secret pregnant blog

hush...

From BabyCenter: Head to bottom, your baby's 3 1/2 inches long about the length of a lemon and weighs about 1 1/2 ounces. Her body's growing faster than her head, which now sits upon a more well-defined neck. By the end of this week, her arms will have lengthened and will be in proportion to the rest of her body. (Her legs still have some growing to do, though.) She's starting to develop an ultra-fine, downy covering of hair all over her body (called lanugo). Her liver starts secreting bile this week, a sign that it's already functioning properly, and her spleen starts contributing to the production of red blood cells. She's also producing and discharging urine into the amniotic fluid, a normal process that she'll keep up until birth. You still can't feel your baby's movements, but her hands and feet (which are now half an inch long) are more flexible and active. Thanks to brain impulses, her little facial muscles are getting a workout as she squints, frowns, and grimaces. She can grasp now, too, and she may be able to suck her thumb.

2004.11.15. oh, my aching pregnant brain

I've got it bad, ladies and gents. My pregnant brain is rearing it's ugly...cerebellum...in the worst kind of way. Some examples from my day:

1. I was making cookies while I ate a Seckel pear. I had the egg in my hand and reached it up to my mouth to take a bite. Fortunately, I realized before I ended up with a mouth full of shell and egg white.

2. I was calling preschools, and keeping notes. I looked at my notes, they said clearly, "Heidi." I dialed the number. I asked for Stephanie.

3. I spent several minutes agonizing over the fact that I'd sent something slightly embarrassing in an email that copied the subject of my comments. Until I realized that the email I was worried about had been several hours before, in a completely different context, to a different group of people.

4. I called my son by my husband's name.

Those are just the ones I can remember. And memory loss is the worst part of pregnant brain.

2004.11.16. more feelings of inadequacy

I've spent many hours today with my friend Kate's children, ages 35 and 21 months. Everett, naturally, has been along for the ride. And oh, what a crazy ride it's been.

Stella and Lulu are SO GOOD. Kate has brought child-raising to an elevated art form, a symphony, a sonnet. They get up in the morning and ask to brush their teeth. They love the bath, yet ask to get out after just the right amount of time. They sit neatly in their chairs to eat, asking for more real food, like carrots and bagels, and ask to wash up when they're done. They go to bed without a peep, naptime and bedtime, like clockwork. They get up happy and (so far) they've never once screamed because I wouldn't let them do what they wanted.

I'd like to become Kate's apprentice. She is a master: she nannied for 10 years before having her own kids. She's got them trained, scheduled and there's even an operating manual (written by her husband, naturally).

I'd like to say it's been a joy to watch them, but it's been awful. First, there are my feelings of utter and complete incompetence next to this clear mastery. Then, there's my son, who screams while they're napping, insists on doing everything I tell them not to, and has to be coaxed to sleep 11 hours in a day (to Stella's 14-15).

Something needs to change between now and May, or this one is going to be terror #2. Those parenting books? They don't help. I do all the things in there that I can stand to do already, and their remedies are either simplistic or simply unworkable for me. Or maybe it's just that I can't keep myself on a schedule from one day to the next, so how should my offspring be expected to be regular?

This parenting stuff just isn't easy. In many ways, I'm a terrific parent: I'm very physically involved with Everett, I read him books, he can count to 12 at age 2 and knows many of his letters. I run with him and jump with him and teach him how to play football and golf. I cook pancakes, and cookies, and biscuits, and from-scratch meatloaf, and let him help. He hugs me and tells me he loves me and kisses me every minute he can.

But there are so many areas where I fall down on the job. I don't bathe him regularly, or keep his fingernails clean, or have him on a "schedule," or get him to eat a reasonable ratio of solid food:liquid food. I feel incapable of dealing with his current temper tantrum phase. I make him play by himself while I type away on my computer. There are so many ways that I'm just not a good mom. How will I ever achieve perfect mom-ness? Is it even attainable?

2004.11.17. what dreams may ... scare the $@^! out of me

Last night, right before I retired to my bedroom in Kate's house, I was standing with my belly partly exposed and suddenly experienced what for all the world felt like a baby kicking. It was on the especially taut part of my belly, where there was nothing but uterus and skin.

My muscles on either side of the uterus felt tight and constricted, like the very mildest precursor to contractions, and it worried me a little. I decided to hydrate myself (I'd been drinking tea by the quartful all day) and go to bed.

