Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Now, where'd I leave my brain?

It could be somewhere in the first trimester. Or maybe in the second trimester, where I left my coordination and balance?

I used to be a reasonably intelligent person. I could understand simple, and some complex, concepts. I could focus my attention and complete a task without blanking out and finding myself on the couch watching judge shows, not sure exactly how I got there. (But pretty happy about it nevertheless.)

The problem has continued to get worse throughout this pregnancy, and now I am held hostage to a full-blown case of Pregnancy Brain.

This is most obvious to me as I struggle to prepare Bean's layette. For those of you unfamiliar with this term, a layette is the collection of clothes and accessories for a newborn baby. Sounds relatively simple, right?

Not to me. I first realized my deficiency in understanding and securing a layette when we registered at BRU in the fall. DH and I wandered through the endless aisles of assorted tiny outfits. Newborn size, 0-3 month size, front snaps, side snaps, butt snaps, short-sleeved onesies, short-sleeved shirts, long-sleeved onesies, long-sleeved shirts... to get every combination would cost roughly $3,000. We started scanning what we thought was reasonable, but gave up in disgust and cheated our way to the end by simply scanning the page of suggested UPCs in the "registering shortcuts" guide from BRU. So now our layette resembles something that a monkey would select if he was let loose in the store after hours.

I was hoping that it would eventually become clear to me what this little guy needs in his layette. Unfortunately, it's only gotten more foggy with the deterioration of my thinking abilities. Yesterday I washed all the adorable clothes we were given at our baby shower. I can't wait to dress him up like a ducky, complete with tail and fuzzy slippers. But we are lacking those basic outfits for when he first comes home. A few of the questions I can't wrap my mind around:

- How many items should I purchase in newborn size? These are for babies 5 to 8 lbs. I was 8 lbs 4 oz at birth, and DH was 9 lbs 3 oz. Since I'm anticipating a chunker with this kid, I don't want to waste money on clothes that only fit him in the womb.

- Related to this, how do I know what size baby clothes to bring the hospital when I deliver? He'll be getting his first picture taken, which will be posted on the hospital's web site of newborns. Seeing as our friends and family are all out of state and will only have pictures, his first impression here is especially important. I do have a yellow onesie that could work size-wise, but what if he's more of a manly baby and looks better in blue? Do I need more options?

- I read somewhere to get a variety of styles of onesies and t-shirts, as Bean will have his preferences. Is this really a common problem? The newborn gets angry about his clothing options? I wonder how many infants are diagnosed with colic, but really he just hates the side-snapping long-sleeved onesies that mom always puts him in.

- Do babies wear pants? Judging by the contents of Bean's closet so far, I don't think mine will.

- Many of his socks don't match any of the outfits. This isn't a question, I know, but I'm concerned that he'll get teased by the other kids in daycare. Maybe it'll be good if he's large.

So as of now, Bean is in some serious trouble with his layette. And if my brain power does not regenerate shortly after the birth, we're in for more trouble than we know.

A few other updates:

We had our day-long CPR course on Saturday. It was traumatizing, both for the stories of dead babies meant to drive home the importance of the maneuvers and the incredibly odd people in our class (25% of which failed the course altogether; and one of whom tried to trick me into giving her answers to the test). On Sunday we had our first birthing class. I was expecting some good blog material to come from the experience, but it was overall pretty uneventful. Fingers crossed for next week.

Yesterday I went to see the OB. All continues to look good, from the outside at least. I now start weekly appointments. It seems like there must be some mistake, as weekly appointments are for women who are near delivery.... crap, I guess that's me. We also scheduled my final ultrasound for next Thursday, so they can estimate his weight, give or take 4 lbs. The best news of all is that I had only gained 2 lbs since my last appointment 3 weeks ago. Yippee!! I was guessing more like 10 lbs from the looks of things. *cringe* So DH took me to Cold Stone for some ice cream to celebrate.

A lot of people ask me how I am liking Seattle at this point. I do want to come back to that topic, but as this post is already long enough, I'll just say that it's a really neat city, and other than the usual adjustments (they don't sell Count Chocula cereal here, do you believe that?), I'm enjoying the area.

UPDATE: I just got a call from the baby furniture store... IT HAS SHIPPED! The crib and dresser/changing table will be here early next week. Awwwww yeah.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

"Push it Real Good"

I need your help on one of the items on my to-do list. (No, it's not the one about covering the furniture in plastic wrap.) The pregnancy books suggest that I load my iPod with music to listen to in the delivery room. While I have trouble picturing myself rocking out during labor, I recognize my inexperience and am willing to try anything. Well, almost anything.

