We’re doing it all wrong, you see.

NST went a little long this morning.  I didn’t eat beforehand, so that’s probably why.  I don’t think there’s any concern, since he perked up and showed off a bit toward the end, thankfully.  Last childbirth class is tomorrow night; next BPP/growth check is on Thursday, and another NST on Friday.  They did say this morning that my beta strep culture from last week was negative (yay), so one week from tomorrow might very well be my last encounter with a needle of any kind relating to this pregnancy.  That’s crazy.  And of course, now that I’ve finally met the deductible on my insurance and the heparin would be much less expensive, I need only the tiniest of partial refills.  Oh well.  I’m sure we can find better things to do with $300 a month.  Gah.  I can’t even make a bad joke about that.  Every penny spent will be worth it in the end, I know, but it’s still quite harsh to think about how long we may be paying interest on all those many, many pennies.  Nauseating, really.

As is the state of the piles, now known in my head as the Baby Chaos Clutter Mountain Range.  I’m quite sick and tired of writing how we haven’t made much [any] progress on clearing or organizing them. Progress was made elsewhere in the house this weekend (front bathroom and master bedroom are both mostly painted – yes, if you’re thinking that these are non-nursery, non-baby-related projects that should have maybe been LOWER on the priority list, not higher, I’d agree heartily with you, but far be it from me to impede home improvement progress of any kind, I guess), but I am growing increasingly resentful that there is still so much to be done that seems so obvious to me, yet Mike keeps picking other stuff to tackle, as if we’ve all the time in the world to get things in order.  Clearly, it took me a while to sink into the idea of being pregnant and start making real preparations, but I’m spending a lot of energy on anger that these big projects weren’t undertaken until now, when my feet are really starting to hurt even after short periods of time standing/walking.  I’ve officially moved right past cranky straight to supremely bitchy, and I don’t even feel that bad about it, honestly.  I’m feeling enormous and uncomfortable and awkward and overwhelmed, and the thought of the three-day weekend being over and gone and still having just as much work to do as I did before it started, well, it pisses. me. off.  I’d really hoped we could spend these last few weeks taking it easy and trying to enjoy the limited relative freedom we still have, but instead it’s going to be a frantic mad dash to finish putting the house back together and get it all cleaned.  Perhaps someday I’ll look back and laugh at how overly seriously I’m probably taking all this, but right now it really does have me infuriated.  Grrr.
Okay, that’s a lot of complaining to follow up with, ‘but I’m not complaining.’  Clearly I’m complaining, but I do still feel incredibly lucky to have this as a problem.  Somehow my blood pressure was still pretty low this morning.  Frankly I was sort of amazed at that, and I credit the breathing I’ve learned to practice in yoga.  I hope those relaxation techniques will serve me as well during labor.  
In two days I will be a mere week away from full-term, technically.  I don’t think my brain is ready to accept that, though.  While I am a little (sometimes a lot) uncomfortable, I am still far from miserable enough to want him to come at all early.  Right now going two weeks late sounds pretty good (though it’d make me nervous as well) – we’ll see how fast that may change!
(35w5d)
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Miscellany

Not a lot of visible progress on the mountains of baby stuff that still needs sorted, washed, organized, etc. Slowly but surely, a little at a time, we have chipped away at some edges, but there is still a helluva lot of nesting to go.  Including of course our ongoing side project of the front bathroom.  And, you know, finishing the nursery, I’d think.  I’m hoping we get a lot done this coming long weekend.

