Tuesday, April 30, 2013

40+3 and a little more

Still pregnant!

Here's the odd part: Trixie has now outlasted both her brothers for time in utero. (Noah: 40+3 and Mattias 40+1) What!? That's not supposed to happen with the third pregnancy!

Three days "late" is not so much "late," and really, I still feel pretty relaxed about it.

At the same time, it would be dishonest to overly sugarcoat this experience. I'm very swollen, I'm very tired, and I'm operating at about 50% of my normal capacity. All sorts of body parts ache, even my tummy button. There are about 2 outfits I can wear because of my size and because of the warmer weather. One positive result, I'm TOTALLY on top of the laundry around here.

I'm weary after twice thinking - THIS IS IT! - and then being disappointed. I'm also feeling a little sheepish about my friends and neighbors who are On Call to help take care of the boys when the time comes. I feel like I'm holding them captive. I worry that they didn't sign on for such a long haul.

I'm answering a lot phone calls with,  "No, no, not yet." Or, "Still pregnant!"

It's okay, really. You're excited. I'm excited, too. I don't really mind the questions, I just wish I had something more interesting or witty or new to say about it!

I've been reading some lists about how to handle it when you go over 40 weeks. One website suggested booking fun activities for three days in advance. This sounds like a horrible idea to me, but I understand how it might seem like a good idea depending on your disposition. I'm of the disposition that being booked with activities for three days would be completely stress-inducing. (Maybe the author thought all that stress would induce labor??) Well, no, thank you, anyway!

What I would like to do the most is take some more really long walks. I believe in long walks as a labor inducer. I believe both Noah and Mattias arrived via the encouragement of this methodology. But, you know, the boys are being kind of problematic about walks. I'm sorry to say, that for this kind of purposeful walking, they're not very good walking companions. They get bored. They want a destination. They stop and start a lot. They either dawdle or run ahead without caution. They want to go home. Or to the playground. Etc. Gone are the days when I can just sit them in stroller and walk. Noah won't even be bribed into our bike trailer (which is a double with a strolling option) anymore. I suspect he's too big for it anyway, but I can't get confirmation because he's so adamant about Not Getting Inside. That leaves coordinating walks with someone to watch the boys. I'm only managing longish walks about every other day. And they're not really as long as I would like (2 hours +).

Being pregnant with pre-existing children is such a fundamentally different experience. In a lot of ways, it's wonderfully distracting. I'm sure the boys are the reason that I'm as chill as I am being "late." At the same time, they have their schedules to be juggled, and I am STILL having trouble with the prospect of handing it off when I go into labor. I'm going to, yes... but I'm anticipating some degree of chaos. I don't know how people with 3, 4, and more children do it. Maybe it gets easier the older the kids are? Noah is only semi-aware of his own scheduling. Mattias is clueless.

According to the weather, there's more SNOW bearing down on Colorado for tomorrow. I am so sick of the snow! But this time, maybe that low barometric pressure will finally tip the scale on labor. We shall see. At least I'll have more wardrobe options again. See? I'm determined to find some sort of silver lining in the snow....

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Labor-ish. Patience.

Well, here it is...40 weeks and I have no Big news to report. Still pregnant.

Wednesday morning was really rough: by that I mean, sporadic contractions and lots of pressure. There was so much pressure on my pelvis that I couldn't walk. This is a new-in-pregnancy phenomenon to me. I didn't experience that with either of the boys until I was really, truly IN LABOR with regular contractions.

So, what happened next is anyone's guess. I went into the doctor's office where they confirmed I was both dilating and effacing. (Can I use those as verbs?) It seemed to me that surely we were 24-48 hours away from birth. But I will confide that I kept thinking Wednesday was a really bad day to be in labor. There were a heftier amount of pickups and drop-offs and activities scheduled for the boys. It just wasn't convenient. I had already called Fritz to come home and manage it all for me. The thought of Fritz going to the hospital with me – and me asking someone else to manage all the activities – or should I just cancel them? – was making me feel anxious and nervous. Around noon, I took a shower and every labor-ish symptom stopped. Then I napped and nothing since then.