I opened my iTunes this morning and started listening to potential songs to include on Bean's mix. It quickly became clear that my emotions would render this task nearly impossible. A combination of hormones in flux and the thought of finally meeting our little man after 2 years (and 9 months) was too much. While there certainly is an emotional undertone to the song "Proud Mary," it was probably overreacting when I burst into tears as Tina Turner explained that she and Ike would do the first part of the song nice and easy.

So I added a poll to my blog, you'll see it in the right-hand column. Please vote on a theme and help me put together a mix for D-Day. You'll notice "Proud Mary" isn't on the list.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Birthday present

You've probably been wondering what to get me for my birthday, which is now 19 days away.

Well, wonder no longer.

It's the Chester Walk-in Bathtub.

I have become addicted to long showers to ease my aches and pains, and it's growing more and more difficult to navigate the bathtub/shower. This is the perfect solution -- just look at how happy and relaxed that old man is.

I just need to get permission from our landlord.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Baby got back

According to my weekly pregnancy email, Bean now weighs about 4 3/4 lbs and is almost 18 inches long. If he's born now at 34 weeks, he may or may not require a short NICU stay, but he will generally be as healthy as a full-termer.

So basically, he's huge.

Thus following, I'm huge.

Besides the generic update emails, one obvious way I know this is the mirror. They don't lie -- although in this case I think they should.

Another way is catching DH's expression when he looks at my belly. His eyes widen and he pales a bit. He's surely thinking how hot his wife is.

Sealing the deal was a sweet older lady working at a baby store we went to over the weekend. She clasped her hands together and commented, "Wow, you look like you could go any day!" "I hope not, I still have 6 weeks left," I responded with a smile. She looked doubtful. After she walked away, I turned to DH. "It must be this shirt, I think it makes me look bigger." He grinned and eyed my belly, "Yeah, that must be it." Damn.

So much to my horror and delight, this baby is quickly growing big and healthy, and inevitably, he will enter the world one way or another. I think he's already head down, based on the source of his hiccups (he does this about 40% of the day -- and night) and the location of his bum. We think we've found his hard little rump wiggling right up near my chest. I try not to imagine that he's mooning me.

Physically I'm still doing well overall, if more tired and more uncomfortable. Our bedroom is a mix of various stealth operations each night, with me trying to get into the bathroom every 2 hours without waking DH and our disgruntled pooch trying to sneak onto our bed, where she so rightfully deserves to sleep. Emotionally I feel like I am at the very top of a rollercoaster, sitting in the front seat as the car hangs in place, waiting for the tracks to release us so we can go screaming down the enormous hill at uncontrolled speeds. I'm at that place where I am looking around from above going, "What the hell did I get myself into?" Every aspect of this landscape is unfamiliar. Except one notable exception: I'm here with DH and Evey Louise. Give me the two of them and a giant bag of M&Ms, and I know everything's going to be fine.

I'll end by following up on my previous post, specifically the mention of poker night. I appreciate all the supportive comments on the blog and via email. I want to make sure I wasn't too harsh on the group, though. Sure, after Bean is born, I won't be asking the Size Zero Sista to hold him while I go to the bathroom. (Unless drool becomes the latest fashion accessory, at least. Could happen, there are tons of celebrity new mommies.) But there were plenty of other friendly, welcoming people at the party. One girl wondered if she could ask me some questions about what it's like to be pregnant. Absolutely! How much time you got? Another made a point of telling me how "fabulous" I looked. A third remarked that I was so skinny, and she hopes she carries all her baby weight in her tummy, too. Awww, go on... So while the integrity of these girls may be in question due to their dubious compliments, everyone knows a preggo doesn't want an honest assessment of her appearance anyway. Overall, not a bad night.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The longest month

I'd have to say that January is my least favorite month. The calendar says it lasts 31 days, but it feels to me more like 45. Or 46 even. It's such a cold, cloudy letdown after the holidays. Luckily it's followed immediately by February, the best month of the year, which brings my birthday (the 11th, you still have time to mail a gift) and Valentine's Day (I like it for the candy, okay?). I feel relieved to have made it halfway through January now, and I'm hoping the next two weeks don't drag on forever.

