From the category archives:

Pregnancy by week

Ready to the max

by Milton on Fri, May 7th, 2010

in Letters to baby,Week 39

Dear Axelrod,

Tomorrow is your due date.  That’s pretty crazy.  And awesome.  Every night, we go to sleep with a little thought in the back of our minds that maybe you’ll decide to enter the world during that night while we sleep.  Why do babies tend to start their entrances into the world at night?  Can you even tell what time it is in there? Sounds like another fishy myth to me.

Yesterday, when Esther and I were walking around, we started talking about things that we wish we had learned when we were kids.  As people who have recently grown up in the same world that you’re about to enter, we’ve often noted that there are certain things that we feel slipped through the cracks in our education.  Things that we all do sort of end up learning in a Lord of the Flies kind of way, but never had formal or even intentional training in.  A few of the things we mentioned were:

  1. How to imagine ourselves in other peoples’ shoes (empathy)
  2. How to have confidence without being overconfident
  3. How to enjoy delayed gratification, work and have long term goals
  4. How to balance being independent with accepting and appreciating help from teachers, mentors and parents
  5. How to handle ambiguity, how to make it up and make it happen
  6. How to be curious about things, try new things, explore the unknown
  7. How to determine your own likes and dislikes, tastes, and preferences
  8. How to trust people
  9. How to make decisions, how to balance risks, how to plan for consequences
  10. How to manage money
  11. How to be healthy

The shocking thing to us is that these are things that we, as your parents, are still learning after all this time.  It’s amazing to me that we’ve even made it this far with having learned so little about the things that we want to teach you before your 10th birthday.

Still, we’ll do whatever we can to make sure that we give your the right environment to learn about these things, and may even put together our own little supplementary educational system to go along with your formal education.  And of course, that’s the charge of every parent, and I’m surprised that we weren’t all given more training ourselves on how to guide our children in their early lives.

So much learning in life is left to our own devices, and while we’re still devising our own learning we’re excited to also help give you the devices to help you learn about stuff as well.  Onward and upward with each new generation, right?

In the meantime, just keep your head down and just go in the direction that gravity pulls you.  That’s all you need to know for now.

I’m really looking forward to seeing you take your first breath.

Milton

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Hobo Haircut!

Well, I can cross giving my hobo husband a haircut off the list!  Tomorrow: Leg Waxing appointment.  I had a slew of awesome pre-labor symptoms last night, but once again, they have subsided.  I walked for hours today once the sun finally came out to let us know that it still exists behind all of those Seattle-y clouds!  It was lovely.  I bought support girdles for my imminent future (that figure is coming back if I have to corset it into shape), extra pillow cases to use for our bassinet linens, lots of wine (since I am drinking for 2) (just kidding, you crazies), and a LOVELY papaya since I dreamed about eating papaya all last night (what was that all about, anyway?).  It was a good day to ramble around alone, shopping.  I savored the ramble, for certain, since it will be among my last for an extended period of time.

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The house has really been ready for quite some time now.  Food is frozen.  Fridge is stocked.  Pantry is stocked.  Hair is freshly colored.  Toe nails are painted.  Eyelashes are tinted.  Brows are waxed.  Baby console is set up.  Cabinets are reorganized.  Midwife table is filled with supplies.  House is clean.  Cat is happy.

My husband does need a haircut.  I do need my legs waxed.  Both of these things are on my agenda for the immediate future, but really… I kind of dig a husband who looks like a fatherly hobo and don’t mind some peach fuzz for a little while.  Mostly I’m making things to do up as I go along.

Today we visited the midwife!  After a check and a sweeping, she said that I am 2cms dilated with a very ripe cervix.  Now I need to do is get the baby’s head to come down a little and press against that nice ripe cervix for showtime.   She asked if I had been slouching and I felt instantly as if I were being busted for spending so much time in bed yesterday!  I thought to myself all day as I lay on my back and watched Friday Night Lights, I should really be doing yoga, going for a walk, or at the very least – bouncing on the ball, and yet I continued to laze about like a big pregnant bum.  Oops.

