Wednesday, October 30, 2013

He's Here!!

Just a super quick update to let you know Owen William arrived into the world last night on Tuesday, October 29th at 8:49 pm after around 10 hours of labor. His birth story is a bit shocking, terrifying and amazing , so it may take me a few days to put it together, but let me just say it was unexpected. But Owen arrived happy and super healthy. Our nurse started calling him an A+ baby after his first breastfeeding and dirty diaper. He's sleeping next to me as I write this and I am in love!!! Unfortunately, I am typing this on B's phone and I've only had about 3 hours of sleep since Monday morning, so I can't figure out how to upload a pic, so please take my word for it that he is gorgeous!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Locked and Loaded?

So just a quick update. I am "still pregnant" and trying to resign myself to the idea that this could go on for a few more weeks. The sad thing is, I was never in a hurry to get this baby out. I had it in my mind that I would likely go a week or so over and I was totally okay with that. But then, after I started having so many signs, my inner peace got shaken up and the waiting is driving me crazy, because it feels so...imminent?

Last night, taking a bath, trying to do some deep breathing exercises, I told the baby that I would prefer he waits until Wednesday for my mom to be here and so my favorite midwife could deliver him, but I also told him it was up to him to pick his birthday and so he could come whenever he wants. Then, I had a good night's sleep. And by good night's sleep I mean I probably only got up 4 or 5 times to pee and wasn't overwhelmed by hip pain.

Then, this morning, I was describing to B why I think the baby has "dropped" because when I pee now I feel like he drops down and sits right against my cervix as my bladder empties, which does not feel great. It's a sharp pain, which then sets off pain in my lower back and I end up just sitting there, like an old lady, until it eases up a bit so I can stand up. So there I was, describing this to B, and then I started to bleed again. Wait, let me clarify. There is a difference between the blood that drove us to the hospital and the "bloody show" disgustingness that I have been having for the last week. I'm not going to go into details has to do with consistency. Yuck. This morning was definitely more "bloody show" and "mucus plug" (who came up with these names?). But, this morning, there was a LOT more of it. I've had a few episodes where so much comes out I can't believe the baby is still in there...this was like that. So, then we checked the baby with the doppler and his heartbeat is still great, which means? I guess this is just a result of him grinding his head against my cervix?

Now, here I am, laying by the fireplace (yes, a fire in LA), snuggled under blankets and trying to relax. B is working from home today. When I walk around, my lower stomach feels like it's going to rip open and my lower back and butt cheeks feel like I did a million squats. Ouch. I feel crampy and have had a couple of "cramps" that actually hurt. But, I still don't know if they're real contractions, so probably not. Braxton Hicks are a normal part of my life right now, especially at night. I was timing them the other night and they were about 20 mins apart for over an hour. Nothing exciting, but...yeah. Things are happening. And I'm pretty sure from all of these symptoms that Baby is entering the departure gates. You can't really visibly see my belly has dropped, but it just feels that way. And, when he kicks now, the top of his feet and bottom are so much lower than where they used to be. Even the top of my uterus feels lower. It always sends me running to the mirror to see a dramatic shift, but it's not really there.

What do you think? The yellow is from right at 39 weeks and the green is today (39+4). I don't think you can really tell a difference, except the shirt seems more "stretched down" in today's pic.

Anyhow, here I am. Waiting. It could happen today. But, I have to remind myself that it still may not happen for another week or more. In the meantime, going to enjoy my cozy day on the couch. I've finally switched over to a Kindle (seriously, I love REAL books and I resisted a long time) and so I've been doing a lot of reading. Since going on maternity leave, I've read:

The Signature of All Things, By Elizabeth Gilbert - Really good book. Written by the author of Eat, Pray, Love, but better, in my opinion. About a woman living in the time where educated women where not the norm and she is trying to find herself and understand her sexaulity at the same time.

Allegiant, by Veronica Roth - You know? The final sequel to the Divergent series? I have to admit, I loved Divergent, but the second two...ugh. Could barely read them. But I have never been able to stop in the middle of a series. The last book does have a surprise ending though.

Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers - Really good. A true story (although reads like fiction) about a man who stayed in New Orleans after Katrina. Opens your eyes to a lot of prejudice and scary government abuse of power that occurred following Katrina.

Buddha in the Attic, by Julie Otsuka - This was just ok. The writing was great and the subject is interesting (about Japanese women who were purchased from Japan as wives to come to the US and then end up put in the US Japanese internment camps during the war), but it was told in such an artistic way that I felt wanting more connection to the characters and one central story line.

Call the Midwives, by Jennifer Worth - I read the whole trilogy. This was good and if I hadn't already seen the shows, I probably would have loved it. But, I have to say, this is one instance where the TV show is better than the book, in my opinion. Her books are written more as a series of essays about childbirth, public health, and social class in the East End of of London. They reminded me a bit of the James Herriot Books (HIGHLY recommend!).

Finally, I am currently reading The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt. She wrote A Secret History which is a highly disturbing book that I love. I've only just begun this one, but I'm already riveted.

And wow, how did a post about labor symptoms turn into a book review? You got more than you wanted, huh? I guess it's just representative of how boring I am right now. Reading books, writing Thank You Notes (yes, still catching up from the baby shower), and engaging in random "nesting" activities (really important to clean out my cupboard, reorganize my jewelry collection AND manically shop online for important things like new cookie sheets!) is pretty much my life right now. Aside from the anxiety related to the unknown arrival of our baby, I'm kinda loving it :)

UPDATE - As I was reviewing this post to publish it, I had what I'm sure was a contraction. I had to shut my eyes and breathe through it. Now, I know one single, solitary contraction is just that - one single, solitary contraction - but, hey, it happened!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

How Celebrities Do It

Well, here I am, a week after our frantic trip to L&D, still pregnant. I was pretty sure things were going to be happening any day after that, but I'm still pregnant. I'm feeling pretty good about it actually because my Mom will be getting into town on Tuesday and my favorite midwife goes on call on Wednesday. SO. If I go into labor on Wednesday, the stars will align just right. It's just...hard sitting in this limbo zone. No more new symptoms. Just ongoing gross things coming out of my body. And really, really tired.

So, to distract myself, I decided to re-watch (yes, for a second time) one of the More Business of Being Born shows. Now, I know most of you have probably seen The Business of Being Born. But have you seen More Business of Being Born? That's right. Ricky Lake couldn't get over her excitement so she rushed out and made MORE episodes. I don't even remember what they are all about, but the one I re-watched is about celebrities who have had (or tried for) natural births. Now, it's a bit odd that we would care about how celebrities give birth, right? Well, actually, maybe not in our society...but I'm not one who watches Real Housewives or The Kardashians, so it's odd for me that I not only watched it once, but twice. I think I just wanted to hear some in depth birth stories to put me in a good frame of mind. Also, celebrities are good at talking and giving lots of details.

You may be wondering what the point of this post is? I actually have no idea. I guess I just wanted to share some thoughts on what I learned. Plus, a lot of it is funny. Oh, and I have nothing but time to kill. SO if you are not someone who cares about what celebrities thought as babies came out of their vagina, feel free to disregard this post and wait for the next one where I will likely talk about something much more important, like Why is this stuff still coming out of my vagina??

