mama's pregnant blog

of bellies and belly-achin'

From BabyCenter: Your baby's growing steadily, gaining about a quarter of a pound since last week, when she was just over a pound. Since she's almost a foot long, that makes a pretty lean figure, but her body is filling out proportionally and she'll soon put on more baby fat. Your baby's skin is thin, translucent, and wrinkled, her brain is growing rapidly, and her taste buds are developing. Her lungs are developing "branches" of the respiratory "tree" and cells that produce surfactant, a substance that helps the air sacs inflate easily.

2005.01.24. worn down and starving

Here's a little picture of my day: I awake around 9 a.m., reluctantly. Everett cheerily tells me "time to geh up, mama!" and has me grab his star blankie and milk bottle as he almost robotically (morning stiffness, I guess) walks me into the living room. I grab a blankie, granola bar, glass of water, the phone and the remote control and lie down on the couch, wearily choosing a channel for him. I drift back to sleep.

Sometime between 10 and 11, I force myself off the couch, eat a bar myself and make some tea. I check my email, do some work, answer some phone calls, get a letter ready to mail. Around 1 p.m., Everett and I walk down to the mailbox on the corner to send a letter to daddy.

The mailbox trip is extended into a 1/2 mile-or-so walk, which I force to end at the coffee shop. We get a steamer and a cookie and we settle in to play trains and read the New York Times.

Around 2, we return home after the inevitable time-to-leave battle. I'm exhausted and ready for a nap. But I'm also starving. I make lunch. I'm still hungry. I eat dessert.

I rest, do some work, rest. I eat at 4 p.m. And again at 6 p.m. And then again at 8 p.m., never feeling full.

By 9 p.m., I'm watching prime time TV and trying to settle Everett down. I'm exhausted, every bone is screaming for me to sleep. I make it through, do a couple of blogs, send some emails for work, get Everett to sleep. I sit down to write a letter during the 11 p.m. show I've found: Without a Trace. I stay up until nearly 1 a.m. finishing the letter and checking some things for my meeting tomorrow.

When I fall into bed I'm beyond tired. I'm getting 8-9 hours of sleep a night, plus the occasional snooze during the day, and the slightest thing wears me out. Despite my frightful lack of exercise, I'm starving constantly from noon until midnight. This baby is asking a lot of me!

2005.01.25. let me out of here!

When I was in Panama visiting my sister in ... well, a long time ago, before I was a mama, we stopped by a zoo on our way back from a cool walk in the jungle. It was humid, as it always is in Panama, and the land was waiting for the rains, thirsty and tired.

If you've never been to a zoo in a less-developed country, I'd suggest you never try it. The images will haunt me always, most of all, a small jaguar in a tiny cage no bigger than my bathroom (my small pre-renovation bathroom, mind you). Pacing wasn't the word for the way he was moving around the cage - it was more like crazed mindless violent movement, as if he had forgotten at every turn that he was still trapped, forever.

So, now that you're crying at the injustice of it all and vowing to send all your spare dimes to the Free the Animals campaign, I'll say: that's how Truman is moving in my belly.

I took a bath today, and started watching my stomach that pokes so cheerily out of the water (no matter how deep I make it). Immediately Truman began to pace, trying to get out of his cage. I feel this often, but don't watch it very much, and it was a little frightening to see him seemingly jostling every side of his uterine prison at once. Not only is it eery, it hurts!

This complaint may be a bit odd, I must admit, from the woman who only hours before stood silently over her bookshelf with the sudden realization: I don't remember when was the last time I felt him move! Is he ok? Should I speed to the ER immediately? But I'm allowed to be a little crazy, I'm pregnant.

As I stared at my alien belly, I felt a wave of fear that my little baby would come out crazed like the Panamanian jaguar. I calmed myself down a little with some deep breaths and that lovely aromatherapy bath salts. But it's still a little eery, the way he's jouncing around in there. Healthy, yes, and lovely to feel in times of fear, but still, eery.

2005.01.25.later a note about pizza

Tonight I was treated to pizza at "It's a Beautiful..." by the OregonLive guys. My fellow mama bloggers, one who's even pregnant, each struggled through one of the huge slices and at a few bites of slice #2 (split between them). Me? I had finished every last lick of two whole slices before either of them had finished slice #1.

