Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Last Day of Pregnancy

I had an appointment with my midwife first thing in the morning yesterday, and she finally pulled the plug on my hopes for a med-free, birth center birth. I'm being induced at the hospital this evening. Sad face.

Things have been deteriorating over the last week. I have an awful, unbearably itchy PUPPS rash that started on my belly, but has spread to my arms and legs. A rash like this is sometimes an indicator that your liver is stressed and the toxins it is not able to cleanse from your blood have nowhere to go but up through your skin. Lovely.

In addition to being driven out of my mind by itching, there are some other indicators that things are not going well. For one, Snapdragon is still floating really high, not settling into my pelvis at all. She seems to be head-down, but was so far up that Joyce could not even reach her during my internal exam. I am a tiny bit effaced, but not dilated at all. Add that to the cyst, my low iron, and the fact that even Tufts thinks that she will be a 9-pounder, and there are just too many risk factors for the birth center. Snapdragon's eviction notice has been served.

Joyce gave us the option of being induced right away (Monday night) or waiting until Tuesday (today). We opted for Tuesday so that we have a bit of time to get our affairs in order, contact our families, and repack our bags for what will be a longer hospital stay than we were anticipating.

I was pretty disappointed about the whole thing and cried right after the appointment, but I am feeling resigned to the reality of it now. There are plenty of positives: We get to meet Snapdragon! No more waiting! No worrying about going into labor at an inconvenient time/place! Time to charge the camera and phones! Time for my parents to travel in a non-emergency fashion!

Still, I am feeling a little bummed that I have to go to the hospital and worried about the level of intervention I may be getting into. They'll start the induction with a 12-hr dose of Cervidil tonight. There's a chance that that will get everything started, but if it doesn't, they'll have to bring out the Pitocin. More worrying than the drugs is the fact that drugs mean constant fetal monitoring, IVs, etc. Not only will I not have the comfort of the birth center, where they have beds big enough for Pete to get in with me and whirlpool tubs for laboring, I may not even be able to walk around very much (depending on the monitor/IV situation). If I'm stuck on my back, I won't be able to make use of all of the pain-management strategies and positions that would allow me to cope with the pain and avoid the epidural.

I have to decide whether I am ok getting the epidural. While I don't want to abandon my plan, I also don't want to put myself in a situation where I have the worst of both worlds: all the pain of going med-free with none of the freedom to use coping strategies. There are lots of reasons why I don't want the epidural — groggy baby, higher risk of c-section, inability to walk — but I may need it if I can't use warm water and movement to get me through. If the induction goes smoothly enough that I can still have some freedom of movement, I think I'll be able to make it. If not, I have to be ok with accepting the epidural without feeling like a failure. I don't want it, but it may be the best option for my situation. I'll have to discuss this with the midwife and doula before they start the induction so that my final decision is not coming from a place of panic in the moment, but from reasoned, conscious choice.

So, wish me luck. I check in at 8:00 pm. If all goes well, I should have an outside baby by Wednesday night — Thursday morning at the latest.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fun, Not Fun

Fun: Going to the grocery store and and telling people who ask when you're due, "Oh, last Wednesday."

Not Fun: Being 41 weeks pregnant.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Last Ultrasound? Please?

I have been wrong before, but I really do think that we are all done with the ultrasounds.

Joyce acknowledged that the radiology dept at Little Hospital is not really all that great, so she sent me back to Big Hospital to have a final growth estimate/fluid check/cyst update. We went yesterday morning.

The final weight estimate (@ 40 wks, 1 day) is 4,088 grams, just a smidge over 9 pounds. This is fairly consistent with Big Hospital's estimate from 38 weeks — they estimated 7 lbs 12 oz, with a rate of growth of 1/2 pound per week, so this is fairly consistent with that. I don't know whether it is accurate, but it is consistent.


Since I have had approximately a million ultrasounds during this pregnancy, I feel qualified to offer a few suggestions to the techs/doctors who do these scans:
  • If you are going to use the entire bottle of gel on me, the very least you could do is hand me an extra towel at the end. I have long since learned that you will not, under any circumstances, actually help me clean myself up, and I suppose that's ok, but the towel tucked into my underwear is already covered in gel, so it isn't really adequate for the full cleanup job.
  • It is very uncomfortable for me to lie flat on my back at this point. Please get on with what you are doing in an efficient manner.
  • It is also difficult for me to shift positions, especially since the "bed" is a flimsy, narrow gurney with no handrails, not an actual bed. With this in mind, please keep requests that I turn on my left side, then my right side, then my left side, then my back, then my left side, to the absolute minimum necessary for you to get the shots you need.
  • Narrate. I know the techs are not allowed to say anything diagnostic, but a simple, "Now, let's have a look at the kidneys" would be much appreciated. It all looks like static to me, and I have been very pleased with the very few techs who have bothered to tell me what they are doing.
  • Always give me a picture. I will feel better about being sticky and uncomfortable if you give me a picture of my baby at the end of the procedure. It doesn't have to be a shot of her face! Hands and feet make excellent ultrasound pics — even the heart looks pretty cool. Leaving me with no pics makes me grumpy.
I hope we have seen the last of Snapdragon's ultrasounds. It's time for us to see her in person!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pregatory

pregatory: the time after your due date, but before your baby's actual birthday

All the week-by-week calendars have run out. All the tiny clothes and diapers are clean and ready. All the maternity clothes are worn out.

Seriously, baby. This has gone on long enough.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Due Date!

This date has been circled in bright colors on my calendar all year. Now, it's here . . . and it's just another boring day of waiting. Grumblecakes.

I'm actually trying to get some things done today so that I don't just sit around and mope. I wrote a 500-word summary of my summer research project, followed up on some work emails, went out to lunch with FB, and took a short (very short) walk. Honestly, it was pathetic. I walked to the library branch, which is a little over a quarter mile from my house, before admitting that my back was killing me. Unfortunately, at that point, I had to walk home. I walked less than a mile and feel like I need an ice pack.

FB has downloaded PuzzleQuest 2 on the Xbox for me, so that has killed several hours. It's my kind of video game — instead of fighting monsters, you defeat them by playing a version of Bejeweled. It's much more my speed than FB's shooting games.

I've been doing all I can to get ready, but there just isn't that much left to do. Yesterday, I made two playlists for labor — a mellow one and an energetic one. I don't know whether I'll want to listen to music while I'm in labor, but at least I'll have the option. I suppose I could vacuum again or clean the bathroom, but that doesn't sound like much fun. Perhaps I will write a letter to little Snapdragon that I can put in her keepsake box and give to her when she is older. It would mostly say,

Dear Snapdragon,
Get your butt out here. No, seriously, it is time.
xoxo,
pb

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Getting Sick

FB had a bad cold last week and I fear that I am coming down with it this week. I woke up this morning with a sore throat and a groggy headache. Sad face.

I had hoped that Snapdragon might be born today (Talk Like a Pirate Day), but it looks like that is not going to happen. I still haven't had any noticeable contractions or mucus plugs fragments or any other signs of labor.

While I am impatient to meet Snapdragon, I'm not very excited about laboring or caring for a new baby with a cold as bad as the one FB had. Hopefully, whatever symptoms I have will run their course over the next few days and resolve themselves before Snapdragon makes her appearance. I wouldn't want her to get seriously sick in her first week of life because I have the sniffles.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Stupid Doctor's Appointment

I went to my appointment this morning, where the doctor checked my vitals, measured my belly, and shrugged at me. Yes, I have too much fluid, but there's not really anything anyone can do about that.

For the record, my belly is GIANT. When they measure it, the number of centimeters is supposed to correspond to the number of weeks (24 cm = 24 weeks pregnant, etc.). For most of the pregnancy, I was right on target, but around 35 weeks, I started measuring 1 or 2 cm bigger than expected (this was when they noticed the high fluid). Today, I measured 47 cm. For the love of all that is holy, get this baby out of me.

The doctor also told me that the weight estimate from yesterday's ultrasound was 9 lbs 14 oz, but that is bullshit. Snapdragon was moving around so much and was so uncooperative that I know that they did not get good measurements. Besides, the Tufts estimate from last Wednesday was 7 lbs 12 oz and I trust their staff and machines way more. The Tufts office specializes in obstetrical ultrasounds and sees all the high-risk patients, while the Cambridge Hospital radiology dept is an all-purpose unit that does everything from mammograms to gall bladder scans, so their technicians don't do growth ultrasounds all day long. I don't expect that Snapdragon is a tiny peanut, but there is no way she is a 10-pounder at this point.

The doctor did offer me a c-section, though. I declined.

So, I have a huge baby, extra fluid, and an itchy, stretched-to-the-max stomach. Still no progress with the whole effacement/dilation thing. Due date is in 5 days, but it is looking like that is not going to happen.

Side note: my blood pressure is 100/68. Does that sound too low to anyone else? I'm not running any marathons over here.

Itchy

Screw these stretch marks. I've never been much of a bare midriff girl, so I don't care if they are ugly, but they ITCH! All day, every day, and sometimes in the middle of the night, I have an irresistible urge to scratch all over. The three inches below my ex-belly button feels like it's on fire.

