Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Last Saturday

On Thursday I had an OB-GYN appointment and Tom surprised me by showing up in the middle of his work day. That was nice. Less nice was that we learned that I hadn't really made any progress: Cal hadn't dropped, my cervix was maybe a little softer, no dilation - nothing to inspire confidence that induction, and even c-section, would be avoided. I cried afterward; I was having a hard time. But at this point - Saturday - I'm feeling much more peaceful and even hopeful. On Monday we will be 41 weeks along. Initially our due date was 4/10/14 but the first ultrasound put us at 4/14/14. I was excited about this at the time and am remembering again to be thankful for these 4 extra days. Every day gained feels like a victory to me because I want so much to give my body enough time to do this itself. We avoided trouble with high blood pressure and managed to make it this far without too much pressure, but the doctor has his concerns, and I've weighed the risks on both sides, and we've agreed that one way or another Calvin will be here by Wednesday, the 23rd.
So Thursday was our last Thursday without Calvin.
It was a light day and Tom didn't have to return to work after our appointment so we headed home and spent the rest of the day together there, getting small projects done and hanging out. It rained on Thursday and the blossom petals started falling off the huge, gorgeous apple tree in the back yard. Our new neighbors continued moving in to George's old place next door; we still haven't met them.
We talked about how we couldn't believe it was our last Thursday without Calvin.
Friday we said the same thing: I can't believe it's our last Friday without Calvin!
I meant to spend the day cleaning but instead I spent it organizing the baby clothes one last time. It really was worth the effort and backache and I feel like I now know what's where. I also went through some pre-pregnancy clothes and some saved fabrics and made a couple bags of things to get rid of. I've been much more decisive with my culling during pregnancy. I think my perspective has changed about "things" and it's not so much that I want to get rid of everything - because I've done that in the past, to my dismay - but I'm able to say 'this we need; this we don't'. I've become more practical... and satisfied. Probably because I have everything I want.
It kept hitting me throughout the day that I was going to have a baby; that Tom was going to have a son; that we were going to bring Calvin home, watch him grow; the whole thing. At one point I clapped my hands together in excitement, which I thought was funny. Another time I started crying in happiness.
Mindy came over with Bonnie after dark. She brought me flowers and we watched The Vampire Diaries. I hoped I would go into labor and had Braxton Hicks and sat and talked with Mindy after the show was over. I told her about the devotional message I'd read in the morning that quoted Moses from Exodus and the story of the manna from Heaven, "It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded: 'Each one is to gather as much as he needs... No one is to keep any of it until morning." This had been good for me to read. I want some assurance every day, some sign that labor is imminent or that induction or c-section will be avoided. Zero centimeters; the baby hasn't dropped; the due date has come and gone. None of this is reassuring but none of it is ultimately telling or what will happen. There is no certainty in the signs my body is giving - everything happens in it's time - and unfavorable outcomes can't be ruled out definitively anyway. God is my assurance. He gave me bread for the day. He gave me a good day in which my family was safe and healthy, I wasn't induced, I wasn't operated on, I had hope. I wasn't given anything for the next day except the knowledge that God would be there and that I can trust Him. He gave me the bread I needed and I felt good yesterday. I had read that if things didn't change in my body the likelihood of my having a c-section was 50%. For a moment I despaired. But I remembered that my sisters and my mother had all been induced, with their first children, successfully: vaginal births. And Tom's mother (and the theory in our family, whatever it's worth, is that length of gestation is determined by the father) had been a week past her due date before she delivered him without induction.
So some things were looking bad, some things were looking good. Nothing was certain but nothing was wrong and most things were very good.
This morning Tom and I woke up to cool breezes and grey skies and I cannot think of anything better to wake up to. It is so calming and comfortable and despite pains and discomfort in my body we both lingered in bed a while and were happy. Tom brought me oatmeal with peanut butter and we planned a trip to drop off some clothes at a thrift store in Eugene and get a Butterfingers-topped doughnut, I'd been craving, downtown. I was getting ready to go when I noticed that I my stomach looked low, and I think after all of our verbal coaxing last night Calvin may have dropped. My doctor had been making me nervous, talking about the possibility of Cal not dropping because he wasn't fitting, meaning (spontaneous labor or not) c-section, no question. If Cal really has dropped he may even now be triggering my cervix to thin, to open, to let him through. But I don't know and won't know until Monday. I have my bread for today. Bread and a doughnut! The doughnut gave me heartburn, but I ate it all, tiny bite after tiny bite. A last gift came in the mail: the knit socks and diaper cover we'd asked for. We went to the hardware store. Tom worked on painting picture frames, on a little patching and painting in the living room, on curtain rod parts, on the yard. I went out and pulled weeds and hoped the squatting would help my body prepare for labor. My feet slid in and out of my clogs so easily today. I felt a little more like my old self in that. I had to pee near constantly and didn't drink as much water as I should have. Max and I watched The Invisible Man and I didn't like it that much, again. I bought shampoo in bulk online and I feel like I'm starting out on a fun and worthwhile period in my life: stay-at-home wife and mother, my dream job. Praise God.
Today is our last Saturday without Calvin. Without knowing his face or the way he feels. I'm going to run around tidying up and Tom finishes up outside. We have a plan to watch Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing which Tom found, miraculously, at Value Village this week. I'm contracting. I have dirt on my hands. I can't believe this life I have. I can't believe this is the bread the Lord has given me to eat today.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

