Monday, February 25, 2008

Some more random bits

I spent most of last week telling people I had ten weeks to go. My yoga instructor, my parents-in-law, my mom, my Birthing From Within mentor, my co-workers, etc. "Ten weeks to go, ten weeks to go, ten weeks to go." Then on Sunday I opened my iGoogle page - which has my adorable little widgetbaby on it - and saw this: "9 weeks and 6 days to go". I freaked right the hell out. Ten weeks seems entirely manageable, but I was not ready to see that shift to single digits. Hyperventilation ensued.

(Note: and now I've sat on this post for nearly a week, so I'm about to experience the weekly freakout when the widgetbaby shifts to "8 weeks to go". I rock!)

I don't know why these numbers make me so nervous, when in fact I am ridiculously excited about baby's arrival. Maybe it's the black-and-white of it? My most common pregnancy dream so far seems to revolve around the theme of me skipping that countdown altogether: either the baby is born and I miss it completely, or the baby is born and I forget to tell anyone about it. Like, my sister calls to see how I'm doing and I tell her I'm fine, the baby slept really well last night, oh shit, I didn't tell you the baby was born, did I? Pretty realistic, huh.


Random advice received recently: prepare your nipples for breastfeeding by rubbing a wet facecloth on them. Sounds painful. Which is probably why I need to prepare. Two young moms were over at my house the other night, swapping stories and giving me advice. One said pumping hurt way more than nursing, the other said it was the other way around. Either way, the girls are in for a rough time.


At last week's midwife appointment we learned that the baby is now head-down. This makes me really happy, but on the other hand, if she'd still been head-up the midwife would have reassured me that she still had lots of time to flip. So, just because she was head-down last week doesn't mean that she'll stay that way, right? When do babies get too big to somersault around, and pick a birthing position once and for all?

By the way, one of the ways the midwife determined the baby's position for sure was by using a pinard, which was really cool and made me think of Rhea. See, when listening for the baby's heartbeat via Doppler, you can get echoes and so you can't be sure how baby is positioned. With the low-tech pinard, however, you can't hear the heartbeat unless you are directly over baby's heart. Voila, you can pinpoint exactly where baby is situated! So cool! Also, the midwife guided my hands to just above my pelvic bone so I could feel my daughter's head. That was pretty much the coolest thing ever. Chris was too squicked out to try, though.


I was asked recently if my pregnancy had been normal thus far. I hadn't thought about it in those terms, but yes, it has - and that makes me really happy. No blood pressure issues, no placenta problems, no gestational diabetes or abnormal test results. All the unfun stuff I went through (and still go through) - vomiting, soreness, fatigue, moodiness, bizarre appetite - is still unfun, but it's also completely, blissfully normal. There's no reason to believe the next few weeks, and the labour and birth, will vary from this. This makes me feel really good!



Pregnancy is funny. Things you took for granted before, little niceties, suddenly become impossible. I said to Chris last night, "Honey, love of my life, prince among men," (he always knows I am building up to asking for a favour, I am not subtle). "There's something I'd really like you to do for me. It's the sort of thing I would normally do myself, but this gigantic and wonderful belly of mine just makes it impossible. I feel sort of awkward about it, but it really needs to be done..." I think he was getting nervous about what this task might be! I guess I paved the way pretty well because when I finally got to the point (Can you please remove the toenail polish from last December's pedicure) he was relieved enough to agree. One can only imagine the sort of intimate, personal task he was dreading me to ask ...


My mom came to town for a business meeting and spent the night at our place. Our pre-natal class for that night ended up being cancelled, so we went shopping - no big surprise, my mom loves to shop and I love to shop for my baby! We spent another $200 on baby/nursery stuff, half of which my mom paid for. We bought some adorable clothes, but more importantly a bunch of important layette stuff - diaper rash ointment, lotion, talcum powder, baby facecloths, a couple soothers, and so on. Even bought a package of newborn-sized disposable diapers in case we are too knackered to deal with cloth diapers right off the bat. (Many people have given me that advice.)

Purely by virtue of having to figure it out, for the first time in my life I am starting to understand baby clothing sizes. My mom pointed out that they are sized by months (ie, 0-3 months is newborn size) but in actuality they are all about the weight of the baby (in this case, newborn size is 5-10 pounds). So she cautioned me against buying stackloads of stuff in newborn sizes, since it's likely Baby B will be on the large side, and thus will only fit newborn clothing for a very brief time. Any outfits I find too adorable to resist, therefore, should be purchased in the 3-6 month size, so there's a fighting chance she'll get to wear them more than once. Very wise advice!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Dear Gestating Baby - 30 weeks

Oh, my dear baby girl. How did this happen? There are only 10 weeks left until we meet. Ten weeks! I can't believe it. Although the days sometimes stretched on for what seemed like weeks, the months of this pregnancy have gone by SO fast. They tell me that's what motherhood will be like.

You have been kicking and moving a lot lately. Well, to be more specific, your kicks and punches are getting a lot stronger. In fact, as I typed that you just kicked me again, up under my ribs (I think you're currently in the head-down position, which makes me really happy, but I try to remember that you could still change position in the next few weeks). Gone are the days when I had to be absolutely still and silent in order to feel your little swooshy movements. Now it's more like an insistent demand, no matter where I am or what I am doing, that I pay ATTENTION! RIGHT NOW! I think motherhood will be like that a lot, too.

