Friday, April 29, 2011

musings on motherhood

Charlie had his two-month appointment yesterday! (That's a shot of us a few days earlier on Easter morning.) He's up to 23 inches and 12 pounds, just over the 50th percentile. At the one-month mark, he was lingering around the 25th percentile. Clearly, he has some serious growth aspirations. He also received a slew of vaccinations, resulting in an elevated temperature and an incredible bout of grogginess. So I've tossed him into the Ergo, put the computer on a higher surface, and returned to the blog!

It goes without saying that I've been less awesome at updating the blog since Charlie's arrival. One post? Pitiful. All the more pitiful in light of the two-month milestone. Two months! When I try to reflect on what's happened since his arrival, it's like peering into pea soup. But I have some general thoughts on motherhood that I feel compelled to share. And to help keep my frazzled mind straight, I'm going to group them into neat categories. I like things tidy.

Let's start with the positive, shall we? Things I LOVE about motherhood:
- Charlie's smell. Brad describes it as soured breastmilk, but I think it's the sweetest. Perhaps that's why I do not feel compelled to give him a bath more than once a week. Holy cow baths are a production.
- Speaking of baths, I love holding him when he's naked. Which only happens right before and after baths, given the high risk of getting a stream of pee in the eye. Maybe it reminds me of holding him right after he was born. I just love the feel of his soft skin.
- When he is crying and seems inconsolable until I hold him to my chest and he calms down immediately. I realize this is the root of that problem the mother had in the Sixth Sense where you keep your child sick so you can be their constant caretaker. No worries. I'm on the lookout for crazy.
- Getting him to smile. I discovered a little game with the pacifier which gets him to smile 50% of the time. It makes me giggle.
- Kissing his cheeks like an affectionate monster. Sometimes it makes him happy. Sometimes it makes him mad. Regardless, I am undeterred.
- Less sweet and sentimental, but I love the customer service offered by baby product companies. Our Summer Infant monitor developed a green static feature this week, which turns Charlie into a murky green ghost. I spent two minutes trying to fix the problem before calling the company. Spoke with the rep for less than five minutes before she gleefully told me they would replace the entire system. Huh? Seems companies are not eager to mess with moms.
- Dance parties. Charlie is clearly Brad's son. No matter how angry or weepy or fussy he is, if I turn up the music and dance with him, he calms down immediately. Kid loves music. Even the Glee soundtracks, which have been in heavy rotation. But that part of him is all me.

There are oodles of other things I love, but I've learned that a sleeping baby is a ticking time bomb. So I'll move on. Next! Things I don't hate, surprisingly.
- The cloth diaper regime. Breast milk poop is hella runny (it gets on the shells as well as the soaker inserts), so we do a lot of diaper laundry. Wait. Not we. Me. I do a lot of diaper laundry. At least once every 36 hours. But I don't mind doing it. In fact, it's one of the things that makes me feel marginally productive. Ditto on the many loads of baby laundry and the infrequent loads of grownup laundry. If I had more than five nursing tanks, the grownup laundry would sit for weeks. And Brad would get to see the bottom of his massive t-shirt drawer.
- Pumping. Honestly. I don't mind pumping. Granted, I only do it once or twice a day. But pumping is awesome because it promises "me time." Pumping lets me sleep an extra hour or two in the middle of the night while Brad feeds him, it lets me take baths before bed, it lets me run errands which were once a drag but are now the bomb. Solo trips to Target? It's like a spa day.
- Discovering dried spit up in my hair at the end of the day. Huge globs. It makes me laugh. I think if I discovered the globs while wet, it would be another story. But I find it thoroughly amusing that I can go an entire day without looking in a mirror long enough to see the foreign masses in my hair. Nice to have my priorities in order.
- Similarly, I don't mind wearing clothes that are covered in pee and/or spit-up. It's a miracle I manage to dress myself once each day (it's 10:30 and I'm still in my pajamas). Twice? Haha. Not gonna happen. Best to embrace it.

On the flip side, there are a couple things that I expected to love that I decidedly do not.
- Tiny clothes. Oh, how my heart swelled the first time I organized Charlie's tiny clothes. And then when we had to acquire a bunch of even tinier newborn clothes? Swoon. But that wore off quickly. It is really hard to fold tiny clothes. And there are so many snaps! I love dressing the kid, and his drawers are still relatively organized, but I am oh so tempted to adopt a system of storing his clothes in a huge pile.
- Hanging out at home all of the time. Due to the immune system limitations and the spring fail that we've been experiencing in Chicago, we spend way more time at home that I would like. Pre-baby, I loved nothing more than spending an entire Sunday indoors. I cherished sick days on the couch, championed laziness. No longer. I have had enough of this apartment. Daytime TV leaves a lot to be desired. I'm giving Charlie a couple days to kick the immunization shots side effects, and then we are going to be errand-running fools. Hooray two-month mark! Trader Joes, here we come! And we are returning to church this weekend. I cannot wait.