WHEN?

There are 11 days until Calvin's due date. My mind is constantly turning over the question of WHEN? Not because I feel that his arrival is imminent - I cannot believe I'm at the end of this pregnancy and my body feels, if anything, like it is slowly revving up for delivery - but I wonder how insistent my doctor will be on inducement and how long I can refuse his offers, or suggestions or urgings - whatever they will be - before fear and guilt overrule instinct and I acquiesce. This, I know, is a gloomy prospect, but a realistic one. My blood pressure for much of my third trimester has been described as "volatile". And though nothing else appears to be wrong and I feel that Calvin and I are safe and healthy I know that there is a tiny sliver of potential for very serious, life-threatening complications and a part of me would go to the hospital this minute for a cesarean - because right now he is alive and safe - and that scared, sad part of me would say "ok" to just about anything they told me to do. I knew this as I sat on the table in the doctor's office with a paper wrapper, and my ample belly, covering my lap, socked feet crossed and swinging nervously. I looked away from my doctor, down at the floor, as he explained that he wouldn't "tell [me] what to do", as though it were almost my choice. My nostrils expanded and relaxed rhythmically as I held in defeated tears. I will try to stand my ground, to wait for labor to begin, to refuse intervention, even to labor at home (the suggestion of which prompted him to make a terrible face I could have slapped, and one he insisted on showing me from one side of my stirruped leg. A face that said, "Oh no! Really?") Because of my high blood pressure he wants Calvin and me monitored throughout labor. My mother developed preeclampsia after her water broke. My sister developed preeclampsia the day before her due date. I've read about placenta abruption. He is a nice and gentle man, and he may very likely let me steer the boat 100%, but he has before taken an attitude that has made me second guess my choices and I don't know how brave I am to stand up to someone saying "this is what I recommend" when what they mean is "this is what is safe for your baby", whether I believe they are right or not.




Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Pregnancy Now-ish

This is Cal at 32 weeks in my pregnancy. The next time we see him will be in face to face and I'm dying to know that little face in motion. For a moment during the ultrasound he started opening his eyes. It was amazing.
He was so thin the first time we has a 3D image of him. I started thinking he was going to be a thin baby - like I was, and Tom has a long body type. But we learned at 32 weeks that he is, in fact, not thin. That his weight was well ahead of his peers. That his head and overall size were measuring in the 70-some percentile and his belly was measuring in the 90's. As you can see in the picture he has lost his alien-like delicacy and grown some hefty cheeks. I just adore him. It took me a while to shift my mental image of him but now that I can feel whole limbs squirming under my hands I realize just how big and solid he is and I can imagine a much sturdier boy, like the one in this picture.
Tom's mom mentioned for the first time at the shower that Tom takes after his paternal grandmother's father. A dutchman, I believe, named Mr. Smith. I found this very interesting as I had said about our first pictures of Cal that he looked like Tom's half brother Robbie, and that Robbie takes after their Grandma Mattson: a wide-smiling, wide-nosed, fair, thin woman with large, wide-set eyes and a bit of an overbite (so I've seen in pictures). I noticed the bite first. Tom has a quite perfectly proportioned bite and mine veers towards under. I've never seen a picture of Tom's great-grandfather but now I'm dying to.
Here am I at 34 weeks. This is the most recent picture though I'm 35 weeks now. The time is flying by! I am frantically trying to wrap my head around the idea of labor. It's not easy to do. I still don't have much of a plan but I'm undecided about whether that's a negative for me or whether I will be able to appreciate it and take it for what it is more easily without too many preconceived notions.
As long as Tom is there, and Cal and I are safe, I know I will be fine.

35 weeks. Oh my goodness. This is happening so soon.

I have a cold. I've had it for over a week now, which is unusual for me. I don't stay sick long. The problem is that I'm not sleeping well, and so I can't seem to shake it. Today I slept through the night (more or less) and slept past 10, finally! The other night I slept for 2 and half hours. That was a record low for me and was so incredibly terrible. Rest and relaxation really need to be more of a focus for me now, I know, but there is still so much I want to get done.

Breathe.

Tom's just about finished painting the dresser green and is moving on soon to the crib (a tan color). I am doing laundry and laundry and laundry, as clothes are coming in by the garbage-bag full. I'm washing them, sorting them and (finally!) putting some away or sending them right back out again. I'm also doing a lot of sitting and eating. Calvin is a good influence in this area of my life. I am still tempted by sugar and salt and others are eager to feed me terribly (which makes me look and feel awful!) but Cal loves the finer things. He is still after milk like a champ though I've been depriving him due to my cold. He wants fat, wet blobs of mozzarella; full glasses of whole milk; cheddar on apples and crackers; ice cream, yogurt, kefir; coffee-laced mugs of cream and butter. I've been indulging his specific fruit cravings in light of the milk fast (which only means I don't drink much milk from midday on so that I can try to breathe through my nose at night). Calvin's been getting more raspberries and lots and lots of apple juice water: his favorite! Chocolate and oranges are out for the most part - too many bad bouts of heartburn - but I think I like those more than he does anyway. Fresh-baked bread is a new craving and cherry tomatoes and almonds. We like pesto more than tomato sauce now (heartburn related, I'm sure) and fish over any other meat.

I'm going to cut my hair today, I think. I've been advised against making this decision while pregnant but it's a big, damaged mess and I'm not cutting off much anyway.

Tom and I bought the exact crib mattress he most wanted yesterday for half-off. He was almost giddy and I was so glad. We decided to replace the crib mattress we were given by my sister because it was a bit squishy and a little ill-fitting. I was sure I would be like the mother in Terms of Endearment and none of us would ever get any sleep. I knew an inordinately firm mattress would be worth every penny in the grand crazy-minded, sleep-deprived mother scheme of things.
Some women laugh at "first-time mothers" when it comes to these things, which I think is ridiculous. You don't have the experience until you have it and you can't ride on someone else's coattails through motherhood. Everyone takes the journey themselves. Some women need photographs of their belly taken in a field to be at peace; some need wooden toys or high-tech thermometers. I need a firm mattress, and so did Tom.

