mama's pregnant blog

of bellies and belly-achin'

From BabyCenter: Your baby's getting big. He weighs a tad over 5 pounds and is just over 18 inches long. Because it's so snug in your womb, he isn't likely to be doing somersaults anymore, but the number of times he kicks should remain about the same. His kidneys are fully developed now, and his liver can process some waste products. Most of his basic physical development is now complete he'll spend the next few weeks putting on weight.

2005.04.11. lotsa contractions

Tonight wasn't easy. I stayed up late last night doing work, never losing that yucky feeling in the pit of my stomach. I woke up around 7, starving, and had a bowl of cereal; but the yucky feeling didn't go away and I tried to go back to sleep but took forever to find rest. I was in bed until 10:30 and only got 90 minutes or so more sleep.

I stayed in tonight, no mama's group, and thought I would get some work done to make up for my slow day...it was not, immediately, in the cards. The contractions bore down, making it highly uncomfortable to sit, stand, get up, think, type, and just BE. I took a bath to heal the pain. Everett decided to get in, too.

So it was a nice, sweet-smelling bath - just not super relaxing. The contractions went on, as Everett poured cupful after cupful of water on my belly (also known as "treasure island" when it's mostly immersed in a bath). When I got out, the contractions had slowed to a dull roar, and I was clean - just not much more calm. My teeth are still clenched.

Reminder #1 for birth: relax your jaw, relax....

2005.04.12. good and bad

I woke up tired, but felt great in the a.m. - no major contractions, relatively good energy, and excellent focus. I felt great until 3 or so. Then the crankiness hit.

I ate an apple, and things got better moodwise. And my energy was still good. I did things I shouldn't have. I taught two athletes how to high jump for the first time and was thrilled when they were both jumping at Varsity level by the end of practice. Every time I made a demonstration of the proper form for takeoff, or the right speed for the approach, my c-section scar ached.

At the neighborhood meeting, in those terrible hard hard chairs they have in elementary school libraries, I couldn't sit still, it was agony. After 45 minutes I stood up and rocked from leg to leg for the rest of the meeting.

When I got home and sat down for TV and work, things went from o.k. to terrible. It felt like a continuous contraction, and I didn't have the energy to keep my hands on the laptop. I had Jonathan get the rice sock Larissa made for me and warm it up in the microwave. As promised, it smelled like rice. Also as promised, it helped enough to get my fingers on the keyboard. So I could report to my faithful blogdience how cranky and disgruntled I am. And now, on to my preparation for my first-thing-in-the-a.m. conference call. And that bed, which is singing its siren song, asking me to sink into it for the loudest snoring this side of Brooklyn.

2005.04.13. late night report

Well, it's really 04.14., but I choose to blog about the day in question. For the second morning in a row, I awoke for an early conference call only to have it postponed until tomorrow. And I fell back to sleep on the couch with PBS Kids on in the background. Which was oh-so-nice.

Sometime in my early morning haze, I realized that I'd leaked a little milk (out of my right breast - the one that always had better production - natch) onto my t-shirt. It's officially my first colostrum leak!

Later, in the afternoon, Larissa emailed. She had a "feeling" that something important was going to happen tomorrow. Maybe labor for me? Well, no nesting yet, I emailed back.

And yet, here I am tonight, 'nesting' in my strange working-mama way. Despite my extreme exhaustion at the end of Law & Order tonight, I sat down to work at my computer and have thus far gotten through 50% of the absolutely-must-do-before-birth tasks I have to do for my 'day job.' I also caught up on important emails. First thing in the a.m.: filing for an extension on my taxes. Yep, again. For no good reason. Luckily the government doesn't ask for one.

Now I'm sitting at my laptop, so tired that I am not tired anymore, my rice sock in my back, my son kicking me painfully, and contraction after contraction rolling through like the waves Ina May says they are. It's after 3 a.m. and I know I need to sleep soon. But I'm focused, laser-guided, bent on getting my long long list of interview questions for our teleseminars completed.

And so, goodnight to you, sweet internet. May we see each other again tomorrow.

2005.04.14. oooh, i'm a milky woman, yeah!