The other night at our Birthing From Within class your dad and I were asked about what qualities we wanted you to inherit from each of us. I said I wanted you to inherit your dad's patience and my ability to focus and finish what I start. Your dad said he wanted you to inherit his empathy and my memory. If you get all those things, you will be a wonderful, amazing person. Actually, I think you will be a wonderful, amazing person no matter what, but I might be just a wee bit biased.

We have started the process of getting our home ready for you, and specifically getting your room ready. Yesterday your dad moved the cradle into our room to see how it fit and if we needed to rearrange any furniture. It was certainly quite an awakening to see that cradle next to our bed. As poignant as the image is, I don't know for certain if that's where the cradle will stay. The real advantage to it, the bonus of being able to reach in, pick you up, and bring you into our bed for midnight feedings without getting up or even reaching a state of full wakefulness, may be unattainable as the sides of the cradle are quite a lot higher than our bed. Plus, I can't imagine feeding you next to your dad without waking him up, though perhaps sleep deprivation will change him from the light sleeper he currently is. So many things are still up in the air, and though I try to plan and prepare, I know I can't fully know how things will be until you are actually here with us.

Lately there's been a definite shift in our thinking, as we start to realize that this pregnancy is going to end, and that you are going to arrive. Instead of preparing for labour and birth, we are preparing for your presence, the post-partum period where we adjust to being parents and try to figure out how to share our homes, our lives, and our depleted energies with a new little person. The time when we'll figure out how to be a family. It's a little bit scary to think about, but at the same time so exciting. Since I saw your sweet little face on the ultrasound last week, I am more eager and impatient than ever to meet you for real. It can be frustrating, the fact that you are inside me and with me all the time and yet I can't touch you or kiss you. I am so excited about your birth, about tickling your tiny toes and smelling your sweet skin.

See you in 10 weeks, little wonder.


Taming Tigers (sorry, very long)

Our Birthing From Within class on Wednesday was (in part) about taming tigers. "Tigers" is their term for the fears that may become obstacles in our birth experience. The analogy is: imagine a prehistoric woman, Lucy, who is pregnant. She has no clocks or calendars; instead, she has the phases of the moon and the changing of the seasons. One day something changes in her body. She is leaking. What might she do?

Chris answered that she might go to a haven, a safe place she might have arranged previously, to be alone and protected from predators. (This is something that most mammals do, so it makes sense.) So Lucy's in her cave. Her body is contracting rhythmically. And suddenly she thinks she sees a tiger pass by the entrance to the cave.

How does she react?

My answer was that she would tense up, perhaps even enough to stop her contractions. Adrenaline would come into play and interfere with oxytocin, the hormone that makes the uterus contract. Instead of her body's processes concentrating on making the uterus contract, the resources would be re-directed to the "fight or flight" reflex.

Of course, Lucy wouldn't know any of this. She would just know that she was afraid - for herself, and more specifically, for her child.

There were many points about this exercise that I found fascinating. The fact that imagined tigers have just as strong a physiological effect on us as actual tigers, for example. It's true: you know that feeling you get when you are sure someone's walking behind you or staring at you? The hairs on the back of your neck stand up, your stomach clenches, your palms sweat, your breathing becomes shallow - you turn around, and there's no one there. But your body reacted as if there were. If our brains give the signals for fear and adrenaline, it doesn't matter if there is a basis for that fear or not - the physiological responses will happen. And in terms of birth, those responses can stop labour.

So, the teacher guided us through a long visualization exercise in which we were to confront and tame one of our tigers. I chose forceps. (I have a few labour-related fears - caesarean birth and forceps are at the top of the list.) I am sad to say that in class, I didn't make much progress with taming my tiger. I couldn't think of any resources or coping mechanisms that would help me accept that the first thing my daughter would feel, her first sensation from this world, would be not gentle caring hands but the cold unyielding pressure of metal. On her tiny, perfect, soft head. It was just too cruel to imagine.

The teacher invited me to spend some further time on it, to work through it some more on my own or with Chris. She told us that "taming one tiger often tames them all" and that the effort would be really worthwhile. As a way to start doing that work, she asked me about a time in my past when something happened that I was unhappy about. "You don't have to share that experience with us, but just reflect on it for a moment. What helped you cope, when that happened? What actions did you take to try and deal with it?" Of course, the thing that leaped to mind was the miscarriage, and my answers were that I talked to people around me (Chris, Sara, and close friends), I journalled a lot, and mostly the passage of time helped me deal with it. She asked me to think about how I could use those things to help me deal with an unwanted tiger at my birth.

Last night at yoga, I think I reached some answers, or at least got very close. The result for me has been that I can now vividly visualize a forceps birth without feeling fear or anxiety - just peace and acceptance. What follows is a navel-gazing account of how I got there.

I had asked Chris to do a role-play with me, in which he would tell me that forceps were necessary for the baby to be born and I would react to this. He agreed, but we didn't even have time to do it before I had to go out to yoga. While there, I couldn't help but spend my meditative time imagining how this role-play might go, and trying to access the resources that would help me deal with an unwanted birth intervention. I imagined the following:

Chris: Honey, Lillian says that we are going to need to use forceps to get the baby out. She is stuck and in distress and can't be born without help.
Me: I feel scared. I feel like everything is going out of our control.

