Joey’s sweater for next year—I’m making great progress, because I’m having terrible insomnia. (Pardon the terrible cellphone/lap picture!) It still needs 1.8 sleeves and a collar, but I’m liking the way that it’s going so far.
First off, thanks, everyone. =) Now that he’s born, I’m going to call the kiddo Joey on the blog, in keeping with my “children are animals” theme; he’s awful’ long, with huge feet, just like a baby kangaroo. Let me tell you what happened!
Friday night I took castor oil—I actually tried this with Cricket, went into labor the next day, and then labored for 2.5 days. This time I had a predictably unpleasant Friday night, then woke up at 9:32 on Saturday with painful contractions. For whatever reason, my biggest concern was crying wolf . . . so I emailed a few family members and friends, saying things like “Well, I can’t talk or type through these contractions, so maybe?” I do think that I handled labor much better than the first time, overall: I kept managing to think of the pain as energy, like Ina May would have wanted, and to think of the contractions as similar to being dragged ashore by the sea, a scary experience that I enjoy. I also tried to explain what it felt like to my husband by referring to the early part of a Dylan Thomas poem that he hasn’t read. Not my most successful communication moment.
After an hour or so, I called my mother to ask whether I could take a bath without stopping labor. She said that even if it did slow in the bath, it would pick right up once I got out, which sounded like a bargain. But they didn’t slow down in the bath, and I was just not getting a lot of pain relief (I thought), so I climbed out and suggested to Mr. Book that he should try timing my contractions. After the second one, he said “Those were two minutes and forty-five seconds apart. We are going to the hospital.” I argued that they need to be consistently close together, so he timed two more, and while he didn’t tell me how far apart they were, he did immediately go to call the midwives. And then he got put on hold.
I admit that I didn’t do super well on those last few contractions in his company; once I cried out, “Oh God, I can’t do this!” What I meant was “I can’t do this for twelve hours,” which is honestly what I thought I had to look forward to. Lying naked on the bed and trying to take deep breaths, I started thinking that it was a good thing there was no one around offering me drugs because I might have accepted, and maybe I can’t do this, and golly gee this seems like transition but it can’t be—it’s too soon for that! Well, while the Mister was on hold, I shouted from the bedroom “It’s happening now!” having—I don’t want to say that I had pushed once, but pushing once had happened, and I had to get to the bathroom right away. I could feel that there was something at the verge, and I stood over the toilet feeling the whatever and trying to figure out whether it was a baby’s head or my bag of waters. “I’m having the baby!” Mr. Book wanted to know what to do, so I told him to call 911 and then pushed again—and a whole head and shoulders came out while my water broke around Joey (Mr. Book apparently came to see what was happening, did, and hung up on the midwives to get an ambulance, but I honestly didn’t notice him there). I remembered that when I got to this point with Cricket, the otherwise very laidback midwives ordered me to push quick quick quick, so I pushed one more time at at 1 p.m. my baby slid out and into the toilet. I scooped him up and sat down, grabbing a nearby towel to cover him with and clutching him to my chest. I delivered the placenta a few minutes later, and then the paramedics arrived. They seemed a bit bewildered by the situation, especially when they asked if I could stand and come out and I explained that I couldn’t because the baby was tethered to the placenta, which was in the toilet. But we all three got into an ambulance pretty quickly, got to the hospital, and verified that the little dude is just fine, to the astonishment of apparently every medical professional in the building. The paramedics kept asking whether I had planned this, and I couldn’t think of a better way to explain than “My first baby took two and a half days; I thought we had more time.” If there is another little book one day, I suspect that my husband will drag me to the hospital every time I frown at my stomach. He and half my family are suspicious that I may have done it on purpose, and while I admit that I’m not displeased to have avoided a hospital birth, I just want to point out that we were preparing to go when, uh, Joey happened. He’s just a hair over nine pounds, and lovely.
I’m still here! Went to the midwives yesterday and got my membranes stripped. The midwife I saw was one of my favorites, and we talked about labor induction methods—I know that they’ll let you go two weeks past your due date, but I realized yesterday that two weeks to the day after my due date is Cricket’s birthday, and I don’t know whether I could deal with that. If I go a week or so past my due date, I think I will consider less natural methods of induction; I’m still thinking about this. I feel pretty guilty about considering it, to be honest. Good thing I have some time to sit with it and brood.
