Thursday, January 31, 2008
A Scary Morning (26 weeks 5 days)
Last night just before falling asleep, I felt a movement from the baby that was different from anything I'd ever felt before. It was big, and strange, and long: the only way I can think to describe it is that while most movements are a *poke* or sometimes a *swish* this one was more like a *walamphamawhooooosh*. (I should be a writer, that is so descriptive.)
Anyway, I fell asleep, and when I woke up this morning I didn't feel anything. Usually in the 10-15 minutes that I lie in bed after the alarm, the baby wakes up too and starts moving around, which I think of as his/her way of saying "Good morning" to me. This morning - nothing. I lay there for a while and got a little freaked out, remembering the strange movement of the night before and getting good and paranoid that the baby had turned in some bizarre way to get the cord wrapped around itself and was in serious trouble. I told Chris about the strange movement and then about the current lack of movement, and he put his face up to my belly and spoke loudly to the baby, asking it to please move so we could be reassured. After a very tense couple of minutes, I felt a small kick. Somewhat reassured, we got out of bed and started the day.
As I walked to work, I was still feeling pretty anxious. I hadn't felt any further movements, and this was normally a busy time of day for fetal movement. I resolved to call my midwife when I got to work.
At first I called Lillian, my primary midwife, but I got a message that she was out of town. So I called the backup midwife, Jenn, and opened the conversation with, "I'm feeling really anxious and paranoid." She responded with, "Well, it's good that you called then." That felt really good because I had had to battle with myself to call and "bother" her: the only thing that made me do it was the nagging feeling that something might be wrong but not yet irreversibly so, and if I didn't do something I would really regret it later.
Jenn told me to meet her at the hospital about 45 minutes later. Getting through the hospital red tape was a gong show, as I was sent to half-a-dozen places before I could finally get "processed", but in any case it finally happened and I went up to the (new) peri-natal wing to meet Jenn. She had me do a urine test (everything negative) and then lay down on the bed to try and find the baby's heartrate. It was very hard to find because the baby was moving around a lot - but although we could hear the movements on the monitor, I couldn't feel them. Jenn said she suspected the baby had flipped to a new position, one in which the movements were much harder to feel (for example, maybe s/he's lying with his/her back towards my belly, and all the limbs are pointing towards my back, so I can't feel the kicks and jabs).
The baby finally held still long enough to zero in on the heartbeat, which was strong and steady and the most perfectly blissful sound I'd ever heard. She "ran a strip" on the heartbeat for about a half an hour and I just lay there listening to it and smiling in relief. She later showed me where the variabilities in the heartbeat were (apparently variabilities are a good thing) and also showed me where the other monitor was showing absolutely no uterine activity (ie contractions, which would be bad). So like I said, everything is absolutely fine. I'm still glad I called and am no longer stuck wondering about it, though.
My first moment as a paranoid new mommy. I'm sure there will be many, many more.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Today, I woke up thinking, "Damn, how long is it till I can start sleeping on my stomach again?"
I have a new and fascinating symptom going on the past few nights. I really don't know what it is - it feels kind of like there's a blockage of some sort in my throat/upper chest, preventing me from breathing. It seems to be worse in the evenings, and is aggravated incredibly by lying down - I guess this is why some pregnant women start sleeping in recliner chairs, so they can stay upright. Last night I was propped up with two normal pillows plus my Snoogle pregnancy pillow just to feel like I could breathe. When I fall asleep I toss and turn, which results in the pillows no longer being positioned just so, which results in me not breathing, so I wake up.
I am now starting to look forward to the day when I get my body back (though I know, with breastfeeding and recovering from birth, that this is a ways off yet). At least once a week I indulge in fantasizing about how nice it would be to take Ibuprofen for the nasty pain in my hip. Thinking of sleeping on my stomach again brings a wistful smile to my face. The concept of only throwing up when I'm actually sick is very appealing - it would be so nice to go home sick after throwing up at work instead of getting back to my desk and carrying on with my day.
I have about 90 days left to be pregnant. I can feel grateful for the pregnancy (and its end result) and simultaneously feel a tugging anticipation of those post-partum days, right?
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Twenty-Five Random Thoughts
- I just can't put my brain in gear to write an entire post on one topic today. So instead, a sentence or two about all the different things on my brain.
- Schuyler's Monster is available for pre-order from Amazon.com today. This is a book written by a blogger I've been reading for years, whose daughter was born with a congenital brain defect which prevents her from talking. I am so psyched about this book. (Note: for some reason, some people find her name difficult to pronounce. It's Sky-ler.)
- My body image is fluctuating a lot these days: one day I feel like a gorgeous and divine fertility goddess, and can't keep my hands off my fantastic belly. The next day I feel like a lumbering wildebeast. I can't imagine what the third trimester will bring.
- Actually, I've been scared of the third trimester ever since the first trimester ended. They say the second trimester is the best. My first trimester sucked so bad, I can't go back to that!
- Greg and Sue need to get a new "infant travel system" because Teagan is growing so fast. So they have offered us theirs (it's the 'Aura' system seen here) for a hundred bucks. Plus a woman at church who just had a baby girl in September told me if I have a girl she will pass on all kinds of girl clothes to me. My shopping list keeps getting smaller and smaller - I'm very lucky!
- Our 3D-4D ultrasound is in 18 days. Since we haven't had to spend any $$ on this baby so far, we are splurging with something fun and sentimental. We're getting the 30-minute package including pictures, a DVD, and gender assessment.
- Another splurge we are doing is pregnancy portraits. Our midwife Lillian is a semi-pro photographer and her work is incredible. Plus, I love the idea of the portraits being taken by someone who knows me and sort of has an investment in our family. I'm going to have to feel comfortable about her seeing me naked sooner or later, may as well have some awesome pictures to show for it.
- PLUS my best friend Mike is going to do henna on my belly before the photo shoot. He did henna on my arms when I got married, too.
- I have been bad at drinking my water lately but I think I've figured out how to improve that - just turn up the heat at my office or at home so I am uncomfortably warm. Then I will want to drink water to cool off. Hydrating is important since dehydration is a big factor in early labour and no one wants that.
