Thursday, February 28, 2013

Labor and Whatnot

Tonight we will be attending our first birthing class. I'm a little nervous because I am pretty sure I'm going to be asked what I want my birth to be like. I'm not sure I have a satisfactory answer.

At the ripe old age of seven and a half, I watched my baby brother be born. Of course, before that happened, I attended classes and read books and learned all about babies and where they come from. Spoiler: Storks have nothing to do with it. I helpfully passed this knowledge along to all the kids on my bus and those in my second grade class. "Hey, you guys, you know that boys make sperm? It come out of their penis!" Yes, I am sure that thanks to me many of my peer's parents were dodging awkward questions about the uterus and testicles.

Though I later learned that my parents were criticized by other adults for allowing me to be present, I was not scarred by observing the birth. This was my mother's third child and the birth was completely natural* and very quick...though at that age I felt like waiting 3 whole hours for the baby to make an appearance was asking a lot.

*I just recently found out that my mother did not have pain medication of any kind. The labor went so smoothly that I always assumed she'd had an epidural.

The only part of the whole delivery that I found disconcerting was the afterbirth. You see, though I was thoroughly prepared for the birth of the baby, no one had thought to tell me about what comes out afterwards. I was momentarily under the impression that my mom had delivered a second baby. The world's ugliest baby. Which was probably why the doctors let it hit the floor along with the poop.

Anyway, I believe that being a part of my brother's birth has prevented me from being afraid of labor. I'm not looking forward to it, but I'm not afraid of having to push a baby out of my vagina. It's something that most women go through; I know, I've seen it. Instead, I find myself afraid of being cut (I really don't want to experience recovery and the unfortunate side effects of an episiotomy, and I'm terrified of having major abdominal surgery because, let's not sugar coat it, that's what a c-section is).

I had always been on the side of epidurals. I can recall agreeing with a friend that there was no reason for a woman to go through the pain. Why would you? That's why they invented epidurals.

Then, a few years ago, I stumbled upon a blog written by a very jaded labor and delivery nurse who was writing about doctors intentionally overusing pitocin. She referred to this inappropriate use of medication as pit to distress. To sum up, doctors who don't want to wait around for labor to progress naturally would encourage women to accept pitocin to speed labor, but would intentionally overdo it, causing the baby to become distressed and forcing an emergency c-section.


So I dug further. I found out that many medical interventions could stall labor and lead to yet more medical interventions, ultimately culminating in an emergency c-section.

Now, before you storm your local hospitals, let me clarify that there are times that medical interventions are totally necessary for the safety of mother and/or child. Most doctors would not sink so low as to providing dubious care. So let's all put down our pitchforks.

I will admit that this knowledge has slowly changed my outlook. It has led me toward what I previously considered unthinkable: A natural childbirth.

The birthing classes we are attending tonight are for the Bradley Method, which is really for women who plan on delivering their child without medication, if possible. Part of me feels like I'll be trespassing because my plan is to try and go without medication unless I feel like I really need it. I refuse to commit myself 100% to no pain killers because then I'll feel like a whopping failure if that doesn't happen. Instead, I plan on approaching this birth like I did my wedding: here's how I'm hoping it will go, but in the end I'll definitely be married. Except, you know, this time I get a baby.

Really, I feel like the honest answer to how I want this birth to go is just a bit to honest. I don't want to be cut!

I am pretty sure I hear some clashing of pitchforks, so let me add the necessary pacifying language. C-sections are often necessary. There is nothing wrong with having had a c-section. I am just saying that the idea of having my muscles and organs cut into makes me sweat bullets. I'd much rather deal with the prolonged, intense pain of labor than to have to deal with the discomfort and difficulty of caring for a newborn while recovering from major surgery.

As for the episiotomy, well, when I was interviewing OBs I asked one of the docs at the practice about their episiotomy rate. While answering me, he told me this horrible story about a woman ripping upward through her clitoris. This scared (and continues to scare) the crap out of me! But I also know that is extremely rare - trust me, you tell me a clitoris-ripping story and I'm going to research the likelihood of that event for days on end. I've also researched how to reduce the likelihood of either ripping or cutting happening. I am going to do everything I possibly can to keep scissors away from my vajayjay, even if those things lack a certain dignity (I'm talking about you, perineum massage!).

