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.