Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tim Gunn Moment

When i started writing this post 87 years ago, I titled it "Is This My Tim Gunn Moment?" I have since decided that, yes, this is my Tim Gunn moment. Make. It. Work.

I've been dragging my feet, hanging my head, complaining about my well-paying-benefit-loaded corporate gig because of a generally difficult work environment. (Git out yer tiny violins.) I have felt less than supported in my new gig as mom. I won't go into details here because, hey, that's unprofessional and I am trying soooo hard to be the consummate professional. Fail. In addition to the "just because your life changed doesn't mean ours has to" - which, granted, has some merit - I've gone from delightfully independent to utterly micromanaged over the past year. Another not so glorious part of my job, I am on call 24/7 which has landed me in some unfortunate situations on major holidays and whatnot. Enough complaining. Just trust me, I do not relish the opportunity to go to the office every day and it's mostly not about who I'm leaving at daycare (though that has put things in perspective).

What I have figured out is this: I am happy working when I am being creative. My favorite part of my current job is interior design. My best friend, S, is insanely creative and recently took the leap from her corporate gig into a retail interiors job. S and I are very in love and have been since sixth grade. So we're doing what any two gals with a penchant for financial instability and a longing for a creative bohemian lifestyle living in two separate cities would do - we're starting an interior design blog and business. All the details are still in the works. We're working on forming the LLC, getting our website up and running and talking to potential clients because, here's the stunner, people actually want to work with us and that is bananas. I mean, not truly bananas because we know what we're doing and have flawless taste but bananas because we're children pretending to be grownups.

You're probably rolling your eyes and thinking, "Well, la-dee-da, it sure must be nice to have the cash to finance this sort of gig." Yes, that would be nice. It's not the case for me. I'm going to work another job to keep this going. I foresee a lot of night and weekend work. And perhaps in 6-12 months, S and
I will shrug and say, "Well, that was stupid." But maybe not. And the maybe not is keeping us going.

All will be revealed soon, hopefully in my next post. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

4 Month Sleep Regressskerflafla

Hello, smug mom. I've got some terrible news for you.  I too used to have a baby that slept like an angel. One quick snack at 3 or 4 and not another peep til morning! And then there was that little daycare cold that lingered. That caused a few rough nights. And then I experimented with putting him down unswaddled. And then there was his last round of vaccines... And holy excuses I have not slept like a normal human being for a month! I now rub coffee grounds into my eyeballs in hopes of transferring some of caffeine's magical properties directly into my soul. It hit me this morning that I have now spent weeks staggering around the office like an extra from World War Z looking for Brad Pitt. He is nowhere and I am tired and my 21 week old baby has regressed to 3 wake ups per night. The 4 month sleep regression is real, my friends. Started at about 4-4.5 months and now we're a day shy of 5 months old. Consider this your episode of Scared Straight: Baby Fails.

Will I take this lying down? (Pun just realized and enjoyed.) Hell no! So here is what I'm doing to proactively change nights for the better.

  • Falling asleep while reading that baby sleep book I purchased to preempt a 4 month sleep regression. Oops. Like so many other "this is how to soothe/feed/raise your baby" book purchases, it sat on my virtual Kindle shelf until I was absolutely desperate for its sage advice as well as beyond the point of being helped. 
I'd like to lodge a complaint against every baby "method" theory book ever written. Dear infant experts, try a different format. Perhaps a pamphlet? Something with bullet points totaling less than 20 pages? I am too tired to read the thrilling testimony - always in a gray box and in italics - of the parents who took your advice and got their kid to sleep in less than 30 seconds thus saving their marriage. Just give it to me straight. Do this, not that. Then do this, no, not that. Good. Stick to it. Stop that... ok, much better. That's how your book should read. Then I could stay awake and glean actual information from its pages. In summary, PAMPHLET WITH BULLET POINTS. If you have written a second chapter, you have gone too far.

  • Practicing consistency. Also, inconsistency. 
    • I always put Henry down "drowsy but awake" unless of course he's been particularly difficult or I am particularly exhausted in which case I put him down either mostly asleep or totally asleep. 
    • In response to increased night wakings, disassociate nursing. When Henry wakes up at times where I am positive that he is not hungry, I pick him up and rock him back to sleep. Unless of course I am catatonic in which case I whisper, "Shush baby, don't cry. Here is the gift of my boob." 
  • Obsessing about the swaddle. Henry is a swaddle addict. While freebasing Halo Swaddle Sleepsacks, he is practicing rolling over and mocking me in his Rock n' Play. So yeah, at 5 months he's still swaddled and still in the RNP. Oops, my bad. Unswaddled he sleeps in such short bursts. Long enough for naps but not for night sleep. I find thinking about it far more manageable than doing anything about it.
  • Thinking about moving Henry into his own room. That would probably help with the whole nursing disassociation. Yep, bet it would. I should totally try that sometime. Except my husband basically bursts into tears when I suggest we should do that and, when attempted once, insisted we sleep with the monitor on full blast (the static was deafening) and brought him back to the room the first time he cried. I'd be annoyed if it wasn't so incredibly sweet. I am also quite tired and lack the energy to argue/reason with him. Co(dependent)-sleeping/parenting is endearing.
So how did you handle all of this? You probably weaned your kid from the swaddle at an appropriate age and had him sleeping in his own room. That would make sense. But let's say, hypothetically, that you hadn't done those things. What would you do then? 

Argh, it might be baby sleep boot camp time. Next week.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How Does She Do It?! (Muscular Atrophy Post)

"How does she do it?!" is what no one at all has said about me lately. Seriously, friends. I don't understand this whole life-work balance people speak of so frequently. There have been times in the past where I've really aced it - working out regularly either early morning (kill me now) or after work, riding my bike to yoga on the weekends, cooking dinner, etc. I've never been much of a housekeeper so I won't pretend my house used to be clean. (Hilarious side note: I often tell Henry that prior to his arrival, the apartment was spotless and that we held frequent, lavish dinner parties. He's going to feel soooooo bad when he actually comprehends.) My spurts of activity were typically followed by periods of a switch to a more sedentary lifestyle brought on by the disruption of a cold, vacation, or general sloth. I have been a lump basically since my first trimester. I kept thinking I'd get back into yoga on maternity leave. Fail. My free time at work is not free at all as I'm hooked into a hospital grade breastmilk pump. No lunch-time walks or quick trips to the grocery store.

Since H was born, I've kept up on reading. It feels like a necessary escape. 15-20 minutes each night before bed does the trick. This week I picked up knitting again. I'm working on a Christmas stocking for my niece. After H goes to sleep and after dinner, I knit for about an hour while I watch tv. Dishes and bottles can wait. It feels great to do something crafty and creative again. Cleaning the house happens in small bursts between J and me. I'm not terribly stressed about it and can accept the inevitable clutter for the time being. Instacart is serving my grocery needs. But after 13 months or so (that was painful to type), I am jumping out of my skin to get back to yoga. Really anything physical but ideally yoga. I miss my teachers, the way it makes my head and body feel and, yes, the way it makes me look. I'm so vain, I probably think this song is about me. 