- I have just over 90 days left of being pregnant (give or take). I realized this morning that I will miss it, just a bit. Waking up to Chris's alarm and then being greeted by the playful kicking sensations in my belly is the best way to start the day. Waking up to a howling baby demanding to be fed at 2am can't possibly compare.
- I got some really good advice yesterday from a mom of three; "Get all your shopping done and the nursery organized at least a month before your due date, because if your doctor puts you on bed rest, you won't be able to get any of that done." Very smart.
- I had to go throw up in the middle of typing the previous item. It had been a whole 19 days since the last time I threw up. What is it about 9:30am that brings on the nausea? And are these heaves leftover from the first trimester, or previews of the third?
- I am unreasonably excited about our upcoming pre-natal classes. We are taking both the Public Health classes and a private class from a Birthing From Within instructor. I can't wait. At the same time, I'm still having trouble internalizing the concept that labour and birth are really truly genuinely going to happen to me. For reals.
- Yesterday, my very dumb co-worker noticed the ultrasound picture in my office and said "OH! Is that your baby?" The picture has been hanging there since December 17th. That's 40 days, people.
- My friend Melissa wrote me when she was about 25 weeks pregnant: At first I was planning on working as long as I could, but I've come up with a sort of compromise now. I'm resenting work more and more for taking time and energy that I feel should be used for taking care of my health and getting our home ready for the baby - and yet we need the money. It's tricky :-/
- I can completely relate, because when I hit my 25th week of pregnancy, I became instantly and utterly disinterested in anything that wasn't directly related to pregnancy, birth, baby prep, or our marriage. This includes work, SCA, choir, and so on, but is most focussed on work since it takes up SO MUCH of my time. I now theorize that this feeling is largely hormonal/evolutionary, which helps slightly as I struggle to conquer it (since I can't quit my job quite yet. It is interesting to know that other women experience the same thing.
- We are going to use cloth diapers. I like the look of the Bummis products and I especially like the idea of an all-in-one kit for n00bs like me since there is a pretty big learning curve for cloth diapers. There's a store in Nanaimo that claims to carry them so I will be checking that out soon, or if not, there are many stores in Victoria when we go for our ultrasound.
- Speaking of my environmental leanings, I think I'm going to buy myself this book or something similar.
- Since writing this entry only two weeks ago, my thoughts on having a boy vs. having a girl have changed quite a lot. I gave it no conscious thought, but just realized a few days ago that I feel much more accepting and peaceful about whatever sex our child turns out to be. That doesn't mean I won't be over the moon if it's a girl, but I don't think I'll be disappointed if it's a boy.
- And only a week after writing this entry, I think I know what I'd like to wear during labour. I went and spent an hour or so on the Birth Story Diaries site (not the first time I've done that, either) and paid a lot of attention to what the women wore, how they were moving/positioning themselves, what looked appealing to me and what didn't. The conclusion I reached is that an ankle-length, sleeveless, button-down summer dress might be just the ticket. I can unbutton whichever portion of the dress corresponds to the needed body part (belly, boobs, etc) without displaying the rest of my assets to the world at large. And it would be comfortable.
- Babycenter.com's collection of videos is pretty addictive, as well. I cry every time the baby comes out. In one, the mom is concentrating so hard on pushing she doesn't realize the baby's been born, and the caregiver says, "Open your eyes." Mom does, and is rewarded with the sight of her baby slipping out of her body, responding with the most surprised and joyous "Oh my God!" Gets me every time.
- I really want someone to take pictures at our birth, the better to put together a photographic birth story like on BirthDiaries.com (even if I never show them to anyone!). But I can't figure out how to make this work. All the people there will be too busy looking after me to take pictures. And there isn't anyone else who is both a close enough person to fit into such an intimate experience, and a good enough/passionate enough photographer to be invited only for that purpose. So, I don't know. Maybe we'll just buy a few disposable cameras and tell everyone to snap pictures when and if the spirit moves them?
- I have been working constantly on the baby blanket. The large teddy bear's head is now done as well as some of the stuff in the picture frame. I even persuaded Chris to do some since the blanket is for his baby.
- We totally have names (first and middle) for both a boy and a girl picked out. We're keeping them secret until the birth because it took us a really, really long time to agree on those two (remember, this is our second pregnancy so we've actually been arguing about names for about a year) and we don't want anyone to say anything stupid ("Ew, I had a dog named ____") that sends us back to the drawing board. Hopefully after the baby is born and we hand him or her to someone and introduce them, they will be tactful enough to keep their stupid comments to themselves.
- My belly button doesn't poke out yet. But it is a lot shallower than it used to be. And I think I have some stretch marks, though I can't see them - I can kind of feel them when I am stroking my beautiful belly.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
26 Weeks Pregnant
- Baby is gaining 6 ounces a week
- Baby's eyes are opening, and are beginning to blink (they've been fused shut since about Week 9!)
- Starts to look more and more like a "normal baby"
- Baby responds to touch
- Begins to make breathing movements
- Baby is replacing the amniotic fluid once an hour
- Eyelids, eyebrows, and fingernails are present, but very short
- Skin is becoming more opaque; soon, veins will no longer be visible through skin
The baby is about 14 inches long and weighs about 2 pounds.
Symptoms to expect:
- Braxton Hicks contractions (not so far)
- Stitch-like pains in abdomen (sometimes; think it's due to baby's head or bum pressing against me)
- Uterus is about 2.5 inches above belly button (yes)
- Heartburn, indigestion (no)
Additional Symptoms I'm Having:
- Shortness of breath / sinus issues continue
- Nesting instinct has calmed down a bit
- Swollen wrists/ankles
- Sore hip continues
So many pregnancy- and birth-related events are happening in the next few weeks. In two weeks, pre-natal classes start. A few days after that, we have our 4D ultrasound where we will get a 30-minute look at our baby moving and kicking inside me, and a DVD to take home and show off to family and friends. I'll be starting to see the midwife more frequently as I head into the third trimester, and my Blessing Way is coming up (exciting!!).
