Letter to Baby Girl: 35 Weeks

imitating tummy

Dear Baby Girl,

Last week the doctor confirmed that your head is right down where it should be. You have swum your way down to the closest possible escape. Have you thought about this? Have you thought about the effort it will take to squeeze your body through a hole that seems impossibly unaccommodating?

You’re already teaching me: I’ve never turned down a reasonable challenge, but is this reasonable? You are five or so weeks away from defying reason. The doctor also said you’re growing fast, and I imagine your curled body inside my 4’10” body and my 25-pound weight gain as early indicators of your amazing defiance. I already consider myself pretty tough: Shots don’t really hurt. I’ve run a couple half-marathons, a few 10Ks, several 5Ks. I’ve done a sprint triathlon. I’ve wiped out on a mountain bike on a technical trail I had no right being on. But I have a feeling you’re going to show me what it’s like to be really tough.

This — your grand entrance — seems a completely different level of toughness. This is going to take some faith and determination that I probably haven’t tapped into. I mean, your dad has already decided he isn’t going to watch your birth from the doctor’s perspective, but he’ll hold my hand and encourage me. And that’s okay, because everyone has his threshold for gore and pain, even other people’s pain. And he’s already been incredibly supportive and committed to taking care of us. But do you know what I hope happens? I hope your dad cries. He’s only cried once in his life — not even at our wedding — and I don’t know if he’s missing tear ducts or if he’s dehydrated or whatever, but maybe your arrival will be a rare occasion that inspires tears. Maybe your toughness and cuteness and tiny body will unkink and restore the waterworks. Maybe your positioning is your way of telling us how ready you are to see your dad cry.

Yesterday after church, I took the following photo. Your dad actually handled the camera. Did you know that he and I like basketball? He knows all the teams and players and trades. I haven’t followed current teams, but I can recall players from the ’90s when I watched pro basketball all the time with my little brother.

Also, shooting hoops was one of our first dates. We went to the gym and played HORSE and practiced foul shots. You’ll soon see that your dad and I aren’t tall people, but your dad has a mad three-point shot. He can pretty much shoot from anywhere beyond the arc. When I’m warmed up, I have a solid short shot and can be pretty scrappy. Maybe you’ll share our affinity for basketball, but it’s okay if you don’t.

Anyway, you have grown to the point where my tummy looks like a basketball. I hope you’ll someday appreciate how much fun we’ve had with you these eight months.

passing the ball!

Little tough one, we look forward to having so much more fun and facing life’s challenges with you in the next few weeks.

Love, Mom

Letter to Baby Girl: 34 Weeks

Dear Baby Girl,

There are a lot of mommyblogs out there where mothers write to their children. I have always thought this was a great idea. I love the image of you coming upon this blog and reading my thoughts about you. Words, sentences, ideas, language. Communication. These are extremely important concepts.  I suspect you’ll find these letters in the next year or so, because I have a weird feeling you’ll learn how to navigate the internet and read very quickly. Your parents are geniuses, you know.

You are at 34 weeks gestation. That’s something like T minus six weeks before your arrival. Last night after Sunday dinner at your grandparents’ I was feeling really full. So full that I turned down dessert. And I don’t really turn down dessert, even if it’s just a sliver of what’s offered. And Baby Girl, dessert last night was strawberry shortcake. You’ve had it before, and I’m sure you like it. But for some reason if I overeat my back aches and I can’t get comfortable and I have to stretch and breathe, though some relief does come when I fart. Sorry if that’s crude, but you try make more space for yourself, and who am I to get in your way?

Which leads to repeating the point that I turned down dessert. There just wasn’t any room for more food. And because I turned down dessert, it means that you’re grounded. Of course it’s not your fault: you’re a growing baby and I’m short with a narrow ribcage and discomfort is inevitable. But look here at the difference of my insides with you in it: Can you begin to understand?How can you possibly be aware of what’s going on inside my body? And it’s not your problem, really. As long as you’re cozy and eating and growing, you know I don’t have any beef with you. You know that I love you anyway. As long as there’s yoga and warm baths and massages, I’ll be fine.