Yesterday was another double appointment day, with the NST and regular OB visit in the morning, and the BPP ultrasound in the afternoon.  Both looked good, low blood pressures at both visits, even.  My weight gain seems to have stalled, with no change from last week and very little even from the week previous, which is confounding because it seems like I’m hungrier than ever and continually indulging it, so hopefully it’s all going toward baby fat and baby brain (sorry about all those Doritos the other night, kiddo).  I certainly FEEL bigger around, which is reassuring (if also somewhat disconcerting, to be honest).  They only give me a weight estimate for the baby every other week at the BPPs, so next week I’m hoping to hear at least 5.5 lbs, since he was estimated at 4.5 last week.  On the small side of normal, but as long as we hang on to the normal part, that’s fine.  At the first appointment they surprised me with the group B strep culture.  I’d asked a few weeks back when they did that, and they said 36 weeks, so I thought it wouldn’t be until next week, but whatever (I so hadn’t shaved my legs and so didn’t really care, either).  Will be interesting to see how that comes back.  They also had me go for a repeat hemoglobin/hematocrit – those results just popped up in my email.  Still a little short of the normal ranges, but higher than they were the first time, so I guess the iron supplement is helping a little.  We’ll see if they want me to do anything else. More steaks and strawberries in the meantime, I guess!
It’s getting hot here; all three days this weekend are supposed to hit 90°F or higher.  I’m feeling a little puffy, but not much in the way of true swelling, thankfully.  I haven’t been wearing my wedding rings for quite a while now; I’d swapped for some pretty bands that my sister actually gave me and our mom for her wedding, but I’m not bothering with those either anymore.  I keep wearing flipflops at work (hey, at least they’re the nice Clarks ones my mom treated me to and not the cheap Old Navy ones I bought for myself) and only switching to socks & tennis shoes as absolutely necessary.  Socks are the enemy.  Closed shoes without socks are just a terrible idea.
I can’t tell if it’s really that the baby has dropped/is dropping or if it’s just ligaments stretching, but I swear it feels like my pelvis is being pried apart.  Really quite an odd feeling, worst when going from sitting to standing or lying to sitting to standing.  I had noticed it a bit in my second trimester, too, and then it seemed to ease up for a while, but now it’s back with a vengeance.  I imagine it’s still a way better deal than back pain or sciatica, but it’s definitely something in the ‘pregnancy is very weird’ column.  Still having little if any heartburn, too, so I’m pretty sure he’s gonna be a bald baby (that old wives’ tale has actually been shown to be true, surprisingly enough).  All in all I’m not ready to start complaining about these discomforts. So much left to do, and really feeling quite well overall.  Still plenty of cranky, which I’m blaming on the length of the to-do list, but I have had a few moments of eerie peace.  Amazing how far we’ve come.
Last night our doula and her backup came to visit.  It went really well.  Turns out she’s a former Deadhead, like, dropped out of high school and followed the band for a year or more in her youth, before she had her first son.  It probably says something not so…upstanding, or something, about me that I found that extremely endearing and comforting, but that’s exactly the feel you want from a doula, so, so be it!  We were talking about music for labor, for which I’ve had a hard time trying to decide which extremes of my tastes might work, and I showed her the CD we registered for and received of lullaby versions of the Grateful Dead classics.  She immediately lit up and asked for a copy, and we were off and running.  This really helps Mike feel comfortable with her, too, since he’s gained a lot of appreciation for what he used to think of as my “damn hippie” music in the past several years as he’s reconnected with some of his old friends that are really into it, too.  On the other end of the musical spectrum, she told a story about one of the births she attended in which she arrived at the hospital (or house?  don’t remember – she has attended home births, too) to find the mom headbanging on a birth ball, jamming out to Tool.  I knew I couldn’t be the first or only one to have thought that serious rock might be less annoying than plinky-plunky meditation music at that point in time.  So I think we made an excellent decision, doula-wise; very glad to have gone with my gut on that!  
(35w1d)

Words Half Eaten

Just a quick post to say that while the gems such as, “Should I get him a shirt that says, Now that I’m safe, I’m Pro-Choice?” did continue, so did his generosity.  He left his grill and pretty much replaced the patio furniture he took back with him, so I really cannot complain too much.  Of course I’d prefer that he not try to buy affection/gratitude that way, and just not be so obnoxious to begin with, but overall it was much less painful than I expected, and for that I am very grateful.  I guess he did go back on some meds, not that it is really any of my business, let alone yours – this blog is really probably not anonymous enough for me to be posting stuff like this about my family, so I may should come back soon and just delete that post below, and perhaps this one as well, since apparently Blogger still won’t let us password protect individual posts (am I missing something?  anyone?).  But for now, I’ll just say that all’s well that ends well, and this past weekend was very busy and fun.  I’m exhausted and stressed about the mountains of baby stuff that still needs organizing, and all the cleaning that still waits for me underneath all the organizing, and the thank you notes from the first shower still to be written and mailed, but it’s truly the kind of stress and exhaustion that continues to confirm that we really have so much to be grateful for.

