Monday, November 25, 2013

dispatches from the end of the road (almost), 36 weeks, 3 days

Well. Here we are. More than 36 weeks behind us. Visiting the doctor on the weekly. Contemplating the oft-discussed “hospital bag” and no longer sleeping, at all, ever. It’s a magical time, really.

Here then are a few thoughts from this, the 36 week mark.

1. Your Weight
Ah, weight gain. The most beloved of pregnancy topics! As if everyone isn’t already aboard the here-let-me-give-you-my-opinion-about-whether-you-are-too-large-or-too-small train, now you have the pleasure of being weighed in weekly by a medical professional <fist pump>.

Which is why at 36 weeks, you may, hypothetically, pull off the incredible, death-defying feat that is gaining two pounds in four days. Not that it, uh, happened to me. BUT IT TOTALLY COULD. <Curse you enormous loaf of toffee laden banana bread, washed down with a side of MORE CARBOHYDRATES. ALWAYS MORE CARBOYHYDRATES>. 

For the math-letes playing at home, that’s an extra 3500 calories, per pound. <Takes bow>.

2. Your Partner
Your partner may, very suddenly, become completely overwhelmed with irrational worry – you know, the very same kind that you’ve endured quietly and steadfastly loudly and with great angst, for months on end. He may toss and turn at 4 am – (don’t worry, you’ll be wide awake because, you know, hip pain/calf cramp/heartburn/CHILDCARE) – and, jolting upright he will turn to you and ask, slightly confused but also DEAD SERIOUS:

When do we start brushing the baby’s teeth?
Do we brush his gums?

Because you are a loving partner, whose baby has literally had the hiccups for the last 17 everloving hours, you will adoringly tell him that you Googled it once and while you can’t quite remember the answer, you have seen a baby toothbrush shaped like a vibrator banana. This will soothe him and he will peacefully fall back asleep. You, on the other hand, will never sleep again. Not for at least 18 years. Low end.

3. Your Cervix
Another absolutely riveting topic of conversation. Your cervix: it’s now being measured! At 36 weeks, you may find out that you are exactly ONE entire centimeter dilated. Like, the size of a Cheerio! <cheers from the crowd>.

Following this earth shattering revelation you will swing erratically from UNPARALELLED JOY to UTTER TERROR as you convince yourself that labor is IMMINENT. That it’s only a matter of minutes before you’re cradling that bundle of screaming lungs and a diaper.

Until 5 minutes later when, after 30 dedicated seconds with Dr. Google, you realize, much to your surprise and disappointment, that being 1 centimeter dilated means absolutely nothing. Ahem. <Pulls self together, stops addressing birth announcements>. Back to picking out nursing bras.

4. Your Brain
I told myself I would not play into this stereotype. You know the one. Pregnancy brain. Not to be confused with post-partum-mommy-brain. Basically, the one that renders mamas and mamas to be as shells of their former selves; so painfully hormonal that they cannot be trusted with basic tasks of human functioning. Need man, help me, trips over blunt object, etc.

So fine. I’m not going there. Because despite being 36 weeks pregnant, I am still a lawyer, writing briefs and representing clients and supervising law students and teaching a class. And so far, by all objective measures, I kinda still have my shit together.[1]

But. BUT. I have become the patron saint of indecision. C lovingly refers to it as my very own brand of pregnancy psychosis. Becuase that’s not at all offensive. Here are two examples[2]:

(1) We have now bought and returned three different rugs for the baby’s room. I still don’t like the one we have. C says I am not allowed to talk about it. For it makes him panic.

(2) C spent two days painting the baby’s room with colors we painstakingly picked out. Then I decided I didn’t like it. <C places palm to forehead, exits room>.

So dear interwebs, what do I have to look forward to in the magical mystery tour that is the last three and a half (or so) weeks of this pregnancy thrill ride?[3]

[1] Just. Barely. Eek.
[2] I’m pretty sure there are more. But I can’t remember now. Because, duh, pregnancy brain. See supra.
[3] Mixing ALL KINDS of metaphors. You’re welcome.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

dress rehearsal, 35 weeks

Well. It happened.

Our first only? totally unnecessary, could have been avoided, FREAK OUT FALSE ALARM trip to labor and delivery <checks that off pregnancy bucket list>.

Mark your calendars folks. It is officially, on. And by on, I mean, you know, very much off. Cervix is closed, contractions are distinctly of the Toni Braxton variety, heartburn is unrelenting!, business as usual.

