mama's pregnant blog

of bellies and belly-achin'

From BabyCenter: Your baby is more than 11 inches long and weighs just over a pound. His skin is red and wrinkled. Blood vessels in his lungs are developing to prepare him for breathing. He can swallow, but he normally won't pass his first stool (called meconium) until after birth. Loud noises heard often in utero such as your dog barking or the roar of a vacuum cleaner probably won't faze your baby when he hears them outside the womb.

2005.01.17. nightmares

Last night I was awaken around 3 a.m. by my loving-yet-sometime-dunce-ish husband, who had made the mistake of trying to "watch out" for the young-and-ultra-foolish soldiers who were stuck with him in St. Louis by a snowstorm. He was upset, for reasons that seemed ridiculous to me in the middle of the night with bigger things to worry about than whether or not his (here's where it gets mean) stupid friends made it home, and whether or not they ditched him whilst getting there.

I tried to be understanding but couldn't help letting a little judgment slip in..."well, you should have just gone to bed and let them be!" He was brokenhearted with exhaustion and a bit too much forbidden beverage. I told him to call me later and went to see how much this ditching had cost the family by checking our bank account online.

Of course, he didn't call me later, and of course, I stayed up for hours tossing and turning over financial worries and concerns about my sweet hubbie - whether he was exhausted, hurt, making his plane o.k. At 5 a.m., I heard a car in our driveway. My brother-in-law.

He snuck as quietly as he could into my bedroom, clearly drunker than my hubbie. He came in with apology tripping over apology. It was a long story. He needed money for the cab, he'd pay me back three times over.

I had about $4 in cash, all in quarters and dimes. "What should I do?" he asked. Like the stressed-out-exhausted mama on bedrest knows. I gave him my debit card and told him to go to bed.

That certainly didn't help my sleep any, but by 5:30, I had slipped into a restless nightmare-fueled slumber. In my dreams, my brothers-in-law were partying in my (strangely huge and cluttered) attic, with hookers and loud music. I tried to call the cops but couldn't get "911" to go through on my ineffective cordless phone.

I don't need a therapist to tell me that I felt abandoned by all the men in my life - that their irresponsibility was throwing my world into chaos. But even when I awoke, happy to shake off that tortured dream state, I felt guilty for my anger at them. Somewhat justified, of course, but guilty - guilty that they were feeling so lost without their mom, guilty that I couldn't be more sympathetic, guilty that I had no mental or financial capacity to guide them through this.

When I awoke, it was to my mom arriving to look after me for the week. A few hours later, my friend Kate stopped by to pick up Everett for a playdate. She carried a huge bag full of goodies - magazines, pastries, bath salts, organic food for my freezer.

It's the women in my life who always come through, always look after me when I'm in need, always behave responsibily while the world is in chaos. How can I teach my sons to be more woman-like in their care for others? It's certainly a good goal. If I reach only a small number of my motherly goals, boy will my sons make wonderful husbands.

2005.01.18. through a son's eyes

I got the letter from Jonathan today where he described his graduation. He said that, while he'd wished I was there, he had really wished his mom could be there - that there was something unalterably special about that demonstration of accomplishment, that recognition from his mother.

Reading that, seeing the mother through the eyes of the son, wishing for that amazing and unique feeling of making a mom proud, I had a jolting epiphany. What always confused me was suddenly so clear - it's not what your mom did to you, as a boy, it's what you do for your mom. It's that knowledge that you did good, that you made her proud. It's proving that all the years she spent wondering if you'd ever make it were not in vain. It's justification for every misbehavior, every time you were sent to your room, every disappointing report card. It's almost universal, this basic need to have your mom see you walk across a stage or receive an award. It's the reason that, no matter how wonderful, sweet, loving and fulfilling a wife might be, however insufficient the mom, that bond can never be replaced.

I felt a sudden wave of failure: the compunction that there will always be a hole in my husband's heart that, no matter how overwhelming our love or perfect our relationship, I'll never quite fill. That was really hard to take.

At the same time, however, I was filled with the twin responsibility and good fortune of being a mom of boys myself, of having two or three little buckets of maleness who will spend their lives (at least, some of their lives) doing things to make me proud, whose chests will swell that extra percentage point when mom sees them make the goal, or get the diploma, or win the acclaim. For at least two souls, I will be that place in their heart unfilled by anyone but me. It's a terrible, gorgeous responsibility, and it makes me realize what a gigantic thing this motherhood trip is. I'm filled with wonder and terror, I'm struck with the weight of my mama destiny. I'll be there, boys, I'll be there with my camera and my approval and my love, I'll do my utmost to fill that hole to bursting. I don't want you to look around in vain, when you graduate from college, when you kiss your bride, when you promise to commit your own sons to God. I want you to look around and see me smile with pride and joy, with your father next to me, finally completing the circle that's been broken far too long. We'll be there, boys, with everything we have.

