How Daniel Came: A Birth Story

I’ve discovered that, any possible writing skills aside,¬†I’m incapable of writing birth stories with any sort of artistry. This is pretty straightforward and “this happened then this happened” and far too long, but that’s okay. I don’t know that anyone other than me is actually going to read this anyway; if you do read to the end, it means you were actually interested (either in my life, or in birth stories in general) so good on you. There are pictures down there. And maybe once I get the whole thing down on paper I’ll be able to go back and do a revised version some day.

Oh, and as you get toward the end, I’m just telling it like it was and not bothering to clean up (censor) the TMI details, so if you don’t want to read about the gory details of how babies enter this world, proceed with caution! ūüôā

So, the last time I posted was 3 AM on January 28, and as you can see, it was a whole lot of “seriously, so done” whining. And I guess I really¬†was so done, because little did I know that we were just over 12 hours from meeting Baby Daniel!

I went back to sleep after that post and woke up a few hours later. I decided that since I was clearly never having this kid, I might as well make some other plans for the day… so I put on a comfortable dress and made plans to meet up with Mom to go to a fabric store and get supplies for a tied fleece blanket. Ryan was off work (still sick) so I asked him if he’d mind driving me to Mom and Dad’s house. After a little while, we had both of us, Henry, and the hospital bag (just in case — I just basically kept it with me everywhere I went at this point) in the car and were headed across town.

At that point, I was once again having some irregular contractions. This was about the fourth day that I’d had late morning/lunchtime contractions for about an hour, that ended up being nothing, so I didn’t think much about it.

As we approached my parents’ house, Ryan pulled into the Burger King parking lot and said he wanted to get something to eat, and asked what I would like. Despite not having eaten breakfast, I found that I was really not at all hungry. I didn’t feel bad, I just didn’t feel hungry. I also noticed that my contractions were getting a little more painful and weren’t tapering off like they had on previous days, but I still didn’t dare believe that they were “real” because of all the previous false alarms.

When we got to our destination, I got out of the car and discovered that the contractions were painful enough that I wanted to wait a moment before walking into the house. Ryan got Henry inside, and I went inside and sat down in the big chair in the living room. When Mom said hi from the next room, I told her that I actually wasn’t sure that we were making it to the fabric store that day. Until I had said that — and I didn’t know I was going to say it until I’d said it — I hadn’t realized that I’d started to believe it was showtime.

My sister and I had both been in a hurry to be born, so she immediately felt like it was time to load back up and head to the hospital, but after Henry’s 23-hour exit I couldn’t get my head around that idea. I stayed in the chair and began timing the contractions, saying that I wanted to wait until they’d been close and strong for an hour before doing anything. While I was sitting there, my contractions were between 5-10 minutes apart, and while I could still think and talk through them, I didn’t want to walk or anything when they hit. Finally I decided that I might as well text my midwife Kristi and give her a heads up. I guess it was just “that time” because as I was texting her, she called me to check in and schedule the induction for the following day.

When I told her about my contractions, she advised that we get Henry situated and head on down to the hospital. She told me that they’d monitor me for 20 minutes and then check my cervix, and then call her to come over (her office is literally minutes, on foot, from the L&D floor). She assured me that, even if this wasn’t “it,” she wouldn’t send me home since we were at 41 weeks 6 days and planning to induce within 24 hours anyway.

Mom called Meredith (my sister) to come help with Henry so that she could meet us at the hospital, and Ryan and I drove downtown. He pulled into the valet parking at the maternity/emergency entrance, but I was between contractions and told him I could wait in the lobby while he parked. At some point I told him how happy I was that it was daylight — I had really hoped to avoid being admitted in the middle of the night, as I found the hospital really depressing and kind of scary when we’d arrived after midnight for¬†Henry’s delivery. We were both still figuring on a long ordeal, so I told him to just park and come in, and not worry about the bag for now.