My skin is stretched so tight it is shiny and feels so thin. Worst of all, most of the area around my belly button is also completely numb, so I'm afraid of getting into one of those situations where you bite through your lip after getting Novocaine.

I have some Aveeno lotion that is usually good for 2-3 minutes of relief. I am considering duct taping mittens to my hands.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

39 Week Appointment

My appointment with my midwife this morning was a bit more eventful than I was expecting. I have felt a difference in Snapdragon's movements these past few days — the kicking has been all over the place, rather than on the right side, where it has been for weeks now.

I was afraid that she may have turned and Joyce was suspicious as well. I got an internal exam (lovely), which revealed that I am 0 cm dilated, 0% effaced, and that Snapdragon's head was not within feeling distance. Since Joyce couldn't really tell whether the baby was head-down, I got sent over to the hospital for an ultrasound. Inductions and c-sections were mentioned.

I texted Pete, who had stayed home to get some more work done before Snapdragon's *hopefully* imminent arrival. He rushed right over, just in time to sit through the world's longest, most uncomfortable, and most boring ultrasound. All the poking and prodding made for an angry Snapdragon — she decided that she was not going to cooperate AT ALL, so everything took 3x as long as it should have. She would not stay still for a single second, meaning that I had to lie flat on my back for over an hour as the ultrasound tech tried to luck into the shots she needed.

Long story short, Snapdragon is still head-down, just twisted in a weird way. She should be good to go.

The ultrasound did reveal that I still have too much fluid, so I have to go to a doctor's appt tomorrow morning. It is unclear to me how this will help. What is the doctor going to do about it? I'm hoping that I will have less amniotic fluid soon due to my water breaking.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Cloth Diaper Delivery

I got my Bum Genius diapers in the mail today. They are so cute!



I love the colors. The Diaper Lab only had the x-small size in white, so I ordered other colors from Thanks Mama. Thanks Mama is only online, but it's a local company, so their free shipping arrives in two days. It will be super easy to get more if we decide we like these.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ultrasound Update

I'm back from my unnecessary ultrasound, which (thankfully) turned out to be a super boring waste of my time. Everything looks fine/normal/the same, which is infinitely better than finding something new and exciting. Still, I had to get up early and drive into Boston for a test that probably didn't need to be done at all.

Snapdragon is up to 7 lbs, 12 oz (72nd percentile). The weight measurements from ultrasounds are notoriously unreliable, but since the 35-week ultrasound from this hospital put her in the 6-6.5 range, this recent estimate seems to be consistent. She's right on schedule.

It is getting really uncomfortable to stay on my back for any length of time, so I had to focus more on breathing than on watching the monitors, but I did get a few glimpses of Snapdragon's little face. Her feet and hands are definitely chubby — not the skeletor hands from earlier ultrasounds. The ultrasound technician even assured me that she could see hair on Snapdragon's head, though I couldn't see it. Plenty of babies are born at 38 weeks and look perfectly normal, but I still have a hard time believing that there is a fully-formed, ready-to-be-newborn baby living in my abdomen. It still seems rather abstract, even as I get my internal organs knocked around for hours every day.

The technician was not able to see whether my cervix has progressed at all, but my guess would be that it has not. I have felt no contractions, so I would be surprised if I am dilated much at all. I have an appt with my midwife tomorrow, but I don't know whether she will do an internal exam to check for progress. I could still be looking at up to a month more of this, so I'd better settle in.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cloth Diaper Extravaganza


On Saturday, FB and I went to a cloth diapering workshop. We got to see all of the different types of diapers — there are so many options! — and ask questions about laundry.

I feel much more confident about cloth diapering after actually seeing the diapers. Originally, we thought we might try pocket diapers — either gDiapers or cloth pocket diapers — but the prefolds and fitteds with covers looked so much more straightforward. Perhaps we'll try the cloth pockets when Snapdragon is a little older and wetting more, but for the newborn stage, they just seemed too finicky.

We aren't going to be cloth diapering fanatics — I've got a big box of newborn-size disposables that I plan to use whenever I feel like it, whether it's because we're traveling or behind on laundry, or just lazy.

I imagine that the cloth diapering will get easier as we get more practice and once we figure out what size/style/brand fits our baby and our lifestyle. For now, we bought a variety of kinds so we can try them out and see what we like. For starters, we have:
  • 6 conventional cotton prefolds
  • 6 organic cotton prefolds
  • 4 Thirsties Fab Fitted diapers (2 xs, 2 sm)
  • 2 organic cotton fitteds (sm)
  • 1 OsoCozy all-in-one (sm)
  • 4 Bum Genius all-in-one (xs)
  • 3 Thirsties duo covers
  • 2 Thirsties sized covers (size 1)
  • 2 Bummis covers
Obviously, that is not enough to exclusively cloth diaper a newborn who needs 10-12 changes per day (unless we want to do the diaper laundry every single day), but it should be enough to give us an idea of what we like. If we find ourselves cursing the fitteds or wishing that we had more of those wonderful all-in-ones, we will know what we should invest in. The diaper store is only about 2 miles from our house, so it's no trouble to get more of what we need once we know we need it.

We decided to spring for the newborn sizes rather than trying to go right for the one-size diapers that supposedly fit from birth to potty training. I don't believe that the leg holes that fit a 2-year-old will also fit a newborn's chicken legs and the whole multiple snap system was a bit too daunting for us to jump in right away.

Our current stash (plus whatever we decide to add in the next few weeks and some disposables) should last us through the newborn phase. By the time Snapdragon is 3 months old and ready to move up to larger sizes or one-size diapers, it will be Christmas, and we can ask our families for cloth diapers as Christmas presents. So exciting! But really, a 3-month-old doesn't need anything and has no concept of Christmas, so I'd rather our parents channel their baby-shopping enthusiasm into useful things. Besides, cloth diapers and covers are so cute! It should be fun to shop for them!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I Love Blankets

Last night was the first night in months that was cool enough for blankets. It was glorious.

After suffering through a week of hot, sleepless nights, I was able to fall asleep and stay that way for two 4-hour sessions, broken only for a bathroom break. It has been weeks since I slept for 4 hours at a time, and it felt amazing. I woke up feeling refreshed.

Of course, 3 hours after I got out of bed, I was tired again and napped the morning away. I guess one night of good sleep does not make up an entire month's sleep debt.

In other sleep news, FB and I put a waterproof mattress cover on our bed today. I'm not all that worried about my water breaking during the night (though that certainly could happen), but I imagine that there are many other types of leaks in our immediate future and I'd prefer not to have to clean our mattress all the time.

The co-sleeper is all set, with sheets and everything. It just needs a baby.

I'm 37w4d today, so she could come any time. I am beyond ready, both materially and emotionally. Come on, Snapdragon.

Though, if the weather stays cool and I can keep up this sleeping thing, a few more weeks wouldn't be so bad.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Baby Shower

My mom will be Snapdragon's Naunie, so my Naunie needs a new name!
I'm not big on baby showers and didn't think I would have one, but my family decided to throw a joint pre-birthday party for Snapdragon and Giuliana last Sunday. When I was growing up, we always had get-togethers every month or two to celebrate all the family birthdays that fell in the same season, so it was not a big deal to call this one "baby shower." It was essentially the same as our regular family gatherings, with a few special touches. I brought cakes from Pastiche in Providence and there was a pile of pink presents as tall as a Christmas tree, but we mostly just sat around chatting and catching up.

We finally got to meet my cousin C's girlfriend, M. Since their little Giuliana will be just two months younger than Snapdragon, it makes good sense for us to try to get to know her and be nice. She is very . . . young. I suppose she must be at least 22, but she just seemed very young to me — brash and self-confident, telling stories that went nowhere. It was good to see that she was not shy around our big, loud family, but I'm not sure that genuine friendship is in our future. Still, she and C seem to be getting along well, which is a good sign. We will be glad to have a little cousin for Snapdragon, though we are still unsure about how permanent their relationship is. Of course, C will always be Giuliana's dad, but if they are not together, there is less of a chance that Snapdragon will see much of her cousin.

Of the 10 cousins on that side of the family, my sister is the youngest (14). One of my aunts has a brother with three little girls under 7 — we see them infrequently, but they were at the shower. They were very excited about the gigantic pile of presents and did not need to be coaxed into helping us open them. It was a whirlwind of pink paper and blond curls:


They were very sweet. I doubt anyone could see anything we opened, but what can you do?


It took most of last week to get all of the gifts sorted and washed and all of the thank-you notes written, but I managed. Luckily, sorting things into piles and pairing tiny socks does not take much brain power. I am TERRIBLE about thank-you notes — I always put them off until they become this huge, embarrassing, insurmountable task — so it felt good to have them all written and mailed less than a week after the event. Victory!

Updates

For the past few weeks, I have been struggling to overcome a bizarre mental paralysis that has made it difficult for me to do anything other than watch trashy TV and play computer games. Anything that involves mental exertion — even something as simple as updating this blog — has seemed like an huge, unmanageable task. Is this the much-talked-of "pregnancy brain"?

