Friday, February 27, 2009

Try not to breathe

It's early in the morning and I've given up on going back to sleep. But I can't really complain much about this stage of pregnancy because I'm well aware of how good I have it compared to so many other ladies. This whole pregnancy has been so easy in fact, that I worry there will be a price to pay once North is here. I'm half expecting the doctors to hand me the most colicky baby in the world while muttering, "time to pay the piper." But fear not! I've read and watched "The Happiest Baby on the Block" so I'm somewhat familiar with the five soothing techniques described in it. Every now and then I like to test Dave on his knowledge of the five "S" techniques explained in the book and like a soldier, he quickly barks, "shushing, swaddling, side-position, ...sauerkraut! and... supercalifragilisticexpialidocious sir!"

A friend of mine also recommended the "Mayo Clinic Complete Book of Pregnancy and Baby's First Year" (I bought mine used on Amazon for $0.01 and mainly just had to pay shipping to get it here. When it arrived, the book had a sticker on the front that says "Compliments of Your State Farm Agent" which leads me to believe that our State Farm agent is hoarding all of his copies since he didn't provide us with one. Bad agent bad.) So lately I've been reading all about labor and delivery since I was too cheap to actually sign us up for a class. Not taking a class probably sounds bad I'm sure, but I can do a lot with that $80 saved! The way I look at it, this book cost me all of $5 to learn the material myself with a little bit of discipline. So far, I'm loving the ritual of reading it and I'm surprised at what an emotional experience it has been.

I'm sure it's just a coincidence, but the last three nights while i read about labor, North was moving furniture around in my womb. I'm guessing he is in the process of packing up his belongings for his big trip. But I think the book is helping him to prepare for what he needs to do as well. I can handle the direction and explanation of what my body should be doing during each of the stages of pregnancy---in fact, I enjoy the vivid description of my cervix being a turtleneck that slowly draws the baby's head out. While learning about breathing patterns and relaxation techniques, I find my body involuntary trying them out and getting comfortable with them. So maybe the baby can feel me practicing and knows it's time to jump ship soon.

But when i read about the tips for the labor companion, I tear up. Somehow reading through the preparatory information meant for Dave conjures up visions of what labor will really be like. It's like catching a glipse of the movie we're going to see in a few weeks. As soon as the book brought my labor companion into the picture, it all became real to me. Kind of funny, but when I think about it in terms of me, it's too abstract for me to feel anything and a stoic wave washes over me. But when I look at the experience through Dave's eyes, I can start to wrap my head around what the future holds. I don't even know if that makes sense to anyone but me. Maybe I shouldn't write blog posts early in the morning when I can't sleep.

But this tip in particular got me all choked up:

-Breathe with her, maintaining eye contact.

There's just no escaping that sentence! It's looking right at you, refusing to break eye contact and it's matching your breathing patterns! That sentence can see you seeing me seeing you and it makes me realize that no matter what, everything is going to be just fine. That's why it makes me cry.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

He ain't heavy...

Our little man is still measuring small, but there is nothing to be alarmed about. I repeat, do not be alarmed! His growth is still progressing, he's just not a ginormous kid (hi God, I owe you). At this point, the measurement of my abdomen should correspond to the number of weeks I am. So in theory at 34 weeks, I should measure 34 cm. But yesterday I measured 32 cm at 34 weeks (a couple weeks ago, I was measuring 29 cm though, so there is growth.) They gave us an ultrasound and did a biophysical profile and all North's stats look good. He's about 4 lbs. 8 oz currently and he has hair (hairdo currently undetermined). They roughly put him in the 25 percentile, so nothing to worry about. Now I just need to make sure I have a good supply of small cloth diapers on hand for our teeny bummed boy.

So it looks like we've made it to 34 weeks according to yesterday's doctor visit. I was so confused after my visit a couple of weeks ago, that I didn't even want to say how far along I was or wasn't since my calculation versus the nurse's calculation was over a week off (and with her being a nurse, she kind of trumps me you know?) But it turns out, I was right all along---take that medical professional! So according to what the doctor told us yesterday, I've got about 40 days to go. If I had to put my emotions into two words, those words would be "holy poop."

