We're having a baby... soon

Over the last 9 months i've had several occasions on which the impact of what being pregnant means has hit me-- we're about to become parents. But as i've gotten bigger and the focus has been more on me and my body, i've had fewer of these realizations. Today at my doctor appointment when my Dr. reiterated that i wouldn't be allowed to go post-date, i felt like everything became very clear-- one way or another we'll have a son in 3 weeks or less.

Mostly, i'm excited about this finality and it sure makes planning my leave schedule at work a lot easier. Part of me however, feels like we're staring down the barrel of a rifle and i just can't quite know what to expect on the other side. Although i'm a meticulous planner, i'm also most happy doing rather than over-thinking. I believe that when faced with our infant son we'll do just fine and figure things out one way or another. But with three weeks to think about how everything will work or won't work, it alternatively feels like an eternity and just too little time.


37 Weeks

37 weeks is considered full term, so i made it into the "safety zone." At this point with the baby estimated to be over 5 1/2 pounds and a full 37 weeks he's considered full term. I can deliver at anytime and the baby should be completely fine. It's hard not to get to anxious for his arrival but i just try to focus on him coming when he's ready and healthy enough to enter this world. In the meantime i'm enjoying lazy weekend mornings reading the paper on the couch with JT, spur of the moment plans, and a very clean and organized house.

I celebrated reaching 37 weeks by getting a variety of spa treatments this weekend. My feet may be swollen, but my toes are a lovely shade of pink! My new haircut helped me feel a little more put together too. Next weekend if i'm still pregnant, i think i'll be getting a manicure.  Posted by Hello


36 Weeks

Sorry for the delay folks but here is the 36 weeks (and a few days) picture. I've done away with the short-lived clothed picture because you just can't get around the fact that my belly has a decent-sized baby in it.

I'm feeling okay but JT and i are both thinking that if the baby wanted to come a week or two early we'd be totally fine with that. I'm getting the car seat inspected by the police tomorrow and after that i feel like we're officially ready-- at least by material standards. I'm also involved in transitioning things off at work which is allowing me to breathe easier.

Doctor appointments continue to go well. I see my doctor again tomorrow and have a non-stress test (NST)to make sure the baby is still doing well in there. During the past two NSTs they've recorded me as having contractions but they are so slight i don't feel a thing. My doctor said they're just getting the cervix ready for labor which i'm all for. Posted by Hello


Finding Childcare

Although i work at home, i essentially have an office job in which i work regular hours, sit at my desk from 9-5 and often spend several hours a day on conference calls. Now i'm not a parent yet, but i already know that this type of job and infant care don't mesh well. Therefore after my 3 month maternity leave, the boy will be in childcare. It does help that my schedule is flexible in case he gets sick, or if the childcare provider is closed, but finding good quality care has been a priority for me.

Many of you won't be surprised to find out that i actually began the researching process back in September when i called a local organization, Action for Children, and asked for referrals for home-based daycare providers and childcare centers within a 5 mile radius of our house. At this point i also read widely about what to look for in childcare and what to stay away from. Somewhere in the fall i drove around and looked at the outside of each location and determined how far each was from our house.

Then, a lot of other baby things took over and i waited until January or so to start calling the providers. My preference was to find a home-based provider that was close by. It's a good thing, because of all the childcare centers in our area, only 1 took private-pay clients. The others were soley for low-income families, and what with the big lawyer in my family, we didn't qualify.

I had a list of probably 5 providers that were my first choices based on location. Three of them either didn't call me back or didn't provide childcare anymore. The other two both sounded promising on the phone and invited me to come visit. I also talked to the one center and set-up an appointment to tour their facility.

The first home-based childcare i visited was encouraging. A woman and her daughters ran the center and they had been born and raised on the same block. They clearly had long ties in the community and had a really fun, vibrant space set up for the kids. There was a nursery, a toddler room and a pre-school-like program downstairs. The kids seemed happy and well cared for and the place was best described as bustling. I was curious to contrast this place with the other provider that had a much calmer demeanor on the phone.

