Sleeping Well Despite the Midnight Tinkle

Normally, I’m a strict back sleeper. It’s the most comfortable position for me, and I find that I don’t move at this position as I slumber.

Ahh, this is so comfortable and cozy.
Ahh, this is so comfortable and cozy.

Early on in my pregnancy, I taught myself to sleep on my side. I’ve read different things on why sleeping on one’s side is good for the baby, but I like what my doctor said: Your body will tell you when you need to move. And I really like the idea of listening to one’s body. The side position is a good position, but I don’t like the feeling of sleeping on one shoulder. I also don’t like the way my back hurts in the morning.

This position isn't as comfortable.
This position isn’t as comfortable.

As I got further along in pregnancy, I kept sleeping on my back, because it continued being a comfortable position. It’s just that sometimes Baby’s position would dictate whether I should shift to my side.

Still comfy as long as Baby likes it for the moment.
Still comfy as long as Baby likes it for the moment.

As I began sleeping more often on my side, I decided to sleep with a small pillow between my knees to keep my hips aligned. I also wedged a pillow under my belly to support Baby. This seemed to help for a while.

It's not that the pillows are uncomfortable. Well, they are. Sort of.
It’s not that the pillows are uncomfortable. Well, they are. Sort of.

There was a week or two when I could sleep throughout the night. It felt amazing, and my energy levels soared. Lately, though, it seems that Baby has figured out not only where my bladder is, but she uses it to practice for the trampoline gymnastics event in the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Practice does make perfect.
Practice does make perfect.

Wee! This is so fun!
Wee! This is so fun!

Wow! So many tricks!
Wow! So many tricks!

Of course all these little antics wake me up in the middle of the night and I end up getting out of bed to use the bathroom.

I used to be able to sleep straight through the night.
I used to be able to sleep straight through the night. It’s time to pee again.

After a while, the three pillows I used became less comfortable and my sleep suffered. I wasn’t as well rested, my back constantly hurt even though I stretched and exercised to alleviate some of the pressure throughout the day and right before bed.

About a week ago, we received a package that Reilly ordered for me. He heard about the Snoogle from a friend who got one for his expecting wife. It’s a body pillow that’s supposed to support the back, hips, and tummy.

Here’s a commercial with an annoying lady who could sound a little more excited about the product:

This pillow is so very comfortable. And even though I still have to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, instead of staying up for two to three more hours after getting back into bed, I can snuggle into the Snoogle and return to sleep much sooner. My body feels a lot better in the morning, too.

SO MUCH BETTER.
SO MUCH BETTER.

Beyond Sleight of Hand

Saturday night, Reilly emails me a final paper for one of his classes for me to proofread. The subtitle is “Implications of the Freudian Double in Coraline,” which sounds so intriguing and intellectual. He analyzes the movie through a Freudian lens. I can’t wait to read it.

We both sit on the couch. The Jazz game plays in the background on the television. I check my email and open the document. I turn on Track Changes and start reading.

I feel a little bit of movement in my tummy. There are little flutters but also some strong jabs and pokes. This activity continues as I type comments in the margins of Reilly’s paper.

***

I have been feeling distinct movement for the past few weeks, and with each passing day the pokes and kicks and rolls have been gaining strength. It’s a lot of fun.

Early Saturday morning, I still lay in bed, mustering the mental and physical strength to get up, because getting out of bed is not just a psychological challenge anymore. I turned on my Kindle and started checking headlines and Facebook.

It seemed that Baby had an easier time getting up than I did. She kicked and rolled around for a little bit. Then she calmed down and I felt gentler “ghost” movements deeper in the hollows of my tummy. I grabbed Reilly’s hand and placed it on the part of my tummy where I last felt movement. We were probably talking about a federal court’s finding Utah’s polygamy laws unconstitutional when I felt movement again. Just the slightest flutter. I was in the middle of a sentence when I asked Reilly, “Are you feeling that?” He said, “Uh, yes …?” without much confidence.

I finished my thought, then we got up and got ready to see the Hobbit.

