Friday, May 31, 2013

Stop asking me about the baby!

No there is not a damn baby yet!!!

You see, that's what I'm saying to myself on the inside every f'ing time I answer the phone...which isn't often. Mostly I let it go to voice mail because the pregnancy rage, it's really real. For realz.

If I call and get someone else's voice mail, I make sure to leave a message saying that there is nothing going on. This has not reduced the number of people calling back to see if something is, in fact, "going on." Because, obviously, I might be a lying liar. 

At this rate, it is likely that I reduce the world's population before I add to it.

I recently had to restrain myself because the annoyed, vindictive part of me came THIS close to telling my dad I lost my mucus plug. But then I'd probably have to tell him what that was and I'd end up more uncomfortable than he would. And (here's the important part) it wouldn't bring me any closer to having this baby. 

Stubborn baby. Get out get out getout getout GETOUT!!!

I have been walking, having sex, R is exhausted, the size of my ankles is totally frightening, and still no baby. I have had random people yell across store aisles and restaurants about how I look like I'm ready to have this baby, and still no baby. I even had an old lady I had never seen before in my life tell me to go home...still no baby.

My neighbor has yelled over my fence asking about the frequency of my Braxton Hicks. My mom stupidly asked if I was dilating more, cause you know, even though I can't even see the outside of my nethers I obviously have been keeping a tactile-based journal on the state of my cervix*. My friend asked if I felt like I was going to have the baby that day. I could go on. There's been a lot of slap yourself type questions thrown my way. 

*No, she did not think I had been to the doctor. She just thought I could maybe tell. This from a woman who had three children and could never even tell when she was actually in labor.

SOooo....that's how week 39 is wrapping up. Basically, I'm finding that the very worst part of the end of pregnancy is other people. And yes, I know they are interested/concerned/supportive/etc. but also, they need to shut up. I have promised that I will not be keeping the baby a secret. I will not hide him in my basement. I would just like people to stop asking me about the state of my girly parts and accept that if there is something worth talking about I will share it with them...or not because what I keep in my underwear is my business.

I can't wait until the baby comes and everyone focuses on him instead of me. Even though I know that will give me a whole slew of reasons to roll my eyes.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Making a Baby: Weeks 35 through 38

Apparently the best way to get your readership up is to talk about your imminent baby and then disappear from the Internet. Haha! You have all been had. I'm not even having a baby. This has all been an elaborate hoax including photographic evidence of an increasingly scary/huge belly and a false double chin. (If you believe that, you deserve to be lied to.)

Okay, so I haven't written in a while because I've been staying away from my computer. I started maternity leave earlier than expected due to a colleague's personal problems, which would be great if I still had lots to do to get ready for the little guy's arrival. But I don't. And the long list of Things That Must Get Done is completed (bath dogs, paint stars on nursery ceiling, build furniture [no, not a metaphor or exaggeration], get the garden planted, prune trees, etc.). R keeps ordering me to the couch, where I sit for .05 sec until I've decided that the front room must be re-dusted, or that I should hand wash some dresses I won't be able to wear for another 3-4 months, or I notice that there are spots on the master bathroom mirror (and by notice I mean imagine, because I was sitting on the couch, remember?). Basically I'm failing at the rest/relax/put your feet up thing. But I'm TOTALLY winning at nesting. So there.

Also, I've been alternating between my sweet self and my crabby alter ego because baby get OUT! And R keeps muttering some nonsense trying to remind me that we haven't even hit his due date yet. But I'm swollen (if you comment that I'm swollen because I'm not staying off my feet I swear I will jump through this screen and strangle you with my sausage-like fingers), and I'm having a gazillion contractions, and my family members are calling me every day to ask about progress. Also, my mom has graciously made this about her, because she is tired of waiting, and she things things are taking too long, and she is lucky that I'm too bowling-ballish to successfully slip into her apartment and kill her in her sleep.