Anyway, a lot has happened, but it would be tedious to write a dozen posts, so I'll do bullet points:
  • On the night of 8/18, I started having extreme pain just above my right hip. That's right where my ovarian cyst is, so I was worried that the cyst was twisting or rupturing. I tried to sleep and wait until my scheduled appointment with my midwife the next morning, but by 3 a.m., I was in so much pain that I decided to go in to the hospital. I called my parents, who were on vacation in Maine, woke up my sister, and drove myself to the hospital. I thought I would vomit in the car because the pain was so intense, but I made it to L&D. Of course, as soon as I got there, I felt much better, but they kept me for monitoring. I had an ultrasound in the morning, which showed that my cyst was fine, but I have a kidney stone. I don't think that was what was causing my pain because my kidneys are up around my ears at this point and the pain was just above the hip, but that's everyone's best guess. The ultrasound tech estimated Snapdragon's weight at 6 lbs. 13 oz.
  • They also diagnosed me with polyhydramnios (too much amniotic fluid). The cut-off for this diagnosis is 25 somethingorothers and my fluid measured 25.8, so I had to see an OB to be checked. More on that later.
  • I felt terrible about interrupting my parents' vacation, even though they were planning on coming back on Thursday morning anyway. They raced down from Maine — there is no traffic at 3 in the morning. Though I hated to bother them, I know that they would have been pissed to find out later that I hadn't called them right away. Everything turned out fine, but they would have been upset if I hadn't told them.
  • After sleeping for less than an hour and a half on Wednesday night, I drove home to CT with my family. My mom rode in the car with me in case I needed to switch drivers. We ended up hitting a HUGE traffic jam — it took us almost 4 hours to make a trip that usually takes 2 hours or less. That was the real low point of the whole thing — I was on the verge of tears, tired, and missing Pete. It sucked.
  • On Friday, 8/20, I spent the day shopping for the babies with my mom and sister. Our family threw a joint baby shower for Snapdragon and Giuliana on Sunday, so we needed to buy presents for the babies from our family and from my Naunie. It was lots of fun, but we were out for 6 hours and my feet were throbbing by the end. We spent all evening wrapping, which was easier on my feet. We wrapped Schnappi's things in animal-themed paper to cut down on the explosion of pink and pastel.
  • Our baby shower was 8/22. I'll write a separate post about that.
  • In general, August has been much more pleasant, weather-wise, than July, but these past few days have been brutal. It's so hot and humid that it's hard to breathe. I've been getting by with cold showers, drinking gallons of water, and taking air-conditioned car trips to run unnecessary errands. I know that it is not an earth-shattering revelation to note that August is hot, but pregnant hot is a whole new kind of gross.
  • I'm pretty annoyed with my midwife. I had an appointment yesterday (8/30) during which she went over my ultrasounds and NSTs from my trip to the hospital. I am measuring "big" (39 cm instead of 37 cm) and she is concerned about the discrepancy in the measurements of Snapdragon's weight (6-6.5 lbs on 8/17 (63rd percentile), 6 lbs 13 oz on 8/19(82nd percentile)). I asked whether the discrepancy was really that big a deal — after all, don't those late ultrasounds have fairly wide margins of error? She looked at me blankly and just said that she was concerned because Snapdragon "grew so much" in just two days. WTF? She didn't grow — two different ultrasound techs made slightly different estimates, both of which estimated her weight as "biggish, but totally normal." Long story short, the midwife wants another growth ultrasound next week. Whatever. I think it is completely unnecessary, but at least I will get to see how she's doing. My next appointment with my midwife isn't until 9/9, so it will be nice to have some reassurance sooner than that.
  • No matter what the ultrasound says, Snapdragon is BIG. Very big. I can tell you that without taking any official measurements. She moves around ALL DAY LONG and it is very uncomfortable. Between the vigorous stretching and the pelvis-pounding hiccups, I am feeling pretty beat-up. My skin is so stretched that the skin around my ex-belly button is numb. Come on out, Snapdragon! There is so much more room for squirming on the outside!
  • Tomorrow is Sept. 1st, and Snapdragon will be full term! That means she is welcome to come at any time! I've got my fingers crossed for sooner rather than later. Obviously, she will come when she is good and ready, but I can't even entertain the idea that I could still be pregnant on October 1st. I am mentally prepared for 3 more weeks, tops.
  • I've got my money on Sept. 19th — Talk Like a Pirate Day. Various nerds among our friends think that Sept. 22 would be a cool birthday because it is Bilbo and Frodo Baggins' birthday.
  • My guess for birth weight is 8 lbs 12 oz, but I would be unsurprised if she turns out to be a 9-pounder.
  • I am not scared for labor. I am awkward, uncomfortable, hot, bored, and tired. There is very little left to do to get our house ready for Snapdragon, so I don't even have any little projects to keep me busy. I have tried to do dissertation work, but that's not going so well. I am impatient to get started on this whole parenting thing!
That's it for now.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My First Pedicure

FB is on a business trip and has been gone for almost two weeks. It is a long time to be apart, especially as we move into the end game of this pregnancy.

I have been trying to find little ways to pamper myself in his absence. My sister is visiting for a few days, so I took her to get pedicures. I've never had one before. It was quite nice, especially considering that I can barely cut my own toenails at this point. If it were up to me, I would have skipped the nail polish in favor of more massage time, but it was still lovely.

I also got my eyebrows waxed while B got her pedicure. I always forget how nice groomed eyebrows look — every time I get them done, I resolve to do them more often, but, invariably, I forget to go back. I have a Mediterranean unibrow, so the waxing really opens up my face, but I'm just too lazy to keep it up.

After the spa, we went shopping and bought B a dress for the first day of school. It's a lovely dress and she looks very sweet in it.

We've spent the afternoon watching TV and enjoying our clean, polished feet. Tomorrow, I have an appointment with my midwife, then a meeting for the course I'm teaching for in the spring, and then B and I will go home to CT. I'll be very glad to be with my family, rather than hanging out here, all alone.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Last Ultrasound (I Think)

I had my last ultrasound today. At least, it should be my last ultrasound — the perinatologist has decreed that my cyst does not need to be checked anymore. Once Snapdragon is born, I will go back to see whether the cyst persists. If it does, it will need to be removed surgically.

Snapdragon is looking good. Her head is still down and she weighs between 6 and 6.5 pounds. If she gains half a pound a week and is born on her due date, she should weigh between 8.5 and 9 pounds. That's pretty standard for babies in my family, but is certainly on the larger side. Who knows how big she might get if she goes late. I feel reassured, though — if she is born in the next couple of weeks, she should be a healthy size.

Since FB is gone, my parents and sister came up to take me to my appointment. The doctor only lets one person in the ultrasound room with the patient, so my sister came in with me. I felt bad that mom and dad came up and didn't get to see the ultrasound, but, in all honesty, it was a pretty boring ultrasound. Snapdragon is so big that you can only see squashed parts — an elbow here, a femur there. The ultrasound tech could barely get her whole face in the frame. Most of the time, we couldn't really tell what we were looking at.

My parents are headed up to Maine to celebrate their anniversary. They're leaving B with me for a few days while they are gone. We will probably do something girly, though I do not know what. It can't involve much walking — my back cannot handle it anymore.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

So Many Baby Girls!

It's been a big week for baby girls around here.

Congrats to Shoeless Pete and Jess on the arrival of baby Helen on Sunday, August 8!

Congrats to my cousin A.J. and his wife on the arrival of baby Ariana Eveline on Tuesday, August 10!

Add these to Lesley and Shaun's little Maya (born 6/30), Emily and Jeff's Lizzie (born 7/3), and my cousin Carlo's little girl (due 11/8), and it looks like my friends and family are working on producing an entire troop of Brownies.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

On My Own

On Sunday, FB flew out to San Francisco to attend a friend's wedding and start his new job. I was bummed that I couldn't go to the wedding (Congrats, T & I!), but he texted me photos and updates so I could follow along.

Yesterday, he started his new job. He will be working out of the San Francisco office for the next two weeks, meeting new people, catching up with old friends, and getting up to speed with his new project. It's an exciting time for him.

I'm not too worried about being here alone. I am expecting Snapdragon to linger past her due date, so I'm not really nervous about going into labor before he gets back. If I do, I have plenty of family and friends around to support me.

As much as I dislike being alone, I am enjoying some things about this solitude. I am in 100% indulgence mode — I eat and sleep when I please, watch whatever trash tv I want, and have no regard for the needs and schedules of others. I have one or two minor work obligations, but mostly, I am watching movies, working on another quilt for Snapdragon, and dabbling in dissertation work at a leisurely pace. It's not so bad.

One thing I have to remind myself to do is talk to Snapdragon. Since I don't have FB to talk to, I go most of the day without saying much. All the baby books say that she can hear pretty well, and I want her to be familiar with my voice, so I've been making an effort to talk and sing to her/myself throughout the day.

The best thing about this 2-week trip is that it is refocusing my attention. Instead of counting down days until September 22, I am counting down days until FB gets back. Two weeks is a much more manageable time period to deal with than 6-8 weeks. When he returns, I will be almost 36 weeks, and really entering the final phase of this pregnancy.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Chugging Along

I haven't posted in a while, but everything is pretty much fine here. I've been sleeping a bit better — not really comfortably, but enough to feel rested in the morning. My lower back has been hurting more often and I have had some bad headaches, but my blood pressure is fine (110/72) and I'm staying well hydrated, so that's all that can be done.

