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.

Monday, February 7, 2011

the calm before the storm

I freaked out last week. FREAKED OUT. Up until that moment, I had been cruising along, feeling like I was doing a fantastic job of getting ready for Tater's arrival. The nursery was nearing completion. We'd taken all of the preparation classes recommended by Doc G. My rational mind knew that we were in good shape.

So what set me off? The hospital bag. I started putting together a checklist and thinking about when I'd like to have everything packed up and ready to go. Suddenly, time came crashing down on my head. Six weeks felt like no time at all. I couldn't wait another second to order the items on my Amazon wish list. Must. Own. Nipple cream.

Brad did a fantastic job of talking me off the ledge. He gave me the go ahead to spend a small fortune at Amazon, Target, and Baby Earth. He told me to make a couple lists and delegate stuff to him. Most importantly, he gave me a hug and coached me through a few deep breaths. Good man.

I wish I could say that was the end of my anxiety. I haven't had the same racing heartbeat and shortness of breath since then, but I've been obsessively creating and checking and modifying my to-do lists. I'm still eager to have the hospital bag assembled (deadline: Sunday).

This afternoon I was waiting on the el platform, watching train after train pass by without room for me and my belly. It made me grumpy. And it gave me plenty of time to stew over what tasks I wanted to tackle at home tonight. Laundry. Assemble the toiletries for the hospital bag. Make dinner. Pay rent. Call a cab for the trip to the doctor tomorrow morning. Figure out what to give Brad for Valentine's Day. Oh, and take Maggie on a walk, because Brad is working late.

Eventually, I pushed my way onto a train. On the walk home from the el station, I trudged through the snow and kept my head down to avoid taking a snowflake in the eye. I mulled over the possibility of forcing Maggie to wait for her evening walk until Brad gets home, reasoning that the nasty weather would make any walk unsafe.

Then I climbed the back steps to our deck.

I lifted my head and noticed that the falling snow was super fluffy. Huge flakes were accumulating into a light, airy blanket which covered our deck. I walked into the apartment, put on my trusty ice spikes, and called Maggie to the door.

I set off intending to take her on the short loop that I've used since I first experienced the shortness of breath. But once we were out on the walk, I was overcome by how beautiful the neighborhood looked. And I remembered how much I love snow and winter. I love the way fresh snow makes everything beautiful. I love the way it sparkles under the street lights. I love the quiet and the calm. I love the way Maggie bounds through new-fallen snow drifts. I even love shoveling. This year, pregnancy has kept me from fully embracing the Chicago winter. But not tonight. Maggie and I went on an extended walk. I laughed when my feet sunk into deep snow banks. I breathed in the fresh air. And I let a sense of calm settle over me. My head cleared for the first time in weeks. With the seemingly endless mental chatter on mute, I was able to reflect on what is really important. Tater is such a tremendous blessing.

It was one of those moments where I felt my mom take my hand and guide me forward. I heard her voice telling me that everything would be alright. Just take it one step at a time.

Thanks, Berta. I needed that. You too, Father Winter.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

robin vs. the blue line

I do not heed caution as often as I should. In general, not just in pregnancy. I am stubborn and bull-headed. I ignore internal alarms, determined to overcome my own physical limitations.

I'm at my worst when I'm backpacking. My third year of law school, I traveled to Mexico with three classmates to climb the Mountain of the Devil. It's not easy to get to the trail head. We had to hire a pack of ex-pats with sand buggies to transport us and our gear, and the journey to the trail head took two hours. The ex-pats were the last souls we saw until we returned to the trail head three days later. A sane, rational person would reflect on the remoteness of the trail and the likelihood of receiving assistance should something go wrong. Then that person would decide to be overly cautious during the hike. Not I, said the fly.

The hike was technical in spots (at the very beginning you have to swing yourself over an incredibly narrow waterfall, Hitesh almost lost his hand during this maneuver). Time and again, I found myself throwing caution to the wind, even while we were resting. During one break, I perched on a very unstable rock formation to pee, and the rocks crashed down mid-stream. I yelped, and tried to discourage the guys from running to my aid. They ignored me, got a glimpse of my bare rump suspended in the air, and then tended to the enormous gash on my arm. My pants were ripped and pee-soaked, but I didn't learn my lesson. Later that day, we were hiking above a very. deep. canyon. The trail veered off through a thick patch of prickly plants, so I decided to take a short cut by scampering up a steep rock face, while wearing my 40-lb pack. A couple times I had to compensate when my balance started to falter, but I made it back to the trail. When I turned around to inspect my route, I almost threw up. Had I lost my footing on that rock face, I would have tumbled hundreds of feet into the very. deep. canyon. Brad still gives me hell about that stunt. Honestly, I still give myself hell about that stunt. Gulp.

I've tried to be a bit better about taking risks while pregnant. I still make Brad mad when I carry heavy groceries, or slide furniture around, or try to reach something on a top shelf without using a step stool. But, generally, I am cautious. Though I took some convincing when it came to SNOMG 2011.

People started warning me on Monday morning. My supervisor insisted that I put in a request to work from home on Wednesday, and hinted that she didn't want to see me in the office on Thursday or Friday. Some coworkers suggested staying home on Tuesday as well. But I wasn't really convinced. I mean, two feet is a lot of snow, but this is CHICAGO. Land of "what's a snow day?" This city does not bat an eye at a foot of snow. Its residents are well-equipped with salt, shovels, snow blowers, down jackets which double as sleeping bags, boots that could carry one across the arctic tundra. We do not stop for inclement weather. We embrace it. I used to walk a mile, to and from law school, in a foot of snow, without giving it a second thought.