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Dear Gestating Baby - 25 weeks
As I write this, the morning sun is streaming in the living room windows, and I know that Spring is coming. With Spring comes your arrival, which of course I am eagerly anticipating. Though you haven't been born yet, you already make your presence known in many ways throughout my day. Just a moment ago, as I typed an email to a friend on my laptop, you kicked so forcefully that the movement was visible from the outside. I guess you're hungry, since I slept in this morning and haven't had breakfast yet.
It's an amusing pastime to be able to interpret your kicks and swirls however I please. If you kick during a song or movie I enjoy, I say, "Oh, the baby likes this too." If you happen to kick right after your dad makes some declaration about something that I find ridiculous, I tell him your kick indicates your displeasure with his statement. The power!
Though you've now been alive for 23 weeks, and are growing quite rapidly, the kicks and jabs don't cause me any pain. I'm hoping this means that you are in a perfect position for being born - it certainly doesn't feel like your head is in my ribcage. At this point, I think you are still able to move around a little bit in there, though I understand that in the next few weeks you will have to make up your mind and choose whichever position you will remain in until birth.
Speaking of birth - my widgetbaby tells me you are "due" to be born in 100 days.
When I first downloaded that widgetbaby, days after learning of your existence, the countdown said I had some 250 days to go. That just seemed overwhelming. Now, in what seems a blink of an eye, we are about to enter double digits . I know that due dates are all estimates anyway, and that you will be born when and how you choose, but just between you and me - I have a sneaking suspicion that you might be one of those 4% who appear on the exact date they're predicted. I'm not ready to tell you why I think that, but I promise I will someday, whether I'm right or wrong.
I took the day off work today because I find myself growing entirely disinterested in anything that doesn't directly (and positively) affect my health, my family, or preparations for your arrival. Spending 7 hours a day in an uncomfortable office chair definitely doesn't fall into those categories. I'm looking forward to spending a lazy day at home with you, doing some chores and working on your baby blanket.
Well, I guess I'll sign off now and go get some breakfast. I love you, little baby - keep on growing and getting stronger and healthier and more ready to be born, and I'll see you in approximately 100 days.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Pregnant Lady in a Coat!
This is what I look like when I am walking to and from work, or when I'm out shopping or whatever. No strangers have ever touched my belly or asked the standard inappropriate questions, nor are cars any more likely to stop for me at crosswalks (did you know, drivers of Nanaimo, that crosswalk rules still apply even when it's snowing? It's true!). So I assumed that the coat was keeping things under wraps.
What do you think? If you saw me meandering down the street in this getup, would you know I was pregnant?
25 weeks pregnant (15 weeks to go, OMG)
- Baby is gaining 6 ounces a week
- Baby fat is forming, filling out
- Respiratory system is getting stronger
- May start rotating into birthing position
- Baby's nostrils may open this week (ooh!)
- Starts to prefer either right or left hand
- Hands are fully developed
The baby is about 14 inches long and weighs just under 2 pounds.
Symptoms to expect:
- Lower back pain (no)
- Leg cramps (no)
- More body hair (possibly on stomach, arms; way less on legs though!)
- Fetal movements are now obvious (YES - and fairly constant!)
- Vivid, scary dreams (not yet ...)
- Indigestion or heartburn (no)
- Forgetfulness (okay, maybe a bit)
- Itchy abdomen (no)
The top of uterus is now between navel and sternum; uterus is the size of a soccer ball.
Additional Symptoms I'm Having:
- Shortness of breath / sinus issues continue
- Nesting instinct continues
- Swollen wrists/ankles
For the first time on Friday night, the baby's kicks and movements actually prevented me from getting to sleep. That's a new one. Speaking of sleep, I have been using the Snoogle pillow again, with its long side running down the centre of the bed instead of the side; this prevents the pillow from being kicked off in the middle of the night, but it also significantly cuts into my nighttime cuddles with Chris. However, the soreness in my hip has decreased a lot and that is so wonderful that I'm willing to pay the price.
There are some amazing changes happening with the baby this week; some websites say that s/he will turn his/her head in response to a light shone onto my belly, and will come to a hand if it is placed on my abdomen. I still can't understand how the baby can "feel" a hand on my abdomen, but it's definitely true; I play a game sometimes where I poke, prod, or tickle my belly, and there is almost always a response. In addition, the baby's heartbeat should now be audible with only a stethoscope (no doppler needed) and will soon only require an ear laid on my tummy!
I am getting really ramped up for labour these days. Whenever I think of the magic number of how far along I am, it is now accompanied by the countdown, as you can see in the subject line above. Pre-natal classes will be starting soon and after that, we'll be meeting with Janice (our doula) to talk about what we want from her during the birth. That should be a very interesting discussion! At the moment, whenever I read about labour/contractions/etc, I can recite certain facts and concepts about them, but I don't feel very emotionally connected - that is, I haven't really internalized that this is really going to happen to me. I'm looking forward to learning labour positions/pain coping techniques in our pre-natal classes, and then practicing them at home with Chris and/or Janice - that should make it all feel a bit more real!
Thursday, January 17, 2008
How Pregnant Am I, Anyway? (I was told there'd be no math!)
She makes some valid points - that months are not 28 days long, for example - and that the concept of counting the two weeks before conception as part of the pregnancy throws everything out a little bit further.
I don't think non-pregnant people think about the fact that months aren't 28 days long, though. And I know for sure they haven't thought about the fact that women's cycles are rarely 28 days long. So when people ask me, "How far along are you?", what the vast majority of them really want to know - in my humble opinion - is how much longer until I give birth. And because they are used to considering months as about 4 weeks long, and they've never considered the ten-months-vs-nine-months debate, any answer I give them will be converted to months by dividing by four, then automatically subtracted from nine months.
Example? A teenage girl I know asked me how far along I was. "24 weeks," I answered. She stared at me blankly. "Um, so that's about 6 months, right?" "Yeah, about that," I replied, not willing to go off on a know-it-all tangent this time. "Oh, okay, so you've got three months to go." And away she flounced, believing with all her heart that my baby would be born in mid-April.
