A blog about babies: the babies I lost, the babies I never had, the baby who made me a Mama.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

This Time Last Year; or, Champagne Wishes and Baby-Filled Dreams

"This time last year" can have such a sad ring in our little corner of the internet: This time last year I thought things would be different. This time last year I thought 2011 would be my year. This time last year I had hope.

I'm remembering what I wrote at the end of 2009. At the end of 2010. How I looked back at years filled with loss and sadness and desperately clawed my way to whatever measure of peace and fulfillment I could. How I tried my damnedest to dwell on lovely vacations and home renovations and every happy moment with Lawyer Guy in order to fight back the darkness that threatened to overwhelm me.

I'm sure I don't need to say how stunningly joyful 2011 was and how gloriously grateful I am that this was, in fact, finally "our year." For me, there is an additional element of reflection, though: the cycle in which Smudgie was created started on New Year's Eve 2010. At every OB appointment, when they asked "When was the date of your last menstrual period," I remembered crying in the Bahamas as I watched the fireworks over the harbor. I remembered holding LG's hand as tight as I could and challenging the future to do it's very best to break me. And I remembered the surge of strength I felt in spite of my tears, knowing that I'd learned how to survive. And once that sort of reminiscence begins, it's hard to stop: I think of my first yoga classes two years ago, how I finished every session crying silently in shavasana and would walk home in the cold and dark praying that all we needed to get pregnant again was a little exercise.

For those of you with new babies or big bellies this year, I hope you spend New Year's Eve drinking in their sweet faces, their beautiful kicks: the most intoxicating champagne I can think of.

And for those still waiting and wishing and despairing, I hope 2012 is the year in which life finally turns sweet again. I'm proof that it can happen more suddenly than you'd believe.

Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Anger Management; or, Past, Present, Future

I've met many new mothers over the past few months. We're all sleep-deprived. We're all adjusting to new routines, new emotions, new bodies. We bond over breast-feeding and bottles, over going back to work or thinking about staying home, about the amazing and exciting strides our little guys and girls make almost every day. Some are younger, some are older, but we've all got something in common.

Still, I don't know if anyone else lost babies. Or if anyone else knows what it's like to sit with pants off on a paper-covered table waiting for doctors to help you make a baby. Or how it feels to stare at your umpteenth negative pregnancy test. Or what it's like to cry as you buy another package of tampons at the drug store. Or how it somehow hurts even more when you stop crying and pick up the tampons like business as usual.

I'm sure there are other people with other stories like mine or stories that put mine to shame. This post isn't really about that. It's about one important discovery I made the other day:

I'm not angry any more.

I can hear about an accidental pregnancy without tears. Or learn that a friend was mostly just freaked when she saw the positive sign without wanting to shank her.

I'm glad my Smudgie was as wanted as a baby could possibly be. I'm glad I knew with every fiber in my heart how lucky I am to have him, how lucky I've always been. There are possibly sad times ahead (though possibly--hey, why not try a little optimism?--we've paid our dues already). But right now, every moment with my little man is a precious kind of perfection.

Thank you for healing my heart, Smudgie dear. I love you, sleepless nights, constant laundry, and all.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Autumn Afternoons for Two; or, Nine Weeks

Smudgie and I are listening to Bach as the winter sun dies outside. Our Christmas tree (his first Christmas tree!) is glowing in the corner of the room. He had his two-month vaccines today, so he's a little out of sorts, fussing and sleeping in his swing.

It's been a busy but happy few weeks. We've met new moms in our neighborhood for walks and yoga classes and happy hours at local bars (nothing like 6 or 7 moms with pints and zonked-out babies occupying the bar stools with their diaper bags and ergo carriers). We've joined a knitting circle of new moms at a local coffee shop. It's both wonderful and heartbreaking how easy it is to meet people with a baby. In the past two months we've made more new friends than in the previous 3 years of living in Park Slope, which I love and feel a little guilty about. We're in the club now, and it's great, which makes the hardness of those years on the outside even sharper. Or maybe makes the happiness of this time even keener.

We've had lots of lovely autumn walks through the park together, just the two of us, Bella sometimes riding along in the lower basket of Smudgie's stroller. We've had lots of leisurely lunches at quiet restaurants chosen. He's a pretty great lunch date.

Smudgie is still teeny-- only 9 lbs 5oz today at 9 weeks and 22 inches. He's in the 25th percentile for length and the 5th for weight. The doctors tell us he's gaining just fine, perfectly on track, and that being small is not a problem. We think he's going to be long and lean, just like his daddy.

Smudgie loves to trade smiles in the mornings and he lights up when he's held up to see the colorful artwork over his crib. He stared mesmerized at the decorated tree last night, most likely captivated by the twinkling little lights. He can flip from belly to back and has been since he was 7 weeks. He's a tummy time champ. He's not the greatest sleeper, but we're getting one 4+ hr stretch a night and hoping he'll start to lengthen that soon.

We've also been dealing with reflux for the last few weeks. Smudgie's constantly wearing a bib these days. Tummy time may at any moment turn into an explosive situation. Spit-up has been known to coat his face and hair, though it doesn't seem to bother him. We've got a prescription waiting in my bag but are waiting to see if he improves at all on his own over the weekend and next week, as the past few days he's fussed and cried and spit up less.

Life with a two-month old is physically and mentally exhausting. But also very sweet.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Giving Thanks; or, Planning the Unplannable

It's way too early for us to be thinking about second (or later) children. And yet it's also only natural to say things like, "We'll do x/y/z when we have another one" or "In my next pregnancy I'll [blank]."

We still qualify with the infertile if. "If we have another child." "If I'm pregnant again." People must think that we're undecided about having more kids, when really we are (or I am) just careful after learning in a hard school not to count chickens. Don't want the universe to suspect we're making assumptions. No good ever comes of that.

But I did assume. I assumed we'd approach the task of giving Smudgie a sibling with the same dedication we went after parenthood in the first place: everything on the table and all our chips in. Now, after a brief, preliminary, and by no means definitive conversation with Lawyer Guy, I don't know anymore.

He wants a second child (and is possibly open to considering a third) but perhaps there are limits to what he'll do to have one, limits that didn't apply in the same way to the first. He suspects he wouldn't want to adopt. Or at least not to blithely assume it's a possibility for us without giving it serious thought. IVF also is a question mark.

I want Smudgie to have a brother or sister. I also love my husband and need him to be comfortable with any family-building method we choose. We've tabled these conversations until we actually need to have them (i.e., not for at least another year and likely even longer). But for the first time, I'm considering that Smudgie could wind up an only child, a scary proposition to someone with three siblings.

I feel angry that IF and loss are still rearing their heads in our lives, angry that we can't plan out our family with the railway timetable precision that so many of our family and friends can apply. I feel worried and a little sad that I may never have the family of my dreams. I feel tired at the thought of more ART and the tough conversations it inspires. I feel hopeful that we wont have to fight as hard this time, that we'll conceive again on our own and this time it will stick.

Mostly, though, I feel grateful for my son. I held him this weekend and stroked his unbelievably soft little velvety head. And I thought back to that conversation with LG when Smudgie woke me for an unexpected third time last night. Because this might be it. This might be my one shot at mommyhood, my one time with a newborn, and I don't want to miss or wish away a single moment of it.

I guess that's true for everyone. Maybe I should also feel grateful that I, at least, know it.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembrance Day

Sometimes when I think with excitement about how very much I have to learn about Smudgie over the beautiful decades of our lives together, I remember you and then I realize how much I know about him already.

I never got the chance to discover that you hiccup almost as much on the outside as you did on the inside-- at least four times a day all through the third trimester. I never felt your knees or elbows through the barrier of a tight swaddle and recognized their familiar pointiness from their poking against a very different kind of enclosure. I never compared your ultrasound images to your peacefully sleeping form, marveling at the little hands that extend above your head in your crib, just as they did before you were born.

I knew nothing, but I loved you anyway and missed you like my best friend when you were gone.

Today, two years later, I hold your sleeping little brother on my lap and don't know how to wish for anything more or anything different. When I look at him, I see perfection. But I don't want to say "It all turned out for the best' or "Everything happens for a reason." Because once upon a time you were here and then you weren't, and it broke my heart for me and for you. I wanted you to live and love and be happy. It is still so sad that you never got the chance to.

I wonder sometimes if I would love Smudgie in quite the exact way I do if it weren't for you coming and going first. I think of you when I look at him. I think of you when I hold him to my chest at night and kiss that smooth, precious place where his neck meets his shoulder.

Be at peace little one-- little ones. You are knit into the love that makes our family everyday. So you'll always be with us.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Calms and Storms; or, One Month!

A good friend (with a four month old daughter) sent me a care package after Smudgie was born, and in this package was a novel, A Big Storm knocked it Over by Laurie Colwin, an author I love. I spent the past week reading the novel in fits and spurts-- a few pages in bed before collapsing to sleep, a chapter or two in a coffee shop around the corner from my house, a big chunk lying on the floor of the bathroom while Smudgie chilled out in his bouncy chair, lulled to sleep by the bathroom fan and running shower (yes, it wastes both water and electricity, but it calms him down so that's that).

Toward the end of the book, I found a post-it note in the novel left by my friend. She wrote: "To me, this is the perfect description of mothering a newborn." The paragraph she described is this one:

Motherhood is a storm, a seizure: It is like weather. Nights of high wind followed by calm mornings of dense fog or brilliant sunshine that gives way to tropical rain, or blinding snow. Jane Louise and Edie found themselves swept away, cast ashore, washed overboard. It was hard to keep anything straight. The days seemed to congeal like rubber cement, although moments stood out in clearest, starkest brilliance. You might string these together on the charm bracelet of your memory if you could keep your eyes open long enough to remember anything (Colwin 225).

