but I don’t know what I’m feeling for, so I’m going to ask the midwife on Tuesday.
The accepted wisdom about an increase in libido in the second trimester seems to be true. Thank God.
Symptoms I’m having: No nosebleeds as yet, but my sinuses do seem do be having some issues, as evidenced by my new charming habit of snoring and sometimes snorting myself awake. Despite the snoring, snorting, and the addition of a gigantic pillow to our bed, Chris continues to sleep with me every night – the trooper. I am experiencing some of the sharp abdominal pains, which I believe are related to the growth of the uterus and the stretching of the muscle at this time. I have definitely noticed my hair getting thicker and my nails growing faster.
Other than that, feeling pretty good. Enjoying my new exercise program of 2x yoga + 2x walking/elliptical every week. Trying to get back on good terms with my body. No migraines for one week, and no vomiting for 10 days (knock on wood).
Emotional stuff: I’m continually blown away by the fact that I’m still pregnant, and that for the most part the weeks are going by so quickly. I really didn’t think ahead much about what would happen past week Eleven as I was just so focused on getting past that point. I am having difficulty truly letting go of the dual-mindset I had prior to then, which was: If I’m still pregnant by date x then I’ll do y; if I’m no longer pregnant by date x then I’ll do z. I’m going to keep being pregnant, and then after I’m done being pregnant there’s going to be a baby. I know this rationally, but I haven’t internalized it yet.
That all sounds like I’m unhappy or not coping well, but that’s not really the case. In fact I am very happy, and with every week that goes by I experience a very real thrill: “Can you believe we’re FIFTEEN WEEKS PREGNANT?”
Coming soon: Our next midwife appointment is on Tuesday, and I hope to learn more about home vs. hospital births as well as hearing the baby’s heartbeat.
Things I’m looking forward to: Baby-related shopping. I’ve promised myself no shopping until after Christmas, which is when my sister is bringing me a van-load full of hand-me-downs including high chair, baby swing, carseat, etc. But come January, the serious baby prep will begin!
Friday, November 9, 2007
The five best prenatal yoga postures
1. The Pringle. Lie on your back with a can of chips balanced on your stomach. See if you can eat them all before you fall asleep.
2. The Sneeze. As the sneeze approaches, squeeze your knees together, breathe in and out, and try to remember what it used to feel like to "hold it in." Keep this pose while you hobble to the bathroom to change your underwear.
3. The Calf Cramp. Try to stretch around your belly and rub your leg while simultaneously screaming loudly enough to wake everyone in your zip code.
4. The Pesto Burp. Bring your chin to your chest and exhale as silently as you can through your closed mouth. Reward yourself with a nice, meditative Fudgesicle.
5. The Sleeping Hip. Lie on your side until you lose all feeling. Roll onto your other side and repeat. Namaste!
Last night, I actually went to a pre-natal yoga class for the first time. I was really excited as this was my first opportunity to meet other pregnant moms and do some of that all-important mommy networking, not to mention commisserate on all the joys of pregnancy. Oh, and get some pregnancy-appropriate exercise, of course!
The class was so enjoyable. There were 3 other moms there plus the instructor, who is mom to a 14-month-old and has worked as a doula, so she had lots of expertise on the pregnant body and gave wonderful instructions. Two of the other moms there were in their second pregnancy, and the third was another first-timer like me. I also learned that there was usually another woman in attendance, and everyone was speculating about her absence since her baby is due in two days!
Throughout the class, any meditation/visualizatons that we did included the baby as part of our focus: for example, "Visualize your breath going deep, deep into your body, nourishing your body, and nourishing your baby." We practiced a squat position that is comfortable and appropriate for labour (it shortens your vagina by 20%!), working our way up to holding it for 90 seconds, which I learned was the length of a contraction. As we held poses, one or the other of the students would begin a brief discussion about certain symptoms or experiences she was having with her pregnancy, so the rest of us could commisserate. And next class, the instructor has arranged for a doula to come and talk to us for a few minutes before we begin our session.