You know what though? You and I need to talk about you letting me sleep. When I get a good night’s rest, I feel refreshed for most of the day. But when I get very lousy sleep, my back stays cramped and my brain stays fuzzy. Again, not really your fault — just the way things are. And not for too much longer. But you know, on those nights when I wake up after sleeping for four hours, I can work on homework because the night is still and I can somewhat focus, so maybe I should thank you for helping me along in my masters program.

I may unground you today after seeing the doctor. Depends on how I feel.

Have I mentioned how much I’m in love with you? I love the way you move around and feel your way inside my womb. We are becoming very familiar with each other and getting a sense of each other’s personalities. I like to guess what certain protrusions are from my tummy are and imagine how you’re oriented. Your father and I watch my tummy as you shift around. He always assumes any hard surface is your head, while I go between thinking it might be a sitbone or a foot. Yesterday at church I wore a dress that accentuated my tummy and we spent Sunday school watching you. The lesson was about the Abrahamic covenant and we didn’t think it would be a huge distraction to contemplate our posterity by watching you. It’s one of our favorite things to do, besides reading stories and singing to you.

Your Utah grandma and aunt threw a baby shower for you on Saturday. I’m pretty sure you could hear the commotion, but there were a lot of people there to show their excitement and support for you! You got some really cute clothes and a lot of diapers and other very cute things. Just know there’s a world out here that can’t wait to see you.

Your Florida grandma and her husband will be coming to visit. They want to be here around the time you arrive. Your uncle–my brother–wants to visit sometime this summer. Your uncle is quite a character and I know you’ll love him.

A woman stopped me in the hall yesterday after church. She told me about how excited your father is about you. This thrills me to no end. Several people have told me he gets this sparkle in his eye and a huge smile across his face and that makes my heart want to burst with joy. He marvels at the sheer miracle of you growing inside me. He points to my tummy and says, “There’s a baby in there” in a cute voice and no matter how I feel, it makes me smile.  He’s quite in love with you, too. Of course.

It’s important for you to see how much your father and I love each other. We have promised to take care of you and teach you what you need to know to thrive in this world. We also accept that you’ll probably teach us quite a few things. You’ve already taught us a lot about patience. We hope you’ll be patient with us, not only as we raise you, but during the next few weeks. We still haven’t decided on a name for you. Please don’t ground us.

Dear sweet child, our Baby Girl, thank you for blessing our lives. Your father and I can’t wait to start a new journey with you.

Love, Mom

My. Ribs.

It’s like inflating
a 17-inch balloon
inside a 12-inch barrel
made of popsicle sticks.

This balloon won’t pop.

Tension increases.
Pressure persists.

What is the breaking point?

When will the popsicle sticks
snap?

She has strong feet
or hands; I guess at
whatever moves inside.

Dad watches and feels
pokings and undulations
in thrilling unpredictabilities.

We three toss and turn throughout
the night. We want comfort in
limited space. Dad, though, does it
while sleeping.

She crowds my
intestines, stomach,
my lungs, bladder. To breathe
is to live; to poop is
to breathe. To pee means
not sleeping.

A little human–filling more
with brains and blood and
fatty tissue and a pumping heart;
with personality; with
muscles that make fists and smiles
and curiosity;
with life and joy and beauty–
as I lie on my side
pulls my ribs down,
weighing,

stretching bone and
cartilage and my
threshold for pain
and my capacity
to love.

This barrel has already burst.

Brain Lapses and Meta Sadness

Three little anecdotes, either because 1) the public shouldn’t know every lapse I have beyond three, or 2) I have been extremely alert and conscientious, and I only have three imperfections to report. You choose.

At church:

  • One time during the final hour of the three-hour block, I was walking around as usual, finding new people to talk to and asking people to offer the opening and closing prayers. I walked from the front of the room toward the left side (stage left/house right) and rammed my leg into a chair in the middle of the first row. An aisle divided the rows of chairs and my leg bumped into the first chair of the first row on the left side. It seems in a subconscious effort not to bump my tummy into anything, I leaned the upper half of my body away from the chairs while I let my legs continue in a straight line toward the chairs. It did not hurt, but I asked myself if I had bumped into more things I wasn’t aware of. No bruises, but a new weird self-awareness of my body.
  • Another day during the first hour of the three-hour block, Reilly and I were listening to one of the first two speakers. It might have been a young man who told a story about the time his mom told him not to eat candy in bed, but he kept a stash of candy under his pillow, and he checked the hallway to make sure his mom wasn’t coming to his room. He ate one piece, then another piece. He then heard his name in a whisper, so he checked the hallway again. No one was coming. He ate a few more pieces. He checked the hallway again, and no one was there. He ended up eating all the candy, savoring every piece. Then he heard his name again and his mom jumped out of the closet and busted him for disobeying the rules. When he concluded his talk (about obedience) and the congregation said “Amen,” I didn’t say “Amen.” Instead, I raised a sustaining (or opposing) hand. I realized what I’d done, but I leaned over to Reilly to make a comment about the talk and  didn’t look around. Looking around would have made me look guilty.

Just yesterday:

  • I met up with some coworkers for lunch up in Salt Lake. As in most cases where I don’t know people very well, I mainly kept to myself and listened to everyone else talk. One person ordered the white bean burger, another person ordered French onion soup, one person ordered the crab macaroni and cheese, and I ordered a blackened salmon sandwich. All the orders looked amazing (most food still looks incredible to me), but I want to talk about my sandwich. The decently-sized fish filet was well seasoned and perfectly cooked. It came dressed with baby spinach and a nice tangy mayo inside a sliced fresh ciabatta roll. Then there were a side of fries, which were also so very yummy. I cut my enormous sandwich in half, then I cut one of the halves into quarters. Everyone around me kept talking, and I listened while slipping into food ecstasy. While listening and occasionally interjecting nods and chuckles, I finished the two quarters of the sandwich and most of the fries, and almost an hour had passed. We paid our checks and I asked for a box, excited to get home and have my leftovers for dinner, perhaps even let Reilly have a bite. I readied the sandwich for departure. My coworkers and put on our coats and headed out. I did turn around and check the table to make sure I didn’t forget my wallet. Satisfied that I had remembered my wallet, I joined the others outside. When we got back to the office, I realized I left my sandwich at the restaurant. My heart instantly broke. I sulked on the train home. My forgotten sandwich is probably why I didn’t sleep very well last night. I’m still very sad about it.

The last story is the saddest because it’s my biggest, most tragic lapse during this pregnancy. Not pregnant, I’ve forgotten my food at restaurants, but I haven’t been this pathetic about it. While I can certainly blame “pregnancy brain” for this indiscretion, such blame will not bring the sandwich back. I guess I could also blame my hormone-befuddled brain for my intense affinity for sandwiches (HOLY CRAP I LOVE SANDWICHES), without such affinity I would not be in deep mourning.

So far this morning I had breakfast, did some homework, and did some yoga. My tummy feels good, Baby Girl has been moving around, and my back has responded well to the stretching. I even had a small second breakfast while writing this post. And I may even be up to making my own damn good sandwich for lunch.

I can get through this.

30 Weeks

Tweety Bird!

30 is 3/4 of the way there.

75%.

I feel like I should have something amazing to report from today’s doctor’s visit.

Well, the awesome thing is that we’re going to have a baby in about ten weeks. Can’t just brush that off.

From today’s visit itself? Let’s make a list:

Beepee: At every visit the nurse takes my blood pressure. Today it was 100/60. It’s been around this low the whole time so far. Baby and I are just chillin’ together. You know, smokin’ weed.

Eye urn: Since I’m at 30 weeks, the doctor wanted to know iron levels. The nurse pricked my finger and took a microslide of blood. She used my middle finger because it’s less sensitive than the other fingers. I leaned over to Reilly and said, “That finger is less sensitive!” The nurse laughed and said, “And also pretty mean!” The nurse came back after a few minutes to report that my iron is great. She even gave me a cool Tweety Bird band-aid.

Mo billadee: The doctor asked me to get up and sit on the cushy table-chair thingy covered in hospital paper. He observed from the way I stood that I still move pretty well.

Art beat: Reilly has become an expert at finding the baby’s heart beat. He put the gel on my tummy and the microphone where it’s supposed to go and voila! rhythmic swishing. The doctor said that Baby sounds awesome.

Maize your: The doctor stretched a measuring tape from one end of my bump to the other. He took about two seconds, and when he saw the length — whatever it was, and whatever it means — he said, “Perfect.”

