Friday, June 30, 2006

A little spoiling

Friday, June 30:

JP's parents sent me an unexpected note with a Target gift card inside -- "for something nice for yourself." The gift card came in a cute greeting card with a rattle on the front.

Then I get a box from my stepmother, and inside are a quilt and matching pillow with sea creatures all over it -- which I'm sure her best friend sewed. There is also a little plaque with a house and two little footprints painted on it that says, "Our home has been increased by two feet." And that must be the handiwork of my grandmother (my stepmother's mother). There's no card or note included, but I'm as sure about the items' creators as an art historian would be about a long-lost Van Gogh.

Man, I really hope this baby (or me) isn't spoiled.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

It's a bed, it's a swing, it's a baby hammock!

Our Amby Baby hammock arrived today!

Ever since I saw this in an ad in a pregnancy magazine, I knew it was something I had to try. The hammock is more expensive than the typical cradle or bassinet, but it's supposed to help the baby with acid reflux, colic, head shape and generally a good sleep. When the baby moves, the hammock moves -- just what the baby is used to in the womb. Parents seem to really like it.

I'll report on how it goes when JP and I get to put the baby in it.

So now, even though the room of doom isn't finished, our little person will have a cozy place to sleep in our bedroom when s/he comes home.

But oh, that room will be finished . . . .

Graduation Day, Part 2

Wednesday, June 28:

Tonight is the last childbirth prep class. About a third of the regulars are gone.

Tonight's class is about breastfeeding.

There are several handouts showing all the things that can go wrong during breastfeeding, like sore nipples. The nurse teacher assures us that, with practice, we will get good at it, and everything will be fine. But with the frequent feedings newborns require, the pumping, the engorgement, the little things you do to make your breasts feel better or your nipples more like something the baby wants, breastfeeding seems like a great way to keep you from leaving the house. Or having a sex life.

Other than that, it sounds great.

We watch a video, and I wonder if JP will ever look at my breasts in the same way again.

Then we thank the nurse teacher for the series of classes and get a schedule for classes for July.

Next up: the infant CPR class, maybe?

Graduation Day

Wednesday, June 28:

JP and I visit the genetic counselor’s office. I know, I know, all I do is complain about how long the wait always is (a topic of conversation between two alarmed women in the waiting room this morning) and how it’s unnecessary.

But I want to see my baby.

The wait isn’t too horrible, and JP and I go into an exam room. While the ultrasound tech does her swooshing across my belly and takes her measurements, JP and I ask her about the technology and what everything is. I tell her she’s good at it and that she should get an Ultrasound Tech of the Year award.

The baby is 3 pounds and 12 ounces, she says. Then before we leave the exam room, she gives JP a long strip of ultrasound images and also a much larger image that shows a good close-up of the baby's face.

“This is just because I like you,” she says. “Don’t tell anyone.”

The large image of the face has “See you soon, Mom and Dad” written across the bottom.


Then we wait to see the doctor, who is wearing cute red ribbon wedges. She goes over what the ultrasound tech measured and says exactly what the ultrasound tech already told us. And then:

“All right, you’re graduated. See you with your next baby.”

JP and I wish we could celebrate, but he’s rushing to the office (“Can I take these pictures with me? It’s take your baby to work day.”), and I have work to get done at my home office.

I’ll post the ultrasound image if/when JP gives it back to me.

Monday, June 26, 2006

"A roaring engine of life"

Monday, June 26:

I just started reading "Hello, My Name Is Mommy: A Dysfunctional Girl's Guide to Having, Loving (and Hopefully Not Screwing Up) a Baby" by Sheri Lynch (an author recommended some time ago by BusyMom), and the introduction really grabs me:

"On my bumpy and neurotic journey to motherhood, I discovered something amazing about pregnancy, something carefully hidden beneath all the layers of pastel sentiment and cutesy bunnies-and-duckies rhetoric of the maternity marketplace: power. There is no creature on earth more powerful, more imbued with raw, primal humanity than the woman who carries, births, and nurses an infant. No one. A mother is a roaring engine of life, a maker and symbol of messy, bloody, wrenching miracles. Yet we hide her behind the kind of infantile whimsy that marks so much of the pregnancy experience. At her most potent, we insist that she become sexless, and worse, childlike. On top of that, working women are made to feel apologetic for having obeyed the clumsy and unproductive dictates of our biology. Mommies are relegated to the sidelines as creatures who are no longer clever, interesting, or sexy. That's worse than unfair; it's a complete fraud."

Now, I didn't go into motherhood for the power. But I'm liking what she has to say.

With a childhood that appears even worse than mine was, Sheri claims even "misfits" can raise great children and aren't doomed to repeat their parents' mistakes.

Can't wait to read the rest . . . .

