Tuesday, September 28, 2010

and so it goes

35 weeks, 5 days.

4 weeks, 2 days to go until the due date. Actual baby arrival? Who knows.

I am entering a new phase. I think of it as, "grateful yet cranky." I've actually been fairly surprised at how non-overly-emotional I've been over the past eight months (really, I am not making this up) - but that's come to a crashing halt. I enter into evidence last night's meeting, which was a little frustrating and would have, under normal circumstances, cost me about five minutes of venting in the car on the way home - but which, instead, caused me to drive home crying, arrive home and try to explain to my husband why I was crying, assuring him that it wasn't really that big of a deal in spite of my sobbing, and then go to bed exhausted by my own emotional reaction.

Also, I watched Steel Magnolias yesterday afternoon. Maybe not the best choice.

It's been unseasonably warm and humid here lately, which hasn't helped. And I've been working a lot of evenings, which are not my best time. It will get better, starting this week, but I'm tired.

I think about all the times I saw a pregnant woman who looked tired and heavy and just done with it all, and how I wanted to rush up to her and say, "don't you know how lucky you are? Don't you know how much I want to be you?" I wasn't wrong, then. I did want this, more than anything in the world. And I do remember that, even on the days when October 28th seems like an eternity away.

But there's a reason your body starts to rebel at the end of pregnancy; you've got to be motivated to get this kid OUT OUT OUT, and even the deepest gratitude for being pregnant doesn't mean you want to stay that way forever.

Several years ago, I found this poem based on the biblical story of Jonah. I used to read it when I was in the two-week-wait, being tortured by visions of home pregnancy tests. This wait is very different. But the poem still works. (And not just because I look like a whale.)

Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale

Measure the walls. Count the ribs. Notch the long days.
Look up for blue sky through the spout. Make small fires
with the broken hulls of fishing boats. Practice smoke
Call old friends, and listen for echoes of distant voices.
Organize your calendar. Dream of the beach. Look each
way for the dim glow of light. Work on your reports.
Review each of your life's ten million choices. Endure
moments of self-loathing. Find the evidence of those
before you. Destroy it. Try to be very quiet, and listen for
the sound of gears and moving water. Listen for the sound
of your heart.
Be thankful that you are here, swallowed with all hope,
where you can rest and wait. Be nostalgic. Think of all
the things you did and could have done. Remember
treading water in the center of the still night sea, your
toes pointing again and again down, down into the black

Dan Albergotti

Be thankful that you are here, swallowed with all hope, where you can rest and wait. A good mantra for the next month.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I have always been someone who does better with anticipation than actuality. I love the weeks building up to Christmas, but if I'm not careful, I can look forward to the big day so much that it's kind of a letdown when it comes. It's almost never about things I anticipate receiving, by the way: it's much more likely to be about a gift I'm so excited to give that, when the person receiving it has anything less than a "OHMYGOD THIS GIFT WILL CHANGE MY LIFE" reaction, I feel a little deflated.

This has me a little concerned about parenthood.

When I got engaged, there were lots of people who wanted to give me advice about marriage. Mostly, they felt the need to say something about how much work marriage is - as if that had never occurred to me before. There's never a way to know what something is like until you do it for yourself, of course, but I always felt those comments were overly patronizing. I was, after all, 31 years old. I counsel couples going into marriage and couples who are married and couples who are thinking about not being married anymore, so I had some experience with the "it's a lot of work" theory. But people had a big need to share this.

About a year later, a friend of mine asked me if marriage was what I expected. "Mostly," I said, "but nobody ever told me how much fun it was." "What?" she asked. "Well," I replied, "a lot of people told me that marriage was a lot of work, but nobody said anything about it being fun. Which it also is." "Oh," she said, "I'm so sorry - somebody should have said that too."

I've been doing a lot of thinking about how much work parenting is. Long nights and lack of sleep. Years of worry and anxiety. Decisions to be made which feel monumental (this has been particularly on my mind, having visited a potential daycare yesterday). 24-7-365 responsibility for the life and well-being of another person. Oh, and having to squeeze said person out of your body.

It seems like most of what people are telling me about parenthood - well-meant as it is - is along the same lines as their marriage advice: "it's a lot of work." And I know this, insofar as it's possible to know something as monumental as parenthood before you do it for yourself. Maybe a lot of people felt blindsided by that realization and they don't want me to experience that shock. Maybe there are lots of people who really felt like parenthood would be a walk in the park and now they feel obligated to inform the general public that this is not, in fact, the case.

