Sunday, August 30, 2009

20 Weeks: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Being Halfway There

Wednesday marked the halfway point for us, and things have been going fairly well, if completely crazy, between baby planning, new job seeking, house renovations, my current workload, and work for a board that I am on. Time is FLYING by, and I never quite feel like I've accomplished as much as I'd like to.

Weight this week: +14.5 pounds from pregnancy. (Wow!)

I had pretty severe lower abdomen pain on the lower left side this week for about 24 hours, starting on Wednesday. Although I wasn't entirely constipated, I suspected a digestive issue, so I had the brilliant idea of buying some prune juice, which I had never drank before. Upon opening the bottle, I discovered that the prune juice was a little thick, so I cut it in half with soda water. Thinned out, I discovered that it really reminded me of molasses, which I kind of like, and I downed a glass easily. And then a bit later, another. And then another. . .let me advise you, dear reader, that if you ever decide to try prune juice, you should start slow. Indeed, the prune juice DID do the trick. . .albeit a little too well, all the next day. But hey, the pain was gone!

The baby has been really active over the last couple of days, although less active today. It's really fun to feel her moving. Yesterday, T. felt the baby move for the first time, which was really cool.

On the completely vain front, I have finally cobbled together a decent maternity wardrobe for work. I have a couple of Olian suits, a bunch of dresses (some maternity and some not), some Old Navy and Gap maternity, and a ton of eBay finds. The funniest part was that I bought a pair of Olian maternity pants in a size XS, to correspond to my "normal" prepregnancy size. They looked really nice on the hanger, but when I tried them on, they were obscenely tight, and I had to exchange them. But then I bought two pair of nonmaternity pants with a stretchy waist at Ne.w Yor.k & Company, in a size small, and they fall down when I walk! Who sizes this stuff???

And finally, we are hard at work on the baby registry. It's taken most of the weekend to try to figure out what we need and what we want. I wasn't giving it a ton of thought and was sort of thinking I had months to get it done, but one of my friends came in and plopped herself down in my office this week at work, and announced that I needed to register. She thinks I am having four showers, at a minimum (thanks to incredibly supportive friends and large families). She also knows that I am getting really busy at work, and in her words, "if you don't hurry up and register, you are going to get crap." In fact, she was so insistent about it that she returned a while later with a list of suggested stores, and then again after that with a list of suggested items to register for.

And, we are such hapless idiots when it comes to baby equipment!!! When I came home and told T. that she had said we needed to register, I happened to show him a bassinet that I like, which I'd like to use next to the bed. His response? "But I thought we were going to get one of those crib thingys." I was actually confused by what a "crib thingy" was, but further prompting elicited confirmation that he meant "the big things we looked at at Bab.ies R' Us." Um, that would just be a CRIB. Oh, the learning curve is going to be very steep for us. . .don't even get me started on the two of us wrestling with car seats yesterday in the store, trying to sort out how the infant seat/base/stroller worked. Let's just say that we need some schooling, preferably in the remedial class.

The final verdict is that we are registering at both Bab.ies R' Us and a local baby store, mainly because the local store has a better selection of furniture, but they don't carry all of the everyday types of necessities like BRU does. I am off shortly to go finish looking at a few things at both stores, and hopefully then I will be done with this madness! The only question I have left is whether I have registered for too many items, or for not enough. How many individual items are/were on YOUR registry?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

19 Weeks

The baby has moved up during this last week. When we had the "big" ultrasound last week, she was fairly low in my stomatch. But over the last week, my belly has really become quite round. I had a regular doctor's appointment this week, and the doctor decided that because of the spotting I'd had this month, she wanted to do a manual exam and another ultrasound to check my cervix. All appeared well with the cervix, but when they did the ultrasound, the baby was up by my belly button. It is totally weird to see how quickly things change!

Weight: +12 pounds since getting pregnant.

Things are otherwise going well. My back is starting to bother me a bit, and I think I'm going to have to give up high heels. My shape has changed just enough that it's become a chore to walk up stairs in them. My doctor saw a pair that I was wearing at my appointment, and mentioned that I'm going to have to give them up soon. Soon, I won't have any clothes OR any shoes!

I found two maternity suits online for a reasonable price, so I bought them. Once is pretty nice, and has a very comfy skirt. But on the second, the pants were so small that I couldn't even button them! So much for maternity pants!!! I'm going to return them and buy a size two sizes bigger than I normally wear, and hope that they fit.

