Monday, March 31, 2008

The Baby Shower

Turned into a birthday party....
Tallulah Jamieson was born Saturday, March 29 at 11:10 am. Her due date was April 24. She weighed 6 lbs, 3 oz, 19 1/4 inches long. Dad, Mom, and Tallulah are all well.

Lu and I haven't been discharged from the hospital yet, we're waiting for her to pass the car seat test.

More details later...

Friday, March 28, 2008


I am 36 weeks, 1 day pregnant. If I hold out til next Thursday I can have the baby at the birth center. If I go before 37 weeks then it's the hospital. The baby's lungs are fully developed at 37 weeks, which is why the center uses that benchmark. It's also 3:01 am, and I'm blogging. I've been napping off and on since 5pm.

Today was another midwife's appointment, and so far so good. Now is when your doctor/midwife will test for Group B strep. It's a common bacteria that lives in your colon but sometimes migrates to your vag. It's harmless to you and more often than not asymptomatic, so if you have an outbreak you wouldn't notice. The concern is that if you do have Group B and it goes undectected during childbirth, the baby can inhale the bacteria upon exit and develop pneumonia. No one wants that. So if you do have GBS you'll receive antibiotics intravenously every four to eight hours while you're in labor. You can still deliver vaginally (and in my case in the birth center) should the results come back positive.

I'd read women complaining about this test on a message board. Compared to a Pap smear this was nothing-no speculum needed, and it's a very quick swipe. I guess some issues women had were the discomfort and being left alone to take the sample. My midwife took the sample, and as I was laying there I couldn't see her head for my mountanous stomach. Can't imagine being expected to swab my own coot when I can't even see it!

Once she took the sample, my midwife asked if I wanted her to check my cervix. She said it wasn't necessary, but I figured since she was down there we may as well find out what's going on. As of this afternoon my cervix was one centimeter dilated, and 70% effaced. She said this is no indication of what could happen ten minutes from now, but the 70% effaced is very good. It means come labor time I will have less cervical thinning to do. The baby is still in the vertex position (head down), another good thing. Midwife also said I have a good stomach for feeling the baby.

I'm having lots of trouble getting out of bed. I'm going to try to sleep sitting up, propped up with pillows. It's so uncomfortable trying to turn from right to left, then lifting myself up.

My leave has been accepted. All I had to do was send a reminder email, along with the request I submitted a month ago, to the HR lady with a copy to the prez. HR lady saw me in the elevator last night and says "Oh, I thought our conversation would suffice, but I'll draft you a letter."
The conversation went like something like this: "Hi, I got your request. We've been pretty busy with the gala, and I've got to talk to the president about your leave, but it shouldn't be a problem." I know I'm considerably younger than most of the staff, but I'm not stupid. Some things need to be in writing, and if I submit a request for leave in writing, I expect an acceptance or denial in writing. Always leave a paper trail, that's my motto.

I guess that's it for now. Oh- I'm officially scaring people at work. I get concerned looks when I lift anything like empty boxes. A guest helped me push an empty flatbed up part of the ramp (I was only taking it to the elevator, calm down!), and a co-worker refused to let me load the boxes of quilts on the flatbed, push it to the elevator, and take it to the gallery for preparation, so she helped (and I appreciate it.)

But I've got a job to do, and two weeks left to do it. Hallelujah!!!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Can't Sleep...Rambling

It's 3:26 AM, I've been up for about an hour. The baby was moving, the Braxton Hicks were happening, the bladder was full, and I was feeling gassy. So I'm in the cold study sipping my Raspberry leaf tea and cruising the web.

I'm hungry, but I can't really eat. I missed taking my blood sugar level 2 hrs after din-din (fell asleep). I could take my fasting level now and have a snack. Have I said I hate this GD yet? It's so irritating, all this damned monitoring and food portioning. I'm pregnant, I'm supposed to be able to eat what I want, when I want. *sigh* whatever...must remember the wages of indulgence for me are a hospital birth or a C-section...I'll check myself and have some cottage cheese as a snack.

Just throwing it out there- if any of you wanna get me a post-partum gift: jelly doughnuts...