Gisele Bundchen

Gisele - beautiful, gorgeous, flawless supermodel - is the first Mom on our list. She was probably my favorite celebrity to watch sheerly because I was so absolutely annoyed by her that I kind of fell in love with her. What do I mean by this? Well, first of all...she is (obviously) gorgeous and doesn't appear to be trying at all to look like a goddess. She is just sitting around in a t-shirt and blue jeans, emanating elven beauty. Oh, and her too-adorable-to-be-true dog keeps popping in and out of the camera just to up the perfection factor. So what does Gisele have to say in her oh-so-delicious accent? Well, let me just throw out a few quotes here for you:

"My job as a mom was just to breathe, relax and trust my body to know what it knows how to do."
"I was a big ocean and the contractions were the wave and it was this power…and all the power of the ocean is creating the wave…and it’s just like....SHhhHHhHhH" (the ssshhhing noise is Giselle making soft and powerful ocean sounds)
Yes really, Gisele is, apparently, a secret pregnancy-labor Goddess. When she talked about her birth, she explained that she never had fear and never felt pain. She was just "SO excited" to meet her baby! Oh wait, she does admit that pushing was "SO intense" (picture wide-eyed expression of beauty on her face as she describes it), but then, oh! baby just popped right out in "two pushes!" No big deal. And when he came out, she was just overwhelmed by "pure love, love, LOVE." She goes on to share that everyone is always telling her that she has the calmest baby in the world and she attributes that to the fact that he was born into pure love and calmness. I attribute that to the fact that she's Giselle. So, what did I learn from watching Giselle's story? Well, I want to be her. Or, maybe I want to be a lesbian. And, I definitely wouldn't mind having her birth experience (or her cute little dog), BUT I sincerely doubt my experience will as a transcendental, amazing, and filled with "pure love" as hers was. Because, well, I am me and not Giselle. I live in the real world.

Cindy Crawford
On to the next, beautiful-model-mother. Cindy described her home birth and had some interesting and helpful things to say. Such as, don't start pushing until you are really ready. And, the contractions "are like waves. You can't fight them. You can't jump over them. You just need to dive into them." (Apparently she and Giselle both like ocean analogies). But, the way Cindy described her birth was a bit odd. Very analytical, almost detached. I felt like she was too aware she was being interviewed. Or, maybe I was just contrasting her to Giselle's natural high (or not so natural) of love and amazement. Either way, the only time Cindy Crawford and her mole showed any emotion was when she was talking about the "ring of fire" and she shared that that actually, well, hurt. Finally, she shared that after her baby came out, her first thought was for herself and amazement at what she had accomplished. I dunno, everything she shared made a lot of logical sense. But I didn't feel any "emotion" from her. I suppose her birth story appealed to my analytical side as in, "Ok yeah, ok good point. I'll take that into consideration, Cindy."

Alanis Morissette

Oh, Alanis, how I loved you in middle school. I remember listening to "Isn't it Ironic" the first time I had a beer at a party and feeling like I was oh-so-crazy and wild. Alanis and I were close. But, you know, after watching her birth story, Alanis is kinda weird. Not that I didn't like what she had to say, for the most part, but she just seems like a very odd person. First of all, Alanis is the only person who compared her home birth to a drug trip. Now, this makes sense to me in that you would likely feel disconnected from reality, etc, but...still. But overall, her description felt more realistic than either of the two supermodel goddesses. Such that, she admits that it was the hardest and most painful thing she has ever had to do. She also explains that she was "so prepared" but that there is "no way to prepare" for what it will really be like. That makes sense to me. But, I don't know, there seemed to be something off in her experience, as if she was fighting something inside of herself during her labor. Here is quote from her that might help you understand what I'm trying to describe:

"I'm not a very physical person. I’ve done everything I could do to ignore the fact that I'm in a body...but with birth there’s no escaping it."
It really did feel as if she was trying to escape the birth and was somewhat fearful of it. But, at the end of her story, she lights up with amazement and joy as she describes her baby latching on for the first time. And suddenly, she seems less awkward and weird and more like a mother. She ends by saying that she understands every choice that a woman could make about her own birth experience. "Home birth? Yes. Hospital birth? Yes. Epidural? Yes." And so, would I want Alanis' birth experience? Despite my deep connection to her forged over a can of warm Bud Light at an 8th grade party, I really hope my birth is a bit different than hers. I don't want to be fighting with myself the whole time.

Alysen Hannagen
Oh Willow! I mean, Alysen Hannagen, I mean...Willow! First of all, I should disclose that Alysen Hannagen used to be my next door neighbor. No really. The last placed we lived in LA was in a pool house of a big, beautiful home in Brentwood and, although I don't know exactly which house was hers, we would often see WillowAlysen Hannagen out walking with her family to dinner or to get ice cream or to celebrity things. One time she was even featured in a magazine standing outside our gate. So yeah, maybe I'm a bit biased toward her. But I have to say, her story was my favorite. It felt the most like me. First of all, she was the only one who had her husband sit in with her and help tell the story. In fact, she is the only one who even mentioned a partner in their story. I know B will be a huge part of my experience, so that resonated with me a lot.

Then, she told her story with just the right amount of amazement, humor, and reality to really feel true. She described funny parts of her labor - such as, being fixated on whether they would have enough Toilet Paper on hand for their home birth (I could totally see myself doing that) or being so pissed off at her midwife during the birth because the midwife wouldn't stop writing (she was charting) and pay attention to her. She said, "What was the midwife writing? Was she paying her bills?!? Why wasn’t she paying attention to me?? How rude!" But, humor aside, she also describe birth in a way that makes sense to me. She described "a beautiful pain." Which I like, because it doesn't disregard the pain, but also embraces it. She also described her body becoming animalistic and just taking over. Basically, if I have to choose which birth experience I will have, I would choose hers. Well no, that's not true, I'd choose Giselle's love-fest. Let me reword. If I to choose which birth experience I'm most likely I will have, I would choose Alysen Hannagen's. And not just because she used to be my neighbor.

There were other stories and I had planned to write about them. Especially because some tell wonderful stories of hospital births and all possible outcomes, but, frankly, these seemed the most interesting to me, and I just ran out of energy, and I'm not sure if anyone is even reading this post. Sooo I'm going to leave you with these four.

What about you? Who are you most like? What celebrity birth experience would you choose? I heard Kourtney Kardashian had a pretty amazing one...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Acknowledging the Fear

So how is it that I read all of these blogs about pregnancy and at the end everyone starts talking about how ready they are for baby to come, but no one mentions the fear? Is it that they don't want to admit the fear? As if by admitting it it may over take them? Or is it because everyone is planning on using pain meds and I am the only person crazy enough to face this unarmed? Or is it just because everyone is trying to put on a strong face?

I have talked about having some fearfulness related to the recent bleeding, but there is a greater, deeper, chasm of fear that seems to be lurking in front of me as I tip toe forward one day at a time. In the chasm lies little monsters of doubt. Little voices screaming up about the pain I will experience, the fortitude I will need, the determination it will take, and the sheer exhaustion that is waiting for me. The voices whisper about the doubt. Can I do this? Am I strong enough? What kind of person will I be when put to the test? And then there are other darker fears. Such as, will I be a good mother? Will I know what to do? Can I face this enormous life change and accept that nothing will ever be the same again?

It just seems that no one acknowledges these fears, and yet, I cannot be the only woman to have had them. They are so typical they really just walking cliches. But, instead of voicing these fears, people talk about being so TIRED of being pregnant and so READY to be done. People have told me that these desire to be DONE pushes away the fear somehow because you are so uncomfortable you really stop caring about what you have to go through to be done with it. Well, I don't feel that way. I am excited to be done because I want to meet this little boy. But I have yet to reach a point where I am so miserable that I can ignore the ordeal I am facing. To me, this is just being realistic.