So I went to work on Tuesday. But I took the precaution of arriving at 7:30 a.m. to ensure I could leave at 3:30 p.m. And I arranged to work from home on Wednesday. As I was walking home from the el that afternoon, laughing at the incredibly strong winds which were exfoliating my face with ice crystals, I decided that a little caution might be in order. I walked into the apartment, changed into my pajamas, and did not take them off for 36 hours.

Our office was closed yesterday, so I set aside the work I'd brought home, and settled onto the couch with a book. I wrote all of the thank you notes for the baby shower gifts. I played with Maggie, cooked breakfast and lunch and dinner, took care of the laundry. In keeping with my new-found cautious self, I left Maggie's walks to Brad. I also left the shoveling of the deck, stairs, and car to Brad. Thanks, Brad.

This morning, however, I was ready to return to the real world. I wanted a hot shower, real clothes, and fresh air. Brad and I left for work at 8:00. It was 5 degrees outside, so I bundled up. Brad reported that the snow was slippery in spots, so I wore my ice spikes over my snow boots. It was cold, but we made it to the el stop without incident. Slow and steady.

On the el platform, we encountered a massive crowd waiting to board a train. The platform is covered, but otherwise exposed to the elements -- including the 5-degree weather. Folks were doing little dances to keep warm, but I needed to sit down. So I made my way to one of the benches and happily took a seat. And there I sat. For an hour. In 5-degree weather. We watched three trains pass, each filled to the brim. Brad kept asking me if I wanted to leave? To grab something downstairs at Dunkin Donuts? To visit Meghan, Sam and Jane? To walk a block or two and sit in our favorite coffee shop? Wasn't I cold? "I'm fine. We'll be fine. We'll get on the next one." Finally, Brad started walking the length of the platform to warm up his toes, and I realized that I was being stupidly stubborn. My legs were frozen and I was losing sensation in my toes. And I had to pee. Enough already. It was not the time for the return of the pee pants. We returned home, and I arranged to work from here.

Lest you think all the stubborn in me is lost, I am determined to conquer the blue line tomorrow morning. I have thicker socks selected and hand warmers in my bag. I'll make a pit stop at the coffee shop en route. The blue line will not beat me. It's just taking a little longer to win.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

what not to say to a pregnant woman

This morning, while selecting my most snowpocalypse-friendly outfit, I was feeling particularly plump. I'd noticed, walking to and from the bathroom, increased upper-thigh friction. And a hard look in the mirror revealed under-arm excess that was not there a few months ago.

So I tried to do some self-reassurance. None of the doctors has expressed any concern about my weight gain; all have called it normal (I'm guessing I'll land somewhere between 35 and 40 lbs in the end). I can still put on my wedding rings. I don't think I'm wearing the pregnancy in my face (please don't tell me if I am; ignorance is bliss). I've (thank you Lord) managed to avoid cankles thus far. I can still wear the maternity pants I purchased at 20 weeks, though they are a bit more form-fitting. Oh, and if the 20-week ultrasound is any indication, I'm carrying a very large Tater.

So, I know it could be worse. And I know that weight gain during pregnancy -- in places other than the belly -- is normal. One of my iphone apps mapped out what accounts for the weight gain, and included seven pounds of "maternal energy stores" in the total. Excellent phrasing, What to Expect.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate my normal fixation on weight and body image at a 7. I lost about 20 pounds after my mother died (intentionally; it was one thing in my increasingly unpredictable life that I could control at the time). And for the past ten years, I've had about five pounds of fluctuation. I paid attention to my weight, but I tried not to obsess. Weighed myself daily, tried to eat right, but never turned down a delectable cupcake. Or a mediocre cupcake. I was content.

And for the most part, I'm content with the baby weight (see reassurance above). But some days, I feel unattractive and chunky in certain places.

Know what doesn't help on said days? Insensitive comments. Some are admittedly worse than others. For example, being told that I look "huge" over the weekend. That comment was compliments of a law school classmate who also noted that he's compared pregnant women to whales in the past. When I called him out on it, he said that pregnant women WANT to be huge. Um, no. But if you WANT to be an a**, bravo on accomplishing your goal.

Other comments are well-intentioned, but still sting. [Brad, I love you. Madly. But I'm putting this out there.]

While walking to the train this morning, I decide to confide in Brad. Surely he would make me feel better.

Me: I feel fat today.
Brad: Why?
Me: Because my thighs and my arm are growing.
Brad: It's okay. You have a baby in your stomach.
Me: Bad response. [Thinking: Thank you for that reminder. I had forgotten about the (precious) bowling ball I (lovingly) lug around every second of every day. Tremendous help.]
Brad: What? I don't get it. You're supposed to gain weight when you're pregnant.
Me: Stop talking.

PSA: Men of the world. When women tell you they feel fat, tell them they are not fat. This rule applies ALL THE TIME, and ESPECIALLY when women are pregnant. In case it's unclear, pregnant women do not want to identify with Shamoo. We know weight gain is unavoidable, and we know why it is happening. It is not your job to point out the obvious. It is your job to tell us that we are gorgeous creatures who look fabulous. FABULOUS. Many thanks.

And now back to your regularly scheduled snowpocalypse coverage. It's gonna be a doozie.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

at least he didn't try to kiss my stomach

It's been a long, eventful week. But, first, let's take care of some administrative matters.

First, belly shots. Took these a few moments ago, which makes them 33 weeks + 1 day. I was aiming for 32 weeks. Close enough.