My little boy has had quite a stormy day, which succeeds the calmest and easiest night since he was born 1 month and 1 day ago. (So long a time! And so short!). He weighs 7 lbs 10 oz, which is almost two pounds more than when he was discharged from the hospital. He's awake for longer during the day and notices more and more-- lights shining through blinds, the orange hanging squirrel on his activity mat, his puppy sister Bella, his mommy's and daddy's eyes. He has formidable neck strength and is lulled to complacency (most of the time) by a running hairdryer. Last night, Lawyer Guy and I laid pillows and blankets on the floor of his room so we could run the hairdryer until Smudgie slept without worrying about burning his room down.

(I felt like a kid who had made a secret fort. We kissed under the blankets and it was one of those perfect moments I know I'll never forget).

I figured out how to get out of the house on my own-- snap the baby in his car seat, carry it down the stairs, negotiate getting stroller base/baby/diaper bag (and sometimes dog) out the door in shifts and down to the sidewalk and putting it all together, and then walk or meet a new friend or sit and eat lunch and read. It does make a difference to see the sunshine. The time passes faster until LG returns home.

And yesterday, on his One Month birthday, I thought that Smudgie gave me his first smile. We propped him against the boppy to photograph him and he looked right at me and smiled. I smiled back and he did it again, and I snapped this picture:

And then he pooped. A lot and loudly. Which is maybe also a metaphor for motherhood.

Looks like there's a stormy night ahead. I'd better go and get him from his daddy so we can batten down the hatches.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wild Man Blues; or, Three Weeks

My little boy is three weeks old!

These three weeks have raced by-- it feels like I was just pregnant yesterday. But I also feel like I've been sleep-deprived and changing diapers for a year. My relationship with time is strange--days both fly and crawl. Moments can feel monotonous, but then I look at the clock and can't believe it's 5 pm already.

This is my first week alone without motherly assistance. It's going fairly well. I feel more confident about my ability to read Smudgie's cues and to keep my spirits up through the poopsplosions and crying jags. (I'm actually rather amazed that I feel so relatively calm and even-natured-- the postpartum blues were one of my biggest fears and I'm very grateful to have mostly avoided them so far).

My biggest emotional issue right now is feeling useless and unproductive. I haven't gotten the hang of the Moby or Ergo yet and our stroller is too difficult for me to lug it up and down the stairs of our walk-up and assemble myself, so I haven't been leaving the house much on my own. And when Smudgie falls asleep during the day, I'm lucky if I manage to get a few loads of laundry done, pump some breast-milk, or wash and sterilize some bottles. I mostly read on the couch or catch a nap or watch tv.

I can't shut off the guilty, need-to-accomplish-things part of my brain. I feel bad that I'm not baking pies with all the apples we got from our CSA or finishing knitting Smudgie's blanket or cleaning the apartment. I feel bad that I haven't figured out the carriers yet so I can run errands or walk Bella or just introduce Smudgie to the world. I had a phone session with my therapist yesterday, who suggested I try to just be in the moment right now and not think of this time as achievement-oriented, which I agree is wise and I'm trying to do. But it's hard.

Also difficult is the spate of the fussies that Smudgie has weathered over the last week. Once or twice a day, he'll have a three-hour span where he won't sleep, doesn't want to eat, doesn't need a change, and doesn't want to be set down. We call this his Wild Man Phase, because of the way he'll grunt and bang his head around my boob and flail his arms like a tiny dictator having a tantrum. The Wild Man phases, with their whining and crying, are really difficult for LG and I to deal with, especially when they happen at 3 am. But at least we know that they're temporary and rarely last more than 4 hours, at which point Smudgie falls asleep and is out for hours.

I also made the mistake a few days ago of reading a sleep training book someone sent me. It ramped up my anxiety hardcore. Do I not feed Smudgie often enough? Too often? Should I really be letting him cry it out at less than a month. (No way, I last about 30 seconds when he cries before I start crying too). I got really worried about doing everything wrong and decided to stop reading books. Smudgie seems to be growing well and sleeps okay in his crib at night (though he will only fall asleep in my lap for daytime naps). So I'm going to try to follow my instincts and hope for the best. (As my bff said, no one goes off to college still needing to nurse to sleep, so one way or another these things get fixed.)

There's so much more I haven't touched on: Smudgie's blisters (a staph infection acquired in the hospital--scary!--but nearly gone after antibiotic cream), our first brunch outing as a family last weekend (successful!), my struggles with the Moby wrap and Ergo carrier (majorly disappointing and inconvenient). But I'm juggling a wild man on my lap and my lunch with my one-handed typing, so I'll leave you with a photo of my little dude stylin' in his fall duds.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Notes From Week Two; or, Boobs, Blues, Bella, and Blisters

Life with my Smudgie is slowly settling into a routine. A routine notably lacking in sleep but full of snuggles, kisses, explosive diaper changes, breastfeeding, and love.

Lawyer Guy returned to work last Tuesday after his week off. I was fairly terrified, not so much of being able to handle Smudgie on my own as much as worrying my mental and emotional state wouldn't be able to hold up to the hours of alone time sure to come. Fortunately, my mom and mother(s)-in-law either don't work, took off time from work, or were temporarily in the area, and have been visiting me every day LG is at work. Even if they're only here for three or so hours, it still gives me some adult conversation and a pair of arms to hold Smudgie for an hour or two so I can grab a little nap.

Thankfully, I think I'm doing well emotionally as a result of all this help. I had a little breakdown last week after a particularly exhausting night and an argument with LG. But a half-hour of crying, my mom's visit, and a quick solo walk around the block once LG got home helped me feel in control again. I didn't like feeling emotionally unwound like that, but I'm glad I was able to persevere through it and I'm hopeful that I won't have too many more such moments as my hormones re-regulate.

I also feel very lucky that breastfeeding has not been too much of a struggle so far. We learned last Monday that Smudgie had essentially regained his birth weight in only four days of feedings. My supply seems adequate and I treasure those early morning quiet times when I can kiss my baby's soft little head and stroke his hair. He latches on quickly and eats greedily--sometimes even choking himself in his hurry to get that milk down! There's a bit of pain at the beginning, but it's not unbearable and I'm working to get the latch exactly right to cut down on even that amount of pain. Our (non-flaky) doula recommended a local Lactation Consultant as well, and I'll be setting up an appointment with her if I run into any problems in the next few weeks.

Despite enjoying breastfeeding, I'm really looking forward to pumping next week and introducing the bottle in about 9 or 10 days. I can't wait to skip that one feeding each night and let LG take over and maybe get 4 or 5 hours of sleep in a row. Bliss!

We went for our first family walk around the block yesterday-- the whole family, including Bella! We picked up bagels and donuts from a local place, finalized our birth announcements order at the stationery store, and stopped off at the local breast-feeding/baby-wearing store to pick up breast pump parts and nursing tank tops. It was a crisp and lovely fall day, the sun was shining, and I felt so close to Lawyer Guy. I spent so many months walking those uneven sidewalks dreaming of this family that I now have. Amazing.

Bella's doing well with the adjustment, by the way. She spent over a week staying with her grandmas while LG and I tried to get into the baby-watching groove, but came back to the fold on Thursday. She's intensely interested in Smudgie, but as long as she can see him and see what we're doing with him she's content to sniff his feet or head and settle down on the couch or at the end of the bed for a snooze while I feed him. When he's crying and she can't see him--we're standing and he's in our arms or we're changing him or he's in his stroller--she gets worked up and barks. But she's made such strides over the past few days, we're confident that she and Smudgie will be grand friends soon. Already she runs to peep in his crib in the mornings after her walk.

The only real snag we've hit has been a strange case of blistering around Smudgie's diaper area. He gets little white heads that occasionally blossom into puffy, liquid-filled blisters. Our pedi sent us racing to the pediatric surgeon in Manhattan last week when she saw the first one, worrying that it was infected. But it turned out to be fine, which helped keep us calm when more blisters appeared over the following week. We'll be taking him in to a dermatologist tomorrow morning to figure out what exactly is going on, but we're trying not to worry too much since these blisters don't bother Smudgie at all appear to be totally harmless once they've burst.

There are little challenges all the time-- moments when I worry that putting him in a swing or his crib to sleep during the day rather than holding him the whole time is taking the easy way out or when I stress about over- or under-feeding him. But as of now, the good moments far outweigh the trying, and that is a wonderful blessing.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Smudgie's Birth Story; or, Updates from Newborn Land

(I'm writing this post over a series of days because, yeah, they weren't lying. Newborns are awesome but exhausting.)

Here's a picture of the incredible view from the big reclining chair in my living room:

I had a feeling my boy would be able to rock a pastel pink butterfly swing with no problem at all. (It's a loaner from his girl cousins). The swing is not in motion, of course, though the sound component is on and lulls a swaddled Smudgie to sleep after feedings, allowing LG and I to catch some rest of our own. Or to eat. Or go to the bathroom. Exciting stuff like that.

Lawyer Guy and I have an okay system going on right now-- as much as a 5-day-old baby can respond to systems. We each try to spell each other once a day so the other can get in a substantial nap. His tend to be a wee bit more substantial, since I can breastfeed while he sleeps and the reverse isn't true (no, I'm not pumping and won't be for at least a month so as not to interfere with my supply). At night, he handles all diaper changes and fetches Smudgie from his crib next door so I can feed him. It's working okay so far, though we certainly have our moments when we miss the night nurses and nursery at the hospital!

As the stealthy lack-of-sleep-due-to-newborn coma steals over me, I need to narrate Smudgie's birth story. I don't want to gain too much distance from it and forget all the details. The short version of the story is: I had a great, successful labor, a good chunk of it at home, a good chunk of it eased in the hospital by an epidural, I pushed for slightly under a half hour, and here we all are: healthy and happy, if sore and ridiculously tired. The long story is longer....