I think this shower method is particularly interesting! Showers do seem to have 1 of 2 effects on me: either end labor-like symptoms or accelerate labor-like symptoms. Both of my "accelerate" examples would be from Noah and Mattias, so I can hardly pretend this is some sort of tried and true methodology. Nonetheless I'm awfully thankful that so far it's been as decisive a methodology as it has been. It's no fun being labor-ish. Uck.

And taking showers before bed? Also very helpful. I really am sleeping at night much better, much later in my pregnancy than I ever have before.

(I have some small degree of guilt about all the water that I'm wasting with all this showering. Water is such an issue in the American West that using it carefully is always in the back of my mind. Denver Water keeps reminding us we're in Stage 2 drought. But then, I think about all the snow we've had in the last few weeks, and how obnoxiously inconvenient it was, and – somewhat irrationally – I feel a little less bad.)

On Thursday evening, I got to watch Noah perform in a concert. It was pure joy. I was so happy to be there. Since then I've maintained an almost euphoric state of mind. I keep thinking about my gratitude as though I've made some sort of bargain. I'm so lucky to have seen Noah's performance; Trixie can come whenever she wants. No pressure, baby, take your time.

The weather is finally gorgeous. I walked around the neighborhood for about two hours on Friday; I was always joined by a walking companion, lest I was suddenly in labor. But nothing. I'm so, so done with that sitting-on-the-couch-stuff-with-my-feet-up-stuff.

It's funny the way my attitude about this pregnancy has fluctuated over the past week. I've experienced everything from Ugh, I'm done! to Just a little bit longer, please! to the current Okay, whenever; I'm patiently ready.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Low Pressure Seque

It's Tuesday again. It's snowing again. My body can tell you that the barometric pressure has dropped again.


As long as I'm sitting here trying NOT to go into labor, I'll tell you why:

[photo removed]

Oops. That was Noah's art on display. I forgot about the opening art event because it was the end of the day and I just wanted to sit with my feet up. So the art opening just slipped right out of my brain. (I'm totally self-absorbed right now. It's true. I am.) We made it down to see the art the day after the opening. But we didn't avoid lots of tears at bedtime on the day I forgot. Poor Noah cried himself to sleep. Needless to say, I'm still feeling all sorts of guilt. Noah's got another event coming up this week and now I feel like I MUST HOLD THIS BABY IN until AFTER the second event. Can. Not. Miss. Another. Event.

So, the strategy to keep Trixie IN involves not moving until after the event. And folding lots of moravian stars from my collection of retro wallpaper. I thought maybe I can make them into a mobile?


The boys want to help make the mobile, but the origami folding is a little over their heads. They are further frustrated when I tell them that we'll need to build a structure to support the stars. And hmmm... I think we'll need to wait just a bit on that part.... Noah decides to take matters into his own hands:


Taking matters into your own hands seems to be a common theme. Below, the boys are practicing the drive to the hospital. I do think I've made it clear that they will not be coming to the hospital with me. Still, here they are, practicing driving the sofa-turned-car:

[photo removed]

I hope I look as alert as Noah on the way to the hospital.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Slope and Plateau: out of 38 and into 39 weeks

Sloppily typed over the course of the week. Poor verb tense selection. Coherent? Not so much. Just warning you.

Slope: Wednesday, April 17th
I had the worst night last night. Not able to sleep at all. I almost just typed, "I was tossing and turning," but who am I kidding? At this size and shape, 'tossing and turning' is a terrible description of restless sleep. I'm more like a beached whale afraid to injure myself by flopping. And you never know, the next position might be more uncomfortable than the first. Also: grunting. I'm so uncomfortable. No contractions, but lying in bed last night I think I could feel the bones in my pelvis pulling apart from each other. Seriously. This is how I felt. Ligaments pulling bones out of joint and then shooting pains as the nerves going down my legs get crushed by the moving bones. My back hurt, too. Was everything okay? Trixie continued to move. She seemed fine. I crept to my computer and googled 'labor without contractions.' I discovered something called "silent labor." Was I having silent labor???

At 1am, I decided to take a bath. Then I was able to sleep for about 4 hours.

