We had an appointment with midwife Beth on Friday. I wanted her to check on the progress of this baby since my mom and Granny have been demanding cold, hard facts over ambiguous statements such as "everything is going well".
Heres the news, dear loved ones:
I am (or I was as of Friday) dilated 2cm and about 50% effaced. Dont know what that means? Thats because it doesnt mean anything! Really, she could have told me that I was 8cm dilated and that still wouldnt be any indication of how much longer we have until he shows up. She also estimated that the baby is about 7.5lbs.
SEVEN AND A HALF POUNDS?! ALREADY?! Good lord, get this kid out of me!
The other thing Beth told me is that she would like me to be "a little softer" before labor starts.
I was devastated! Ive been totally blessed to have this great pregnancy so far with zero complications and everything; blood pressure, heart rate, glucose, measurement, weight gain, etc. has been right on track - "perfect" even. So dont I feel like the big whiner when she gives me one ounce of criticism and I feel crushed!
Its almost the same feeling as when I was in fifth grade taking these standardized tests and Im scoring in the 99 percentile of every category and then I get like an 87% in mathematical comprehension. Being as good or better than 87% of your peers is nothing to blow your nose at, but when you are expecting to excel in the 99% range, its so disappointing!
I was so sad to have fallen short in the cervical softening category! I was expecting her to tell me that I was ahead of schedule, that the baby would just fall out of me when I stood up, that I would have this perfect delivery because I was testing into the 99 percentile for my age group!
In reality (a place I frequent), its no big deal, I should just walk around more and do some other things I wont go into detail about here. In fact, I could probably have the baby just fine the way things are right now. But I want to have a perfectly soft cervix to go along with my perfectly measuring uterus and my perfect blood pressure!
Sadly, babies and baby making isnt like a standardized test. There is no standard. People just have babies and they have them in their own way. In the end, just getting the baby out should be accomplishment enough without the pressure of competition.
And all this esoteric mind jarble just because mom and Granny had to have that stupid measurement that doesnt mean anything!
We got to talking about heimat, a word that both Granny and Marianne quickly pointed out had no direct English translation but could be described as "the home of your heart".
...Now, which direction do I want to take this article? Should this be an article discussing the intrinsic beauty and elusive character of foreign language? Or should I go on to talk about how heimat relates to my life, especially my life on the brink?
Lets start with the family since this is, after all, the baby blog.
Granny told us yesterday about how her grandfather used to talk about Germany. She said that when he spoke of Germany it was "as if Germany were the most beautiful place on earth. That there was nowhere else in the world like it and there never would be." I felt proud hearing that. It feels good to know that I come from somewhere.
Instantly, I was struck by how similar that sounds to Mr A describing Hawaii. When Mr A tells me that Hawaii is his home, he is telling me that Hawaii is his heimat. I think my husband feels displaced. He knows that his body and his family belong there, he wants to live and die there. His very sense of self is connected to that land. I imagine its miserable being away from the home of your heart. I dont think I ever fully understood what he was saying about Hawaii until I heard Granny yesterday talking about my great-great grandfather and his rueful passion for Germany.
And on to a more theoretical discussion of language...
Granny and I both believe that this is the best part of foreign language, the poetic beauty of words that never quite translate. Because a language is a package. It comes with the history and the culture of the people who speak it. Its specifically adapted to their lives, their needs.
Granny posed the questions today "how could you encompass everything that heimat means?" You can describe it, but you can not possibly give a full explanation of that word, its concept, the feelings associated with it, all in one English word.
There are lots of words like that. Just take the word for foreigner and say it in Thai (faraang), Japanese (gaijin) and Hawaiian (haole). Unique concepts, associated with totally different feelings, but for some reason they are all technically translated back to the rather benign English word "foreigner". The point is, if we never study the language, if we never speak with people who speak the language and we just tog through an English-Whatever Dictionary, we lose so much of what these words really mean to the people who use them.
I truly cant even imagine what is printed next to heimat in the English-German Dictionary. But I know what it means to me, in my lexicon and in my life. I guess in that sense, if we can get to the heart of these words, if we can hold onto these concepts rather than worry about English equivalents, then we are not only learning how to describe things as someone else would, we are expanding our own understanding of our language, our culture, and our selves.
Mr A took me out to celebrate last night, since yesterday was the actual day of full termness. We ate shabu-shabu (my to-die-for favorite that I have eaten only one other time since returning from Japan) and then got ice cream (coconut mango rice ice cream- HELLO DELICIOUS!). Im still full. Being the superstar husband that he is, Mr A showered me with compliments all night long about how great Ive done with this pregnancy and how awesome this whole experience has been, etc. Fantastic!