Please, friends, help me fit it in. Here's what my weekdays look like:
• Between 5:30 and 6 Henry wakes up and I try to force him back to sleep by sticking a boob in it. Justified as breakfast. 37 certified sleep trainers just jumped out a window.
• 6:30 - Drag sorry ass out of bed, drink coffee while getting ready. J or I talk to Henry as he plays in his bouncy chair and we scramble around the apt. Dogs are walked, bottles and frozen milk ready for daycare.
• 7:30 - Either leave for work or bring H to daycare, then work.
• 10 - Pump. Contemplate formula.
• 1 - Pump. Contemplate formula.
• 4 - Pump. Contemplate formula.
• Between 5 and 5:30 - Home or daycare pickup.
• 6 - 7 - Play with Henry.
• 7 - 8 - Bath and bedtime.
• 8 - Eat pasta/takeout/leftovers/cereal.
I know this is a normal schedule for a working mom but I'm not used to it yet. It makes me feel all panicky and exhausted. There is not enough time. Not enough time. Not enough time. To think that I used to complain about my busy days while sipping a glass of wine, petting the dogs, painting my toes, etc.

So. Physical fitness. I don't want to give up my 2 evening hours with Henry. I do have the weekends. I could work with that. But what's the weekday solution? Maybe there isn't one right now. Maybe I just enjoy my little guy and embrace the fact that sweater season will soon be here. Another point to consider: Oprah has arm flaps so why can't I? J is encouraging me to go to my old favorite yoga class on Wednesday evenings. I would get home at 7:30 just in time to feed him before bed. (Yup, nursing right before bed. 16 more certified sleep trainers just leaped to their deaths.) I could give it a whirl and see how it feels. Blah. Someone give me money and let me work part time. Thank you.

P.S. I am whining about problems that I would  have killed for a year ago. Slap me.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

17 Weeks - Working Topless.

Oh, hi there, friends! Ever so sorry that I haven't been blogging much lately. Well, what with my baking, sewing, macrame, dog obedience competitions, baby-raising and working full time, I've barely had time to squeeze in my daily workout let alone a blog post! Let me just shake the crumbs from my floral skirt and sit at my keyboard (tap at my iphone in bed). There, that's better.

I have been back at work now for over a MONTH. When I'm at the office, it often feels like business as usual. Not much has changed in the daily minutiae of work. Sure, I stop what I'm doing three times a day to sit in a file room, topless and hooked to a double electric breast pump, while I will greater quantities of milk to drip into little plastic bottles strapped to my chest. Nudity in the workplace will never feel normal but it will always feel extra chilly. Pumping aside (and it never is, wait for the rant), work feels like work. And that's good. The first day was complete torture. I just felt eviscerated. Gummy pieces of heart littered across the 7 miles from my apartment to the office. I spent the day feeling very put-upon, like the first woman ever to go back to work after having a baby. Un peu dramatic. Fortunately, that was just the first day. Every day since has felt more and more normal. I don't enjoy the chaos of the mornings or the fact that I only have a few waking hours with my little guy in the evenings, but I savor what I do have. Maybe I'll win the lottery soon and won't have to work or will be able to work less. Until then, J and I are trading off daycare pickup and drop off responsibilities, going broke by calling in take out orders because the grocery store is an entire 4 blocks away (yes, I've heard of Peapod. the effort...), and loving the poop out of our baby boy. Our weekends are more appreciated than ever. But still no grocery shopping.

I feel I absolutely must write about pumping. Henry was kind of a breastfeeding genius from the get go. While we had a few latch issues here and there and a clogged duct or two (I ooze glamour), feeding my kid during maternity leave was pretty easy peasy. He was hungry, I had boobs, my boobs had milk. A lot of women have it way tougher than that with under-supply, mastitis, cracked nipples, all sorts of boob-hell. Starting at about 6 weeks post partum I started pumping once a day to build up my stash for returning to work. While pumping was kind of a chore, it felt like a necessary not-so-evil. I wasn't winning any awards for my pumping output but I didn't really think much of it. Then I went back to work and my daily leisure pumps (always done while watching Bravo - you know, to boost my supply) became thrice daily grinds in a cold file room. I was all of a sudden struggling to pump enough and my boobs started aching. I could feel clogs forming. I went from 15 minutes on the pump to 20 plus 5 minutes of hand expressing, ie. milking myself like a goat. Big thanks to The Farm in Door County, Wisconsin for teaching me proper milking technique. Milking oneself is shockingly similar to milking a goat. 5 more minutes of cleanup and milk storage and I'd spent 30 minutes away from my desk. An hour and a half a day where I really struggled to work - invoice review, phone calls - and pump. Feeling as though I was begging for a nasty bout of mastitis, I called a lactation consultant. During our phone consult, she determined that I was a "poor responder" to pumping. My baby sucks that milk out like a champ; the pump, not so much. Leftover milk was sitting there all day, sticking in my ducts and causing horribly painful spasms. Oh, the glamour. 

Semi-solution: a hospital grade pump. I got a prescription for this bowling ball bag sized contraption and I keep it in the file room for all my coworkers to admire. "Jealous much?" I ask. Yes, yes they are. The upside of the turbo milk machine is that I pump more effectively during my morning pump when the old storage facilities on my chest are rather full. It's easier to get closer to some semblance of "empty." I still need to hand express at times. Plus, I don't want my 4-H skills to get rusty. I will win that blue ribbon for livestock management, by God! Another plus to Big Bertha is that it feels a lot less like its ripping off my nipples. So that's a win. Pump time hasn't really gone down but I'm more comfortable and better at keeping up with Henry's intake at daycare. Another huge help from the lactation consultant - I feel certain that you have either stopped reading already and/or have spontaneously become lactose intolerant - take Lethicin supplements to prevent clogged ducts. It really, really worked. I started taking them a week before Big Bertha hit the scene and pain be gone. Why are you still reading.

If I ever really figure this whole corporate pumping thing out, I'm going to write a book or perhaps a pamphlet (let's be realistic) entitled "Pumping at Work: Why It Doesn't Have to be a Let Down." Ha! Anyone else with me on the breastmilk jokes? 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Baby on a Plane!

This has been a week of big firsts, soon to be followed by more firsts. Last Saturday we did what some would consider criminally insane: J and I boarded not one but two airplanes with a ten-week old baby. The looks one gets when one flies with an infant are priceless. You either get "bless-your-heart-look-at-that-sweet-baby-it's-hard-to-be-a-parent-good-luck!" or "I'd-rather-deal-with-snakes-on-a-plane-with-Samuel L. Jackson-than-your-screaming-child." There is no middle path. Fortunately, Henry was a model citizen and did very little vocalizing in the air. Breastfeeding mamas, when in doubt, stick a boob in it. Works like a charm.

Our two flights brought us to Asheville, North Carolina. J's mom and stepdad picked us up from the airport and drove us to their vacation rental an hour and 45 minutes southwest in Highlands, NC. So, 2 plane rides, 2 airports, and 1 winding drive through the mountains later, we arrived with very little drama. We only had to pull over once so that I could stick a boob in it. 

You may "put a bird on it," Portlandia, but Chicago sticks a boob in it.

Our trip here has been lovely. First, it's ridiculously gorgeous. Lush green mountains, waterfalls, placid mountain lakes and a charming main street. We've taken H on his first two real hikes. The trails have been lined with rhododendrons and flame azaleas. We have gotten great photo ops of me breastfeeding Henry on the top of mountains (out of necessity, not to mark my mountain mama territory) and changing his diaper on the trail (baby carriers make excellent changing pads). This week, Henry has come out of his little cocoon and is discovering the world right in front of his face. Literally. On Sunday evening, he found his hands. Mind blown. He stared cross-eyed at his fists and tried repeatedly to bring them to his mouth, instead slowly bumping them into his nose and cheeks. He can suck on his hands no problem when operating by Braille but hand-eye coordination is a son of a bitch. I know; I seriously can't throw or catch a ball with any degree of accuracy. Just beyond his hands, he found the trees and sky so fascinating on our hikes. His little face looked up from the carrier in total awe as we climbed. He's also becoming more vocal. His coos and squeals are getting louder and he is clearly delighted when he hears himself. He is the smiliest baby. Yesterday night at dinner, my favorite thing happened: he discovered my face. He's looked at my face, or some blurry version of it, since the moment he was put on my chest when he was born. But last night he reached out and touched it repeatedly. He flapped his hands on my lips and chin over and over. Maybe my heart-meltiest moment yet. God, I love this boy. My love for him overwhelms me to the point of aching sadness sometimes. I can't describe the manic range of emotions.