It was that phrase, out of control, that was the key for me. Of course, I am afraid of the birthing process being out of our [my] control. And of course, it is pretty much guaranteed that it will be out of our control. That's my true fear - that's my tiger. Any intervention I am afraid of is really a fear of not being in control of the situation.

As soon as I understood this, I instinctively and immediately let go of the desire to be in control. Being in control of the birth is not the end goal - a healthy baby is the end goal, with a side of positive birth experience. As I shared all this with Chris later, I said, "Of course we want a positive birth experience, but if our picture of what that looks like isn't matching up with the reality of how things are happening, which one of those can we affect? We can affect some aspects of reality, but ultimately, what needs to change is our picture of what a positive birth experience looks like."

(All of that, by the way, is so unlike me. Motherhood is changing me already.)

At this point in my thinking, it became much less about the specific (forceps) and much more about the general (any intervention and/or straying from the path of my ideal birth experience). Like Regan said, you tame one tiger, you tame them all. So, in real-world terms, what coping strategies can I/we use to deal with an unwanted intervention?

I view this kind of in circles. I hope I can make sense of this.

Chris: Honey, Lillian is suggesting that we [use some kind of intervention].

In the case of forceps, one reason for their use is that the mother is unable (or, for medical reasons, should not continue) to push anymore. So the first thing I would do is examine my own resources and say, "No, it's okay, I can keep pushing, let me gather my strength." Or, "Yes, it's true, I am completely out of energy, I can't possibly do anymore." I would determine whether or not I could do anything to improve the situation.

Then I would widen the circle to include my support people - Chris and our doula. What can they do, what can they suggest? If the suggested intervention is an epidural, maybe they can suggest a different position, assist with a massage to help relieve the pain, etcetera.

Then the circle widens to include Lillian. Does she have any suggestions for avoiding this intervention? Are there any alternatives?

If all these things come back "No" and the intervention is absolutely required, it is time to adjust that picture of a positive birth experience. It's time to give up control, realizing I/we have done everything we could do to affect the situation, but for whatever reason my body and/or the baby needs more help to be born. In this case, I give up my own sense of control and trust that God is in control - trade my micromanaging for peace, acceptance, and faith.

As I said, since figuring this out I can visualize the scary interventions without getting anxious or worked up. It's hard to put it all into words, but I do feel that I've made some really great strides away from my control-freak self and towards the self I need to be in order to birth successfully.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Gestational Diabetes Part III: The Results

Yesterday was our appointment with the midwife. I had emailed her late last week, full of shame and sheepishness, letting her know that I thought I had screwed up the test and would have to take it again. I didn't hear anything back from her, so I was a bit squirmy about what might happen at the appointment - lectures, berating, etcetera.

Instead, she took out my test results and told me I'd passed with a level of 4.5. She said 7 or 8 was borderline, so I really had nothing to worry about.

Chris attributes this to a lifelong addiction to chocolate. He feels I have done a spectacular job of teaching my body how to digest sugars, and even two mini Kit-Kat bars hardly cause a spike.

I am so happily stunned! No diabetes for me!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Deep Thoughts at 29 weeks

Every time I have an ultrasound, it changes in some subtle yet significant way my feelings towards the baby. For example - after the miscarriage last spring Chris bought me a butterfly necklace from this site. It really helped me heal, but I became pretty obsessive about wearing it. Especially after I got pregnant again, I was irrationally convinced that if I took the necklace off it would somehow indicate my failure to be truly grateful for the current pregnancy, and would cause me to lose that one too. I spoke with a friend in early December about my concerns, wondering when I would feel okay about not wearing the necklace anymore. She assured me the time would come, and not to feel strange about it in the meantime. The time did come, just a few weeks later when we had the first ultrasound and heard the words "No Fetal Abnormalities". It suddenly felt okay to let go of what had happened before; not to forget, but to move on, to feel safe in the knowledge that there was no reason to believe it would happen again.

This second ultrasound also caused changes, but I don't know if I can adequately express them. All of a sudden my baby has a face, a personality - she is a real person to me now, and I am struck by the overwhelming love and responsibility I feel for her. Her little face is so trusting, so peaceful. The need to honour that trust, to protect her and teach her and give her the best life possible, is so intense. And she's not even here yet.

Chris and I talk about the baby every night now. We reminisce about how short a time it was since he could barely feel her kicks and swooshes - he is now amazed at the strength and force with which she moves and stretches! We ponder the fact that she is already so big and strong, and yet she is only a third of the size she will be at birth. We wonder about my ability to withstand the kicks and jabs as she continues to grow bigger and stronger.

We talk about parenting, too, and our hopes and goals for our daughter. We wonder who she will look like, whose nose she has, whose temperament she'll inherit. We talk about all the values we want to teach her: empathy, honesty, humour, kindness, a sense of adventure. We talk about the skills we hope she'll be interested in learning: reading, martial arts, music, creativity. And while we talk, she kicks and rolls in my belly, responding to our voices, doing her best to communicate with us.

They say that within a few weeks or months of baby's arrival, new parents become blissfully unable to remember what life was like "before". I can really understand that. Already, it seems like she is such a part of us, such an important part of our lives and of who we are as people. It feels like everything up to now has just been biding time, and real life is about to begin.

