Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Day 6 - improving!

Hi everyone, it looks like things are on the upswing here. Chris is up and about and helping out again, which is very appreciated - and Gwen is gaining weight really well so we got the okay to stop feeding every 2 hours, and just feed her when she indicates she's hungry. That meant that last night she slept for 4 hours, was up for about 2 for feedings and changing, and then slept for another 4. That was awesome!

The silver lining to me being utterly without help yesterday was that I got to spend a full day being a mom. I wasn't sure if I could do it, but guess what - I did it. Sure, the dishes didn't get done (or even loaded into the dishwasher, truth be told), but I managed to take care of both Gwen and myself alone, which was a real confidence booster. Still, it's great that Chris is starting to feel like himself again so he can pick up some slack in non-baby-related areas, as well as cuddling with Gwen.

Chris scrubbed down the bathrooms today so we are all feeling a little more human and a little less like we're living in a germ-infested war zone. I was very grateful for that!

Gwen is doing really well, we spent some time outside today to help her get her days and nights straightened out. We walked around the block a few times which did both of us good.

Thanks for all the good thoughts you've been sending our way!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Norovirus update

It hit me for about 12 hours, so by 1pm on Sunday I was over the worst of it. Monday was a good day - Gwen spent lots of time sleeping and we all (Chris, Sally, Gwen, and I) ventured downstairs to eat dinner at the table like civilized people. We even played some Singstar. Last night, Gwen was up pretty much every hour to eat and fuss and poop. Chris and I finally got settled in to sleep at about 7am.

Just now, Chris woke up and bolted to the bathroom. Noro has found him and Sally too. Apparently neither of them are feeling hit quite as badly as I was, and with luck it won't last long. But the next 24 hours (at least) are going to be really hard.

At least breastfeeding is starting to go better...

Monday, April 28, 2008

How to really enjoy and appreciate Day 4 of Motherhood

Get the Norwalk virus on Day 3.

Day 4 will be a BREEZE in comparison...

In all seriousness, things are starting to come together - my milk has come in, the virus seems to have run its course (and not to have affected anyone else in the house, KNOCK ON WOOD), and my daughter gets more beautiful every day. It's amazing how I know with every fibre of my being that statements like that are entirely hormonally-driven, yet they are also TOTALLY TRUE.

We have been getting emails, facebook comments, and so on from friends and family far and wide ... we never get tired of hearing or reading the words "Congratulations, she is gorgeous, we are so proud of you!" I wish I could respond to everyone individually, but for now just know that we are grateful for your well-wishes and feel very loved.

Gwen has now met both sets of grandparents, and they are all completely in love with her. Both sets were kind enough to understand that a short visit was in order. This was especially gracious of my folks, who came all the way from Powell River to Nanaimo to spend less than an hour with their granddaughter (and their noro-contaminated daughter - don't worry, I wouldn't let them hug me).

My milk has come in and Gwen and I are working on figuring out the breastfeeding thing. It's coming along slowly but surely. Last night I got some good solid rest so I am feeling quite human today and optimistic about continuing to become more independent. Which is good because Chris wants to get back to work on Friday... fortunately I will still have help in the form of doulas and my mom for the following couple weeks.

Sorry for the disjointed nature of this post, but that's how my brain works these days! Now off to give a little someone her lunch.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Mommy checking in ....

Name: Gwendolyn Jessie Buechler
Due Date: May 5, 2008
Born on April 24, 2008 at 7:56pm
Length: 21.75 inches
Head circumference: 35cm
Weight: 8lbs 12 oz
Hair: Dark Brown and lots of it!
Eyes: Blue-Grey for now
Hours of Active Labour: about 4
Hours of Pushing: 40min

Wow, ten days early! Good thing she was early, because she's very tall and chubby.

We forgot our camera at home so all the hospital pics are on other people's cameras and we haven't gotten them yet ... but here are a couple taken today at home.

Gwen is lovely so far, she really likes being swaddled and responds really well to being talked or sung to. Sarah, we have already sung "The Great Big Moose" to her a couple of times - in fact, we sang it in labour to distract from the contractions as well!

Thanks to Sara for posting in my absence, and to all of you for your lovely congratulations and warm wishes! I'll post a real birth story when I can, but the short version is summed up with "Fuck, that was hard" and also "there's not a thing I would change." Both our doulas were there and they were incredible, Chris was absolutely amazing, the only intervention I had was laughing gas, and I just can't imagine it going any better.

Both parents in good health, but very tired. Gwen is also sleepy, so we should in theory be getting lots of rest, but we're too wired and nervous!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Gwendolyn Jessie

Sara here posting on behalf of she's a little too tired (not to mention preoccupied) to do it herself! Her beautiful baby girl was born at 7:56 this evening. I don't know the weight yet but in the words of her doting father she's "as cute as a button." Long fingers, long toes and dark hair.

She was born at Nanaimo General Hospital and the plan when I spoke to Chris was to head back home shortly. I don't have all the nitty gritties, we'll have to wait for those, but sounds like once labour picked up it went into overdrive and progressed fairly quickly.

So there you have it! Welcome to the world, Gwen!

Auntie Sara

Taking the liberty of....

I'm taking the liberty of posting on behalf of my sister here.....I know Chris mentioned in the last post that he would try to update but seeing as how I've got the latest info, I may as well do it!
Laura's contractions are currently 3 minutes apart, both doulas are at the house with Laura & Chris and they're all helping her work through the pain.
I won't know more until Baby Buechler makes her appearance as Chris said he won't be updating until then, but I'll post info here as soon as I get it.

That's all for now,

Sara (soon-to-be-Auntie)

Chris, shut up and type!

Chris here, Laura is lying beside me having "cramptractions"!
Yes we are offically in Laborland!

Not shure if it was yesterdays stretch and sweep, or the dancing around to Singstar last night that got the ball rolling. However at around one o'clock Laura felt her first cramp in a long time-
"I fogot how much these suck" she said.
Ten minets later there came a second cramp before we fell asleep.
"Hmmm, interesting." I belive were her last words.

Then at around five this morrning she awoke to stronger cramps, and the bloody show. A hot water bottle was now needed for the cramps, which were fairly regular at 10 min apart. Soon however the HWB was spurned with an "I hate this thing!" and that is is where we are now. Currently singing is the focus/copeing techniqe.
OK, I have to go...
Updates as we can.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Horoscope, April 23rd

"You may not be able to relax, for you are over-stimulated with unnecessary distractions. You struggle to stay on course, for everything you do opens doors to unexplored rooms overflowing with potential. Stay focused; the biggest opportunity may arise from doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing right now."

BP was up a titch at yesterday's nonstress test (diastolic of 98). This morning it was 93. Lillian came at 1pm and took it again - 125/80.

For those of you who are NOT Kat or Rhea or otherwise obsessive about BP, this means it's pretty much doing the same thing it has been doing - hovering around the borderline, making me and Chris feel like we're living on tenterhooks. I don't even know what a tenterhook is, mind you, but I feel like I am living on them. Lame!

Anyway, Lillian also did a stretch-and-sweep, and if you don't want to know what that is then DON'T click the link. Though this is listed as a "natural induction" technique, I'm just hoping the procedure will stimulate activity that will make it easier to handle an actual induction should one need to take place. If labour starts soon too, hey, that would be great.