Tomorrow we fly back to Chicago with this newly adventurous, curious boy. New toys for the plane ride include hands, improved vocal chords and Mama's face. J goes back to guilt/volunteer work/obligation at the cluster$#%* of a family business I'm impatiently waiting for him to extricate himself from. I will try to savor my last few days of maternity leave. I either want to go to brunch, lunch and coffee with my mom friends every single day or stay at home, never shower, and stare at Henry's face. I go back to the office on Friday, June 27th. I know it will be fine. I am telling myself that daily. I'm not worried about Henry. He's going to do so well at hippie daycare. Just worried about me, my angst over work, pumping in a file room, missing my boy, resenting my superiors, yada yada yada. The usual bullshit plus lactation and the haunting feeling that I should be rocking someone.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

10 Week Update

A week ago, my friend urged me to update my blog and keep writing for the good of all humanity and my family of infertile turtles. I was all, "Oh, you don't understand. See, it's very difficult finding time to write and do all the things when you have a baby." She then narrowed her eyes, stared into my soul and, without words, reminded me that in the three years between the birth of her daughter and this very moment she has written, published and promoted a book, maintained a blog, and worked a regular job. #shamed into writing. Note to self, find less ambitious friends.

Henry is now 10 weeks old and I can completely objectively say that he is the cutest baby that has ever lived. Now, that's a hard thing to write because most of you either want babies, are pregnant, or have babies and you now have to come to grips with the fact that your future and/or current child pales in comparison to mine in the looks department. This is undoubtedly a difficult time for you. H has crazy, spiky reddish-blond hair, giant blue eyes and the sweetest grin. He looks like a baby orangutan in the best way possible. Also, my parents feel strongly that he could be an ear model which I am told is quite lucrative. Behavior-wise he is very much like a standard issue human baby which is to say irrational. He can be utterly charming and happy happy happy one moment and then will collapse into sad wails and tears. Nothing will have happened. No change. Just done with whatever activity he was doing. After 10 weeks, I can sort things out for him quickly. Alert but fussy? Carry him slung over my shoulder and chat with him. Tired and fussy? Swaddle, pacifier, bounce on the yoga ball. Generally broken baby? Again, yoga ball. Lots of yoga ball. Evenings are a lot harder. He's out of his normal eat-play-sleep cycle because he's more tired and more hungry more often. These are the dreaded witching hours and they are no joke. I am told he will grow out of it by the time he's 18. I don't want time to fly by too fast - it already is - but I dream of an evening where I eat at a leisurely pace without an infant attached to my nipple or  without J staring at me while he jiggles said infant and silently wills me to eat faster.

Speaking of time speeding by, I go back to work in 2 weeks. That prospect fills me with agitated dread. In part because I don't exactly adore my job. If I'm going to give up staring at my bean day in and out, I'd like to go back to something I like a little more. I don't know exactly what I want to be when I grow up so I don't yet hope for a job I love. Looking for contentment. I can see the upside to, say, wanting a cup if coffee and then drinking it while it's still warm. I'm trying to focus on the emotional and intellectual balance that working and being a mom could give me. The other part of why I'm not aching to get back to the office is the obvious: I'm obsessed with Henry. He's growing like a weed, picking up new skills constantly, and is more of a person and less a fetus every day. I want to keep watching that happen. Leaving him makes my heart ache. BUT, I found a great daycare for him. They are hilariously obsessed with organic everything. I too enjoy the granola lifestyle but when budget and ease get in the way, I tend to take the synthetic way out. The daycare director made sure to tell me that all carpeting in the facility was made from organic natural fibers. That's...wonderful. Possibly unnecessary but appreciated. She also informed me that as toddlers, outdoor field trips go beyond the park to libraries and fire stations so that the kids can be "integrated into the community." H is going to be far better integrated than I am and don't we all dream of better than we has for our children?

Last post I promised to address two things: breastfeeding and the emotional wake following my FIL's death. I don't have much on either topic. Breastfeeding is good, a boring update. There is sufficient milk, not excessive. I mostly love feeding Henry and greatly appreciate that it came pretty easy for us. Pumping is a son of a bitch but such is life. No one likes pumping. Oh, you do? You're lying. I hope to be able to pump enough so as not to supplement with formula when he's at daycare but if it doesn't happen everyone will live, nay thrive. 
The tumolt surrounding my FIL's death and the fallout of a family business has been devastating. It has rocked my marriage to its core in a way that we never thought possible. We have not gotten to relish our early months as a family as I dreamed we would. But, all that said, we love each other and our son so very much. We're stumbling and figuring it out. I don't want to go in to too much detail because I still can't sort the situation into words. It's exceedingly hard but I have faith we'll make through with flying colors. It is, as they say, the bestest ever of times (I'm looking at you, Hank Dog) and the worst of times. 

Let's end on a high note.

Taken within minutes of each other. 
Sir, you are being irrational.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

4 Weeks In - A Complete (mis)Guide to Infancy

This is momentous. I am sitting at my laptop for the first time since Henry was born. 4 weeks of relying on my iPhone for basically everything. If that thing dispensed breast milk, I'd have been set. When Henry was a newborn lump (weeks 1 - 3), I could stash him in his swing, turn that sucker on and sit on the adjacent upholstered chair staring at the television, listing the things that probably should get done but definitely would not. That chair was previously known as "the pregnancy chair." Now it is known as "the breast feeding chair." Also, "Frank's chair" because I have to fight my dog for it. I don't blame him. It's that comfortable and yet completely attractive.

In the past week, Henry has become this very alert small monkey that does not enjoy being put down. Where my inability to get things accomplished before was due to sheer exhaustion, I now couple the excuse with a lack of operable limbs. I am holding the baby. Always holding the child. Typically while bouncing on a yoga ball. He is obsessed and immediately soothed by bouncing on this thing. I paid about $35 for it on Amazon. Had I known how completely crucial it would become in my life, I would have paid $8 zillion dollars and lived out of a cardboard box. Me, my baby and my yoga ball. No problem. Oh yeah, and that chair. Last night I took out the Moby wrap because I was finding it really difficult to eat, drink, and otherwise function with a single cramped hand. I had tried the Moby before and Smallpox here absolutely did not enjoy the experience of being smashed against me. Now, however, he finds it quite relaxing provided I bounce on the ball for about 10 minutes while balancing a pacifier in his mouth. Then I am free to go about my business. Guys, I could pee if I wanted to. Sometimes I make coffee. And now I'm on the computer writing my second blog post in 6 weeks. Feeling super accomplished.