Pregnant ladies, on the other hand, or formerly pregnant ladies, merit a more honest answer. A mom I know asked me the same question - how far along are you? "23 weeks," I told her. "Oh, so it's about time for you to have that nasty glucose tolerance test, eh?" Despite the fact that her daughter is now nine years old, she remembered certain stages of pregnancy well enough to compare her journey to mine, and recall which tests happened when. (I was really happy to tell her that one of the very first things I'd asked my midwife, back in the first pregnancy, was whether I had to have that test, and that she had responded there were absolutely no "have-to(s)" in my care with her. So, no nasty glucose test for me! Woot!)
So, enlighten me, readers. If you are or have been pregnant, what did you tell people when they asked how far along you were? And if you haven't been pregnant, what kind of answer do you expect (and how do you interpret it) when you ask a woman how far along she is?
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Nesting, Nesting ... 1-2-3 ...
So, I don't have any major shopping to do for baby. I have to go buy a whole bunch of consumables - diapers, blankets, wipes, and whatever other stuff the layette lists insist I need - but I'm waiting for my mom to come and do that with me, which won't happen until March sometime. In the meantime, what to do with the niggling anxieties which won't let me sit still?
Well, I seem to have found one or two things.
Let's start with these napkins. (Mostly because this is the order Blogger loaded the pictures in and I have no idea how to rearrange them.) People give me funky, themed paper napkins as gifts all the time, and they are rarely used because they are Evil to the Environment. But now, for the first time, the entirety of their Evil is organized neatly into a basket instead of the various packages of Evil being strewn about the main floor of the house in whatever cupboard, drawer, or shelf I happened to throw them into.
Then for reasons known only to Blogger we jump up to the top floor and into the actual nursery. Here you can see the closet organizer we bought last May and finally got around to assembling, oh, this past weekend. Stacked on the organizer are the boxes of baby clothes and other hand-me-downs from my sister. The hope chest in front of the closet is exactly where the crib will eventually go. Please don't ask me where the hope chest is going to go, because I have no idea.
This is the view of the cupboard under the sink in the half-bath downstairs. Isn't it tidy?
Same view, different bathroom. The work of an obsessive mind.
(BTW, this is the floor that is due to be replaced next weekend.)
This is the closet in the laundry room. Note that the chemicals are all on the top shelf, to dissuade a toddler who won't be toddling for at least 12 more months not to drink them.
The previous two pictures show the cupboards in the laundry room. Unfortunately I didn't think of doing this post until after we'd already tidied and organized them, so I can't show you a "Before" picture, but I can assure you it was nothing like this.
The linen closet upstairs. Just looking at this picture makes me happy.
It's kind of hard to see in the small image, but this is the top of our media centre, and on the right-hand side is a small wicker basket I bought for the express purpose of holding whatever various movies/CDs we are working our way through at the moment. As you can see, Chris takes great pleasure in putting the movies right next to the basket instead of inside, the better to drive me up the frigging wall.
Oh look, we're back in the nursery again! (Thanks, Blogger, for the most random tour in the world.) Here's another picture of the nifty closet organizer. The box promised it could be put together in minutes - it took us about eight months.
The coffee table, with its newly-purchased seagrass baskets for holding various collections of stuff that seems to collect there.
The dining room table. Two nesting-fuelled purchases here: the Asian-inspired placemats, and the small wicker basket to hold our non-Evil-to-the-environment cloth napkins.
This glider is the sole piece of furniture in the nursery that is exactly where it is going to remain. It gave great peace to my soul to be able to put it there. Not shown: the cradle that is to be moved into our room, the crib and change table that won't arrive until May, the desk and hope chest that have to be moved to some other location, and the Laura who is desperately trying to figure out where that location is.
Finally, the hutch in the kitchen. For the first time since we moved - hell, for the first time since we moved in together at all, 3 years ago - the hutch is organized, purged of unnecessary items, and arranged with an eye to aesthetic appeal and functionality. I'm sure the baby will greatly appreciate it.
So, yeah, most of the things I've been madly nesting over have little direct impact on preparing for the baby. But indirectly, I can (and do) rationalize that I'm getting all these things done now because I know soon I will have absolutely no time, energy, or interest to devote to them. The same can be said of the mundane organizing tasks I'm taking on at work: knowing that someone else will be doing my job while I'm on leave, I'm trying to leave things more tidy and organized than they have been thus far.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
I have to admit, my body is starting to feel ... well, weary. Which isn't surprising given that I'm carrying about 30 pounds more than I was 6 months ago. According to one of the weekly emails, my uterus is now the size of a soccer ball, and there's a foot-long baby in there. While the uterus and the outward evidence of same grows, internally everything else has to move out of the way. I can't breathe into my abdomen the way I once did, and my lungs don't seem to expand as much as I need them to. Climbing the stairs at our house leaves me short of breath and sore in the legs. Bending over is becoming an absurd effort. I feel like in many ways, I already am in the third trimester.
I dashed into the grocery store yesterday to pick up about 7 items. Except "dashing" is no longer on the repertoire of "things I can actually accomplish at 24 weeks pregnant". Waddling, yes. Dashing, not so much. The first obstacle comes when I'm getting into (and out of) the car. I'm lucky in that most of the time I walk, not drive to my destination: I walk to work and only use the car a couple of times a week. But this just serves to make the awakenings that much more rude when I do get in the car, and realize howpoorly my new body and the old car seat are adapted to one another. I can hardly fit between the back of the seat and the steering wheel, and the seatbelt holder digs into me awkwardly. Once I get myself situated, of course, I'm out of breath. It just seems to take so much more effort to maneuver myself these days - the simplest actions can be ridiculously tiring.
I'm lucky again that Chris's car is a jeep-like model, which doesn't require me to sit down low to the ground (and perform the required acrobatics to get back out again). I'd be in even worse shape if that were the case.