Now please don't overinterpret this. I said I was walking along this chasm of fear. As in, walking along it and looking down. I haven't jumped in and given over to the fear. If that were the case, then sign me up for that epidural. No, I still see childbirth as exciting. As a challenge. A test to find out how I will cope. While for me a natural birth is important because I think it is best for my baby and the best chance of avoiding multiple interventions, the real reason I am choosing this is because I see it as something amazing and powerful that I want to experience. And, if allowed to occur naturally, I am trusting my body to be able to manage the pain with evolutionary responses of biology and coping. Hopefully my body has a direct line into those evolutionary processes.

But the thing is people, let's not deny what is happening here. On a day to day, moment to moment basis, I am living on a precipice. I have always been a planner. I plan everything because I happen to love planning. If you've read my blog you will know this about me. But you can absolutely NOT plan this. I can't even plan a grocery list because who knows if I need to buy ingredients to make meals next week or if I should just be buying frozen pizzas for my husband to heat up for us in our sleep deprived state? I can't schedule a hair appointment for next week (which, btw, had to be rescheduled when I went to the hospital on Friday), because I don't know if I will be in labor or already a mother. Basically, who the hell knows. I am sitting here right now, typing these words, enjoying the kitten sleeping on my chest and the dog snoring at my side, and any second now I could have the first real contraction of labor. Any second.

I know we live with unpredictability in this world. I specialize in treating anxiety and I try to teach my patients that we need to accept some amount of lack of control. For example, we cannot control if there will be an earthquake (yes, I work in LA) on any given day and terrible things could happen. But, we need to accept that fear and live despite it. But this! This is different. There will be an "earthquake," sometime in the next few weeks. It's just a matter of what specific moment it will choose to arrive.

So yeah. I say, fear is real. Because not only have you gotten on a rollercoaster that you can't get off of without going through the entire heart-pounding-upside-down-holy-shit-i-am-going-to-die ride, but when you get off of the coaster feeling shocked and exhilarated, you will disembark into an entire new world than the one you left behind. I think what I'm saying here is, there is strength in acknowledging this fear. It is better to know that it is there than to avoid it altogether. The question is, how to accept the reality and yet not become overwhelmed by those little whispers of doubt?

And you? If you have given birth, what were your thoughts in the weeks proceeding? If you imagine giving birth someday, what fears do you secretly hold?

To end, just a quick update on Labor Watch. No real new symptoms. Just ongoing amounts of bloody, stretchy, mucus coming out of me (it's been four days now!) and a very close relationship with the toilet impressed upon me by multiple bouts of diarrhea a day. It's quite humbling actually. Alas, the true and most important symptoms - contractions - are still alluding me. I do think I may have dilated more though because I woke up this morning with more bleeding (not as bad as before) mixed with the mucus and it just seemed like something more was going on with my cervix. But, who the heck knows. I could still be here two weeks into November and so OVER the pregnancy that I have become one of those women whose discomfort has swallowed their fear. We shall see.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Settling in to Wait

So today we were supposed to get some answers. Answers about what keeps causing me to bleed and what our plan is for our birth (birthing center or hospital). So we went to the OB who is the back-up doctor for my midwife practice. Now, this isn't a doctor I've selected, she's just a doctor who agreed to act as the back-up physician in case of hospital deliveries. Why do I caveat that? Because...well, she's interesting. Her bedside manner leaves a bit to be desired, so to speak.

So we get to her office and I am armed with my expansive medical knowledge what I gleaned from reading some medical journal articles about low lying placentas and vaginal births. I am prepared and determined to get answers. That determination started to fade away as I watched the minutes tick by in her overly crowded waiting room. Seriously, this is a solo practice and her waiting room was so packed there were pregnant women with nowhere to sit just standing around looking miserable. I think she triple books appointments.

Anyhow, I've been spoiled by our birthing center. Once I got escorted to a room, I found myself sitting on the cold exam table with a piece of paper wrapped around me (leaving my butt exposed to the door behind me) and paper sticking to my bare bottom underneath me and missing our spa-like experience with the soft blanket throw to cover me. Ha. Anyhow, so doctor walks in and I try to make some chit-chat but I'm not sure she knows what that is. She just starts doing the ultrasound. Ok. No problem. But what do we learn from the ultrasound? Nothing. The same thing we learned on Friday. The placenta is "low" (yes we knew that the whole pregnancy) and the baby's head is out in front of the placenta (which we knew that too and yes that is a good thing). I ask if she got the records from our perinatologist who measured the placenta to cervix distance before and deemed it to be "safe for vaginal delivery." She says, "Oh I think I saw something on my desk about that..." Then I tell her that I have read that it's better assessed via transvaginal ultrasound, so she whips out the dildo wand and jams that into me. Now, that has never hurt me before, but today it was really painful AND we didn't learn anything new. She says, "This is really better assessed between 25 and 30 weeks. I can't see anything now." And I said, "Well, those records I told you about were from an assessment at 28 weeks and he said we were fine in terms of the placenta location." So she looks at me, ultrasound wand still jammed up inside of me, and says, "Well what do YOU want to do?" Seriously? Seriously? So I made a joke about her asking me serious questions with an ultrasound wand in my vagina and she realized maybe that was not good bedside etiquette and pulled it out.

But then she starts organizing all of her papers and getting ready to leave the room. Again...seriously? She asked us to come in today so we could decide. How about she sits down and actually talks to us about it? So, we peppered her with questions about risks, possible outcomes, her recommendations, etc. And we got no clear answer at all. She basically said she had no idea what is causing the bleeding, she couldn't locate any specific risks, it was a good sign that the baby's head is out in front of the placenta, but there is no way to know what could happen during labor. She pointed out, "In any pregnancy you can have bleeding. In any delivery, regardless of placental location, you can have placental abruption, you just never know what could happen." Well thanks lady. Thanks for pointing out the risk factors of an out of hospital birth...which we obviously considered when we made the original decision! Finally, she says, "Hey, I'm biased. I delivery babies in a hospital, so obviously I'm going to say that's where I'd feel safer. But it's up to you guys.

And then she left. Oh! Oh wait! I forgot to tell you guys the best part. In the hospital on Friday, when she did a cervical check, it hurt so bad I wanted to crawl backwards away from her and the nurse had to remind me to "breathe." I felt like a wimp. So I made a joke today to the doctor about being nervous it would hurt again. And she looked at me weird and said, Oh. Well, I can be gentle this time." Um? Thank you? Shouldn't that just be standard procedure when sticking your hand into someone's cervix??? And guess what? Didn't hurt at all today. And she still was able to get the info she needed. No pain needed. Wow. Oh, and I haven't dilated anymore since Friday.

Ok, so we leave that appointment and have to head immediately to the midwife appointment. I am feeling distraught. I wanted clear answers. As in, someone to tell us that we are going to be "fine" or someone to tell us we need to be in the hospital. Either way. I hate this ambiguity. B keeps pointing out that really we are in the same boat as we were in before all of this...taking the chance that something could go wrong. Also, he pointed out that she could not identify any clear problems or risks and in fact said that the position of his head looks good and safe for delivery. I also pointed out that we had already been cleared by the perinatologist who had warned us more bleeding could happen and that it would be normal for me and not a risk to the baby. But then I got mad all over again. Why didn't she look at those records?? I was completely torn between my rational side that was telling me that nothing had really changed and my emotional side that was screaming awful things about blood and babies losing oxygen and....well, you know.

