Thursday, August 31, 2006
My title might be a tad bit dramatic, but that is what it feels like these days. I've been holding off on registering or purchasing anything until we returned from vacation, and now, of course, we're back and I'm starting to panic at the lack of productivity. Last weekend was a whirlwind of activity, between visiting furniture stores, arguing over necessary baby items and starting registries online, and planning out the baby's closet at the Container Store. I'm not sure why I'm shocked when I find myself exhausted at the end of the day.
My blogging buddies, I need your help. I have read multiple guides to baby necessities, and I am overwhelmed. I've decided to compile a list, in the hopes that you will share your advice on what you couldn't live without, and what was a total waste of money. Some of the things on my list aren't really necessities, but things I'd just like to have so just ignore some of those. Help!
Crib mattress (is foam fine?)
Dresser (I can't find a changing table that fits in the room!)
Rocker with ottoman
Fitted sheet (4-5?)
Waterproof mattress pad fitted (2?)
Waterproof mattress pad flat (2?)
Blankets (for stroller or chair or floor- how many? 2? Do I need to register or will people just get them?)
2 Bases for car seat
Changing pad (for floor or bed or chair, since I won't have a changing table)
Burp cloths (how many? 20?)
Bundle me car seat cover
Diaper caddy (2?)
Sling and Baby Bjorn (sling purchased in Amsterdam- at least I can carry the baby around!)
Playpen/Pack and play
Playmat for floor
Baby monitor (does anyone have the video ones? Are they a waste?)
First aid kit
Diaper pail (which one?)
Snowsuit (for my December baby!)
Breast pads/shields (what else?)
Bottles (what brands? How many if I'm planning on breastfeeding?)
Bath tub (can I wash baby in the sink?)
Bath accessories (lotion, soap, etc.)
And??? I feel like this list is so long already, but something tells me that I don't have everything. What about things that I think are unnecessary, like wipe warmers and bottle sterilizers? Should I register for outfits? Or wait to receive them?
The only decision I have made is on the bedding, thank goodness, or you'd probably have a hysterical Halloweenlover on your hands. We decided to go with a unisex bedding, since I couldn't bring myself to pick both a boy and a girl bedding, so this is what we chose. I love it! I wish my room could be decorated in this pattern!
I welcome any and all advice, so please share! But be gentle! I am a hormonal pregnant woman! In the meantime, I wish you all happy Labor days! And I hope you labor very little during this time!
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
We did lots of walking in Brussels, ate lots of chocolate, sampled some frites, and enjoyed the sights. Thankfully, Brussels wasn't too big and didn't have an overload of sights for us to visit, so we were able to see everything we wanted to see without too much trouble. It was, however, very charming and pretty. We started at our hotel, took the subway to the center of town, and stopped at the center, where the Town Hall was surrounded by restaurants, cafes and museums. It so happened that it was also a yearly festival where the square is decorated with thousands of flowers.
It made for lots of crowds too, so I spent a good bit of time maneuvering my way around while protecting the belly against wayward strollers and elbows.
There were some interesting street vendors also, creating a variety of smells that assaulted a pregnant woman's nostrils.
Look at how they decorate the mailboxes and sign posts! These flowers were so pretty! I wished we could have brought them back with us.
We rested quite a bit in Brussels, and stopped for chocolates and coffee (decaf, of course) and beer for Josh. He was very impressed with the array of beers available at every cafe. He isn't a big drinker, but sipping a leisurely brew on a hot summer day while people watching is certainly his idea of a good time.
Sorry the picture isn't clear, but this was a smuggled photo since the woman was watching customers like a hawk. I pretended to be adjusting the camera around my neck while I shot this photo.
Of course, we couldn't miss the most famous statue in Brussels- Mannekin Pis. Surprisingly, he is quite small for a boy that attracts such a huge crowd! Isn't he a cutie, though?
Our visit wouldn't have been complete without some of Brussels most famous treats.
Mussels in Brussels, and frites! And Beer! What else?
