The First Phone Call

The 36 week mark is knocking on my door. Thursday. Henry’s impending arrival is the closest and farthest away anything has ever felt. Today that was solidified in my first “that woman” phone call to my OB’s nurse. Today was the first time that I felt something that seemed weird, that I hadn’t previously heard someone talk about, that I hadn’t been warned about, that I couldn’t sort out on my own. I started to have these stinging, almost electric shock type feelings, up in my lady parts. Turns out, probably specifically in my cervix. It would last for a second, but happen several times in a minute, and then nothing for an hour, and then more of the same. No pattern, no regularity, no increased intensity.

Do you have siblings? I have two brothers. Sometimes when we were kids we fought. Sometimes when we were kids, we got along. Most of the time we fought. (Maybe a product of being a year apart from one another?) And sometimes we just tortured each other because that’s what siblings do. The cervix stinging? It reminded me of getting pinched by my brothers and holding out to yell or slap them until I couldn’t stand it anymore because I did not want to give them the satisfaction of knowing that it stung. Disclaimer: most of the time I was the pincher. Sorry, boys!

The nurse asked me a zillion questions all essentially boiling down to “No, everything else is normal. Henry is moving. All is good.” After consulting with the on-call doctor it was determined something extremely common was happening to me. Namely, Henry is about as low as possible without falling out. The little dude’s head is right on top of my cervix (sometimes this is called being engaged in the pelvis, I think) and when he moves, bounces on it, turns, it elicits that stinging feeling. The doctor was then quick to say that this could happen weeks, days, hours, or minutes before delivery so is in no way indicative of impending labor. Way to crush a girl’s soul, doc. Can’t I have that pipe dream?

Secret: my gut says that Henry will arrive before February 27th. I don’t think he’s going to be able to wait that long. Secret secret: I hope that the first secret is not just hinging upon some serious wishful thinking. I would like to think this is some kind of mother’s intuition. That’s a thing, right? RIGHT. Lie to me, people. Don’t you understand that at this point?

In other news. I have no baby things left to do. Tonight I washed the last load of baby cloth type things. Everything is organized and put away. Electronics are up and ready. I know what buttons to press to make the car seat and stroller work (at least right now, we’ll see how well “I know” this information when I’m exhausted). Allen asked me what I’m going to do with myself when there aren’t baby prep things to do anymore. I guess we’ll see tomorrow night. But I am thinking that it isn’t going to be pretty. Let’s hope I don’t go into a re-washing frenzy. Or maybe I could channel that energy into something more productive like… vacuuming or scrubbing the floor or a million things that actually could be done around the house that NEED to be done. Those things do not interest me, though. I think I have selective nesting.

One more day down. We are getting there.

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Express Yourself

You might be singing that song in your head right now. I think it plays on some commercial for something or another. You know what I’m talking about. It’s in my head, too. This post may be a little too much, and I would apologize except I don’t feel bad about writing it.

Last week we went to a breastfeeding class. I have so many thoughts and feelings about breastfeeding. From the get go I knew I would do my best to be a breast feeder because, as they say, breast is best. Fats and antibodies and all that good stuff. So, there was no question about doing it which meant… I needed to get comfortable with it. And here’s the weird thing, the thing that is a little embarrassing for me to admit… I DID need to get comfortable with it. I’m still not sure I’m fully comfortable with it. I know it’s natural and it is good, but something about it still seems strange. Sure, we can blame our culture or any number of things. I’m not interested in blame, though, I’m just interested in being comfortable with feeding Henry. Thinking about breastfeeding in front of my mom in the hospital made me feel anxious. I wasn’t even sure I could handle Allen being there. My boobs out in the world and trying to get a tiny human to attach to one? Weird. People would judge me. I just knew it.

On top of this I keep hearing from friends and reading about how difficult breastfeeding can be – painful, frustrating, slow. Ugh.

All this is to say I went into breastfeeding class thinking a combination of the following:

  • How hard can this be?
  • It is too weird.
  • It is the only option.
  • I will never drink beer again.
  • People will judge me.
  • Allen is going to think it is weird.
  • These boobs are going to cause me some serious embarrassment.
  • This is going to be really hard.
  • I have no idea what I’m doing.

