April, 2004

Warning : this post may be more graphic than you want to read. If it’s any consolation, it’s more graphic than I want to live and more graphic than I really want to describe as well.

Yes, hi! I’m still here, and still pregnant. I’m extremely pregnant. I’m strange people stopping me in the street and saying I must be due any minute pregnant. I’m “oh no, you’re still here” from co-workers when I encounter them in the hallway pregnant. I’m moving very slowly, belly button transformed into an outtie, having difficulty with everything, people laughing at me and imitating my waddle pregnant.

When I saw the doctor on Wednesday she said I was 2 cm plus dilated, about 50 % effaced and that she could feel the baby’s head. I am not surprised she can feel the baby’s head, since I feel it with every step I take. There’s a lot of downward pressure on me almost all the time. People keep asking me if the baby has dropped and I keep thinking if by dropped you mean pushing down and hurting me then YES. With Sophia I never really felt a lot of contractions, but I’m either more attuned to them or my body has had better practice or something because I’m having them all the time. Not regularly, mind you, and not with any kind of progression, but at irregular intervals throughout the day. My due date is Monday. I don’t know if I’ll get to Monday. My doctor has been adamant all along that she didn’t want to wait too long after my due date to induce, so we set the date for induction on the Wednesday after my due date. As I said before, I have mixed feelings about being induced, and I’m still hoping I’ll be in labor by then or before then. However, unlike with Sophia, in which I never really felt that there was much going on with my body in terms of labor, this time I feel a lot of signs and symptoms and I think the chances of my going into labor before induction are pretty good. We’ll see, of course. I’m also much surer that this baby is to term, as I know to the day when it was conceived. With Sophia we kind of guessed at the date of conception, because we had no idea I would get pregnant so quickly and weren’t really keeping close track.

My mom came yesterday, so now I feel as though everything is in place and the baby can come. We have selected names (although we are keeping them to ourselves this time around) and my hospital bag is mostly packed and I have finished all the super completely urgent work things (though there are some still to be done that will make my colleagues lives easier if I can get to them tomorrow). In short, I am ready. We are ready. We want to see your face, child, come on out.

I am tired of being pregnant. Last time around, my fear of labor warred with my desire to have the pregnancy over and pretty much left things at a standoff. This time my body is older and less resilient and I’m ready for the end. In fact, I’m struggling with some pretty serious body loathing at the moment. I know that my weight gain is within 3-5 pounds of what it was for the last pregnancy, but I feel so much larger, and am so uncomfortable at this size. The weight is distributed differently this time around, I’m pretty sure. For one thing, I didn’t split three pairs of pants last time I was pregnant. Oh yes, the incident in the daycare parking lot was the third such pant ripping I’ve had this pregnancy, believe it or not. I have had lots of people tell me that pregnancy suits me, or that I don’t look so fat, or that it’s “all baby”. I don’t know whether these things are true or not, and I don’t really care. I feel hideously huge and I know better than any of them that it’s not the number of pounds. I spend most of my time thinking about how overweight people can live like this. I know it’s not the same because, for one thing, they can probably still breathe and don’t have a tiny head lodged up against their bladder, but I just can’t cope with being so gigantic and inflexible any longer. It’s not just my size and my lost mobility either. My feet sweat. I slather them in sweet smelling peppermint lotion, but if I have socks and shoes on for more than an hour, my socks are soaked and my feet stink. It’s disgusting. They hurt constantly too, but that seems less terrible for some reason. I’ve not only got more or less constant heartburn – even drinking a glass of water can make me burp and my esophagus burn – I’ve got perpetual flatulence as well. Disgusting and embarassing. I just don’t want to be anywhere near me, and can’t fathom how anyone else would want to be near me either. I know this condition is temporary and nearing its end. I know I will soon be too tired to care if my feet stink or not. Right now, though, it really bugs me. I’ve even had a small bout – and I must be insane for actually writing this down, but can’t anyone accuse me of being less than honest – with incontinence. For a while, any time I suddenly sneezed or coughed particularly forcefully (which is often, have I mentioned it’s allergy season?) I might also trickle out a little urine. If that didn’t just make you go ewwwwwwwwwww, I’m not sure what I could tell you to convince you that it’s positively awful. I had heard and read that this can happen especially in a second pregnancy yadda yadda but ugh and more ugh. Hate it. Marginal good news in this world of gross and disgusting is that when this first started happening to me about three or four weeks ago and I recovered from the shock of actually peeing myself, I stepped up my Kegel regimen a bit and I haven’t had any more problems like that in the last week or so. But ewwwww anyways, right? So yeah. I’m tired of being ruled by my body. I wish that when I was hungry I could ignore it instead of jumping up to eat something. I wish that when I was tired I could just take in some caffeine and soldier on. I wish I didn’t have to worry about putting one foot in front of the other in such a way as to not fall. I wish I didn’t feel like lifting things, even relatively small things, was such a strain. I wish I didn’t have to grunt like Monica Seles to climb stairs. I wish I could sit down without worrying about whether I can get back up. I wish I could be almost anywhere but in my body right now. I wish, I wish, I wish. I just can’t stand me.

