Tuesday, February 27, 2007

the saddest clowns

One of my favorite moments from Sunday's Oscars:

Comedian at the Oscars

Note: I guess YouTube has taken this one off the air. If you didn't catch it, the clip was of Will Ferrell, Jack Black, and John C. Reilly singing "A Comedian at the Oscars."

Friday, February 23, 2007

Letter to the Sesame Seed--Week 36

Good Morning, Pookie!

We woke up very early this morning, didn't we? Hunger and an unsettled brain drove me from bed around 4:30am, but once I get some excess energy out I should be able to go back for a morning nap.

Your daddy's birthday is approaching and I've been trying to figure out what to get for him, so that had my brain going. We're also looking for a house cleaner to help out around here once in a while since I'm about as efficient in that department as a narcoleptic pirate lately (I'm not exactly sure how that description fits, but I don't imagine a narcoleptic pirate would be very good at vacuuming or laundry, do you?) Then there was last night's CSI running through my head, with the bloody crime scene and high school politics and generally disturbing images not conducive to sleep.

So, what I'm saying is I'm not surprised to find myself trolling the internet at this hour.

We've had a pretty good week so far, even with all extra mommy hormones wrecking havoc on my system. Yesterday I managed to avoid painful leg cramps and back aches almost entirely. We went to a yoga class and for the first time I felt like I had some kind of connection with the women there. I fulfilled my pledge to get out more this week (even just to run some errands and sit in a coffee shop) and it's made me feel much less stir-crazy.

And as for you, you're just getting bigger and bigger. Everyday you get a little more real to me, and I feel great waves of anticipation to finally meet you. In one more week your birth would be considered medically safe and viable--isn't that crazy? Earlier this week your daddy was having his nightly talk with you before bed and he said, "We can't wait to see you, but just don't come out for at least another week and a half." That kind of talk can send me spinning into a deliriously happy panic--a strange mental place, I assure you.

Of course, it's okay if you want to push it and decide to stay in there until week 41. You've got some comfy digs right now, so it must be tempting. I'll just say this: your grandmas might go insane if they have to wait that long to meet you, and insane grandmas can't lavish you with presents and affection.

Just something to think about.

I love you,

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

colicky mommy

I really must get out of the house.

It's so easy to get wrapped up in things I want to accomplish at home that I forget there's this whole other world out there for me to experience. Granted, I really can't spend much time on my feet these days without causing quite a bit of pain. Still, if I don't get out and engage in life outside of this house more often I may very well go insane.

Aside from feeling stir crazy, my hormones are in overdrive. I'm moody and needy for affection, and I cry inconsolably at things that normally wouldn't phase me.

Last night it all came to a head when I woke up at 1am. I tossed and turned for half an hour, trying to relieve the pain in my shoulders to no avail, with a list of to-do's and worries spiralling through my head. I just wanted to sleep, but the harder I tried, the more elusive it became. Finally, I just gave up and started sobbing through my frustration.

This woke Thom up, and I'm sure freaked him out a bit, but it made me feel better just to have someone to share it with. When I was able to choke out what the problem was, he suggested I roll over so he could give me a back rub. It was the sweetest, most wonderful response--especially considering he had to be up at 4am to catch an early flight.

After the back rub, I felt much better and found myself drifting off after a couple of minutes. As I faded into dreamland I couldn't help but think about what it must be like for a baby who wakes in the middle of the night--alone and scared, or hungry, or uncomfortable--unable to express what's wrong--and how much it helps to have someone there to feel your pain, even if they can't fix it.

I'm going to try to remember this lesson a few months from now when I find myself faced with a colicky or fussy baby in the middle of the night: sometimes all you need is a shoulder to cry on.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Letter to the Sesame Seed--Week 35

Dear Sesame Seed,

Oh my goodness, you're almost done "cooking!" In some ways this past week has been the most difficult for me. I've had more aches and pains than usual, I'm very tired and don't seem to accomplish much during the day, and I've been hit with a few surprise symptoms I thought I might escape: stretch marks, heart burn, and bouts of weepiness (when you cry three times during one episode of Crossing Jordan, you know something is out of whack).

Still, it's all worth it when I feel you shifting around after a good meal or during one of many hiccup sessions throughout the day.

Your daddy and I attended a class on breastfeeding last night, during which we got to see lots of video of very cute, very small babies. And for the first time, I had an overwhelming urge to see you RIGHT NOW. It was so strong and so powerful I thought I might be able to make it come about through sheer will. Of course, nature is stronger and perhaps wiser in this case and knows that we probably both need a little more time just as we are.

