Thursday, October 30, 2008

a helpful exchange

The head of my fellowship program (who was actually my first point of contact at this institution, prior even to him being at this institution, but that's a long story) was waiting at the corner to cross the street to approach the divinity school as Kev and I approached the corner for the same purpose this morning- BRIGHT and early- Kev had to start work at 7:45 today and I had class, with said head of fellowship program, at 8:10 a.m. He asked as we crossed the street how I'm feeling and I honestly said "Not ready." And he laughed. He has two children, one a toddler, one a fairly new, still, infant. (His wife has passed on lots of maternity clothes to me.) "When is one ever ready?" He replied. "One can only be ready by some sense of false consciousness." But he thought for a moment and then said "But at the same time, your body is totally ready, or will be when it is time, and that is all your baby needs- you and your body. So, you are ready in the way that counts." I thanked him and we went our separate ways.

Some of you said as much in the comments, but... it was nice hearing it from him. Really nice.

Thank you God for the Kind Indian Grocer and the Head of my Fellowship Program (and for the really sweet voice mail from a friend and the great e-mails and the wonderful comments on the blog...) I hear ya.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ultrasound and Bonus Conversation

First of all, thanks for your loving support. I'm in better space today. The house is still a wreck. The studying far from done. But... I'm not weepy. This is progress. And I was in bed for almost 12 hours last night, sleeping for a good chunk of that. That helped. I read in the bathtub and in bed this morning, also good and restful.

The ultrasound was fine. I found it a bit disappointing as the baby is now so crammed in there, and was, once again facing my back, so... little could be seen. Eventually she got a good shot of the profile (face) and viewed it in 3D and that's the shot we got to bring home. If we can figure it out we'll scan and post it. The only reason for doing the ultrasound was to check the placement of the placenta. Well, the tech really couldn't see the placenta. Which is good news. Because she could see the os, the opening to the cervix, and not one bit of placenta could be seen. So, we're clear for a home birth. Assuming all else continues to go well.

The heart rate was 154, we heard it loud and clear. And the baby was moving around a lot. Oh, and the baby is still head down.

The baby seems to have taken a liking to sticking its butt out. It happened during the ultrasound and it confirmed that that is what I had been experiencing in the bathtub earlier in the morning when a weird protrusion would pop up on the left side.

After the ultrasound I dropped Kev back on campus and then headed to the farmer's market which also houses an international grocery store. I found a sweet potato and chick pea curry recipe I wanted to try making and I needed tamarind paste to make it. The market is dubbed as "international", but it is really mostly Indian. (Did you know Pillsbury makes and sells frozen Naan- sweet!) Anyhow... I found the tamarind paste I needed and the naan, which I wanted, and then went to check out. The man at the counter asked if that was all I was getting and I said yes, and then he rang up the two items. But then I saw little bags of cashews and I said "I'll have one of these, too."

Kind Indian Grocer: He raised his eyebrows and then said "Is it for you?"

Pregnant Woman Seeking Protein: Yes.

K.I.G.: And you are pregnant?

P.W.S.P.: Yes.

K.I.G.: Cashews are not good for you then. They are too strong.

P.W.S.P.: Really? I hadn't read that.

K.I.G.: Yes, cashews, papayas, not good for the pregnant women.

P.W.S.P.: Oh, well, o.k. then... I guess I won't get them.

K.I.G.: I don't want to lose a sale, but I don't want to hurt you or your baby either.

P.W.S.P.: Well, thanks, I appreciate that.

K.I.G.: How many months are you?

P.W.S.P.: Well, I have five weeks to go.

K.I.G.: A month and a half then. And have you had the sonography? Do you know if it is a boy or if it is a girl?

P.W.S.P.: We have had ultrasounds, just had one in fact, but we did not find out the gend...

K.I.G.: A broad smile spreads across his face as he cuts me off. Oh this is good, very good, much better this way. It does not matter boy or girl. It only matters that the baby comes healthy and safely and the way babies are supposed to come and when the baby comes, boy or girl, you just thank God for it. Yes, thank God for the baby, it does not matter boy or girl.

P.W.S.P.: Yes.... either way it is a great gift.

He blessed me and sent me on my way.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

anyone know the last spoken line from "Juno"?