There's nothing to get too worked up about though, we're as ready as we're going to be. Dave's parents came over a couple of weeks ago and helped us move our bedroom downstairs beside the nursery (thanks guys!). They also helped us set up an office/craft/play area in the old bedroom where we will spend most of our home work hours with the baby. And last weekend when my mom and step-dad were in town we used up most of the gift cards from our baby shower on an awesome sale that Babies-R-Us was having. This being our first child, it was nice having my mom there to help us figure out what we needed and what worked for her. So we're looking good in terms of having the basic supplies on hand.

In other preparation news, we've got a meeting set up with a pediatrician next week and I've also set up a tour of Rex Hospital, where we'll bring the little man into the world. I've even been keeping up on my reading to prepare for labor so I don't feel like such a dimwit walking into the hospital.

I had somewhat of a scary realization about not knowing squat about labor early Sunday morning around 2:30 AM. I woke up to horrible cramps and went upstairs so I didn't wake Dave or our guests. As I lay there in a cold sweat on the bathroom floor writhing in pain, it occurred to me that this could be labor. (A bit later, it became apparent that I had some sort of stomach bug that has been going around.) But my point is, I've never felt a contraction before and when I've spoken to women about labor pains in the past they almost always use the description of horrible cramps to explain the sensation.

That's when it occurred to me that my recent fantasies of giving birth naturally are probably not going to come to fruition. Not that I'm declaring any sort of birth plan either way. But if my little stomach bug is any indication of my threshold for pain, I will be demanding an epidural the moment I step foot in that hospital. As a matter of fact, I may even ask about epidural procedures during the hospital tour next week just so I am well-informed going into this. Do you have to ask for it a certain way? Is there a secret handshake or do you have to know a cryptic key phrase in order to earn one? Can I have one now to see if this will be the best decision for us? Can I have several? Inquiring minds want to know.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Warning: this post contains no segues

I've been avoiding my blog. I admit it. I apologize and all that, but it seems the world doesn't stop when I don't update here and that's good to know. As a matter of fact, the world seems to pick up the pace at a faster clip as I realize all that's happened since my last post. So let's just jump right in shall we?

All is well on the baby front. I had an appointment last week and everything seems to be progressing as expected. I'm measuring a bit small, 29 cm instead of 31 cm and the doc scheduled an ultrasound for me for next week. She didn't seem overly concerned about the small measurement and frankly, I'm not that surprised about it either. Compared to the other pregnant women I know, I don't look so obviously pregnant. I look more "Dayum! Does that girl have the biggest beer gut I've ever seen!" For real, my gut looks like your Uncle Lester's spare tire---except mine is solid and made of steel. If I didn't know any better, I would walk around asking perfect strangers to punch me in the belly just to prove to them how rock hard my baby gut is. But don't worry, I know that's not good for the baby. The doctor mentioned that to me when I dared him to pile 500 pounds of concrete blocks on my stomach and break them with a sledgehammer. Doctors man, not into double dog daring challenges as much as you'd think.

Meanwhile, little man is extremely active and I can feel him getting stronger. Every now and then when I get a kick, my body has a reflex jolt. I don't know what he's hitting in there. But as he gets more powerful, the sensations are getting more ticklish and more strange which causes me to yell out to him to stop. And that doesn't sound at all crazy. There is nothing weird about a woman clutching her belly as she demands it to stop tormenting her right? Oh to be a fly on the wall.

So our shiny brand spanking new metal roof is finally installed and it looks fantastic (now we want to paint the non-brick areas green to make the roof "pop" as designers like to annoyingly say). This roof will be good for the lifetime of the house and among other things is more energy efficient and will save us money on our utilities. Plus, it looks cool and stuff. The metal roof will also massage our feet and tell us we're pretty when we are feeling bloaty. This morning it rained for the first time since the roof was installed and it seems that two of our skylights now leak. Normally, I'm all about bringing the outside in design-wise, but this is a little extreme for my taste. So now I just hope the roofing company fixes the issue for us without charge. Either that or I will cry and let me just warn you that me crying plus snot equals not pretty.

I cannot think of a good segue here. Normally I don't talk about my job on my blog because I am not a stupidhead. But I am going to touch on a subject that has been causing me not to write for the last week.

First a bit of back story: my plan has always been to go back to work full time after my maternity leave. I had hoped and vocalized for years that I was interested in coming to the office for half of my work hours and telecommuting part time from home in the afternoons while caring for the baby. The plan was that Dave would keep the opposite schedule as me so that North would always be under the care of one of us and we could bypass the daycare route for awhile anyway. Dave and I are equal breadwinners in our household. So the idea of one of us quitting our job to raise the baby is simply not an option. Plus, neither of us wants to quit our job either, which is important to note. But daycare expenses in Raleigh are equal to a second mortgage, which can likewise take a toll on household expenses. Hence the solution I came up with years ago.

