mama's pregnant blog

of bellies and belly-achin'

From BabyCenter: Your baby weighs about 5 ounces now, and he's around 5 inches long about the size of a large onion. He can move his joints, and his skeleton until now rubbery cartilage is starting to harden to bone. His sense of hearing is also developing. The umbilical cord, his lifeline to the placenta, is growing stronger and thicker.

2004.12.06. my head

Oh...whine...complain...for the second morning in a row Everett awoke around 8, raring to get up. After only five hours of sleep, thanks to my late-night craziness, I take him to the living room, change his diaper, and turn on the TV. I return to bed. I awake shortly before 11.

And now, it's 1:48 p.m. and already my head is filling with tiredness and my stomach aches. I would think it was something I ate, or a cold, but...I spent the entire day Sunday indoors, and I'll I've had to eat today is peanut butter and ice cream (I can explain! the power went out in my neighborhood right after I woke up, so I was eating ice cream to save it...)

I'm trying to find explanation for my cruddy feeling, which I'm sure is only related to loss of sleep, but nothing satisfies me. As usual with my pregnant complaints I am certain something is wrong. I'm probably just dehydrated and tired. But I'm sure full of whines.

2004.12.06.much.later sweet kicks

Oh, what a difference a bunch of water & tea and several hours makes. My head is clear and happy. And miss olive is poke-poke-poking at the bottom of my baby belly.

It's very sweet. I've noticed her a lot today...when I sit down at my computer, have a few sips of tea, and relax with some knitting blogs, there she is. While I used to feel her tap-tapping just to the right of my belly button, now she's moved to playing the drums near the bottom of her little home. It's such a little love fest now with she and I. I'm sure, before long, that jab down there will send me straight to the bathroom as that's where Everett made his most irksome mark with his sharp elbows to my bladder.

This is the most peaceful, gentle time with the baby. Nothing that she can do is sharp, or frightening, or in any way unwelcome. And certainly not painful. This part of the pregnancy - this is a time to treasure.

2004.12.07. movin' and groovin' and surrenderin'

I just can't say enough about how cool it is to have Olive moving like crazy. She's such a busy little ...ummm...onion, I think, is what she is supposed to be now. She doesn't feel much like an onion, though, more like one of those little toys that does somersaults with arms akimbo on little rods? You know the ones?

She is one busy little child. And last night I fought back with the most excellent prenatal yoga class. I've written about this elsewhere, of course, because, well, it's super-cool. But let's talk about surrendering.

Pasha gets deeply into the mind and the body experience of birthing. Her approach is to teach her students (in various stages of largeness from 15 to 41 weeks) to, first, focus on their practice. Learn to eliminate distractions, to return to the focus, over and over again.

Then she began to get into the pain management stuff. It seemed like relatively normal yoga, until she would put us into a position. In the first, it was a standing wide-legged squat where we adjusted our torso so it was right over our hips. The largest of the bellies among us weren't exactly straight up-and-down. Then she asks, what would you do if you couldn't change it? And we just have to deal. She brings us through breathing and visualization and other coping mechanisms. And as the pain gets deeper, and more unbearable, she tells us that we can bear it. What she said several times that stuck with me (not just for birthing, but for the rest of my life, too), was this: "when it seems like you can't do it anymore, when you're ready to give up, when you can't deal with the pain, that's when you can."

While it sounds kind of trite in Verdana size 2, it really hit me deeply. I've been feeling that way about my life lately, and I can remember feeling that way about my pregnancy and my labor - that I-can't-do-it-anymore. Later on, when Matt told me we were out of cat food and I had to give up $2 of the $7 I had in the world, and I had already given up stopping for my much-longed-for post-yoga Burgerville cheeseburger with extra spread, and I was wondering how I would use my $5 remaining - for milk? For gas? Certainly not for coffee, or more butter, or french fries, or any of the 101 things I was craving - that was when I wanted to just throw in the towel. I started crying as Everett whined for Winnie-the-pooh-in-the-red-bottle (i.e. a bottle chock-full of milk). I needed my husband, immediately, and I didn't want to be a single broke pregnant mama anymore. Anyway, back to the yoga...

We would do the pain management poses, and we would go back to the relaxation stuff, and the breathing, and the makin' of noises. About an hour into the practice she started talking about surrendering, and had us do a pose (the first one wasn't painful) where we just let go of all control of our torso, and she talked us through surrendering. She asked us what it meant to us...giving in, letting go, failing, giving up, waving a white flag, allowing it to happen to us. And then we did the most painful of pain management poses, where she took us past the point where we couldn't take it anymore. And we really had to surrender.

At some point, she told us that we had five more breaths to go. And that, of course, made it easier - she told us when we were done and shaking our legs out tremulously, that the hardest part is losing control, not knowing when it will be over. And you never, in birth, know when it will be over.

When I got home (and this is where I get religious-spiritual on you) and after my little meltdown, when I was writing a long "I'm done with this alone and broke stuff!" letter to Jonathan, I started to think that this was, in a way, God talking to me through my yogi. I'm sure she's not exactly an Episcopalian. But that's not the point. He was telling me, stop trying to fix it on your own, just give in, give me control, you can't do it. It's not in your hands. You don't know when it will be over. Only I do, and only I can end it, only I can make it better.

And in my past-midnight practice, I gave in as well as I could, I surrendered. When I got up in the morning, I talked to the unemployment people, and they were mailing two checks to me. You could call it a coincidence. Or you could call it the fruits of surrendering. Either way I'm a whole new person with this little exuberantly groovin' new little person inside me.