And now, for the things that I hate about motherhood. The things that make my head spin out of control and make me want to scream.
- Leaking boobs and breast pads. I hate both. I was shopping for a nursing dress with my sister a few weeks back, and I dared to take off my nursing tank to try on a strapless number. Big mistake. Huge. No sooner than I had the dress on did my boobs pull a Niagara Falls number. Breast milk was everywhere. On me, on Caty, on Caty's purse, on the dress. At least it made my purchasing decision easy. So the pads are a necessity, but they make me batty. When they work, they are fabulous. But the adhesive is far from reliable. And somehow my boobs shift at night. The pads will be perfectly centered when I am standing up, but when I lie down, they are always a centimeter away from the danger zone. Resulting in soaked pjs and an angry Robin. Grrr.
- Stinky armpits. Man do my armpits reek. I'll admit that I use natural deodorant, and that it's my decision to stick with it. But I offend. I should probably shower more often. But see next point.
- The dreaded damp bathrobe and wet hair. It's been two months and I'm still learning how to keep myself clean and marginally presentable. The weekends are heavenly. Brad can take Charlie and I can spend a half hour in the bathroom doting on myself. But the weekdays are a mess. I shower every other day, and even that schedule is hard to maintain. I put Charlie in the swing as soon as he nods off in the morning. (Hooray for the swing and huge thanks to Beth and Geoff for loaning it to us. Such a sanity saver.) Most days, he will sleep in the swing for well over an hour, sometimes two. But on shower days, he gives me enough time to take a quick shower and brush my teeth. And then the screaming commences. Doesn't happen every time, but more than once I've found myself rocking Charlie, begging him to fall back asleep, while wearing a wet bathrobe and a drenched towel on my head. Hour three of this ensemble makes me want to shave my head.
- Diaper leaks. People, I love cloth diapering. Truly, I do. I don't run out of diapers, I feel like I'm giving the earth a hug, and they are cute. But for the last week they have leaked every night without fail. Usually multiple times. And it makes me CRAZY. We are getting together with Meghan, Sam and Jane this afternoon, and I'm going to beg her to show me how to properly diaper my son. Perhaps I am doing something wrong. If not, we may be using disposables at night. My advance apologies to the earth.
- Congestion. Poor Charlie is horribly congested at least once a day. It always triggers a crying fit, yet somehow it takes me 30 minutes to figure out the reason for the fit. I hate you baby congestion. You make an otherwise content baby super miserable. You are lucky someone invented the snot sucker. I love the snot sucker. It's gross to watch, but damn effective. Hooray for the snot sucker. And for misting saline. So far superior to the infant saline drops.
- Tummy time. Tummy time is Charlie's least favorite activity. He hates it even more than he hates infant saline drops. He screams the entire time. He's supposed to get 20 minutes of tummy time every day. We're not even close. I just can't watch him suffer for that long. The pediatrician suggested rolling him over when he's already upset about something as he might find tummy time soothing. Trying that now. No dice. It's only making it hard for Charlie to figure out exactly why he is frantically crying.

Enough complaining. In an effort to end on a positive note, here are a few things that I thank God for on a daily basis.
- Katie & N. One of my best friends, Katie, gave birth to beautiful N three weeks after I delivered Charlie. We spend a lot of time doing new mom things in each other's company. Breastfeeding, soothing crying babies, dance partying. She is happy to talk baby anytime. I know I can text her in the middle of the night with my latest gripe, and she will listen and respond with understanding. It is so comforting to have a partner in crime for this madness of new motherhood. Not sure how I'd do it without her.
- In-unit laundry. Hallelujah.
- Brad. He is an amazing dad. He has the patience and heart of an angel. We have divided the nights into two shifts. I take care of the first changing and feeding, and he tackles the second. But once or twice a week I lose my mind in the middle of the night. I pick up Charlie to find he's leaked like a politician, drenching himself and his bedding. I make it to the changing table where he starts screaming like a banshee and doing everything in his power to make it impossible for me to put on a new diaper. While I'm nursing him he refuses to latch and when he does, he bites me. And just when he's drifting off, he spits up an unimaginable amount of curdled milk while simultaneously filling his diaper back up. And my sanity exits left. But I know I can go into the bedroom, set him down next to Brad, and take a breather. When I return, Brad is calmly soothing Charlie back to sleep. After he comforts Charlie, he turns his attention to me. Brad has yet to lose his cool. He is amazing. Lucky Charlie, lucky me.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

i need to nanny cam myself

Hi everybody! It's been a while. Apologies. But it turns out that newborns hinder regular blogging. But yesterday Katie taught me how to wear my Moby wrap properly and suddenly I have two hands! TWO HANDS! Revolutionary.

