Discussion Topic for the Week

Please share with us your expectations for giving birth if you are currently pregnant and how your expectations were or were not met if you are already a mother. And for those of you with multiple children or who may be pregnant with a second child, please share how your expectations have varied from pregnancy to pregnancy.

I think I was among the delusional when it came to childbirth. In fact, I’m certain of it.

First of all, my son arrived far earlier than I anticipated. Three weeks, to be precise. I went to the doctor for my routine 36-week check up, only to be told that I was four centimeters dilated and 80% effaced. When just the day before I carefully planned out my week to tidy up all my loose ends in the event the baby came the following week, I was suddenly on maternity leave and urged not to stray too far from my house.

Oh, bother. I would hardly consider this good use of my maternity leave!

The morning following my 36-week check up, I felt the pangs of early labor. Surely my son will come now, I thought. But, alas, no. He was just testing me. After returning home from my second trip to triage, I was disappointed that he was stalling.

Late that evening, my labor (finally) progressed further. I’d like to think it was the chocolate ice cream that spurred it along. At any rate, we went back to the hospital, and, once again, I lay in triage for what seemed like an eternity, ever so fearful they would send me home once again. But, they didn’t – and once I was admitted, I thought the baby would come very soon afterwards.

Boy, was I wrong. But after reading others’ birth stories, I think I was among the luckier ones. I just wasn’t as lucky as I would have liked to be.

Because I made it to four centimeters and 80% without knowing it, I honestly thought labor couldn’t possibly be all that bad. And when a nurse came to my bedside and asked me if I wanted something to ease the pain, I initially refused, caving only a moment later when another contraction assaulted me. I was adamant, though: I did not want an epidural. And, so, I didn’t have one. I had Nubain instead, which sent me into an opium-induced state of delirium. Oddly, Nubain is given to lots of women in early labor and is often ineffective for women in advanced labor (as I was), but it did the trick. I only asked for one refill, and that was it.

Thirty hours after the onset of early labor, ten hours after arriving at the hospital, eight hours after being admitted, three contractions and six good pushes later, I heard my son for the first time… and was strangely disappointed at the anticlimax of childbirth. I’ve no idea what I was expecting to feel, but I knew I didn’t feel it. I peered down at the miracle of my messy, still unnamed son and, though relieved to be done with labor and elated that he was perfectly made with all ten fingers and all ten toes, I was just so unbelievably tired. And when the nurses gave him to me to nurse right away and he didn’t want to latch on, I felt awful – all my expectations of being a “good” mother were already fading away before my eyes. (Mind you, he didn’t completely figure out business of latching on until the next morning, but I had far more calls to the nurses’ station than I thought I might.)

I laugh now at my naivete, how I believed that watching my nieces grow, talking to all my mom friends, and reading everything I could about motherhood while I was pregnant would somehow prepare me for the onslaught of mothering. Nothing can prepare you for motherhood, I’ve discovered. And just when I think I’ve figured out what my son needs, wants, and expects of me, he immediately changes the rules and I’m back to square one.

And yet, I would do it all again, with no hesitation.

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PFF: Pregnancy Flashback Fridays (01/04/08)

I seem to only be able to remember to do this every other week. Ugh.

Today’s flashback: Food Aversions.

I had terrible food aversions to chicken, mushrooms, and chocolate. Now, the mushroom aversion wasn’t a big deal. The chicken aversion was troublesome, only because it’s a source of protein (and we all know that pregnant women need a good amount of protein). And the chocolate aversion, well, as cruel as it was, it was also a saving grace for my weight!

I discovered the mushroom aversion after I brought some leftover steak and mushrooms to work with me. The mushrooms tasted terrible, as though they had gone bad. And then I recalled a few weeks prior when we were at the now-closed Hard Rock Cafe in Los Angeles (the first HRC in the US, for those playing along at home) when I ordered the vegetarian sandwich and couldn’t eat it (though it’s one of my favorite sandwiches).