Before bed, I wrote a letter to Jonathan, updating him on the baby name news: Charlotte Rose, Scarlett Beane, and Charlotte's prematurely-born cousin, Sullivan Miles, 36 weeks. I got in bed, with a strange feeling that my baby needed protecting.

Then I fell asleep, slowly, my head heavy with tiredness and that out-of-sorts feeling of being in a strange place. And the dreams began.

It was the middle of December, I was at around 17 or 18 weeks' gestation, and I was going into labor. I hurried off to the hospital, meeting with a midwife, or a doctor, who was efficient in getting me strapped into machines. Jonathan was elsewhere...I could see him, but he wasn't with me, I couldn't reach him. I was trying to get him on the phone, but he wasn't making the call. He was in a bright, high-ceilinged reception hall redolent of the U.N. He had something important that I needed; insurance documentation, or a checkbook, or my I.D., something important, and I couldn't get it from him.

Meanwhile, I moved doctors, or hospitals, or rooms, and suddenly was told that it was way, way too early to have my baby. I felt like an idiot in my dream, and was trying to cover up my lapse, saying of course I knew that, lying, making things up so it would seem as if I was trying to stop contractions all along. And somehow, I stopped the labor, for a while, and I was apologizing, guilty, and still trying to find Jonathan.

Then there was a bet, or an illicit debt, and the most illicit of Jonathan's friends was there to collect. I didn't have all the money, I was looking for it, I was worried about my contractions, I couldn't find Jonathan.

I awoke soon after, angry at myself for forgetting that I couldn't go into labor at 18 weeks, still worried about Jonathan. I tried to shake the dream from my subconsious, but couldn't. It stayed there, in the background, disturbing everything I did through the night, into the next morning, clouded my head all day.

2004.11.17. name musings

I wrote a few days ago on Blogging Baby about my name "research." After looking things up at length on the social security database, I discovered that several names under consideration that were in the top 50-200 of the 2003 census had steadily climbed over 10 years or so, starting at the very, very bottom. "Reagan," in particular, had climbed from 998 in 1993 to 201/202 in 2002 and 2003.

Due to my overwhelming need to not name my child anything that will be anywhere close to the top 50, this concerned me. If Reagan had climbed so steadily...wasn't #10 not far ahead? Would my poor (daughter) child to be saddled with a name that, in a dozen years, would be more common than barkdust at a playground?

I looked up a couple of wildcards..."Spruce," my wild, out-there boy name idea (from the thought that, as "Everett" is a prominent street in Portland, we should name all our children after streets...and "Spruce" was the street where I lived in Philadelphia) and "Olive," my in utero name, both returned no top 1000 results.

Now that's more like it. And today, as I was driving down 39th, it hit me: "Olive Grace Hanson." It has every bit of class, uniqueness, sweetness and simplicity that a girl could want. My only concern: it doesn't sound very happy. Hmm...

2004.11.18. a place called 'home'

Tonight was the first night in three days I've spent in my own bed, with my own shower as a possibility. It's not nearly as luxurious, as big, as cozy, or as well-decorated as where I've been staying. But it's home.

It reminded me of this feeling that I had a few days ago, taking a shower in our badly-in-need-of-serious-renovation bathroom. The clawfoot tub, covered by a previous owner in white-painted plywood and poorly-fitted white tile, leaks after every good scrubbing into the kitchen below. I regularly must scrub the ceiling to get off the mold. Our shower curtain is torn and hanging sloppily. The room is cold, insulated badly in the same way it was in 1912, damp and the sink is currently broken.

But as I ran from the bathroom to the stairway to check to see if Everett had awoken from his nap, naked pregnant belly exposed for everyone flying past my window to see, I remembered countless times I'd exposed my pregnant belly before in that bathroom, from its tininess in February of 2002 when we bought the house (and Everett was only about six inches long), to its hugeness in the hot June nights, to its rapid decreasing in the late summer of that year.

And now, I'm doing it all again, building on my pregnant belly in my drafty unfinished beloved house. And I plan to do it all, again, at least one more time, ensconced in my family dwelling. As we sloooowly renovate it, each wall, each outlet, each tile will be a memory, part of our family's collective baby book.

More than anything, this will always be home for us, and it's such an amazing thing to have.