State of the Incubator, 34ish weeks

Before I get into the boringish pregnancy rambling, how about some general life updates? April was quite lovely, with visits from both grandmas and gorgeous weather at least most of the time. There are flowers everywhere (peonies! lilac!) and all our various fruiting plants are now gearing up – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and cherries all in our yard. Granted, we are having a heat wave now, so it’s like 96 out and I would like to please be submerged in a pool, but you can’t win ‘em all. I just took over lawn mowing duties from Kevin (turns out it’s not that hard? And he is severely allergic to grass, so it’s kind of terrible that it took me this long to step up), and bizarrely I am kind of enjoying things like weeding the yard. I think it’s because having an 18 mo old limits our ability to go on adventures every weekend, so the backyard beckons.

I got to go visit some friends last weekend, as my last hurrah before being baby grounded, and it was predictably awesome. Except that, at the moment, I suck even more at sleeping in places that are not my bed, but it was worth it anyways. I think I picked up a cold at some point along the way, which is incredibly cruel at this point in the gestational process. A racking cough doesn’t mix well with decreased bladder control, is what I’m saying. Makes me feel even luckier that I somehow made it through my entire pregnancy with Eliza without so much as a sniffle. I mean, I am willing to take most of the good drugs, because science told me I could, and they aren’t even WORKING. Total BS.

In work news, I went through the whole interview dog and pony show for my promotion from post-doc to grown up scientist this week. It’s kind of a funny promotion, because I dropped from full time to 60%, effectively resulting in a reduced salary despite the promotion. Obviously I don’t have to work as much, but I still have the same amount of stuff to get done, just in less time. It’s definitely a good thing, and the timing of being part time is pretty excellent. And I have a lot of opportunities to get involved with additional projects in the future, so will likely end up being full time eventually. At which point I will finally make more money than my husband, which matters not a whit, except we joke about it a lot since he has “just” a masters and I have a PhD. One day, many years from now when we’ve been working longer, I want to calculate how long it took for us to equal out in terms of income (i.e. see how much my degree “cost” me in lost income). I know that’s silly and inaccurate as we work in different fields and have different goals, but it is still interesting to think/joke about.

Anyways, my current plan is to keep working full-ish time as I am able, until the baby comes. This will give me a little additional time off in the form of flex time, up to two weeks if I’m lucky. With Eliza, I didn’t have maternity leave. I could have used FMLA and taken some unpaid leave, but at the time decided not to, for work/financial reasons. I flexed two weeks in full (i.e. made up the time after the fact by working overtime), and used all my vacation and sick time to get another couple weeks of part time. It wasn’t terrible, but I do think it contributed to some of the emotional upheaval and likely made breastfeeding even harder than it would have been otherwise.

This time, I’ll be able to take two weeks off with 100% pay (though one of those weeks is sick/vacation), then another 4ish weeks at 60% pay, and I may have those two weeks of flex time as well. The nature of my job is such that it is unlikely I’ll be completely disengaged from work, but I definitely intend to be home longer this time around. I’m still kind of appalled at how crappy the maternity leave set up is here – it’s better than the nothing I got as a post-doc (which, don’t get me started on how post-docs are usually during women’s late 20s-early 30s, and many have chosen to put off having kids until they have “real” jobs, and ahhhh grumble grumble), but still not good. And what’s even worse is it is way better than what many American women get, etc.

Ok that was a lot of general rambling. Moving right along to baby junk (as if that weren’t all baby junk):

Baby’s Size: I had an ultrasounds at 32 weeks, at which point baby was hovering around 55% for, um, size (height? weight? I don’t know, dude), and 10% for head size. Trying not to fret about that bit, as Eliza was proportional and we all know that if anything deviates from the first pancake, it is obviously going to be the END OF THE WORLD. (I know, I’m being absurd.) Anyways, baby apps say Spatwola is something like 4.75-5.5 lbs of increasingly chubby baby.