I was really lucky to visit the second one and find another high quality option. The caregiver and her assistant were both fun, upbeat people but they were both very calm and the children seemed to respond to that. The facility was clean and very orderly but with lots of activities and toys. This daycare was a little smaller and only took two infants at a time. They did have an opening for July when i would start to need care. I was feeling really good about this one but wanted to a) check their references and b) visit the center.

By the time i visited the center i wondered if i wasn't being picky enough. You read all about how difficult it is to find good care and i was afraid i was just seeing what i wanted to see. So, in this way, visiting the center and being immediately convinced that this wasn't any place i was going to leave my baby was a good thing. When i asked how i would know bad childcare my friend told me i would just know-- and i did. When i showed up, they had no record of the appt i had madee. The person who gives the tours was out and they were short-handed, the office was a total mess and quite dirty, it smelled, and the caregiver in the toddler room was pretty roughly shushing a little girl crying during nap-time. Bad day-- maybe, but i didn't get anything like a good feeling.

So, after checking out the references of the my second childcare provider Brenda, and visiting again to observe (and participate) during circle-time, we put down a deposit. I feel really great about our decision and am so happy to have this all worked out in advance. I feel like i'll be able to more easily focus on the baby and our new life in the those first 3 months instead of going back to work.


35 Weeks

We're in countdown mode-- 5 weeks to go! I feel like it's not possible to get any bigger but perhaps i'm mistaken-- the pictures will let us know for sure. The emails i get about the development of my baby tell me that the average baby is 5 pounds at this point but that there are pretty big differences between the average and what your actual baby weighs. We have another ultrasound this Friday so we might get an estimate for weight at that point. I do know that my uterus has grown to 15 times it's normal size which is quite a feat.

We met with the doulas yesterday and had a good chance to talk through how we hope the birth will go and what kinds of things are important to us. I just hope that i go into natural labor and don't have to be induced, but time will tell. Posted by Hello


Lazy Baby Scare

Last Sunday i noticed that the baby wasn't quite as active as his normal self. He's not always super-active during the day so i wasn't really worried but i was making sure to keep careful track of his movements that evening. After noting a small movement at about 9 pm i didn't feel any movement by 11 pm. I drank some orange juice, took a shower and laid down in bed-- normally when the boy goes nuts-- nothing. So i started to get worried and didn't want to wait all night. I called the on-call Dr. at my practice and he thought it would be a good idea to go in to the ER and have everything checked out.

So, on Sunday at 11:30 pm JT and i had a dry-run of heading to the hospital(although i wasn't in any pain and we probably didn't drive as fast.) Still, it was helpful to figure out where you enter the ER, who you tell you're pregnant so that they can take you up to Labor and Delivery (L&D), and what the monitors and beds feel like.

They hooked me up to the fetal monitor and found that the baby's heartrate looked excellent. They then did an ultrasound and found that the baby was moving-- sucking his thumb-- he was just making small movements. I did feel him moving a little bit while i was there. They weren't sure why he suddenly quieted down-- they said it might have been affected by my eating and drinking a bit less that day. I was released but told to keep monitoring the movements of the baby and come back if i wasn't able to track at least 3 movements within a 2 hour period.

So far he's making up for lost time and has been very active this week.


What is a doula?

I think i might have mentioned at some point that we are planning on using a doula during this birth. Doulas have been around for a long time but i think that probably in the last 5-10 years it's become much more common for women to use their services.

So what is a doula? Basically it's a woman that is there to support you through childbirth. She doesn't necessarily have a medical background but generally has lots of experiences with birth (both her own and attending others.) There's lots of impressive stats out there that extol the benefits of using a doula (shorter labor, reduced rate of cesearans and episiotomies, etc) and hopefully we'll be lucky enough to have the same benefits. The downside to using a doula is that there's a perception that doulas are either extreme hippies using crystals to help their clients channel pain or anti-medical establishment and very aggressive and disruptive to the doctors and nurses.