The chicken aversion was much funnier when it made itself manifest. One night, Cute Husband was cooking some ranch chicken, and I called to him from the couch, “Good God, what in the world are you cooking?” The smell was awful, and the thought of even eating any chicken was enough to make me gag. It wasn’t until my eighth month that I was finally able to eat chicken again, albeit sparingly and begrudgingly.

Oh, and the chocolate aversion? The sight of it wasn’t appealing. The smell of it was just awful. And because of those two things, I couldn’t bring myself to even try any of it.

Thank goodness it didn’t last forever!

PFF: Pregnancy Flashback Fridays – 12/21/07

I missed last week because we were travelling (and the baby was still a little sick, and I was just getting over being sick myself, and my husband was throwing up while we were on the plane – but that’s another post all together), so I wanted to be sure that I posted my flashback today.

This week’s flashback: baby hiccups. (Or is it hiccoughs? And, really, what’s the difference between the two?)

Anyway, these days, whenever Baby C hiccups, I’m reminded of the sudden jolts I would feel in my belly. It was funny to watch while in meetings (my entire belly would shake), and it kept me company on the drive home. Every now and then, I miss it, but not too often. I’m always reminded, though, when I hear him hiccupping, and my hand instinctively goes to my belly, as if he were still there.

The other funny thing about his early hiccups were that I found them satisfyingly comforting because it meant that his respiratory system was developing exactly as it should. And, sure enough, he’s got a good set of lungs on him (evidenced by a few 2am screams that woke my husband).

Isn’t the human body an amazing thing?

36 weeks today… and I have a messy house!

I’m officially in my ninth month, which means Baby C is just packing on weight and I ought to start cutting back on the bad things that I’m eating (she says, after finishing her third donut of the morning).

It’s hard to believe I’m at 36 weeks. On one hand, it seems like no time has passed at all, and my reaction is, “Wow! I’m already at 36 weeks!” On the other hand, it seems it’s been ages since I was able to touch my toes, and my reaction is, “Wow… I’m only at 36 weeks?”

This can’t be easy on my poor husband, no matter what he says. This morning, when I said that I really haven’t been taking good care of him lately, he replied, “You’re doing fine. I’m doing fine. I’m still alive, aren’t I?” And while, yes, he is still living, I feel bad because I can’t do half of the things I used to be able to do with ease… like laundry and loading or emptying the dishwasher. And my shower is a mess and I’m so aggravated that I can’t effectively scrub the grout. In fact, lots of things in my house are a mess, and I get so frustrated at my inability to do anything, I’m ready to cry. But it’s really not fair of me to expect my poor husband to pick up my slack because he’s got his own list of Things To Do to finish before the baby comes, like preparing the nursery, building the nursery furniture, finishing the Tiki Bar, moving the stuff in the dining room to the finished Tiki Bar, painting the dining room, etc.

I miss having some semblance of order and a routine in my home life. It wasn’t so bad a few months ago; if I couldn’t sleep, I could at least get up and do some laundry or clean the kitchen or scrub the bathrooms. Now, I can’t even transfer clothes from the washer to the dryer without needing to stop and catch my breath.

I really hope this doesn’t mean I’m going to be a totally neurotic mother. I mean, I have enough neuroses as it is, but I don’t want Baby C to know about them!

April showers bring May babies…

I had my baby shower yesterday, courtesy of Jen and Mark. It was a lot of fun, and I have to say that Chris and I were incredibly overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity. B and Doug got us the cutest little outfit for Baby C – it’s a Kenneth Cole ensemble complete with distressed jeans (even the bottoms are just slightly frayed – as if he’s been wearing them for years!), an oxford shirt and the cutest little corduroy jacket in chocolate brown. The boys were all saying that if they take him to LA, Baby C will get into the Viper Room with no problem, while they would still be waiting outside.