The belly button is starting to act a bit like a turkey timer. Getting closer to done, but still a bit of time left in the oven. Brad took a close-up of the belly, for your button-viewing enjoyment.

Next: 32-week appointment. We had it on Tuesday, back with Doc G. All was well. Blood pressure, weight gain, belly measurement, heart rate -- all normal. He tried to figure out how Tater is oriented, but couldn't find his head. He was, however, able to rule out a breech position. I shared my concerns that Tater tends to be a side-sleeper and might be transverse until the end. Doc G has never had a baby remain horizontal all the way to full-term. Which bodes well for Tater. Odds are he'll be properly positioned, or he'll be a fascinating anomaly.

Now, the good stuff. Tater has been out on the town four nights in a row. He seems to have thoroughly enjoyed it. (I am completely spent.)

Thursday night Brad and I went to see the Jayhawks at the Vic. We got there relatively early so I could get a seat in the balcony. (Seats make all the difference these days. Standing makes me tired and cranky. But I'm a marathon sitter.) The show was great. We're doing our best to expose Tater to excellent live music. So far, so good. Tater Tour has included Rock of Ages, Superdiamond, New Pornographers, The Jayhawks. . . . Yes, those things go together.

Friday night I went to see Blue Diamond with Heidi and Liza. And now Tater knows what it feels to watch a fantastic, but positively depressing, heart-wrenching, sob-inducing movie, which stars Brad's doppelganger. Man.

Saturday we had brunch with Mark, Meghan, Sam, and Jane. Then we went to Chuck E Cheese together. It's just as I remember, except they've added serious security measures and the pizza is not appetizing. And Brad says the skee ball machine leaves a lot to be desired. Plastic balls? You've got to be kidding me. Saturday afternoon we had the first half of our birthing class with Holly the doula. SO informative and helpful. Saturday night we went to Mark's birthday party which involved two hours of whirlyball. Yup. Second whirlyball event of my pregnancy. So unfair. Though now that I've seen it in person, I understand the prohibition.

Today we made it to church. It had been six weeks, which was entirely too long. Then we had part II of the doula class. Ready for labor? Check.

After that, we raced downtown for a fund-raising event. There's a little mayoral race going on in Chicago right now. It's been just as entertaining as one expects from Chicago politics. With snarky legal opinions to boot. Brad and I haven't been terribly involved in this election, but on Friday we were offered free tickets to a Jeff Tweedy show for R.E. We love Jeff Tweedy. And we have nothing against R.E., so we accepted.

The show was at Park West, which has seating, but there are no guarantees. So we arrived well ahead of time, met up with David and Jenna, and ended up on a padded bench right up front. Unobstructed view of the stage, table for our drinks. Ahhh.

About fifteen minutes before the show, one of the press staff directed three cameramen -- one from each of the Chicago stations -- to stand between us and the stage. Grumble. After five or ten minutes of unsuccessfully attempting telekinesis, I was super grumble. When suddenly, the cameramen hoisted their cameras, turned on blinding spotlights, and pointed them at me. Huh?

Enter R.E. Who is smiling and pumping my hand and asking me lots of questions about my unborn child. Say what? I remember replying thank you, that I was feeling well, that we're having a boy, and that he should tell Brad about his kids. Because I was having a hard time remembering English and social norms. And I desperately wanted the cameras to go away. Eventually they did. R.E. moved down the row and introduced himself to Brad and to Jenna. Then he shook David's hand while commenting on his selection of attire. David was wearing an "Ithaca is GORGES" t-shirt and a skull cap. R.E. said he was glad to see that David dressed up for the event.

The cameramen filmed R.E. for another minute or two before cutting their lights and bolting. About that time, Brad chimes in, "Wow. That was totally staged. You're the next best thing to a baby."

Woah. I felt so used.

But then I felt hungry. A few minutes later, R.E.'s staff started passing out snacks. Snacks! He IS a problem solver! Vote for R.E.!

Oh, and if in utero dancing intensity is any sign, Tater LOVES Jeff Tweedy the most.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

too much junk in the trunks

I'm a day overdue for belly shots. I know this. I had every intention of taking them last night, before Brad and I left for the Superdiamond show, but the cab arrived sooner than we expected. I'll take them one morning this week. Promise.

Speaking of the Superdiamond show . . . it appears I am no longer awesome at standing for long periods of time. This is the third time I've seen Superdiamond in the last year. They are a Neil Diamond cover band and it is practically impossible not to dance and sing and laugh hysterically at their shows. Last night they were at the House of Blues, and I went with my Superdiamond crew: Allison, Heidi, and Jennifer (plus Brad and Greg for good measure). Before the show, we had a large, fantastic dinner at Gilt Bar. (If you live in Chicago, you need to eat there. The brussels sprouts were heavenly. Yes, you heard me right. And if you are thinking that's just pregnancy taste buds talking, ask Brad. He agreed.) When we arrived at House of Blues, we quickly figured out that I wouldn't be able to sit on a proper chair. So we gathered in a spot beside a rail so that I could lean on something. I alternated between standing and squatting (to catch my breath), and made it through the opening act (per Brad, the best Eagle Eye Cherry cover band he'd ever heard). But Superdiamond was in no rush to take the stage, and by 11pm, I was out of energy. I did hear the first three songs. Silver lining: there was no line at the coat check or taxi stand when we exited. So there's that. Thankfully, the next show on the calendar is the Jayhawks at the Vic, which has plenty of open seating in the upper balcony. I heart the Vic. Too bad Superdiamond and the Vic would not mix.