***

As I read Reilly’s very interesting paper, Baby seems pretty active and wants to play. It’s like she tries to punch through a balloon, except with more resistance, not as much stretch. In a chamber that could be described as my stomach area. She shifts around and makes her presence known.

I scoot over on the couch. With the laptop still on my lap, I reach for Reilly’s hand and place it to the right of my belly button. I continue reading; he’s being patient.

About a minute passes. All of a sudden, I feel a strongish push right under Reilly’s hand, and at the same time, I see Reilly’s hand raise.

Reilly says, “I felt that!” And I laugh. I ask if he said he felt movement in the morning because he wanted to feel it and not necessarily because he actually did. Reilly keeps his hand on my tummy and says that was true.

And maybe Baby feels and hears me laughing and her dad reacting and responds for a few minutes with several more pokes of varying strength. Reilly feels them all. He enjoys it immensely.

About three and a half months left. It’s surreal going from talking about a baby in the abstract to talking about a baby who can actually hear me and eat and move and suck her thumb. IN MY WOMB. And then my husband wants to feel the baby all the time. At least when he’s not sleeping or writing papers or eating. His hand finds my tummy and he waits for that connection, the instant but lasting affection. Of course I don’t mind. He’s spending time with our daughter, with whom he’s obviously already in love. And I love seeing his big baby blue eyes light up during that contact.

I enjoy his joy.

On Unsolicited Advice

It used to bother me when people offered advice I clearly didn’t ask for. And that makes me a giant hypocrite, because I do that to other people all the time. It’s a condition I think, where I start talking and I come across as a big, blubbering know-it-all. I can see it in other people’s faces as the words spew from my mouth. Something I say rubs them the wrong way, their eyes register annoyance then glaze over, then they let the subject drop because they don’t want me talking anymore. I recognize the technique because I do the very same thing.

Now I’ve become more accepting of people and their opinions. Because people are always going to have opinions. And they’re often going to present them as fact. But the thing is now that instead of those imposed opinions ruffling my feathers, I’ll maintain an underlying level of doubt about what they say. When people say something like, “Babies pee purple until they’re three months old” or “Dancing will not only hasten delivery but make the baby more coordinated coming out of the womb” they can be sure that I won’t wholeheartedly believe them.

Nobody’s said those things yet, but there’s still time.

But I’ve mellowed out quite a bit, because I’ve recognized my own vast ignorance on the subjects of pregnancy and parenting. It doesn’t bother me as much when parents look at us and make the strangest remarks about what seems to be rather predictable things.

“Just you wait.” Wait for what? We are waiting. I’m closing in on my sixth of nine months. And while we’re waiting, we’re talking, reading, asking people what their experience has been. Are we waiting for a baby that pops out like a jack-in-the-box? Are we waiting for a labor that requires more waiting, except more intense? Are we waiting for Baby’s first blow-outs and spit-ups? Wait until our child starts smarting off at us? Wait until she’s a teenager? Or until she goes to college?  Or until she starts spouting advice of her own? There’s a difference between waiting for some big surprise to completely blindside us and anticipating possibilities in development and preparing accordingly. Or are you saying we’ll never be prepared? Because I can prepare myself for that kind of news, too. Or maybe you’re saying to wait for the constant feeling of failure as a parent. We plan on doing our very best all the time, and maybe you are too, but that doesn’t mean you have to  be so negative about it.

third trimester. Next month begins my third trimester, and I feel whatever you’re warning me against falls under the “just you wait” category. We’re taking everything in stride, just like we did when we decided against guessing at the baby’s gender. We would have been just as thrilled for a boy.

Second trimester has been a relative breeze, except for occasional lower back pain. Reilly and I have watched my tummy grow; I’ve felt our daughter moving around. I’ve played my clarinet for her and Reilly has told her stories.