What we've been up to lately:

Last Friday we went to poker night, attended by about 16 of DH's coworkers and their significant others. They get together and do this every week; it was our first time joining the party. I am pretty shy around groups of new people, letting DH be our PR Director (we find that using executive titles helps bring clarity to our marriage). I knew it would be a long evening for me, with two bad signs right off the bat. First, the female guests arrived in ascending order of dress size. So for the first half hour, it was me in all my eighth-month-of-pregnancy glory and a handful of girls who were size zero. On a fat day. I don't think I could fit one of my arms in a leg of their pants. Second, before noticing there was a preggo in her midst, one of the Size Zero Sistas made a comment about how she couldn't understand why anyone would want a baby when they could be out having fun. She followed that brilliant bit of pondering with a joking observation that "there used to be a pregnant girl in the group, but we kicked her out." (They didn't really, of course; that girl and her husband moved out of state right before the baby came.) But ouch. The night improved from there, fortunately, and as everyone else got drunk, it was much easier for me to chat with people. On the down side, however, I discovered that I find poker incredibly boring and pointless. Good thing I'll soon be home covered in baby spit-up instead of out having fun with the tiny people.

On Sunday we saw the movie Juno with one of DH's coworkers and his wife. I recommend you go see it, if you haven't already. Taken on a surface level, the dialog is hilarious and the story is interesting. As a rule, I generally approach my books and movies on a surface level, hence a bookshelf full of fluffy romance novels and a DVD collection dominated by "Family Guy" episodes -- I do enough thinking in real life. (No comments here, please.) But with motherhood and fertility/infertility being the major themes of Juno, this movie did reach me deeper. Without giving away anything, the movie is about a 16-year-old girl who unintentionally gets pregnant and decides to allow an infertile couple to adopt the baby. During the movie, I was a bit nervous... there were several jokes made about infertility that can be hard to take if you've been there (references to the women being "baby obsessed" or "greedily collecting babies" via adoption). The rest of the audience laughed at these, which I do understand, and DH and I squeezed hands in sympathy. But near the end there is a beautiful scene that had me in tears (and crying the whole way home), and I decided I did like the movie. Although it oversimplified and glossed over many of the intense and conflicting emotions that would be involved in a situation like this, there is a wonderful message about what really makes you a mother. Hint: It's not a gigantic belly.

Coming up this month:
  • This Saturday evening, I'm going to a mom's night out dinner organized by a mom's group in the area. They seem nice (via email, at least), and it'll be good to meet them before Bean arrives. Plus I could use a few hours away from the dog.
  • We are taking an all-day first aid and infant/child CPR class with the Red Cross on the 26th. The brochure says you have to actually pass the class, it's not just informational... great, another test for me to fret about! Motherhood is already so much harder than I thought.
  • I broke down and agreed to do the childbirth class with DH. (The sweetheart did actually offer to go by himself because of my high anxiety level, but I thought he'd look pretty silly doing the breathing techniques alone.) It's four consecutive Sundays starting on the 27th.
Other items:

A couple of people have asked me recently how it's going working from home. There are upsides and there are downsides. For example. Upside: I get to use my own personal bathroom for my 1,427 visits each day. Downside: Toilet paper now rivals car payments as a major expense in our household budget. Upside: I get to wear DH's sweats all day, which is not only very comfortable, but the savings on maternity clothes helps offset the extra toilet paper. Downside: If I stood at the freeway exit, people would toss coins at me because of my resemblance to a homeless person. Poor DH... this probably explains why he's started working late.

Speaking of work, we've set my officially date for maternity leave. Barring an early entrance by Bean (he's 2 years late already, so I figure it's unlikely), my last day will be February 29. This is exciting because February is next month!! Sounds so close, doesn't it? It's a letdown though because it's only 3 days before my due date. When I tried to make an online ticker to count down, it was basically the same as my Bean Counter pregnancy ticker anyway. Lame.

Last segue to a work topic, I promise. So DH has this coworker who is a couple of years younger than us. She is extremely hip, apparently -- scoffing at DH when he mentioned we live in the 'burbs. ("Everyone under 30 should be living in Belltown in the city," she haughtily informed him. You know, I thought I noticed all of our neighbors looking at us funny.) Anyway, she is engaged to marry another hip 20-something who most certainly lives in Belltown too. Yesterday in the lunchroom, she asked DH if I make dinner for him every night. Somehow he kept from falling to the ground and laughing hysterically, or so he told me. (Smart move either way, buddy.) She said it's her intention to make her husband dinner every night once they get married. I know every couple distributes the household chores differently, but let's just say I feel vindicated now about living in the suburbs. I may not wear knee-high boots with tight leggings or rectangle-shaped black rimmed glasses, but I don't pressure myself into filling antiquated gender roles, either. Hubby is making enchilada bake for dinner tonight, and I can't wait!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Now that's a belly pic

By request, a current belly pic. 33 weeks. Moooooo.