So, after I had a nice round of  post-cervical sweep acupuncture (sitting in a chair with pillows behind my back to keep me in the proper position), I went home, prepared some lunch, put some laundry into action, and watched a movie while eating and folding clothes on the birthing ball.  I am proud to say I have now logged several hours on the ball today.  Frankly, I still don’t feel any more as if I’m going to deliver.  But that’s ok!  Unlike all the comments I read on the baby boards, I am not feeling impatient with pregnancy.  I am comfortable, sleeping well, only minimally swollen, and feeling as if I’m in excellent overall health.  Frankly, I find it a little disheartening to read all of these troubled comments on the Motherhood and Baby Center boards.  I’m not sure what’s up with our culture that we are encouraging women to end their pregnancies as quickly as possible!  The US has the leading prematurity rate out of EVERY industrialized country, which is very alarming.  I am thankful to have been able to take this pregnancy to full term and figure that the longer my little lucky crane cooks, the happier and healthier he’ll be when he gets here.  Of course, I also figure that I should stop eating croissants at our neighborhood coffee shop… because, should he choose to stay in there for another week or so, our bodies are going to have a whole lot of extra work getting his baby chub to the outside world.

39 weeks, 3 days!

We are SO excited to see his little face, but of course I’m feeling precious about these last days of watching my belly move as the crane does his yogi moves!  He loves stretching his legs around midnight and creating hilarious shapes out of my belly.  He loves hearing his papa sing his name!  He loves to press his feet into my hands when I catch him in a stretch, which is fascinating and adorable.  He tends to move about when there is lots of laughter between his father and me.  I’ve let him know that 5-5-10 is a fine birthday to have… but I think he’s going to wait a while longer than that.  Which is fine and good.  These are magical belly times.

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I had the hardest time sleeping last night because of a relentless windstorm… and a bit of a storm in my mind that I’ll keep to myself as far as this blog is concerned.

I woke up today at noon, after a few hours of rest, and am still exhausted. I’m so low energy today that I’m boring myself. Finally just drug myself to the mirror to put on some lipstick a minute ago, and am looking forward to a walk with my husband, and then a movie with friends.

I just thought to myself, “If I’m really right about having this baby right around my due date, I’m going to be a full on mom by this time next week, for certain.”

That’s just crazy. And awesome. And hilarious!

boredpants. waiting and anticipating.

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Predictability

by Milton on Sun, May 2nd, 2010

in Studies and rumors,Week 39

6 days til the due date!  What does this mean though?

Only 5% of babies are born on their due date.  Which leads one to the assumption that due dates are silly.  But, then again, 80% of babies are born within 2 weeks of their due date, so a 5% change on any given day is probably the highest percentage any day will get.  Then I heard on the Internet that 7 out of 10 (70%) babies are born AFTER their due date. Which is most likely a lie, because that doesn’t make sense.  Maybe 70% of babies born within 2 weeks of their due date are born after their due date?

The more I look into these statistics, the more I realize that people are just throwing numbers around.  Most likely, all of these numbers need to be qualified with “of all full-term babies”, which of course skews the numbers to be late since by definition it leaves out a good percentage of the early one.  And given that the US has the highest percentage of pre-term babies, I also highly doubt that these are entirely US numbers, or even from the last 3 decades.

Maybe we should raise Axelrod to be a statistician, because I’m 90% certain that 80% of people could really use a little help with 100% of these numbers.

Our doula is busy today with another client, and the midwife we’ve been working with is not on call for the next two days, so we’re hoping the numbers skew us for a Wednesday baby.  A Cinqo de Mayo baby.  He does seem to like it when Esther eats tacos… Anyone want to make a bet?

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Pregnancy Comforts…

by Esther on Mon, Apr 26th, 2010

in Documentation,Pregnancy by week,Week 38

There are a few things that I don’t believe I could’ve gotten through this pregnancy, especially the third trimester, without.  I thought I’d take down a little list of those things here to share anything that might be of use.  Of course, the food listings are completely idiosyncratic, and included for entertainment purposes only.

1) Ingrid & Isabel Belly Leggings:  I’m going to come right out here and say THANK GOODNESS I got pregnant during a time when wearing what is essentially pajamas is considered hip.  I started wearing leggings practically every day during my first trimester, when my regular pants were just too constricting against my swollen belly.  I balked about the cost of these leggings at first.  $50 is a hefty price to pay for something like leggings… especially when they got a little pilled from boot chafing during the first week I wore them with last winter’s over the knee boots.  I was angry with them and tried other leggings… but nothing was as comfortable and certainly nothing was as seamless.  Cotton blend leggings (like these much cheaper ones from Motherhood) were OK… but had too many seams, didn’t fit as well, and seemed to attract hair at a ridiculous rate… which is not cool when you’re a hairstylist AND a cat owner.  I ended up with a second pair of the Ingrid and Isabel leggings, and wore them practically every day.

