Thursday, January 31, 2008


Reality has powdered her hands, spun us around, and bitchslapped the hell outta us! Two married couples came over for dinner last Saturday, one with a four month old, the other with an almost two year old. One minute I'm in the living room looking for child-friendly dvds to play for the toddler. The next I'm on the floor in the dining room being grateful it has carpet so the four month old can have a floor to play on without hurting himself. Soon my husband and I will add one more child to the group. Good god, when did this happen?

So now that we've wiped some of the powder off our faces, Reality comes back to shake us by our shoulders. Have I told you about my double digit college debt, and credit card debt, and my portion of medical insurance premium I have to pay cuz I'm part-time? Yeah...
I have to go on maternity leave. This is, of course, a 12 week unpaid leave. I can't afford to not have income, yet the thought of going to work after three months makes me angry- I'd like more time at home. I've come to terms with the fact that I will probably be working until the week I'm supposed to give birth so that I can use those 12 weeks more post-partum than pre-partum. Sure I'd love the time to be at home enjoying my last weeks of pregnancy without dealing with these fuckers at work, but that's a luxury a woman in debt simply cannot afford.

People at work ask me how I'm doing and I tell them "I'm wishing I were rich." What I really wish is that I had a fucking trust fund. I don't want to be rich, I want to be independently wealthy right now, working because it gives me something to do, not because my very existence depends on it. I want that cushion of dinero that lets me sit at home with the baby for six months or a year. But is my lot in life right now to be a 28 year old college graduate, working in the non-profit sector part-time (in the arts, no less!), in debt, with a baby on the way.

But I must put this into perspective. I am 28. I am a college graduate, working in the non-profit sector (in a museum, how prestigious!) that provides health insurance, with a baby on the way. I have a roof over my head, a spouse who helps keep that roof over my head, and a job where I can spend way too much time updating all of you on my pregnancy. There are women and men who are in much worse predicaments than I am...

Breaking Up

After 28 years I've noticed that positive actions get you nothing but ignored. It's when you act a fool that people notice you're in the room and rush to see what's wrong. Take this full size bed dilema.

Pregnant wife says for months we need a new bed. Husband nods yes. Months go by, same old mattress. 7 month pregnant wife moves to the futon in the cold living room while husband sleeps, politely declining to return to warm bedroom. A week later, queen mattress is in the house, with queen bedframe ordered and arriving Tuesday.

I guess act a fool in this instance is an overexaggeration. And what I did was positive overall- I made my point non-violently and without accusation, and shit got done. Now my husband gets to sleep with me, and I get to sleep with him, minus the touching! Plus, this mattress is AWESOME! It's soft enough for me and firm enough for him. My back pain is gone, and so is the hip pain. It wasn't inexpensive, but we spent $100 almost ten years ago on our full size mattress, and it served us well. We owe ourselves new, grown-up furniture.

We went to the Valley Birthplace Monday for the consultation/tour. We spent an hour talking with Melecia, which is longer than all my doctor's appointments combined. It's a small birth center with two rooms and a Jacuzzi in the bathroom used for labor. It's a 24 minute drive from our house with a long-standing relationship with Chestnut Hill Hospital. CHH is not close enough in the case of an emergency, however. Fear not, for Holy Redeemer Hospital is 3 minutes away!
All bases covered, including the fact that VBP accepts our insurance.

So on Tuesday I went for my regularly scheduled appointment at Einstein for the icky glucose test. The drink was fine, it was the not eating two hours before the test that was unpleasant. And I couldn't eat carbs, thus eliminating everything I eat for breakfast (no fruit, no oatmeal, no cereal, not even yogurt because of the sugar). When you take this test remember when you finished the drink because the tech must take your blood exactly an hour after you drink it.

I broke the news that we'd found another place to give birth where I'd feel more comfortable, and NP Rosenberg said that because they are not affiliated with any other facilities I will have to transfer my records. I did feel badly for switching, but it really is the right thing for me. Having a tub with the option for water birth in a place that is not under construction and screaming women laboring in hallways makes me feel better. The VBP appointments are a half hour long, not 5-10 minutes, and there are two midwives on staff. I'll see both of them for what's left of the pregnancy and one of these two will be at the birth, not one of 24 OBs (the deal at Einstein).