I had a busy day on Monday before I came home and updated the blog about my Ob appointment. I'd had a therapy session in the morning, a super long, leisurely lunch with a friend, my appointment, a meet up with Fairy Tale Ending and her little boy afterward, and then the trek home to Brooklyn, where we arived around 7. I was feeling tired but very encouraged by the progress I'd made at the appointment. I was planning all the nice enjoyable things I'd do for the rest of the week while I waited for Smudgie to arrive.

LG and I ate dinner and I watched my guilty pleasure tv show, Gossip Girl. I was feeling awfully uncomfortable throughout the show, with a backache and lots of "Braxton-Hicks" (or so I thought), but I perservered for the sake of Chuck Bass.

I continued to fell really uncomfortable for about an hour, but everything was centered in my lower pelvis, not radiating throughout my stomach, so I didn't think it could be a contraction. LG had gone to bed around 9:30, and at about 10 I decided to settle in with a book and take my mind off the discomfort. I laid down and suddenly realized that these pains were coming pretty regularly. Maybe I should time them by the digital clock on my nook.

10:17. 10:22. 10:27. 10:32.

At that point I woke LG up, saying, "I think I'm having contractions." We timed a few more together (as he shook off his grogginess). Still 5 minutes apart.

At this point, we had a little debate over whether we should call our doula first or our doctor. We went with the doula. And...here comes a strange complication.

I think I posted here about our doula's initial flakitude--missing our first meeting because of attending another birth and not letting us know. We'd moved on from that, but I must confess I never 100% trusted the situation (why I continued with her is the subject of another post).

When I got home from my appointment Monday evening, I had e-mailed her to let her know the status and that I probably would be going into labor that week. Once LG and I realized we needed to figure out if I was actually in labor, I went to get my phone and saw that Flaky Doula had written me back.

She was bailing on us. She had recently become pregnant, had some latex allergy that had landed her in the ER, I don't even know what. She had found us a replacement doula and gave us her contact info.

Neither of us had the time or energy to really process this news. LG didn't want a stranger participating in the birth. I just needed information about what was going on and needed it quickly-- by this point, the contractions required me to stand and breathe to get through them. We called Flaky Doula anyway and told her that we were likely in labor right then. She patched in Replacement Doula.

Immediately, I found Doula #2's voice and energy to be calming, soothing, and in charge. I trusted her just from hearing her over the phone. I decided I wanted to just go with this sudden change and use her. We told her we would call our doctor's office and be in touch. LG was skeptical, but deferred to me. A good decision, since I was the one panting in pain.

The doctor on call (Dr. F, for those who know my practice) wanted us to observe the contractions for another hour and then call back. Because of the internal exam I'd had, there was the chance that this was a false trigger and that labor would slow soon. He didn't think it would, but it was a possibility.

And sure enough, it did. Within 20 minutes or so, the contractions were down to once every 10 minutes. I assumed things were dying down. I called New Doula and she said to keep an eye on this, that sometimes our bodies give us a rest before kicking into a new stage of labor. I lay down and tried to sleep between contractions, asking LG to time them to see if they sped up.

They didn't. They held at one every 10 minutes for the next two hours. But they became extremely intense. I started moaning. I started feeling nausea at the end of each one. I think at one point I turned to LG and said, "Make it stop, make it stop." I soon couldn't sleep between them anymore. I think at this point, I said "As soon as we get to the hospital I'm having an epidural."

At around 2:30 am they picked up the pace again and went back to every 5 minutes. I wanted to count them for a full half-hour before getting in touch with doctor and doula again. But after moaning through three, I was struck with the unmistakeable urge to vomit. I got out of bed and sank to the floor, knowing I wasn't going to make it to the bathroom. I puked all over the hardwood, somehow missing the dog bed and massive pile of shams and extra pillows next to me.

While LG cleaned the puke up, I cleaned myself up and bore through another few contractions in the shower. The doctor told us to come to the hospital as soon as LG told him about the vomiting. We arranged to meet the doula there.

LG drove like a maniac, running red lights and tearing down the highway. We made it to our hospital on the UES in only 15 minutes. After demanding an epidural from the person entering my info into the computer and puking all over the floor of the L&D room they gave us, I finally got into my hospital gown and was examined by the staff doctor.

I was 6 cm already. They stepped up the request for the epidural and our doula and office's on-call doctor arrived around the same time. New Doula helped me through the contractions I had while waiting for the epi to be administered and kick in, and I knew immediately that I was glad she was assisting at the birth. She was calming, soothing, comforting and all around great.

By the time the shift changed around 6 am, I was able to rest. Dr. S, one of the main Obs at my practice, took over and examined me. I'd gone to 8 cm in less than two hours. Things were progressing well.

Over the next three hours, I rested and talked to LG and the doula, who helped me switch from lying on one side to lying on the other over and over. They gave me massages and helped me fall asleep. LG contacted our families, who gathered in the waiting area downstairs. I slept for about 45 minutes, and when I woke shortly before 9, Dr. S came to examine me. I was 10 cm. Time to start pushing.

I freaked out a little and started crying. I was scared of it hurting and didn't think I could do it. New Doula calmed me, told me my body knew what to do, that I'd gone through the worst part, that I could handle this. Everyone got into position, Dr. S cranked up his pushing playlist, and we got started.

I have no idea how I did it. During the breaks between contractions, my brain told me that this just wasn't going to work. But during contractions, I let instinct take over and followed Dr. S's count and the nurse's instructions. Somehow, after 20 minutes of pushing, I realized the pressure had changed. I heard Dr. S. call for the receiving blanket (apparently they placed it on my chest, which I didn't notice at all). He told someone we would have a baby in the next five minutes.

I got the head out with the biggest push of my life--apparently Smudgie let out a cry before his body was even free. I heard Dr. S say, "It's a boy!" and suddenly he was on my chest and LG and I both were sobbing. I kept stroking his wiggly little body, thinking how I had felt it squirming inside me a few hours before. I saw his mouth and eyes and said to LG, "He looks exactly like you!" It was everything I had hoped that moment would be and more.

They topped of my anesthesia to stitch some tears. Our families came to meet our son. And then we started our lives as a family of three. But that will have to wait for another time, because I'm tired and Smudgie's going to need to be fed soon.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It's a Boy!

Mr. Smudgie Sloper arrived at 9:36 am on October 4th. He weighed in at a bruising 6lb 6oz and 18 inches long. He looks just like his daddy and is a quiet little owl, taking in the world with big attentive eyes and barely making a peep. He's fed twice but seems much more interested in sleeping.

He's already our world.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Progress!; or, 39 Weeks

I spent much of the past week feeling frustrated over last Monday's lack of progress. I worried about going overdue, needing to be induced or have a c-section, and just the uncertainty of not knowing when labor will strike. I began feeling a few more prelabor symptoms--backaches (sometimes coordinated with cramping, sometimes on their own), pressure in the pelvis, occasional exhaustion. But I still had enough energy and felt nimble enough to attend a wedding about 45 minutes outside of the city with Lawyer Guy on Saturday night. And to do it in 4-inch heels, no less (we lasted until they served a selection of pies at about 10 pm. I had to stay for the pies).

I fully expected to be told this afternoon that I was still high and closed and that the various aches and pangs and discomforts I felt all week had amounted to not much.

But no! I'm 3 cm dilated and the doctor felt the baby's head when she did the internal exam! (That explains the feeling that I've been carrying a bowling ball between my hip bones, I guess). I also started losing pieces of my mucus plug today-- delightful globs of what looks like creamy brown snot. (Too much information? I thought some might want to know for future reference).

The doctor thinks I'll likely go into labor on my own, possibly before my appointment scheduled for next Monday. I can't believe Smudgie could be in my arms in less than a week! Less than a week until we can hold him or her, give a name, find out who this little person is.

I know that I could be waiting quite a while longer--people have walked around many centimeters dilated for weeks. But this was the boost I needed to help me enjoy whatever time I have left until Smudgie arrives. Time with Lawyer Guy and Bella, time with myself, time to read and rest and dream of the little baby I hope will be with us soon.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Progress?; or, 38 Weeks

It's been just over 2 weeks since I passed my oral exam, and I'm amazed at what we have accomplished in that time. In the span of about 18 days, Lawyer Guy and I:
  • Made two trips to Buy Buy Baby, acquired all the necessities we still lacked, made exchanges, and cashed in copious coupons to get about $550 worth of stuff for $150.
  • Washed, folded and stored all newborn and 0-3 month clothing, crib sheets and mattress pads, swaddlers, burp clothes, blankets, and baby towels.
  • Assembled an additional over-the-toilet storage unit for the bathroom, winnowed our toiletries and medicine cabinet down to the essentials, neatly rearranged the under-sink cabinet with stackable boxes, installed a new towel rack on the door, and cleared every bit of clutter off the bathroom floor.
  • Rearranged the coat closet to fit our umbrella stroller and reorganized the crap on the shelves into neat boxes and bins.
  • Purged and reorganized the utility closet, getting rid of inessentials, consolidating items into hanging under-shelf baskets, and moving items from kitchen cabinets to the pantry.
  • Purged items from the kitchen cabinets, clearing up two full cabinets for baby things (currently storing all the bottle sampler sets we got at our shower).
  • Catalogued all of the loose internet-print-out and magazine-rip-out recipes that were on top of the refrigerator into a big binder.
  • Catalogued all my Playbills from 20+ years of theater going into binders and put them away.
  • Had a cleaning service deep-clean the entire apartment.
  • Interviewed pediatricians and figured out which practice we prefer.
  • Installed the car seat and had it inspected.
  • Chopped, bagged, and froze half our CSA veggies for winter cooking.
  • Prepared and froze several casseroles, a tupperware of tomato soup, and a bag of chocolate chip cookies for after Smudgie comes.
  • Picked up the bulky baby things we're borrowing (like a swing and bouncy chair that we weren't planning to buy b/c of space issues) from my SIL and BIL.
  • Finished assembling all furniture for Smudgie's room.
  • Dropped off the art for Smudgie's room at the framers.
  • Packed hospital and diaper bags, excepting toiletries and items (like cell phone and keys) we need on a daily basis.
  • Got flu shots.
Which means I have finished literally everything on my pre-baby to-do list, with the exception of making one or two additional casseroles and uploading my CD collection to iTunes and purging the bulk of it (I know,  really pressing stuff).