My belly is so big, you'd think I didn't have room for all that chow (and three large-sized glasses of water, besides). But I do! I'm supermama!

2005.01.26. leaps and pounds

I thought that title was so clever, I had to use it here, too. The news in case you didn't read it over there: my doctor has moved my due date ahead one week. AND, I gained five pounds, in two weeks. Actually, 12 days. I can be honest here. So much for Dolce & Gabbana...

I'm not going to change Lilypie because, well, I don't believe the hype. I don't believe that changing my permanent record at my OB's office is going to affect when I deliver. I know, I know, I'm not making any deep insights here. I'm pretty sure (a) they're wrong and I'm really due May 15; and (b) I'm delivering very early. Unless, of course, I'm late, in which case I'll just suffer through it, I promise, no induction going on here. Impatience was not a benefit to my last birth.

I have a vision of Truman being born in late April. Does that mean anything? Hey, I was calling him a little girl until five weeks ago. You be the judge. Either way I'm sure he'll be a Taurus just like his daddy. What that means is not my area of expertise, but it sounds nice. And alliterative.

So let's talk about the weight. I don't want to go on and on about how I'm fat because, hey, I'm pregnant, and I'm normally what they call "petite" so it's not a stretch that I might again gain 40 pounds. But I do want to complain about a new problem: the elastic marks on my underbelly. They itch, they burn, they bug the living crap out of me.

No matter what sort of underwear, pants or skirt I wear, can't stand to keep them over my belly - it's hot and scratchy and it just doesn't work for me. Belly panels are my nemesis for reasons ranging from ugliness to discomfort to yuck, who thought these up, anyway? So panel, stretchy elastic, groaning-under-the-pressure undies, whatever, ends up under my tummy. And the creasing begins. Excess weight gain = more itchiness and discomfort. This is a big issue with me.

That, on top of a study I covered in BB yesterday, have inspired me to change my diet and exercise profile for the rest of the pregnancy, starting now. I suppose at this point I should also mention my doctor has lifted all restrictions from my activity, so I can do whatever I like, barring the usual things that one bars when one is pregnant.

I've reluctantly been giving up sweets, that is, after I had one last delicious cookie from the bakery at the hospital. Well, it's a gradual process. I had only one of the big box of Trader Joe's sandwich cookies I just bought, and made myself eat a banana first to fill up. I had a great late lunch of veggie salad with hard-boiled egg and feta. For an evening treat I made Everett and I milkshakes out of banana, frozen raspberries, yogurt and a little half-and-half for creaminess. For late-night snack I had a bagel with cream cheese.

But my big question is: what should I be eating during these bi-hourly waves of hunger? I can only assume that my body needs sustenance, or it wouldn't be screaming at me like that. I've accepted that, yes, I should be eating something. If I'm looking to give my body nutrients without adding too much poundage: what should I eat? Any thoughts? I'm trying to force-feed myself fruit, but it never takes the edge off my hunger. Would you nutritional types out there suggest eating, for instance, chicken breakfast sausage? Peanut butter and celery? What do you think?

My exercise program starts tomorrow, I swear. Until then, I sleep, perchance to not wake up and have to go to the bathroom every few hours.

2005.01.27. she loves a lonely night...

There's nothing like the overwhelming hormones of pregnancy to make a mama feel resoundingly lonely. And that's how I felt tonight.

My mama friends all dropped out of our meeting tonight, one by one, until the only one left was me. I gave my brother-in-law the night off babysitting duty and Everett was napping, so with only two mamas left I began cleaning and cooking. An hour later, when one more dropped off due to flu, I left off my cleaning and began the process of pureeing two quarts of delicious (and healthy) tomato soup. Everett woke up and in the semi-dark, I proceeded to burn my grilled cheese sandwich. Twice. Damn.

Later my Saturday night "date" was cancelled. I wasn't needed Saturday at the church thrift store (I didn't want to go, but still...). No one responded to my email about play dates. I felt lost, isolated, sad.

It was all just circumstances, sickness and friends in town and busy schedules and ordinary exhaustion that leveled my mama group. And besides...what riches to have such a group to begin with.