I read about women in their third trimester who are tempted to give up even the simplest tasks, because they become too exhausting. I can completely relate. I look at myself in the mirror and ask, "Could I be any more pregnant?" And then I realize that yes, I can, and yes, I will, and I can't really imagine that or understand it, but I know it's true. I have about 15 weeks to go, and those weeks will be the ones of fastest fetal growth. My yoga teacher told me that from now on, I will have a different body every week - that's how fast things are going to grow and change.
For the first time, I understand why women do those plaster belly casts. My body is changing so quickly now, I can hardly get used to it. Maybe doing a cast helps women really see their bellies, separating that image from themselves, and having something permanent to look back on as many times as needed until it really sinks in.
Monday, January 14, 2008
The truth about our coy little baby
Now, don't get me wrong. Of course I would love a son as much as a daughter. But I really felt that I wanted a heads-up, an advance warning that would give me time to "get used to" the idea of mothering a son. I didn't want to ruin my baby's birth date by acting pissy or disappointed if I didn't get the girl I wanted. So we asked to find out the sex.
And the silly little baby kept its legs crossed through the whole exam.
But the tech told us at the time that she thought she got one good picture of the sex. Though she couldn't disclose to us what she thought she saw, she told us that it would be up to the radiologist to interpret the picture and choose whether to include his so-called conclusion in the report. The radiologist did, in fact, see fit to include the findings, and the findings were "a high probability that the baby is a girl".
A high probability? Well. I was sent into a tizzy, and haven't quite come out yet. The problem (you knew there had to be a problem, right?) is that if the baby now turns out to be a boy, I'm going to have an even bigger shock to deal with on B-day. My hopes are up even higher than they were before. There has been a great deal of pondering and second-guessing about the phrase on the radiologist's report, mostly on the part of my sister and I.
Theory 1. The baby is totally 100% a girl, but the radiologist never gives 100% answers because he might get sued if he is wrong. So he always couches his interpretations with "high probability".
Theory 2. The radiologist was not able to figure out the sex with 100% accuracy and so is unwilling to say "it's a girl", but he must be pretty damn sure that it is in order to include the educated guess of "high probability".
Theory 3. It's easier to miss a penis/scrotum when one is there than it is to see one when it isn't there. So the baby could be a boy and the genitals were just hidden because he is COY.
I tried to pull some strings and get another ultrasound through some contacts at the hospital, but there was no luck there. Barring any medical need, I won't have another ultrasound at all, which means I'm due for a surprise on B-day, the exact thing I didn't want. In the time leading up to the ultrasound and the phone call afterwards giving us the results, I spent a lot of time preparing myself for what I would do and how I would feel if it was a boy. I never prepared myself for how to handle it if I still didn't know.
In the weeks following the ultrasound, Chris and I slipped even deeper into insanity. We had already figured out a girl's name, so we started using it when we talked to my belly or when we referred to our future child. We have now picked out a boy's name too (nearly a month later) and try to change it up once in a while so we don't get too attached, but I think both of us really feel that the boy's name is just pretend. I'm a bad mommy already, putting these expectations and roles on my child!
A woman whom I respect greatly gave me "Your Self-Confident Baby" by Magda Gerber, founder of the RIE (Resources for Infant Educaring) philosophy. A passage I read last night said:
I don't feel a baby needs to have her mother (or carer) near her at all times. I believe that there is too much emphasis on the idea of holding and touching one's baby, just for the sake of doing it. What is the value of being held or touched if it's only the skin that is in contact? I believe it is better to be with your baby while giving her your full attention whether holding her, tending to her needs, or observing her, than to carry her around with you from room to room strapped in an infant seat, or secured in a baby carrier that you wear, or held while you are busy doing other things such as talking on the phone, reading a book, or cooking. What about your minds connecting, or to become more philosophical, your souls?
When you hold your baby or simply observe her, be fully aware and tuned in to her. Then you are both freer to separate when necessary, feeling "filled" by the other. In my mind, a few minutes of this special receptiveness is much more valuable for both of you than feeling you must remain with the baby constantly or hold her without paying attention to her.
Place her in her safe area where she can play and explore her environment. She will soon discover satisfaction and joy in her own independence. And you will have free time of your own. In this way, both your needs are met. I believe that spending time in her one or two places gives your baby more security than carrying her from room to room with you as you clean, talk on the phone, and so forth. Then when you go back to her, you will both be refueled and ready to interact in a calmer, more loving way. As she grows, you may encourage her to spend more time playing on her own in her safe place.
Contrast this with the philosophy of attachment parenting, which is also being advised to me by a woman I greatly respect:
A baby learns a lot in the arms of a busy caregiver. Carried babies fuss less and spend more time in the state of quiet alertness, the behavior state in which babies learn most about their environment. Babywearing improves the sensitivity of the parents. Because your baby is so close to you, you get to know baby better. Closeness promotes familiarity.
The behavioral state of quiet alertness also gives parents a better opportunity to interact with their baby. Notice how mother and baby position their faces in order to achieve this optimal visually interactive plane. The human face, especially in this position, is a potent stimulator for interpersonal bonding. In the kangaroo carry, baby has a 180-degree view of her environment and is able to scan her world. She learns to choose, picking out what she wishes to look at and shutting out what she doesn't. This ability to make choices enhances learning.
What may happen if the baby spends most of his time lying horizontally in a crib, attended to only for feeding and comforting, and then again separated from mother? A newborn has an inherent urge to become organized, to fit into his or her new environment. If left to his own resources, without the regulating presence of the mother, the infant may develop disorganized patterns of behavior: colicky cries, jerky movements, disorganized self-rocking behaviors, anxious thumb sucking, irregular breathing, and disturbed sleep. The infant, who is forced to self-calm, wastes valuable energy he could have used to grow and develop. While there is a variety of child-rearing theories, attachment researchers all agree on one thing: In order for a baby's emotional, intellectual, and physiological systems to function optimally, the continued presence of the mother, as during babywearing, is a necessary regulatory influence.