Sleep: Continues to be a challenge. Doctor O said I can start take up two four benadryl on top of my nightly unisom, so I’ve been taking 1-2 as I deem necessary and that has been helping (I don’t want to take all four before I have to, because I have SIX WEEKS of this left). But, IF I go to bed between 8 and 9pm, and IF I do not allow myself to read really interesting books after dinner (seriously, Eleanor & Park was too good), and IF I am lucky, it has been ok. I still get semi-hysterical every few days or so, just from being overly tired, but I feel like I know WHY and that makes it a little easier to deal with. Also, Kevin knows why, so he can make me take an emergency nap.

Food: At the moment, all I want is watermelon and corn on the cob, but I think that is a ‘today’ thing and not necessarily a hallmark of this week or stage or etc.

Movement: Oh my goodness, this kiddo can MOVE. Last time, I think I had a fully anterior placenta to give me some extra padding, and this time it is fully posterior. It is actually quite like those bizarro [fake] pictures, where you can see the hand pressing out. Ok, you can’t see that it’s a hand, but you can be damn sure it’s a hand or a foot and you can FEEL it so acutely (you being me, or any person who happens to be touching my stomach at the right time) and it is crazy. And also uncomfortable, but usually not painful, per se. This kiddo also likes to get up in my ribcage, which Eliza didn’t ever do. Basically, s/he is alllll over the place. Most active in the evenings, but today especially it’s just been an all day party. Also, I continue being able to feel big strong movements even when I’m bouncing around, jogging or something. That’s supposed to lull the fetus to sleep! Seriously, they tell you that you can tell if you are exercising too strenuously if you don’t feel the baby start moving 30 min after you stop whatever it is. I can feel the baby WHILE I AM RUNNING. So I guess running is fine.

Exercise: Well except I have been walking vigorously instead of running for the past two weeks, and this week I have a terrible cold so haven’t done anything. Switched from running because my calves hurt so much, of all things (probably they are confused as to why the rest of me weighs so much?), and also because I noticed that walking quickly on the rolling hills setting was basically equivalent to running slowly on mostly flat setting, and I figure it’s probably better for my glutes. Still doing weights etc., whee, ok.

Naming the kid: We still have our top three for each (Sawyer got booted from the boy list). I guess we should maybe come up with some possible middle names? Hmm.

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Posted in ephemera, gestating | 2 Comments

Eliza at 18 months

Eliza is 18 months old, and she is the best. She is occasionally also the worst, but mostly the best. I’m thinking about 95% best, yeah, that seems about right.