It was also my birthday this week, and I got a gorgeous diaper bag from my MIL (the weight gain must be from all of that birthday cake!). I told T. that I've officially been eclipsed by the babe in my MIL's eyes, and he laughed and agreed with me. It really is fabulous, though.

Edited to add: The baby's heart rate was 156 on this week's ultrasound. The tech said that she was moving around a ton, so her heart rate was a little higher than she expected.

Also, I think I forgot to mention that I've been feeling her move over the last few weeks. At first, I wasn't sure if that's what it was. It sort of feels like someone is tapping me from the inside. It's very cool!

Monday, August 17, 2009


There is a place that I love to eat at in the summer. It's the kind of place that only locals and well-informed tourists can find, as it has no website, no signage, and in fact no real menu to speak of. It sits on a somewhat dilapidated pier that juts out over the water and looks upon more well-heeled establishments on the opposite shore. The tables and chairs are plastic, the owners' black labs amicably greet you in the driveway, and it's strictly BYOB--BYO hors d' oeurves, too. The atmosphere, in short, simply can't be beat, and it has long been a treasured place to bring friends for a few hours of lounging by the water and enjoying perfect seafood. T. and I found the place by accident years ago, after lamenting that a former favorite place of ours a few miles away had lost its charm after it started putting directions from Boston on the placemats.

But the best part of the place was Teddy, the owner. He was raucous and frequently foul-mouthed, and told hilarious off-color stories. He was well-traveled and engaged in fascinating business ventures and side projects, and always had a crazy story at the ready. And, he never told the same story twice. T. and I, and loads of friends who also came to love the place, spent countless nights drinking beers and smoking cigars with Teddy on that deck, long after our meals were finished and everyone around us had left. Well, we drank and smoked, since Teddy really did neither.

The place is only open in the summer, and as I told Teddy last summer, the last time I saw him, he "was summer to me." Each spring, I look forward to seeing the umbrellas appear on the pier--the only way to know that they are open again. Each spring, I look forward to our leisurely meals on that pier, listening to Teddy's crazy stories and getting the scoop on his winter hijinks.

When I saw Teddy last summer, I knew that he wasn't doing well. In fact, over the last few years, he'd had a number of incidents. Although he wasn't particularly old, he suffered from some chronic medical conditions, and he seemed weaker last summer, more vulnerable. And yet, still himself, still full of piss and vinegar. We had one hell of a night that night, and I remember telling him how much he and the place meant to me.

We've tried to go a bunch of times this summer, but the weather has been dreadful, and the place doesn't really work in the rain. I've been worried all summer that maybe he didn't make it through the winter. I worried all last spring about the same thing, though, and there he was last summer, larger than life. This year, though, there were little signs everywhere telling me that maybe he didn't make it. . .a renovation on his house that seemed half done for a very long time, other things that just seemed amiss and unlike the usual bustle that surrounded his place.

So, it was with some trepidation that we made our way over there this past weekend. Teddy wasn't around, but we went in the afternoon, and he often wasn't around in the afternoon. His wife waited on us, and she seemed a little different, a little quieter than normal. T. and I and our friend talked about how he was maybe out fishing, out busy with some task. But when I went to use the bathroom, I knew. To use the bathroom, you used to have to walk through Teddy's elaborate basement workshop, a maze of tools and equipment and grease. It was one of the charms of the place. On this day, however, the workshop was gone, with what equipment was left relegated to a small corner of the basement. T. talked to Teddy's wife, out of my earshot, and asked about him, and she said they lost him this past spring. His face looked funny when he returned to the table, and he ushered me out of there pretty quickly. He'd promised that he wouldn't tell me until we were in the car.

He was just a guy that I'd see when I patronized his restaurant, but he was something of a summer icon for me, and it makes me incredibly sad that he's gone.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday Grab Bag

Yesterday, we were planning on attending a friend's birthday party. It was a cookout by the lake, with lots of kids, dogs, and family in attendance. Another friend was supposed to meet us there with her kids, but she wasn't feeling well, so we took her kids with us so she could get a little sleep. I've often noticed (but never had to directly deal with the fact) that her kids don't listen. She's recently divorced, so I've chalked it up to the fact that perhaps she's a little over-indulgent with them, not wanting to be the "mean parent." But somehow, I thought they would listen to us, adults who are not their parents. How wrong I was. "Don't throw sand." Clunk--a handful hits his brother squarely in the back. "Time to get out of the lake." Splash, splash--they are further from shore than before. You get the idea. Are all kids like this? Because I may want to rethink this whole thing.