So, we get to the midwife appointment (after a quick stop at Taco Bell to assuage my dropping blood sugar...SHhhh don't tell the midwives!) and we get inside the room and I instantly feel better. So, of course, I start to cry. I tell her how I was feeling so excited and peaceful about labor and now I just feel fearful and fragile. We spent some time talking about my fears and then we got down to business of what exactly could go wrong. First of all, the midwife pointed out that the doctor, by not telling us we had to be in the hospital, had been giving us the green light for an out of hospital birth. In a litigious society, this is the best she can do. Then we talked details. According to the midwife, we will alter my plan so that I will not wait so long to go into the birth center (think 5-1-1 contractions or cm's dilated), but will either have a midwife come earlier to my home or will go over there earlier, so they can monitor me for bleeding and baby's heart rate. She explained that her main concern is not about the baby, but about me losing too much blood (exactly what the peri said to us). This is based on the fact that we really have no evidence the bleeding is coming from my placenta and actually have much more evidence it's coming from my cervix as it dilates (or, in previous episodes, in reaction to sex or exercise). We discussed hospital transfers and how we would do this quickly if needed, but more likely it would be just in reaction to slight decrease in baby's heart tones or my own fear holding me back from progressing in labor out of hospital. And basically, we just felt heard. We felt heard and I felt like someone finally considered all of the factors, the history, and possible scenarios. And we made a sound plan.

Most importantly, we spent the second half of the appointment (we were there for an hour and a half) discussing the fact that BABY IS COMING! And that we should focus on the excitement about that and not feel so fearful and apprehensive that something is wrong. Because, this bleeding is part of prelabor. It came in conjunction with bloody show and it's just part of my body's progress. She examined me and said that she anticipates we will have our baby within the week. She also cautioned me that I could still go past my due date, but that she doubted it at this point with all of these signs.

So here I am. Back to where we started. We are still planning a birth at the birth center. We are still expecting our baby very soon. And I am trying to focus my energy on feeling positive and peaceful again. I haven't had any other new signs since this weekend, with the exception of one stronger contraction that made me stop talking in the middle of a sentence. My mom gets into town next Tuesday and so anytime now would be just fine with me or if he wants to wait for Grandma I'm ok with that too.

To end, I will say that many of you reading this may have your own reactions about our decision. In fact, my original post about this decision had some of the most views and comments of any of my posts. And that is because there is no correct answer here, but everyone feels very strongly about it. I believe there are cultural aspects, personal aspects based on your own experience, and also, within the US, problems with the way the system is built that pushes us to go to one extreme or the other. I don't have a huge agenda here or preach to people about how I feel (hey...the hospital birth is very alluring to me in its safety and assurances), but I just feel right about this. Both times I have made this decision, I walk away feeling secure and grounded and right. It just works for me. I'm curious what others think... on both sides of the coin.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Update - Too Much Information on Bodily Fluids

Just wanted to give you all an update on the two big dramas in my world right now: Operation Labor Watch and Hospital Birth Deliberation.

First of all, in Labor Watch world, after I got home from the hospital on Friday I was feeling crampy and sore, but I think that is to be expected after a cervical check. I then had 2-3 bouts of diarrhea throughout the day and spent the rest of the day sleeping. When I woke up, I felt back to normal. My sister and her boyfriend came over for dinner and all was good. Last night, I'm pretty sure I was having mild contractions, but it's kinda hard to tell when you are half awake and sleeping makes your back and belly hurt no matter what. Then...this morning, woke up the same way as Friday morning. Feeling like I'd had some discharge, thinking it was "probably nothing" (now ask me, why would I think that?) and then finally deciding to get up to go check.

Sure enough blood again. Then I started peeing and a big gush of blood came out. Dark, gross, blackish blood. And when I wiped...mucus plug! Whoa. So, even though I was scared by the initial amount of blood that came out, my theory is that it was old blood blocked by the mucus blog that then came out. So. I woke up B and after examining the contents of the toilet and what was on the toilet paper (somehow all modesty just goes out the window at this point), we decided to calmly get up and pack our hospital bags. I really can't believe I hadn't packed them by now. Maybe unconscious avoidance? So, we did that very calmly and efficiently. And then, about 20-30 minutes later, I checked again and - no blood. None at all. So, think what you will of our decision, but we went back to bed for a few hours. We based this off the back that the hospital had said to come back if I was soaking through a pad in an hour, which I wasn't. Oh, and I should mention baby was playing around in my tummy so I knew he was fine.

I contacted the midwife at a more decent hour (8:00ish) and she agreed with our decision. She told me to take it easy and "not go into labor today." Ha. So then, around noon, I started to feel like I needed to go to the bathroom. Urgently. So I did...more diarrhea (are you sick of knowing about my bodily functions yet?). And....BOOM. The rest of the mucus plug. Disgusting, gross, bloody, mucusy clump of stuff that I still cannot believe came out of my body. And just KEPT coming out. Oh my god so gross. Of course, I showed B (really, no more modesty) and we looked at each other in shock because this baby is coming.

Now, I know that losing your mucus plug could mean you still have a week or so left. So I realize I have some time here. But I just feel like all of these symptoms have been ramping up so quickly, since Thursday been I started feeling off. Basically, stuff is happening here. My mom has been telling me for a month now that she has a "Psychic Feeling" that our baby will be born on the 22nd. I think I'm starting to believe her...

And, in the world of Hospital Birth vs Birth Center? Things are still in limbo there. I've been doing more research in medical articles which supports the idea that I would be just fine in the Birth Center, as my placenta is not within the "high-risk" range and is classified as low risk for vaginal delivery. But what do I know? I'm just reading medical journals like a 1st year med student. So, my midwife called the doctor today when I lost my plug just to confirm what our plan is if I go into labor before my doctor's appointment tomorrow morning (holy crap people that would be...any moment now!) and both the midwife and doctor agreed that we need to think about a hospital birth until we have more information diagnostically. And, I'm ok with that. I like having medical professionals take the decision out of my hands when there are risk factors to consider.

That doesn't mean the Birth Center is out. The doctor said there is a good chance I am still fine to go ahead. She just doesn't want to give the Green Light when we are still fumbling in the dark. So, it could be goodbye luxurious tub, hello hospital socks. But, still not sure. Either way, it looks like we are going to be meeting our baby sometime very soon.

And I have to tell you guys, all of this bleeding and medical debate aside, I am starting to shift gears from peaceful, accepting, excited bliss about going into labor, to a bit of a freak out. When I saw that gunk come out of me this morning it hit me really hard that the next thing to come out of my vagina is going to be a living, breathing baby. Not only is that completely mind-blowing and, I'll admit it, still a bit weird to me in a science-fiction kinda way, but it's also terrifying. Because, there is no going back now. Am I ready emotionally? Am I ready physically? I KNOW I'm not ready according to my to-do list because I just had to clear out my car and freezer before the baby got here. But. Here we are. Once again on a precipice, waiting in limbo. Thrilling and terrifying all at the same time.

I'll keep you all posted!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Flashback - An Unexpected Hospital Visit

So remember how, after our Mexico Incident, I said I just wanted a boring, nondescript pregnancy from then on out? Well, the pregnancy gods granted me that wish. I was feeling calm, happy, healthy and just….good.

Until this morning. I woke up feeling a bit of wetness in my underwear and laid there for awhile thinking it was probably nothing, but finally a nagging feeling in the back of my head convinced me maybe my water had broke, so I got up to check. Now, if my water had broken, it would have been unexpected, as I’m still two weeks from due date and nowhere near ready for this baby to come, but it would have been fine. No big deal. We would have grabbed a few things and then made our way to the birth center.

