Friday, November 27, 2009

Cat's in the Cradle

I have a confession to make. I rode in the back seat with the baby on the way home from the hospital. And on our first two trips to the pediatrician. It’s just that she’s so little back there alone—and I’m still not entirely used to her being outside of me. I swear the situation is temporary. I swear I’m not on the verge of becoming a Mennonite. I love dancing—and swearing—far too much.

On a related note, I swear the baby will not always sleep in the bed with us. WE ARE NOT ATTACHMENT-PARENTING PARENTS! As soon as she can learn to actually stay asleep when not in contact with another human, she will sleep in her little co-sleeper and then graduate to her crib. I cannot wait to snuggle with my husband at night again and, before too long, do OTHER THINGS with him, too.

So, a message to the cat: go ahead and keep enjoying the co-sleeper for now—but don’t get too used to it. And if you could wash the sheet when you’re done, that would be lovely.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Another Kind of Normal —or— Why Western Medicine Rocks My World

Dr. Husband and the baby and I are home from the hospital now, and it turns out that being the mom of a newborn is a hell of a lot more fun than being the mom of a not-yet-born—and I haven’t even taken any of the Percocet yet! Yes, yes, it’s mesmerizingly lovely to gaze into the rich, Seattle blue-grey eyes of my sometimes-gorgeous baby, but equally lovely is witnessing the varicose veins rapidly disappear from my southern regions. It turns out that enduring such pleasantries for two months is good conditioning for enduring the after-effects of a vaginal delivery.

Speaking of which, giving birth to my baby was truly one of the best experiences of my life—just like the “normal” and “natural” childbirth advocates of the world—and all those dreadful pregnancy books—promise. I was, as you may recall, terrified of the whole hospital aspect of childbirth: all those needles and tubes being inserted into places formerly unvisited by foreign objects, all those chemical smells and beeping monitors and florescent lighting. But I had the world’s greatest labor nurses and anesthesiologist and obstetrician, and in the end, I slept through most of my labor.

Have I mentioned how much I love epidurals?

And how much I love Metoclopramide, which failed to stop me from throwing up (but, hey, my first 20 weeks of pregnancy more than prepared me for that!) but succeeded in knocking me out for two hours during which my cervix dilated seven whole centimeters. And for those pregnant ladies out there wedded to a “normal” “natural” childbirth: Do you have any idea how much it would have hurt to have your cervix dilate SEVEN centimeters in two hours? How abnormally, unnaturally excruciating it would be?*

I myself was lucky enough to have the world’s greatest epidural. I didn’t feel a thing—just a light, painless pressure as I pushed for 40 minutes and my baby slid out of my body and into the world. My hefty baby girl with whom I fell instantly and completely in love.

The entire experience was just as glorious as my Lamaze coach promised—but without any pain.

And I hate to gloat (but that won't stop me!)—I didn’t even break a sweat.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go take some more Advil and apply a new Tucks to my tender (but proud!) nether-regions. Because even the world's best epidural has to wear off sometime.

*Okay, fine, my cervix may well not have dilated that fast without the Pitocin coursing through my system, but whatever. I just had a baby. Cut me some slack.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

In a Name

So, I have a new theory on why I kept gravitating to girlish boy’s names throughout my pregnancy—Robin, Avery, Wesley, anyone? I now think it’s not because I harbor a secret wish to have a sissy for a son (it’s actually not a secret!) but because the human being displacing my intestines for nine-and-a-third months was a girl. Is a girl.

Yes, after nine months and ten days I am the mom of a baby girl.

A girl!

An eight pound 11 ounce baby of the female persuasion, born around 8pm last night. (Which, by the way, makes my O.B. psychic in addition to being a gifted suturer.)

This makes me inordinately happy, as the chances of a girl child liking to spend her afternoon quietly making necklaces or potholders with me in my art studio/office are, while not 100%, still far greater than if said child were a boy. Particularly a boy named Conrad or Conan or Thor. (Okay, I made that last one up.) Robin, Avery, and Wesley clearly would have been the sort of boys who love making potholders and necklaces with their mama, but if not one of them preferred basketball to basketweaving, their daddy’s heart would have been broken. And if I had endured three vomiting- and varicose-vein producing pregnancies and not produced a single girl, my heart would have been a little broken—along with my vagina. Because no matter how sweet Robin, Avery, and Wesley would have been, bringing me mugs of hot tea and a hand-embroidered hanky whenever I wept, it’s not quite the same thing as having a little girl.