And now that my parents arrive back on the East Coast today for the next several months, I actually feel kinda ready for the baby to come. Somehow I had myself convinced that I needed to accomplish literally everything listed up above before I could bring a baby home. And somehow I did. So despite the fear or anxiety I still have about giving birth and caring for a child, in a deep part of myself I finally feel like this home is as ready as it'll ever be to welcome a little baby.

Which naturally means that my 38-week appointment yesterday did not give me the news I hoped for.

To preface, I got the best news of all at my biophysical profile: Smudgie looks great, shows good activity, I have lots of fluid, and baby is very happy in there. Perfect. I love hearing that word (especially when Smudgie decides to fall asleep and not kick me at all on the way to the appointment and then takes forever to wake up and show his or her stuff to the ultrasound tech. I swear, this baby loves to mess with us).

But when I got upstairs to meet with the doctor, I learned that he had to leave early for a family emergency and I'd be seeing one of the practice's midwives. I don't have any objection to seeing a midwife, but she won't be potentially delivering Smudgie, and I'd been looking forward to reconnecting with one of the two most likely doctors to be on-call when I go into labor.

Then I had my first internal exam. And after two weeks of increasing cramping, diarrhea, nausea, baby-dropping pressure, and cervical pain, I'm a fingertip dilated. I had convinced myself it would be more, so I was disappointed, I admit, even though I know that you can be many cm dilated for weeks or completely closed and go into labor the next day. I've thought the whole pregnancy that if I made it to full term I would go overdue and I still think that's true.

I'm happy to be here and I still like being pregnant-- I like having this special connection to Smudgie that no one else does. I also am enjoying spending time alone with LG and trying to make every day special for the two of us. So I'm not in a hurry for the pregnancy to end, by any means, and I'm not ready to talk induction or will be for a very long time.

But I'm also feeling finally ready to meet this little boy or girl and have that moment I've dreamed of for years: holding my child for the first time. It's so close I can almost feel the baby's weight in my arms, but also (I know) still so scarily far away.

It's been over 2.5 years since we started trying to have a baby. We've waited all this time to meet him or her. I know I can wait a little longer.

(The Smudgie and Nursery Pages have both been updated. The nursery is close to done but not completely-- we're still waiting for all the art from the framers, which should be ready in another week or two, and we're holding off on a few items like the curtains and hamper until Smudgie is born and we can choose either pink or navy for them. I'll post better pictures after the whole room is complete. And FYI: the mobile that's just barely visible over the crib is the Flensted bunny mobile, a shower gift and I love it).

Monday, September 19, 2011

Towing 6 Pounds; or, Okay, I'm Finally Willing to Admit I Feel Crappy

Last week, I told myself I'd be happy to be pregnant forever. I felt great, if big, and I could do this for another 3/4/5 weeks.

This week...not so much.

I'm finally there: in waddling, can't get a decent night's sleep, carrying a bowling ball around inside me territory. I've also either got an attack of the worst fall allergies of my life or I've caught Lawyer Guy's cold-- I'm tired, run down, sniffly, sneezy, sore throat-y, and achey. As I flopped and strained in bed last night, my pelvis aching as my heavy belly pulled it toward the mattress, my bladder crying to be emptied for the 4th time, and my nose rubbed raw from the number of times I'd blown it, I thought for the first time that I'd be okay going into labor sooner rather than later. Even if all the closets aren't reorganized yet.

So I'm now in official count-down mode. There are 2.5 weeks left until my due date, 3.5 until a likely overdue induction date at 41 weeks. Crazy soon from a mental, emotional, and practical standpoint. Crazy far from a physical one.

The good news is, according to our appointment this morning Smudgie looks great. Good movement and tone and fluid (another 8/8 on the biophysical profile), and they estimated his or her weight at 6 lbs 5 oz. I pick my jaw up off the floor after every one of these sessions. What a big baby! Good job, Smudgie, keep growing big and strong!

There's unfortunately not much rest for the weary around these parts. After doctor's appointments all morning and afternoon, I've got pediatrician consults tonight and tomorrow night, and I'll probably have to attend at least one on my own because of LG's work schedule. I've got to finish writing my thank yous today or tomorrow, bang out a quick freelance writing assignment, and finally cut the tags and wash some clothes and pack our hospital bag.

But I'm also going to go drink a big glass of orange juice and take a nap. I'm going make sure LG and I get out to some dinners and movies. I'm going to read a trashy novel or two and get a prenatal massage and a pedicure. Feeling good (or at least a little better) is a worthy goal too, even it's effects aren't as tangible as last weekend's Reorganize the Bathroom frenzy.

Friday, September 16, 2011

You Will Meet a Short, Possibly Dark Stranger; or, 37 Weeks

In case you didn't notice, the last two months of my life have been rather over-stuffed and frantic. Preparing to travel, traveling, multiple flights to multiple places, several different kinds of intense work and family events, studying, exam anxiety: there's been a lot on my mind.

I'm relieved to be done and proud that I did it all. And while I would not recommend this third-trimester schedule to any pregnant women in my life, it did take my mind off the aches and pains and fears, at least sometimes and for a little while. When you are pushing yourself to your physical and mental limits, you have to prioritize where you put your attention. Worrying about non-immediate threats was not an option for me.

Which brings me to today: 37 weeks. Full term. With nothing to do but clean and organize my house. And realizing...

Holy crap, I might actually be having a baby really really soon. Not the hypothetical "baby" I imagined during our years of trying and months of pregnancy. But a real, live, pooping, eating, crying, personal-identity-having baby.

Can I admit that I'm nervous? Not in the horrible throat-grabbing way that terror overtakes me when I worry that something is wrong with Smudgie (and I still have those days and those kinds of fears). But I think in the more general new-mom-to-be kind of way.

Am I ready for this? Will I get any sleep? How will I handle childbirth? Will it be awful and miserable? Will I miss my old life? Will I be any good as a mom? Will our marriage suffer?

I know I am terribly lucky to even be able to ask myself those questions. And a year ago, I would have thought they were all either stupid, irrelevant, or inconsequential. Of course it will be hard! Of course I won't get any sleep! Of course my marriage will change! Why even wonder?

I guess the biggest question that I'm finally confronting is about Smudgie him- or herself. Who is this little person I've been carrying for almost nine months? What will he or she be and do and like and want? We've been a part of each other for so long and it's almost time for us to separate and I am feeling that very intensely all of a sudden. I don't really know you, Smudgie, though I hope I get to spend a lifetime learning all about you. And yet you're the most dearly beloved and intimately known stranger I've ever encountered.

So much right now is mysterious and unknown. I'm excited to learn some of the answers, but also not quite ready to.

37 weeks and finally accepting I'm pregnant. Full term and not ready for it to end. Not sure how to transition from "Please let me keep this baby inside me one more day" to "Okay, time to let the baby out."

I focus on the minutiae of baby prep--choosing an infant tub and organizing shelves and knitting a blanket and setting up car seat installation inspections--because the bigger preparations seem too hard to grasp.

None of it was ever in my control. A lesson I thought IF and loss had taught me, but one I need to continually relearn.

I guess we'll figure it out together, Smudgie, LG, Bella and me. I guess we'll do our best.

Monday, September 12, 2011

ABD; or, ABB

 My goodness, what a busy few weeks it's been. I spent my days and nights cramming books into my brain as fast as I could in preparation for last Friday's big qualifying exam. It was exhausting and everything else--blogging, baby prep, socializing--went on hold until I finished.

Everything, that it, except my baby shower. Doctor Lady and her mother hosted it at her family's shore house the weekend before the exam. About 25 friends and family attended and it was utterly wonderful. I felt happy and loved and so very content. And, to make matters even lovelier, my dear bloggie friend Stef B. conspired with Doctor Lady to create some absolutely BEAUTIFUL bring-a-book-theme appropriate additions to the shower in my nursery colors of grey and yellow. She made crepe-paper poufs to hang from the lights; grey-and-white drinking straws with yellow flags bearing Lawyer Guy's (and Smudgie's) surname initial; favor bookmarks; and the most incredible library cards and sleeves for guests to fill out and affix to the books that they brought for Smudgie, listing the title, their name, and a little note about their hopes and wishes for him or her. I wish I could share the pictures of her amazing work, but they have LG's rather distinctive surname on them, so you'll just have to use your imaginations.

I kept my emotions together all day until the end, when I opened the gift Stef had sent after most of the guests had left. It's a framed quote from "Just Haven't Met You Yet" that she designed in the grey and yellow motif with which she decorated all the projects. I had to struggle to keep from bawling, remembering listening to that song last spring and summer and forcing myself to be hopeful and happy when all I wanted to do was sink into a hole in the ground and never come out (or rip the heads of small, defenseless creatures). I feel so blessed to be where I am today instead.