I should also say that VBP will let me recover there for 4 hours, and if all is well, discharge me home. I like the thought of going home to my bed to rest as soon as possible, if I'm not sick and the baby's not sick. Should that be the case it's a call to 911 and an ambulance ride to Holy Redeemer. It bears repeating for all of you who are about to tell me what a fool I am not wanting to recouperate in the hospital with nurses "caring" for me, IVs hooked to my arm and needles jammed into my back. I always have the option of changing my mind and going to Chestnut Hill for all the aforementioned perks.

Rosenberg understood, said she was sorry to see me go, but that it was a pleasure to have seen me and to keep them posted. I thanked her for everything and said it's a good thing they're expanding, and I view my transfer of care as making room at Einstein for a woman who really needs to be seen. I'll send the office a postcard after the birth, since they have helped me through almost 2/3 of this pregnancy.

By the way, I'm 28 weeks, 4 days along, or far gone, whatever :-)
Now it's time for me to review and revise the birth plan, enroll in a childbirth class, infant and child CPR class, do my Kegels, start my prenatal pilates, keep going to the pool, keep drinking water, oh and start my kick tests. I am to monitor the baby's movements twice a day. If there aren't ten movements in two hours I have to call the emergency room. So far I don't have to wait the two hours for those ten movements.

Rosenberg said I also may start to experience Braxton-Hicks contractions, the practice contractions. I've actually been feeling these for a while, but I thought it was the baby stretching. It's a hardening of the uterus that lasts 30 seconds to 2 minutes. They should not be painful or last longer than two minutes. So far they are not painful and they don't last longer than the two minutes.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It's Full Disclosure Time

You know the drill....scroll down if your interested...and don't be mad at me if you're being nosy and read something you didn't want to know.


I'll start with boobs. They tingle every so often and itch. Nothing is leaking from them yet, but there is still time for that to happen. Have I said I've doubled in cup size? It's hard to tell sometime because they look the same to me, but I'm wearing a 36 D now, which has always been a dream of mine (that, and being 5' 8"). The areolas are much darker now too,which is also a part of pregancy. Speaking of being darker, I've got a dark patch around my navel. I have no clue what that is about.

Ladies at work ask if I can still see my feet. I can, but that's not what distresses me. My crotch is completely shielded from sight. Why does that matter? One, I used to be able to see it. Two, I used to self-groom, which would now be dangerous and foolish to attempt. I thought if i sat down on the toilet I could get to it- nuh uh...
Shaving my legs is not impossible yet, but it's winter and I get lazy about that around now anyways.

Bladder control is not what it used to be. I've noticed that I am leaking. Not much, but enough for me to try to pee more often. It's really hard to motivate when I lay down for the night. The baby presses on the bladder making it feel full when it's not, so I make a trip for nothing. The morning is tough too because it's so cold outside of the covers. So what I have started doing is practicing the "double void" - peeing, waiting a few minutes, and peeing what's left. I'll also have to stop ignoring my bladder and just go when it wakes me up.

Now, if any of you have wondered if you can have sex during pregnancy, the answer is yes. I don't mean the theoretical "sure, if the doctor says it's okay" yes. I mean absolutely, unless your OB or midwife puts you on pelvic rest! I don't have the urge to do it as often, and it may take a little longer to get the party started. But once it's on, let the games begin! The baby has no clue what's going on, and you and your partner need as much normalcy as you can muster during this transition. My friends with children say do it now and as often as you can. I agree, and I add go it alone if and when the mood strikes and your partner is not available (the same goes for your partner on those times when you are too uncomfortable.) There will come a time when your stomach is too big for certain positions- I'm sure you'll figure out ways around that mountain. I hear that you can even do it the day you go into labor (yes, I know someone who got it on to start her labor.) Some chemical in semen will trigger contractions. You do what you gotta do...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Little update

I had to stay home from work Wednesday because the baby said so.
The museum was open for Martin Luther King Day, and so I had to work. Hundreds of people were in the building, so I was on my feet for a lot of the day. By Wednesday I could not muster the energy to make it out the door, especially since Tuesday I ran for the train and missed it. I didn't fall, don't worry. No, i don't plan to run for the train anymore.