We went up to maternity triage and the nurse at the window asked what brought us there that day. In retrospect I’m sure she meant for me to give her some stats on my contractions, but her question just made my brain flatline. I¬†remember looking at her with kind of a “well, duh” look on my face and answering, “I think I’m having a baby?” Then she asked how far along we were, and when I told her, she went and got a different nurse and had her take over — guess that was alarming? ūüôā

They hooked me up to the monitor and left. It was clear that the maternity department was busy that day, and became more clear as 20 minutes came and went without them returning for the cervix check. As I lay there, my contractions became more painful and were steady at about 6 minutes apart. Finally, at over 40 minutes on the monitor — maybe an hour — Kristi¬†called me to see if I hadn’t gone to the hospital, since she hadn’t heard from triage. I told her we were still waiting, and she said she’d just come over and do it herself. Moments later she arrived, checked the contractions, and then checked my dilation. I was at 6 cm. She then said that she’d like to sweep my membranes to make sure that labor didn’t stop again, and I told her that I was completely okay with whatever she felt was best. She warned me that it could be quite painful, but it really didn’t seem to be especially uncomfortable. Then she asked me to take a 20 minute walk and return to triage, just to make sure the contractions kept going, and to give them a chance to get us a delivery room set up.

Mom had arrived by then, so the three of us took a walk up to the 8th floor, looked inside the “baby zoo” (big window to the nursery), stood around watching the clock for a few minutes, and headed back. By the time we returned to triage, I definitely couldn’t walk through contractions — and they were about 2 minutes apart!

Entering triage, we saw my friend Lisa, who had been the school nurse at the high school I’d worked at, and Wendy, who had been our superheroic nurse for Henry’s birth! Ryan later said that when he saw Wendy standing there, even though she wasn’t going to be our nurse, he felt like everything was going to be okay. We paused to talk to them for a moment, and then went back into our monitoring room to wait while they finished prepping a room.

And we waited… and waited…

I didn’t want to lie down, so I was sitting on the edge of the bed holding onto Ryan’s hands for dear life as strong contractions hit every couple of minutes. After a while, realizing that no one had come to help us yet, Wendy came in and said she’d take care of us while she was waiting for her patient to be ready. She and another nurse did my blood draw to check my anemia levels — my blood was great! — and then Wendy reminded me of the stupidly simple but critically effective technique of relaxing my forehead muscles to ease my stomach/pelvic muscles during contractions. That immediately helped my pain levels, and she helped Ryan support me through the next several contractions. Still, we waited and waited. I began to think that they were going to end up delivering a baby right there in triage!

Finally they came and said the room was ready. They asked if I could walk to my room and I told them that it would be better to have a wheelchair because I’d have to stop every minute. They wheeled me down into our labor/delivery room at about 3:50 PM. Ryan helped me change from my dress and leggings into a hospital gown while the nurse started the jacuzzi. Then she asked about a birth plan, and we had to say that it was still in the car because we’d thought we would have more time! Instead we ended up giving her the immediately important bullet points: no pain medication, would be interested in trying nitrous, jacuzzi for pain management, no family in room¬†except Ryan and Mom until it was all over. The only exercise/birthing ball that they had was enormous, so I tried to prop on it while the tub filled.

Then Ryan helped me into the jacuzzi and got the jets going — immediately felt much better, although the contractions still came strong and close together. I started off half on my knees resting forward, and that felt very good, but my legs started to fall asleep so I shifted and a couple of positions later ended up reclined in the tub much like you would be for a nice bubble bath —¬†not an ideal labor position — except that I was bracing myself against the end of the tub with my legs and clinging onto the grip bar with one hand and Ryan with the other. I felt far too warm, so the nurse brought a big bowl of ice water and washcloths, and I kept a cold washcloth on the back of my neck and on my upper chest, and sometimes on my face, while drinking what may have been crazy amounts of ice water. At some point Ryan got a text that his dad was at the hospital, so I had him send him out to the car to get the bag — mostly because I wanted a rubber band to tie my hair back with! I remembered the forehead trick, and it helped a lot. Then Kristi showed Ryan how to pour water on my stomach in rhythm with the contractions, and even though that sounded silly it helped a lot, too.

After a while — because time really becomes very elastic under these circumstances — I was having a strong contraction and felt my water break. Almost immediately the pain level went from a 9 to about a 12, and I went from “holding on for dear life in grim silence” mode to “couldn’t keep from vocalizing if I’d wanted to” mode. Kristi came and checked the bath water for signs of problems in the amniotic fluid, but it was clear.