Even if she turns out to be a basketball-loving, craft-hating, rambunctious little tomboy. No matter what kind of person she turns out to be, my baby is a dreamy dream come true.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Induction Day

I’m trying to relax and just enjoy the day before my 7pm hospital check-in time, but there’s a dude power-washing our deck and sidewalk, as per our September request so that nobody would slip on the moss and algae this fall or winter, especially while carrying the baby. It’s nice that one more thing is getting checked off the list, but damn is that noise irritating. At this rate, the hospital will actually seem relaxing. As will that blessed epidural.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday the Thirteenth

One week overdue. One day past the “most likely to give birth sometime in this range” window articulated by my obstetrician weeks ago.

I myself was born five days late—as my mom keeps reminding me—so it feels semi-fair in a cosmic sense that my baby would be five days late. But six?! And, at the rate this day is passing by with nary a uterine twinge, it will soon be seven. Seven! Days! Late! At least!

My mom was supposed to come for a five-day visit tomorrow, but when I told her there might not be a baby by the time her return flight left on Tuesday morning she said, “Well, I certainly don’t want to do that,” thereby shattering my illusion that while she was coming in part to meet the baby, she was mostly coming to entertain me and make me soup.

Apparently once this baby arrives I’m going to have to make my own damn soup.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

When Life Imitates TV

Dr. Husband and I finally got around to watching the Happiest Baby on the Block video, at the urging of every person with children we’ve ever met. Which leads me to wonder, if every parent in America is following Dr. Karp’s famed baby-calming techniques, then every baby in America is the happiest baby on their block, and how is that possible? I mean, statistically speaking?

We’d been putting off watching partly because the prospect of watching a bunch babies scream seemed like an aggravating—and overly foreshadowy—way to spend an evening and partly because I’d read on the back of the box that the DVD was 128 minutes long. Two hours of screaming babies getting swaddled and shushed and held on their side and swung and given pacifiers to suck on? Thankfully it was some kind of typo—or maybe there are some really long bonus features on the DVD or something because the main feature was more like 28 minutes long—long enough to make us feel like we have a fighting chance at successful swaddling and not so long that we were driven to drink. (Well, at least not more than a few sips.)

As regards the swaddling, Dr. Husband said, “They really do become burritos, don’t they?”

Yes, they do. So much so that when I was standing in line today at a Mexican fast-food chain watching the employees make other peoples’ lunches as I waited to order mine, I kept thinking, “Wow, those burritos are like little swaddled babies, aren’t they?”

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Talk to the Cervix

So the baby scooted down another centimeter in the past week, which is all lovely and good, progress-wise (it’s less lovely and good bladder-wise and varicose-vein-wise), but since I’m not at all dilated or effaced or any of those other labor-related delights, the baby has nowhere to go. Apparently my cervix needs to “ripen,” which makes me think I need to put it in a paper lunch sack with a banana to speed up the process.

I worried out loud that maybe my cervix is, as the books say, “incompetent”—a phrase I remembered only for its supreme offensiveness, not so much for its meaning.

“Uh, that means that your cervix can’t hold the baby in,” Dr. Husband explained. “Not that it’s holding the baby in too well.”

My cervix, it would seem, is hyper-competent.

I told Dr. Husband that we need to stop harassing the baby to come out because the wee one is doing its part. “If you have any requests or complaints,” I told him, “address them to the cervix.”

Dr. Husband protested that talking to my cervix is not nearly as much fun as talking to the baby, but I was all, “How do you know? Have you ever talked to a cervix before?”

Happily, the answer to that was No.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Deadlines, Revisited

Okay, Baby No-Name. You have a deadline now: 7pm, Tuesday, November 16th. If you aren’t out by then, they'll give me some drugs to start getting you out. A week ago this date seemed impossibly far away, but now it's a huge relief to know the pregnancy won't be infinite.