I've started to write quite a few posts and abandoned them when it came time to feed or nap or change or bounce or zone out for a precious moment. So much to say and so little time to write it down! I'm sure I'll become overwhelmed and abandon all hope if I try to catch you guys up on every fascinating detail about the last month all at once. So I'm going to share the latest and season it with tidbits about Tater's first few weeks of life. Sound good? Here goes!

First, Tater has arrived! James Charles Robertson (aka Charlie) was born on February 27, 2011, at 8:32 p.m. (just under 13 hours after my water broke). His first name comes from Brad's side of the family, his middle name from my side of the family, and his nickname from my maternal grandfather, Charles McMullen. I'll write a post about the labor and delivery soon. In the meantime, here's a photo:

We're slowly but surely getting our new parent sea legs, but we couldn't have done it without our family and friends. In fact, today is the first day that I've had to fly solo at home. Brad was home for four weeks, and over the last month we've had the help of Brad's mother, father, sister and brother, as well as my brother and my sister. In fact, my sister left this morning after spending a week with us, helping to ease the transition when Brad returned to work, including taking over Brad's nighttime duties so that he could get a recharge of sleep his first week back.

It took us a while to figure out a nighttime routine. We had candyland dreams of Charlie falling in love with his bassinet and sleeping soundly from the first night home. No dice. It's not that Charlie doesn't love his bassinet, it's that he only loves it during the day. Sun's up, Charlie embraces the bassinet. Sun's down, the bassinet turns into a house of horrors. We spent a few nights trying to coax him into the bassinet, but eventually gave up in order to save our collective sanity. Instead of going to sleep as a family, we took shifts. I would hang out in the living room with Charlie until 3am, letting him sleep on my chest while I watched reruns of Murder She Wrote. (Why are there no reruns of Night Court? That show was spectacular. Is there a petition out there that I could sign?) Brad would take over night duties until 7am, waking me up for feedings.

This routine worked for a couple weeks (it was especially great when Brad's mom was here and took a shift from 6am to 9am, giving us a few extra hours of blissful sleep). Eventually we decided that we should try the bassinet again, fearful of ingraining poor sleep habits or prolonging day/night confusion.

The first night of "bassinet trials take-two," Brad slept next to the bassinet. But Brad is a DEEP sleeper and he needs a fair amount of recovery time when he wakes up. Unfortunately, time had not mended the fissure in Charlie's relationship with the bassinet. Charlie didn't go more than twenty minutes without erupting into a fit of screaming and tears, but twenty minutes was more than enough time for Brad to go under. So more than once, when Charlie started to wail, I would have to join in to get Brad's attention. I doubted the long-term sustainability of this arrangement.

I slept beside the bassinet the next night. I went through countless cycles of nursing, rocking, bassinetting, soothing, cooing, nursing, rocking, bassinetting, soothing, cooing, with minimal success. Meanwhile, I watched as Brad drifted into a light coma. During one of the comforting sessions, I wanted to try the pacifier. Unfortunately, the pacifier was in my breastfeeding basket (a little kit I put together so I can easily tote my breastfeeding / baby-care essentials from room to room), and the kit was next to Brad. So I woke him up.

Me: "Brad. Wake up. I need the pacifier."
Brad: (Snore) (Chortle) "Huh!?!"
Me: "I need the pacifier."
Brad: "Pacifier. Pacifier. Pacifier. Here."
(Brad hands me a large bottle of hand sanitizer.)
Me: "Brad. Wrong. Wake up. I need the pacifier."
Brad: (Harumphs in irritation.) "Pacifier. Pacifier. Is this what you need?"
(Brad hands me the Gro Egg, a room thermometer which is plugged into the wall and does not even come close to rhyming with pacifier.)
Me: "BRAD. WAKE UP. I need the PACIFIER."
Brad: (Sits up in frustration.) "What?"
Me: "For the love of Charlie. I need the PACIFIER."

It only took two nights of struggling with Charlie's hatred of the bassinet and Brad's incoherence before I decided that we needed a plan B. I thought a co-sleeper might work better, as Charlie always calmed down when he was next to me in bed. So I found someone in the Chicago parent's network who was willing to part with their gently used co-sleeper for a reasonable price. When Brad went to pick it up, they threw in their Snuggle Nest because it worked so well for them.

Amazingly, the Snuggle Nest did the trick! For the last week and a half, Charlie has been soundly sleeping in the middle of the bed in the Snuggle Nest. Brad and I have considerably less real estate in our queen-sized bed, but it's a minor inconvenience. Charlie is sleeping for three-hour stretches in between feedings and my sanity is saved.

Brad's humorous reactions to my wee-hour requests, however, continue. One night when Charlie started fussing I asked Brad to change his diaper before I fed him. He quickly sat up, leaned over the Snuggle Nest, and said "Choo . . . Choo . . . " while waving his hand over the Snuggle Nest. Then he crawled back under the covers and started snoring. I suppose he thought he'd successfully employed magic to put Charlie is a dry diaper. Thankfully, my laughter got his attention and he fulfilled his diaper duty.