Then things really kicked into high gear. The contractions were¬†so intense, and there was no break between them¬†— they were literally back-to-back. Even though I’d mentioned the nitrous to the nurse and Kristi several times, there was literally no time for me to use it as you’re supposed to use it between contractions to help you relax. (Probably just as well since¬†it never arrived in my room!)

At one point, Kristi and the nurse came in to the bathroom to check on me, and Kristi told the nurse that she thought I was pushing involuntarily. I hadn’t realized that was what was happening, but when she said so I instantly realized it was the case. With every contraction my stomach muscles (well, not really stomach muscles, but I’m not sure what else to call them) were convulsing and doing things without my intent or control over them. I could look down and see my belly trembling and rolling in the second part of every contraction.

(By the way, I have to pause here to say how different this part of labor was from Henry’s. I was so completely out of my head with Henry’s labor¬†(password is HGB). In 2013, I’d had my contacts out, so was completely blind, and was in a total meditative state. I’d been transported and disconnected by exhaustion, hunger, and pain management. This time, I’d started out the process midday, with makeup on and contacts in, and a night’s sleep behind me. I still experienced periods during Daniel’s labor when I wasn’t entirely focused on reality, but I was totally aware of everything and could see what was taking place. What a difference!)

Baby’s heartrate had dipped during that contraction, so Kristi told me that I had to get out of the tub between contractions. I wanted to tell her at this point “There¬†is no ‘between’ contractions” at this point, but the only thing I could say was “nooo,” so she and Ryan thought I was resisting leaving the tub. I wasn’t; I was ready to get out. I just couldn’t talk! She firmly told me that I was too getting out of the tub, and as soon as the current contraction faded she and Ryan grabbed me by both arms and hauled me upright. I got one leg over the side of the tub, had to wait through a contraction, and then got the other leg out before the next one peaked.

Then she told me that I was going to have my next contraction on the toilet. As soon as I could move, they helped me turn and sit on the toilet. Almost immediately another contraction hit, and it was a whole different beast. I honest-to-gosh thought I was defecating, only it was the world’s most horrifyingly painful poop — I had a distinct impression of being split in half up my body, complete with a visualization of a dark, bright-edged fissure cracking up from my groin to my shoulders. I believed that I was screaming, but Ryan later told me that I hadn’t been, so I guess I was just screaming in my head or something.

The nurse and Kristi told me that my next contraction was either going to be kneeling at the bed, or sitting on a birthing stool. I couldn’t answer, so Ryan said “bed” because it was the first thing they’d suggested. But as we left the bathroom, the birthing stool was closer, and that’s where I landed. They told Ryan to get behind me and support me in a slight recline, and then there was another moment of splitting in half, and then Kristi was grabbing my hand and helping me touch something that I realized must be the top of my baby’s head. Then another one of the horrible moments, followed by a sudden lessening of the pain, and then she had my hand again, and now I could feel that the entire head was out. Kristi told me “one more,” (as if I had any control over this process at this point — my body was in autopilot!) and then there was that amazing slithering twisting feeling and suddenly there was a crying baby in my arms. And just like that, the pain was gone and I felt amazing — wiped out and shaky like I’d just had a good workout, but still amazing.

There was a lot of blood — evidently upright births tend to be bloodier — and the $6 sports bra I’d worn was completely destroyed with it. Daniel was perfect. Kristi began to tell me something about the placenta, but then I had another practically inconsequential contraction and the damned thing just fell out of me. At that point they went ahead and clamped the cord, which was really no delay at all — this may be why Daniel ended up not having any jaundice, it turns out. Everything was happening on a tray right next to me as I still sat on the birthing stool, so I could see the umbilical cord and the blood they retained for testing, and I got to see the placenta as well.

Despite Daniel being 13 days “overdue,” my placenta was “beautiful”, there was no meconium in the ample amniotic fluid, and Daniel was perfectly healthy. On the flip side, my “probably 8 pounds at most” baby weighed 9 lb 6 oz, was 22 inches long, and had a head circumference of 15.75 centimeters — height and head size both in the 99.9th percentile!

