From the category archives:

Week 29

Alcohol and pregnancy

by Milton on Fri, Feb 26th, 2010

in Managing risk,Research,Week 29

It’s true that drinking during pregnancy is seen as a big taboo, and part of the reason is the lack of information about the causes, risks, and chances of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome along with the rather scary warnings in pregnancy books and on pregnancy websites.

Here are some interesting numbers that I got from this article called “Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and the Social Control of Mothers“:

  1. Only 5% of alcoholic mothers give birth to babies who are later diagnosed with FAS.
  2. Drinking alcohol, while a requirement of being diagnosed with FAS, doesn’t seem to cause FAS by itself.  Other environmental factors needed include smoking, poverty, malnutrition, high parity (i.e., having lots of children), and advanced maternal age.
  3. There is a genetic component to FAS that makes you more or less susceptible to FAS.
  4. Almost all public health campaigns, whether sponsored by states, social movement organizations, public health institutes, or the associations of alcohol purveyors tell pregnant women not to drink alcohol during, before, or after pregnancy… at all… or else.
  5. Women are being blamed for FAS, even though they do not cause FAS, and neither does drinking alcohol (by itself).
  6. Very few women drink at the levels correlated with FAS, even when they aren’t pregnant.

So, the question is, are the FAS campaigns by all of these organizations merely another way for society to blame women for something bad that might happen?  To treat pregnant women as women with some kind of problem that needs to be “fixed” by hospitals, doctors, professional advise, and medication? Why does our society do this to women, and what can we do to help be a little more rational and fair to women and less scared, protective, and controlling?


Organizing for the unknown

by Milton on Fri, Feb 26th, 2010

in Home,Psychological,Week 29

One of the differences between the way Esther and I think, when preparing for our son, is our various strategies for the ominous task of “feeling prepared for parenthood” and all that goes along with that foggy idea.  I feel prepared by making lists.  Esther feels prepared by preparing (admittedly, a more direct strategy).  But in a way, they’re both valid strategies against this amorphous goal.  Esther’s has the advantage of actually getting things done, mine has the advantage of knowing exactly what needs to get done.  My list making, so far, has only shown me that I don’t need to do anything yet.  Well, read a lot of books.  Check.  Enjoy the ride.  Check.

Selling the house was also a big thing on the list of things we absolutely needed to do in order to feel prepared.  Until, as of this week, our house still wasn’t sold and so we took it off the market.  One would think that we would therefore feel like we failed at preparing.  But the strange thing is that we both feel more prepared now that the house is off the market.  Selling a house, buying a house, moving everything, getting used to a new setting, etc, all feels counter-productive at this point.  I feel like we’re out of limbo and can make the best of what we have.  Deciding to make the best of what we have is a huge step in the direction of “feeling prepared”.

And, now that that item has been decided, if not completed, it sets in motion a lot of other things on my list of things that I need to do.  Starting with re-organizing our little loft.  Starting tomorrow, I’m going to be moving few pieces of furniture into storage, a bunch of art that we took down (in the house-selling attempt) but probably aren’t going to put back up just yet, and begin to move things around until things feel “ready”. I have some big ideas of making the room more ready for watching movies on the projector, playing music on the keyboard, and changing diapers.

Why all the quotes around “ready” and “feel prepared”?  I’m not sure.  I guess in a weird way I’m realizing that this is not about reaching some final end state for our house, because we had already thought the house wouldn’t work at all.  It’s about getting our minds ready, creating the solid feeling in our guts that the house will work, that everything is ready.  And of course it will, and is.  There’s not a huge list of requirements for taking care of a baby.  A boob, a blanket, and attentive caretakers are probably sufficient for 99% of the baby’s needs, especially during the first months.  But our brains… they need some serious work before we’re ready to take care of our baby.

And slowly, we’re adapting, and our house is adapting with us, and by the time he gets here everything and everyone will be ready.  And it will be difficult to determine what exactly it was that finally made it ready, other than a certain amount of worrying, questioning, doubt, stress, debate, brain storming, furniture shuffling, color-picking, and out of it all comes readiness.  Through a little whirlwind of fretting and confusion and worry we earn the right to feel ready.


We had our 30 week (or, to be exact, 29 weeks and 5 days) appointment this afternoon!  It went quite well.  My blood tests from our 28 week appointment came back with some interesting results:

1) I have no issue processing sugars.  This was surprising to me!  I ate some white flour a few days before the test and felt horrible.  I’ve also been having some flora imbalance issues that are taking a rather long time to completely work out.  THUS, the pessimist in me felt 78% certain that I must have gestational diabetes.  Alas, this is not the case at all.  My sugar was on the very lowest end of what one’s normal glycemic range should be after consuming sugar, sugar, and more sugar for breakfast.