And the Actual Retail Price ...

And the Actual Retail Price is .... (envelope) ... $745!

The winner is .... our spoiled baby! And me, since I get to play with all this fun stuff. Also Nicole, since she made the only bid (and holy crap, it was a really good guess!).

By the way, the scrapbook is for this cool idea Chris and I came up with - we want to make a memory book of our lives before baby, as a gift to her. It will include lots of photos and memorabilia from our childhoods, our teen years, and our years together as a couple - wedding pictures, buying our house, etc. Every family does photo albums for when the baby's born and all the excitement that comes afterwards, but we wanted to create a souvenir of our years before that, so she will know where she came from and have a fun family history to look back on.

Monday, February 18, 2008

29 weeks pregnant

The first week of the third trimester was not nearly as dreadful as I'd feared. Thank goodness!

What’s happening with baby this week:
- Baby is gaining 6 ounces a week
- Baby is gaining weight most rapidly at this point
- Baby will continue to open and close her eyes and may be able to see silhouettes of people or objects in the right amount of light
- Baby should be moving many times throughout the day
- Movements becoming more frequent and vigorous – some may even take your breath away! (YES they sure do!)
- Baby can use its brain to control breathing – if she was born now, she could probably breathe independently
- Baby is also better at controlling body temperature
- Baby can turn her head to find the source of a bright light
- Baby continues to become more sensitive to sounds, tastes, and smells
- Eyes can move in the sockets
- Bones are fully developed, but they are still soft and pliable
- Baby’s head is in proportion with body

Symptoms to expect:
- Leaking colostrum (not so far)
- Heartburn (not really)
- Itchy skin (no)
- Shortness of breath (yes, yes, y- ... [pant, pant] ... -es!)
- Hemorrhoids (no, THANK GOD)
- Leg cramps (a bit)
- Indigestion (not really)
- Achy muscles (yes ... pout)
- Pelvic pain (no)
- Uterus is 3-4 inches above belly button (it sure is)

Additional Symptoms I'm Having:
- Occasional swollen wrists/ankles
- Sore hip continues and has gotten worse in the past week - will be trying craniosacral therapy this week to see if I can improve it
- Palms of hands are still uncomfortably warm

With all the excitement of the 3D ultrasound, we actually forgot to take a belly picture this week, but you can trust me: the belly is large and in charge. I am definitely feeling the effects: last week at our BFW class, I got up from my floor cushion only to have one of my legs cramp up at a crucial moment, which resulted in me nearly toppling back ass-over-teakettle onto the floor. Fortunately, Chris caught me in time and propped me up. A graceful gazelle, I am not.

On the whole, though, the third trimester is (so far) not nearly as scary and horrible as I'd feared. I'm starting to think the bad rep actually comes from the weeks beyond 35 or so, when I begin to truly resemble a lumbering elephant, and become unable to reach any part of my body other than my omnipresent belly. We'll see what the next few weeks bring.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Come on down ... YOU'RE the next contestant on The Price Is Right!

Well Bob, as you can see we have here the spoils of an entire day's shopping in the city by two excited parents-to-be. There's a CD & DVD set from 3D baby vision, a baby backpack from Mountain Equipment Co-op, a stack of prefold cloth diapers, and various other treasures, including some newborn-sized onesies because Mom insisted on being the first one to buy her newly-identified baby daughter something pink and adorable. While this showcase is not a complete representation of everything needed for the new arrival, it does represent a lot of fun stuff that is sure to be useful in the coming months and years.

Contestants, please make your bid on this showcase before we reveal the Actual Retail Price!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

3D ultrasound

You guys are sure smart cookies ... you are ALL correct. Baby is a girl.

And particularly beautiful, if I say so myself. (Certainly I'm not biased?)

The 3d ultrasound was a wonderful experience - lying comfortably on a bed with my husband at my side, holding my hand, both of us viewing the big-screen TV opposite the bed for a full 30 minutes of wriggling baby wonder. I would recommend this to anyone.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's post about shopping, and how I spent my entire paycheque in one day ... :-)

Friday, February 15, 2008

24 hours to go!!

In exactly 24 hours I will be lying on a table, belly covered in goo, watching my beautiful, amazing baby dancing around inside my womb. I am particularly excited as the baby's movements have become a lot stronger (and in some cases, stranger) lately and I am looking forward to seeing what position s/he is in and what movements s/he is making in order to produce those particular sensations in my abdomen.

Also, and I cannot possibly stress this enough, I am gibberingly excited over finally ditching the s/he / his/her nonsense.

So, final guesses from the audience? Boy or girl? You've all seen the belly so you can use the old "carrying high/low" legend if you want. And you know that I have an incredible craving for sweets, which according to some can mean a girl. If you have other old wives' tales you want to investigate, leave your questions in the comments and I'll update with the answers. It's like the weirdest Twenty Questions game ever.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Birthing From Within (First Class): Introspection

Last night was our first pre-natal class.

I've tried three times to write this in a structured, formatted way, but I can't do it. Bullet points will have to suffice.