We had one game at the shower – really, the only game I could tolerate, since this was a co-ed shower. The object was to cut a ribbon the closest to my new and expanded waistline (without going over) – and whomever was closest won a $25 gift card to Borders. I don’t know how she did it, but Jen was actually spot on in her guess! It was really funny. Some of the guesses were way off – by a good foot or more – and only one person was under in her estimation.

For me, the best things about the shower – and the most humbling – were the realization that we have a lot of good friends who are anticipating Baby C’s arrival as much as we are and the knowledge that he is going to be accepted and loved by a whole lot of people right away. He’s got a number of great people he can look up to as he grows up, and I’m so glad for that.

It’s really hard for Cute Husband and me, knowing that we are so far away from our families and that Baby C won’t get the chance to see his grandparents, aunts, and cousins very often. It’s similar to how my sister and I grew up, though, because for the longest time, we didn’t have family in the country, let alone in the same city. So, my parents bonded with their friends from the Philippines who moved to Southern California and created a different kind of extended family for us. This explains why I’m much closer to one of my friends than I am to many of my real cousins. (For one thing, she speaks “Eileen”.)

I’m very happy knowing that Cute Husband and I have created an extended family of our own (albeit unintentionally), and that Baby C will be surrounded by lots of people who love him already. And I’m feeling much more prepared for Baby C’s arrival now.

10 things I don’t love about my pregnancy

I’m having more difficulty getting comfortable these days. The latest and greatest pain has been my coccyx, which is just very awkward because it’s not like it’s something that can be fixed, per se. It’s just a dull, throbbing pain that doesn’t seem to lessen unless I’m hunched over my exercise ball or leaning against a wall. Neither position is particularly conducive to sleeping.

So, I thought this would be a good time to compile my list of 10 things I don’t love about my pregnancy. Here they are, again in no particular order:

1. Acne. I have the worst acne I think I have ever had in my life. It’s on my chin, on my neck, behind my ears, on my chest, and all over my back. And it’s not like the little annoying pustules I had throughout adolescence, either – these are horrible, cyst-like things that multiply on a seemingly hourly basis. It doesn’t matter what kind of wash I use or how often I use it or how deeply I scrub at my skin until I’m certain I’ve taken off three layers of my epidermis – and even my old Neutrogena Rapid Clear Gel standby doesn’t seem to do the trick anymore. No, these are just a result of my hormones going out of control, and I think relief will only come once they’re regulated again.

2. Late night potty breaks. In the first trimester, it was annoying, but not a real pain. Of course, in the first trimester, I didn’t weigh upwards of 150 pounds and I could easily vault myself in and out of bed. And, in the first trimester, I didn’t have difficulty fully emptying my bladder. But lately, my nocturnal bathroom visits are becoming more cumbersome, and I think the baby almost likes to play “How Long Will Mommy Wait Before She Gives Up?” with me as he compresses my urethra. These are the fun games I play with my son while he’s still in utero.

3. No more cuddling. Well, no cuddling the way we could before my belly swelled to gigantic proportions. My husband and I still have our quiet time together, but I miss being able to wrap myself around him and snuggle against him. It’s the best way for both of us to fall asleep, but I can’t do it anymore because I haven’t been able to sleep on my side in months. And I really miss cuddling my husband.

4. A different relationship with food. Now, I love food. I think food is wonderful, especially when it’s prepared well. But I haven’t had the luxury of really being able to enjoy food these past few months, and I really do miss that. Before getting pregnant, I steered clear of fast food restaurants and avoided french fries like the plague. Now, it doesn’t matter so much what I eat, as long as I’m not hungry anymore. And that is a sad, sad state.

5. Odd comments from random people. I have a big belly. (How big is it?) It’s so big that I can wear drawstring pants again as long as I tie the drawstring under my breasts. This is normal – it’s not like I’m the first pregnant woman in history. In fact, I’m sure there are thousands – maybe even hundreds of thousands – of pregnant women around the world as I type. And it’s inevitable that we will all get big bellies, for big bellies mean healthy children. That said, is it really necessary to remind me how huge I’m getting? Or to ask me how much longer until the baby comes? At least people don’t touch my belly unless I tell them it’s okay. The brave few that have reached out sans permission had their own bellies rubbed in turn. Really, if that’s their idea of a warm greeting, why should I be rude in response? Anyway, it only happens once.