The other good thing about bailing before midnight was we had to get up early this morning for the Great Expectations class at Prentice. G.E. is an eight-hour class for expecting couples planning to deliver at Prentice. They review the phases of labor (in graphic detail), relaxation and pain management techniques, and the postpartum experience. The entire day was eye-opening and worthwhile. Here are a few highlights:

(1) We were not the only ones there, though the Bears/Packers game definitely impacted attendance. Only five couples showed up. The instructor took a vote to see if we all wanted to work through lunch so that the class would end before the game. Brad and I weren't all that interested in watching the game, but we wanted to be team players.

(2) During introductions, the instructor asked us to share what we were dreading the most and looking forward to the most about labor or parenthood. Most people said they were excited to be parents and afraid of labor. I said that I was excited to take a long maternity leave and afraid of the first couple nights at home. Then it was Brad's turn. He said he was most afraid I would hit him during delivery. I was a little horrified, wondering if other people in the room were now assuming that I was an abusive spouse. Thankfully, the next guy said he was also really afraid of being hit. I like that guy.

(3) Most of my assumptions about the labor and delivery process were COMPLETELY WRONG. I am familiar with the term cervix dilation, but it never occurred to me that this meant the baby had to bust through the door to the uterus and THEN bust through door to the vagina. Yes, yes. Logic suggests this would be necessary. But I always assumed when folks talked about being a certain number of centimeters dilated, they were talking about the vaginal opening. Did they teach us this in anatomy? Wait. I don't think I've even taken anatomy. Biology class? If they did, I don't remember it. Perhaps I spent too much time protesting the frog dissection. Regardless, I learned A LOT today.

(4) Our instructor was fabulous (reminded me of my dear friend Lesley who moved to D.C. last year). But despite her wealth of knowledge, Brad stumped her on a question. He wanted to know the historical origin of cutting the umbilical cord. He had a hard time imagining early woman giving birth in a cave and thinking it was a good idea to take a sharp implement to something stuck to the baby. He now thinks that these women probably toted around the placenta until the cord fell off. He's sticking with that theory unless someone tells him otherwise.

(5) Women recovering from labor are supposed to put a lot of stuff in their underwear. At the end of the class, the instructor pulled out a bag filled with items that the hospital gives to new mothers. This includes a bunch of disposable underwear, maxipads on steroids, and long/narrow (but NOT thin) ice packs. One is supposed to affix the super-size maxipad to the underwear and place the ice pack on top of the maxipad before putting on the underwear. That is entirely too much stuff to put in one's underwear. Egad. It was the only moment all day that I was terrified of what's to come in the weeks ahead. Anything that requires me to fill up my underwear with that much junk cannot be pleasant.

(6) The labor and delivery rooms at Prentice are HUGE and fabulous. 400 square feet, hardword floors, huge windows. They have 42" flatscreen TVs and Bose sound systems (and blow dryers, because women do the strangest things between contractions, apparently). We need to provide our own CDs though. Brad says I get to be in charge of the music, but only while I'm in labor. Think the Neil Diamond catalog can get us through twelve hours or so? Here's hoping.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

my belly is a Kindle island

Anyone else watching the date like a hawk? No? Well, let me enlighten you. Yesterday was January 19. Notable as the birthdate of both Dolly Parton and Paula Deen (one year apart no less). But also as the starting gate for my seventh month of pregnancy. Less than two months to go until the due date!!! Be still my racing, anxiety-ridden heart.

Lately I've been reflecting on how much easier the third trimester has been than the first trimester. Seriously. I will take the shortness of breath, slow pace, and limited range of motion over the exhaustion, nausea, and cramping any day of the week. Not to mention the obvious source of the problems in the third trimester, verses the poorly veiled excuses one has to craft in the first. Perhaps I will revisit this opinion in the weeks to come, but for now, I'm content.

I'm not sure when it happened, but recently I've been feeling really pregnant. Like, shirts that used to drape nicely over my belly are now form-fitting. And people tend to stare at my belly. The increasing number of limitations I'm facing are also making the pregnancy all the more tangible.

I'm making an effort to maintain a normal routine as long as possible, because one-by-one, tasks that used to be a piece of cake (mmm) are becoming impossible. Here's a list:

1. Picking up dog poop. I have tried approaching the poop from various angles, and they are all equally challenging. Typically I am a meticulous pooper-scooper. Now I'm lucky if I can get 80% of the poop into the bag.

2. Taking off my boots. I am still capable of putting on my shoes, though a chair is necessary. But taking off boots? Ha. Thankfully, Brad has been around the few times I've needed assistance. But I foresee being trapped in my boots for hours at some point in the next few months. And I hate wearing shoes around the house.

3. Buying dog food. I went to Petsmart the other day and seriously considered abandoning my loyalty to the largest bags of dog food (go cost-savings and fewer trips to Petsmart). The largest bags are on the bottom shelf, which requires lifting. It seemed so much simpler to tip a few of the small bags into the cart and continue on my way. In hindsight, the lifting was a bad idea (also had to lift the bag into the car). No more solo trips to Petsmart for this lady.

4. Watch a remotely sentimental movie (or tv show, or commercial, or YouTube clip) while maintaining my composure. Did you see How I Met Your Mother on Monday? Sheesh! Granted, the subject matter was a particularly sensitive one for me, death of a parent. But for the last few years I've faced that topic with tear ducts of steel. Monday night? Gushing. And the ASPCA commercials? Oh boy.