I love you,

Thursday, February 15, 2007

my valentine

Since my outdoor excursions are pretty well limited to yoga classes and grocery shopping these days, I wanted to make an effort to have a real date with Thom on Valentine's Day. He did a great job of booking us a table at Upstairs on the Square, and I donned a cute black skirt and completely inappropriate high heals for the night.

You see nothing was going to get in the way of me feeling feminine and sexy (I figure even bowling balls can be feminine and sexy), not even a day's worth of snow, ice, and slush. Sadly, no amount of determination can keep ice from your ankles when you have to walk through foot-high drifts to get to your destination.

Luckily, feet eventually dry and good food conquers almost anything, so dinner was a great success. We even managed to talk about non-baby subjects for almost 20 minutes.

When we got home, Thom gave me a promised foot massage, which could not have come at a better time. That and his other present--a gift certificate for a prenatal massage--show how he truly understands his wife's needs.

Even more than the dinner or presents, I'm so grateful for his amazing attitude throughout this pregnancy. He's made sure to be very involved in every step (even when it means forcing upon him the equivalent of male kryptonite: a breastfeeding class). And when he tells me how beautiful I am with my big round belly, I believe him. He can't possibly know how much that means to a woman who spends most of her day feeling like the Goodyear Blimp.

So, fully aware of the danger of sounding super sappy and of embarrassing the pants off of him, I just want to thank my fantastic husband for being the best Valentine's Day gift I could have ever asked for.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

night sweats

I've been sleeping pretty poorly the past few days and it's starting to be not so fun. No matter how many pillows I pile up (four now) or how often I change position, I just can't seem to get comfortable. I lie awake thinking how irritated I am I can't fall asleep which just stresses me out and keeps me awake longer. If I do manage to nod off, I wake up every few hours from the pain in my hips and shoulders or the pressure on my bladder.

The latest annoying development has been my dreams. They've started taking on a dark tint: from the benign--but obnoxious--dream that I'm lying awake unable to sleep, to the more disturbing dreams about violence or pests (snakes, weasels, spiders, and beetles have become frequent nighttime visitors).

I think the latter are a reflection of my need to clean and secure the "nest" before the baby gets here, and these little nighttime invaders are a symbol of all I still want to accomplish. Most of you know how terrified I am of bugs, so spider attacks and bunny-eating snakes seem like somewhat excessive reminders to clean out my closet.

I keep thinking if I can just get my To Do list accomplished, this nagging sense of anxiety will fade. The truth is that list will never really be finished--there are always going to be new things To Do--and I need to come to terms with what is reasonable to expect from myself.

I need to get some perspective. I think it'll help if I get out of the house, take a walk, see a movie. I'll probably need a crowbar to pry me away from my latest projects, but if it'll keep the creepy-crawlies away at night it'll be well worth it.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

oh, really?

Things I learned at the Infant Essentials Class at Isis Maternity:
  • getting 4 hours of sleep a night during baby's first month is a luxury
  • swaddling is fun--can't wait to have a squirmy baby to try it on
  • "projectile pooping" will soon be a regular part of my vocabulary
  • 90% of car seats are installed incorrectly
  • I can, indeed, pee 4 times in 3 hours

Friday, February 09, 2007

Letter to the Sesame Seed--Week 34

Dear Sesame Seed,

Last night your father and I were sitting on the couch together when you started your evening aerobics. I put his hand on my belly so he could feel you too and he exclaimed, "Jeez, he's huge!" I guess I forget sometimes that your dad doesn't get to experience all of your new quirks and twitches and growth spurts first hand, so all of your changes seem like giant leaps to him.

And he's right: you are getting very big. Where once my abdomen used to feel squishy and soft (leaving you lots of space and fluid to float around in), now I feel firm little limbs filling every available space. It must be getting mighty cramped in there.

You're pretty heavy now too, weighing in at 4 3/4 lbs. I've been feeling some round ligament pain the last couple days--a kind of dull ache on the bottom left and right of my belly--from the extra weight I'm carrying. It's very manageable and another sign that I should stay off my feet.

Easier said than done.

With all your growing, my appetite is very strong and I finally had my first midnight snack (though, really is was more of a 3am snack). I can usually fall back asleep after my many pee breaks, but one night this week I just couldn't manage it. Late night infomercials and leftover pasta were just what you wanted. I'm lucky that little adventure didn't end in the purchase of some space saver bags or weight loss pills.