Third semester promises swelling, more back pain, and the resurgence of tinkle frequency. Third semester also promises a wonderful baby in our arms.

pregnancy brain. Why people feel compelled to warn us about this, I will never know. It’s true that I have lapses: I forget to turn out the lights; I forget the name of a movie or song or actor or book. But there are other cognitive thingamabobs that seem to have gotten better: certain reasoning skills and the connection between my heart and brain. This connection helps to explain why I cry at nearly everything, like Hallmark Channel movies and these videos:

“It’ll change your life forever.” Really? Devoting attention and energy as parents to a brand new human being while maintaining our relationship as husband and wife will make our life different forever? Someone, please explain this to me, because I thought we’d be able to continue every single aspect of our life as usual.

“Have you thought of names?” We are going to leave a big blank on the birth certificate. And then maybe we’ll call her Blanky, not to be confused with the nickname Blanket, formally Prince Michael Jackson II.

People are thoughtful enough to tell us to be careful of the names we choose. And then we decide not to name our daughter after these people.

“Girls are so awesome!” People declare this to us because:

  • girls seem to have calmer dispositions
  • girls as first children can be very helpful with raising subsequent children
  • girls are funner to dress

I guess those reasons are legit? People tell us boys are awesome, too, because:

  • boys can be calm, too
  • oldest boys can protect their younger siblings
  • boys can be just as fun to dress

Again, we would have been thrilled either way.

doctor/hospital vs. midwife/homebirth. Boy howdy, I’ve researched both sides of what seems a pretty heated debate. And I’ve asked people about their experience, which has spanned the entire spectrum. There are parents who’ve had horrible and wonderful home births, and there are parents I’ve spoken to who’ve had amazing and terrifying hospital deliveries. And there are studies upon studies upon studies. And then there’s a ton of fearmongering.

vaccines. Some people just love to debate and attack people for thinking differently. Or just plain thinking.

breastfeeding. Same.

“I’ve done a lot of research  into [important subject]. [Or I haven’t, but…] If you have any questions, we can talk.” I love this, and I think more productive conversations would happen if people used this approach more often. There are entire communities out there who engage in important parenting discussions and gain insight about their abilities as parents as well as their children.

I heartily admit that we don’t know everything about being parents, but we’re also not complete idiots. We’re not totally oblivious and unobservant. We’re not going to let an army of ants carry her away into their anthill to crown her the queen ant. That would make me jealous.

I appreciate parents who are passionate enough to share what has worked for them. And I’m willing to listen and try to see what will work for our daughter. But we will also trust in our own intuition and be specifically attuned to Baby’s unique needs. We have been fervently praying to be as prepared as possible, and if that preparation comes in the form of wide-eyed, über-zealous parents trying to tell us what to do, we can deal with that. But if it comes in the form of people who know what it’s like but want to let us figure some things out on our own, we’ll take that, too.

On the Sound of Music Live!, Sort Of

I must confess that I only caught the last 15 minutes of last Thursday’s live broadcast. But let me tell you that I enjoyed reading various comments on Facebook about the production. Some people tore Carrie Underwood and the overall production apart, but others adamantly defended her and presented reasons why you shouldn’t expect a reproduction of the movie, but a unique experience that stands on its own, much like if you had gone to a playhouse on Broadway.

I mean, when I first heard that Carrie Underwood would be playing Maria, I thought, well, she doesn’t have any acting/theater experience, so it should be interesting, but I bet she’ll sound great. I mean, I really like Carrie Underwood. I love her discipline both with her voice training and exercise routine; I love that she went to college; I love how she can sing “How Great Thou Art” and make me cry. And I love that she ventured into Broadway, because why not see if you can transfer sheer stage presence from a live music concert to something more tempered like a live Broadway musical? For three hours?

Look at the casting. Cast someone purely Broadway as Maria, and you’ll attract the Broadway buffs, but the Broadway buffs would have gone to Broadway and paid for a show anyway. But with Carrie on LIVE television, you also attract the country buffs (and also a fair number of haters). And with Steven Moyer, you attract the vampire buffs. And with Audra McDonald, if there’s anything that’s right with the world, you attract everyone.

I’m so sad I missed her.