I was weepy last night. I just don't feel ready for the baby. And as, in two days, I'll be five weeks from due... that scares me and saddens me and overwhelms me...

In the midst of comforting me, Kev quoted the last line from Juno as he remembered it something about "We're not other people". It was comforting... I'd like to know what the line is exactly. Does anybody know?

I wasted some perfectly good studying time today trying to find it on-line.

Friday, October 24, 2008

thoughts at 34 weeks

Yesterday I rolled into the 34th week of my pregnancy. A good friend of mine (best friend from high school) gave birth for the second time a few months ago, EARLY. In her 34th week of pregnancy. That baby was over 7 pounds, even six weeks early so, though he had to spend some extra time in the hospital which was hard on mom and dad (and probably sibs too), it is probably VERY good that she didn't carry him to term. She's not such a big lady and carrying a baby that would have been THAT big would have been... wow. Can't imagine.

My pregnancy this week update that I am now receiving by e-mail tells me that, at 34 weeks, my baby should be approaching 18 inches and nearly 5 pounds. As I read quotes from moms at 34 weeks I'm not recognizing myself in their experiences. Fatigue is a hallmark and... I'm not feeling it. (Even with an arduous paper writing week nearly put behind me. I am going out to lunch after a eucharistic service today and then going home to rest the rest of the day because I should, but not necessarily because my body is demanding it, which it usually does by the end of the week- I may change my mind in a few hours, we'll see.) And apparently other women start waddling at this point. I'm still not feeling all that big. And other women feel unbelievable pressure in their pelvic region or feel the baby pressing up into their rib cage, me, not so much. I guess, by this point, other women have car seat in the car and bags packed, nursery fully ready. By this point other women are overeager, more than ready for the baby to hurry up and get here. Not me. I'm content.

I'm wondering if my baby is smaller than normal, at the moment, or just incredibly kind and curled up nice and tight. I sort of think, given my relative smallness (somebody asked me this week if I was five or six months along- try six weeks from due!), and given family history, that this baby will come late. And that, at the moment, given my relative comfort, is fine with me. It will give me time to get my coursework done and get a nursery together and to enjoy my sister a bit before adding baby to the picture (she comes just before Thanksgiving and stays until Christmas). My mom has shared several times in this pregnancy how people kept telling her late in her pregnancy with me (her first) that she must be more than ready for the baby to come and she wasn't. She liked knowing I was safe inside her, liked being pregnant, and didn't need me to hurry up and get here. And considering I was born in early September, due two weeks earlier than I came, that is saying something. For a mom to want to still be pregnant in late summer... she must have wanted to be pregnant.

Maybe this will shift and I will start playing the "make the baby come" games. But with six weeks until due, Kev and I are telling the baby it is fine with us if he or she stays put for awhile, growing and becoming healthy and strong. And allowing papers to be written, space to be prepared, practice for labor to be undertaken. I am my mother's daughter at the moment. Even as I am becoming a mother...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

catch-up post

I'm waiting for a cup to tea to steep and for my neti pot water to cool off. I have a lot of work to do, but, so far, not feeling terribly inspired to do it. So, I thought I'd take a moment to follow-up on some questions you all have asked- some a LONG time ago.

  • When will the ultrasound be and why are we having another one? I just scheduled the ultrasound for next Wednesday, October 29th, the last day of the 34th week of this pregnancy. The ultrasound will be at the back-up hospital, the hospital where we'll go if we need to go to a hospital. I'm having the ultrasound because at the mid-pregnancy, 19 week ultrasound, my placenta was low-lying. While is HIGHLY unlikely that my placenta is still terribly low, and even more unlikely that we're in the dangerous situation of the placenta touching or covering the os (the opening to the cervix) (I would have symptoms if this were the case- bleeding- something...), my midwives feel that just to be on the safe side they'd like to know the location of the placenta so to help their interpretation and decision making at the time of the birth. We're still not planning to find out the gender, but there is a piece of me that won't be crushed if we accidentally find out next week. We'll tell them we don't want to know and I'm no good at reading those things, so an accidental discovery is highly unlikely.