On the other hand (she says, trying to be less negative), my hair looks great and my skin has no blemishes. I truly gloried in these things earlier on, but they seem very small consolation now. I’m already worried about when my hair is going to start falling out. I hated that last time around.

I don’t know when I’ll get another chance to write. Things are understandably crazy at my house, and despite the fact that I say we are ready, there still remains things that could/should/will be done if the baby gives us a little more time to do them. But we are ready. Any time you want to come on out, my dear, we are ready to greet you.

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20 Apr 2004, by

Baby Seals

This past weekend had a rather odd and vivid dream, which I recount, as usual, in the extended portion.

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14 Apr 2004, by

First of all, I had been meaning to gush on my blog about
the lovely spring weather. I’ve had minor allergy problems,
but mostly there’s been sunshine and stuff greening and blooming and all kinds of sweet beauty all around. I made a concerted effort this year to eat some local honey once a week, which I have heard and read can decrease your sensitivity to local flora, but I really have no way of telling whether that helped, or whether the things that affect me haven’t dumped their pollen yet, or whether
it’s just a milder allergy season this year. I’m still having minor sneezing and congestion issues, but what usually does me in is my eyes itching and swelling and turning red. It’s hard to cope with, especially since I already cope with eyestrain from heavy computer use. At any rate, I’ve had no eye symptoms whatsoever yet this spring, for which I’m really grateful. If I can get through
the pregnancy without needing allergy medication I will be very pleased indeed.

So the weather had been great, plus there’s finally been more light for longer and I’ve not felt like I should be hibernating. It’s also been deliciously warm. Of course, nothing this good could last, and this weekend the weather conspired to defy me by raining for three days straight, then having the temperatures plummet below sixty, culminating in a horrible dark and depressing day yesterday where the temperature didn’t break an abominable forty five all day. Last night we actually turned the heat on in
our house. The heat! In April! Ridiculous. Today is sunny and bright, however, and it’s supposed to get up past sixty, so perhaps there’s hope.