It's a good thing I stayed home because I finally spoke with someone at the Valley Birthplace, a birthing center about 10 miles from home. The receptionist described the center as middle of the road between a home birth and hospital. They can take another patient for April, they attend water births in the center, they have admitting privileges with a local hospital in case of emergency, and they take my insurance. There is no pain medication, however, so if I want an epidural I cannot deliver at the center. We'll take a tour of the birth center and have a consultation with its head midwife on Monday.

I've been hesitant about switching doctors mid-pregnancy, but I've been pretty uncomfortable with giving birth at Einstein since the tour. My husband felt the same way. It is commendable that Einstein will continue to serve women while it expands the maternity ward. 14 hospitals have stopped delivering babies in the past decade because they were losing too much money, leaving Phila with 28 maternity wards. But while it's commendable, I have insurance, a low-risk pregnancy, and a choice as to where and how I want to give birth. I owe it to myself and this baby to do what I think is best for us.

I guess the next post I'll give you links to some studies I've read about the pros and cons of water births.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Mas Preguntas (More Questions)

They never stop...

1) Do you have a registry?

1a) What? Why not?
Because I work. My husband works. We sit at computers all day long. The last thing we want to do is spend more time on the computer looking for stuff for some baby.

2) you have any names picked out? Any ideas for names?
The official answer is no, we have no names picked out. Sure we have ideas, but nothing set in stone. When the baby is born, we'll let you know the name.

3) Fine. Sheesh. So you have they baby's room ready, right?
My husband's brother asked this question last night. When mi esposo said no, brother put forth friends who have a baby also due in April as an example. They already have the nursery ready. My husband assured his concerned brother that we can always put the baby in a box with some clothing for bedding. (I couldn't have answered it any better!)

It's January, folks. Baby's due in April. Honestly, God forbid I go into labor tomorrow, the child will be sleeping in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) until April, not its alloted bedroom. So we'll save the room prep until March, if that's not too neglectful for the rest of you.

4) How are you doing?
Back to tired and achy. The heated pool helps, but sleeping in a full bed that sits low to the ground does not. I've been saying for months we need a new, bigger bed. I was sure of that when I slept in my friend's queen sized bed in December. My husband is now sure of it because I've moved into the living room to sleep on the futon.

This will sound completely crazy, but there are too many people touching me! The baby's moving inside, my husband's right next to me when we sleep. Come April my body will be a milk machine plus carrier. I already feel like a minivan. I don't know what it means to have personal space anymore- maybe I never will again. The futon is the same size as our bed, but it's too firm, so I'm still waking up with a stiff back and hips. But at least I don't need help getting out of it, and I can lay in it without touching another human being.

5) When's the shower?
March, sometime. Still looking for place and trying to figure out food. It's hard for me to be excited because all my family is in NYC, so I am sure that not many of them will come to Phila, especially since we're planning more of a party than baby shower. Not even half my relatives came to our wedding picnic in New Jersey (and I'm not counting my dad's family, which I've pretty much divorced, cuz dem folks is crazy!) And Phila is so much further than Central Jersey, so I'll understand that it's too far away for them to come, right?

I guess I should end this on a more upbeat note. Aha! A security guard at my job asked me "How far are you going?" while I'm signing in for the day. We had just finished talking about getting a ride from a co-worker last night, so I thought she meant "where do you live?" I also don't like talking to her for longer than a minute, and this conversation was pushing a minute twenty seconds*, so I was ready to respond "I'm going to the corner store!" But she just started back to work, so I swallowed my sarcasm and asked her what she meant, and she said she meant how many months along I am. Then she asked if I'd ever heard that phrase before. I answered "No, I've heard 'how far along are you', but not 'how far are you going.'

Has anyone heard this phrasing before when referring to a pregnancy?