Really, it started earlier this week. I had a few days of light bleeding –spotting even. Panty-liner nonsense. Sure, it was mildly alarming the first time, when it happened about five weeks ago. But after some confident reassurance from the OB and a more-painful-than-usual pelvic, I kind of shrugged my shoulders and moved on with my day.

Which is why I didn’t think much of it when it happened again a few times this week[1].

But this time it wasn’t just bleeding. There was also something else. Pain. Intermittently. Sometimes when I was walking, sometimes when I was sitting, sometimes when I had to pee, sometimes in the middle of the night. Pain like a pulling, a tightening; acute sparks of… a contraction? Or also maybe like… a UTI[2]? Err? I’ll buy a vowel? What can I say. Doctors LOVE patients like me, what with my completely non specific symptoms and inability to rate anything on a pain scale without incredibly tedious consternation. <C places palm to forehead, exasperated>.

So, today, when the pain intensified, and armed with my law degree and the wisdom of Dr. Google, I did the only rational thing I could think of: I took matters into my own hands. For just $11.99, it was me and my trusty CVS brand UTI test sticks[3] against the world!

Spoiler alert: the at-home UTI test was positive. Like, strong positive. I weighed my options. Yes, I am smug, see supra, but at 35 weeks, waiting until my next OB visit on Wednesday still seemed rather imprudent. So I called.

An hour later, C and I were sitting in labor and delivery, having signed off on release forms that named both me and my unborn child as patients. The nurse explained, “when it says relationship to patient, you write mother. Ahem. Noted. <Eyes wide with disbelief>.

I’m not sure exactly how to write about the rest of this experience. First there’s the easy part: after one urine sample, two separate rounds of a fetal heart monitor and a contraction monitor, two exceptionally saccharine hits of cranberry juice “Suncups[4]”, one astonishingly-painful-let’s-please-not-do-that-again-anytime-soon examination of my cervix, one grainy ultrasound – Look ma, my knee! And, bonus, my tibia! – plus an introduction to “baby practice breathing[5]”, and a partridge in a pear tree! we were finally cleared to go home. No UTI[6], no preterm labor, hakuna matata. Except, total-and-complete-embarrassment-at-having-called-in-the-first-place. And, also, C and I can never have those 3 hours of our life back. At least I got this photo?

Absolutely not in labor.

But there’s also another part of the experience that I wasn’t quite expecting. I’d never been to the labor and delivery floor until today. Never seen baby bassinets wheeled up and down the hall. Never been hooked up to a device that measures my contractions, never had to don a stylin’ back entry gown. And, for that matter, C has never had to wear a sticker anointing him as a permitted visitor, a baby daddy. It was very, ahem, real.

At the same time, in the last couple weeks, I have felt more pregnant than ever[7]. Working out has been more arduous, keeping up long days at work more tiring, sleeping through the night less possible. I had almost begun to believe I was getting there – that, as C has begun predicting, this little chicken might arrive earlier than expected. Because, honestly, <looks down at belly, can no longer see feet, begins to feel nauseated without head in upright position> five more everloving weeks of this?

But today, well, today just smacked of reality. I am totally not ready for this. Five more weeks – give or take – will be, ahem, JUST FINE, THANK YOU.

Also, this: The irony is not lost on me that our child birthing class is, of all days, tomorrow.

[1] GAH. Seriously, what kind of former infertile am I? I’m becoming positively SMUG. Send pessimism, terror and a heavy dose of unceasing anxiety. Pleaseandthankyou.
[2] Somehow I have made it 30 years without one. So actually, I have no idea what they feel like. <knocks on literally every piece of wood, wood laminate, faux wood, wood finishing, and all wood like substances within a 3 mile radius>.
[3] Test sticks. Shades of pregnancy testing. <Gulp>.
[4] The “science” behind whether the chugging of high fructose corn syrup encourages fetal movement seems dubious at best. In any case, nothing makes me feel like I’m at a hospital like drinking through a plastic straw.
Not the kind of cocktail I was hoping for.
[5] Including the unexpected and SUPER EXCITING 10 minutes of the doctor standing, motionless, blank-eyed and staring at the ultrasound until I cleared my throat to inquire, as politely as possible, what the eff was going on and she quietly mentioned to me that we begin to worry if the baby isn’t practice breathing after 30 minutes…<long pause>. (He’s fine. A few minutes later, he did as he was told and put on a nice show of inhaling amniotic fluid. Attaboy!)
[6] Surprise! False positives with at home kits are not uncommon. Especially in pregnant ladies. Grrreat.
[7] And, apparently, more and more prone toward stating the obvious.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ch-ch-ch-changes! 34 weeks, 4 days

I think I’ll remember this week as the week things changed. The week when it dawned on me, all of a sudden, and rather late in the proverbial game, all things considered, that I was going to, like, you know, birth this baby. As in, next month.