Long story long, that is why I've opted for Bradley Method classes. R and I are also hoping we get to meet some soon-to-be parents that we like. Because how can you not be thinking about making friends while discussing your vagina with a group of strangers?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Slow Burn of Pregnancy

I had horrible heartburn last night. How horrible, you ask (or you don't but I go on pretending you do anyway, so just play along). So horrible that I dreamed my heartburn, or at least the gastric juices causing said heartburn, turned into molten lava and flowed after some random guy. Fortunately for that guy, I woke up before he was digested/immolated.

The heartburn has become more than just a nuisance. It's totally ruining prenatal yoga. Downward facing dog, plank, and monkey are all positions that I have learned to dread...also, why do all the yoga poses have to have such ridiculous names? It's like when companies name their ice cream flavors Chocolate Moo Moo or Chunky Monkey. Yeah, I'm not saying that. Also, I no longer want any, thanks.

I know some of you are going to tell me (or just think it to yourselves) that I could get something stronger than Tums to deal with the heartburn. To tell you the truth, Tums works fine, when I take it. Which is almost never. I've never been one to raid the medicine cabinet unless I decide it's absolutely necessary - like last night after my discomfort took over my dreams and almost got some fictional guy killed.

Fun side note, every  so many years we have to throw away all the things in our medicine cabinet, some of which have not yet been opened, and buy new ones because everything has long ago expired. Something I never even considered until one of my friends asked for an aspirin and, when I handed her the bottle, she pointed out that they had expired four years previously. I didn't even know they could do that. I thought they were like Twinkies or cockroaches.

So, basically, it's totally my fault that I suffer through my heartburn. I am thinking I will start taking a Tums before yoga though. That seems preferable to my esophagus dissolving as I move between child pose and plank.

Another fun fact, research has found a positive relationship between pregnant mother's heartburn and the amount of hair her child is born with. It's one of the only wives' tales that has been backed up by science. Thus, our baby is likely to come into the world with a full Pompadour. That's not really unexpected, since both his parents have crazy-thick hair. We've been joking for years that our children will look like chia pets.

Yeah, that seems about right. Poor kid.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Making a Baby: Week 24

Look at me and my bad self, actually posting a weekly update on time!

Week 24 wasn't too bad. We started out with a OB visit where my fundal height was estimated at 26.5 cm*. The "acceptable range" for someone who is 24 weeks pregnant is 18-26 cm. That means that me, a tiny person, has a uterus that is literally taking up the majority of my torso. Already. Before I've even hit the third trimester. Duuuude, I am going to be so screwed.

*Random side note: spell check wants me to change fundal to fungal...that would certainly be grounds for a doctor's visit!

Of course, I went home and began researching the relationship between fundal height and baby size. [Insert big sigh of relief] To sum up, I shouldn't be worried about having to birth a Goliath. However, this does go a long way toward explaining the horrible heartburn I get.

Another fun pregnancy symptom: rib pain. In case you didn't already know, pregnant women's ribs expand so that all those displaced organs can be shoved up and out of the way of the giant uterus. I'm guessing that my extra giant uterus (which may soon make its own appearance in a monster movie) has sped up this rib expansion and the result is...unpleasant. Also, if I run up the stairs, or even go up them at a moderate pace, I get winded because my displaced organs are squashing my lungs. Ah, the miracle of life and all that crap.

Oh yeah! Something else that was revealed at my OB appointment. So, in the first 20 weeks I gained 7.5 lbs. Then, in the next 4 weeks, I gained 7.5 lbs! The fuck!?! The OB nurse was like, "That's great!" and that puts you "right on track." Lies! If I'm supposed to gain 25 lbs. total, and I've gained 15 lbs. by 24 weeks, half of those pounds in only a 4 week period, and I have 16 weeks to don't have to be a mathematician to understand that there is something wrong here. Especially when the major weight gain happens in the third trimester.

So, I should probably stop eating chocolate all the time. Which I will start doing as soon as I finish that box of chocolates in the pantry and the raisinetts I bought over the weekend. Probably.