Blog reader Molly very generously sent us an Ergo baby carrier—it is a lovely thing, much more elegant than I expected. For some reason, I thought the Ergo looked like . . . well, you know those jogging shoes that are dark grey and have criss-crossed yellow elastic laces across the front? Yeah, I thought it looked like a baby carrier version of that. But no! Many thanks to Molly for a carrier I suspect we’ll be using quite a lot. =)
Okay, this is the TMI paragraph; I’m going to talk about some gross body stuff, and you may very well want to skip that. This is your final warning! 0.o So after having my membranes stripped, I was a bit worried that it hadn’t worked because it didn’t hurt to have it done. When I had that done during my last pregnancy, it hurt like Billy-o, but of course you can’t really complain about that sort of thing when labor is on the horizon. But in fact I bled a bit for the rest of the day, and felt extremely manhandled for the rest of the night, so perhaps that will help encourage the corpus to get this show on the road. In other TMI news, I also took my mother’s advice while in the bath and managed to squirt myself in the eye. Twice. Same eye. It was like having a mouse spit in my eye. I’m a clumsy person, but even that may not be sufficient to explain the “twice” part. [sighs] C’mon, oxytocin!
Other labor induction strategies underway include black cohosh, odd-looking hip rolls, and me not being allowed to sit in chairs anymore. It’s funny—if it weren’t for the people visiting and expecting to see a baby and then the funeral, I think I would be okay being pregnant for another month. I’m not desperate to get the little bird out of my body because I can’t take it anymore; I just am feeling the pressure of a schedule. Cricket was born (the equivalent of) three days from now. We’ll see. Of course, then I spent much of last night wanting to throw up and then cry, so it’s not as though I can’t see the advantages of delivery.
I heard back from Ruth! She sent in fact a very friendly email, asking to set up a visit in January and answering the baby questions. And to answer the most interesting one here: Yes, Cricket knows that I am pregnant. He also apparently knows (as much as one can at two) about the whole birthmother thing—she said that the other day he pointed at a picture of me and said “Mama Susie. Grow tummy.” So strange to realize that he’s starting to be able to think about that kind of thing; even seeing pictures of him toddling around with a serious expression hasn’t done enough to jar my understanding of him as a baby. Clearly it’s time to have a visit again. In the meantime, we have been invited to his birthday/Chanukah party, and we almost certainly won’t be able to go—it’s likely to be within a couple of weeks of the birth, and you’re not supposed to stand for more than ten minutes out of any given hour for two weeks after giving birth. At least, that’s what they told me last time, and boy do I wish I had listened! Additionally, though, and probably more importantly (to me), I am a bit spooked by the idea of bringing a new baby to the party and being surrounded by interested/judgmental family and friends of Cricket’s. It would be a hard way to have the boys meet for the first time, I think.
When I saw my counselor last week, she asked what I’m most looking forward to about finally giving birth and meeting the kid, and the best that I could come up with was that I can’t wait to see what he looks like. When I try to imagine him now, I can only picture newborn Cricket—I wonder how alike they’ll be. In my own family, we look like two sets of two; Tammy and I look like our dad (she additionally being gorgeous), and Kate and my brother look like our mom (Kate being also gorgeous, but differently). I was tempted, for awhile, to put the little bird into the same first outfit that Cricket wore just because I like it a lot, but I want to be able to tell in pictures which baby is which, and for whatever reason have some anxiety about possibly failing at that. It has made picking out the first outfit weirdly difficult for me.
Meredith, that was a great idea, and I totally used it. Thank you so much! The email got sent, finally.
No news from the midwives! Although I did meet one yesterday whom I hadn’t seen before, and I really liked her. It kind of stinks that the practice has seven midwives, so that I will really have no idea whether I am getting someone I like—but there isn’t anyone who I wouldn’t trust to catch a baby, so there’s that.(The practice also has one OB, but she only sees women planning on C-sections.) Monday night I asked the Mister to predict what day the little bird would actually be born, and he picked the same day that I had in mind (next Tuesday), so now I am completely irrationally looking forward to that day. My sister Kate picked this Saturday, which would be great, too. Anyone else want to go on the record?