But it wasn’t amniotic fluid. It was blood. Again. More than there should have been. As in, this wasn’t “bloody show,” this looked like a moderate period. Every time I wiped.

Before I woke B up, I just sat there with this feeling of disbelief and anger that this was happening again. Right when I was feeling so wonderful and calm and ready for labor and then, this. So, I woke B up and set him to work looking for cell chargers, etc, and I called the midwife on call. It was the same midwife who answered my middle of the night phone call from Mexico. I am not kidding when I say I was having real flashbacks to that trauma. She listened for a second and then said, “Ok, take a deep breath. You need to go to the ER.” I knew she was going to say that. That much blood can never be ignored. Even when you are 38 weeks along. But I wasn’t prepared for what she said next – “Are you feeling the baby move?

Oh my god. No. I wasn’t. But of course, I had just woken up. I had no idea if he’d been moving or what was going on with him. But suddenly I was terrified. The words placental abruption kept flashing behind my eyes. So, I grabbed a jug of orange juice (as instructed) and jumped in the car, chugging OJ as we sped along empty streets of Santa Monica, breaking every traffic law along the way.

And guess what? He moved. He moved 3 times on the way. Thank god.

So, to make a really long story short shortish, we got into Labor and Delivery, tumbled through the confusion of our midwife-out-of-hospital-birth situation and finally got them our back up OB’s number. They hooked me up to a contraction monitor and fetal heart rate monitor, briefly checked my bleeding, told me I wasn’t hemorrhaging, and then left us to wait for the doctor.

I have to say…as someone who is planning an out of hospital birth with minimal interventions, I definitely was LOVING the heart rate monitor at that moment. B and I both closed our eyes and just let his heart rate soothe us. It was so nice to hear his heart beat accelerate nicely as he’d move, or kick the monitor on my stomach.

Finally, the doctor showed up. Now, this is a “back up doctor.” Not someone I have a real relationship with, just someone who does ultrasounds and is willing to meet us at the hospital in a “just in case” scenario. Such as a scenario where you are awoken at 5am by sudden bleeding.

She doesn’t have the best bedside manner, but she is straightforward and to the point. She started with a cervical check. Holy shit. That hurt. The nurse helped me breathe through it, but the doctor looked nonplussed as if she was just digging around looking for the toy in the bottom of a cereal box. The verdict? Only “1-2 cms dilated.” She couldn’t even be specific about which it was? I was only having minor contractions as well, so I clearly wasn’t in labor.

However, after staring at the blood on her gloved hand (again flashback to the cervical check in Mexico), she muttered, “Get me an ultrasound machine. I need to get the placenta.” Remember, I had originally had a marginal placenta previa, which had cleared itself up by our 28 week ultrasound. When she checked today, she said that it was clearly out of the way of the baby’s head and not classified as “previa,” but was still “low.” I was frustrated because she was really wishy washy and wouldn’t (or couldn’t) say if that was the cause of bleeding or how that could affect my birth plan to have an out of hospital birth.

She did throw around the “C word” way too much for our comfort. Talking about if it were a previa, then we would need a c-section. But when I continually clarified that it isn’t a previa, she said confirmed that it wasn’t. Her concern is that, as I start to dilate, my cervix could extend up and past the placenta. But she wasn’t sure. Again, I was so frustrated because the perinatologist we saw at 28 weeks was easily able to measure from my cervix to my placenta and give me a straightforward answer that there was plenty of room for a vaginal birth. She wouldn’t do that.

So now, here I am. Waiting. Waiting for answers. Waiting for labor. Waiting to know.

Monday morning we go in to see this doctor again for another ultrasound and to discuss more. That afternoon we will meet with the midwife to discuss the doctor’s appt. And basically, we will go from there. In the meantime, if I start bleeding again, or go into labor before we know more, it looks like I will be having a hospital birth for sure.

At this point, I don’t know what to think. Part of me wants to throw the whole birth center idea out the window. Who cares about birthing in a beautiful birth suite? Who cares about laboring in a luxurious tub? Who cares about having respectful, caring, supportive midwives tending to me during labor? I just want everything to be safe.

But on the other hand, I remember the perinatologist telling us that I may have bleeding again in the pregnancy and that’s no big deal and not a risk to the baby and that the placenta was just fine. I trusted him way more than I trust this other doctor, who seemed so ambiguous in her responses. Also, the midwife said, as long as the baby isn’t at risk (this was confirmed that he’s not), we could always just go to the hospital during labor if I started bleeding, just like we did today.

So I don’t know what to think. My two sides are battling it out again. Really and truly I’m just scared if I go to the hospital, I will end up with a cesarean. The doctor kept saying how “great” it was that the OR was so close. And that really is true. As long as it’s really needed. I just don’t want to jump to any conclusions here.

The truth is…no one seems to know. No one has a clear answer for me. So for now, we are just focusing on the fact that the baby is doing wonderfully and they sent me home from the hospital. Everything, for now, is ok.

I will keep you posted as I think more, decide more, and plan more. I am currently not on bed rest, but was told to take it really easy over the weekend because we don’t want labor to start yet as we are still unsure what is going on. I have no idea if we are anywhere near labor starting, but I definitely feel very different than I have in the past week. It started yesterday because I woke up feeling so sick and tired and nauseous and that ended up going off and on all day. Then, obviously, the bleeding, which the doctor said could be a reaction to my cervix dilating. And now I’m having way more cramping and contractions that I would have previously called Braxton Hicks and now I just call “uncomfortable.” Oh, and I had diarrhea this morning (TMI?) which could just be a reaction to all of the stress, or could be a sign of my body “clearing out” for labor. Who knows. Until then, I’ll keep monitoring the minor spotting still going on, try to stay calm, and do some soul searching about how I feel about my birthing options.

Oh, and wouldn’t you know, it was on my List yesterday to pack a hospital bag and then I got sick and didn’t do it. So…I’m thinking that would be a good thing to get done this weekend.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

38 Weeks: Searching for Mary Poppins

Well, this morning was interesting. I woke up feeling like my head was about to explode. My nose was running, my eyes were tearing up, I was coughing, sneezing, and there was a vise on my head. For the past few months I've been waking up early, feeling alert and awake. Today I couldn't drag myself out of bed. I felt like I was filled with sawdust. When I did finally get up, I felt dizzy and like I was going to throw up. I had no idea what was going on. So, I drug myself to the kitchen and made myself a bowl two bowls of noodles with butter and salt. Then I downed an entire Nalgene bottle of ice water. And then? I felt better. And then I realized....ohhhh, this is what the first trimester was like! Damn.

I'm 38 weeks as of today. After this morning googling "cold symptoms labor signs" and reading random forum postings where women try to connect their snotty noses to impending labor, I realized, oh shit, this is symptom spotting all over again. This is a Two Week Wait (potentially Four Week Wait) to my due date. So now, I'm sitting here, feeling better, munching on candy corn, with a renewed resolution to not symptom-spot my baby out of my body. I'm still very much enjoying being pregnant and am not in a hurry for him to get here.

So. On to the real purpose of this post - Childcare. We have been pretty wishy-washy about looking for childcare options. Part of that has been due to our "possible plans" to relocate in the Spring, meaning we wouldn't need childcare in LA at all, because we could move right when I'm supposed to finish my maternity leave. Part of that has been me being consumed by other all-important things, like buying pretty swaddle wraps and finding the perfect mobile. So, during our wishy-washy-ness, my chance to put baby on the extremely long waitlist for our highly-ranked, extremely well-reviewed daycare at my hospital has gone out the window. I mean, the waitlist is so long they tell you to put your baby on the list when you start trying to get pregnant.