I'm 33 weeks along, which is either terrifying or frustrating, depending on whether you express it as "You could deliver 4 weeks from today!" or as "You may have as many as 9 weeks left to go!" I have mentally prepared for 6-7 weeks, but anything less is unfathomable and anything more makes me want to crawl out of my increasingly swollen skin. My ticker says 48 days to go, and I am just trying to get through each one of them. Accomplishing anything work- or house-related is strictly over-achieving at this point.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Not Sleeping

It was 79 degrees here at 6:15 this morning. I know this because I have been awake since 4.

This sucks, but perhaps it is nature's way of getting me ready for labor — make me so miserably uncomfortable that labor looks like a reasonable, even desirable, way out.

Friday, July 23, 2010

How Much Caffeine?

Today in "Bullshit Directed at Pregnant Women," we find an article on Babble telling us that a moderate amount of caffeine is safe for pregnant women. Hooray for moderation in all things!

But, if you read the article carefully, you notice gems like this one:

It says "200 mg of caffeine per day — the equivalent of a cup of coffee or one caffeinated soda." Let's be very clear — no commercially available soda has 200mg of caffeine per serving. A 12 oz. can of Coke has 35mg. A can of Diet Coke has 45mg. Sprite and most root beers have 0mg. Even Mountain Dew has only 54mg. A regular can of Red Bull (8.3 oz.) has 76mg. Don't believe me — believe the Mayo Clinic.

So, I guess if the article/study defines "one caffeinated soda" as a 48oz. Mountain Dew, it is technically correct in its estimate of caffeine content. However, I feel driven to point out that a "Big Gulp" from 7-11 is 32 oz. and a "Super Big Gulp" is 44 oz., so you would have to find a cup larger than the Super Big Gulp cup to hold this imaginary soda (not counting ice!).

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Headachey Day

Ug. Feeling awful today. I woke up with a super intense headache just above my right eye. I was able to take the edge off with some Tylenol and a nap, but it has persisted all day. I feel fragile and shaky, as if I were having a reaction to the heat, but it isn't very hot today and I have been staying well hydrated.

Luckily, I had an appointment with my midwife at noon, so I got checked out and everything seems fine. My blood pressure — which is the first thing they worry about when you say you have an awful headache — is fine, even a bit low at 118/60. My hydration level was good, though Joyce recommended that I keep drinking constantly, even if I am not thirsty. If it persists tomorrow, I will go back, but if I can sleep it off, I should be fine.

Today has made me very thankful that I have not had a difficult pregnancy so far. If I felt like this every day, there is no way in hell I would ever do this again.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Growing Snapdragon

We had another ultrasound this morning. Everything's looking fine. They estimate Snapdragon's weight at 3 pounds, 13 ounces at 30 weeks, 6 days. She's head down, which confirmed my suspicions — I've been getting kicked in the upper right quadrant of my belly for several days in a row.

We got one good picture, but FB doesn't like it because he thinks her mouth looks like the Joker's.

If you're having trouble figuring out what you're looking ta, maybe this will help:

See? Much cuter. Not a demon child who will claw her way out of my uterus. I like the way she is relaxing with her arm over her head. She slept through the whole ultrasound.

Here's one from last month (@26 weeks, 6 days):
Waving Hello!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Feeding Every 1.5-2 Hours

After my fourth snack today, I realized that I am on approximately the same eating schedule as a newborn.

Monday, July 12, 2010

FB's New Job

A few weeks ago, a friend of FB's who left The Big G to help found the company I will always remember as Twatter offered FB a job. This has happened a couple of times before — friend will call FB, they'll chat, friend will sing the praises of Twatter and flatter FB with compliments about his skillz, FB will politely decline job offer.

This time, the friend called at a time when FB was feeling a bit down on The Big G. He was transitioning off one project and onto another, thinking about all the things that aren't 100% perfect with the company, and feeling a little restless about the future of his career. So, he listened a little more intently to the offer and started looking into it. Last week, he flew out to San Francisco for a round of interviews which went pretty well — he got a formal offer at the end of the week.

All along, I have been supportive of his changing jobs, sometimes veering a bit too much toward advocacy for it. It's an exciting offer — a chance to work at a dynamic company with a bright future, an opportunity to work with exciting people on the cutting edge of his profession, an impressive line on his resume that offers some great perks (like a flexible work schedule). There are definitely drawbacks — he will almost certainly take a pay cut and he will work from home (great for plugging some holes in our childcare plans, not great for motivation and interaction with co-workers). Most distressing is that he will have to give up the benefits that made The Big G such a great employer — stellar insurance and 7 weeks of paid paternity leave.

Allow that to percolate for a moment. He is giving up 7 weeks of paid paternity leave approximately 10 weeks before I push a baby out of my vagina. The new job wants to give him one week off — he's negotiating for two. Either way, we will not get the 7 weeks of family time I had been looking forward to. Maybe it was always too good to be true.

I'm not going to lie — I am worried. This is not really an ideal moment for us to be switching health insurance. I am insured through the University, but have no idea what their maternity benefits are like because we have been using his insurance for all of my prenatal care so far. I don't even know when my insurance runs out — I was supposed to pay out of pocket if I wanted to be insured during my maternity leave, but didn't bother because I was double-insured anyway. I need to make sure I'm covered ASAP, even though it will probably cost me a few thousand dollars to cover fees that are usual taken care of by my grad student $ package. We would continue going to the midwives even if we had to pay the full cost, but I don't know if we could afford to keep seeing the perinatologists at Tufts if there is a gap in our insurance. My cyst has been stable, so maybe that's ok, but what if I need surgery in the fall?

I'm not as worried about the pay cut. We do not live extravagantly and have put away money over the last 5 years. The townhouse across the row from ours sold above the price we paid for ours after being on the market for less than a week, so I am confident that we could always go back to renting on short notice if we needed to liquidate quickly. This means we may not be able to move to a bigger house as soon as we would like, but that was always a few years away anyway. It still makes me a little sad — I recently found a wonderful house in an almost mythically good location for a very reasonable price, but FB has been so stressed out that I haven't even shown it to him.

I am worried about FB, though. I don't think he understands how hard it is going to be to start a new job at a time when he is going to be sleep-deprived and stressed beyond all prior experience. He is not a good sleeper at the best of times, and when he doesn't sleep well, he can barely function — he is grumpy, headachy, and lethargic all day after a bad night. He sleeps with a mouthguard because he grinds his teeth so hard in the normal course of events. I was hoping that his extended paternity leave would allow all of us to ease into a sleep pattern that would allow him to survive, but that isn't going to happen now. I'm afraid that the stress of a new baby plus the stress of a new job (not to mention a chronic ear problem that has been tormenting him for months) might be enough to send him into a total breakdown. It has happened before — not recently, but catastrophically, and those have been some of the worst times of my life.

Please, please, please be a good sleeper, little baby. I don't know what we'll do if you aren't.

For the record, I was an angelic sleeper as a child and was sleeping 6-hour stretches in my first week of life. FB, on the other hand, had inconsolable colic for months on end. These patterns have not changed discernibly in the intervening decades. I have teased FB that he will have primary responsibility for Snapdragon if she is colicky, since it is clearly his fault. The truth is that I'm terrified that she will be and he will be sorry we ever had her. I thought that we would be ok — that the long leave and the careful planning would allow him to adjust gradually — but now I'm worried that a cyclone of stress will set him back to where he was five and a half years ago, when I was honest-to-god terrified that I would come home one afternoon and find him dead.

Maybe that is just my hormones pushing me to concoct worst-case scenarios, but I have to be on top of the warning signs. And since I know that my #1 job in terms of mental health protection is to keep him from becoming overwhelmed, I can't help but feel like I'm staring down an oncoming train.

I should not get ahead of myself. Still, there have been some less-than-encouraging developments today. Though the offer is firm, FB is still negotiating the salary and benefits. He is supposed to hear the final compensation offer this evening. I encouraged him to wait until he hears it before giving notice at The Big G, just in case he decides to walk away, but he felt like he owed it to his coworkers to give them as much notice as possible. He thought he would be able to work until the end of July and finish out his current project, but I just got an IM saying that the Legal and HR people want him out ASAP because he is going to a competitor. ASAP as in tomorrow. He's stunned and unprepared and freaking out.

In all likelihood, I will look back on this post in six months and smile because everything turned out fine. I will have a happy, healthy baby and a calm husband who enjoys his new job. But the road to New Year's looks considerably bumpier today than it did a month ago. In my search for the silver lining, at least I can say that labor is not the scariest thing in my immediate future.

CNN Cares About Molly's Teeth

This is one of the stupider things I've read today: A CNN article fawns over a study that recommends that babies transition "off the bottle" at 9 months in order to prevent tooth decay. If you read the article carefully, you will note that the author of the article (Miriam Falco) expands this recommendation to include weaning from breastfeeding, though it is not clear to me whether the study in question makes that claim.

