Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Relaxing, sort of.

So, I haven't been working for the last week and half. Basically, I made it through the 14th. All these women I work with kept saying that they worked up until the due date, when I said I was taking off the last two weeks of my pregnancy. It's weird. Should I feel like a weakling? No, I'm just better at resting! It's a skill - a talent, really.

Actually, last week I ended up doing a lot. A lot of little errands and things...but I could punctuate all these tasks with naps, so it was pretty nice. Now, in my second week off, I am finding that my motivation has waned. I really just want to lie down...sort of all day. I guess I should lap this up because I'm about to have my hands full.

In my lounging hours, I have been watching some very questionable TV. So, I go through long periods where I don't really watch much TV...and then when I tune back in, I am always fascinated by what I find. For instance, A&E seems to have become the network of severe psychological disorders in the last year or so. I mean, there's the show on hoarders, the one on OCD and the show Intervention about addicts. What I love is that there are marathons of these shows back to back. Isn't it too intense to watch 7 straight hours of people who are severely broken? I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm as fascinated as the next voyeur, but, on paper, it seems weird to be like, "Let's show 24 hours of people who are profoundly and deeply struggling with simply being alive day to day."

I have been steering clear of the shows about babies and birth. I sort of want to watch, but I just feel all...antsy about when it's actually going to happen for me. I've started to realize I kind of don't even think it IS going to happen. It all seems so theoretical. Also, I am not sure I'll recognize early labor signs at all. I mean, I feel so many weird little pains and contractions now...I think I'll be in the thick of it before it clicks that it's all started.

I had quite an awful dream last week. I dreamed that I woke up to find that I had had the baby in my sleep. Now, those of you nervous about the pain of labor may think this was a good thing, but the dream was hideous. I woke up and the baby was all blue and cold - I realized that it could have been born hours before and was just alone and freezing to death. It was terrifying. Well, I hopped up and made Kiyomi fill the bathtub with warm water. I got in with the baby and she was okay...but I woke from this dream very unhappy.

In fact, in the last week, I've been having more thoughts that something will go wrong with the birth and the baby will not survive...or will be severely injured. It's so crazy because the baby is so close - only inches away from me - and yet it has quite a long journey to make it safely to the outside. Sometimes, I also think something might happen to me - like I'll have to have an emergency hysterectomy and will never be able to have another child...if we want one.

I'm finding that I remember all the stories and movies I've seen where something terrible like this happens. I saw this movie Everything Put Together with Radha Mitchell like ten years ago. The woman's baby dies...and it's a pretty psychologically intense depiction of this woman's break down. For years, I don't think this film crossed my mind...now, I keep seeing snippets of it in my head. Jesus. I can't believe how much I can remember. Crazy.

I guess this is normal. Apparently a lot of women have fleeting, anxious thoughts about what may go wrong. I've just had very few so far, so it's intense to have them now. I feel like...I don't know...the gods may not want me to be as happy as I am. I feel so lucky to be healthy, to have had a healthy pregnancy, to have a baby on the way, to have such a loving partner, and such wonderful, generous, kind friends and family. (I especially feel this after watching an episode or two of Hoarders or Intervention!) I mean...doesn't it anger the gods to see mortals happy?

And, what does this say about me that I think the powers of the universe want humans to be miserable? Hmmm.

I guess I should just enjoy it. Whatever "it" is...this week of calm...this time to relax...these blessed circumstances I've been born into...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

(Me at the computer!)

The other day Kiyomi was visiting with her colleague and friend Pam. (And by "visiting," I mean making Pam get all weepy talking about the baby coming). Anyway, after the last tears were shed, Kiyomi was leaving her office when Pam shouted down the hall to Kiyomi, "Let me know when Margaret starts labor." Two other women (strangers) were near Kiyomi and smiled and asked if Kiyomi was expecting. She replied that her partner was expecting. Then, one of them said, "So, you're going to be a.........parent," finally finishing. The moment was a bit awkward, but they both then congratulated Kiyomi after she said, "Yes, I'm going to be a mother." Amusing.