For the pregnancy junkies, my cervix was a fingertip dilated, soft and mushy, and posterior but not WAY posterior (yes, that is a direct quote). Anyone want to make any predictions?

The Double Mind

I forgot to post about Patty, the awesome perinatal nurse, I met at last week's nonstress test. She said several things I never thought I'd hear from a nurse, such as:

- Do you have any questions about what's going on for you, or what the next few weeks are going to be like?
- When you're in labour, there will come a time when you are not able to respond to us [the nurses] and that's totally fine. Don't worry about taking care of us, because if you are, you're not taking care of yourself.
- When you come to the hospital, especially if you end up with an induction, you should bring your laptop and some DVDs to watch. We don't have wireless, so you can't surf the web or send email, but you could type out the email and then send someone down the street to the coffee shop and use their wireless to send it.
- Are you going to have a doula? Oh, that's great. That is really going to be helpful for you.

It turns out that this woman's particular perspective is informed by the fact that she has taken some doula certification courses, and that she is interested in becoming a midwife. So she's got a really well-rounded idea of what birth and labour are all about. We spent about 45 minutes talking about various aspects of labour and specifically the details of induction. She encouraged me to ask questions and, once she understood that she was not going to scare or overwhelm me with details, she gave me tons of really useful and fascinating information.

At one point, I confessed, "I have this fear in the back of my mind that I'll come in for a nonstress test, and something will happen, and I won't be going home without a baby." Patty told me that yes, this could happen. Perhaps my blood pressure would spike to an unreasonable limit (the example she gave was 180/110: for context, I'm hovering around 135/85 these days). Perhaps I'd start exhibiting other signs of pre-eclampsia. This would make it clear that it was crucial to get the baby out as soon as possible. Or maybe my symptoms would indicate that I needed to be more closely monitored, and they would put me on hospital bedrest to wait for labour there instead of on my couch.

I appreciated her honesty (and she went into a lot more detail than I'm sharing here). She confirmed what I had already suspected, and solidified for me the Double Mind I've had to sustain since the first high blood pressure reading almost two weeks ago.

One part of the Double Mind operates on the premise that the shit could hit the fan at any moment. Any time I see the OB, the midwife, or a perinatal nurse, I could potentially receive the news that I am having the baby that day and all other bets are off. Life-changing news could land on me at any given moment and things might start happening very, very quickly.

The other part of the Double Mind operates on the premise that all these tests and appointments are just another way to pass the time until labour starts on its own. Just keep trucking along, making plans with friends and figuring out what's for dinner tonight, and don't worry about this other stuff.

I realize that for anyone at this stage of pregnancy, any day could be Baby Day. And yet somehow, the concept of labour starting on its own, while surprising and exciting and liable to produce the same feelings of "things happening very very quickly", is vastly different to me from the thought of the wheels being set in motion by an external force, as they would be when a doctor or midwife decides an induction is imminent. Labour comes from within, and it ramps up gradually: my body is the first to know what's going on, and it's up to me to communicate that to others. The other picture turns that concept upside down, where a caregiver determines what's going to happen to my body and dictates it to me.

All this being said, I am far less terrified of induction than I was a week ago. With my blood pressure behaving and all other symptoms staying away, I don't feel it's very likely that we will go that route - and if we do, I feel okay about that. I just wanted to express the interesting "zen" concept of maintaining two opposite viewpoints at all times as I go about my day.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Checking In / Thank-you cards

For the past week or so, I've been wondering when I would reach the point where I have to blog every day in order that my small but eager audience would not assume I'm off birthin'. I've now been told that the time has come as apparently there was some obsessive blog-checking over the weekend. It will be a challenge as I have practically non-stop company between now and D-Day, but I'll do my best and I'll even try to make it interesting.

So, today's post - Thank-you card etiquette.

About a month ago, a sweet lady at church slipped me a small package which turned out to be a hand-knit baby sweater. Aww! Shortly thereafter, I picked up some thank-you cards because I read the signs and knew the gifts were going to start coming in. But I decided not to do a thank-you card for this lady right away, because I thought it would be more cool to wait until after Baby B arrives, dress her in the sweater, snap a picture, and then include that with the thank-you card.

Last week, I went to dinner with a former work colleague, Marlene, with whom I have a pretty good friendship despite the fact that she and I differ in age by about 30 years. She gave me a lovely night-light for the baby's room. I thanked her profusely at the time,and I found that when I arrived home I didn't feel the urge to write her a thank-you card.

My question is, Why? Or more specifically, what is the etiquette?

Maybe I am feeling that Sweet Church Lady deserves a thank-you card because I don't know her very well, and so am more likely to react formally to the situation. To back this theory up, both grandmothers have bought and made things for Baby B in the past few months and I don't feel obligated to send them thank-you cards. So perhaps thank-you card etiquette, at least my interpretation of it, is influenced by what kind of relationship you have with the gift-giver?

All I know is, some gift-giving situations really seem to be requiring of thank-you cards, and others don't. But I can't even define the rule that makes me feel that way. Any suggestions, eager readers?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Good News from Dr. Lurch

Dr. Lurch is getting friendlier each time I see him. This time, he even made small talk about the weather!

Anyway, he is thrilled with my blood pressure (which hasn't been over 90 in a week), my urine (which is "clear as a bell"), the baby's heartrate (153), the position of the baby (head-down, such a good girl), and my fundal measurement (38). All this means is that though my bp is/has been borderline, I have developed no other symptoms, and my bp itself is not high enough to be a danger to myself or the baby. YAY!

So, the word is to keep on keepin' on. He wants me to keep coming to see him once a week, and doing two nonstress tests at the hospital per week. The reason for this is that even though nothing has developed as of yet, it can develop really quickly and it's just a good idea to stay right on top of it, monitoring as closely as possible so that we can react quickly if anything changes.

I also wanted to ask him if my current condition affects how long he would let me go past my due date. He told me that if everything stays exactly the same, he would let me go to 41 weeks or maybe even a little past. If other symptoms develop, of course, all bets are off. But I'm glad to hear that he doesn't want to induce early based on what we're seeing now.

All good news!

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Babymoon (Wisdom from Auntie Rhea)

Last night I got to have a chat with Rhea, who is three flavours of awesome. One is that we have known each other for over 25 years. The second is that she is now a registered midwife and catches babies over in Ontario, so she is always able to give me a good perspective on my pregnancy. The third is that she's just a freakin' awesome person, the kind of friend everyone deserves to have.

So, last night Rhea was telling me all about the concept of a Babymoon. The section below is my interpretation of what she said.
When two people get married, they go on a honeymoon. The people around them respect and understand that they need some time alone together, to adjust to their new relationship and to get to know one another as husband and wife. People don't call throughout the honeymoon period to ask how the sex is, or drop by unannounced to help out!

When a baby is born, it is even more important to have that time together - a new family has been formed, a new dynamic created, and the people involved have to take time to get to know one another. Yet somehow in our society we have lost this tradition. People are excited about the baby and want to come and meet him or her. And new parents end up spending more time playing hosts than learning how to be parents.

I advise my clients to embrace the babymoon as much as possible. You knew your partner for a long time before you decided to move in together, right? Well, your baby is moving in - in fact, has already moved in - whether you like it or not. You can take the time at the beginning to get to know the baby, or you can pay for it later.