Forget that the WHO recommends that babies continue to breast feed for up to two years (6 months exclusively, then gradually tapering off during the transition to an all-solid diet) and the AAP recommends a full 12 months. These recommendations do not appear in the CNN article, nor does any discussion of infant nutrition. It is solely focused on tooth decay.


It just seems like another example of the trend toward cutting people up into discreet symptoms instead of treating them as whole people. This researcher set out to study tooth decay, found that tooth decay in toddlers is often linked to the way they imbibe fluids, and concludes that pediatricians should change the way toddlers drink. Nutrition is not important because that was not the focus of the study. Then, Miriam Falco at CNN writes a lazy article that does not provide any additional information, lumps in bottles of juice with breastfeeding, and publishes it. Today, 10,000 fretting grandmothers are emailing the story to new parents whose kids are perfectly happy still breastfeeding at 1 year. Hopefully, the parents have the reading comprehension skills to notice how silly this article is.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

New Baby!

Congrats to my friends, L & S, whose daughter, Maya Isabelle, was born yesterday morning!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

27 weeks

Had another ultrasound this morning - my cyst looks the same as it did last time and Snapdragon looks good. They measured her arms and legs and estimated that she currently weighs 2 pounds 13 ounces. That means that if she were born today, she would have very good chances.

Snapdragon continued her usual ultrasound behavior - hands in front of the face and kicking really hard at the wand. It is weird to feel her kick and see it on the screen at the same time. The technician was able to give us a picture of her face - not a profile like the other ones, but a straight-on shot taken while she faced outward. I'll try to scan it later today.

All in all, things are looking good. I feel uncomfortable in the heat, but not much can be done about that. It is very reassuring to have these opportunities to check in on the Snapdragon and make sure she's ok in there.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Overheated

It has been in the mid-80s here for the past few days with no let-up in sight.

I have been having a really hard time — sweating, headaches, and general discomfort that make it difficult to get through the day. I made the mistake of going for a walk yesterday afternoon and never really recovered. We don't have air conditioning, so the most relief I can get is lying still in the basement with a cool bottle of water pressed against my skin.

Today, I took my work to the public library, which has air conditioning. It's slightly better, but even walking a few blocks to get lunch was rough. Luckily, I have indoor activities planned for the next few days before FB and I leave for Maine. We'll be right on the water, so I hope it will be cooler!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Circumcision: Yea or Nay?

Snapdragon is a girl, so we will not have to make a decision re: circumcision this time around. Still, the topic comes up from time to time on forums and parenting sites, so I've thought a bit about my position.

In general, I think that questions of body modification should be left to the person inhabiting the body. Body modification runs a broad spectrum — from hair cuts/coloring to ear piercing to tattoos to sex reassignment surgery — and I think that it is difficult to decide what choices should be in the hands of the parents and which in the hands of the child before age 18. My general rule hinges on reversibility. A hair cut is reversible, so a parent can cut a 2-year-old's hair without doing irreparable harm. Ear piercings can close, but leave minor scars, so it should be the child's choice, but I would probably entrust that decision to a 6-yr-old. Body modifications that involve a higher risk of serious infection or are harder to reverse should probably wait until the child is a teen and can offer informed consent.

Since I believe in the importance of bodily autonomy, I would not circumcise an infant.

Here are some of the pro-circumcision arguments I have encountered:

A circumcised penis is easier to clean. Just teach your son to retract his foreskin and wash thoroughly. You'll have to help him out when he's an infant, but this seems a minor concern to me. I wouldn't cut off an ear because it is hard to clean.


He should look like his dad. I wonder how often fathers and sons engage in penis-comparing sessions. Maybe when dad shows junior how to use a urinal? Surely, a young child would notice other differences (size, hairiness) before commenting on the status of their foreskins. Is this really a major concern for people?

He'll be teased in the locker room. Maybe this was true once, but not anymore. About 50% of American boys are circumcised and about 50% are not. It hardly seems likely that not being circumcised will be a tease-worthy offense in the locker rooms of 2025.

It looks better/Girls prefer cut to uncut. I think that cosmetic concerns of this variety should be left up to the person whose junk is being chopped. Just because mommy and daddy think it looks better doesn't mean junior will. If he wants to get snipped when he turns 18, I would not object at all.

Circumcision protects against STDs. Recent studies of HIV transmission in Africa indicate that circumcised men are less likely to contract HIV after having sex with an infected partner than uncircumcised men. Yet, the protection is nowhere near as complete as using a condom. Teach your son to use a condom. It protects against STDs and pregnancy!


Circumcision is a religious/cultural tradition in our family. Well, there's really no arguing with that. Religious rituals are inherently impervious to rational scrutiny, so there's no use in debating them. Needless to say, as an atheist, I have no reason to circumcise my son for religious reasons.

I just haven't heard any arguments that I find compelling enough to make me consider lopping off a piece of my baby's body. Can anyone present me with a more convincing pro-circumcision argument?

Monday, June 14, 2010

100 Days to Go!

According to my official due date, I am 25 weeks and 5 days pregnant today, which means that I have exactly 100 days left until my due date!

I predict that Snapdragon will be a little late, but it feels good to reach this milestone. It wasn't so long ago that my ticker was at 250, which felt like forever. As of tomorrow, I'll be in double digits!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Major Purchases

Today, FB and I spent the afternoon braving the wilds of a major local mall to make some major purchases for the Snapdragon. FB got some good driving practice and we were both in good moods, which helped us keep our spirits up.

First, we went to Pottery Barn Kids to look at changing tables. I've been shopping online for a combination changing table/dresser because we have so little space in our tiny house. We considered ordering one from Amazon or Overstock, but most of the reviews for changer/dresser combos complained about the sturdiness of the pieces and the difficulty of assembly, so we finally decided to get a Pottery Barn piece that would be delivered to our house already assembled. We ended up with the Berkeley changing table in a medium color — it was the shortest table available, which made it great for me.

As I have said before, I find malls exhausting. We had to take a little break after the Pottery Barn trip because the whole experience — giant mall, negotiating the price of the furniture, setting up delivery — was so overwhelming, even with the help of very capable salespeople. We got some cold drinks and regrouped.

Next, it was off to Babies R Us for the first time. I have been researching strollers and carseats online, but I felt like I needed to see those things in person before purchasing them. I wanted to make sure that I could fold the stroller and that the car seat would fit in our Prius. We ended up with a Chicco Keyfit Travel System, which was rated very highly by Consumer Reports. I was able to fold and unfold the stroller easily and was pleasantly surprised by how light and small it it. We don't really plan on using the stroller much during Snapdragon's early months, but it was a good deal if we bought the two pieces together, especially since we had a 15% off coupon for a single item.

I am relieved to have these purchases completed. Since we already have the co-sleeper, we are pretty much set on major purchases. From here on in, we only need to prepare small things like clothes and toiletries. Perhaps a breast pump, but I'll probably hold off on that for a while.

It's great to have a carseat and a stroller in the house. Snapdragon is on her way!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Family Leave in Sweden

There's a great article in the NYT about parental leave in Sweden. When a baby is born, the parents get 14 months of leave, 2 of which are reserved for the father (they can split the rest any way they like, but lose the 2 months if dad doesn't take them). Result: higher birthrates, more involved fathers, more equal pay for men and women. I'd pay higher taxes for that.

My Midwife is Not a Doctor

My midwife is a lovely, warm person, skillful in the ways of pregnancy, birth, and infant care. But she is not a doctor and is starting to get on my nerves.

I have a blood disorder called alpha thalassemia that makes my red blood cells smaller than normal and lowers my blood count to the point where I show up as anemic on all blood tests. This is a genetic disorder and has nothing to do with iron intake.

I have told my midwife this many times and even had my genetic counselor write her a letter saying that all the iron supplements in the world will never fix my blood count. I could eat a railroad tie for breakfast every morning and all that would happen is that I would get nauseous and constipated.

Yet, at every appointment, my midwife bugs me about taking more iron. I just got another message on my answering machine telling me I should be taking 3 iron supplements in addition to my prenatal vitamin. She knows that I have had detailed genetic counseling and a full review of my iron levels (which are perfectly normal), but she just won't let it go. She thinks I am being stubborn and ignoring her advice, but she refuses to assimilate any new information regarding my specific condition. Grrr.

/rant

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Etsy Boobie Beanie

I may have to get me one of these. The seller says she can make them in other skin/nipple colors.

Symptom Update: 25 Weeks

As my second trimester enters its final weeks, I have been blessed with some new symptoms and the return of some old symptoms. At this point in my pregnancy, I am enjoying:
  • strong kicks/punches in groups of 10-20 about 5 or 6 times per day (more at bedtime and in the early morning when I am lying down)
  • belly visibly moving during aforementioned kick sessions
  • leaky boobs (especially at night)
  • 1-2 bathroom trips during the night
  • alternate bouts of ravenous hunger and total lack of appetite, lasting 1-2 days at a time
  • inability to walk more than 2 miles comfortably (round trip to work is 3 miles — I attempted it today and only got halfway home before I regretted pushing my luck)
  • infrequent heartburn — not too bad, only once a week or so
  • random numbness in my left hand due to pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel syndrome interacting with my old surgery scars
  • general lack of graceful movement
Still, no vomiting and only occasional swelling of the legs and feet. I'm fairly physically comfortable as long as the temperature stays below 80 — if it is over 80, I have to get out of the house to somewhere that has air conditioning. In all, I'm doing pretty well.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Weekend Getaway

Last weekend, FB and I spent three whole days packing boxes, moving furniture, and getting the house ready for Snapdragon. This weekend, at FB's suggestion, we decided to get away and have some uninterrupted, no-work, alone time.