She wakes up every morning around 6 or 7, and putters around contentedly in her room until we come get her. She flops around on her bed, or puts various things in her hamper. She drags a little box around, and sits in it with her blankets and reads books to herself. Sometimes we just sit and watch her on the monitor for a little while, watch her do her thing, talking to herself and her toys. Eventually though, we go get her. Invariably, she greets us with an enthusiastic “HIiii!” like oh, I can’t believe you are here too! Isn’t this just the greatest! And then you pick her up, and she gives your arm a squeeze or a little pat on the back and it’s just the best.
toes!Unorthodox breakfast approach
She eats scrambled eggs with cheese for breakfast, or she doesn’t. Sometimes you can trick her by handing it over in taco form (gago!). Then it’s time to read all the books and play with all the toys! Her favorites these days are The Pout Pout Fish (blub blub blub!), Baby Talk (what’s sad baby say? hoo hoo!), and well, we keep hiding the terrible Winnie the Pooh book, but I guess I’d be remiss not to mention it. Her attention span is getting longer, and she interacts with the books, which is really fun.
She looooves basketball – we got her a toddler hoop, and we’d been turning on March Madness for a little while in the evenings. She recognizes basketball on TV IMMEDIATELY – like, from the sounds, even. And when we take walks in the neighborhood, she points out all the basketball hoops. If anyone is playing at the park, well, I hope they wanted a toddler to come help, because she will march right up.
She naps every day from 12 – 3, or does whatever she pleases up in her room. She goes to bed at 7 and sleeps all night long. I say these things not to brag, but to remember, because I’m so sure lightning won’t strike twice, and this next kiddo will not be near so fond of sleeping.
She is friendly, and fearless, and independent. She still hasn’t displayed an ounce of separation anxiety. Recently we took her to the kid center at the gym, and were hoping she would help her friend Lucy, who doesn’t like being left there quite so much, but instead as soon as we set her feet on the floor, she ran off (to the basketball hoop). Sorry Lucy, sink or swim! Happily, she is learning to actually play with her peers, instead of just existing near them – at a party recently, she and Lucy chased each other around for hours, giggling hysterically (just as all the adults were, watching them).
She thinks she can count, but she’s really just pointing at things and making up sounds. She’s totally obsessed with her belly button – she says hello to it every morning when we take her PJs off, and goodnight to it every night when we put them on again. She will stick her arm down her onesie to get to it, or try to feed it her lunch if she has unfettered access. She would be happy to show you where yours is, even if you are a stuffed animal or a pillow. She would also please like to have a bubble bath right now. And then let’s rough house – push her over, yeah, she loves that. The giggling, oh my heart.
butt tea!Happy in the tub
Eliza also bites and hits and chases the cats, and steals your water and dumps it everywhere or puts some asparagus in it while you aren’t looking. She bangs on the computer keys, and tries to eat your phone charger. She’ll smack you with a book if you don’t get started reading it fast enough, and come ON where is her peanut butter, I mean seriously. She will stick that crayon right in her mouth after you tell her no, eyes locked on yours, seeing what will happen next. She will lay herself very carefully down on the floor, and then kick her feet and wave her arms and cry.
Some of this stuff, this one and a half year old, developmentally normal yet still slightly terrifying stuff, is incredibly, indescribably frustrating. And some of it is so funny you have to leave the room so she won’t see you laugh. Sometimes it’s both. Sometimes you look at the clock and wonder how it’s only 8:30 am, and how you are going to get through the day with this tiny, insane person. Other days, it’s bed time before you know it, and you’re sad you have to wait till the next day to hang out with this amazing little person again.
Hi Bella!
Making friends through the fence
Posted in Miss Bear | 8 Comments

Naming Showdown! But less dramatic.

I’m apparently psychic! That’s what it means when one foresees a reasonably probable event, right? Yesterday, my brother texted me, asking us to please not use our #1 girl name. He was actually really nice about it – he recognized that I’m more pregnant, and if we have our hearts set on it, etc., it’s not worth fighting about. But that it was their #1 choice for their first kiddo, had he been a girl, and now they would like to use it for this one (which they know is a girl).

As soon as he asked, the name in question went from being my probably-favorite to my Actual Favorite, but I also immediately decided it was not worth fighting about, or even having bad/sad feelings about. I mentioned it to Kevin, who I expected to immediately concede, not least because I wasn’t sure he even LIKED the name that much. He said that we should get to use it, because my brother lost the bet and I still haven’t named any of his kids.

As I relayed this joke to my brother, I became aware that Kevin wasn’t actually joking. And that in his mind, though he had not yet shared it with me, this was The Name (should this baby be a girl). (This is how it went with Eliza, too – I mentioned it as a possibility to no great reaction, and several days or weeks later, Kevin casually said ok, her name is Eliza, moving along.) So I backpedaled a bit with my brother and said we would discuss it that night, but that I also certainly didn’t want to fight about this.

Simultaneously, I had mentioned this (not actual) drama on twitter, which spurred a really enjoyable discussion of naming Dos and Don’ts, as well as myriad delightful lady name suggestions. I found my twitter friends to have interesting and useful opinions on the subject of baby naming, as well as baby naming snafus. Swistle has certainly weighed in on each of these points before, but suddenly they apply to ME and well, it was all very interesting.

1. Most people didn’t think it was weird at all if cousins have the same name.
1a. This applied more for boys sharing a name than for girls sharing a name
1b. This applied more for cousins that were not close in age
1c. This applied more for large families with lots of cousins (and aunts/uncles).

2. Many people thought I should have dibs on the name, or on deciding we could both use it or similar versions of it, because I’m more pregnant than my SIL, but also thought it was not worth fighting over (or even just having anyone feel bad about).