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Leaving the clutter behind for a little peace of mind

Friday, June 23:

Seems having baby stuff all over the house is just as grating to JP as it is to me. He is really irritable tonight and blames it on all the clutter -- the baby items that don't have a home yet because the room of doom still has his junk in it, which he is cleaning out and placing in the hallways, family room, office and guest bedroom -- virtually no room in the house is off limits to either baby items, excess furniture we should have gotten rid of eons ago, binders from his office, books, etc.

Glad to know it's not just me.

Tonight, I thought I'd finish writing thank-you notes to his family for the Father's Day gifts, put the car seat in my car so I can go to the free car seat clinic offered at Babies R Us tomorrow and go through my stash of fabric to clean up my sewing area.

What I accomplished was writing one thank-you note. And together, JP and I figured out how to assemble the bonnet that goes over the car seat/infant carrier.

With him antsy over all the clutter and wanting to get away from it for a while, and me in desperate need of some exercise, we took a walk.

Even though it was hot and stinky (our neighborhood just finished getting the roads blacktopped), and I was tired, we both felt so much better after a couple of miles.

Let me always remember what big effect a little walking can have . . . .

Friday, June 23, 2006

You're a mean one, mama grinch

Friday, June 23:

It's not often I get so amused -- sitting alone by myself working at home -- that I laugh out loud.

But today, I did.

And I laughed while looking at my online baby registry, of all things.

The invitations have been sent for the shower Roo and Star are giving me, and every so often, I can't help but sneak a peak online to see if anything has been snapped up.

Has someone purchased something? Did I forget to register for something? Are there items in all price ranges?

(I just know someone is going to say, “You didn’t register for X,” which in all likelihood means I already have X coming out of my ears, thanks to my family, or someone has already given that to us, or in the case of breastfeeding-related items, I don’t want people buying things for me that are going on or near my breasts. I don’t want them to think about my breasts while shopping. Leave my chi-chis out of this.)

And today, I noticed someone bought the high chair I registered for.

Not the top-of-the-line high chair JP's aunt wants to give us.

The laugh came involuntarily, and it sounded quite evil.

I can be so mean sometimes.

I actually picked out this high chair before JP's aunt started pushing her favorite on us (the same thing she gave JP's sister six years ago when our adorable nephew was born, as I've mentioned). It's compact and looks comfortable and easy to clean.

But just the idea that someone is giving us a high chair, and it's not even the one our aunt has been campaigning for, seems wickedly delicious.

May God have mercy on my soul.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Gettin' baby wit' it

Thursday, June 22:

Today, I have my regular monthly visit with my Ob/Gyn. I also take the blood glucose test. Is it bad that I actually liked the sugary orange drink that everyone has told me is so disgusting? Does that mean I have gestational diabetes? We'll see . . . . The nurse sticks me in each arm because she couldn't get blood out of the first arm.

Seeing my doctor -- the one I started out with since before she began adding people to her practice like Donald Trump adds apprentices -- is refreshing because it's the first time I'd seen her since getting pregnant. She takes her time with you. I ask her what the deal is with birth plans and whether anyone actually pays attention to what you want. So she takes my two birth plan checklists (printed off a couple baby sites) and goes over one of them, telling me what she absolutely insists on; the rest of the things on the list are OK.

And she tells me to watch my weight.

"You've gained 22 pounds," she says, "And you still have 10 weeks left."

Holy what?! I have 10 weeks left?!

"You don't want to gain too much weight. It'll be harder on you after the baby comes."

So this makes me sad to think someone is reproaching me about my weight. Especially when my friend who just gave birth last week calls me "little mama" (compared to herself) and another friend I hadn't seen in a while met me for dinner and proclaimed, "Oh! You're little!" So I have to think about what more I can do to keep from gaining more weight. Is it even possible?

The doctor tells me to start keeping track of the baby's movements. And I ask for a list of recommended pediatricians, because apparently JP and I are slackers among those in our childbirth prep class, where most parents-to-be have already picked pediatricians.

Now the fun begins: I get to come back every two weeks now. That's more run-ins with the FBI, who continue to be clueless. (Calling yesterday to confirm appointment: "Are you pregnant?" "Um, yeah!" "Oh. Have you ever been here before?" "Yes, for like the past three years?!")

So this baby stuff is starting to get more and more real.

Last night's childbirth prep class had JP and me diapering and swaddling my teddy bear (who still feels humiliated and hasn't forgiven me yet) and getting a talk from a pediatrician about baby care. Monday night's class ran long and was mostly about pain management. I made a real flake out of myself by asking the nurse teacher what she thought about TENS units for labor pain and if she'd seen people use them for labor. She responded by saying it works if you believe it works, which was an equally flaky answer, if you ask me. Then some father-to-be in front of us said he used a TENS unit on his abs, and it microwaved the food inside his body and made him really sick. Once outside of class, JP went off about him and proclaimed him to be a moron. TENS isn't a microwave.