Unfortunately, mussels were another one of those smells that assaulted the pregnant woman's nostrils, so I opted not to partake. Perhaps next time!
Monday, August 28, 2006
That glorious wonderful stage where you feel fantastic, with loads of energy, and a belly just big enough to be cute, but not big enough to be cumbersome. I feel the baby moving all the time these days, kicking and rolling and making himself or herself known. He or she seems to respond to the sounds outside, like the dog's squeaky toy, or Josh pressing his mouth against my belly button every morning and sounding a fake wake-up bugle alarm, as if the baby were in the Army. I'll bet he or she just loves that.
I'm aware every day of this wonderful event that is happening to us. I get weekly emails reminding me of the baby's stages of growth and development, as well as notes on what I might be feeling. Each Monday morning, when I open my email, these notes remind me of the miraculous thing that is happening to the wee monkey, who we call Buddha most of the time, after my growing Buddha belly.
I told Josh the other day that I never want this to end. This newness, this feeling of excitement, the knowledge that we'll never do this for the first time again. I don't doubt that the love and excitement and anticipation are the same with subsequent pregnancies, but this exhilaration tinged with fear? Does it ever happen again? Every day feels like an adventure.
And all of this doesn't even take into account the reactions of friends, family and colleagues around me! People seem to love pregnant women! My colleagues are incredibly helpful and complimentary, people stop me in the halls to inquire as to how I'm feeling. They are all just so nice, I'm definitely sure I don't want this part of it to end!
People keep telling me that one day I'll be so uncomfortable and tired that I'll start wishing for the pregnancy to be over, and I do hope I reach that stage (although hopefully not until after December 25th). I'm anxious to meet this baby, but at the same time I'm so enjoying how great I feel and how fabulous having the baby inside is, that I hate for it to end.
This pregnancy is flying by, I want to savor every moment! Grateful and happy is my new motto!
Friday, August 25, 2006
It had rained profusely for several days preceding, and everyone around us was a bit nervous at the thought of our outdoor ceremony and reception being rained out. I, however, refused to consider the possibility, and stopped watching the weather reports. I was confident that my garden wedding would be a reality, and I even made everyone rehearse in the drizzle on the night before.
As I opened my eyes on Sunday morning, I stood on the bed in the hotel suite I was sharing with my bridesmaids and mother, and flung the curtains open to reveal a bright blue sky, with lazy puffy clouds floating across in the distance. A cheer rose up behind me, and we jumped around in joy for a few minutes before going on to begin the process of getting ready.
That day was the happiest of my life.
I walked down the aisle to a song by Sarah Brightman, called "There's No One Like You." A young woman sang the words into the crowd as I walked in with my parents.
When Josh stomped down on the glass and dipped me into a romantic kiss under the chuppah, I thought I couldn't love him more. But four years later, as I sit here with my growing belly and the wee monkey doing flips within, I know how wrong I was. He was my best friend then, but he is so much more now.
In your eyes are my secrets that I've never shown you
In my heart I feel I've always known you
In your arms there's a comfort that I never knew
You're what I've been waiting for, there's no one like you
Sure as the sunrise, pure as a prayer
You fashioned hope right out of thin air
Ev'ry dream I abandoned, seems it could come true
I believe in miracles, there's no one like you
Innocent as a newborn in a world so fright'ning
It's as if my world's been struck by lightning
Ev'ry dream I abandoned, seems it could come true
I believe in miracles, there's no one like you
Happy Anniversary Mimoso! I hope we have at least one hundred times as many wonderful years ahead of us, and then some!
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
I now feel confident providing a list of suggested advice for other pregnant women thinking about taking a trip, especially one that will require long flights and lots of walking at the destination. I wish someone had told me this before we left.
1. Forget the cute shoes. Seriously, just forget them. Within 2 hours of arrival your feet will hurt more than they've ever hurt before, and cute shoes will just make it worse. Trust me on this one.
2. Bring your most comfortable shoes, even if they are hideous. And bring more than one pair of ugly shoes, because if you try to wear just the one pair over consecutive days, your feet will start to hurt in certain specific spots that you never knew existed (my pinky toe is still a little numb).