Speaking of Japan, we played hime-sama with Ava yesterday and I just wanted you to appreciate what a terrible job I did tying this obi! Could we call this the hanabi knot since it looks like it just exploded all over this poor child? Truly being Mr As daughter, we got her in the kimono, she pranced around and took a couple pics, then picked up the escrima stick, looked her dad straight in the eye, and said in a low challenging voice "common, lets fight!" It was Mortal Combat right there in my living room!
On the physical front, I walked on the treadmill yesterday for about an hour and a half, although I dont think I walked quite 2 miles - I was going really slowly. The strange part was that afterwards and for the rest of the night I felt as if I had been horseback riding for 6 hours straight! It wasnt exactly a "I pulled my groin muscle" feeling, but more like riding horse or bicycle when you arent used to it type feeling. I dont know what "lightening" or "dropping" is supposed to feel like but Im going to assume that is it.
I was reading People magazine (the journal of modern American consumerism) and I came across this blurb about Tori Spelling being pregnant with her second kid complete with pictures of her lounging poolside in a bikini, ethereally holding her belly and gazing into space like she was hopped up on morphine. In this article she talks about how wonderful being pregnant is (and I agree with that so no hard feelings there) but then she goes off about how with her first kid she gained *gasp* 30ish pounds but now this time she got her shit together, shes only gained 25 lbs and it all went to her "big beautiful belly" (or something equally asinine).
God I could have just screamed! Im not stupid enough to buy into the things they are selling me in People - but some women are. I am the peoples pregnancy champion! I should fight for those who dont yet understand that they should fight for themselves. GAINING ALL YOUR PREGNANCY WEIGHT IN YOUR BELLY IS BIOLOGICALLY IMPOSSIBLE! Tori Spelling, whether she meant to be or not, is a damned liar! We all saw the pictures of her first pregnancy! Weve seen the ones from this one! She gained weight from her eyeballs to her ankles!
And, frankly, theres nothing wrong with that, if thats how her body is going to do it. I guess thats why the article got me so steamed. We have pregnant women running around now who are scared of "doing it wrong" because Tori Spelling, who has the luxury of being able to have any questionable evidence airbrushed, is telling us that the impossible is, in fact, possible.
When did we as a culture become so fascinated with negotiating other peoples method of bearing children? Its not even the pregnancy or the reverence for life or the empowerment of birth that we are so desperate to consume. If those were the issues at stake here I would be excited to be writing this. We as a culture are fascinated with picking women apart. judging their choices, counting down their days to weight loss and approving (begrudgingly) of only the most outlandishly perfect deliveries.
So now that its vogue to hold "the media" responsible for all of our societal problems - where does that leave a woman who just wants to have a "normal" pregnancy? Does she do what feels right for her? Does she carefully calculate her every move, trying to gain those 25 lbs in her belly and anything that strays to her upper arms must be chalked up to her own pathetic lack of self control? Should she go the other way, tossing her hands in the air saying "fuck it" and just do whatever her heart desires?
I pitch my tent in Camp Everything In Moderation.
Subsequently, I park my RV in Camp Eff You Tori Spelling.
1Tbs Shaklee Baby Shampoo
1/2Tbs Sweet Almond Oil
2 drops Tea Tree Oil
Feel the soothing relief!
Heres a muesli recipe that I mixed up today. This is amazingly filling for a early morning breakfast. Its from a raw cookbook but I like it best because its faster than cooking oatmeal.
4C rolled oats
1/2C chopped nuts (I used almonds and walnuts)
1/4C sunflower seeds
1/4C raw cane sugar
Put it all together in a can or whatever and MIX! I like it with frozen blueberries and milk but its equally good with just milk. I would recommend letting it sit on the table while you shower or something just to soften the oats up a little bit.
I also finally, after a week of being put on the to-do list, finished the crib bumper! Picture coming soon!
Did I write about making tea the other week? Well, the other week I was making some tea as a gift for Mr As coworker. Ive never really gotten into herbs before, but I like tea and figured I might as well give it a shot. We have this amazing herb store down the road from us (right next to Trader Joes on 39th, all you PDXers) and they have this Wall-O-Herbs that is literally a huge wall with jars of bulk herbs. Any herb you can imagine, its there. So, because herbs are so darn convenient to obtain, I have taken a shining to making herby things.
Back to Sitzing. I was reading online about herbal sitz bath products and how they can help you feel better after the baby tears all your junk up (eloquent, as always). You basically make a tea out of it and then you can put it into your little Sitz Bath thing, put it in a bucket and sit in it, put it in your bath tub, or put it in your peri-bottle (nonbabymakers: this is a little squeeze bottle you use in lieu of TP after birthing since dry paper is hard and scratchy). Apparently the herbs soothe and assist with a speedy recovery. Sounds good to me!