If you’re at all like your dad or me, having this deadline will be very motivating—maybe downright inspiring.

And, just so you know, your dad and I often finish things early... and it would be okay with us both if you did, too.

Oh. My. God.

Well… my due date has come and gone, and here I am: still pregnant. Dr. Husband did his best to keep my spirits up throughout the weekend—cooking me lots of meals, taking me out to a movie, joining me on walks, bringing me flowers from the grocery store—but none of this did much to lessen my crankiness.

Like so many aspects of pregnancy, this last, insomnia-laden, too-huge-to-move stage was so oppressive at first that all I could think was, “I’m not going to make it.” This was my thought when I was massively nauseous and barfing all the time and when my indigestion kicked in in earnest and when I got varicose veins in intimate places and when I injured my knees falling on the gravel driveway and when it became clear I’d never be able to wear an attractive bra again.

But somehow, against all odds, I did make it through the nausea and the barfing and am still making it through the indigestion, the varicose veins, the knee injury, and the unattractive bra-wearing—and chances are I’ll make it though this last stage, too—I just wish with every sore, achy, tired muscle in my body that this stage would end already. Because a life spent lounging about in yoga pants, propped up by pillows on the couch, more or less immobile is not the life for me. At the very least I’d like to be wearing jeans.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Seattle Nice

It’s no secret that Seattleites are, as a whole, a passive-aggressive people. We give panhandlers money and then get offended if they don’t smile or say “Thank you.” Or, if we’re a panhandler, we carry a sign that says, “What if I starved tomorrow—would you care?” We are too wary of conflict to confront people directly but too petty and self-righteous to just let stuff go—which leads to the leaving of lots of notes, mostly under peoples’ windshield wipers, often sealed in a Ziploc baggy to protect the seethingly polite contents from the rain.

I have received windshield notes from neighbors asking me not to park on the strip of public street in front of their house, notes from fellow drivers asking me not to parallel park my “fancy German car” so close to theirs, and notes from garbage collectors asking me not to park my own car on my own street on trash day. As a joke, I once left a note on a friend’s car when I saw that she’d parked behind me, exhorting her to check the city statutes on the minimum distance allowable between two parked cars. To make it totally over the top I included a legend indicating the length of one inch [__________] for her reference. She had no idea it was a prank until I confessed, so similar was my note to ones she’d received in the past.

The approach is annoying and lame—and a hell of a lot easier than actually talking to people directly about something that’s bothering you. And so it was that I came to park in the truck of the construction dude who’s been working on the next-door neighbor’s house since mid-summer. For months now the dude and his helpers have been leaving their trucks in the alley, thereby parking in me and Dr. Husband. When we want to leave the house via automobile, we have to go next door and coax someone down off a ladder or off the roof to come move the truck out of our way. This is obviously exasperating, but we’ve tried to be patient. We’ve tried to be reasonable. We’ve tried to be accommodating—and this, of course, is how passive-aggressive behavior is born. Did we flat out tell them not to park us in? Did we talk to the owners of the house and ask them to ask their workers to park on the street instead of the alley?

Um. No. Each time the workers moved the truck and apologized for blocking us in, we would say something along the lines of, “That’s okay.”

Until today.

I’d been out doing errands and when I returned discovered the truck blocking the path to our garage. It was raining out. I had two bags of groceries in tow. I’m 39-weeks-and-six-days pregnant.

I very quietly snapped and decided to just park them in. Fuck it. If they wanted to leave, they knew where to find me.

Sure enough, an hour or so later the contractor knocked in the door, all hangdog and contrite. “I’m so sorry,” he said. I managed to keep myself from saying, “That’s okay,” and instead came up with, “It’s just that my due date is tomorrow—”

“And the last thing you need is the fucking contractor blocking you in!” the contractor finished for me.

“Well, yeah,” I agreed, not quite being able to make eye contact with him as I lumbered towards the car to move it for him.

“You’re pregnant! You get to say whatever you want!” he pointed out. “You should have told us to fuck off a while ago!”

“I’m working on it,” I muttered.

He repeated his apology and promised it wouldn’t happen again.

And that, my friends, is how it’s done here in Seattle.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Sew What?