But when you make yourself a grilled cheese sandwich to go with your gigantic bowl of perfect tomato soup, and you burn it twice, and you don't have a husband there to make you another one, boy is it lonely.

2005.01.28. something just feels off

It was a good (and not lonely) day today, with a coffee shop meeting and a nice walk with my buddy Tanya and an extended playdate afterward. Matt played with Everett while I went on errands alone, and despite the marijuana that assaulted me outside the photo place, and the teeny boppers who invaded my coffee shop where I was writing a letter to my hubbie, it was good to be alone for a while.

When I got home, I got this strange feeling that something was off. It's the feeling that the baby is about to fall out onto the rug underneath me, the way I felt near the end of my pregnancy with Everett.

Later Everett poked me in the tender spot (where I think the abruption was) and it burned. It wasn't even a hard poke. It just didn't feel right.

But what did feel right was Everett talking about Truman (who, evidently, wanted to watch TV with us). I think it's the first time he's used the name; I've only been talking about the baby as "your baby brother, Truman" for the past week or two. It made my heart warm, and not quite so worried about our episode today.

What episode, you ask? Oh, that would be the one where Everett walked up to three-month-old baby Noah, lying on his tummy on the floor, minding his own business, and kicked him casually - purposefully - in the forehead. There was no provocation, no verbalization, no apparent reason at all. Just a casual bonk.

He talked to me about it much later (he avoided my eyes when I tried to explain how wrong that was on the spot), very matter-of-factly, saying he wouldn't do it again. But...what is that? Should I prepare cushy body armor in a 0-3 months size for little Truman, just in case?

2005.01.29. something IS off

I've taken my liberties with my release from bed rest. And today must have been God's warning shot across my brow.

Everett and I decided to meet some urban mama friends at Urban Grind (here he is, the cutey). It was nice, if a little chaotic, even more nice because my sisters were there with their church women's group - which includes a dear friend from high school I don't see very often. We drank coffee and ate paninis and played trains and negotiated battles over Everett's great quantity of toys that came with us.

Everett, surprisingly, wanted to go home. Probably because his toys were in such high demand. When we left, though, the call of the adjacent block was too attractive, and Everett took off. The second time around the block, I thought to myself, would be the last. I was halfway to the far corner when a huge dog came bounding up. Everett was disappearing around the corner. The dog was fast, and had already reached him. Thanks to my experience from yesterday, I was suddenly terrified. I screamed at Everett - and the dog - and his owner (not in sight anywhere), to STOP! No one stopped. I sprinted ahead. The dog ran off, and he probably didn't scare Everett nearly as much as I did with my frantic scream (and the specter of cutting his run short).

I carried him until I was sure the dog was safely far away from us, then let him run back to the car. Of course, I had to chase him down once we reached it, carrying him kicking and screaming (no, literally) to his car seat and force him in. He screamed for about a mile, and I told him if he would settle down, I would take him to the track to run.

He quieted down, and got excited as we pulled into the track. I put his hat on and helped him out of the car. In moments, he was running, as happy as a two-year-old can be. I followed him at a brisk walk, getting a modicum of exercise as we walked up and down the stadium stairs. I met a nice woman whose boyfriend/husband type played kick-the-lacrosse-ball with Everett while I chatted about coaching (she was coaching lacrosse at Sunset, although her background was track), pregnant and nursing exercise (she was also a personal trainer) and stuff. She was great, and helped me motivate Everett back in the car, soaked, muddy and content. It worked.

Then we got home, and changed clothes, and got milk. I went to the bathroom, hoping for a nice hot shower after spending the last few hours of stress and cold wet weather. There was blood there...at first just a tinge, then a clot of blood, big enough to worry, not big enough to be called a large amount. Oh, shit.

My first thought was, I'll have to go to the hospital. I didn't want to call the doctor, yet, until I was ready. I didn't want to go off half-cocked. I called my sister, asking that she be ready for babysitting duty. I needed to pack and gather information. I needed the Red Cross number from Fort Leonard Wood. I needed to inform people of my condition. I needed to make Everett sausage.

But first, I needed to shower, and I took a long, quiet one. Everett came in to talk to me and kept taking my picture with his toy binoculars as I worried and watched for more blood. There was none. I went to look up info and cook sausage. I checked again. No more blood.

