Friday, December 31, 2010

The Race is On!

For several months now, my friends have been placing bets about which would happen first: Kermit being born, or my PhD dissertation being finished. Time is obviously ticking down to Kermit's arrival (one week from now at the very latest!) so the question is: what is the state of the dissertation?

I am pleased to announce that I finished a full draft of the dissertation, except for some formatting tweaks and other minor changes of that sort, sometime in November. I eagerly sent it off to my three committee members for review. And then I waited. And waited. And waited. Total radio silence. Not even a short email acknowledging that anyone had received it.

So then I sent off a friendly reminder: "Did you see the 200 page document that I sent to you a few weeks back? Any idea when you might get around to reading it?" And then I waited. And waited. And waited. More silence. (Seriously, folks... nothing? Really?!?) I consulted with AdvisorB, who said that yes, he had seen both emails, and no, he hadn't looked at the dissertation yet, and yes, I should feel free to harass the other committee members to my heart's content. He even suggested that I threaten them a bit, though finding something good to threaten them with is tough, since I have exactly zero leverage in this situation.

AdvisorB's exact suggestion was that I send an email informing the other members that I would be in their offices on January 10 with the final form to sign, and if they had any reason that they couldn't sign it then, they needed to let me know now. I had to point out to him what a completely empty threat that was, because with a scheduled c-section on January 7, there was no way I was going to be in anybody's office on January 10. He then encouraged me to "play the baby card" and mention that fact to the other committee members, but I refuse to do that. (One committee member doesn't even know that I'm pregnant, and I seriously could not live with myself if I felt like I had only gotten my dissertation approved by my committee because they felt hijacked by my pregnancy.)

Meanwhile, AdvisorB promised that he himself was ready to sign it whenever, since he had already seen enough in previous versions and talks that he knew that he wouldn't have any problems with it. And I could feel free to mention to my other committee members that he had already approved it. One down, two to go!

So, I went with a milder, less-specific version of AdvisorB's suggestion. I emailed each of my other two committee members and told them that if they had significant changes in mind, they needed to let me know soon. Otherwise, I would be contacting them in mid-January and expecting signatures. If that would be a problem, they needed to speak up soon. It's kind of silly, because if they want to, they can completely ignore me and have zero consequences for doing so. But I sent the email anyway; I'd been waiting for more than a month at this point, and at the very least, I wanted to provoke some sort of response.

Committee member #3 wrote back very quickly, saying that he loved my dissertation, thought that it was an excellent piece of work, and was prepared to sign off on it whenever I wanted. Woo hoo! Two down, one to go!

Anyone who has been reading this blog should be realizing at this point who the one remaining committee member is. Yes, that's right, everybody's favorite: AdvisorA. I still haven't heard squat from her. And she's the only one who I can't harass in person, because she's 3000 miles away, and I'm not exactly hopping on an airplane anytime soon to go knock on her door. So, I'm still waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And getting even more pissed at AdvisorA, if that's even possible, for her complete neglect of the past two years.

Looks like Kermit is going to win the race....

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I had my 38 week appointment today, with the main goal of discovering whether Kermit had flipped to be head down during the past week. When we discovered last week that he was transverse breech, Dr. M had given me a home exercise to try, which he said was "occasionally" successful in turning babies into the proper position. The birth instructor that I had with LL had also given me some exercises. And in the comments on my last post, eulogos pointed me to this site with yet more exercises to try to get a late-term transverse baby to cooperate.

The exercises from these three sources were all different, but they amount to the same thing: get your butt higher than your head, then hang out like that for a while. Gravity will pull your uterus towards your throat, stretching the ligaments in order to widen the bottom of the uterus to make room for baby's head, and at the same time, gravity will also pull the baby up away from your pelvic bone, hopefully dislodging him enough so that when you stand upright again, he'll settle into a head down position.

Sounds great, right? A few minor problems. First, when your uterus is bulging with some 10 pounds or more of baby + placenta + amniotic fluid, it is supremely uncomfortable to hang out upside down. Those 10 pounds are more or less free-floating in your abdomen, so flipping over so that gravity pulls them towards your lungs and other organs makes you feel really ill. It's hard to breathe, too. And the blood rushing to your head doesn't help, especially if you're like me and you've been battling dizzy spells and light-headedness all pregnancy anyway. Also, once you're nine months pregnant, you're not exactly at your most nimble. Once you're done being upside down, it is nontrivial to get back up again.

But, I really wanted the baby to turn! So, I spent the last several days hanging out upside down like a bat. And apparently my efforts were successful, because as of today, Kermit is head-down. Woo hoo! I don't think that I actually felt the moment when he settled that way, but by last night, I was fairly certain that he had turned, so it was nice to confirm it this morning. Everything else at the appointment was also good -- blood pressure is low, urine is clear, I lost 2 pounds (!), heart rate is good, fluid levels still appear to be normal. And we got a really clear view of Kermit on the ultrasound, including a close-up of his hands, which appeared to be holding onto my uterus for dear life. He didn't look like he wanted to vacate anytime soon.

So... vertex baby: check! Next step: spontaneous labor. If all else fails, Kermit's eviction is in 10 short days. Everyone may now begin thinking happy labor thoughts for me!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Odds Are Definitely Against Us

We had a bit of a scare on Tuesday. The ultrasound on Monday was uneventful, but apparently that was only because the tech isn't allowed to tell us anything. We had a regular 37-week appointment on Tuesday morning, and that was when Dr. M went over the actual results, which weren't that great. The ultrasound had been ordered just to assess Kermit's approximate size (weight and head circumference) so that we would know how likely we would be to succeed at a VBAC. But since they were looking around anyway, they took a bunch of other measurements, too.

The alarming one was something that I would never have even thought to be concerned about: amniotic fluid levels. According to Monday's ultrasound, there was shockingly little fluid. A horrifyingly dangerous low amount. Really bad. Dr. M explained the situation very calmly, then said that he wanted to verify the measurement himself before we did anything else. So, he did his own ultrasound, and ... my levels were completely normal. Above average, actually. He checked and re-checked just to be sure. And the change was so dramatic, with less than 24 hours between ultrasounds, that Dr. M says it is impossible for the condition to have corrected itself, it had to have been an erroneous reading to begin with. Still, to be on the safe side, he ordered me to dramatically cut back on my activity level for the rest of the pregnancy. Not bed rest, but he wants me sitting with my feet up, conserving energy and drinking as much water as I can stand, the majority of the time.

Dr. M also had me come back for an NST Tuesday afternoon, to verify that Kermit was still doing well. And he passed with flying colors, which would be nearly impossible if the measurements from Monday were at all accurate. So we all got to take a big sigh of relief. (Though we're still going to keep an eye on it, just to be sure.) (It also gave me the confidence to ignore the "rest with your feet up" thing, and I spent today frantically cleaning the house, because damn there's a lot of stuff that I want to finish before Kermit arrives, and apparently I am running out of time.)

Once Dr. M became convinced that the technician in Monday's ultrasound had to have made a mistake, he looked around and verified everything else as well. Which brings us to bad news number two. I've spent the last eight months convinced that, to succeed with a VBAC, I "only" needed to worry about going into labor spontaneously, progressing normally, and keeping Kermit from getting too big. Those were the ducks that needed to be in order. Know what I didn't consider? He's breech. And not a simple foot-first breech, where we'd still be able to try a vaginal delivery. Nope, my kiddo is transverse breech -- he's completely sideways. Impossible to deliver a baby that way.

There is a procedure that some doctors do, where they push on your stomach to sort of massage the baby into the desired head-down position, but it's a bit risky (and also has a fairly low success rate). Dr. M said that he would be hesitant to try it in someone who has had a previous c-section, and he absolutely would not do it in someone who has had a low amniotic fluid scare. Put those things together, and it becomes way too risky for him to try to turn the baby manually.

LL was breech for much of my pregnancy with him, and we started to worry about it around 32 weeks. But he had turned head down by 34 weeks, so we were fine. You really want the baby to be in position by 35 or 36 weeks, because after that, they start getting cramped enough that they don't have room to flip around anymore, and by 37 weeks, they're usually "stuck" in whatever orientation they're in. And here I am, past 37 weeks, with a transverse baby. It's still possible that he'll find a way to turn on his own, but the odds are dropping each day, so we are likely looking at a repeat c-section regardless of whether everything else goes my way or not.

Dr. M told me that if I do go into labor, every single conversation I have with a medical person other than him needs to start with the first words out of my mouth being, "This is a VBAC attempt, and as of Tuesday, the baby was transverse breech." He kept repeating that I was not allowed to say anything else until I was sure that they understood both of those things, because that particular combination would change everything else that happened from the moment I call the hospital to say that I might be in labor. No messing around. Which is kind of scary.

So... right now I'm 37w3d pregnant. My amniotic fluid levels might be periodically suspiciously low. My baby is stuck in a transverse breech position. He is measuring a bit big for his gestational age. That VBAC is fading more into fantasyland every day.

Monday, December 20, 2010


- I am officially full term. Labor is theoretically imminent at any time now, but I'll believe it when I see it.

- Given LL's giant head when he was born, we had an ultrasound today to attempt to estimate Kermit's head size (and the rest of him, while we're at it) so that we have a little bit of information on what we're in for if we get the opportunity to try a VBAC. We'll get the final results at a regular prenatal appointment tomorrow, but early signs seem to show that he's big, but not Guinness Book of World Records big. So I guess that's something.

- It's a little hard to believe that he's so big, considering everyone I meet seems to agree that I'm not really showing. I'm 37 weeks along, which is 8.5 months. I'm measuring between 38 and 39 weeks, which is almost 9 months. Kermit is definitely measuring close to 39 weeks. And yet consensus from friends is that I look 5-6 months pregnant, tops. At a holiday party this weekend, when I told people that I had 3 weeks to go, everyone (and I do mean everyone) assumed I misspoke and corrected me with, "You mean 3 months, not 3 weeks." Nope, I really do mean 3 weeks.

- Here at 37 weeks, I have gained 16 pounds. Apparently, it's all baby.

- We should really pack our hospital bag. I keep having fits of contractions, and after each one, S panics a little and says, "We need to pack our bag!!!" Then we get distracted with other things.

- On the plus side, our house is finally coming together. The guest room is almost clean enough for someone to sleep in it, and the rest of the house is almost ready to be presented to guests. Almost. We made a lot of progress this weekend. My mom arrives on Friday.

- I'm sick. I managed to not get sick at all while pregnant with LL, and other than a small cold during my first trimester, I thought that I would escape this time, too. Guess not. So far it is very mild (wicked sore throat, slight cough, mild congestion, occasional headache). S and LL had this same thing a few weeks ago, so I do have some idea of how it is likely to progress. The good part: it doesn't really get any worse. The bad part: it lasts forever. They're both still coughing, after several weeks. Can I tell you how much I dread going through labor with a sore throat and cough?

- LL's new favorite snack: hot herbal tea. S had been making himself a lot of tea, to soothe his own sore throat, and LL was very curious. So, we made him weak tea, diluted it with cold water to cool it off, sweetened it with a bit of honey, and served it in a very grown up ceramic mug. He's totally enchanted by it. Every morning he asks for "hot tea! hot tea!" and then questions us extensively once we give it to him, to make sure that it's actually "warm, not hot!"

- We set up Kermit's bassinet in our room yesterday. LL is very intrigued.

- Any suggestions on how to keep a curious and persistent toddler from climbing into a bassinet?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Before LL was born, I remember hearing from lots of women that they felt guilty while pregnant with child #2 because they felt like they were ruining the life of child #1. I thought that was incredibly silly. Lots of children are able to survive the indignity of having a younger sibling. And as a younger sibling myself, I rolled my eyes at the thought that an older child was somehow entitled to even more time alone with his parents than he had already received, when the younger child was never going to get any years alone with Mom and Dad at all.

But now I'm biting my tongue, because yeah, I understand the feeling. LL's life will change dramatically when we bring Kermit home. Right now, our lives revolve around his schedule. Everything we do is tailored around making sure that he gets his nap on time, he eats at his accustomed times, and we're home for his bedtime. He thrives when we keep him on schedule, and melts down when the schedule gets too far off. (A little variation he can handle, for a few days, but after that he gets really cranky.) But schedules are impossible with newborns. I don't remember much from those early days, but I definitely remember the randomness of it all. And the afternoons of playing non-stop with LL, or making him the center of our morning routine as we all get ready for the day? Not going to be possible anymore.

So yes, I feel a bit guilty about how much LL is going to have to adapt, even while I also feel like he'll benefit a lot, in the long run, from having a sibling. I picture him crying for me and my being unable to respond because I'm dealing with a Kermit crisis and it breaks my heart. LL is so totally mommy-focused these days (from asking me to do everything for him, to being completely consumed with my welfare -- he helps me up from the couch, and brings me my slippers as soon as I get home from work -- it's very cute) that I really don't know how he is going to handle needing to share my attention.

But I also feel bad for Kermit. LL will have had a good two years alone with Mommy and Daddy. He got the instant responses when he needed something and full attention during play times. He had two parents putting him to bed almost every night, sharing bedtime stories and rocking him to sleep. Kermit is never going to get that much dedicated attention. Right from the very start, he's going to have to share us with LL, and wait his turn, and be patient sometimes. Which yes, is probably a healthier way to grow up, in the long run. But I'm a firm believer in spoiling babies a bit when they're very young and don't understand what's happening around them and are helpless to help themselves. And Kermit is just never going to get that kind of unconditional spoiling, even when he's very very little.

I'm sure all mothers expecting their second child have some of these feelings, but they're made worse right now by the fact that LL is just so darn mommy-focused. If I am at home, he wants me to do everything for him, and completely rejects S. Everything S tries to do for him is met with a plea of "Mama do it!" It's getting kind of ridiculous. I mean, the three of us are eating dinner, and LL wants more milk; S stands up to get it for him, and LL snatches the cup out of S's hands, saying, "No! Mama do it!" Then he sweetly hands the cup to me, saying "More milk, Mama?" And if I try to assure him that Daddy is an excellent milk-pourer, he cries. Not a manipulative cry... just a very sad, plaintive one. Breaks my heart.

Blame it on the pregnancy hormones, but I'm suddenly feeling very very guilty for the rough transition coming up for LL.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

One Month

It kind of snuck up on me a bit, but I'm suddenly feeling very pregnant. It's not like this feeling is unexpected -- I am 36 weeks along, one week away from officially full-term, less than a month away from meeting my little Kermit -- but still, it came up on me quite suddenly. I've been having plenty of aches and pains and awkwardness that goes along with the typical third trimester. But starting on Friday, everything kicked up a notch.

My Braxton-Hicks contractions are frequent and fairly intense. The pain in my hips has been joined by killer sciatica, making it difficult to stand, bend, or walk more than a few steps. I'm completely unable to move in bed. The moving in bed actually doesn't matter much, because I get intense pain in my legs whenever I'm horizontal for more than an hour, so I'm not really sleeping much in bed anyway. Kermit is suddenly taking up my entire abdomen; it definitely feels like he went through a huge growth spurt in the last week. And he is suddenly much stronger; when he stretches, I can see my belly move in response, in crazy ways. I'm constantly feeling off-balance. After 8 months of avoiding it, I suddenly have the typical pregnant woman crappy posture, where my back bows much more than it should, to compensate for the growing stomach. I waddle. And every single time I stand up, I get shooting pains through my cervix, which I can only hope is an indication that I'm starting to dilate?

In general, I feel awful. And yet, not ready to have this baby. I'll put up with it for a while longer, thank you very much, because my to-do list is still far too long to go into labor.

But, just in case Kermit decides to come a tad early, we're trying to get all of the essentials done as soon as possible. I've ordered all of the baby items that I didn't want to live without, and the last of them should arrive this week. We spent today frantically cleaning the house, because it seriously freaks me out to imagine tons of out-of-town family in our house in its current condition. And first thing tomorrow morning, we're packing our hospital bag, because I kind of feel like I'm playing a giant game of chicken by not getting that done. Also, the superstitious part of me hopes that the more prepared we are, the less likely Kermit is to arrive early, and I kind of want him to stay put until January.

LL, meanwhile, has started talking more about babies. He points to all the new stuff and explains that it is "baby's stuff." He gently rubs my tummy and whispers "baby...." (Lest we give him too much credit, he usually follows this up by pointing to his own tummy and saying the same thing, so his level of understanding is still very much up in the air.) And he has been insisting that we refer to him as a Big Boy, as he prepares to take on the role of Wise Older Brother.

One quick story. I was sitting in the glider in LL's room, rocking him in my lap. We were both fairly happy and comfy and sleepy. And suddenly Kermit, who has been getting remarkably strong and insistent in his movement lately, gave a swift kick to my stomach, which hit LL square in the back. LL turned around in my lap, perplexed, and stared at my stomach for a minute. Then he got a weird little look on his face, pointed to my belly, and whispered, "Mama! Jump! Jump!" So apparently the Kermit nickname was a good one.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Labor Anxiety

People have started asking me whether I'm nervous about labor and delivery, and I'll admit that I've been giving it a lot of thought lately. I'm actually not all that nervous about the actual labor and delivery part. I feel like I remember a fair amount about my labor with LL, and I don't feel like I'm being selective about what I remember. I remember some goods things (the anticipation; the growing excitement as things progressed; a sense of adrenalin-induced empowerment that I didn't really expect to feel once I started pushing; the incredible sound of his first cry) and of course, lots of things that were perhaps necessary but not what I would classify as "good" (frustration at the slow progression of early labor; annoyance that I couldn't walk around much; fear and disappointment when we found out that a c-section was necessary; and of course holy crap I remember a whole lot of pain). Overall, though, it wasn't a process that I dread going through a second time, though I am hoping for some fairly significant differences this time around.

During my pregnancy with LL, I spent much of my third trimester consumed with thoughts of labor. I'm not sure the right word to use. Not fear. Not dread. Anxiety? Let's just say that I was really really worried about it, because everyone seems to rank it as the most painful thing in the world and you don't know how long it's going to last and I had no idea what the pain was going to be like so my mind started inventing all sorts of crazy scenarios. This time? I'm honestly not all that worried about the actual labor and delivery. I'm bizarrely looking forward to it, actually, since I'm so excited to possibly do it without pitocin this time. And maybe even successfully deliver a baby without a c-section! This time around, rather than something to bring about anxiety, it just feels like a challenge. I can handle a challenge.

Having said that, there is something that I am feeling completely anxious and panicky about: how LL will handle my time in the hospital. I'm getting very freaked out about this. I have never spent a night away from LL, much less 3 or 4. LL has been put to bed by other people (grandparents, babysitters) but I have always been there when he wakes up in the morning. Things that are currently keeping me up at night:

1. Making sure that LL is taken care without too much panic if/when I go into labor. The possibility of going into labor during the holidays is making this particularly stressful. My mom has agreed to fly into town when I'm just short of 38 weeks, so that she can stay at our house and care for LL if I do go into labor, which is fantastic, but now I'm obsessing about what happens if I go into labor before she arrives. It's ridiculous because LL had to be induced at almost 42 weeks, and I'm suddenly worried about going into natural labor at 37 weeks, but still... I can't get it out of my head. We have a few friends lined up to possibly come to our house and stay with LL for a few days, but it would be very stressful for LL and that makes it very stressful for me.

2. If I do end up with a c-section, I'll need to be in the hospital for four days. That seems like a very long time to be away from LL. More and more, the main reason that I'm hoping for a VBAC is just so that I can get home sooner.

3. Another problem with a repeat c-section: when LL was born, I wasn't able to pick LL up out of his bassinet for at least a week, possibly two. I wasn't able to change his diaper for the first week, either. Every time I wanted to hold him, to feed him, to comfort him, someone had to pick him up and gently hand him to me. That was annoying but manageable, because S stayed with me in the hospital and did all of the baby-lifting for those first several days. This time around, we think that it would be easier on LL if S spent nights at home, so that he's around for LL's morning routine. But I don't know how I manage to care for Kermit overnight, including all those night feedings and diaper changes, if S isn't with me. As far as I can tell, my only option will be to let the nurses bring Kermit to the nursery after S leaves, but that kills breast feeding. So I'm kind of at a loss. If I have a c-section, it seems like S will have to stay at the hospital, and I worry about how LL will handle us both not being there in the morning.

4. I can't decide whether LL should visit me in the hospital or not. Does that make things easier or harder? On the one hand, I'm sure that he'll want to see me (and I'll want to see him!). On the other hand, what happens when he realizes that he needs to leave with Grandma and I'm not coming with him? Will that just make it harder?

5. Last week, I had an evening filled with lots of suddenly strong contractions. They eventually died down, and I was fairly certain the whole time that they were Braxton-Hicks and not the real thing. Nevertheless, they were shockingly strong and frequent, and I had to carefully breathe through them. I wasn't yelling or anything, but I was grimacing from the pain. And WOW, it freaked LL out. He kept coming over to pat my leg and talk to me and give me kisses, but mostly he just stared at me with a frightened look on his face. I kept reassuring him that Mommy was fine, everything was okay, but he was really very concerned. So now I'm worried about how he'll handle it when I'm in real labor but haven't left for the hospital yet. I guess from this perspective, it would be best if I went into labor in the middle of the night while he was sleeping, so that he wouldn't have to see me in pain, but I hate that then I won't be able to say goodbye to him before we leave.

So, yes, I'm worried about labor, but not for any of the reasons that I was worried the first time. And when I write them down, even these things seem very minor. Women manage to have babies without completely scarring and traumatizing their toddlers all the time. Things just work out. But I'm agonizing about it nonetheless.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Constraint Satisfaction

Several weeks ago, I wrote another in a series of agonizing posts
about trying to find a name for Kermit. At the time, we had it narrowed down to five possibilities, and I was desperate to narrow it down more than that, and soon. After much more deliberation with S, we decided to just pick the front runner and treat it like a done deal. Assume that's the name, start using it around the house, kick the tires a bit and see how it feels.

There's a certain relief that comes with feeling like a decision has been made, even if we can still change our minds many many times between now and Kermit's arrival. The name that we picked has grown on me more and more, and at this point, I'm fairly happy with it. S wants to kick it around a bit more before he declares it "the name," but says that if Kermit were born today, he'd be happy with it. For now, that's good enough for me. We probably have several more weeks to decide for sure anyway.

Two months ago, when we took LL for his two-year checkup, we informed our wonderful pediatrician, Dr. K, that she would soon be acquiring a new patient. She was very happy for us, and asked if she could help in any way. I was mostly joking, but I asked her if she'd heard any cool baby names recently that she thought we'd like. I figured, who better to have the pulse of local baby naming trends than a pediatrician with a growing practice? Her whole face lit up and she said, "Ooooh, I love helping with names! Any name requirements that I should know about?" We briefly outlined our constraints for her, and she said that she'd give it some thought and get back to us.

Fast forward to this morning, when I left a phone message for Dr. K about some minor tummy trouble that LL's been experiencing for the past week, just to make sure that we're "treating" it correctly at home. When she called me back, she said, "I'll talk to you about LL in a minute, but I've been meaning to call you about names! I've thought a lot about it, and I have the perfect name for you guys!" And then she said the exact name that S and I had already decided on.

After a short stunned silence, I just said, "You're kidding!" which she took to mean that I hated the name and was disappointed in her. She explained to me that she thought it was just so perfect, given our constraints, and it worked with LL's name, and she liked how it sounded with our last name. And she said that she normally puts together a list of 5-10 names for people, but with us, she hit on just this one name and thought that it worked so well that she just had to tell me.

And then I had to tell her that she was creeping me out, because that was the name that we had all but decided on. What are the odds that she'd pick the exact same one? (For the record, this is not a common name, or a trendy name; it's not like she picked the #1 most popular name, or #1 fastest growing name, or anything like that. It seems to me to be very random that we came up with the exact same name.) And she laughed, and then said very seriously that she is quite good at naming babies.

I've mentioned the name to a very small number of other people in the last few weeks, but I hardly expect people to really give an expectant mother an honest opinion on this sort of thing -- unless the person visibly cringes when you tell them, it's hard to judge whether they liked it or are just being polite. But getting the impartial out-of-the-blue recommendation from Dr. K feels like real third-party confirmation that this name works. Silly but true. And despite my contrarian reputation, that makes me like it even more.

I suppose it is possible that our constraints are very, um, constraining. But I do not believe that they are soooooo constraining that, given a list of every possible name in the world, they narrow the set down to a unique single possibility. But apparently they do. Who knew? And now we are officially barred from ever having another son, because there isn't a single name left that he could use. We've apparently already chosen the only name that works.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Parking Fiasco, Continued

I last reported (on Friday) that I had called the DMV to check on the status of my parking placard, so that I could park near my campus office for the remainder of my pregnancy, and they informed me that it would be another month at least before they would process the form. Horrible backlog, nothing they could do about it, not even in the system yet, blah blah blah. But they helpfully suggested that I could fill out a new form, get my doctor to sign it again, and take it to the DMV in person. But I would need an appointment at the DMV, and the next available appointment was (you guessed it) in a month. Fantastic.

Out of desperation, I made some more phone calls and discovered that I can bring the form to a DMV office without an appointment, if I'm willing to waste a day sitting around and waiting. Less than ideal, but at least I would get the placard this week, right?

I had a prenatal appointment on Monday (yesterday), so I got another copy of the DMV form and took it with me to get it signed by my doctor. But, um... did I mention that my doctor, Dr. M, is out on medical leave until mid-December? And I can't stand the doctor who is filling in for him? Dr. M was the one who originally convinced me to apply for the placard, but I spent much of my appointment on Monday trying to convince this new doctor to sign the form in his absence. He made me feel horrible for even asking. And then he filled it out wrong and I had to go back and ask him to fix it. Blech.

I then spent this morning sitting around the DMV waiting to get the form processed. Not like I had anything better to do.... But at long last, my number was called, fees were paid, and I walked out of there with the parking placard that I needed. Yay!!!! Happy ending, right?

The punch line of this whole story, though, is that the placard that I originally applied for by mail arrived at my house this afternoon, despite the assurances on Friday that it was nowhere close to being issued. The paperwork actually shows that by the time I talked to the DMV on Friday, the darn thing had already been issued and put in the mail, so I have no idea why they couldn't have just told me that over the phone. And the arguing with the sub doctor and the sitting around the DMV all morning were completely unnecessary.

On the plus side, now I have two placards. Yippee. Two hard-earned placards. Too bad it's illegal to sell one of them or something.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Time Off

I expected that interviewing for jobs while heavily pregnant would be an odd experience. Pregnancy is one of those protected classifications that isn't allowed to be factored into hiring decisions. I've been on the other side of interviews for several companies, and all of these companies had policies that prohibited us from discussing any of those protected classifications. You can't ask somebody about their family, or whether they're married or have kids, just like you can't ask them about their religion or comment on their gender. And if the job candidate volunteered some bit of information that we weren't supposed to discuss, we were instructed to ignore it and immediately change the subject.

Pregnancy is an odd case, though, because it does have a large (albeit short-term) impact on job performance, and it's such a giant obvious elephant in the room. The interviewer is looking at someone who quite clearly will need some extended time off from work in the near future, but isn't allowed to mention it. And the pregnant woman can't bring it up herself, because an ethical interviewer would stop her before she could say anything meaningful about it. Several people advised me that I should bring it up during my interview, so that I could reassure my potential future manager that I do plan to work after the baby is born, but I remember from my training that my potential future manager would then be put in the awkward situation of needing to stop me from talking about it. So I decided best not to bring it up, so that I wouldn't force him into a situation that he didn't want to be in.

Thus, while interviewing for jobs over the last several weeks, I expected to have lots of pseudo-conversations where people fished for information and I tried to reassure them without either of us saying anything explicit. Which is fine with me, even if it feels odd. You do what you have to do.

What I did not expect was that nobody would notice that I'm pregnant.

S thinks they noticed but didn't say anything. But in the last month, I've been interviewed by more than two dozen different people, and I can count on one hand the number of them that glanced knowingly at my stomach or gave some other indication that they figured it out. I simply don't believe that the rest of them are good enough actors to hide that they had noticed. On the other hand, I had variations on this conversation with more than half of the interviewers:

Interviewer: So, you're planning to graduate in January?
Me: Yes, that's right.
Interviewer: But you don't want to start working until June?
Me, looking pointedly down at my pregnant stomach: Um, yes, June.
Interviewer: Time off sounds like a great reward for finishing grad school! Are you planning to just relax? Travel? When I finished my PhD, I went to Paris.
Me, rubbing my stomach a bit: Um, no, no travel. I have, uh, family obligations to take care of.
Interviewer: Time with family can be fun, too! It's nice to be able to chill out like that for a while. Are you sure I can't get you some coffee?

Um. Really? You can't figure out on your own that I'm not flying to Europe in the near future? You can't fathom what I will be doing with my time off? I know that my field is known for a high level of socially clueless behavior, but still -- 7+ months pregnant!?! Open your eyes, people!