Well, most of the people I talk to on a daily basis have already heard this story, so in some sense blogging it seems like overkill, but part of the purpose of my writing here is to remind myself in the future of stuff that happened to me in the past, because my memory for events is unreliable. Yesterday morning, I went to drop off my child at daycare, as I do every week day morning. Now, like most daycares, my daycare has a setup for parents who are in too much of a hurry to park, get out of the vehicle and take their kids
inside. There’s a covered parking area in front of the door with two lanes for people to pull into and wait for one of the daycare workers to come out and get your kids. Supposedly, if you use these lanes, you’re not supposed to park and get out of the car, as that gums up the works and defeats the whole purpose of trying to make it a quick drive through area. Of course, the people using these lanes are
already the impatient type, so if a daycare employee doesn’t appear within 20 seconds or so they can often be seen hopping out of their car to take their kids inside. To be fair, there’s often not a person dedicated to taking these kids inside, and it sometimes does take longer than it should for someone to fetch the kids out of the car from inside, because the person assigned with this task may also
be assigned with other tasks. Still, if one is unsatisfied with the system, and is willing to get out of their car anyways, how much harder is it to pull into a parking space and do it right? Anyways, in addition to the two lanes for pulling up, there’s an additional uncovered lane, for the parents who actually like seeing their daycare provider
and who want to take their children inside themselves and settle them into their day. This is a drive through lane, that allows you to get at the parking spaces on the far side. From time to time, people park in the drive through lane, and about every three months the daycare sends a memo asking people to use the pull up lanes or park outright. For a while they were fining people five dollars if they parked in the drive through lane. At any rate, yesterday morning I go to drop my child off, pull around to the drive through lane because all the parking spaces are taken on the entrance side of the daycare only to find that someone has parked themselves there and is getting out of their car, so that I cannot get to a parking space and am stuck behind
this person in the drive through lane. He gets out and looks at me, and I gesture to him to please pull ahead or aside to let me through. He tells me to take a hike, only with expletives, proceeds to take his kid out of the car and looks at me again. I throw my hands up in exasperation and say “Uh-uh. You are not just parking there and taking your kid inside.” I’m inside my car, so obviously this person can’t hear me, but I’m sure he has no doubt as to how I feel about him being such a jerk. Well he vanishes inside and I’m stuck. I pop my head out my window to look around
hopefully for a daycare employee so I can complain. Of course, none is available. I realize that if I’m going to complain I’m going to identify this parent in some way and since it’s someone I don’t immediately recognize I grab a piece of paper and a pen to write the make model and license plate of the vehicle in front of me. At this point, the man emerges from the center, walks between our two cars and steps towards my window shouting, “What’s your problem?!”

I indicate that my problem is that I’m trying to get to a parking space so that I can drop my daughter off at daycare and he’s in the way. He steps toward me and starts yelling at me that he can park wherever he wants whenever he wants and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it and so on and so forth. I note that he may be able to park wherever, but he certainly isn’t supposed to. He carries on with his pacing and tirade, and I begin to wonder whether he’s going to threaten me or become physically violent, but
he shouts his piece and then he clambers into his vehicle and drives off. I feel a little sick as I pull into a parking space, but I’m grateful the man has gone and no one (and by no one I mean me, my daughter and my unborn baby) has been hurt. When I get around to the back of my car, though, I get another shock. Sophia’s eyes are wide and she’s obviously uncertain and scared. She tells me, tremulously, that she’s Sophia and I’m her mama. I assure her that yes, this is the case. I realize she needs some reassurance, so I tell her to come give me a hug. She climbs out of the car and rushes into my arms. I squat to hug her and as I do…riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip the pants I’m wearing split practically in half. I hug Sophia, without moving, thinking that I can’t believe I’m such a huge whale that I just split these pants, wondering whether my cardigan can cover me enough to go into the building and drop her off, and realizing I’m going to have to go back home to change and be hopelessly late and take time I can’t afford. I push all this away for the moment, straightening up and pulling my top down over my ass as far as it will go and hoping that’s good enough. I still don’t know whether the gaping hole was visible to everyone or not. Obviously I hope that it was not.