That has always been the rough plan and to be honest, if I didn't think it was attainable, I wouldn't have gotten pregnant in the first place. I don't believe in having babies if you cannot afford them (I'm talking to you octuplet mom). So it came as a massive blow to me when my employers didn't embrace my plan as I had hoped they would. They do not want me to work from home at all, but they are willing to give me a flexible schedule where I set my hours (and therefore a pay cut will be incurred if I choose a reduction of hours obviously). I just worry about what this will mean for our household because while this is what I'm facing, Dave is facing a slow down of work caused by the recession. So if I'm taking a paycut and his business is slow, I'm sure you can figure out the math here. Granted, I have the option to keep my schedule full time---it's just that I have to be in the office to work. Therefore, I have 3 options:

1) Keep working full time and either find daycare we cannot afford or ask Dave to become superman and raise our child and keep his business afloat while bringing peace to the Middle East. Did you catch the sarcasm of that last sentence? Yeah, this is not a viable option for us.

2) Work a cut back schedule, say 6AM to 12 PM and suffer the financial repercussions associated with it and hope to God benefits don't get cut too. I can try to supplement my income with the freedom that afternoon availability would bring (while watching the baby of course). Anybody looking for a snarky writer to contribute to your next project? Anybody? Crickets...

3) Suck it up and stop bitching about this on my blog when there are people losing their jobs left and right out there right now. Why am I whining about this when I HAVE a job. I know. I know.

Problem is I'm stubborn and I have a hard time dealing with it when people tell me what I can and cannot do. When someone tells me I will not have time to both care for my child and do my job, that sounds to me like a challenge to prove to them I CAN do it. You can be damn sure I know it will be a challenge, but if you don't think I'm up for that then you don't know me very well. Let's just say that I'm not giving up on this.

Wow, are you inspired yet?

In other news, I've signed us up for a CSA today, which I am greatly looking forward to. If you're not familiar with a CSA, it stands for Community Supported Agriculture. In a nutshell, you pick a CSA participating farmer and buy a share of his crops up front. Depending on your farmer, either you select your produce from his list or he picks from his seasonal crops and makes up a box for you to pick up at a scheduled time once a week. This will be the first time we've been a part of a CSA and we've decided just to buy an individual's share (works out to $8 per week for 12 weeks). With the baby coming and not knowing exactly how much food we'll get from the CSA, I don't want to stress out about food possibly going to waste. I look forward to letting everyone know how it goes and sharing some recipes this spring.

CSAs are a great way to support your local farmer and get the best selection of pesticide-free produce in one fell swoop. Now is the perfect time to sign up in your area if you're interested, here's a helpful link.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A time to nest

We're down to 60 days and all is well.  The novelty of pregnancy has officially worn off and yet I know I will miss being pregnant when little North arrives.  He's become my little buddy who's always with me wherever I go.  Even thinking about life without him living in my belly makes me sad and kind of lonely.  I have to admit though, there is something about being pregnant that is a little more "Aliens" than I expected.  

At first, the kicks and hiccups are the most adorable and amazing thing in the world.  Then the baby gets bigger and stronger and eventually those cute punches become painful and annoying. Plus, these punches and kicks come from within.  So there's a part of it that reminds me of being a little kid and my older brother chanting "don't punch yourself...why are you punching yourself?" while he overpowered my hands and made me repeatedly punch myself in the head. With these thoughts from my past, I envision my sweet baby inside me punching me in the butt and cracking himself up while he squeals, "don't punch yourself...why are you punching yourself in the butt mommy?"

Preparation is still underway in the Killer household.  Between taking breastfeeding and cloth diapering classes over the last few weeks, we're slowly educating ourselves on the important subjects of boobies and poopies. 

Meanwhile, my dear husband has taken to his own version of nesting. Two weeks ago, he ripped out the majority of the drywall to insulate what will be the master bedroom downstairs beside the nursery. Days before and armed with caulk and spray foam, he had been waging his own private war with the many drafts in our 1965 built house.  Of course, I poke fun at it now, but the truth is this project has needed to be done for some time.  And my nest builder has been working his tail off to make our house as warm and comfy as possible for his little boy.  Here's the progress so far: