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....