My rule is: 5 days in the bed; 5 days on the bed; and 5 days around the bed (meaning, you are not leaving the house). Those first 5 days, your only jobs as a new mom are to breastfeed, sleep, and recover from birth. It's wonderful if someone else can bring meals and then discreetly disappear so that you and your partner can just stay in bed as much as possible, spending time with the baby and adjusting to being parents.

The second 5 days, mainly you are on the bed. Maybe you're dressed, maybe you're not actually in the bed sleeping, but you're not straying too far from the bedroom, either. Mostly you're relaxing, interacting with your baby, and caring for her.

The third 5 days, you're starting to expand your cocoon to include the rest of the house, but you're still not venturing out. You still want to nap whenever the baby does, so to take advantage of that you're not straying too far from your bed.

During these 15 days, shut out the rest of the world. Change your voicemail to let callers know the important facts about the birth and the baby - change it as often as you want to. Turn off the ringers. Put a note on the door that says, "Please don't knock, we're napping" and invite guests to leave a note so that you can call them back when you're ready.

Then, on the 16th day (or so), you throw an open house.

Everyone's who's been calling and dropping by for the past two weeks gets invited to come by from 2 to 4 pm and meet your new baby. They get in with a meal, and they get out by doing a chore. Have a job jar ready so you don't have to actually ask someone to scrub your toilet, it's just the "luck of the draw".

By the time the open house day rolls around, you are confident in your roles as parents, and won't feel awkward trying to soothe or change a baby in front of half a dozen people who are all itching to pipe up with advice. You'll be aware of the baby's schedule, so you can arrange the open house to coincide with a happy awake time, and fall between feeding times, so you don't have to try to nurse in front of a crowd.
Doesn't that all sound wonderful? I think everyone deserves a babymoon!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Somethin's happenin' here...

...what it is, ain't exactly clear ...

Yesterday brought about a big change in the physical reality of being me. The big two are:

- I am breathing more easily. When I read aloud in the evenings, I can get through entire sentences without pausing to gasp for air.
- I have more energy. I can go up the whole flight of stairs without resting, or clutching desperately for the banister to haul myself up.

Furthermore, on the whole, I am just feeling healthier and less awkward. Less "trapped in the meat suit". I'm really glad for that, too, because my body and I have got a big challenge ahead of us, and it will be easier to meet if we are on good terms.

So, I don't know exactly what's causing these changes. Could be the baby's dropped even lower into my pelvis, allowing me to breathe better and have more energy. Could be the legendary "burst of energy" that signifies labour is coming soon. Or, it could simply be that having gotten more rest in the past week has had a really positive effect on my body, allowing it to replenish itself somehow.

On another note, in case you're morbidly interested, I now know how much weight I've gained in this pregnancy. Once you're under the care of an OB, such things become necessary. It's about 60 pounds. I am less shocked and hurt by this number than I thought I might be. I thought I would feel completely disgusted with myself, but I don't. I think there are several things that have helped with that:
- Although the Pregnancy Expert Websites tell you to gain only 30 pounds, I know of several Real Moms who Blog who've gained closer to 60.
- And lost it again.
- The people who have heard of my 60-pound gain - the obstetrical nurses, for example - have not responded with "Omigawd, how much?" or other expressions of dismay or disgust.
- My husband still snuggles up to me every night and lets me know that he thinks I'm beautiful and desirable.
- I know I can lose it all again. I know it will be hard, probably the hardest thing I've ever done, and I know I will never look the same as I did pre-baby. But I know I can get back to a happy, healthy weight, and I will.

Chris and I were talking about this last night, and about the importance of me having a positive relationship with my body as I go into labour. He came up with a brilliant mantra that I've repeated to myself several times since: this is not my marathon body. This is my birthing body. Like the marathon body, this body has gone through a lot of training to get ready for the big event, and I can be proud and awed and respectful of what it can accomplish, because my body is amazing and it is about a lot more than looks.

The Hospital Bag

Here I am, at just past 37 weeks, having received the brilliant advice that I should have all preparations complete before 36 weeks just in case I get put on bed rest, having had the word "induction" mentioned at least once by my caregivers and scaring the hell out of me, having both Chris and I agreeing for about a month that we suspect Baby B is going to be early, and you know what? My hospital bag is still not packed.

Take heed, all of you who still think of me as a terribly anal-retentive, Type-A person.

Now, to be fair, I have printed out and pored over several Hospital Bag Packing Lists, starting with Emily's, and I've gotten out a suitcase and set it near the bedroom door with the printed list sitting on top. So, I'm kind of prepared. Prepared-ish. Prepared-esque.

Prepared to, at any moment, become actually prepared.

The thing is, The List requires a lot of items that - while they make perfect sense to include - are currently in use. Yes, when I shower after birth I'd prefer to have all my own toiletries, toothbrush, hairbrush, and so on. But I kind of need them between now and then, too. I can't really stick them all in a suitcase and just pray that labour starts before I become ridiculously ungroomed. Same goes for things like my slippers and battery-operated massager. In fact, the only items that have actually gotten into the suitcase so far are my talisman items.

If I get to go into labour naturally, I'm sure I'll have time in the early stages to get the bag packed (and at least one of my doulas has offered her assistance and guidance in the completion of this task, should labour begin while she's here). And if induction rears its ugly head again - well, surely they would give me an hour to get packed before rushing me off to the hospital, right? (Right?)

I guess Emily and Linda might advise me otherwise. (Side note: when midwife Jenn took my BP last week and started talking induction, these two ladies and specifically the stories in these posts leapt immediately to mind - part of the reason I freaked out so much.) But in the meantime, I'm satisfying my Type-A tendencies with the fact that Baby B's bag is completely packed and ready to go; the carseat is installed; and the nursery is ready for her arrival. So even if I don't have the comfort tools I'd like to have with me during labour, Baby B will have everything she needs. Priorities.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

OB Appointment (with update: Nonstress Test)

So from now until Baby B arrives, I guess I get to be one of those women who's under the care of both a midwife and an OB. Interesting.

My OB - it still feels strange to type or say that - kind of looks like Lurch. While we were waiting at the hospital last week to meet him, Lillian warned us that he didn't have much of a bedside manner. However, I don't mind him at all. I know he's not there to placate me or hold my hand - he's there because something is a teensy bit abnormal at this stage of the pregnancy, and it's his job to minimize the consequences of that. To my eye, he's doing a great job.

So, I met Lillian at Dr. Lurch's office today to follow up on how I'm doing. I reported that I've been resting a lot and feeling a lot better for it. I don't have any of the secondary symptoms of pre-eclampsia (headaches, upper GI pain, vision disturbances), and my blood pressure is hovering right around the borderline (140/90). Dr. Lurch checked my blood pressure, urine, and the baby's heartrate, and everything is well on track. He wants me to continue what I'm doing (or more specifically, what I'm not doing), have nonstress tests twice a week, and wait for labour.

All sounds good to me!

EDIT: Another difference between obstetrical and midwifery care? I just got back from the first of the bi-weekly nonstress tests, and other than the fact that they obviously let me out of the hospital when it was done, I have no idea how it went. My blood pressure was taken twice while I was there but the results were not shared with me. Nor was the baby's heartrate, though I could hear that it sounded pretty similar to how it usually sounds, so I'm not worried. It's just different not to be included in the flow of information.