If you buy sitz bath herbs online its usually around $8 for a 4oz jar. Lame! The hip preggo boutiques around Portland are worse. So how exciting is it for me to have access to the Wall-O-Herbs?! Sure, you can order herbs online in bulk, but I dont find that nearly as exciting and I would think that without any herbal experience, it would seem overwhelming and almost risky.
I went out today and got myself some ingredients based on this recipe I found online last night. I set about putting it all together and there was so much I had to use this old salsa container to store the rest! So for about $15 I have a whole crapload of bath herbs and Im ready to heal!
For those who are curious but dont want to follow the link, this is what I put in there:
rosemary, sea salt, uva ursi, chickweed, marshmallow root, plantain, calendula (marigolds), chamomile, lavender, and yarrow.
Next up, homemade disposable diaper wipes!
But I know that my body is different. Yesterday at the gym I was walking on the treadmill, as that is pretty much all Ive been able to do for the past month or so. Before I used to go between the treadmill and the elliptical, going at a pace I would consider "brisk". Last week I was walking at a pace of 3.0, the week before that it was 3.5. Yesterday I was togging along at 2.5 and if I went above that pace for more than a minute I started contracting to the point where I had to just stop entirely! I didnt even finish both episodes of Bringing Home Baby!
Then I went to yoga class at 530. Thus far, Ive prided myself on being able to keep up with the rest of the class with only minimal modifications for my expanding midsection. Yesterday I couldnt hold even the simplest downward dog for more than 30 seconds! Yikes!
And the worst part is that I think I OVEREXERTED myself! Walking and breathing was just too much for me apparently! Last night when I went to bed I was so uncomfortable. I was hot and then I was cold and I was up and then I was down. The baby was rolling, kicking, moving and I could not find a position where this didnt feel like torture. Then I started contracting in a very uncomfortable way and it was accompanied by small but noticeable pains in the lowest regions of babyland.
Obviously the baby is further down in my pelvis so I didnt find this to be too shocking. The shock came from the fact that such a small amount of activity could have put so much strain on my body.
I watched the season premier of The Biggest Loser last night and I must say that I have a new reverence for how difficult that must be for some of those folks. Even if your mind says you can do it, sometimes your body is just like "no thank you!"
The baby update is that everything is awesome. Normal blood pressure, normal measurement, normal heart rate, etc. Hes in ROC or ROA or whatever the position is called thats good. Hes head down and low in my pelvis, which is kind of a wacky feeling - theres something there that wasnt there before! The midwives told me that all my contractions are a good sign that my body is getting ready for expelling this little creature.
Ive been having a feeling like he is going to come early. Not premature early, just earlier than expected. My mom and grandma both delivered their kids earlier than their EDD (estimated date of delivery) so maybe thats where Im getting it from. I really hope that he can hold on until October because Im fairly set on October as being the month of the baby coming. Im "prepared" for a September baby, Ive got all the diapers carseats and stuff ready to go, but Im expecting an October baby.
Well, next Tuesday I will be 37 weeks, which is considered full-term. So after that its just a matter of waiting for him to decide hes coming out.
In other news, I got a 6 pack of large tagless cotton bikini underoos from Costco and I CANT BELIEVE IT TOOK ME THIS LONG TO DO THAT! Its awesome and I should have bought a pack about 5 months ago before I streched out all my favorite undergarments. And when I either destroy or grow out of them (hopefully shrink out of them) then I can just toss them in the garbage because they were only 10 bucks. So smart. Why didnt I do this sooner?
As an afterthought:
One would think that October would be the 8th month of the year, huh? I think July (Julius) and August (Augutus) messed that up but I cant remember exactly how that story goes. Anyone know why that is?
Heres my "experiments"
- Ive been drinking 2-3 large cups of red raspberry leaf tea, occasionally mixed with equal amount of partridge berry, everyday for the last two or three months. According to my sources (the book Labor Pain by Nicky Wesson) the Cherokee Indians drank partridge berry tea to hasten labor and ease delivery. The raspberry leaf is a fairly well-known woman friendly herb. It tones the uterus and is said to make labor easier. WE WILL SEE ABOUT THAT!
- I have made a tincture of skullcap and blue cohosh which I will use during labor because its an antispasmodic and helps to calm the nerves. It also is said to make people drowsy and taste like ass. Risky business.
- Hot compresses made of water mixed with drops of clary sage oil placed over the pubic bone are said to be helpful for pain relief. I have the oil, a crock pot and some rags all ready to go. I was also thinking with this one that I would get some base oil (like grape seed or sweet almond) and make a clary sage massage oil to use during labor. Your skin can absorb it right into your blood stream so perhaps a massage oil would be more effective than a compress. Clary sage oil is a sedative that is particular for labor but you cant use it during pregnancy - interesting.