Sophia and I go inside and I spend a moment with her provider, who is really great and I’m very fond of. We talk over Sophia’s potty training successes and a few other things and then I take my leave. I go into the office to complain about the man who yelled at me and scared my daughter half to death. I explain there was a person parked in the drive through lane and that he was very unpleasant to me. I am told that it will be taken care of, and I realize that as I’m relaying the story my emotions are spinning out of control. I’m angry and then angrier than that. I feel my hands shaking, and my voice, as I speak. They assure me several times they’ll take care of it and I know I should sit down and talk about what taking care of it would entail and be rational and cool and explain in all detail what he said but instead I just keep saying “He was very unpleasant to me.” They ask me if I know who he is, and I don’t but I can point out which one is his child, and I do that. Then, I leave.

I get into the car and realize that none of this is a big deal, but as I’m driving away from the daycare I am completely overtaken by my emotions. By the time I
get home I’m bawling like a baby. I call my husband, because I don’t know what else to do and I know that he can probably help me to calm down. I feel awful and
stupid for crying and I just can’t stop. I know it’s unavoidable, that it’s just hormones and being eight and a half months pregnant and having a complete stranger
behave aggressively and rudely towards me and that it doesn’t mean anything that I’m crying but it’s so humiliating to have so little control over how you feel.
Which, of course, is only more upsetting and makes me cry more.

I don’t know why people have to be jerks. Everyone I’ve told the tale to has been completely appalled that someone could behave so poorly and be so overtly menacing in front of their own and someone else’s child. At our house, we never raise our voices except in play. I don’t think Sophia has ever been confronted with shouting that was not gleeful and positive. I don’t know how much or how little she really understood about what happened, but I do know its effect on her was profound. That day, during naptime, she woke up screaming and the provider had to soothe her back to sleep. This never happens. She is, as I’ve reported
many a time, an excellent sleeper. Her provider was so startled by this unusual behavior that she checked her over for physical wounds. Last night, she had nightmares and Kurt had to go in and see about her. Today at nap time she told her provider she didn’t want to sleep because she’d have bad dreams. I know that you cannot protect your children from bad things. I am glad that she saw me handling an aggressive situation in a way that was reasonably mature and non-violent. I am glad that I didn’t fall completely to pieces until she was well away from me.
However, I know I must have telegraphed some of my upset and fear to her anyways, and that she must have been very confused by the man coming over and screaming in anger and I find this upsetting, especially since it was so stupid and
unnecessary. I just don’t get what’s so difficult about parking your car in a parking space to go inside. I am glad that she is having dreams about what scares her, because I believe that dreams are a coping mechanism and that she will eventually work this all out and be able to face any situations like this that she encounters. However, it’s very difficult to see your child sink into a sleep and wake whimpering and know, in all likelihood, where the fear is coming from and be completely unable to free her from it. Still, I am glad that when she awakes frightened that there
are people there to comfort her, because I want her to know that she is as safe as we can make her.

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9 Apr 2004, by

So what am I doing up? I have no idea. Given a choice, I’d much rather be sleeping. However, for the last three weeks or so I’ve had uncharacteristic difficulty with this endeavor. I will wake up between 1 and 3 AM and be awake for two hours, and be a zombie the next day. I am not waking up because I’m physically uncomfortable, but the minute I open my eyes I find it difficult to go back to sleep. I have tried several things to get me back to sleep and none have worked very well. This is not at all like me. My doctor says that it’s my body preparing me for being up several times a night, but I certainly don’t remember having this issue last time I was pregnant. I feel like it must be a low level anxiety kind of thing: worries and fears about the baby that are not surfacing (or I’m not allowing to surface) during the day. I have no real evidence for this except for the fact that I seem to be having trouble sleeping. It seems odd to me that I can be worried about something and not be aware of it. I want more sleep desperately. I know it will be extra sparse in the weeks to come and I want to shore up and get as much as I can now. And yet, my body is thwarting me in this regard.