These classes are helpful, but every night of the class, I come home with a new concern. The latest: if it takes you a half-hour to breastfeed, and a newborn needs to eat every 1.5 to 2 hours, then how do you possibly have a life?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

House Babyful

Tuesday, June 20:

When decorating your home, interior designers say to select items you really love, and show them off.

When expecting a baby, your inner decorator says, "What happened in here? There's baby stuff everywhere!"

A car seat -- still in the box -- is placed just so in the foyer as a reminder you need to install it in your car.

The stroller frame is a nice touch in the hallway, where surplus furniture from the room of doom is awaiting a new home to make way for baby furniture.

Precious baby sheets and blankets look good stacked neatly on your dining room table until the crib can be assembled and placed in the future nursery.

The kitchen is a perfect place to show off mother-to-be and father-to-be cards from well wishers. On the table, place gentle reminders of baby's eminent arrival where your husband sets down his keys when he comes home -- such as bassinet recommendations, birth plan, gift registry lists and fistfuls of hair from your head -- so he will be encouraged and excited to turn the room of doom into a darling nursery for his child.

Baby toys such as stuffed animals are natural decor enhancers for the home of the parents-to-be and may be placed on shelves or tabletops around the house.

However, if you subscribe to the idea of allowing common baby items (such as these stuffed animals) to pick up your scent so the baby will be comforted in the future by these toys, you may hide them in your chest of drawers -- that's right, go ahead and hide the only pretty thing that comes from expecting a baby. Walk-in closets are excellent places to hold baskets and bags full of baby clothing, until such time as the baby has a room of his or her own, or at least a chest of drawers for such.

Last but not least, display your sonograms in beautiful frames worthy of a brand-new life. When your baby is born, your sonograms will be a wonderful reminder of your early pregnancy, when visions of a charming nursery by your sixth month were fresh and sweet, and still attainable.

You'll find it's all part of the creative process when you begin decorating your home to welcome your baby into the world.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Father's Day, um, shower

Sunday, June 18:

Happy Father’s Day, JP!

I give him a special cup for his nightly ice cream fix that will keep the warmth of his hand away from the ice cream inside. And also a marble slab with spades to do mix-ins like Cold Stone Creamery.

And also a seahorse on a stick. Well, really, it’s a seahorse shape covered in tiny white shells and seed pearls and posted on a stand -- a decoration for the baby’s room and a reminder of his love for our little person. Since our trip to the Bahamas when JP picked up the father seahorse toy, the seahorse has sort of become a symbol of fatherly love around here.

I also tell him I think he’ll be a great dad.

Later in the day, we go shopping for gifts and cards for his dad, uncle and brother-in-law because his family is getting together. It’s extremely muggy outside, we’re rushed and I’m tired.

Then we rush to the Thai restaurant where we’re meeting.

“Can we please leave early tonight?” I ask JP. “I’m tired and want to get some sleep tonight. We always seem to be the last to leave, and we have the longest drive.”

JP agrees. It’s been a busy weekend for both of us, just doing tiring everyday stuff that needs to be done.

It’s actually a nice restaurant and dinner for the nine of us. It’s small and quiet, and everyone’s food is good.

But the evening couldn’t possibly end there. We then all meet at JP’s parents’ house for dessert.

Where we find out we have been shanghaied.

It’s Father’s Day, but what’s that on the table? A cake in the shape of a baby buggy! Over there in the corner: gifts wrapped in pastel paper! JP’s parents want to take our picture by the cake. It’s a surprise baby shower.

Then the family has cake and ice cream around the dining room table. More photos! This side of the table! Then that side! How about if we stand over here? Now try some photos with the aunt’s camera. Do you know how to work it? Now let’s open some gifts. Let me tell you all about this gift. Don’t you want to take it out of the box and assemble it?

“This is supposed to be Father’s Day,” I mention a couple of times. “The dads should open their gifts.”

But of course no one listens to me. I’m pregnant.

Then JP’s aunt starts in about the high chair she still wants to give us.

Our dear widowed step-grandmother is tired and wants to go home. JP’s dad and aunt argue over who gets to take her home. JP’s sister and brother-in-law want to go home and put our adorable nephew to bed -- and watch the basketball finals.

The dads haven’t even been presented with their gifts, much less opened them.

JP’s dad leaves with our grandmother, our aunt is looking for her keys and JP’s sister and her family are out the door.

Once again, we are the last people to leave. If I weren’t so tired, I’d be fuming.

But wait, there’s more! JP’s mother MM wants to give me the maternity clothes JP’s sister wanted me to borrow. We have to load the car with all our gifts. Then we have to drive the half-hour home and unload them! And nobody cares how tired I am.

It’s not that I’m ungrateful to JP’s family for the gifts. We now have a baby car seat and a stroller frame that you strap the seat in, along with our adorable nephew’s immaculate crib mattress and some little toys and blankets. Why these gifts couldn’t have waited for the shower that my friends Roo and Star are giving, I have no idea.