Having Henry has been: amazing, fun, exhausting, scary, sad, weird, overwhelming, exhausting, frustrating, warm-gooey-lovey and most other adjectives. He is a really good baby. For a newborn, he's not so horrible at sleeping. I mean, nights don't resemble anything from the past but, based on what I hear, they're not too bad. At 4 weeks, H sleeps for one 3-4 hour stretch and then for a few 2 hour stretches (except for this morning when as of 2:30 he decided it was an every hour affair and we had to be up permanently at 5:30. Watch me weep - oh wait, I can't, I'm too tired to make my tear ducts function). Here's what H will NOT tolerate: his bassinette. Lying flat on his back is his least favorite thing in the world. He screamed this at us ad nauseum when we brought him home from the hospital. On repeat for several nights until I had a breakdown and put him in our bed. No pillows, no covers, all by "safe" co-sleeping rules. It also helps to lie there in half-awake being terrified of being yelled at by your pediatrician for putting your new child at risk of everything. New parent shame. Then my cousin loaned me her Fisher Price Rock n' Play, we revisited tight, snug swaddling a la The Happiest Baby on the Block, and Henry started for real sleeping. I, of course, had to spend the first night standing over him making sure he was breathing but, after that first night, I allowed myself to sleep too. It's been a revelation. Rock n' Plays are a small step up from co-sleeping according to many pediatricians and hoards of terrible fear-mongering mothers on the internet but, since never sleeping ever again didn't seem like a great option, I'm going to ride it out. I have total faith that since he's figured out what night sleeping is supposed to look like, I'll be able to transition him to the bassinette and crib soon.

I have great plans to write a post on breast feeding once I figure that one out. All things considered, it's going very well. He's gaining like a champ. In the past 2 weeks, though, latch has become occasionally quite painful. Not always, but sometimes. I then break his latch, reposition, and half the time it solves the problem and half the time does not. I plan on going to a granola lactation support group for some guidance. Then I'll write about how I've aced it, am becoming a board-certified lactation consultant, and am committed to breast feeding at least through his freshman year of college. After that, we'll play it by ear.
I'm also going to write more about the emotional side of being a new mom coupled with the fact that my husband is still, obviously and understandably, reeling from his father's untimely death. That has been excruciatingly hard. I need to get my mind wrapped around that a little more. It's still too fresh, still too much of a daily clusterfuck.

I've mentioned several things that I feel have helped get me through the first month and that I forsee using a lot in the months to come. I'm not advertising for these companies (advertising to the mini handful of readers? I don't think Fisher Price cares) but for those of you who will be having a baby soon or ever, I do feel like these have helped out significantly.

  • The Happiest Baby on the Block - This lived on my nightstand for a long time and then I read it out of desperation. Try actually reading it before you lose your mind. I imagine that would be quite effective. I thought my baby didn't like being swaddled because he "needed his hands to soothe." The author assures me that newborns don't have the physical ability to coordinate this kind of action. Oh right. They're total spazzes with immature nervous systems. Swaddling, for us, has been a godsend for general calming and slumber inducement.
  • The Miracle Blanket - Do you suck at swaddling as much as I do? Don't worry! There are 78 different products at your disposal! I happened to register for 2 of these and have found them quite handy. Henry, while a supremely advanced infant, cannot break out of this. Also, because the bottom is a flap, you can change a diaper at night without completely unswaddling your baby and unleashing the fury of hell.
  • Lillebaby - So you say you'd like to leave the house! Good for you. Good luck with that. Actually, I had great luck right away with the Lillebaby carrier. There are tons of carriers out there. I love this one because it has shitloads of lumbar support and the other carriers don't. I know, I tried them all. Ergo has upper back support but it's the lower back that aches granny over here. I feel like I could lug a preteen in this carrier without pain. Henry is really content riding in this. And by that I mean he nods off to sleep pretty quickly while I walk the dogs, go to the pharmacy, get a cup of coffee, what have you.
  • Yoga ball. Any exercise ball will do. Hands down my single most fantastic purchase. I am bouncing as I type this sentence.
  • Rock n' Play - Turns out lots of babies are uncooperative like mine and don't appreciate how wonderfully granola the co-sleeper bassinette is that you bought him. My baby will sleep in a Rock n' Play. Sleep is amazing. Don't get one with the fuzzy insert because it's unnecessary and not terribly safe. Feel free to spazz out on me about this one.
  • Any soft baby-wearing wrap. I have the Moby. My sister has the Kataan. I don't think it matters, any "hands-free device" will do. Just give yourself an option for walking around your apartment with both arms footloose and fancy free.
  • Target Nursing Tanks - If you choose to wear a shirt at all while breast feeding, try covering your tatas in one of these tanks. It's sort of like being topless.
  • Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Butter - I found out the hard way ("OMG my nipples just caught on bloody fire!!!!) that I'm wildly allergic to lanolin, the key ingredient in many nipple ointments. I'm sure you won't be but regardless, this nip butter feels so ridiculously soothing. Sensitive-nipple-skin-en-fuego aside, I vastly prefer the feel of this to the more popular lanolin product.
  • A full-time, live-in Nanny and/or Wet Nurse - I don't have one of these,  I just imagine it would be highly convenient. 
 I promise to start writing more now that I have life completely figured out. Or have occasional use of my hands. I am reading your blog updates however I am reading them on the Bloglovin app on my phone while breast feeding. That stupid app doesn't give you the option of commenting.
In closing, Henry is so fucking adorable you'd die if you saw him in person. Together, we are figuring this all out.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Welcome to the World, Henry!

I always get (unjustifiably) annoyed when one of my beloved bloggers gives birth and then neglects to post the announcement and full birth story in then ten minutes after they deliver the placenta. So, lesson learned, it is kind of hard to function in the world and get anything done with a newborn. I have had a day or two where I haven't brushed my teeth. Disgusting. 

Three weeks ago, on the night of 4/4/14 (neato, number nerds!), Henry made his escape from the Grand Science Experiment's Uterine Detention Center, a warm, dark mobile facility located primarily in Chicago. It's so nice to follow up my last sad post with something so incredibly joyous. I did start a follow-up but went into labor before I got around to finishing. A half-written blog post can feel real stale after the intervention of few major life events.

I personally am a birth story junky so I'll share the gory details. Feel free to become bored out of your mind and skip to the end where I assure you everyone ends up healthy and happy. 