Pretty different views, there. Yet I can find concepts I agree with in each. How to incorporate them? And let's not forget, these are only two of the myriad of theories out there. And ultimately, my belief is that there is not one perfect answer; that you have to take from each theory the bits and pieces that make sense to you. And the thing that works for one family (or even for one child in the family) may not work for another. The thing that worked when the child was 2 may not work as well when he is 3. So my real desire is to, you know, get to know this child first (which kind of requires him/her to be born) before making any sweeping subscription to any one parenting theory. And I'm sure Chris and I would appreciate the chance to get a bit acquainted with ourselves as parents before making any huge decisions.
In the meantime, what do I say to the well-meaning people who are all set to tell me how to raise my kid?
Saturday, January 12, 2008
24 weeks pregnant
- Heartburn (no)
“At 24 weeks pregnant, you're moving into your seventh month of pregnancy. Wow! You are two-thirds of the way there.” Sentences like that really blow my mind. Two-thirds? Seriously? Time is flying by! I’ve gotta get organized! Back to nesting!
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Pondering Pregnancy Journalling
When I write my journal entries about what symptoms I'm experiencing, and the ideas I have for labour and birth, does it sound like I hate this whole thing?
There's no easy way to express the truth of the matter: that the adventure of pregnancy is often not negative or positive, but just "other" than what I'm used to.
When I go back and re-read my entries, they do sound pretty complainy. Even when I'm trying to phrase things as neutrally as I can - for example, saying that my yoga workout was a challenge because I'm in a whole different body - sounds like I feel negatively about that concept. But I don't. I don't feel negatively about my body being so different from what I'm used to. I don't feel negatively about my emotions and thoughts being so much less under my control. I don't feel negatively about the fact that most of the time, I don't feel much like "me" as I've come to define myself.
This would be the perfect place to say, "I love it! It's amazing! The birds are singing and the flowers are blooming and the world is such a blissful, perfect place!" to counteract the perceived negativity. Only, I can't really do that either. I do love being pregnant, but not because it's so fun and blissful and positive - I love it because it's different, it's an experience I'll never have again, it's so completely other than normal everyday existence. I love it most of all, of course, for the end result of a baby. But I also appreciate it for what it is.
The problem is, when I ponder how pregnancy feels and the amazing otherness of it all, it sure sounds like I'm complaining. How else would you interpret phrases like, "I don't feel like myself", "I'm not used to this new body", and "my thoughts and emotions aren't under my control"? Negative connotations abound.
I really want to tell the truth about my pregnancy in this journal. I want my friends who haven't experienced pregnancy to see a real picture of how it feels - though of course their own future pregnancies may be very different. I want to record it for myself, and for my child if s/he chooses to read it someday. I don't want to paint it too rosily or too bleak.
I'll keep working on it.
Monday, January 7, 2008
Pregnant Lady Yoga
Tonight's class was the "gentle" class, not the pre-natal class, but the instructor is always very kind and gives me specific instructions for things I should adjust/avoid due to the pregnancy.
Right away I noticed a huge difference in my abilities. I'm sure not doing yoga for a month accounts for some of that, but a bigger factor is that the body I am working with today is not the body I had four weeks ago. Even the deep yoga breathing is a challenge as there is a large obstacle preventing my diaphragm from moving as freely as it once did. Moving from one position to another is much more of an effort than it used to be, as well. In all, it felt like an entirely different workout.
Which isn't a complaint at all, just an observation. And not at all that surprising when you think about it.
On the way home from yoga, I stopped in to drop off a deposit cheque with Regan, the Birthing from Within instructor, to hold our spot in the upcoming class. She told me it was synchronicity that I'd dropped in right then, as she had just gotten a call from the woman who organizes the Welcome Wagon Baby Shower. Regan had been asked to do a little yoga-for-pregnant-women demo at the show, and had agreed to do so, but felt it might come across as condescending for a non-pregnant "skinny" woman to get up on stage and tell a bunch of pregnant-bellied women how to move their bodies. She asked if I would be willing to come along and be her guinea pig. "Do you have a visible belly yet?" she asked (under my jacket it still doesn't really show). She was pleased with what was under my jacket! Once she told me that the demo would be short and low-key - ie, she would move my body and correct me if needed - I agreed that I would take part. She warned me that it might be a bit overwhelming, as there are usually 100-150 people there, but for five minutes I can handle it (plus I don't need to talk, just follow orders). Kind of exciting.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Here is a list of the things I have bought/done in the past three days.
Stuff I've bought:
- Assortment of storage containers/baskets for organizing closets
- Storage bag for Christmas wreath
- Cosmetic bag to hold all my mani-pedi supplies instead of them spilling all over the bathroom drawers
- Seagrass baskets for our coffee table
- Basket to hold our cloth napkins on the dining room table (because paper napkins are evil to the environment)
- Large bulletin board to hold all our photos so our fridge is no longer covered in them
- New smoke detector for upstairs
- Hanging closet organizer for front hall closet
- Placemats for dining room table
- Large storage bins for garage organization
- Blinds for kitchen windows, which have been naked for over 8 months
Still to buy:
- More cloth napkins
- New toilet (which has now been picked out and is cheaper than I'd thought, so yay)
- Flooring for upstairs bathroom
We've already organized the pantry, hutch, and kitchen cupboards, and soon we'll be doing the linen closet, front hall closet, and laundry room storage as well as the storage under the bathroom sinks (since neither bathroom has a medicine cabinet). In the midst of all our shopping and organizing and list-writing, Chris asked if this was possibly my nesting instinct kicking in. I had to laugh because throughout, I'd never even considered the possibility. In fact, I've had a few thoughts lately about nesting, usually something like, "Boy, I guess in a few months I'll be having that nesting thing! Won't that be crazy! Ha ha!"
Saturday, January 5, 2008
Pregnancy Snapshot: 23 weeks pregnant
- Will start gaining about 6 ounces per week
- Eyebrows and eyelashes are forming
- Lips are becoming distinct (the better to receive a million Mommy-kisses)
- The bones of the middle ear begin to form
- The pigment that colours the baby's skin is being deposited (by whom?)
- Body is becoming more proportioned
- Eyes are formed, though the iris lacks pigmentation
The baby is about 12 inches long and weighs about a pound. (A pound! OMG!)
