Movies and Moving

Monday night I sent Brian out to see a movie. I told him to leave the phone on vibrate in case I needed him, but to enjoy it because it may be the last movie he'll see for a while. Of course, he went to see Batman: The Dark Knight.

So, with Brian gone and Helen asleep, I went to bed early. I spent the night trying not to toss and turn too much - which is actually really difficult to do at this stage. I can't lie on my back for more than about a minute without getting lightheaded, so I switch sides to lie on. Waking up after a few hours of lying on one side, my ear hurts, my hip hurts, and sometimes I'm having a little contraction to boot. I gather up the energy to move to the other side, which is a pretty big endeavor. It takes a lot of preparation to haul that much weight on your belly over to the other side without causing giant painful cramps around the hips (those poor ligaments are already stretched to the max), so I slowly make my way over to the other hip and ear, crushing those for a few more hours. Sometimes I mix it up and throw in a bathroom break.

A few times in the past month I have slept in the guest room since the heavy manuvering tends to wake up Brian. I shove a bunch of pillows all around me and it seems to be comfortable. I wake up about the same number of times, but I don't feel as bad about how much I'm moving around. I really like sleeping in my own bed better, but there's not as much room for a bunch of pillows, Brian, me *and* my belly. So it's a tradeoff.

The whole thing is getting a little tiring, and I wake up more and more sore each day. I'm actually looking forward to taking a snooze in that adjustable hospital bed, propped up on about 4 pillows, sleeping ON MY BACK.

(For the worried, I went to see Batman last night, enduring nearly 3 hours in a movie theater seat without a bathroom break - and it was totally worth it.)


Second Verse, Same as the First

This weekend Brian & I watched an episode of Scrubs where the main character describes the act of childbirth as performing all of your personal bodily functions while a group of strangers are all staring intently at you, DOWN THERE. And while a first-time pregnant person may think about what that means, nothing prepares you for the actual experience. Absolutely nothing. I've had annual doctor visits DOWN THERE and even minor surgical procedures DOWN THERE, and I was not prepared for it.

Neither was Brian, for that matter. He's still trying to champion the return of fathers to the waiting room.

There is an overwhelming loss of privacy that comes with motherhood. No one tells you about it except to perhaps mention that you'll never go to the bathroom again by yourself, and while you may think about what that means, none of that makes an impression on you until it actually happens to you.

But I've learned it's not just the delivery room, or even in the bathroom where these intrusions happen. During pregnancy, random strangers ask me when I'm due, what I'm having, how many kids I already have, if Helen's excited about the baby, what kind of foods I'm craving, which doctor I'm using, what hospital I'm going to, and so on. They tell me that I must be having a boy because I'm carrying high. Or that I'm having a girl because I'm pregnant "all over." (yeah, that was a new one for me, too.) AND THEY TOUCH MY BELLY. You know, I never thought of my body as a conversation piece, but okay. It's happened. I can deal with it.

Then the baby comes, and you end up sharing even more of your private moments with the world. Breastfeeding and diaper changing in public are just the beginning. Everyone wants to know how they sleep, how they eat, how much they weigh, if they cry a lot, or if they're happy. Sometimes they want to know how you're doing.  Sometimes your child chooses the exact wrong moment to pass a little gas, or spit up on you, or god forbid, turn 3 and have a gigantic meltdown. If you're at the grocery store, or church, or a family reunion, you're dealing with all of these issues on a stage, where you're keenly aware of others watching your every move. You're hopeful that they sympathize, but deep down, as you try every trick in the book to avoid possible disaster, you can hear them all saying to themselves, "I would have done it differently." Add in the sleep deprivation and nagging self-doubt as you encounter everything about your baby for the first time, and you can see why first-time parents are nervous.

I'm a little less nervous this time around, but it's still a challenge to think about doing all of this again, because I'm well aware that every baby is different. I have told Brian from the beginning that based on my wealth of babysitting experience, Helen was very easy. Despite her early arrival, nothing held her back in terms of development. Her pediatrician was horrified to see us on her Day 2 checkup, after hearing that she was 5 weeks early. She couldn't believe her partner released Helen from the hospital, and then she examined her and realized we had a winner. During that first 2 months, we had mainly 3 issues: the breastfeeding was miserable; she was a tummy sleeper (and still is); and she really wanted to spend the first month being held. Once we fixed those issues, we made out like bandits. She was an awesome baby, even though we were chained to that pacifier, and I don't think any of the issues we had with her in her first year were unusual. In other words, without any personal parenting experience, we handled it all pretty well.

So I can't help but worry that we might be pushing our luck with this next one. Number Two has been hosting a karate class in my womb since the moment we figured out she was in there, and it's a little disturbing to think of what that might mean once she's out. Will this one have colic? More allergies? Will breastfeeding work for us this time? How will she sleep? What if there's something wrong? What if we can't figure out what she needs?

