mama's pregnant blog

of bellies and belly-achin'

From BabyCenter: Your baby now looks like a miniature newborn, checking in at 10.9 inches and almost 1 pound. Her skin will continue to appear wrinkled until she gains enough weight to fill it out, and the fine hair (lanugo) that covers her head and body is now visible. Her lips are becoming more distinct, and the first signs of teeth are appearing as buds beneath her gum line. Her eyes are developed, though the iris (the colored part of the eye) still lacks pigment. Eyelids and eyebrows are in place, and her pancreas, essential for hormone production, is developing steadily.

2005.01.09. bed rest 101, lesson 1

Today is my first full day of prescribed bed rest, but it's modified in all kinds of crazy ways. Last night we packed up all our chaotic belongings and took the elevator down two floors to the cold, sad parking lot of the Gold Strike Hotel (& Casino). On bed rest, you're not supposed to leave the house, except for doctor's appointments, and you definitely can't drive a car. You shouldn't go to a grocery store, or run, and never, ever, pick up anything heavy.

But I was stuck 1149 miles from home, and the doctor had allowed me to go home, telling me to stop every hour to use the bathroom. And first, we had to drop off my sad, sad husband at grandma's house.

It was his last day of "freedom" before returning to the Army, so we went to the store to buy snacks, and juice, and liquor. It was to be one of my last shopping trips for weeks, so I took advantage of it, buying mini-Brie and dry salami and a huge bag of tangerines and Snickers bars.

We drove back to Grandma's house, and she was in a state, declaring that we must remove Mom's stuff immediately, indicating several paper bags of memorabilia Betsy had packed the day before. As Jonathan and Matt re-packed the car to fit in a few other things, they began noticing all kinds of other precious items that must be saved - a box of photos, a stuffed (real) deer head, a painting of boats, a life-sized doll, a few boxes that later turned out to be garbage. And they got a little plastered.

By the time they were ready to go, the car was packed to the gills, I'd spent precious little time with my husband, and Matt was hammered. Matt does not (as we've mentioned before) do hammered gracefully. As Jonathan got dressed for lunch with Grandma and Uncle, I sat on the floor of the guest room, crying. I didn't know how I was going to face the next few weeks without him, and most especially, the 1,149 long miles home with his brothers.

We hugged goodbye, both teary, and Michael started the car and we pulled away, Everett and I both sad to see Daddy stay behind. Immediately Matt started in on his attitude.

By the time we stopped for gas about 4 miles later, Matt had refused to tell Michael if there was anyone in the next lane, threatened to get out and take a bus home, and told him several times that he had better not say a word to him for the rest of the journey home. I just wanted to cry more, stuck in the back seat with my peppy son, reading the Dora book and trying to pretend this wasn't actually happening. I was powerless.

They made up 10 minutes later, but I was wary, and Matt was sullen most of the time. I asked Michael to stop every 100 miles or so, and every time, there was a to-do about who would run with Everett, who would put him back in his seat. As I dragged my tired and aching body into restroom after public restroom, I wanted so badly to sprint back to the car, take the wheel, and leave both whiners in the dust.

We pulled into my sister-in-law's house in Sacramento around 10. Betsy is a fantastic hostess with a beautiful house. She and her husband put the Aristocats on the TV for Everett and made me chili and Passion tea. Betsy brought out the laptop so I could inform the world of my new status. And I sat there on the cushy carpet, listening to the cute little French kitties singing their arpeggios, telling my story and not feeling quite so bad.

So my first lesson in bed rest 101: don't do it with people who have no capacity to pamper you. Oh, how unfair the world will seem. My, how slow the time will go.

2005.01.10. the journey comes to an end

I never want to do that again.

I wanted to get home badly, but I didn't want to leave my sister-in-law's house to be cooped up with Michael and Matt for a whole 10 hours alone. Matt woke up with a hangover and in a terrible mood. Michael was running out of money, tired, and probably stressing over Holly's craziness. They were at each others' throats in the most passive-aggressive possible way.

There were literally minutes when I wanted to start sobbing in the back seat, when Matt had turned the air to cold and Everett was having a meltdown and my belly was hurting a bit from the stress and exhaustion, there was some sort of heavy metal band playing angrily on the radio ('cause who would let ME pick the radio station - me, the sad missing-her-husband pregnant woman in the back seat of her own car?). I went through waves of worry, anger and loneliness, saved only by the sweetness of odd interchanges with Everett.

Writing it is too close to reliving it, and I can't do that again. I got to stop at Target, buying milk and fish oil vitamins and cat food and a new Thomas train for Everett, a hefty bribe. I got to talk to Jonathan several times, from the airports in Vegas and Dallas. I got home.

As sad and lonely it was to walk in the house, cold and messy and empty, with the Christmas tree still up and one of our big silver ornaments still in shatters on the floor, I was so happy to see my home, to finally sink into my bed, Everett screaming because I wouldn't carry him in, the biggest meltdown thus far of the bed rest.

And so I put on my jammies, and became my own patient. The bed rest was official.