2004.12.09. in which she heavy-handedly negotiates for maternity leave

I heard the results of an extensive study into the differences in salary negotiations between men and women. The women would negotiate for benefits to help them work; health care, internet access from home, cell phones. The men would negotiate for benefits to help them play; country club memberships, vacation time, bonuses.

So as I walked into the meeting which was to help structure my relationship with the company for which I would work, I had already made my feminine demands. I would work from home, no more than 25 hours per week. I would be given a generous base for part-time work, plus a revenue share for the products under my tutelage.

After we talked about corporate structure, responsibilities, and new developments in the business, I asked about the employment contract that would certainly be required by the lawyers. I could see the demands of the sales guy, just hired to be at a similar level to me. The first thing on the list (upside down, across the table) was 21 days of vacation.

Sure enough. I went female. "I don't need vacation," I said. "If I need to take a day off, I'll just work a bunch the day before.

"What I do need is four weeks of maternity leave, completely without contact, no phone calls, no editing documents."

Boy do I drive a tough bargain. It was agreed without struggle. I didn't even ask for a cell phone.

2004.12.10. i need a drink

As I drove home from my multiple errands tonight (focused around dropping a letter in the downtown mailbox and buying yarn for holiday gifts), I drove down Burnside, past the uber-hip Doug Fir bar, past the cool wine bars, past all the Friday night revelers.

And more than anything I wanted to stop, leave Everett sleeping in the car, and have a couple of martinis and a big plate of olives and cheese. I wanted to be a hip happenin' drinkin' partyin' non-mama, in a noisy bar with my skinny Dolce & Gabbana pants and some high-heeled sandals that were completely inappropriate for the weather.

I drove slowly the rest of the way home, wishing I was unattached (child-wise) for just a night...just a few hours...

2004.12.11. krispy gas pains and other worries

Oh my stars, as the grandma turtle in Franklin's Christmas Special says. I am suffering from my Krispy Kreme indulgence. I always thought the name "Krispy Kreme" sounded particularly un-appetizing. Now I'm feeling it in a big way.

And tonight, for the first time, as I was driving home from my parents' house (before my indiscretion), my c-section scar started hurting. I had to push my nice cozy sweat pants all the way down under my belly and push my shirt up. It was the most darned uncomfortable thing.

Since it was late at night, quiet, dark, and Everett was asleep in the back seat, I immediately commenced worrying. What if my scar was about to cause a tear in my uterus? What if it continued to get more painful as my belly grew? What if one more c-section is all my poor body can take?

Never mind that I healed in record time, my body bouncing back as it always does. Never mind that all the medical evidence suggests that my uterus should be 95% as good as it was before it had a hole ripped in it. I was worrying.

I continued to drive home, the worrying escalating. I was afraid of getting in an accident. I was afraid of the Ross Island Bridge caving in. I started to imagine what it would be like if I hurtled to my death into the Willamette, and how sad it would be for Jonathan when his wife, son and unborn child were killed in one fell swoop. How he'd be so sad that the last time he talked to me was at 5 p.m. the day before we all expired.

I've never driven so carefully. I wished I never had to get in the car again. Or leave the house. Or be in the house, because that's a death trap too (what if something falls off a passing airplane?). Yep, I'm certifiable.

2004.12.12. in which she wonders if she'll screw this one up, too

This afternoon, as I sat cross-legged on my bedroom floor in a pile of clean socks, camisoles, bras and pajama bottoms, crying, explaining to the two-year-old in my lap how I just can't do it anymore, can't have him cuddle me so hard that it hurts my poor baby belly, can't clean up this mess he's made, can't sit here and organize everything by myself, as I do all this I fear that I'm going to screw little Olive up, too.

Poor Everett. He gets too excited over clean laundry (who wouldn't) and dumps the contents of two drawers out when my back is turned. And I can't, just can't, deal with it on my own. And he looks at me as if I'm both insane and just scary, as I cry and lose it over socks.

Later he has a fit over the scented drawer sachet. He has poured all the beads out (of course) and five times I have cleaned up his pretty "balls." Now he is up far past his bedtime, he just won't sit and cuddle and settle down no matter how hard I try (and I have Christmas gifts to finish!), and he is getting into frustrated fits because he can't fit all the beads into an inverted plastic clock tower for one of his train sets. The tower has a steepled roof, so when inverted, it won't sit on its own. It's too small for all the beads. And yet, over and over again, he tries to get them in, crying when it won't work, crying when more beads come out because he is bouncing from frustration.

And I start sobbing again, angry tears, asking him why he can't just settle down, why he must try this over and over again when I've explained to him it can't work, telling him in the worst mad-mama voice that the balls will never all fit into his clock. And I have to leave the room, have to take deep breaths, and find a tin from the baking soda, far bigger than necessary, return to the living room and help him put all the beads into the tin. I carry him to the couch with his beads and his star blankie (our bed sheet, of course), I get him a bottle of diluted milk and I return to my Desperate Housewives.

Remorse flooding my body, I wonder how someone as screwed up as me, with the balls of yarn and trash and scraps of fabric scattered all over my living room, with the TV addiction and the clearly disturbed and overtired toddler, ever got to be a mommy, and ever deserves to be one again.

And Olive kicks, and I marvel, and she turns over again. Later, with Everett safe in the bed, I get in the tub. It's almost 1 a.m. when I fill the bathtub, and it's almost 2 a.m. when I get out. I watch my belly, waiting for Olive to turn over again, willing her to feel my hand. I apologize silently for my outburst, and tell her I'll love her always, no matter how stressed I get. And somehow, I do the work that must be done, I fall asleep, and my overtired toddler sleeps through the night and asks to cuddle in the morning when we both awake. And so I put my arms around him and hug him tight and we all snooze like that, in the morning, Bach humming from our antique radio, winter sunlight streaming in the window.