3. Pack layering clothes. Your thermostat is a bit out of whack these days and can swing wildly from freezing to sweat running down your legs in the span of two minutes. It isn't pleasant.
4. Bring prunes, or stop at a grocery store and pick up something else resembling prunes. This can greatly impede your ability to walk around, and when I say GREATLY IMPEDE, I mean greatly. 'Nuff said.
5. Protect your belly when on a bus or subway or in crowds. Maybe some of you feel a natural urge to cover your belly with your hands in crowds, but I didn't. And then when someone accidentally falls into you on the subway and punches your belly, you won't dissolve into uncontrollable heaving sobs because they might have hurt your bayyyyybeeeeee.
6. Anticipate some crazy hormonal changes because of jet lag and exhaustion. Expect to have some trouble sleeping. Expect to start crying over something silly, in public, when you least expect it.
7. Make intelligent decisions about where to take your pregnant hormonal self. Perhaps visiting the Anne Frank House is not the best idea when you are incredibly sensitive. You should also avoid that exhibit at the Dutch Resistance Museum showing the babies abandoned in basements and churches and empty buildings by Jewish families sent to concentration camps, in the hopes that someone would save their children. Impending motherhood is not the best time for you to read and see these images. But if you do, bring buttloads of kleenex, and wear your most obviously pregnant shirt so that people are sympathetic.
8. Rest at every opportunity, especially when your body tells you it is tired. This may sometimes be less than an hour since your last rest stop, but who cares? Do it anyway. Take advantage of these stops to have a decaf latte, or a hot chocolate, or that delicious cheesy melted sandwich that guy is having over there, whatever it is. I'm still having dreams about my pain au chocolate from Brussels and my croque madame from Amsterdam. Mmmm.
9. Use every bathroom you find, even when you don't think you have to go. Go twice if you can, because if not, you'll get half a block down the street and have to pee. You might still get half a block down the street and discover you have to pee, but then your partner won't roll his or her eyes nearly as much.
10. Take tons of pictures, even if you feel huge in all of them! You'll love seeing your belly in pictures later, and you'll probably love how relaxed you looked before the baby was actually born.
11. Ignore random advice of strangers, including that person who sprinted across the restaurant to tell you not to eat that cheese.
12. Sleep a lot and shop a lot!
13. ENJOY YOUR BABYMOON! Even when you're tired and sore and your feet hurt and you have to pee and you're hormonal and cranky. You are still having a wonderful time, and you'll still look back on it fondly and wish you were back there!
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Now, before I tell you about how the class went, I'd like to discuss this phenomenon for a second.
Before I was 12 weeks pregnant, I mentioned how certain people would caution me not to get attached to the idea of this pregnancy. Some people went so far as to tell me that they never would have told anyone before 12 weeks and were surprised that we would. We even had some decidedly mixed reactions from friends who were shocked that we would reveal our news at 10 or 11 weeks, even though my own DOCTOR assured me that after my 10 week visit, I had a less then 1% chance of miscarrying.
Don't get me wrong, I still spent those weeks terrified at all of the possibilities of miscarrying. I still worry, although measurably less, and I often give myself pep talks telling myself to stop focusing on the worst. After my 7 week ultrasound, when we saw that beautiful heartbeat and the little worm looking baby curled up, I told myself to stop with all the negatives. That little embryo was trying its best, and I decided that thinking dooms-day scenarios would not help, so I'd work to make its little environment as pleasant as it could be. But still, for the weeks before I hit 12 or 13 weeks, I was told by everyone not to get attached, not to tell anyone, not to get my hopes up.
Then I hit the magical 13th week, and all of a sudden, I was behind on everything. At which hospital was I delivering? Who was my pediatrician? What about childbirth classes? Did I have a birth plan? Was I finding out the sex? Had I registered? Was I breastfeeding or bottle-feeding? What would I do about work? It was overwhelming and infuriating! As of last week, I had no pregnancy to speak of, but a mere week later, I was a negligent pregnant woman who had thought of nothing.