We wanted the benefits of a doula without having to necessarily hold hands and chant with our doula or piss my doctor off. Luckily we found Pam. She's a very calm, in-control person that isn't the least bit "hippy" or aggressive. She's had 5 births of her own and been a doula for 15 years. Rather than helping us type a 4 page single-spaced birth manifesto, she's going to meet with us to pick the 4 or 5 things that are really important to us about this birth-- and then help us to try and achieve them.

Being as we're planning for a natural childbirth, i think her greatest strength will be in pulling out all the tricks she has for coping and dealing with the pain of labor. She'll provide massage, suggest different labor positions, and help provide support during all phases of labor. She'll help me stay at home as long as i feel comfortable and will help us understand any medical choices that have to made in the hospital.

I'm extremely relieved to have found her. JT and i meet with her and the back-up doula this weekend to discuss the birth and get a better idea of how we'd like things to go.


34 Weeks

1 week closer, 1 week bigger. I feel like at this point we're down to the countdown even though we've got 6 weeks to go. All but the last details are wrapped up so i'm just trying to navigate this gigantic belly.

I'm feeling much better and almost entirely over this cold so i hope to get back to the gym and ballet this week. I felt so much more stiff and sore without any activity so i'm really looking forward to getting some exercise in.

Today we had an absolutely beautiful 60 degree day and i spent the afternoon walking and playing at the park with my friend and her daughter. The fresh air and sunshine really did me well but the 3 miles or so of walking made me completely exhausted. I'll need to work on getting my stamina back up-- especially once the baby arrives. Speaking of, the baby is supposed to be about 4 lbs 11 oz and 18 inches long. He'll mostly just be fattening up and further developing his lungs for these last weeks.  Posted by Hello


Childbirth Class

JT and I have been taking a 4-week childbirth class offered through our hospital. I had pretty low expectations for the class but knew that the more rigorous (and probably high-quality) classes that last for 12 weeks just weren't going to fly. As expected, the class has been a very mixed bag.

During the first class we toured the hospital labor and delivery floor and saw the birthing center where i hope to go. That was definitely useful. I've had a chance to ask a lot of questions about what is and isn't available or doable in the hospital/birthing center and that is also good information. The "relaxation" techniques are pretty lame and while the information about the birthing process has been useful, it's nothing i haven't read before.

I think it's good for JT to hear it but it's presented in such a fluffy manner that i'm not sure how much he's actually listening. We were both sick this week and decided to skip the class as it was to be heavy on the "relaxation techniques" that have been laughable to date. Since we skipped the class this week JT agreed to read materials that i picked out for him-- so i designed a bit of a crash-course curriculum to cover the highlights of childbirth that will be helpful for him (and me) to know.

If i hadn't done any prep on my own and only took this class i think i would be in a world of hurt come labor time. Since i've read about 1,000 books on the topic i feel pretty relaxed and content to just take what i can use as it's presented. I am sad that at the very least we haven't had the comic relief of the 70s birthing videos with the Tom Seleck mustachioed "coach." It seems our hospital has actually invested in updated videos-- the nerve!


Taking care of Tamra

I mentioned in my last post that i had come down with a cold. It's not the worst cold i've ever had but i do feel pretty bad and am quite congested. The thought occurred to me that in a way i should relish this time because it's the last time i get to be sick and only have to worry about taking care of myself. Although the cats wake me up at night my guess is that it's not half the interruption to necessary sleep a baby will be. JT can make dinner for us and do the grocery shopping and provide any other help or care i need. The baby's needs can only be met by JT or I and if i'm the one home...

So this is just a post to say that April 18th is coming quickly and i have a lot of practical thoughts about how things will be different. I'm not enjoying being sick, but i am trying to relish being able to go to bed early and mostly sleep through the night.