I called Dr. Kehoe's office, and she called back so fast that I wished I'd timed it. It couldn't have been more than 90 seconds. She wondered if I'd had intercourse (mmm, no). She wondered if the baby was moving well (yep). She said to take it easy, stay away from dogs, go to the hospital if there was any more blood. The fact that it had stopped made it better.

So I finished the sausage, I called my sister, I packed Everett's overnight bag (can't hurt to have it ready to go at any point), and I waited for Jonathan's call. He wants me to call animal control, and to take the number with me wherever I go. Not a bad idea. I adore dogs, and dog people, but those unleashed dogs are just a menace to us all - not that I'm necessarily certain that any one of them will hurt my child, but what if... what if I'd lost the baby? What if Everett had run into the street, scared, and collided with a car? What if I'd fallen in the wet sidewalk and injured myself? Any of these things could have happened, with terrible results, from one dog owner's decision to let his gigantic pooch be free. I'm even mad for my friends who have dogs they love, because that dog owner and countless others who choose to let their dogs run free around the public cast aspersions on dog owners everywhere.

The situation makes me feel so angry, and helpless, and isolated. How am I supposed to leave the house with my son when I can't even brave the coffee shop without damage? I feel like whining, "it's just not fair!" And I can't wait until my rocked-out protector of a husband comes home, so he can navigate the world of rambunctious toddlers and runaway pooches and slippery streets and I can just put my feet up and sip caffeinated beverages and eat paninis in peace.

2005.01.29.later. how is this fair?

What's going on in the universe? What strange planet is in retrograde right now? Are the stars all wack-a-daisy?

This morning my mom called to say that my dad was in the hospital. The way she made it sound, it was like he was on the mend. He was in Seaside, and in my state with my budgetary restrictions and my work that's behind and my baby that I really don't want to be born anywhere but here in good ol' PDX, I figured, he would be out of the hospital in a day, there was no point in my going. My sisters thought so, too.

Leave it to the most thoughtful, involved one in the family to step in: my brother's wife. What would we do without her? I just got off the phone with Destiny, and suddenly my world is all coming out in different colors. The way she described it - and she sounded really worried - Dad was in terrible pain and the doctors had no idea what was going on.

Poor Truman someday will read this blog - when he's way, way older - and realize why he has such a sensitive relationship with stress. Why he has these vague memories of a dark place with very loud, swishy, electric pulses coming at him from all directions.

My dad had the flu, or so he thought, and it kept getting worse. He was having abdominal pain, and it kept getting more severe. Finally Mom took him to the hospital in Seaside (about 30 minutes from their home, over an hour-and-a-half from mine). They told him his small intestines had stopped working. It took three different kinds of pain medication to make it bearable.

I know how these things can hurt. I was just there, three weeks ago, but my issue fixed itself, for now. Destiny told me that the doctors couldn't get things working again (this wasn't clear in my mom's phone call), that his intestine was leaking those awful digestive juices into his stomach, that he was still in awful pain, that they were thinking about doing exploratory surgery. That she was worried about how qualified the doctors in the small beach town could be. That my mom had gone home to their house in the middle of nowhere, Oregon, by herself.

Immediately I started envisioning my mom, driving those lonely miles back to the house, in the dark, alone. My sturdy, Mr. Fix It daddy, moaning from pain the way I did, all night. Their world, thrown into chaos, with no one to win the bread, no one to be with my mom in this terrible time. And nothing, nothing I could do.

What can I do? I told Destiny that we would come with them if they decide to go back to Seaside tomorrow. I want to go out there, spend the night with mom, but I'm afraid of driving by myself (and Everett) when I'm worried about my own health, the life of little Truman. I haven't had any more bleeding tonight, but things still don't feel right. I know that my uterus is in an extremely fragile state right now. I can only envision myself, driving through the dark without even a cell phone, having an emergency somewhere dozens of miles from my safe Level III NICU.

What do I do? Tomorrow, do I go? Should I call my doctor? How would I feel if I stayed home worried about the baby, only to have my dad take a turn for the worse - I can't even type it - and then go full-term? God, I'd never forgive myself.