I’m a little freaked out that my due date is now less than six weeks away, honestly.  I suppose it’s normal to question everything about my abilities for both labor/birth and motherhood at this point.  I don’t in any way think that I’ll have regrets, of course, but it is still hard to believe this is finally already actually happening. As I was looking at the enormous amounts of gifted baby gear we’ve got to sort through, I realized that I don’t think I’ve actually purchased a single thing for this baby myself.  I wanted to…but I never did.  At this point I probably don’t need to, though of course eventually I’ll buy lots of stuff for him.  But that I haven’t yet, and that I can’t seem to commit to a name, even though we still have the two top candidates, makes me think there is a bigger part of my mind than I’ve realized of late still in some kind of denial that we’re as lucky as we are to be here.  I can somehow both love and hate that it feels too good to be true. 

(34w4d)

Shit My BIL Says [and Does]

  • He arrives wearing a T-shirt that says “Relax, I’m hilarious.”  
  • He asks me if I’m going to breastfeed my baby until he’s like, twelve, and old enough to stand on a stool while doing it.  I just said…probably not [but if I did, why the fuck should you care?].  
  • He chooses where we have dinner, then complains that he can find nothing on the menu that suits him, then demands that we go for ice cream afterward.  AND WE DID.  
  • He tells anecdotes about Republican-leaning campaign crap:  “Vote Romney 2012:  He’s White.”  [BLINK.  BLINKBLINK.]
  • He apparently signs my husband up to receive promotional mail/free sample things from Depend.  Yes, the incontinence undergarment.  I don’t even ask.
  • He asks if I had ever seen anyone with such skinny legs yet such a [sound effect] abdomen, referring to my MIL’s friend and travel companion.  When I say I really hadn’t noticed (complete honesty – am I supposed to notice that or something?), he describes in further detail how he really doesn’t think he’s ever. seen. anyone. with such drastically contrasting upper and lower body types.
  • He uses the word FUPA.  I pretend I either don’t hear it or don’t get it, and don’t ask for a definition.  Thankfully, he obliges.
He’s not all bad, that’s for sure.  He can be very generous, and maybe it’s just my problem that I always assume strings are somehow attached.  Apparently he took Mike grocery shopping, which frankly (and embarrassingly) helps a lot right now, and he did pay for dinner, too.  I don’t mean to be so harsh about him…well, okay, most of the time I do mean to, but I probably shouldn’t.  He’s just like your old racist uncle.  You know you can’t convince him to be reasonable or respectful, so you try to just ignore it as much as you can. Terrible strategy?  I don’t know.  I’m just hoping he doesn’t start harassing us about a baptism and being the baby’s godfather (because I’m sorry, now THAT’S hilarious).

NOMNOMNOM

Yesterday was a two-fer.  Had another good NST in the morning, followed by a good ultrasound/growth check in the afternoon.  He appears to be on the smaller side, but still within the normal range, at four and a half pounds as of 34 weeks.  So, he definitely still needs to finish baking and fattening up, and there’s probably no danger of a nine-pounder for me.  Blood pressure was a little high in the morning, 130/80, but much better in the afternoon at 116/73.  Clearly I just need to quit letting Mike piss me off in the morning before I go to these appointments.  That’s a joke…kind of.  I am definitely still fighting the crankiness. Or, wallowing in it, depending on the hour.