Brad never remembers these antics in the morning, which makes them all the more entertaining.

With Brad returning to work and Caty in town, I thought it would be a good idea to have Caty and Brad trade places at night. That way Brad could recharge his batteries and Caty could get a little extra QT with her beloved nephew. They made the switch and Caty was awesome. She sprang up every time I asked her to do something, and I felt like we were the overnight baby duty dream team. For three nights, Charlie would surely want for nothing.

Or maybe not.

At 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning, I startled awake. I was lying on my side and Charlie was next to me. Clearly, we'd both fallen asleep while I was feeding him. But I had no idea how we ended up in that position. No memory of hearing him cry, moving him beside me, undressing.

Me: "Caty!"
Caty: "What?"
Me: "Any idea how Charlie ended up beside me?"
Caty: "He cried. An hour ago. I went to pick him up to change him, and you told me not to, that he was hungry and you would take care of it. So you picked him up and started to feed him."
Me: "I picked him up?"
Caty: "Yup."
Me: "You didn't put him here?"
Caty: "Nope."
Me: "Oh crap."
Caty: "Good thing I was here and not Brad, or the two of you would have no idea what happened."
Me: "Oy."

Open mouth. Insert crow.

Caty's home now. Which means the second-string players are back in the game. I've accepted my shortcomings and proclivity to sleep-feed my son, so I've stopped using the reclined side position for the late-night feedings. But to be on the safe side, I should probably nanny cam myself as well.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

come baby come

20 days and all's well. Oh, and my water broke this morning. We are full-term as of yesterday. Phew.

Why am I blogging? I am killing time at home, listening to Mumford & Sons on vinyl, and I've already washed the dishes, put in a load of laundry, and eaten breakfast. So here's the skinny on the last 24 hours.

Brad met with friendly Officer Williams yesterday morning to have the car seat inspected. He passed! Though he was amused because the officer checked the installation and then took the entire thing out to get information for some paperwork. He quizzed Brad on a few things, such as the safest position in the car for the seat. Answer: middle. Next safest? Rear passenger. Brad has it installed behind the driver's side b/c we don't have center hooks, and when we fold down our backseats, the driver's side is the narrower of the two. Now we know. Brad was amused because at the end of the appointment Officer Williams just handed him the seat and base and sent him on his way. Fingers crossed Brad installed it correctly the second time around!

When Brad got home we piled Maggie and Brewster into the car and took them to the vet. After getting a slew of shots and checkups (they passed too), we got some awesome advice on how to keep Brewster off baby items. Tinfoil! We've already tried it. Works like a charm. Then we went home to relax and eat lunch.

At 1:00 we had a newborn basics class at Prentice. I can't say it was the most helpful class we've taken, but we learned how to swaddle. Also learned that we will probably need petroleum jelly at home after Tater arrives (for thermometer insertion and circumcision care). I am not a huge fan of petroleum jelly, so I started looking for a natural alternative. Found one that they carry at Whole Foods. Added it to my mental list of things to acquire in the near future.

After the class, we went to a memorial service for our dear friend Bevin's father. It was an incredible service. The room was packed, and it was such an honor to be there. What an amazing man. I couldn't help but think, as his jug band was playing a final tribute song, that he and my mother would have gotten along swimmingly. I love memorial services that overflow with love and celebration. When we got a chance to hug Bevin after it was over, she commented on how much she enjoyed the circle of life that my belly and the service represented. Me too.

We were hungry (always) after the service, so we headed to one of my favorite Mexican restaurants in the city, El Tapatio, for an early dinner (it was 5:30). Mmm. During dinner, I had the first thing I felt confident calling a Braxton Hicks contraction. Started as a knot of pain in my lower back and gradually moved forward. Just had the one, but we joked that Mexican food may not be the most awesome thing to have in my digestive system should I go into labor. Ha ha.

On the way home, we stopped by Whole Foods where I bought the unpetroleum jelly and some ready-to-bake chocolate chip cookies. Excellent timing.

At home, we had an amazing quiet night. Made the cookies and then we sat on the couch and read for a few hours. No TV, no music. I read the first 100 pages of Baby 411 (excellent book). Brad read Spin. We both fell asleep on the couch around 8:00, and when we woke up at 11:00, we moved into the bedroom. I read for another hour or so, and we fell asleep for good.

We both slept through the night, and only woke up when Maggie started barking at 7:30. Still not sure why she started barking, but I was lounging in bed, checking my email, when I felt the strangest sensation at 7:45. A gush of something quickly filling my vaginal canal and then exploding out of me. Woah!

I gently nudged Brad and calmly asked him to get out of bed (I was in between Brad and Maggie), as my water had just broken. Brad exploded out of bed and I went to the bathroom, with the water gushing out of me. It was just like it is in the movies.