So of course, now I'm 20 weeks and behind on many things, most notably my childbirth classes, and since I'd like to have this child exit my body at some point, I scrambled to find one that would work. The class thing is compounded by a couple of problems, (1) We are on our Babymoon next week, (2) I work long hours, (3) Josh has classes on Monday and Wednesday nights until December, and (4) we wanted to take Hypnobirthing. After a few days of tearing my hair out and 20 phone calls later, I finally found a Hypnobirthing instructor that would allow us to take the first class last night, and then finish up the other 3 in September when it fit with Josh's class schedule.
Anyway, last night we all crowded around in a circle, prepared to hear about the wonders of Hypnobirthing and how labor wasn't going to hurt at all. Right? RIGHT? I plan on having no pain during my labor, and if you try to tell me differently, I'll plug my ears and sing "la la la la la."
Instead, the first thing they showed was that video. You know which video I'm talking about. The one where they did a full frontal shot of several different women pushing a baby out of their nether regions, and even though I've seen it before, even in person, I still felt some measure of queasiness and lightheadedness as I looked around to see if anyone else looked a little green. Josh squeezed my leg as the baby slid out, looking all slimy and brand-new, and I wondered about his mental state. At least this wasn't new to me, but he must have been a little freaked at the imagery of his wife's body stretching to accommodate such an exit. As we climbed into bed last night, though, he turned to me with tenderness in his eyes, and a soft voice and said, "wasn't that the most beautiful thing ever? Can you believe we'll be having a baby? Can you believe our baby might come into the world like that?" All the while, I'm looking at him in horror and wondering if we saw the same video.
Following the video, we had lots of talking, questions, and then some relaxation and meditation exercises. So I settled down on the floor, got comfortable, and she started explaining how to relax your body, starting at the top of your head. I fell asleep when we got to the forehead. And no, I am not joking. She said to relax the top of your head, your ears, your eyes, your forehead, zzzzzzzzzzz. I don't remember anything else about the 40 minute exercise. Josh, on the other hand, fell asleep when she got to the legs, so we make a fabulous pair. We are clearly going to be wonderful at the Hypnobirthing, no?
Our assignment is to read our Hypnobirthing book and listen to our relaxation exercise every single day for 20 minutes. I'm psyched, because clearly this means that I'll be falling asleep very easily, based on this prior experience. Maybe I'll sleep through labor! You know, what with the no pain and all that. Perhaps that will be the positive imagery I will focus on, taking a wonderful nap and waking up ready to push. It's totally doable, don't you think?
Monday, August 07, 2006
Today marks the beginning of my 20th week of pregnancy. According to the wacky calendar of our doctor and all my books, that also means that this is the halfway point for this pregnancy. We are halfway there to meeting you, and this fills me with immeasurable happiness. I try to imagine what it will be like to see you for the first time, to hold you in my arms, to take you home with us, and my imagination fails me. I have no doubt that it will exceed my wildest expectations.
These days you are making yourself felt regularly. I can often distinguish a kick or punch from a roll, and I rest my hands on my belly to see what you might be doing in there. I have always dreamt of being pregnant, and feeling your kicks has been more magical than I ever dreamed. I'm surprised more women don't talk about it, because the feeling is amazing. Maybe we all like to keep it our own little secret, our private connection with the future loves of our lives.
My belly grows daily as well. When I was first pregnant, I anxiously awaited the moment when a stranger might be able to obviously tell that this was a baby belly. I'm just reaching that point, and now I find myself looking down at my growing bump with a good measure of fear, wondering just how big it will actually get. Bigger than I imagine, I'm sure. Probably even bigger than I'd like!
I've been so excited to start preparing for your arrival, I made myself promise that I wouldn't do anything until I reached 20 weeks. I picked that date in my mind, thinking that I'd have lots of time over the subsequent 20 weeks to get everything ready for you, and it has been a test of willpower to stick to my plan. I'm dying to have your room ready, to start picking out blankets and strollers and bedding and more. Now that I'm here, the task seems daunting, but I remind myself that the most important thing I can do for you is already being done. The rest will get finished sometime.