All in all, it was both emotionally and physically enriching, and I'm so glad I found it. I also confirmed last night that though this run of classes ends in early December, there will be another run starting in January, so with luck I can continue to take the classes right up until birth. This is especially exciting as there are no other pre-natal yoga classes in Nanaimo - and this is actually the first time this particular instructor has had enough interest to offer one herself. So it's a rare and precious thing, and I'm lucky enough to have found it!
Thursday, November 8, 2007
I put off writing about this for a few days until I knew what I was going to do about this, as I didn't want to write a whiny entry about how ever-loving FAT I am and how helpless I felt about it. A few days ago, I did feel helpless, as any mention I made of my weight and/or my changing body was met (by my husband, friends, naturopath, midwife) with the hand-patting response of, "Pregnant women are supposed to gain weight. Don't worry about it." This was hardly the empowerment I wanted, as I interpreted it as, "Just keep eating, there's nothing you can do about it." And eat I did.
But let's not get into that. Let's look instead at the New Plan.
In the first trimester, I was sick sick sick. Good intentions to eat healthily were derailed by a nausea that would only allow certain foods at certain times, and these foods were usually the kind of starchy carby crap that I don't eat normally. But they tasted so damn good, I ate a lot of them - hence the 20 pounds. In a sense, I was largely helpless to disobey the strict orders of my fussy stomach; if I ate something it didn't want, it would simply reject it and send it back the way it came, hardly a fun experience for either of us.
But the first trimester and the Dictatorship of the Nausea is over. I don't feel as sick anymore (knock on wood), and there's no reason I can't follow a reasonable eating plan. So I'm doing that. Five servings of fruits and veggies every day, lean protein, limited complex carbohydrates, 2 litres of water, and NO EMPTY CALORIES. (This one is hard as we still have tons of Halloween candy left over.)
In the first trimester, I was also exhausted. I know those of you who have been pregnant before know the kind of exhaustion I'm talking about. It's not, "Hey, it would be nice to lie down for a while after work," it's "There's the couch, and - zzzzz." Again, I had little choice in the matter. My good habits of exercise, predictably, went down the drain.
But the first trimester and the Need for Naps is over! I can exercise now - in fact, I went to the gym after work the other day and man, it felt good. It was really hard to walk in the door after such a long absence, as I was anticipating comments from the staff that it had been a while. But no such comments were forthcoming, and I did my 30 minutes on the elliptical with the predictable red-faced sweating and the less predictable but incredibly welcome rush of endorphins. There's no reason I can't be getting a good workout 4 days a week, so that's the plan: yoga Mondays and Thursdays, cardio on the elliptical Tuesdays and Fridays.
So that's the plan, and I'm feeling much more empowered and capable than I was a few days ago. I've also finally made it clear to Chris and a few friends what kind of support is helpful and what is damaging, so I've got a few people keeping me on track and giving me reality checks. Here's to a healthy second trimester.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
What a dope.
Chris and I had it out last night about a few things. I was feeling resentful of the unspoken assumptions we both had about whose tasks were whose in our house, and with regards to our coming baby. Specifically, I got myself all worked into a lather about daycare. I posted yesterday's entry using the first person singular: Here's the situation I am in, it's not ideal but I need to be a pragmatist and deal with it the best I can. As I wrote it I felt I was missing something, but couldn't figure out what. When I re-read later, I realized I was talking like a single mother. Where the hell was Chris in all this? Why weren't we working together to find a solution? Why didn't he come forward and tell me what he was willing to do to make it work? Why was it my problem and not ours?
So, we had that out. Of course we were both working under faulty assumptions and not communicating with each other. He had already thought about certain things he would do (both financially and logistically) but hadn't told me what they were. He insisted over and over that "it went without saying", while I argued that I wouldn't know what he was thinking or deciding if he didn't tell me. So frustrating.