  • Where does the "stoutearthchild" thing come from? What does it mean? Funny you should ask. This was the main e-mail address I used in corresponding with our realtor here and it led her to believe I was short, heavy or round, and a bit of a hippy. Those of you who know me know that I am tall. I tend to carry extra weight around (especially at the moment, ahem.), but I'm not really heavy or round. And well... I was runner up for hippie of my class in high school... so... my sister says, however, I shower too much to claim the title "hippie". But seriously, the username "stoutearthchild" comes from the period of our engagement when we were agonizing over what to do about a last name for our household. Names are really important to Kevin and to me, so much so that neither of us would think of asking the other to give theirs up and so that it was important for us to have the same name. We considered all sorts of crazy scenarios before ultimately deciding to hyphenate, ensuring the literacy of our offspring (or the failure of the S.A.T.s, Kev likes to say, they'll still be filling out the name bubbles when they're supposed to be done with section one!) At some point along the way, Kev's dad proposed that we create a new name out of the meanings of our previous last names. Kevin's original last name means "strong or stout", stout, it was decided, made a good first syllable. My last name he suggested breaking into two parts, the "earth" comes from the reference to sand in the first syllable of my original last name, and the last syllable of my original last name is "Son", but as he said "We don't just speak of sons anymore, let's make it inclusive, 'child'." So you put it together and you get "Stoutearthchild". Now we didn't actually think we could adopt this as a last name, but it makes a great username and we adopted it first for the travel blog we kept when we went to Germany a few years ago and it seemed only natural to make stoutearthchildthree the address for this anticipatory blog. Our brother-in-law, a very funny guy, suggested if we were going to take that approach in searching for a name we should just call ourselves "Harddirtboy".

  • What sort of supplies other than boiling water do you need for a homebirth? I just found the list today. Some of this might gross some folks out. You might call it t.m.i. Sorry, for those who are curious I share it, feel free to skip over it. So here goes...

    2 boxes disposable bed pads (1 small, 1 large)
    2 boxes maxi pads (overnights)
    1 package Depends-type underpants (if preferred over pads in the first few postpartum days)
    4 wash cloths
    4-6 large bath towels
    4 sheets
    Plastic sheet, shower curtain, or large garbage bags to cover be bed or floor
    Pillows (at least four)
    1-2 bottles hydrogen peroxide
    Newborn hats
    Several bottles of your favorite juice or sports drink
    Flashlight with new batteries (waterproof if you plan to use a tub or pool)
    2 large bowls
    Large Garbage Can (kitchen size) with bags
    Plastic grocery bags or storage container for placenta
    Peri Bottle (any bottle with a squirt top)
    Olive Oil or Astroglide (to ease birthing the baby' head)
    Large cutting board or baking sheet (to provide a firm service to examine the baby)

    All laundry should be freshly washed. It does not need to be sterilized.

    A table should be cleared near the birthing location to arrange supplies.

    It is wise to have an emergency plan. Make a list of emergency phone numbers, including midwives, hospital, doctor, and babysitters. Have a vehicle ready (with gas) in case we need to transport to the hospital. Know the route to the hospital.

O.K., I seriously need to get focused for this day. Any other questions?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

today's check-up

blood pressure 120/80

weight 215.5 (!)

baby's heart rate 140 (perfect! said the midwife)

baby seemed to be, once again, right side, head down.

measured at 32 cm, as i'm in my 32nd week that's right on target.

having an ultrasound in about two weeks, hopefully.

time to start gathering the supplies for the home birth.

and, ahem, to unpack the stuff cluttering the nursery/a.k.a. junkroom and start to make it into a nursery... almost 7 weeks, just 7 weeks till the due date.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Speaking from experience?!

I sat down in one of the closest seats to the bus driver, near the shelf on which I had placed my heavy backpack. He sat several seats away from me, across the way, perpidicularly (if you'll allow me to make up a word). Yet he spoke loudly enough for me to hear as he pointed at my belly.

"When you done?" he queried.

The finger point helped me discern the meaning of his question and I said "I'm due December 4th."

"I bet you can't wait."

"Well, actually I just started a doctoral program and I have A LOT of work to get done, hopefully before the baby arrives, so, actually, yes, I can wait."

"This your first?"