Surreal Moment:
Nurse: So, where do you work?
Me: Actually, I work for VIHA. I do data entry for Mental Health.
Nurse: Oh, so you work across the street [from the hospital]?
Me: Yep.
Nurse: And your membranes haven't ruptured?
Me: Uh, no.
Nurse: I used to know a woman who worked in Mental Health, her name was Melanie.
Me: Oh yeah.

Monday, April 14, 2008

I am not so good at bed rest

As of today, I am 37 weeks pregnant. That means I'm offically full-term and could have this baby aaaaaany time now. I keep saying that out loud in hopes she'll hear me and get the message, but so far nothing much is happening. Mind you, it would be fine with me if she decides to wait until at least one of our doulas has arrived, as well.

So, I didn't do too well on the bedrest thing this past weekend. I think part of the problem was that I was getting mixed messages from different care providers. When Lillian checked my BP on Thursday afternoon and it was still high, she had to consult with an OB about what to do next (which is how I came to be in the hospital having a non-stress test). When the OB (Dr. Mitchell) discharged me, he told me that a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the afternoon of resting with my feet up ought to be enough to keep me well. But when Lillian came by the next day to drop off a loaner BP cuff, she told me that I really ought to be getting off the couch *only* for bathroom breaks.

I figured I would split the difference. I rested all afternoon Thursday and all day on Friday and most of the day on Saturday. When my mom arrived at about 2:30 Saturday, we headed out for a couple hours of shopping.

By 6pm that evening I was feeling the difference. I felt hot and really tired and my hands and feet were very puffy and uncomfortable. I had often felt this way before, while slogging through my work day, but I didn't know that I had an option to *not* feel that way - so I tolerated it. Now I know the difference. I really do feel healthier if I spend a great deal of the day with my feet elevated - and people have even told me I look healthier.

Still, it was a little too late to try and stop the shopping train, now that my mom had arrived in town. On Saturday I bought red raspberry leaf tea and a Mother's Day gift for my mother-in-law. On Sunday, I bought a bunch of storage/organizational stuff for the nursery, a bunch of cheap summer clothes for me (since all my maternity stuff is for winter, and all my summer stuff doesn't fit, so the instant the sun finally appeared I became completely incapable of dressing appropriately), a Father's Day gift for Chris, a laundry hamper for the nursery, and a few other random items. This morning, we went to Costco and I bought a bunch of stuff to stock up the freezer and the pantry. Soon - very soon - I am going to write Chris a list of all the meals we have on hand, and abdicate all responsibility for grocery shopping and cooking. It will be very liberating.

After Costco my mom headed up-Island to catch the ferry home, and I headed home to put my feet up for the rest of the day. Now that I know what a difference the resting makes, I'm going to be more diligent about actually doing it. I figure I can get away with about an hour a day of activity (such as making some meals to freeze, or doing a load of laundry). I can't possibly expect Chris to keep up with working full-time, doing the chores he usually does, PLUS taking on anything I would be doing if I weren't sitting on my cute pregnant ass. On the other hand, I know not to overdo it, so the hour-a-day plan will help me prioritize.

PS: a link my yoga instructor sent me. It's a UBC survey aimed at women pregnant with their first babies.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


So, all throughout the third trimester I've been hearing about these Braxton-Hicks contractions, and feeling just the tiniest bit left out that I wasn't having them. I know, I know, it's totally normal to have them and it's totally normal not to have them (welcome to the beautifully contradictory world of pregnancy). When midwife Jenn was here on Wednesday, I commented that both Chris and I had a hunch that the baby was going to be a bit early, given her size - but on the other hand, I hadn't been having any uterine activity, even Braxton-Hicks, to back that theory up.

The next day as I was in the hospital for the non-stress test, I learned otherwise. A non-stress test involves being hooked up to two monitors: one to measure the baby's heartrate, and one to measure uterine activity (ie, contractions). As I lay there, midwife Lillian told me, "Oh, you're having a contraction."

"What?" I said. "I can't even feel anything!"

Lillian guided my hand to the top of my belly, which was hard and just a bit uncomfortable to touch. "Oh, that's a contraction?" I said. "I've been feeling that for weeks, but I thought it was just the baby's bum poking out at me."

"Nope, that's a little Braxton-Hicks contraction," Lillian said. I was surprised because I could only really feel the contraction in that one spot, the top of the uterus, and I thought I would feel it through the whole area. But I was also really happy, because this means my uterus is warming up for the big show. And best of all, it's doing so without even really bugging me about it! I've read of some women who have such uncomfortable Braxton-Hicks contractions that they can't even sleep, so once again I am a lucky girl.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Non-Stress Test = Actually Not Stressful

Back home again after seeing an OB. Thanks everyone for your well wishes, they are greatly appreciated! We got good news all round - bloodwork and urine are fine, blood pressure was actually lower at the hospital than it was at home, and for now the plan is just to do modified bed rest (a few hours with my feet up in the morning, same thing again in the afternoon) and monitor my bp every few days. If it continues at the current level I'll be fine for labour to start on its own, anytime Baby B gets good and ready.

Thanks again for all the hugs and positive thoughts. It has been a tense couple of days but in the end all the news we've gotten has been good. It *is* a bit of a joy to finally be off work, and it's also awesome (as many pointed out) that this is happening late enough in the pregnancy that (a) I won't be going nuts from several months' worth of bed rest and (b) Baby B is, for all intents and purposes, ready to be born, so there would be no major repercussions to her from things happening just a little early if need be.

Craziness in Lauraland

Wednesday, April 9th - 36 weeks and 2 days

4:00pm - our secondary midwife, Jenn, came by for a home visit. We chat about labour and how to identify it.

4:15pm - we talk about the results of the ultrasound, many of which are still unknown as the clinic has not forwarded them. Jenn reassures me that a 7lb 7oz baby is still entirely birthable, and that she won't grow that much between now and birth.

4:35pm - I do a pee-stick. Everything is negative. Jenn takes my blood pressure.

She makes a little "Hm" noise and a face that made me immediately uncomfortable. "What is the reading?" I asked, but she wouldn't tell me. She said it was "a little high" and that we were going to take it again in a couple of minutes.

4:40pm - Chris is out at my car, looking for the notes I'd taken on my last 3 blood pressure readings (which were done at my naturopath and the drug store). While he is gone, Jenn says the words "pre-eclampsia" and "induction". She says a lot of other things too, but I've lost my ability to process.

4:45pm - Jenn reviews my last 3 blood pressure readings, which confirm that it has been sneaking up slowly over the past 1-2 weeks. She asks Chris to call the hospital and find out how late the SAT lab is open. She takes my blood pressure again to confirm that her original reading was correct.

4:46pm - She now reveals the number to me - 140 over 100. Both times.

4:48pm - I argue that if it was pre-eclampsia, I'd have protein in my urine, and I don't. Jenn agrees, but says that she'd like to have bloodwork done just the same - if for no better reason than to establish a baseline.

4:50pm - Jenn asked me if I was done work. In fact, I believe her exact words were, "So, hopefully you're done work now, right?" I said that I wasn't, and she strongly suggested that I ought to be. She told me bedrest was very helpful for keeping blood pressure down. She then called Lillian and reported everything to her, and set up a time for Lillian to come and take my blood pressure again the next day at 2pm.