My first encounter with Audra was when I first watched the movie Wit. This was a movie adapted from a stage production, but mostly, it’s a movie staged as a play with a camera in front of it. Audra plays a compassionate nurse as a foil to both Emma Thompson’s and Christopher Lloyd’s stern academic dispositions. The first thing I thought when I saw her was, “She’s so perfect.” Then I looked her up on the mighty internet and found out about her theater experience and parts she’s played on television.

Then a few years ago, I found out she was coming to the Hale Center Theater in Orem to perform 110 in the Shade and that she’d give a master class to theater students at BYU. Why would she come to Utah? I mean, Utah’s increasingly becoming a cultural arts landscape, but then I found out she’d be marrying this guy:

I’ve actually never seen this movie. I guess I’m remiss in my research.

Audra McDonald’s practically almost a non-practicing Mormon. What a thrill!

Then one day in October around the government shutdown I was watching the Colbert Report, and Stephen Colbert announced that he’d be officiating a wedding originally planned to take place in Monticello, but the national landmark was closed. So he invited the couple and the wedding party to his studio, and since he’s an ordained minister, he united the eager couple on television. A couple of guests performed, including Audra McDonald. She appears in this video around 4:35:

http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/429522/october-03-2013/the-2013-government-shutdown-wedding-of-the-century-pt–2?xrs=share_copy

Reilly watched this with me, and while he wasn’t as familiar with Audra as I was (as if we’re best friends or something), when he heard her sing “White Wedding,” he had an immense newfound respect for her.  Who wouldn’t?

Wit was also where my love for Emma Thompson increased. And this movie is where I discovered composer Arvo Pärt. If you don’t know either of these artists, you should. And if you don’t know about the movie, please fix that.

So you can imagine how different my 15-minute experience with the Sound of Music Live! was than watching the original movie with Julie Andrews. The acting wasn’t great, but I still liked the songs. The associations with Carrie and Audra and Wit and Arvo Pärt and all the accompanying awesome feelings made me experience this live television event differently than if I had expected a mere live remake of everyone’s movie normalform.

Sound Education

I mentioned before that as my belly has expanded my belly button has also increased in size. Because I often have to find a purpose in everything that happens, I surmised that the bigger belly button might also be used for feeding Baby.

My belly button used to look like this, more like a slot-shaped abyss. Things like lint and crumbs would be lost in there forever:

belly00a

Now my belly button looks closer to this, which makes it so much easier to clean:

belly01a

Here are some food items I’ve considered giving to Baby through my belly button. My first idea was a carrot, since that seemed most likely to fit:

belly02

Then I also thought about Red Vines, since they are also a skinny food:

belly03

 

I also wondered how junk food like French fries (since Red Vines aren’t really junk food) would affect Baby:

belly04

Then I started thinking about protein and how important it is to Baby’s development. I thought about how much Baby might appreciate a steak:

belly05

But then again, Baby might like something a little lighter:

belly06

As you can see, my new belly button could really come in handy.

The other night I discovered another way to help Baby. It was around 2 or 3 am, and I had some trouble getting to sleep. I was getting frustrated and thinking of ways to fall asleep, and I decided to listen to some music on my Kindle. When it’s late at night and Reilly’s already sleeping, I usually plug in some earphones into the Kindle and watch Netflix or Hulu or listen to music.

Up to this moment, Baby had only listened to music from the regular speakers from a regular stereo system. And the stereo was never up close. Maybe the late hour caused some delirium, but it occurred to me that I could use my earphones so that Baby could listen to music with me. I decided to try sharing my earbuds with baby:

belly07

I put one earbud in my ear, and the other earbud went into my belly button. Baby and I listened to music for about an hour. Of course I made sure to keep the volume low.

Baby seemed to like certain types of French music, like Carla Bruni’s “Quelqu’un m’a dit”:

belly08a

She didn’t like “Comme des infants” by Coeur de Pirate:

belly09a

And she seemed to hate “Satellite” by Indochine:

belly10a

But Baby seemed to calm down while listening to classical music, such as violin concertos performed by Hilary Hahn. And the last song I played before going to sleep was Patty Griffin’s “Heavenly Day,” which we both agree on:

belly11a

I can’t wait to see what else Baby likes to listen to.