Symptoms to expect:
- Mood swings (hmm, a bit)
- Anxiety (YES, and it sucks)
- Indigestion, heartburn (have had these a few times over Christmas, but not lately)
- Frequent urination (not as bad as first trimester - haven't had to wake up to pee in many weeks)
- Leg cramps (nope)
- Itchy and dry skin (no more than usual)
- Movement in abdomen (um, YES)
- Braxton Hicks contractions may appear (not yet!)
- Uterus is about 1.5 inches above the belly button (it sure is, and it trips me right out)
- Total weight gain by this time should be about 15 pounds (HAHAHAHAHAHA- May feel clumsy since centre of gravity has shifted (sometimes takes 2 tries to get out of bed or off the couch)
Additional Symptoms I'm Having:
- Incredible shortness of breath. I wonder how choir will go this month?
- Sinuses are OUT OF CONTROL. This means that my nose is runny all the time, and that I snore/have apnea when I sleep. FUN!
- Breasts have entered a new phase of soreness. And my nipples are gigantic.
- My right hip hurts so much. All the time. Sometimes I want to weep in frustration.
- Weird patches of acne and/or dry skin appearing on my shoulders and elbows.
It's amazing how time flies. I know it's cliche, but it seems that I just get myself mentally adjusted to being, say, 18 weeks pregnant, and then all of a sudden I'm 19 weeks pregnant. I just get used to the fact that the baby is an entire 6 inches long, and suddenly it's 8 inches (that seems HUGE to me!). I was reading one of my many pregnancy/birth books last night and it mentioned a symptom (pre-eclampsia) that can happen "in the latter half of the pregnancy". I sort of skimmed past it, thinking, "Oh, that doesn't apply to me," until I realized that I am actually in the latter half of pregnancy! How did that happen? This is very similar to the way I still want to answer "seventeen" when someone asks me how old I am (seriously, that is my gut response).
I have only 5 weeks left of the second trimester, but I have to admit I'm feeling pretty optimistic about the third trimester. I haven't had a migraine in over 2 months. I stopped taking Diclectin on January 1st (just to see if I could) and have suffered no adverse effects. I know I will be tired in the third trimester, but from what I'm told it's a different kind of tired from that of the first trimester. I feel confident that I can handle it. Hopefully these are not Famous Last Words.
Friday, January 4, 2008
I am feeling the movements all the time now. The baby is most active in the evenings (9pm to 11pm) and right after I eat, but there is activity in there nearly constantly. It doesn't hurt or feel like s/he's practicing karate or the can-can as some other moms have reported (though that may change as the third trimester approaches).
Chris has felt the movements a couple of times now - the first time was on Christmas Eve - and last night he was able to see them as well. We were lying in bed and he had his face right near my belly, talking away to his child. S/he really reacts to the sound of Chris's voice, which makes both of us really proud and excited. It's amazing how fascinated we can be with tiny movements in my belly - imagine how absorbed we are going to be when the actual person emerges?
I am still happy to have people touch my belly, stare at it, or acknowledge its size and appearance. I have not yet become jaded towards this, though I admit I've had no unwanted attention from strangers. In some ways, in fact, I feel like a pregnancy ambassador. On Christmas Day, we had dinner at Chris's mom's place, and good family friends whom I've met several times were there as well. After dinner, I was lying on the couch relaxing (and recovering) and asked the daughters - who are 19 and 23 years of age - if they wanted to feel some kicks, or if they thought that was gross. They were thrilled and jumped at the chance, laying their hands on my belly and patiently waiting until they felt something. It was very cool.
I have also noticed that when I see people I haven't seen in a while - such as these family friends, or those I saw when visiting in PR - the first thing they do is check out my belly. I seem to have entirely skipped the stage of my life when men would talk not to my face, but to my breasts, so it is amusing that now both men and women glance quickly at my face to say hello, then direct their eyes right at The Belly and can't look away. If I'm within reaching distance, they usually reach out to touch it, like they're shaking hands or hugging hello, and then they pull back as if remembering that such contact is not always welcome, at which point I reassure them that I don't mind at all.
Having a magnetic belly is a lot of fun.
Thursday, January 3, 2008
Monday brings the start of all my other extra-curricular activities, as well. My two yoga classes start up again next week, and so does choir. That takes care of Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. On Tuesday, we are seeing the midwife. At the end of January, the second trimester will be over, and we will start seeing her twice a month instead of once. It feels like we are really on the downward slope of the roller coaster, and from now on things are going to go faster and faster until the birth.
Now that Christmas is behind us, I find myself filled with consumeristic frenzy. All with good purpose, of course. But prior to Christmas, I couldn't possibly go out and start shopping for the nursery, because who knew what I might get for Christmas? (Also, it seemed incredibly early to start such a task, though all the Expert Checklists say second trimester is the time to get it done.) I'm happy to report that I got very few baby-related items as Christmas presents, though my sister brought me a great many hand-me-downs that she and her boys are done with. We now have:
- Baby swing
- High chair
- Bouncy seat
- Infant carseat
- Awesome wooden cradle made by my late grandfather
- Baby bathtub
- Three boxes of baby clothes
Plus, it turns out that she will be done with the crib-that-converts-to-a-junior-bed AND the change-table-that-converts-to-a-dresser just in time for us to have them. So the only large item we have yet to deal with is the stroller/carseat combo (leaving the other carseat for our second vehicle), which my mom said she would buy us. That means all we have to get are the fun consumable things, like diapers, clothes, wipes, a mobile, and so on.
I am stupidly excited about going shopping for this stuff and about organizing the nursery. Is that normal?
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
"Well, Mr. Jones, your vasectomy is complete. You have a four percent chance of being sterile in the future."
"All I have to do is press this button, and four percent of the time, a nuclear warhead will detonate."
"Take new improved Advil! Guaranteed to work on tough headache pain about four percent of the time!"
