Your belly may soon be big enough to announce to the world that you're expecting, but your baby is still tiny. In fact, he's only about 3 inches long crown to rump — roughly the size of a jumbo shrimp — and weighs just about an ounce. Despite the small proportions, there's a fully formed baby inside your womb now. Much more proportional than it was a few weeks ago, his head is now only about a third the size of his body. His tiny, unique fingerprints are already in place. His kidneys and urinary tract are functional, and he's starting to urinate out the amniotic fluid he's been swallowing. As you start your second trimester, most of your baby's critical development will be completed, and your odds of miscarriage will drop considerably.
2004.11.08. of energy and meltdowns
It's 1:29 a.m. and I'm feeling well, now. Only a little more than two hours earlier, as Everett bounced on my chair, having a great time making "an-mal" effects out of my face and giggling as he jumped onto my arm again, and again, and (after I said stop "right now!"), again with a devilish laugh, I looked into his face and despaired completely.
I had a meltdown of such terrible proportions that Everett's Uncle Matt came upstairs and offered to take him down to watch cartoons in the basement (I was grateful for the offer, but not exactly what I was looking for). Everett was totally unfazed as I quasi-shouted at him, "I just can't deal with you any more! Why can't you go to bed like a normal child? This is just NOT WORKING for me!"
I looked into his face, laughing with his teeth showing, and saw nothing, not one iota, of myself in him. It was like some little devil child had stolen my son and left only the bounciness and those yellow curls behind. And I thought, I'm crazy, completely, how can I do this again?
I took him to bed. I refused to get more Winnie-the-Pooh-in-the-milk. I laid down with him and told him how much it hurt, just now, when he screamed directly into my ear drum. I told him that the baby wondered what kind of crazy big brother she had.
And then, it was back to sweet loving Everett. He talked about the baby, and called her "Olive" when I told him I had named her that. He said that she was waving her legs in mama's tummy. We talked about Soren's mommy, and how my tummy was going to be as big as hers, and a few minutes later he was snuggled and snoozing.
And instead of snoozing, too, I got up and did my work. I blogged and I emailed and I even left a comment. I got caught up and I started feeling good. The more I wrote, the better it was, and suddenly I remembered how awesome I felt, how happy I was to be in the second trimester, how blessed that I am having such a neat textbook pregnancy with energy and "well-being" and light.
And I ordered a parenting book on Amazon and committed to walking Everett down for a nap tomorrow, and getting him to bed at a reasonable time, and finishing all the things on my to-do list, and baking the cookies for Jonathan and his platoon, and doing my grant letters, and knitting a birthday gift for Jackson.
You see what that well-being can do to a girl?
2004.11.09. pains down there
I've read the books, the web sites, and the pamphlets. I know what to expect. Your second trimester rolls around, and you have "pains" in the "abdomen, groin area, and thighs."
But let me tell you, amazingly perfect ultrasound or no, those pains freak a girl out. I know they're normal, I had them with Everett, too. But at night, that sudden shooting pain in my cervix area. It's sudden, it's brief, and it hurts like crazy. As I'm lying in bed, already freaked out for various reasons, there's nothing that's more disconcerting.
There's more. Coughing. I've been coughing a lot, due to a cold Everett and I picked up. It's not a cough that worries me, immensely, I'm sure it will be gone soon. What really weirds me out is that at night, when I'm lying on my side in bed and start to cough, I get thesesharp pains on both sides of my uterus, that feel for all the world like I've just pulled a twinset of muscles. It goes away several moments after the cough subsides. But it's strange, it's painful, and boy, does it make me wonder.
The thing about pregnancy is that all the logic in the world, all the documentation, the consolation from your doctor/midwife/shaman/mother-in-law, the stories from pregnant friends: they never help when you're lying in bed late at night and you have a pain. A tinge. A strange fluttering feeling (that turns out, several minutes later, to have been a terrifically slow bit of gas). They all feel like IT, like THE END, like certain danger.
And it's over in a minute or two, maybe you calm yourself down, maybe you jump out of bed to guiltily consult (again) that passage in your pregnancy bible of choice, maybe you sneak off several internal crisis-counseling sessions later to the computer and Google it. Every little thing is a cause of stress in a pregnancy. Balanced and logical as you may be. Sorry, folks, reason flies out the window the moment that little fetus implants in your uterus. You're a goner and you most definitely should not be eligible for jury duty.
Just one (crazy) woman's opinion.