- It was amazing to watch Chris open his mind to the class and let the insights happen. At the beginning both he and the other dad were very much in the category of "being a good sport", but as we got more into the exercises he started to let go of his preconceptions and just be in the moment.
- The teacher commented a lot on my "wisdom" and "insight". I don't know if I am wise and insightful so much as very, very well-read. In addition to the pregnancy/birth/labour books and websites I have read, I have probably read hundreds of birth stories by women writing in their own words, which I find touch me very deeply. I've also read blog archive after blog archive, watching the story arc from "all I want is a healthy baby" to "my healthy baby is here and I'm so happy" to "I haven't figured it out yet but I've got PPD" to "a year after Junior's birth, I just can't reconcile my feelings about it". I am fully (intellectually) cognizant that our feelings and desires for birth, even when not consciously recognized, play a huge role in how we deal with the first year postpartum. So I figure consciously facing my fears and desires about birth is a good first step, and that's why I'm there.
- The pain exercise with the ice cubes is not very difficult. I want to find something harder that Chris and I can do together. He is very good at coaching me through 60 seconds of ice cube "contractions", which gives me a lot of faith, but I know contractions are going to be a lot more difficult (for both of us).
- The birth art was not as hard as I feared, thank goodness. She gave us a topic and 30 seconds to think about it, then 2 minutes to draw our reaction to it. We didn't have to show our art to anybody or discuss it with anybody - instead, we turned our pictures face down and were invited to share "what we learned about ourselves" or what ideas or images came to us in the process, rather than examining the finished work.

Going a bit deeper, here are my insights and/or things I need to work on.

I have absolutely 100% confidence that I can get through a normal labour. There is no doubt in my mind. What scares me is when things go beyond normal. Labour isn't progressing, or the baby is stuck, or in distress. This is when the caregivers will want to use interventions. Interventions scare the hell out of me. The most terrifying ones to me are forceps, epidurals, and caesarean sections. Last night after class I talked to Chris about my conviction that I can "do" normal labour with flying colours. I talked about how in cases when labour is not progressing and a c-section is looking imminent, the caregiver will sometimes present it this way: "I can let you keep pushing for 6 more hours, and then we'll probably have to do a c-section. Or, we can do one now." Then the woman (couple) is given time to process this, to grieve the loss of the vaginal birth they had planned, to prepare themselves mentally for the new path. I like that caregivers would do that (obviously not in an emergency situation where baby is in distress). It seems sacred and important.

But I told Chris that were I in that situation, I would have a lot of difficulty giving up moving on to Plan B. I would still be stuck in "mind over matter", in "I can DO this". That I feel I will need a lot of support to recognize when we have moved beyond normal labour into a situation where my body is not responding as expected, or the baby needs something beyond what I can provide. I will probably need a firm hand at that point.

And afterwards, how will I cope with the loss of The Birth I'll Never Have? I think the key is to eliminate all doubt. For example, I don't plan to have an epidural. But if the pain goes way beyond what I'm able to cope with, if my labour goes on for a day and a half and my body needs to rest, I will have one (it was very hard to even type those words). But when I get to that point where I feel I need one, Chris and our doula have been directed to go through our [yet-to-be-created] list of pain-coping strategies, one by one, and try everything on the list just one last time before accepting that no, none of these are working, and yes, I really genuinely need that epidural. Then later when I start to doubt myself and wonder if I really could have coped without it, I can reflect that we tried everything, nothing worked, and that I did need it. Same thing for any other intervention: at any point when we are getting near to using one (either because I want/need it or the caregiver is suggesting it), we will exhaust every alternative first.

One last challenge to mention is that there is only one other couple in our class, and they have a child already. The mentor, Regan, is a birth doula and a mother. So I am the only woman in the room who hasn't done this (labour/birth) already. That can make it just a wee bit daunting to go out on a limb and (for example) give Chris feedback on his coaching me through contractions. He was concerned that he was being too repetitive, that he said "You're doing great" and varations thereof too many times. I responded that I felt it was the reassuring tone in his voice, his physical presence beside me, and the undivided attention and support he was lending, much more than the actual words he said, that would help me through labour. Then I turned to the mentor and the other mom and asked if they felt this was true, since they'd done it before. It felt just a tiny bit awkward to try and suggest to Chris what I would need or want in a situation I've never been in - especially in front of people who have been there! On the other hand, I guess I need to remember that every labour/birth is different, and that there is no Right Answer.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Consumer Lust

I can honestly say I lust droolingly over nearly every product listed on this website.

I'm going to the actual store on Saturday and planning to drop some money on this baby for the first time. It's just so hard to tell what is really going to work, though. I know a lot of the stuff (like the diaper snappies or the swaddling blankets) are just specialized gadgets to make a particular job easier - I could make do with plain old pins and receiving blankets. Then again, there are likely products there than in 2 years, I will be evangelizing to new moms that I could not live without. How am I going to figure out which ones are which? There's the adventure.

By the way, as of today I have been pregnant for 200 days. What have you done for 200 days in a row?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Gestational Diabetes Part II: The test

So, Lillian the midwife told me the following.

There's actually another way to do the gesational diabetes test, instead of the nasty glucose drink. It's called the fasting and consumption test. You fast from midnight the night before, they take your blood at 8am, then you leave and go eat your breakfast and come back two hours after you eat for another blood test, then they compare the two. Doctors like the glucose test a lot better because they are controlling everything: they know exactly what you are ingesting and when, and they keep you in the waiting room for an hour, they don't even want you to walk around and work off any of the glucose. With the fasting and consumption test, you are eating what you would normally eat, which is more accurate to your reality, instead of making you drink something you would normally never drink. The glucose drink results in a high number of false positives, too, so the other one is actually more accurate.