Earlier in the afternoon, I went to pick up sandwiches from a fabulous bakery that's near our house. As I was going in the door, a woman was coming out with a brand new baby and a tiny toddler in tow. I looked down at the baby and had this oh-my-god moment: in a few short months, we're going to have one of THOSE. In OUR house. It feels like we have been wanting and waiting and trying and not trying and trying and failing and finally succeeding and then waiting some more. . .forever. It is amazing to think there is such a short time left before the baby is actually HERE.

And finally, I am hopelessly lost when it comes to baby equipment. People keep offering us stuff, and I have no idea what any of it is, or whether I need or want it. Suggestions welcome.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

18 Weeks and the "Big" Ultrasound

We are at 18 weeks today, and my belly has really "popped" over the last week or so. Regular clothes that I was wearing last week won't even come close to zippering this week! We went to the lake this past weekend, and I packed not realizing this. When we got there, I tried to change into a pair of pants I was sure would fit, only to discover they didn't even come close!

Weight: Still at +10 pounds since getting pregnant. That was what I was at last week, too, but hopefully this baby is just growing in fits and starts, and next week I'll be up more.

We had our "big" ultrasound yesterday. On the way there, we saw a big rainbow. When we got there, we only had to wait a few seconds before the very pregnant ultrasound tech called us in. She spent some time going over everything with us: cervix, placenta, and baby. When she reviewed the baby's parts, she pointed out the kidneys, stomach, brain, heart, arms, legs, and spine, among other things. It was really cool to see everything, because there was so much detail. It was particularly cool to watch the heart beating.

T. told me later that he really had no idea what they were going to be doing during the appointment. He said he was glad that he had not known the level of detail the ultrasound was going to get into or what they were looking for before we got to the appointment, because he would've been really nervous about them finding something wrong. Sometimes I forget that I'm reading a lot more than he is, and I don't always remember to fill him in. It's also funny--I was really stressed about the NT scan and the CVS, but I was totally calm about the ultrasound.

After the ultrasound tech went over everything, she printed out a million photos for us, which I thought was really cool of her. We got some good ones where you can really see the baby's arms, which I will post soon. The doctor came in then, but it had really started to rain quite hard outside, and it was sort of hard to hear her over the rain hitting the air conditioner. She said she needed to move quickly through the ultrasound, because they lose power during every storm! Sure enough, the power started to flicker while she was going back through the ultrasound. But, great news in the end: the baby's growth looks great, the baby looks great, and she doesn't think there is any difficulty with any sort of neural tube problem, which was the one thing we couldn't test for with the CVS. So, a terrific outcome!

When we went to leave the office, it was pouring absolute buckets. We were only parked about 20 feet from the door, but it was raining so hard we knew we were going to get soaked. We tried to wait it out, but it wasn't letting up at all, so we finally made a mad dash for it. I was wearing a silk skirt, and got completely soaked in that short run! T. was in a cotton t-shirt and shorts, and he was totally drenched by the time he helped me into the car and then went around to get in himself. It was pretty funny. We treated ourselves to a nice breakfast at our favorite breakfast place after, to celebrate the great results.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

17 Weeks and the Great Doula Search

I am not sure how it has been 17 weeks already. Suddenly, time is really flying by. Overall, I feel good. I'm sleeping just okay, in part because I pee 3-4-5 times a night, but I'm managing. I'm a little worried about not gaining enough weight, since it has gotten so hot that eating is the last thing I want to do (let alone cooking!). All I feel like is cheese and popsicles. I decided to start doing weekly updates from here on out, and posting my weight gain so that I can keep track of it, since I'm a little neurotic about it. So, here it is:

17 weeks: weight +10 pounds since getting pregnant; +19 pounds since I started trying to gain weight in order to GET pregnant (no wonder my clothes don't fit!).

I had a little scare yesterday, which hasn't really happened since I stopped the progesterone suppositories at 12 weeks: spotting. I've been taking it pretty easy, drinking lots of fluids, etc., so it kind of freaked me out. It was really light--no more than the size of a nickel on my underwear, and reddish-brown. I never saw anything when I wiped. I don't think it's probably anything to worry about, given how light it was, but I'm keeping an eye on it. My doctor said that I could swing by the office any time to check the baby's heartbeat with the doppler, so I am thinking of doing that today. I haven't felt the need to do it yet, and we have the big u/s next week and I was thinking that I wouldn't need to go before then. But with this, I know it would set my mind at ease. I'm working from home today, just in case the spotting returns, so I can check in with my doctor if I need to. It's so funny, because if I were having this baby in most other countries, this wouldn't even be an option, and I would just have to suck it up and hope for the best. We Americans have really found a way to medicalize birth! But since I can take advantage of the technology, I might as well.