Maybe I’m just tired and cranky, or maybe I’m concerned the family is going to worship our little person the way I hate they worship our adorable nephew -- turning every family get-together into an excuse to make it all about the baby instead of what it should be.

One baby down

Saturday, June 17:

I am working on quilt #2 for the band’s drummer and his wife (please don’t ask what happened to quilt #1 -- all I’ll say is that it’s now a giant pot holder) when a band friend calls to say they had the baby yesterday! I start yelling so much that my band friend thinks something is wrong. But I’m just excited. I can finish the quilt today (it's much less labor-intensive this time around) and give it to the drummer tonight. Perfect timing.

Gulp. JP and I are next.

The great blueberry, juice and hormone explosion of 2006

Saturday, June 17:

I am checking out some blueberries at the supermarket today when the lid pops off and blueberries go flying. Flying. I help a produce department person clean them up and sheepishly put the half-full container in my cart. I intend to pay for it. I also pick up another full container of berries.

At the checkout, the cashier picks up the half-full container of berries and asks, “Have you been eating these?”

“No, I spilled them,” I say, “and I felt bad, so I wanted to pay for them.”

Then we discuss whether or not she should send the bagger to get me another, full, container. I think there is a language barrier on her part. The cashier sends the bagger to get another container anyway.

Then the cashier doesn’t want me to lift anything out of the cart to put it on the conveyer belt.

Then she doesn’t want me to put anything back into the cart to help the bagger.

“I put it in there, so I can take it out,” I say.

I’m pregnant here, people. My arms aren’t broken. Pregnant -- arms. Pregnant -- arms. Get it?

At home, I’m unloading groceries and putting things away in the fridge when my new bottle of juice falls off the top of the fridge (I had to put it there to shuffle things around inside and make room for it), hits my hand and spills over half my kitchen floor in 1.8 seconds.

JP immediately jumps into action, able to save almost half the juice in the bottle (although the lid is now broken in half and unusable). He starts putting down paper towels on the floor to soak up the juice.

“I don’t think we have enough paper towels for this mess, honey,” I say. “I’ll just have to get a mop.”

I am tiptoeing around the puddle, and JP just keeps pulling more paper towels off the roll. It’s like using straw papers to soak up Lake Michigan.

“I’ll mop it up,” I say. “I’m going to have to mop anyway because the floor will be all sticky.”

But he’s not listening and more paper towels come off the roll.

Then a strange but familiar feeling creeps up my neck and explodes.

“Why doesn’t anybody listen to me anymore?!” I yell. “No, I’m not a person, I’m just pregnant. I’m tired of being clumsy and dropping and breaking things, and I’m tired of people telling me they want to give me a shower when I don’t want one and give me a high chair I don’t want and telling me what I can and can’t lift!”

Then I look at JP with a handful of sopping paper towels in his hand. I feel like a crumb.

“It’s not you; I just don’t know why people won’t listen to me anymore.”

“The mop is broken in half,” he says.

“What? I just used it a few days ago,” I say.

He goes to the garage and brings it back to me so I can see for myself. The head has rusted completely off the stick. Two pieces.

“If I’d known we needed a new mop, I could have gotten one at the store,” I say.

“Well, I wasn’t thinking about mops this morning,” JP snaps.

I sit down on a stool and cry. I hate crying, and that makes me cry more. JP tries to comfort me even though I don’t deserve it. I tell him I’m sorry. Dern these pregnancy hormones!

Somehow, JP finds a mop I didn’t know existed. We stand at opposite ends of the kitchen to take turns cleaning up the juice. Then he actually leaves when I tell him I’ll finish, that he should work on whatever he was originally going to do.

Three passes later, the floor is finally unsticky. But I’m still stuck in a funk.

Friday, June 16, 2006

A truly blind date

Friday, June 16:

Yesterday, Star came over to scan her sonograms and save them on a disc for posterity. The baby is cute! I know it's crazy to think you can tell a baby is cute from a sonogram. But hush up, because I can.

She brought me a giant bundle of maternity clothes that a classmate had given her but which Star didn't want. So today, I enjoyed wearing a pair of cool khaki cargo pants when I had to run some errands at lunch time. (Cool as in thermometrically comfortable.)

I ended up in a plaza where there are a couple restaurants, and a man in a plaid shirt came up to me.

"Are you Debbie?" he asked.

"No," I said, trying to keep a safe distance.

"Oh, sorry, I'm looking for my blind date, and you match her description." (There's that "you look like" phenomenon again.)

And I thought, Man, if your blind date is six months pregnant, you've got bigger worries.

So I gotta have faith

Friday, June 16:

OK, so yesterday I wasn't exactly my calm, cool, collected self. I was feeling overwhelmed about the whole birth thing and worried about possibly being forced to go through with things I don't agree with at the hospital when the Big Day comes.