Well, we're not quite in time for this Mother's Day - which is fine, baby, stay in there! - but today I am officially full term! That's 37 weeks for those folks who haven't been reading What to Expect when You're Expecting closely for the last year or so. So, now were are free and clear to deliver at the Birth Center should I go into labor. That's a relief...though, I still believe she will come a little late. I hope to make it at least through the 19th - my last day of work!!! But, these things aren't really up to me!

I am a bit tired of being pregnant. It's just an occasional thought - sort of creeping up on me. I'll think, "Oh soon I won't have to pee 4 times at night..." or "I won't have this stuffed and suffocated feeling after I eat shortly!" Really, I haven't been miserable, but some days are hard. I don't feel huge when I look down at my stomach, but, gods, moving is harder! And my pubic symphysis is in full revolt at this point. When I turn from side to side in bed, I'm forced to grunt and moan as a claw my way over because my whole pelvic region is behaving as if it has just seceded from the union and no longer really needs to heed the direction of my northern half. And, once I've yowled my way over to the opposite side, I usually have to pee. Getting out of bed is also a grunting and creaky affair...so, I find myself longing for a catheter...or even a bed pan at these moments. For some reason, I am much more sore at night - maybe it's all the lying still? But, fortunately, I really am still feeling pretty alright most of the time!

Despite feeling okay, it's so hard to get much done...and, the reality is, I will be able to do even less in a few weeks with a little constantly eating, and pooping infant. So, I'm trying to just let the house get filthy and learn to live with it. I mean, I can barely clean now...and I won't be cleaning much soon...so, my recent thought has been just to immerse myself in clutter and untidiness as a preparation. We'll see how that goes! In fact, right now, I should clean the bathroom and finish the laundry...but I might just go have a nap!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Self-Timed Pictures at the Botanical Garden

What not to say to a pregnant woman...

So, my plan was to write once a week now that I'm so close to the due date...but, I guess that was foolish. What was a I thinking? Things seem to get more and more busy the closer we get! I'm four weeks out! How DID that happen? (Also, I only have 13 days of work left...not that I'm counting the days, nay hours until I'm done with this particular group of little 8th grade miscreants. Actually, they're totally fine...but I guess I am just DONE.)

I've entered what I feel is the red-zone...basically, it's starting to feel like I could go at any moment. Not that I think I'm going to be early - I predict that I will be at least a couple days past my due date. However, now that I'm close, it's occurred to me (maybe I'm a little slow?) that lots of women go into labor in their 38th or 39th week. Who's to say I won't be one of them? I've been so sure I'll be late (most people are with their first) that it's sort of a shock to think I really am term NEXT WEEK and could deliver at any point after that.

Shit. That's my first thought about that. We need to pack the bag for the birth center...I need to put my guided relaxation stuff on my ipod...and...other things? Maybe clean up this house...and keep it perfectly in order until the delivery? That's a bit far-fetched, I suppose. Still, there is work to be done!

I think this is seeping into my dreams a bit. I haven't really had many pregnancy, childbirth or baby related dreams. However, last night I had a dream in which I went in for a check up. At the last real, non-dream check up I had, the midwife guesstimated that the baby was about 5 1/2 pounds. Well, I told this to the midwife in my dream right before she felt my stomach to do a guess. She told me the baby was 10 pounds! Oh my god. I then had to have these other procedures done because I could tell they wanted to get that baby out. 10 pounds?

10 Pounds! That better not happen. Well, I guess I'd be sort of okay with it if it was a 10 pound baby with a still small-enough head. And shoulders. Okay, never mind. I'm not okay with it. Let's have a more reasonable-sized baby.

The more disturbing thing happened after I woke up. I got a call from the birth center - on a Saturday morning that can't be good. I did my fun fun group beta strep test on Wednesday. (I call it the orifice test because you have to stick a long q-tip just a little way into your va-jay then your bung hole. Awesome! FYI, it is NOT easy to to do this yourself when you are almost full term. Especially the reach around and insertion into the back. I almost went and got Kiyomi mid test because it was proving quite difficult. I should have just brought her in from the start...I guess I hadn't really pictured how challenging it might be.) At any rate, when the midwife from the birth center called this morning, I thought they'd discovered something really frightening from my test. Not only was I GBS positive but that I had some disturbing infection or they could tell something was wrong with the baby...from my vagina/asshole test? It doesn't really make sense, but why else could they be calling?