Okay, so that's that. Now, behold, the giant belly full of  baby:
Once again barefoot and pregnant.

And, just to prove that I don't always wear the same pants, or run around barefoot, here is a picture, taken only a few days before:
With makeup! And fancy clothes! And cleavage that could suck you in like a black hole! This pic was taken on Valentine's Day. Our last without parental responsibility for the next umpteen billion years. So, of course the little guy decided to wake up early and kick the crap out of me throughout the whole dinner. Kids.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

First World Problems Follow Up

The ugly chair is being replaced by something that is (hopefully!) attractive. The furniture company did the unthinkable - unthinkable because they had specifically said they wouldn't do this - and took the chair back for a $50 restocking fee and allowed us to order the same chair in a different color for the same discounted price as the ugly chair!! That still makes it a good deal, even if we did get to learn a very important $50 lesson.

The lesson: ALWAYS take the fabric swatch outside and look at it natural light! 

Another important lesson: ALWAYS be nice to people, even when you are frustrated. Maybe I should say especially when you are frustrated. Nice people may get unexpected assistance, whereas no one wants to help an ass. I credit our mastery of this principle with the resolution of many of our problems. 

Finally, I am in a super good mood. I just finished a huge chunk of work, I got to have lunch with a friend, the ugly pink chair has faded away, my dogs are snoring softly at my feet, it is drizzling outside and the world is quiet, and I can feel my baby thumping softly in my belly. 

I sincerely hope that you are happy wherever you are.

Ugly Chair Update: The manufacturer has discontinued the fabric we chose. We have to go in tomorrow and pick yet another fabric color. First world problem squared! 

Monday, February 18, 2013

First World Problems

It's important to keep things in perspective. That is why I having been taking deep breaths since yesterday evening. Breathing and reminding myself how fortunate I am that this is the extent of my problems.

That said, yesterday evening sucked. Which was unfortunate because the rest of the weekend had been going really, really well. Then we picked up our new chair.

Let me take a step back to say that this chair was a bit of an impulse buy. We had been trying to find a moderately priced dresser that we could use as a changing table. Instead, we found the perfect chair to go in our front room: it swivels, it rocks, it's low profile, and it was on clearance. So, even though we weren't looking for the chair, we had given a lot of thought to what we would ultimately put in that spot, and it was this exact piece of furniture...which happened to be on clearance! We easily decided on a fabric color, one called clay that was a brownish orange.

The chair arrived on Saturday, and we picked it up on our way home from a birthday party Sunday evening. We were excited to have it and our plan was to make dinner (homemade chicken pot pie!) and rearrange our living room and basically sit around and congratulate each other on our awesome purchase. turns out that something was amiss concerning the fabric swatch we looked at when choosing our chair. Was it the light in the furniture store? Is it that a small piece of fabric does not give you a good idea of what a whole piece of furniture will look like? To tell you the truth, I'm not sure. What I am sure of is this: our chair is pink. Lipstick pink. It's HORRIBLE.

Did I mention that my least favorite color in the whole world is pink? I hate it! I despise pink and I simply cannot stand having a pink chair in the prime spot in my front room. I know, I know. Poor me. My new furniture is hideously ugly. Cover it was a blanket and move on with your life, right? But it's brand f'ing new! It's going to be around for at least a decade. And it's HORRIBLE.

So last night, after we stared at the chair, and moved it around in different lights and tried to convince ourselves it wasn't so bad, I threw a blanket over it and we got to work on dinner. Except, of course, that didn't go as planned either. The pre-made puff pastry we had purchased in anticipation of this meal was actually rolls not sheets, so R ran to two stores trying to find the right stuff. Instead, he came home with phyllo dough...and, because he's always worried we won't have enough of something, he came home with two things of phyllo dough*. Which, of course, doesn't work for chicken pot pie crust, no matter how much you cuss at it.

*I now have to figure out what to do with 8 sheets of phyllo dough. This is going to take some serious ingenuity as R doesn't like cooked spinach or feta...which are the only thing that I think of when I think of phyllo dough.

