Monday, August 30, 2010

Bumpdate: 31 Weeks

I continue to be amazed that I feel as well as I do... honestly, this seems to be a much easier part of my pregnancy than the first and second trimesters. I know part of it is that my stress level with regard to viability and such has decreased tremendously, and continues to decrease with each passing day. I think another part of it is that the chest pain and shortness of breath have totally gone away... John and I were talking about this, and we think that maybe the original high-risk OB that we saw had it right: my heart just needed extra time to adjust to the physical changes that were happening in my body. This idea is reinforced by the fact that the swelling in my feet/ankles has gone away, too.

Anna and Abigail are getting more and more excited about the baby coming... Abigail loves telling all her friends about her soon-to-be sibling, and Anna genuinely seems to want the baby to come, asking daily if the baby can come yet. I figure if I go another 5 weeks, I am golden:) I really can't fathom making it to 40 weeks, but I guess stranger things have happened. Maybe because of all the anxiety I had about the baby coming too soon, I will end up going past my due date. Let me just go on the record as saying that if I am still pregnant in November, I will cry. And also probably participate in every known home-remedy for inducing labor:)  Just kidding- I believe the baby will come out when he or she is good and ready, although I'm sure the hubs wouldn't mind if we tried certain methods... ;)

It's hard to imagine that we don't see the OB for another 2 weeks (at the 33 week mark, more or less). This is the longest stretch we have gone without seeing the doc since very early on in the pregnancy. It is kind of nice to have a break, especially since I know they will probably be a little more invasive at the next check up. It also gives us some time to work on our plans for birth control after the baby comes (very difficult to figure out when you can't take hormones, you're allergic to latex, and your anatomy won't cooperate with a diaphragm!), our finalized (ie- shortened) birth plan, and what we want to do about circumcision if we have a boy (one of us is for it, the other is not.)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Thanks for sharing.

Apparently, Abigail has been sharing her new-found knowledge about labor and birth.

At the dentist today, Anna asked if this doctor will help get the baby out. That was cute.

Thankfully, she waited until we were home to inform me that "first the baby comes out the 'gina, then the Daddy cuts the cord" (with accompanying "snip" motion with her fingers.)

Bumpdates 29 and 30 weeks

29 week belly

Jai, the young man my mom is friends with, recently asked for a belly photo with my face in it... he only sees the photos I email to my mom, and he said he had never seen my face! So, this is my best shot at a self-portrait of my belly with my face showing via iPhone technology. This is surprisingly more difficult than it seems, especially when you add in the fact that I stand on my tip toes to get these shots. I don't look very happy. Don't think I need to explain why:)

We had our 30 week visit on Thursday. Everything continues to look great, and we are hoping right along with the weight gain. I have now gained a total of 37 pounds during this pregnancy. The doctor is not terribly concerned... my diabetes screen is negative, my blood pressure is perfect, and even the swelling I was having earlier in my pregnancy has pretty much gone away. I am eating well, my lab work all looks great, and I feel good- much better than I did earlier in my pregnancy. Plus, I was up 48 pounds the day that they induced my labor with Abigail (at 37 weeks), but I was back in my non-pregnancy jeans when Abigail was 18 days old, and was 10 pounds less than my pre-pregnancy weight by my 6 week follow-up visit... all without dieting or exercising! Hopefully things will go that well this time, although the extra 8 years of age may make that a little more difficult. The doctor thinks that maybe I am just one of those people who gains a lot of weight with pregnancy (the "goal" weight gain for a woman of normal weight is 25-35 lbs.) My mom definitely gained a lot of weight during her pregnancies- maybe it's genetic:)

I've started writing our birth plan. Initially, I didn't think that I would write a birth plan, knowing that the running joke in the OB department is "birth plan= c-section." But the more I thought about it, the more I decided I needed one, because there was no telling who would be on-service when I went into the hospital. It could quite possibly be a person we have never met (one of the risks of delivering at an academic medical center.) Plus, I don't want to have to think about telling anyone what I want when I am in labor, or explaining who our doula is or why Abigail is there. I want to be able to just focus on doing the work I need to do. So a birth plan seems to be the best way to communicate that.