6. Maternity clothes. I found some cute maternity clothes. I really did. I’ve even passed along those that didn’t fit me for long, and I’m really quite proud of some of my finds. Mind you, a lot of my tops are my pre-pregnancy tops or my husband’s T-shirts (though I do have 7 or 8 actual maternity shirts), but, for the most part, I think I’ve been able to maintain a certain degree of my personal style. That said, I’m tired of my maternity wear. After all, I only have 4 pairs of pants that still fit me (but require a constant tugging at the waistband) and one dress. I really miss the broader selection of clothes that I had before I got pregnant. And I miss wearing my cute little sandals, too.

7. Fatigue. I am normally a very energetic person. I’ve been known to multitask around my house and successfully tackle multiple projects without even complaining of an aching toe. When I went back to school for my MBA, I was working full-time, took a full-time load of classes, and picked up a part-time job because, well, I had some extra time. Those days seem like such a distant memory now. Midway through my workday, I find myself longing for a nap, and by the time i get home, I am so tired I can barely scrape together a meal for my poor husband. (Yes, he does know how to cook, but we also have an unfinished nursery that he’s working on.) Add to this sleepless nights and my increasing inability to find a comfortable position for anything, and you get a better idea of how much I don’t love this constant feeling of fatigue.

8. Swelling. Absolutely everything about me is swollen now, from my nasal passages to my toes. I swear I’ve grown two chins, though my husband doesn’t agree (but he did say my face was a little “fuller”), and I’ve recently taken to only wearing my wedding band because of my new Carpel Tunnel Syndrome and my poor, stubby little fingers. The only part of me that hasn’t swollen – and for this I am incredibly thankful – is my butt, though my hips get wider each day as my pelvic bone continues to split. [sigh]

9. Nightmares. Now, some of these are funny in retrospect, but they certainly don’t help with my already sleepless nights. I’ve never been a fan of bad dreams, but they are increasing in regularity, which I really don’t love. I ought to be thankful for them though, because, as awful as the visions are, having dreams mean I’ve entered that period of deep, restful sleep.

10. Almost constant discomfort. I thought I would end the list with the thing I don’t love that prompted me to write this post. I don’t like being uncomfortable. I don’t think anyone does, come to think of it, which would probably explain why babies are born to begin with – it’s too damned cramped in there! If I’m sitting, my coccyx hurts. If I’m standing or walking around, there’s all this pressure on my pubic bone. If I’m lying down, it’s my sciatic nerve acting up. I haven’t tried standing on my head yet, but I don’t know how comfortable that would be after a while, either.

Now, in all fairness, these 10 things all crept up on me during the past few weeks. Well, except for the acne – that started in the first trimester, abated in the second, then came back with full force in the third. So, that being the case, there really are more things I love about being pregnant than things I don’t love.

But if I could pick one thing I could do without, it would probably be the discomfort.

As if Mommy Guilt isn’t enough

According to CNN, a new study has determined that children in childcare have higher disciplinary problems than those who were cared for by Mom. At the same time, they also noted that it’s impossible to walk into a classroom and pick out those who were in childcare and those who weren’t. Apparently, parenting style still plays a prominent role in a child’s development.

These reports make me crazy. You want to do what’s best for your child and raise him or her the best possible way. For our household, cutting back to a single income isn’t an option. It’s not that we live beyond our means or anything, but the cost of daycare is significantly less than I make a year – and I happen to really like my job! Will it mean reprioritizing my life to make sure I spend “enough time” with my son? Absolutely! Is it something I’m willing to do? Of course.

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that there is no way I will be able to do everything I want to do, so I’m picking those things that are most important to me and absolving myself of the guilt associated with not being able to do everything else. Maybe things will change again once Baby C is here, and if that’s the case, then so be it. But I refuse to believe that I will not be a good mother because I’ve made the decision to return to work.