I'm wishing I'd taken off my rings last week when they still (barely) pulled off my fingers. Now they're  swollen in place. They itch. But it's only annoying. My legs and feet are swelling, too. This swelling is more than annoying. All that additional fluid in my lower extremities HURTS. My skin is all tingly like little needle pokes. I'm drinking water. It's counter intuitive, but that's what they say to do. Drink. (And pee.) Drink. (And pee.) Drink. (And pee.) Surely there's a point of saturation here. Or how about a point when all those trips to the bathroom are a bigger pain than the swelling?

It's snowing, snowing, snowing. We got about 6 inches of snow on Monday - they say maybe 5 more today - guess what? My boots aren't fitting. My shoes are barely fitting. What do you think, some flip flops? I'm always impressed by the people who wear shorts in 50 degree weather. Maybe you'll be impressed by the pregnant woman in 10 inches of snow and flip flops?

When I pick Mattias up from his parent's day out program, the caregiver offers to watch him longer so I can go to the hospital. Wow. I must look pretty bad. I laugh (unconvincingly) and work harder to look less bad.

I think this will go on for about 24 hours, I tell myself. I should be halfway through it. And then I'll plateau again...

Onto the Plateau: Thursday, April 18th
Fritz and I have a long, long conversation about the probability and likelihood of so-called silent labor after the boys are in bed. One of my friends has a birth story for her fourth child that goes like this: "I had one big contraction and out he popped!" This story scares us.

We sit on the couch, watch Trixie kick, and watch my stomach tighten. Huh. Maybe it LOOKS like a contraction. But it doesn't FEEL like a contraction. We time it. IF it's a contraction, it lasts for almost 7 minutes. Then 2 minutes off. Then it returns. Doesn't hurt. As long as I sit there, nothing really hurts. When I stand up, there's lots of pressure on my pelvis. That particular pain is like a 5 on a 1-10 scale. (Scale provided by me, who has already had two unmedicated births.) Hmmm.

A normal person might have called their doctor long ago, but I refuse. Fritz is frustrated by my refusal to call. Why do I refuse? I don't know. I can't really hold my ground in a logical discussion of the facts. My reasons are blindingly intuitive at the time. Maybe these are just Braxton Hicks? I suggest.

"Just call your doctor!" Fritz pleads. Later, I have a rebuttal: I'm terrified if I call the doctor she'll send me to the hospital, they'll discover I'm 4 cm (what else could all that ligament pulling, bone-moving be?) and I'll end up on a pit drip. That's her responsibility as my caregiver. To do something. And a pit drip will just make everything more painful. Also it's like a domino game, I think:
pit drip –> epidural –> cesarean
But what's happening now? It's manageable. It's mine. I own it. Control. Confession: I'm a control freak, you see?

"I think I need to take a shower," I answer Fritz. I wander into the bathroom. I'm pretty shaky. I attribute the shakiness to skipping dinner. No appetite. I know that these are signs of early labor, which is why I opt for a shower. The words of my Munich obstetrician from 6 years ago are still fresh in my head: "If you are in labor, a shower will make it accelerate. If not, it will relax you."

I get out of the shower relaxed and more comfortable. I sleep relatively well, considering. Considering that I'm 38.8 weeks pregnant.

I wake up the next morning feeling well-rested. Still, I pace myself. Sit down. Feet up. Limit movement. I spend the day drinking pregnancy tea and eating fruit; I wash some bedding; I drive some kids around. I say several thank yous to whomever invented heated car seats, which melt the pressure on my back and pelvis. Heated car seats, I shall never buy a car without you again. Not that I plan on being pregnant again.

I end the day feeling uncomfortable, but good. Trixie kicks her agreement.

Plateau: Friday, April 19
Another night of decent sleep does wonders. I commit to taking a nightly shower before bed until this baby is born. I think of it this way: every good night of sleep is like banking energy for the birth. (Let us not speak of the sleepless nights awaiting on the other side of the birth.) Sleep is too precious to be taken lightly. I will do whatever I can to sleep.