5. Playing indoor fetch with Maggie. When Maggie wants you to throw something, she leaves it on the floor next to your feet. But it's been weeks since I've been able to bend over to grab the stuffed alien toy. Thankfully, Maggie is a smart dog. If you tell her to leave the stuffed alien next to you on the couch, she does it. But when the toy is on her eye level, she has a hard time fighting the urge to retrieve it from that spot and run away. So playing fetch has turned into a series of Maggie leaving something at my feet, me asking her to move it to the couch, Maggie complying, taking one step backwards, returning to retrieve the alien, and running away until she remembers that she wants to play fetch. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

6. Adjusting the temperature/pressure of my bath water. I love baths, especially in the winter. When I set my mind on taking a soak, I want to be in the tub as soon as possible. So I'll happily sit in the tub while it's filling up, as long as the water is warm. I run the water full-blast until the tub is full, then I turn the pressure down to a trickle and turn the heat up to near-scalding so that the tub water doesn't get cold. It's a science. Problem is that I've usually reclined by the time the tub is full. These days, changing from a reclining position to a seated position takes an eon, and it's all the more challenging when I'm in a slick tub.

BUT. It's not all bad news. I also have developed certain superpowers. The best one (other than the ability to grow a person)? I have a resting surface for my Kindle when I'm taking a bath. Booyah!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

how lucky we are

As promised, a post about the shower! But first a few random thoughts.

1. I am an incredibly loud sneezer. It's like a sneeze / scream, and it tends to startle folks standing nearby. Even those who are accustomed to it. When I'm in a location where screaming is frowned upon (such as a movie theater), I can muffle it. But a no-holds-barred sneeze is so much more satisfying. Lately, whenever I sneeze, I worry that I am terrifying Tater.

2. On-call doctors are awesome. I had a wee concern last night. It popped up while I was at Ikea in Schaumburg, thirty minutes from home. I don't get to Ikea all that often, but I find it to be a relatively enjoyable place to spend an hour or two. This time, not so much. The concern developed shortly after I walked in the door. Brad Googled the symptom, and we decided it was worth putting in a call to the after-hours answering service. It didn't take long for the Doc F to return my call, and I found myself discussing less-than-pleasant symptoms and possible causes with him while standing in the middle of the entertainment console section. He told me to go about my normal activities and not to worry unless the concern-inducing symptoms worsened. It was quite reassuring, and improved my impression of Doc F. More than anything, I was so thankful that I was able to discuss what was going on with a doctor I knew and trusted. Such a relief. I wish I could say that my concerns immediately evaporated and I was able to browse the aisles of Ikea with a spring in my step. Nope. We became super task-oriented, found nothing that fulfilled our requirements (we are looking for a small table for Brad's turntable), and quickly exited the store (stopping at the cafe on the way out to purchase a therapeutic cinnamon bun, because that was a necessary delay).

I'm guessing more than a few of you are terribly curious about what caused all this concern. For those of you who read this blog for sheer enjoyment (there are oh so many of you) and have no interest in the gory details of pregnancy, skip ahead. For those of you who are pregnant or who were pregnant or who are super curious about pregnancy and all its quirks, here you go. (This is going to be super anticlimactic.) Just a little bleeding. Tiny bit. But more than no bleeding, which is what I'd enjoyed since the first few weeks of the first trimester. I'd gulped down a bunch of water on the 30-minute drive to Ikea, and raced to the bathroom upon arrival, which is why the concern developed so soon after getting there. Now you know. Oh, and kudos to Ikea for putting a bathroom just inside the store entrance. Those Norwegians really know how to keep their target market content.

Moving on.

3. You know what feels awesome after having a little scare? Tater's pokes and jabs and flips and dancing. Go baby go.

4. Bellybutton update. I've mentioned that I'm fascinated by the effects pregnancy has on bellybuttons. I have a relatively deep innie (usually), and it's so cool to see the inside of my bellybutton. It has been emerging very gradually (to the dismay of Brad who is constantly telling Tater to poke it out), but as of this morning, it is officially flat. Nowhere to go but out, and I'm super excited.

5. Traction spikes are awesome. Yesterday Chicago was in the mid-30s (downright balmy) with mixed precipitation. When the temperature dropped overnight, the sidewalks morphed into skating lanes. Brad returned from his morning walk with Maggie and informed me that under no circumstances was I to walk outside without my microspikes. On the way to the el, I watched more than a couple people slip and slide, including Brad. But my microspikes gripped the sidewalk, and I had traction to spare. I demonstrated this for Brad by doing a little jig in a particularly slippery spot. He was not impressed or amused. But I was. Go microspikes.

I haven't even touched upon the shower, and this post is already ridiculously long. Apologies. Unless you were bored to begin with. Then you're welcome!

On Saturday our amazing friends and family threw us a baby shower. It was a coed shower, because that's how we roll. Such a good time. Heidi, Amanda, Mark, and Brett spent the morning moving furniture around (and borrowing a few pieces from the lobby) to make room for everyone at Heidi's apartment. My sister, MomRo, and Katie helped decorate, hanging fabulous tissue paper balls from every available fixture. Katie and Caty made cookies and cupcakes that I could. not. stop eating. Greg catered the event, and the food was fabulous. He even prepared veggie pigs-in-a-blanket which fulfilled a craving I didn't even know I had. And the carrot ginger soup. Mmm. Even though Meghan was out of town for the shower, she made favors for the guests to take home. Adorable packets of chocolate-covered almonds adorned with buttons (the theme) and owls.