3. A lot of people get around this issue by just never disclosing the baby’s name or potential names until birth. Which, obviously, we could have done, but it seemed so POSSIBLE that we might pick the same name that we decided to discuss it. And it happened!

4. Of the people that I actually asked, none of them thought it would be odd to name a girl baby after my living mother (OK, except the jewish people, for whom all living relatives are off limits as namesakes). I know this is done all the time for boy babies and their grandpas, and even fairly regularly for girl babies and their great-grandmas (i.e. my grandma), but it seems like my mom’s name (Holly! I love that name!) would be weird to use. Well! Consensus (and Swistle herself!) say I am wrong. (That said, this name did not end up on our top three list this go round.)

5. Pretty much no one thought it was weird for two close friends to name their children the same name. This made me happy – I think that would be neat!

6. Most people thought someone else using your kid’s name is a compliment at best, and insignificant at worst. LOTS of people said, over and over again, you don’t own a name!
6a. Except sometimes when bad things happen, like miscarriages, etc., and then tread lightly.

Anyway, all of this certainly appears on Swistle’s blog, as this is her thing, I just really enjoyed talking about it for my specific situation. Which, I should add, we resolved easily last night. I think my bro and SIL asking to have that name (and the resulting twittering) kicked our butts into gear: we had a good and fruitful discussion last night. I think we have solid, agreed upon top threes for both boy and girl. I’m not sure we will pick or even rank the top threes before the baby comes, which sounds kind of fun but also crazy. Also, they are still subject to change, especially the boy names, because boy names are haaard.

SO. I am definitely not at liberty to share the name we are NOT using, because now that belongs to Johnny and Kim and is theirs to share. We DID divulge Eliza’s name once we chose it, and didn’t have any issues with people expressing negative opinions about it. Obviously this time we can’t CHOOSE the final name, because we don’t know what kind of baby it is, but I’m still debating sharing our contenders. I don’t particularly give a shit if people (even family! hi family!) don’t like them, so I’m not terribly concerned with people saying as much (who does that, anyways? JERKS, that’s who.) And I don’t believe in name theft – there’s room for everyone!

So yeah, I’m doing it. We haven’t picked out middles yet, but here are our top three girl and boy first names, in no particular order:

Ladies: Zora, Penelope (Penny), Hazel

Gents: Grady, Sawyer, Caleb, Wesley OK FINE THAT’S FOUR WHATEVER.

Posted in gestating | 20 Comments

State of the Incubator – 29 weeks

I was checking my old posts from my pregnancy with Eliza, and while I neglected to record many thoughts from the third trimester, the 27 and 37 week posts indicate that I was doing a little better at this point last time. I’m irritated with past me for leaving a partial record, but current and future me seem to be doing just about as well, eh? Well, here is a token effort.

Baby’s Size: At my 28 weeks ultrasound a week ago, baby was measuring at 48% for size. They didn’t give me more detail and I failed to be inquisitive. Various baby apps peg that at something like 2.5 – 3 pounds, and 15″ long or so. I believe Eliza was usually running around 60%, or was close to the end. Based on this information and nothing else, I have decided that small baby = girl.

Sleep: is increasingly terrible and hard to come by. I have been going to bed by 8:00 or 8:30 for the past week and half, and it has helped a bit, but I’m still irritated that I apparently have to spend 10-11 hours in bed to get 7-8 hours of sleep, if that. I seem to be able to get a decent night’s rest every third night or so at this point. That is a downgrade from the past month or so, when it was every other night. This means that I am vaguely hysterical 2/3 of the time, by the way, as inadequate sleep seems to short circuit my rational brain. Sorry, citizens of the world, especially Kevin! However, Tuesday night I was in bed at 7:30, paaaassed out by 8:30, and even though I woke up a fair amount, I was downright PEPPY all day yesterday. Kind of like when I get into some caffeine. Not psyched about the early bed time, but if it works, it works.

Food: I remember clearly from my pregnancy with Eliza that my sweet tooth completely skipped town until the very end. This time, it came back around 25 weeks, and there have been a lot of baked goods in my life since then. Mmmm apple crisp.