I'm letting things get to me in big and small ways. Everything gets to me...when my helpful brother-in-law uses ALL the soap in the house and doesn't tell me until I get into the shower and see a little sliver of what was a brand-new oatmeal almond bar only days ago. When Everett does his sharp, staccato scream thing because I've been cruel enough to make him stop running and get in the car. When no one stops for pedestrians.
Tonight, it was my not-so-helpful brother-in-law and his extremely not-helpful fiancee. Oh, how they irk me. The icing on the cake was what I'll call the "good wine" episode.
I invited my mama friends over tonight. They came, and it was wonderful, because Holly and Michael and even Matt were getting on my frayed nerves. I had invited grandma to sit with us and chat, but of course she didn't want to. She planned to have dinner with Michael and Holly - either here (they had said they'd bring it over), or they might take her out.
They came over with two huge bottles (the double size) of cheap wine, and immediately used three of my clean glasses - the ones they habitually leave on the porch, in the basement, on the concrete in front of my front steps. The ones that were wedding gifts and are mostly, now, broken. They settled in, stale smoke smell and all, in my living room as I cleaned and prepared around them.
Michael ate Grandma's leftovers as I stewed in the kitchen. Once several mamas had arrived, they retired to the basement, without taking Everett down, as they'd promised, but taking their wine glasses. They went on to annhilate both bottles (that would be, at the very least, 1 1/2 bottles per in-law). Then Holly came up, at 9:20, to say in front of all my guests that Grandma was tired, the clear message: get out of here, you dirtbags.
After 10 minutes, most of my friends had packed up and left. A few remained packing up their leftovers and helping me bring plates and food into the kitchen. Holly brought Grandma up and began to act like the "good" granddaughter-in-law, getting her bedding, asking if she wanted to lay down THIS INSTANT. I come back in the living room for another armful to see Holly holding the "good" bottle of wine one of my friends brought (she's gone by this point and couldn't possibly have offered it to Holly or Michael). She's obviously already tried it. "Here, Pat, you'll have to try this wine, it's really good!" she says, pouring what's left into grandma's glass.
I have never, no never, heard of such a thing. I never invited her to come over that night. She takes advantage of my clean glasses and my hospitality, doesn't even feed grandma as she's promised, then commandeers what little is left of a good bottle of wine without even saying "please?" It's a wonder I didn't slap her right then and there.
As I'm writing this, it seems so petty and small, such a tiny thing for me to be angry with. It wasn't, of course, just the one action, but the piled-on litany of little things, disrespectful words, glasses left scattered around, empty cigarette boxes in my child's toys on the front porch, ashes scattered over my pumpkins, the complete lack of asking, "can I come over?" or "do you want some help?"
With Matt, who does things that make me crazy, then goes and cleans up the kitchen the next morning, I can forgive and forget. But the generous actions are so few compared to the Big Things. Then there are the themes that I will have to deal with soon: the smoking on my front porch (while I'm pregnant! Don't think you're going to pick up my newborn smelling like that - or scatter ashes over my newborn's toys). The unremittant boozing on my property. The NEVER cleaning up after using my things. It's just not o.k. And if I could only count the number of special wine openers that have been permanently misplaced...openers I picked up in my travels, that can't be replaced. (And wouldn't be, anyway) I'm not drinking tons of wine.
And it's not even the things that bother me, but the fact that I'm letting it get to me, which makes me fear for my poor child, whose brain is developing with all those hateful neuropeptides crossing the placenta. I need a chill-out mechanism, a way to distance myself from the petty pissiness.
Yoga, and prayer, and hot baths... they're dealing mechanisms. But none are really putting me in that peaceful, zen place that I want to be. I need something more wholistic. I need a better attitude. I also need to lock my door more. Hah!
2004.11.12. babies, labor, fear
Early this morning, both of my about-to-deliver mama friends gave birth. Kate, who was at both births, was almost tremulous as she described their efforts, athletic, strong, amazing, awe-inspiring. Both births were natural, one was at home in a birthing tub. Both little girls were large babies, one nine and a half pounds.
I know my little body, that couldn't push out a seven pound, seven ounce little boy, would never be able to naturally birth a nine-pounder. I want so badly to be able to deliver little Olive without medication, and vaginally (guess those go hand-in-hand).
I'm currently sunk into a mixture of fear, awe and (I'll admit it) competitiveness. I'm an athlete! I can do this too! I'm so strong, and have "exquisite" cervical muscular tone. Shouldn't I be able to do it? Shouldn't I?
Of course, it isn't entirely up to my strength, and resolve, and ability to deal with pain. Sometimes, it's just not meant to be. I only hope that this child is meant to be delivered naturally. It just seems so right.
