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

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.