2005.01.20. fun hurts

Tonight was mom's group, and as I was feeling energetic and relatively pain-free, not to mention, desperate for a little mom's group chatter, I decided to brave it. I even felt good enough to whip up a simple chili-queso dip (1 pkg cream cheese, 1 pkg sour cream, 1 can black bean chili, canned chiles, chipotle, cumin, salt, whir together, sprinkle grated cheese over, bake 20 minutes, yum). Tiffany picked me up, and I was ready for fun.

I ate delicious mexi-food, I drank amazing cocoa spice tea, I indulged in Denali chocolate sauce and coffee ice cream. I finally dished the way I'd been waiting for the past several weeks.

It was wonderful, but by 9:30, my belly started to give me grief. At one point the pain had risen to a worrisome point, then subsided again. Once I arrived home, though, I was certain: I wouldn't be able to go to my morning coffee shop meeting for the indoor park.

And now, the pain isn't intense, I'm not overwhelmingly scared, but there's a nagging tightness. An occasional "ouch" that makes me wonder...is this not over yet? Might I have more midnight dashes to the hospital before little Truman makes his all-important two pounds, 26 weeks? Might Valentine's Day be an impossible goal?

I'm more than a little scared, sure that stuffing my face with enchiladas, chili queso dip and guacamole could not be the cause of my bit o' pain, wondering if maybe it's the few blocks' walk today (in an attempt to make an ultrasound appointment that wasn't), wondering if it's just my tender tummy. I'm looking oh-so-forward to the (yes, in the computer this time) ultrasound appointment tomorrow, the one that will either quiet my fears or admit me to the labor & delivery ward. As I've said before...there's nothing I can do but pray. And sleep. And that's what I'll do now.

2005.01.21. back in time

I've been thinking about making Truman's baby book, and tonight I picked up Everett's and looked through it with him. He was really intrigued by the "mail" (an envelope glued into the book), which was a letter from me. I opened it to read to him.

Of course, he didn't let me finish and tried to wear it as a hat (although he seemed very touched, just for an instant...I think). And then cried when I took it to put it back in the book.

A couple of nights ago I was reading through my pregnancy journal (the day-by-day one with Everett's dates still penciled in - I just subtract two months and call it good since their due days-of-the-month are virtually the same). I came across some notes I'd written about Everett moving around, about his ultrasound, and a few days later, our decision to name him "Everett."

It brought me back in an immediate way to Everett's time inside me, what a wonder that was, how much I longed to be a parent, how much stock I put in my conception of myself as mama.

It was a report card, too, as I'd talked in my little letter about how much I dreamed that we'd love him and support him in who he was. Have I done that so far? Probably, yes, but I've been lucky. What if it's not the same with Truman?

I thought about it again when I handed a cup of Yogi Cocoa Spice tea to my mom (delicious!) to taste and she said, "I'm sorry, I just don't like it." We're so different, she and I, from our taste buds to our parenting styles to our politics. I think she was a great mom, I'm just different. Not rebelliously, just...that's how I turned out.

Everett is turning out to be the apple of his mama's, and daddy's, eye. He'll be a runner, and play football, and probably wrestle (dad's love, not mine), without any arm-twisting from us. He'll probably read poetry with me, and knit, and bake. He already loves the laptop as much as mama does.

But what about Truman? Will he follow in both of our footsteps, adoring our sports and our hobbies and our intellectual pursuits just like we do? Or will he strike off on his own, playing (yikes!) soccer, and ... umm ... falling in love with auto mechanics, or something equally out of our realm?

Being the second child can be hard, and I'm worried for him, the expectations of cuteness and brilliance that will fall on his shoulders. I'm worried for me, hoping too much, planning on a small version of Everett. I want to be the same parent in attitude - hoping much, but not expecting (too) much - that I was with Everett. And, in many ways, better.

But I'm so imperfect and such an overachiever. I want all my kids to follow in my overachieving ways. Deep down? Yeah, I'll be super disappointed if Truman shuns track for tennis, or drama, or (yikes!) fixing up an old Nissan Altima (hee hee).

I have to remember what is, I think, my best parental quality: my devotion. I'm terrible at schedules, and expectations, and saying "no" when someone's crying. But I'm truly awesome at pouring my heart and soul into loving the little cuddlebugs until I can't love no more. Affection? I don't give it casually outside this house, but inside, it's all kisses and tight, jealous hugs.