But today, that still, small voice seems to be telling me to have faith. I need to trust that it will all work out and that everything will be fine when the little person is born.

I'm going to hold onto faith. If faith will mean opening my mouth and protesting, or if faith will mean being quiet and doing what needs to be done, I need to listen to the Great Giver of Life.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

What to expect when you're in childbirth preparation classes and feeling overwhelmed and grossed out

Wednesday, June 14:

It's the second childbirth prep class. JP and I have left the pillow at home. We come in a little bit late, so we end up sitting in the back row. Throughout the class, I keep staring at the tattoo on the back shoulder of the woman in front of me: a hibiscus with the words Divinity, Beauty, Truth, Balance and Passion labeled next to each of the flower's five petals.

I look around at what the other women are wearing. Lots of tank tops and camisoles -- the temperatures are getting warmer. Some women are wearing fancy tops with handkerchief hems and carrying glittering handbags. No kidding. The attorney/newscaster/CEO woman has dressed down a bit for the class this time, but still looks like she could be at work. I am wearing maternity jeans (which are still a bit too big) and an athletic top with a tie-front shrug. With flip-flops. And no cool tattoo.

We practice breathing for contractions. JP is still making lame wisecracks, like how he's going to be in charge of the TV remote while I'm having contractions and other stupid stuff. I ask him, "Do you want me to toss you out of the delivery room?" It's all fun and games until someone has to push out a baby.

The nurse teacher shows us a poster depicting the different stages of labor. Each stage shows a woman, smiley-face style, with the woman's expression turning to what looks like rage by the last stage of labor. I think we could do without that little visual aid.

Then we watch another birth video. It is graphic. It is the most disgusting and the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I squirm in my chair and clench my fists. There is no crying this time. It's just uncomfortable to watch. I can't figure out why it's different from Monday night's video.

I will be a bad patient.

A neonatalogist comes in to tell us about how great the facilities are at the hospital. We get to ask questions. But he isn't there that long. Basically, none of us hopes we ever have to see him.

After he leaves, we ask the nurse teacher more questions. When she brings up the subject of being hooked up to an IV and a fetal monitor, I ask, "How will we be able to move around if we have these lines and wires attached?"

"The IV line is very long. You can take it with you and walk the halls or do whatever you want to do."

"What if you're using a birth ball or doing yoga-type movements?" Not that I have used a ball. But the videos she has shown our class have women swaying, squatting and leaning forward on a chair, not tethered to a bed. And a couple of the books I have enjoyed reading recommend moving around and keeping an upright position rather than lying down so gravity works with you and the baby.

"The line will stretch. You can be on a ball and have an IV with no problem. At the very least, everyone will get the site started for an IV just in case you need one attached."

"But what about the monitor?"

"Well, we have this invisible patient. We want to see how they're doing, right?"

Which doesn't really answer my question.

I haven't mentioned it before, but I'm listening to birth hypnosis CDs -- Hypbirth -- after reading about the practice in a pregnancy magazine. They CDs seemed really weird at first. But they have taught me how to really relax. And even the nurse teacher has said how important it is to relax during labor. I like the positive visualizations and the Hypbirth coach's soothing voice that tells you how strong you are and how giving birth is going to be easy if you can just relax.

However, I also like the active birth approach. I'm an active person. I like the idea of being upright and not looking like an invalid. I like the idea of gravity (for the most part).

These two philosophies don't seem to go together, I know. How can you be "as limp and loose as a rag doll," as the Hypbirth CDs want you to be, if you are squatting or hanging onto your partner? Maybe there's some way I can combine the two approaches.

When you think about it, it's really the Ob/Gyns who should be offering these classes, not the hospital. Because even though the hospital offers certain options, the doctors may not. For example, Star told me our doctor practice won't do water births, something she is interested in, even though the hospital has a birthing tub. And if the hospital is going to insist I be strapped to a monitor, well then, I've just wasted a lot of time reading about active birth and practicing positions, haven't I? I'm also getting the picture that the doctor isn't even going to be there for most of the labor, only when the baby is about to emerge. So what difference is it to her the way I labor?

Going to the class is still a good idea, though. Each class is a reinforcement of the idea we are going to give birth. Every time we go, the dads get gentle tips from the nurse teacher about how they can be good coaches and how they can tolerate us. The class helps us to know a little better what to expect.

There are just so many different options, approaches and philosophies and different people telling you different things about labor and birth that it makes my head swim. I would like to give birth with Divinity, Beauty, Truth, Balance and Passion. In the end, though, I fear I might just end up being squashed under the medical establishment's thumb. Is that dramatic enough for ya?!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Template envy

Wednesday, June 14:

Guys are here making a lot of noise putting new windows in the room of doom (aka future baby room). So it's not been easy to concentrate on work. So I've updated the blog with a new template because everyone else's beautiful blogs were getting to me.

Like it?