Part of it was the symptoms, the godforsaken everloving, unrelenting SYMPTOMS. Not that they haven’t been here before. But there’s been something about this week – a ratcheting up, an intensity, a this-shit-just-got-real ness, never before felt.
  • Heartburn: 24/7
  • Baby somersaults: all the freakin time[1]
  • Baby hiccups: on the regular
  • That which shall not be named[2]: happening and also, gross
  • Sleep: a fleeting memory, a relic of the past
  • Toni Braxtons[3]: in a way that left C panicked last night at the dinner table and furiously scribbling a list of items to pack in my totally-premature-oh-my-goodness-we-have-six-entire-weeks-left hospital bag
  • Ability to get out of bed without engaging in a convoluted series of roll-tuck-elbow-hoist maneuvers generally reserved for the very fat and the very old: limited
  • Socks: shockingly difficult to put on

Of course, it’s not just physical[4]. My appointments with the OB are now every two weeks, instead of every four. At our most recent appointment, in addition to printing us a (pretty obscure and needless to say, neither wanted nor requested) photograph of our son’s scrotum[5], the nurse checked the head position – downward and, excuse me while I slip into what I believe is medical jargon: ready to roll! We also discussed circumcision (yup), who will be with me in the room (C) and our feelings about the all consuming, often articulated, rarely followed, BIRTH PLAN (more on that soon).

What can I say you guys, this is happening. It’s happening in the way that I feel like my body is distinctly no longer my own – yes, my stomach has been rounder and rounder, my thigh gap[6] less and less existent and my waddle more and more pronounced – but until this week, I still felt, more or less, between moments of throwing-up-while-putting-on-my-shoes, like me. And now? Now I feel like a vessel. A uterus for the greater good. A carrier pigeon with an important delivery (I’ve gone too far).

It’s not something I can entirely articulate. See supra, obviously. But it’s there. It’s different. It’s I-could-actually-have-this-baby-right-now-and-things-might-actually-be-okay (plus/minus NICU).

Which of course, brings us back to where I started this rambling bullet pointed post: Birth. Labor. Basically, UTTER TERROR. A discussion of which will have to wait until next time. Now excuse me while I figure out how to get up off this couch in the absence of some kind of hydraulic lift.

34 weeks and making a cameo as what I will fondly refer to as, "Pregnancy Fitness Barbie."
Minus the cleavage.
(Note to future self: spandex is never as flattering as you might lead yourself to believe).

[1] Imagine if you put a live and rather energetic chicken in a paper bag, closed the paper bag, and then encouraged the chicken to try to get out. I am pretty sure my son is that chicken. We’re hoping ultrasound can soon confirm. (ProTip: Google searching for YouTube videos of “chicken in a paper bag” is much more likely to turn up hits like “5 Minutes Cooking with Auntie Nora” and “A Recipe for Chicken Waikiki” than the video you might have imagined in your head). Also, this. What on earth?
[2] But in all seriousness, I cannot say this thing out loud. Because, mature adult, etc.
[3] In our household we call Braxton-Hicks contractions “Toni Braxtons.” What can I say, we like to live on the edge.
[4] Immediately upon writing that, this song got stuck in my head for, oh, approximately forever. Oh, Olivia, you slay me!
[5] <Presently contemplating if, when and how to torment him with this, while counterbalancing such considerations against the exorbitant cost of hourly therapy>. Thoughts from the group?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

diaper duty, 33 weeks, 6 days

Please excuse my absence, I’ve been deep in the vortex of YouTube, watching strangers with terrible camera skills put cloth diapers on their infants and uncooperative toddlers.

Let me explain.

Since the beginning[1], C and I had thought we wanted to cloth diaper. Because we are C is self-righteous and judgy cheap. Plus, we enjoy a challenge[2].

At first, I was terrified, imagining a future wherein I’m forced to resign from gainful, intellectually stimulating employment so as to remain at home, forever tied to the washing machine[3], just one load of poopy pre-folds away from sheer insanity, forever on the precipice of diaper doom.

Enter stage left: diaper service! Which, apparently, is a thing. A thing that I did not know existed outside some kind of exclusive celebrity run club of high rolling, sanctimonious eco moms who import organic Yak cheese from Nepal to fuel their solar generating wind turbines (Gwyneth, I’m looking at you).