My grandmother died last night; I’m not sure whether to say “suddenly,” as she has been in poor health for some time, but then yesterday she went to the hospital for an unrelated problem (she had been taking Aleve for pain and was having some stomach bleeding as a result) and her heart stopped. I won’t be able to go to the funeral—it will be a week from Saturday, and I’ll either be freshly delivered of a child or but a few days from my due date. I feel oddly helpless—I feel like a jerk for not flying down, but on the other hand, I do know that there’s really no way that I can.
On Wednesday, one of the midwives checked out my insides and announced that I’m slightly dilated, that my cervix has given up the ghost, and that “I can feel his head right there!” She predicted that I will give birth not this week, but next week; I know that her guess isn’t much better than mine, but productive contractions keep happening, so it seems entirely possible. After I have a spell of painful contractions, the little bird registers his disapproval in Morse code: his inaudible chants of “Attica! Attica!” are both entertaining and counterproductive (from his point of view), since they seem to encourage my uterus to get right back to work squeezing him. Poor little tyke!
Wednesday night, the Mister and I were watching a Halloween-y movie and I was [pre]laboring a bit; I was pretty uncomfortable and distracted, and he was worried.
“I’m not going to have a baby tonight. It’s okay.”
“What about tomorrow?”
“I mean, it’s pretty unlikely, but I won’t actually know until tomorrow.”
“That’s no good! I need a week! You need to make it happen!”
I guess it does sound pretty dubious, the idea that I can’t tell whether it’s going to be birth day until it is now, but I don’t have any better information for the poor man. I’m waking up a few times at night with painful contractions, I’m having them on and off throughout the day, and while I know this could theoretically go on for another six weeks, I don’t honestly expect that. Mr. Book has taken to watching me with a faintly troubled and suspicious look at these times—that could be because of my frequent and hilarious threats to hide in the bathroom and have the baby by myself. Oops.
The flipside of my comfortable certainty that I will be pregnant forever has become apparent; Mr. Book keeps looking intently at me and saying things like “We are going to be parents in a couple of weeks,” and then I feel suddenly and mysteriously light-headed. He thinks it’s my blood pressure, but I’m not so sure. —What do you know, there it goes again!
I’ll try to blog more regularly for the next little while, even if that means extremely short and scatter-brained updates; if I vanish, I want everyone to assume correctly that I’m Busy. 😉
As I mentioned briefly in a response to a comment on the last post, I now feel comfortably as though I will be pregnant forever; I’m used to it, and it’s not so bad, now that I’m sleeping. There is no possibility of impatience, because there is no end coming—I’ll be pregnant at Christmas, and then no drinking at New Year’s! and I wonder whatever we will do for pregnant Valentine’s Day. And so on. Part of this is probably because my body is good at being pregnant: oh, sure, I have the usual small complaints of sore joints and acid reflux, I break out a bit, but no swelling, no blood pressure problems, no metabolic wackiness. I teeter along pretty cheerfully, more tired than I used to be. Spices make me sneeze and I crave ice; these are changes I can live with.
I’ve been craving ice for months, by the way, and afraid to tell you lest someone mention pica. I craved ice last time, too, and never moved on to wanting to eat the stuffing out of cushions or anything like that, and now I’ve decided that it’s an excellent evolutionary bobble—the kiddo is head down perhaps in part to avoid the ice cream headaches that would otherwise seem inevitable. As it is, when I eat ice chips, I get grumbly kicks from downstairs almost every time.
The husband taunting is going really well so far. Last night he was watching a horror movie as part of his extended salute to Halloween while I worked at my computer in another room—this is one of my very favorite things, as his occasional shouts of “Oh, God!” or horrified noises are charming and entertaining both. Afterwards I walked with him to the mailbox to drop off the film, and at one point I suggested that it was time to “jump start this thing” and started jumping up and down while he worried and explained that I really ought to stop before I jolted the kid loose. My third-grade sense of humor is satisfied. Part of the goofiness was finishing my work—I was punch drunk, having wrapped up something that was supposed to be a little job and ended up being kind of a beast. Hearing the details of my freelance work bores the pants off of even the people who love me, so I’ll leave it at that, but now it is done and I can turn my attention to nesting full time.