I admit it's girly, but I can change it in case my little belly bean is a boy. It'll do for now.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Doing llamas

Tuesday, June 13:

I get an e-mail from my stepmother -- “Ann” -- today.

“Have you any progress on the nursery? Is the crib together yet? I know I didn't ask you before, but are you doing llamas?”

Yes, actually, that’s how I got pregnant. I’m having a new species called a hu-ma. All the intelligence of a human, but with the stability, endurance, fur and cuteness factor of a llama.

Probably a silly spell check thing.

But I tell her about the class that started last night and how it’s not called Lamaze, but “childbirth preparation.”

Wait until I tell my stepmother JP wants to go to “Daddy Boot Camp” like his co-worker.

Then my friend Star calls and says her trip to London and South Africa has been delayed, and because of that she’s going to miss my shower. She and her husband really need to visit his family before the baby comes. I just feel bad that she’s working on the shower and won’t get to enjoy it.

Have pillow, will get through class

Monday, June 12:

JP and I walk across the parking lot to a building next to the hospital for our first childbirth preparation class. We were told to bring a pillow. I called to confirm this pillow is going to be on the floor. So I don’t want to bring my regular pillow. No, I have brought the most hideous pillow in the whole house. It’s a giant square floor pillow with a Holstein print that’s ripped a little so some stuffing is coming out, and the pillow has stains on it. I forgot I even had this thing. But I digress.

We follow the line of pillow carriers into the building and find our classroom.

There are several of my kind.

It’s pretty basic stuff, at first. Stuff you’d think would be better suited to newly pregnant people and not people who already have baby bellies. The nurse teacher is nice and knowledgeable but not entertaining. She tells us to come to the emergency room when our contractions are five minutes apart, or when our water breaks, unless our Ob/Gyns tell us differently. Then throughout the class, she keeps asking us when we’re coming to the hospital (“When our contractions are five minutes apart!”) and where we’re going to go (“To the emergency room!”). What’s that spell? (“B-A-B-Y!”)

She asks us all if we know the baby’s sex. JP and I are one of two couples out of about 20 who aren’t finding out the sex of the baby. The rest of the class is 50/50. I feel like such a minority.

The nurse teacher tells the coaches (mostly men) to count out loud as we practice breathing for contractions. This seems confusing to me. Deep breath, short breaths, different breaths for different contractions. JP makes it worse for me because he’s counting in Spanish and doesn’t know how. So I’m distracted. What a goofball.

And before our next class on Wednesday, we’re supposed to read 60 pages in the book that goes with the class. Which probably won’t happen.

The nurse teacher leads us into the next room for some relaxation techniques. I am self-conscious of my pillow. I’m pretty sure one of the mothers-to-be, who looks like an attorney or possibly a newscaster or a CEO type, appears frightened at the sight of my sorry pillow. But JP and I end up not using the pillow at all. The nurse teacher turns out all the lights, and I lean back against him, while he’s leaning against the wall. He even gives me an impromptu massage. It’s the best part of the class.

Back in the classroom, we watch a video of an actual birth, and despite the messiness of the whole affair and the protests of the father-to-be in front of JP and me, I cry. Dern these pregnancy hormones!

Who, me? I’m not crying. Put on a stern face. Walk out of the building.

Remember not to bring lousy cow pillow next time.

She shoots, she scores!

Monday, June 12:

Guys are coming this week to put new windows in the room of doom and other parts of the house. So today has to be my day to run around.

I visit the unfinished furniture store JP likes to take pictures of possible dressers he might finish for the baby. But don’t tell his parents. They don’t want him to start any more new projects. I think that, for once, that’s a good idea because he’s overcommitted to projects already. But I told him I’d go.

Then I return to Babies R Us to complete the registry. At first, I am careful. I inspect all the items left on my self-edited checklist. I compare brands. I am sure I look as newbie as I feel. But you don’t shoot a gun, even a bar code gun, haphazardly.

Until you get the feeling you need to go to the restroom. (Where is it, anyway?) And you realize no one is going to take your gun or (mommy) badge away if you start shooting with abandon. And you pass the shelf full of strange infant beverages and realize you’re thirsty. And you have heartburn again but don’t have any antacids on you. And maybe that last frozen coconut fruit bar in the freezer at home is calling out to you.

So I start shooting a little more loose. Gee, I never thought about a special-for-baby pool float before, but it looks like fun. I’ve never seen one of these little air filters before, could come in handy. How about this cute little book with the fuzzy bear family on the cover? Why not? They’re not on the list, but what the hey? I get the necessities covered too.

Two hours later, I have covered my checklist and turn in my gun. But I get to keep my badge.

Make way for the preggo parade

Sunday, June 11:

Today, JP and I visit the local hospital for a tour of the maternity area.

“Are you going to say it?” JP asks as a pregnant woman walks by ahead of us.

I smile. “There’s one of my kind.” Isn’t it weird when you start quoting yourself? And people actually ask you to do so?

