Thursday, January 28, 2010

40 weeks

It's not just my imagination... compared to four weeks ago, this bowling ball has descended significantly and is now resting directly ON TOP OF MY BLADDER.

Friday, January 22, 2010


It's not like I needed any more reason to love my midwife, but now I have several.

I may have already mentioned that I'm measuring a bit small for my gestational date, a concern relayed from my midwife to my back-up OB to a perinatologist, who did two ultrasounds and a biophysical profile to determine that either A) she's just a small baby or B) the placenta isn't delivering the goods. So far it just looks like she's a small baby, but he recommended that I go in for non-stress tests twice a week anyway, Just To Be Sure.

At first they seemed like lovely little windows of enforced vacation: reclining with a funny book, a cup of iced juice with a straw, and listening to the tide-like gallumph-gallumph of my baby's heartbeat... why, let's do it three times a week! Each time, we'd pass the test with flying colors, with baby poking a heel or an elbow out at the monitors for dramatic effect, and they'd send me on my way.

After a few of these, though, I was getting bored. I met with my OB again to ask if we really needed to continue, seeing as how she's super active and nothing amiss was detected in either ultrasound. He said yes, Just To Be Sure. I did a mental shrug and thought, At least he's not pushing for induction, which is something the perinatologist had alluded to. I didn't feel like all the monitoring was warranted, but neither did I want to be too flippant. They really get you with those "off" chances.

So I went in on Friday for the latest test, got cozy in my seat while the nurse hooked me up, and finished my book while baby did some back-flips and body-rocks to my gastrointestinal soundtrack. I'd just eaten a huge bowl of oatmeal, and was sucking down some apple juice, so her heart-rate was in the the high 160's, and plus it seemed like she was doing some extra groovin' in there just to show off. The nurse said everything looked great, but when she came back from consulting the OB, she said he had read the dips in the chart as decelerations and wanted me to go over to perinatal assessment and have a Contraction Non-Stress Test, Just to Be Sure.

I kind of grumbled to myself and wanted to say no thanks, I've got to get my husband to work and my toddler down for a nap. I wondered briefly if the OB was actively searching for something to be wrong.

Jason was a sport, and agreed to take Auden to Whole Foods while I sat for another half-hour of monitoring. I forgot that things NEVER go as quickly as you plan, and I also forgot to give him the cell phone.

The second test looked much like the first, and even better when baby calmed down enough to establish a reasonable base-line in the 130's. The nurse said maybe the doctor had just read all the previous accelerations as baseline and that's why the dips looked so low. This is all German to me -- I'd have just as much luck reading a seismograph -- but she seemed positive about it, so I was ready to get out of there and get on with my day.

But she wanted to induce a few contractions to see how the baby dealt with those (hence the name of the test): if baby stayed constant, we'd pass go and collect $200; if her heart-rate dipped, it could mean some kind of distress and they'd be wheeling me over to L&D.

At that moment it stopped being about non-stress for the baby, and started being about an adrenaline-pumping limb-limpening dose of stress for me.

Intuitively I knew nothing was wrong with baby, but sensed immediately and acutely how little that would probably count. Like, would I be able to refuse to go? Would they threaten me? I mean, of course I could refuse to go, or could at least say Let me call my husband and my midwife first. But I was sufficiently impressed with how inevitably things unfold at the hospital, and how intimidated I was in the face of it.

So, great, let's stimulate those nipples and try to bring on some contractions!

The nurse helpfully brought out some gel-lubricant, and a sheet for modesty, and kept watch over the monitor for upwards of 45 minutes while I suffered through a potent combination of performance anxiety -- do I need to THINK stimulating thoughts, too? because this is waaaaaay worse than what it must be like to produce a sperm sample -- and downright indignation at being strapped to a hospital bed WHEN MY TODDLER NEEDS TO TAKE A NAP DO YOU UNDERSTAND HOW IMPORTANT HIS NAPS ARE???? I tried calling Whole Foods to page Jason to tell him no I'm not having a baby, at least not yet, and IS AUDEN SLEEPING? and dammit I should've just told you to head home and I'd take the damn bus.

If they'd had a tread-mill or a stair-master in the contraction non-stress test room, I'd have been able to give them three contractions in five minutes, but with lying down doing nothing but worrying, it took over an hour to be done with it and to prove, according to their seismograph, that my baby was Just Fine and for the doctor to agree. I forced smiles as I thanked everyone, including the perinatologist who noted brightly that I did in fact look bigger than last time! And even though I don't need to take it personally, and don't really hold it against him personally either, I left there feeling angry and totally annoyed by the whole experience.

Because it felt like none of it had to do with my actual baby -- it was all about their monitors and how they interpreted the numbers.

Perhaps you're thinking, "Oh sure, Doctors are all well and good when the advice is to sit around and eat and rest and have someone else do all the housework, but when you have to sit strapped to a hospital bed hour after inconvenient hour it's Bad Bad Medical Establishment." But honestly, it's more that... Hmm. Actually, now that you mention it, that's what I'm thinking too.