So tra-la-la. End of pregnancy is so glorious and wonderful.

On the bright side, I am dilating and effacing more - so sayeth the doctor yesterday. I am having tons of contractions and am officially in prelabor. Which means a baby will be coming...eventually. It could be today or next week or by the time I'm 90. Whenever.

With that tidbit of grumpy over sharing, I present to you, 4 weeks worth of belly pictures:

Week 35

Week 36

Week 37

Week 38

Oh, and fun fact. I have been reassured by not one but three different doctors that we don't have to worry about the baby being small. Because that's obviously reassuring. Though looking at these pictures does lend support to their statement. 

Dang! There's a baby in there!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Impending Baby Update

FYI: Progress is being made. Dilation and effacing are going on. So...things are progressing.

What does that tell us?

That a baby will definitely be coming, sometime, eventually, who the hell knows when.

So. That.

And there will be more belly pics posted. Probably. If I'm not too busy dusting the back of the entertainment center.

Until next time,
Swollen Ankles, signing off

Monday, May 20, 2013

At 38 weeks and counting

In case you were wondering, still no baby, just lots more contractions.

We now have all the things we need, and a good many we do not, for the baby's arrival. We have no real idea when the little guy is coming. We did not get an internal exam last week because the doctor was like, "Eh, false labor, pffff." Not like an internal exam could really tell us when he's coming, but I am curious to know if I'm effacing and dilating and all that. We'll find out on Wednesday. Until then, I've decided to ignore the contractions - since I can't feel them, that's pretty easy to do*.

*I tried to explain to the doctor about not feeling my contractions and how my mom never felt hers and had to be forced to the hospital by my dad (where she arrived at 6-7 cm dilated each time!)...but he kind of ignored that. He did tell me that I should go to the hospital when I'm feeling lots of downward, um, okay**.

**Side note: We own a Subaru Forester. We have joked that if the baby is born in the car, we'll give him the  second middle name "Forester" to commemorate the experience. You know, so we don't forget.

In the meantime, we are keeping busy prepping for the baby. You'll be happy to know (though not nearly as happy as R) that the car seat has been installed. R has also put together the highchair...something we were going to wait to get because the little guy won't be eating food for 6 months, but this highchair is admittedly awesome and we'll be able to set him up in it to watch us cook dinner, etc. (by etc. I mean, it's high enough that the dogs won't be able to lick him in the face). R has also spent much time mulling over the fancy-ass video monitor we just had to have (he supplied researched and well thought out arguments when he first suggested's like he knows me or something). Additionally, R has checked off many yard-related tasks that must be accomplished before the baby arrives.

I have been happily prepping all the diaper changing areas (one upstairs, one downstairs, and our diaper bag), folding and refolding tiny diapers and basically squealing with delight over innocuous items like fleece butt liners. I have also gone a bit crazy in the yard and can happily report that the several bushes have been deadheaded, plants have been re-potted, a tree has been pruned, and much weeding was accomplished. Just so you know the full story, I was later chastised for this level of activity and sent to the couch to put my feet up. I also got several baskets (yeah for baskets! I don't fully understand my obsession, but who cares, because BASKETS!) and made R screw them to the wall in the nursery. I realize that sounds weird, but I'll post pictures and you will see the genius; the adorable, adorable genius.

Speaking of pictures, I realize I'm behind on posting belly pics. I have them, but I have to download to the computer, and not my work computer but the other laptop, and then I have to go through them, and really? That's time I could be using to refold cloth diapers or scheme on my next cloth diaper purchase.

Also: cloth diapers. I am TOTALLY going to write up a post (Okay, who are we kidding? Probably a lot of posts) about cloth diapers. I spent a lot of time reviewing brands and am anxious to see what works. I also took a chance on some Etsy purchases, and if they are as good as they seem like they will be, I'll pass along those sites - support small business! And also, save money! But first I want to make sure what's working out so I know which diapers are working best for our newborn, which diapers are a pain to care for, and which diapers self-detonate like a James Bond message.