We have made some progress on the house, but it’s still basically a disaster area, and my MIL and BIL both arrive today.  MIL is bringing a friend up with her for the shower tomorrow, so they aren’t staying at our house, but BIL is.  I have no idea how this is going to go, but even Mike wasn’t too optimistic about what kind of mood he expected his brother to be in – I guess he’s quit seeing his therapist and stopped taking whatever meds he was on, so I am just EXTRA TICKLED to have him come shit all over my shower weekend, lemme tell ya.  Now, I’ll happily eat my words if that turns out to be false, but I’m fairly confident in my pessimism, sadly.  I’m supposed to be deciding where we’re all going for dinner tonight and I kind of just want to tell them all to go without me.  That’s terrible, and I clearly cannot actually do that, so…I guess I should figure out what sounds good enough that I’ll want to eat despite the big ball of resentment that’s likely to be festering in the pit of my stomach.      

I know…cookies.

Book Club & Mother’s Day

I’m pretty much going to gloss right over it being Mother’s Day.  We did celebrate, but I admit that it feels somewhat like counting a pre-hatched chicken.  I will say it’s been a great day, full of lovely things including (but not limited to) donuts, moules-frites at brunch with my parents, a bit more progress on the nursery (glider!  We did the changing table yesterday, so all furniture is now assembled, woohoo!), and even some rug-doctoring on the only remaining carpet in the house and the couch.  Feeling very lucky, but still thinking of those for whom today may have been quite miserable.  I’ve not forgotten what it’s like to aim for survival rather than enjoyment when it comes to Mother’s Day – and Father’s Day too, for that matter.  We typically have not made huge deals out of those days in my family, not so much gift-y as a meal, a card, some flowers or a smallish gift, but the simple stuff is sometimes the most poignant, you know?  Last year especially it was so hard to not feel gutted on both of those days, hanging out with my parents and not knowing if we’d ever get the chance to make them grandparents.  They’re so happy for us, as are Mike’s parents.

I did manage to finish Bringing Up Bebe, a couple weeks ago.  I should have written about it then, but clearly I’ve waited until the last brilliant minute.  Thankfully, people did send some questions and quotes to Esperanza, so…I’ll use them.  Brilliant!  The quotes not associated with questions really sort of speak for themselves.

“I hear other American moms say ‘I’m a bad mother,’ too. The phrase has become a kind of verbal tic. Emily says ‘I’m a bad mother’ so often that, though it sounds negative, I realize she must find the phrase soothing. For American mothers, guilt is an emotional tax we pay for going to work, not buying organic vegetables, or plopping our kids in front of the television so we can surf the Internet or make dinner. If we feel guilty, then it’s easier to do these things. We’re not just selfish. We’ve ‘paid’ for our lapses.” 

* * *
“There are no fixed rules…You have to keep changing what you do”
* * *
Quote from a French parent: “In the US, sometimes I have the feeling that if it’s not difficult for you, you have to feel bad about it.”

There definitely are some things described in the book that I think will be worth trying.  The author makes it sound like a fairly great system, if you can call it that, helping to create a much calmer household and lifestyle than what most American families would probably say is typical.  I think my problem is what seems like the impossibility of trying to implement it all here.  Parts of it could probably be done, like “the pause,” which apparently allows babies (and therefore parents as well) to start sleeping through the night as early as six to eight weeks in.  But I think it would be extremely frustrating to expect the same overall results when applying some of these ideas in the context of a parenting culture that is hardly conducive on all fronts.  For instance, it’s also noted that French toddlers are not necessarily always accompanied by baggies of Cheerios or the like, that parents and caregivers are not constantly soothing with snacks like American parents tend to do.  I think it might be rather hard, but perhaps not impossible, to stick to that very strictly here when we have such a drastically different food culture.  