I was helped to the bed and made comfortable, and Kristi examined me for tearing. She told me that I was pretty torn up down there, but that it was a multitude of minor abrasions with two slightly worse tears at front and back, and that if I were okay with it she would recommend not suturing. I was definitely on board with that, and was later glad we made that call as my recovery in that particular regard was much faster and less uncomfortable than it had been the first time around (which had included stitches).

If you recall back earlier in this far-too-long post, we entered our labor and delivery room at 3:50 PM, prepared for another lengthy ordeal. I quickly lost track of time after that, so I was pretty much flabbergasted to learn that Daniel had been born at 5:18 PM — less than ninety minutes afterward! While Henry’s 23-hour labor had been a true marathon, Daniel’s was a brutal sprint… and believe¬†me, I recommend the latter!

It’s an awfully good thing that I had planned for a second unmedicated birth, as there simply was not any time to administer any pain medication. Ultimately, the only thing I ever had was some¬†over-the-counter ibuprofen later that night. The worst side effects I experienced were unrelated to the actual birth; my hand remained sore and bruised for several days where they’d had to draw blood for the anemia check, and my cough worsened to a point where it was causing me pain “in my aggrieved region” and ramping up to bronchitis, so Kristi prescribed some codeine cough syrup that made me feel so stoned that I never took any but the first dose. I felt like my physical healing went more quickly than the first time around, although I did have some setbacks related to parenting a Junior Hulk toddler and have had to take it easier than I’d like to.

Maybe the hardest thing has been that Ryan had to use up half of his “paternity leave” on being sick before the actual birth, and my parents have been saddled with a house situation that had to be addressed right now, and that on top of the “second birth is no big deal” thing has kind of resulted in me being emotionally and literally¬†on my own a lot. I think that’s slowed down my emotional recovery, although now by¬†3 weeks out I am beginning to feel more myself. It is kind of sucky, though! I haven’t had any coworkers/work friends¬†contact me directly to ask how I’m doing, which is kind of depressing but not especially surprising, and my social life has deteriorated to the point that the only people who act like friends are the lovely ladies of my book club, half of whom have had or are about to have second or third babies at the same approximate time as I did! So they get it. Bringing a newborn home to a toddler, especially one as passionate as Henry, is h-a-r-d, and now that I’ve been both I think 2nd time moms may need more support than first-timers!

I am glad, though, that Daniel is my second baby. He is much clingier and needier, and I am able to relax and not worry about that in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to the first time around. It’s good to know that things are okay and that I don’t have to respond to the baby within the first two seconds that he cries — especially given that this is liable to be the exact same moment that the toddler is shrieking and the dog is demanding to go outside! Haha.

Channeling my inner “16 and pregnant” here, I guess — everyone says I look 15 in this picture, which is pretty great considering I’m 35!

Bright eyes ‚̧

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Baker Addition FAQ

Wait… you’re pregnant?

So they tell me. I hope they’re right; I’d hate to think my current physique is entirely the result of ill-advised quantities of pizza. It’s possible, though.

When are you due?

According to Arbitrary Birth Calendar, we’re looking at January 15. Did you know that 40 weeks is merely the¬†average length of gestation, not the “correct” length? Apparently a lot of OBs don’t know that, hence a ton of unnecessary inductions. Big Brother was a good eleven days past his ETA so I’m figuring “mid to late January” is a pretty good answer. [Read a bit about the 40-week myth here or many other places.]

How have you been feeling?

The first trimester was a little rough (in comparison to not-pregnant me, not in comparison to people who get well and truly miserably ill during pregnancy). I was exhausted and nauseated pretty much all day, although I could manage it fairly well with snacking. I actually had worse¬†evening sickness than morning sickness. As with Henry, I didn’t actually vomit until the start of my second trimester. At almost exactly the second trimester mark, the nausea shut most of the way off and was replaced with my old maternity friend, Crushing Heartburn and Indigestion. My midwife suggested chewable papaya tablets and I was shocked to find that they actually work better than Tums. I feel stronger and healthier now, although when the exhaustion hits it¬†really hits, and the stomach upset is often worse, although for shorter periods of time. And since I started the “waking up all night to use the bathroom” routine waaaay earlier this time around, there’s a little bit of sleep loss in there too — although after having a newborn, I’ll never complain about four hours of sleep at a stretch again!

Wait… in that answer, did you say “midwife”?