These first 20 weeks have flown by, and I'm sure the next 20 will go by in the blink of an eye. Years from now, I'll have a hard time remembering what it was like to have you inside of me, so I work to cherish as much as I can. Your father and I can't help but think about your arrival, your personality, your future. We talk about you all the time, we can't resist it.
We can't wait to meet you, my sweet baby. We're in love with you already.
Friday, August 04, 2006
Beach or touring?
Lazy or active?
Cold or warm?
Josh has been harassing me to take him to visit my family in Argentina, but it is the middle of winter right now in South America, and our Boston summers are so short that I couldn't fathom having to pull out jackets and pants in August. Our last vacation was a beach one, and it was a fantastic time, but I've been craving some real sightseeing and touring. So I started narrowing down on location.
I had important criteria to satisfy also. We needed first class medical care, just in case. I needed air conditioning and safety. I wanted an area small enough to be visited in a week by a pregnant woman that can't walk that fast. Oh, and I wanted to be able to shop. A few visits to websites, a few discussions with Josh later, we settled on Belgium and the Netherlands.
I didn't tell Josh this until after he'd agreed, but it just so happens that Amsterdam is the baby capital of the world. Tons of baby designers are located there, and it also just so happens that I'm in the market for baby stuff. Shocker, I know!
After some research, I planned our itinerary as follows:
Day 1: Fly into Brussels, spend the day exploring the city if the red-eye flight hasn't made me keel over with exhaustion
Day 2: Explore Brussels in the morning, move to Bruges for the next two nights (via train)
Day 3: Bruges (and chocolate! Lots and lots of chocolate!)
Day 4: Bruges (and french fries! And Belgian waffles!) Leave in the afternoon for Amsterdam (via train)
Day 5: Amsterdam (does Amsterdam have chocolate? How about french fries? They must have something, right?) Visit museums, take canal tours, look longingly at the people on bicycles because your husband has forbidden your pregnant self from riding one.
Day 6: Amsterdam and more sightseeing. I know you can't wait to see pictures of my pregnant belly in the red light district, right?
Day 7: Amsterdam and shopping! My sources confirm that Amsterdam has some of the best strollers in the world, and if I can find one that opens and closes easily, doesn't weigh too much, and complies with my other crazy requirements, I'm hoping that one of my return luggage will be a stroller!
Day 8: Final exploration of Amsterdam, fly back to Boston in the afternoon. Sob.
Day 9: Spend day in bed crying because you don't want to go back to work tomorrow, and this is your last vacation day until your maternity leave starts in 4 and a half months. Sob again.
I'm trying not to focus too much on Day 9.
I've been looking forward to this trip for months, and I'm itching to jump on that plane, even though it is still a week away. I suspect that we'll look longingly on this last adventure away, come December 25th. I also suspect we'd never want to go back in time once this baby arrives, but still, the memories of freedom will be nice.
My parents are watching our pooches at our house, so this will be real freedom, unlike our trip to St. Croix when we had our sidekicks along for the ride. So any suggestions? Favorite spots? Recommendations? We'll be doing the typical walking tours, visiting Rembrandt's museum, Anne Frank's house, marketplace visits, and whatever else our guide book says is a must-see. But if you've been there or have heard fantastic things- please please please tell me! I'm sure I'll be bringing back some Belgian chocolate, and if you can wrestle it away from the hands of a pregnant lady, I'll even share!
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
This struck me as odd, because:
(a) I was 18 and a half weeks at the time, not outrageously early from what I've heard,
(b) the feeling is rather unmistakable, and not like anything I've ever felt before, and finally,
(c) if a pregnant woman tells you she feels her baby, you DO NOT tell her that she doesn't!
People seem to describe the feeling as fluttering, but I never felt that. A couple of weeks ago I called my doctor because I was feeling a strange pressure in my lower abdomen. It would come and go, and wasn't necessarily painful, just uncomfortable. I called her because I was worried that perhaps I had a bladder infection, or was having mild contractions. She thought maybe it was my round ligaments stretching or something to do with my uterus growing, but nothing to worry about.