Even better, while R was out buying bulk amounts of useless Greek dough, I fell off the step stool. I don't know how I fell off the step stool, but there I was, on my hands and knees, chicken bullion powder dusting the kitchen floor. I spent the next hour and a half trying not to freak out because THE BABY! WHAT IF I HURT THE BABY??! To kill the suspense, he started kicking and squirming and I'm sure everything is fine.

So, there I am in the kitchen, resigned to making pastry dough from scratch, knees throbbing, panic eating away at me every time my side twinged. I pull out the ingredients and low and behold, not enough shortening. So off R goes to the store, again, while I proceed to burn myself on the stove.

In the end, we rearranged our living room while the pot pie was cooking. It turned out to be delicious in spite of its hideous patchwork appearance - I can never pull a crust up in one piece after I've rolled it out. But whatever. Our bellies were full, our living room was full. Our chair was covered by a much more attractive blanket. I think we'll make it past this.

P.S. R is currently getting quotes on how much it would cost to get the chair reupholstered. So far, it doesn't look good. I'm considering rubbing it down with coffee or tea and resigning myself to a dirty shade of beige. Anything would be better than what it looks like now. Seriously.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Different Kind of Belly Dancing

Internet, I have exciting news! Yesterday we saw the baby move for the first time!

In the morning, I saw a tiny bulge that coincided with the sensation of being kicked and I quickly called R. I had to point out the spot on my belly and we both stared hard until we saw the little twitch. I thought that was as exciting as it was going to get, but I keep underestimating this kid's physical abilities.

Last night, as we were lying in bed, our little guy woke up for his nightly jazzercising session, except this time it was different. Each kick resulted in an obvious bulge in my belly. R and I watched in fascination for the next 10 minutes as my belly pushed out in response to our baby kicking. It was amazing.

Though it's nothing like this yet:

Almost as amazing, the baby has moved further up and is off my bladder. Oh blessed relief! I have gotten so used to the constant pressure that I was shocked by the lack of "I need to pee" sensation that I'm now experiencing. No worries though. I am sure he'll be snuggling back up to his favorite organ again in no time.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Making a Baby: Weeks 22 and 23

Ugh. I did it again. I was SURE I would post my Week 22 update last week. So sure...but sadly, I just suck.  I will try to meet my expectations half way and talk about each week separately.

Week 22 brought a fun surprise: stretch marks. Yep. My Denial tried to explain away the red marks under my nipples but after they literally multiplied overnight Denial shrugged, muttered something about genetics, and wandered away in the direction of my expanding thighs. So there you have it. My boobs have stretch marks. Did not see that one coming. I had expected them on my belly, but not my boobs.  Pregnancy holds nothing to be sacred.

I tried not to get upset. I tried to force myself to just get over it. Finally, I allowed myself to throw a little pity party, which primarily consisted of chocolate and a lot of glaring at the mirror, and I started to feel better. I'm not happy about it, but it is what it is. I guess you can't grow 1 1/2 bra cup sizes in a few months and not experience some wear and tear.

Also, my appetite ramped up and my energy took a bit of a nose dive. I'm pretty sure these things correlate with a growth spurt for the baby...I can tell because the effects are visible, as in I can't see my feet if I look straight down.

Week 23 was most notable for the kick boxing. At least, that's what I'm assuming the little guy is doing in there. This kid can literally go for hours and I fear for my internal organs in the months to come! The cutest thing about this is that R can get him to stop. When he gets close and talks to my belly, the baby stops to listen. Sometimes the little guy will even settle down and go back to sleep! R is the baby whisperer! I am SO hoping that this continues after baby comes out!

The neatest thing about this week was the "what's this?" game. The baby is big enough that you can sometimes see a bulge in my belly. Oftentimes, my belly looks a bit like a Picasso painting because the baby is curled up on one side. Other times I can run my hand over my belly and feel a solid little mass. I haven't been able to determine what part of him it is, and, based on his wriggling away, I don't think he likes it when I spend much time trying to discover what it is. But it's a fabulous game! Is this a head or a little baby bottom? I think this is his back! This is either a knee or a foot jabbing me right here.

Also adorable, baby hiccups.