I think part of the reason I wasn't more gung-ho is I didn't know how I felt about infant daycares. Now, I have worked in many daycares and just as many preschools in my lifetime and I am a strong advocate of putting your child in a group setting for at least a few days a week because I think the experience is irreplaceable. But. For an infant? My protective vibes kick in. Not sure how I feel about it. Even though my logic argues with me about all of the wonderful benefits...I'm just not sure.

So that leaves us with a nanny. Downsides to a nanny? Trust and cost. Nannys are a privilege. An expensive privilege. And you need to find someone that you trust implicitly. The nice thing about a daycare is that there are regulations, multiple caregivers, multiple parents reviewing the setting at all times. With a nanny? You better hope you made the right choice. Also, I realized you can't really find a nanny months in advance. Most of them are looking for a job right away, because well, it's their living. So I had put the childcare question on the back burner for a while, purposefully avoiding it.

Then B comes home from work and says, "I think I found us a nanny!" Huh?? Apparently, a guy that he knows through work (just a random acquaintance) is having a baby a month after us and has found the "perfect nanny." And they were looking for a nanny-share. Now, from what I've read, a nanny-share is the best of both worlds. You get a nanny for a reduced price, your child gets to socialize with another baby, and you have two sets of parents vetting the situation to make sure the nanny is doing what she says she will.

Apparently the nanny came with glowing reviews from seven different families she has worked with. She has done a nanny-share before for two infants and is comfortable with doing so again. People in the area were actually jealous that this family managed to snag her because she is so well-known in the area. Cool. So this sounds promising.

So, as is typical for my husband, he got super excited and set up a time for us to meet the nanny (and the other couple) the following day. I knew it was equally important that we not only approve of the nanny, but also of the other couple because I could envision a ton of issues sharing a nanny with someone with very different views than us. And? We liked both of them. First the couple is down-to-earth, relaxed, flexible, and seemed to have (on first glance) no extreme parenting views that would clash with ours.

The nanny is young-ish (in her early 30s), immigrated from El Salvador, energetic, funny, and relaxed. She told us stories of the babies she has cared for before and showed us videos of the babies she has cared for playing and laughing happily with each other (Picture the famous YouTube twins video). One of the things that was important to me was having a bilingual nanny, so we chatted in Spanish for awhile and she seemed surprised and happy to find out this random white lady speaks fluent Spanish. Overall, we really didn't know what questions to ask, but she just "felt right." And most importantly, having such strong recommendations made me feel good. I did ask some things just to feel like I'd checked...such as, yes, she is certified in infant CPR. But basically, it felt good. She told us that she likes to "interview" the families just as much as they interview her, because she wants to feel like she can work with them easily and said she "felt good" about us too. what? How do you make this kind of decision? Is it irresponsible to choose the first person you meet? How do you know if she's the Right Person? Is there such a thing as the Perfect Nanny?

Well, after meeting with her, we went out to dinner with the other couple, to get to know them more and discuss options. During the dinner, I think we were all a bit on a high about meeting such a great nanny and it felt a bit like things got out of control. Before I knew it, B was committing us to this Nanny-Share and I was nodding along, ignoring a feeling in my stomach that maybe we were rushing a bit. And then we split the check and that was that. We officially have a nanny lined up to start in March. She will care for both babies, we pay less than we would for an individual nanny, but she in turn makes more money. She will split the time between our house and theirs (just down the road from our house). And that's it.

Then we got home. And I started freaking out. First, I freaked out because "wait-a-second, we just committed to a nanny for next Spring. What about our potential plans to move next Spring?" Now, we both knew we would likely not be actually moving next Spring, but closer to Spring of 2015, but still. This felt like shutting a door on that plan permanently. As soon as I brought it up, B started apologizing for committing to something without talking it through with me first. But I pointed out that I was nodding happily as he went ahead with it. That didn't stop me from feeling trapped into another year of living in LA. Finally, B said, "worse case scenario, we back out. they already told us they were going ahead with the nanny whether we decided to share or not. we can always just apologize and change our mind." Ok. Even though I didn't feel great about that, at least I didn't feel so trapped. Also, as I said, we both know that it was unlikely we'd move that early anyhow, so I felt better about that.

Then I moved on to my next, and bigger, Freak Out. The is Freak Out is called How Am I Going to Be a Mother AND Have a Professional Life???? Now, you might wonder why hiring a nanny would provoke this Freak Out? I mean, this is something I've been thinking about throughout the whole pregnancy and before...why suddenly was I freaking out on a random Wednesday night because we just hired Mary Poppins? Well. The Nanny's schedule is 8:00 to 5:30. Five Thirty people. Remember, for me, getting home by 6:00 is an early night. I mean, I knew I'd need to change my work schedule, but some things are unchangeable. For instance, I'm required to be at work one night a week until 8:00. I also need to be available for prime, after-school time slots for my clients (all kids, remember) which means seeing clients at 3:00, 4:00, and 5:00. Which puts me home at 7:00 (remember, long commute). At this point I was starting to hyperventilate. How can I be a good mom if I'm never home? How can I be a good mom if I can't even make it in time to pick him up from the nanny? B calmly said he would pick him up, no big deal. But then I'm freaking out because B is automatically the better parent than I am. I suggest maybe we need a nanny to stay later. He points out that wouldn't I rather have our baby be with him than a nanny? Oh right. So, back to me being the less-involved parent. Again, Freaking Out here.

B tries to calm me down by suggesting ways I can flex my schedule which I stubbornly and resolutely quash without even considering them (does anyone else ever do this??). We discuss my original plans to go back part time, but I become pessimistic that it "won't work" and that my job doesn't lend itself well to part time. B suggests maybe not going back to work? I Freak Out again. I want the best of both worlds.

Finally, B leads me into the nursery. He turns on the nightlight and the turtle light that sends stars scattering about the ceiling. He even turns on the soothing white noise owl hanging from the crib (wow, I needed to be soothed like an infant). Then we crawl onto the bed together and he holds me.

And I realized, it will work out. I don't know how, but it will. These are good problems to have. I have a baby coming whom I will love so much I won't want to be away from him and a career I care about so much I'm not willing to give it up. We have the financial flexibility that I can cut back on hours if my boss allows me to do so. Somehow, the stars will align and it will work out. Just as they did with this nanny situation.

So yeah. Let's focus on the positive here. We have a Nanny! I'm 38 weeks pregnant! Eating two bowls of noodles cured my third trimester morning sickness! And....I'm not planning on getting dressed today.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Nursery Photos

Ok guys, so here is my attempt at Nursery Photos. And by that I mean, I am terrible at taking pictures of indoor spaces. Everything looks so cramped and condensed. Granted, it IS a bit cramped, since we had to combine a guest bedroom and a nursery, but I promise it's not as bad as it looks in photos. Also, after looking at some nursery photos that are so "perfect," I realize ours is not like that. We didn't have much of a theme, except I wanted everything in really bright colors. You will see we went more towards lime greens, blues, and oranges, but there's a bit of everything. So, without further ado, here is our very un-themed, unprofessional Nursery. I think he'll love it :)

Ok, terrible picture here, but it's the widest angle I got. You can see you the room functions as both nursery and guest room.

We wanted a little bit of Monte in the room, for after he's gone...

Ikea dresser/changing table.

We had these special made. They are hand painted on wood. Again, it's a good thing B is involved to pick out "little boy stuff" or we would have ended up with jungle animals instead of adorable robots.