SO many of our friends made it to the party. We didn't see the list of attendees beforehand, so every time the door opened we were surprised and delighted. Andrew and Amanda came in from New York, which made me squeal. My brother came in from D.C., and my Dad and Mary Ann were in from Miami. But the biggest surprise was when I turned around to see my cousin Katie standing near the front door. Katie lives in Indiana, and it's ridiculous that we don't see each other more often. After I saw Katie, I noticed a tuft of gorgeous white hair nearby. It was my Nana, in from Maryland. I couldn't believe it. Soon thereafter my Aunt Mary (also from Maryland) arrived, along with my Uncle Jerry and Aunt Sue (from Indiana). My eyes swelled with tears of joy. To be surrounded by family and so many friends was so much more than I ever could have hoped for. Tater is a lucky little man.

And if that weren't enough, he is now incredibly well-outfitted. The odds of him eating, sleeping, playing, and being changed are way up. I'm no longer worried about keeping him warm or finding a way to tote him around. And his library! I'd be envious if I didn't have immediate access to his collection of children's books.

Tater also is the proud owner of a new play mat, thanks to his Aunt Caty. Caty purchased the mat in Philadelphia and carried it on the plane expecting to toss it into the overhead compartment. Turns out Skip Hop play mats are not overhead compartment compatible. So she had to disassemble the 30-piece set in the aisle while other Southwest passengers waited to board. Tater is going to LOVE that play mat.

People took a bunch of pictures, but I'm not one of those people. I have fingers crossed that the photographers will send me a shot or two, and I'll add them to this post.

Big huge thanks to everyone who played a part in the shower, from near or far. I didn't know it was possible to feel so loved. How lucky we are.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

ouch, i'm serious.

OMG that HURT. A lot.

I have been mentally preparing a blog post about our amazing baby shower. All the fabulous family and friends and food and decorations. It was fantastic and I have amazing stories (for example, a few surprise attendees who brought tears of joy to my eyes). But I'm putting that post on hold. (Not for long, though. Stay tuned.)

Because OUCH.

We had family and friends in town for the shower, but tonight we are down to one house guest, MomRo. The weekend has been busy, so we'd yet to give MomRo a tour of the nursery. I was squatting on the new carpet (floor sample from Pottery Barn Kids, hoorah!), showing her something adorable. (I think it was the owl-adorned sling that Meghan sent when she found out how much Tater loves owls. Promise I will not hold this against the sling.) When suddenly I felt a stabbing sensation on my right-hand side. It was very localized and didn't spread, but it HURT. When I tried to inhale, the pain just intensified. It lasted for 10-15 excruciating seconds.

When it finally subsided, I was stunned and impressed with the pain. It was so much more intense than anything I've felt so far during pregnancy. I'm guessing it was a Braxton Hicks, because I have no other explanation. Defaulting to the obvious.

This happened an hour or two ago. I've felt nothing of similar intensity since, but I've been feeling periodic bouts of uncomfortableness on my right-hand side in the same area. Like Braxton Hicks aftershocks?

Guys, that pain was not pleasant. After it ended, I stood up, looked at Brad, and told him there was a good chance I'd be yelling at him while in labor.

This weekend we heard great labor stories from our parents. My dad told me that he almost missed my birth because my mom delivered all nine pounds of me (her first) in under two hours. She was walking the halls, gloating, a few hours later. (I should say that this is my Dad's recollection. I'm guessing my mother would dispute it if she were around. She was never one to gloat, unless her church volleyball team won a game.) Anyhow, fast-forward three years. Karma handed her a ten-pound, enormous-cranium Randy and a twelve-hour labor.

MomRo shared that when she was in labor with Brad, DadRo instinctively patted her as a comforting technique. She HATED the patting. And she told him so. The message was loud and clear, as DadRo assured us that he avoided all pat-like caresses when Stef and Jared were born.

Brad heard this story, and immediately decided to pat me during labor. I've always assumed that Brad would defer to humor during labor, cracking jokes during the most difficult moments. And that I will NOT be a receptive audience. We've discussed this. Tonight he explained that he likes jokes (especially his own), and he doesn't want me to focus my labor ire on his awesome jokes. He is indifferent, however, towards patting. Thus, he believes that if he pats me during labor, I will hate the pats instead, and he's fine with that.

Hum . . . If tonight's pain is anything like the labor pains to come, I guarantee you I will hate both.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

sloth and chunk had the right idea

Hi everybody! I intended to write a blog post on Sunday and it didn't happen. So if you just poured a fresh cup of coffee and are jonesing for a good long read, you're in luck.

Here's the latest, in reverse chronological order (for no reason in particular):

We had our 30-week appointment this morning. Met another doctor in the practice, Doc M, and I adore her. Doc G is still my most favorite, but Doc M is a close second. She asked about my shortness of breath without prompting. Also told me what would warrant a call to their office -- decreased fetal movement or four contractions in an hour. And she did her best to describe what a contraction feels like. Also, she was wearing scrubs. This seems like the obvious choice, which is why I don't fully trust doctors who opt for the shirt/tie/lab coat combo. Do they not know that they have the option of working in PJs? What gives? Point is, I like Doc M.

Belly measurement was 31" (normal), heartbeat was in the 150s (normal). She also probed my belly to figure out how Tater is oriented. I feel most of his movements on my left side, so I guessed he was lying across my stomach. That's her guess too, though she thinks he's at a downward angle. Head on my right-hand side, angled down. Legs on my left-hand side, angled up. Apparently we'll have a better idea around weeks 34 or 36 how he'll be oriented at the time of delivery. If nothing else, I'm thankful that he's tending in the right direction. I'm also thankful that I still have a window, however small, into the inner-workings of my body. Affirmation rocks.