Movement: This baby is all about barrel rolls and flipping around and pushing on me. Not much jabbing and kicking. So far it hasn’t done much of anything that is painful (Eliza, by comparison, enjoyed kicking the hell out of my cervix, which sucked a lot), so this baby is ok by me. It does seem stronger than Eliza, so based on this and nothing else I’ve decided it’s a boy.

Exercise: As I mentioned in my whiny freak out the other day, with Eliza, I basically stopped exercising altogether around 5 months when I couldn’t play frisbee anymore (i.e., when people were uncomfortable playing frisbee with me). After that, all I really did was take long walks sporadically, and do some hiking here and there. Nothing consistent at all. This time around, I’d been doing weight training for a few months before I got pregnant, and have kept that up twice a week. I also ran a 5k with some friends in New Orleans, and enjoyed myself so much that I’ve also been running (on a treadmill, mostly) twice a week, much to my surprise. I’m definitely slowing down considerably – I’ve gone from 10:00 to 11:30 or 12:00 min per mile, and I’m having to stop and walk on the treadmill every so often now – but I’m still doing it. And I’m kind of enormously proud of myself, likely more than is warranted. I actually ran outside on Sunday, and it was beautiful out and I ran slow as hell and oh it was just really nice. I am hoping I can keep this up, but I’ll be pretty damn surprised if I manage it – I’m getting kind of whaley, so that makes things challenging and also kind of absurd. I assume I will switch to swimming at some point.

Regardless, I’m really hoping that continuing to work out will keep me from losing such an absurd amount of muscle mass after the kiddo arrives. I was verging on waifish after Eliza, which is NOT my body type, and I seriously hated how weak I was. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was obviously lovely to just lose all the baby weight, but I ended up in an unhealthy spot – fat skinny, as the kids sometimes call it, probably offending loads of people. I know that I haven’t even regained the muscle I had prior to E, but definitely it’s a lot better. I also hope that I will recover more quickly from the whole birth part – it took me a full six weeks to be able to do much of anything without swelling in my legs and feet, and considerable pain during and after. No thank you. I would rather lose the weight more slowly than struggle with the activities I enjoy (sports! give me back my sports!).

Naming the kid: Oh lord, don’t even get me started. We finally actually sat down and had a naming discussion, but I am not sure we got anywhere. Except the realization, somehow totally escaped last time, that we have inverted naming styles. I like less common lady names and very common boy names; Kevin likes common lady names and uncommon boy names. So, you know, probably we will decide when forced, or never. Adding a layer of fun/stress (mostly fun), my bro and SIL are due with a baby girl a few weeks after us, and we have decidedly similar naming styles: Henry (Hank, my nephew) is one of my fave boy names ever, and Lucy (my niece) is definitely up there for the ladies. Hopefully we can avoid a naming showdown

So there you have it, future me! 29 weeks pregnant, the second time around.

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29 weeks! This baby is running out of space.

Posted in gestating | 10 Comments

Easter weekend

We had an unexpectedly lovely weekend, and I actually managed to take some pictures, so that seems like the perfect storm for a blog post. The weather has been stunning the past week or so – highs in the mid 70s, sunny, and everything is just starting to bloom. Gorgeous spring, and thank goodness because my jacket almost doesn’t zip up anymore.

Saturday morning started off with a family walk to Starbucks. Then we went to an easter egg hunt organized by one of Kevin’s coworkers. We weren’t really expecting Eliza to get it, but she did! Though mostly she wanted to swing (girlfriend LOVES swinging). She had her first jellybeans, which she thought were almost as awesome as swinging.

Saturday afternoon was not notable, except for once again learning the lesson that Susie will get completely stir crazy if there are four hours of awake baby with no excursions or activities.