Called the OB/GYN's answering service. I think I was talking to a new person, because she confirmed that this was the sort of thing that I would want to talk to the doctor about. Um, yes. Doc L called me back, said that as long as the water was clear (check) and I felt some movement (check) I could hang out at home for a few hours and let labor begin naturally, or head to the hospital and get induced. I chose the prior. Among other reasons, I really wanted to take a shower.

We called family members. MomRo and DadRo are on their way, arriving at 5:30. We talked to everyone except for Randy, who is really going to regret not leaving his phone on 24/7.

And then I took a shower and got ready. Except I am not interested in getting fully dressed. But I am super excited that I had already purchased a bunch of ridiculously large maxi pads. Two sets of wings? That's a touch excessive. But at least I can sit on the couch without worry.

I've started a load of laundry (sheets, mattress pad, and towels that took the brunt of the dam breaking). I've done the dishes. Brad packed the last few items into the hospital bags. I think we're ready.

I noticed that the fluid had a touch of pink to it around 9:00, so I called the answering service to make sure there wasn't cause for concern. Spoke with a nurse at the hospital who said it's normal (cervix thinning), but I should plan to head their way around 11am. In the meantime, she told me to eat and to drink. To bring a pillow. And my boppy pillow. Will do.

And the contractions have begun, I think. Though I am utter crap at tracking them. Brad really wants to time them, but I don't know they are happening until they are at their height of intensity and then I forget to tell him when they are over. I can say with confidence they are not lasting a minute and spread five to seven minutes apart. So there's that.

We're both convinced that Tater was waiting until I was ready for him to arrive. I'm not sure I'm 100% ready, but yesterday was the first day that I felt like most of our ducks are in a row.

We'll keep everyone posted. We really appreciate your prayers and positive thoughts. Life is good. So are Mumford & Sons.

Friday, February 25, 2011

bloody hell

22 days until the due date and all's well.

But it's been an interesting 24 hours. (Forewarning, there's some discussion of bodily fluids in this post. Close the browser window now if you'd rather not read about the grosser side of being a pregnant lady or forever hold your peace.)

Yesterday morning started off well. Spent a few extra minutes at home in the morning to get the house in order. (Ahhh.) Boarded the train and a man immediately stood up to give me his seat. (Double ahhh.) Filed a brief when I got to work. (Tripple ahhh.)

And then I had to pee. (Huge surprise.) So I headed to the restroom, did my business, and noticed a (final warning!) vaginal discharge which was decidedly pink. There wasn't an insubstantial amount, but I wasn't worried. Likely because I thought back to Doc F's lack of concern after the three drops of blood made their debut at Ikea. Erring on the side of caution, however, I decided to call the doctor's office.

When one calls my doctor's office, one must select from a few options. #1: emergency, labor, doctor calling doctor. #2: appointments, patient calling doctor. There might be a 3, but I always push #2.

A perfectly nice lady assigned to #2 answered, and I presumed she was a receptionist of some sort. I told her what was going on, in order to explain why I was a patient calling doctor. Instead of just taking a message and a phone number (the usual result upon selecting #2), she asked if I'd had my bloody show. I felt my heart rate spike. "What? I DON'T KNOW! It's my FIRST pregnancy! Holy hell." Then it occurs to me that I am talking to the receptionist, and I suddenly want to know why she's taken on the job of diagnostics. Perhaps she is a bloody show aficionado? "Pleaseletmetalktoanurse!" She put me on hold. Which gave me a moment to reflect on that awful term, bloody show. Perhaps I haven't committed its meaning to memory because I find the phase so incredibly disturbing. Who came up with it? And why do medical personnel use it? It's awful. Really, really awful.

A medical assistant took my call fairly quickly (causing me to identify another perk of reaching the last month of pregnancy, no more pressing #2, leaving messages and awaiting a return call; now I'm a VIP. Booyah!). She peppered me with questions. No, I haven't had any increased cramping or discomfort. No, I haven't had any contractions (90% sure of this -- still assuming I will know them when I feel them, first pregnancy and all). Yes, I've had plenty of fetal movement this morning. Diagnosis? It's probably a sign that my cervix is thinning and possibly a sign that I am losing my mucus plug. Totally normal. Not a cause for concern. But call if I have contractions lasting a minute spaced five to seven minutes apart. Call if there is a gush of fluid. Call if I don't experience five fetal movements within the hour. Okay.

Despite the medical assistant's reassuring words, my heart rate was still racing. Yes, I was two days away from the full-term mark. But I had convinced myself that Tater would arrive late. (I mean, seriously, if he's anything like his parents he is not a punctual fella. Tom and Holly aptly refer to us as Lord and Lady Laterson.) I thought this might be a sign that Tater was already rebelling against his tardy genes, but did not have the mental composure to confirm my suspicion. So I took the easy way out. Panicked and called Brad. He was THRILLED with the story, eagerly latching onto any sign, however speculative, that he would get to meet Tater sooner rather than later. Brad's glee only increased my panic, so I moved on to the next option, racing into Nicole's office and lying on her floor.