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An open letter to my Ankles (wherever they are…)

Dear Ankles,

I have to confess that I was quite surprised and more than a bit dismayed yesterday at the doctor’s office when I looked down at my feet and noticed you were missing! You didn’t even leave a note or give me a chance to explain what’s been going on. I thought we’d discussed all the temporary changes that were to come with pregnancy, but it seems like you’ve both decided to up and leave, especially now that the weather is nice enough to run around in shorts!

How long have you been missing? I know; shame on me for not even knowing the answer to that. I thought you’d like to know that Calves have decided to take up residence where you left – they’ve decided to spread out a little, too, much to my chagrin. And they’re a very bad influence on Feet and Toes, I must say. Perhaps I never fully understood how much you really did to regulate appearances down there. Look, I know I haven’t seen you for quite a few months, and it’s been ages since we last had a pedicure, but I still can’t believe you’ve left me. Was it something I ate? Maybe I didn’t drink enough water? Or are you mad because I’m still trying to walk around as much as possible?

All I know is that you and Waistline are the only ones who have deserted me, and it’s truly devastating. Oh, I expected Waistline to hightail it out of here as soon as she heard I was pregnant – she barely lasted a few weeks after the stick turned blue. But, Ankles, we’ve toughed it out together for so long! Even though other women have told me their Ankles left during pregnancy, I honestly thought we had a strong enough bond that you wouldn’t leave me.

Please come back, Ankles. I miss you!

Yours truly,

Eileen

10 things I love about my pregnancy

Last night, Cute Husband remarked that he has witnessed nothing (well, except for feeling the baby move) about pregnancy that is remotely enjoyable or could be missed after the baby comes. And after some introspection, I decided that I disagree – there are lots of things I’m enjoying about my pregnancy! Here are 10 of my favorite things (in no particular order):

1. Feeling the baby move. It’s even more exciting now because his movements are a lot more visible from the outside. There’s something very comforting about it, once you get past the strangeness of realizingthere are bones and all sorts of other body parts growing inside of me! I like his hiccups, too, because they let me know how he’s positioned and serve as a reminder that he’s practicing the use of his lungs.

2. Quiet time with my husband. Oh, we had quiet time before the pregnancy when we would sit on the couch and snuggle, but quiet time has developed a whole new meaning now because, though there’s still technically only the two of us, these are our first few moments bonding as a little family. I like it when he talks to the baby (though he doesn’t do it often), puts his ear on my belly (and reports clicking sounds when the baby has hiccups), or just holds my belly and savors the baby’s movements.

3. Baby things. I especially love those things that are miniatures of my husband’s clothes. For example, my mother bought a pair of little khaki “cargo pants” that look an awful lot like a miniature version of my husband’s pants. I went to the Converse outlet this past Saturday and bought a tiny pair of black Chuck Taylor “high tops” – again, miniatures of my husband’s shoes. I love baby booties, baby blankets, baby clothes… It’s just so hard to believe that something so tiny is going to grow to be so big one day. Even harder to believe is that the little baby with his foot lodged in my ribs was once no larger than the size of a grape seed when we first “saw” him on ultrasound.

4. Hearing pregnancy and baby stories about family members, especially those about my husband. I have two beautiful nieces, so I’ve already heard a lot of stories about my mother’s pregnancies, but they didn’t seem to fully register until I was pregnant myself. I could tell you all about my own birth, too, because I’ve asked for and heard the story so many times, but it’s much more real now that I’m expecting a baby of my own. My mother-in-law’s stories about my husband and sister-in-law were all new, and I’ve enjoyed hearing them. The combination of these stories make me wonder even more what kind of a child Baby C will be – and what kind of labor and delivery I will have!

