Saturday, July 29, 2006

My Biggest Parenting Fear

During the course of my life I have changed thousands of diapers. I have navigated the transition to solid foods. I have had graduate level courses that spent at least 2 sessions on potty training and have been responsible for helping potty train children that really just didn't get it. I have experienced, and worked on quelling, tantrums that involved room clears and chair throwing. I've worked with children who were not going to just develop social, motor, or communication skills in the way that many other children will and I have at least some idea of how to foster those skills. While this doesn't mean that I have ever actually been a parent it does mean that I, at least, have some idea of where to start tackling the issue. I have some clue as to what to expect. I know that I have dealt with these issues before and no one died or had to be sedated. However, I have never been responsible for or trained in how to get a child to sleep through the night. The same can be said for breast feeding. But, with breast feeding there is always the fall back position of bottle, lactation consultant, and formula. With night sleeping, there is no fall back. There is just this sea of advice mixed with horror stories (most notably my mother's). I have started reading books. I just finished "The Happiest Baby on the Block" and will start the "Baby Whisperer" tomorrow. I will give Brazelton his day in the sun and will be happy to at least give a passing nod to any other books that seem prudent. But, when it comes down to it, every baby is different and this will be the only one I will have done this with. I have had no "dry runs" with other people's children. I haven't been able to filter through and test run the various advice, distilling out the most effective strategies from each. I have never written an IEP for sleep or broken it down into it's most basic steps to figure out where it's all coming apart. I don't know the readiness indicators. I am going into the sleep abyss completely unarmed. It's terrifying.

In other news, I am flumoxed by how to sleep through the night myself and there are no books in the library devoted to this issue. My knees and ankles are all knobby and like a nice pillow to cushion them but this makes my hips sore faster and results in me having to turn over every 45 minutes or so by about 2am and every time I roll over I have to pee. I seem to be the only pregnant woman on the planet who doesn't actually find a body pillow useful. If I roll over a little to get the pressure off my hips, my belly muscles get pulled but I can't figure out where to stuff the pillow to get enough support for my belly and then I have to pee again just because what's more fun than peeing every 45 minutes for the hell of it. The baby has something going on with my right side and likes to huddle over there which makes my spine and ribs irritable so I try to lay on my left and let gravity help out but then it all goes pear shaped because I think my bladder is somewhere on my left side and, so, my ribs are happier but, of course, I have to pee. And, if I do manage the impossible and convince the baby to hang out in the middle of my uterus, making ribs, spine, and bladder happy (I am convinced my lungs are just inconsolable at this point), the baby becomes all about how many times can I simultaneously punch mommy's cervix and kick her ribs. I have some sort of mild congestion thing going so, I keep wanting to sleep propped up but my tail bone is sore from I don't know what but obviously something baby related and my ribs would like a moment of my time to discuss all of this. My spine and hips would also like me flat which brings me back to where I started with my knobby knees and ankles. Oh, and I have to pee...

I am beginning to think that I could achieve world peace if only I could sleep on my back for one night. My mother says that she did but she also (on doctor's orders) intentionally restricted her caloric intake to result in smaller babies so she wouldn't need a c-section so, I take most of her pregnancy advice with about 2 cups of salt.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Drive By Post

1- Totally craving sauerbraten (I think). It's taken me a while to figure out what the food is that I'm craving. I know it involves raisins, a creamy sauce, and meat, and I'm pretty sure it's a German food that I've only had a couple of times, at least 10 years ago.

2- How long will it take for my uterus to begin to be compared to citrus fruit again?

Monday, July 24, 2006

All Is Well

I took my 3 hour glucose test and passed- yipee! Should you ever have to sit around a hospital lab waiting area for an extended period of time I highly recommend going the route I did and bringing a laptop and a season of something to watch.

The baby is doing well. She has moved into the head down position and is enjoying both my lungs and bladder as excellent resting spots. By far, one of the oddest experiences I have had, as of yet, is the feeling of a wee foot playing with my ribs. The baby seems to revel in making her favorite rib twitch back and forth. I am currently deluding myself with the assurance that the baby will "settle" soon and I will get the use of my lungs back. Please don't disillusion me about this issue. While in the process of wandering into the head down position, I had a wee bit of concern. All the moving and adjustment of parts seems to have worn the baby out for a couple of days but she's back to making my laptop and books bounce yet again. I also had to adjust to feeling the baby in new spots. I have to say that feeling baby hiccups in my heinie is quite the new experience...

Am I the only one who always wants to giggle when she hears the word "fundus?" I either immediately leap to "There is fungus among us" (which isn't actually all that funny but always makes me giggle anyway) or to think of the Bay of Fundy which leads me to grunion runs (although the 2 are absolutely not related) and for some reason the word "grunion" totally makes me laugh. I suppose my OB has seen odder than mild hysteria brought on by the phrase "fundal height" but I was hoping to give the impression I was at least mildly well balanced. At any rate, my fundal height is precisely what it should be.