I don’t bother to count, but there are several of my kind waiting in the lobby. Some women have children and significant others with them. I can’t believe it, but the nurse giving the tour leads all of us -- every single one of us -- onto an elevator.

“It can hold 8,000 pounds,” she explains.

We visit an empty labor/delivery room. The hospital Web site touts its “beautifully appointed” rooms, but I just don’t see much beauty here. Oh sure, there are wood cabinets above the bed -- where the mother wouldn’t be able to see them -- and a picture on the wall above the bed -- also where the mother wouldn’t be able to see it -- but the rest of the room looks like a lot of medical equipment and stainless steel. There is a water birth tub in the room, but the nurse leading the tour says it hasn’t been used that much. All state-of-the-art, I’m sure, but it just doesn’t seem that comforting to me.

Next, we visit the neonatal ICU. A doctor comes out and talks to us for a few minutes. He assures us doctors in this unit work for 24 hours at a time, so someone is always there at the hospital if something bad happens to the baby. We are invited to look into the windows of the unit, but I can’t bear to. I have an uneasy feeling.

We all go up in the elevator again to the rooms where we’ll be taken with our babies after they’re born. I guess they’re supposed to be something special, but they look like regular ol’ hospital rooms -- which I try to avoid as much as possible.

And I’m supposed to hole up here for 48 hours with a newborn baby. And a husband sleeping on a fold-out chair living on vending machine and cafeteria food.

My throat tightens. I am starting to feel I can’t do this. What have I done? What was I thinking? How can I have a baby?

On the way back to the elevator, we pass by a woman who exclaims, “Oh my! Look at them all! I have never seen so many at one time!” as though we are exotic creatures on someone’s life list. Nope, just a regular preggo parade.

Afterward, JP initiates going to a store to get me a body pillow because I keep tossing and turning at night, unable to get comfortable. A sign by the body pillow we buy even says, “Excellent for expectant mothers.”

We pick up lunch and take it home. I want to take a nap and try out that body pillow, but my friend who’s giving me the shower -- “Roo” -- calls. She has dozens of little details to discuss about the shower. Roo diligently reads a list of possible shower games and asks what I like and don’t like. She tells me what the invitations look like. She tells me our friend Star is also giving the shower with her. (And later, Roo and I will give Star a shower for her now-late November baby.) There are lots of details. There are more details than I imagined. She knows all the shower etiquette. And she won’t let me do anything. How can she spend her precious weekends working on this?

I never do get my nap, but at night I have the best sleep I’ve had in a couple months.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The media have adopted the wrong attitude

Friday, June 9:

There has been such a frenzy over the photos of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's baby appearing in People magazine today. Who cares if it was $4 million or $40 million the magazine paid for the photos?

There is a bigger issue here that I haven't seen or heard anyone address.

And the issue is related to the fuss over the recent birth of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' baby, too.

In both of these families, there are two other children. Adopted children. Where was the media circus when these children were adopted? If there was one, I don't remember it -- or there wasn't as much press over the adoption. By comparison with all the recent birth hoopla, the adopted children have been ignored.

It's clear the media value the stars' biological children above their adopted children. Does society do the same?

I don't believe the media are a true mirror of society -- and certainly not the entertainment media. But their attitude toward the birth of these stars' babies makes you wonder if some people do look at adopted children as being "less than." It's sad. I don't think I am going to love my baby more than my friend loves the baby she adopted from China.

I guess I'm just saying I hope we don't make the media's attitude our own and value one life over another.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

FBI informant, uncovered

Thursday, June 8:

My newly pregnant friend -- "Star" -- and I had some catching up to do after the babymoon. (She is taking her own babymoon starting next week, when she jets off to London and South Africa, where her husband is from. Lucky duck.)

She tells me about her experience on Monday at my Ob's office -- now hers, too -- during her first full-fledged prenatal appointment. In order to distract herself from the blood being drawn out of her arm for testing, she ended up telling the nurses how rude the front-desk people are. (Because they were rude to Star, too.)

And she told them, "A friend of mine who goes here calls them the FBI."



By Star's account, the nurses laughed hysterically. She said that made their day. They acknowledged the front-desk staff rudeness. She even overheard one telling another about my name for this special group of people.

What have I wrought?!

Room of doom is still in gloom

Thursday, June 8:

If JP had seen this, the room of doom would be a nursery by now.

How can I get that man moving? I've even offered to tackle the room myself. Met with wide-eyed protests and threats. Still nothing.

Bellies on the catwalk

Thursday, June 8:

The New York Times has an article today about dressing stylishly when you're pregnant. The article claims pregnancy has become a focal point with "its own lustrous image" that should be celebrated with designer clothing. And apparently, "older mothers" like moi are the target demographic for such.