During week 37 of the Long Gestation, I was essentially crossing my legs to ensure the baby did not fall out during my father-in-law's wake and funeral. The shock of his death and the swirl of hormones that ensued brought on two solid days of Braxton Hicks. Fortunately, the batter was not totally cooked yet and little man stayed put. Once the formalities  were over and we were back home, J and I felt desperate for our baby to come. More than ever, we needed a huge hit of happy after the horrible events of the past week. Also, I was feeling so huge and uncomfortable. As confirmed by my OB, the baby's head was very low. She had to move his head to check my cervix (sounds crazy and is but I've learned this is typical of a still posterior cervix and descending baby). I had the distinct feeling of a bowling ball dropping into the northern regions of my vagina whenever I walked. Super pleasant. I thought this meant he might eventually just fall out and I could skip the whole labor thing. It did not. I went to acupuncture on Monday (38w2d). The acupuncturist encouraged me to gorge on eggplant to get things moving.  Another patient recommended I google "eggplant babies" for a famous eggplant parmesan recipe. Doing so, I found out that this restaurant Scalini's near Atlanta guarantees you'll go into labor within 48 hours of eating their parm. If you don't, you get a free meal or something. Not a great consolation prize. I made the eggplant parm, ate it for lunch and dinner for 2 straight days (because it was delicious) and labor started within that 48 hours. Granted I went into labor when I was 38 weeks and 5 days pregnant so conceivably it might have had something to do with my body just being ready but hell, it didn't hurt. Light action started Thursday evening after an afternoon of intense back pain. I thought it was my stupid unsupportive flats rather than a baby's head. Those early contractions weren't terribly painful, just different than anything is felt before. I ate Thai food with my bestie and her sister and then sent them home so I could lie on my couch and wonder if I was really in labor. 
After an uncomfortable but not terribly painful night, I sent J to the grocery store for assorted sundries. Figured I needed some calories for the long day ahead. By the time he got back I basically told him to go &$@# himself with the tube of Grand's cinnamon rolls I had requested. Let's just say shit escalated in that 40 minutes. My doula, Saint Megan, came over around 10:30 and took over back-rubbing duties from my mom. During one of her back rubs, my wonderful mom asked if I wanted her to stay and keep rubbing or go back home with my dogs so she could be at the hospital when we checked in. Sensitive and kind princess that I was throughout labor, I told her that while it felt nice I didn't care if the corner store clerk took over for her. So sweet. 
Water broke at 12:30 full of meconium. After that, my contractions went from super crazy shitty (technical term) to holy-fuck-kill-me-now-there-is-no-need-to-live-through-this. 
The drive to the hospital took about 15 minutes tops. The second the car stopped I flung myself out and waddled into triage. A guard sang "Happy Birthday" to me as I poured sweat and paced. Turns out, his name was Henry. Two couples who looked as though they were waiting for scheduled c-sections were terrified of me and let J check me in ahead of them. 
Once in the triage room, my sister Juice joined us. How things have changed. She said my moaning and expletives gave her PTSD from her labor 4 months ago. Throughout my pregnancy, I read Ina May Gaskin books, took a natural childbirth class, and sang the praises of the natural rush and immediate bonding that could only be achieved without medication. Nothing like legitimate labor to make you change your tune. My pleas for an epidural started during contractions in triage. Megan and J assured me I was doing a great job and could do it. I had a cervical check and was told I was 6 cm dilated. I realized I had probably at least 4 more hours of hard labor to get to 10 cm and hit a wall. I decided I didn't need a doula or husband, just a handsome anesthesiologist. I started begging between contractions. Once in the labor and delivery room, I got my wish (and got to keep my doula and husband). Sweet mother, that epidural saved me. It was amazing. I went from the worst pain I has ever experienced, worse than I possibly could have imagined, to total relief. I wasn't numb, I continued to contract and dilate, and I took a nap.
I am now more in awe of natural childbirth than ever. If epidural hadn't been available, I would have made it. But I didn't have to and I'm so grateful. My last words on epidural: if it wasn't in your birth plan and you succumb to her charms, you haven't failed. Labor is still very hard work. The epidural won't push your baby out for you. And the feeling of seeing and holding your baby for the first time us unbelievably incredible. It's not a narcotic, your heart, head and body are all still totally in it and you can feel. No regrets.

At 7 pm, I was 10 cm dilated and at +2 station. My parents were ushered out and we're told they'd be back to meet their grandson very soon. Famous last words. I pushed for FOUR HOURS. I'm sure that sounds awful. It wasn't the best ever but as it dragged on, the OB assured me that he was committed to my having a vagjnal birth and knew I could do it. I didn't want to have the wear and tear of pushing plus recovery from a c-section scar. 
At the 4 hour mark, it was clear that our little guy had no plans of clearing my tailbone by himself. The OB used a vacuum to help him out. About 4 pushes and a whole lot of suctioning later, Henry came out sunny-side-up. Posterior occiput babies are born facing the ceiling. They can't tuck their heads and make the turns needed to clear the tailbone. It's somewhat rare. Fitting that he'd be a weirdo like his mama. 

Because if the meconium, a pediatric team aspirated him and helped him pink up a but for a few minutes while J and I kissed and cried. He was only feet from us and was then brought right to my chest for skin-to-skin. Henry has lots of strawberry blond hair, beautiful lips that he hides all the time due to his lack of teeth, and gorgeous, inquisitive eyes. He weighed 6 lbs, 6 oz and was 20" long. We are ridiculously in love. 

A year ago from the day he was born, I was actively miscarrying. Bleeding profusely and praying while my HCG betas bounced around wildly. And now, I have this sweet, perfect boy in my arms. I couldn't have imagined the emotional pain I'd go through in that year, nor the incredible joy. The journey is hardly over but Henry is such a triumph. I can hardly believe he's mine.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

37w0d - A Loss

Growing up, I lost a lot of people I love. I had five grandparents in the world when I was born (one divorce and remarriage), and by my preteen years I only had one. I lost my beloved uncle in that interim, too. With each of those deaths, there was time. They were struck down by cruel cancer, Alzheimer's in one case, things you expect in old age. Watching a loved one suffer isn't easy - much harder than my parents, I was the kid, I kept on going to school and seeing my friends, normal life for most of my day - but by the time they pass, you've known. You've maybe prayed for the end. 

My grandparents were old. Or, they felt old to me. My dad's parents were Holocaust survivors. They were of such a different generation. I look at my parents and in-laws and they seem so young, active, capable. Not the image of a grandparent I grew up with. 

Yesterday, early afternoon, my husband called me sobbing. His dad died. Massive heart attack. Gone in an instant. He was in northern Wisconsin at his cabin, celebrating his 22nd anniversary with J's step-mom. They were snowmobiling. He turned, grimaced, and that was it. It was immediate. His step-mom and neighbor did CPR but it was too late. I don't think he could have known what was happening, or felt much pain. The suddenness and the fact that he was in a place he loved, doing what he loved, with a person he loved, are the blessings in this horrible situation. 

J is lost, he's distraught. He wanted to see his dad hold his grandson. God knows we tried to make this happen sooner but now, 1-3 weeks before our boy is born, his grandfather is dead. What was such an exciting, anxiety ridden time is now so heart breaking. My husband hurts so badly and I can't make that go away. All I can do is hold him while cries, reassure him that no major decisions have to be made now. It sounds selfish, perhaps, but I hate the shadow of grief that is now hanging over the birth of our son. Of course we will be overjoyed, but J will be torn apart by love and longing for what absolutely should have been. 

J's dad and I did not always see eye to eye. I don't think that changes anything. I loved him because J loved him so fiercely. He was his parent, his teacher, and his boss for many years. Their relationship was more complex than most father-son relationships. I wish J would have his dad around to look to while he navigated parenting. J deserves that. He doesn't deserve this horribly-timed heartache. 

It's been less than 24 hours but it feels like it's been days. I am finding myself, at 9 months pregnant, more capable than I thought I was. While J has sweetly waited on me like an invalid in the past month or so, I have found the energy to take care of him. I am not worried about the activity, the hours, the throngs of family and friends descending. I welcome that for J. I dread the continued sadness. I didn't think we were there yet, the time where you start losing parents. We are becoming parents. Too much cycle of life. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

35w5d - Sonographer Makes Mistake, Hilarity Ensues

Yesterday was my first appointment with my regular OB since the "holy-shit-he's-tiny" ultrasound. The tone was decidedly less peppy than in my previous checkups. I got tested for Group B Strep a week early just in case they made the call for baby boy to make a slightly premature exit. We went over worst case scenarios and just "ok" case scenarios which, from my doc's perspective, seemed to be middle path we were headed down. No induction next week unless absolutely necessary but induction likely in the 38-39 week range. Basically normal except he'd be a small guy.