5:00pm - Chris and I head to the lab.

5:45pm - we arrive back home. We are both at loose ends. There's nothing we can really do - we won't know the results of the labwork until the next day - but carrying on with "life as normal" seems impossible. Lisa comes by for a conveniently distracting visit. Chris can't decide whether to go to class.

Somehow, the night passes.

Thursday, April 10th - 36 weeks 3 days

10:00am - I let my managers know that a medical issue has arisen, that I will be taking the afternoon off, and that I may not be back to work the following week as planned.

11:00am - I pack up my desk. I marvel at how much personal stuff I store at work and on my work hard drive. Chris brings me the jump drive from home so I can save it all.

12:00pm - I leave the office, knowing I'll be back at least once to properly re-set my voicemail once I know whether I'm coming back in a few days or a year.

12:15pm - I check the voicemail at home. When I see Lillian's name on the Caller ID, I get nervous that the labwork came back with very bad results. Instead, her voicemail says that she's got another client in early labour, and she wondered if she could come see me for the blood pressure monitoring earlier than 2pm.

12:20pm - I call Lillian back and tell her that anytime would be fine with me.

12:45pm - Lillian shows up and takes my blood pressure. It's 140 over 92. She confirms that I am not going to work anymore, and that I am definitely not going to visit Mike in Victoria next weekend. She writes a note for my work that includes the phrase "bed rest effective immediately".

12:55pm - We discuss what bed rest really means. "Should I really be in bed 24/7? Can I go get a massage? Can I do the laundry?" Lillian laughingly approves the massage but not the laundry. "Bed rest really means that all you get are bathroom breaks. Anything more than that takes you closer to being induced."

1:00pm - Lillian confirms that the bloodwork and urine sample from yesterday's trip to the lab are all fine. This means that I only have one of the two major signs of pre-eclampsia: I have high blood pressure, but no protein in the urine, which would indicate my liver and kidneys breaking down (the only cure for which is getting the baby out immediately).

1:05pm - Lillian tells me that my blood pressure is high enough that she has to consult an OB. Then the OB will make a decision as to whether a return to the lab for more bloodwork is in order, or if I should come in for a non-stress test. She heads off to the hospital with a promise to call soon and let me know the verdict.

1:15pm - I do the same mental pacing as the night before. My attention span is shot. I'm calm, but not very focussed.

1:40pm - Lillian calls and confirms that the OB wants me to come in for a non-stress test. I call Chris, who is heading home still assuming he's meeting Lillian and I for a 2pm appointment, and tell him to hurry.

1:45pm - I post this huge-ass entry which still doesn't really tell you all anything. It's a little frightening to be in limbo like this. Right now I'm working with the assumption that I'm spending the next few weeks in bed (or on the couch), with frequent trips to the lab for monitoring to ensure things are not progressing. If they do progress, we'll be inducing (not happy about that, but that's the topic for another post). If we're able to maintain my blood pressure and no protein appears in the urine, I'll be waiting for labour as I would be under normal circumstances. Just with a lot more bedrest.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Congratulations Amber and Steve!

Yay! Amber had her baby!

('Bout time, 11 days past her due date!)

Five Best Pregnancy Purchases

Every pregnancy-themed bulletin board, email list, and website is full of stuff you're supposed to buy, and people asking advice about what they really need. I'm no expert, but I'm also not making ad revenue off any of this stuff, so you can trust me when I say these are the best-spent dollars of my last 36 weeks.

Snoogle Pregnancy Pillow
One of my weekly Pregnancy Emails has a plug for the body pillows every. SINGLE. WEEK. They always fit it right into the text of their weekly update, too, as if to imply that whatever your current pregnancy state is - whether you're experiencing the nausea of the first trimester, the back and hip pain of the second trimester, or the larger girth of the third trimester, this pillow will solve it all.
Well, the thing is, they're not far off. I bought one of these beauties near the end of the first trimester, and since then it has come very close to outranking Chris as the Bedtime Item I Love Most. It has a lot of different positions and uses, but for me the main advantages are that it provides support for between my knees (which helps reduce back and hip pain), and it prevents me from sleeping on my back (because pregnant women are supposed to avoid this position).
I was thrilled to find this pillow at the local Babies R Us (with the breastfeeding pillows) for only $60. Given the months' worth of comfortable sleep it has brought me, it is well worth the cost.

I got a $50 gift card to Thyme Maternity for Christmas, and I used it promptly - taking advantages of the Boxing Day sales. I bought myself one really nice-looking outfit and three pairs of maternity underwear. The pants I bought only fit for about a month, and the shirt - although it still fits - is looking a little tired, but the underwear? They are heaven. They were about $12/apiece, so fairly pricey, but so comfortable and lovely that it feels like wearing clouds on my skin - and they don't look ridiculously unattractive. The 3 pairs I have are the first things to get worn after every laundry day - I wish I'd bought more.
I've learned recently that the biggest factor in my mood and energy level is whether I'm wearing something that fits decently, as the frustration of yanking my pants up every 15 seconds gets old really fast (why didn't anyone tell me that the loss of my waist would also mean the loss of the ability to keep my pants up?). Well-fitting underwear is crucial as well.
Not everyone is as hung up on knowing whether their baby is a boy or girl, but for us (okay, for me) it was important. But 3D/4D ultrasounds offer more than that. For us, it was a brilliant way to begin knowing our baby - seeing her face, watching her move around, understanding a little better what it is like for her "in there". It gave us a very visceral recognition of the fact that there was really a little person in there, not just a strange set of symptoms and a lot of weight gain.
We went for the second-cheapest package, at $199, which got us the following:
  • A 30-minute non-diagnostic ultrasound session
  • Recording of ultrasound session on DVD (believe me, I've watched this a couple dozen times)
  • Optional gender assessment
  • Listening to baby's heartbeat
  • 3D images on CD
  • Three printed 3D photos
  • Optional web hosting for two months (password protected)

It was awesome to send grandparents and far-flung relatives the photohosting website, which had about 60 pictures of our baby girl (including the one that very definitively proves she's a girl - I like to call that one "Baby's First Porn"). We have the pictures all on CD as well as the DVD of baby Buechler movin and groovin and doing her intra-belly thing. Great for me to watch whenever I want, great keepsake for us to show off and give her later, great memories of the session itself.

Speaking of which, due to various factors we didn't really take full advantage of the facility's amenities, but they would come in handy for many other families. Compared to the medical/diagnostic ultrasound, where Chris was forced to hold on to my ankle in order to have any physical contact with me - and where I was forced to half-sit, half-lie on the table and crane my neck and head around in order to glimpse the ultrasound screen - the 3D ultrasound facilities feature a LARGE, flat-screen TV, happily positioned opposite the bed, so Mom and Dad (and up to 10 other family and friends - it's a GIGANTIC room) can enjoy the view, comfortably and unobstructed. This underlines the core fact of 3D ultrasounds, which is that they are purely for personal enjoyment and sentimental value, not for medical and diagnostic purposes. You are a customer, paying your money to enjoy a show produced with state-of-the-art technology combined with the miraculous workings of the female body. They won't even tell you the size of the baby - the closest they come to diagnostics is showing you the heartbeat (but not telling you the rate at which it's beating) and detailing what position the baby's in.

