Wednesday, February 17, 2010

So THIS is what they mean by weird preg dreams...

Last night I dreamed I was traveling down south somewhere, someplace with white eyelet curtains, artsy murals on random brick buildings, and 70+ degree weather. My dad was there, and a whole bunch of women I didn't recognize, but who all seemed to know me. I was lounging on a bean bag chair when I realized I was in labor. My dad and I looked at my stomach, and we could see, clearly delineated, little tiny hands and feet pushing out against my belly. Except that there were four hands and three feet! "I guess there really are twins in there," I mused. Looking around the room, I saw a strange inflatable pool-looking thing and realized it was a birthing tub. "This is awesome!" I exclaimed, and in walks Sue. Oh yeah, I realized, I'm in the South, she probably just drove over!

So here I am in a completely strange place, the only man in sight is my Dad, who happens to be a Doctor, and I'm in labor hundreds of miles away from the place I had planned to give birth. It doesn't hurt at all, no pain, but I can feel the babies sort of pushing, trying to get out. All these women around me seemed totally prepared, and they busied themselves about the room preparing to help me give birth. And all the while I can see two babies pushing tiny hand and footprints into my abdomen.

I wondered if I had time-traveled? Women birthed this way all the time several hundred years ago. This was all there was. I wasn't nervous, or scared, or even really anxious. I watched all this happening to me and around me with interest, like an observer.

I know this dream was brought on by the odd number of people - mostly strangers - who are convinced I'm having twins because I'm "SO big!." I tell them I've had three ultrasounds and we've only seen one baby in there, and they look confused. Also my mind has been on giving birth lately, since I'm being followed closely by my medical team. They seem to feel that I'm at risk for pre-term labor. I'm going in for another ultrasound and examination tomorrow morning to see if the "risk" has progressed or if I'm just doing things my own way. (My bet is on the latter.)

Slam is throwing me a shower in two weeks, and I am just PRAYING that this snow will be melting and the weather will be just a TOUCH warmer. Like, in the mid to upper 40's, maybe even the 50's. I'd like some early spring, just for that day. Is that so much to ask? I want to wear this red wrap dress I've been saving for the spring, in a thinner jersey knit. Just for those few hours, I want to wear normal shoes! With heels! I want to embody forward-thinking and positivity, and the rosy future that I am so excited about. I will sit down as much as possible, I will have someone drive me to and from the pub, and in general behave myself according to Doctor's orders, but by the goddess I want to look good doing it. I've been living in pajamas and flip-flops for too long, and I have to admit, it's starting to get to me!

My Mom and I talk almost every day. She is flying out for the shower and will be staying here at the apartment. We are so excited to have some free time together, without jobs or other obligations! I TiVoed an episode of Biography that's about the Nelson family (as in Ozzie, Harriet, David, Ricky, and the rest of the clan), since I know she was a big Ricky Nelson fan back in the day. I want to bring her to the local french bakery for lunch, and the pretty coffee shop across the street. And of course she's looking forward to some snuggles from Marge.

I haven't had a whole lot of visitors during these weeks of "restricted activity," so to see my friends and family laughing and noshing at my favorite place with pretty "It's a Girl!" decorations all around is going to be very good for my soul.

Most of all, I'm hoping that somehow, my baby will pick up on the vibe that this whole party is because of HER, that these people are here because SHE IS COMING, and that she will somehow, on some level, begin to understand how wanted and welcome she is. Even if the only people at this shower are my Mom, Slam, and me, there will be so much love and excitement in the air, and I want my baby to feel that, even now, even this early, still in my womb.

We are in the home stretch now! As of Friday I will be 32 weeks along. Once I get to 37 weeks, I'll be ready for delivery. That's only 5 weeks away! During those five weeks G and I will be taking Lamaze classes and an Infant Care class. Next thing I know it will be Passover, and I'll have the hospital bag packed and ready to go! I'm hoping someone invites us for Passover this year... I highly doubt I'll have the strength to prepare a meal this year.

It's probably clear that I'm just one big bundle of anticipation these days. It's a great feeling, a great place to be.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Imbolc 2010: Grow and Glow

Finally, it's here.