I did! The OB who I saw with Henry left the practice, and his erstwhile partner replaced him with an awesome Certified Nurse Midwife. So not only do I have the benefit of a care provider who better fits what I want in my pregnancy and delivery, but she’s got an in-house OB right there in case of complications. Best of both worlds! [If you watch this video, you can “meet” my midwife at about the 2 minute mark.]

So other than papaya tablets, any other weird cravings or aversions?

Let’s be clear: I don’t exactly like the papaya tablets. But they taste better than Tums.

The main thing I’ve been experiencing, food-wise, is trouble finding anything that tastes very good. As with Henry, I’m gravitating toward really flavorful (read “spicy”) food. Most recently, Sonic’s Cheddar Peppers have been a pretty reliable¬†source of calories. (So good for my heartburn, too. Haha.)

I completely lost my taste for coffee, which is a tragedy, and I can’t stomach soda unless it’s a fountain drink on ice. Seltzer/soda water with lime (or other) juice has been an absolute lifesaver. I’ve enjoyed Dasani Sparkling, Schweppe’s flavored seltzers, and¬†Canada Dry flavored seltzer, but the very best is plain soda water from a fountain drink dispenser with the juice of about five lime slices squeezed in.

What I¬†really¬†want to eat is Jimmy John’s. Boooo, listeria. That, and a really good margarita. Oh well. Worth it.

You called Henry “Kermie” until his name was official; what’s this one’s nickname?

Gotham.

gotham

So do you know it’s a boy?

As of right now, all we really know is that he or she might be an alien.

Yes, that's actually him/her. Bad enough before I rotated it and made it green, huh, Ryan? :)

Yes, that’s actually him/her. Bad enough before I rotated it and made it green, huh, Ryan? ūüôā

How far apart will Henry and Gotham be?

Rarely more than fifty feet, I’d guess… oh, you mean age-wise? My bad. Henry will be a little more than three months shy of being 3 years old when Gotham makes his/her grand entrance.

Are you hoping for a girl this time?

Gotham¬†would make an excellent name for a little girl, don’t you think?

Do you have any real names picked out yet?

I’m still pulling for a Xerxes or a Hurricane.

What’s the best thing about being pregnant?

Getting to wear stretchy pants and snugger shirts that show off my belly without feeling like I seriously need to go on a diet or something. I love the way I look when I am pregnant!

What’s the worst thing about being pregnant?

Unexpected sneezes. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, count yourself lucky.

How is the second pregnancy different than the first?

Lord have mercy on all pregnant women who have toddlers. I’ve been at home with Henry this summer while Ryan teaches summer school, and Henry is a very willful and high-energy kid, and that can be tough to wrangle when you’re exhausted, overheated, and nauseated. Some days I count it as a triumph if I actually put in my contacts, much less getting dressed!

The flip side of that is, I don’t have as much time, etc., to dwell on this pregnancy. When I was pregnant with Henry, there wasn’t a single second of the day that I wasn’t on some level thinking about the baby-to-be. I would talk to him¬†(usually in my head, because gestating babies are telepathic, doncha know) all day. This time,¬†every so often I remember that there’s a baby in there! Which means I had to have forgotten! I’m unendingly conscious of my own bodily changes and discomforts, but their root cause gets pushed to the background by all the Henryness. (Should that be Henriness? Possibly…)

Are you excited?

Sooooo excited.

Is Henry excited?

Henry is excited by Sesame Street characters, Thomas the Tank Engine, unsupervised cell phones, and peanut butter treats. He is, as far as I can grok, utterly oblivious to future threats arrivals.

What questions — serious or silly — didn’t get addressed? Ask them and I’ll add them!

 

 

Next Time Around…

My OB is very nice, intelligent, and competent. It’s entirely obvious that he knows what he’s doing and is committed to having a strong professional practice. And judging from my own experience last winter, and from other peoples’ comments, I know he is very good at what he does: obstetric surgery. I was very happy to be in his hands when I needed obstetric surgery, and when we became pregnant again I knew I could trust him to take good care of me and my baby.

His is a very popular, successful, two-doctor office.

Translation: his office is BUSY.