One interviewer (just one!) asked me more specifically what I was doing with my time off, and I mentioned that I was pregnant. And I only told her because I've known her for 10 years and I work with her husband and I was tired of playing games. And she acted startled and looked at my stomach and said, "Oh! Wow!" and was clearly surprised. (She then later asked me if I was finding it difficult to work out child care arrangements, which was her roundabout way of asking me if I was sure that I wanted to work after the baby was born. And I assured her that we had daycare all lined up, which was my roundabout way of saying yes, I'll definitely be going back to work.)

It was all very very odd. I'm still waiting to hear back about whether I get any job offers out of the experience, but I'm certainly glad that the interviewing is over for now! 33 weeks and counting....

Friday, November 19, 2010

Take a Hike

The downside of living off-campus while a grad student at a mostly residential university is the lack of convenient parking. I have a parking permit that gives me permission to park on campus, but it doesn't guarantee that I will be able to find a parking space. Pair that with an overall lack of parking near my building, and it means that I generally have to walk approximately one mile from my car to my office. I've been doing this for a long time now, and I usually don't mind it. The weather is usually good, and I don't have much time for real exercise, so a nice walk twice a day isn't such a bad thing. But throw in lugging a heavy laptop and a stack of papers while dealing with hip and back pain from a third trimester pregnancy, and things get a bit awkward. I've been having trouble making it all the way to my office. And I know that things are just going to get worse over the next 7 weeks.

I mentioned this to Dr. M several weeks back, and he encouraged me to apply for a temporary disability parking placard. Simple DMV form, Dr. M signs it, and just like that, I can park in one of the dozen handicap parking spots that are always completely empty right outside my office. Problem solved!

So I sent in the form to the DMV, and waited for my placard. My hips got worse, my back got worse, and still I waited. The DMV promised that they generally process these things within two weeks, but it has already been much longer than that. When I woke up this morning unable to walk from my bed to the bathroom without painfully hobbling, much less walk a mile to my office, I decided enough was enough. So I called the DMV to check on why it was taking so long.

Skipping right past the part where I was on hold for a full 30 minutes, I finally got someone at the DMV on the phone, and I explained the problem. It turns out that they're "a bit backlogged at the moment," so that instead of taking two weeks to process the placards, it's currently taking them 8-10 weeks. So far, my application hasn't even been entered into the system. Keep in mind that these are temporary placards, which means that they're only good for a few months -- how are they useful to anyone if it takes 2-3 months just to process the request?!? By the time it arrives, I'll have given birth, so this is no longer of any use to me at all.

The woman did point out that I could get a new form, get my doctor to sign it again (they don't accept photocopies -- it needs to be an original signature, and the original is lost in DMVland at the moment, so I need to get a new one), and then take it in person to the DMV, where they will issue the placard same-day. However, I absolutely need to have an appointment; they will not process these requests if you just walk in and wait. And the next appointment at a DMV office within a 50-mile radius of my house is December 20, more than a month away. Again, not helpful.

At this point, I'm actually calculating how much it will cost me to park illegally for the rest of my pregnancy and just pay the parking tickets. Think I can write off parking tickets as a medical expense?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Falling Behind

I am starting to truly feel beaten down by everyday life. I'm at a point where people ask me, "Hey, how's it going?" and I answer, "There's a lot going on, and I'm a bit tired, but things are good!" And then I start listing the things that are going on, and people start looking concerned. And asking me if I would like to sit down. And calling S to express concern. And gossiping to each other about how it's fairly remarkable that I'm still walking around. Um, yeah. Things are getting just a bit overwhelming.

I'm desperately trying to finish the full draft of my dissertation, which is getting harder as baby brain takes over and pregnancy carpel tunnel interferes more and more with typing. I'm desperately trying to figure out the job situation (I had one more grueling interview earlier this week, and it's likely going to be my last one before Kermit arrives, so I hope it was a good one!). We still haven't really purchased anything at all for Kermit, though I did sort and wash infant clothes last weekend, so we've moved from "completely unprepared" to "almost completely unprepared." Which I guess is progress? Our bedroom is going to be doubling as a nursery for the first few months, but we have done no work at all to make room for the things that need to be in there, much less purchasing or moving those things into place. My mom is going to be staying with us for several weeks, starting around Christmas, but it is currently impossible to even walk into our guest room, much less unfold the hide-a-bed or expect anyone to comfortably live there. It's completely uninhabitable. (As an example: the guest room doesn't even have a door. And the door to our guest bathroom doesn't latch properly. Nice, huh? We don't have overnight guests very often.)

I have an ever-growing list of things to do before Kermit arrives and none of them are getting done. My top priority right now has to be finishing the dissertation, because it has to be done before Kermit arrives, and preferably several weeks earlier. Number two is getting through the last of the job interviews and making a decision about a job for next year. But I'm reaching that point in pregnancy where I don't want to be doing any of those things anymore. I just want to be nesting and preparing for Kermit. But I haven't been allowing myself to do any of the baby prep things because I need to focus on the dissertation. And wow, nesting is one of those powerful hormonal deep-rooted instinct things, so suppressing it is making me fairly miserable.

To top it all off, LL is sensing that I have less energy these days and that I am trying to get S to do a bit more of LL's care. And LL is pushing back. Big time. For weeks now, LL has been insisting that I do everything for him. Every other sentence out of his mouth these days is, "No, Daddy! Mama do it!" S is not allowed to pour him milk. Or get him food. Or wipe his face. Or change his clothes. Or change his diaper. Or read him books. Or open his curtains. Or put on his jacket. Or pick out socks. (It's ridiculous -- S hands him a pair of socks; LL says, "No Daddy! Mama do it!" LL takes the socks back to his room and returns them to his drawer; LL runs to me, takes my hand, drags me to his room, opens his drawer, and points out the exact same socks that he just put back there, which I then hand back to him. What exactly has he accomplished other than tiring me out and making S feel unloved?) So even when S is home and theoretically helping to share childcare responsibilities with me, I am still doing all the work.

I'm exhausted. I'm restless. I'm having horrible dizzy spells several times a day. I'm unable to concentrate on the things that need my focus right now. I'm unable to take a break from the things that are tiring me out. And I'm 32+ weeks pregnant, rapidly running out of days to get things done. Anyone have any thoughts on how to slow down time?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Parlor Tricks

I know that I'm not the only one who enjoys teaching my young child totally useless and random things just because it's funny to watch him do it. LL has two new tricks, both of which were his idea. (As in, he started doing them, and yes, I then encouraged them. Because damn they're funny.)

1. He can dance and sing backup for Gladys Knight's Midnight Train to Georgia. Yep, he just joins right in with the Pips. The fact that they're most often singing train noises ("woo woo!") definitely helps. We thought this was just a passing fad, like (thankfully) his bizarre obsession with Ke$ha, and his addiction to the Beyonce / Lady Gaga song Telephone, but this one seems to be sticking around.

2. He knows a shocking number of football referee hand motions. He's been watching a lot of football with me each Sunday, but his interest reached a whole new level when he noticed a referee making the roll-your-hands motion for "false start." He thought it was awesome, and immediately showed me how he could imitate it. Since then, he has added the hand motions for holding, face mask, touchdown, fair catch, and first down. We're trying to teach him pass interference and intentional grounding next. S and I have been having fun calling these out to him in random order just to watch him do them all. Though I'm starting to think that he only likes football referees because they dress like zebras.

Either way, I figure this is all very useful knowledge, because already he has two excellent career options. Football referee, or Pip.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Names, Yet Again

We have a short list of 5 possible names for Kermit. I'm not completely thrilled with any of them, because they each have a problem relative to our list of naming requirements:

One isn't Jewish. (We might end up dropping this requirement out of desperation.)

One sounds too "cutesy" when said aloud with LL's name. (S thinks that I'm making too big a deal out of this one, but I picture myself introducing the two kids together, and I feel slightly embarrassed, because they feel so similar. Also, I'm afraid that the similarity will make people constantly mix them up.)

One is too popular. (I'm kind of shocked by how this name has shot up the charts.)

One sounds a little too sing-songy when paired with our last name. (I'm not positive though. It's kinda borderline to me. Maybe it's fine. If I had to pick a name today, by myself, this is one is probably the one that I'd pick, but I still need some convincing.)

One fits all of our requirements, but so far fails my test of still liking it after saying it aloud 8 million times in a row in an attempt to get said child to clean up his toys and get ready for bed. (Some people talk about the test of shouting a name out your door at the top of your lungs, to call a kid to dinner, but that's not my preferred test. I can yell any name two or three times. I much prefer the test of wandering around the house for an hour saying, "LL, time to clean up. LL, stop playing with the blocks. Come on, LL, it's time to go. Uh oh! Where's LL? There's LL! Come on, LL, let's go get into pajamas!" This is all about how the name feels in your mouth. LL's name works for me. The last name on our list, which fits all of our requirements on paper, fails this test miserably for me. But maybe I just need to give it more time.)

So... I don't know. We've been using all five names interchangeably for a little while now, to see if any one of them starts to stand out, but so far nothing. S says that he likes all five names equally, by which he seems to mean that he feels equally neutral about all of them. If he were picking one of them by himself right now, I think that he'd go with the only non-Hebrew name on the list, but that one is also a character in a television show that we watch, which bothers him a lot. It's entirely possible that we're both waiting for the other one to grow attached to one of the names and then convince the other that it really is the best name ever, but neither of us feels strongly enough to step up and do it. We're both such wimps.

We kept LL's name a secret from everyone except my brother, but this time around I'm thinking about sharing the options a little more widely just so that I can get some opinions. I don't want to post the list on-line, and I'm enough of a contrarian that I'm just as likely to be convinced by the opposite of what people recommend to me, but if anyone wants to provide input by email, let me know....

Friday, October 29, 2010


Um, I'm about to hit 30 weeks pregnant. 75% done. I'm not exactly sure where the time has gone. The first trimester was consumed by recovering from my car accident. Early second trimester was all about preparing for my dissertation defense. The rest of my second trimester was all about looking for a job. And now suddenly here I am in my third trimester, and I'm totally focused on finishing my dissertation (and still looking for a job). But you know what I haven't done at all? Prepare for the arrival of a baby. Oops.