After we somewhat somberly went through everything, I asked to review the individual measurements taken at the ultrasound two weeks ago. Every time the sonographer took a measurement that afternoon - circumference of the head, abdomen and length of the femur - a corresponding gestational average would come up. I saw immediately that his abdomen circumference was lagging behind. The measurements for his head and femur, however, produced dates that were pretty much right on par with my dates. While lying on the ultrasound table with warm jelly smeared across my belly, I was reassured that at least those things were measuring at about average. When we met with an OB afterwards, she told us that his head had measured 6th percentile, his femur at 8th and his abdomen at 3rd. Somehow with the weight calculation he averaged to 17th percentile.  I expressed my confusion, first on how 3, 6 and 8 average to 17 (I mean, I'm no math genius but still) and then as to why the head and femur measurements on the screen would show him to be at least close to average and then come back in the single digits. She explained that the algorithm used to determine the average percentile was complex and took into account many other measurements. I was too sad and worried to push the issue any farther. Usually, I'll press on until I fully understand but in this case, I felt that I just needed to go home and sit with my news. Or lie on my bed and groan feeling generally horrible which is what I actually did.

Yesterday, I had the wherewithal to dig into it more. I didn't want to perseverate on numbers, I explained to my regular OB, but I did want to understand and not feel like a passive patient. I told her what I had seen on the screen and that the numbers didn't make sense to me. She started to spout the same answer about the complex nature of the algorithm but I could see her questioning her words as she said them. Then she stopped and carefully re-read the chart. "Well, this is a potential game changer," she said. "The sonographer entered your due date as 4/02. Your actual due date is 4/12. I'm having them rerun these calcs immediately." Ten days is a big difference in fetal development. Three quarters of a pound, lots of lung development. Depending on where that delivery date falls, ten days can be the difference between going home the next day and a week in the NICU.

THIRTY EIGHTH PERCENTILE, bitches. That's where he's averaging right now. Not 17th. Not a belly at the 3rd percentile. He falls well within the "normal" range for fetal development. His abdomen is still a little small but not to the extent that they're concerned. My follow-up ultrasound was cancelled. I'm back on track to deliver when he's fully cooked, no more talk of early induction.

So that was a fun two weeks. We scrambled to get the nursery done for a potentially early arrival from our long-awaited roommate. I ate too much ice cream in an ill-advised attempt to force him to grow with the gentle coaxing of Ben & Jerry. Guess what? Still kinda lactose intolerant. It took a lot not to wallow in feeling like I was failing Parenting 101 by neglecting to feed my fetus. Oh, they need to eat? Like every day? Shoot. I was constantly kinda stressed, kinda sad, but still very hopeful. I felt in my bones that things would be ok, I just didn't know what our version of ok would look like. And now, total and utter relief. I should be more angry at the ultrasound tech but honestly, she made a really basic, human mistake. She entered "0" instead of "1." I'm pretty sure I do things like that on a daily basis. Now, my job doesn't have quite the stakes that hers has but I am understanding. Things could have spiraled into a lot of very unnecessary interventions but fortunately that didn't happen. I'm the one that insisted  on human caregivers.

Monday, March 10, 2014

35w2d - Of Growth and Uncertainty

Oh ladies, it's been a little roller-coaster-y for the past two weeks. Things are still good but I'm facing my first hiccup of pregnancy. Ok, more than a hiccup potentially. I'll explain.

For those of you who are still in the trenches or haven't reached 20+ weeks, during the second half of your pregnancy your OB or midwife starts a highly technical measurement procedure where she takes a cloth measuring tape and, starting at the top of your pubic bone, stretches it over your bump to the top of your uterus. Supposedly, your measurement in centimeters should be approximately equivalent to your gestational week. As in, when you're 25 weeks, the measurement is 25 cm; 30 weeks, 30 cm. Give or take a couple of centimeters on either side. This is not hard science. I mean, it's done with sewing equipment for chrissakes. It does sorta-kinda-accurately give an idea of your rate of growth. In my case, it raised a flag.

At around 28+ weeks, I went from spot on measurements to lagging behind. My doc kept an eye on it for another appointment or two and then requested a fetal growth scan. Last week at the scan we found out that our kiddo is measuring at a measly 17th percentile. This was the second round of ultrasound measurements, this time by a supervisor. Our first round of measurements put him at 11th percentile, only 2 notches away from a diagnosis of IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction). We're taking 17th percentile and running with it. His abdomen measured particularly small which translates to him not getting all the nutrients he needs in utero. Fetuses, geniuses that they are, will funnel all of the nutrients to the brain and heart at the expense of building fat reserves if they need to. Why is this happening? They don't really know. Typically it's because the placenta stops working as efficiently as it should for this stage of pregnancy. The placenta slows its roll toward the end of the third trimester. Sometimes it doesn't make it quite so far. That could be happening with me. Not sure.  Here's the plan: 3 weeks after the initial scan, I'll go in for another ultrasound. If baby boy has grown leaps and bounds, well then, aces. Let him keep cooking. If he hasn't grown sufficiently and there's more evidence that he's not getting enough nutrition from my placenta, then they may decide to induce with the thought that he'll be better off outside than in. At the point of that scan, I'll be close to 37 weeks. Almost full term, not quite. I hope that I'm able to cook him to term. If not, it will be because we're doing the best thing for him. Upside being I'll get to see that sweet face just a little sooner. However it needs to happen so that he comes into this world healthy is fine by me. The evening of the ultrasound I was a sad mess. I felt like I was failing my boy way too early. Now, bolstered by my incredible doula, a particularly therapeutic trip to the acupuncturist (approaching this from all side - western meds and eastern crunch), and the kind words of friends and family, I'm feeling very confident. No matter what happens, things are going to be ok. I have an awesome team taking care of me from OB, to doula, to a stellar NICU if, god forbid, it's necessary. Also on my side, I feel him moving all the time. He feels enormous. I know he's just a little guy but my god I feel like I'm going to explode. I've gone from ribs that, as of this Saturday evening, felt as though they were going to snap into crumbled bits. I think that wonder boy is starting to settle in lower as the rib pain, while not gone, is subsiding and has been replaced by near constant bladder pressure. For now, I prefer the latter.

That's the Six Flags part of the post. In utterly lovely news, I had my baby shower. It was so, so nice. Everything I wanted. No games, fabulous food, lots of friends and family. I woke up the morning of my shower and, on cue, baby boy was squirming around. "They're throwing a party for us today!" I told him, because I am a nerd and was overwhelmed. It occurred to me that morning how long I've waited, even within this pregnancy, to just celebrate the fact that our son is well on his way. It was so joyous. I loved it. I got some good loot too, I cannot lie. Baby gear is expensive. I am grateful for every scrap gifted to us. With the influx of stuff, J and I were forced to make some serious headway on the nursery. As of yesterday evening, we are nearly done with the exception of getting the artwork on the walls (on its way from Etsy) and getting a little bookshelf. We have a crib with clean sheets, a dresser filled with clean clothes, a changing table and a bassinet that, while still in its box, can be erected at absolutely any time. My mom herded me around Target and pointed out what I might need immediately to help him survive/stay clean/save upholstery. I'm stocked up newborn size diapers, wipes, gentle baby shampoo and wash, and am the proud owner of a breast pump. Everything is ready, you know, whenever.

The follow-up growth scan takes place a week from tomorrow and then we'll know a lot more. We'll either get an induction date or the thumbs up to keep cooking. Or, something in between. Shit is getting very real and I am getting impatient. I don't want to under-cook my baby boy but I am so anxious to meet him. The time span of when that meeting may occur is preposterously large right now: between 1 week+ and 7 weeks. So much for a cozy 4 week span of possibility.