Then, five days later I took my exam. And for those who aren't down with the academic lingo, the first part of my post title means "All But Dissertation," which is what I am right now, which means I passed! And not only that, I passed with distinction! I am proud, relieved, and so happy to have time to think about other things. I'm also intellectually ready to put together my dissertation proposal, so the exam process definitely worked. In fact, I could probably bang out a draft this month, but I won't because of the second part of my title: ABB, or All But Baby.

I studied hard to get myself into the best position academically that I could before taking time off. Now I need to get myself and my house ready for Smudgie's arrival. LG and I spent the weekend working on that, stocking up on Saturday on necessary items (like the car seat and changing tray for the dresser) that we didn't receive at the shower. And then yesterday we took an all-day intensive birthing class. We had no time this summer to sign up for the weekly ones, so the 9-5:30 class it was. It was overwhelming but helpful to learn the admissions procedures at our hospitals and to get a sense of where we will be and how it might go. And after that class, meeting with our doula, reading some books, and speaking to our docs, I think the phrase "5-1-1" is tattooed on my brain. Contractions every 5 minutes, lasting 1 minute each, for an hour. Got it.

This morning we had our first biophysical profile and 36-week check-up. No growth scan (that's next week), so we don't know Smudgie's size estimate. But the bebe is still head-down (awesome) and got a perfect 8/8 in no time at all in terms of fetal movement, tone, and all the other things they look for. Everyone said he or she looks great which is beautiful for a still-too anxious mama-to-be to hear.

So, where does that leave us? We have all our weekly appointments scheduled through 40 weeks. I'm tackling a host of organizational projects around the house. I think I'm going to make myself cut the tags off the baby clothes and wash them once we hit 37 weeks on Friday. I'm going to finish knitting my baby's blanket, take a ton of prenatal yoga, walk with my husband, go out to dinner, see a movie (I don't care which one, I want to see something), have lunch with friends, and try to convince my stubborn brain, as much as possible, that this is actually going to happen and we are actually going to bring home a baby sometime in early- to mid-October.

All in all, a pretty wonderful month lies ahead.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Brooklyn Beat; or, Odds and Ends

Since lovely Irene is sweeping through town tomorrow, I should probably post something so everyone knows I made it back from California just in time for an earthquake and a hurricane. I'd been holding out for a longer post with lots of news, but I've been too overwhelmed with preparing for my qualifying exam (in two weeks exactly) to write anything substantial. So, in sum:

-- Napa with Lawyer Guy was incredible: gorgeous scenery, great food, relaxing hotel. I even got a prenatal massage, and lying on my tummy (propped up with special belly-craddling pillows) was utter bliss.

-- I did have one massive freak-out our last night and day in Napa when Smudgie decided to play coy with me and not move. Naughty baby. Scared the hell out of me. Now he/she is back to tap dancing.

-- My sister's wedding was utterly beautiful (I may post some shots of the reception site so you can see how gorgeous it was--outside on a bluff overlooking green, vine-covered hills). I had tons of fun dancing and didn't even mind not being able to drink. (Okay, true confession: I had half a glass of wine and felt like falling asleep. Then the waitress topped off my glass without checking with me first, I got nervous about losing track of my consumption, and stopped drinking altogether).

-- Plane ride with LG is much better than without. Plane ride with LG + wumping Smudgie is best of all.

--Smudgie looked great at the 33-week appointment. He/she is about 4.5 lbs and right around 30% for size, which my docs think is fine. The MFM estimated I'll deliver a 6.5-7 lb baby, which sounds pretty normal to me and I'm totally cool with that. I'm feeling really good, with lots of energy despite not sleeping well and very few aches and pains.

-- I scheduled all of my remaining Ob appointments, growth scans, and biophysical profiles for the remainder of the pregnancy. That was pretty intense, though it's good to have it all on the calendar.

-- I thought my old, small apartment building was in the early stages of collapsing during the earthquake last Tuesday. The thought of a natural disaster never occurred to me. I grabbed Bella and hightailed it to the street.

-- My studying just keeps getting derailed by natural disasters. I spent all day tracking Irene's progress, debating whether to decamp to my mother-in-law's in the suburbs (for now we're staying put), and stocking up on water and non-perishables. Doesn't leave much time for studying Walter Scott. I'm so going to fail.

-- Studying has also been derailed by the beginnings of setting up our nursery. We put down the rug and set up the glider, crib, and dresser this week. I managed to not hyperventilate and it's already my favorite room in the apartment, though I still get overwhelmed and nervous when I think about it too much (then I just shut the door and go back to real life). I really hope it's not destroyed by torrents of rain or a roof collapse tomorrow night.

-- I have nursery shots and a belly pic, but don't have the time or mental space to add them.

-- My shower is next Sunday out on the Jersey shore. I hope the hurricane damage is cleaned up by then (can you tell that this freaking hurricane derailing my last few weeks of pregnancy is really pissing me off? Because obviously it's all about me).

--- Hurricane also led to the cancellation of our birth education class at our hospital tomorrow. We've been rescheduled for two weeks later. 36 weeks isn't too late to learn about this stuff, right?

-- I'm 34 weeks today. Six weeks to go. Wow.

-- I reaaaaally need all four weeks between my exam (the day I turn 36 weeks) and my due date in order to prep. I have done NOTHING--nothing's washed, nothing's finished, we've bought barely anything. I desperately need to focus on school that last week after my shower, so I can't even start to take stock of what we still need until after 36 weeks. I'm probably the only woman alive who wouldn't mind being overdue. But just a little.

-- I am grateful grateful grateful every day for this sweet, squirmy baby inside me. I love him or her so much.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

San Diego Sunshine; or, California Recap...So Far

My Californian peregrinations continue with a 6-day stay at my BFF Doctor Lady's home down south. I'm once again wireless-enabled and checking in with my beloved blogs and tweeps whenever I can, but I'm also in a serious time-crunch with reading and paper writing prior to my exam in early September, so blogging and twitter are of necessity on the back burner.

The conference was incredible. It was also incredibly exhausting. It's an annual conference that brings together academics, funded graduate student participants (so my conference fees, room & board, and meals were all paid for by my institution), high-school teachers, college students, and members of the public with an interest in the figure whose work is discussed. Over the 9 days I was there, I attended 21 lectures, 12 of them 1-hr long keynote lectures. I participated in a writing workshop every morning at 8:30 and had a seminar with fellow grad students every afternoon. I attended a party with grad students and faculty every night that started at 9 and went to the famed ? of "crazy" birthday party invitations (I usually lasted until about 11:30). I spoke about my "project" more times that I can count and met some incredible fellow-students working in my field whom I hope I can encounter at future conferences and gatherings.

It was academically enriching, professionally fulfilling, and lots and lots of fun. I'm so glad I didn't let my fears keep me from going. But I also ran myself a bit ragged. I'm not good at saying no to things. About half-way through the week, I woke one morning to see a sudden shower of metallic spots filling my vision. I thought lightning bugs had infested my room until they disappeared after 20-30 seconds or so. After some frightened googling and a self-diagnosis of pre-eclampsia, I called my doctors' emergency number that evening after hours and was told it was most likely morning low-blood pressure and to keep an eye on things but not worry too much. I think my body was sending me a definite signal that it was time to slow down.

I'm resting a lot down at Doctor Lady's: reading on the couch while she and her husband are at the hospital for work and her adorable little boy (who has a total crush on me) is at day care; cooking easy dinners for them all each night to earn my keep; trying to sleep in and nap as I feel like it. It's wonderful to see her for an extended amount of time. But I am also so very happy that on Friday morning, Lawyer Guy and I will be reuniting at the San Francisco airport and heading up to Napa for some much-needed alone time before the wedding.

Wish me luck on the flight--my last solo journey before LG is with me again. They've been hard, but I think I'm coping okay. Smudgie kicks up a storm and I focus on those precious movements and that seems to get me through.

Friday, July 29, 2011

This Is Just to Say That...

...I survived the plane trip/shuttle ride/walk around university campus.

...LG made it home Thursday morning and was able to spend all day and night with me yesterday and then drive me to the airport. And I didn't even cry until this morning.

...That Smudgie wumped like crazy almost the entire plane ride, which helped keep me (almost approximately) sane.

...That I am going to be super busy with reading and working and conferencing and traveling and weddinging for the next three weeks, but I will check in when I can.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Snowball Effect; or Inevitable Bad Days

I'm having a rough night. After the honeymoon of last weekend, I am missing Lawyer Guy a whole lot. Plus, while he was home he made the mistake of telling me he thought the trial was going to end early and he'd get to come home Thursday night, see me before he leaves, and take me to the airport Friday morning. Yesterday he said the case is now going slower than expected and that may not happen. I got my hopes up about seeing him an extra time, and I've had a really hard time dealing with the disappointment.

I hate flying. I mean hate, hate, hate flying. I need to be in a doped-up stupor with my face buried in LG's chest just to make it through take off. Now I'm flying with no LG and no drugs. And I'm scared. I keep thinking that the plane will crash and I'll die and I won't have seen my husband before I go and we just ordered the crib and he'll have to return all this nursery furniture while grieving and my sister's wedding will be totally ruined. And I'll be dead, which will suck.

I'm so scared about this flight that it's making me crazy anxious about everything else going on, too. I'm supposed to meet with a professor tomorrow to discuss one of my orals lists. But I also have to finish and turn in an overdue paper before I leave in order to avoid any potential complications with scheduling my exam. I don't see how I'm going to prepare for this meeting and get enough done on my paper. But, but, but, but...

And then today I got a manicure and pedicure at the same time--it took about 30 minutes and I told them they needed to rush. Well, they rushed so much the girl working on my toes stabbed me with the cuticle cutter and I bled. They slapped some disinfecting ointment on there, but I'm still worried I'm going to wind up with sepsis or gangrene and Smudgie and I will die in California (notice a pattern to my hysterical anxious thinking?)