Next time, I want a doctor (or midwife….) who has a little bit more time for me. I know that many of the prenatal checkups are intended to be quite brief, but sometimes mine seem almost ridiculously quick-paced. I often have little unimportant questions that never get asked (things I’m just curious about, because I’m the sort of person who likes to learn about things), because there’s a very clear sense that I’m using up valuable seconds on his schedule. He’s never rude, never checks his watch or anything… but there’s always this sense of nervous energy, as if he’s already got one foot out the door as soon as he walks in.

And I know what’s going on, of course. It’s just like the pro-midwifery books and blogs say: He’s a surgeon. My pregnancy is blessedly uncomplicated at this point, and as a result, I’m a boring case. He isn’t intellectually stimulated by my pregnancy (thank God). It’s like at parent-teacher conferences, when you’ve got a line of parents and the family with the A+ kid walks in. You’re perfectly happy to talk to them, and very glad that things are going so well for them and their child… but seriously, there’s a line out the door of parents whose kids aren’t gonna graduate. (And frankly, just as the perfectly normal pregnancy doesn’t necessarily need a surgeon, the A+ student doesn’t necessarily need school in order to learn….)

Next time around, I also want a doctor’s office (or whatever) that has more time for me. The receptionists and billing people, in particular, are awfully nice and I like them a lot. But when I call in with a question or concern, I never get transferred directly to a nurse (and the receptionists can’t or won’t answer even the simplest of questions). They take a message and say the nurse will call me back as soon as she’s available… and then the waiting game begins. Today, I wanted almost three hours (after calling in at the VERY beginning of their day, before any patients showed up) for my nurse to call me back and tell me that she didn’t want me to take an Advil for my arm.

That’s one thing; I mean, as painful as this is, it isn’t scary or anything. But early on, when I had a little bit of bleeding? I left an obviously-frightened message at about 10:30 in the morning, called back at 3, had to leave another message, called back at 5, still didn’t get an answer, and was two-thirds of the way to the office to ask in PERSON before someone finally called me back. It’s not because they’re being unprofessional (although, one could argue that not making time to call back a bleeding, panicky post-miscarriage first-trimester mom isn’t the most professional thing ever) — they’re just completely slammed.

There have been some pretty awesome perks with having this OB. For one thing, he really likes trotting out his ultrasound machine, so we’ve had more peeks at Kermie than we’d anticipated (or had to pay for). And I’ve felt very secure in knowing that if something were to go wrong, we’d have someone very capable to handle it.

But next time, assuming that things go as smoothly as they have this time? I want a more personal experience. A slower-paced experience. An experience where I can take a few moments to figure out if I have any questions before the caregiver has already moved on to the next patient, where I can learn about the process from an expert, where I feel like I’m important and even special even though I’m unexciting. Next time, I want a female practitioner who has had babies — someone who doesn’t try to hide a smirk as he says things like “Being uncomfortable or exhausted at work is not a medical condition” when I ask what I should do if it becomes too hard to continue working before the baby arrives.

It’s not that I’m unhappy; I’m not. I’m just not as happy as I could be, and now I know.

Say Cheese

Before I begin writing this, I need to say that I’m talking about my personal preferences here, and that I’m offering no judgment on what other people like — just the same as how some baby names don’t appeal to me for my kids, but if they work for you and yours, terrific! I’ve seen a lot of beautiful maternity photographs that are much-loved by the people in them, and I love them for those people. Just not for me.

Well… actually… I offer some judgment on what some other people like. But then again, there are entire websites devoted to people who are similarly judgmental…

The thing is, I’m not a big fan of formal maternity photography. It just doesn’t do anything for me. I have no interest in pictures of me with big blue bows tied around my belly, or with ABC blocks propped across the bump, or (heaven help me) with a baby photo double-exposed upside-down onto my torso. And while I appreciate the artistry of tasteful nude photography as much as the next person — and actually totally like and am intrigued by the way my body looks now — I really don’t want to strip down and bare all for the camera, even if artfully draped in chiffon.

Not to mention — have you seen some of these pictures? Not a single stretch mark in sight! Exactly how much Photoshop do we need?

The thing is… for me, a photo that exists for the sole purpose of capturing my abdomen on film doesn’t really seem like something that I want, and definitely doesn’t seem like something I’d want to hang on my wall. And it isn’t because I’m ashamed of or unhappy with the way I look; quite the opposite. I guess I just think I’d be embarrassed!