We are beginning to get inquiries as to when official viewing of the baby might occur. My husband and I have decided that while immediate family will be invited to see the baby earlier, as well as a friend or two who have agreed to offer no parenting advice while pitching in with household chores, the general viewing period will be Christmas. We think that having the masses descend in one 3-5 day period will be somewhat stressful during said period but will allows us to get the whole thing over with while only cleaning the house once. I have also requested a visit from a cleaning service shortly before they will all come. As an added bonus, there is no way we could actually accommodate more than 2 couples at our house so, hotels will be a must. In the meantime, I have been spending a good hunk of time telling people that they don't actually want to see a newborn, what they really want to see is a 3 month old. Newborns are squashy faced, have little personality, can't see, and do little but poop, sleep, and eat. 3 month olds have started to get some personality, are actually cute, and are beginning to interact with the world. We're also waving the carrot of "Baby's first Christmas" in front of their noses- we'll see how it goes...

The dogs are beginning to notice that something might be going on. My boobs are becoming increasingly fascinating with sniffing my chest sometimes taking precedence over sniffing of any other body parts. However, Shirley continues to fall asleep while I try to discuss my pregnancy with her.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Heat of the Past

Like most of the country, we are in the middle of a searing heat. There's actually a little cactus in the icon for tomorrow's weather. As a pregnant woman, I'm mostly staying in. But when I do venture out, all I can think of is my summer visits to my grandparent's house. They live in the flat farmland of southern Missouri. It was always this sort of hot at my grandparent's house in the summer. It's the sort of hot that begs for pools and sprinklers and those icy pops that come in the plastic wrapper in boxes of 100 that never have enough of the purples. When you step out the door all you can smell is the humid air, sweetened with the smell of the drying grass clippings and the roses. Dinner, served promptly at noon, features tomatoes and corn in abundance and there is nothing quite so sweet or flavorful in all creation. Someone would have picked corn up from a farm stand early in the morning, checking to be sure the ears still felt warm from being in the field. The tomatoes would be from a friend's garden, so heavy and ripe you couldn't be sure how they had stayed on the vine. As I grew older, I sometimes helped with the shucking and freezing of the corn but I was never deemed quite good enough at getting all the "milk." In the mercy of the twilight you sit on the old swingset and daydream about the books you read in the heat of the afternoon, sitting in the dark livingroom with the shades closed tight, chilly in the air conditioning (southerners like to make up for all those years spent sweating before the miracle invention) and drinking coke from a glass bottle. Before you go to bed you take a bath to cool you down and carefully count your bug bites as you apply the calmomine and wonder which you'll have more of- freckles or bug bites. Bedtime comes with thunderstorms. It seems there was always at least one good one while we would be out there. My brother didn't mind them but I was terrified of the noise and flashes. My mother would tell me stories of when she was a little girl and sit with me until the cool of the percale and the tick and whirl of the ceiling fan would lull me to sleep.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Section of my Brain Used for Witty Titles is Being Used by the Baby

We had a lovely trip up to the Northeast. We got to see all manner of people whom we had been missing, re-visited the Mecca which is Wegman's grocery, and no longer felt like the most liberal people in a 50 mile radius. The only down-side was when we went out for seafood because it was Cape Cod and I couldn't leave without some clam chowder and some sort of lobster experience (I was pretty sure clams would wind up being a mistake). I discovered that I apparently have developed a rather severe lobster aversion. The level of solicitous service you get when your waiter spots you trying desperately not to hurl in the middle of a nice restaurant is rather astounding. Happily, deep breathing averted the crisis and I was quite thankful I had decided against the lobster roll, opting for an appetizer instead.

I beached myself in the tub the other day. We recently remodeled the bathroom and got this luscious tub. It's deep and comfy and has arm rests and is apparently impossible to get out of once your center of gravity wanders up to your ribcage. I began thinking that it was at times like that that I wished we had gone for a nice Malamute or St. Bernard. A 25 pound Beagle is of little use in such a situation other than the possibility of her adding loud howls to your hollering. Unfortunately, Shirley was far too busy napping on the bath mat to offer assistance.

I failed my 1 hour diabetes screen by more than 50 points so, I'm off for my 3 hour at 7:15 on Monday morning. My spectacular failure was quite surprising as I have absolutely no risk factors but there it is. Unfortunately, I found out I failed just before we left for vacation and the main advice the nurse was able to give me was to avoid sweets and carbs. This was rather amazingly unhelpful. The information I was able to find on-line about Gestational Diabetes was pretty heavy on the "see a nutritionist as soon as possible" and very light on actual numbers I could use to make it through the next week. So, I went with the South Beach recs. I later found out that the carb limits other pregnant women had been given and the South Beach diet were rather wildly different which explains why I spent most of last week hungry. While I'm not looking forward to the fasting and multiple blood draws, I am really looking forward to getting a definitive diagnosis and seeing someone who can tell me yea or nay on the whole fruit issue.