Maybe I'm overreacting to my general tendency to over-anticipate things by focusing on how much work it will be. Maybe I'm turning into freaking Woody Allen with my neurosis over this.

Maybe I'm protecting myself by imagining the worst all the time, as if imagining those things will make them not happen, or somehow prepare me in advance, when in fact all it does is give me heartburn.

Every once in awhile, someone who talks to me about parenthood says what a great thing it is, that yes, it's a lot of work, but it's also wonderful. I suppose all I really want to do today is give thanks for those people. I have no problem imagining the worst, the work, and the worry. But if you can remind me of the good stuff? I'm really going to need you around in the next month. And thanks.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

how it is

Yes, in my world, it is perfectly appropriate and not at all an indication of pregnancy-overwhelmed-emotion to:

1. Cheer yourself up, after heaving up your breakfast yet again, by promising yourself you can stop at Starb.ucks for a double tall decaf latte and a pumpkin scone.

2. Get slightly irritated by the fact that other people have dared to show up at your neighborhood Starb.ucks, taking almost all the parking in the very small lot and making the drive-through option unbearably long.


4. Nearly burst into tears when the barista can't find a single other pumpkin scone in the store, even though there was a stack of them boxed in the corner (turns out those were yesterday's) (bastards).

5. Drive to a Starb.ucks three blocks away for the sole purpose of a pumpkin scone which, fortunately for all involved, they had.

6. And therefore, be 30 minutes later to work than normal.

This is all perfectly okay. In case you were wondering.

Friday, September 10, 2010

on gratitude

It occurs to me, after re-reading a few of my latest blog posts, that I sound rather cranky lately.

To some extent, I am. I don't think there's much you can do about the fact that the last weeks of pregnancy are, unavoidably, uncomfortable. I don't sleep much, between the getting-up-to-pee and the hips-aching-from-side-sleeping phenomenon. (In general, I eagerly look forward to the day when I don't have the urge to pee all the time.) I feel short of breath pretty often. The BH contractions are more frequent - not enough to worry about, but they worry me anyway. The morning vomiting is not my favorite thing.

But there is something much deeper than all the temporary discomfort, and I doubt I've made that clear enough lately, both here and within myself: that I am grateful. My eagerness to finish this pregnancy is motivated somewhat by the discomfort, but much, much more by hardly being able to wait to meet this baby. And there are a million times during the day when I have to pinch myself (metaphorically) to believe that such a thing is actually happening to me, to us.

Six weeks, six days until the due date. Maybe we'll meet you earlier, maybe later. But after all these months - which seem both like the longest and the quickest months of my life - you are still real. You are still kicking and hiccuping, in spite of all my anxiety and doomsday fears. Sometimes I can hardly think about the day you will arrive, not because I'm afraid of it (well, I am, a little bit) but because the whole idea of that day fills me with such joy that I think I might burst into a million pieces just imagining it.

You know how, when you try to imagine that the universe goes on and on forever and ever, how your brain just stops at a certain point because you can't envision something so expansive? I wonder if that's why I focus so much on the discomfort of right now: because that's manageable, most of the time, and small enough to be real. Whereas this child is such a big dream, has been so unattainable for so long, that my brain just shuts off when I try to think about really being a parent.

There's fear there, for sure. I still imagine things that can go wrong, that do go wrong. And fear can make you cranky. But, bit by bit, it's being swallowed by something else. I think it's joy. And gratitude.

That's all. I just wanted to make sure you know that. And remind myself, while I'm at it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

take your advice and...

Advice. The bane of every pregnant woman's existence. (I know new dads get it too, but they can hide under the radar better. The big belly thing just gives you away.)

I was prepared for getting lots of advice, because I've heard from numerous friends that this happens during pregnancy. It's a given: you get pregnant, you probably get nauseous, you'll crave something weird, and you'll get more advice than you ever wanted in your life. And they were right. I assumed I would get an extra dose of it, being in a relatively public profession. And I was right.

The people who surprise me the most with advice are the new moms. The other night, we were having dinner at my parents' house and my brother and sister-in-law were there - the parents of the seven-week old. (Who is still unbelievably adorable, by the way.) My sister-in-law - who, admittedly, has always tended a little toward the arrogant in terms of knowing better - started talking about a co-worker who is 34 weeks pregnant. "She was so excited about being at the end of her pregnancy," said my sister-in-law, "and I just wanted to tell her, 'this could go on even longer than you think, so don't get so excited.' I mean, she acts like the baby is coming right on the due date, and she just has no idea what she's talking about."