So maybe what I lack in unreasonable hopes, I'll make up for by loving them so much when they're young that I'll get over it all by the time high school rolls around. Can a kid whose mom loved him so much she stayed up until 2 a.m. every night of his gestation blogging about him, really be that bad off? I sure as heck hope not.

2005.01.22. ultrasound report

Could I have forgotten to update the permanent record? I could have, indeed. Yesterday was just such a loooong day. In which I went to my ultrasound appointment to check up on Truman's growth and the health of my placenta.

So, what did I learn? Well, for starters, Truman is doing just fine. His little heart is pulsing away just like it should, and let me tell you - the 24-week heart is a beautiful thing to behold. It's so amazing to just see it working away like that, how could he be anything but healthy with such a lovely little heart?

The ultrasound technician gave my placenta a clean bill of health, although he will, of course, have to check in with the radiologist for a final opinion. I'll hopefully find out more during my official OB appointment this coming Wednesday.

The scary part, though, was the decidedly un-fine feeling of the little ultrasound paddle when it was pressed (my God, those technicians press hard) on the site where the worst pain was when I was in the hospital in Vegas. It hurt like crazy - definitely not the panicky-take-over-my-body pain of the actual abruption, probably more like a really awful bruise. My current theory is that the abruption is what's called a "concealed placental abruption" or "concealed hemorrhage." That blood is just sitting there between the placenta and the uterus and it hurts when you press on it with a hard plastic object. I told the technician that it was hurting so in the next photo of my placenta he typed, "PLA XS AREA OF PAIN." Is it an extra-small placenta? Is it a cross-section? I never asked.

Truman is doing lovely, and I'm sure you're ready to see pictures, but I have to warn you: they take a fair bit of staring before you can make them out. We didn't have a lot of fabulously clear profile shots throughout the ultrasound - he was too busy taking measurements and looking at boring things like kidneys (which, try as I might, I just can't see on that grainy whooshy image). The measurements were clustered around the 24-week point (ick, the head circumference is the furthest along) which means that he is progressing normally, and I'm probably not a week ahead of schedule, as I thought after the first ultrasound.

Whoops. I had the photos posted for a moment with my SS#. Probably not the best choice for a girl who opens her life to the web. I screw up my credit enough on my own...

Now, for the analysis. I came home a little disappointed. My mom went home (she'd been planning to anyway, of course) and I took myself off bed rest, officially, promising that I'd be "careful." I'm not going to carry Everett up and down the stairs just because he needs attention, or take him on a walk near traffic for the next couple of weeks. But, by and large, I'll go back to my life as before.

And...I feel, somehow, a little...I can't even find a good word for it. Disrespected is too dramatic, misunderstood is too literal. I just feel that my pain is ...umm... under-represented, maybe. Although my energy's come back, for the most part, at the end of the day my belly still hurts; when I sit too long in my sidewinder position in my cushy chair, everything starts to ache. Sometimes out of the blue, my placental "AREA OF PAIN" will just start to sing dully at me, in a quiet dirge-like voice, "I hurt, I hurt, be careful, shhhh..." and suddenly I want to cry, or lie down, or feel the baby move so I know he's o.k.

The thing is, the ultrasound technician found nothing wrong. And I know there's still something wrong, that my AREA OF PAIN is not in my imagination. I know I'm making too much of it, I should just take it easy and be greatly joyous that I have made the 24-week mark with no "fetal distress," that no matter what happens from this point forward, Truman will have a chance to make it in this world. That maybe, even, he will hang out in my safe warm belly through the spring, through mom & dad's anniversary, and be welcomed in with the rest of the May flowers.

I am, of course, ecstatic that we've hit the 24-week marker and look good for going the distance. I guess I just feel that my nice "normal" pregnancy was forever taken away two weeks ago, and that I can't just return to happy-go-lucky multipara status. Oh, I'm sure they're not going to take the "high-risk" sticker off my chart, or anything, and will continue to monitor the little guy to make sure he's progressing normally. I suppose I'm worried that picking up my former frenzied schedule will throw me back into my pre-Christmas stress and I'll spiral into mama meltdown. It's been nice being able to say "no" to any and all appointments out of my cushy jammies, with doctor's orders. I'll miss this quiet time, the hours spent in my chair not feeling extraordinarily guilty about the great quantity of TV Everett has been watching. The long baths during Everett's nap that felt justified. The easy way I've settled into not exercising, at all.

Even now, my guilt over my extended break time is growing, and I feel the weight of responsibilities I've shirked these past several weeks descending onto my shoulders. I'll have to pick it up and soldier on. Somehow, I'll have to.