Until next, I'll be contracting I suppose. (I really need some sort of sign off phrase.)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How to freak out your husband

So those contractions I was talking about yesterday? They kept up. Also, I developed a need to do all the laundry, shelf paper the inside of dresser drawers, and prune a bunch of house plants.

When R got home, it was suggested to me that I sit on the couch and put my feet up because my ankles had disappeared, having been replaced with self-rising bread dough. R spent the rest of the evening and much of the night frantically completing last minute baby preparations as my contractions continued, seemingly at even intervals (again, can't feel them, so I spent most of the night with my hand on my tummy). Eventually, R brought me his phone, which has a contraction monitoring app, and I timed my contractions while he repacked the hospital bag, stopping only to poke his head around the door frame to call "what?" at every noise or movement I made. I read Harry Potter.

We are pretty sure that these are just Braxton-Hicks, and unless anything major changes (cause yeah, the contractions are still happening), we'll have that confirmed at the doctor's appointment today. I bet I have to get an internal exam. We had planned on putting that off another week, but at 37 1/2 weeks, it's in the appropriate time range...and probably reasonable considering nearly 24 hours of (possibly) steady contractions.

I totally wouldn't mind going into labor, but we had planned on picking up the last things we need this weekend. Seriously, the very last things...for now. Also, I wanted to buy more baskets. I am totally proving to R that you can never have too many baskets. Baskets to hold toys and clothes and diaper-related things. You know, all the essentials. Also also, we were going to have the neighbor kid, who has been kind enough to volunteer to look after the dogs while we are having the baby, actually go in the house without us and run through their schedule - more for his comfort than anything else.

Well, we'll see what happens. R left for work with a slightly panicked look in his eye (one of the last things we need to do is install the car seat; we had been waiting until after this weekend when we got a protector thing to lay under it and this is driving R completely crazy now). He closed the door behind him after saying, "I love you. Don't have a baby until I get back."

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The word of the day is...

Contractions. Lots of them. Or maybe just a few ones that last for hours.

I don't seem to be able to feel them. My mom couldn't feel her contractions until she was at the end of the first stage of labor, and sometimes not even then. I've always said that I hoped it was genetic. Maybe it is? Or maybe, more likely, these are just practice contractions and I'll be able to feel the real things. But 90% of the time, when I touch my belly today, it's rock hard.

As someone who is obsessive likes to keep track of things, it's weirding me out that I can't tell something this basic. I keep imagining my doctor's appointment tomorrow where I try to explain this phenomenon.
Him (exasperated after my inexact responses): Is your uterus squeezing the crap out of you or not?
Me: Um...maybe. When I touch my tummy, it's all hard. So, probably?

Pure genius.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Preggo love

"I'm gonna miss the belly a little bit."

"Really? Why's that?"

"Because it's adorable and you're taking a little piece of me with you where ever you go."

This is a conversation I had with R. Seriously, could he be any sweeter?

Too bad, ladies, he's mine. I've got the enormous preggo belly to prove it...and to keep him hypnotized, apparently.
It's just like this, except I waddle back and forth with my shirt pulled up saying, "Stare deep into what remains of my belly button. Deeeeeep."  (source)

And, just so you don't leave this post with an unbalanced perspective on our relationship, here's another recent conversation.

Setting: Kohl's Department Store

Me (whining): And I want to get more shorts. These are the only shorts that fit me and I've never been thrilled with them.

R: That's fine. You can get new shorts.*

*Note: No, I do not have to ask permission. I just need someone to convince me that it's acceptable to spend money on myself because I am weird like that. Anyway, back to the story.

Me: There's shorts over here.

R (laughing): Of course you find shorts that are basically yoga pants.

Me: I could kill you in your sleep.