DH and I are getting anxious to prepare the baby's room. Unfortunately for us, we still have another 2-3 weeks to wait for the furniture to arrive. Unfortunately for the dog, we have plenty of other baby items to "test out" while we wait, and she's just the right size...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Are you smarter than a.... ?

So I came across this web site call "The Blog Readability Test." You type in the web address of your blog, and it spits back the reading level of your posts (e.g. elementary school, college undergrad, etc). Here's mine:

cash advance

When this popped up, I was utterly horrified. I mean, as if I don't feel guilty enough for not using my undergraduate journalism degree in the professional realm... now it turns out my writing style is on par with the prepubescent crowd. I nearly ran upstairs in a fit of tears to take my diploma off the wall and delete my blog in shame. But suddenly in dawned on me. The standard in journalism is to write for an audience with a 7th grade reading level. And I totally nailed it. So mom and dad, it was in fact money well spent on that degree. Blog on.

Other random thoughts:

I read in my weekly pregnancy email from that my blood supply is 40% - 50% greater than when I first got pregnant. I find this incredibly disgusting. (I have a thing about blood, if you haven't gleaned that from my posts yet.) Anyway, this fact grosses me out to the point of distraction. It's really hard to type at this very moment, because I see the veins on the back of my hands and I think about all the extra blood pumping through them. I feel fragile now -- that if I move too quickly, my tiny, straining veins will become overwhelmed, exploding this extra blood everywhere. I think I need to stop reading those emails.

Pregnant or not, I have always had vivid dreams that I remember clearly upon waking. The dreams typically have one of two sources: a message from my subconscious, or something that I saw on television or read about that day. (I remember waking DH up one morning in horror, relating a nightmare I had about engaging in a slow-motion knife fight with Jennifer Love Hewitt. He informed me that I had just described a preview for "The Tuxedo" with Jackie Chan, which had played as I was falling asleep that night.) Anyway, I've been studying up on the labor/birth process before bed. As you can imagine from the paragraph above, this highly disturbs me. Between that and an unsuccessful attempt to use saline nasal spray for my cold (I need a new primary doc, that suggestion was entirely unacceptable), I was incredibly cross when I went to bed on Monday night. I have not had any notable dreams yet about the baby, and I was hoping that this heightened emotional state would prompt my subconscious to speak up, because I obviously have some things to work out. I ended up dreaming that talking tigers were in our garage trying to get me, and I stayed safe by climbing on the moving boxes still full of crap that we are storing in there. Eventually I escaped into the house and locked the door, with the lions promising to get me later. So I'm thinking it was either my mind processing that horrible story about the San Francisco zoo mauling or my subconscious giving me permission not to unpack those boxes. I'm open to interpretations.

Last weekend, we found out the hard way how long it takes for a dog to puke after you give her hydrogen peroxide. Our ever-enterprising pooch decided to jump onto the kitchen counter when we were upstairs and chow down on half of a dark chocolate candy bar. We caught her in the act, fortunately, and immediately called the emergency animal hospital. We followed their instructions, giving the dog 1 tsp of the peroxide so she'd throw up before digesting the chocolate poison. DH took her outside, hoping to reduce the amount of cleanup we'd have to do. (Eeeewwww! What a gross post this is turning out to be!) They were in the yard for 10 minutes when DH decided to come inside and ask me how long the vet said it would take for her to puke. The dog followed him in and answered the question... 10 minutes and 30 seconds.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

We're havin' a baby

I am beginning to realize something very significant.

I am going to have a baby.

Not in an abstract or distant way, as it has felt for the past 7 months. No, there is a very specific baby boy who spends a large portion of the day stretching my stomach in one direction or another.

Today, he is inside my body.

In two months, he will be on the outside.

And he will be totally dependent on me and DH. Only me and DH.

Holy crap.

I spent the first trimester in complete denial. I had the sense to physically take care of myself and Bean. But there was no connection in my mind, no emotion. I often used the phrase "if I'm pregnant" in my speech, to which DH would patiently (and later, less patiently) respond with "Honey, you are pregnant." Sure, whatever.