Now, without further interruption, I bring you ridiculous baby belly pictures:

Week 22

Week 23

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Superbowl is a Pain in the Cervix

Yesterday, like so many of my fellow Americans, we participated in the magical holiday known as Superbowl Sunday. We did so by attending a party at our neighbors house. The party, as promised, was filled with  "cool people" and "rugrats." Most of the people in attendance were our age, admittedly very cool, and had one or more small children.

My now-completely-obvious baby belly drew much admiration and launched several pregnancy/baby-related conversations, which almost completely prevented me from seeing the football game (super secret confession: I didn't mind). Rather than wear one of my maternity tops, I chose to don one of my t-shirts - you know, one of the few that I can still pull over my extended abdomen. I have been wearing my 'normal' clothes as much as possible lately because I feel like I'll have plenty of time to sashay around in maternity clothes and because I kind of like the way I look in my normal clothes. Clothes that aren't designed to hide my growing belly. In other words, I like that I look pregnant. It's a look that was much admired at the party; one woman, baby in arms, repeatedly told me that I had "the cutest baby bump she's ever seen," and even went so far as to drag her husband over to look at it. "Look at how it's all out in front!" she exclaimed. "You can just tell that there's a baby right there." And she pointed right to where our little guy was laying.

See? How can I not like that?*

*Full disclosure: I still wrestle with some body image issues. When you go through life with a body you are familiar with, one that you have some modicum of control over, it's disconcerting to see it change so rapidly. That said, my baby belly is pretty adorable.

In addition to the bustling preschoolers and active toddlers (including the most darling 2 year old fraternal twin boys, each heartbreakingly shy and sporting a mow-hawk), there was an 8 month old boy. Mid-way through the game, R sidled over, pointed to this little guy, and told me that next year our baby boy would be the same age. At first I objected - there was no way our unborn child was going to be so big by next Superbowl. And then I counted it out. And I was stunned. Eight months. That's hold old the baby growing inside me is going to be this time next year. Unbelievable.

Throughout the majority of the night - which was extra long thanks to the 30+ minutes of the power outage at the Superbowl stadium - I stood and conversed. The main point being, I was standing. Even though my feet were getting tired and my back was starting to protest, I continued to stand because our precious baby was insistently wiggling as low as he could get and pounding away on my cervix. If I sat, he pounded harder. Sharp pains shot out from my most tender of spots while I grinned and talked about being pregnant, and "Yes! We are so excited!" and "we have been looking into (insert whatever baby advice you've ever gotten/given/overheard)." And the whole time I wanted to thump my belly and say, "Damn it, baby, get off mommy's cervix! That's not for playing with!"

Overall, we had a great time. It was fun to watch the various daddies playing with and taking care of their little ones. Of course, it's great seeing mommies do that too, but it's less of a novelty. I repeatedly saw fully shared tag-team parenting going on throughout this party and it was awesome to behold. I know that R will be like that. Every part of him wants to dive into parenting. It's just great to see how much our society has changed and how involved fathers are these days.

It's also great to see little kids, in an overall well-behaved manner, having fun. We're not around that many kids and I appreciated the reminder that they grow, are generally happy and healthy, and that we are far from the first people to embark on this crazy journey.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Sharing the Music in My Life

I came across this musician recently: Her name is Lindsey Stirling (if you couldn't tell from the website moniker), and I've really been enjoying her music.

She's a contemporary violinist that creates beautiful, upbeat dubstep. Her music reminds me of Infected Mushroom's (yes, that's a musical group not a worrisome yard fungus) Classical Mushroom album, which combines classical music with more standard electronica. Also, Bond, which is an electric string quartet.

Semi-informed musical genre speak aside, if you have any appreciation for classical music you should check her out. You can also find several of her music videos on YouTube, if you're into that sort of thing. 

This type of music is fantastic when I'm working. The lack of words eliminates most distraction, while the complexity of the music can keep my mood and work pace upbeat. Also, it just sounds cool.

Extra bonus: the baby seems to like it.* I swear, he starts moving around more with the swell, peaks and valleys of this type of music than to Indie rock or other however you classify The Black Keys/Mumford and Sons/Adele/etc. that's usually playing in the background at our house. 

*You didn't think I'd be able to complete a post without mentioning the baby, now did you?