She Googled "bloody show" and "losing mucus plug" and began reading what popped up. Could mean delivery within the week, could mean nothing. Plug could pop out and then reform. Might not even be my plug. Depending on the site, I was either moments away from labor or making a giant mountain out of a tiny molehill. Oh pregnancy Googling. I will not miss you, but I presume you are a good model for newborn/infant/toddler Googling. Can't wait.

The uncertainty flowing from the Google results actually calmed me down a bit. But just a bit. Instead of worrying about going into labor, I worried about all of the suddenly URGENT to-do items that needed to be completed ASAP. My mind was still unreliable and easily distracted, so I sent Brad a list. Thankfully, he was eager to put his excited energy to work. He followed up on the cord blood donation paperwork that has yet to arrive, made vet appointments for Saturday morning so we can make sure Maggie and Brewster are up-to-date on their shots before Tater arrives, and scheduled an appointment with a Chicago Police Officer to inspect our car seat installation. (That appointment is at 8:30 on Saturday morning. If the seat is installed correctly, the officer will give him the thumbs up and send Brad on his way. If it's installed incorrectly, the officer will remove it, re-install it, scold Brad, teach Brad, and make Brad watch a video. The vet appointment is at 9:40 in Hyde Park. Seems Brad is very confident in his ability to get it right the first. Fingers crossed.)

Amazingly, I managed to get a decent amount of work done in spite of my frazzled brain. And last night I went to a Sassy Moms event with Meghan. We never figured out if we were there to benefit a charity or just to meet vendors who are targeting sassy moms. (I could identify with the jewelry, slimming clothes, manicures, and massage tables. I was a bit perplexed by something called eyelash dipping and the scantily clad vodka peddlers.) We almost left early, but I was bound and determined to figure out when and how we would get the swag bag that was mentioned on the invitation. I was more interested in the bag than the swag, because it was billed as a 1154 Lill Studio tote and I really love Lill bags. Just when I was getting a little grumpy about unfulfilled promises, the bags appeared! Hooray! If you want to know more, check out Meghan's blog post about the event. She even posted pictures.

To round out the interesting 24-hour-period, I woke up at 4:00 a.m. this morning to pee (huge surprise) and could not fall back asleep. Result: this post.

Thankfully, today has been uneventful. No more signs of impending labor. But I'm really eager to hear the results of the first vaginal exam, which is happening Monday afternoon. Aren't you?

Monday, February 21, 2011

let's count together

26 days to the due date and all's well.

Had the 36-week appointment this morning at 8:45 a.m. We've been running insanely late to the last couple of appointments, because we've been scheduling them early in the morning and booking cabs the night before. Two times in a row, the cab failed to arrive on time. So Brad and I waited until the last second (because we wanted to have faith in Flash Cab), decided to give up on the reserved cab, and hauled tail to the nearest major intersection. Thankfully, we've had good luck hailing taxis, and we've made it right on time, but it has stressed. me. out.

I'm off work today, because working for the state has its perks, so I decided to drive downtown for the appointment. Work prevented Brad from attending this one, so I was free to leave the house at any time. I chose crazy early, anticipating rush hour traffic. But the freeway and downtown surface streets were free and clear, thanks to the presidents. So I had time to get coffee and still make it to the appointment 20 minutes early. Spectacular.

The appointment was amusing because Doc G normally doesn't see people before 9:00 a.m. They use the 8:45 slot for emergencies and must-schedule appointments (apparently 36 weeks is included in the latter category). So when he got to the office around 8:30, and I was already there, he decided to see me before his nurse arrived. Which meant that he got the room ready for me (fresh paper on the table), took my weight, and then figured out how to take my blood pressure (saying he hadn't done that in years). Always good to see doctors get back to basics.

Everything looked good! I'd only gained 1.2 lbs since the last appointment, but I made a point of wearing light clothes. So silly and unnecessary (especially when it was 32 degrees and drizzling outside), but there's something satisfying about beating the scale. Even if it's just by a half pound. I shouldn't care about my weight at this point, but as of this morning my home scale says I've gained 35 lbs, and I'd really like to keep it under 40.

Heartbeat sounded awesome. Belly measurement was two inches bigger! Up to 36 inches, which calmed the fears that my belly isn't growing as much as it should. Blood pressure was low (presuming Doc G took it correctly). He noted that I haven't started swelling in my ankles, but assured me it would probably happen before long. Joy.

And Tater is still in a good position. Doc G could feel his butt right in the center of my upper chest. "Definitely a butt, not a head."

Next week we'll start the internal exams to assess any early signs of impending labor. I am really excited to hear the results.

Also got the skinny on their induction policy. Doc G says if it is necessary, they typically schedule them for 9-10 days after the due date, avoiding weekends. But he did say that inductions were rare; only 5% of their patients end up being induced. The vast majority go w/in a week of their due date, either before or after.