Bear snuck into a photo here...

And then, since we had limited space due to the guest bedroom, we decided to convert a space in our living room that had previously been under-utilized as a sitting area. So now, it's a Play Area and place to nurse or rock the baby.

And that's it. Considering it's a rented house (aka no fun painting to be done), I think it turned out pretty well. The rocker is now my favorite place to sit in the evening and blog from and dream about the future. I hope he likes it!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

I Should Swaddle Myself

So we just home from a class on Baby Care. You know, where you learn about things like diapering, bathing, swaddling... basic things like how to keep your babies alive after you make it through giving birth. Before I tell you about the class, let me caveat this by telling you I think it was actually a pretty good class. The information the instructor provided was great and a lot of it was helpful things I had never thought of before. In fact, B rated every score on the evaluation form as a "10." The problem is, you are going to hear about the class through my slightly skewed filter. I realize that sarcasm doesn't always come across well in text, so if you are not sure I'm being sarcastic or dramatic, I probably am. Ok, you've been warned...

So, one of my concerns about doing classes at our Birth Center has always been that we would be "that couple" who is not hippie enough, not organic enough, not...whatever enough. Until today, that's never happened. I've always felt so comfortable and had a great time at the classes. Today started out fine. We were learning about post partum care for the family, what is normal for newborns, how to bathe them, etc. And then the instructor asks, "And is anyone circumcising their babies? Note: We had previously learned that all of the couples in the room were having boys. They started on the other side of the room and every single person looks at the instructor as if she'd asked if they were killing Bambi (yes, sarcasm...) and says "No!" And then they get to us. B says "We think so." I decide to be brave and just say, "Yes." She starts throwing questions at me. Who will perform the circumcision? Do they know what they are doing? At what age will you have him circumcised? Have you considered that newborns blood doesn't clot as fast and this is a risk factor? Is this for religious reasons? Holy shit. I feel terrible. I couldn't look at the other people in the class but I'm imagining their polite expressions of horror. As in, these people are going to CUT their little boy. Really, this isn't a decision we made lightly. It was hard and we weren't sure what to decide. But, in the end, this is where we landed. Sooo....move on, right? Except from then on, every time she talked about something...bathing, diapering, being a good parent (yes, I'm kidding!), she would have to stop and caveat whatever she was saying for us. As in, "Oh, except for you guys because...."

Alright, enough about the circumcision. B assures me that, while it was somewhat awkward, it wasn't that bad. But, it put me in a bad mood. Then we start practicing holding babies. You may remember that I always feel uncomfortable holding babies. I watch B pick them up and they just melt against his body like magic and I pick them up and feel like I'm holding a breakable thing that just won't mold itself into a comfortable position. Today I realized that uncomfortableness translates into holding FAKE babies too! Great. So everyone is doing this "football hold" thing, that to me looks extremely insensitive and awkward (I mean, who holds a baby like a football??) and so I'm trying and I'm looking at all these people doing the hold correctly and I don't know where to put the baby's head and I can't even tell if I'm doing it right and then B looks at me and says, "What are you doing? You're holding it backwards..." Great.

And thennnn my hormones just took over. Or something. In the last week, I've definitely been more emotional and moody and the typical pregnant lady stereotype. I really don't think (and B backs me up) that I've been an emotional rollercoaster throughout the rest of this pregnancy. But this week is another story. And it definitely caught up with me during the class. I am starting to feel like there is no way in hell I will be a good mother and all of this is just beyond me and can we just fastforward until the baby is three and I know what to do with him?? I'm also starting to feel claustrophobic and really thirsty and wishing I brought a bottle of water and wondering to myself why B doesn't realize how extremely upset I am (he later told me I seemed very composed and he had no idea).

Then after watching a film on adorable babies that I couldn't appreciate because I was stewing in my poison-mood, we start to learn about swaddling. Now, I have always suspected I may be a disaster at swaddling. People say things like, "Oh it's just like making a burrito!!" Well, I've never successfully wrapped a burrito that didn't explode at the seams. So, we're down on the floor, swaddling babies and of course B is jumping around to help everyone else and teaching them his amazing baby-expertise and one of the girls is commenting on how good he smells (yes, this time I'm serious!) and I am just staring at the baby in front of me and thinking this is like being in Calculus class all over again. So then, B decides to come help his poor wife. But, we're on the floor, I'm having braxton hicks, my bladder is full, my knee is hurting from this stupid hands-and-knees position, and I'm trying to not let my massive breasts fall out of my dress to flash the (super good looking) guy across from me...and so I just give up, halfway through the swaddle. B looks all confused, but has no idea what's going on.

And thennnnn the instructor finishes helping us and proceeds to tell us that, after you have swaddled your baby, you should "prop them up on their sides with two little rolled up blankets so they will sleep better and more soundly." WHAT?!? I literally said that out loud. "What?!? But that goes against EVERYTHING we've been told! You are blowing my mind right now!" And she goes on to explain something about how it doesn't pertain to swaddled babies because the reason we put them on their backs is so they don't roll over or smother themselves, but in a swaddle, they can't move as much, plus they are propped up, but can't get close to the blankets propping them up, sooo...they're safe!! Again, I said, What?!?

And this just seemed too much to me in my emotion-laden state. I stood up, leaving my baby half-swaddled on the ground (see? I'm an awesome Mom), and went to the bathroom, because my full bladder was one thing I could take care of. And guess what? I became a pregnant stereotype. I cried in a public bathroom. Really.

To wrap this up, I made it through the rest of the class, kept it together enough that no one seemed to have any idea (including my husband) that I was losing it on the inside, and that was that. But....what the hell happened to me?? Is this just the stress of the last three weeks catching up with me? Am I having some type of hormonal surge? Am I tapping into some unconscious fears of not being a good enough mother? Excuse me, but what the hell?

So please, someone tell me I'm okay, I'm not crazy, I will get through this and go back to being level-headed AND I will be a good mother whether or not I can swaddle my baby.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Between Now and Five Weeks From Now

Photo stolen from Pregnant Chicken's hilarious email updates.

Just time for a quick post here to announce the enormity of the fact that....I've made it to full term! Baby could come at any time! Bow down, people. This is a big deal. I believe B put it best when we were last at a midwife appointment and she was going on and on about "being prepared" and getting lots of rest so you are always rested enough to go through labor. Then she pointed out how I need to stay prepared because baby could come anytime between now and five weeks from now. That is when B so astutely described the situation: "It's like you are preparing for a Marathon. Only, you have no idea when you will have to run the Marathon. Instead, you have to constantly be prepared and ready, just waiting for someone to call you and the phone and tell you to start running." Wow.

Anyhow, as I said, this is a short post. Because I am still caught up in this frantic drive toward The Last Day of Work. Which, actually, is tomorrow. I feel like I used to in graduate school when I was rushing blindly through to the end of the semester and having a hard time thinking beyond that.

I know, in so many ways, my life is about to change. First, not only will my professional identity change (still yet to be determined exactly how) in a large way, but I will also be spending the next five months not working. And yes, yes, I know that raising a baby is the hardest job in the world. But it is a completely different job and identity than anything I have ever done before. I am not sure what it will be like to not be career-driven for that long. Next, the transition to being a mother. I want to give this some more thought and write more on it later, but obviously, this is an extremely big deal. Also, continuing to watch my relationship with B grow and change as we approach this next phase of our long, complicated, enmeshed relationship that is Us.