Given the non-essential nature of these ultrasounds, and the price, not everyone will be interested. But we really enjoyed our experience and are thrilled with the results.

Pre-natal yoga sessions

I've been attending pre-natal yoga sessions with Megan Bailey since November (early second trimester). I have enjoyed them so much that they are almost crucial for my feeling of balance (mental, not physical) and connection with other pregnant women. Early in December, it was at a pre-natal yoga class that I felt the baby move for the first time.

Every week as we begin practice, Megan encourages us to get in touch with our own personal reason for our yoga practice. Mine has always been "to connect in a positive way with my body". Many's the time I have felt resentment, frustration, and disgust at what my body is doing and what it's putting me through (vomiting, exhaustion, weight gain, and so on). But for one hour every week, I vow to connect positively with my physical self, to embrace what it can do and let go of what it can't. It's extremely powerful. Because I started it early in pregnancy - before pre-natal classes started - pre-natal yoga was the first place I was encouraged to focus on my baby, to picture her inside my abdomen and use the positions to "hug" her gently, but still "leave room" for her.
Over the months, we have practiced several positions that are good for labour, such as squatting, which shortens the birth canal by 20% but which most Western women are unable to perform without a lot of practice (let's face it, we don't squat much in our daily lives).
And while we hold the poses, the moms - which is always a healthy mix of experienced moms and first-timers, and a range of those very newly pregnant to those very close to due - strike up conversations.
We share advice, stories, recent experiences, "What's up with this pain in my hip?", and a million other things. It's like a support group with stretching. It's incredibly liberating to be around other pregnant women, who understand and don't judge when it takes me way too long and produces way too much grunting to get into a position - because they're experiencing the same thing, or in the case of the newly-pregnant, they will be soon. The sharing and commisserating that happens during class is at least as valuable as the physical workout.
Megan charges $36 for a 7-class series of yoga.

If I could buy one book for every pregnant or trying-to-be-pregnant woman in the world, this would be it. Of course, it is to my great dismay that not every pregnant woman likes to read, and some in particular are quite turned off by this book and its "scary" facts. The truth ain't always pretty, sister - sorry to disillusion you.

To quote Penny Simkin's review: "[Henci Goer] analyzes and makes sense of a prodigious amount of recent obstetric research, boils it down, and summarizes its findings. And, on the basis of these findings, she makes practical recommendations for better births. Not one to pull the wool over anyone's eyes, Henci lets the reader in on her whole thinking process, providing scientific references, summaries of the articles, and logical recommendations--all in a highly readable, user-friendly format."

Now, I've learned in the past year or so that US hospitals and in particular OB-GYNs are far more intervention-happy than the average Canadian hospital, and that's good news. But I don't think that's an excuse to refuse to educate yourself on the procedures that might be suggested by your caregiver during labour and birth, and this is the best resource I've seen for doing so. Yes, the facts are scary, primarily because Henci does not give vague answers (a la our Public Health Nurse): she analyzes statistical data and points out the many places where obstetrical management claims to be helping, but is actually harming. You can't argue with statistics. You can, however, choose to ignore them - and many women (and their caregivers) do. I, on the other hand, am proud to be a Thinking Woman.

Since reading this book, I have completely reversed my stance on certain procedures - for example, fetal monitoring. I don't foresee any difficulties in having a low-intervention birth, since from all I've seen NRGH has the same goal, and I know for certain my caregiver (a midwife) does as well. But even if I don't ever have to draw on the copious amounts of knowledge I've attained from this book, I'm still really grateful to have that knowledge. sells this book for under $18.

I struggled with whether to include this item here, since ultimately I won't be able to determine its true usefulness until after I've experienced labour and birth. But I decided to go ahead and include it because even before the birth experience, the experiences of the classes themselves have affected me profoundly and helped me confront a lot of the fears surrounding birth.
I had a lot of lightbulb moments thanks to these classes. I realized I had an underlying prejudice against epidurals, or more specifically, against women who opted to get them. I realized that there is a crucial difference between interventions and unneccessary interventions, and started working on my own attitudes so that if interventions are neccessary, I will be able to accept them without judging myself. All this on top of the usual pain-coping strategies and practicing with Chris to help him help me.
I think the most important tool I got from these classes was granted by the facilitator (Regan)'s approach to questions. She invited questions at all times, but when we asked questions, she wouldn't exactly answer them. For example, when I asked "How can I know how to prepare for labour, when I don't have any idea what my particular labour will be like?" She didn't give me a pat answer, but instead validated my question ("Yeah, that's really the big question, isn't it?") and invited first me, and then the other participants, to discuss it. She would ask more questions, such as "how does it make you feel to face this unknown situation? How have you coped in the past when you have felt that way? So what can you do now to help you deal with these unknowns?" In this way she encouraged us to find the answers and solutions within ourselves.
This made me feel empowered and strong, because I know that when I am in labour I will not be struggling to remember what Regan told me to do, nor wishing that she was at hand so I could ask her another question. Instead, I have learned to look inside myself and trust my own instincts - surely an important skill that you want to impart to your group participants. "Give a man a fish, and he eats for one day. Teach a man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime."

Regan charges $130 for a 6-class series of Birthing From Within (which includes you and your support person).

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Good thing she's too young to feel bad about her weight

Average weight of baby at 36 weeks according to 5.78 pounds.
Average weight of baby at 40 weeks according to 7.63 pounds.
Weight of our actual baby according to today's ultrasound: 7.70 pounds.

4 weeks to go. Lord help me ...

Monday, April 7, 2008

36 weeks

I'm 36 weeks pregnant today. Yesterday, I turned the page on my "Pregnancy Calendar" thingee. It's the last page. If I end up overdue like Amber, I won't even have anything to look at. Unfair! There should be a whole slew of stickers for the last couple weeks (and any post-dates days) with things like "Srsly baby, so DONE now" and "Feeling Gigantic" and "Gave in and Drank Castor Oil". But I've already talked about the stickers and their poor reflection of reality.

Today I discovered that my shoes no longer fit. My ankles have been getting progressively less ankle-like over the past week or so. They're kind of square now, and it makes me sad to look at them, and I kind of wish I'd taken pictures of what they looked like when they were shaped like ankles. Now whenever I look at them the Spongebob Squarepants song comes into my head, except it's Laura!Pants! Square!Ankles!

My mom (and possibly my dad) are coming to town this weekend. I'm so excited! I haven't seen my mom since the end of February, and I haven't seen Dad since Christmas. Mom is bringing me the change table and will help me organize the nursery (thank goodness because right now it is a bit of a disaster). Plus we'll hit Costco and stock up on easy-to-cook and easy-to-freeze-and-reheat foods for the next couple months.

Tomorrow is the ultrasound to find the cause of my giant belly. I don't know if they will tell me anything at the ultrasound clinic; more likely, I'll have to wait and get the results from my midwife. I have an appointment the very next day (total coincidence, I promise) so with luck we'll know by then. I'm also looking forward to confirming that Baby B is still in the head-down position (she has been so from about 30 weeks on, and I haven't felt any dramatic movements that I could interpret as a full flip, so I'm optimistic).