I'm so lonely without my husband. Why am I going on this trip? (Because it's really exciting to have been chosen by my school and I've looked forward to this opportunity for years and it won't be any easier to do when/if I have a baby). I need to take one task at a time, pace myself, and not let the worries start snowballing. But tonight, that's really hard to do.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Homecoming; or, My Rock

Just a quick update to say that Lawyer Guy did in fact make it home for today's scan. My anxiety is already so much better just having him here (until Sunday morning!) to stroke my back or help me negotiate the subways in this wicked heat.

Smudgie looks grand--he/she was having a sleepy day and not moving much and stayed pretty chill during the ultrasound. But the growth is good, and as soon as LG and I saw that beautiful heart pumping away we let out a sigh of relief. Amazing how fixated we are on that little muscle. Smudgie is a hair shy of 3 lbs. Incredible--I am carrying a 3 lb. baby around in my abdomen all day long. No wonder I'm feeling so tired.

We put together another bookcase. LG helped bring up some packages that had arrived that were too heavy for me to carry up two flights of stairs. We're making some glorious no-cook meals tonight with our CSA produce. I'm really happy.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What Dreams May Come; or, Alone and Afraid

I've been struggling these past few days without my Lawyer Guy, I have to admit. The first night he was gone, I was beset by terrible nightmares for hours. I've never had a dream like this--I would wake up to pee or to flop over in bed, catch my breath in amazement that I had only been dreaming and none of it was real, feel Smudgie thump me reassuringly, go back to sleep...and continue the nightmare right where I left off!!!

Smudgie was stillborn in my dream. I was at a hospital, wandering around and talking to a friend (who is in real life pregnant with a boy after IVF and due a few weeks after me). She had just given birth and was telling me about it when I suddenly realized that I had never finished giving birth to Smudgie. He or she was hanging out of my body as I walked around. I reached down and pulled Smudgie out and wrapped him or her in a blanket and looked at the waxen little face and tightly closed eyes. I then ran around the hospital desperately searching for the NICU, trying to find anyone who would help us. I finally found a nurse who told me he was dead--and a boy.

I was shaking when I woke up from that dream at 4am, disorientated and adrift, but Smudgie's kicks helped me fall back asleep.

And then for the rest of the night, I kept dreaming. I was wandering around dark city streets, waiting at a bus stop, crying because my baby was gone. I was at a party with LG's family at a huge hotel, trying to find a space to be alone and sob over the loss of my child while everyone around me celebrated. Toward morning, Smudgie's thumps must have infiltrated my dream-consciousness because even in sleep I could feel them. They became part of the dream, a refusal to accept that my baby was gone when I could feel him or her.

Finally at around 6:45 am, I hauled myself out of bed. I was exhausted from the terrible night's sleep but I was afraid to dream anymore. As soon as I got up, I started sobbing and shaking, completely overwhelmed by all those terrible visions. I texted LG to let him know I was scared because of a nightmare (I didn't want to call him crying and scare him) and we spoke while I cried and cried.

I eventually calmed myself down by watching CBS Sunday Morning (it was all about animals, very relaxing) and knitting. But I was unsettled and on-edge all day and worrying about Smudgie like I hadn't in a while. We're about to order furniture--I second guessed doing so. I over analyzed every thump or lack of thumps. I prayed extra hard in church.

That night, two friends came over for dinner on our roof deck and one of them slept over on our air mattress to keep me company. I slept much better and dreamed about nothing more frightening than wilted CSA produce (my pickup is today). And last night I slept alright, too. But it was terrible being so scared and so alone. And as hard as it is to be without LG here in my own home, I'm even more worried about my trip to California. What if I need to go into L&D while I'm out there? I've been lucky to have avoided that so far in this pregnancy, but so many women do, even women with perfectly healthy babies. Where will I go? How will I get there? I'm scared of being alone at a hospital, hearing bad news by myself. I'm scared of flying. I'm scared of hauling my suitcase (don't worry, I'm bringing our smallest one) up and down the California coast. I'm just really scared.

I'll end on a positive note, though. I'm feeling very well physically and I found out on Friday that I passed my three-hour glucose tolerance test. So no GD for me! It's a huge weight off my mind. And yes, I have indulged gleefully in a cookie or two since getting the news. The apartment is in shambles, but the renovation projects are slowly coming together and I'm hopeful that things should be much more orderly before I leave at the end of the month. And LG might be able to come up for the weekend on Friday to be with me at my ultrasound and to spend a wee bit of time together before we're parted again. I so, so, so hope he can.

Friday, July 15, 2011

28 Weeks!; or Third Tri!!

I woke up this morning with sore hips after flopping back and forth all night trying to find a comfortable place to rest this heavy belly and waking four times by my outrageous need to empty my bladder.

Yup, I'm finally in my third tri! I love this milestone: 90% chance of survival with limited long-term complications after this point. Less than three months to go. Three months until I might be holding my baby boy or girl in my arms, giving him or her a name, kissing his or her sweet little face. I'm in awe that we've made it this far. Last July I was counting down the weeks until our first RE visit with anxiety, sadness, anticipation, and a lot of anger. Lawyer Guy wasn't doing much better. This July--as stressed as I admit I am by having so many huge events (massive grad school exam, sister's wedding, cross-country trip, baby prep and due date) crammed into three months--I wouldn't change a thing.

Every Friday morning LG comes and wakes me up and together we read on his laptop about Smudgie's development for that week. This morning felt a little bittersweet, since he leaves for his trial tomorrow. A few days ago, I was feeling very sad about the upcoming separation and spent most of the day crying. But now I'm trying to look on the positive side. Next weekend he'll be home from my ultrasound Friday afternoon until Sunday morning. Then it's a week alone at home, a week at my conference in California (where I'll be super busy, I'm sure), and a week relaxing and studying at my BFF Dr. Lady's house in San Diego. And then LG and I are together in Napa! We can get through this, and the final 8 weeks of the pregnancy will be even more wonderful after being apart for so long.

Smudgie's room is now a soft, gentle grey and his or her closet (that must be shared with LG and thus needed a lot of modifications) will be finished on Tuesday. We've ordered one or two pieces of furniture and are waiting to pull the trigger on several more. I'm so excited to set up my baby's nursery. And I'm also very nervous and scared.

Not that I think doing so will jinx anything or make anything bad happen to Smudgie--I know the world doesn't work like that. And not because I think having to dismantle a nursery would make the pain worse should anything go wrong from here out. Nothing could make the pain of something bad happening to Smudgie worse, and it's silly to even think so. But there's something so presumptuous and arrogant about setting up a nursery. Like I assume everything's going to work out for the best. And I don't. I want to, but I don't.

Still, as I keep telling myself, I don't want to let fear of what might happen poison my enjoyment of what is happening. Right now I am a 6+ month pregnant lady who is excited to start preparing for her baby's arrival, who wants to make a safe and comforting and happy space for the little one that will show just how much we love him or her. So I'm going to go with that.

Monthly pic is uploaded to Smudgie tab. Nursery photos to come after the remodelers return and take the giant step ladder, the plastic sheeting, and the tubs of paint and liquid sheetrock out of the center of the room.

Monday, July 11, 2011

One of "Those Posts"; or Bullets Make it Better

I didn't think I'd turn into one of those blogger who, when pregnant, ran out of things to say. The truth is, there's lots to say! But I'm so preoccupied with all the stuff I need to get done in my life (and the stuff I don't need to get done, but that is impinging on my life regardless), that sitting down and organizing my thoughts into a coherent post is low on my list of priorities. That said...um, here's a list of my thoughts:

  • There's been a lot of family drama going on in the last few weeks. I don't feel comfortable sharing it here, as it has nothing to do with IF/Loss/Pregnancy and isn't my news to share. It doesn't even really involve me, other than that I've been party to a lot of intense phone calls, confusion, sudden flights out to New York, and people either crashing on my couch or wanting to crash on my couch. I hope it's calming down, because I'm already so emotionally overwhelmed I don't think I can take much more.

  • I have an official date for my oral exam: September 9th. I will be 36 weeks pregnant. Yikes. It's nine weeks away. Double Yikes. It's the week after my baby shower. Triple Yikes.

  • I leave for California in three weeks. Next weekend, Lawyer Guy leaves for a two-week out-of-town trial. I'm spending three weeks in California (part of the time--thank God--with LG for my sister's wedding). That means that only one or neither of us will be home for the first five weeks of my third trimester. Needless to say, we've had to spend the last several weekends getting a LOT done around the apartment. I've also been sad. He and I are rarely apart, but now we'll be separated for an entire month, with the exception of the day of my 29-week ultrasound (he insisted he return for that). He's going to miss an entire month of my pregnancy with Smudgie. I suddenly have even more respect for military wives, who can spend an entire pregnancy apart from their husbands. So hard.

  • We attended our first childbirth education class last weekend, specifically a Yoga for Labor and Delivery class. LG thought it was just a boondoggle to force the husbands to massage their wives' feet. I wasn't complaining.

  • We've hired a doula to be present at our (MD-overseen, hospital) birth. We'll be meeting with her for the second time this Friday to start talking about a birth "plan" (I freaking hate that word because I have no plan. I do have some hopes, but I know full-well that hoping and planning are worlds apart). I suppose this means I need to actually read some books about labor now.

  • I still feel scared. I hear about a woman who lost her child to a cord accident and my heart clenches up. Or Smudgie has a sleepy day and I poke and poke the poor little thing, trying to get him or her to dance for me. I'm trying hard to enjoy every moment, though, and to not let fears of what might happen destroy my enjoyment of what is happening. Still, I worded my baby shower invitations very carefully so as to avoid any apparent presumption that I'm banking on a baby at the end of this.