As it turns out, the midwife was calling to tell me the labs I'd done and turned in Friday had some slightly problematic results and that I needed to come in for a non-stress test to the hospital. She mentioned uric acid and my amniotic fluid level...but that the pressure was still normal. She was super-calm and nice, which I appreciated but...I was having a hard time understanding how my little orifice probe test would tell me anything about my amniotic fluid levels or pressure. So, I had to interrupt and kindly ask, what labs??? Oh, of course! The blood work and 24 hour urine collection labs...I never did.

Woops. I really like all the midwives at the birth center, but the front desk people are...infuriating. They apparently mis-labeled or mis-filed the labs from this week. The midwife was obviously floored a bit too when I told her I hadn't had blood or urine labs this week. She asked me several times if I was sure I hadn't had any of this done this week. Finally, she said, "Well, let's start here. Are you actually pregnant?"

The weird thing was, once I got off the phone, some part of me was worrying that this COULD somehow be about me, that these could be my labs, and I could need to do a non-stress test. That is perfectly illogical (did I do a urine collection and blood draw in my sleep?)...but to some irrational part of me it made sense. After all, she did call ME and MY name was on the labs. I hope they sort that out! (What a disaster! I guess there was a different phone number on the labs, though. She just looked mine up in the database with my name, I guess. I hope that other phone number was right!)

There certainly is a level of suggestibility when you're pregnant. I don't even feel that susceptible to it - I mean, I haven't really been too worried about much this pregnancy. But I do sort of wish people would be a little more thoughtful in what they say sometimes.

In our hypnobirthing class, we got buttons that say, "Only positive birth stories, please. My baby is listening." And there is some need for this, I suppose. I have had a few people tell me slightly traumatic birth stories...but, actually, not so many. In this vein, though, I have had a number of my friends/acquaintances who haven't ever given birth cringe repeatedly when labor is mentioned. I don't even mean discussed in detail - maybe a slight mention of contractions or dilation or tearing.

I don't really like the cringe response so much. I guess I'm weirdly excited about giving birth...and strangely not that concerned about things like tearing. I just figure, it's going to be hard, intense, and I might tear...but I just figure, I'll do what I can to relax and have a positive birth experience...and the rest is out of my control. Plus, I have this deep, really primal certainty that it will also be amazing. I mean, every time I see that moment in a birth video when the baby is put onto the mom's stomach, I pretty much start sobbing. It's beyond magical. It's fucking amazing.

These reactions - the fear, the cringe - I understand, though. There's a lot of fear around birthing...plus it IS crazy and intense. The inappropriate, unhelpful comments that I've found to be more troubling have come from a couple of my co-workers. For starters, I should say that I'm not that concerned about my weight gain or people saying, "You're huge!" It doesn't really bother me. But, when one of the counselors at our school came up behind me and said, "You should really see yourself from behind." I was...well, horrified. What the fuck does that even mean? And, is that ever an appropriate thing to say to an acquaintance? A couple days later, the school psychologist said, "You've gotten wide." Again, what the fuck does that mean?

I get the "huge" comments. I mean, it's a little insensitive, but these comments (from our counseling and psychology departments no less) are troubling because...there's no socially appropriate response. I basically just said, "Ohhhennnngh." To both of these women. I mean, when someone says something that is blatantly rude...what ARE you supposed to say back? This really brought home the fact that, in a way, it's not even the insensitivity of the comments that makes these situations uncomfortable...it's the fact that you've suddenly found yourself thrust into the universe OUTSIDE normal acceptable social decorum.

Most of my friends that I've related this little story to seem to think I should have said something along the lines of, "Oh, you've gotten wide, too!" with a big smile on my face. I suppose that is the "teach-you-a-lesson" sort of direction. What I discovered about myself, though, is that all I wanted was to get back to the recognizable land of polite and thoughtful small talk. But, when you're working with a conversational partner who is unpredictable, the way is not necessarily clear. Maybe the pregnant belly casts a spell of conversational inhibition on some people. Yikes. I sure hope I haven't made these types of comments in the past!