Project Baby Cheung

Today I am being helpful

So all that "I might be having the baby TOMORROW" talk I was doing a few days ago? Ha ha. FALSE ALARM. Wasn't that fun? My doctor so wanted to entertain you AND me!  But yesterday, after acknowledging that my SMALL BABY kicked butt on his three non-stress tests and showed marked improvement on his fourth ultrasound, my doctor agreed that we could take things down a notch and return to our regularly scheduled programming.

I suppose I'm thankful for the blog fodder (yes, I do know how deathly boring it's been around here) but I'm glad things are (sort of) back to normal. I've got bunches of stuff to do and I'm quite content to float around in Having To Give Birth Eventually Denial.

Anyway, today I've decided that I will tell you everything I've learned while being pregnant. You're welcome.

First of all, I do not see how anyone survives pregnancy without a Bella Band. For the first half of pregnancy, your old pants are too small and your maternity pants are too big. For the second half, even your maternity pants start to slide down and your shirts stop covering up the rubber band trick you are still getting away with because you dug your fat pants out of the spare closet. The bella band solves ALL of these problems. The bella band is how I got away with owning only three pairs of work-appropriate maternity pants for nearly nine months. It is how I got away with owning only one pair of maternity jeans (from Target!) for nearly nine months. Of course, it also helps if you were once two sizes larger and had the foresight to keep those old clothes, because some of them will still fit you (albeit with the rubber band trick) when you are two weeks from your due date. The bella band may cost an awful lot for a simple piece of spandex, but I should have bought one in every color, and impostors, like the "tummy sleeve" thing from the evil maternity clothes store, are poor substitutes. Invest in a bella band!

Pregnancy books are full of lies. Do not read them. You WILL be the girl who does not start throwing up until her second trimester, when the pregnancy books unanimously agree that you should be feeling better. They will tell you your baby should weigh this much by this week, but you WILL be the girl with the SMALL BABY. They will freak you out about a hundred things that won't end up happening to you, and willfully ignore the handful of things that DO happen to you. They will say, "This isn't to scare you, BUT" and then proceed to frighten the crap out of you anyway. When someone gives you a pregnancy book, smile politely and promptly put the book in the freezer. You don't need it.

When you are curious about something pregnancy- or baby-related, go read Ask Moxie. In fact, if you are pregnant and are unfamiliar with blogs, get thee to the nearest DSL connection. You poor dear.

You CAN wait until you are three months along to tell your work, but I recommend telling them early. They will be very excited and will no longer require you to lift anything heavy or to get to work on time or to stay as long as you're supposed to. They will not wonder why you have a giant stash of Hershey kisses in your desk drawer and if you forgot to put something in the mail, someone else will chase the mail carrier down the street.

Start clearing out the spare closet or some dresser drawers to house the forty-seven outfits your mother will begin sending you each week. Even if your mother does not live halfway across the world like mine, chances are she is spending more of her free time in the baby clothes section and you are going to need room. Sometimes you will wander through the baby clothes section yourself and you will see something cute, but don't bother buying it. Your mother has already put it in the box and you'll get it next week.

Your mother is also much more interested in what you are doing and your general wellbeing than she has ever been before. Sure she was interested in what you were studying in school and who your friends were and yes, she was very interested to meet that boy you were dating. She was even very interested in participating in your wedding, even though you were a psychotic Martha Stewarty version of yourself and control freaking all over the place. But now you are having a baby and this means your mother is desperately interested in everything from your latest doctor appointment to your stock of maternity clothes to what time you go to sleep at night to what they've done with cloth diapers in the last twenty-five years. You will even come home from work one day and listen to your phone messages and realize your mother was awake at four-thirty in the morning when she called you just to see how you were doing.

Now that I'm thinking about it, it really does pay to lose some weight before you get pregnant. Because now that you are just sort of fat instead of really fat, you have a whole bunch of stuff to fall back on. The fat pants, of course, but also the wedding ring you stopped wearing because it got too loose and you never had it resized. You won't get any stretch marks because, hey, your body has already been this size before. And after you have the baby (and this is pure conjecture on my part, but let me have my conjectures) you know that you lost weight before, you can do it again. (This is me thinking positive. Positive!)

You can go pee in the cup at the doctor's office before the nurse calls you back to the exam room and gives you explicit permission. It's okay. No one will yell at you.

Practice giving the stinkeye and being cold and standoffish, because this will greatly reduce the number of people who want to pat your belly and give you childbirth advice. It also helps if you are having a SMALL BABY because people think they have plenty of time to bother you and may put off their nosy questions until the last week or two.

Try to remember that you are growing a human being inside of you and it is okay to crash on the couch after work and sleep until it's time to go to bed instead of making chocolate chip cookies for your coworkers and making dinner for your husband and weeding your awful looking yard and folding the laundry and calling your grandmother. Yes, it is frustrating that you do not have the energy to make one frillion Christmas cookies or color Easter eggs or host a Halloween mystery dinner or have dessert ready when your friends come over to watch television, but no one really cares that you do these things anyway and for the love of GOD will you relax already? YOU ARE GROWING ANOTHER HUMAN BEING.

If you are awake at three a.m. with third trimester insomnia and your husband is curled up right next to you and snoring directly in your face, it is definitely okay to shove him, and if that doesn't work, to jab him in the chin and say loudly, "Due to the extreme unfairness of this entire situation, I am perfectly within my rights to insist you roll over immediately." What will be even more unfair is that he will roll over without even waking up.

Even if you are having a SMALL BABY, it is eventually going to be difficult to maneuver yourself in and out of the car, up and off the bed or couch and into and out of the bath tub. One day you will realize that you are walking around the lake at half your usual speed, and you are out of breath. This will be very humbling and I would recommend you begin attending a prenatal yoga class, where you are surrounded by people in the very same situation, which will validate your entire hippo-like existence.

The pregnant ladies in the pregnant lady workout video are not really pregnant. I don't believe it. PROVE IT, "Pregnant" Ladies!