We drove up to Newburyport on Friday and spent a lovely weekend playing board games, walking by the water, and eating ice cream. I especially enjoyed the whirlpool bathtub in our hotel, which did wonders for my sore hips.

It was wonderful to have such a relaxing extended date. I love you, FB!

Friday, June 4, 2010

My New Favorite Snack

I have never liked dried apricots before, but now I cannot get enough of them. I have to make sure to remind myself that they are dried and will expand in my ever-more-compressed stomach, lest I eat more than a dozen at a time.

Ovarian Cyst Update

We had another ultrasound this morning. Snapdragon looks great — heart rate of 152, wiggling around vigorously, etc. Her skeleton is much more defined than it was a month ago — every bone lit up bright white and her spine and limbs looked much more robust. No wonder her kicks/punches have gotten so strong!

My ovarian cyst is about the same size, but now it has a little node in it. Up until this point, it has been perfectly smooth, but now there is a little bump about .5cm x .5cm on one side of it. The doctors didn't really know what it was, so I'll have to go back in two weeks. If it is the same size, they won't do anything other than check on it regularly, but if it is growing, I will have to have an MRI to try to figure out what is going on.

I have felt pretty calm about this cyst all along because it is most likely benign and not a threat to Snapdragon. It's more annoying than scary. Still, I am glad that Snapdragon is over 24 weeks now. If they find that the cyst is malignant or if it starts causing problems in any other way, there is a chance that she could survive if she had to be born early. Her odds get better every day, which is a great comfort to me.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Happy Viability Day, Snapdragon!

Snapdragon is 24 weeks along today, meaning that she would have a 50-50 shot at surviving if she were born today. We would prefer not to see her for another 15-16 weeks, but from here on in, her prognosis gets better every day.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

California Trip

Last week, FB and I flew out to California to attend his brother's grad school graduation. We were there for a whole week, visiting friends in San Francisco and Seattle and spending lots of time with FB's family. Some highlights:
  • Up until this point, I had not sent FB out for any strange foods at ungodly hours. Our flight left Boston at 7 Eastern and landed at 11 Pacific, meaning that all I had for dinner was airplane food, so I was starving by the time we got to our hotel. There was a McDonald's next to the hotel and even though I am not a big McD's fan, I was desperate. I sent FB out for hamburgers, but only the drive-thru was open, so he had to walk through the drive-thru lane. He was successful and now we have at least one cute husband-goes-above-and-beyond-for-pregnant-wife's-food story.
  • We managed to keep Snapdragon's name a secret, despite my FB's mother's many inquiries. She accepted that we would not reveal the name, but still pressed us for the initials, the number of syllables, etc. The only clue we gave was that the first name is not in the top 1,000, but is in the top 20,000. We also realized that Snapdragon will have the same initials as FB's father, but that will be a nice surprise for the in-laws on her birthday.
  • It was rainy and in the 50s the whole time we were in Berkeley. In May. We lived in the Bay Area for two years and it never rained except in March, so we packed inappropriately light clothes. We were able to get by with new Cal sweatshirts and every poncho Walgreens had to offer.
  • My in-laws do not fly, so they took a cross-country train to California with their best friends, B and K. B and K are train enthusiasts and they all had a lovely time. However, B and K are not very adventurous eaters, so meals with them did not take advantage of the many wonderful food options on offer in Berkeley. At least that meant that I was never tempted by the sushi I love so dearly, but cannot have.
  • We got to see several of our friends from when we lived in San Jose. T is getting married in August and I am bummed that I will not be able to go to her wedding, but glad that we got the chance to sample cake from her favorite bakery. L is pregnant too (about 12 weeks ahead of me), and most of our visit was at an ideal pregnant-lady pace: air-conditioned movie theatres and very short walks around Seattle.  
  • I did not enjoy the flights. I am not a good flier at the best of times and this was not the best of times. I feel huge and awkward, have trouble with temperature regulation, and have to pee all the time. These facts, combined with the fact that all four of the flights were more turbulent than average, made me fairly unhappy. I was glad to see my friends, but am very glad that I will not have to fly again in the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Medical Study

Today, I had a 3D ultrasound as part of a medical study I'm participating in. The doctors running the study are researching the causes of preterm labor and cervical incompetence by applying pressure to the uterus, taking measurements, and then following moms to see if they can correlate the early measurements with preterm labor.

It was not a big deal. I suppose I am so used to being poked and prodded that I hardly mind. It did involve a vaginal ultrasound and a catheter with a balloon on the end to measure the pressure, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I thought they would push much harder on my stomach, but it wasn't much more uncomfortable than the pressure from accidentally rolling onto my stomach during the night.

I was supposed to get a 3D ultrasound pic of Snapdragon's face in exchange for participating in the study, but she refused to participate. As she has done at all the other ultrasounds, she stubbornly covered her face with her hands and refused to budge. I think it's possible that she doesn't like the ultrasounds themselves. Perhaps she covers her face in distress when she's getting poked with the wand? I don't know, but I now have an adorable picture of Snapdragon hiding behind her fingers.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Names More Popular Than Amalia

Since 2000, there have been 1,970 girls named Amalia born in the United States. According to the new popularity lists, this means that Amalia is ranked #1,167 for the decade (tied with Karma). Its male counterpart in ranking is Vladimir.

I am having lots of fun looking over this list. I especially enjoy looking for unusual names that are more popular than Amalia. These include (all from the girls' list):
  • Malaysia (#1154)
  • Treasure (#1115)
  • Yamilet (#1073)
  • Fabiola (#1001)
  • Unique (#999)
  • Galilea (#987)
  • Rocio (#977)
  • Montana (#880)
  • Meadow (#844)
  • Emmalee (#746)
  • Tyler (#649)
  • Litzy (#622)
  • Justice (#515)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Real Kicking

I've been feeling Snapdragon move since week 17, but these last few days have seen a real change. She is obviously getting stronger — I can finally feel her kicks from the outside. This morning, I lay in bed with my hands on my abdomen, feeling her thump away inside. There was no doubt about it.

Yesterday, we went for an ultrasound to check on my cyst and get pictures of Snapdragon's nose and lips. For the first time, I could see her move and feel it at the same time. Very cool.

The ultrasound tech confirmed that Snapdragon is still a girl. Since it is unlikely that a boy could hide his junk for three ultrasounds in a row, I feel like I can now stop fearing that there has been a mistake. We are definitely getting a little girl!

My cyst looks to be about the same size, which is good news. The current plan is to let it stay where it is for now and drain it laparoscopically when Snapdragon is about 6 weeks old (if it hasn't gone away on its own). Since everything looks good, I am cleared to fly to California next week for FB's brother's graduation.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Dancing Snapdragon

Over the weekend, I got a little worried about Snapdragon. She wasn't moving around very much or, at least, I couldn't feel her. I was afraid to break out the fetal doppler for fear of not being able to use it correctly and making myself even more scared.

There's no need to worry, though — she danced all day today. I hardly went an hour without feeling some squirming.

I guess she just has quiet days and active days. I shouldn't worry so much.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Abortion Doulas

This strikes me as a great idea. Apparently, some doulas in NYC made the decision to support women in all of their reproductive choices and are now attending women during abortions. Since the job of a doula is to act as an informed advocate and provide emotional support for the pregnant woman, there is a lot they can do during an abortion: explain what is going on, answer the woman's questions, and be a friendly face attending to her emotional needs. It seems that this would also free the doctor to do his/her work efficiently and with good concentration, without having to worry that the patient might be afraid or have questions that aren't being addressed.

The author of the article linked above seems to be uncomfortable with the whole idea of abortion doulas, but it sounds like a good idea to me. If I were getting an abortion, I would be happy to have a doula in the operating room with me.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I Guess That's a "No" on the Sleep Patterns

For three days in a row, Snapdragon was awake and squirming at 10, 2, 6, and 10 (and probably 2 and 6 again, but I was sleeping then).

Today, she has decided to kick me all day long.

So I guess, that whole 4-hours-at-a-time thing was too good to last. Either that or she is just getting bigger, so I am better able to feel her when she does move.

No real outside movement yet. I keep checking because FB wants to feel for himself. It's very sweet — he asks about it every other day or so. Maybe in a couple of weeks, when all of these squirmings and rumblings turn into real kicks and jabs, he'll be able to feel something.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Awesome

Knife-Throwing Mom and Her Daughters

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sleep Patterns?

I wonder — does Snapdragon have regular sleep patterns already? I think she might. For the last few days, I have been feeling her squirming around in there for several minutes at a time at four-hour intervals. Today, I noticed her at 2:00, 6:00, and 10:00. I'll have to keep charting the movements to see if the pattern stays consistent.