So far, a few of the highlights of our birth plan include:

1. Since we don't know the gender of our baby, we do not want the doctor/nurse to announce the gender at the time of birth. John and Abigail will be the first people to check the gender and make the announcement. Abigail is pretty excited about this:)

2. The exact phrasing regarding repair of any tear/episiotomy is "If it is necessary to provide stitches to repair a tear, please provide local anesthesia. Lots of it." It is in bold, just like that:)

3. John and Abigail will also cut the cord together.

4. Abigail has requested that she be able to help with the baby's first bath and diapering the baby. Since this will be in our birth plan, it will be much more likely to happen:)

A lot of the other stuff is standard, run-of-the-mill natural childbirth language, which we are trying to edit down since I tend to be a bit verbose and have written this without a template. One other thing that we did was use the birth plan to "introduce" who will be present at the birth (me, John, Abigail, our doula- Heather, and John's mom, Elaine.) This will save us time, and also hopefully make the care team more comfortable with the inclusion of Abigail during labor/delivery. I made sure to put in the birth plan that we have talked frankly with Abigail and shown her graphic birth videos, as well as taught her medically/anatomically correct language so that they know how to talk to her if she were to ask a question. I mean, not all 7.5 year olds know that a baby is born with it's own special lotion on it's skin called vernix. Or that the baby has to open the cervix then come out the vagina to be born. But Abigail does!

30 weeks, 2 days belly

Now that our niece has moved out of our guest room, we are ready to get the nursery ready. The nursery will still be our guest room as well, so we are not decorating or going wild with a theme. But, we do need to get the crib put up and get a diaper station set up. My mother-in-law, Elaine, threw a surprise baby shower for me this past Saturday at the nursing home where she and I work (Thanks again, Elaine!!!!), and with the lovely gifts we've received, along with items our family has given us and a few things we have purchased, I think we are pretty much set for a newborn. I am looking forward to getting all the little blankies and burp cloths and sockies washed, folded and put away in the dresser:)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Bump Check- 28.5 Weeks

I forgot to take a picture on Saturday of my week 28 belly. So here a photo from Wednesday:

Apparently, a prego woman in a bathing suit is somewhat of a novelty at our local pool, because all of Abigail's little friends were amazed, and I certainly got a few looks from the other adults, too. Oh well- I was too hot to care!

Of course, it didn't help that Abigail kept bringing her friends over and saying "Momma, stand up and show them how big your belly is! It's big because she has our baby in there!" And then all the other little girls were like "wow, your belly is huge!!!!!" And then they would stick out their (disgustingly flat) bellies and walk around saying "look, I have a baby in my belly, too!"

A friend of my mom's asked why you never see my face in these pictures. It's partially because I am not feeling particularly pretty, and partially because I usually try to take the picture as soon as I wake up in the morning, so that I don't forget to do it. My hair is wild and I still have red marks on the side of my face from the pillow. You really aren't missing anything. This particular photo was carefully framed by my loving husband to avoid showing my mascara running down my face and dripping hair, while also protecting the eyes of you, my gentle readers, from the cellulite that has taken up residence in my thighs.

You're welcome.

In other pregnancy news: we had a check up last week, and HOORAY! The doctor gave me permission to take Zantac for my heartburn. What a difference this has made! I can lay flat at bedtime! Woohoo!

Everything else was looking good, and we are finally at that point when I am starting to feel relief... developmentally, 28 week babies do so well. But even more than that, I really feel like getting this far means that I am likely to go to term. (Although a 10/5/10, 10/10/10, or 10/20/10 baby would be fun:) I've started doing more of my "preparation" reading and tomorrow we are meeting with our Doula. John is finally at a place where he can also focus time and attention on learning to be a great coach  and we can come up with a plan for after the baby arrives that will work for our whole family (breastfeeding a newborn can be a full-time job!)

I am working on a post on my other blog about why we don't believe in attachment parenting and also responses to why we are doing a natural childbirth (Bradley Method) and how and why we are working with our pediatrician on a modified immunization schedule. I am also going to write my very opinionated view of how to be successful with breastfeeding, and why on-demand feeding (the method recommended by the La Leche League) decreases your likelihood of success. Can you feel the drama brewing?

I feel a real urgency to get serious about preparing for the job of giving birth (which is a very taxing job) and parenting a newborn. So off I go to sneak in some more reading while the girls finish their morning chores:) Regularly scheduled bump checks should resume tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Dear Nugget

Dear Nugget,

I love you and am trying to give you all the attention you need. I feed the cravings and drink all that extra water and even take those yucky prenatal vitamins just for you. Like your Daddy, I get it that you sometimes need more attention than I am giving you, and that makes you likely to take drastic measures.

However, like your sisters have learned, kicking me so hard that it takes my breath away is not the best way to get my attention. In fact, hurting Momma is not very nice at all. You may not realize how hard you are kicking, but I am pretty sure it is hard enough to have kicked me a nice little hiatal hernia.

Would you like to work on our communication skills so that you can figure out how to best get my attention without hurting me? Because I would like to do that, too.



P.S. Feel free to kick Daddy to get his attention because; A: it totally works, and B: he thinks it's hilarious when Anna does it, so I'm guessing he will like being kicked by you, too.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Brown Like Me...

Disclaimer: This post does not contain any mind-shattering revelations about race or ethnicity. In fact, in the end, this post is pretty inconclusive. But this is what is happening in our lives, and I would love to have some respectful input from others who are parenting children of a different skin color.

