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.