Let's hope it stays true right through birth. A newborn who sleeps in predictable four-hour blocks would be lovely.

My First Separation Anxiety Dream

I had my first separation anxiety dream last night.

I dreamed that Snapdragon was four days old and we took her to my parents' house for an overnight visit. I went to sleep in my old bedroom, which was set up the way it was when I was in high school, not the way it is now that it belongs to my sister. When I woke up, I realized that it was noon and that I hadn't fed the baby yet. I looked in her bassinet, but she wasn't there. Then, I realized that I hadn't fed her in four days. Since she was only four days old, I soon realized that I had never fed her and wouldn't know how to do it. I ran downstairs, but no one knew where the baby was. After a long search, we found her displayed in the window of a daycare along with two other infants whose mothers hadn't fed them.

I've been having plenty of weird, vivid dreams lately, but this was the first one that specifically revolved around Snapdragon. I guess that means she's seeming more real to me these days.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

It's a Girl!

We had another ultrasound yesterday and found out that Snapdragon is a girl!

In other good news, my ovarian cyst has not gotten any bigger. It is still between 5 and 6 centimeters in all directions, which is not tiny, but it isn't growing. That's good news and means that I probably will not have to have surgery.

We have to go back for another scan on May 7 to check on the cyst and to get better images of Snapdragon's face. Every time the sonographer tried to get pictures of her lips and nose, she would hide behind her hands.

Yay for a girl!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Snapdragon at the Movies

Last Friday, FB and I went to the premier of a movie directed by a college friend of ours. It was a loud, action-y fantasy film and they had the sound in the auditorium turned up to an obnoxious level. The bass was so heavy that my waterbottle was shaking in my hand.

Snapdragon was not a fan. I have been feeling him/her squirming a couple of times a day, but during the movie, it was non-stop somersaults. I actually had to leave halfway through because I was worried that he/she was upset. Also, it felt like I had a giant snake roiling in my gut.

So, I guess we know that the baby can hear. Or, at least, it can sense vibrations strong enough to shatter glass.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Alpha Thalassemia Trait

I got a call from the genetic counselor at the Big Hospital today, telling me that I have Alpha Thalassemia Trait of the trans variety. This was not a big surprise — it is common among people of Mediterranean descent and I was tested when I was a young child, but I did not know the specific results of those tests (other than that they were positive).

This is not a big deal for Snapdragon. FB is not a carrier, so Snapdragon will either be unaffected or will by a symptomless "silent carrier."

It's not that big of a deal for me either. My red blood cells are still small and I will always show up as anemic on blood tests, no matter how much iron I have in my system. Now I just have to make sure that my midwife understands this, because the last time we saw her, she seemed pretty confused by the whole thing and wanted to put me on iron supplements.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Nearly Halfway There

Ever since I found out I was pregnant, time has seemed to crawl by. Weeks 5 through 13 dragged. I checked my ticker every day, watching the days go by one by one. I wasn't showing, had no morning sickness, and didn't really feel pregnant.

Then, on Wednesday I woke up and was 16 weeks pregnant — 40% through my pregnancy. Since then, I have started to feel like there really is a baby in there, even though I can't feel it moving most of the time. My big ultrasound is in less than two weeks, and after that, the halfway mark is just around the corner!

It feels more real now.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Looking Pregnant

The other day, FB came into the kitchen while I was cooking dinner and said, "Hey, you really look pregnant!"

It's true — over the past week or so, I have clearly gone from normal belly chub to that rounded, protruding shape that announces that there is definitely a baby in there. I haven't had any strangers ask me when I'm due, but I imagine that will happen in the next week or two. I've started to dress differently, making no effort to hide my bump. In: loose cotton dresses over leggings. Out: trying to squeeze just one more week out of my normal clothes.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Things I Like About Being Pregnant

  • Not getting my period.
  • Eating what I want (weight gain as of 15 weeks: 2 pounds).
  • Having an excuse to take naps.
  • Feeling like I am accomplishing something 24/7.
Seriously, we'll see how I feel four months from now when I'm carrying a watermelon-sized child around in the August heat, but right now, I think I would be happy to be pregnant forever.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Feeling Movement?

For the past few days, I think I have been feeling Snapdragon moving around in there. I'm not completely sure because it is still really early (I'll be 16 weeks tomorrow), but I think I could be feeling him/her.

Once or twice a day, I can feel a little movement low down, just above my pelvis. Sometimes, it is on the right and sometimes on the left, but it is always right in front. I know people say they feel flutters, but I definitely feel squirming. I don't know whether that means it's not really the baby or if I'm just not as romantic about it as other people. Probably the latter.

I felt it twice today, two little squirms about a minute apart. We'll see if it gets stronger over time.

Monday, April 5, 2010

FB's Joke

On Friday, the sonographer told us that she would try her best to tell Snapdragon's gender, but that it was a little early. She tried her best to take a peek, but Snapdragon was moving so much that she had some trouble. She got a few halfway decent shots, but nothing crystal clear. We couldn't clearly see the 3 lines that indicate "girl," but there was definitely no obvious penis. She said, "I can't be 100% sure, but it looks like a girl."

When the sonographer left to get the doctor, FB and I had a long conversation about the ultrasound — he hasn't been obsessively examining other people's photos on the internet, so he had a harder time determining what we were seeing, so I explained to him where the head was, the feet, etc. Several times during this conversation, we talked about the fact that the sonographer had not seen anything that looked like a penis.

Later, when we were leaving, I said to FB, "I'm glad she thought it might be a girl — I won't get totally excited yet, but no obvious penis gets my hopes up for a girl!" He looked at me like I was crazy. "What do you mean?" he said. "She said she thought it was a boy."

Um, no.

By this point, we had discussed the lack of a penis about 5 times. The sonographer CLEARLY said "girl" when she was standing not 3 feet from FB. Why on earth would the LACK OF A PENIS make you think it was a boy? I understand being hesitant to say it's definitely a girl until you see some clear girl signs, but there was literally no evidence for boy.

Yet, FB is convinced that she said boy and that I have lost my mind.

I have considered the possibility that this is a belated April Fool's joke intended to make me doubt my own sanity, but he assures me that he heard her say "boy." He is deluded.

Well, we'll find out for sure in three weeks. As FB says, "If it's a girl, I'll be happy because it's a girl. If it's a boy, I will be happy because I am right."

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Drama!

All of a sudden, there is drama in my family.

Two weeks ago, my cousin brought his new girlfriend to a family gathering for the first time. This week, he announced that she is pregnant and due in November!

They are adults (he's one year older than I am), but they have only been going out for a little while — they were not together at Christmas and his parents only met her at the beginning of March.

Of course, everyone's excited that we will have not one, but TWO babies by Christmas, but we're all a bit surprised. This sort of thing may work out for the best in Judd Apatow's universe, but it's a long shot in real life. Still, a baby is a baby and everyone loves a baby.

It's a strange situation. They are thinking about getting married, which I think is a terrible idea. By all means, move in together and see how you like one another, but I hope that they are not feeling pressure from anyone to get married just for the sake of the baby. If they move in together and still think they'd like to get married six months after the baby comes, that's one thing, but I hope they don't feel like they have an obligation to be married before November. Of course, some people get married in a hurry and have wonderful, loving, fulfilling marriages, so I'm not saying it's impossible. Still, babies need happy parents, whether those parents are married or not, so I hope they put happiness first, whatever they decide.

Frankly, I'm surprised she didn't have an abortion. I used to think that I could never have an abortion, but since I got pregnant, I know I definitely could do it during those first 12 weeks. I'm certainly excited about Snapdragon and am even growing to love him/her/it, but there was no magic moment of creation in which it became a separate person. It had no life apart from my life, no interests apart from my interests, no existence apart from my existence. If I had not wanted it, I could have aborted it without the slightest twinge of guilt. For those first 12 weeks, it was nothing to me but a bundle of hopes — without my emotional investment, it was just a tiny parasite. I suppose some people find that pregnancy strains their pro-choice political commitments, but it certainly hasn't done that for me.

I have no idea why she decided to have her baby and it's none of my business.

I guess it will be nice for Snapdragon to have a little second cousin. I was a little sad that he/she would not have anyone to play with at family gatherings. Who knows whether this baby and his/her mom will become permanent members of our family, though. We'll just have to wait and see.

One funny thing: Apparently, my cousin was planning on telling everyone at the family party two weeks ago, but when we butted in and told everyone about Snapdragon, he decided not to break the news. FB and I agree that this was a bad move on his part. Who could hope for better cover than another baby announcement? When everyone was crying and clapping and hugging me and FB, he should have just piped up, "Hey, us, too!" and piggy-backed off all the celebrating.

Medical Stuff Update

On Thursday, we met with the midwife for Snapdragon's 15-week checkup. Everything looked fine. Snapdragon's heartrate was a strong 160 and my uterus measured at a perfectly average 16 centimeters. All of the pregnancy books say that my uterus should be 2 or 3 inches below my belly button at this point, but I am short, so it's actually less than an inch away.