I keep telling myself that even if I completely mess up and managed to still eat completely the wrong things over the last week and a half, the main possible side effect will be that I will have a fat baby. The problem is that I briefly worked with a little girl whose mother had very poorly controlled diabetes during pregnancy. The little girl had a compromised immune system, was on oxygen, had circulatory problems, and had severely stunted limb development. While I understand that pre-existing diabetes and gestational diabeties are 2 completely different things in terms of fetal development and I know that my ultrasound looked great, the part of me that worries that my child will be left on a rock until I get out of c-section recovery also is convinced that 1 sugar misstep will result in an abnormality that is All My Fault.

I have since received all manner of advice on what to eat and my favorite is the "make at home egg mcmuffin." After a fair amount of experimentation, I seem to have finally hit upon the microwave setting that allows for "no listeria" but falls just shy of "autoclave." The really sad thing is that this totally made my day.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Such a Homely Dog

My father came up this week to help my husband install a new handrail for the stairs. The previous handrail was a metal monstrosity featuring blinking neon lights saying "crawl through here" and "get your head stuck here." We think it was original to the house (40 some years old) and had apparently last seen maintenance upon installation. We now have a lovely oak stair rail that is woefully lacking in openings large enough for puppies or babies to fit through. While my father was here, he commented that he's really starting to "get" the fact that he's going to be a grandfather. I understand that the men in our lives have no little somethings sleeping on their bladder, jazzercising at 4:30 am, or considering the location where their lungs used to be a great vacation home but still, why does it take them such a long while to figure out that pregnancy actually does generally result in a baby?

I have recently begun to get anxious that I won't like my baby. What if I don't think the baby's cute? What if the baby has some weird birthmark? Can you really like a little being that wakes you up every 1.5 hours? What about when the kid turns 6. I don't tend to enjoy kids between 6 and 10. There have been some that I've liked but, on the whole, not my favorite developmental period. Since logical thought and the fact that most parents seem to like their kids most of the time seems to be making nary a dent in my newest pregnant lady worries, I decided to look to my dogs.

Before we got Penny I wasn't really a dog person. Dogs were ok but not pivotal to my life's happiness. Within a day of bringing her home, I was a total mush pot. Within 6 months of bringing her home, I started making her homemade puppy treats and recovering pillows for her use. I paid attention to how long I was out for and took walks in pouring rain. However, Penny is an incredibly cute dog. She is about 35 pounds making her a nice comfortable size. She has this lovely, fluffy coat and warm brown eyes. She is the sweetest dog you could imagine. When I take the dogs for walks, everyone wants to pat Penny. Unfortunately, during the 10 weeks or so that she was on some random person's farm as a wee puppy she was not astoundingly well treated and is quite shy. Enter Shirley. Shirley is generally the second choice for pats but is so very enthusiastic about being patted that everyone winds up patting her while Penny backs away.

When I found Shirley at the humane society she was quite the homely dog. She was an old dog- at least 10. She had horrible breath. She was overweight. She had dandruff and a bare spot on her tail, probably from chewing at fleas. She had had a stroke that left her face lopsided. She smelled. Her coat tended to be greasy and thin. She was also a little on the crotchety side and had arthritis that made her less that sprightly. She's sort of deaf and sort of blind and lacked "cognitive stimulation" in her previous homes. However, she had somehow managed to be brought into 3 previous homes and though a series of unfortunate events was looking for number 4. It took a little while for her to meld into our home. When she first came, she didn't realize that there were treats, soft spots to nap, pats, and attention for all and thought she needed to compete for them. She was housetrained but her manners needed some work. It took a while for good food, regular grooming, and a healthy home to take care of her weight, skin, insecurities, and coat. But still, I liked Shirley from the beginning. She's a small beagle, which works to her advantage and she's very people oriented. She doesn't totally understand other dogs but people, she knows. She will follow you around; "talk" to you; nap with you. When you get up in the morning or home in the evening you are greeted with enthusiastic "full body wags" and delighted yodels. It took a while for all this personality to show but, from the beginning, I liked her. When we're on walks, Shirley isn't the one everyone wants to pat but she's the one everyone winds up patting. She isn't the cute one but winds up being liked anyway. She took a while to get used to Penny and would break my heart but I stuck it out and kept her anyway (the fact that Penny outweighs her, is younger by 10 years, and that Shirley has almost no teeth helped a lot). I remember all this at 3 am when I'm worried about liking the baby. It seems to me that if I could like this homely dog, surely I will like my own baby.

We're traveling for the next week. See you on my return...