Friday, February 7, 2014

30w6d - Physical Fitness Fail

My God, I am full of good ideas. Full of reason, too. I've heard that you should exercise consistently through your pregnancy and so I've been to prenatal yoga three times, all during my second trimester. There's consistency for you. Any Google device or basic pregnancy book will tell you that you should not introduce any wildly new exercise regiments during your pregnancy and I think they might all read "and especially not during your third trimester, genius." But you know me, I'm all "fuck the establishment, I do what I want." (Ha, not really. Haven't touched a turkey sandwich or a fully caffeinated coffee since two lines showed up. The few times I've had a nip of delicious red wine, I've convinced myself of decreased fetal movement. Typically, j'adore rules.)

With my newfound damn-the-man attitude, I signed up for a class at the new Pure Barre studio. Pure Barre is like Bar Method or any of the other handful of ballet barre based exercise regimes. I didn't know what that meant but perhaps some of you do. The following thought synopsis explains why I chose to stomp through the snow to administer a little self-torture at 30 weeks.
  1. I need to get my ass in gear or I will die in childbirth like it's the Middle Ages. Buns, thighs, and a pelvic floor of steel can probably be achieved easily in the next 8 weeks with a simple and shockingly expensive workout routine.
  2. I have no energy. I'll potentially have more energy if I start working out... NOW. (I optimistically signed up for a second class prior to taking the first. Promptly cancelled.)
  3. I used to be a reasonably accomplished ballet dancer. Pure Barre will be just like ballet class and all the physical fitness and coordination I posessed when I was 16 will come flooding back. That happens. It's science. Especially during pregnancy.
So, I mean, I really thought this whole thing through. I thought we'd stand at the bar the whole time, listen to classical music or something new agey, and do ballet-like movements to burn our buns. Not at all, Bob, not at all. First off, the class was packed. Music starts and it is throbbing club music. We are in "da club" and I am visibly, awkwardly pregnant. I feel like a pregnant lady in an ill-fitting tank top in a club because basically, that's what I am. If you've seen Knocked Up, it was basically like that except for A) they let me in and B) I was wearing no makeup and the shabbiest stretchy clothes I could find that would fit over my ass, boobs and belly.* Class did not start at the barre. After a brief warm up, the teacher put us flat on our backs for abdominal work. Vena cava compression time. I half-assed the ab work and sat up frequently to ensure oxygenated blood flow to my fetus who, at this early point, was audibly saying "What. The. Fuck." I don't blame him. We've had such a good, relaxing and spacious run until I decided to compress him so that I could have a prego six pack. We eventually moved to the barre, all was good, and then moved right back to the floor for the continuation of the abdominal series. I asked ahead of time if it was fine for pregnant ladies to take the class. The owner assured me it was with a few obvious modifications that she rambled through in 10 seconds. Perhaps, had I been doing Pure Barre for my whole pregnancy, I would have been more comfortable with said modifications. Not the case. I took several self-imposed time outs where I sat cross legged on the floor and wondered why I had donated money to this ridiculous cause. What's wrong with a brisk walk and some prenatal yoga? Nothing. Nothing at all.

I survived. Fetus survived. We went home and complained a lot. Then, crazy me, I had a restless night of shitty dreams where I worried about baby boy. Really, you shouldn't compress a fetus like that. I'm sure of it. I know that abdominal work is safe and encouraged but by god there are limits.

I bet you kids do Pure Barre all the time. I bet you were doing squats at the barre while you gave birth. Good for you. I've gotten a D+ on physical fitness during this pregnancy. I've made a real effort to go on walks and, like I boasted, have made it to 3 whole prenatal yoga classes. Whatever. I'm cooking a baby. I'm busy. Cutting myself some slack now.

*I have been losing clothing - specifically my forgiving yoga pants - throughout pregnancy. I have blamed my husband on several occasions. This is obvious sabotage!!! He thinks I'm nuts and I say he's bad at laundry management (he has 43 individual socks and none of them match). We're both right.

Several of you requested a bump photo. I decided to hire the most expensive photographer and stylist I knew. Sadly, it all fell through. Here's a photo of me in my office bathroom earlier this week, wearing a clip art lucha libre mask. Little known fact: I am really good at doing my hair.

30 weeks. Viva la lucha.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

28w4d - Bienvenido a "Third Tri"

I've been a neglectful blogger. Sorry bout that. My friend urged me to write more and I said I would and then I failed. I have been feeling sooooo overwhelmed. Work has become a bear. Much more so that usual. I believe I've mentioned that I work in property management. Here's what happens to properties when a once-in-20-years polar vortex (could that sound more dramatic?) occurs: all hell breaks loose. Pipes freeze, ice dams on roofs, water leaks into interior spaces, heating systems have a complete nervous breakdown. Here's how emotionally, intellectually and physically equipped I feel to deal with arctic disasters at the beginning of my third trimester: not at all. Right now, I wish I worked in an Indian call center. "Hi, my name is Roxanne (obviously not). Have you tried cycling your router? Oh really? Well, try again." See, I'd ace that shit. Indian call centers are warm, might potentially have reasonably comfortable seating, and might have decent shift hours (probably not). I'm just complaining. I'm sorry. Constant complaining is currently my crutch. Just ask my husband. Enough of that.

28 weeks in review (I just typed "38 weeks" which actually would be the most telling typo ever): I am a small pregnant lady. My weight gain was slow to start but is now staying on track. It is, however, centered on three places: boobs that look as though they'll be able to end hunger in a smattering of east African nations, a small-to-medium-sized low and compact belly, and a constantly growing ass. I don't understand why or how my ass has taken the lion's share of the responsibility but Nordstrom Rack's underwear department has been happy to comply with my never ending need for larger and larger underthings. In fun news, my uterus is measuring on schedule (low tech obstetrics) and baby boy is bouncing around as though I'm feeding him crack. This is hands down my favorite part of pregnancy. In the past week or so I've reached the point where I can feel a heel attached to a leg swinging around my upper right abdomen. I can feel that little leg and rub it for all of ten seconds before he squirms away. I can find a butt somewhere just south and right of my belly button. Confirmed by my OB at my last appointment, my guy is head down now! He still has room, could flip breech, but for now seems to alternate between head down and an angled transverse position. The miracle is that I can feel all this at all. Pregnancy has ceased to me a mysterious "condition" and now has become this very literal experience of carrying around an articulated human being wedged between my lower ribs and pubic bone. This may seem obvious to those of you who have been pregnant before but I really can't believe that later pregnancy feels so literal. I know, overuse of that word. But there it is. I am not merely swelling, I am carrying around a person.

I have become desperate to meet said person. As I get to know that one leg and mini butt, I just want him out and with me.  Perhaps this is a thinly veiled desire to start maternity leave this very moment (see first paragraph and "polar vortex"). I know, he's not at all done cooking. 10-12 more weeks. But how bout 10? 10 sounds good, right? I am insane and am completely thrilled and excited by the idea of going into labor. When I go into labor, it means I get to meet him. How Giselle Bundchen am I? I'll remember that it hurts at some point. Our child birth class takes place in 3 weeks. Maybe I'll reconsider my excitement then.

I've gone from wanting the nursery to be done in the next two months to wanting it done this very second. Because now he feels real. People who have legs need a bedroom and they need it now. Embroider that on a pillow if you wish. It's J's job to do all the physical work as he is A) a furniture maker and finish carpenter and B) he is not pregnant. This morning I maybe flipped a little bit because I determined that he was tackling projects in the wrong order. I have since apologized and blamed hormones. It's not hard to be too critical when your job is surfing the internet for adorable nursery d├ęcor while others slave away doing physical labor. Poor J. Wait, no, he gets a baby out of the deal, too.