People will talk a lot about hormones. They will talk about "pregnancy brain". Every time you do something stupid or get a little emotional, everyone, especially women who already have children, will be quick to gleefully point out how your mental deficiencies are pregnancy-related. I suppose this is true for some people, but if you are like me, the only time you ever cried for no reason was after going see Marie Antoinette in the theaters, and that may have just been because that movie was terrible. No, what will happen to you is the inability to speak English. You will be perfectly capable of forming coherent sentences in your brain, but when it comes time to actually say these sentences aloud, your mouth will not work. Who knows why this is? All I know is that the other day it took me a full fifteen minutes to say, "The girl with the curly red hair." It was terribly embarrassing and of course I blamed it on pregnancy.

You can blame pretty much everything on pregnancy and no one will argue with you. They are probably afraid of the well-publicized yet occasionally fictional hormones. I suggest you take advantage.

This is only a small assortment of Things I Have Learned, Internet, but today is my Last Tuesday and certain things must be accomplished. Oh, another thing I have learned is that one should not gloat too much about a particular Tuesday being her last Tuesday, as people will start to sneer "short timer" and make comments about how lazy you are, now that you only have a few days left. But then they will also bring you presents, so I guess it's a toss up. Gloat at your own risk!


The Eve Before My Last Week

I spent all of last week wondering if I would still be pregnant today, the eve before my last week of work, and I am. The baby rocked his ultrasound on Friday afternoon. Even the twitchy-eyed tech felt comfortable telling us how great things looked and how the fluid had magically increased. (Whoever told me to drink incredibly disgusting amounts of Gatorade, you win a big fat sloppy kiss.) The baby has grown, albeit on his 'small curve'. No one called the doctor or sent me up to Labor and Delivery. Phillip and I went out to dinner instead of spending a trillion dollars on newborn supplies at Target. We did haul the car seat out of the trunk and install it in the back seat, but only because we'd be driving our friends and their baby around later that night. Baby Cheung is still turning somersaults and hiccuping when I'm trying to fall asleep. I'm back to thinking he'll be late, but maybe when I see my doctor tomorrow she'll still be worried and bring up this whole not-making-it-to-my-due-date thing again. At which point I will stick my fingers in my ears and imagine I'm sunning myself at the Fairmont Orchid. (Did I tell you last time I mentioned the Fairmont Orchid I got a very nice email from their PR person? I am gunning for a free trip, people, I have no shame. A trip I won't be able to use until this kid is done with his doctoral thesis and supporting Phillip and me in our old age, but still.)

So anyway. I have made it to my last week of work. Starting tomorrow morning I am going to be one very annoying girl, as I will be making sure everyone knows tomorrow is my Last Monday. That peanut butter and jelly sandwich will be the last time I eat at my desk on a Monday. Those phone calls will be my last Monday phone calls. It will be the last time I drive home on a Monday. All culminating on Friday, when everything I do will be the last time I do ANYTHING. The new girl asked me where I'd be sitting when I come back, as she's going to take over my desk, and I just batted my eyelashes and said, "Oh, but I'm not coming back!" And smiled prettily and made my other coworkers glare at me with the force of a thousand stinkeyes. It's not that I don't like where I work and what I do, but I will like it so much better when they are not requiring me to sit at a desk eight hours a day and talk on the phone and, you know, expect me to do all the stuff I don't like doing. First I will have a cute and delicious baby. Then, a few months later, I will hand off the baby to someone else for a few hours and work on all the stuff I do like doing, which I can do remotely, from home, which is where my pajamas are, and I AM SO PLEASED ABOUT THIS TURN OF EVENTS I CAN BARELY STAND IT.

Tomorrow, when most of you are reading this, I will be shoving off everything I used to do to the new girl, while I read blogs, I mean, learn how to put a drop down box on a website.

I suppose, now that I am 38 weeks, anything goes and I could potentially go into labor at any time. But people, I feel nothing. I'm pretty sure the baby is lodged way up there, if his bothersome little feet are anything to go by. I haven't felt one single contraction, even a Braxton-Hicks, and even though I look ridiculous getting in and out of the car (and bed) I feel pretty good. I don't think this kid is coming out any time soon (without chemical intervention, at least) but who knows. I think I'm okay either way. If he's slow, that's fine, I still have to clean the bathrooms and who knows when I'll get around to doing that. And if he comes tomorrow, at least I have enough onesies.

Phillip is downstairs figuring out how to upload video to the picture gallery website he put up for baby viewing purposes (we are two nerds in a pod) and I've been trying to finish up the random piles of Things To Do on my desk. It's almost eight and it's still light out. How I love daylight savings time. I love spring. I have flowers in my yard, thanks to my sister who did all the dirty work, and we have the windows open. The house is quiet right now. No one wakes us up in the middle of the night, there are no plastic things in our living room, we had salmon and asparagus for dinner, we'll probably watch a lot of TV before we go to bed and we are oh so aware that we should be appreciating these things to the fullest extent possible. But today I wanted to buy the baby a sun hat, because later on this summer I will be out watering the flowers while he's sitting on a blanket in the grass chewing on a rubber spatula. And, I can't believe I'm saying this, but that sounds like way more fun than TV.


Attempting to be zen

I think this small baby thing is what I get for not having any morning sickness. (Although, when you think about it, that makes no sense at all, the baby should be huge. I have gained the equivalent of an American second grader- you'd think the baby would be bigger than 5 pounds. That's right. FIVE POUNDS.)

The NST went fine, but then I saw my doctor and she seemed agitated, furrowed eyebrows and everything. And since she always seems to be the Queen of Zen at my appointments, it was sort of unnerving. The baby, she said over and over, looks fine. Right now. So she's got me scheduled for another NST on Thursday and an ultrasound on Friday. We briefly covered the multitude of things that could go wrong and when I asked her what my chances were of being induced she said, "Oh, pretty good." Then she added that she doesn't see me lasting the full three weeks till my due date and that is when I started to feel depressed.