He raised his eyebrows. "Don't panic."

"I'm not panicking," I replied, "I feel good about what's coming. I'm hoping for a home birth." O.K., didn't need to share that, but... it just came out.

"No drugs?!" He replied. He rolled his eyes. "Just you wait, you'll change your mind as soon as you feel that first pain."

"We'll see," I said.

I believe he elaborated on the horrors of birth a bit longer for me and then he turned to his seatmate and started telling the story of how someone in his life gave birth in a car. I turned my attention elsewhere.

I relayed this to Kevin when he got home. To which he replied, "Like he knows from experience or something, sheesh."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

on singing through labor

Several weeks ago every night before bed I was reading Ina May Gaskin's guide to childbirth. I wish I could find more books like this. I'm reading Penny Simkin's guidebook at the moment and it is good, helpful, but not as engaging a read. One of my learnings from Ina May was about the connection between the loseness or openness of the jaw/mouth and of the looseness/openness of the pelvic region and cervix. She advises even silly exercises in labor to loosen the face, and encourages low deep sounds rather than pinched tight sounds. As someone whose jaw is frequently tight and who can imagine setting her jaw when in pain I started to wonder how I'd manage this. Then she shared a story of a woman whose labor was stalled and who was extremely tense, particularly through her face. Ina May remembered that she was a trained singer and suggested she sing. This opened her up tremendously and she was fully dilated in short order.

I made a mental note then. I have sung through many moments of my life. I love to sing with my sister. My sister will be at my birth. This could work... And perhaps... without even thinking about it, it could loosen my face and jaw.

Then we went to see a play called "Birth" which is a bit like the Vagina Monologues in that it is compiled from several interviews with women about their birth experiences. No one in that play was singing through labor, but one woman was reciting the mantra "My Body Rocks!" over and over again. I think I'm a bit inhibited for such a mantra, but... I'm not too inhibited to sing all manner of things (maybe Kev or Katherine should write me a particular song for labor with such an affirming mantra built in... hmm...) After the play there was a talk back time and a woman in the audience asked ask us if we'd seen the video of the woman singing during labor. So I went home and searched you tube and found it and was reconvicted in my desire to try this.

I indicated a few weeks ago that this would be the subject of a forthcoming post and I intended to link to the you tube video (just so you won't think I'm totally crazy) and today, due to the cancellation of an evening school commitment I finally have time to post. I went looking on you tube and found another such video and this one tapped into the one concern I have about this plan. I almost feel like I need to develop a LONG set list of songs I'm prepared to sing because I can never remember lyrics at just the right moment, can never think of what to sing next (even though I'm always singing to myself- deciding I want to sing sometimes wipes the brain clean). I suspect that in active labor, when this might be most helpful, I'll be especially unable to think of what to sing next. The second video I found she seemed to have the same problem... but... with help from her husband (I presume) she got back on track.

So, friends, let's start creating the set list. What would be good songs to sing during labor? Anyone want to write a song for me? If you don't know my musical background--- I know a fair bit of classical repertoire, lots of church music of all stripes (i really love american hymn tunes- esp. of the appalachian variety), I know lots of women's music- ani, indigo girls, sweet honey in the rock, some sarah maclachlan, some patty griffin, some nancy griffith, and lots of others- i know a fair bit of leonard cohen, some beatles... aw shucks... I'm familiar with a lot of music. Grew up on Peter, Paul, and Mary. When I used to sing in a coffee house in high school I'd sing songs I had composed (mostly too melancholy for birthing, I think- teenage angst), old folk songs like "500 miles", "Both Hands" by Ani DiFranco, "Me and a Gun" by Tori Amos (um... talk about melancholy). And others I'm sure. I've got lots of songs I've used as lullabies too..


And whoever it was that thought that singing through labor would require meds, remember, we're hoping for a home birth. I'm hoping this will help keep me home and prevent the need for meds.

I can't figure out how to embed You Tube videos today... so... links for you- to the woman who could have used a set list here, but you get the idea that this could work from her. It seems more real than this one, but isn't this LOVELY? It gives me hope.

I KNOW I'll be learning the Dixie Chicks song "Lullabye" and will be brushing up on their song "Godspeed" as well.