Monthly Archives: August 2009

10 days

Today marks ten days until our due date. It is also one day until my birthday, and 244 days since we learned I was pregnant. Here we are, our lives on the verge of the hugest change we’ve ever encountered, and J and I are becoming impatient.

We thought the majority or our baby preparations were complete, but we keep finding more.  The following are the projects we have found to busy ourselves just in the last two days:

  • Yesterday, for example, after finding some lovely new drapes, we decided our bedroom needed a mini makeover. This also involved closet organization, cleaning, and more. It was great, and the end result is lovely. I’m sure Egghead will be delighted.
  • I have also finally finished my cloth diaper wipe project. We cut out a bunch of wipes from some great old flannel fabric a few months ago, but I have been putting off finishing the edges. Yesterday was the day to do it, and now we have dozens of flannel baby wipes. This is something I began to worry I wouldn’t ever finish, so it feels good to see the stack of cute little wipes.
  • We organized the clothes in Egghead’s closet, using different colored hangers to signal different clothing sizes.
  • We had the carseat inspected at our local AAA office (I highly recommend this! They’re wonderful!).
  • We have gathered documents to take with us to the hospital (marriage certificate, birth plan, and more).

Yesterday, we also spent an hour counting contractions. I was having them every twenty minutes or so, but then they stopped. I haven’t had any regular bouts of them today–yet, anyway–but it’s fun to practice nevertheless. I feel like the baby’s head may be dropping down a little now, which would be some nice progress. I won’t know anything official, however, until Wednesday’s midwife appointment.

Any time he’s ready, so are we. He’s just getting too big to stay in there much longer. Do you hear that Egghead? We’re ready for you (we even have nice, soft, flannel diaper wipes for you!). Any time now…

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Filed under Egghead, the P word

38 week ramblings

This morning I awoke to my wife spooning me with her hand on my belly. She was marveling that she and Egghead were both awake, and I was still sound asleep. They were having some sweet morning time together as I imagine they might once he’s born. We spent the next half an hour letting Egghead know what he’s got to look forward to on the outside. We talked about everything from books to food to family adventures. He seemed to enjoy the conversation; we just hope we were convincing.

Today we  hit 38 weeks. We’re officially two weeks from our due date. Time is just flying by. I guess we’re just not one of those families for whom the ninth month is the slowest. We have just had so much to do! I occasionally have some contractions when I am up and around. Unfortunatley, I’m still chained to my computer for six hours a day until the end of the week, so finding the time to be up and around has been a little challenging. We’re trying to fit in small walks whenever we can. Sadly, my horrid pubic bone pain is also preventing me from spending a lot of time walking. Oh how I miss my long walks. I’m going to welcome them so much once he’s born.

We’re starting to field many more phonecalls from family. Whereas my mom and I typically only talk on the phone once a week, now she’s calling every other day. My brother, who usually calls me once a month, is now calling me on a weekly basis. Even my dad, who never calls is starting to call me every few weeks. It’s a little funny, but I do find their excitement endearing. Hell, we’re excited too.

I think it’s safe to say we’re in full-on nesting mode. My wife scrubbed the counter tops yesterday, and today we got up and immediately started organizing food and spices in the kitchen cabinets. She recently shampooed the carpets, and I’m just waiting for her to begin washing the walls. The woman is on fire. Of course, I keep seeing these projects that I am just dying to do too–things that are sort of my thing but are impossible with a gargantuan belly in the way, but I don’t want to wear my wife out, so I am trying to let them go.

My work scales back quite a lot as of Friday. I’ll be down to three hours a day, five days a week, which I’m looking forward to. The job I have is an online educational support position, and mostly I respond to student essays, train new instructors, and screen new employees, although I occasionally work in live chat rooms with students. It is a job that I can literally keep doing until I go into labor. I even spoke with one woman who worked with live students through her early labor! This is not something I will do, but it really is possible. I will probably try to start working again two weeks after Egghead’s arrival. It will be a challenge, but because I can work my three hours a day from home at any time and in any increments, I’m hoping it will be a good way to keep my brain functioning (and a little bit of a paycheck coming in).

My mom is coming for a quick overnight visit tomorrow, which will be lovely. She wants to celebrate my upcoming birthday and take us out to dinner. We are not complaining. This also gives us an opportunity to debrief before the big day so that we can discuss with her what we’ve been learning in birth class, what some of our preferences are for the birth, what roles she can play and so on. It’s like a little birth team meeting! That and I think she’s delivering a bunch of new diaper covers. Woohoo!