5. More reasons to talk to the family. Not that I’ve ever needed a reason to talk at all, mind you, but knowing that a little boy is joining the family soon is a wonderful reason to send random e-mails to my family! I actually started journaling the day I found out I was pregnant, but I didn’t start sending out e-mails to everyone until I was well into my second trimester. It was really my husband’s idea to e-mail my weekly journal entries to our immediate families. In all honesty, I didn’t think anyone would really care – so much of pregnancy, I’ve discovered, is an internal process – literally and otherwise! While my body makes room for the baby (and prepares to eject the baby at some point) and the baby is growing and getting ready to face the world, my own psyche has to undergo its own transformation. After all, the world will no longer revolve around me as it has the past 32 years. Rather, in a matter of weeks, I’ll have a whole new identity: Baby C’s mom!

6. Developing my Mommy Network. Of course, my Mommy Network consists of friends I already have, some (like my sister) who already have kids and some who are just a few weeks or months behind me in their own pregnancies. There’s something about pregnancy that’s this strange bonding thing, something that you can’t quite explain to the people who have never been pregnant before. And whether my Mommy friend has a 16-year-old, a 6-year-old, or a 16-month-old, they’ve all been here and can empathize like no one else.

7. Nesting. I started nesting in my second trimester and haven’t quite kicked the urge to clean, which frustrates my husband to no end because I’m so fatigued right now. This is particularly odd because cleaning has never been a favorite pastime. It’s something I’m enjoying, though, because I’m getting ready for my little baby! And who doesn’t want to bring a brand new baby home to a nice, clean house – even if he won’t see the top of the refrigerator for another twelve years? I’ve made trips to the library to donate books and to Goodwill to donate stuff (for lack of a better word), and I couldn’t even begin to tell you how much stuff I’ve either thrown out or given away in the past few months. There’s something very liberating about it.

8. Baby preparations. This kind of falls in the same category as nesting, but I think of it differently. No, these are those idealistic plans I’ve put in place for once the baby comes. I really ought to journal them in my pregnancy journal so that I can laugh at myself in a few months or years when I realize nothing I have planned (or will ever plan again) will go according to plan. My planned maternity leave is just the start, I’m sure. Thank goodness I’m a good contingency planner, too!

9. Daydreams. I haven’t been much of a daydreamer for at least the last 15 years, but when Baby C is moving around a whole bunch, I can’t help but wonder all sorts of things about him. What kind of a child will he be? Will he be into sports and play football and basketball like his grandfather? Will he be an artist like his dad? Will he have a good head for numbers like both his aunts? Will he look like his dad? Will he be tall like his dad? What will he be when he grows up? What will his favorite color be? Will he like going to Disney World? Will he like to read? It’s things like this that can keep my mind occupied for hours on end.

10. A new sense of purpose. The fact that I have a little person coming into this world who is going to rely solely on my husband and me for the first few years of his life is amazing. Recently, I reworked my personal budget to make room for his daycare expenses and was astounded at how willing (and perfectly able) I am to cut back on certain luxuries and unnecessary expenses to make sure Baby C has everything he needs. And now I understand why my mother was always confident that if we (my sister and me) ever needed anything, somehow, we would manage it. I am actually savoring this new reality. I just hope it lasts!

I hate getting sick

I was so hoping this sudden spell of sinus misery would disappear overnight, but it appears I’m still stuck with it. Sunday night, I felt a little dryness in my throat and could feel my post-nasal drip getting worse. It hasn’t gotten much better. The plus side? I have a doctor’s appointment on Thursday, so if this gets worse I know I’ll be able to deal with it over the weekend. But that’s the only plus side I can think of.

As I type, I have my thermometer in my mouth, willing for it to stay as close to normal as possible. I took a Tylenol last night before bed and again after my third trip to the bathroom, and I felt my fever break around five o’clock this morning. I’m really hoping I’m fine – more importantly, I’m hoping the baby is fine, though he’s been so active, I can’t imagine he’s feeling the least bit lethargic. It’s only that he’s so close to term (I start Week 34 in two days), I would hate to take something that may affect him adversely.

Phew – 98.43 degrees. It appears I will live, after all.