I received a wonderful compliment on Easter Sunday. Daddy-to-be is taking a samba drumming class on Sundays. We went after church, and since there are no spectators, I stood for two hours playing the agogo (three bells played with drumstick). After class a woman said that I was very strong for being able to stand for so long and keep up. I told her I felt like since no one else was taking a break I couldn't wuss out :-) After watching the ladies at work stare at my stomach and remind me how large it's growing every week I appreciate another woman praising me for taking care of myself. I thanked her for saying what I needed to hear. The months of taking the stairs at work and walking the hills and steps to and from the train station are working!

As you approach B-day ladies, it's important to remember that you are strong. Your body can and will bring this baby out. If it happens you need (or choose) to have a C-section, know that you will heal and all will be well. Don't be discouraged by all that "Oh, you're getting so big're gonna blow any minute now" banter. You're pregnant. The baby is growing. Your body is doing exactly what it's supposed to do. (Can you tell I've been reading Ina May's book? I'm telling you, it's a must-read, even if you're not pregnant!)

Speaking of which, I'm going to draw some blood so I can get some grub. Peace out, y'all...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Dry Run

Easter morning I was dreaming about the Mass Pike when I interrupted myself to go to the bathroom. I had repositioned myself from sleeping on my right side to my left in preparation to get up, but laid in bed a little longer to gather my strength. Moments later, I sat on the toilet and sighed.

"Umm, you do realize you don't lie down to use the toilet," I thought.

The flow obeyed. When I opened my eyes I was still laying on my left side in bed, feeling warm and wet. This was not a sign of preterm labor. I just peed my bed, is all.

It's a good thing we bought the waterproof mattress pad...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

This Has Nothing To Do With My Pregnancy But...

You all need to read Barack Obama's response to his pastor's comments and the subsequent media hullaballo surrounding it.

I'm not just saying that because Obama's biracial, or because I think this man needs to be the next president of the United States. (Or because he gave the speech two blocks away from my job.)

It is on the New York Times website, CNN's website, and other places I'm sure.

Find it, print it, read it!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Getting Ready-ish

We have finished the gift registry and sent out invites to the un-shower. We've planned a co-ed, no awful shower games, and best of all no gift opening. We're bringing the Nintendo Wii, some board games, card games, and hopefully everyone will have a good time. Why no gift opening?

1) That's boring- we'd rather spend the time with our guests, most of whom are coming from out of town.

2) How many times can we say "Oh, how cute!" "Wow, we really need that!" "I didn't know they made that in this size!"

3) If you really wanna see what the baby got, come visit the baby after its born. Besides, I caved on telling family and friends the sex of the baby. I've been more than gracious when people touch my stomach. Do I have to share the gifts too?

4) What if some people don't bring gifts? There's no law saying you have to, and we don't want people to feel uncomfortable about coming without a physical gift. Your presence is gift enough. (aren't we disgusting!)

The baby's room is still not ready, tee hee hee. We just signed up for a one day, five hour intensive childbirth class for the Sunday after our un-shower. It's a good deal- the teacher will come to our house, bring snacks, and we only have to sit still for five hours, not travel somewhere for 6 to 12 weeks.

The midwife gave me a list of signs of pre-term labor. It is the birth center's policy to stop pre-term labor before 37 weeks. (I figure your practioner will have her own rules, so don't take that as gospel for all pregnancies.) If I have Braxton Hicks contractions that last longer than two minutes, bloody show, painful uterine cramps that don't go away with rest and plenty of water, or 4 to 6 contractions in one hour I must call the center.

I also have started to prepare an emergency contact list. The owner of our neighborhood cafe asked if I had such a list, in case I go into labor when my husband's not around. As foolish as this sounds, I never imagined he'd be away. It's especially naive of me, considering we live in Philly and he works in Central Jersey- DOH! The cafe owner offered to be a contact person, as well as two friends in the city who are new moms. I have to call a cab company to find out how much a ride out to the center costs from my house, and have that much cash on hand, just in case the backup people can't make it either.

I'm still waiting to hear from the HR Dept if my leave has been approved. I submitted that request the last week in February, and the leave is supposed to begin in 4 weeks. Am I supposed to follow up on this? If I haven't heard anything by the end of this week I'll say something.