The class was about 90 minutes too long, but was full of good information. Our instructor’s nonchalant attitude about breastfeeding is kinda exactly what I needed. Here’s what she said and is now stuck in my brain for the rest of forever:

  • Get as much boob in that baby’s mouth as possible (apparently what I believe all my life that it was just a nipple thing is a total and complete lie)
  • Create a boob sandwich (basically, squish your boob to make it easier to fit into baby’s mouth)
  • When the baby open his mouth, you shove his head and your boob together as fast as humanly possible (his face is soft and so is your boob, you aren’t hurting anything – awesome advice)
  • You can help work the milk out with your hand and it is totally easy.
  • Relax!
  • If something hurts, the latch isn’t right. Breastfeeding should never ever hurt. It means something is wrong. Call a professional.

It almost made me feel like this is possible. I can do this breastfeeding thing. I think I’m even more comfortable with the idea of it, of my boobs being out and about. But you know what really helped? Yesterday. Yesterday I remembered something the instructor said and thought “Huh, wonder if she’s right…” And that thing was “I bet I could get each of you to express some colostrum (milk pre-cursor) right now.” I laughed, squirmed, that was an uncomfortable idea. And then yesterday I decided it was a good idea to give it a try. So, it took me a whole 5 seconds, using the technique she showed us, and low and behold, I totally could do it. I was pretty darn proud of myself. Weirdly proud. It made me feel empowered. If I can do it to myself, surely Henry and I can figure this out. I came downstairs to tell Allen of my accomplishment. Full of confidence. Until I saw Allen.

H: “I want to tell you something that is kinda weird, but not weird. It is the new normal for our house.”
A: “…new normal? Okay…”
H: *buries face in Allen’s chest and becomes incredibly embarrassed, devolves into hopeless laughter, tears streaming down face* “Uh, nevermind. I don’t want to tell you anymore.”
A: “Now you really have to tell me.”

Several minutes of laughing continue on and Allen won’t let me go. I still can’t look him in the face. Then, I explain. If he thought it was weird he didn’t let it show. That was exactly what I needed, even though I was clearly struggling with it myself.

So, am I completely there on breastfeeding and self-expression comfort? Maybe if I am completely by myself. Not so much with Allen or other’s close to me. But I’ll keep working on it. I’m guessing when Henry’s here and crying because he’s starving I will let go of the insecurities surrounding my boobs doing their nature-made duty.

Fear and Worry Gets the Best of Us

Yesterday I was on my feet all day. I had one of those days where the compulsion to get things done was overwhelming. I did laundry, vacuumed, scrubbed the floor (like, hands and knees scrubbing), went to the dog park for a 2 mile walk with Cash – IN SHORTS, seriously, 65 degrees yesterday – ran errands, cleaned out a closet, went to the grocery store, cooked dinner, then had friends over for games until about 12:30 in the morning. I felt good most of the day, but could tell I, perhaps, over did it in the late afternoon as my body (mostly my back) became tired and achy. About an hour into games we started to chat about Henry and I realized that I could not remember the last time I had felt him move. I thought it was in the morning before I got out of bed. It began to eat at me. Henry not moving every hour is weird, let alone not at all throughout the day. Surely, it was because I was on my feet. He moved. I hadn’t noticed. Don’t panic, Heather.

That self-talk did not work, as you might imagine. I panicked. I was so distracted and distraught that I did not realize that Allen had placed his settlement and road in a very close proximity to mine so as to screw me over while playing Settlers of Catan. Then I began to miss my resource collection. Miss trading cues. I DIDN’T EVEN YELL AND HARASS PEOPLE. Now, those of you that know me well know this is a sign of duress. I am about the most competitive game player on the planet. I yell a lot, get angry, and try to convince people to sabotage my fellow players. It’s my MO. I went upstairs and laid on my side for 5 minutes, usually Henry is dancing around immediately after I lie down. No Henry movements. Full panic and fear swept over me. I almost cried at the game table twice when I was asked what was wrong and tried to explain, with some coolness, that I hadn’t felt Henry in a while so I was preoccupied. Which, you can gather, was an understatement. I didn’t want to call the emergency room, though, or leave to get his heartbeat checked because I KNEW that he was fine. Of course he was fine. Chances are… he was fine. More likely that he was fine than not fine. Intellectually, I knew that. But I couldn’t stop imagining the worst of the worst. Unspeakable things. Things that make my heart hurt for those that have had to experience it. I felt guilty for allowing it to take up such a place in my brain and causing such drama in my heart.

