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Pearls of Wisdom. Really.

Okay, so I’ve had two different but connected experiences lately. Some women I know are pregnant for the first time, or just had babies, and I desperately want to give them unsolicited advice. I know, everyone gives unsolicited advice to pregnant and new moms. But mine is so good! Mine isn’t all intrusive and fucked up like all that other advice, really! Except I think I just weird people out. Just like I was weirded out when people told me seriously random shit about their horrific childbirth experience, or post-partum healing, or whatever. When it’s your first time, all you want to do is stick your fingers in your ears and go, “LALALALALALALA!” And honestly, that might be the smartest thing. Everyone’s experience of pregnancy, birth,  postpartum, and new parenthood is totally different. And the advice-givers are more interested in validating their decisions or sharing their trauma than helping. Hmm. That might apply to me as well.

The other thing is I keep daydreaming about getting pregnant again. It would have to be an immaculate conception because David will move to Mexico to be a dive instructor before he gets me pregnant and signs on for another 1.5 years of Crazy Alternate Wife.  I think some of it has to do with wanting to get another shot at doing it right. Which is nuts for more reasons than I can count. Also, my hormones (a.k.a. Continuation of the Species Chemicals) tell me there is nothing more beautiful and desirable than getting pregnant right before a fucker of a hot summer. Because they lie and they hate me.

So I give you, “Stuff I wish I’d know/done/ignored before and after birth” in the hopes that I will no longer feel the need to brain dump on unsuspecting pregnant women or beg my husband to knock me up again. I’ll let you know how that works out.

Pregnancy stuff I think you need/should know/do

  1. Don’t listen to advice unless you ask for it. Change the subject or ask them to stop.
  2. Don’t listen to birth stories unless you have asked to hear them. They just make you crazy and paranoid and have no relevance to your birth. At all.
  3. Don’t freak out about/over prepare for/ spend a whole lot of extra money on the birth. I wish I had taken all the money I’d spent on my doula and used it for a post-partum helper. That $750 would have gotten me a lot of naps.
  4. Prenatal Yoga is The Bomb. It helped me physically and emotionally. I got support from the other ladies, respectful advice, and made some good friends who have become my primary mama support group. Physically, it made a huge difference. Start when you get pregnant and keep going until you can’t move your toes any more. That being said, try different classes until you find one you like. There are some great tirades way back in this blog written after going to classes I didn’t like.
  5. Get The Snoogle. Dear God, I hate that name. But you can wrap it around you multiple ways and you’ll need that as the baby grows and your body doesn’t work the way it used to. It will allow you to sleep without setting up a mountain of pillows you have to dismantle every time you have to get up to pee, which may be many, many times per night.
  6. If you’re going to take a babymoon, don’t be an idiot like me and take it in the first or third trimester unless you’re one of those freaks who never gets nauseous or swollen or uncomfortable. Aim for the golden second trimester when you’ve got energy but you’re all cute and pregnant looking.
  7. This is really for after, but get the My Brest Friend Deluxe (oh dear God what an awful name) nursing pillow and put it in your overnight bag for the hospital. Just do it. Nothing sucks more than trying to learn to nurse on those awful hospital pillows. This thing will make your life infinitely better. I promise. And if you want more nursing boob advice, I’ve got it. Nursing is no joke, the adjustment period can be formidable.

Birth

  1. Don’t stress out about it. It will happen however it happens. Learn about the process, but don’t try to predict the outcome or craft your ultimate birth experience. You will probably remember very little of it. To me anyway, it was a tiny blip on the massive radar screen that is new parenthood. And my blip lasted 36 freaking hours long. But do you know what’s worse than 36 hours of labor? The tandem stomach flu the three of us got last fall. Way worse. In spite of the hairiness of my labor, I still felt super powerful at the end, and glad I hadn’t tried to script it in any way. Kid healthy+ me healthy = Good. Basta.