I keep reading that I’m going to start having trouble sleeping, but I honestly sleep pretty well. I am forever going to advocate that pregnant women sleep on memory foam mattresses, for this has saved me and my hips. So has my body pillow. My only real discomforts in the night are my pubic bone pain (which is resolved by flopping my top leg over the body pillow), the once-a-night heartburn wake-up call (the T.ums are right by the bed), and the regular need to pee. Peeing, though, is no big deal. I have mastered the art of napping while on the toilet, and getting out of bed is also an easy way for me to move the body pillow so that I can easily sleep on my other side. In other words, I’ve gotten very efficient at dealing with any and all nighttime annoyances, so I sleep really well right through the night. I’m told this can still change, and I accept that, but for now, I’m pleased since I know very well that full nights of sleep will soon be a distant memory.

We have started to make some food to freeze. Last weekend, I made a tasty chicken tortilla soup, and we froze a bunch of it. Today I’ll make a bunch of marinara sauce to freeze. We don’t have much freezer space, but even making up these little things will help when it comes to needing food when we’re too harried/tired/overwhelmed to cook. Casserole type dishes are out of the question  due to lack of space (although I might have to throw together some enchiladas), but if you have any suggestions for shortcut meal ideas that we can partially prep now, we’ll welcome them!

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Filed under Ramblings, the P word

decisions, decisions

We finally talked with the singing doula yesterday, and she was great. We learned a lot in our conversation with her, and she gave us a good deal to think about. She seemed to have lovely energy, and while she has only attended two births (she’s still working on becoming certified), she seemed quite competent. What we hadn’t realized is that she could not act as an advocate for us, which is something we had sort of hoped for. Instead, when it came time to make decisions about interventions, she would suggest that we take time to discuss , and she would give us advice based on what she knew or what she could find out on the phone. Essentially, she would remind us of what we wanted but wouldn’t do much beyond that (for this part of her role, anyway).

Because my wife’s fear has been that she would have to do battle with the medical professionals, I think we had hoped that we would have a buffer between her and medical pros. J had to be both of her parents’ advocates as they were dying, and she encountered some really horrific experiences with doctors and nurses who just wouldn’t listen to her regarding her parents needs, their reactions to medications, and more (despite the fact that she was their primary caregiver). Quite understandably, she feels this need to go back into protector mode when in medical settings, and she was beginning to fear that our birth would be one long battle between with her facing off alone against nurses and doctors.

We talked about this for a long time yesterday evening, and I think she has finally realized that this is a rather different experience. Sure, she can be as bulldog-ish as she needs to be if it comes down to it (and I can’t speak for myself), but ultimately, we’ve got to go into this expecting the best from those in the medical profession. Thus far, when we have projected positivity and confidence, even to our intervention-happy OB, people tend to relax and trust us. So we’re working on continuing this practice, and the more we do, the better this experience is going to be. We both trust this.

But let me get back to the doula. I’m sure it would be great to have someone there at the birth to recommend different positions, to massage me as needed, and so on, but as I lay awake at 5:00am this morning, I began to think about how many people were going to be in the room: J, my mom, our midwife, nurses–and then a doula too? I became more and more tense as I pictured people hovering and instructing. I mean, there are only two chairs in the room! Where would the third person go? I was anticipating performance anxiety, and I started to realize that this was getting further away from what I really wanted: as personal and intimate a birth setting as possible (given that it’s a hospital). In those down times when no nurses or midwives or doctors are present, I want my wife and my mom there and no one else. I don’t necessarily want an extra stranger in the room. I’m a private person, and I started to realize that the presence of a person I’ll only meet once or twice before the birth wasn’t going to be the answer to our worries. So today, I let the singing doula know that we wouldn’t need her services. It was a tough decision to make, but it was necessary.

What is wonderful is that this has led J and I through some really important conversations–conversations about what roles she and my mom will be able to play, conversations about our attitudes toward hospitals and doctors, and conversations about the strengths we have. The two of us have done so much research and have spent so much time learning about this process. We’ve learned so many tools in our birth class, and we practice them at home. We’re feeling like we can do this, and we’re feeling like we need to do this together, helped along by the wisdom and experience of my mom and some experienced medical staff. Suddenly, this feels more like our birth, like a project we can and will tackle together, whatever the universe or the medical professionals throw at us, and somehow this is more empowering than I realized it could be.