After asking a few more questions, I felt doing the test was the pertinent thing to do, so I agreed. After talking over my fears with Chris and getting lots of positive reassurance, I took the test on Friday. Only -- in the way that only I can do -- I think I might have screwed it up.

I didn't eat anything in the morning. I was at the hospital lab before 8am. I gave them my requisition and they took my blood. They told me I could head off, eat my breakfast, and come back two hours later for the second test. They also suggested that I go to the SAT lab instead of the hospital. I was wary of this, because usually when I go to the SAT lab I am there for upwards of 45 minutes before they even call me up to the desk (it's on a take-a-number system there). But I agreed to do so.

Went to my office, getting there right on time (so convenient to live and work right near the hospital!). Ate my breakfast of fruit and yogurt and got to work. About an hour later, the queasies hit, because of course it was 9:30am and that's prime time for the queasies. I really didn't want to throw up (who does?) so I had to eat another little something. Okay, I didn't necessarily *need* to eat a mini Kit-Kat bar, but I did, so let's move on, okay?

I ate the mini Kit-Kat bar (well, since we're being honest, I ate two of them), the queasies eventually passed without incident, and about an hour later it was time to head to the SAT lab for the second part of the test. I arrived to find the waiting room packed as always, but when I went up to the counter I told the nurse that I was here to do the second half of a glucose test. "Oh, you're on a timed collection, then?" "Umm, yeah, I guess that's what you'd call it." I was pleased that she was so receptive to my conversing with her, as the nurses there are often incredibly "talk to the hand" until you get your number and wait your requisite hour to be seen. Anyway, she started asking me questions, and took my requisition form, and confirmed that I'd fasted the night before, that I'd had my blood taken once already, that I'd eaten breakfast, and so on. Then asked me what time I figured would be two hours since breakfast. "In about 10 minutes," I told her. "Great, I'll set a timer and call you up then. Just have a seat."

I was walking back to the waiting room when she called out, "Oh, and you've been fasting since breakfast, right?"


As I was recounting this all to Chris later, he said, "So, you told her that you had eaten something in between, right?"

"No!" I wailed. "I totally lied, because I want to make everybody HAPPY by telling them what they want to hear."

(I know, I'm a wimp, it's a problem.)

Anyway, I did totally lie and tell the woman what she wanted to hear, then went into the waiting room and commenced panicking and rationalizing. I swear, I never heard Lillian *or* the lab tech this morning tell me that I had to fast in between breakfast and the second test. I thought once I had breakfast I could proceed as usual with my often-bizarre eating habits. Dammit! Oh well, there was nothing to be done about it now, the test was half-done and the wheels were in motion.
The second blood draw went without incident, and I went back to my office for the rest of the day's work (well, puttering around and surfing the net; I have a pretty boring job). I reasoned that if I failed the test, I could request to take it again (or get some other kind of confirmation); and that if I passed, well, then I'd pass with flying colours, considering the chocolate intake throwing things off. And really, what's the worst that could happen - a false positive, which would result in me being forced to eat healthfully for the next 12 weeks? Obviously, I could use a little discipline in that area!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

28 weeks pregnant

This is really it. The third trimester. Cue the ominous music.

What’s happening with baby this week:
- Baby is gaining 6 ounces a week
- Baby sleeps and wakes at regular intervals; and when sleeping, can actually dream (how cool is that!)
- Brain tissue continues to develop; brain was formerly smooth, but now develops folds and grooves
- Eyebrows and eyelashes are present
- Baby has 2-3% body fat (pretty enviable), and muscle tone is increasing
- Taste buds have developed
- Baby kicks, stretches, and moves frequently
- Hair is growing

Baby weighs two to four pounds and is 15 to 18 inches long.

Symptoms to expect:
- Due to enter the "peeing-every-ten-minutes" stage (not yet)
- Braxton Hicks contractions (not yet)
- Uterus comes up to rib cage (yes, and it can be somewhat uncomfortable, especially when I'm trying to breathe)
- Leg cramps (a couple, not too bad so far)
- Shortness of breath (yes; Chris and I have started reading parenting books together, and I can't read more than a sentence without pausing for breath)
- Varicose veins (no, knock on wood)
- Heartburn and indigestion (not really)
- Breasts may begin leaking colustrum (not so far)

Additional Symptoms I'm Having:
- Occasional swollen wrists/ankles
- Sore hip continues
- My hands are boiling hot ALL THE TIME. Really irritating!

Some quotes from the Expert Websites this week:

If you feel your baby's head pushing against your cervix, he or she is probably in the head-first position.

Well, first of all, DUH. But on second thought, not duh, because nothing ever pressed on my cervix before, so how on earth would I know what that feels like? I've been feeling the baby's movements for two solid months now and still can't tell what's a kick, what's a punch, what's a head-butt, and what's a ... well ... butt-butt. So seriously, I have no idea what's going on in there.