In the end, I was proud that neither of us used personal attacks, and neither of us stormed off in a huff; we may not have entirely solved the root problem, but we both got a chance to sound off in a safe way and still go to sleep wrapped in each others' arms. I know this isn't the last intense discussion we're going to have about parenting and all that comes with it, by any stretch of the imagination, so I'm glad we can both handle ourselves like adults and work hard to find the common ground.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
A friend who works in child care told me I should get on a waiting list now that I am in the second trimester. I find this mind-blowing. I've always imagined that I could play the "wait and see" game with child care, since I firmly believe that you can't predict how you will feel about it until much, much closer to the time - let alone judge the child's readiness for the situation. I may decide that I love staying home with my child so much that I want to quit my job altogether. Or my child might be so outgoing and busy that the social atmosphere of a child care would be far better for him/her than our home. Or anything in between. I used to scoff at people who would make these decisions when their child was just a few weeks old - now I'm having to plan ahead for it months before the child is even born. It's a little stunning.
On the other hand, I do understand the underlying urgency of it. If I "wait and see" and then decide that child care is needed, I may not have the choice as child care waitlists can be months or even years long. That's kind of terrifying, and probably says something about the policies of our current government, but that's a rant for another day. For now, I have to be the pragmatist and figure out how to deal with the situation I've got the best way I can.
So I went ahead and asked the local CCRR for some referrals. They sent me a list of five child care facilities, but I have no idea how they chose these five out of the dozens we have locally. Are these the ones that have openings *now*? Are they the ones who have long waitlists and may have spots opening by the time I need them in April of 2009? They can't possibly be the five closest to my geographical location, because one of them is 20 minutes away across town. I am clueless.
The first thing I did is try to find all of the facilities online - I found two out of five, and both of those had prices listed. Child care at these two sites is about $40/day. I plan to work part-time after the babe is born, so I'd need child care for three days a week. Moreover, my mother-in-law mentioned months ago in the first pregnancy that she would babysit one day a week, so if she means that, we'd only need child care two days a week.
Assuming a monthly part-time take-home wage of $830, I would then be paying out about $320/month for two days a week of child care and have just enough left over to pay my car loan, insurance, and gas. No groceries, no RRSP contribution, no gym membership or travel fund or haircuts. Luckily for me, though, I have a husband, and he makes much more money than I do, so I guess this is the time in my life when I have to lean on him financially.
If, heaven forbid, Karen doesn't actually want to provide a free day of babysitting and I need to pay for three days of child care, the numbers get a little more bleak. Three days would be over $500/month, leaving me with less money than I'd need to pay my car loan. Ugh.
Despite the bleakness, the figures are actually somewhat *better* than I thought - I thought once I added up the costs, working would be a break-even or slightly better proposal. Even $300/month is something.
Monday, November 5, 2007
Dear Gestating Baby,
Wow! Here we are, 14 weeks into this pregnancy. You’ve existed for a full 12 weeks, which according to the experts means we’re likely in this for the long haul. This is such exciting news for me and your dad, as well as your two loving sets of grandparents and many other relatives and friends who are eagerly awaiting your arrival.
According to the many websites I visit on a weekly basis, you are now about 3 to 5 inches long – about the size of your dad's fist - and weigh between one and two ounces. I’m hoping my growing uterus and placenta account for the 14 pounds I’ve gained so far, since you only weigh as much as a large paper clip. This week, you’re supposed to start practicing two vital life skills – breathing and peeing. Good luck!
I didn’t even know that your ears were previously located on your neck, but apparently they were. This week, however, they’re going to move to the more customary location on the sides of your head, for which I am grateful. I wonder what you can hear in there? Can you hear your dad and I arguing about what we should name you? Get used to that noise, because I think it’s going to continue for quite some time. You are developing vocal chords this week, so you could voice your opinion on the subject – only, you don’t know how to talk yet, so I don’t think we’d pay much attention to your little babblings, even if we could hear them.
Your thyroid gland is developing this week, and your body is producing its own hormones. “Hormones” is a word you may have heard your father and I saying a lot, these past few months, as it seems more than anything they dictate my physical state and thus my mindset and behaviour. I won’t lie to you, those hormones have been making my life pretty tough these past few months. But all the websites assure me that the worst is behind me now as we sail into the second trimester – time of glowing, energy, and peaceful bliss.