On Wednesday I felt pretty sure that I was going to have this baby. I had six contractions in about three hours, and I had an enormous amount of pressure on my groin as though the baby’s head were RIGHT THERE. I felt uncomfortable and unwell and a little panicked. I was having difficulty walking. There are several things I absolutely must get done before this baby can arrive and I can take maternity leave and they are not finished yet. However, the contractions didn’t intensify or speed up and eventually stopped, and I haven’t had any since, so I guess it was just a practice run. The first time I around I didn’t have very much in the way of Braxton-Hicks (I usually call them fake contractions, though my husband thinks that’s not a good term), but apparently this time my body is more serious about practicing. In a way, this pleases me, since I hope it’s an indicator that I will go into labor naturally and not have to be induced. It’s not that being induced was so terrible, and, in fact, it did have its advantages, but it is really not the way I prefer to have things happen. On the good side, it was guaranteed that I’d have my doctor delivering my baby because it was basically scheduled in advance. I have some fear of having another doctor I don’t know delivering my baby. I trust my doctor. Everyone else is a gamble. On the other hand, pitocin is horrible. I know that going into labor naturally doesn’t mean they won’t decide things aren’t moving fast enough and give you pitocin anyways, but if they’re inducing you, you’re going to get it for sure, and it’s horrible. Contractions are really sudden and violent under the influence of pitocin. I also think that if I can get into the hospital with most of the early part of labor gone that they’ll try less to medicate me and prepare me. And no, I don’t mean the epidural. I like epidurals. I have no issue with less pain during labor. It’s all the other stuff they give you that I find perplexing and displeasing. I took 2 or 3 pills at the insistence of a nurse and half the time she didn’t want to tell me what I was taking. I felt like they were “setting the stage” for my delivery and that this was something they had the luxury of doing because I was being induced, and that if I come to the hospital in labor already then maybe they won’t shove so many drugs at me. For example, to this day, I have no idea why I had to take Ritalin. She gave me a pill, I asked what it was, she said Ritalin and that I had to take it. Why? I didn’t ask then, and I suppose I should have, but it seemed bizarre to me, and it still does. I suppose that this opinion – that if labor is already substantially underway that they’ll dispense with a lot of the prep work – may be hopeful and optimistic on my part and even a bit of evasive (maybe if the baby’s already halfway out when I get there they won’t have time for the enema!) and probably not based in reality. I suppose that if I get a chance to do it that way that I’ll find out. Additionally, it would be nice to just know what it’s like to go into labor as a gradual progression instead of zero to sixty. With Sophia I was in labor between 3 and 4 hours. Everyone seems to think this is highly fortunate, and I’m not saying I want to struggle for 10 hours, but really, it came on so suddenly that I had difficulty following everything that was happening. There was a moment, for example, when the nurse couldn’t find Sophia’s heartbeat. I could tell she was really freaked out by this, though I wasn’t at all and I was sure the baby was fine, but it was like I was watching her panic on a satellite TV uplink from another continent. I wasn’t even there. I remember thinking to myself, “She looks concerned, maybe I should be worried too,” and yet not being able to garner the energy to ask her what the problem was, much less get riled over it. Maybe it was the Ritalin. I guess that being so close to the delivery date with this child is bringing back lots of memories of my previous experiences with labor, which I had always meant to document in more detail and never did. It’s good to know what to expect in some ways. Prior to Sophia I had never been hospitalized for anything. Now, at least, I’ve got some idea what I can expect, not just of labor itself but of medical procedures and how hospitals work. I’m not nearly as scared of labor as I was last time. I have a better grasp of the concept of labor as a means to an end, and not an end point in itself. Before I couldn’t picture anything beyond the effort and pain of giving birth. Now I know that’s just one small step in the process and that even if it’s extremely painful and difficult and I have a dreadful time of it, it’s finite. I’m not saying, of course, that I’m not going to be wishing I was elsewhere when I’m going through the worst of it, I’m just saying that I know I can hack it, and that helps a lot. Last time I was much more anxious about giving birth and even joked about letting the baby hang out inside until it was 18 or so.

Ok, now I’m ready to go back to bed and try to sleep. I hope it works. I’m very tired. Good night

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