Depressed is a strange condition for me. Frantic list making, yes. Nervous breakdown, yes. Neurotic weepy email sent to all of my friends, without a doubt. But sitting at home staring out the window for an hour or two? Feeling down and sad? SO NOT ME. Eventually I picked up the phone and called one of my friends to help me decide what level of freak out I should be having. But she wasn't home so I picked up my new issue of The New Republic and read ten different opinions about what to do with a nuclear Iran. Very informative.

It's just not going the way I thought it would, and for all my self-congratulatory "I'm flexible! Go me!" announcements, I'm finding I'm worried and disappointed. I wonder if the notoriously unreliable ultrasound stuff is wrong and they'll induce me for no reason. Then I think about how I've measured small the entire time and how my 7 months pregnant friend practically dwarfs me and maybe I should ask to be induced tomorrow. I worry about taking a five-pound baby home. I'm mad at whatever it is that fell down on the job and is keeping him from fattening up. I wonder what an induction will be like. I'm terrified I'll end up with a c section. And then I find my way back to "He's still kicking, I trust my doctor, I'll get to see my baby soon, la la la" and everything is fine again. I have, like, fourteen personalities this week.

Phillip was working late again and he called to find out if I wanted to drive to our friends' house up north to watch Heroes (Heroes! It is back! It is 100 times better than Lost!) and I said, yes, and could we please stop at the Evil Baby Warehouse on the way, as someone needed a little retail therapy. We bought a rocking chair for the baby's room (a cushy, upholstered, become-one-with-the-cushions kind of rocking chair) and spent half an hour looking for the perfect going home outfit. I found one in a preemie size and Phillip found one in a newborn size and hopefully one of them will fit.

Anyway. Whine whine whine. You know what IS nice? Everything is done. My last chunk of Fussy Church Committee responsibilities. The last minute stuff I was dreading at work. Finding my replacement and scheduling her first day (Thursday, so I have a guaranteed six hours with her before I go off to my next NST!) Our house is fairly clean, thanks to having dinner guests on Saturday. The important things are in the trunk of the car. The baby's future aunts are coming to my house this weekend to pretty up my yard, because I've recently attained un-bendable status and I've promised them ice cream. In the meantime I am crossing my fingers that all those Reese's Pieces I ate last night go straight to the baby's thighs and that he holds out another week until May, when he is SUPPOSED to get here. 


I NEED that week off

There was a bit of an Incident on Friday.

Phillip picked me up at work for our regularly scheduled SMALL BABY ultrasound. We were late, but we ended up sitting in the waiting room for half an hour anyway. At four. On a sunny Friday. Finally they took us into one of those dark little ultrasound rooms and for the first time being flat on my back was agony. I couldn't tilt my head far enough to see the screen, so instead I focused on the little tech lady with the eye twitches and the, "Oh, I don't want to answer THAT question yet," demeanor and it went on forever. I think she took her measurements in triplicate or something.

At the end she still wouldn't tell us anything and scurried out of the room to consult with the radiologist, which was good because I was probably going to kill her if she stuck around much longer. Phillip and I sat on the bed and consoled each other about our baby's apparent lack of initiative.

I should add here that I wasn't worried. The baby was wiggling and squirming and generally letting me know he was still in there the entire time and to be honest, that is really the only thing that matters. I know all sorts of things can happen, but as long as I know there is still a baby- yeah. That's good.

The tech came back to tell us that the baby had grown a little bit, he was still symmetrically small but the amniotic fluid level was even lower this time and the radiologist was going to call our doctor.

Excellent.

We got shuffled into another waiting room because the Women's Imaging department was going home for the day. We sat there long enough to see the girl at the front desk go home five minutes early and for a stream of patients to amble up to the desk afterward and awkwardly wonder if they were supposed to wait or use the phone that said, in giant letters PLEASE DIAL 1 FOR ASSISTANCE. Eventually our little tech lady came out to say that the radiologist had spoken to the doctor on call (of course my doctor wasn't there, it was five thirty on a FRIDAY) and we were to go directly to Labor and Delivery, do not pass go.

So maybe I got a little nervous right then.

Seriously. What is up with the Medical Community not telling you things? It wasn't until we'd made it to the elevator when the tech told us the doctor wanted me to have a non-stress test, that I wasn't actually HAVING THE BABY at this point. Although, I then asked the nurses what we'd do if the baby, you know, failed the test, and they nonchalantly said, "Oh, you'll stay here and we'll induce you."

Super!

They ushered us into one of those rooms where you ACTUALLY HAVE THE BABY and started opening cupboards and turning on machines and Phillip and I were just standing there like UM, WE ARE NOT PREPARED FOR THIS.

"The car seat is at home," I said.

"I have work to do," he said.

"We don't have any diapers," I said. "Or wipes. Or clean sheets. Or a going home outfit."

"I have a lot more work to do," he said. Have I mentioned Phillip and his revolting work ethic?

And then I remembered: "I DON'T HAVE ANY LANSINOH!"

They had me climb into the bed and strapped the monitors around my hardly-as-big-as-it-should-be belly and we waited. Oh, and they offered us tea and juice and water, like I was getting a pedicure or something. And we waited some more.

The nurses were awesome. I had heard excellent things about the nurses at this hospital, but now I can say: IT IS TRUE. They were wonderful. They explained everything. They laughed and joked and made sure to call me Maggie right away instead of going off all the forms that say my name is Margaret. (Which it is. Woe.) And after ten minutes they said, "Oh, your baby is doing great! Everything looks great! You won't be having your baby this weekend!" and we said, with profound relief, "Great!"