Pregnancy started to hit home in the second trimester, when I outgrew my denial as well as my pants. I finally admitted that indeed I was growing a little baby. Cool! Hooray! But although I accepted the pregnancy in general, there was still a huge gap between my easily manageable baby bump and the screaming infants with their harried moms in the grocery store. The idea of Bean's eventual birth was beyond my comprehension.

Now that my due date (March 3) is growing closer, a somber realization is setting in. I call it THE END OF LIFE AS WE KNOW IT. DH finds this a bit dramatic. I, however, feel it entirely fitting. After nearly 12 years of couplehood, approaching 6 years of fabulously selfish marital bliss, life is no longer about just the two of us. While I'm entirely convinced that motherhood is right for me, there will be a lot of changes, a lot of sacrifices. Our main discussion at dinner will not be about what movie we want to see in the theater that evening; it will instead focus on the contents of Bean's diaper that day. As excited as I am to meet our little man, the thought of turning our lives over to this unknown person is a bit daunting. How will he fit in with us? Or more accurately, how will we fit in with him? (He definitely has his own will, that's apparent even in utero.)

Regardless of the speed of my emotional processes on the subject, it is certainly time for us to start preparing the house and our lives for the baby's grand entrance. I've been working on a to-do list.

1. Clear social calendar for the next 15+ years. (Easy! Done!)
2. Cover the house with plastic wrap to protect from baby barf.
3. Buy cute little outfits. The baby probably needs some, too.
4. Teach the dog to change diapers.
5. Learn how to use new camcorder to capture exciting firsts (he cries! he sleeps! he poops!).
6. Create email list of everyone I've ever met to send daily video updates of aforementioned exciting firsts.
7. Stop swearing like a sailor.
8. Decide what Bean's going to be when he grows up; start selecting colleges.
9. Enjoy last moments of any personal time or quality time with DH.
10. Figure out what to do to care for a newborn.

Please let me know if you think I'm forgetting anything!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The most horrible, wonderful year

Now that 2007 is done, I feel I can safely do this: put my tongue between my lips and blow a gigantic raspberry in its direction. HA.

Okay, so 2007 wasn't all bad. I'm sunny in Seattle now, right? I would hate to sound ungrateful for its blessings. (And it was infinitely better than 2006, I won't even discuss that!) It's a year I would not want to do without, yet I would not want to do again.

The first six months were the most difficult of my life. Infertility treatment hell. I hope to get up the cojones to reflect more on that experience later, as it has profoundly and forever affected me. But perhaps foreseeing my unkind raspberry coming its way, 2007 decided to send me out with a nasty sinus cold thing. So instead of writing a tearful/joyous post on the ups and downs of infertility, I'm trying not to cough up a lung. Certainly a lame excuse, but I'm sticking to it for now. I will suggest, though, that you click over to the "Stirrup Queens" link over on the right side of this page (listed under favorite sites and blogs). Today the author posted her "Creme de la Creme 2007" list, which comprises heartfelt posts by various bloggers chronicling their journeys through infertility in the past year. Bring some tissues.

The latter half of 2007 was markedly different than the former, beginning on June 25 when two pink lines blazed on a home pregnancy test. I wish I could say it was all rainbows and butterflies after that, but not so. Those tiny pink lines do not banish infertility the way water does with wicked witches. On the contrary! The fear and doubt of infertility lurk during pregnancy, and from what I understand, often well beyond the birth of a miracle.

That being said, at this very moment, I look down and see my tummy rolling as Bean stretches his little body. All of the invasive, degrading tests and procedures in the past, I have been blessed with this moment with my son. For that, I am eternally grateful for 2007. It's what every infertile woman prays for at the beginning of a year, and I consider myself incredibly lucky for the privilege of being pregnant.

So I leave 2007 appreciative and happy for its gifts, if a bit tattered and a lot more worn. I anticipate that 2008 will be filled with its own challenges, scares, and fabulous amazement as we enter parenthood. I am relieved, though, that infertility will not be an active theme of this new year. I'm putting it in a box and pushing it to the very back of our storage closet for now. It will not nearly be forgotten, and it will stay fresh and potent until we are ready to try our luck again.

It's with mixed emotions (and a raspberry) that I end the chapter of 2007. And with tremulous excitement that I welcome 2008: Year of the Bean.