Parenthood

  1. Get as much help as you can for the first few (and I mean six) weeks. Call in all your favors, save your pennies. Grandparents, friends, night nurses, post-partum doulas, whatev. It was super overwhelming at first for us, and we had a lot of help.
  2. If you’re feeling freaked out, talk to someone who you know will be supportive and non-judgmental. I don’t know how I got the idea that I would be a perfect, balanced, competent parent but I was WROOOOOONG. It was exhilarating, terrifying, blissful, and painful, sometimes all at once.  I went back to therapy two weeks after having Lillian. I have other friends who joined new parent support groups that really helped. You feel like everyone has done this, why is it so hard? Because it’s hard for everyone. If it’s not they’re catatonic or lying.
  3. Stuff. Most stuff you need for the baby can be borrowed. Other than a crib, nothing you use in the first six months to a year will be in the rotation for very long. Bassinet – incredibly useful for the first three months. Dust catcher after that. Swing – dude, you need a swing. But only for about six months. Bouncy chair things – the only way I could take a shower for six months was to strap Lillian into one of these things. Then she started crawling and it was done. So either buy them at a resale store and sell them back, or borrow them from a friend who is between kids. The only things in our house that are semi-permanent and worth the investment are our IKEA crib (very cheap) and our BOB Stroller (very not).
  4. Books – just throw them the hell out. Once you get on the milestone train, it’s a long way down. Comparing your kid to the “average” kid in America (regardless of your actual lineage) may make your child seem like a giant/midget/freak of some kind and he or she is not. He or she is just your kid. It’s hard enough to tune into the blaring radio station of mother instinct without eating yourself alive with self-doubt.  Bringing a bunch of “experts” into the mix who want to sell books does not help.
  5. Find a pediatrician you like and trust. My therapist pointed out at one point that I was avoiding taking Lillian in to have something checked out because I was afraid of her doctor. Doh. I switched doctors. Much better.
  6. Stay away from the interwebs.  I’m not saying that a little research can’t be useful when you want to check something out, but stay away from Dr. Internets in the middle of the night when you’re feeling sure that your kid’s 101 fever is actually spinal meningitis, mkay?
  7. Advice. Random strangers, well-meaning relatives, innocent bloggers (ahem) will tell you all sorts of crazy shit about the validity of your parenting, the health and well-being of your kid, and other stuff it would never cross your mind to say to another human being. Ignore them. “But they mean well…” No, they don’t. If it makes you feel bad, it’s not useful. It is so hard to feel confident about this terrifying, epic, massive job of creating and raising a little human being. Just don’t let people fuck with you.
  8. Be flexible. Your kid is totally unique and so are you. We made mistakes in the beginning by expecting Lillian to follow “typical” patterns that blinded us to her actual needs. I think everyone does this at first. But your kid will communicate what she needs, and you have to be listening to figure out how to respond. And then her needs will change, and you’ll have to respond differently. Forever. Don’t get so attached to a school of thought that you stop observing and responding to your kid.

Wow, that was fun!

Long time no blog

Lots has happened since the last time I wrote. I got really depressed. I got a job. I got less depressed. I started the  job. I’m now stressed and busy, but relatively happy.

The holidays kind of sucked. I don’t really know why, I just got into a well of bummed-outness and couldn’t claw my way back out. At the worst point, shortly before Christmas, I got offered a job as an adjunct college professor. My confidence was at an all-time low but I couldn’t turn it down – I’ve been wanting to teach  for a long time.

So now I’m a part-time professor and still mostly full-time mom. I have a babysitter three mornings a week who ROCKS and lets me get at least some of my work done during the day. Being a professor is kind of like being a mom, too. Yes, you have to punctuate. No, you can’t copy things off the internet and pass them off as your own work. Yes, you have to turn your homework in on time. Bitching aside, I really like it. It’s hard, hard work, but really fun. And vastly rewarding when I see a student make a connection and improve their understanding or skills.

I felt like I had been losing some core part of myself, and my emotional equilibrium with it, and I couldn’t stomach the idea of going back to schmoozing and networking to build up my business again. It seemed sooooo trivial. So the Universe did me right by dropping this job in my lap. It feels like meaningful, important work. Plus it’s nice to have a little income. I’m hoping to eventually teach two classes a semester.

Miss Lillian seems to be making more connections every day. She is much more aware of my moods now – for better or worse – and is full of her own expressions of emotions. She imitates sounds, claps like it’s going out of style, and flirts like crazy.

I can’t believe she’s going to be a year old in a couple of weeks. It’s crazy. This time last year I was big as a whale, not sleeping (how things don’t change), and having a hard time doing things like walking and writing. And living on Tums. The only thing I miss is going to yoga four times a week. And naps. Long, long, multiple naps per day. I miss them. I looked like this:

Did I mention I’m 30lbs lighter than I was then? Yeah. I don’t miss being huge and having somebody kicking my ass from the inside any more. Babies: better out than in!

 

37 (almost) week update

So 37 weeks is considered full term. I saw my OB today and everything is pretty much the same as it was last time. Belly is a little bigger, I may be about 1cm dialated, and 60% or so effaced. I’m officially in the “could happen any time” zone and the doc is still predicting I won’t go the full 40 weeks. Collective fingers crossed on that one, please.

I’m still having the same list of complaints, but everything is marginally worse. My fingers are more numb, hands are more swollen (feet are a little better), sleeping is getting more and more difficult, more hip pain at night, more heartburn, and mostly more exhaustion. I wear out fast. Being awake makes me tired. Some days are better than others, though, and I have some latent nesting instinct that’s making me organize my closet. So that’s good, I guess. Also, most nights I have some Braxton-Hicks contractions and let me just say, do not eat a large meal if you’re having those. Not. Good.

The glider arrived this weekend so the nursery is pretty much complete. I also got a cool floor lamp. Pictures when it’s all cleaned up and pretty. David’s work threw us a shower on Monday and they got us this wicked cool baby food maker that I’m excited to try out as soon as she’s able to start on solids.

The other thing I’ve been dealing with is having high blood pressure at the doctor’s office. But since my doc asked me to take my BP at home every other day and it’s been pretty much normal, she’s refrained from diagnosing me with preeclampsia. This is a good thing. I tried drinking tea and meditating before my appointment today but to no avail, it was still a good bit higher than at home. But I think I’ve found the cure for all stress-related problems. Let me know if it works for you.

36 Weeks

Today I’m 36 weeks pregnant, and man can I feel it. I get tired out very easily. Other complaints continue to include wooziness, swollen hands and feet, carpal tunnel, numb fingers, and general had-enoughidness.

We took our baby care class last weekend. The first thing they showed was a video from the 80s on the effects of lack of attachment between infants and parents. It was creepy and depressing, and included footage of miserable unsocialized monkey babies and near catatonic children raised by depressed moms. Don’t ever watch it, especially when you’re pregnant. Sheesh. Other than that it was okay. We got to see a little bit of the Happiest Baby on the Block dvd which we actually have but haven’t watch yet. That dude is like the Baby Whisperer. Very worth the watch. They left out some stuff like info on all-in-one diapers – they only talked about cloth with diaper service which is as expensive as disposables. I think we’re going to start with disposables but try out some all in ones when she’s big enough.

We’ve got one more shower, at David’s work, on Monday and then we’ll need to pick up the few things we still need to get started. In the meantime I’m catching up with as many friends as possible before the baby happens and napping as much as possible in between.

Countdown

Today was my 35/36 week checkup. It looks like things are progressing, possibly a little faster than expected. I’m 60-70% effaced and my doctor thinks I may deliver in 3 weeks or so (at 38 weeks). Also, the baby has grown a bit since last time, my doctor thought she’d be over 7 lbs if I delivered in  three weeks or so, where at my ultrasound they though she’d be under 7 lbs. I’m getting big, I’m gaining a bit of weight now (though it’s probably mostly baby and water from swelling) but damn is my belly big.

This is all exciting, and also a little scary. I certainly am on board with being a couple of weeks early, if she’s ready to go.  But damn, that’s soon! Still, I’m less and less mobile every day. I have to adapt stuff more in yoga class, and I sleep a lot during the day (but not as much as I want to at night, I’m usually up by 4am). The blood flow issues seem to come and go – some days are really hard, others are almost normal. Generally my feet and ankles are really swollen, and the fingers in my right hand are numb a lot. I’m having trouble gripping with my right hand too. She’s kicking and moving a lot, and since she seems to have dropped a bit it can be way uncomfortable. All of this is well within the norm, but it’s not a lot of fun. Still, I seem to have gotten an extra dose of mellowing pregnancy hormones so I’m not stressing out too much.

The weather in Austin is turning coldish again, not my favorite, but it will probably help a bit with the swelling.

David and I are taking our childcare class on Saturday. Not a moment too soon. Our childbirth class isn’t for a couple weeks, hopefully it won’t be too late!

33 Weeks

Last week’s ultrasound was followed by my regular prenatal visit this week. Everything was fine except my blood pressure, which was a little higher than normal. So I didn’t stress. NOT. Preeclampsia is some ugly shit, and I Do Not Want. And you know what’s good for high blood pressure? Stressing out! Also who likes to get weighed after lunch? Me me! My weight was up a bit, but today it’s the same as last week. But I guess my doctor would have been worried if it hadn’t gone up some. My OB told me to take my blood pressure every two days and keep track of it if it got to 140/90 or higher. So this morning David took it and it was 128/70. Seems I’m back in the normal range. Phew. I think maybe I was just more stressed out than usual. I had my doula with me at the appointment instead of David, and David is kind of a human form of Xanax for me. He’s so coming with next time. (He’s also hiding the blood pressure cuff so I don’t take it obsessively every 2 hours.)

TMQ has been seriously wiggly the last few days. Not sure what is going on in there, but she’s really rocking out. I’m still dealing with some swelling in my hands and feet, but it varies. The biggest pain about it is some carpal tunnel in my right hand. If I sleep with wrist braces on it’s way better, but man are they ugly. The lower back gets more tired more easily, but as long as I’m dragging myself to yoga everything seems to be manageable. That support rig thingy I got is good for walking around, but as usual Miss Q doesn’t like any compression and kicks the crap out of me if I wear it for very long. I have serious doubts that this kid is going to take to swaddling.

So here’s my 33 week girth:

Miss Persephone looks on. Sorry for the blurry.

I remember when this shirt hung to my knees.

32 Weeks

Tiny Miss Quimby at 32 Weeks - that's a profile!

Today Tiny Miss Quimby is 32 weeks and 1 day old (though we reset the counter when she decides to come out). We went for our final ultrasound yesterday and everything seems to be good. She’s on the smaller side of average, which makes her mama very happy. The Quimbys make big babies, and luckily it looks like she’s taking after Oster babies which are smaller. Her heartbeat and all other indicators were good. It was fun to see her wiggling around, though it’s pretty hard not to notice her presence these days – she’s very active.

I’m continuing to be a yoga junkie. I go to at least 4 classes a week. It’s nice to be with other pregnant ladies and share some of the discomforts and fears that it seems like everyday people don’t want to know about. Or want to exaggerate, depending.

Remember when I blogged about a terrible song one of my favorite yoga teachers played during final meditation? So she’s back from maternity leave and I’ve been going to her classes. But she still plays that godawful thing at the end of class. And now that I’m in my 3rd trimester, as predicted, it makes me want to cry. Except I still hate it so I end up fighting back the tears while thinking evil thoughts about the artist and her lack of musical and verbal talent. It’s interesting to be me.

While I’m getting more of some of the annoying 3rd trimester symptoms (swollen hands and feet, occasional heartburn, difficulty sleeping) I actually feel better than I have in a while. The round ligament pain gave me hell last week, but seems to be lessening this week. I think I have some pubic symphesis pain (look it up, it’s fun!) but it’s not that bad right now. I ordered yet another belly support apparatus and when the weather stops being truly horrible I should be able to take some walks.

Work on the baby’s room is progressing well. I’m going to wait until it’s doneish to post more pictures. I still have to do a bunch of decorative work on that dresser that took me forever to paint, but it’s going to look really cool when it’s finished. The only bummer is the glider that the grandmas ordered probably won’t get here till mid February, which kind of blows. Apparently Dutalier shuts down operations for half of December. Oh, to be an employee in France. I want my chair!

In Which Things Seem to Slow Down

Sometime in the last several days I think I swallowed a bowling ball. Suddenly, dragging my sad carcass around is getting really difficult and increasingly painful (again). I can only hope that I get some kind of third trimester second wind before it gets really bad. My yoga teacher said I may be experiencing a lot of pain because I was already very flexible before all the relaxin hit my body. If this is true, then amping my my walks may help some.

I wish I could say I was sitting around eating truffles and relaxing, but I don’t have a lot of room in the belly for food and while I do spend a lot of time sitting, it gets uncomfortable too. Sleep is getting more elusive because of the pain and stiffness. What I wouldn’t give for a handful of Advil right now. I’m still going to yoga as much as possible, my body doesn’t seem to disagree with that too much.

Mostly it’s terribly scary to realize that the baby is going to double in size over the next few weeks and I already feel like a beach ball filled with lead. I guess my body will deal, somehow.

We had a nice, low-key holiday with minimal activity. I cooked a few things, but mostly just relaxed with David. We got ourselves a Kindle with a nice gift card from my parents. Guess what? You can read with it one handed! This bodes well for feeding and reading at the same time. I guess I should work on my one handed typing as well. We also got a nice blanket and cute outfit for the baby (she’s not even out yet and she’s getting Christmas presents) and best of all, David and his dad finished work on the nursery! Now it’s up to me to put things away and get on the decorating. It looks really nice. I hope the glider gets here soon, because it’s a neat room to hang out in. Pictures when it’s cleaned up a bit, right now it’s covered in baby clothes and power tools.