Since I'm feeling significantly better, I focus on the boys. Every quiet moment that I have with them becomes precious. Who knows when we will have time like this again? We snuggle more, we read more books than usual. I tell Noah he's lucky because at 6 years of age, he's really going to remember a lot about the new baby and her arrival. I ask him to save all his memories and write a book for Trixie and me. With Mattias, who was My Baby for a solid two years (– I thought there would be no more babies –) I tell him about what an awesome helper he is and how lucky I am to have someone to help me and Trixie. And it's not all talk: at 3 years old, he really can do some helpful stuff. I think about Noah 6 years ago, nursing and nursing away and my glass of water sitting next to me, empty. All I wanted was some more water. Would Noah ever stop nursing so I could please get myself some more water? This time, it will not be a problem: I'll just send Mattias to get me some more water. "Big" kids: they're great.

I have a regularly scheduled appointment with my doctor. I learn that sometimes fetal movement can trigger something like the tightening/contractions I described. My blood pressure is up, but otherwise everything looks fine. More waiting. And I feel okay. A little disappointed to no longer have the anticipatory excitement from Wednesday. But that's okay: if I just stay on this nice little plateau until real labor, I'll be fine.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Cleaned

Saturday was a wonderful, glorious day because I mopped the entire first floor of our house. That means the first floor also got picked up. And I didn't go into labor doing it. I can't even find the words to express how happy my mood has remained for the rest of the weekend as a result. Is that weird?


The time and ability to clean has never made me so happy as it has in the last 6 years.

I've never been a terribly clean or neat person. As a matter of fact, my first year in grad school (I was 27), I lived in a dorm room, without a roommate (= benefit of grad school dorms!) Things got messy there because I was really busy, you know? And it was only me. And grad school is stressful! One day, the campus fire department gave me a notice that my dorm room was a fire hazard. They taped the notice to the outside of my door. I think my response was to brush it off. Please! That building was made of concrete and concrete blocks and bricks. It wasn't burning down no matter how many books and papers were stacked on my floor. But, how embarrassing! To make it worse, Fritz was visiting at the time and he thought it was hilarious. He saved that violation for me right along with the diploma I received 2ish years later.

Strangely, the mess I allowed to exist in my earlier life never bothered me. In my twenties, I told myself I was busy, I would clean it up AFTER whatever looming deadline I was working on. The difference between the mess in my early life (without kids) and the mess in my thirties (with kids), is control. That mess back then? I controlled it. I controlled when it happened, IF it happened, and even if it would get cleaned up sooner or later. No matter if the campus fire department didn't like it, I felt like I had control.

The mess today? I can only attempt to control it. Mess with little kids comes from all sides. The kids are in a destructive mood. Or the kids are sick and at home more than usual. Or the kids are clingy handfuls and I have to clean in 2 minute intervals. Or there's a snow day and we spend too much time inside. Or papa is working especially long hours and I'm exhausted. Or the kids are playing so, so well together that I can't bring myself to stop them and make them pick up. Or one kid refuses to nap throwing a wrench in cleaning plans. Or who knows what? The point is, since having kids, I have very minimal control over both the mess and over my time to clean the mess.

On the plus side, I think I'm actually neater and cleaner than I was in my twenties. Because now, I really feel like picking up the mess is my only weapon for combatting the chaos of life with kids. I've gotten much better (but not perfect) at grabbing opportunities to clean when I have them. Putting off cleaning has nothing to do with control anymore; putting off the cleaning is about allowing the chaos to rein.

Admittedly, my younger perspective on cleaning might have been a little wrapped.

If you have a messy child / young adult (as I was), you could take comfort in this information. Perhaps someday your child will change, too! Perhaps when your child has children!

Anyways. I suspect this will be the last time the floor is mopped before Trixie arrives.* That's okay. I'm fine with that. Just getting it done one last time was a major relief. And did I mention how happy it made me to clean?

* A few suggested that I get a one time cleaning crew to come in before Trixie arrives. I thought it was a great idea. I told Fritz that I was planning to do this, and you know what he said? 

"Why? Trixie will be near-sighted for the several months after she's born. She won't SEE whether it's messy or clean."