2) Amon Maternity Behold Belly Support Bands:  Honestly, I would not have been able to work without these bands.  I bought two and have worn one of them constantly, even while sleeping, since about 25 weeks into this pregnancy.  They are terrific for lumbar support.  They are also terrific for preventing sciatica as you sleep on your side.  I can not recommend this product enough!  My back immediately stops aching when I put on this band.

I will add that I have carried fairly high and tight through this pregnancy.  I do have some lower back scoliosis issues and started practicing yoga 10 years ago to build muscle support and combat pain.  It’s possible that the band won’t be enough support for someone who doesn’t quite have the muscle support to begin with.  If that’s the case, there are many many bands out there.  If you are in fairly strong condition, this band is the perfect place to start finding the right support for you.

3) Compression knee socks:  I bought a bunch of them at a doctor and nurse uniform store during my first trimester.  I’d call them a must for anyone sitting at a desk OR working on their feet.  My feet were immediately more comfortable, and I’ve experienced no ankle and foot swelling.  I wear them to work, but not necessarily on my days off.  I have one small varicose vein on one of my ankles from an old injury and being a hairstylist… and it has not worsened one little bit as my blood volume increased.

4) Almond Butter and Jam Sandwiches.  Good lord, I eat a lot of these.  I rationalize the frequency of these sandwiches by thinking that almond butter is what has kept my iron levels up.

5) My Special Pregnancy Bananna Bread!  I cultivated this recipe a few months ago, and make about 2 loaves a week.  I tried to up the protein/fiber and lower the sugar content somewhat… again, this is how I rationalize the big thick slices I keep cutting for myself… Try to ignore the fact that the bananas aren’t local!  This (almost) doesn’t count when you’re pregnant, have leg cramps, and just really really want banana bread.

4 Ripe Banannas, smashed
1 Stick of Butter, soft
3 Eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 Cup of sucanat (or preferred sweetener)
1 generous gloop of Vanilla Extract
1 very generous gloop of Grand Mariner
1 tsp of Baking Soda
1 Cup of Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 Cup of  Chick Pea Flour
Lightly roasted Pecans, to taste
Coconut flakes, to taste
Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips, to taste  (we don’t like too many)

Combine bananas and butter.  Mix in sucanat.  Mix in eggs.  Add vanilla and Grand Mariner.  Sprinkle baking soda over this mixture and combine.  Add flours a bit at a a time and blend with a spoon until just combined.  Add pecans, coconut, and chocolate chips.  Bake at 360 for 1 hour and 20 minutes, covering bread with foil after 1 hour.

Bam.  Easy and delicious… plus it makes your house smell good.

6) Fistfulls of Almonds.

7) Pumpkin and Flax Kashi granola bars

That is all I can think of right now!  Now I’m off to watch my latest bulk order of bananas ripen because I really need some more bread.

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Operating Instructions

by Milton on Mon, Apr 26th, 2010

in Books,Week 38

Penny told us not to get too excited too early in labor.  That, half the battle is relaxing and giving yourself time to rest during the early parts so that when it gets to the difficult part you haven’t been up for 2 days living on Gu and granola bars and coffee.  Because who can do their best work then?  But then there’s the uncontrollable excitement, and second guessing, and wondering, When will it start?  So I can see how it will be a problem when the time comes, to force rest.  To be cool.

What is calming me, today, is this great book that a friend of Esther’s sent us the other day, a signed, uncorrected galley of Anne Lamott’s “Operating Instructions.”  I haven’t been very good at reading lately, and only trust myself to finish a book if I don’t put it down for more than a couple hours until it’s done, but this book is pretty amazing.  Esther hasn’t read it yet but she send a “Letter to a pregnant friend” by her from about 10 years after the book was written.  The whole letter is good, even if some of the advice in it isn’t really totally in line with the home-birth thinking, but that’s okay.

Anyway, read the book. Read the letters. She’s awesome. I also love her other book, Bird by Bird, which is a great book about writing.  Of course, it resonates with me that she believes that writing and raising a child require pretty much the same  strategies.  Ha.

Here’s a poem called “Deteriorata” that she included at the end of the letter:

Gracefully surrender the things of youth:
The birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan,
And let not the sands of time
Get in your lunch …

You are a fluke
Of the universe.
You have no right to be here.
And whether you can hear it or not
The universe is laughing behind your back.

Therefore, make peace with your god
Whatever you conceive him to be –
Hairy thunderer, or cosmic muffin.

Give up!

Okay.