  • The 3-hour GD test sucked and I'm still waiting for the results (and for the massive, plum-sized bruise on my arm to fade). But it's over and whatever the results are it will be fine and I'd do it 100 times again to keep Smudgie safe.

  • Smudgie has really cranked the kicking up to a new level in the past week. Now when I side-lie to go to sleep, he or she starts playing the timpanis on both sides of my ueterus at once. Not very restful, I must admit, but very cool.
  • And finally, the latest update on the Smudgie Room progress:

The stack of books in the corner will be going into our space-challenged bedroom once I order this nifty bookshelf. The big bookshelf in the room will be going to charity or craigslist once LG's trial is over. The other stuff is going into one of our many closets once we recover enough from last weekend's reorganizational frenzy to take care of it. The diplomas will be going somewhere sad and out-of-the-way until I have an actual office and an actual reason to display them. Later this week or early next, the closet will be renovated to fit LG's and Smudgie's clothes and the walls will be painted. And then I think we might actually have to order some baby furniture.


I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

In the Whirlwind; or, Updates at 26 Weeks (2 Days)

I failed my one-hour glucose screening. Not by a lot: my practice's cut-off is 129 and my glucose level was 135. From what I've read, this is below the cut-off in less conservative practices. But the upshot is I'll be taking the three-hour Glucose Tolerance Test on Wednesday morning.

I was pretty upset when I got the results from the office. I had visions of testing my blood four times a day and of insulin shots. Of no more sweets or fruit or carbs. I felt like a failure-- I've tried to eat healthfully, with lots of fresh vegetables, next to no packaged or pre-prepared foods, and only the occasional treat. My weight gain has been a moderate, steady 2 pounds a month throughout second tri. How could I possibly have gestational diabetes?

This will sound whiny, so I apologize in advance, but I'd been feeling really good physically lately and was both grateful and proud of it. After all the struggle to get to this point, it was such a source of pride and comfort that my body seemed to like being pregnant. We might have had trouble making healthy babies in the first place, but once we (apparently, cross fingers) got one, everything seemed to be going well. The thought that my body was betraying me once again got me very down.

But after talking to various people, including my mother (who had GD after gaining 50 pounds in one of her four pregnancies), I feel a lot better. I've been able to mostly put the upcoming GTT out of my mind and focus on more immediate tasks and pleasures this weekend. I've also gathered that if I have GD, I'll probably be able to deal with it through diet modifications that don't seem too awfully restrictive. I should be able to manage them even while traveling in California. And there's a reasonable chance that I'll pass this second test (I hope so!), especially given the borderline result on the first.

And of course, the only important thing is that Smudgie is healthy. As long as he or she continues to thrive, I will take whatever comes my way.

* * *
Otherwise, life is busy but happy here in the Sloper household. We continue to make progress cleaning out the second bedroom--we've got bags and bags of books and CDs to donate next week. We're researching renovating that closet to make better use of the space and trying to find an affordable solution. We're thinking about ordering some baby furniture in a month or so. We did order (with my mother) the invitations to my upcoming Labor Day baby shower.

We also went Facebook official last weekend. After the 25-week growth scan, I consented to let Lawyer Guy say something (which he had been champing at the bit to do for months). While I'm still scared and worried about something going wrong, I also know that at this point I would want to publicly acknowledge Smudgie no matter what happens, so an announcement feels like less of a threat.

We bounced some ideas for what he could say back and forth for a while, but nothing really sparked. He wanted something more than a bare-bones "We're expecting a baby in October" post and I didn't want anything self-aggrandizing or too attention-seeking. Then last Saturday, while we were walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, we spotted a giant orange construction sign reading "Bump Ahead". So I posed in front of it showing the bump off in profile and we posted the picture without explanation and that was that.

The response to our announcement was sweet, but not over-the-top and I feel happy about the way we handled it. Because it was all so impulsive, I didn't have time to warn my friends still suffering with IF to hide my profile. But I hope that the post being so simple helped with whatever pain it might have caused. Over the past week, a few people have congratulated me on my wall, and I've thanked them as simply and briefly as I can. I haven't posted anything about the experience of being pregnant and I don't know if I will. I don't feel the need to, honestly. But I may post a few nursery pictures when it's finished and I plan to upload a picture of Smudgie after the birth along with his or her name, assuming all goes well.

* * *
In one week (on our fourth wedding anniversary!) I'll finally be in the third trimester. LG leaves for an out-of-town hearing in two weeks. I leave for California in four weeks. My baby shower is two weeks after we return. I officially take my oral exam (qualifying exam for my doctorate) on September 9th, the day I turn 36 weeks.

There's a lot to do and not much time to do it in. But there's also so much to celebrate, and I am so happy to be celebrating this summer. I may not have time to write much in the upcoming months until my exam is finished. But I am trying to savor every happy and special moment to its fullest.

Monday, June 27, 2011

June 26th; or, Juxtaposition

I was feeling off-kilter and out of sorts all last week. We had our 25-week growth scan on Friday, and I was worried, as always, though it took a different form than usual. I found myself dwelling on early losses--reading stories, reliving the key points of our miscarriage experience, crying in therapy about how sad and awful I felt in late '09/early '10. Even with Smudgie obligingly thumping away against my pelvis and ribs--hard enough for Lawyer Guy to feel a subtle little kick for the first time!-- I still kept returning to the past.

It's funny how these obvious things suddenly click: Yesterday was the m&m's due date. The date I calculated myself based on my late ovulation that cycle. The date I've both never considered "real" because it didn't come from a doctor and the date that felt more real to me that any other during those painful seven post-miscarriage months. June 26th--it seemed like the perfect birthday to me then and it still does, even as I anticipate October with growing excitement, impatience, joy, and worry.

Maybe my bad, morbid mood owed more to the post-V Day crash in hope and enthusiasm I was experiencing and that I experience after every successful milestone, but I have to believe it was somehow connected to that tenuous little thread the m&m sent out into my life. In one sense, this is natural and right, I suppose. I loved that baby and bonded more whole-heartedly and unabashedly with it than I let myself with Smudgie. Miscarrying was like being hit by a truck when crossing what I thought to be a deserted street--shocking, devastating, requiring an entirely new perspective on the world and my place in it.

But at the same time, I'm still surprised. Perhaps because I never let myself play the would have/should have game following the m&m's death. I immediately deleted the "Your Pregnancy This Week" e-mails I signed up for from Baby Center (and I just realized I never signed up for them this time around, did I?). I as quickly as possible taught myself to forget what week I might have been at any point during that phantom pregnancy, and I succeeded. If called upon or inspired to figure it out, I'd resort to a calendar and some calculations and then quickly put both out of my mind again once the task was done. I've never once in the year since last June thought to myself "I should have an x month baby right now," because I never believed I "should" or "would" have had any such thing. I didn't have a baby. That was the end of the story. The rest was just pointless wheel spinning*

* To my friends who do follow their lost babies' wished-for progress, this is not in any way meant as a slight against you. It's just what I had to do to keep focused on my IF/loss path and the way my mind and heart wanted to handle things.

I didn't and don't think that any of these feats of amnesia helped me to "forget" the m&m or how much I loved that baby. That's not possible and wasn't even the point. But they did help me to cope, to move on with testing and treatments, to direct my thoughts toward the baby I hoped for rather than the one I no longer had.

But I could never erase June 26th. All I think of when I hear that date is my m&m. (This is probably why I refused to calculate an EDD for Smudgie until the Ob's office told me one at 10 weeks). I suppose that date will always belong to my first baby, the one who never had a chance.

It's strange to remember something so sad while living through something so happy and with such potential for even greater happiness. It's strange to lie on the couch crying as I remember the exam room where the ultrasound tech told us the heartbeat was gone while feeling my (apparently) healthy, strong, 1lb 11 oz karate master whomping on my upper belly. Other women have written much more insightfuly and movingly about the experience of mourning lost babies while celebrating the one that perhaps would not be here if not for the others. I don't even try to reconcile the two thoughts. I love my Smudgie. I can't wait for his or her healthy (pleasepleaseplease) arrival some time between late September and mid-October. And I'm also sad--not crushingly sad, somewhat wistfully and surprisingly sad--when I remember how ruthlessly my hopes and dreams of 20 months ago were dashed.

That may be all I can give you now, m&m. I hope it's enough.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Big Days; or V-Days

First of all, I need to shout a little bit in honor of VIABILITY DAY!!! 24 weeks! Yeah, baby!!

Now Smudgie, this is by no means an invitation for you to come out and join us just yet. Aside from the fact that we're not at all ready for you (and you don't want to sleep in a shoe box, do you?), you're not ready for the world yet. You need to stay in there and get nice and chubby and build up your lungs and learn all sorts of new tricks before you're ready to come out. I don't care how many times you kick my cervix, my stance on this is not changing.

With V-day upon us, it's time that I faced up to a few things: a) there very well might be a baby on the way in roughly 3.5 months, and b) we need to step up our efforts to get ready for him or her, regardless of how scared we might feel.

That being said, it's time for an update on out progress in the potential nursery. If you recall the last time I updated on the room, things were looking dire. Well as of this afternoon, the room looks like this. Brace yourselves:

On the off chance this image leaves you feeling less than impressed, I must point out that it took us three weeks to: try to sell the desk and twin bed on craigslist; realize that people are too afraid of bedbugs to buy things on craigslist anymore; call around to a bunch of charities in the city; realize that nobody wants FREE donated furniture either; call a moving company; have them haul the stuff out of here and to the Salvation Army; learn that the Salvation Army has higher standards than one would assume; have the movers dump it all.