The doula search continues. I decided to break down my search thusly: First, I came up with a list of prospective candidates from my area, using the internet to research them. I came up with a dozen or so possibilities ( has the ability to search for a doula in your area, but there are other sites out there, like, etc. that do the same thing; DONA is one of the certifying bodies that doulas can participate in, so they have an air of reliability about them). Some of the doulas I found were really earth-mother-crunchy in a way that I knew would be tough for me to relate to, so I excluded those candidates. I am all about the miracle of birth, but when it hurts like hell, I probably won't want to hear about the beauty of it all.

After I came up with my list of potential candidates, I came up with a list of questions that I want answered, based on what's important to me. I decided that I would essentially handle questions in three parts: a basic list of questions about fees, availability, and services provided during the first email; if I liked the response to the first email, then a more detailed list of questions in a second email, which included things like whether the doula has a contract and can provide references; followed by a final, formal interview, where I plan on discussing things like birth philosophies. I want someone who will support me even if I cave and go with an epidural, etc. I don't want someone who might have an attitude change depending on the choices I make during labor.

After I cam up with the list of possible candidates, I sent about a half dozen emails to the prospective candidates on Saturday. One of my criteria for a good doula is timely responses; I think it's a bad sign if a doula isn't very responsive to emails. I heard back from three doulas right away, and in fact two of those had automated emails that they sent, letting me know that it was possible they were attending to another birht, and they'd return my email within 24 hours. I thought this was very professional. Of the three I heard from, one isn't available for my due date; one is talking to another candidate for my due date and will let me know if that other woman hires her; and the third one I really like, AND she's available. She has provided incredibly timely responses to my questions, has been really forthcoming in answering questions and providing references, and seems to have a great attitude. She is an RN and previously worked as an L&D nurse, and you can hire her to help you out with the baby after the baby's birth--all facts I really liked.

A fourth doula also responded to my email yesterday, but her response was so dismissive and lackluster that I don't think I'm even going to bother to send her a second email. The email answers my questions (barely), but is completely impersonal (she didn't even congratulate me on my pregnancy--not that I need that, but it seems like kind of an obvious thing to say under the circumstances), and she ended by wishing me good luck in my search for a doula. It didn't leave me with the impression that she's interested in being my doula, and the whole point here is to have someone who is enthusiastic and can help support me through the birth. In short, I want someone who cares, and I didn't get the impression she did.

I still haven't heard back from the other doulas. I know it's summer, but if this is evidence of the level of responsiveness they provide, I'm thinking they are not quite what I'm looking for.

So, I have one candidate that sounds really good. For anyone who's wondering, the average cost of a doula in my area is about $600, and the fee generally covers 1-2 prenatal meetings, unlimited email and phone calls, reserving the doula's time as being "on call" for two weeks before your due date up until the birth (haven't figured out yet what happens if you go early--that's a question for my in-person meetings), uninterrupted birth support, help with breastfeeding, etc. for a couple hours after the birth, and 1-2 postpartum visits. Some doulas also add in a birth class in your home, photos of the birth, an essay about your birth, etc. The doula that I like (of course) is a bit more than the average (probably because she's an RN; most are not), and doesn't include any extras. The only extra I'd be interested in, anyway, is the birth class, so that's not a big deal to me. A lot of doulas are also willing to barter doula services and take payment plans. I'm hoping to use my medical savings account to pay the doula, as we have leftover money after budgeting for some dental work that was much less than originally quoted by the dentist.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Now that the stress and anxiety of the first trimester and all of the testing is behind us, I am finding that I am less obsessive about this pregnancy, and more able to focus on other things. Which is good, because work is getting crazy, and the job interview that I have in September requires a fair bit of prep. Well, it requires a fair bit of prep to go into it as I want to. It is nice to focus on other things. I feel more like myself.

Perhaps one of the oddest things about announcing my pregnancy has been the people who know me well who ask if I plan on returning to work. It never crossed my mind that I wouldn't. I have spent years building a career that I love, and meaningful work is a fundamental part of who I am. Yes, I know that lots of people say that a baby changes everything, you don't know how it will be, blah, blah, blah. And it is true--I don't know how it will be, because I don't currently have a baby. On the other hand, I have spent nearly four decades being me, and I know very well what that's like. I am a multi-faceted person, and I don't expect that a baby is going to change that.