That weekend, the pressure continued, but was followed up with tapping coming from inside, and it was then that I realized that I'd been feeling the baby moving around. What I described as pressure must have been movements that weren't yet strong enough to feel clearly. Since last weekend, the tapping has been getting stronger and stronger.
There is no doubt in my mind that I am feeling this baby moving and shaking. All of last week, I noticed an increase in how much movement I could feel, and particularly, an increase after I ate. On the way to work one morning, I played the music loud and sang along, and felt baby kicking up a storm for the 20 minute drive.
Yesterday, though, were the strongest movements yet. I generally notice the movement most at nighttime when I collapse on the couch, but yesterday I felt baby while both sitting and walking around in my office. A couple of times, I felt hard jabs that I can only imagine are kicks, and even felt my hand move while resting it on my belly.
Armed with this knowledge, I made Josh sit next to me when he got home from the Red Sox game and rest his hand on my belly. I poked my stomach a few times, and settled in to see what happened. I did the play by play at the same time, moving his hand around, telling him when I felt the taps, and all the while he insisted that it wasn't the baby. And then, baby followed through with a beautiful hard kick aimed right at the center of his palm, and his head whipped around in shock. "I felt that!"
So last night marks the first time that baby made his presence known to daddy. I'm sure it won't be the last.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Mainly, though, I have this weird theory about life that ties into it.
I believe that along the way, we make decisions and choices that change our life's trajectory. Some are within your control, and some are not, but all choices become part of your life story. If you choose to go to law school, whether you practice or not, you'll always have been changed by your time in law school. If you get married or not, you'll be changed by that decision. If you move across the country on a whim, you'll never be the same person again. In the same way, when you make certain choices, you close off doors to a different choice. In some cases, that choice will never be available to you again.
When I said yes to Josh's proposal, I knew that this would be the only time I'd ever be engaged for the first time. When we got married, I knew that this part of my story was set. I hoped and hope (!!) that this is it for us, but regardless, this is our first marriage, our first mistakes, the only time we'd have this innocent giddiness, the first time I'd have my first married fight.
When Josh and I decided to stop using birth control, I realized that my life story was being set in a certain way. I was going to know soon (hopefully) whether I'd ever be pregnant. From then on, I'd never go back to that state of not knowing what it is like to try to get pregnant. There is something in that first excitement of trying, when you think it'll happen right away, when you imagine that it'll be easy and blissful. Maybe it is and maybe it isn't, but from then on, your story will be different.
Right before I took the pregnancy test for this baby, when my boobs were on fire and I'd crawled out of bed before Josh woke up to see if my suspicions were true, I thought to myself that this could be the last time I ever got a positive pregnancy test for the first time. Every other time might be wonderful and special and unbelievable, but it would never be the first time again. When it came up positive, I didn't know much. I didn't know whether I'd carry a baby to term, whether tomorrow I'd get my period, whether any of it would work out, but I knew that I could get pregnant, even briefly.
All of that, all of this, is the beginning of our story to build a family. This will be the only time I carry my first child, no matter what happens. If I'm lucky enough to have a first or second or third child, they will all be equally amazing and different, but it'll never be the first time I do it all. The first ultrasound, the first kicks, the first birth, even the first episodes of morning sickness.
Today, I know that I am having a baby. That part of my story is set. If I find out whether it is a boy or a girl, that part of my story will be set too. From then on, I'd imagine myself with one or the other, and I'd know what my first child will be. Not knowing feels like this delicious secret that will be unveiled to me at the very end. As many people have mentioned, it doesn't matter whether I know today or at the birth, it will still be a surprise. But when so many decisions that we make change our life's trajectory for us, it feels nice not to know.
In reality, our story is already set because this baby IS one or the other. But until I know, I can dream about both. I can imagine my husband's cleft chin on a boy, or my dimples on a girl. Life is so short and goes by so quickly, and it is fun that this part of my story is a secret, even to me.