This feels like a weirdly magical interlude. My sanguine belief in permanent pregnancy is, I know, rather like pretending that tomorrow isn’t Christmas so that you can just get to sleep already; even when it works, you know deep down what happens in the morning, and it’s wonderful. This period of waiting together with the Mister is weirdly romantic. I’ve read before that marital satisfaction drops off sharply after the birth of a child (and if I make it through this paragraph without mistyping that as “martial” at least once, it will be a minor miracle), and I’ve also read that it ain’t necessarily so, and now I’ve finally read the result I want to hear and am done researching the issue forever: couples who, before kids, spoke warmly and with interest of one another to others before the baby actually have a slight bump in marital satisfaction once they’re a trio. I shared this with the Mister: “That makes sense,” he said. “I’m really excited about doing this with you.”
“You know what can help induce labor? Nipple stimulation! Are you stimulating your nipples?”
“What?! No! Jeez, mom.”
For those of you keeping score at home, 35.5 weeks is apparently when the tips start rolling in; Mr. Book has been getting them at work. “This is going to sound weird,” explained a coworker, “but you just need to roll her onto her side and have a whole lot of sex with her.” This is not a friend, just a lady with some helpful advice. It’s funny; I haven’t yet reached the “Oh God, get it out” stage, but it’s apparently been long enough that my pregnancy is boring the crap out of everyone else. 😉 I actually do have a whole labor induction routine planned, but I won’t be starting it for at least a week—it involves evening primrose oil, cohosh extract, trampoline jokes designed to frighten my husband, and an acceptance of the fact that he’ll come when he’ll come.
I have started every so often looking down at my stomach and wondering whether he’s bored. Of course, the weather here has finally turned cold and rainy, so staying in the warm might be a strategic move on his part—but ultimately a futile one, as we’re in for several months of wet, grey, and cold. Some months ago I bought a heating pad with the vague idea that I could put it under the baby during diaper changes or . . . something, I don’t know—it seemed brilliant in August. I’m turning in a freelance assignment late tomorrow, and then I have nothing on my plate except deep cleaning the apartment to get ready for the little bird (and catching up on email). Maybe once I’ve washed the walls and steamed the carpets I’ll start feeling impatient to get this show on the road.
Hours after I’d given birth to Cricket, I took Mr. Book’s hand and told him “Next time I will make a bigger one.” Hard to know why that seemed like such an awesome thing to strive for, but now I’m just past 34 weeks and I’m measuring big. Mission accomplished! The midwife was the one who suggested Atkin’s to me earlier—yesterday she encouraged me to stop eating fruit in order to shrink the baby. I was offered another ultrasound, which is apparently standard when you’re measuring ahead at this point, but I turned it down; I’ve heard too many “They thought she was huge and forced me to have a c-section” stories that often feature the inaccuracy of the size estimates.
I’m trying to sound cheerful and competent here, but things aren’t going well with my body. It’s very odd; I’m looking forward very much to meeting the baby, but I’m still not sleeping much and it’s really taking a toll. The midwives want me to try an OTC sleeping medication, and I guess that I will; I’m not thrilled with the idea, but I’m running enough of a deficit that things aren’t working the way that they are supposed to. Just a random example: last night I had to give up on eating dinner because it was burning my throat and giving me stomach cramps. It was a mild, not spiciness-or-temperature hot pasta that I’ve had many times before, and I couldn’t eat it. I gave up and wandered away. Of course, not having a real meal yesterday can’t be helping my physical state—but maybe the midwife would be pleased from a baby size perspective.