So that's the news! I'm still feeling swell. Spending the day getting chores done around the house. I just re-hung the curtains in our bedroom, which I washed last night. Thus far, that has been my only cleaning / nesting instinct. The curtains were dusty and hanging right over the area where we plan to place Tater's bassinet. I keep thinking I will have the urge to scrub down the bathroom and kitchen, to steam clean the carpets, to dust the floorboards. But it turns out that my avoid-cleaning-at-all-costs instinct is even more powerful than mother nature.

We are taking a newborn basics class this Saturday. Perhaps that will scare me into spring cleaning action. This Saturday. We'll be full-term that day. Wasn't time supposed to slow down at this point? Eep.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Guess what? I actually took the 36-week belly shots AT 36 weeks! Booyah!

And now, without further adieu . . .

Belly from the side, and . . .

Belly from the front. Ahhh. I feel so accomplished. I've been comparing these shots to the ones from three weeks ago. I can't tell if the belly has grown substantially. I know I'm supposed to gain an inch each week, give or take. When they first started the measuring process, I was 1.5 inches over the number of weeks. At 34 weeks and three days, however, I was 34 inches on the nose. I'm actually super eager to hear the newest measurement on Monday, as I've developed a irrational fear that my belly is too small. Ridiculous, but true.

We took the pictures this morning, before a field trip to the suburbs. (Brad loathes shopping, but I found a Buy Buy Baby less than a mile from one of the two Chick-Fil-A restaurants that are within a reasonable driving distance of Chicago. It's remarkable how easy it was to lure him through the aisles once he was high on chicken nuggets and sweet tea.) So I've had the pictures for a few hours, but I'm posting them now because I need a distraction. Why? Because Brad needed a distraction. Let me explain.

As of today, we are four weeks from the due date and officially in our eighth month. Insanity. I'm feeling pretty good, all things considered. I'm comfortable with the amount of time that remains before Tater's arrival (presuming he's full term or late); just focusing on my to-do lists. And dragging out the tasks for as long as humanly possible. For example, I have been packing the hospital bags for, oh, two weeks now? First putting things in piles and acquiring items that I didn't already own. Then putting things in bags -- one bag for labor & delivery, another for the stay on the postpartum ward. Then swapping the bags. Then moving things around within the bags. Then finding more things to add to the packing list. So, the bags are about 95% packed, and I'm in no hurry to finish them off, because it keeps my mind off bigger things over which I have zero control.

Brad, however, is growing increasingly anxious. He says that he is done with the planning phase and is ready to meet Tater. Which is understandable. Brad is a doer, not a delayer. He packed his hospital bag this morning in about 10 minutes. His dedication to efficiency makes it a little hard to distract him for days on end. Much less hours. But he's trying.

Which brings me to the reason that I need a distraction right now. We ordered a diaper sprayer to make cloth diapering a little less unpleasant, and Brad decided to install it this afternoon. We rent, and the previous tenants were pretty awesome at jimmy rigging things. Over the course of the last two years, we've frequently been surprised by their handiwork, most often when it suddenly fails. Usually, it's something small and easy to fix (see, for example, the dimmer switch which was repaired with super glue, or the sink nozzle that was repaired with what appeared to be gum).

This afternoon it was the toilet flushing mechanism. While Brad was installing the diaper sprayer, the internal workings fell apart. He rushed off to the hardware store, and discovered that quite a few of the required tank components were either missing or long broken. Surprised again! Brad is currently fixing the toilet, but that means I cannot use it. Normally, this would not be a big deal. But at 36 weeks, the toilet and I are close friends. So I'm blogging, and not thinking about the bathroom.

Here's a fun story. I've been eagerly watching for signs that Maggie and Brewster have figured out that I'm pregnant. I was thinking they would start paying close attention to my stomach, or becoming overly protective, perhaps. Last night, when I was swapping the contents of the hospital bags, Maggie started intensely sniffing my belly. Ooh! Ooh! She could SMELL Tater! Or maybe she could hear him moving around and was using her nose to get more information. Regardless, fascinating! The time had come!

It took me about a minute to realize that what she could smell was the tennis ball we'd packed to massage my lower back should I end up going through back labor. Drat. Ever since, she has been in a funk. She now knows that we have luggage packed (not her favorite) and we have trapped a tennis ball in one of those bags far out of her reach (absolutely not her favorite). Each time I unzip the bag to add something new (like the hand sanitizer and wipes I purchased today on McKenzie's and Geoff's recommendations, respectfully), it sends Maggie into tailspin all over again. I really should take care of that last 5% and take her out of her misery.

Speaking of ending misery, the toilet is repaired! Brad is a my plumbing hero. Now he just needs 75 more projects so he doesn't lose his mind in the next four weeks.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

the great stomach squeeze

Oh boy. It's been a while.