Total purchases for Kermit thus far: 3 onesies and a teddy bear wearing an outfit from my university. That's it. We've started working a bit on a name, which has so far resulted in a short list of 6 names, all of which feel rather "blah" to both me and S. No real standouts in the entire list. We have a sketch of a plan for what to do with LL if/when I go into labor, but we haven't actually discussed it with the people who we would like to have help us out. We procrastinated so much on signing up for a refresher birthing class that all of the classes are now full, so no class for us. (I did manage to get us into a refresher breast feeding class, since I don't really remember those early breast feeding days very well except to remember being very very frustrated a lot of the time.) I have a to-do list of things to do before Kermit is born; there are currently 32 items on the list. I have no concrete plan for knocking the rest of them off, even though I have just two months to figure it out.

Speaking of panic... we just found out that my OB, Dr. M, is having emergency surgery next week and will be out of the office recovering for 6 weeks after that. Which means that I won't see him again until I am full term at 37 weeks. This is one of those totally unavoidable things, but I hate the fact that I have OB appointments at 31w, 33w, 35w, and 36w that will all be with other doctors that I don't like nearly as much. And those are fairly important appointments, where we measure progress and manage the end of the pregnancy and estimate weight and position and do ultrasounds to judge likelihood for VBAC and stuff.

And speaking of VBAC... the plan was to try for a vaginal birth if I went into labor on my own, but to schedule a c-section somewhere around 39 weeks in case it didn't happen. Dr. M originally schedule the c-section for 38w5d, but that felt too early to me, and I asked him to reschedule it to 39w1d. He thought that was fine. Then I started feeling like maybe that was still too early. At my appointment this week, I asked his opinion on rescheduling it to 39w5d, just to give my body a little extra time to go into labor. And, once again proving what an awesome doctor he is, he said that he would schedule it for whatever felt most comfortable for me, there was no valid medical reason to pick one over the other, so it was completely my choice. So, the new eviction day looks like it's going to be January 7. (NOTE: when January 1 rolls around and I'm horribly uncomfortable and begging for the pregnancy to be over, remind me that I'm the one who chose to push back the eviction date.)

This is all just a roundabout way of saying: we really need to get going on baby preparations. Tick tick tick tick tick....

Friday, October 22, 2010

What Not To Do While Pregnant, Part Two

Part One, from my last pregnancy, is here.

I thought that I had reached new heights of stupid things to do while pregnant with the 16 hours of round trip air travel over 48 hours last weekend, but today I managed to up the bar. Yes, I'm that stupid.

Not that you were planning on doing any of these things anyway. But if you have a choice, don't do them:

1. Interview for a job that you actually care about while 6 1/2 months pregnant.

2. Ask to use the bathroom 8 times during a 7 hour interview day. Yes, you'll probably be excused for asking, since you're 6 1/2 months pregnant. But never underestimate the ability of every single guy who interviews you to fail to notice that you're pregnant. They'll just think that you're fat and you really like to pee.

3. If you have to give a research talk as part of your interview, make sure to have continuous Braxton-Hicks contractions throughout the talk. They really help to keep you focused.

4. Throw in some nice solid kicks to your cervix during your talk, too. If you can't give a polished academic talk while fielding kicks and contractions, well, you probably don't deserve the job.

5. When your very last interview of your very long day asks if you can stay past the scheduled end of your interview so that he can ask "just a few more questions," definitely say yes. You've already been "on" fielding questions for 7 hours... what's one more hour?

I feel completely brain dead. And I have no idea if I'm going to get a job offer. My mind feels so mushy right now that I'm not sure that I'd want to work for anyone who would offer me a job in this condition. I'm fairly certain that I came across as a complete idiot, but I also don't feel mentally capable of judging my own performance, so who knows. Maybe contractions and in-utero kicks make me look smarter. I'll update when I hear back from the recruiter.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

500 Days

In 500 days, I'm going to be reaching a semi-milestone birthday (not a huge one, but it is divisible by five). For some reason, I've been thinking about it a lot lately, even though it is more than a year away. Several months ago, I made a short list of things that I wanted to accomplish by the end of 2010 (it's posted in the column to the right) and that list has been a good motivator for me. Well... not so much motivation, as a reminder of what I wanted to do this year.

In that same spirit, I have made a list of what I want to accomplish by the time I hit that birthday in 500 days. (There is a fair amount of overlap between this list and the other list. Partially because of the overlap in time periods, but also partially because I'm starting to doubt my ability to get a few of these done by the end of the year. See #3 about moving into a new house....) Things that I want to finish, things that I want to achieve, things that I want to begin, things that I want to form habits for. We'll see how it goes. Some of these are already in progress, others should be accomplished relatively soon, and some others might just be pipe dreams. But, here we go:

1. Have two happy kids. (I'm working on this one!)

2. Finish my PhD. (This one had better be done well before my 500 day deadline!)

3. Own a new (bigger) house. (I'd love for this one to be accomplished sooner rather than later, but it kind of depends on the job situation.)

4. Work in a job that I enjoy. (Looking for a job in a bad economy while pregnant sucks.)

5. Bring both kids to visit my parents at least once. (Preferably twice.)

6. Bring both kids to visit my in-laws at least once. (Preferably twice.)

7. Pay off all debt except the mortgage. (Just one annoying undergrad student loan hanging around at this point. It will come out of deferment as soon as I graduate, and I'd like to knock it off as soon as I'm earning a real salary.)

8. Lose all pregnancy and fertility treatment weight from both pregnancies.(That would be a goal of 22 pounds below pre-pregnancy weight with Kermit, which includes 12 lbs fertility gain with LL, and 10 lbs fertility gain with Kermit. Plus whatever pregnancy weight tries to hang around after Kermit is born.)

9. Breast feed Kermit for one year. (I had this goal with LL, too, but I didn't make it. LL went on strike at 6 months and never came back. I'm hoping that LL was just a quirky baby and Kermit will go longer.)

10. Cook dinner at home 5 days each week. (I'm using a loose definition of "cook" here. I consider heating up leftovers or a frozen lasagna to be "cooking." I'm just trying to get us out of the habit of ordering take-out Chinese and pizza delivery. Also, when I say "cook," I'm including cooking done by S; I'm not a total martyr.)

11. Read 10 fiction books. (I used to read for pleasure a lot. My pleasure-reading took a hit when I started grad school, and all but died completely when LL was born. One book every other month or so isn't really asking a lot.)

12. Learn javascript. (Just seems like it would be really useful for prototyping, and easy to pick up, but I've never even looked at it.)

13. Learn perl. (I don't actually know a single scripting language. Right now, non-CS people are asking, "So?", and CS people are wondering why anyone ever let me graduate with a degree in CS. Whenever I need to script something, I do it in Lisp. Which used to have a fair amount of street cred, as these things go, but now it just feels a little embarrassing, and increasingly unpractical.)

14. Have permanent assigned "homes" for most objects in the house. (This is part of a larger "declutter" goal. Right now, we don't have enough storage space to make this a reality, but once we're in a new house, I'm getting serious about this one. If we don't have storage space, stuff is getting thrown out, because living in clutter makes me constantly tense.)

15. Update work wardrobe. (Including maybe shoes again, if my feet keep changing size. I'd like to not wear blue jeans every day. It's one thing during grad school, but I've been having the nagging feeling that I'm really not dressing my age these days.)

16. Shower every day. (I know that a lot of people are probably saying "Ew!!! You don't do that already?" And the answer is: Sadly, no, not since LL was born. I simply cannot figure out a way to make it work. My mornings are too hectic, and I hate showering at night. But this will change. I'm going to make it a priority.)

17. Wear makeup every work day. (Does this one sound familiar? Because I did a whole makeup thing many months ago. And I found a regimen that I like. And then I got pregnant and got wrapped up in my dissertation and I totally stopped doing it.)

I know, a list of 17 items is kind of random, but these are the things that came to mind. If more things come up over the next 500 days, I reserve the right to add more. My current plan is to check back on these things every hundred days, which would be:
1/29/11 (400 days left)
5/9/11 (300 days left)
8/17/11 (200 days left)
11/25/11 (100 days left)

Any medium-length goals you're working on? Anything I should add?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Beep Beep!

I'm not sure how else to put this: LL loves transportation. In particular, he loves pointing out to us whenever he sees various forms of transportation. And when he points them out, we absolutely must verbally acknowledge them (by name) or else he just gets louder and more insistent. Airplanes (which must be called "jumbo jets"), trains, buses (anything bigger than a car), cars (which are identified mainly by an enthusiastic "vroom!" noise), bikes, and car horns ("beep beep!").

A typical drive home from daycare goes something like this:
LL: "Bus! Bus! Mama, look -- bus!"
Me: "Yep, that's a bus."
LL: "More buses! Mama, look -- more buses!"
Me: "Yep, there's another bus."
LL: "Oh, wow! Mama! Jumbo jet!"
Me: "Yes, I hear it, too. There's a jumbo jet outside."

I usually find it rather charming, since he hasn't been talking for very long and his little voice just tickles me.

This past weekend, however, we went out of town for a wedding. I'm not going to go into the details of two eight-hour flights less than 48 hours apart, while 28 weeks pregnant, with an energetic toddler in tow. The less said about that, the better. But, I will ask you to imagine the above described transportation-loving toddler, who has lived his entire two-year existence in the quiet suburbs, transplanted for two days to Manhattan.

Have you ever taken a cab through midtown Manhattan while needing to verbally acknowledge every single bus, taxi, and car horn? I don't know how his little body managed to keep up with everything that he needed to talk about. ("Bus! Bus! More buses! Beep beep! Beep beep! Oooh, vroom! Vroom! Vroom! More buses! Beep beep! Wow! More buses! Beep beep!") I hope that our various cab drivers were amused.