Maybe that's why random strangers ask so many questions. They could be looking for some validation that they made the right choices with their own kids. And I understand that, really I do. I like to think that Helen was easy to take care of because I knew what I was doing. The second baby may just blow that little theory out of the water.


Forward Progress

So here's the update: at the OB's office this morning, we learned I'm dilated to 3cm, and I'm 70% effaced. For those who don't know what that means, I'll just say that my cervix did spend the past week getting thinner.

That's the first thing that's gotten thinner on me in a long, long time.

The doctor and I were both pretty excited about this progress. She said she would not be surprised to hear that I'm ready to go in the next few days. Woo hoo!

Hopefully baby & I can hold out until the weekend, when I have a little bit of time to clean my house AGAIN. And do laundry AGAIN. And go shopping AGAIN.

After spending last weekend doing the same thing, it's exhausting to consider, but I'm so thrilled to hear that the pain & discomfort was moving everything along, that I don't really mind a bit.


The Vows Never Mentioned THAT

Brian & I were on the phone today, discussing a friend whose mother-in-law fell down the stairs and broke both arms. Her husband has to do everything for her, including dressing her, feeding her - even wiping her after she uses the bathroom.

Jennie: I'm gonna go ahead and tell you up front that if you broke both of your arms, I would not be able to wipe you, because there's nothing about you in a bathroom that I want to go near.

Brian: (imitates Helen, who these days is unable or unwilling to wipe herself, and instead calls to me from the potty as needed) I need help wiping!

Jennie: Yeah, that's not gonna happen. We'll have to hire someone.

Brian: Can she be young and hot?

Jennie: No, but *he* will be.

Brian: Nice.


3, 2, 1 ...

I've had a problem with my contact lens that just won't go away. For those who wear them, it's a giant protein blob that no amount of cleansing and soaking will get rid of. Normally, it's not a problem - just throw away the contact and replace it with a fresh one - but this is my last contact for this eye. 

I can't go get more contacts because my prescription ran out during the pregnancy, and getting a new prescription now guarantees that I won't see straight after the baby's born. In fact, my eye doctor won't even let me set an appointment. Blame hormones, blame blood sugar, blame fate, but something funny goes on with the vision of a pregnant woman. Mine has gotten progressively worse over the past 3 months, and I still have to wait about 2-3 months after the birth for things to go back to normal.

By the way, I HATE my glasses.

So, I'm in the grocery store searching for the nuclear options in contact lens solutions, and Helen asked me what we were looking for. Absently, I replied, "something for my contacts." Right after I said that, I realized Helen has no idea what contacts are. I sleep in mine (yes, I know darn well that would explain the protein blob), so she hasn't seen me take them out & clean them before. So I told her I had something in my eyes to help me see better, and they were a little dirty so I was looking for something to clean them.

Miracle of all miracles, she didn't ask any more questions after that.

Cut to the next day when I picked up Helen from daycare, and I told her we are headed to the grocery store to get some food for dinner. Helen asked, "Mommy, is it your tongue kiss?" Umm .... WHAT?

I couldn't figure out for the life of me what she was talking about. It took about another half-mile of her chattering and asking about shopping for "tongue kiss" before it clicked. She was trying to say "contacts" but it was coming out "toncass." Which sounded like "tongue kiss." Which I think we can all agree is a pretty disturbing thing for a 3-year old to say. I've worked with her on correct pronunciation, but she still says "toncass."

The doctor told us at her 3-year old checkup that she talks so clearly, and was very impressed with her vocabulary. Thank GOD the word "contacts" wasn't part of the testing.


I Scream, You Scream - no, wait, my turn again.

So, I spent this weekend having Braxton-Hicks contractions, or as they're known around these parts, "getting your hopes up, only to taunt you and run away laughing at your misery." Basically anywhere from every two to five minutes, my stomach would tighten, or start cramping, and sometimes a tiny bit of pain would radiate down into my legs.

(Someone asked me - how do you know it's not the real thing? With my eyes closed, I could tell you that question came from someone who has not had children. Basically, if you can sleep through the contractions when they're two minutes apart, instead of tearing your sleeping spouse's arms off, it's not the real thing.)

All of this ramped up on Friday night after I got home from work. So I spent the evening making my mental checklist of things that had to get done before I spent 48 hours in a hospital. I kept trying to do laundry, thinking that clean underwear would be Brian's priority in the event of an early delivery. I prepacked the hospital bag with a few things. I also called our Amazing Babysitter to make sure she wasn't out of town - she is our backup plan for taking care of Helen when we rush to the hospital. There isn't anything about Mommy in a delivery room that a 3-year old needs to see.