What’s wrong with me? Every time I’ve set out recently to purchase any flat, textile-based item (i.e. table runners for the wedding or curtains for the baby’s room), I’ve come home not with the item in question but with a vast swath of fabric and a nagging feeling of resentment towards myself. Because, the thing is, I don’t like sewing. I like things to be pretty, and I like things to be homemade, and I like making things, and I like having made something, and I like being surrounded by things I’ve made. I also like fabrics and textures and colors and patterns and often get turned-on just by being in a fabric store—even a giant chain with dirty linoleum floors and harsh fluorescent lighting. You might think that all this, combined with the fact that I’ve been sewing various projects since I was in junior high would add up to “this woman likes to sew”—but you would be wrong. Very, very wrong.

I hate to sew.

I also hate to knit and, to a large extent, I hate stringing tiny beads onto wire, even though I’ve made most of my own jewelry and a significant number of wooly scarves.

Something about these endeavors leave me feeling like Beth March in Little Women—cooped up and sickly and destined to die a virgin.

So why is it that I, 39-weeks-and-five-and-a-half days pregnant woman, came home from Ikea this afternoon not with a pair of curtains for the guest bedroom but with a piece of fabric—a piece of fabric that will require washing and ironing and cutting and measuring and more ironing and sewing and, gah, my head hurts just thinking about it.

One answer—the one I gave my husband—is that the curtain options were all ugly and not as inexpensive as I’d hoped and would have required hemming anyway whereas the fabrics were interesting and vibrant and downright hip—not to mention less than ten dollars.

But the real answer, clearly, is that I’m a masochist. And a slave to aesthetics. I’m all, I’ll be damned if the tables at our wedding reception are decorated with shiny, tasseled crap made in China. And, For the love of all that is holy, I will not purchase one more pale green or yellow item for my gender-not-yet-determined baby’s room. And today, Oooh! Lookit that pretty, pretty fabric! Must have!

So I’m sitting here hoping I’ll go into labor right now not just because I’m tired of not being able to properly digest food or walk up the stairs without getting lightheaded or see my own private bits without the assistance of a mirror but because going into labor right now would be just the excuse I need to not have to sew those motherfucking curtains.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

No Babies Here

What more is there to say?

I mean, other than #$% $*#^# *$!&*!!!

And: fuck patience.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Deadlines

I just returned from the obstetrician who, upon walking into the exam room cheerfully announced, “Any time between now and November 17th!”

November 17th? Is she out of her fucking mind? I will have to be hospitalized for hysteria loooong before November 17th. Fifteen days from now? And where did she even come up with that number? Take your due date, add the age of your husband’s half brother, subtract the age of a child of a friend born in November and voila!?

Pregnant women absolutely, positively should not be given due dates. I’ll take a window—even a large, gaping, leaky, poorly insulated five-week-long window—any day over a date that everyone and their mother will inquire about even though I’ll have only a 5% chance of delivering on that date. Throughout my entire 20-year career as a student, I only asked for an extension on an assignment once. To me, a due date is a due date. If I haven’t had this baby by November 7th, it will feel late to me, even if statistics indicate I’m more likely to deliver after the 7th than before.

In fact, I’m so prepared for this particular assignment that I would like to turn it in early. I would like to stop fretting about the margins and spacing and alignment and the title and the contents and just be done already.

November 17th, my (slowly but surely widening) ass.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Things They Don’t Tell You About Pregnancy #101,482

Your friends, colleagues, family, and neighbors will feel inexplicably free to say rude things about your body—things they would never say to you if you were, oh, fat rather than pregnant, and you’re not supposed to get upset or offended. In fact, it seems you are supposed to reassure them in some way. Some examples:

“Oh my god! Do you ever just feel fat?”

“Oh my god! You’re still pregnant? When I saw you two months ago I didn’t think you could get any bigger!”

“Oh my god! You look like you need to be popped!”

“You remind me of my mother these days.”*

And my favorite: “Oh my god! You’re enormous! Are you sure there’s only one in there? Not, like, a whole litter of puppies?”

Puppies. Seriously. What the fuck?

*Said to me by my father, not my husband—which would have been much worse, Freudian-wise.