Some women feel this the minute they get confirmation they are pregnant. They are just there. They're excited, they're in love, they are so ready for everything coming. The morning sickness, the aches and pains, none of it really matters, they are full of the joy of mommy-to-be.

I think the majority of women feel it in the second trimester, when the morning sickness and exhaustion abates, and your hair grows thick and long and shiny, and your nails are strong and ladylike, and your skin clears up, and you glow, physically, you actually glow. You start to get all these compliments from people. It makes you feel good about yourself, and you realize it's because of the baby. Pregnancy really is beautiful.

For me, beginning my third trimester, it's just now happening, really. I've been excited all along, since this child has been so eagerly anticipated, since we waited so long, and were so patient. But my internal emotional struggle has been pretty intense. I'm sure that my depression - even though it's medically controlled - played a part in this, since I recognize the self-loathing and self-flagellating patterns as long-held manifestations of my illness. My pregnancy symptoms were simply another source of the same crap feelings that have hobbled me all my life: feeling unattractive, worthless, useless, and like a burden to everyone. Yes, the Prozac helped, and yes, it's totally safe for the baby, but the hormonal changes that pregnancy brings were a wild card, of which no one could really predict the effects. I cannot IMAGINE going through pregnancy unmedicated. I am convinced that, as hard as it was for me, it would have been 10 times harder, not only for me, but for my husband as well. Having my serotonin levels balanced enabled me to look objectively at myself in the mirror, and tell myself from time to time You're pregnant. Not fat. You're making a baby. You have the right to be tired, you can't help being nauseous. Your body is working very hard. G loves you and supports you. Your friends love you. Your family loves you. You deserve to be loved. You are doing the most important work of your life, even if you have to lie on the couch to do it. Forgive yourself.

It's been hard. But in retrospect, I've done much harder things. My pregnancy, objectively speaking, looking back, has actually been very healthy, and very normal. All my difficult symptoms - the exhaustion, the sore back, the edema, carpal tunnel, all of it - has fallen well within normal range. My baby is a healthy, active, (christ she's VERY VERY active) vibrant child growing inside me. I have, I realize, been very, very lucky.

I finally took a deep breath and sat my husband down and had a long talk about how I've been feeling, how difficult it's been for me to talk to him about my feelings. I bit the bullet, and I told him I need certain things from him. I said, "this is your crazy hormonal pregnant wife, and I need you, I need these things from you, I need to know you are still here with me." We laughed, he held me, he told me he loves me, he is proud. He promised to give whatever I need, and instructed me lovingly to be sure and TELL HIM if he's not picking up on my signals. Which, granted, he's damn good at. But he was there for me. He is there for me. We are in this together, and I feel it now more than ever.

Just within the last week or two, a significant shift has occurred inside me. My anxieties are disappearing. I'm beginning to trust in certain ways, and to take control in other ways. I'm focusing more on the actual birth process, how I want things to be, and making a birth plan. I'm looking more critically at my care, and exploring options, knowing it's not too late to make changes, if I really feel I need to. I have that freedom.

Most magically, my child is filling me with wonder. Most evenings I lie on the couch in my yoga pants and a sports bra, my burgeoning belly completely exposed, and I just watch her move, my stomach rippling and jiggling. Sometimes I place my hand on her, and I feel her, just beneath the skin, as though I am already able to hold my baby. I feel her head, her feet, sometimes her little bum, poking through my abdomen. I am utterly charmed. She is already an independent being, a person. She is exploring, stretching, experimenting. That's my girl!

When I go out in public, I am proud when people ask me "When are you due?" I grin and blush and can barely contain my joy. I know people can tell, and I don't care anymore. I know I don't look fat. I know I am special right now. This is truly a rite of passage in my life. I have come to grips with my own body, and feel perfectly ok about sitting on a bench for a few minutes, or making an extra bathroom trip. I don't mind my clunky shoes. I'm just so... amazingly... happy.