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Filed under birth, us

a bit more progress

We are finally home after hours at the salon (which should have been more like an hour and a half. grr.), and I have a little bit of an update on the Egghead front (what this has to do with the salon, I do not know).

This morning, we had a midwife appointment. On my way in to do my urine test, I saw the OB in the hall, and she was excited as can be to see me, so she rubbed my belly and told Egghead she couldn’t wait to meet him. She also asked if there had been any activity lately, and I told her of my Saturday contractions and movement. She was delighted to hear this. Once I did my test, the nurse was waiting for me outside of the restroom (this neverhappens–we usually have to wait for at least half an hour). She had already grabbed J, and we were headed to the exam room. On the way, my weight was taken–I’m up a pound, so a whole three pounds now since the beginning–and my blood pressure was taken once we got in. It was up a bit at 130/72, the highest it’s ever been. They seemed to be happy with it, and the nurse thought it was just because I had been hustling about, which is likely.

When the midwife came, she was ready to do an internal exam. She too was delighted to hear about the weekend’s activity, so with that, she decided to check for some progress. Once again, she was full of cervical flattery. (What can I say? The woman is in love with my cervix.) Upon feeling around and giving me some eye-opening pain (she may have massaged my cervix a little), she declared my cervix between 1-2cm dilated. Holy moly! Egghead has still not descended much more, but she’s very impressed with the progress of the cervix, and so am I. J and I were both incredibly excited by this news, and while we know it can still be quite some time before arrives, it’s reassuring nonetheless to know that my body is doing what it’s supposed to do. Of course, Egghead continues to grow as well. The midwife says he is measuring “done.” He is fully cooked.

So here we are! We go to weekly appointments now, and our next appointment is next Wednesday with the other midwife we like. Tomorrow, we’ll finally have our phone interview with the singing doula, and before long, before we even know it really, we’re going to have a baby.

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Filed under midwife, updates

birth art and other weekend adventures

It’s amazing what one can do when there is no work to be done over the weekend and no out-of-town guests to host. J and I were beside ourselves on Saturday when we awoke and discovered we could do whatever we wanted. I didn’t touch my computer–the thing that has been attached to me for at least eight hours a day for months on end. We just enjoyed ourselves doing little things I’ve had on my to-do lists for ages.

One of the things I have wanted to do since I read Birthing from Within is to spend some time creating birth art. She has some wonderful prompts that are great for working through pregnancy and birth. I’m a terrible painter, but I still love doing it, and we finally had time. Here are a few samples, and some appear to be blurry. Oh well.

The first is from a prompt asking me to depict what it will like for me to be in birth. In the end, I came up with a wave. I’m resting on the wave; I’m riding the wave, and eventually, I’m birthing within the wave. Here’s what that looks like:

Birth Wave

Birth Wave

The next is something of a self-portrait:

IMG_2692

And, while this looks like a hurricane, it’s a practice in me visualizing my cervix opening, or rather, an abstraction thereof:

IMG_2694

My wife created this piece, which I love. It’s our birth with her, my mom, a midwife, and me (the naked one)

Women with Wild Hair

Women with Wild Hair

And J insists that I share this photo she caught of me painting. I’m wearing what I call my tomato shirt. When I wear it, I appear as though I’m 18 months pregnant (or a giant tomato), but it covers my belly, and that’s more than can be said for most of my shirts these days:

T is for Tomato

T is for Tomato

Saturday morning, we went to one of our favorite local farms to get some tomatoes, eggs, and such, and we walked around their flower gardens–so beautiful. Here I am with the fields of sunflowers, zinnia, and more:

37weeks

And some of the flowers:

Sunflower

RedSunflowers

We even found a yardsale–a multi-family yardsale–which turned out to be a family yardsale–three different families of lesbians. What fun! I’m telling you, it was a great weekend for this sort of thing.