In other news, Ruth has asked to send us parenting books as a baby gift. I was a bit taken aback, and briefly considered the part of the email when she said that she wanted to know honestly how we would feel about that, but . . . I don’t believe her, so I gave the Miss Manners answer.:
On parenting books: we in fact have a huge stack of parenting books already, but if there are books that were particularly helpful to you, of course we’d be delighted. =) I’m not near the stack at the moment, but if it helps I can tell you that we have (among others) How to Get Your Kids to Eat…But Not Too Much, the Sears baby book, What to Expect the First Year, Unconditional Parenting, Real Boys, and How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen and How to Listen So Your Kids Will Talk. We’re also (if it matters) going to be doing bedsharing, and are firmly anti-CIO. My mother is a little baffled by the fact that many of our intentions are so crunchy and at the same time combined with, e.g., a love for baby windex and disposable diapers. You’d think that after 28 years she would be incapable of being shocked by my weirdness, but there you go.
First, though, I spent some time thinking about my really honest answer, which would have gone more like this:
Well, we disagree about a lot of parenting things, so I don’t know how helpful that would be. In addition, I’m (at least right now!) not looking for or really comfortable with advice from you—I’ve been really hurt by your response to the pregnancy and have an irrational desire to keep a huge mental distance between you and the little bird. That’s been easier than I would have thought, overall, since you’ve pulled back. Of course, what I really want is for you not to send a baby gift at all; I want that so badly, and I know that it isn’t reasonable or fair. The truth is, though, that anything you send will probably get jammed in the bottom of a drawer or stuffed into a closet and ignored, so in that sense I guess it doesn’t matter if you want to send the Ferber book or whatever unless you plan to ask me questions about it. Which I think you do.
I guess this is what manners are for; my “honest” answer isn’t very nice, and that’s no good to anyone. But darn it, I don’t want to get quizzed on the books she will send. Oh, well.
It’s my last day in California, and I’ve spent the whole trip feeling isolated and sad. This has led to me not answering emails, commenting on other peoples’ blogs, or generally acting like a decent and social person, so if I have neglected you, I apologize. There’s really no good reason for me to be feeling/behaving this way, either; California has been very nice, and it’s been great to see my folks. There have been a number of good things that have happened, as well, which I’ll try to write about over the next day or two. But today I’ll just talk briefly about going downtown with my mother.
My mom and I went to get something to drink at a coffeehouse and then wandered around for a bit and window shopped—it’s just lovely here, 90 degrees and not a cloud in the sky, so all you need is an excuse to go walking around outside. We ended up going first into a toy store, where we looked at every gosh-darned thing in the place and my mom reminisced about what my siblings and I liked best when we were kids. We each ended up buying a birthday card suitable for a little boy—mine is for Cricket next year (we have one for this year already, purchased last year), and I wanted to ask whether hers is, too, but couldn’t think of a way for that to not be awkward if it isn’t.
Later we ended up in a store specializing in clothes for little kids—my mom mentioned that she had stopped in earlier, when we thought the little bird was a girl, and that she had found some cute dresses. She wanted to look at the boys’ clothes this time, especially at the baptismal outfits, since my current plan is to have him baptized in the gown I wore and she thinks that somewhat unsuitable (I should say that a male cousin of mine was also baptized in this gown; it’s hardly covered in little roses or what have you). She at first thought I should use the outfit my brother was baptized in, but it is much too small (he was six and a half pounds at birth, more than three pounds smaller than Cricket) and also not at all warm; the little bird is most likely going to be baptized in the Pacific Northwest in January, so the outfit worn by a Los Angeles baby in June is really not going to fit the bill. Plus I think it is kind of ugly, but that’s almost entirely beside the point. Anyhow, at the shop she kept pulling out and admiring these stiff little onesie-like suits with peter pan collars that I thought semi-awful and, again, really inadequate for January weather outside of Southern California. We looked at all the other boy clothes in the store, and I realized with faint horror that our tastes in baby clothes are diametrically opposed, and that I will probably hate whatever she gives the little lad—she loves tiny collared things, starched one-piece outfits with masculine embroidery, and sweater vests. Me . . . well, you’ll all see what I like soon enough, but perhaps it’s enough for now to say that I have a pile of Threadless onesies and tiny t-shirts, and that I have not bought a single thing with a collar. The things I’ve picked tend to be soft and flexible rather than being textured like fancy napkins. My mother will be horrified.