I have a good pregnancy book to recommend: Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin. The first part contains child birthing stories that run the gamut from homebirth to hospital birth, unmedicated to medicated, vaginal, c-sections and unexpected complications. The second part explains labor and childbirth without scaring the bejeezis out of you. There are graphic pictures, but you may as well look at them because it is what it is. The more you familiarize your subconscious with what is to come the less scared you'll be.

(My midwife has known Ina May Gaskin for many years. So I really am in good hands...)

It's Full Disclosure Time

I'm giving up on the scroll down business. You know the deal by now.

I woke up about 4 this morning to go pee. I started to go and stopped just as suddenly, which I thought was weird. I waited a few seconds, nothing. As soon as I stood up the floodgates opened. No, my water did not break. My guess is the baby's position stopped the flow when I sat down. So I guess when I really gotta go I'll have to stand over the bowl. Great...

My husband and I had a very informative midwifery appointment last Thursday. The head midwife let the trainee explain perineal massage. I got all excited cuz I thought she asked if I had any prenatal massage, which I did that Monday. They are NOT the same thing!

The perineum is at the base of the vagina. You're supposed to lube your thumb or fingers (or some willing participant lubes their fingers) and inserts them just inside, pressing down towards the rectum and gently rubbing side to side. This is to help stretch the perineun in preparation for labor and for prevention of episiotomy (cutting the skin between the rectum and vagina) and tearing.

The trainee was a little coy during the explanation, and the head midwife was getting a little frustrated and took over. Midwife says the practice is controversial, in that there have been no studies to prove its effectiveness, and there are mammals (the horse was her example) that expel big babies from their bodies without doing perineal massage. The choice is ours. She also said having sex will pretty much do the same thing, but was quick to say that perineal massage is not sexual- the pressure stings and when you do it right you should feel like you have to poop. Some people get off on that, I reckon - I ain't one of 'em... I also can't see my crotch, and can barely wash it standing in the shower. Forget being able to perform perineal massage on myself now lying down. I'm a mere mortal woman, not a Vivid Girl.

Then again, my doula has a yogi friend who says she was "on her junk daily" doing this perineal massage and did not tear at all during child birth. So there ya go!

Yes, I can still see my feet, but I had to buy another maternity dress to wear. The baby gets upset if I sit for too long and the jean skirt I used to wear every day is now too tight. I'm 34 and a half weeks and now is when the baby grows a half pound every week. It's very difficult to get out of bed, especially when I have to break the seal at 3 in the morning. My bladder is so full that it sometimes hurts to get up. It's the pressure of the baby, that's all.

That is all. Not so bad that time, was it?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

34 weeks

I'm at week 34, and all is well. The nurse I check in with says my glucose levels are "excellent"....oh shit- I have to prick right back...yep, still excellent. I am drinking LOTS of water, eating more often and more balanced meals. My midwife says I should continue these eating habits and exercise after birth because of my family's history of Type II diabetes.
She mentioned the awful things that can happen when your diabetes goes unchecked. My paternal grandfather was a diabetic amputee. I'm not interested in that, muchas gracias.

My last two week appointment is March 27, then every week after that until this baby comes shooting out, allegedly on the 24th of April. That's a lovely image, isn't it? It is my joy to entertain you :-)

On Patience (Soap Box Time)

"It's easy to have patience when you don't do it [deal with a child] everyday."

Someone said this to me a few months ago while I was attending a crying child. It's a poignant statement. My response was internal because the crying child was more important at the moment. What I wanted to say was "I believe the words you're looking for are 'thank you.' This child is watching you walk out the door without her as you take your newborn and significant other out for the evening, jackass! Wouldn't you feel neglected and hurt too?"

But I held my tongue, because I have patience.

Children cry, scream, get angry, don't listen, roll on the floor, whatever it is they do when they go crazy. But they're children. You asked* for them, now you have to take care of them, which requires patience. So instead of being snippy with someone for having the patience to deal with your child or children when you don't, be appreciative and grateful for the help. I say this more as a reminder to myself, because I'm sure there will be times when I may forget what I expect others to remember.