I am NOT ready for this baby, Internet. Well. I am. Pretty much. We are dying to know what he looks like. Yesterday we went to a birthday party where loads of Asian and half-Asian babies were crawling around the living room and I spent the whole time deciding which one my baby would look like. I can't wait to hold him and tell him he is all mine, but he is supposed to be born in May. MAY. I am supposed to have an entire week of unemployed bliss, a week when, hopefully, that so-called nesting instinct will kick in and I'll clean my house and do the laundry and nap in front of daytime television. I DESERVE THAT WEEK.

The baby was a champ. The little printed strip thingies looked exactly as they were supposed to- they didn't even see the things they would "normally" see with a baby who is living in "low fluid". (And what does that mean? Is the ultrasound WRONG?) As soon as the nurses let us go, Phillip and I drove straight to Target and bought everything we didn't have. EVERYTHING. Diapers, wipes, burp/barf rags, sheets, the holy tube of Lansinoh. We figured out how to install the car seat and now it is living in the trunk, along with the diaper bag and a half-packed hospital bag. I say "half-packed" because I finally got around to looking at Emily's hospital bag packing list and craaap what was I thinking packing my bag before I consulted the Internet?

I'll be doing non-stress tests twice a week now (I have one today!) and while I feel pretty good about how the baby's doing, I know if something doesn't look right I won't be going back to work that day. Gah. But I have to be okay with this and weirdly enough, I am. My boss is aware. My bags are half-packed. My mom said, "YOUR bed wasn't made when we brought YOU home," and that makes me feel a little better.

But oh dear God I do not want to be induced.


Obviously I must go shopping

Shoot. Even my brother had an opinion on that one.

Speaking of my brother, it's been a while since I posted gratuitous nephew photos.

Here's Thing One:                                           And here's Thing Two:
Twoyearsold             Max

Thing One is already proving himself to be a first rate oldest child. I'm terribly proud.
Boys

I'd post a picture of their little color-coordinated Easter family portrait, but then I might start wallowing in my inability to color-coordinate my own self, let alone two small children and a husband, and have my hair brushed and makeup (ha! makeup! when's the last time I wore makeup!?) in place, and no one wants that.

Anyway, how I love the Internet for telling me to go shopping.  To which I say: no problem, Internet! Away I go!

I have bought umpteen baby gifts for other babies, but I have not bought a THING for my own child. Well, okay, I bought a bedding set, but we all agree that was for me, not for him. And except for the clothes, pretty much everything on the Things I Have list is used pre-loved stuff unloaded handed down to me by friends. Hence the two bouncy seats. What do I do with two bouncy seats? Anybody need one?

So yes, I'm off to order the Ultimate Crib Sheet and stock up on burp rags and blankets, but I'm really excited about the onesies. You have no idea how thrilled I am to find out I can always use more onesies. Bring on the onesies!

(Not that all of you think I need more onesies. But I am ignoring you people. You don't sound very fun.)

I KNOW I KNOW. I have no idea what kind of baby I'll have and it's silly to think I'll have everything ready, in the correct sizes and amounts. But have you met me? I am doing really well with this whole Dealing With The Unknown thing! So proud of me. And every time I catch myself thinking I'll do something a certain way, I'm sure to give myself a quick little lecture about how I Don't Know Everything. All those ideas are in flux anyway. For the longest time I thought I'd just keep the baby in bed with me, because I am lazy and it seems to work for people who have a hard time getting back to sleep in the middle of the night. But lately I'm thinking that is insane, because all it takes to wake me up these days is daring to breathe in my near vicinity, so how am I going to get any sleep with a BABY next to me!?

So I don't know. Whatever. We'll see. In the meantime I will buy myself some onesies. I mean, I'll buy him some onesies. Him! Oh and a sling. Or three. (And if he doesn't like those, that just means I get to try another one, right?) 

OH. One more thing. Just so you know, all mentions of Lansinoh have been duly noted (oh my, have they been noted) along with the trillion other icky things people keep telling me about, but I don't want to, like, TALK about it. Yet. I'll let you know. At least give me a chance to timidly peek inside the breast pump bag and kick my little brother off the website before we start THAT up. Yeesh. 

 


Panic! At the baby's room

I watched cable news last night until I realized I was watching the sixteenth loop of the exact same footage and Geraldo was showing me the website of a random Asian guy wearing a bunch of guns, knowing that this particular random Asian guy had nothing to do with the shooting. That's when I decided I'd seen enough and went upstairs to the baby's room to fuss over all the things I haven't put away. Like, oh, EVERYTHING.

I was going through the clothes and the blankets and the books and it suddenly occurred to me that I might not have all the things I am supposed to have. For example, I only have eight newborn size onesies. IS THAT ENOUGH ONESIES?

Things I Have: Clothing

  • Eight newborn size short sleeve onesies
  • Five newborn size long sleeve onesies
  • Eight sleepers/creepers/footie pajamas/whatever they're called
  • Four sleep sacks
  • Four hand-me-down swaddling blanket things aka baby straijackets
  • Three newborn size pairs of pants
  • Four unbelievably tiny side snap t-shirts
  • Small mountain of socks
  • Small mountain of hats
  • Miscellaneous piles of three to six month and six to nine month clothing that I'll deal with later, because in case you have not heard, I have a SMALL BABY
  • Four pairs of shoes- church shoes, two pairs of sneakers and a pair of Robeez

Things I Have: Blankets, Sheets

  • Three cheapo receiving blankets
  • Two fancy pants receiving blankets from fancy pants baby stores
  • One bed sheet
  • One gorgeous counted cross stitch blanket that my baby is never ever going to be allowed to pee on
  • One super luxe super soft blanket that, again, my baby will never be allowed to pee on
  • One quilt I will probably hang on the wall


Things I Have: Gear & Stuff

  • One car seat
  • One stroller
  • One swing
  • Two bouncy seats
  • One playmat
  • Two bathtubs
  • Three hooded towels
  • One borrowed breast pump that I am afraid to look at because I am in total denial
  • One shopping bag full of the baby's honorary cousins' outgrown bottles
  • Seven bumGenius 2.0 cloth diapers
  • Two cloth diapers too hilarious to describe; suffice to say if I pin them on my child he will be known as Little Lord Cheungleroy, so remind me to take a picture
  • Large mountain of books
  • Handful of stuffed toys
  • Handful of toys to chew on
  • Phillip's diaper bag
  • My diaper bag
  • Babycare kit, baby soap, Mylicon drops, diaper rash cream

Bored yet? You know I'm really writing this all out for my mother, who told me that the 487 pictures I took of my baby shower were not enough and that she'd like a picture of each gift with a detailed caption emailed to her stat.