After months of planning and crafting and shopping, I've put the final touches on your room. Besides a changing table and glider (on their way), the nursery is pretty well complete, and I am so excited with how it's turned out. Here are some photos of the space you'll be spending lots of time in:

Finally, here's one your dad took of me last week. Look how big you are!

I love you,

Sunday, February 04, 2007


I thought I was blessed. Unique. Amazingly lucky. Maybe I am all those things, but not for the reason I thought...

I just found my first pregnancy stretch marks.

They're not big--just a couple little pink lines under my belly button--but man, they sure can ruin a girl's day.

I really love you, Sesame Seed, and now I have some battle scars to prove it.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Letter to the Sesame Seed--Week 33

Dear Sesame Seed,

During this past week my belly has grown another centimeter, my pillow requirements have increased from two to three (one each for head, belly and legs), and my encounters with severe back pain have gone from none to one. Pretty much everything is expanding.

Since I'm feeling pretty great and there are no other major developments since the last time I wrote, I think it's time we talked about something I've been avoiding sharing with the world: my birth plan.

If I were one of the 99% of women in the US who deliver in hospitals, there wouldn't be much to talk about beyond epidural or natural. But let's get this right out into the open--your mommy and daddy are weird. We don't always do things like everyone else. And because of that we fall into that 1% of people who have decided to have our baby at home.

There are many people who didn't even know home birth was an option in this day and age, lots more who think it's criminal to suggest such a thing, and a small percentage who couldn't imagine doing anything else. Because this is such a heated topic--and ultimately a personal one--I haven't shared our plan with many people. But rather than avoid discussing it any longer, I'd like to share with you the reasons I think it's the safest, most emotionally sound choice for both of us.

There is a wealth of information out there for anyone who is interested; Gentle Birth Choices, The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth, and The Ultimate Week by Week Pregnancy Guide are just a few of the books I've read that have lead me to believe that a controlled, medicalized hospital birth could be very detrimental to both you and me. Statistics about the success rates of home vs. hospital births, the use of medical interventions, and the emotional impact to baby and mother of various birth experiences are all readily available with a little looking, so I'm not going to get into that. Suffice it to say, I've studied those issues very closely, and if I tried to impart all of that knowledge here, I'd be writing my own book.

When I first became pregnant, I was like the majority of women and just assumed your birth would take place in a hospital, under the care of an OBGYN. Then, in my fourth month of pregnancy, I took a tour of the hospital and everything changed. As soon as I walked into that sterile, controlled space I could feel my throat constricting and my limbs tightening. I knew I would never be able to relax in that kind of environment and that I'd have to find a different way to deliver successfully.

(I think it's important to note here that many women have the completely opposite reaction I do to hospitals, and for them, the feeling of safety and security of that environment makes it the best choice for them.)

Before that fateful visit, I'd imagined your delivery in great detail, and I've done the same with your planned birth at home. To let you know the full extent of the options before us, why don't I give you a picture of the two different kinds of births I've imagined? Let's assume I don't have a debilitating distaste for hospitals, I've had a healthy, low-risk pregnancy, and I go into labor within two weeks of my estimated due date.

A Hospital Birth
Under the best possible conditions--a liberal, uncontrolling doctor, a hospital with "home-like" comforts, and a supportive nursing staff--here's what your birth might look like:

Once I felt contractions coming on regularly, I would call my doctor and hope that she was on call that day; otherwise someone else from her practice would attend the birth. I would labor at home for a while, able to move around and continue normal activities, eat light meals, and wear my own clothes. When my water broke or my contractions started becoming more intense your dad would drive us to the hospital where I would be checked in and given a wrist band and hospital gown. I would be hooked up to a fetal heart monitor for half an hour, during which time I would be immobile in bed. If my doctor had arrived, I would likely be given an initial vaginal exam to see how effaced and dilated I was. Heart monitoring and vaginal exams would continue intermittently throughout labor.

If everything seemed fine on the heart monitor, I would be allowed to move around as I pleased. Your father and grandmother would be present to help me labor, but no other visitors would be allowed. I would use whatever tools were available--chair, bed, balance ball, toilet, shower--to make me more comfortable. I could dim the lights, play music, and receive massages to help me with contractions.

After laboring for a while, I might start feeling hungry, tired or dehydrated, and I would be given ice chips or an IV (limiting my mobility).

Nursing staff would come in to check on us every now and then, and by the time we came to the end of labor they would have gone through one or two shift changes. Other hospital staff might also enter uninvited: cleaning people, equipment repairmen, etc.