And this? This has got to be a typo: As you embark on the next few months, you may find that you are also looking forward to the additional sleep that will come once your baby arrives! Read that again. Additional sleep? "Additional" sleep? If there's one thing everyone knows, it's that sleep goes down the tube when a baby arrives. Please, don't tease me with this.

You're probably vacillating between two feelings: "I've been pregnant forever" and "Help, I'm not ready for this".

This is the most accurate and profound truth I have read so far about pregnancy.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Gestational Diabetes

My maternal grandmother died of diabetes when I was 11 years old. I don't remember a time when she wasn't sick. I used to spend a lot of time at her house, especially when my mom was pregnant with my sister and was on bed rest, so I have lots of memories of her. She gave herself insulin shots all the time and this was quite normalized for me. But later she got sicker and sicker and smaller and smaller, and she was hospitalized and weak and couldn't really talk or move and I didn't get to see her anymore. It was very scary to see her in her hospital bed, it wasn't the way I wanted to remember my Gran. On August 20, 1986 she passed away - that's more than 20 years ago now.

In 2004 I decided to join Team Diabetes in memory of her. I raised $5500 for diabetes research and walked a marathon in Rome. The training, the fundraising, and the walk itself were all immensely challenging, but of course these challenges are miniscule compared to what she dealt with in her daily life, managing her diabetes.

All this by way of saying that I have known the word "diabetes" for way too long, and it has a lot of scary implications for me. My uncle has diabetes as well, and as a result he can no longer walk without a walker, and he can't use his hands very effectively (can't open a can of pop or cut his meat). In the early 2000s, after a lifetime of being overweight, I worked really hard to lose fifty pounds and learn how to eat healthily. I did this not only for my vanity and self-confidence but for my health - to protect myself against the terrifying diabetes, among other things.

This week Lillian asked me if I wanted to get the gestational diabetes test done. Now, one of the very first things I asked her, ages and ages ago in my first pregnancy, was if I had to do that "nasty glucose drink" test, because I'd heard for years how dreadful it was. Being a midwife, she assured me that there were no "have-tos" and I happily banished the test from my mind, resting comfortably in the knowledge that if there were any kind of problem, it would show up in my monthly urine tests. But in discussing it with her this week, I learned several new things.

  • A problem would not necessarily show up in the urine test;

  • If gestational diabetes went undiagnosed, I would likely continue to feel well, but my baby could end up growing to gigantic proportions, making delivery difficult and possibly increasing the chances of a C-section birth;

  • If gestational diabetes were diagnosed, it would be managed with diet for the third trimester in hopes of avoiding a gigantibaby;

  • And finally, that there was a way of testing for it that didn't involve the nasty glucose drink, and would probably be more accurate than the nasty glucose drink test.

With all of those factors, and her pointing out my maternal grandmother and my age as factors that would suggest testing would be pertinent, I felt I owed it to my potentially gigantibaby to say yes. It was only that evening as I lay in bed that I realized the depth of my desire to stick my head in the sand and ignore any potential link between diabetes and my life. I was nervous about getting the test, because what if it was positive? What then?

Chris, as is his habit, said all the right things - that gestational diabetes did not mean I would get "real" diabetes, that even if I did we would manage it (his exact words were, "We would be so on that"), and that no matter what the test results were it didn't make me a bad or irresponsible person. (How did he know that's what I feared the most?) I went and did the test yesterday morning and am now somewhat anxiously awaiting the results, especially since I kind of think I screwed it up. More on that in the next post.

Farewell, Second Trimester

I realized with great surprise this morning that today is the last day of my second trimester. I can't quite believe it. Second trimester, I hardly knew ye.

Bidding the first trimester farewell and issuing in the second trimester was a time of great joy and relief. The risk of miscarriage decreases dramatically at that point, so many people (including myself) feel that they're not really pregnant until they cross that boundary. Plus, from the moment you get pregnant and people around you start asking how you feel, they also start telling you how wonderful the second trimester is. Maybe you'll even hear, like I did, about how some women would choose to be pregnant all their lives if they could just stay in that second trimester.

I don't think I would choose the second trimester of pregnancy over non-pregnancy as a long-term lifestyle choice. I miss having easy access to my feet (and my pubic hair, but I promise that's all I'm going to say about that). I miss having clothes that fit. I miss being able to sit down or get up from the couch without groaning or grunting. I miss being able to breathe deeply and sleep comfortably.

On the other hand, compared to the first trimester the second trimester was pretty awesome. There is nothing like feeling my baby move inside me, and I think I will miss that. I will miss the feeling of potentiality, the feeling that everything exciting is still ahead of me. I will miss the smiles and "How are you feeling?"s from acquaintances who usually don't acknowledge my presence. I will miss being able to eat whatever I want without guilt. And as much as it gets in my way sometimes, I will miss my sweet round belly. I've gotten quite fond of it.

Unlike transitioning from the first to the second, the change from the second to the third trimester is a bittersweet experience. Heading into the second trimester is a time of relief and optimism, as you are sure the most dreadful parts of the first trimester are now over. Heading into the third trimester, everything is unknown. Surely it won't be like the first trimester - but what will it be like? Will I get sick? Will my blood pressure skyrocket? Will the baby arrive before we're ready? Will I need bed rest? Will I have to stop work? The third trimester is the time of "All bets are off", as far as I can tell. Sure, I plan to continue working and having a social life and fulfilling all my commitments until about April 25th - but that could all change, could all be taken away, with little notice.