Well little baby, I’m glad you’re in there, and though I look forward to meeting you, don’t you be in any rush to come out. Stay in there until we’re all good and ready for you to be born, sometime next May. We’ll talk more, closer to the time, about what that’s going to be like – but for now, you just keep growing, keep breathing, and keep getting strong and healthy, I’ll take care of the other details.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Chris and I were relaxing, watching a movie, and I was preparing to head out to a choir rehearsal. Everything was fine. I'd been migraine-free for about a week, and I was really happy about that. Looking forward to a good evening.
I made myself a can of tomato soup and a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches - perfect comfort food. Just before settling down to eat, with a bottle of water, a package of crackers, and my mealtime vitamins and supplements close at hand, I went upstairs and changed out of my pre-pregnancy jeans into more roomy, comfortable, maternity jeans. Ahhhh.
I ate my soup with plenty of crackers, devoured my sandwiches, and drank about half my bottle of water. I was happy and content. For about five minutes.
Then, very quickly, I became incredibly uncomfortable. I didn't even understand what the problem was. I switched off the dishwasher, thinking the noise was irritating me. I went outside to get some fresh air as I felt really hot all of a sudden. I finally went into our downstairs bathroom - but once I was there, I wasn't exactly sure what I needed to do there to feel better.
For the next 20 minutes, I alternated between the two classic Toilet Usage positions, as my body violently evacuated the entire contents of my innards, through any applicable orifice. Although the process was very painful and frightening, the waiting beforehand was the worst part, as I sat on the toilet and wondered what the hell was happening to me, why my abdomen was full of shooting pains, and what I was supposed to do about it. I even got a titch hysterical because I just didn't know what was wrong. Once my body started, er, emptying, I thought, "Oh, okay, *that's* the problem."
I had taken off all my clothes and was lying on the bathroom floor by the time Chris knocked on the door and asked if I was okay. I almost was, by then, though a little nervous to get too far away from the bathroom. I crawled out and sat with him for a few minutes on the cold floor - I was desperate to cool off. He opened the door to the garage so the cold air would come right in. He also brought me a bottle of water, then called my choir director to let him know I wouldn't be at rehearsal.
Although I felt better about half an hour later, I'm glad I didn't go to choir, because that process tired me the hell OUT.
Two hours later, my stomach told me it needed to eat, and after giving it a little lecture ("Oh, you want me to feed you, after what you did last time? What makes you think you deserve it?") I had some fried rice and a few pieces of cheese. Yummy.
After talking it over with Chris, I think what happened is that I had too much hot food, too fast. I hadn't felt nauseous or headachey all day, so it can't be attributed to that. But Chris suggested that both my stomach and my intenstines have less room now, as the uterus continues to grow and take up more real estate, so eating so much food - especially hot food, when I am so prone to being overheated these days - caused my system to go on full alert and just reject everything, instantly. Lesson learned.
I had hoped to make this entry amusing, which I guess I have failed to do, so I'll close with Chris's brilliant line, later in the evening:
"You should drink some more water and make sure you're hydrated. After all, you lost a buttload of fluids."
Friday, November 2, 2007
Anyway, my heart is breaking for her today as she and her family deal with the loss of her second pregnancy. There is nothing that makes that loss easier to bear, with the possible exception of knowing that people across the blogosphere are thinking of you and wishing you well. Be well, Emily, and know that we are all praying for you.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
It doesn't say anything about length, or more importantly, quality content, which is a great relief to me and to other bloggers, no doubt ...
So, I heard from Melissa - mother of the 2.5 pound baby - and miraculously, they are actually doing fine. It turns out Melissa has a bicornuate uterus, which means it is shaped like two horns instead of a triangle, and is a big factor in infertility. Knowing that, it's amazing she was able to carry the baby for 27 weeks - at least, according to what I could learn on Google.
At 27 weeks, her placenta abrupted, and they needed to get the baby out immediately - hence the emergency C-section. It is really reassuring to know the "why" of the whole situation, but what's even greater is that Melissa and her husband are in a really positive mood, feel that their son is not only in good health but in the very best hands, and that although they have a difficult road ahead of them in the next three months, they have no doubt that they can handle it and everything will turn out fine.
Amazing! I am so happy and so relieved for all of them.