Apologies everyone. I know that the blog is long overdue for an update. Honestly, I was waiting for something super blog-worthy to happen, and the days have been uneventful. But with the due date fast-approaching, I understand that many of you are eager to hear how things are going, even if the news is mundane. I will do my best to post more regularly from here on out. Promise. :)

I suppose the most exciting news as of late is that I had my 34-week appointment last Tuesday. We met Doc L, who was fabulous. He confirmed that Tater is finally head-down (hooray!) and guessed that his back was pressing against the right-hand side of my stomach (double hooray if I can avoid back labor). To prove himself right, Doc L pointed to what would be the corresponding position of Tater's heart, applied a small dollop of goop, and placed the heart rate monitor in the same spot. Sure enough, the heart beat came through loud and clear on the first try. I was impressed. Heart beat was strong, positioning is good, blood pressure is fabulous, and stomach measured 34". It was a quick appointment, but apparently that will change from here on out. No more keeping my pants on. Joy.

Doc L reminded me to pay attention to Tater's movement, the same admonishment we received from Doc G at the last appointment. This warning has me hyper-fixated on Tater's movements, which thankfully have been pretty regular and predictable. The docs have told us that as he's increasingly squished, the movements will be less pronounced, and that has rung true. But we had a small scare on Sunday afternoon.

You might recall that the last scare occurred while Brad and I were in the suburbs shopping at Ikea for a small table to display Brad's turntable. Anyone care to take a guess at what we were doing on Sunday after church? Yup, we were scouring the antique, vintage, and independent furniture stores for a suitable table. It was our first table hunting expedition since the failed and frightening Ikea trip. Clearly, Tater's strong preference is that Brad's new turntable remain forever on the floor in our living room. Perhaps he wants to be able to stop the madness when Brad starts spinning his mint condition copy of The Fat Boys Are Back. Just a guess.

Back to the scare. When we reached our first destination in Ravenswood, Brad did an excellent parallel parking job, positioning the Prius mere inches from the curb. When I opened the passenger door, however, I found that a ginormous snowbank on the sidewalk left me with precious little room to exit. Brad offered to pull the car back out, but I was unreasonably determined to squeeze my huge belly through the tiny opening. I succeeded, but not without discomfort. Dumb.

I was kicking my stubborn self as we shopped for the next two hours, noting that I wasn't feeling much movement from Tater after the great stomach squeeze. So I eagerly agreed when Brad suggested we grab a late lunch, because I was hungry (always) and knew that Tater was likely to start swimming as soon as I put some food in my stomach. Unfortunately, Tater was not moved by the grilled cheese and soup at Beat Kitchen (admittedly, it was a bit bland). I thought I felt him stir once or twice, but I wasn't certain. And for the rest of the shopping trip, he was still.

When we got home I subtly tried get him to move (knowing that the minute Brad caught on he would be incredibly worried). I tried the trick suggested by the nurse at one of our prenatal classes: going to the bathroom, drinking a big glass of water as quickly as possible, and laying down on my left-hand side. No dice. I tried crossing my arms and resting them on the top of my stomach, which always gets him riled up when I'm at work. Nope. I danced, rested, sat up straight, laid down on my back, did a few yoga poses, poked and prodded, all the while silently praying and begging Tater to move. He wasn't having it. (I'd probably hold a grudge too if my mom smooshed me for no good reason.) Eventually, Brad noticed my strange antics and asked what was going on. When I told him about my concerns, he told me to call the doctor. When I hesitated, he started dialing the phone. We left a message for the on-call doctor and thirty seconds later, Tater moved. Brad laid his cheek on my stomach and asked Tater to kick him in the face. Tater complied. Ahhh.

I tried to cancel the page, but apparently that is not an option. Doc ? (cannot remember her name for the life of me) called us and was super understanding about the false alarm. Have I mentioned how much I love the access to on-call doctors? I have. Then why did I hesitate to call them on Sunday? No idea. Stubbornness, most likely.

Tater's been making up for his lazy Sunday, moving and stretching and generally making his presence known. It's so weird that his movements are visible to anyone staring at my stomach. And they are staring quite a bit these days, perhaps because the belly button has officially popped out! I'll be sure to add a picture of it on Saturday, when I am bound and determined to post my 36-week belly shots on time.

Other than the scare, I'm doing great. Thanks to my Dad's generous Christmas present, I had a prenatal massage on Friday. I had no idea that my toes needed TLC, but they did. Happy toes.

What else? I'm trying my best to avoid the pregnancy waddle, which is a surprisingly natural stride in this condition. I miss my ab muscles and being able to get off the couch with minimal exertion. And, as of this morning, I am making a concerted effort to pee myself as infrequently as possible. After getting out of bed, I made the mistake of going to the kitchen before going to the bathroom, and I paid the price for that detour when I sneezed. There's some blog-worthy news for you!

Oh boy.