Okay. Said sister-in-law did, in fact, deliver one week late. But come on. Just a few months ago, that was you, 34 weeks pregnant, and saying - and yes, I do remember this - pretty much exactly the same freaking thing. Don't you remember getting into the single-digit weeks-left-to-wait phase? It's exciting! Because it is getting closer. It finally feels like you're getting to the end. Your co-worker is not an idiot. (And neither am I, given that I had just been talking about being glad we were getting closer to the end.) News flash: that due date is all you have to work with. I don't know a single pregnant woman who thinks her baby will magically appear on that date, but it's the date you've got. So you get excited about it. Of course.

Can you tell that I was a little irritated? I blame the hormones.

I've gotten advice about breastfeeding (do it, but it's hard, it's unbelievably hard, or, it's easy, it's great, no problems); about daycare (get a nanny, do home childcare, never do anything but a childcare center); about visitors (don't let anyone near you for the first week, welcome anybody to your house anytime, you'll need the help); about carseats (get this one, it rocks back and forth, that other one (for which I am registered) is pointless); about birth (natural childbirth is the only way to go, get an epidural, it's the best thing since sliced bread); about being ready (you never feel ready, give it up, you can definitely be prepared, read all the books); about nursing bras (don't spend too much, just get it at Tar.get, spend a ton, it will totally be worth it); and about weight gain (wow, you're huge; wow, you're tiny!)

Okay, that last one is filed less under 'advice' and more under 'totally inappropriate commentary' which, by the way, is the other thing you get a ton of during pregnancy.







Keep it to yourself.

But, in a twist of irony, I do have some advice for the general public, new moms included, on speaking with and to pregnant women. Here it is:

1. Comments on the pregnant woman's size (big, small, waddling, tiny, any similarities to large mammals or houses) is not appropriate. Ever. Even if you think you are offering a compliment. Just shut up.

2. Pregnant women do not want to hear about your birth experience. Bad stories freak us out. Good stories feel like you're rubbing it in.

3. Nauseous pregnant women do not want to hear about how you never had morning sickness during your pregnancy. Nor do they want to hear about how your morning sickness lasted all 40 weeks. SHUT. UP.

4. Remember that your 'one piece of advice' is probably joining 55 other people's 'one piece of advice' for the day. Keep it to yourself.

5. Stop staring at the stomach. My eyes still work.


7. Yes, we sit down a lot toward the end. You did too. No need to mention it every fifteen seconds.

8. Saying, "you look tired," is not helpful. What it sounds like is, "you look like crap."

9. We are still capable of discussing things other than childbirth, pregnancy, and babies. Like, for example, national politics, the war in Afghanistan, hurricanes, that movie you saw the other night - really. Anything. Anything other than being pregnant. We would welcome a change of subject. Really.

10. Yes, we are kind of cranky. It's partly the hormones. And also, we are kind of scared. But we don't like to admit it. Go gently.

Of course, you're welcome to take my advice and...

well, you get it.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

here we go again

Well, it was a nice 3 weeks without throwing up. And sadly, those three weeks have come to a crashing halt.

Somewhere in my reading lately, I did come across a sentence which said something like, "for some women, nausea returns in the third trimester," but I stuffed that little piece of information WAY down inside my head because surely, SURELY, the universe would not be so unkind as to inflict yet more nausea upon me when I just got over 22 weeks of it.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Very funny, universe.

Actually, it's not precisely "nausea" this time around. It's more like, "overactive gag reflex which kicks in immediately after getting out of the shower. Every morning." I don't feel queasy at all (which adds to the list of "things I have learned while being pregnant: 1. you can be nauseous and never throw up; 2. you can throw up without being nauseous). Fortunately, it's only in the morning, and I'm a vomiting pro at this point, so I don't think it's worth going back on the zo.fran - which, after all, caused the terrible constipation and then the dreaded hemmrho....yeah. We're not doing that again.

Baby, meanwhile, is happily kicking and hiccuping away. Seriously: this kid has the hiccups multiple times daily. It makes me giggle.

And we are finally at the point where I can say, "this baby is coming next month." "Next month." Incredible.