Tangent: when I first got pregnant, my mother-in-law fretted and worried that the baby would be breech. Her reasoning was that Chris was breech, and Chris's dad was breech, and Chris's cousin was breech. So in her brain, Buechler babies are breech babies! I was utterly gobsmacked by the fact that she began worrying about this when the baby was the size of a kidney bean and didn't even have a head and so couldn't possibly be in a head-up position. And once I investigated further, the only theory that made sense to me or anyone else I talked to was that if there *was* any evidence that breech babies ran in families, it would probably be the *mother's* side, since perhaps all the women in a family had oddly-shaped pelvises that promoted breech positions. But even that was a stretch. At one point Karen made a little off-hand comment in an email which probably was incredibly well-intentioned and loving, but being deep in the murk of first trimester hormones, I interpreted it as hurtful and insulting. I've waited allll these months to find out what position the baby will be in for birth, and I have to admit (though I know this is petty and a little silly) that I'll be feeling quite vindicated if all is well.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


My friend Amber is overdue. She seems to be managing as best she can, from what I can tell, but she must be SO tired of being pregnant. Sure, sure, all that due date stuff is just hooey anyway, but we pregnant ladies do find ourselves susceptible to certain expectations despite this. We sign on for a certain length of time and when that time comes and goes and no baby is in evidence, I imagine it leads to frustration, disappointment, and resentment.

I can't help being reminded of that scene from Terms of Endearment of Shirley MacLaine going ballistic on the nurses when they're a few minutes late coming to give her daughter, the terminal cancer patient, her pain shot. Because all she had to do was hang on and get through until 10:00, and it's 10:00, and she made it, so give her the shot RIGHT NOW!! And all Amber (or I) had to do was suck it up and get through to 40 weeks, and it's now 41 weeks, and why should she have to tolerate this, GET THAT BABY OUT, DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME??

Where is Shirley MacLaine when you need her?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Tunnel Vision

When I first got pregnant, I was consumed with thoughts of BAAAAAAAYYYYYBEEEEEE. I daydreamed about whether it was a boy or a girl, wrote long lists of names I liked, wondered what s/he would look like, pondered my preferred methods of parenting. I spent hours browsing websites to learn what I needed to know about caring for a newborn, baby-proofing the house, purchasing a layette, and a zillion other urgent subjects.

Ironic, then, that as the widgetbaby countdown ticks over into 30-days-or-less, I am having a lot of difficulty remembering why I'm doing all this.
"All this" being the best descriptor I have for the perpetually awkward and often distinctly uncomfortable actions of getting through the day in a ridiculously gigantic and unmanoeuverable body.

I'm now consumed with the efforts of making someone - usually Chris - understand how bizarre it is to be taken over in such a way. "It's like if you had two or three broken limbs all of a sudden, and maybe the pain from them healing in their casts is not so difficult to live with, but the effect it has on the mundanities of your day is enormous, because you can't open doors or get out of a chair or brush your teeth or drive your car and every second of every single day you are reminded of how awkward and not-yourself you feel, and because you just can't get out of your body for even one moment, it's always on your mind." That was my description of last night, and I'm standing (well, sprawling in my office chair) by it.

Yes, it's always on my mind. But what's sad and a little bit ironic is that it's the all-consuming not-quite-right-ness of pregnancy that's on my mind 24/7, not the tiny being who rightly deserves all my conscious thoughts.

Oh yeah. There is a reason I'm doing this. And she'll be here soon, and she'll be so completely worth it.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Getting Ready

I have faxed my pre-admission form to Hospital Admitting.

I am now seeing my midwife once a week for checking-in and monitoring. My blood pressure is up a smidge, but isn't anything to worry about unless it continues to rise or protein shows up in my urine.

The baby's hospital bag is packed. The parents' bags are not so much packed, but there has been some progress made (which is to say there's a suitcase with about half-a-dozen items and a big list sitting by my bedroom door).

I bought a baby book.

I have also bought thank-you cards, the better to keep up with the influx of gifts which seems to be starting.

Speaking of gifts, so help me, dear friends, I registered at Babies R Us (I was *asked* to, it was not my idea, but hot damn it was fun).

I have only a few more weeks of work (and oh, I am SO ready for that to be over, because hauling this giant body around is just getting less and less rewarding) (Also? It's really hard to find clothes that fit and that are even vaguely suitable for public viewing).

I finished my final read of "The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth". I have been addicted to that book, but I promise I'm going to stop reading it now. (I may still whip it out at opportune moments to quote statistics at you, though.)

One more pre-natal class to go (Breastfeeding) and then The Authorities will consider us as knowledgeable as They can possibly make us.

My body is doing weird things. Things I don't entirely want to share with you. But I will tell you that there is no non-pregnancy-related reason for them, and yet they are not things that have happened at any prior point in my pregnancy. My only theory is that my body is starting to get ready for labour, though this could be entirely wishful thinking.

The experty websites are right. It does feel like there's a watermelon between my legs.

Things are ticking along.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Mommy Myth

A few nights ago Chris and I sat down to watch a rented DVD, Chris Rock’s Bigger and Blacker. Let me preface this by saying that both of us have a pretty great sense of humour, and really enjoy stand-up comedy. But about 20 minutes into Rock’s act, we were looking at each other with expressions of shock and horror, wondering how on earth anyone could find his misogynist rantings funny.

Rock starts off talking about school shootings, presumably in reference to the Columbine incident which happened shortly before his show. After making a ‘joke’ about the inappropriateness of integrated classrooms, which is too disgusting to even repeat here, Rock takes his own stand on who’s to blame: the parents.

“Everybody’s mad at the kids for shootin’ up the school … what about the parents? The parents need to go to jail for some of this destructive shit, man.”

It’s an interesting theory, if not exactly original. But seconds later, it’s clear who Rock really has in his sights. The word “parents” doesn’t come up again. No, there’s really only one parent to blame here.

“Everybody knows that crazy-ass kid who never had a chance … ‘if you knew his momma, you know he’s gonna be in jail.’”

The audience goes wild with applause and laughter. Apparently, they do all know some crazy-ass kid who never had a chance. Rock goes on to describe what such a neglectful momma is like.

“I met this woman in a club at 2:00 in the morning on a Wednesday, she had two kids at home. Well you got to get the fuck out! Bye, bye, bye! Go home and take care of them kids before they rob me in ten years!”

A pretty clear indictment, that. Momma’s one night out = kids turning into thugs and thieves in 10 years. I’d always thought turning to a life of crime was a result of many complicated and inter-related factors, but Rock simplifies it admirably: It’s Momma’s fault! Has anyone told the FBI?

“I got a little cousin got left back in the first grade. Left back in the first grade cause his momma out getting her groove on. You know how dumb you got to be to get left back in the first grade? ‘What’s four plus four?’ ‘Jello’. That ain’t his fault, that’s the momma’s fault. That’s right, that’s the mamma’s motherfuckin’ fault. I tried to tell my cousin, ‘Tina, talk to your fuckin’ kid. Teach him some shit. You know, if you said more words to him than ‘Momma be back,’ he might know something.’”

Note again that Daddy holds none of the blame for Junior being held back. Blame is squarely on Momma’s shoulders. But Rock isn’t done yet – he decides to bring Daddy back into the picture as he sums up family life.

“The kid can’t read, that’s Momma’s fault. That’s Momma’s fuckin’ fault. Now, if the kid can’t read cause ain’t no lights in the house, that’s Daddy’s fault.”