To me, this means that the medical community just doesn't know enough about pregnancy and gestation to predict a due date with any kind of accuracy. I'm sure there is a due date - a date when my baby is ready to be born, and my body is ready to do the work of labour - but we just haven't learned enough about how to interpret the baby/body signals. And if you think about it, why should we? Why should it matter to me if the baby comes on May 5th, or May 1st, or May 10th, or May 20th? If the baby is ready to be born, and my body is ready to birth it, it doesn't matter when that happens.
(Insert ranty paragraph about women and doctors who schedule optional C-sections just for the convenience of being able to schedule things. One would suppose I am the exact opposite of them, in birth philosophy terms.)
Prehistoric women didn't know their due dates. They didn't know when they conceived. They didn't time contractions. They just obeyed their bodies. What a liberating thought.
So, why are due dates inaccurate? There's some info on it here, but the conclusion I reached myself is that due dates are based primarily on a 28-day cycle. Which is largely a myth. I don't know a single woman who has a 28-day cycle. Come to that, I don't know many who have a perfectly precise, never-varying cycle, whatever the length. But let's assume for the sake of argument that my cycle was unvarying, at only 2 days off from the "norm": 26 days instead of 28. Gestation is counted as 10 28-day cycles, or 280 days. If I had a 26-day cycle instead, that's 260 days. That's a difference of nearly three weeks. Do caregivers panic when a woman goes into labour three weeks "early"? (Yes.) Do caregivers panic when a woman is three weeks "past" her due date? (Big time yes.)
Which leads me into my next navel-gazing topic, interventions. Since starting to "try" and become pregnant - which is a full year ago now - I've been a knowledge addict. I am especially fascinated with All Things Labour, and can't resist thinking ahead to what I consider to be the greatest challenge, and hopefully greatest triumph, of my life: mind and body working together to produce a miracle. But recently, I've come across a labour-related topic about which I don't want to read any more. Inductions and epidurals.
I've read enough to know I don't want either of these things. But even in the hippiest of books, there are chapters about them. It's important to be informed, I figure, and it's good to understand that things don't always go as planned. But I find that reading about the dangers of inductions and epidurals really freaks me out, and I'm having difficulty accepting that my normally obsessively-curious mind just Doesn't Want to Know.
The way I look at it, I'm with a caregiver who is not going to do either of these things as a matter of course. She's not going to push them on me, and she will accept my wishes to avoid them. So that means if we get to the stage where either of them are truly medically necessary - not for convenience's sake, but genuinely for the health and safety of either me, the baby, or both - then the risks and dangers associated with the procedure will have to be accepted. At that point, there is no benefit to me being any more "informed" than I already am about what those risks are.
If I were with a doctor or any other caregiver that I didn't trust completely to sycnh with my values and strive to avoid these procedures - if I felt that I might be part of a bedside battle over whether I wanted/needed them, and had better have my arguing points ready - then yes, I guess reading those scary chapters might be of use, so I could memorize all the stuff the doctor might not tell me as he pushes his own agenda.
Similarly, six or seven months ago when I first started learning the facts about this stuff, the information was incredibly useful as it helped dispel many assumptions I'd had about interventions. But I've got the info now, and I am strong and firm in my goal to avoid all unnecessary interventions. I'm not saying I know everything I need to know about labour - but I am starting to believe that reading about the scary stuff may be doing more harm than good at this point.
It's just so hard for me to reconcile that with my ever-hungry mind. Who would have thought I'd reach the end of my tolerance for knowledge?
No graceful segue this time into the third topic, my dreams and desires for labour itself. It may seem strange, especially to those who have gone through it, that I am looking forward to labour. Not in a "Hooray, it's Christmas" kind of way, but more in the way I looked forward to my marathon. I want to rise to meet the challenge. I want to put myself through something incredibly difficult, and not only survive but earn the prize of a healthy baby. I want to become one with every other labouring woman around the world and across time. I want to win.
I am just starting to put these desires into words, and to work on accepting the hardest thing about labour: that in order to be "good" at labour, you have to let go of your desire to be good at labour. Over and over again I read that a huge part of labour involves losing control. Something I've never been very good at. I console myself that last time I had to deal with labour, I had no idea what was going on, but I coped with it pretty well. I did what needed to be done, despite my ignorance, pain, and fear. This gives me hope that next time around I will be even better, since I will be more informed and understanding of what's happening.
I have been learning lately about the more "spiritual" side of birth, thanks to Birthing From Within. It's amazing how the so-called "little things" can have a huge influence on labour and birth outcomes. According to this book, birth environment can be very helpful or very oppressive in labour. Birth environment includes not only the big one - where you are giving birth - but other things as well, things that my skeptic father-in-law would never buy into: room temperature and lighting, who is in the room with you, how confident or pressured you feel, what kind of sounds you are hearing from the people with you or the outside environment. If you are uncomfortable with anything that is going on, feeling exposed or unprotected or anxious or frightened, labour is likely to slow down. If this happens, the book advises checking out the likely suspects of birth environment and mental atmosphere before jumping into an intervention.
Which brings me to some news. During our visit this past week, my mother finally put it to me straight out that she wants to be at the birth (prior to now, it's just been little side-comments which are completely unanswerable). And I told her I would prefer if she came later. I told her it was important to Chris and I that we have some time with just the three of us, a brand new family getting to know one another. That what I really, really wanted was for her to come a few days later when we needed help adjusting to the new reality.
It was both terrifying and liberating to finally say these things. As of yet, I am not sure how she feels about it or what will be the consequences. She didn't really respond at the time - didn't argue, but didn't say "Okay, that sounds good," either. For the rest of the visit, she didn't bring it up. As my sister points out, she didn't make any snide comments (e.g., anytime the baby was mentioned (which was OFTEN) she could have said something like, "Well, I'm not even good enough to be at the birth, so what do I care,") which would be absolutely typical if she was pissed off, so we take that as a good sign. Then again, it wouldn't be unexpected for her to wait a while, then try another tactic and pretend she has no memory of our conversation. Who the hell knows.
Whew, thanks for letting me get that all off my chest. So much to think about these days.
And in case you're curious, the actual navel itself is still an innie. It has become both wider and shallower, but is not yet an outie. Stay tuned for further updates.