Women, especially grandmother-aged women, look at me very critically, examining me up and down, and then declare: "You look good. All the weight is in the right place. Your skin is great." Then they nod satisfactorily. Complete strangers do this. I don't get a lot of people wanting to touch me, but I get the once-over examinations all the time. Some ask flat-out "Are you taking prenatals? Do you work or get out from time to time? You shouldn't just lie around. How is your husband doing?" It's funny, often they are checking to see if I'm doing what their daughter or niece or friend did when they were pregnant, having learned some difficult lessons. Some want to share things they wish they had done differently, and make sure I'm not making the same mistakes they did. They are protective.

Younger women who are either pregnant themselves or raising young children have a whole different tack. Some are reassuring: "You're almost there! Have you decided on cloth or disposable diapers? How's your back?" Some are just a tad condescending: "I know you feel like hell now, but trust me, at least you're walking around. I had to be on bedrest and my husband was an asshole." I smile and let them talk, if it makes them feel better. Everybody's life is different.

The best is when some random strange woman suddenly meets eyes with me, and we see kindred spirits, a sisterhood. We compare notes, we talk about our favorite things, we gush about how exciting it will be to finally meet this creature flopping about inside us. We hug, we link arms, we swap maternity clothing tips. It makes the day joyous, just those few minutes of connection with someone else who's on the exact same page. It's validating. My Mom was right - I am joining the biggest sorority on the planet.

There is a spiritual, metaphysical thing going on here. I do feel more strongly connected with the rest of the human race. I feel more female than ever before. I feel strong, powerful, and beautiful. I feel confident and unafraid. I feel the invisible strings that bind me to other women on this planet, near and far, mothers everywhere. I thank the God and Goddess every day. I pray for my baby, for her health, and give thanks for everything that I have. And I have so much.

Spring will bring my child into my arms - or does my child bring the spring? the ice inside me is already melting, like the snow outside my window. I've survived the blizzard. I'm ready for birth, rebirth, life, and all that comes with it.

Blessed be.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Sick sucks.

The thing about being pregnant that really sucks: If you get sick, you can't take anything for it.

That's not COMPLETELY true. You can take Acetominophen (Tylenol). You can take Sudafed. But if those don't work for you, you're screwed. No Advil, no Aleve, no aspirin. No Mucinex. Certain antihistamines (i.e. THE ONES THAT WORK) are off the menu. And of course, caffeine intake has to be limited to the equivalent of two cups of coffee per day, so that little home remedy is out too.

Basically, everything that works for me, is out.

So I'm back to Tylenol, which hasn't done jack shit for me since junior high. But it's all I got.

The only bottle of Tylenol in our house expired in November of 2008. It's worthless. *flush*

As of last week, McNeill products issued a recall for Tylenol products. NO FING WAY. Way.

The good news is, I can buy generic "store brands" of Acetominophen! Those are safe! So off the the grocery store I go.

Sadly this will do nothing for my sore throat, post-nasal drip, or insomnia. As far as that goes, I'm shit out of luck. And no, Sudafed doesn't help drip, it only helps CONGESTION, which I don't have.

Don't even think about Nyquil or Dayquil or any other alcoholic candy.

The last time I got a simple cold - which should have been gone in 24 hours - it lasted for FIVE DAYS, and just happened to span my entire New Year's Eve vacation visiting friends and family.

So... I'm grateful I don't have to travel or really do much of anything out of the house for a while.


My boss at the pub is an old-school workaholic. She has been showing up at the pub coughing her brains out, hoarse as a crow, and looking like she might pass out at any minute. Not only did she refuse to see a Doctor, she refused to stop working. IT'S A RESTAURANT. I had a little talk with her - to no avail.

Thanks Boss. I've got her symptoms.

I learned last Sunday that she wound up in the emergency room, unable to breathe. She's a smoker, so they put her on antibiotics for the bronchal infection, and gave her an inhaler. So thank G-d I don't smoke, but if I caught bronchitis from her BOY AM I GOING TO BE MAD. So far I've only been excessively drippy since Monday, and have lost a lot of sleep, but no other symptoms, other than the sore throat from choking on my own drip. this morning however - oh JOY! I have a stuffed up head, a sore throat, and noticeably decreased energy levels. Starting to feel really sick.


So. I'm seeing my OB/GYN this afternoon. Let's see what he says.

So today's lesson, boys and girls: When you're sick, STAY HOME AND DON'T INFECT THE PREGNANT LADY AT WORK!