R: I love you.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Mother's Day can be hard to celebrate

I have very mixed feelings about writing this post. It's something I really want to write. I know I'm not the only one out there who has had this experience. It can be such a relief to find you are not alone, and I'd love to be able to give that to someone. I also know that the internet is never truly anonymous. My luck, this would be the post that went viral and caused hurt feelings and family feuding and I don't want that. That said, I think the scale has finally tipped. Like I said, I want to write this post. So here it is.

My mother is not like most mothers. I am in the minority. My mother is probably not like your mother. And I can't tell you how jealous that makes me at times.

My mother has a mental illness. Not the kind, like bipolar or depression, where there's medication or therapy. I'm not trying to trivialize those issues, because they are very real and can be very devastating but I'll be honest - if my mom simply had depression, I'd be over the moon. Instead, my mother has personality disorders. That's right, more than one.

To oversimplify things, a personality disorder is an ingrained behavioral response; it's part of her personality. It's like how someone is outgoing or shy or bossy. It's a major part of what makes them who they are and it is not something that changes or goes away. There are certainly times, just like any aspect of personality, where it becomes more or less obvious. But because she has several problematic personality traits, there's usually a problem. Sometimes, there's a lot of problems. Sometimes the police are involved. Sometimes I have to find a place for my mom to live. Sometimes I have to intervene with landlords, neighbors, family members. It's often emotionally and financially draining and there is no light at the end of the tunnel and rarely any gratitude.

I'm not going to get into the specifics, which are long and sordid, awkward, and painful. Most of the time, I feel very sorry for my mom. The cards are stacked against her and the world is a frustrating and difficult place to navigate when you can't follow the rules because they are built from standards you can never meet. She desperately wants the close relationships she sees other people having, but she's incapable of maintaining them and unable to understand why.

Our society places a heavy emphasis on loving your mother, of upholding the bond between mother and child. I spent a lot of years alternating between bitter resentment and guilt. I have finally gotten to a place where, most of the time, I can accept that this is not my fault. I can be honest with myself, that I do what I can, that I can't fix this.

Tell someone that your mom is not normal and that person will try to draw connections between their experiences and yours (or what they assume are your experiences). This is a common response, but emotionally it is like telling someone your house burned down, you lost everything you ever owned, and they tell you they understand because they once burned their finger on a match.

So do you try to explain the level of 'not normal' or do you just smile and play along?

I can tell you from experience that either way is painful. The first option is worse. People suggest solutions because they are unable to fathom the permanence of the situation. People shame you. "You are talking about your mother. The woman who gave birth to you. How dare you be so disrespectful." Which is actually preferable to the flat out disbelief I have encountered on the few occasions that I have been completely open about the issue.

I guess what I am trying to say is that there is a lot of isolation. There have been times where I longed for a mom and it seemed so grossly unfair that she was there but could never fulfill that role. I remember being SO jealous of my friend, whose mother was an alcoholic, because, in theory, her mom could stop drinking, but my mom could never stop being herself.

It's hardest around Mother's Day. I read the postings on Facebook, "Repost if you have the best mom..." or "My mom is my best friend..." I'll be honest. That's not my mom. My experiences are probably not like your experiences. And I can't tell you how jealous that makes me.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Bradley Method Child Birth Classes

Okay, is everyone ready to talk about pushing a baby out of your bits? Just kidding. Calm down.

I wanted to write about our child birth classes, because they were pretty awesome and someone, somewhere, might want to hear a candid assessment about learning the Bradley Method.

First of all, the Bradley Method is referred to as coach-led, meaning that you need a coach to come with you to each class. You know the person you want to be there with you at the birth, be it the baby's father, your partner, your mother, etc. etc. Originally it was called husband-coached, which is a bit behind the times, though you still might find that terminology used (probably by monks).

Anyway, the basic premise is that the coach learns to help the woman relax and cope during birth. The extra bonus, as far as I'm concerned, is it helps the coach stay relaxed by giving him a number of signals to monitor and tasks to focus on. So, if your coach is anxiety prone, get thee to Bradley Method classes.