Anyway, this seems like a lot of stuff to me. But-

Things I Don't Have That I Think I Probably Need, Right?

  • Baby monitor
  • Place for baby to sleep that is not the crib or my bed
  • More bed sheets
  • Waterproof mattress pad
  • Newborn disposable diapers
  • All the cloth diaper accessories I haven't bothered to research yet
  • A packed hospital bag
  • Nursing clothes
  • A carrier, and now I am leaning more towards a mei tei instead of a pouch. Gah.
  • A mirror to stick on the car seat so I can see the baby's face because the whole backwards facing baby thing really freaks me out
  • Large mountain of Chinese prefolds
  • A Certificate of Successful Completion of a local How To Keep A Newborn Baby Alive Class

Have I forgotten anything? Can I get rid of something on any of my lists? DO I HAVE ENOUGH ONESIES?

Oh, and here is today's parting thought: young ladies of the world, when arriving for a job interview, make sure you can actually walk in your three-inch heels and that the camisole under your Express suit jacket is long enough to cover up your navel ring. Ladies, I'm just trying to help. 


Luck and symmetry

I'm in a rotten mood today, Internet. ROTTEN. Pretty much everyone within a fifty-foot radius of my person is receiving the trademarked stinkeye and the "begin a conversation with me at your own risk" vibes. Luckily for you it would be the height of dumbassery to vent my ire here. So. I have to think of something else to write about.

Yeah, this is not working.

You probably don't want to hear about how I washed every piece of adorable newborn clothing yesterday, carefully folded everything and agonized over how to organize the two empty dresser drawers. But everything size three to six months and up is still hanging off the side of the crib waiting for my nesting instinct to kick in.

Or about how much plain Hershey chocolate I have eaten since Easter, which begs the question: is it possible to poison oneself with excessive antioxidant consumption? (Because you know I am eating it for the antioxidants.)

How about: Our old lady stayed home from church yesterday so we took advantage of our lack of responsibility and hung out at coffee and doughnuts for a while. I met a woman who flat out asked if my baby needed a surrogate grandmother and, shoot, like I am going to turn down a potential highly qualified local babysitter. Then we were doing all the getting-to-know-you questions and when someone asked me what I do, I said, "Oh, I'm quitting and having a baby." And this woman clapped her hands and said, "I am so glad to hear that you're not putting your baby in daycare."

Which, fine. I am also glad I am not putting my baby in daycare, mostly because I think it would kill me. But I qualified this statement with, "Well, I'm quitting as much as I can, I'll still be doing some part time work." I don't know. I don't know why I cared what she thought, but I felt like I had to say something like, "I'm just lucky." And gosh, even saying that makes me a little uncomfortable, because I certainly don't think wanting to go back to work is the worst thing in the world. Some people LIKE going to work and I certainly can't begrudge them that! 

But I am lucky. It would be very difficult for us if I completely quit my job and I will have to go back to work at least part time. But I like what I do, I have an unbelievably flexible employer and my work is the kind you can do from home. If we need someone to watch the baby one or two days a week, it will probably be my inlaws or my mom or the surrograte grandmothers crawling out of the church woodwork. My little sister lives two blocks up the street. Phillip's boss started working one day a week from home after he had a baby and is willing to let Phillip try it out too. My friends with babies have flexible schedules and we've talked about sharing sitters and watching each others' kids if we need to. I haven't even thought about daycare.

Oh, and then I ran into this other woman I know from church. Actually, I met her during those stewardship visits a couple months ago. She'd just had a baby a while back and was sort of shell shocked about the whole thing- a lot how I imagine I might be. Sleep deprived, frustrated with nursing, annoyed with her husband, convinced she was a bad mother, etc. etc. etc. We spent nearly the whole stewardship visit talking about babies and their experience at the hospital and the first few weeks home. I don't think she'd been out of the house in months, let alone pulled her family together to get to church on time. But I've seen her almost every Sunday for the past couple of weeks and she always makes sure to say hello to me. This time she was lying in wait for me, totally excited to tell me about this new book she's reading and how she wishes she'd read it before her baby was born. I think I'm the girl she's going to save, the person she'll tell everything she wishes she'd known ahead of time. And I appreciate it! I'm assuming I'll have a howling hellion, not a perfect sleeping angel, and I'm a lot more interested in honesty than sugarcoating. But as I stood there listening to all of her hard-won tips, I couldn't help but think that this was one woman who could really use the internet. EVERYTHING she was trying to tell me was something I'd already read on the internet. So many people had her same story and I know Ask Moxie has whole categories devoted to her issues. I haven't done it and I don't know what it's like, but the internet has done its best to prepare me.

And to be honest, she made me feel pretty good about where I'm at. At the same time I'm thinking, "Gosh, I need to tell her about Ask Moxie" I'm also thinking, "I am WAY better off than she was." I had another shower on Saturday and people were asking me how I was doing with the Impending Birth of the SMALL BABY and all that, so I gave them the little two-minute "I was freaking out, but then I reached the end of the catastrophe spectrum and now I'm doing okay," spiel. A friend of mine said, "I think it's great that you got it all out of your system so early," and I thought, "Hey! That's EXACTLY what happened!" Not to say I'm not nervous or worried or terrified of mastitis, but I'm okay. I am not expecting everything to go well. I am not expecting to be supermom right off the bat. I know I will need help and I've already been asking for it. I am okay with saying, "I don't know what this will be like, but I'll figure it out when it happens."