One thing I am not short on is clothes. Two big batches of hand me downs from two generous ladies makes for a well-dressed kid. Right now I’m just trying to figure out how to best organize everything so it’s ready when she gets home. I’ve also already got some great blankets, socks, shoes, hats, and various other things. This child will not be lacking in the fashion department. And in spite of my physical complaints, I’ve gotten a good start on organizing and storing them all. So glad we re-purposed grown up furniture that has room!

Time to stagger  back into the living room and socialize with my husband.

In which things continue to speed up

Tomorrow I’m 30 weeks pregnant and today I’m 38 years old. I could be giving birth in 8 weeks! This is a little freaky. I’m getting a bit nervous about it, but it’s not like there’s anything I can do. I don’t know if the baby is in the right position yet, I’m getting some mighty painful kicks in tender southerly areas, but it’s hard to know if that’s from hands or feet. She was really active yesterday.

I’ve got some new insomnia rocking (check the time on this post). Mostly it’s because I’m waking up with hip pain again, and it’s become a bad idea to sleep on my back any more (last night I woke up with my hands going numb).

Even though my hands and feet swell intermittently, I’ve been hanging onto my engagement and wedding rings. Until last night when I burnt the crap out of my ring finger on the stove. Oops.

I’m still amazed by how I seem to have a different body every day. How it reacts to food, movement, temperature, etc. still changes all the time. The main problem I’m having is the baby is sitting really low lately, so I need to remember to wear a support thingy when I’m out and about to avoid a whole lot of uncomfortable pelvic pressure and pummeling.

We met with our doula this week and talked about birth. That was trippy. We’re now working on a birth plan and also a list of crap to bring to the hospital. It’s not like David can’t run home at certain points after the fun part is over, but we’re delivering at a hospital about 10 miles north of us, so it’s a bit of a haul (especially during rush hour).

Today I’m managing to get a massage and David is taking me to the Alamo Drafthouse for dinner and a movie. On the less glamorous side, I’m also going to the dentist and waiting around the house for pest control. Still, not a bad day. Also, yoga.

Room Update

So the room is progressing. A few weeks ago David and his father started on the painting. The wall color is a lavender-tinged grey; neutral, but a little girly. The carpet is made of tiles from Flor. They’re great because you can mix them up, switch them out, and replace them piece by piece if they’re damaged. If you have a bad spill you just pull up the offending tile, wash it, let it dry, and lay it back down. The only issue is if you’re doing wall to wall carpet and you have an irregularly shaped room, you have to do some interesting cutting to make everything fit. And if your husband and father in law are engineers, this becomes a task of epic proportions:

Look closely and you'll see all sorts of measuring devices, graph paper, and much seriousness.

You will never see a puzzle that fits together better than the irregular tiles in this carpet.

Anyway, it looks great in the room:

This is as close as I could get to true color, but it's still a little off.

The inset carpet matches the walls pretty closely. The outer layer is dark gray (we used a really cool post-consumer tile called Fedora that we also use in the  rest of the house), the inner border is a plummy purple, and the center is a gray-lavender. It’s really cool. Now we start layering in the furniture, some of which we’ve painted complimentary colors. Then the fun decorating!

My 29 week appointment went just fine. All systems seem to continue to be normal. I’m back in three weeks, and then down to two, and then every week until TMQ makes her appearance. I can’t believe how fast it’s going now! I thought the first trimester would last FOREVER. But boy does it pick up speed towards the end.

I still haven’t totally shaken the round ligament pain and I’ve got a little mid back strain, but it’s all pretty tolerable. Starting to get some heartburn which is ick. Tums is my new friend. One of my regular yoga teachers is on vacation this week, so I guess I’m going to have to venture out and try some new ones.

Our main holiday activity is going to see movies at the Alamo, an activity that will be seriously curtailed after the baby gets here. We saw Avatar last night which was pretty cool. Very imaginative, great use of CGI, but rather clunky in the Good vs. Evil department. Still, it’s so nice to just chill out and eat dinner and watch a movie. I also finally tried Gourdoughs, which may signal the end of my relatively healthy eating habits. We had this amazing, fresh fried huge doughnut covered in caramelized bananas and brown sugar.  I’m already craving another one. But hey, at least I had milk with it…