But you guys. This is totally a thing within reach of the every-woman! It’s still (a lot) cheaper to launder your cloth diapers at home, sure – but the cost of a service, at least in this neck of the woods, remains equal to or cheaper than the boatload of disposable Huggies[4] that are being aggressively marketed to me every-freakin’-day-over-email dear-lord-in-heaven-please-enough![5] Plus, we don’t have a washer-dryer in our apartment. We share one with two other families – at least one of which would probably call the authorities if they found us the washing machine with baby-stink laden rags.

So here we are. Having selected the basic service and having spoken to the, predictably kind of crazy, middle aged lady named “Donna” who runs the place and will be showing up to retrieve our 70 filthy diapers every Monday night between 8-10 pm.[6]

<Deep breath>. Now to navigate the gear. Our basic service provides 70 “pre-folds” a week[7]. Pre-fold. A distinction which is endlessly confusing because, brace yourselves: you have to fold them all. by. your. self. There’s absolutely nothing pre-folded about these rectangular squares of cotton. Why, universe? Why?

Of course, in addition to the provided for pre-folds, there’s a veritable word soup of accessories and accoutrements to contemplate. Covers and Snappis and All-in-Ones and Pocket Diapers and Doublers and Inserts, OH MY. <Law degree, don’t fail me now>

Scout’s honor, it has taken me weeks to fully even partially understand the world of cloth diapering. To be able to wrangle from the jaws of the interwebs the necessary, amidst all the noise. (Noise being mostly related to long winded discussions of “blow-outs” and other soon-to-be-my-living-reality-horrors.)

So far, here is what we have determined:

(1) Covers
After much research and painstaking Amazon sleuthing, we’ve decided to buy about 5-6 covers. It’s an added layer of waterproof, reusable protection and we won’t have to wash them with every use. Because we’re always ones to bend to popular opinion, I think we’ll invest in a couple high quality Thirsties. Kind of digging the “Apricot” color. Or maybe, just maybe, I’ll cave and buy some devastatingly adorable number from Etsy.

(2) Snappis        
My how times have changed. Apparently, the stabby pins of yesteryear are out. The new fangled appears-to-be-some-kind-of-tinker-toy?, Snappi, is very, very in. I guess the cover can hold things in place, but the added Snappi protection seems worth the investment. Word on the street is that one package of Snappis should get us through at least the first year. But somehow I can already see “Luna toy” written all over this…

(3) We care about the earth – to an extent[8]
When I finally thought I was done making sense of this cloth diaper bizness and feeling smug in my general environmental-feel-good-moral-superiority, a friend who cloth diapered her twins offered up the following gem: you probably also want to use non-disposable wipes.

HOLD THE PHONE. Are you possibly suggesting that I want to clean up my inevitable baby-blow-outs with a reusable rag? Is this a thing?


(I am completely, 100% not at all judgy of all the parents who use disposables. I swear. In fact, there will probably be some kind of heartfelt, deep-soul-searching post about 3 months from now in which I tearfully lament the end of cloth diapering because just-cannot-deal-and-Mother-Earth-can-go-to-hell! and please-make-the-baby-stop-crying! and all sorts of other “reasonable” and “balanced” commentary that suggests I have gone off the deep end. That’s a promise, not a threat. Stay tuned!).

For a much more in depth tutorial on all things cloth diaper, Amalah/Alphamom is where it’s at: here and oh-my-goodness-cloth-diaper-made-from-recycled-sweater-HERE and also, for good measure, here.

Any other cloth-diaper-hopefuls out there? Any intel to share from the experienced among you?

[1] Of time? Infertility? This pregnancy? Our very existence!
[2] That’s a lie. For I am lazy.
[3] I just love how the title of this photo is “weary, dejected woman.” <I see my future>.
[4] Which, I kid you not (pun intended), are now made “with an umbilical cord cutout!” I could not make this stuff up if I tried.
[5] I blame Pea in the Pod, who conned me in to sharing my email in exchange for apple juice and some kind of estrogen laced fiber bar made for vulnerable pregnant ladies. *shakes fist*
[6] Can’t you just imagine the reality show? After the babies go to bed, one woman takes on the city. From east to west and north to south, she travels neighborhood by neighborhood in her diaper-mobile, laundering the hundreds of cloth diapers that keep these babies running!  Okay, maybe it needs some work. But I totally have a picture in my head – one that, apparently, Google Image does not share for my unrelenting searches have yielded nothing suitable. Use your imagination.
[7] That’s 10 ever-loving diapers a day for those keeping score at home.
[8] Truth: sometimes I drive to the drycleaner. Which is 4 blocks away. Now you know my shame.