2) My Hematocrit levels were EXCELLENT.  My iron is off the hook with badassary!  One would think that I paid more than what I feel to be a minimal effort to eat well!  I suppose that it’s a very good thing that I don’t really crave horrible foods.  All this good iron indicates that I will have a much smaller chance of hemorrhaging during our home birth.  If pregnant woman’s Hematocrit is lower than 30%, she has to deliver in a hospital.  I am at 38%.

3) I have gained 22 pounds.  Frankly, I find this a little excessive.  This is because I very suddenly gained a few extra pounds during the month before I got pregnant, so I technically feel as if I am up 27 extra pounds.  She says that my 22 pound gain is perfect for my 5’10″ height.  What she says goes; I guess I’ll chalk these pounds all up to baby fat and pat myself on the back for all of the really really hard work I’m doing on keeping pregnancy so healthy.  Yeah?  Ok, just kidding.

I am serious when I confess that I am a lazy lazy pregnant lady who does exactly as her will tells her to do.   I just now had lunch at Chipotle and then stopped at the Cinnamon Works counter   on my way home for a blueberry bar.  And, no, blueberries are NOT local right now!  But my will made me do it!  Granted, Cinnamon Works bakes with far less sugar a whole lot of nuts- it is definitely the healthiest cookie option in town! But still!  Who needs a blueberry bar after a 790 calorie lunch at Chipolte?  Surely, no single Wednesday evening yoga class could heal this type of gluttony?

Milton did say when we stopped into Chipolte that I was sure to gain 3 more pounds by tomorrow.  But hey!  I have an idea!  Why not just not weigh myself again until next week?  Yeah, perfect.

4) The baby, though still a mover and a shaker who is not necessarily staying head down, seems to have progressed normally according to all the listening, poking, and measuring.  He’s still very playful in his movement, and has always been pretty active.  Go, little Benson, go!

With all of this good news, I have to tell you that the pessimist in me is waiting for the other shoe to drop.  The chubby-cheeked optimist in me is healthy enough to handle 10 pairs of shoes that are really really cute.

Thanks to my girl Kathy T for these!


Dear Baby B

by Esther on Wed, Feb 24th, 2010

in Letters to baby,Pregnancy by week,Week 29

It’s getting harder for me to torture the cat. The floor, from which I scoop her, seems to be getting further away as you grow bigger.

My grunting must concern her a bit, because she was just terribly patient with me as I held her like a reluctant little ball on my shoulder. Maybe she is intelligent enough to be a little afraid of the fact that she will very soon lose her status as the cutest thing in the loft.

I can almost guarantee you that she will not display much patience when you are old enough to figure out how to torture her in your own special baby way! I’m sure that we’ll have many laughs at her expense when that time arrives. We like to have laughs at the neurotic cat’s expense in this house. It’s much better fun than watching television!

Poor Soap-Face! We will be sure to feed her lots of wet food between your bashings. She’s a sensitive beast, but the key to her love is hidden in a very simple place. You’ll get some good early life lessons through watching her, I’ll bet.



All the Songs We Love the Most

by Esther on Sat, Feb 20th, 2010

in Pregnancy by week,Week 29

Since it’s important to me that our kid gets used to sleeping through all the sounds he’s going to be surrounded by while living in our one room loft, I am sure to listen to music as much as possible. As has been my tradition for as long as I’ve been rocking out, the music is always at a pretty high volume. Compound the home listening by my work in a pretty high-energy salon and I feel like this kid should be pretty soothed  by(or at least used to) the sounds of beautiful rock and roll.

One thing that I have been trying to do is become obsessed with an album. I had a client tell me that she and her husband listened to Rat-a-Tat-Tat constantly during her pregnancy a couple of years ago. As a result of this obsession, whenever they want the kid to go to sleep, they put on that particular album and it works wonders.

Upon hearing this story, Milton and I went on a quest to find upbeat but chill music that we would never tire of. Unfortunately, we like to buy a lot of music. Our obsessions are always relatively short lived, and clock in at about a month. A full season might find us listening to 4 albums regularly, peppered with 5-10 other randoms. Add this to the fact that we are addicted to iTunes genius playlists, and this kid will never hear the same selections played soothingly, ever.

Luckily, we do seem to have favorite genres in this house. We like rock infused electro pop, apparently. Lots and lots of it. Unless it’s winter, when we like what I’ll have to call Coral Rock. Of course, on any given day, these preferences could tip heavily in the direction of The Beatles or Ludwig Van Beethoven (in fact, there has been some debate in this house about actually naming the kid Ludwig, but that’s another post).

If I had to choose 2 albums that our kid knows well right this second, I’d venture to say that he’s a big fan of anything by Royksopp and the new Yeah Yeah Yeah’s album. Personally, I think that this is a good start for the type of kid we hope to have… one who goes to outdoor concerts with his parents starting at the age of 1, looking like this:

Come to think of it, I’m going to add those headphones to our baby registry right now.