My sons only have one set of grandparents, now. Everett worships his grandpa. I can't even imagine a world without my dad, with Truman and Everett growing up without a grandfather. I asked Everett to sit down and pray with me. I said that I hoped Grandpa would be safe, that Everett and Truman needed their Grandpa. Everett said - how did he get this? - "and baby cousin!" Yes, sweetie, baby cousin needs Grandpa too. I need Grandpa.

I had this anguished session of thinking when I was driving back from Seattle after dropping off Jonathan, the night his mom died. I was worried about him, and I thought about how I could deal with anyone in my life dying, except for Jonathan, or Everett, or Truman. I think it was the tsunami coverage that inspired this line of thought. I prayed that night, that no matter what, God would keep my three most important men with me. And I felt that, yes, he would, that I would not be a young widow or have to face the death of my children.

And now I wonder, how could I have thought that I could deal with dad's death? Of course, I understand, I'm 31, plenty of my friends have lost their parents, heck, my own dear husband lost both of his. But my parents - my parents, they're invincible, they can't leave me. I need them. I need Grandma and Grandpa. I don't want to fill out my baby book and have most of the leaves on the family tree be only memories.

One of my dad's older brothers died a few months before my wedding, not quite two years ago. My cousins - their kids won't have a Grandpa Gilbert, either. But Uncle Mike, he was sick for a while, they had time to adjust. He led an unhealthy lifestyle for many years (before becoming the life of the party at AA). They had some idea.

I want to say my dad is different, but he isn't. I knew, somehow, that this was possible. I've often thought that dad would die before mom - even though she's eight years older. It's just not supposed to happen for a long, long time. He's only 58. Only a year or two older than Jonathan's mom. Oh, God.

I had to turn on all the lights in the living room, had to leave Everett in frustration several times tonight because everything was coming down on my heart, I couldn't see through the fog, I couldn't be in the dark. It's 27 days until Jonathan graduates from AIT. And God, how I want to tell him to come home now.

Doing this without him is earth-shattering. Dealing with the abruption and Everett and work and all my responsibilities was really tough. But adding in the deep, terrible condition of my dad - I don't know what to do. If he doesn't get better, I don't know what I'll do. I don't know how I'll cope. I didn't love my mother-in-law, didn't grow up knowing her, didn't count on her to fix my sink or shower affection on my sons. She never showed me a card depicting a little boy fishing with his grandpa in absolute delightful anticipation when I was pregnant.

I don't even have any photos of Everett with Grandpa, for some reason, I've only taken shots of him with his Grandma. Well, there is this picture of Everett on a ladder and you can see dad's feet; there's another one where he's working on the wall in his room and grandpa's legs are in the background.

I'm going on, and on, typing just to have somewhere to put all these thoughts, because I can't tell my husband, who is due for fire watch in ... what now ... three hours, who is getting his seven hours of sleep tonight, who might call me tomorrow or might not call me until next weekend.

I need to stop, now, do other things, somehow prepare myself for not working tomorrow, either, for again throwing life off-balance. I need to stop.

2005.01.30.later. commitments

From here on, I commit to things. I commit to having the kids spend more time - at least a few hours a week - with their grandpa and grandma. I commit to taking prodigious quantities of photos with grandpa and Everett, grandma and Everett, grandma and grandpa with Nehalem, grandma and grandpa with Truman when he's born.

I commit to calling my parents regularly, checking on them, offering to cook family dinner, instigating family gatherings.

I commit to getting my extended family together on occasion, my cousins and aunts and uncles, and staying in touch with those far away.

I commit to getting the entire family to Panama for my sister's wedding, some way, somehow. Every last one of us, including Truman. Even if I have to hold a "send the Gilbert family to Panama" fundraiser complete with car washes and bake sales.

I commit to listening more, and remembering more, and doing more. Every moment is precious, every holiday is to be archived, every memory is to be treasured forever.

There is nothing so rich and wonderful in a child's life than a close relationship with the older generations. Nothing will contribute such a sense of history and pride and belonging and self-worth to my sons than to be close with their grandparents, and great-uncles, and cousins, and aunts. It could keep them out of gangs and away from cigarettes. It could give them empowerment and sensitivity and security. It should be my priority, my most important commitment, my covenant with my sons.