That said, I don’t want this journey to end and to look back and realize that it hadn’t been documented. I have loved being pregnant, have loved being a part of something so extraordinary and that I’ve wanted so badly. And while I don’t want any photos that look like R and I are already working on baby #2 up over the mantle, I wouldn’t mind a few pretty pictures of me (NOT just my stomach!) to have somewhere down the road. So tomorrow (at which point I’ll be 36 weeks and 1 day… hmm, maybe I ought to do a 36 week post?) I’m going to meet up with my mom, who takes beautiful photographs, and I’m going to put on a pretty outfit, and we’re going to go to the park and take some pictures. And none of them are going to look like this:

Fully clothed photos for me, please ūüôā Sorry, Ryan! You’re not going to get the chance to bail me out for indecent exposure in a public park this week.

Although I do have one slightly silly prop that is bound to make an appearance… ūüôā

Anyway, I will probably share a few on here in a little while.

I guess I didn’t have much of a purpose behind this post, other than to unintentionally offend a bunch of people, so probably I should go on to bed.

Nineteen

This morning, as my first period class (a freshman-level honors class) was coming in to the room and taking their seats, I overheard the following hushed conversation:

Girl #1: I think she’s starting to look more pregnant.

Girl #2: Shhhh! You can’t say that!

Girl #1: Well, I just meant — oh, well, maybe not. But I think she looks…

Girl #2: Shhhh!

I am very proud of the fact that I was able to pretend not to hear any of this and keep a straight face. I know what Girl #2 was thinking — saying I was looking more pregnant was tantamount to saying I was getting fat, and one wouldn’t want that. But truth be told, I was happy that Girl #1 noticed (and I know why she did). Most days, I’ve been wearing enough warm layers and loose shirts that I haven’t really been obviously pregnant. Today, though, I had the principal in to observe, so I took the opportunity to spiff up a little bit by wearing a maternity dress to work for the first time. And, as anyone who has ever worn such a thing knows, those empire waists don’t do much to obscure one’s “delicate condition”!

Me, Maternity Dress, 19 Weeks

This picture actually doesn’t emphasize my 19-week belly quite as much as the other one I took, but it also featured a profoundly bovine look on my face, so this is the one you get. Nevertheless, it does in fact appear that I have reached the point at which my belly swells out as much as my breasts.

Cute dress (over which I have been wearing a tie-front purple sweater for most of the day) is the brand they sell at that maternity shop in the mall; Mom found it for me at a secondhand shop, whoo-hoo! I’m also wearing fleece-lined gray tights… not sure how much longer regular tights/leggings will continue to fit. My black boots won’t zip up anymore, so I know I’m carrying some weight in my legs as well as my torso.

[Potential TMI bit; skip at will]¬†At nineteen weeks, I’ve noticed a few more little changes here and there. That constant sense of impending nausea has drifted gently away, although anything that activates that deep-cough reflex (for example, a particularly raucous laughing fit last night) still threatens to throw digestion into reverse. My appetite is still not great, but I’ve gotten better at noticing when my blood sugar is low. For the past several days I’ve had a mild-to-moderate headache, which I blame not on the pregnancy but on lingering stress/upset from an inexcusably awful outpouring of abuse I received from a relative on Thanksgiving night. (Been trying really hard to not let it get to me, but some things are easier said than done.) I’m feeling fatigue again, which is probably due to returning to work after five days off for Thanksgiving, and still loudly wondering why in the¬†world they put so many stairs in our school.

The neatest change is that I am¬†pretty¬†sure that I can, occasionally, feel Shenanigan moving around in there. It certainly isn’t what I’d be able to identify as kicks or anything yet, but it seems to match up with what I’ve been told to expect. Sometimes it feels like gas burbling (isn’t¬†that a ladylike thing to say? note to world: pregnancy is not ladylike) and sometimes it feels like a very mild muscle spasm. Other times, I just feel a sort of vague¬†tightness¬†in there. For the first time, I’m aware on a sensory level that there is Something In There; my lower abdomen has become¬†heavy in a foreign sort of way, kind of like I’m wearing a heavy fanny pack around my waist or something.

