Joey Came in the Early Afternoon

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.

Never Gonna Happen

We get to buy a bed! Woooo! Seriously, couldn’t be more excited about this; cosleeping will be funner with a little extra room. And if my sister Kate is very lucky, the bed will arrive before she comes to visit, and she and her husband will get to sleep on a futon instead of a pile of blankets and apologies.


I’ve been feeling pretty lousy for a few days—more and more contractions, less and less energy—but yesterday, for whatever reason, it was fantastic. I got a ton of work done, I stayed up late doing laundry; if it represented some kind of step backwards, I cannot bring myself to care. It was worth it. Oh, there was still the normal discomfort of weighing five thousand squirming pounds, but I was doing great. Too early to see what today will be like.


My mother and I talked for a long time on Sunday; she is planning to visit us the first week in December, and now it looks as though I may fly back with her so that I have some help with baby wrangling when I travel south for my grandmother’s memorial service. That means a week in California and away from the Mister that I hadn’t really planned, and I’m wondering a bit uneasily about how hard that will be—traveling with a newborn, hmm. I guess I’ll need to check a bag?


If I don’t have a baby tomorrow, which seems less and less likely as tomorrow gets closer, I’m just going to throw out there that the 23rd would be a nice day—I just found out that one of the lad’s namesake’s birthdays is that day. See, one of the reasons that I’ve felt comfortable throwing “Pete” around on the blog every so often (although I’ll come up with something official once he has arrived) is that his legal name has nothing to do with Pete or Peter; he’s being called after a relative whose name had nothing to do with Pete either, but who was called Pete his whole life for no reason that anyone can explain (well, unless you count the fact that his given name was pretty awful). His birthday, I found out this weekend, was November 23. So, you know, as fallbacks go . . . that would be a pretty cool one.

Adoption Roundup

I haven’t been writing about the adoption much, in part because I’m a little distracted—but also because the adoption just feels discouraging recently. But I miss Cricket, and a few things have happened, so I’m going to write about them.


On the last Thursday in October, I got an email from Ruth saying “Well, I guess we’re seeing you guys on Saturday, then?” Mr. Book had emailed them weeks before explaining that we couldn’t do a visit this close to the end of the pregnancy, so sorry, but when you guys cancelled the last visit that meant that we wouldn’t be seeing each other for awhile longer. I’m not sure whether they didn’t get that email, or whether emails from him don’t count as official, but he resent it with a little note and I wrote back to her myself: “Didn’t mean to keep you in suspense! See, Mr. Book sent you an email . . .” and so on. That email from her also detailed the parenting books that they are going to send, so I suppose I was sufficiently polite and tactful to be misunderstood when I was hoping to talk her out of that: oh, well. I haven’t heard from them again, and it’s only been a week and a half, but now I’m faced with the need to send them an email full of questions and a nagging reluctance to actually press the button (it’s already written! For weeks now!). It’s a bit time sensitive, as it is almost entirely questions about how they want this baby thing to work on their end: Do they want us to call them when he’s born? Do they want us to call their adoption agency and have them call? Do they want a birth announcement? And so on. Oh, and does Cricket know that I’m pregnant/a baby is coming/anything? I know that a toddler’s understanding of this sort of thing is pretty limited, but I mean “know” as in, Have they mentioned it to him? Am I allowed to? Clearly this is an email that needs to be sent—I will have to change the wording slightly, as I planned to send it the day I hit full-term and mention that fact as a reason for sending it therein—but I think that my feelings will be hurt if they don’t respond soonish, so I keep sitting on it.


The Mister has said that if they don’t write back by the time we have the baby, we just won’t tell them about the birth—we’re friends on Facebook, so they’ll see it that way unless they’re careful—or unless he’s genuinely apocalyptically pissed and blocks them from seeing those posts. And he’s pretty angry; he was talking the other night about how the “condescending talks about a ‘bigger family’” we were given back in the day might have been something they should have saved until they really knew that they meant it. To be fair, though, I was saying things like “I want to place this child for adoption” at the time and meaning it—things change.

Cm by Cm

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. 😉

36: Accustomed

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.”

Not Yet!

“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.

Open Adoption Roundtable #20

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It’s designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You don’t need to be listed at Open Adoption Bloggers to participate or even be in a traditional open adoption. If you’re thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table. The prompts are meant to be starting points–please feel free to adapt or expand on them.

Write about siblings and open adoption.