Which made me laugh, even though I gave him an exasperated look. Sometimes, I just have no idea what he will do or say. Which is one of many reasons I love him. That and the fact that he moved the crib upstairs today. Hurray!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Fence for the Birds

In my neighborhood, there are a plethora of boring fences. Sometimes I think about how they could be a little more unique or a little more multipurpose, in a useful sense. This is such a neat fence idea. I'm ready to do it:
John Turner-Grey's fence,  photo by Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post
from this article in the Denver Post. (Hopefully that link works.)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

just chatter

We're having a snow day here in Denver.

I don't think anybody really needs a snow day in April.

I'm 37.5 weeks. I'm plateaued at comfortable in my uncomfortableness. But.

What would be ideal would be some grandparents next door to whom I could send two house-bound-crazed boys for an overnight so that I can pick up the freaking house.

The house is a mess - more than a mess - it's unclean to boot. Picking up needs to happen, cleaning really needs to happen. I'm getting stressed about bringing a baby home to the mess and dirt, stressed about how it's going to get clean in time for the coming house guests after the baby is born, and stressed about how oblivious Fritz seems to the mess/dirt.

A few weeks ago I had this idea that Trixie might make an early appearance. I'm feeling less that way now. My prediction is that she'll be born around the 25th of April, about 2 days ahead of schedule. I not-so-secretly believe I have control over the whole matter. If I aggressively attempted to clean house, she'd come earlier. If I sit here, with my feet up, and let the boys tear apart the basement (that's what we are doing right now), then Trixie will stay put a little longer.

What to do, what to do?

Other than the cleanliness of the house, there are some other things that I've wanted to see happen before Trixie's arrival:

1. Birthdays for the boys
2. Easter
3. See my uncle get out of the hospital. He's been going through chemotherapy and, most recently, a bone marrow transplant (BMT) as part of his lymphoma treatment. Yesterday, his white blood cell count started to rise, meaning that the BMT is working. Another few days of good news, and he might be home by the weekend. Fingers crossed.
4. Fritz's birthday
5. Move the crib upstairs into the bedroom. This is such a simple thing, and I can't do it myself anymore, and and and... how many times do I need to mention it to Fritz? I don't know why he hasn't done it. I think he feels like, it will take two minutes, so why do it now? And I feel like, I NEED the crib in the bedroom for my sense of mental organization NOW.

The last three items on this list might all be crossed off by the 15th.

But the messy/dirty house? Probably not.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Please read media from non US sources.

I don't get it: did you know that this afternoon North Korea officially declared nuclear strikes against the US okay?  Isn't that like, um, declaring war? How is it possible that none of the major American media sources I read have even mentioned this? If they are mentioning North Korea, it plays out TOTALLY differently than how foreign sources are stating it. (Please correct me if I'm wrong!!!)

Here it is in German on der Spiegel.

Here it is in the London Times.

Even if North Korea is not to be taken seriously, don't you think US media might mention this? WTF. Sometimes I really wonder.

Update: this morning (4/4) I'm more appeased that some American media outlets are reporting this more similarly to the European ones. But, still! I really suggest scanning a non-American media source for your daily news, because sometimes the difference in reporting is shocking!

Monday, April 1, 2013

A List of Equations

1. Spring break = perpetual motion + constantly impending disaster. When do they start sitting still?

2. Two birthdays = one official 6 year old + one official 3 year old.

3. Easter = candy + sugar + beautiful weather to accelerate the rate of the perpetual motion. (This does not equate with shortening the length of spring break. For better or worse.)

4. Air conditioning installation = one anticipated newborn + two summer house guests in need of A/C. Oh, I feel like I've given up, even under the auspices of installing A/C for other people. I'm disappointed in myself. First the second car, then the A/C.... Now that we've installed it (and my moody hormonal attitude is still here); it will probably be a cool, no A/C-necessary summer.

The boys LOVE the air conditioning man. They now play "Air Conditioning Man." The air conditioning man taught Noah this age appropriate joke. He's got it memorized. It's the first real joke he's memorized. Ready?

Why does the seagull fly over the sea? 
Because if it flew over the bay, it would be a bagel.

Not to be outdone by Air Conditioning Man, Fritz came up with his own version. Fritz's version, as usual, with twisted logic and more wordplay:

Why does the seagull fly over the sea?
Because if it flew over France, it would be a French Fly.