Quest yons: The doctor answered our questions about taking a labor and delivery tour at the hospital we’ll be going to. He said the hospital will let us preregister so that we won’t have as much paperwork to sign on delivery day. He told us to ask the lactation specialist about breast pumps. He also said that if an emergency arises or something happens before 36 weeks, to report to Utah Valley hospital. All very useful things.

Phoo duh: We thanked the doctor, left the clinic, then went to a sandwich place to eat Philly cheesesteak sandwiches. All to mark a successful visit.

Ten weeks left, everyone.

Space to Grow

Last night some ladies from church came over to visit me. They knocked on the door, I opened it and invited them in. As they entered, one of them looked at my tummy and said, “Your tummy is big!”

Then she poked it. She poked my tummy.

And I thought, you did not just poke my tummy.

When she poked me/Baby, I did tilt my tummy back  just a little to reestablish space so that she wouldn’t be touching me anymore.

Now, she doesn’t know how I feel about this odd social … custom? breach? She doesn’t know that I prefer people to ask first and not just react to seeing my tummy and reflexively touch it. And she may have come from a family or culture that’s very touchy when it comes to strangers or people who aren’t very emotionally close, so I didn’t say anything. I grew up in the South where people hug each other all the time, sometimes for no reason. Whenever my husband meets my friends for the first time down there they always give him a hug. I would expect nothing less. So I can definitely appreciate friendly affection.

My irritation was brief also because I could see how excited this lady was. I didn’t slap her hand away. I didn’t take her next door to say hi and touch the non-pregnant neighbor’s tummy. I let it go because in the grand scheme of things she is very nice and we go to church together and she does want to be my friend.

The three of us had a rather pleasant visit. We covered a variety of subjects, and the same lady who poked my tummy asked how many kids I wanted.

I thought for a few seconds before saying, “Two.”

She replied, “Oh, that’s not enough! You should have more.”

Then I thought, this half-hour is such an interesting experience.

It’s interesting not because it’s uncommon. People touch other people’s pregnant tummies all the time. Sometimes in the culture of the Church people equate number of children with status or accomplishment. Or something else entirely. Maybe I should have asked this lady what it means for her to have a lot of children. (She wants to have eight. The three of us are all relative newlyweds.) Perhaps it means completely different things to us, which is totally okay. I respect that.

I wish I would have felt a similar respect towards me, though. But I get that’s not a realistic thing to expect from someone if she doesn’t know what the expectation is, much less how to meet it. So I have to be better at expressing my feelings/setting limits/establishing expectations in addition to being more understanding. I can always be better.

I have the strangest feeling that this can apply especially to motherhood.

No judgments.

A Test of Just Station All Dye a Bead Ease

Pretty colors!

One early morning in January, May went to the lab to undergo a three-hour glucose screening. Workers at the lab had instructed her to fast for 10-12 hours and only drink water. They told her to bring something to do because she would be at the lab building for about three and a half hours. Since the lab opened at 7:15am she stopped eating around 6:45 the previous evening. She made sure to drink lots of water, though she’d already drunk half a gallon during the day. Even though she wanted to snack throughout the night, she knew she could say no to herself.

Just after 7am, May checked into the lab the morning of her appointment. The lab assistant behind the counter verified her name, address, and insurance information. The lab person wore a Gryffindor jacket, which somehow helped her make sure the lab received the order for the screening from May’s doctor. She told May that a phlebotomist would call her name shortly, so May and Reilly sat in the waiting area.

Reilly came, aww.

At 7:15 a nice lady called May’s name and brought her back to a room where they draw all the blood and drink it as an elixir to prolong life. The phlebotomist — we’ll call her T — told May they need to take an initial draw to make sure her glucose levels weren’t already elevated. Once they determined the levels, May would then drink the stuff.

So T poked May’s vein in the crook of her right elbow and took a small tube’s worth of blood. She bandaged the tiny hole-wound and wrapped her elbow with red medical stretchy cloth tape. May then went back to the waiting area. Ten minutes later T came out and told May that she “passed” and handed a small bottle of clear liquid to her.