So we wound up paying to have perfectly good furniture thrown away, which offends whatever frugal parts of my soul lurk deep within. But what else could we do?

Bella is mildly traumatized by the ordeal of watching her bed and favorite chair (in the living room) be carried out never to return. I'm mildly traumatized by the fact that the prospective doula we were supposed to meet with last night never showed up and still hasn't contacted us. But these are subjects for a less momentous Friday.

And for anyone who is interested: fresh belly pics await.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sizing Things Up; or, Brand New Body

A changing relationship with our bodies (and body-image) is one of the central aspects of the experience of pregnancy, and yet I've written very little about it. Partly, that's because when I'm feeling down I don't want to come across as a whiner or as ungrateful and when I'm feeling up I don't want to come across as gloating. But there's a lot more to this evolving relationship with ourselves than just weight gain. A few recent events have highlighted that more than ever.

Two-thirds of the way through my second trimester (wow!), I'm feeling fairly strong and healthy and great. None of that first tri nausea, bloating, discomfort, and exhaustion. I wake up refreshed--even if I don't get enough sleep--and feel ready to physically and emotionally tackle the day.

It's hard sometimes to remember that I am under an unusual physical strain, and because of that, I often overtire myself. Last week, for instance, I decided it would be a grand idea to take a 30+ block walk from the restaurant where I met a friend for lunch to a midtown department store where I planned to buy new bras. To put this in perspective, 20 NYC blocks is roughly one mile. Being a New Yorker, I walk a lot and a trip of this length is really no big deal--I have frequently walked much farther than that, especially during the summer.

Of course, it was also mid-day and 98 degrees. Which feels like 115 when you're surrounded by pavement and bodies and glass buildings. Despite the bottle of water I diligently sipped during the walk, I was sweaty and exhausted before I reached my destination. And yet after that leg of my shopping trip was over, I continued running errands, hopping a subway down to the West Village to take care of ordering my sister's wedding gift and meandering around shady but circuitous streets for forty minutes. By the time I returned home, it was all I could do to crawl to the couch.

And about that bra-buying expedition: I'd put off buying any new bras until that point. I hadn't wanted to spend money on new bras at 15 weeks only to have to buy more at 24, so I was almost 23 weeks by the time I bought any. I'd been wearing my 34 B-cup bras on the widest settings for several months.

Turns out, I'm now a 36 D. After I picked my jaw up off the floor and selected a few cheap, comfortable, underwire-free bras in my new size, I was able to reflect on the fact that squeezing the girls into a bra two sizes too small probably had a lot to do with the massive red underwire welts that had start appearing on either side. No bueno.

Walking too fast, turning in the wrong way, or certain yoga moves all have the potential to set off a bout of sciatic nerve pain (which three weeks ago rendered me immobile for three days). I'm lucky enough to have never suffered a serious or chronic injury or dealt with long-term pain (something for which I'm newly grateful), and it's strange to have to be so physically careful.

Ultimately that's what this post is about: not that I worry I'm gaining too much weight or too little (both of which have applied at different points in the pregnancy) or that I feel I'm no longer attractive or am even more attractive (both of which I have also felt) or that I dislike being uncomfortable or love feeling physical proof that Smudgie is growing and that I'm pregnant.

Simply put, this is the first time as an adult that I've had to reacquaint myself with my body, and it's a disorienting and alienating experience. I don't like or dislike my new body--or rather, I like some things about it and dislike others. It's strange, both from the inside and the outside, to identify it as mine.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Obligatory Freak-Outs; or, My Reunion with LaWanda

I suppose it was inevitable I'd eventually make a freaked-out emergency call to my doctor's off-duty line. Maybe I should feel happy it took me 22 weeks to get there.

On Sunday I was having a lot of uncomfortable cramping. Nothing super painful and not accompanied by any spotting or unusual discharge, but strong and consistent enough to worry me. The cramping started around 10 am, and by the time we got home from our weekend out at the beach (about 5:30ish), it was still going. I didn't think I was feeling any contractions, but since I don't know what they feel like, it was hard to tell. And Smudgie was a bit less active than usual. My worry was ratcheting higher and higher with every ache (and--I have to admit--with every webpage I consulted after googling "signs of preterm labor").

At 6:30, feeling like a fool but too scared to stop myself, I broke down and called the answering service. A few minutes later I got to speak with one of the doctors at my practice (the only one I've yet to meet in person, actually), and explain what was going on. The doctor was understanding and helpful. He said the symptoms didn't sound overly concerning and that the pain was likely due to a growth spurt in the fetus/uterus that occurs around this time and that I should rest. He said he would contact the office to get me in for a cervix check and ultrasound just to give me peace of mind. With this news, I felt my blood pressure lower and was able to send LG off to his baseball game and settle on the couch to watch The Bachelorette.

I went in yesterday morning already feeling a lot better. The cramping had subsided and Smudgie was kicking away. Lawyer Guy had a work meeting, so I went alone, which was fine, though I had to silence that little inner voice that whispered this was when things were going to finally go wrong. Smudgie's thumps and bumps on the ride over helped.

So, after a glorious reunion with my old friend Wandy and a quick abdominal scan (during which I managed not to see any baby genitals, hurray!), the upshot is that my cervix is long and closed and the fluid levels look good and the heartbeat is good and everything seems positive.


The doctor I met with after the scan said to keep an eye on the cramping and to not be afraid to call if something worries me again, and I will. Better to go in for no reason than to stay at home fretting or not go in when there is a reason.

In celebration last night, I ate my weight in sour gummy peaches and reassured myself that I'm not an anxious freak at all.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Maybe?; or, Hoping for the Sun

On days like today, when for some crazy reason I start to think I'll really be holding a living, squirming baby in my arms come October, I listen to this song and cry. A lot:

(Couldn't embed the original version, but I think Colbie is a good substitute).

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Big Projects, Busy Weekend; or The Nursery, Part 1

How were everyone's Memorial Day Weekends? Relaxing, enjoyable, and full of sunshine, I hope. Mine was definitely the latter two though not so much the first because we were BUSY.

Busy doing what? Going to the movies and dinner with friends and family. Cleaning up our roof deck in preparation for summer planting. Attending baseball games. Dropping off donations at a local thrift store. And, oh yeah, two big things: Starting a Registry (!) and Beginning to Prepare the Baby's Room (!!)

We went to Gi.ggle on Saturday afternoon to check out strollers and cribs. We wound up choosing a different stroller than I had anticipated walking in after we compared weight and ease of collapsibility, but we're both excited about it. And we started our first baby registry, stocking it with little clothes and toys and a few decorative items.

We didn't actually register for or purchase the stroller and crib yet. One will be a gift from my MIL. The other apparently only takes four weeks to be delivered and we are nowhere near ready emotionally or space-/planning-wise to be setting up baby furniture yet. But I'm glad we looked at a few options and made some decisions.

I have to confess that afterward, as we ate lunch in SoHo, I began to completely freak myself out about what we'd just done. Even though we hadn't actually bought anything, I still started to worry about jinxing things by registering before 24 weeks. Right now, that's the magical safe point in my mind, even though I know rationally that a) it's not all that safe and b) I have no compelling reason yet to worry about reaching it. Something about this month (weeks 20-24) is really amping up my stress and fear, though, and I'm over analyzing every cervical stab, weird back ache, and uterine twinge. I ran to the bathroom at the end of lunch to check my tp for spotting-- and it was clean, as it has been the entire pregnancy, despite my conviction that I'd felt myself bleeding.

My anxiety's calmed a little since then, though, so much so that Lawyer Guy and I were able to tackle our second big get-ready-for-Smudgie project of the weekend: clearing out his giant desk in preparation for selling or donating it. People, we uncovered some real crap during the process. I'm talking about receipts for $15 sushi lunches we had TEN YEARS AGO! Credit card bills from 1999 that somehow made the move to two different apartments. Tax returns from 1997. Actual credit cards that expired in 2008. Not to mention dozens of weekly, two page response papers from multiple English classes I took as an undergrad. Altogether, we collected two giant garbage bags of paper, old batteries, dry pens, and corroded rubber bands to chuck and made a neat little pile of important documents and useful office and stationery supplies to transition to the new, smaller desk we plan to get for the living room.

Which leaves Smudgie's (hopeful) future room looking like this:

Yeah, it's a not so impressive Before picture (and yes, Bella is a permanent fixture of this room and will be less than thrilled when "her bed" makes the trip to the big furniture warehouse in the sky). But we made a start, at least, which is something. Over the next month we'll dispose of all the furniture in there, find homes for the books and CDs and knickknacks that clutter up the place, and then we can begin the real work: renovating the closest, painting the walls, and putting up the window treatments.

We'll get it done in time, right? Don't answer that.

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Smudgie Quickie; or 21 weeks

We had our follow-up anatomy scan this morning (21 weeks exactly). Everything looks good: all the things they wanted to check-up on are present and accounted for and Smudgie's growth is right on target (he/she is at 52% right now). Smudge was sleeping for most of the scan and did not want to be woken up, the little sweetie. Smudge sleeps the way I do--one arm flung over the head--and let out a big yawn at one point. Awwww.

I asked lots of questions of the doctor afterward: about some crazy awful pain I'm having in my tailbone, about my practice's policies for working with doulas and allowing med-free births (both of which I'm considering but haven't committed to), about movement and weight gain (too little?) and the like. The doctor gave me nice, thorough answers.

I have a lot to update about how I'm feeling and how things are going, but that can wait until after this holiday weekend is over. I wanted to let everything know that so far, things are holding steady. I go back in four weeks for another growth scan and my GD screen. Until I reach 24 weeks, I'm just going to try to hold onto the image of my sweet, sleepy baby.