March 2007 Archives

And They Say I'm Small?!?!

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Well, we figured it was time for another belly shot. I've sort of been holding back, since I've been talking about how small I am - don't exactly need to document it, you know? So, I tried to have it photographed in such a way as to make it look as large as possible. I know, I'm so sneaky.


And here, the trigger-happy grandma caught me as I was rolling off the sofa. I figured I'd like the picture better if I smiled, but that wasn't exactly how I was feeling, as the baby was sitting hard and low.


p.s. and the naked belly? well, my mother occasionally asks me whether I will "bring the baby out to play" so that she can watch the baby practicing its aikido.

Full Term

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I made it! I'm 37 weeks pregnant today. 37-42 weeks is considered full term, so I now know that any time I deliver this baby it will be a fully developed one.

Time to Cut my Toenails

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I swear I didn't do it on purpose. But, the proof is in the numbers. I've lost weight. In my eighth month of pregnancy. My torso has shrunk. I wouldn't have thought it by looking down, frankly, but the midwife pulls out the measuring strip each week and I was down 5 centimeters from last week, which means I'm 8 centimeters from where I should be this week. Two centimeters they don't mind. Eight, however, is not taken lightly.

And yet. Our midwife is still proceeding cautiously. She didn't freak out and scream cesarean. Her exact words were, "well, you've just won yourself another ultrasound." So, in a week, I have another ultrasound. They'll be looking to see whether the baby is still around the 32nd percentile. We just don't want a dramatic decrease. They'll also be examining the flow of the fluids in the placenta. The main concern is that, regardless of what I'm eating, it's not getting to the baby. If that's the case, I doubt I can avoid an induction; however, if it's all looking okay, than they will simply accept that we have a small baby and we can go on our merry way.

And the toenails, you ask? Well, I figured I might as well take advantage of my shrinking figure and cut my toenails quick while I can still breathe.

Birth Plan

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Well, my midwife asked me to give her a copy of my birth plan, so I finally sat down and wrote one out.

We turned it in yesterday - at a much better, more supportive appointment - and she 'approved' it. She was very encouraging. I titled it "birthing preferences" because, really, who are we kidding?

So, for your reading pleasure (I know, you've been waiting with bated breath, haven't you?):

Recognizing that any or all medical intervention may become necessary at some point during labor and delivery, I would prefer for the first course of action at any time to be non-invasive and non-drug related.

For example:

I would like to be as mobile as possible during labor.

I want as few vaginal exams as possible.

I would prefer not to have an epidural, however I do wish to be informed when my window of opportunity for an epidural is closing so that I may make a decision at that time.

I would prefer not to have an episiotemy.

Good Day

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Yesterday was a good, exhausting day.

First, it was gorgeous. I'd say we went hiking, but these days it's more of a stroll.

Secondly, I found nursing bras on clearance. Yes, that passes as excitement these days.

Thirdly, we finally found an inexpensive solution to a diaper changing station.

Finally, last night at Lamaze I realized that the coach is the mother of my friend from high school! We were on the floor, having just finished our exercises, and she was standing right in front of me. I was staring at her hospital ID and it finally dawned on me that she shared his rather uncommon last name when I tuned in to her saying " son, 31 years ago...". Seeing as that's how old I am, I knew I was right. She was truly surprised (and I think slightly incredulous).

A Word on Contractions

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My sister asked me a very reasonable question: what do the contractions feel like? I say this is very reasonable because I've been having Braxton-Hicks for about 3 months. However, I only realized this about a month ago, when our Lamaze coach explained what they'd feel like. D'oh.

So, Braxton-Hicks, for me, are not painful. (hence the not noticing them!) It basically feels like the bottom half of my belly hardens for a bit. I can't really tell, frankly, unless I start getting a series of them - as I did the night of the new year's party - and then I notice them because my muscles are starting to get a bit of a workout, particularly my lower belly and the back muscles associated with them, at which point it feels like the begins of some mild menstrual cramping. I say mild because I know severe, for other women that might be as severe as their menstrual cramps ever got*.