I credit anxiety. Anxiety humbles the crap out of you. If I hadn't dealt with anxiety, there's no way I'd be asking my friends to check in on me after the baby is born, or acknowledging that things might not go exactly as I think they will. I am not too proud to grovel for more responses to my bleg!

And before I return to my previously scheduled Funk of Massive Annoyance With The Entire World, and because I know you're all dying to know, here is your SMALL BABY update:

MAGGIE'S DOCTOR: How's everything going?

MAGGIE: Oh fine. Except for the whole SMALL BABY part, of course.

MAGGIE'S DOCTOR: I want you to schedule another ultrasound because we want to keep tabs on his growth. But everything looks great and he's symmetrically small, which is good.

MAGGIE: Oh well then.

PHILLIP: That's a relief.

MAGGIE: At least he's proportionally small.

PHILLIP: I guess he's not going to have my giant head after all.

MAGGIE: Yes, we wouldn't want a tiny baby with a freakishly large head.

PHILLIP: Now when people ask we can just tell them he's symmetrical and leave it at that.

MAGGIE: Right, what more can they want?

PHILLIP: THANK GOD FOR MODERN SCIENCE.


Mine

I just have a small baby. He measures two weeks behind and, according to the Magic Ultrasound Measurement Calculator Of Definiteness, is below the 10th percentile for size. How can it be, you are asking yourselves, that such un-small people as Phillip and me have produced such a scrawny baby? We discussed this at length and finally agreed that he must take after us after all, as he is obviously too lazy  to bother with meeting standards.

We asked a hopefully-not-too-annoying number of questions and it seems like everything else is okay. He's got all his parts and they are all working. The amniotic fluid is on the low side of normal, but not low enough to make our tech raise her eyebrows. The rate of whatever it is moving through the umbilical cord was breathtakingly average so he's getting enough to eat. He's just small. And according to the ultrasound doctor, who our tech was kind enough to consult while we waited just in case, returned this resounding verdict: "Some babies are just small."

Phillip, naturally, wants to call our doctor ASAP and demand to know What Happens Next, whereas I am content to examine my cuticles and assume no news from the doctor's office is good news. I will also assume I should go back to eating ice cream because my baby needs to fatten up. Thanks for your good wishes, everyone. Now you can all send me some chocolate.

I enjoyed the ultrasound a lot more this time, I think because the tech wasn't hovering around every single internal organ (that really grossed me out) and actually spent a lot of time looking at his face, which was pretty neat. Especially when he got the hiccups and I could feel it AND see it on the screen.

About a year before we got pregnant, I was fake pregnant. I was fake pregnant for a whole exhilarating twenty-four hours. I'd been sick with awful nausea for about a week, so sick that I couldn't even finish a glass of wine at the Pharmacist's birthday party (I know!) and I finally went to the doctor. I knew the first thing they'd ask me is if I was pregnant, so I decided to head them off at the pass. The test was negative so I went in prepared to ask for maximum strength anti-nausea medication because this inability to drink wine thing was really getting me down. The first thing they asked was if I was pregnant, I said no, they made me take a test anyway, it was negative and they sent me home with a "oh, it's probably nothing, but call us back in a week if you still feel like crap." Which was kind of annoying, but hey, I had the whole afternoon off work.

So I'm sprawled on the couch watching TV when the phone rings a few hours later. It's the nurse who had me take the pregnancy test, and who I also told that I would LOVE to be pregnant, but that my husband could not imagine anything scarier in the world, not even a Martian invasion, so we were putting it off indeterminately and I was most definitely not pregnant. The nurse said, "I looked at the test again. You're pregnant!" and I said, "Really?" and she said, "Yes! We'll do the blood test and confirm with you tomorrow, but these tests are very accurate" and then I think I hung up because my brain instantly turned to mush. I spent the rest of the afternoon alternately elated and terrified of what Phillip was going to say. Turns out he didn't have much to say besides "Huh" and we ate dinner and talked about how we were going to have a baby that SUMMER and then we were both too overwhelmed to think about it anymore and went to bed.

The entire next day at work I was a wreck waiting for that confirmation phone call. Total wreck. I was so excited and kept imagining how fun it would be to tell my mom. It'd been so very difficult to realize that I couldn't force my husband into wanting a baby as much as I did, but now it was like I was released from that whole thing. It had just happened! And Phillip hadn't exploded! I had a voicemail on my machine when I got back from lunch and I hurriedly picked up the phone. It was my doctor. "You know, there wasn't anything worrisome from your blood test, you probably just have something viral. If it doesn't go away within the week, give me a call back."

I was very confused. I went outside with my cell phone and called her back. I don't remember at all what I said and I barely remember what she said, only that "oh yeah, someone told you the test was positive, they were wrong" and quickly hanging up. I went inside and instant messaged Phillip. I emailed the two friends who knew how much I wanted to have a baby. And then I wondered how appropriate it would be if I crawled under my desk and stayed there until it was time to go home.

I cried for about a week, and I am not a crier. Not like that anyway. I felt incredibly foolish, mortified beyond belief and most of all, robbed. It was awful. And then I felt horrible for feeling robbed, because it wasn't like I'd had a miscarriage or anything. I wasn't even pregnant to begin with! How could I have believed the nurse? How could I have gone from hearing "we'll confirm with you tomorrow" to instantly envisioning a pudgy little baby nine months later, in the summer, playing on a blanket in the front yard while I watered the flowers? I was so embarrassed and so horribly sad. Meanwhile pretty much everyone I knew got surprise pregnant and it was months before I could think about it without tearing up.