And then. He rolled. I almost cried with relief.

Henry was quiet for the rest of the evening. But he rolled. I still worried that something was wrong with his oxygen flow, but went to bed and tried not to worry about it.

I woke up twice in the night because he was jabbing me. I woke up this morning with him rolling around. He’s been operating heavy machinery for the better part of the day today. He is totally and completely fine and back to his overactive self.

It is amazing how much I care about this little creature that I have never met who will cause me some of the most frustrating and amazing moments of my life. The thought of something happening to him  is already devastating and unthinkable. How much worse will this be when he is external to my body?

The crazy things we let ourselves believe. The tizzy we let ourselves get worked into.

I am going to try – with no promise of success – not to worry about things until there is something real to worry about. HA. No, but seriously, I am going to try.

Clothing spectacular!

I think we can all agree that babies can be quite expensive. So when you become part of a local mom’s buy/sell/trade group, life becomes really freakin’ awesome. I just need to brag a titch. Check out all these clothes I just scored for $25! Sure, most of them are sizes 12-18, but heck – when am I going to see a deal like this again?!

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Clothing steal for $25 from the local Lawrence mom’s buy/sell/trade group!

I kept running into the kitchen while Allen was cooking raving about something cool I’d found in the stash. I got a tiny zip-up fleece flannel vest. I called it Henry’s lumber jack vest. And THREE adorable little sweater vests. And button down shirts! Allen’s response to almost all of this was “So… I can see already that Henry will not have my clothing style represented in his wardrobe.” Disagree. Allen also wears button down shirts. And there was a little suit, but I’m not sure what size it is. All I know is we have a wedding in Wisconsin in June and Henry best be fitting into the pin stripe wonder.

Clothing aside, let’s talk about life. I dread getting out of bed at night. It feels like a 10 minute process. And it feels degrading. Staged rolling, grunting, a series of pushing upper body up, stop, pull legs a little more out of the bed. Sometimes I just roll and pray that my legs will hit the floor before the rest of my body. No falls yet. Win. 

I also dread bedtime for other reasons. In the past two weeks I have developed some serious restless legs. I’ve always had shaky legs, as I call them, from time to time – like a couple of times a month – but this is starting to become every night for about an hour. Essentially, I need to exhaust myself shaking my legs before I fall asleep. And now I worried that it is completely psychological and that I am just so worried about having restless legs that I convince myself that I DO have them. I feel a little crazy. Last night I went to bed an hour early so that I could shake my legs out and hopefully still fall asleep at a reasonable time. I should say that restless legs are about the worst thing that’s happened to me this whole pregnancy (no nausea, no heartburn, no leg craps, no bloating…), so I still feel lucky. 

I have also entered the “Henry please get here right now” phase. I find myself standing in his room with nothing left to sort or organize or clean and just wanting him IN there. I want him to use this stuff! I want to see the little guy in the crib. I’m 34 weeks tomorrow, which is officially all bets are off land. My doctor would not try to stop labor at that point. That is super exciting. And even though I want him to come out now – so I can see his little face and begin to determine which features he gets from me and which from Allen – I figure I will wait another couple of weeks before I give him his eviction notice. Starting February 1st, little guy, you are booted. I don’t know exactly how I’ll get that notice to him, but I’ll figure something out. 

Here’s a picture of me at 33 weeks 5 days. I don’t love this picture – please don’t look at my face – but I feel the need to post it for remembering’s sake. And because it seems like Henry has grown quite a bit in the last couple of weeks. I keep looking down and thinking “There’s no possible way this belly can get any bigger.” But it will, and that kinda freaks me out. I’m just thankful that I’m 34 weeks pregnant and still able to get out and take my dog for a walk for a couple miles almost every night. Despite the mental battles with being pregnant and the not loving being pregnant and the emotional turmoil it has sometimes caused, I’ve had it good. And I SUPPOSE it is important to recognize that every now and again.

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Not the most adorable Heather picture, this is just for belly nostalgia 5 years from now.

Ready or Not!