Whenever we were inside a building, out of sight of the multitude of buses and cars outside, LL could not stop talking about the fact that he had been on an actual jumbo jet. Two jumbo jets! And a choo choo train! (The "choo choo train" was in fact a monorail that took us between two airport terminals during a layover. But considering that LL was also positive that the luggage carrier on the tarmac was also a choo choo train, there was no use in us explaining such fine distinctions to him.)

S thinks that LL would be much happier living in a city, where he could see as many buses and trucks and cars as his little heart desires. I, however, am awfully glad that we rarely see more than a half dozen buses on our way home from daycare. I just don't think that I could take saying "Beep beep!" that many times every single day.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Kermit Update

I am now 26 weeks along. That magical potential-viability-outside-the-womb stage. About to enter the third trimester. Less than 100 days left to go. Things are really moving along!

On the GD front, I can finally say that I don't have gestational diabetes. My entire medical team finally agrees. I've said this from the very beginning. My OB agreed with me early on, but wasn't allowed to remove the diagnosis without buy-in from the endocrinologist. The endocrinologist said that she didn't think that I had it, either, but wanted to monitor me anyway, just to be sure. So I've been meeting with the nurse every month or so, to go over my food records and monitoring numbers, and at this month's appointment she finally threw up her hands and said, "Yeah, I don't believe that you have gestational diabetes." I'm at that point where, if you have gestational diabetes, it's going to be running rampant by 26 weeks. But my numbers right now are actually lower than they were back at 10 weeks, which completely supports my claim all along that pain and stress from the stupid car accident was artificially (and temporarily) elevating my blood sugar.

This past month, I've ignored the GD diet guidelines on a regular basis. I gave in to a craving for donuts at breakfast one morning. I've had fruit smoothies. I've had big bowls of pasta. I've been drinking more milk and eating more fruit, including at breakfast and bedtime, which are supposed no-no's. Yet my blood sugar numbers remain at the low end for normal non-pregnant people. On Friday, I even repeated an A1C test, which measures average blood sugar over the last three months, and it came back not just normal, but even a little lower than last time. So, the nurse told me to just eat whatever I want. Test myself occasionally, but don't worry about it. She said to try to do a full week's worth of monitoring before my next appointment with her (more than a month from now) but between now and then, don't bother much. She called me an anomaly. I'm not sure that it counts as an anomaly if I can scientifically explain what's going on, but whatever. It's good news.

All other pregnancy-related health signs are looking good as well. I'm ever-so-slightly anemic, almost exactly the same as this point in my pregnancy with LL. Last time, I was told to eat more hamburgers and spinach, because it was too borderline to warrant any more heavy-duty intervention. Which is fine with me, I like spinach. And Kermit is regularly kicking up a storm, much more targeted than LL ever was. In particular, Kermit keeps kicking my cervix, which I don't remember LL ever doing. What's up with that? Trying to dig himself out?

We also settled on a skeleton of a labor plan. Dr. M is supportive of trying a VBAC, but only under certain conditions. For one, I need to go into labor on my own (no induction) and I need to progress entirely on my own (no pitocin augmentation) because the use of augmentation drugs dramatically increases the risk of uterine rupture during VBACs. This might be a hurdle for me, because I never went into labor with LL, and even when I was 8cms dilated and my water had already broken, my contractions would disappear when they turned down the pitocin. I'm a little hopeful, because I'm already having Braxton-Hicks contractions, which never really happened with LL, so maybe my uterus is actually prepping for something this time!

The other condition that we'll need to meet is that I need to go into labor before 39 weeks or so. LL's c-section was necessary because of a rare condition called CPD, in which the baby's head is too big to fit through the mother's pelvic bone. A number of factors probably contributed to the CPD (LL's gestational age at delivery, which was 41w3d; LL's enormous head; my apparently narrow-ish pelvic bone; a lack of elasticity in LL's skull). This time around, we can't be sure how many of these factors will be present. My pelvic bone is likely to have spread a little more, since this is a second pregnancy, which will hopefully help. On the other hand, Kermit's head is so far measuring even bigger than LL's. Kermit's head might be more elastic, which would help a lot, but we won't know until I start pushing. (Most babies' heads deform to fit through the birth canal; this is why they often have cone heads for a day or two after birth. Even after hours of pushing out LL, his head remained nice and round and didn't deform at all.) The only thing that we have any control over is gestational age, which is why Dr. M won't let me try a VBAC too late into the pregnancy. Basically, he and I both want to avoid a situation where I have another full trial of labor, several hours of pushing, and then end up with another c-section. That outcome might not be entirely avoidable, but we can minimize the odds, and one way to do that is to set an eviction date, a scheduled c-section.

Right now, we've scheduled a c-section for January 3, when I'll be 39w1d. Which is a hair less than 3 months from now. I might try to push it back a few more days, to 39w4d, just to give myself a few more days to go into labor. (Dr. M originally scheduled it for 38w5d, but I wasn't comfortable with it being that early, so he agreed to wait a few more days.) But basically, that's the plan.

I've been giving a lot of thought to the VBAC question since before I was even pregnant with Kermit, and I'm happy with this plan. When LL's birth ended in a c-section, I was disappointed, but not as crushed as some other women seem to be. I felt like I had missed out on the experience of giving birth, but goodness knows that 23 hours of active labor certainly gave me a sense of what that experience would be. And I resented the longer recovery period and incision pain, which was compounded by the long trial of labor and pushing before eventually having the surgery, but it's not like a vaginal birth would have avoided pain and recovery. At the same time, I definitely know in my heart that the c-section was unavoidable. I don't have any "what-ifs" in mind where I think that the c-section could have been reasonably avoided. I wasn't "pushed" into it by over-eager doctors, I wasn't rushed in any way. Every decision we made, I would make again. So even though I didn't want the c-section, I know that LL would never have been born without it, and there's a certain peace that comes with that.

I've poured over the data on the risk of VBAC complications in various settings, and I feel like trying the VBAC in a supportive hospital setting with trained doctors and nurses who assist with them all the time will bring the risks down to a level that is comparable with other types of birth. If I don't go into labor before the eviction date, I will be a little disappointed. But I also feel like, by the time I'm that far along, the odds of a successful VBAC will have dropped enough that it probably wouldn't happen, anyway, and I'd have the same double recovery as last time. So this plan seems right to me.

In the mean time, we're trying to step up the preparation for actually having Kermit in our lives come January (or, let's be honest, possibly late December). The odds of us moving into a larger house between now and then are shrinking rapidly, so we're strategizing about where to put things in our current house. Bassinet in our bedroom. New rocking chair, also in our bedroom. Changing table in a location TBD. Nursing stool next to an existing chair in our living room, so that I can nurse somewhere without waking up S. Kermit's clothes stored in our closet. No crib or dresser purchased for Kermit until 5 months old or we're in a new house, whichever comes first. Boxing up all non-essentials in our office so that the room is de-cluttered enough that my mom can sleep on the hide-a-bed in there for a while after Kermit is born.

There are a few things that we'll need to buy, but not much. New rocking chair, new changing table. Bouncy seat. New boppy. New stroller. (Probably a sit-n-stand, like this one, since I don't think we'd need a full double stroller for very long, but might want one for the first 6 months or so. If anyone has experience with these, please let me know, because I've barely done any research on these yet.) Not much else.

Oh, and we do still need a name other than Kermit....

Thursday, September 30, 2010


When LL was just two months old or so, he semi-adopted his first security object. It was a little white burp cloth with blue stars and blue embroidered embellishments along the edges. One of my mother-in-law's friends made him a set of three similar cloths, but he only liked the one with the blue stars. He smiled when he saw it, he gripped it tightly when we gave it to him, he liked rubbing his cheek against it, and he seemed to sleep better if it was nearby.

The starry burp cloth was replaced by Froggie Blanket, a small dead-simple square quilt that I made for him out of some flannel with lily pads and frogs on it. LL briefly wanted to bring Froggie Blanket with him everywhere he went (and I added "make back-up Froggie Blanket out of leftover fabric" to my to-do list) but it quickly evolved into a sleepytime-only thing. He holds onto it at naptime and bedtime, and likes to hold it while being rocked, but in the morning he gives it a hug and leaves it in the crib. Occasionally, if he's sick or feeling particularly needy, he will want to hold onto it a bit more, which we let him do. It usually doesn't leave the house (he naps at daycare just fine without it) but it does join us on outings every so often. And he always always knows where it is, in a sixth sense sort of way. (Every once in a while at bedtime, we won't see it, but we just need to ask LL, "Where's Froggie Blanket?" and he will always know where to find it. Even that time it was stuffed inside the salad spinner in the back of a cabinet.)

I'm not a very artsy-crafty person. I do some occasional knitting or crocheting, but that's about it. And I've been known to go years between projects. But I love that LL is attached to the Froggie Blanket that I made.

But, little boys grow up, tastes change, new security objects are identified. We have a new must-have security object in our house. It's not exactly replacing Froggie Blanket, which is still required in the glider and crib at all times. This is more of an additional new friend. It's only been a week, so it may end up being short-lived, but LL's behavior with this thing has been sudden, dramatic, and different than anything he has ever done before. The object of his affection: a small stuffed zebra named NoNo.

I mentioned a little while ago that zebras are one of LL's favorite animals, and though he knows the word "zebra," he insists on calling them "no-nos" for, um, literary reasons. When we went to the zoo with Grandma and Grandpa, he spent a long time exclaiming over the zebras. As we were leaving, I helped my dad to pick out a little stuffed zebra at the zoo gift shop, for him to give to LL for his birthday.