By the time we got home, it was time for me to make my Chicken Tortilla Soup, so I spent some time up and cooking, and I also had some of my first productive-seeming contractions. I had to sit and breathe through them, and I felt some good pressure. This prompted us to pack our bags for the hospital. It feels good to have that done, even though Egghead isn ‘t showing any new signs of making his grand entrance soon. Later in the evening, a friend came over to take photos of me, and I’ll share those once I’ve processed them (within a day or two). It was such a lovely time, and it’s great to have some photos so close to Egghead’s arrival. It was a lovely day all around.

Today, we have a midwife appointment, and I get to have my hair cut. More updates to come, but I just had to share because it feels so damn good to have something positive to write about, to feel this lightness about me. I am so grateful for all of these moments.

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Filed under weekend

37 weeks

We’re at thirty-seven weeks. Egghead is officially full term. While we are still three weeks from our due date, the boy can come at any time, and that’s what we’re telling him today. We’re ready–or nearly so–and it’s simply unbelievable that he’s nearly here.

I’m feeling so much better about dumping the class. I have had time to spend with my wife, time to go on little errands, and time to just sit and read. I’ve done frivolous things! I read The Time Traveler’s Wife (a fantastic novel), and then we went to see it (a terrible movie). We caught up with the new show The Colony, and we’ve even done a little shopping. It feels so good, and while I’m still working at my other job, I don’t have an English 1A-shaped cloud hanging over my head. When I go into labor, my current job goes on hold until I’m ready to come back–and coming back simply means logging onto the computer for a few hours a day whenever I feel like it for as long as I feel like it. Yes, things are getting better.

Today, we’re going to install the carseat into the vehicle we have now affectionately deemed “The Baby Bucket.” The car needs to be retired, but as it’s our only four-door, it’s going to have to do until the car fairy grants us with a new one. We have at least made it safe to drive, and that is what’s important.

Today, we finished writing a one-page birth plan, and I’m going to work on packing my hospital bag. My wife has gotten me some lovely comfort items for birth–some cute little socks, some essential oils for aromatherapeutic purposes, and even some new lipbalm. After the weekend, we’ll chat with the singing doula finally and determine whether she’s going to be a good fit (please, please, please). We also have to talk with our potential pediatrician, get me a hair appointment so our son won’t be terrified upon seeing me for the first time (and because my mom insisted on paying for cut and color for me as an early birthday gift), get the carseat installation inspected, and spend some time with friends. These things are so doable, and I’m enjoying checking them off of our list.

So we’re getting things in order, and it feels good, and I don’t feel so panicked now that 37 weeks has arrived.

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Filed under Egghead, the P word

dropout

I received an email this morning from the chair of the online teaching committee informing me that I was going to have to type out every last lecture for the class I was possibly to teach spring semester, and I broke down. Last week, the department chair informed me that there was a strong possibility that the class would not be offered in the spring due to budget constraints, but that I could still plan it, just in case. Mind you, there was no pay that was going to be offered for these hours of planning. With no assurance that I’ll get to teach the class, and with dozens of hours more work than I anticipated (not to mention the 30-hour work weeks I’m still putting in at my other job), I gave up. I couldn’t do it. I wrote to the online chair, and I officially backed out of the class. Part of me–the professional side, the academic, the intellectual that doesn’t give up no matter how hard or tedious a job or how underpaid I may be–is very disappointed in myself. I’ve been crying for nearly two hours about this. I feel like a professional failure.

And then there’s this other side of me–the emotional side, the pregnant woman, the soon-to-be mom of this little boy who is jostling about inside my belly as I type–who knows this is the right decision. You see, people keep asking me if I’m excited, and when asked that, I automatically respond, “Oh, yes!” But the truth is, I have been filled with stress and fear and anxiety about all of the things that have to get done before I can even entertain the prospect of being excited about our son’s arrival. I keep telling myself, “Just meet this next deadline, and then you can get excited.” My heart has been breaking over this. I have wanted this baby for so very long, so to not feel excited–well, that was about the worst thing I could imagine.

So I’m taking this as a lesson in prioritizing, and for me, right now, my family has to come first. There will be other classes to teach in the future–maybe even in the spring. There will be other professional endeavors. But what I won’t have is a second chance at these last few weeks (or days) before our baby arrives. I won’t get back these last few sacred moments with my wife where we’re just a couple. I won’t get another chance at the building excitement, the final preparations, or even the hours just sitting and staring at my belly wondering who this little boy is and will be.

In my heart, I know I have made the right choice. I just need to get my head to follow.

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Filed under Egghead, family, teaching writing, the P word