Almost a year later I got pregnant for real, and it was different. I didn't really need a doctor to confirm anything, even though I went to one anyway (a different doctor, natch) and heard the whole vitamin and lunch meat spiel. I still pictured a baby in the summer in the yard, but it wasn't a real baby. It was more like a parasite giving me headaches and making me tired. Even when we heard the heartbeat at nine weeks, it was still surreal, a parasite's heartbeat, not a baby's. We found a 'miracle of life' type book at Powell's in Portland one weekend and couldn't believe that that alien type thing was going to turn into a human baby, was a human baby. I wasn't attached to him at all and made myself feel better reading articles and blog posts about not bonding with your baby until he was actually born, or even later. I started to show and feel him kick and I still felt nothing. I wanted him, for sure, and I was excited about what he was going to be, but I don't think I loved him. He didn't feel like he was mine. He mostly felt like gas.

I have always loved babies and when my mom and my sisters are around it's a race to see who will get to the baby first. I get the sniffles at baptisms and point out babies to Phillip in the mall. I still think about and pray for all the babies I held in the Chinese orphanage and desperately hope they were all adopted, because I couldn't adopt them myself and knowing that about broke my heart. I have no doubt in my ability to love and bond with a baby, any baby, lots of babies. It's just that the one I finally get to keep isn't here yet. I've been carting him around for months, but I haven't held him yet. In the last couple weeks I've been thinking more about this. Maybe because he moves so much and keeps me awake and won't let me sit hunched over at my desk. Maybe because I am so in love with my friends' little babies and it finally occurred to me the other day that I am going to have my own and won't that be crazy. Our friends gave us a car seat for our shower and Phillip put it all together last night and we stared at it, both of us thinking, "we're actually going to have something to PUT in there pretty soon."

Yesterday I saw my baby's scrunched up little face on an ultrasound monitor and immediately thought that one is mine. Suddenly I am over the moon, I am dying for him to get here already. Well, once he fattens up a little.


Move over, Hiro

Last night I dreamed I had to save the world, and to do so, I had to find and purchase this diaper bag:

Packabe_2

Salvation arrives in flowery teflon-coated nylon.

I kid you not, Internet. I was like Hiro from Heroes, who knew he couldn't get his powers back and save New York City from certain destruction until he found his sword. Anyway, now I feel like I have to rush out and buy this very diaper bag because hark, my subconscious has spoken.

I did not sleep well last night. What with the snoring (not mine) and the rain (which sounded like we were using the washing machine and the shower and flushing all the toilets simultaneously) and the saving of the world and knowing that I have an is-my-baby-still-growing ultrasound today.

You know what is more fun than nerve wracking ultrasounds? Baby showers! I had one on Saturday. Or, I should say, we had one, because it was a coed shower and boys were invited and they survived. Isn't it nice when your significant other is friends with all your girlfriends' significant others? Makes things so pleasant. Although I have to tell you, I am not a shower kind of girl. In fact, this was my very first shower. Ever. I opted out of the whole bridal shower thing because I couldn't think of anything more awkward than sitting around with a bunch of girls, talking about boys and opening presents that would probably be things I would never ever want anyone else to see. I want to die just thinking about it. I have been to other people's bridal showers and thought, "Now that one wasn't so bad" but no, a bridal shower was most definitely not for me. But I have two very good friends with two very cute babies who offered to throw me (us!) a baby shower and I decided that when someone offers to throw you your very own party, you should say yes. And also because opening a box of onesies in front of all your friends is a lot less embarrassing than opening a box of, well, YOU KNOW.

Anyway, these friends are the awesomest because 1) they did not make us play any games 2) there was chocolate cake for breakfast and 3) they told everyone it was a "stock the baby's library" shower so we now have a million zillion very fun books and our kid is totally going to be reading before he can walk. Bring it on, Pulitzer Committee!

(Small tangent: When I was fifteen and going to a new high school and as absolutely miserable as any fifteen-year-old can possibly be (it's when I found my flair for the dramatic!) I used to say the same prayer every night: that I would either wake up with a terminal illness and therefore be exempt from ever having to go to school again, or that God would just find me some friends already. And I have to say, while God certainly took his TIME, he made up for it with quality. Phillip and I have seriously spent an evening or two telling ourselves how lucky we are to have all these lovely people as friends. Sometimes I flit back to 1995 and yank my fifteen-year-old self from under the covers and tell her not to despair, that things turn out okay. Better than okay. She'll have people to eat lunch with and things to do on the weekends. People will want to throw parties for HER. And ten years later, I tell her, she'll be married, to proof that not all boys are delinquent manipulative horrid excuses for human beings like the ones she must to endure on seven hour sports trip bus rides.)

I am actually having another shower this week, because I am spoiled and special, but I think this one is a thinly veiled excuse for the church girls to get together to drink mimosas and catch up on life without having to worry if our husbands are bored. And I'm pretty sure I won't have to play games at that one either, because in case you missed it before, my friends are awesome.

It was the first sunny Easter morning I can remember in Seattle. Usually I am standing in front of my closet berating the risen Lord because it's too cold and wet to wear a skirt. (Actually, the last two years we've gone to the Easter Vigil, but I am TIRED and PREGNANT and I think three hours of Easter Vigil might have killed me. Sorry, God.) I forgot how church attendance quadruples on Easter morning (the entire row in front of us made a huge scene of collecting all its gear before communion and ditched out on their way back to the pew, which, YOUR LOSS row in front of me, because the best part of Easter morning is singing 'Jesus Christ Is Risen Today' with a trumpet during the recessional.) It poured last night but now it's sunny again and I am going around with no socks and pockets full of Easter candy and SPRING HAS SPRUNG. And as long as the baby has all his necessary parts, all will be well in the world.


Yesterday at my doctor's office

After she has measured me with the little measuring tape, which, when I read about the measuring tape thing in pregnancy books, I assumed was only done when my my great grandmother was pregnant, because really? A measuring tape?

MAGGIE'S DOCTOR: So, do you feel like you're getting bigger?

MAGGIE: Ummm what is the right answer to this question? Yes?

MAGGIE'S DOCTOR: Yeah?

MAGGIE: Well, I definitely feel pretty stretched out.

MAGGIE'S DOCTOR: You've only gained about a pound since your last visit.