The classes focus on maternal nutrition - special emphasis on protein, exercise, and accurate information about pregnancy, labor, and birth. Here's where I need to say that the Bradley Method is largely focused on natural, medication-free child birth. That said, our instructor wasn't at all pushy about avoiding medication, though some of the materials were definitely biased in that direction. I would recommend that even women expecting to use medication consider the Bradley Method classes, because sometimes, even though you expected a pain-free labor, things don't always go as planned. For instance, one of my good friends completely panicked when her baby was lying on a nerve, making an epidural completely ineffective. And by completely panicked, I mean she tried to get up and leave, screaming that she wasn't doing this. Another woman I know had to be put on medication that was incompatible with pain-relieving drugs. Neither of these women had any idea what to do and reported that their births were terrifying, so, IMHO, it's a good thing to be prepared.

Knowledge is power **cue the sappy music and start fighting over which person actually said that first - was it Sir Francis Bacon or Helen Keller?? Or maybe that came from G.I. Joe? Anyway...**

Here's a brief summary of the Bradley Method course: In addition to being assigned an ungodly number of kegals, there is a scheduled set of exercises to do each day. You track what you're eating. You learn to do progressive relaxation. You learn different positions for different stages of labor and your coach learns different ways to help relieve tension, pain, and discomfort in these different positions. You learn all about labor, things that slow it down and speed it up, what to do at each stage of labor, etc. You learn about the different tools and procedures you can expect to encounter at different birthing environments (hospitals, birthing centers, etc.) and the pros and cons of each. You also watch a fair number of videos showing women giving birth. I know how that sounds, but after seeing it go smoothly so many times, it actually starts to help you feel better about what you're in for.

Basically, the Bradley Method is about putting you in a position to take charge of your baby's birth. I really liked the practical approach: exercise, nutrition, information, and support. You're encouraged to ask your healthcare provider questions, which can really put you at ease. For us, it goes very well with how we were already preparing ourselves for our little guy's arrival. Also, instead of funny breathing, you learn about relaxation and other comfort measures. It completely involves my husband in the process. And, because there are 10-12 classes (usually 12, but ours were 10 extra long classes), you get to know a lot of expecting parents whose due dates are close to your own.

I'll let you know if I like the approach as much after I actually go through labor.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Making a Baby: Weeks 32, 33, and 34

Okay, obligatory pregnancy progress update (let's be honest, I'm doing it for myself, I just like to pretend other people care).

So, the further along I get, the less I seem to have to say. It's just more of the same with extra weight gain, groaning, and peeing.

The little guy is starting to work his way down. I first became aware of this because I had to get up 6 times during the night to pee and when I woke up in the morning I could actually breath. Also, some pretty excruciating pressure in my nethers.

Heartburn is not quite as molten and continuous, same for the shortness of breath. But all it takes is for the little guy to stretch and I find myself gasping for air and frantically reaching for Tums.

As he gets bigger, his movements are so much more obvious. I can feel the stirring of little limbs, which is somehow so sweet. And then he hauls back and kicks or punches me and I'm threatening to get the plunger because this kid has got to come out! There is just no more room in there!

My pelvis is loosening, my hips spreading. I told R I could feel it happening and two days later stretch marks started showing up on my hips. Ironically, still none on my enormous belly (now that I've written that, they'll show up tomorrow, just you wait).

I have officially begun to waddle. So that's fun. And R, who is a notoriously fast walker to begin with, is having a hard time not leaving me behind. I can barely keep up with his mosey at this point.

We have finished our birthing classes. I think I should write a post about the Bradley Method classes (spoiler: they were great). They deserve their own post.

And now onto the entertainment. I present to you, the ever-expanding belly:
Week 32
Week 33

Week 34
The little guy is putting on approximately a 1/2 lb. of baby fat a week at this point, and man can I feel the difference!