Speaking of which, I really don't like the people who croon, almost with gleeful anticipation, that a baby is going to "change my life," and that "nothing will be the same." I suppose that's both true, and not true. Yes, there will be differences. No, my universe isn't going to turn inside out. I feel like when people say this, what they really mean is that I'm not going to be able to be the successful professional that I've always been, that I won't be able to travel to exotic locales, that I won't be able to do the interesting things that feed my soul, which people with lesser imaginations have always seemed to resent. I just don't think that having a baby is mutually exclusive with having a life of your own. Being a parent certainly means that you make certain sacrifices, but I don't agree that it means giving up yourself entirely. I think the people who think that having a baby means losing yourself are probably the ones who are least satisified with their choices and their lives. And, those seem to be the very people who are eager to tell me that my world is going to end with this baby. Um, I don't think so. We all make choices, and this baby is going to have a mother who is both a great mother, and a happy person.

Incidentally, my supervisor, the one with the unexpectedly pleasant response to my pregnancy news? He returned to being an ass shortly thereafter. Although he'd promised me extra support for a big November project that I'm on when he merely thought I was having "health issues," now that he knows I am "merely" pregnant, he's refused to provide me with any backup help. As I explained to him, I don't know how I'll be feeling at 7.5 months pregnant, and I may not be able to do all of the things I can normally do. He doesn't care. He has staffed the project with one brand new person with no experience. I am so frustrated about it. I don't want the project to suffer because I am not up to dealing with it, and it is one of those situations where if backup help isn't planned NOW, there is no way someone else can step in at the last minute to help out, because there is so much preparation involved. The person on the project with me is very nice and very hard working, but somewhat afraid of the project--in other words, probably not someone that I can hand everything over to if I am not feeling up to it. Even worse, the "normal" schedule during such a project is to work 7 days a week and get 4-5 hours of sleep a night. It can sort of be expected that I might find it tough to keep up that kind of schedule for weeks on end, at that stage in my pregnancy. I'm completely incensed about the situation, and not sure what to do about it.

The two pregnancy-related things I have been doing of late are search for work-appropriate clothes, and search for a doula.

The clothing search is going relatively well, now that I've turned my attention primarily to e.Bay. I've checked out a ton of maternity websites, but I just can't stomach the prices--even the sale prices are high. But e.Bay is inexpensive maternity clothes paradise. I scored some brand new, still-in-the-package black work pants from Ann Taylor Loft for $15, including shipping. The are cut low, and have hidden stretchy panels. Paired with one of my existing black blazers, they should work quite well for a while. I also got a cute dress (Ga.p, used but in great condition--less than $10 with shipping), a shirt (Gap, brand new--about $15 with shipping), and some jeans (@5 pairs at about $9 a pair with shipping--one is brand new in the packaging, and the other three pairs are used). The only let-down was a skirt that I paid $19 for (the most of any of my purchases--e.Bay has some HUGE bargains on maternity clothes!). The fabric isn't as nice as I had expected. But I'll probably wear it, anyway, as it's otherwise rather cute. I am currently coveting some sexy designer maternity dresses that I really don't have anywhere to wear. It was so nice to finally find some attractive maternity clothes, though, and I continue to bid away. I went a little overboard on the jeans, but I figured that by buying a lot of them, I could try wearing a variety of panel/no panel/modified panel pants and see what I thought about them. It was an easy and inexpensive way to do it.

Finally, the doula. I decided early on in this pregnancy that I wanted to hire a doula. T. is amazing in a crisis, as long as it does not involve me (which I learned the hard way after the scuba diving incident in Hond.uras in December). I decided that it would put him at ease to have someone devoted to helping me birth that was there just to support me, and free him up to enjoy the experience, as well. I also feel like it will help me stay as calm and relaxed as possible through the experience. I really want to avoid a c-section, drugs, etc., and studies have shown that doulas speed up birth times and decrease interventions. The medical personnel at the hospital are obviously going to have other tasks they need to attend to. It just felt right for me to hire someone who could focus on supporting me.

I researched all of the doulas in my area, and found a decent number of them to choose from, a little more than a dozen. I've contacted about a half dozen of them, to check their availability for January and to ask some preliminary questions. Unfortunately, the doula who was at the top of my list isn't available. A second one is currently working with someone for my timeframe, but hasn't signed a contract yet (doulas only book one client at a time, typically). I'm still waiting to hear from a number of the others, since I only sent the emails out last night. It's going to be interesting to see what I think of them as we move forward with the process.