In our family, we have never focused much on the fact that Anna has brown skin. We readily acknowledge it, but we have never set out to point it out. We talk about colors and say that Anna's skin is brown and Abigail's skin is peach. But we also talk about Anna's brown eyes and Abigail's blue eyes, and the fact that both girls have pink lips and white teeth. It never really seemed to matter too much to Anna, and I really didn't want to push the idea of race on her before she was ready (although Abigail and I have talked about race quite a bit.)

Recently, though, Anna has been very excited when she sees other people who share her same skin tone. She is surprisingly accurate, too, pointing out people that are nearly the same skin tone as she is. "Look, Momma, she is brown like me!" Anna will exclaim, pointing at another little girl in line at W*lMart. She does not group herself with other Black children who are lighter in skin tone than she is- only those whose skin tone is within a shade or two of hers.

We then talk about all the nice things about person that she sees. Sometimes the person is a child, and we talk about her awesome braids or cool beads or fun clothes. Sometimes it is an adult, and we notice other things, like their purse or hat or the fact that they have such a nice smile. Sometimes we do point out things that aren't nice (one time we watched a little girl Anna's age throw a fit and kick her mother. That went into the NOT NICE category.) Her awareness has opened a door for us to begin to talk about race in the most elementary ways with her.

I am very sensitive to the way Anna is developing her ideas of race and her self-identity as a girl with brown skin whose family has peach skin. I want to help her create a healthy view of herself- one that is not limited or defined by the color of her skin, but also acknowledges and embraces her beauty as a Black child. I want her to be able to have a positive view that the color of her skin makes her unique in our family, but does not make her alone, isolated, or different. I also want her to be able to freely self-identify as an Ethiopian just as much as she does as an American or African-American. At the same time, I want her to be able to embrace the values and cultural norms that make our family ours. I don't know how to do this, and to be honest, I don't know if anyone really knows how to do this- there are a lot of theories, but very little that is proven.

The other day we were at the salon getting Anna's hair braided. Abigail and I stick out like sore thumbs with our fair skin, but I love that place! I love that the ladies sit and talk and laugh and carry on- something that you don't really get in a typical "white" salon. I enjoy talking to all the ladies there, and I feel that there is mutual respect and friendliness between us.

While we were there, the Tyra Banks Show started, and the topic was skin bleaching. I had heard of this practice, but really didn't understand it or think it was necessarily common. I certainly didn't think it was something that was practiced on children! While watching the show, Abigail and I were so upset! There were such lovely ladies and adorable children who felt the need to lighten their skin color because it was "better" in some way. Often, they could not even describe why they believed lighter skin was better, but a few described reasons such as getting more attention from the opposite sex, feeling more beautiful or being more conventionally beautiful, or believing that lighter skin was more socially acceptable or related to your ability to be successful. The mother of 3 young boys who uses bleaching creams on them daily said that she thinks lighter skin "makes a better presentation" and she felt it was important for them to have lighter skin to have people form a better opinion about them. The most troubling part was that these young children (ages 8, 6, and 4, I think) actually believed this about themselves!

The ladies in the salon were horrified, but could understand why the women on the show felt the way they did. They didn't condone the behavior, especially not when the mom was putting bleaching cremes on her children, but they understood it... they had certainly heard comments to the effect of "it's better to have lighter skin." Or the infamous "she's pretty... for a dark-skinned girl." These thoughts were a new reality for me... sure, I had heard that these things happened, but I had never seen or experienced anything like it, even though I grew up in a very diverse neighborhood and had friends of all different skin colors. It is still blowing my mind, and I cannot wrap my head around what I even think about all of this, even weeks after the fact.

So, why am I writing this post? Really, I am not sure. It is just so... much. I desperately want Anna to love the skin God gave her as much I do. I love her chocolaty skin, and the patina that makes her skin look like so soft and touchable. In fact, I think her skin is so much prettier than my own fair skin that shows every vein and blemish, and gets blotchy when I am cold or nervous. How do I help her see this and love this about herself, when apparently popular culture is sending the opposite message? Is it enough to talk about all the black women with dark skin that we admire? Are Michele Obama, Oprah, Condoleezza Rice, and Maya Angelou, not to mention historical figures like Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and Ruby Bridges enough?

More importantly, how do we help change our culture? Because whether your child is the only brown-skinned child in your family or simply the darkest-skinned in a family of many brown-skinned people, they need to hear the message that they are beautiful just the way they are. And while popular culture is making some strides in this area (see: Grace Jones, Rachel Williams, Ajuma, Alex Wek, or Krista, the winner of cycle 14 of America's Next Top Model), the majority of black women who share Anna's skin color are not known for their beauty.

I don't know. And this post is getting rambly. So I will leave it at that.