*I know it's mean, but you all (should) realize by now I'm not a nice person. This woman is nice, but she talks too much, and it's hard for me to maintain a conversation with her. I'm sorry.
Can't you just picture me as a warm, caring, patient mother, serving warm chocolate chip cookies and milk to my doting child on a blustery winter's night? Heh heh heh...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Fun Stuff

I decided that since I'm not posting the ultrasound pictures I would throw you a bone and attach a pic of myself in the matron of honor dress for my profile pic. I cropped the other attendants and the bride out, because who cares about them, really. (Did I mention the bride is my sister?
Did I also mention I had fun cropping her out of the photo? HA HA! "It's good to be the king."
I love her, she's great, and the wedding was nice.)

In other fun news, mi esposo and I have been enjoying our evening entertainment - watching the not-yet-born dance across its condo. We spent a solid half an hour one night just staring at my stomach while it poked and stretched in every direction. There are many days I feel like pregnancy is a a one-woman show (you know, after the seed got planted of course), so to see my husband get excited about what's happening inside of me makes me feel less alone, like the back pain and nausea is for a greater good. I am also very grateful to have a partner who is interested and invested in my pregnancy, even though he enjoys playing food police a little too much for my liking. But what can I say? At least he cares, right?

Have you heard of a 'push present'? Last night to distract myself from my hospital research I looked at a slide show about push presents - gifts men give to their wives in appreciation of all the hard work she did in bringing their child into the world. I read the captions aloud, while my husband decorated our study. Based on his reactions, I'm not getting any push presents. I get my gifts now- not having to do laundry, not cooking much, rides home from work. I'll take the help over a pair of diamond studs, call me crazy.

And finally...
We've joined a fitness center that has a heated pool through this program called Global Fit. My insurance will cover some of the membership fee, which is the only way we can afford this particular place. It feels good to be in the water, I really think that it's helping ease the back pain. My husband swims. I sit on the noodle and move my hands and legs. Soon I'm going to take swim lessons so that I can really swim. I can only swim when I hold my breath- not good for baby - and I can't really tread water, so I need to stay where I can feel the ground below my feet (I didnt learn how to move in water until I was 19. Almost drowning at Disneyworld when I was 4 kinda turned me off the whole swimming thing.)

So maybe this isn't fun, but isn't it more fun than a reading post about the politics of giving birth in the US? I may be writing that one soon, because I'm frustrated by how difficult it seems to be to give birth the way I want to. I'll save it til after I see the Abby Epstein/Ricki Lake documentary The Business of Being Born.

( I get my jollies from being indignant :-D )

My Last Monthly Visit

Went for the monthly checkup. The good news is I've gained 5lbs since the last visit, my blood pressure is excellent, and I am progressing very nicely. The technician said my weight is pretty good, some women gain what she called a lot of weight during pregnancy (50 lbs). I am nowhere near that, thank God. My nurse-practioner measured my fundus (from the top of your uterus to the top of your pelvic bone, which is the first time anyone's done that (she said that was excellent too, but I didn't ask what the measurment was- I was too shocked that she actually did it). According to my pregnancy book that measuring should have been happening for months, but the doctor said pretty much every time that I wasn't showing (so there was no need to take measurements?) I will have to start going for check-ups every two weeks now, and the technician gave me a bottle of glucose drink for the gestational diabetes test i will have to take at the end of this month.

The not so good news is that the maternity ward I'm supposed to give birth in is going under construction and that construction is supposed to last for six months. So I will be giving birth to my child in a construction site come April? I don't like this bit of news. Nor do I like the fact that you can't even find a link to the maternity center on the website - that's a bit unnerving. I spent a while on a local blog site to see if other people had experience giving birth at this place. If they do no one's talking.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The New York Times Beat Me To It

Remember when I said I was fighting a cold? Well, I managed to fend it off so far without taking medicine. I meant to tell you all about this, but I got lazy, and today the New York Times has an article about the very thing I was going to praise.

Neti Pot.

No you don't smoke it, ha ha ha...

It looks like a genie's lamp. You put warm water and salt in it, you stick the long end into your nostril, pour the water through and it rinses your nasal passages (repeat on other nostril for maximum effect). It takes some getting used to, but this thing is fabuloso! I first heard about it at our friends' wedding in Seattle. Two allergy sufferers swore by this contraption, so when we got home my husband and I bought one. Not only is it good for allergy season, but if you have post-nasal drip like I do, it clears you out pretty well. No drugs, which is good for you and your baby.