Other things about now:
I am sick of the sight of my baby books and want to pack them away.
I can't make a decision about anything.
My doctor wanted me to make an appointment for this week but I'm too sick and I'll see him on Monday when I'll be swabbed for Group B Strep.
All the hospital tours are filled up so Tom and I will see it when we see it and I really don't care.
Some folks we met recently and briefly at church have given us a car-load of baby things including a second stroller/car seat set.
I don't know when my mother's coming into town.
I haven't had any Braxton Hicks and I feel Cal's more likely to come late than early. It just seems his way. Or maybe it's wishful thinking. I'm in no hurry, it's speeding by as it is. We'll see.
I'm considering preparing and freezing food but I'm terrible about food-planning and cooking in large amounts.
My sisters keep sending me gifts. They are wonderful.
Tom and I have months of Sunday School lessons and crafts to prepare and I keep forgetting about them.
I think I have a few stretch marks but can't really see. My doctor complements my skin every visit though and it's become a point of pride.
My facial skin is less so a point of pride thanks to hormones and this cold.
Max and I are getting closer again lately. I took him on a walk once and I know he loves having someone home.
I'm 28. I turned 28 on February 28th. Tom is 29. He is beautiful. He has so much to do everyday. He worries he's not doing a good job. I told him I don't think it's possible to do a good job with everything right now and not to worry. I hope he understands and relaxes and enjoys this time.
I want to throw everything out, and maybe I should. Maybe I will today. Tom keeps everything but is good at cleaning up efficiently. I choose to own very little but am a clutterer. This has always manifested itself in a wild house that stresses us both out for different reasons. I want to pare down for Cal's arrival.
My back hurts. Now and often. But not too badly.
This cold is frustrating.
I can't believe my life.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Over five years ago we chose this song.

People smile and tell me I'm the lucky one,
Yeah, we're gonna fly to the sun.
And even though we ain't got money,

And we've only just begun.
Think I'm gonna have a son.
He will be like she and me, as free as a dove,
Conceived in love.
Sun is gonna shine above.

Pisces, Virgo rising is a very good sign,
Strong and kind,
And the little boy is mine.
Now I see a family where there once was none.
Now we've just begun.

I'm so in love with you, honey,
And everything will bring a chain of love.
And in the morning, when I rise,
You bring a tear of joy to my eyes
And tell me everything is gonna be alright.

Love the girl who holds the world in a paper cup.
Drink it up.
Love her and she'll bring you luck.
And if you find she helps your mind, better take her home.
Don't you live alone.

Try to earn what lovers own.

Pregnancy frustration/redemption

Pregnancy culture is frustrating me. I feel blessed that I have the resources and support that many women throughout time and space have done, and do, without but I am feeling bombarded and a little bullied and it really is all too much. I've dove into this realm knowingly, wanting to be prepared and informed and ahead of the game. I've brought it upon myself. But it really is crazy, and here's why:
You are told to rest! Relax! Enjoy it! Focus on you and the baby! And GET A BUNCH OF STUFF DONE!!
Also, think about every way that you are moving (even when you're sleeping) and everything that you are eating and drinking and when!
You should cook meals to freeze; clean, organize; and stock up and in all other ways get ready for the time you will have the baby. But keep your feet elevated!
You can keep working outside the home (oh, thanks) you'll need the money later anyway.
Get exercise!
Make a registry; make a birth plan; figure out what you want to do in the hospital and be 100% sure of it or it'll all go wrong and you'll end up unhappy!
Interview pediatricians, interview doctors, interview doulas and midwives, research vaccines and birthing methods and parenting styles.
Figure out how to pay for everything.
Go to the dentist.
Drink more water. Don't drink that water. Don't drink out of that bottle. What are you waiting for? Drink more water! No, more than that. Yeah. Pee! Keep peeing! Pee all the time while you're trying to get everything else done, and rest.
Don't push too hard when you poop. Elevate your feet when you poop. Well, go find the foot stool!
Don't cross your legs! Look at these cute dresses you can wear.
Be intimate with your partner. Ask them to come home from work and clean and fill your gas tank and cook and give you a massage and go to classes and go to appointments and look at this paint color and do all the painting and read to the baby and read books about babies and lift things and carry things and be informed on decisions. Expect them to do special things for you and to be strong when you're overwhelmed. And you? Don't feel guilty about it!
Don't eat soft cheese.
Document what you are going through.
Write letters to your baby. Read to you baby.
Be grateful and cheerful and calm.
Take pictures of yourself for your baby. Take them every week! Share them with family and friends, they want to know! Don't be rude and antisocial and insecure about your constantly changing body.
You should go shopping for new clothes!
You should get a massage!
You should go on a vacation with your husband.
You will wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to sleep. You will feel pain in most parts of your body. You will have very little energy and need extra sleep during the day (but you can keep working). You will not be able to remember and keep track of things. You will feel labor pain which can feel like torture. You will doubt yourself. You will be afraid and worried. You will want to have sex and it will be difficult. You will not want to have sex. You will feel unattractive. "In this world you will have trouble.