Still, I am not overly frightened or pessimistic. At the moment, at least, excitement still wins over fear. I acknowledge with gratitude and wistfullness the joy and specialness of the second trimester and toast its passing.

Highlights of the second trimester:
December 6: felt the baby move for the first time
December 8: belly "popped"
December 17: saw the baby on ultrasound
December 24: Chris felt the baby move
December 30: chose baby's name
January 1: off Diclectin
January 2: nesting begins
December 4 to January 10: went a whole 37 days without throwing up!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

So, we're really doing this then? Right.

Had a great appointment with the midwife yesterday. We hadn't actually seen Lillian since early December (before the ultrasound) - we had an appointment with her in January, but due to a death in the family she was out of town and we saw a backup midwife instead. So it was great to catch up with her again. Feels like so much has happened since then.

We had been collecting questions for a while, and it seemed that a few of them were about the actual labour and birth (did you guys KNOW that's what happens after pregnancy? OMG!). As she talked about the preparations to be made and the experiences we would have, I felt myself getting a bit anxious/overwhelmed. I also noticed that when I asked questions about labour, they were always in the second or third person, not the first person. Not once did I say, "When I am in labour...", I always said, "So when you're in labour ...". Which is silly because Lillian isn't going to be in labour. Even later when I pointed this out to Chris, I said, "I started to understand that this is really going to happen to us." Again, getting closer, but really? It's not going to happen to us. It's going to happen to me.

I think all of this is likely very normal. I remember Sara commenting on it late in her pregnancy with Scott, when it started to dawn on her that "Oh yeah, I have to do that *labour* thing again. Damn."

So, I am working to come to terms with this. It's odd because I have so many opposite and simultaneous feelings. We all know that I'm a control freak. Lillian mentioned that pregnancy is good preparation for birth and for life as a parent, because things are so often beyond control. I agreed but when I thought about it later, I realized that one of the feelings I often comment on to Chris is gratitude for what I still can control. For example, last Saturday on Date Night I said, "I will really miss being able to bring the baby wherever I go without any real consequences. Right now, all I have to do is eat every few hours, and I know the baby is happy, healthy, and safe. No crying, no waking me in the night, no pooping or puking, everything is very easy." I say things like this quite often. Ultimately, I am stating how glad I am that the baby and his/her care is 100% under my control.

That is all going to end. I'd better figure out how to deal with it.

Another inner conflict is "I can't wait for this pregnancy to end" and "I don't ever want this pregnancy to end". I am used to pregnancy now, it's familiar and if not packed with fun then at least it is known. Motherhood is entirely unknown and thus frightening. I feel both these sentiments equally strongly and at the exact same time.

We're now going to be seeing Lillian every two weeks, so there will be lots of opportunities to work through all my questions and for me to learn how to phrase these questions properly (ie, with me in them). Stay tuned for many more introspective and/or freaking-out posts on this subject.

Monday, February 4, 2008

27 weeks pregnant (subtitle: I AM HUGE)

What’s happening with baby this week:

- Baby is gaining 6 ounces a week

- Lungs are capable of breathing air; excellent chance of survival if born at this time

- Can suck thumb to calm his/herself

- Brain is developing rapidly

Not much seems to be happening, really, just growing and developing on the systems that are already in place. My symptoms, on the other hand ...

Symptoms to expect:

- Fatigue and Nausea, my old pals, are due to make a re-appearance this week thanks to the hormone factory (OH, JOY)

- Fatigue often caused by a combination of: shortness of breath (check), weight gain (check), and sleep deprivation (check)

- Due to enter the "peeing-every-ten-minutes" stage (not yet)

- Breast tenderness as milk production kicks in (not yet)

- Stress incontinence (another thing to look forward to! Awesome!)

- Centre of gravity is shifting; balance is different (DEFINITELY)

- Stretch marks may appear (if they have, they are under my giant belly, and thus I can't see them - so, they don't exist)

- Shortness of breath may result from uterus growing near rib cage (YES)

- Braxton Hicks contractions (not yet)

Additional Symptoms I'm Having:

- Occasional swollen wrists/ankles

- Sore hip continues

The Websites of Expertise claim that I am now entering the third trimester. I thought that would happen at the end of 27 weeks / start of 28 weeks. But it would explain the wave of nausea I felt this morning, and the increasing difficulty I am having with heaving my bulk from one place to another (into/out of car, from one side to another in bed, etc). The next 12 weeks are not going to be my favourites, that's for sure. But there are things to look forward to as well: layette shopping with Mom, setting up the nursery, getting my belly painted and my pregnancy portraits done. And, in only 12 days, I will FINALLY know the sex of the baby!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Baby Flat Head!

So I was at the Health Unit the other day, and a brochure caught my eye so I picked it up and took it home and made Chris scan it into the computer.

This is just more proof that I am way too immature to be a mom. This brochure made me laugh my ass off. Baby Flathead! Oh noes!

I'm sure that baby flathead really is something I need to be concerned about, but at this point all I can think about is Mark McKinney and his head-crushing abilities.

Gestation Video

Those of you on my LJ have seen this before, but I wanted to link it here. I love this!

9 months gestation in 20 seconds


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