*Unless you were raped of course. Now if you keep the child, the violence surrounding her conception does not preclude the love and nurture she needs from you.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Sometimes I Feel Like a Junkie

I've been monitoring my blood sugar levels since Monday. So far they are staying at normal levels, with two outliers: 53 after yesterday's breakfast, and 126 after Tuesday's lunch. I'm a live science fair experiment!

I am walking around the city with lancets (tiny needles), strips that suck up the blood, and a sharps bottle for the used lancets. My doula and any one else looking at our table in the Liberty Marketplace witnessed the following ritual on Tuesday:

Unzip little black case
Remove digital monitor and finger pricker device from case
Insert fresh strip into monitor
Insert fresh lancet into pricker
Massage finger to fill with blood
Prick finger
Squeeze until enough blood comes out
Place strip in droplet wait for reading
Discard used strip and lancet
Return all paraphanalia to little black case

I felt like I should have been in an abandoned brownstone, sitting between Willie BoBo and Johnny ShakesALot in the stairwell while they smoke their crack. But la doula and I were talking, it was time for me to take the reading, and it was a good education for the both of us. No one called the cops on me, so I live to prick myself another day...

You're probably wondering why I didn't get up and go to a bathroom to do this in private. I need to normalize the process for myself. I have nothing to be ashamed of, and public bathrooms are dirty. There is not enough bloodletting to be considered a biohazard. I have to do this four times a day, regardless of where I am. I can't condition myself to test myself only in a bathroom.

What is difficult is eating so often at work. It's less of a problem at home because the kitchen is right there and no one is interrupting me while I eat. If I eat the right amount I get sleepy. If I eat too little my blood sugar is low and I have a headache and feel lightheaded and shaky. And I have to prepare lunch and snacks before I leave the house based on the guidelines put forth by the nutritionist.

The real hard part is creating a balanced meal on the run when you're broke, and eating leftovers for days. I could eat leftovers before I got pregnant no problem. Now the thought of having the same thing over and over doesn't inspire hunger. And when you are broke you don't have the luxury of being a picky eater.

The results of Tuesday's visit are my motivation. Right now the baby is 5lbs, only five days ahead on the growth schedule; the doctor said at this point the size is not at all alarming. I can do the best I can to keep that under control by planning out these meals.

Monday, March 3, 2008


Last week I submitted my request for maternity leave to HR. Go to the Department of Labor's website and read your employee manual for more info. I believe the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) is for 12 weeks, unpaid. I'm supposed to be grateful that they just don't fire me for getting pregnant- it's almost like a penalty. Sure you can get pregnant, and we'll hold your job for you, but don't expect to get paid, and you should be back in twelve weeks.

Twelve weeks=Three months. So if I want my job back I have to leave my three month old in the care of someone else. For a country that loves to spit out the phrase "family values," this separation of the family unit at a critical time of family development is counterintuitive.

I had my first post-GD midwife appointment. I was feeling pretty crappy about the diagnosis. I thought I was doing all I could to have a healthy pregnancy. I'm Nelly Negative, raised a fundamentalist Christian, so I immediately chalked this up to divine punishment for thinking I would have a natural childbirth. My midwife was much more level-headed. To get this diagnosis with eight weeks to go was, as the head midwife said, a slap in the face. GD happens to one in twelve pregnant women through no fault of their own.

The placenta processes the sugar you eat, but some placentas don't process it as well as others. So the insulin in you acts as a growth hormone in your fetus. This is why it's important to be screened for GD and to maintain your blood sugar levels. Eat often, three meals a day and three snacks. Limit, not eliminate, carbohydrate intake, and drink lots of water.

The monitoring is not so much fun. I have a glucose monitor and I have to prick my finger four times a day until I give birth. I also have to test my ketone levels (make sure there's no protein in my urine). One if four women need insulin shots to help maintain normal levels (around 95 at fasting, and around 120 two hours after eating). I will also have two more ultrasounds to check the size of the baby. If the baby is too large I would have to have a cesarian section. The silver lining in all this is that I do not have Type II diabetes. GD goes away after you give birth.

Midwife says thinks positively. So I will maintain my blood sugar levels, the baby will be a normal weight, and I will write about the waterbirth in April. Everything will be fine.