Another thing that struck me as a dramatic difference in culture is that in general, these lovely French children are taught self-soothing, self-amusement, and patience at such a young age that they often don’t throw tantrums, or at least they don’t throw them at the same scale or frequency as we expect here. Sounds great, right?  Of course!  It sounds almost too good to be true.  I think that a lot of this French parenting philosophy is clearly made possible by the great benefits provided to parents:  paid (at least in part) parental leave, excellent neighborhood daycare that won’t cost you most of your salary, and perhaps best of all – no Are You Mom Enough crap.  TIME magazine really jumped the shark this week, if you happen to have missed it.  I won’t even link to it – not because of the image, but because it’s just bait and I don’t need to take it.  But it is a great example of what French women are not subjected to – this competitive thing, where mother becomes martyr and everything is the most important thing you can do for your kids: the way you give birth, how long you breastfeed, whether you go back to work, and on and on and on.

“College-educated mothers rarely ditch their careers, temporarily or permanently, after having kids. When I tell Americans that I have a child, they usually ask, ‘Are you working?’ Whereas French people just ask, ‘What do you do?’”

I do like that a lot of what is described is basically free range parenting, letting kids have their own existences – not helicoptering and giving as much freedom as possible within a certain framework.  The most important rules (safety, basic manners, respect and consideration for others, for example), are never broken without consequence.  It is not a bargaining match; it is simply, firmly, you must always or you must never for the most important parts – teaching kids not to be “good” so much as to be sage, all the while realizing that children are children, and will of course be naughty and silly.  I like the concept of bêtises, small infractions that are not ignored, but are not punishable offenses.  The caca boudin thing cracks me up.

I’m past the deadline for sending this link, and it’s way past my beditme, so I’m going to wrap up as usual with little in the way of a final judgment or conclusion.  I liked it, overall.  I am far from ready to say, I’m going to do it this way, or that way, or, I’ll never do this or that.  I plan to take it as it comes, and this book provided a glimpse into a culture that seems to be doing very well at that, so I will definitely be keeping it on the Kindle, letting Mike read it, and probably rereading at some point when I need a reminder that it’s okay to chill out, let the little things go, and that there are no actual trophies for being a “super mom.”

More stuff checked off the list

I had another good NST yesterday.  Everything seems fine, but they are still going to start doing them twice a week starting next week, along with the biophysical profiles with the peri.  It will be sort of nice to get weekly ultrasounds again, I guess.  Hopefully one of these times we’ll see that he’s moved from posterior to anterior.  Somehow I’m not overly worked up about labor and birth, but back labor with a sunny-side-up baby is
obviously not preferable.  I’m not a hundred percent certain, but I’m pretty sure he’s still feet and face forward for now.  I started doing the forward-leaning inversions, but the movements I feel are still all over the place so I don’t think he’s rotated much, if any.

It feels overly picky to be thinking about stuff like that.  I mean…movement!  Baby!  Thirty-three weeks tomorrow!  The details of how he hopefully arrives safely to the outside world…not really so critical in the end.  Natural birth is just an idea I’ve latched onto to grasp for a sense of control.  It’d be fabulous to get to experience the birth I want, but even as I get closer and closer to my due date I have to admit it doesn’t yet seem quite real that we’ve made it this far, finish line in sight.  As we were driving to the childbirth class tonight Mike said it all – still can’t believe we’re doing this.  But apparently, we are.  Anyway, the class was fine.  No brand-new information to me, but there are three classes to go, so I think it will end up being worthwhile.  Like the CPR, infant care, and breastfeeding classes, it’s not information that I can’t find in books or online, but it helps to hear it in person as well, I think.  
We also settled on a pediatric practice today.  The doctor we met is actually the mother of a guy I went to high school with; kind of a small world.  After I shared that it wasn’t easy for us to have gotten to this point, she mentioned that he and his wife of 11 years were battling infertility.  I didn’t ask if they were pursuing treatment or anything, since it’s really not my business.  I was both surprised that she divulged that (made me wonder how often my own mother and MIL might toss our sordid stats out to semi-random near-strangers), yet also a little reassured that she might in some way “get it,” if only as a MIL might.  It’s better than the “oh poor you” look, anyway.  
What else?  Feeling pretty good overall, still.  Still awfully cranky and stressed about work and leave stuff, but have been managing to sleep decently for the most part lately, if not for long enough most nights. Getting up to pee four times aside, of course.  Speaking of….  
(32w6d)