LL thought the stuffed zebra was cool, but it pretty much stayed with all of his other toys. The fact that he played with it at all was a minor miracle, actually. We own a lot of stuffed animals in various sizes and species, and LL almost always ignores them. There's one monkey that he briefly liked playing with, because the monkey wears overalls and the overalls have a real zipper that goes up and down! not to mention monkey-sized shoes and socks, but other than that, LL just wasn't a stuffed animal or doll kind of kid. When I was trying to get him off of the starry burp cloth, I offered him a bear named Bingo at the same time as Froggie Blanket, and he was completely uninterested. (I'm wondering, in fact, why I even encouraged my dad to buy the stuffed zebra in the first place.)

So, the zebra sat in the toy box for a week or two. And then suddenly last week, when I was trying to get LL to climb into his high chair for dinner, he suddenly exclaimed, "NoNo!" I thought at first that he was just being defiant, but no, he was talking about the zebra. He dug it out of the toy box, climbed into his high chair with it, placed it carefully next to him at the table, and proceeded to feed it dinner. (Luckily, I was able to convince him very quickly that zebras don't eat yogurt, because that wasn't going anywhere good. It turns out that zebras survive mostly on goldfish crackers.) And ever since then, NoNo has gone everywhere with LL.

NoNo eats all meals with LL. He is clutched along with Froggie Blanket at bedtime. He rides toy trains. He reads books. (It is very important that NoNo be able to see the pictures.) He goes to the grocery store. Observations about the world are carefully explained to NoNo in long, complex sentences that only LL and NoNo completely understand. (I pick up individual words, but that's about it. I know that NoNo has been told about grandparents and shoes and jumbo jets, but I'm not sure what details were revealed.) So far, the only time that NoNo is left at home is when LL goes to daycare. Possibly it's because one of his friends there has a bear that she carries everywhere, and some of the other kids like to take it from her to make her cry, so LL might sense that NoNo won't be completely safe there. When he leaves for daycare, he gently kisses and hugs NoNo, then leaves him carefully by the door to wait for LL to come home again.

I am just blown away by this behavior. I know that kids like role playing, and they get attached to stuff, and they humanize animals. But I'm a little amazed by how suddenly LL adopted this particular friend. It's very cool to watch. It's also adding a bit of confusion to our household, because when LL yells, "No No!" we need to interpret whether he's talking about his zebra or saying "no" to something. But oh, so much fun to watch!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pa Choo-Choo

My parents and my in-laws visited us for 10 days around LL's birthday. I already recounted how the weekend didn't go quite as planned, but I didn't want to skip the fact that most of the visit went wonderfully, fantastically, joyfully well (debilitating fevers and emergency ambulance rides notwithstanding).

My parents and my grandfather and my uncle arrived first. It had been three months since they saw LL, and he was a bit shy and reserved during that visit. He had been a little cautious, a little quiet, a little hesitant to let anybody hold him. This time around, it was like we had suddenly presented him with four of the best playmates he had ever met. LL previously knew how to say "Mama", "Daddy", and the name of exactly one of his friends. He didn't have names for anybody else, including Rosie and Natasha, whom he sees for many hours every single week. Yet he had given obvious names to all four of the visiting relatives within an hour of their arrival. (Grandma was "Baba", Grandpa and Great-Grandpa were both initially "Pa", though he offered better distinguishing names later, and he called my uncle by his first name.) He insisted that all four of them accompany him everywhere. (It made for a very crowded bedroom during diaper changes, because everybody had to be within eyesight or LL complained and called out for whoever was missing.) When we went for a walk, LL anxiously kept everybody close, and if anyone fell behind, LL would run back to the straggler, take his hand, and drag him forward to join the group. We have a "no shoes" rule in our house, and each time people arrived, LL helped them to take off their shoes, then helpfully brought the correct shoes to each person when they were ready to leave.

The most awesome part of all of this was LL's interaction with my grandfather. My grandfather is 88 years old. He adores children, but he's just not able to play with them as actively as he used to. (He is, I think, fairly active for an 88-year-old -- he lives independently, works a part-time job, and flies cross-country to visit me and LL a few times a year -- but he's also, you know, 88 years old.) He has four (soon to be five!) great-grandchildren, but since he's usually with my parents when he visits them, he kind of gets treated as a backup to my parents, who are the grandparents, the main attraction. He has complained to me in the past that he doesn't think that my nieces and nephews like playing with him, and it makes him sad to feel left out of the fun.

Anyway, in addition to a traditional birthday gift for LL, my grandfather also brought two smaller gifts that he gave to LL as soon as he arrived. The first was a little foam baseball that he got for free at a baseball game. The second was a train book, because he knows that LL loves trains. ("Train book" is a little misleading -- my grandfather brought a 150-page catalog of high-end hobbyist collectible model trains that he picked up at a collector's convention.) (Note that my grandfather does not collect trains, he just happened to notice the convention going on so he stopped to pick up a free catalog for LL.) When LL saw the train book, he went wild for it. He took my grandfather's hand, dragged him to the couch, made him sit down, climbed up onto the couch next to him, and demanded that my grandfather "read" the book to him. Together, they read through all 150 pages of that catalog. On each page, LL would point to each train and yell, "Choo-choo! More choo-choos! More choo-choos!" and then my grandfather would try to say something descriptive about what they were looking at. ("That's a coal car, circa 1940. That one is a passenger car. Oooh, that train car is red! Look, there's a caboose!") For 150 pages.

When they finished the catalog, LL got the little foam baseball and played catch with my grandfather for a good hour. He let other people play a bit, but if any of the rest of us held onto the ball for too long, LL would run over and retrieve it from us, saying "No, Pa Choo-Choo's ball!" ("Pa Choo-Choo" should not be confused with my father, who became known as "Pa Itsy-Bitsy", because apparently he does an awesome Itsy Bitsy Spider.) My grandfather was in total heaven.

I should also note that the morning after everyone had arrived, LL woke up at 4:00am, and when I went to see what he needed, he told me that he wanted to sit in his rocking chair with Pa Choo-Choo. I told him that Pa Choo-Choo was sleeping, because it was nighttime, but he would be back in the morning. With that explanation, LL consented to sit in his chair with me, but only until Pa Choo-Choo arrived. And indeed, LL sat in my lap from 4:00am on, dozing off occasionally, but waking up regularly to ask if Pa Choo-Choo was there yet. And when Pa Choo-Choo finally arrived, LL ran to him, took off his shoes, dragged him to the couch, sat him down, handed him both the train catalog and the baseball, sat down next to him, and they read the entire 150-page catalog again.

Over the course of their visit, LL developed similar special games with each of the visiting relatives. Everybody felt bathed in LL's attention, nobody felt left out. We were a little nervous that he would ignore S's parents once they arrived several days later, but he immediately latched onto them with the same ferocity.

We went to the zoo, we went to a toddler amusement park, we went to the park, we played in the yard. S and I even went to work on several days while LL stayed with whichever grandparents were around at the time, so he got lots of time with grandparents and without Mom and Dad as well.

We're back into our normal daily routine now, and LL is still asking about when his grandparents will be back. Poor kid doesn't quite understand that the next time he sees them will be in January, when they all plan to visit after Kermit is born. We'll do plenty of computer video chats between now and then, but I'm a little nervous to see how he handles not being the center of their world. But for now, I'm just so thrilled that I have photos and videos of LL adoringly playing with older relatives, especially with Pa Choo-Choo.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Change of Plans

Here is how this past weekend was supposed to be:

Saturday was Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, which includes fasting for 25 hours (though I'm exempt from fasting because of the pregnancy. Kids don't fast, either). My parents had arrived earlier in the week from out of town, and we were going to spend a quiet morning at home, followed by services at our synagogue. S's parents were due to arrive that afternoon, then we were all going out to dinner to break the fast. (S's parents aren't Jewish, so no fasting for them either.) After a nice dinner out, everyone would return to their respective homes (us) and hotels (everyone else) before returning to our house for LL's party on Sunday morning. Yes, Sunday was LL's second birthday! We were expecting nearly 30 people at a birthday party for him on Sunday morning. Lots of friends, lots of family, lots of cute antics from LL. After the party, we would all nap and then quietly open presents with just the grandparents (and eat leftover cake -- I baked a big one!). I was looking forward to the whole weekend.

Here is a brief list of what went wrong:

1. Saturday afternoon, shortly after S's parents arrived, LL started acting strange. Even though he had already napped and it wasn't yet bedtime, he was very sleepy and lethargic. We took his temperature and discovered that he had a fever of 104.4.

2. I frantically tried to bring down his fever while simultaneously canceling his birthday party.

3. I suddenly realized that it was after sundown, my family hadn't eaten anything since the previous night, we had no food in the house, and we could no longer go out for dinner. I quickly ordered the fastest take-out food I could think of, then sent someone to go pick it up for me.

4. As everyone else sat down to eat dinner and I comforted a feverish LL, S's mom suddenly turned pale and said that she didn't feel well. Five seconds later, she completely lost consciousness and collapsed. And we weren't able to wake her.

5. I dialed 911, then carried LL outside with me to wait for the paramedics, so that he wouldn't have to watch his grandmother lying on the couch mumbling incoherently. For the record, standing in the cool night air watching the flashing lights on four emergency vehicles parked outside your house does a fairly good job of both cooling down a feverish toddler and distracting him from his own mystery illness.

6. The paramedics managed to rouse S's mom, but when she tried to stand up, she nearly collapsed again, so into the ambulance and off to the hospital she went. S's dad went with her, in a complete panic. S and I promised to follow them there, a few minutes behind.

7. The combination of worrying about LL, worrying about his mother, and not eating for 26 hours and counting was too much for S. I made him sit down while I packed up some things to bring to the hospital (S's mom's purse and wallet; a container of food for S; some snacks and water for me and S's dad; my address book so that we could call S's sister). I also gave quick instructions to my parents on how to care for LL while he's sick (where we keep the medicine; how much he can have and when; how best to comfort him at bedtime; emergency pediatric numbers in case he gets worse; to call my cell phone if his condition changes at all). There's nothing quite like handing a scared, feverish, sobbing toddler over to someone else before rushing out the door to an even bigger emergency. (I called the house five minutes later to see how he was doing. He apparently cried for 10 seconds after the door closed, then asked my dad to play trains with him. When I called, he was jumping up and down on the couch, despite the 104 degree fever.)