Finally, because I can't ignore that this is happening....Monte has been a part of our family for almost ten years. He recently took another turn for the worst and they tried one more last ditch effort to save him. We will find out on Wednesday the prognosis. In my gut I have this terrified feeling that Monte's death is going to coincide with the baby's birth in this twisted, cosmic way, such that our first "baby" will leave us in time for us to begin the next stage of life.

SO. Changes. A lot of them. Occurring anytime between now and five-weeks-from now. I am just looking forward to being Here. Being at the transition state where all I have to do is rest, wait, and try my hardest to prepare myself for what's about to happen.

p.s. I will catch up on your blogs this weekend. I know many of you have excited things going on...birth stories, hope-and-anxiety filled cycles of IVF, and some beautiful nursery pictures I just spotted in my feed. I'm hoping after tomorrow I will be much better at staying up to date.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Don't Judge a Midwife by Your Preconceptions

Today was a sad day. I helped two families deal with their separate experiences of loss. I was a witness to tears and pain and connection. Normally I don't have a problem doing what I do. I am able to see the hope instead of the tragedy. But today, I didn't have any defense against the sadness.

But that's not what this post is about. I've been doing too much bitching lately. This post is about yesterday's midwife appointment and how I found myself guilty of jumping to conclusions.

You see, since day one at our Birthing Center there has been a midwife that I've been dreading meeting with. Her photo on the website features her in some type of Yoga-like pose that makes her look like a zen-momma-midwife. Stories of her around the clinic are that she tends to be the most "strong-minded" and alternative in her beliefs (regarding things like circumcision, herbal remedies and vaccines). And the one experience I had with her over the phone when I was having some spotting left me with a bad taste in my mouth. As luck would have it, we've somehow missed meeting with her in our rotation of midwives. Until now.

I went into it with an inwardly sarcastic smile, knowing I wouldn't like her. Ooops. Just goes to show anyone I can be a judgmental bitch before I actually get to know someone. Because, really, I liked her. She's been doing this the longest and it shows. She was no-nonsense, calm, and knowledgeable. Here are some of the things I liked about her:

-When she raved (twice) about my blood work.
-When she told me I "look comfortable being pregnant."
-When she provided helpful suggestions and backed them up with research.
-When she told me my baby was extremely healthy, weighing in around 6 lbs, and could probably "come today" and still be healthy.
-When she didn't judge me (the first midwife so far!) for what I've been eating and said, "Sounds like that works for you."
-When I told her my biggest fear about giving birth is that the baby might be born not breathing, and she looked at me and said, "Mine too."
-When she told my husband I had a beautiful belly.
-When she recommended adding a glass of wine to my bathtime ritual as a "muscle relaxant" to keep my uterus calm. (Still not likely to happen - I'm too paranoid).
-When she told me my baby is in the "best possible" position for delivery (LOA).
-Most importantly....when she found baby's heartbeat right away and it sounded like heaven.

So yeah. Oops. I stand corrected against this poor midwife whom to date I haven't been able to talk about without rolling my eyes. Sorry, zen-momma-midwife-lady!

The craziest thing about yesterday's appointment (besides me being wrong), is that it impressed upon me the nearness of this impending ENORMOUS life change. I mean, the whole appointment felt different. We discussed prelabor signs, how and when to call, what to bring to the birth center, and post-partum care. She stressed to me that the baby could come any time now, especially as I myself was born at 36 weeks. She encouraged me to hurry up and stop working so I can enjoy my last time without kids. Basically, it just felt real. Since then, I've vacillated between terror, exhilaration, disbelief and shock. Now when I play my Calendar Game, I look at the month of October and see a bunch of days that could be baby's birthday. I mean, I realize I could still have almost 6 weeks to go, but I think that it sunk in that every day from now on is a possibility.

But, as I said before, I want to keep ticking off those "possible days" until we get much closer to the due date. I'm really not ready to give up my transition/preparing/self-care days before baby gets here. I feel like it's important for me to take this next step. Not to mention, I am going to need a week after I finish working to recover my strength in order to push this baby out!

I will leave you with a glimpse of the "beautiful belly."

Thursday, October 3, 2013

36 weeks: Due Date Month

Today is my day off. But instead of lounging around in my pajamas, I went to work at my husband's office (perks of being the boss's wife) to work on a psychological report I have to write. I love coming here. The atmosphere is so relaxed, so friendly, and pleasant. My job, in contrast, is so isolating. I know that sounds ironic because I talk to my clients all day, but that's not the same thing. So, today I'm here, in efforts that I will be able to focus better and finish my report by the end of the day. Rather than spending my Thursday doing ultra-important things like watching every single Netflix episode of Orange is the New Black.

I realized, in the midst of my oh-poor-me-I'm-so-stressed blogging lately that I haven't shared any updates about Baby. I think that's because there's not much to share. As opposed to the first trimester, where there are so many important appointments, the third trimester (if all is going well), is more relaxed, settling in, getting to you know your baby time. I'm 36 weeks today and have a midwife appointment this evening. After today's appointment, we will switch to weekly appointments (!!!) and I'm sure it will be time to start talking about things like, what to bring to the birth center, the on-call schedule for the midwives (cross your fingers I get one of my favorites at my birth) and early signs of labor. But for now...things are just calm. It feels like I feel Baby almost all the time. I mean, I know that's not actually true, but it feels that way because he's just such a constant presence. A pressure from his back here, a foot poking out there, a bottom to rest my hand on right under my ribs. This morning, when I woke up, I laid on my back and watched him hiccup for a few minutes. I just feel really close to him right now.

Physically, I'm doing okay. My feet started to hurt a few weeks ago, so I ordered two pairs of Moccasins (one pair of shoes, one pair of fleece-lined slippers) that I am basically planning on living in for the rest of the pregnancy. Screw fashion sense! Sleep is NOT my friend anymore. My hips hurt so badly and the BHs take my breathe away every time I have to pee and sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night just feeling completely claustrophobic in my own body. I take a lot of baths. I choose baths over sleep. They are the only thing that helps my body feel free. I haven't been to the chiropractor in 3 weeks or so because I've been so busy. I have an appointment scheduled in a week and then I plan on going weekly again until baby comes. But really, I am ok. For most of the day, being this pregnant doesn't really stop me in my tracks. I mean, I'm working 12 hour days here, so I must be doing ok, right?

I've gained 30 lbs as of this week. With four weeks to my due date, I feel okay about that too. Awhile back, I went through a phase where I was feeling fat. Just huge all over. But now my body has changed again and my belly has gotten so big that I like my silhouette again. I think it's because, in comparison to my belly, the rest of me looks small. Still no stretch marks, so I'm excited about that. My belly button is this weird, flat thing that is a strange color of brown. Why is it brown??? Recently, I've been thinking that once I'm done with work, I may give a little love to my physical appearance before baby gets here. I was of the opinion that I should just wait until after he gets here, but then I realized it may be a long time after he shows up before I have the energy to do a little personal care. So I'm thinking I may schedule a brow wax, a Brazilian, a hair cut, and maybe even highlights (something I haven't done the whole pregnancy). For women who've been through this, what do you recommend? Waiting until after baby or getting it done pre-baby?

I think that's about it. I'm happy to finally be in October. The Month of Waiting. One more week of work to go, and then I'll be free to sit and wait and do last minute things for baby. I'm not in a hurry for him to get here. I hear women saying that they just "want the baby out!" right at 37 weeks. I think they're crazy. This is my last chance to just be myself and enjoy my time before he gets here. Besides, I like having him inside me, safe and sound and comfortable. Annnnd I want him to wait until my mom gets here on the 29th. So yeah. Stay inside baby. We'll see you soon.