For more praise, go to the New York Times website.

Friday, January 4, 2008

By the way

According to some more research I did, drinking raspberry leaf tea is supposed to promote uterine contractions and is not recommended before the 32nd week.  I freaked out and decided not to drink anymore until then.  I've been drinking Raspberry blend (raspberry leaf, hibiscus and something else blend), but I'm not interested in early contractions, even though it's not straight up raspberry tea.  It tastes so good too...

Foot massages are okay, but there are pressure points that can also trigger (say it with me!) uterine contractions (very good!).  So your partner can do gentle toe pulls and ankle rotations and calf.  I still get manicures and pedicures.  Jenny knows I'm pregnant, so she didn't really press anywhere, but the soaking and the bubbles more than made up for that.  Side bar: The place I go to got new tubs with this kick-ass chair that does kneading and tapping back massages. Great chair, much better than the old ones.  The down side is the ventilation system is not so hot in this place, but I go every 6-8 weeks.  I should start asking for a face mask, but that looks so uncool.  

Oh, beware of being an attendant in a wedding in your second trimester.  I was matron of honor and had a lot of running around to do.  My shoes were uncomfortable, my back was aching, and by the end of the night I was grimacing and hobbling around the church.  I'm not complaining - I was happy to do it. I'm just saying be mindful, because your mobility and stamina are not what it once was (although my stamina is better now than it was in the first trimester).

Oh yeah, Happy New Year :-D  

Bottom of the 2nd

Ladies, you know you've been pregnant for too long when you a) forget how far along you are and b) have no idea why people who haven't seen you in a while are dumbstruck.

I was telling people all last weekend that I am about 5 months along. Sorry y'all, I'm actually 6 months along, or about 24 weeks. How am I supposed to keep track of these things?

A freelancer came by the office to work with my boss. I still had my coat on from my trek down Market Street (I'll get to that in a sec), and my stomach was pretty well hidden in my puffy coat. I moved a laptop to give him space to work and the next thing I hear is "Oh my god! Oh my god! What! What?" I'm looking at the laptop thinking I did something wrong. It took a while for me to realize that he was exclaiming about my pregnant stomach. You would think it'd be hard to forget you're pregnant.  Maybe for some women it is easy to remember, but I carry on as though nothing out of the ordinary is happening to my body.

I am walking slower than usual. I now enjoy riding up the escalator when I'm too tired to walk it (people riding the escalator is one of my pet peeves tee hee hee!) I have to grasp both handrails and pull myself up the stairs to get into the train. This week I decided I can no longer wear pants because they don't give the baby room to move*, and at work I sit more often than not these days. It is becoming more difficult to tie my own shoes. And I stay a little later at work to catch the train home with my husband so I can slide myself in the car and not have to walk up the hill from the train station.

Yes, I could take the bus home from work. If you had to sit on the 23 bus for an hour, you'd wait for the ride too.

Sleep is uncomfortable. I can no longer sleep on my back. One morning I woke up and the left side of my back was tingling. But when I sleep on my sides my hips and back ache. Oh, how lovely- a segue to my Market Street trek story. See I told you I'd get there!

I went to lunch Thursday. My back was aching, so I decided that I was going to buy a body pillow before I got food. I dragged my poofy stomach and my throbbing back from the Gallery East mall to Macy's on 13th and Market on a cold winter's afternoon. Not one store I stepped foot in sold body pillows. The frickin' Macy's doesn't even have a home furnishings department!

Oh, yeah, I'm fighting a cold. It sucks. I'm glad I've been taking my vitamins almost daily, and that I got the flu shot or else I'm sure I'd be sick now. And eating lots of citrus fruits (we like oranges and red grapefruit!)

*Speaking of moving, we think we felt a foot a few days ago. The baby likes to move at night while I'm lying in bed. I do a routine rub, you know, to say hello. So I'm rubbing, and suddenly I feel this bulge. "What is that?" I said out loud to get you-know-who's attention. He looks, I look, we're rubbing this thing that's sticking out at the top of my stomach, and we've decided it was a little foot! Sure it could have been an elbow.  Either way, the baby's growing and stretching, which is always a welcome sign of life.