Today was the first day of varsity city relays, a not-quite-so-exclusive version of the famed Penn Relays. And a little smaller. And not at my beloved Penn. Anyway. All the schools from the city are there, and six or seven high jump coaches were clustered around the event, along with assorted family and friends.

Among said family and friends was a little baby, complete with plenty of doting and a large stroller. I could tell the baby was part of the Lincoln entourage, but didn't know whose baby it was.

I've always admired the Lincoln coach, the only other one who seems to have a similarly calm, technical approach to the sport. She sidled up to me while one of my athletes was preparing to jump to ask when I was due - it was the friendliest she's ever been to me, I think. (I'd made a comment to her at last Friday's meet, and she pretty much blew me off.)

It wasn't until I was gathering my things to go that I realized the baby was hers. She obviously wanted to chat, and I learned that she'd had the baby only four weeks ago. Most of the coaches teach, too, and she had already returned to work. We talked a few minutes before going our separate ways.

As I sat on the bus on the way home, my mind reeled with all the questions I wish I'd asked. Whether she was o.k. Whether breastfeeding was going without pain. Where her baby was in daycare. If she was happy, or sad, or overwhelmed. I didn't even ask if the baby was a boy or a girl, what it's name was. I knew her husband worked until late each night and suddenly I was so worried for her, struck with her vulnerability as a new working mom.

I got into the bathtub once I arrived home; Everett was napping and the house was too chaotic. I needed a refuge. As I soaped up, I thought about the coach and her baby. I turned onto my hands and knees to get out of the tub and noticed a white milky stream coming from my breast. It wasn't just soap, but a rather large amount of milk leaking.

Just the thought of a genderless baby is getting me going, now. I'm suddenly thrust back into the world of constantly leaking breasts, of never having a dry shirt, of soaking through all my bras. I hope my wardrobe benefits from working from home; but at the same time I'm dreading those hard, painful milk-factories of the first few days. It hurts just thinking about it...

2005.04.15. checking up, checking in, looking inward

Today I went into my OB's office for what I thought would be a super-quick checkup. I'm headed to lovely Manzanita, Oregon, a short 91 miles from my home. When I called the doctor's office yesterday, announcing that I was having contractions, but wanted to get away for the weekend, the nurse seemed a little frantic. She wanted me to come in immediately. I put her off until today - after all, I was the coach who'd committed to ride the bus to our meet.

So this afternoon around 3:00, I was given an exam by the efficient and tall Dr. Ribbinck. I told her my contractions weren't regular, and had been occurring for over four weeks. "You're almost two centimeters," she said without much drama. "Let's get you on the monitor."

Two centimeters? I was simultaneously happy (at least these contractions are doing something) and worried (what if she says I'm in active labor? even though I know I'm not). I asked for the packet of pre-enrollment forms for the hospital. I sat there in the waiting room, filling out my name and social security number and address, over and over and over again. I filled out the birth certificate sheet, with Truman's name. That filled me with this sense of simultaneous dread and anticipation (I'm deathly afraid of jinxing things).

Finally the monitor room was free, and I sank into the cushy recliner, dim lights and plentiful reading material all around. I got strapped in. Immediately the buh-boom-buh-boom-buh-boom-buh-boom of Truman's heartbeat filled the room. As I sat there, reading lovely things about pregnancy, birth, motherhood and love, listening to Truman's heart beating, I was infused with this calm anticipation of birth, this feeling that I'm already there. I'm already in labor, I'm in the labor push, I'm so close. And though I didn't want to give birth today (and, as you can tell, I'm not giving birth or this story would be posted much later ;) - I'm not ready to give birth - I was ready to give birth soon. I was there, in that peaceful focused place, my mind was readying itself for labor just like my body was.

I know lots of women can't stand birthing in a hospital, don't like the monitors or the medicalization. But once I get into the hospital's straps and contraptions, with the low lights and calm voices and helpful nurses, I feel so ready, so focused, so labor-zen.

After 30 minutes or so, the doctor came in and checked my chart. A few contractions, but not active labor. She gave me the "all clear" to go to the beach. I am to turn around if anything changes. And I'm eager now for a weekend spent preparing my mind, my things, my body for impending labor. It could come at any time.