- Water. Good ole water. I was thinking about laboring in a tub depending on if I could find one that is comfortable enough and able to keep it at a temperature that I find appealing (Im picky about water temp). I heard showers are good too but something about being IN water sounds better to me.
- On that note, Ive been considering taking a water aerobics class now that Im getting pregnant enough that walking and working out has lost its appeal. I was sitting at a football game last night and my feet just blew up because the weight of my uterus is no longer letting blood flow to my legs. I would bet that floating in water would not only feel like instantly relief, but would also promote better circulation. Besides, several people (both friends and strangers) have told me or related stories that implied water aerobics helped with having an easier delivery.
- Ive been taking a yoga class once a week to practice breathing and relaxing and stretching and such. I feel like Im going to be a noisy laborer. Not necessarily a panicked "oh my god Im going to die" kind of noisy, but that since Im an expressive person my labor would be...well...expressive. Hopefully my dedication to staying physically active will pay off when it comes time to squeeze this boy out!
- Im almost embarrassed to admit this one, I have tried talking to the baby and coming to some sort of agreement with him. I try to visualize labor and delivery and I either directly or indirectly ask the baby to not hurt me too much, get stuck, be huge or anything like that. It almost sounds too wacky for words but its been offering me a surprising amount of comfort and hope. I guess my thought are that if I spend the next few weeks dreading labor and being totally focused on what a nightmare its going to be, it probably will end up feeling that way irregardless.
- I read a book by Grantly Dick-Read that was my grandmothers (read: its an antique) and even though the language is practically archaic I thought it was one of the more helpful books I have read. He doesnt necessarily suggest brokering a deal with your fetus, but he does point out that the more you are freaked out about labor the harder its going to end up being.
- I dont know how much a persons diet affects their labor and delivery but I would imagine there is a correlation there somewhere. I have been what I would consider "OK" about eating well throughout this whole process. Now that we are in the stages of preparing for the main event Ive been trying to take more B-complex, calcium, and protein. But especially Ive been bulking up on iron and omega fatty acids.
The things I havent done are things like taking a birth class, learning any kind of specific breathing exercises ("hee hee hee hoooo" type stuff), practicing mediation/relaxation techniques, or rehearsing pain relieving positions. For some reason these are all things that I think I will either figure out instinctively or my midwife can just show me in the moment.
Again, I have no idea if any of this stuff will work and even if it does work I will have no way of letting you know what worked and what didnt. This is how Im preparing for labor and delivery. This is my wacky science experiment!
Saturday was such a wonderful surprise!
Maybe its because I live away from my family. Or maybe its because I went to school out of state so all my friends are scattered throughout the country. Or maybe its because I never bothered to really try and make friends in Portland. Whatever it is, I was sort of dreading the baby shower issue. Its not that I really really want to play shower games and dote over all things baby. Its just that knowing I should be having one and knowing I probably wouldnt be having one unless I threw it for myself (lame!) was making me feel rather unpopular.
Somewhere along the line Mr A picked up on the vibes and organized a surprise shower/baby BBQ for this past Saturday! Now, my husband is not what I would consider a skilled social event organizer, so it was really awesome that he went so far out of his box for me! It was indescribable how great I felt. But Ill try to highlight some of the things that meant the most.
1) Both his family and my family (some of them) were gathered in the same backyard. The last time this happened was at our wedding rehearsal dinner and I thought it was simply tops. Theres something about everyone being together that I just adore. I love having both our families in the same area, talking, getting to know each other and just hanging out. Maybe its because I love my family so darn much. As a bonus, I really super like all my in-laws, too. So bringing both together and watching them interact and enjoy each other is really special for me. I wish I didnt have to get married or have a baby to bring the two families into the same place for dinner (because eventually Im going to run out of major life events!) but for now Ill take what I can get!
2) If the whole party had been just family that would have been more than enough for me. But it wasnt! I had friends who drove from all over the place just to be there for the afternoon. That was so cool because its a long drive and I know they didnt come for the sole purpose of playing "who can suck the water out of the bottle the fastest"! I guess I consider myself the kind of person who would drive several hours for an event if it were someone I considered very close to me, so the gesture didnt go unappreciated.
3) Everyone contributed something to the party. People helped out with games and food and chairs or whatever. The BBQ was a real collaboration and thats the kind of shindig that I like the best!
Im still smiling about it! It was exactly what I wanted out of a "baby shower" and I'm glad that everyone (especially everyone in the family) got to catch up with Mr A & I before the baby is born. I love these kinds of events! I hope someone else has a baby soon so I can go to someone else's shower and relive this moment vicariously!