*never writhed in pain on the floor in tears after 5 Aleve pills haven't even taken the edge off the cramps, let alone the migraine and vomitting? then, in my humble opinion, you don't know severe

Oh, Now That's Different

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Tuesday was the Baha'i new year. There was a big party put on by the students at Case (Western Reserve University - wouldn't want to irritate anyone), so we went to the party.

I had a nice chat with some old friends and almost immediately started having some contractions. Nothing new, really. My body's getting ready to do the real work eventually is all. But they kept coming. They didn't escalate, they just kept coming. I had dinner. I chatted with a Case student who also happens to be pregnant - and due Saturday. Mark got a swing dance lesson.

By 8:30 or so Mark could tell I was beat. We left. Thank goodness I got us there early to get one of the few cherished parking spots right on the street outside the building. Mark drove as delicately as possible because not only were the contractions continuing, but the baby found a new format for its kicking. Just when I got used to the old way. I suspect, though I've not looked into it at all, that the kicking changes as the baby grows. In any case, the baby's movements are nearly constant now. It feels sort of like a three-year-old has discovered roller-ball deodorant and is trying to apply it to my insides. Jabs and rolls - all with a bit too much force. I'm beginning to actually feel bruised. My back, and especially my right side, which the baby favors for kicking, is beginning to feel crampy.

Sleeping comes less often now, so I sleep on the couch during the day some, too. This month won't be very comfortable. I'm still okay. Really. But my final month has definitely come in with a bang.

The baby's way of saying "Happy New Year", perhaps.

The Next Chapter

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First, cool event: we were walking down the street in Pittsburgh this past weekend and it was snowing lightly. I was looking down to watch my footing (pregnant bellies don't exactly stabilize your balancing abilities) and I happened to catch a snowflake on my scarf. Now, those of you not familiar with snow, individual snowflakes tend to be small and fairly, well, unexciting. You can't usually SEE the intricate designs and patterns so widely touted. However, this snowflake was huge! It was large enough for me to call Mark & Tammy's attention to it and we all stared at it for a bit. It was hexagonal, with a spoke coming off each side. It was a precious little moment.

On to the next chapter, as per Sjona's request.

We met with the midwife again on Monday.
***Warning: This May Be Too Much Information For You - Enter At Your Own Risk***

I had my first cervical exam. Let's just say it's a whole different ball game when you're pregnant - especially third trimester. My dearest friends who plan on getting pregnant some day, here's some warning: prepare to fight the desire to kick your provider in her teeth and don't be surprised when the worst concoction of cuss words comes immediately to mind when your partner tries to calm and relax you so that the provider can get on with her business.

It probably didn't help that this was how our visit started, but then when I went on to ask the questions that I had prepared about the labor and delivery it seemed like for some reason the midwife went on the defensive. Are they not used to women asking questions and trying to understand, be prepared and maintain some control over their birth experience?

It seemed a little as if she expected me to pull out a shotgun and shoot anyone who said I should have an epidural. Whereas, what I said was "I don't want an epidural, but I would like to know when my window of opportunity is narrowing." Among other things. I left feeling like I'd loss some of my power. And frankly, I think power is important in labor. Not in a control way, but an empowered way.

In any case, we went to Lamaze class last night and some of my questions were answered better there. Furthermore, I will have either a doula (a friend who happens to be a certified nurse midwife) or my mother (or both) there to run interference. I hadn't decided whether I wanted my mother there or not, but especially after that visit, I know my mother has two absolutely valuable skills for this particular task:

1. an ability to translate (or speak on my behalf) in a way that the medical staff will respond

2. experience - not to mention that I got much of my attitude about childbirth from her, so I know we're mostly on the same page and she'll respect my wishes on the few things where we differ

I certainly hope Anne can be there to doula, but seeing as how she works as a midwife herself, it just may happen she's working when I'm in labor, so I'm glad I've got other support people I know and trust.

And yes, of course Mark will be with me - but seeing as how he has the abovementioned skills as much as I do, well, he has a different function. I must admit, it's a bit frustrating to know that the people who are best positioned to help have already done it. It's kind of like wedding planning - now that I'm married I'm much more knowledgeable about wedding planning. So much for that skill. Maybe that's why so many women go on to have another baby.

Prenatal Consults

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I must admit, when I read that we should pre-interview future pediatricians I felt a bit put upon. What a chore. I don't wanna'....