If, through these disruptions, I was able to stay focused and relaxed and I didn't labor longer than deemed "appropriate" and I was very lucky, I wouldn't be subjected to unnecessary interventions. Some of those include: artificial acceleration of labor using Pitocin or breaking the water, epidural or other pain-relieving drugs, episiotomy, forceps or vacuum extraction, or Cesarean delivery.

If I was unbelievably lucky the hospital staff would respect my desire to birth naturally, in a dark, quiet room, they would look me in the eye (not in the crotch) when they spoke to (not about) me, they would have faith in my ability to give birth, offering support, and they would treat labor as a miracle of nature not an illness.

Under these conditions, I might be able to go into the final pushing stage of labor in any position I desired (on all fours, squatting, on my knees). Otherwise, I would be put on my back with my feet in the air, where gravity would be working against us, but at least the doctor would have a good view.

Finally, after some painful pushing, you would come into the world and take your first breath! You would hopefully be welcomed into a quiet, darkened room, handled gently, and not be too upset about your dramatic entry.

The doctor would clamp and cut your umbilical cord, suction out any mucus from your mouth and nose, and show you to me. You'd then be taken to be washed, measured, weighed, and given an apgar score before you were wrapped in a blanket and handed to me. Your daddy and I could then bask in how beautiful and perfect you were.

If you happened to be born between 1-9pm, our friends and relatives could come visit us, otherwise they'd have to wait. We would all stay in the hospital for another day or two, your daddy sleeping on the chair in the corner, and you in a bassinet in the room with us.

We'd then check out of the hospital, drive home, and start "real life."

A Home Birth
Let's start with the same assumptions: I've had a problem-free, low risk pregnancy, and labor begins within two weeks of your estimated due date.

A few weeks before my due date, my midwife, Deborah, would have come over to the house to get a lay of the land, check on any supplies we might need, and help set up the birthing pool in my bedroom. When I felt labor coming on, I would call Deborah to let her know and we would check in periodically by phone as I progressed.

Your daddy and I would spend the early stages of labor making you a birthday cake, taking a walk, or watching DVDs with your aunt and uncle and grandmas to the pass the time. When the contractions became more intense, I would retreat to my bedroom with your daddy, grandma, Deborah, and her assistant, and we would begin filling the birthing pool with warm water.

I would be surrounded by the images and art I've prepared in anticipation of your birth, secure in the safety of my own familiar room. The lights would be dim, music would be playing, and we might even have some essential oils burning to relax me. I would use the tools available to me--balance ball, shower, pillows, toilet, and bed--to work through contractions. Your daddy and grandma would help me move into new positions, bring me warm or cool cloths, massage my muscles, and be there to support me in any way I needed.

After a while Deborah might do a vaginal exam to check my effacement and dilation, but mostly she would pay attention to the timing of my contractions, my breathing, and my mental state to follow the progress of labor. Periodically, she would check your heartbeat with a Doppler or stethoscope to make sure you were doing well.

As the hours progressed I might get tired or hungry, and I would eat something light to boost my energy. When my contractions gained momentum or the pain became too intense, I would get into the birthing pool where the weightlessness and warmth of the water would ease some of my pain. I would focus on opening up my body, moving around in the water or being still. As we moved into the final pushing stages I could stay in the water if I wished or get out.

I imagine staying in the water, surrounded by the loving support of my family and midwife, and encouraged through the last difficult stages of labor. Finally, after lots of hard work on both our parts, I would push you out into the world. You would fall into welcoming hands--Deborah's or your daddy's--under the water. Slowly, gently, you would be raised to the surface of the water where you would take your first breath. You'd be brought immediately into my arms, where we could gaze into each other's eyes. Deborah would suction out any mucus from your nose and mouth and give you an initial apgar score (while still in my arms). Your cord would stay attached until it stopped pulsing, to make sure you get all the oxygen rich blood inside, and ease your transition to breathing.

When we were ready, we'd be wrapped in towels, dried off and moved to the bed where your other family members could meet you for the first time. Then you, your daddy, and I could have some quiet time together to discover our new family. After maybe an hour (and depending on the time of day) we could have a little birthday celebration with the rest of our guests--sharing a bottle of champagne and eating the birthday cake we baked earlier (sorry, but you're on an exclusive breast milk diet for a while).

And there we'd be, a family in our own home, having already started our "real life" together.

It's obvious what my personal bias is, and why I think a home birth is the right choice for us. Your safe and gentle entry into the world is my foremost concern, and the best way for me to insure that happens is to deliver you at home. I know we might be met with a lot of opposition on this decision but your daddy and I have confidence and faith in our choice, and if your very first lesson in life is that you should think for yourself...well, I can be pretty happy with that.

I love you,