But we’re ready. At least with the stuff. And I think with processes. And we’re getting there on the mental front. Today felt like a big day, even though it was just an average sort of day. We drove the ~35 minutes from our house to Overland Park Regional Medical Center, where we will deliver Henry, to do a hospital tour. Even after being there, I am still a little concerned that on Henry day we will get lost or turned around or forget something critical. I’m hopeful that the nice hospital people will be forgiving of new parent idiotness. Being in the hospital made me more excited and less scared. I think that’s a good sign. As scary and weird as pregnancy is, I have to admit, I am ridiculously excited to meet this little fellow. The whole check in, triage, labor, birthing, recovery thing is down to a science. It makes me feel reassured but also slightly angry that this isn’t going to be some kind of special Heather only event. When we got there and I saw the other pregnant women I leaned over and told Allen that they annoyed me because this is supposed to be MY thing. MY maternity ward. MY doctor. Yes yes, I’m a little selfish. We filled out our pre-registration form and the slightly flighty nurse did an impromptu pre-registration appointment with us. Very kind of her to take the time out of her Saturday, and I’m so glad she did because we learned that it is recommended to do those appointments at 30 weeks… which I’m almost 4 weeks past. Ooops! Sometimes they aren’t very good at telling you when you need to do things. I knew we needed to pre-register, just didn’t realize when. 

The pre-registration was a little amusing because we were asked to make decisions on things that we had only thought about but not decided or hadn’t thought about at all. Today, we decided whether or not to cut little Henry’s penis after his born. And, for the record, we decided not to do it. This is a very personal decision, but for us, there is no longer any medical reason to do the procedure. There is an ever so slightly elevated risk of urinary tract infections throughout life, but the elevated risk is negligible at best. I know there are people out there who do it for cosmetic reasons, because that is what we are used to, because when he is older some woman will think he’s weird (I will kick her ass. It is appropriate for a mom to lecture a girlfriend for not accepting her son’s foreskin, right? That’s not creepy? I didn’t think so.). If he wants to do it when he’s older, great, that can be his decision. Like with dogs (dogs and babies are practically the same, after all), Allen and I feel if an entire species is born with it… maaaaaybe it should stay (I don’t understand ear and tail docking…). Yes, yes, there’s another faction of people who say “BUT! BUT! If he decides to do it later it will be so traumatic and painful!” Sure. I also think it is traumatic and painful for a baby. Just because Henry won’t remember it does not give me permission to cut him. AND. They say uncircumcised males enjoy extra benefits during sex. Yes, I am every so slightly considering my unborn son’s sex life in this decision.

Basically, I respect your decision to circumcise, and I just want the same in return. 

Other things determined: yes, I can have a blood transfusion if necessary; we would like to donate the cord blood; vaccination schedule. 

The thing that surprised me the most was coming to the realization that this $1,800 I’ve been paying to my OBGYN over the past 6 months DOES NOT cover hospital, delivery, epidural costs! I think everyone except me knew this was the case. WHAT?! More money?! Babies are EXPENSIVE. I was pretty irate over this realization. The healthcare industry is messed up, even our pre-registration nurse agreed. Billing is confusing, figuring out estimates is difficult, and the differences between coinsurance, copay, and deductible will always be lost on me. Sigh. So, now I need to figure out what it is going to cost to deliver Henry and make sure his hospital pediatrician is in network. This kid is lucky we like him alright because these processes seem like a big headache. 

After the hospital tour we went to Buy Buy Baby to get our travel system (car seat + stroller combo) because we had a coupon and it was the cheapest we could find the brand we wanted. I wanted, really. Allen has primarily let me pick whatever I want because I am an obsessive researcher and opinion gatherer. So, we enter this monstrosity of a building and immediately feel… terrible. Gah. Just being in there made us feel absurd. All of the ridiculous things they sell for babies. We could not handle it. Allen kept saying “Oh my god. This is absurd.” over and over and over. We basically tucked our heads, ran for the travel system section, bought a floor model that had been returned because the color wasn’t what was expected (sigh… parents are crazy) and ran out of there. I could not stop laughing watching Allen push a stroller. I can’t explain how amusing the sight was for unknown reasons. Because it is ALLEN. Allen plays video games and brews beer and swears… and… now… he pushes strollers. I just couldn’t get over it. 

We are officially ready. We’re registered at the hospital. We have all the immediate baby things we need to keep Henry safe and healthy. All that’s left is the waiting. 6.5 weeks. You better go fast, Time, because I got no patience. 

Holiday Round Up!