2005.01.11. all about bed rest

Bed rest isn't so bad, as long as it has its end point. Two weeks seems doable. I cry for the women who spend months chained to their bedroom (or even worse, a hospital bed).

How...ever. I'm not what you'd call an excellent patient. While I do love a good pampering, there's not much of it to be had around these parts. And I can't ignore my child's siren cry: "peanut butter toast, mama! I want peanut butter toast!"

It's such a challenge, as I'm ever-so-committed to doing whatever it takes to birth a healthy baby a long, long time from now. I'm also ever-so-not-committed to avoiding the temptation to make a batch of cupcakes, or run up the stairs to get the phone I left there (whoops), or lean over to pick up my glasses when they fall. It's really hard remembering all the things that I should and should not do - and it's not like I even have a list, it's just my gut feeling (literally, heehee). My belly hurts, I can't do it.

The kind of bed rest I really (deep down) want is the kind that isn't possible. I want bed rest where I have no responsibilities, people to bring me food, and unlimited time to read and knit and type completely personal things. No bills to pay, no diapers to change, no financial models to sort out (hey, I love making a model, but it's just not tops on my priority list right now). I haven't touched my knitting needles since going on rest. I haven't had even two hours of uninterrupted work on my laptop. This bedrest isn't as cushy as I was thinking it might be.

Of course, I wouldn't really welcome any of the alternatives - I would hate to be stuck in a hospital bed, or have someone pick up Everett and take him away all day long to play in an impersonal day care while I tip-tapped away at my laptop. It's nice having his sweet self here with me. It's just ... hard. Really hard.

As I type that, I can see the spectrum of things that are way, way harder, and I feel very lucky that the pain in my tummy is mostly caused by an energetic, strong and still very much alive little boy. That I have a boss who doesn't mind if I work from home and hasn't been pushing the fact that I'm behind on some of my to-dos. That I have a little money in the bank, a healthy toddler, a husband that loves me (even if he is away at the Army, but hey, it's sure making him cute), a house that will be beautiful one day, a car (even if I can't drive it right now), so many friends, family who loves me, a mom close enough to come and fold my laundry and mop my floors. That I have people who leave me comments and emails saying that they love me and are praying for me and asking me what they can do. When you look at it that way, it's not hard, at all.

2005.01.12. laptop baby

My baby loves the laptop. Whether I'm sitting in my comfy green chair with the laptop on the table in front of me, or cushed-out on the couch, pillow shielding my big belly from its hard edges, Truman does somersaults. He's like a little hamster on a wheel in there, going around, and around, and around.

It's a good thing, as he's likely to see a lot of it once he's born. Everett spent many an hour draped across my thighs as I typed away. And much of his breastfeeding was done with one hand on the keyboard.

Now Everett will line his trains up across my touchpad when he's not getting enough attention. No, I'm not forgetting you, little one. I know you're in there.

2005.01.13. tender times

I always thought I was sturdy, invincible, healthy, strong. My body can take anything - I've been a hard charger all my life, rode bikes, played basketball and ran track through college, played co-ed football, lifted more weight than you'd think my 5'4" frame could handle. I've never broken a bone, never been hospitalized by anything other than labor, barely ever got sick.

So why am I suddenly so vulnerable? Why do I have to hold my belly up with my hands, it aches so? Why is it that the slightest twist in my chair hurts, sitting too long strains the muscles that hold everything up?

I'm so, so tender now, and it's really hard to handle. I'm the one who always ran up the stairs, the mom who played daddy-style games with her baby, who still threw her toddler up in the air and caught him after he was heavy enough to graduate to the booster carseat. Who one day not so long ago walked a mile home carrying her 30-some pounder when he fell asleep at track practice.

It hurts, not just physically, to be this fragile. And it doesn't make any sense. It doesn't seem fair, or fitting, or right. It's as if there is only the barest film of skin and flesh between me and my chunk of a 22-week-old, that everything could break at any moment. And I'm scared.

2005.01.14. she's a high-risk woooman, yeah!

It's official, I'm a high-risk pregnancy. If one more person asks if I smoke, I think I'll scream. NO ONE could be more anti-smoking than I. When my brother-in-law gets those stupid glossy marketing packets from Marlboro, I throw them away immediately. I've held my breath in front of smokers, waving my hand in front of my face and acting panicked. I'm a non-smoker in the worst, least sensitive, most confrontational possible way.

Yet smoking is a major risk factor for my "condition." The other one is recreational drug use. And me, the woman who has only ever been offered marijuana once, I'm that much of a goody-goody. Ironic, hmmm? (uhhh...Alanis...this is ironic, just for the record, not flies in chah-dohn-aayyy)

While on the one hand I never imagined I'd be categorized as high-risk, on the other hand it gives me a kind of smug satisfaction, like, now you have to pay close attention to me, people! Yeah, watch out, I'm a high-risk pregnant woman, comin' at you! You know?