But take heart! I have overcome the world."

"A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world."

It is too much for me, but it is not too much for Him and he can redeem what feels lost in a sea of "too much".
"... she forgets the anguish because of her joy..."
"I have overcome the world."
"... take heart!"

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Love song to my breakfast

Tom and I just got back from a late breakfast at a local diner. Local, as in Springfield. As in, nothing vegan, gluten-free, organic or all-natural (probably). The art on the walls is not for sale for much more than it's worth; it's a poster of Marilyn Monroe, a collection of baseball caps, melted Coca-cola bottles and the like. Tom looked wonderful in his gray Harley cap with his gray eyes, framed from behind by an old, red gas pump which stood beside our table.  This place was my idea. I know I'm not supposed to eat like this: 75 cent coffee, Cinnamon Roll French Toast (filling the oblong plate and cradling a giant pat of melting butter. 2.95.). I know I need to vote with my wallet and make responsible decisions for the good of everyone; but I sure love these places sometimes. Part of my vote (about 13.20, today, not counting the tip) goes to the "little guy" that doesn't share my clean, green, humanitarian, cruelty-free, healthful values, but shares my love of seeing two little girls splitting a 4 dollar pancake so big it reaches both sides of the table; my pride in thriftiness; my silly nostalgia. The wait staff was friendly, calling me Honey and asking me about the baby. Tom's home fries were perfect, as was my meal. The 75 cent decaf coffee was palatable and bottomless, with no waiting. I watched the fried chicken and waffles go by on my left side as the downtown Springfield traffic went by on my right side and I was peaceful and happy, imaging the day we'd sit there with Calvin and his glass of milk, watching him making steady but laughable progress through his chocolate chip or blueberry pancake as we sip from a never-ending stream of hot coffee. I am very romantic about family, and America, and breakfast. To me family is the ultimate comfort; America is home; and breakfast, in this context, is the most luxurious event imaginable: tasty, plentiful, unhurried and effortless.
I know Tom liked his chicken fried steak. I don't know if he fantasized about one breakfast for weeks, as I did. Maybe his thoughts were occupied instead with visions of the dinner he made last night: salmon, shrimp, mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach, lemon and rice. He came home with cold, brown-paper packages and instructions about candle light. He has romantic ideas about home and men in the kitchen and a pregnant wife. I have romantic ideas about him.
All this is to say that I am truly blessed, and Happy Valentines Day.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Spring

I'm looking forward to Spring this year. Apart from the things I am anticipating happening - most notably, Calvin and staying home with him, of course - I am looking forward to the season and the things Spring is supposed to be: Snow-capped mountains and green fields; pastel-colored flowers everywhere; soft sun and gentle warmth. I often underestimate the importance of Spring in my life and when I became pregnant (and sick) at the end of this past Summer, I swore I never again wanted to see another green, growing thing out my window (as rotten tomatoes and weeds and grass encroached upon our yard and my mind). And I'm still not looking forward to Summer much. Who needs it? But Spring has a hold on my imagination this year. Here's hoping it doesn't snow.