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You can never trust what any weather forecast says about Seattle.  You only know it’s going to be a beautiful day when you look out your window and see a beautiful day!  Sometimes, on a dime, that beautiful day can change with quickness.  Likewise for the rain we are so well known for.  Sometimes there is a break in the gray when the misty clouds part and, suddenly, you are overcome with how gorgeous this Pacific NorthWest can really be.

Sadly, we haven’t had too many of the fully gorgeous PNW days lately.  We had to keep rescheduling our final pregnancy shoot with our friend Jana K due to fussy weather.  It’s been grey, rainy, and far too windy for comfort lately.  There was some sun yesterday, but oh man was it chilly and holy moly did that wind gust!  I was worried that today would show much of the same.

The forecast for today was grey and cloudy, with a high around 50.  Not good, but really the last day we would be able to get together with Jana before she goes out of town and we possibly give birth.  We decided to chance this morning, since it wasn’t supposed to be totally rainy.  We only had an hour free that we could all meet, but Milton and I live just a few blocks away from the Pike Market, and spend at least a small portion of every single day walking through those alleys and streets.  It was the perfect place for us to shoot a few photos and it’s literally right down the street.

Imagine our surprise when Seattle presented us with a BEAUTIFUL day!  It was almost too beautiful for photos as it approached noon and sunlight got a little too high, but Jana found some terrific spots!  This one is bound to become an all-time family favorite!  I almost cried just now when she sent it to us… then I decided to make-out with my husband instead.

Cuddling at the Market

After our shoot at the market, we hopped into a zip car to head out to Greenlake and take a walk around the lake with our doula, Cheryl Murfin.  She brought another lovely lady with her who is expecting her baby on May 6th.  We walked and walked .  I noticed right away that I could keep a pace that was much more vigorous than the turtle’s pace I’ve been sporting for some months.  I didn’t feel winded at all!  But, oops, I did have to pee a whole lot more than usual.  Cheryl thought that some of the pre-labor suspicions that I had were right on, which was really encouraging.  I’ve been a frenetic nesting crazy lady for the past 2 days, and my uterus is practicing contractions like crazy for a big big show.  Couple this with my being able to breathe, having to hit the bathroom a whole lot more, and the fact that I ate a HUGE brunch after our walk at Portage Bay (a feat I have not been able to accomplish for months), and I’d say that this baby is on his way to getting here on the sooner side of my due date.  (If I’m wrong, I’m wrong, and that’s fine too!)

SO, we went home and I started to cross things off my list of 12 final things.  Some friends came over and helped me set up our little patio a little better.  Then they left.  I wrote some thank you notes, took a nap, and woke up to more friends stopping by!  I cooked us a quick dinner and enjoyed the awesome company.  Now I’m looking around our little loft and thinking that I definitely should pack a hospital bag… which is a chore to me since I dread having to transfer to the hospital once this labor starts… but a family has gotta be prepared for anything!

I’m expecting more visitors tomorrow!  I love it that everyone is stopping by!  Also, I think that I’ll bump up all of the final beautifying appointments that I made for next Saturday to Tuesday and Wednesday.  I’d sure hate to go into labor without having my eye lashes dyed, hair tinted, or toe nails perfect.  Yes, people, I am serious.

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38 Weeks!

by Esther on Sat, Apr 24th, 2010

in Documentation,Week 38

We had a fun half hour this afternoon when contractions actually got uncomfortable and forced me to break our stride to a lull several times! Milton kept asking if I wanted to go home and I kept saying, “But this is so interesting!”

And it was. All of this is! Really interesting! The most interesting thing my body has ever done, I think. Today I had just about the the most pleasurable uncomfortable feeling I’ve ever had. I mean, how often does something that’s uncomfortable yield such impressive results? I’ve made a human being and now that human being and I are going to work together to bring him to the outside world. That is so cool!

This week, I am checking things off of my latest list of things that need to be done.

TODAY I wrote some thank you notes, hung art on the walls, tried on my ugly new nursing tank tops, went out to lunch, took photos of my baby belly at the market, went for a walk, cooked dinner, labeled and reorganized baby clothing, made a huge grocery order (thanks, Amazon Fresh!), and did 4 loads of laundry.  It was a good day!

(Speaking of those new nursing tops… I’m really curious as to why everyone assumes that new moms want to cover up their cleavage.  I’ve never had real cleavage before, and I am stoked to show it off!  My nursing tops didn’t look so modest online… but they are ever so modest.  It’s not fair!  Having never had large pornographic breasts, I’m not a terribly modest girl when it comes to cleavage.  In fact, I have it on good authority from my mirror that subtle cleavage works better for me.  Stupid nursing tops!)