A year ago, Nora was marching around the parking lot of our apartment complex with Cricket on her back, hoping to keep him asleep for as long as possible, while Ruth and I trailed along behind her and talked about the siblings who might come along. First we talked about the child they hope to adopt in a year or so. I resist the idea that birthparents are obligated to treat the adoptive siblings of their placed biological children the same as they do their biological children. When I was growing up, my sister Kate’s godmother was the only godparent who kept up a relationship with her godchild, and she sent birthday cards and Christmas presents to Kate and Kate alone. Fair enough: she had a connection to Kate and not to the rest of us, or not in the same way. I know that adoption is more fraught by its nature than godparenthood, but my mental policy on each is about the same. That said, I like kids, and am happy to be something like an aunt to any adoptive siblings of Cricket’s, which was apparently a relief to Ruth.

Then we talked about biological siblings. It’s weird to think back on that conversation now; Ruth said (what I think of as) all the right things: the kids will be siblings, we’ll refer to them as such, those relationships are important to us the adults, we’ll have to have some hard conversations with them but that just comes with the territory. Now that I’m having contractions and picking up a couple new stretch marks (high up—Cricket had dropped by this point, but apparently subsequent kids don’t drop until it’s go time, so every kick is stretching my poor belly skin in new ways), we’re all having to figure out what this separated siblinghood means. I had this fantasy of Cricket being around for parts of the pregnancy and birth, of being able to talk to him about what happening even if he couldn’t understand. I saw my brother born, and while Cricket is really too little for that, I did daydream about him being close enough to be able to see the kiddo on that first day, or maybe the second. That was never realistic, and I knew it all along, but it does sadden me a bit to see how far we are from that soft-focus, warm and fuzzy vision of new siblinghood.  I don’t know whether they’ve told him that I’m pregnant, or that a brother is coming. I think that I should ask, and I keep avoiding it.

When Cricket was born, I was glad of him, but it wasn’t really a happy time for me; more than anything, I was matter-of-fact. For Ruth and Nora, it was scary—they were very aware that I could still change my mind and make him not-theirs—but it was also exiting and joyful and other good things. This time, our positions are largely reversed; I’m nervous about the birth part, and the hospital part especially, but I have this deep, warm joy connected to thoughts of meeting my new son and showing him to his dad. Ruth and Nora see this pregnancy as the unwanted one—in their eyes, I am creating a new loss for Cricket, and complicating their lives somewhat.

In Her Good Books

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.

<3 Zutano

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.

Gathering Twigs

Well, I’m thirty-three weeks in a couple of days, and the nesting has begun; I’ve put together a dresser/changer, hung mobiles, and done more baby laundry than any reasonable person would undertake in a weekend. The nursery is starting to really look like one, which is satisfying. For whatever reason, I really enjoy seeing things that look as though they are ready for the arrival of the little bird—I’ve put a few diapers on top of the changer, and there is a toy in the crib. Mr. Book is supposed to assemble the glider rocker my parents bought us for Christmas while I’m gone this week, so my next big project may be packing a bag for the hospital. I’m thinking the best part will be picking out a coming-home outfit for the little dude.

I took a tour of the maternity ward on Friday, and it was an oddly mixed experience. When I first arrived, I thought I might have come to the psych ward by mistake—no, those security doors are to stop people stealing the babies, which is commendable but makes for something of a grim entrance. The woman who showed me around was just sweet as anything, and showed me a row of patient satisfaction awards they have received; she told me that people who have delivered elsewhere and then have subsequent babies at this hospital tell the staff what a wonderful difference it makes. She asked if this was my first, and then where I had delivered before. “Um, a freestanding birth center in California?”

“Oh. We’d love to have one of those, but we can’t. Oh, well! This may not be as impressive for you.” Yeah, sure enough.

Don’t get me wrong—this is clearly much better than the hospital my mother delivered in all those years ago, and there was plenty of good news (babies stay with moms in the rooms except when getting blood drawn or being circumcised, the rooms have a place for partners to sleep, they have a Jacuzzi, birthing bars, and birth balls to aid labor), but I kept making little mental notes of things that seemed less good. The bed they have for the baby is this odd, open-top glass box; I have already told the Mister that we will have to sleep in shifts so that one of us can always be holding the baby rather than leaving him in the bizarre box. They don’t, apparently, allow laboring women to eat or drink, but I’m hoping to get there extremely late and planning to bring my own food and drink anyway. We will have to change rooms after the baby is born, but we won’t have to go far. Altogether, a mixed bag, but it’s what I’ve got. Time to get really and truly used to the idea.