"Third trimester" and "baby shower" are terms that I was not sure would ever be uttered in the same sentence as my name. Unless, of course, someone said, "That Amy, she'll never have a third trimester or baby shower." Yet, here they are upon me. This weekend I am headed to Boston with my besties where my friend and I will share honors at a mini brunch shower. (I am one of three of my best girlfriends expecting between February and July. All of us are having boys. All of us will learn about tiny penises together.) Then, later in February, I am having another shower thrown by my mom's best friends, known affectionately as The Cowgirls. These ladies have known me since I was a little girl and each has played a really special role in my life. I asked the Cowgirl hosting the shower if it could be a Jewish deli themed shower because generally I'd prefer to eat bagels, cream cheese and capers rather than play painfully awkward games. She was thrilled with the idea and is obliging. My registry is done (I need/want all of that?) and I've started to get gifts here and there. My little infertile soul wonders if the senders know that they might have wasted their money by sending gifts to a baby that will never actually exist. Then I get kicked in the ribs and work to banish all such thoughts. People with legs are real and need things. They need a nursery, clothes, a stroller with specs that rival my Toyota's, an activity gym for tummy time and pumping iron, pacifiers with stuffed animals attached, and swaddling blankets nicer than anything I've every put on my own bed. It is all excessive and thrilling.

I'm currently working on a post of my pregnancy essentials. Things that have kept me comfortable and diminished the complaining to a low roar. Forthcoming. Until then, mucho amor. I stalk all of your blogs, FB pages, etc. and am thinking constantly of your smiling faces and the state of your uteri.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

25w5d - Plague, Kegels, and Nesting

My holidays were more exciting than yours. More exciting IF you consider a familial case of plague-like stomach flu and an infant hospitalization exciting. And I do. You clicked on me, remember? First thing first, Niecelette is totally fine now however I will say that she started it. Along my brother-in-law. Simultaneously. At about 11 PM on December 22nd, Niecelette nursed like a champ and then proceeded to vomit it all up. Twice. Then slept and slept and slept which, as rule, newborns do not do. They sleep, wake up, feed, then sleep again. Not Niecelette. Unbeknownst to my sister, she was starting Baby's First Hunger Strike. In a bathroom down the hall, at the very same time, my sister's husband started vomiting as only a 6' 5" Canadian can. Niecelette kept on sleeping and my sister just stayed up staring at her, willing her to wake up and get her boob-on. At around 11 AM the next morning, my dad (a pediatrician) called it and took Niecelette to the emergency room. She hadn't eaten in 12 hours and was very lethargic. At the hospital, it was determined that she had a run of the mill stomach virus, just like her dad, but because she was only 13 days old she needed to be monitored for dehydration and kept on an IV. She and my sister spent the night at the hospital. The next evening (Christmas Eve), after feeding in very small amounts every 4-5 hours, she was allowed to go home.
In a medical crisis, I am your go-to-gal. I think it comes from growing up in a medical family; I'm the only one in the immediate family not currently or formerly in some branch of the field. (I like buildings.) I understand the lingo and can typically see past the symptoms to the bigger picture. However, when your 8.5 lb niece is lying there in a toddler hospital gown (Really children's hospital? No infant-sized apparel?), not eating and unable to stay awake, I promise that your cool, sensible Google-medical-school-educated head will fail you and your heart will just melt all over the floor. We were told the whole time that she was okay and would get better but still. Gah.
Niecelette revived and thrived, as did her dad. On Christmas morning, we all gathered at my mom and dad's house for presents and general merriment. My mom bore a slight resemblance to a green puddle and proceeded to get the same virus. Thinking myself of heartier stock than these weaklings, I washed my hands 74 times and went on my merry way to J's family's celebration. The next morning I woke up to bowel-churning, head-spinning nausea and remained more or less in the fetal position for 36 hours. I feel bad for my judgement of Niecelette's lethargy and refusal to eat. Here's what I did while sick with the same virus: did not eat and slept for the entire time. So, she had kind of a good wellness plan. I'll give her that.
Everyone was seemingly in the clear, virus gone, by Friday. The whole family - my mom and dad, Juice, her husband, baby Niecelette, J and me - packed into our respective vehicles and spent the next few days at the family cabin in Wisconsin. It was glorious until J got a belated strain of the virus and was banished to the bedroom. With the exception of that hiccup, it was a generally fabulous trip. I got to hold and play with Niecelette constantly. She is possibly the cutest baby ever. I also found that my relationship with my sister had slid back into normalcy after oh, say, 9 months of torture. Even once I was pregnant, the childish strain of "but her pregnancy is bigger, better, farther along, more naturally conceived than mine" played constantly in my head. It only took two or three weeks after the birth of my niece. Sigh. It gets easier, it just takes a birth, stomach virus and the general easing of emotional insanity to make the pain start to fade.
Ok, enough of that. I've written tomes on my emotional response to my sister's pregnancy/my miscarriage/my current pregnancy/yada yada. I shall write more, I'm sure.
Another milestone occurred while I was in Wisconsin. One morning, while wearing light grey, thin cotton pajama pants (you'll need that detail for later), I was standing around laughing with my sister and her husband. Of all things, we were talking about pregnancy brain. We joked about something mildly funny and, appropriately, I laughed a little bit. Not a lot. Just a little. And then I peed. Not a lot. Just a little. Juice then made me laugh again. Just a little. I then peed an equivalent amount. So now I've peed a little twice which means I've peed a medium amount in previously described pants. Under my breath I murmured, "Omigod I just peed my pants," turned, and walked to the bathroom at which point my sister saw my copiously pee-stained pants and announced that I had peed my pants. Fair enough. It was true. Once in the bathroom, I sneezed and peed again. So that happened. I became incontinent at 25 weeks pregnant. As I may have mentioned before, I have this bizarrely long torso that I inherited directly from my simian ancestors. My uterus has tons of room to expand before lifting and hitting my ribcage. As a result, little guy is riding low and at times wedges himself between my hip bones and smashes my bladder. According to the websites, he now weighs about 1.5 lbs. According to the science experiment described above, my bladder can accommodate under but nothing equal to or greater than 1.5 lbs of crushing pressure. I may have to accept that when he settles in that low wedge position from which he will not be moved, I will just pee myself. I knew this might happen. I just didn't realize I would have to buy maternity Depends this early in the game. 
I don't use hashtags frequently. I reserve them for my twitter posts about tween pop stars. But here, I feel that a hashtag is required. #timeforkegels.
In general, non-bodily fluid related news, I am nesting. It has hit with a vengeance. I have gone from being perfectly content with the future nursery looking like a hoarder/heroin addict's den to selling almost everything we own on Craigslist. Want a decrepit piano? Check Craiglist. A well-intentioned Christmas gift of a leather, memory foam full-size massage table? Ditto. Bar stools from an unused bar? All yours. Also the bar. Take it. I might sell my bed, refrigerator, sofa and anything else that takes up room. This is addictive.
Here's a stupidly adorable pic of me and Niecelette. True, I am possibly the most irresponsible aunt ever but, in my defense, it was 40 degrees, she was wrapped in fleece and down, my mom took the photo and my sister watched and approved whole-heartedly. I intend to retake this photo annually as a completely accurate measure of her growth (and mine). As her mother is 5' 8" and her dad is 6' 5", I figure she'll be taller than me by age 7.
Never too early to learn to make snow angels.
Happy 2014! May you stay blissfully free of viruses and incontinence.