[Back to neutral ground] In obliquely related news, I learned that two students that I know (they were never actually in my classes, but they were in an extracurricular I ran and in my room a lot with their friends) had a baby over the weekend. The new parents are sixteen; I very much hope that they have good family support and can make this work, one way or the other. I know a lot of people can find their partner at that age and have a very happy family together, and I know that teen parents can be amazing parents. But I also know that, no matter how much they love each other and that baby, no matter how much family support they have, their lives are going to be very different, and harder, than they would have otherwise been. They have my best wishes.

Audience participation time! What disqualifies a baby name for you? If you had a name that you really liked for an impending baby, and then that name was used by a relative… coworker… friend… former student… You know what I mean? Does that “ruin” the name for you? And what about the inverse: if you know that a name you like is the #1 Top Choice of a friend or family member — who may not actually be currently pregnant — should you strike it from your own list? When does a baby name become “off limits”?

L&D Tour

Today the stars aligned in such a way that R and I were actually able to go on a tour of the Labor and Delivery wing at our OB’s preferred hospital (the one that is practically connected to his office — so preferred for us as well, as much as any hospital is). I had already taken the virtual tour but wanted to see the real thing.

I am glad that I did, because there was definitely a case of “fast food restaurant menu” syndrome going on between the virtual tour and the real thing. I mean, I suppose these luxuriously spacious rooms do exist, or they’d have nothing to photograph, but we certainly didn’t see anything that looked like these pictures from the tour:

View 1 of labor/delivery room

view 2 of labor/delivery room

The room we actually went into was at best half this size — probably a third. Granted, there were several couples in there along with the tour guides, and many of the people in there had protruding bellies. Crowd or no, it was positively claustrophobic compared to this room (which looks large enough for a small dance routine on that shiny wood floor). The room they showed us wasn’t really large enough for any sort of labor techniques like walking, sitting on an exercise ball, or getting on hands and knees. Nor was it really big enough for more than one companion, and while I certainly wasn’t planning on having the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders in there or anything, I had thought it possible that, say, Mom or someone might be there for part of it….

I am going to be honest: I didn’t really like it. I didn’t hate it. But after seeing these pictures, and hearing so much talk about the “wonderful maternity suites,” I was underwhelmed. I mean, I don’t feel like I need to go changing our plans or anything — that would probably require switching OBs, and I am happy with him — but I wish it was… nicer. (I’m assured, though, that I won’t actually care all that much when the time comes.)

Also in honesty, I think a big part of my less-than-enthusiastic response was that while we were going around the ward, the doors to the maternity operating room (where they do Caesarians and other labor-related surgeries) opened and they wheeled out a gurney with a blanket-wrapped woman on it. She was awake and smiling, and I know rationally it had nothing to do with any of my bad experience, but it still made me feel all awful inside. I think it sort of colored the entire tour for me, which is dumb and unfortunate. And easily put aside.

Anyway, they showed us the L&D wing, and then took us up to the recovery rooms, which were not especially inspired or anything (you’d think, given that they’re not really expecting to need to do much in those rooms, that they could do better than a 3-inch-thick mattress) but perfectly adequate. The best part of the tour was hands-down the part where we walked past the nursery, complete with zoo exhibit windows, and we all threw on the brakes and stared at the three wee ones within. The one closest to the window got swaddled while we were there, and was pretty unamused by the process up to the point when he (?) was actually burritoed. Settled down very quickly after that. ūüôā

I did really like the people there (nurses, etc.) and I like the fact that my OB knows, likes, and trusts them. I like that they are very pro-natural birth. (Fascinating sidenote: when the tour guide nurse asked if any of us were planning on an epidural, not one person raised her hand. The times, they are a-changin’!) I like that they provide all kinds of support, classes, and extras, including a big jacuzzi tub, exercise balls, etc.

On a related note: got some book recommendations and am now reading Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method. I like the idea of having a lot of tools in my repertoire but wasn’t too keen on the big price tag for the class, so I’m hoping that I can glean the benefits — or at least some of them — from the book. So far I’ve enjoyed the introductory materials, if “feeling surges of outrage at the way things used to be” counts as enjoyment. Looking forward to some good informative/thought-provoking reading.