MAGGIE: pumps fist in triumph Score!

MAGGIE'S DOCTOR: And you're measuring a little behind, so I think we're going to schedule you for another ultrasound, just to make sure the baby is growing.

MAGGIE: stomach, even though this is completely impossible because of the aforementioned kick boxing baby, sinks.

According to my doctor, some people carry differently and the baby is probably just lodged in there funny so I'm not sticking out as much as some (most?) women at 35 weeks. She just wants to make sure. Fine. But the earliest I could make the ultrasound appointment for was Monday afternoon, which means I have plenty of time to consult Dr. Google.

Dr. Google, depending on his mood, says possible causes for measuring behind are:

  • Your baby is just small. (Not likely. Phillip is a mutant and I grew up with brothers who called me Large Marge.)
  • You carry your baby all funky, what's wrong with you not meeting medical standards?
  • No reason, hello, we are still using measuring tapes in 2007! And ultrasound estimates aren't much better.
  • Low amniotic fluid.
  • Your baby has stopped growing.

It's hard for me to think the baby has stopped growing what with all the movement lately. So of course I have diagnosed myself as having low amniotic fluid. Pretty much the only thing keeping my nerves in check is the fact that the baby is so squirmy and kicky that I'm convinced he's still in there, with enough energy, at least, to bruise my ribs.

I'm nervous. Not SUPER nervous. But a little bit. Enough so that I didn't really have a problem concentrating at Adoration, even though I wasn't technically doing much Adoring. I prayed for the baby (well, after I asked God why it is that everything Catholic must be gold plated and made to look like it was just unearthed from a dusty heap in the Vatican basement) and I might have heard God say, "I've brought you this far, you can trust me." So I said, grudgingly, "All right." I've had the easiest most uneventful pregnancy I could have ever hoped for, so part of me was wondering when the shoe was going to drop. And if there was going to be a shoe, I have to say that this is, like, a filthy worn out knock off Keds shoe from sixth grade. Not much to stress over. But I really wish I could have scheduled my ultrasound today.

In the meantime, I'm trying to think of it as another opportunity to see the baby (although I didn't really enjoy it last time, what with the straining of the neck and the front row view of my baby's inner organs, ick) and also get another confirmation on the boy parts. So yay! Fun!

After my appointment I struck out for the ultra-trendy outdoor shopping mall (hello, retail therapy!) to continue my quest for the perfect designer diaper bag. For which I am willing to spend a lot of money, so how come I don't want ANY OF THEM?

I checked out the Petunia Pickle Bottom bags at Fireworks and even though these bags make me drool with longing, I can't imagine actually using them. They are too pretty to use around a baby who is potentially going to pee on everything and you have to DRY CLEAN them. They don't seem to have enough pockets either, although I have no idea what to actually PUT in a diaper bag. (Well, diapers. I know that much. And I just got my first little package from Cotton Babies and oh my gosh, those bumGenius diapers are the cutest things EVER. Love!)

I don't like the Fleurville bags because they are plasticky and cost too much. I mean, I'm willing to spend a lot, but not that much. I don't like the OiOi messenger bags because they make me think of carry on luggage. I liked and rejected the Kecci Mommybags for the same reason I liked and rejected Petunia Pickle Bottom. I liked the Bumble bags (which are still half off on Amazon, thank you Keli!) because they were roomier and pockety and functional, but the only one they had at the store was a little too Easter egg pastel pink (and also not half off) so I wasn't forced to make a decision.

I did like the Skip Hop bags. Even though they definitely lacking in pretty girly, I could see myself actually using it instead of admiring it from afar. There was only one that seemed big enough to accommodate cloth diapers (the ones that zip out on the bottom for more room) but there were lots of pockets and a shoulder strap and I like how they hang off a stroller. The only thing that bugged me (besides lack of pretty) was all the velcro. NOISY velcro. I can just imagine trying to get something out of my bag without waking up my kid. I also liked the Ju-Ju-Be bags, because talk about functional. Wipeable fabric that isn't vinyl, tons and tons of pockets, different strap options, quiet magnetic closures, big but not too big. But the prints! My eyes, my eyes! Actually, they're kind of fun, but I don't know if I'd want to wear so many flowers every day. (And yet, the plain ones were so plain. Sigh!) 

See my problem? Maybe I don't really want a diaper bag after all. Maybe I just want to cram everything into the giant fake leather purse I bought at Target to use as my carry on bag when I went to Italy. It's already got chocolate stains and smells like the lotion that accidentally squeezed over everything.

So I ditched the baby stores and went to the Giant National Bookseller where I picked up a copy of The Big Book of Birth, because I'd been reading Moxie's pregnancy archives and she recommended it. (And all the Internet is agreed that Moxie knows everything.) And I love it. I haven't bought one single pregnancy or birth book, although I occasionally read a little bit in one of the books my neighbor the OB resident gave me when I told her I was pregnant. (One of those books was the What To Expect book, which now lives under my bed because what's with all the scary preachy talk?!) Other than that I've relied on the internet and my one-day childbirth class. But in the last week or so I started to realize that I will actually have to have the baby soon and I couldn't remember one single thing from my class or the hundreds of baby blogs I have devoured. Anyway, if you are a person such as myself, who is not terribly adamant about a particular kind of Birth Experience, who just wants to do her best and get through labor with her sanity intact and come out with a (preferably adorable) newborn, it's great. I think I've avoided a lot of the other books out there because I know their agendas in advance. I have a pretty good idea of what is going to work for me (while keeping in mind that I have NO idea what my own experience will entail) and I just wanted flat out information. And this book gives you that information in a very balanced "everyone is different" way WITH a most appreciated sense of humor. But not the snotty sassy Girlfriend's Guide humor- wry, real humor, my favorite kind.

Anyway. Think good thoughts for my small baby. Please. I'm off to find other means of distraction.

P.S. No one attempted to wash my feet! Probably because I have been wearing the same shoes without socks for two straight weeks and they reek.