The 20-Week Picture Thingy

We pull in to the parking lot about 30 minutes early. We enter the medical plaza, look at a map of the grounds, find the imaging center, and head in that direction. Reilly walks beside me on my right. We pass through a long corridor and glance into other offices. They look crowded.

This is the longest hallway in the history of the universe. I find myself tearing up a little. I switch my water bottle to my left hand and ask Reilly if he wants to hold my hand. He grabs my hand and we smile at each other and then I look forward and catch the smile of a woman walking right past us. A brief moment of eye contact. I can’t help thinking that maybe we were cute to her. And that I wouldn’t blame her.

We enter the imaging center. We walk up to the reception desk to check in. The receptionist confirms our address and insurance. Reilly hands her a credit card, which she processes, then she instructs us to sit until someone calls us, which should be in just a few minutes.

The waiting area does not have a lot of people at all. There is a youngish mom with a boy who appears 6 or 7 years old. A man in scrubs calls her soon after we sit down. I wonder if everyone there has to wear the same color scrubs.

There is an elderly couple. The man helps his wife fill out a questionnaire and I hear him say, “Speak honestly.” She looks nervous and self-conscious.

The receptionist comes out with a clipboard. She asks me to sign one of those releases or waivers that has to do with the equipment. With the form signed and dated, she heads back into the reception area.

There is an elderly man sitting to our right. I notice only two things about the man. He reads a hardcover book about Winston Churchill. He also happens to be wearing khakis whose waistband come to a place on his torso that would seem beyond fashion or even comfort.

The waiting room television plays at the perfect volume for a waiting room. One of those local news panels (that come on after the actual news) is talking about hair color. One of the ladies thinks that blonde is the most popular hair color in Utah, because she sees blonde hair all the time. But one of the men says that brunette is actually more popular. The ladies look surprised. I ask Reilly why they’re still talking about this, because they have been talking about it since we sat down. Which hasn’t even been for five minutes.

A lady in scrubs swings open a door and calls out my name. Reilly and I then walk toward this lady and follow her through the door. We follow her through another door with a plastic sign that says “Ultrasound in Progress.” After we enter she closes the door.

The lady is the ultrasound tech. She instructs us to put our things on the far counter. I put away my purse and take off my coat and cardigan. The tech dims the lights then tells me to lie down, so I step onto the stool next to the bed because there is no other way to get onto the bed without looking like a sea lion flopping her way onto shore.

I lie on the bed, which is covered in a long sheet of that hospital paper. I feel a little bit like a kindergartner during one of those activities where you draw around each other’s bodies. I rest my head on the pillow and the tech asks me questions about due date and miscarriage history and if this is my first pregnancy. At this point the tech notices that I’m looking straight up at the ceiling and asks if I need another pillow. I stack the pillows so that I can comfortably see the television screen.

Reilly sits in a chair to the left of the bed. He hasn’t talked. He watches.

The tech asks me to bare my tummy. She tucks towels above and below the bump then squeezes a generous amount of ultrasound gel on it. I smile and say that I like when the gel is warm.

The tech asks if we have any guesses. Reilly says not really. I say that friends and family have a lot of guesses, and I ask her if she’s seen more of one gender than another. She says she’s seen more boys, but there have been girls, too. That’s a weird answer, but I do not tell her this. We’re excited, either way.

Reilly notices the tech is ready to begin. He stands up and looks at the screen.

The tech gets to work and discovers the gender pretty quickly. An image appears on the screen and she asks again if we have any guesses. It takes us a bit too long to figure out what we’re looking at, so we say no. She points out three little lines, which means that Baby is a girl.

GIRL.

Tears begin to fill my eyes, but I make myself talk. I say that’s great. I look up at Reilly and say that we’re having a girl!

Heartbeat: 137 bpm.

The tech comments how strong the legs look. I often tell Reilly that my calves are strong because I’m short and I have to tippy-toe all the time. Maybe Baby inherited this.