TOMORROW we are going to walk around Greenlake with our doula. She swears that she’s going to walk me to 3cms. I sure hope she doesn’t, because I still have 10 things to do on a list of 13 things that must be done before labor.  Things on the pre-labor list include lanolizing breast pads, ripping old towels into rags for the midwives, buying more chlorine free bleach, finishing thank you notes, planting this season’s container garden, or organizing three more drawers in the closet.  Things to do during labor are strictly food related.  I am going to cook my way through every contraction.  That’s the plan, anyway.

Of course, I suppose that I am ready enough to run.  I mean, how important is planting that basil before he’s here?  Not terribly important in the grand scheme of things. Basil will last on the window sill for another month or so.  Drawers that aren’t organized will only annoy me a little.  Etc, etc.

Our due date isn’t for another 2 weeks, but my body is doing so much that other pregnant ladies bodies don’t seem to do this soon. I do feel as if he might come a little bit early.  I could be wrong, though! That’s the fun part. I’m not completely tired of being pregnant yet, which surprises so many people. People say to me again and again, “Aren’t you so ready?!” and, well, I’m not. Not really. I don’t really mind this whole mysterious process. I am still not hating pregnancy (ESPECIALLY now that I’m done with work) and I don’t know if I’m gonna… I sleep well, eat well, walk sorta well, feel smaller thanI am in photos, and can still manage yoga class. It’s all very funny to me.

On our walk today!

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I’ve finished working!  Which of course brought about a round of emotions last night at dinner.  I can’t recall the last time I straight up didn’t work for 4+ months.  I must have been about 10 years old.  As soon as I finished my last client yesterday, I felt a wave of “What in the heck am I supposed to do now?”

Of course, I have a long list of things I need to get done before the baby comes.  After the baby comes, that list dissolves into all the things that are completely imminent!  Breast feeding.  Burping.  Swaddling.  Rocking.  Catching whatever sleep I can.  Rinsing and repeating until something changes in the overall baby scheme and I have to reformulate my parenting style completely.  Intellectually, I am aware of all of this.  I’ve read about 100 books and talked to at least 100 moms.  I’ve got all the stories, all the supplies, and all the information.  Of course, I have no real knowledge of what having a newborn will actually BE like, because I have never had a newborn.  I’m looking forward to experiencing something altogether new, but am of course a little apprehensive about being the best possible parent I can be.

My mother suggested recently in a facebook comment that it’s ok to be scared.  I immediately felt defensive!  Defensive is my go-to emotion whenever anyone suggests that I am, in any way, vulnerable.  Goodness forbid I should appear to be vulnerable!  Luckily, I am able to afford being self-aware, and was thus able to step back from my defensive stance and investigate.  Am I scared?  I don’t really think I am.  I don’t think that’s why I’m crying here and there, all overwhelmed with emotion.  Frankly, I think I’m crying here and there because my hormones are peaking with impending babyhood…. but that’s not to say that the emotions that are coupled with the hormones are anything but totally viable.  I am emotional because my time alone with my husband as my only immediate family (side note: my parents and siblings are technically immediate… but live 3k miles away.  This is less… immediate.  Obviously).  I am emotional because I have no idea what the life ahead of us will be like.  On a lesser scale, I am emotional because I missed the Wedding Present perform Bizzaro at The Crocodile the other night (alas, I am too pregnant for shows right now) and because I can no longer just skip out into the city to catch shows or grab drinks at bars.  I am emotional because I might never have visible abs again.  Everything is changing!  When you can afford to be self-aware, you can’t help but well-up a little with emotion.

I’ve said it before, many times.  Pregnancy is  a long time.  A whole lot happens in 40 weeks!  There is a whole process that we have gone through as a family to prepare us for the next step.  I’m not feeling emotional because I haven’t prepared myself for life on baby island.  I’m 34 years old and filled with all the love and capability that is necessary.  Arguably, I am a fantastic candidate for a mothering job.  I’ve worked out all my kinks, gotten jollies in my career, let the ants in my pants make me break dance, lived in several desirable cities, and generally ensured that I’m not going to freak out and wonder if there was something I didn’t DO before building a house on baby island.  I’ve got a solid loving relationship with a partner who is a fantastic candidate for a fathering job.  I’m also seasoned enough to know that I’ll DO plenty more as my child grows and my family progresses.  I’m ready.  But until the time comes and the whole transformation occurs- I am over here feeling grateful, reflective, and emotional.

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