2005.04.17. relaxation, stress, pain, and purple blankies

It was a great weekend away, my family-style babymoon. I spent countless hours knitting Truman's blankie, which went from a few inches to nearly 12 over the course of the weekend (I'm going for 32" x 32"). It's a rich cabled beauty in Lorna's Laces blackberry and tahoe. I adore it. And I've decided that a dark purple is going to be Truman's "color."

I also spent lots of time in cat-cow position. A little of it was spent with Everett on my back. And I spent lots of 45-second interludes in deep contractions.

Friday evening and this evening were the worst. On the way home from the beach, for about 45 minutes I was having five-minute-interval doozies. Sometimes I had to put down my knitting. I managed to drop two stitches in one of my cables for about four rows. This takes a great deal of inattention.

Once home, I started in on my list. That would be my NESTING list. The list of things that absolutely have to be accomplished before Truman comes into the world. Like, packing separate bags for myself and Everett (1/2 done). Putting myself on unofficial "maternity leave" from all non-essential activities (day job, track, blogging here and there are considered essential) until after Truman's arrival (started). Having Jonathan get out the cradle and set it up (check!). Getting out all Everett's baby clothes and going through them (check! and boy is my hubbie happy after taking out three huge bags of giveaways). Washing all Truman's clothes-to-be (Jonathan's job). Devising a blogging update plan to keep you all informed during my labor, delivery and recovery (ummm...still thinking). Finishing Truman's blankie (probably won't happen). Doing yoga daily. Getting a good start on Truman's baby book.

And I've made a lot of progress. And my cervix feels so, soooo, OPEN. I keep expecting Truman to just slide out onto the floor underneath me. Or, at the very least, to lose a major mucus plug or get a gush of amniotic fluid.

In any case, it's very clear that I am in labor, and active labor is a matter of days away. Will it be one? Will it be 31? That is still to be determined. But it seems to be coming soon. I'm pooping a couple of times a day thanks to all the pressure on my poor bowels. I'm moving VERY slowly. I've had a bit of bleeding (the brownish-red kind - probably labor blood, in other words). I'm nauseous most of the time. And most of all, finally, I'm NESTING.

I'm also suddenly struck with the magnitude of it all. In a matter of some-number-of-days, less than a month probably, Truman will be wearing those little clothes that Everett used to wear. He will be wearing his cute hats knitted by me and Shetha. He will be wrapped up in his tidepool blankie. He will be emitting meconium all over his teensy garage sale diapers. He will be crying that tiny baby cry, that kitten sound, high-pitched and heart-breaking. My breasts will be burning in pain. And my life will be utterly changed.

It was this weekend that I suddenly got the magnitude of the complexity of sharing my love between the two of them, Everett and Truman, of having two little beings to make the center of my life. How can I have two centers? How will it ever work? I love Everett with this passionate protective obsession. It knows no bounds. I would very literally give my life for him. But now I have competition on the way. How will it balance? I don't know. I'm sure it will work out, somehow, but it seems insurmountable. Inscrutable. And all those other words.

I suppose if I can type through contractions, I'm not in active labor, right? Owwwwwwwwwwww. OK, can't type at the top of one. I'm really eager to check on my progression, I wonder if I might be a couple of more centimeters dilated by now. I'm eager to experience a different labor. I have good feelings, that this one must be different, that it must be going faster. And my mental-physical well-being is in such a whack-job state. I'm cycling through nausea, desperate hunger, frantic energy, inability to move, mental clarity, dizzy stupidity, frenetic work, staring blankly in front of me. Tonight I ran up the stairs twice. And suffered two episodes where I thought I couldn't lean forward a half-inch without absolutely losing it.

I'm terrified and eager. Mostly, I'm eager for the challenge. I'm not now, nor will I ever be in the possible advent of labor, ready to be a mom again. But I'm ready to face the challenge of birth. And I'm ready to see what this little guy will turn out to be, if he will be cute and sweet or rough and loud. Just like Everett or the diametric opposite.

And, truth be told, I'm eager to go for a run. A really long, fast run, through the rain, my feet pounding the pavement, my underbelly not aching, my digestive system all my own.

This, my dears, is what a not-quite-in-active-labor woman's brain looks like at 2:11 a.m. Scary, no?