No, you probably don't. I read a bunch of information on high-risk pregnancy today. The odd thing is that something like 50% of those who end up in pre-term labor or other high-risk situations had none of the risk factors present. So, there are thousands of women out there, right now, mourning the same irony that I am - good girls, non-smokers, vegetarians probably, women who've run triathlons and never touched caffeine during pregnancy.

At once, this whole situation makes me paradoxically want to follow all the rules to the letter - and ignore them offhandedly. I'll do anything, including avoiding unpasteurized cheeses like the plague, in order to keep my baby healthy. On the other hand, it's unclear what I did that caused the placental abruption, and it certainly wasn't downhill skiing or off-road biking. It could have been anything from Everett's playful headbutts to simply turning around too sharply to pick up something from the back seat of the car. Or, most frightening of all - maybe it just happened, with no reason whatsoever.

It's all crazy, no? What a mad, mad, mad world we live in. So many things seem unfair, yet when you add up the columns at the end of the day, we have so many things to be thankful for.

What I'm thankful for, today, is that I'm only a week and a day from official fetus viability, with no signs of opening cervix and no contractions or bleeding or breaking of waters. My doctor is safely housed in a nearby hospital with a top-notch NICU, should I need it. My baby is kicking and turning with fearful rapidity and strength, never leaving me to worry about his health for long. And best of all, I'm informed: I'd never have ignored the pain, and I know what to look for in the future. I won't be the cautionary tale, with a moral of good prenatal care.

Oh yeah, and did I mention I'm thankful for a loving, gorgeous hubbie who's off making himself into super-dad? And my great family and friends who are looking out for me? And...there's another kick. I'm so happy, I'm crying.

2005.01.14.later today's peck of guilt

Everett woke up from his nap tonight asking me to "take him," which is Everett-ese for picking him up. Of course, I can't pick him up. I'm on bed rest.

I tried to talk him into walking with me into the living room, I held his hand while he got off the bed, I kind of pulled him along with me, stomping and screaming, "Take me!, Take me, mama!" He sobbed for a good 10 minutes.

Just the strain from pulling him off the bed hurt my belly, and I immediately worried about Truman. I sat there, looking from my screamingly sleepy son to my tender belly, and there was no good course of action. It really hurts not to be able to pick up your toddler when all he needs is a good cuddle.

When he finally decided to give in and come sit with me in our chair, I wrapped him in his star blankie and told him how much I loved him. Later, he gave my belly raspberry kisses. I think it was his way of forgiving Truman for causing such a ruckus. Can we all share in the love? I hope, I pray, we can.

2005.01.15. bed rest 101, lesson 2

In today's lesson we learn the shower-bath combo.

It was icey today, the iciness so specific to Portland - where the cold wind comes first, rattles the windows so loudly you think rebel forces must be storming your house, then comes the rain, splattering its frozen droplets on everything in reach.

The sounds of my old house in an ice storm are unmistakeable, the tink-tink-tink of ice against the windows, the clatter of the frozen branches and ancient Christmas lights, the slow crunch of the chained-up cars in the street, the occasional block-shaking rumblings of the #75 Trimet bus. But still, I needed to open my curtains to see the icicles and the frozen leaves, to watch the occasional Jeep or bundled-up pedestrian struggle by.

Once Everett fell asleep, I was exhausted from his energy, and took a change of clothes and the phone upstairs, starting the shower. I washed my hair and body quickly, then filled the tub for a super-long restful soak.

A shower-bath is perfect for a pregnant woman on bedrest, so you don't have to stand long, and if you're in an old house like mine, there isn't enough hot water left by the time you fill your tub to overheat your pregnant belly.

As I contemplated my protruding tummy in the ever-more-restful warm bubbly water, Truman began his martial arts practice, learning some new somersault-kick combinations that hurt so badly I was almost angry at him. But it was so wonderful, so rejuvenating, sinking into the water with the rain tink-tinking against the windows, calmness pervading my old sturdy house, I forgave him, and I gave him thoughts of love and longevity.

When I got out, I felt so good that I folded a few pieces of laundry, heated Hungarian Mushroom Soup and spooned out big chunks of bright-colored salad, drank three glasses of water and sat down with my laptop. For the first time in two weeks, I felt like a normal happy pregnant woman, cozy on my couch against the storm. And it was good.

2005.01.15.later. more truman

I looked up "Truman" in my dog-eared "baby names from around the world" book that I picked up at some garage sale tonight. According to said book, Truman is Old English (appropriate for my family, the Gilberts from the Isle of Man) and means "loyal."

"Loyal" goes very well with "Strong as a wild boar," (Everett's meaning) doesn't it? Something about that definition wins me over in a big way.

2005.01.16. recipe: bedrest noodles

Bring 1 can chicken broth to boil. Add capellini noodles, broken into manageable lengths, as many as can fit into the pot. Add a handful of frozen veggies (green beans, peas, corn) to taste. Sprinkle with a tad of cumin, hot pepper, salt and pepper. Boil until noodles are soft. Add butter to taste. Serve 1/2 to toddler and enjoy the rest.