The holidays are exhausting. Man oh man. You know what is more exhausting? Thinking about what life with a baby is going to be like and then knowing I am going to have to live that life in 7 weeks. Or less. Or a little more. But, please let’s just keep it at 7 weeks or less. 

Minnesota was amazing. It was delightful to see so many friends and family. It was just the reminder that I didn’t need of how much I miss home. Henry is already such a loved and spoiled little boy, and this trip was pure proof. We were given a lovely shower in which loved ones gave us gifts to help kick off parenting and Henry’s life in an awesome way. Favorites include homemade blankets, sweaters with elbow patches, and a onesie emblazoned with the words “The stallion that will mount the world.” Pure. Awesome. You know what the best two best parts of the shower were? 1) Allen stayed and sat next to me during present opening! 2) NO. GAMES. 

I absolutely hate opening presents in front of people. Which makes little sense because I generally enjoy being the center of attention and seek to be the story teller and life of the party. But I like to do those things when I like to do them, on my own terms. Not because I’ve been forced to do them. So, showers of any kind… ick. For the people that do not know, at my wedding shower I became so embarrassed by a lingerie gift that I snatched it out of the hands of a friend holding it up to show it to the crowd (consisting of Allen’s aunts and MOM) while yelling “THIS IS NOT APPROPRIATE!” Honestly, the only thing that wasn’t appropriate was my behavior. I was ridiculously embarrassed. The good news is that baby showers typically do not involve lingerie. So, having Allen by my side helped me get over the present thing.

And can we just take a minute and be honest with each other – no one likes to play shower games unless they are drunk and cheating. Unfortunately, drunk was out for this shower. And if we had played games I would have cheated. I am the ultimate cheater and will find nearly any way to accomplish my cheating. I am also quite open about my cheating, I usually give a warning before playing games with new people about my cheating. Allen insists that this does not make it better. I agree, but at least I’m honest about what I’m giving, right? I digress. Showers. Games. Boo. The worst baby shower game I can think of is the one where different chocolate candy bars are melted in diapers and you have to guess what kind of candy bar it is. What kind of horrible degrading nonsense is that?! Poop is disgusting. We do not make fun of poop. We abhor poop. Chocolate is awesome. Please never make me think about chocolate and poop in the same category every again, thankyouverymuch. 

So, shower. Fabulous. Minnesota. Fabulous. Sleeping on a couch in Minnesota at 30 weeks pregnant? Eeeeh, that was not so fun. My comfy bed and special pillow was sorely missed. 

I have also hit the body does not want me to do certain things anymore. Like, bend over at the waist. Or try to get up fast. Or kick my legs much higher than 2 feet off the ground. YES! There ARE good reasons a pregnant lady needs to do a waist-high kick! And Henry has become more explody feeling. He balls right up and then tries to burst out of my left side. I kind of love that he loves the left side. He’s always chilling on that side. Allen is worried he is going to be a south paw like his mom. I certainly hope so. 

And, i’ll round this out with my least favorite development in the last two weeks. Stretch marks. I am horrified by them. I knew they would be a reality, but tried to believe i would be one of those lucky ladies that didn’t get them. I’ve read a million articles about how you can’t prevent them despite how much shea butter, cocoa butter, or voodoo you attempt to perform – that it really comes down to genetics. And if your mom and ladies in your fam have them, well, poor poor you. Sucker. And I am that sucker. They are slowly starting to spread very very low on the underside of my growing belly. I check them out every day. I obsess. I know I shouldn’t and there is a big movement about embracing our pregnant bodies and being happy about the baby and the miracle of my body creating and sustaining a little life. I hate to be that woman but… what a crock. I am going to be sad about those stretch marks. I am going to mourn the loss of smooth skin. Will it make me a terrible mom? No. Will it make me less excited to meet Henry? No. Will it shatter my self esteem? No. Like with so many things in pregnancy where the media would have you believe you should feel all one way or another… lies. All lies. It is okay to be sad about stretch marks and still be excited about being pregnant. And that is where I am at: obsessively watching my stretch marks grow while Henry tries to explode out the left side of my belly. 

PICTURES!

31 weeks! I will admit, I kind of like this picture. 

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Check out the crib that Heather built! I was scared about the crib building process but found it pretty darn easy, actually. And it took me back to my days of obsessively playing with k-nex. Man. I loved those things. I hope Henry does, too. 

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