8. By 11:00pm, the ER doctors were convinced that S's mom was fine (thank goodness!). We may never know what caused her to lose consciousness, though she's under orders not to drive a car until she has been cleared by a cardiologist back home. Discharge orders and paperwork kept her at the hospital until 1:00am.

9. After getting home, sending my parents back to their hotel, and crawling into bed, I got a rejuvenating three hours of sleep before LL woke up and wanted to be held by his mommy until morning. His temperature remained at 103. When he was finally comfortable enough to fall back asleep in our bed at 7:30am, I was too wired to go back to sleep myself.

10. All the grandparents, including S's mom, returned to our house late morning on Sunday, where we all tried our best to be festive for LL's birthday. I blew up a few balloons, LL opened presents, we all ate cake. Then everyone went home early to try to get some sleep.

Last night, LL slept normally, and he woke up this morning with his temperature back to normal. His mystery illness lasted exactly 36 hours, just long enough to spoil his birthday. And S's mom has been joking that she only passed out because she didn't like seeing LL get all the attention. The weekend is over, everyone is fine, all is well. And I'm still jittery as hell. Everything is fine, but I can't seem to get my heart to stop racing. Pregnant women really aren't meant to endure this much drama.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

LL Anecdotes

In honor of LL's second birthday next week (!), here is a collection of recent LL short stories. I wanted to get them written down before I forget them in the haze of Terrible Twos and New Baby.


A few weeks ago, when I picked LL up from Natasha's, she told me that she should really be paying me, rather than the other way around. LL spent the day cleaning her house. When I got there, he was sweeping the patio, complete with very competent use of a dustpan. The next day, Natasha made me wait to get LL so that he could finish fixing her vacuum. Natasha has a roomba (small robotic self-propelled vacuum). One of the little girls at daycare (Jenny) is scared of the roomba. All day, this process had been repeating: (1) roomba starts independently cruising around the room; (2) Jenny starts crying; (3) Natasha hits buttons on the roomba in increasingly confusing patterns to make it more difficult to turn on; (4) Natasha hides the roomba; (5) LL finds the roomba; (6) LL keeps trying different combinations of buttons until the roomba starts working again; (7) return to step (1). As I was talking to Natasha, we heard a quiet "whirrrr" followed by hysterical crying from Jenny, followed by a big grin from Natasha: "I guess he fixed it again!"


We stopped using tablecloths when LL learned to crawl. (You know that physics trick where you pull really hard on a tablecloth and all the stuff on the table magically stays in place on the table? LL loves the idea, but sucks at the execution.) The other day, we were having friends over for brunch, and brought out a tablecloth. LL saw S shaking it out to put on the table, and became convinced that it was a bed sheet. We explained the difference, and had LL help us to spread the cloth on our formal dining room table. S and I then went to the kitchen. Soon, I heard a weird creaking sound coming from the dining room, followed by a giggling LL happily yelling, "Jump! Jump! Jump!" I returned to the dining room to find LL standing on top of the table, jumping up and down. He was somehow convinced that putting a "sheet" on the table had transformed it into a bed, which is of course meant for jumping. (Yep, we let him jump on the bed. We're bad parents.)


One of LL's favorite words is "hot." I'm fairly certain that in LL-ese, "hot" actually means "not the temperature that I was expecting," since all objects are said to be "hot" if they are not room temperature. Including things like ice water. One of his favorite things in the world is blowing on things to bring them to the correct temperature. In my perpetually-overheated pregnant state, LL has taken to lifting up my shirt, touching my stomach, declaring it "hot!", and then blowing on it until it seems cooler to him. My own little portable cooling system.


Our neighbors did some heavy duty yard work recently, which meant that there was a real live bulldozer right outside the window! LL spent much of the morning standing on the bookshelf under his bedroom window so that he could see it better. When we finally let him outside, he dragged a lawn chair off the porch and set it up in the lawn so that he could watch all the action. I tried to ignore the fact that he was convinced that the bulldozer was a train, and therefore kept yelling "Choo choo!" whenever it moved.


For snack time at daycare, Natasha puts out plates of snack at two toddler-sized tables, then lets the kids sit down and eat whenever they're hungry. Last week, LL sat down at one table while all the other kids sat at the other one. He proceeded to eat his entire plate of food, then slide the snack plate at the chair to his right on over and eat that snack, then go ahead and eat the one to his left. Then he carefully stacked all three (empty) plates into a neat little pile, carried them over to Natasha, and asked for more. He regularly eats three or four servings of everything that she makes, more than any other kid there. I think she's convinced that we never feed him. Yet he's still in the 30th percentile for weight. I wish that I had his metabolism.


LL's vocabulary isn't huge, but it suddenly started making huge leaps just in the last week, with a ton of new words and an explosion of phrases/sentences. One of his favorite pastimes is pointing out stuff he knows words for while we are driving. These loud pronouncements are generally followed by requests for me to acknowledge that I, too, saw whatever it is he's pointing out. And requests to see more of them. ("Bus! Bus! Mama, bus! Look! More bus?") Things that we see from cars that must be acknowledged: buses, bikes, balloons, trains, and dogs. Note that "trains" are things bigger than cars that are not buses, and "dogs" are non-human, non-bird animals.


LL remains the most expressive toddler I have ever seen. What does a typical toddler do when he spills milk? Laugh and make a bigger mess? Cry? Call for you to clean it up? Try to clean it up himself? Mine shakes his head and says, "Ay yay yay! Look at that!" His constant use of the phrase "Ay yay yay!" (along with the occasional "Oy!") makes him sound like an old Yiddish man. It doesn't help that he refuses to say the word "eat," and instead asks to "nosh" when he is hungry.


LL has a Farm ABC book, with pictures of farm items for each letter of the alphabet (R is for rooster; S is for silo; T is for tractor; ...). But, like every alphabet book ever made, the authors could only come up with a zebra for the letter Z. Next to the picture of the zebra is a caption that says, "Hey! Zebras don't live on farms!" Every time we read this book, LL points to the zebra, giggles, and says, "No no no no no!" He is now convinced that zebras are called "no-nos," and they're one of his favorite animals.


You know how some parents allow their older kids to choose the name of new siblings? We're at such a loss for names that we decided to give it a shot. I'm fairly certain that LL has chosen the name "Jumbo Jet" for his younger brother. Which do you prefer: Kermit? or Jumbo Jet?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Enjoying Pregnancy

I have a confession: I enjoy being pregnant. You probably wouldn't guess it by the amount of whining that I do here, but I really do enjoy the overall state of pregnancy. (Yes, the details leave much to be desired, but I'm talking Big Picture.)

True, the fatigue sucks. As do all the little aches and pains. The Top Ten List of annoying symptoms, for me, include fatigue, itchiness, swollen wrists and ankles, insomnia, muscle cramps, digestive issues, heat sensitivity, constant paranoia about food, physical awkwardness, and the inability to wear the same bra or shoes for more than 2 months in a row. During the first trimester, I tend to get a small set of those that stick around for weeks at at time. During the second trimester, I generally experience all of them, 4-5 at a time, rotating on a daily basis. (As soon as the digestive issues disappear, the muscle cramps come back, that sort of thing.) During the third trimester, they're pretty much all there all the time, if I remember correctly. And yep, that sucks.

But in exchange for the miserableness, there's so much to enjoy. I love the anticipation of it all. The sense of a new beginning. The realization that you're doing something that you're only going to do for a few short times in your entire life, if you're lucky. Feeling the kicks and knowing that you're enjoying something that nobody else at that moment knows exactly about -- the private kicks of your future child. The daydreaming about the future. It's all really rather lovely. And I know that there are people who freak out about the weight gain and spend nine months convinced that they look like a fat cow, but I'm actually the exact opposite; I'm normally fairly self-conscious about my body, but during pregnancy, I almost feel like I have an excellent "excuse" to not have an hourglass figure, and all that self-consciousness disappears. (After LL was born, it almost immediately reappeared, but still.)

I remember being physically miserable during my pregnancy with LL. Those last two months or so, from weeks 34-42, seemed never-ending. I reached the point of "Holy cow I really just cannot go on like this!!!" a good week or more before I actually gave birth. I remember being that miserable. But I also remember missing it all when LL was just a few months old. At the time, I convinced myself that my mind was playing tricks on me, that I wasn't really remembering what it was like, that if I was ever lucky enough to get pregnant again I would immediately be consumed by thoughts of, "Oh, that's right, this sucks! What the hell was I thinking, doing this again!?!" But now that I'm here again... nope, it's good. Really.

The things that sucked before (see the Top Ten List) still suck. But they don't suck with the ferocity that they sucked last time. This time around, I seem more in control of the fact that the miserableness is short-lived. That the aches and pains come and go. That the whole experience really is rather fleeting, even if it doesn't always seem that way in the moment. I feel like I spent my pregnancy with LL trying to "get through it." There were things that I enjoyed, and I spent much of that pregnancy in total awe of what was happening, but I still treated it as a trial that I needed to suffer through (including labor, the big final exam) in order to reach the payoff of a real little baby. This time, I'm much better at viewing the pregnancy itself as a life stage to be enjoyed like any other.

I wrote several weeks ago about how I was sad that this pregnancy felt so abstract. I'm starting to realize that my sadness came mostly from a place of feeling like I hadn't enjoyed those first few months the way I should have. And now they're gone. This last month or so, though, things have been very different. I'm definitely "in the moment" now with this pregnancy. Taking note of the changes, marveling at Kermit's development, keeping perspective on the bad stuff. And having twinges of sadness that I may never do this again.