Oh, I see! That’s why it’s not Daddy’s job to help Junior with his homework, or take care of him while Momma goes out, or even make sure he attends school. Because Daddy is busy paying the electric bill. Well, that’s important, right? Of course it is. And Daddy couldn’t possibly be expected to contribute to the household in any way other than monetarily!

Rock then explains to us viewers why it’s just SO unfair to be Daddy.

“Nobody give a fuck about Daddy. Nobody appreciates Daddy. Now Momma’s got the toughest job, I ain’t gonna front, but at least Momma is appreciated. Because every time Momma does something right, she gets a compliment. Because women need the compliments. Women need food, water, and compliments.”

Thank God Rock ain’t gonna front. Now, I’m not quite a momma yet, but I do know that the work I do around the house doesn’t earn me any compliments. I can’t see baby Buechler thanking me for feeding and changing her umpteen times a day, and I don’t think Chris is going to comment on it either. Those of you who have kids, tell me – is this the unmitigated bullshit I think it is? Do you all get a full harvest of compliments daily for everything you do for your husbands, kids, and household?

Now let me tell you what I really think. Chris Rock, in addition to being full of significantly unfunny bullshit, is just one more sucker buying into the Mommy Myth. I’m currently reading the book of the same name, and it is quite enlightening (if not a bit depressing or enraging).

“From the moment we get up until the moment we collapse in bed at night, the media are out there, calling to us, yelling, “Hey you! Yeah, you! Are you really raising your kids right?” Whether it’s the cover of Redbook or Parents demanding “Are You a Sensitive Mother?” “Is Your Child Eating Enough?” “Is Your Baby Normal?”, the nightly news warning us about missing children, a movie trailer hyping a film about a cross-dressing dad who’s way more fun than his careerist wife (Mrs. Doubtfire), or Dr. Laura telling some poor mother who works four hours a week that she’s neglectful, the siren song blending seduction and accusation is there all the time.”

The myth says that we must be perfect. The myth says that no one else can do what we do. The myth says that we can “have it all” by going out to work and raising kids at the same time (and that this should be easy). The myth says that if we do go out to work, we’re subjecting our kids to all kinds of terrifying dangers be letting someone else “raise” them. The myth says that Stay-at-Home Moms and Working Moms are constantly at war. Yes, that’s right – those “Mommy Wars” you hear about all the time are purely the invention of the media.

“Like increasing numbers of women, we are fed up with the myth – shamelessly hawked by the media – that motherhood is eternally fulfilling and rewarding, that it is always the best and most important thing you do, that there is only a narrowly prescribed way to do it right, and that if you don’t love each and every second of it there’s something really wrong with you. We are cowed by that most tyrannical of our cultural icons, Perfect Mom. “

In the typical fear-mongering fashion, the media keeps us constantly second-guessing ourselves. One example of this was the glut of media attention devoted to missing children in the 1980s.

“These cases were, of course, horrific, and not to be trivialized. But the media exploited them and they universalized them, to draw in viewers. Wildly exaggerated figures – that as many as two million kids disappeared each year that that five thousand a year were abducted and killed – circulated in the media. Revised figures in 1988 suggested that, in fact, somewhere between two and three hundred kids nationally were abducted by strangers for any length of time, and of those, somewhere between 43 and 147 died as a result. A small number of tragic cases became a blanket of terror thrown over us all.”

Yes, 147 is still way too high a number, especially if one of those number happens to be your child. But where are the support systems to help parents realistically deal with the (relatively small) threat? Nowhere to be found, because we are too busy terrifying mothers with the implication that they must be ever-vigilant in protecting their vulnerable children, or else.

“We are urged to be fun-loving, spontaneous, and relaxed, yet, at the same time, scared out of our minds that our kids could be killed at any moment. It is no longer okay, as it was even during the heyday of June Cleaver, to let (or make) your kids walk to school, tell them to stop bugging you and go outside and play, or, God forbid, serve them something like Tang, once the preferred beverage of the astronauts, for breakfast.“

Over and over, the media underline the fact that this fear, this crushing responsibility, rests solely on the mother. Dad does help, these days, but the shares are still nowhere near equal and after all, would you trust this “most important job in the world” to anyone other than yourself?

“A dad who knows the name of his kids’ pediatrician and reads them stories at night is still regarded as a saint; a mother who doesn’t is a sinner.”

Nannies, babysitters or daycares are not solutions, but in fact part of the problem, as you just never know who you’re trusting with the life and well-being of your child.

“This book is about the rise in the media of what we are calling the “new momism”: the insistence that no woman is truly complete or fulfilled unless she has kids, that women remain the best primary caretakers of children, and that to be a remotely decent mother, a woman has to devote her entire physical, psychological, emotional, and intellectual being, 24/7, to her children."

Mothers of our time, in our society, are deprived of the traditional support systems such as extended family, who in many other cultures would be on-hand to help raise the children. Instead of family members, we have the media: women’s and parenting magazines, news stories, a barrage of child development experts who bombard us with conflicting information and teach us one thing without fail: no matter what we do, it will never be good enough. And it’s probably causing long-term damage to our children.

“With intensive mothering, everyone watches us, we watch ourselves and other mothers, and we watch ourselves watching ourselves. How many of you know someone who swatted her child on the behind in a supermarket because he was, say, opening a pack of razor blades, only to be accosted by someone she never met who threatened to put her up on child-abuse charges?”

At the other blog I contribute to, a group mom-blog, someone decided the following quote would be appropriate for our sidebar: “The goodness of home is not dependent on wealth, or spaciousness, or beauty, or luxury. Everything depends on the Mother.” Where some might see the beatification of a mother’s role, the ‘compliment’ that Chris Rock insists we women need, I see the crushing pressure placed on us as mothers, the myth we buy into when we accept the premise that we are the be-all and end-all of our children’s lives. It’s not the kind of motherhood I want to experience, and not the kind my daughter deserves to see modeled. I believe we can do better, but not until we see the myth for what it is – the same bullshit Chris Rock is selling – and reject it wholeheartedly.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


When I was a kid, I had this book called (something like) 500 Hints for Kids. It was so incredibly useful. It had information on just about every subject you can imagine, and some of the things I learned from that book are still in use today. For example, remembering the correct spelling of "cemetery" by picturing the 3 Es lined up like gravestones. And the correct way to hold and use chopsticks. And the "one divides, the other decides" rule for when you and your sibling are trying to split a piece of cake or whatever. I guess it was my first self-help book. It was full of little cartoons and dry humour. I loved it.

The other thing that keeps popping into my mind lately is the record (yes! record!) we used to have of Free to Be ... You and Me. Did anyone else have this? If 500 Hints was my first self-help book, this was my first exposure to feminism and gender equality. There were songs about how it's okay for a boy to have a doll and it's okay for a girl to be an athlete. Controversial stuff in the early 70s, I guess. I'm sure I didn't realize that the songs and stories were supposed to have "messages", back then, but now that I look back I'm really glad I was exposed to that. And naturally, I want my daughter to get the same messages.

In a fit of nostalgia and whimsy, I've just ordered both these items from Amazon. I'm really curious as to how they will stand the test of time. Could be that baby girl Buechler will find both of them to be hopelessly outdated and useless, but if all else fails they will tickle me immensely.

I've already got the "Free to Be" song stuck in my head!!


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