Jason reminded me that it's easy to gripe when you spend all day at the hospital only to find out it's GOOD NEWS.

Okay, fine, but I'd still rather be done with fear-mongering monitors, and I'm still pissed that Auden only got a 20-minute nap in the cafe of Whole Foods.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

home visit

Have I sung the praises of my midwife yet? Allow me to present pictorial evidence for how much I prefer this to a doctor's office:

And Auden gets to help, too.

You may not be the type who wants to hug and kiss her doctor out the door, but I am, and I get to. Yay.


Monday, January 11, 2010


I was just saying to Jason the other day that I really wanted to get an overhead projector and where on earth does one even start looking for one of those? The last time I saw one in person was in my 8th grade Algebra class (any other City High Pegasi want to weigh in on that? I actually have fond memories of it!). Actually now that I think of it, I 'm pretty sure my obsessive-compulsive hoarder of a boyfriend in the San Francisco days probably had one in his meticulous stacks of rubble, but I was too unnerved by the claustrophobia to put it to use at that time.

But I'm past that now.

So not a week after voicing my desire did I find one for sale at an artist's rummage sale. She herself hated to part with it, because she was moving to Europe and couldn't take it along and where on earth would she even start looking for one over there? But hey, her loss is my fortuity! Er, I mean, I know a good deal when I see one, and was only too happy to lighten her load.

Auden likes my new toy, too:

Really, the possibilities for these things are unlimited, but I knew I wanted it specifically for the latest bone pieces, which I started here. I wanted to project the contour drawings to be able to fiddle with the composition, and let me tell you, I totally dorked out on fiddling with the composition. For hours. It was magical.

They're still evolving, and I have a sneaking suspicion that very little of what you see here will remain in the final product... because this is acrylic paint and try as I do, I just don't love the quality of it the way I love oils. I think more layers are in order, but I'm on that precarious edge of wanting to push the piece forward without overworking what's fresh and fluid about it.

For the time being think I'll go project drawings of bones on some other stuff, just because I can.


Monday, January 4, 2010

a needlessly wordy update, with tangents


We're back in Milwaukee after a lovely holiday in Michigan, where although I had ample free time I was constitutionally incapable of blogging. I got fed and pampered, Jason got to take a break from job applications, and Auden got to go sledding for the first time -- in deep fluffy snow, as opposed to the frozen crusty inch tenaciously clinging to the grass over here.

He is also potty training like a champion, something that I am still incredulously shaking my head about. I guess the stars aligned and something clicked... I'm fairly sure it has nothing to do with the Sisyphean effort that was Elimination Communication -- although, hey, don't knock it until you've tried it, and I mean REALLY TRIED IT AHHRRRGHHHH. I just think he has the cognitive and verbal skills now to put two and two together. It helped that we had lots of time, both parents, no schedule, and grandparents who don't mind a naked butt at the dinner table. There were very few accidents, though, and some incredible moments of showmanship. What this kid will do for an animal cracker!

Yes. So. I've been under doctor's orders to Take It Easy and rest and eat as much as possible because there is some concern that this baby is measuring small. As delightful as this mandate is, I find it excruciating to just sit back and let people do things for me. I know, crazy right? Part of me totally needs it, and the other part of me is saying Ehhh hehhhh, but the bathroom floor is FURRY and the laundry and that phone call and do something stimulating for Auden QUICK and oh no dinner GAH. And on and on. So it's hard to slow down and say No You Do It... it's all part of a very carefully cultivated Mother Martyr thing. And you either know what I mean, or you're the one whose butt is gettin' wiped. Okaaaay? Word.

But it was definitely easier to let everything go while away from home. Now that we're back I want to return immediately to my usual juggling act, and it takes near-constant reminders from Jason to Sit Down and Chill, Damn. Can I say, too, that he is awesomely doing tons of cooking and washing of dishes and plying of increasingly needy toddler? Yes, yes. My husband is good.

I'm approaching 37 weeks, and entering the science fiction phase of pregnancy. I look down at my belly and see the whole thing quaking or writhing or a little heel pressing out and think, Weeeeeeirrrrd; or I look at myself in the mirror and even though I'm measuring small, I feel HUGE and bullet-bellied and my belly button is stretched beyond human imagination and I think, Weeeeeirrrrrd; or I'm going pee for the ten-budzillionth time that day and the baby presses down on my bladder WHILE I'M GOING and I think, Let's share this vessel amicably, shall we? YOU WEIRD ALIEN CREATURE INHABITING ME????

And then I remember that this is all part of the plan: that if it didn't get this weird and uncomfortable, I might just want to stay pregnant a liiiiittle longer -- to preserve the calm-before-baby-storm and all the adoring attention I get out in public. Oh I get all bittersweet about time passing, like every New Year's when I'm all, Another year, can you believe it??? Sigh and sigh. But the gears are shifting... I'm starting to gaze googly-eyed at all our tiny baby clothes and I'm organizing and making lists of things and getting so excited to meet this one. And excited about the prospect of putting on some zipper-fly jeans, I'll be honest.

In the meantime, I have some couch-sitting and ice-cream-eating to do.