In other news, we are making solid progress in the nursery. Yesterday a handyman replaced the wall sconces in the room and installed a dimmer switch. First time I've hired a handyman, and I have no regrets. He was super fast and relatively cheap. Also, Brad and I avoided certain electrocution. The best part is the atrocious wall sconces which were spotlighting the crib with an exposed light bulb have been replaced by upward-facing, tasteful fixtures. I no longer fear blinding Tater with tacky lighting. Phew. (Huge thanks to MomRo for the fixtures and Yelp for the handyman reviews.)

Speaking of quashing fears, over the weekend, Brad and I took our first two parenting classes at Prentice. Saturday morning we learned all about breastfeeding. Turns out the only thing I really knew about breastfeeding before the class was that it involved breasts and milk. Everything else was new information. I walked away feeling a bit more prepared to tackle nourishing Tater and I'm crossing my fingers that the instructor will be the lactation consultant on duty at the hospital when Tater is born.

I cannot say the same for the CPR instructor we encountered on Sunday morning. Indulge me for a moment, and call up an image of Anne Ramsey. Not ringing a bell? She starred in Throw Mama from the Train and Goonies. Our instructor was the spitting image of Ms. Ramsey, and she was doing her best to channel her Goonies character while teaching the class. I contend this is the wrong approach when confronting a room filled with expectant parents who are learning how to respond should the miracles growing in their respective wombs stop breathing one day. The class should have been titled, "How to Scare the Ever-Loving Sh*t Out of Future Moms and Dads."

After assuring us that it would be nearly impossible to find a properly trained individual to check the installation of our car seats within the Chicago city limits, one of the class participants asked for advice for parents who don't have a car and will be traveling in cabs. Honest to goodness, here's how the conversation unfolded:

Mama Fratelli: "Don't worry. We've done a lot of research on this issue, and you do not have to secure your car seat in a cab."

Carless (but not careless) Parent: "Um, that doesn't really address my concern."

Mama Fratelli: "No, really, It's not illegal. If the cab gets into an accident, you won't get a ticket."

Carless Parent: "I'm not so worried about the ticket. I'm worried about the safety of my newborn infant."

Mama Fratelli: "I know what I'm talking about."

Carless Parent: "Let me put it this way. How do I keep the baby safe in a car seat in a cab?"

Mama Fratelli: "You go with your gut. You use the seatbelt to strap them in. But you know how cabs are in this city.... Any other questions?"

Unfortunately, she didn't get around to explaining that last comment. I offered the possibility of looking for a car service that comes equipped with properly installed infant car seats, as I learned from my friend McKenzie that such services exist in NYC. Mama Fratelli quickly interjected that no such services would exist in Chicago. Because people in NYC do not have cars, but people in Chicago do. Clearly.

Other joys of the CPR class: Mama Fratelli rejects any suggestion that recalling the beat of Stayin' Alive or Another One Bites the Dust will help one administering CPR to ensure chest compressions are properly timed. Why? "Who can remember those lyrics?" (Um, Mama, it's not the lyrics, it's the baseline.) Instead, Mama Fratelli believes that we will never get the sound of her gruff counting out of our heads. I'm sure experts agree. Oh, and Mama Fratelli doesn't think that pregnant women should practice giving children a full 30 chest compressions, because we are fragile beings. Instead, she counted to 20 for us, without explanation (until I asked). Let's hope THAT gruff counting isn't what is seared into my brain. Mama also thinks it's appropriate to count aloud, while a video is playing with someone else counting aloud, even though they are off-sync. Can you tell this class was driving my insane?

Don't even get me started on Mama's terrifying rant about SIDS (she included helpful information such as more boy babies die than girl babies) and her exhaustive list of things on which our babies will inevitably choke (hotdogs, buttons, raisins, pennies, hotdogs, gummy bears, Lucky Charms, hotdogs . . . oh, and undercooked oatmeal).

Glass-half-full Brad pointed out that we both learned how to administer CPR to an infant/child and how to respond to a choking infant/child. Honestly, I feel like I've already forgotten most of it. I guess I'll study the American Heart Association pamphlet that Mama distributed. And perhaps look for a different class to help me forget.

So, to recap, what have we learned? Breastfeeding class is totally worth the money. CPR class with Mama Fratelli at the helm is not worth the price of an admission ticket to Throw Mama from the Train.

Never doubt the instincts of Sloth and Chunk.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

uninvited guest

Here's what I've been thinking all day:

Dear Charley Horse: you have overstayed your welcome. Actually, you were never welcome. And you are becoming increasingly uncomfortable. So beat it. Pretty please.

Unfortunately, Charley Horse is unconcerned with keeping his host happy. Quite the opposite. Blerg.

I've been reading about pregnant ladies getting leg cramps for weeks. Probably months. And each time it has come up, I've felt lucky that I'd yet to experience the leg cramping side effect. My luck ran out this morning, it seems. And Charley Horse is making up for lost time.

At first, I thought the numbness and tingling were just the result of spending too much time on my feet after getting out of bed. Bear with me.

For the past month or so, Brad and I have been commuting together. That way, while walking to the L stop, he can stand beside me when I periodically squat on the sidewalk to alleviate light-headedness. It makes me feel safer, he doesn't have to worry about me, and there's the added perk of looking a little less like a damsel in distress / dodo bird. The only downside is that Brad likes to get to work WAY earlier than I do, and in an effort to get out the door a little closer to his preferred hour, I tend to leave the house is a greater state of chaos than I'd prefer. Dishes in the sink, recycling piling up, bed unmade.