I'm also just amazed. None of my friends even approach my general athletic nature. None of them are runners, like me. Yet they bested me in the most basic of biological marathons. I'm so impressed, and yes, awestruck. I wish I could have been there. I hope I will be there, in 190-some days.
2004.11.13. about the other pregnant women
I wrote at length on Blogging Baby about the phone call I received at church today, and how it struck me. But that doesn't stop me from writing about it a little more spiritually, here.
What happened, in case you don't care to jump over there, was I answered the phone at church to hear a sobbing woman explain how she was in early labor and wanted someone to come baptize her baby, now. I later found out she was at 33 weeks - fantastic chances of survival at that point - but she was so very, very upset. And I was struck to the heart.
I have this belief that my presence near the phone wasn't an accident, that I was meant to hear that phone call, that I am being called to help pregnant women. I even talked to my church buddies about it, how I wanted to have an outreach to everyday normal pregnant women, those with husbands and health insurance and a desire to have kids. But still eminently needy.
The thing is, I'm not sure what to do. I know I want to help. But how, where should I start, how will I find time? What do I even call it?
My "adopt-a-pregnant lady" campaign seems to be going well, for me. It doesn't have a catchy name or a web site. So far, I haven't heard of anyone else doing it. And with all the "stuff" I have going on, from the work to the hubbie blogging to the single parenthood to the knitting to the dealing with nasty creditors to the finding preschools for Everett, where would I find the time?
So I just stood in the shower (where I do my clearest thinking) and prayed that, if this was really meant to be, that I would get some relief in at least the financial situation. As it stands now I'm going to keep having to deal with nasty phone calls and flirting on the brink of financial ruin until a few months after I get working. Then, I still won't be far off, still budgeting, still having to think twice about whether that luxurious food item should really be in my cart.
How can it not be a "call"? I tried to think, in the shower, what I would say if I went to visit that crying woman in the hospital, with her brand-new miniature baby. Would I say, "Hi, I'm Sarah, I'm a mama, and I care"? What should I even call myself? I went through a couple of names and discarded them. Childbirth therapist - too clinical. Childbirth counseler - but it's not really birth, it's pregnancy and infant care. Pregnancy and infant care counseler - too difficult to say. And I don't really like "counseler." Mama-at-large? Big mamas? (like big brothers...umm, I hear you, no). Mother mentors? None of it works for me. How can I have a cause that doesn't even have a name?
What I want to do is help people that aren't actively asking for help, for whom "help" is probably the wrong word, anyway. I want to be a companian and a confidante, a shoulder to cry on and a validator who says that no, you're not going crazy. And I want to get lots of other mamas to do it, too.
Anyhow, if you've got ideas, I'm all ears. Send 'em my way. I'm likely to be losing sleep over this.
Today was an emotional day. For no good reason. Well, one good reason; Jonathan, who said he'd have phone privileges today (I have the letter to prove it!), never called. I sat by the phone all afternoon, waiting, checking the line every so often to make sure it was working. I got phone calls from time to time, very brief, I know it wasn't the phone. It was him. He couldn't call.
While I didn't worry as much as I did last week (in which I assumed he had been, variously, thrown in jail because someone else started a fight with him; stripped of his privileges and his pay; gone to "sick call" and been diagnosed with something that kept him from leaving his bed; and all kinds of other terrible things). Now, I'm pretty sure I can eliminate the hoosegaw and the loss of pay and the sick call concern; but who knows. Maybe his platoon got in trouble for not working as a team and had to do penance all afternoon. Maybe he got in trouble for getting cookies (this one is pretty rich, hmmm?) and couldn't use the phone. Maybe his phone card doesn't work any more.
As you can see, my brain is completely off kilter. When it became clear that he wasn't calling, and Everett finally woke from his monster nap, I turned on the TV. I watched Cold Case and it was about a man who died in the early 80s. He'd been an early AIDS activist, and the end showed a montage of gay men getting married, and walking with their babies, mixed with footage of the man and his now-ruined family (one of them, of course, was the killer). I was literally balling, partly from the sappy music, partly from the "forbidden love" sequence, and mostly from the hormones. I'm sure part of it was from the whole Measure 36 failure, too.
It wasn't the end of my tears, I went on to feel emotional about everything from Everett jumping too much to a touching blog post. Now I know why Everett's so screwed up - there's just so much to worry about, so many things to be sad for, so much uncertainty and change and fear. No wonder he keeps saying that he's "cared" and that we're "cared alltogeter." Luckily, as we walk down the stairs "alltogeter" he says that Everett and mommy not scared now. Oh, good. Things were touch-and-go for a minute, there, sweetie.