Throughout the session we laugh, and as she takes all the necessary measurements, the tech giggles about how cute Baby Girl is: her profile, the way she moves her arms, positions her legs; her nostrils, lips, chin.

Aww.

AWW.

The tech views and points out several angles that further confirm that Baby is a girl. She laughs when Baby Girl seems to move away from the pressure of the monitor-wand thingy and puts her arms in front of her face and wants to be done with it all.

AWWWWW!!!

Reilly is going to make a wonderful father to our daughter.

GIRL! GIRL GIRL GIRL GIRL GIRL GIRL GIRL! YAY!

I coo and “aww” more in that half hour than the rest of my whole life.

On Conversation and Small Talk

“A friend of mine once said that you can never trust a person who doesn’t talk much, because how else do you know what they’re thinking? Just by the act of being willing to talk about oneself, the person is revealing something about who they are.”

— Chuck Klosterman, Eating the Dinosaur

Almost everyone I knew in high school observed two main modes of speaking from me: Snide comments and occasional insights. This did not count raising my hand if I had the correct answers to teachers’ questions. I made friends slowly at that time, and those patient enough to stick around discovered that I was also capable of thinking deeply, even though I didn’t often verbalize my thoughts.

How did I process reality back then, that version of life trapped inside a high school bubble? I listened. I observed. This is how I found out about THE shocking moment of the Crying Game during trigonometry. One of my classmates saw the movie at the theater, and she could not wait to talk about it at school the next day.

Observing is also how I found out that band members M (girl, drum major) and T (boy, trumpet player, OF COURSE) may have had a thing for each other. M was a senior and T was a junior. I was a sophomore. After school one day, the band waited for our band director to return from somewhere and start rehearsal. I was practicing my part in one of the instrument rooms. Minding my own business. Then M and T ran in, oblivious to everything. T closed the door and had M pressed against it with his body. Then they started making out.

I watched for a few seconds, and I wondered if I should keep playing my clarinet. I decided that was better than watching. When I played the first few notes, T and M stopped what they were doing. I tried not to look at them but to keep playing. After a few seconds, one of them opened the door and they both left the room.

Beyond high school and into college and the real world, I continued the habits of listening and observing. I liked talking about myself, but I would only do it when people asked me questions. But I also loved asking other people questions and getting to know them better.

This was fun to do in college and especially New York City. I found myself in several settings with complete strangers. After a few questions, some laughs, and some observations about how we ended up in New York, we discovered valuable commonalities that became the foundation for friendship.

I never liked small talk, and because of this, friendshipping in the big wide world pushed me out of my comfort zone. While I always did better if people were willing to jump into deeper subjects more quickly, I also observed that small talk was some people’s starting point for meatier conversation. In some cases, if I couldn’t stick around past small talk, bonds would only form at that level.

Not everyone was like me; not everyone would work the same way my high school friends and I did to maintain our relationship. I would have to manipulate a paradox and give interpersonal space at the same time as internalizing the world around me, bringing different perspectives within my grasp.

Over time, I practiced and became good at small talk. Because I had worked on my observation skills for so long, I could read a person, initiate a conversation and make subtle adjustments to keep the discussion going. It felt great.

More time passed and maybe I fell out of practice or took it for granted, because suddenly it seems now that I suck at talking to people. Wires crossed somewhere and created a short and my conversation skills are no longer where they used to be. Although I can still listen and observe, it’s harder for me sustain my side of the conversation with actual spoken words. I’ll occasionally interject a question or a snide remark, but while I listen I also close up. Or go back to the safe space of small talk. Which I hate. But it’s safe. Defense mechanism, definitely. But why? and how can I get past it?

Part of it is that I can sym-/empathize, but sometimes I don’t know how to express that. Or I don’t know what’s appropriate. Or that if I try to relate, I’d be saying and revealing too much about myself when the conversation isn’t about me. I think that goes beyond introverted tendencies.

Obviously, I have no trouble writing about myself.

In general, people have been so willing to let me know more about them. I need to reciprocate. I have been selfish for so long, and I have to be better.

So, how about this weather?