This morning Brad needed to get to work at the insane hour of 8:15. I realize that most people do not find 8:15 to be a crazy arrival time, and I also realize that once Tater is here, I'll be eating my second breakfast by 8:15. But for the time being, I am exercising my right -- as a State employee who works on flex time -- to feel like 8:15 is far too early to do any critical thinking. So I declined Brad's offer to commute together today. Which meant that I got to take my sweet sweet time at home this morning. I puttered around the house for two hours before leaving for the office. I washed the dishes, broke down shipping boxes, sorted through mail, tended to the laundry. It was fabulous. (And yes, I probably have a touch of OCD when it comes to organizing and cleaning. I admit it. But there are far worse vices.)

When the leg tingles and numbness began while I was cleaning, I attributed it to the additional time spent on my feet, flitting around the apartment. But then I got to work and the tingles and numbness turned into a dull aching pain in my left calf muscle. And it's been there all day. I've tried rubbing it, elevating it, sitting on it, stretching it. No relief. I was hoping that the walk home from the L would loosen things up and make it feel better. But the pain was even more intense when I got home. It's a dull pain, but it's still a pain. Just like dry heat is still heat.

Oh well, I definitely prefer Charley Horse to Braxton Hicks. But I'm not going to tell him that.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

this is not a joke.

No worries. I am not in labor. I say this because earlier, when I called my sister, that was her first question. Seemed like a strange intro, but she explained that because we'd spoken yesterday, she assumed something was wrong. Occurred to me that posting two days in a row on the blog, especially given yesterday's topic and today's title, may have caused a few of you to think something major was afoot. Fair assumption, but incorrect. Tater is still in the oven.

Before I get to the point, a quick addendum to yesterday's message. The pains did not return, and I'm beginning to think that they were due in part to dehydration. Meghan told me that her Braxton Hicks contractions were always worse when she was dehydrated, and I've found that pregnancy is generally less awesome when I haven't been drinking like fish. Today I've been better about guzzling water, and I feel much better. Hollah!

Time for the point. Our diapers arrived today! Have I mentioned that we are going the cloth diaper route? We are. Whole hog. Once again, I deferred to Meghan's sage advice and decided on the GroVia line. It's actually a diapering system, with shells and liners. And GroVia offers disposable liners for times when you don't want to lug around a diaper bag full of stink. I have high hopes for the cloth diapers. Brad took a little convincing, as he has concerns about inadvertently washing his cloths in "poop water." But he likes the planet, loves saving money, and -- most importantly -- trusts Meghan and Mark. So eventually he agreed to the plan after they assured him that he need not fear a poop-contaminated washing machine. I'll let you guys know how it all works out. (And I should add that I'm planning to have a batch of newborn Seventh Generation diapers on hand, just in case. Faith is a little easier with a good back-up plan.)

Anyhoo, the nursery was beginning to get a little cluttered so I decided to put the diapers into the dresser. We ordered a few different shell patterns, and some of them came with a liner already inserted. I thought it couldn't hurt to try my hand at inserting liners into the remaining shells. While I snapping them in I was overcome by the realization that this is really happening. Something about assembling these little diapers made Tater's existence, his impending arrival, seem so very real. In a good way, of course. It was a happy realization.

I'm guessing that diapers will not always make me smile, especially if Tater also drinks like a fish. So I'll try to enjoy it while it lasts.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Ouch, I think.

I keep reading information on Braxton Hicks contractions. What they are, when you can ignore them, when you should contact your doctor. Oodles of helpful information. Except no one explains what they feel like. I'm assuming they hurt (likely rendering the "ignore them" advice laughable). But how much?

A few years ago I had a ruptured ovarian cyst. Lord almighty did it hurt. The pain started gradually, and I was convinced that a warm bath would solve the problem. Unfortunately, the pain intensified while I was in the tub. My then-boyfriend found me naked, curled in a ball on the bathroom rug, moaning. He tried to get me on my feet, but I begged him to leave me there and let death and/or the spontaneous exit of my uterus take its course. Eventually, I agreed to go to the hospital, but I poo-pooed clothing and undergarments. Every little movement was excruciating, and I assumed this would include putting on sensible attire. I left the house wearing a short linen skirt, a thin tank top, and a rain coat. It was September in Chicago and not warm. But I was doubled over in pain and did not care. (I spent the entire day at the hospital and eventually regretted this decision. I would have paid good money for a pair of underwear -- I'm talking $40 for a pair of Fruit of the Loom granny panties. I won't even begin to affix a dollar amount to a bra. Or a fuchsia velour track suit.)

At the hospital, they asked me to rate my pain. I think I gave it a 7. I explained that it was the worst pain I'd ever experienced, but I could only compare it to broken and dislocated bones. Surely there were greater pains. 8s, 9s, 10s. Gunshot wounds, thumbscrews, the rack. Oh, and labor. Wouldn't labor be worse?

Here I am, staring down the pain that I assumed would be worse than the ruptured ovarian cyst. And I'm guessing the Braxton Hicks contractions will be some approximation of that intense pain. But what if they aren't?

Tater has been moving in strange ways tonight. Twice, his movements caused me to catch my breath. The pain wasn't horrible, and it quickly diminished, but it was the first time that his movements caused me discomfort. So strange to have these alien feelings and have no idea what they mean.

From what I've read, the pains of labor, contractions specifically, are individualized. Perhaps, akin to Supreme Court Justices and pornography, I'll know them when I feel them. But until then, each little pain gives me pause. Was that it? Should I start counting? Am I overreacting? Did that hurt enough?

Regardless, I find myself sending up prayers on a regular basis that Tater is a healthy, full-term baby. Oh please, oh please.