Now I feel like a private detective. And considering that my mother felt like our pediatric practice didn't really respect her as a mother until she was on her third child, I guess it does make sense.

Anyway, back to our detectiviness. Our choices were fairly limited, since Medicaid is our insurance (that's US-speak for 'government insurance if you're poor enough'). There were a couple of individual doctors I didn't even consider - I know enough to want a whole practice of physicians available to me. That left us with two. Hmm. Interesting. One is all male and the other all female. Huh - weird clue number one.

Interviewed male practice on Monday. Seemed okay. Mark and I were both put off, however, by some of the "art" displayed in the doctor's private office, though. It's fine to love golf, but a sign that says "I bought a set of golf clubs for my wife. It was the best trade I ever made" - well, it certainly says something (especially when you later reveal that you are still married - ouch!). However, since as a physician he seemed in line, I figured I could overlook that (and other offensive art depicting sexual harassment - I kid you not!!).

Tuesday, we met with the female practice. Less reading material for adults in the waiting room - of course, how many children are going to let a parent quietly read while they wait silently next to you for 20 minutes? So, we meet with a doctor. She just casually mentions that the women have all practiced together for a while now and recently decided to leave a larger practice and start their own.

Wait, which practice did you say you all left? You say it was the male practice we just visited yesterday?! Wha...?! Hmmm. Of course, we played it cool since that wouldn't be very professional, however, all the women up and leaving together does say something. Especially when male chauvinism was detected just on a very surface level at the male practice. Then she got into their working style and habits - hours, hospital visits, etc. - and I realized that this is a more worker-friendly environment. I might not be able to see my pediatrician in the hospital, but they have hospitalists that they work with, and this means my pediatrician has a life and likes it. And I like that - correction - Mark and I both like that, and we like supporting such choices (and a wise use of resources).

I'm glad we did the interviews. The female practice is further away, but for now (pre-baby), I'm willing to make the longer drive to support a healthier lifestyle choice.


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In the past few days, my mood has become even more erratic than previously. I suddenly did a 180 from looking forward to my Lamaze classes and the knowledge that would come with it to outright positively dreading it. Other pregnant women? Pass. (ok, ok, it wasn't that bad)

I spent an entire night in a frenzied free fall of thoughts wondering what's happening, why we chose to make it happen and mourning what was my previous life (i.e. the job I absolutely adored). Oh, and the classic Mara thought, "how can I get out of this?"

Hmm, writing this out now I realize that perhaps my mood is no longer erratic - it's just downright freaked out. The lack of control over my life is becoming increasingly evident, I suppose. And it ain't gonna' change any time soon. Well-intentioned people ask me whether I'm getting excited and it always turns into an awkward silence as they expect my happy response and I think, "do you have any clue what's about to happen?!?!"

On a lighter note, I'm making progress with the sweater. Just the neckline and sleeves to go now!


Further Progress

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I'm knitting again! And this time, it ain't a scarf! I'm starting small and simple, but really, how long could I hold out when living with my mother - a knitting fiend? So, here is the beginnings of a sweater for the baby:


In other news, I thought perhaps it was time for another belly shot now that I'm finally wearing maternity clothes, so, for your viewing pleasure:


On a side note, the painting on the wall was done by one of my French ancestors. His parents weren't exactly very encouraging, so he signed his paintings "Iwill" (and of course pronounced it "ee-wheel", which is how we still refer to him).

Quick Clarification

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I realized, reading everyone's comments on my previous blog post that I left out a fairly vital detail: the baby.

According to the ultrasound - the one that determined that my baby was 'only' in the 32nd percentile - my baby is healthy. It has a good heart rate (with all 4 valves), organs are developing as they should, femur is looking good (for retardation, among other things), etc. So, other than the fact that it's smaller than the average (American?) baby, all is well with it's development.

All that's really changed is that when I go in search of food at 4 a.m., I reach for a protein shake instead of dried figs. It's a win-win situation really. The doctor's (should be) happy, I'm less hungry when I crawl back into bed and my mom gets rid of her old protein shakes from the days of cancer treatment.

And to everyone who has offered their love, support and encouragement, again, thank you.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from March 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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