Do these people know I won't spend $135 on a white cotton tank top, no matter how stylish?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Agressive gift giving

Wednesday, June 7:

While on our babymoon in the Bahamas, a thick report arrived in a large envelope for JP and me. Now that we’ve checked the mail pile, I can see the report was meticulously researched and nicely packaged. It was printed with a color printer. Comments and anecdotes were handwritten in the margins for our benefit. No one would ever guess the subject of the report: the selection of a particular brand of high chair.

I mentioned JP’s aunt wants to give us a certain item.

As the report’s creator, it’s clear she’s going to give us exactly what we need, whether we realize it, or even want it.

See, my stepmother insisted on buying us a convertible crib. But she didn’t tell us what kind of crib was the best. She didn’t research the crib online. She didn’t call the store nearest us that carries said crib to tell us what varieties of the crib were in stock. She didn’t provide parenting forum printouts explaining the differences between this year’s and last year’s model.

But JP’s aunt did all of these in regards to her favorite high chair. Sixteen pages. About a high chair.

It just seems pushy.

I am half afraid if we allow our dear overzealous gift giver to give us this particular high chair, she will also come over to supervise the first time we sit the baby in it and try to feed him or her. She may even tell us where the high chair should go in our house and how to properly clean it.

This gift aggression bothers me, but it also gets me that it’s the same item picked out by JP’s sister when she had our adorable nephew. If there’s one thing -- one damn thing -- I want to avoid, it’s doing something just because my sister-in-law/brother-in-law/nephew did it.

This is the kind of thing that makes me want to rebel and tell the family the baby will be going on a macrobiotic diet. Tell them the latest research shows infants do best when they’re fed while sitting in a tree swing. Say that we’re outsourcing the baby’s feeding. Anything.

Fear the reaper

Wednesday, June 7:

Having a baby cut out of you and stolen while you're left to die is undoubtedly my worst pregnancy fear. This news item about Lisa Montgomery's upcoming trial for apparently killing Bobbie Jo Stinnett quotes one source as saying Montgomery had a history of faking pregnancies and did it for the attention.

I can't think of anything more selfish than taking someone's life to take their unborn child. Especially if it's all about you and not the baby.

Thank goodness, at least, the child is alive and living with her family. What will it be like for her when she finds out how her mother died?

Babymoon report: Bahama Mama

Wednesday, June 7:

My husband, JP, and I are back from our trip to the Bahamas. I’ve been calling this our “babymoon,” (one last trip you take before baby makes three -- although many people use the word “babymoon” to mean the period of adjustment after the baby arrives) but truthfully we have been planning a trip ‘round about now since we got back from our vacation last year.

Articles about babymoons and babymoon travel sites make such a trip seem glamorous. (“Look at me, I’m just like a celebrity!”) However, even though we had a great time and enjoyed just relaxing, I missed the glamour part.

You see, everywhere we went, there were young, thin, high-energy people having fun and getting tans and drinking beautiful fruity rum drinks and wearing cute little outfits.

Me, I am not as young, have a baby belly (OK, a whole baby body) and walked more slowly because of the heat (and to keep from tripping and slipping around the pool area). Resort food and pregnancy being what they are, I experienced a certain plugged-up bathroom-type condition for a couple days that left me decidedly unenergetic. I didn’t avoid the sun completely (you simply can’t), but getting a tan wasn’t on my agenda due to the pregnancy hormones leaving you with nice dark spots on your skin. Of course, I didn’t have any of the fun, fruity bar drinks everyone was showing off, and -- even though I took half my maternity wardrobe -- my attire was mostly practical and not too fun.

I’m sure I did more than my fair share of people watching, staring at these other vacationers, admiring and hating them. And I’m sure most of those people thought I was just fat, not pregnant. (JP and I went on a six-hour tour that didn’t include a restroom break. Have mercy!) If they looked in my direction at all.

Fortunately, I spotted three others of my kind.

And there were children everywhere. Even babies who appeared to be under a year old. I studied their swimsuits, pool gear, strollers, etc. Maybe it was seeing kids all day that led my husband and me to finally buy a couple toys for the baby -- a little plush green sea turtle and a seahorse with three baby seahorses in his pouch. (Yes, his pouch. Father seahorses are the ones who carry the young. JP loved that.)

What I loved was the woman at the resort who booked tours, who said, "You gotta little Bahama mama there." Twice in two days.

Even though I didn’t fit in with the glamorous people, it was fabulous just to be there, knowing I didn’t have to do anything for a few days and admiring the island’s natural beauty. Which I would have done even if I wasn’t pregnant.

Which leads me to advise any fellow babymooners to hole up in a cabin in the Maine woods -- a nice cool place where you can look out on the water and cover up with those big flannel lumberjack shirts and be comfortable.

Naw, really, we did the best thing in going exactly where we would have gone anyway. Somehow, I think the baby will thank us for doing that, but I can’t really explain why. So, go where you want to go.

And bring home some really cute souvenirs for the baby.