On Friday, we went to the big hospital for an ultrasound with the perinatologist so she could check on my ovarian cyst. The good news: Snapdragon looks perfectly healthy. The bad news: my cyst has gotten slightly bigger. It's about the size of a baseball, which isn't such a huge problem at the moment, but will be a problem as Snapdragon gets bigger and takes up more of the room in my very short abdomen.

So, long story short, I have to have my anatomy scan at the big hospital instead of at the birth center. If my cyst is the same or smaller, they'll let it stay, but if it hits 8cm, the perinatologist wants me to have surgery, which will mean general anesthesia, a 3-inch incision in my abdomen, and 6-8 weeks of bed rest recovery time. Not fun.

I've been reading online and thinking about it for a few days now, and I think that I am inclined to refuse the surgery. The perinatologist assured me that the cyst looks simple and benign and that it does not threaten Snapdragon in any direct way. The major issues are that it could break, which would hurt like hell, or it could get twisted and cut off the blood supply to my ovary. Either of these things would be extremely painful and dangerous in terms of my ovary, but not necessarily bad for Snapdragon. The surgery will definitely be extraordinarily painful as well, so there's no net gain there. I would like to save my ovary if possible, but I'm fairly unexcited about having major abdominal surgery in my second trimester. The doctor told us that they couldn't do laparoscopic surgery during pregnancy, but wasn't very clear on why not.

We'll see. I'll be back at the big hospital in three weeks for the anatomy scan and we'll see if it has grown more. If it's about the same, there will be no talk of surgery, but if it is still growing, I'll need a second opinion.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Monday, March 29, 2010

Maternity Clothes

This weekend, I finally bit the bullet and went to the mall to buy maternity clothes. My shirts are still fine, but I've been having pants issues. I can still button them normally, but when I sit, they put too much pressure on the Snapdragon and are uncomfortable.

So, I bought some of those pants that look like jeans but have a secret, hidden belly band. I tried on every pair in the store but only found one that fit — they had a very small section for short people. I also got some long tank tops and a couple of pairs of leggings. I think I'm going to like the knee-length dress over leggings look more than the faux-jeans and regular shirt ensemble as the weather gets warmer. I've always preferred skirts.

The whole excursion reminded me how much I hate malls, especially on busy weekends. I meant to look for bras while I was there, but after about 45 minutes, all I could think about was sprinting for the exit. I still have to figure out something about the bras, though — mine are, shall we say, insufficient. I would order them online, but I would just be guessing at the size, so I guess I'll have to go back to the mall — maybe on a Tuesday morning when everyone else is at work/school (I hope).

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sleeping Through the Night

I am proud to announce that I have finally started sleeping through the night again! During weeks 3-10, I was getting up to pee at least twice a night — once at 1 or 2 o'clock and again at 4 or 5 o'clock. From week 11 to week 13, I found that I was only waking up once per night. For the last 5 nights, I have slept until 8:00 without a single bathroom break.

Hooray for me!

Let us hope that it only takes Snapdragon 14 weeks to accomplish the same feat.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Happy Meal Celebrates First Birthday

Umm . . . yikes. On March 3, 2009, blogger Nonna Joann purchased a hamburger Happy Meal. She put it on the shelf in her office to see what would happen to it. A year later, the Happy Meal looks . . . almost exactly the same.
 Gross.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

OMG Bagels

I cannot describe my love of bagels. For the past three days, I have thought of nothing but bagels. I was at Bruegger's Bagels at 8:30 on Saturday morning. I made my parents bring me bagels from the awesome bagel shop near their house, 100 miles away (I did meet them halfway and we had some other things to exchange).

I go back and forth between Cinnamon Raisin and Everything. Right now, I am in a Cinnamon Raisin mood. It does not matter that it is nearly dinnertime. I must have a bagel.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Second Trimester

There are several ways to calculate when the second trimester begins. If you go by developmental stages, it starts at 12 weeks, 0 days. If you take 40 weeks and divide by 3, it starts at 13 weeks, 3 days. There are other methods, too, but it doesn't really matter.

In any event, I am 13 weeks and 3 days along today, so I feel that I can consider myself officially in my second trimester.

Many women look forward to the 2nd tri because it means that they will soon get a break from the nausea, but other than that notable food poisoning incident, I have not been sick at all. I suppose the hormone changes may give me a reprieve from my acne, which is still active, but not quite as explosive as it once was.

In the past few days, I have started experiencing some new symptoms: light cramps, some twinges in my cervix, and, most notably, shooting pains on the left side of my uterus if I stand up too quickly. These are annoying, but still relatively minor. Unfortunately, FB is still sick — he has a bad cold piggybacking off of his recent ear infection — so I don't get a lot of sympathy for my aches and pains.

I hope that the 2nd trimester goes by more quickly than the first. When I reflect on the fact that I've only completed 9 weeks since I found out I was pregnant, it seems that I will be pregnant forever.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Catholic Health Association Does Not Understand Reproductive Health

Recently, a few Catholic organizations have come out in favor of health care reform. Not the Catholic Church, mind you — the bishops, cardinals, and the pope are too busy covering the evil deeds in their pasts to spare a moment to support reforms that could save the lives and health of millions of people — but some rogue nuns and other Catholic-run organizations have made pro-reform statements.

One of these groups is the Catholic Health Association, a coalition of Catholic health care providers that seems to put the emphasis on Catholic, rather than on health. Part of Director Sister Carol Keehan's statement reads,
CHA has a major concern on life issues. We said there could not be any federal funding for abortions and there had to be strong funding for maternity care, especially for vulnerable women.
Let me be blunt. You cannot provide "strong funding" for maternity care, particularly maternity care for "vulnerable women" without also covering abortion. It is not possible. Good obstetrical care MUST include coverage for abortion in order to qualify as good obstetrical care.

Good care should allow people to make the best decisions for themselves and their families, including whether or not to add a child to their lives. But that is beside the point. Even if you agree with the Catholic church that women should not own their own bodies, you MUST recognize that good obstetrical care sometimes includes abortion.

When a woman has an ectopic pregnancy, the only way to save her life is to abort the non-viable embryo. When fertility treatments result in a high-order-multiple pregnancy, selective reduction can give the remaining babies a chance at life. When a parasitic twin sucks the life from its sibling, an abortion can save a life. When women face life-threatening complications or illnesses, like cancer, any responsible doctor would offer treatment, rather than letting both mother and baby die. When a fetus as an abnormality that is incompatible with life — like anencephaly — abortion allows women to end the pregnancy early, rather than taking on the risks of pregnancy and birth on behalf of a child that can never draw breath.

These things happen every day. I know that anti-choice advocates would like to pretend that life-threatening complications like ectopic pregnancy are rare, but they are not. Of every fifty pregnancies, one is ectopic and requires abortion in order to save the life of the mother. The CHA wants to make sure that these necessary, life-saving surgeries are not covered. Where does that leave the most vulnerable women?

The CHA is asking for the impossible. There is no good obstetrical coverage without good abortion coverage. There are only two options here: the CHA does not understand what good obstetrical care is, or they would rather uphold a misogynist fantasy than serve patients. Neither is particularly encouraging.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ultrasound

Arms, Legs, and a Big Chin
On Friday, I went for a nuchal translucency scan at the big medical center in the city. FB is on a business trip, so my mom came with me. We got to see Snapdragon for the first time, which was pretty exciting.

S/he was flipping all around, so it took a little while for the ultrasound tech to get a clear picture. When she was finally able to take measurements, Snapdragon's neck was totally normal and her/his length was right on track for 12 weeks 2 days.
I am an otter.
We were in there for at least 20 minutes and Snapdragon was squirming like mad the whole time — jumping from one side to the other, waving its arms around, touching its face, etc. It was fairly alarming to see so much movement, but not be able to feel anything at all. When you consider that Snapdragon is nearly 3 inches long, I could have a hamster running around in my abdomen and never know the difference.

After the tech got some good looks at Snapdragon, she looked at my ovaries. My left ovary looked fine, but I have a big cyst on the right. One of the doctors came in and took a look at it and said that it's normal to have a cyst from ovulation, but that mine was pretty big (about the same size as Snapdragon, actually), so she wanted to keep an eye on it and ordered another ultrasound for 3 weeks from now.

I'm not particularly concerned — I've had ovarian cysts before and as long as they don't get twisted, they're no big deal. I'm glad we'll get to have another ultrasound when FB is home. It's reassuring to see that Snapdragon has a head and an appropriate number of limbs. At the next ultrasound, s/he will be 15 weeks and 2 days — perhaps the tech will be able to take a guess at the gender.

I also got to talk to a genetic counselor before the exam to discuss the nuchal translucency test. When she took my history and looked at my blood panel, she seemed pretty alarmed at my iron levels and my history of thalassemia. She ordered that I get some extra blood tests and that FB get tested as well, even though there is virtually zero chance that he is also a thalassemia carrier. I find that doctors asking about my thalassemia ask me very strange questions — "Do you feel ok?" "Are you tired?" I can say for sure that I am tired, but I am also pregnant. Sure, I feel ok, but it's silly to ask me if I feel normal — it's a hereditary blood disorder, so I've never felt anything different.
The Claw