So, basically, I worked my way through this entire weekend. Altogether I did 6 loads of laundry, cooked, cleaned, mopped, vacuumed, dusted, and polished. I even did some grocery shopping and stocked up on diapers. The contractions never stopped, but my water didn't break and nothing got more serious than that.

So there's still no baby. Now my house is clean, I'm exhausted, and still having these stupid fake contractions. I did some research online and it turns out this might be Mother Nature's way of thinning the cervix in preparation for the real thing. Since I skipped all of this fun the first time around, it looks like this child has chosen the slow-pokey way out.

Late Sunday night, I surrendered. Realizing that a full day at work on Monday was in my immediate future, I went out & bought the biggest cup of ice cream that Marble Slab sells, and ate the entire thing. It made me feel a little better. Then I got to work today and someone said, "Hey, I thought you'd have the baby by now" and I burst into tears. For two hours, I couldn't stop crying. Freakin' pregnancy hormones have kicked into full gear after leaving me alone for most of the pregnancy.

Clearly, the situation calls for more ice cream - STAT.


Counting Down

37 weeks today, and I had an ultrasound to make sure all looked good.  Placenta's fine, plenty of amniotic fluid, nice heart rate, good cord blood flow, and the baby is gorgeous.  

In fact, it all looks so good, they're estimating the baby weighs 7.5 pounds.

I still have 3 weeks to go.   I remember what it was like to give birth to Helen, who weighed a pound less.   Now I'm trying to picture giving birth to a baby that could weigh anywhere from 2-4 pounds more than Helen, and the prospect is a bit terrifying.

And no change - I'm still barely 1cm dilated.  I think I'm in for a long wait on this one.



This week I was 36 weeks pregnant.  As a bit of perspective, Helen arrived 5 weeks early.   (For the math-challenged, full-term is 40 weeks.)

So this baby?  CAN'T. GET. HERE. SOON. ENOUGH.  My ribs hurt, my pelvis aches, and I have heartburn about 20 hours a day.  To top it off, I cannot possibly eat enough ice cream. 

At 30 weeks I had an ultrasound of my heart that I talked about here.  Since the tech was 16 weeks pregnant, she indulged me in quick peek at the baby, where I was surprised to learn the baby was already in the head-down position.  Remembering when Helen turned down at 34 weeks during an agonizing sleepless night, I thought this one might be preparing to come early, too.

But no.  My weekly appointments this month have proved that I'm barely dilated to 1 cm.   About once a day, I have a tiny contraction - nothing terribly painful, but a quick reminder that I haven't forgotten what they feel like.

Then this morning, while I tried to get some more shut-eye on the couch at 5:30 a.m., I looked down to see my stomach all lopsided on the right.  Something has been jammed up in my ribcage all afternoon, and I look much wider now, rather than up & down pregnant.

I think this little girl got a front row seat at the week we just had with her big sister, changed her mind, and headed back up.   

I don't blame her one bit.


Toddler Mayhem

This week has been a little crazy.  Helen had some incredible tantrums and power struggles with me and Brian, most of which ended with her in timeout.  Then I learned that the teachers were having a tough time with her, too.  Turns out she wasn't listening, or if they asked her to do something, she'd just smirk at them instead.    

This sounds like *no one* I already know.

So, it been a rough week where we haven't really been getting along and playing well with others.  So Brian and I would talk with her and fuss at her and after way too much crying and screaming and yelling, she'd promise to be good the next day.  And then we'd pick her up at daycare, and learn that she'd been in timeout again for not listening to her teachers.  It was getting really frustrating, and given the normal behavior of a 3-year old, I'm not sure things will be fixed any time soon.

Now that you have our week set firmly in your head, I'll back up a bit.  Right after Helen was born, I signed her up for a children's group that sends a new book to her each month. One of Helen's favorite books she's received is Llama Llama Red Pajama.  It's the story of a little llama who goes to bed and whines for his mama, who's downstairs doing dishes.  The llama's patience wears thin waiting on her, and he ends up screaming the house down to get her attention.  Mama Llama gets upstairs to remind him that "Mama Llama's always near, even if she's not right here," and she gives her baby llama kisses and says goodnight.  All ends well.

Fast forward to yesterday, when Brian arrived home to discover the sequel in our mailbox.


A Sampling

Things I have heard multiple times in the past two weeks:

"Girl, you have blown up."

"How much farther do you have to go?"  (I'm 35 weeks.)  "Hmmm.  Yeah ... you might not make it."

"Wow, your belly is like, OUT THERE."

My usual response is, "Come over here a little closer so I can SMACK YOU."

Today I wore a black top and pants to work, with some silver sandals and silver jewelry.  This evening Brian said, "That outfit is very slimming."  I almost cried.  It's the best thing anyone has said about my enormous baby bulge in months.

And then he tried to eat my ice cream.  What nerve!