Drinky drink

T then gave her instructions:

  1. Drink the stuff within five to eight minutes (of now).
  2. You can drink water throughout the three hours, but no eating.
  3. The stuff might give you some nausea, but that will go away.
  4. If you end up vomiting, you have to do the test all over again.
  5. Try not to vomit.
  6. No gum or mints.
  7. You can get up to use the bathroom, but don’t walk around a lot.
  8. Draw blood every hour for the next three hours.
  9. You don’t have to wait for us to come get you; you can go ahead and come back to the room when it’s time.

T then gave May a piece of paper with times for blood draws.

A schedule!

T was super nice and reassuring. She asked May if she had enough water and to let her know if she needed more. Then T walked back to the blood room.

May twisted the lid off the bottle of stuff. She poured some of the stuff into the small paper cup that T supplied and began drinking. She asked Reilly to take a picture during this part of the process. May did not hide her disgust.

How unflattering.

The worker at the front desk told her that the stuff would taste a little bit like Sprite, but a lot sweeter. It did have a lemon-lime flavor, but have you ever drunk anything so sweet it tasted bitter and tacked onto the roof of your mouth? Cloying is the word that comes to mind.

Why was May even doing this? The Monday before she took a one-hour glucose screening at her doctor’s office. Similar procedure: 12-hour fast beforehand, only water during the fast, orange stuff (that made her feel woozy) instead of clear stuff, draw blood one hour later. The office called her three days later (which was later than usual because of the New Year’s Day) to tell her that glucose levels were abnormal, and that she would have to schedule the three-hour test. In the days leading to this longer test, May and Reilly read about gestational diabetes on the internet, just enough to get worked up to a moderate frenzy on the inside but managed to stay calm and cool on the outside. May also began glugging more water. She bumped up from a half gallon to three quarts each day. Why would her glucose levels be high?

So now May was sitting around in the lab building waiting area. She read, played games, talk to Reilly, and watched people struggle with the check-in kiosks. Slight nausea emerged but soon subsided. The only thing she looked forward to about the blood draws were the different colors of the stretchy cloth tape:

8:25 – purple; right arm, no problems because my right arm veins are trusty.

purple!

9:25 – blue; left arm, which had never been poked because the veins there aren’t as big as those in the right arm. But May didn’t want four holes in the same vein.

blue!

10:25 – pink; left arm. T had trouble getting the vein to shoot so she moved the needle’s tip around inside May’s arm for nearly 30 seconds until blood shot in a quick and steady stream into the tube. “Come on, vein,” she said, coaxing it. This did not hurt but was weird anyway because a needle was waving around inside May’s very own arm, and that’s just a weird thought.

pink!

Each time May went back to the blood room T asked how she felt. On one of the screens in the waiting room T’s bio appeared. It said she’s been a phlebotomist for 21 years and has drawn blood over 140,000 times. Experienced and nice. And early in the morning, when it seems easier to be nice.

The last time T drew May’s blood May said that the last hour of waiting was the longest. T sympathized. She also seemed pleased to learn that May would not be driving home. She said that she hoped May had a good lunch planned.

May asked how soon the results would come. T said she’d send the tubes to the lab right away and have the results in a few hours, but the lab would notify the doctor’s office. So if May doesn’t hear from the doctor’s office within the next day, she should call them. May thanked T for all her help then went out to a late breakfast with Reilly. French toast, eggs, sausage. Nothing overboard, but very delicious. May really enjoyed eating after not eating for 15 hours. Which is the longest she’s gone without eating since before she became pregnant. Six! months ago.

The next day May meant to call the doctor’s office at 4pm but forgot. And when she remembered the office had already closed.

The day after that May told herself that she would call in the morning. When she had been at work for about an hour, she got up to use the bathroom then talked with a coworker for about five minutes. When she got back to her workstation, she saw that she had a new voicemail message. She listened to the message from the doctor’s office and returned the call.

The results came back from the lab. Levels are normal. May does not have gestational diabetes.

May will continue to eat well and maintain drinking three quarts of water a day and go for short walks. Nothing will really have to change.

May let out a little “yippee!” on the phone and the front desk worker at the doctor’s office laughed. Sure, lots of women get gestational diabetes, and lots of those women go back to being perfectly healthy after pregnancy. May would have taken it in stride and managed just fine, but still, she and Reilly are extremely relieved.

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.