Sunday we repeated our Starbucks walk, and on the way back ran into our next door neighbors. They invited us over for Easter lunch, which means even though I did not plan a damn thing, I got to eat delicious spiral cut ham. And have a baby glass of wine. And wear a cute dress I failed to be photographed in for posterity. And talk to grown ups I am not related to. Win! Lunch was during Eliza’s nap, so we plopped her in her room and then ran next door, watching her on the video monitor. This is part of why I want to be best friends with our next door neighbors: not only are they awesome, but next door is close enough to being in our actual house that it is basically equivalent. Not restrained by baby schedule! Best! I wonder if the wild internet will fall into the two distinct traps I set in this paragraph?

After lunch and nap time, we somehow tricked our neighbors’ six year old daughter into raking our back yard. She negotiated an hourly rate of $0.25 for herself, and did about an hour’s worth of actually seriously useful work, for which we ended up giving her two shiny quarters (I would have gladly forked over $10). She was DELIGHTED, and so was I. Kevin was weeding and raking and overseeing, and I chased Eliza around the backyard. Our backyard needs some serious love and attention (read: to be mostly ripped out and made anew, aieeee), but this was a start.

Then we collected her parents and all went to the park, where the nicest and most tolerant golden retriever let Eliza crawl all over him for an hour. Got home just in time for Eliza to take a bath (girl was DIRTY) and hop into bed. So that was basically the perfect day.

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Posted in ephemera, Miss Bear | 5 Comments

Going Down Swinging/Whining

It is 6:30 am on Saturday, and I am already having a day. I seem to have reached the phase of pregnancy where I am sleeping poorly. I don’t really remember when this happened last time, but it culminated in me being incapable of working a full day without a nap, and ultimately getting my membranes stripped five days shy of 40 weeks because I was falling apart. While I will possibly feel guilty about for the rest of eternity (I took the baby out of the oven before it was done cooking! AHHH! Everything bad that ever happens to her is my fault!).

Sleep is my thing. I mean, obviously, it is sort of important to me. I’m not saying that it’s more important for me than it is for you or you or you, but maybe yes I am. Kevin, god bless the man, seems to understand this fully, and does his best to send me to bed early even if there are chores he’ll have to do alone because of it. But early is getting ridiculous over here – I think the responsible thing for me to do, now, is to push my bed time back to 8. EIGHT. That is not cool. I know I didn’t take such drastic measures last time, though it is plausible I should have. I hate going to bed so early – I don’t get any fun evening time to hang out with my husband (or anyone else), I can’t do anything much productive.

And it feels like an awful waste, because I’m not sleeping well. I know that is WHY I should go to bed early, but ugh. Last night I was up completely for three hours (1-4), and slept fitfully otherwise, and actually punched Kevin for BREATHING too loud. Yes, he snored kind of quietly for a few minutes, but after that he was really just breathing. And I totally punched him. And then I threw something at the cat for purring. Because I hate joy, and I hate other people sleeping successfully when I am not.

And that’s the thing – when I’m not sleeping well, I end up in a negativity spiral (also this) and everything is terrible, so here are the things I am freaking out about this morning, that are all either irrational or unproductive to freak out about, and I know this, but I cannot stop, because I AM TIRED HULK SMASH.

1. Our favorite cat will not stop peeing on the carpet. In the living room. In my closet. Multiple times a day. She does not have any medical issues. She is doing it for fun (read: probably because Eliza stresses her the fuck out).  I am starting to struggle with cleaning the carpet often/thoroughly enough (because: shaped like a bowling ball, I do not bend well). Kevin’s schnozz/sinus situation means he can’t smell it, therefore not a good candidate for cleaning it up. My house is starting to smell like cat pee. I cancelled on having friends for dinner on Sunday because my house SMELLS, someone just shoot me.

2. Running is getting really hard – I had to run/walk at the gym this week, and OF COURSE it was the week I finally run into coworkers there, and there I am flailing on the treadmill, WHATEVER – and so I am, obviously, convinced I will now gain another 20-30 pounds in the remaining three months (less than! holy shit!) of this pregnancy, and never lose it, and oh god everything will be terrible. EVEN THOUGH last time that didn’t happen, and last time I didn’t even bother running or anything else, and I can still do other stuff, and whatever – YOU try to maintain rational thought in the face of upper arm cellulite. JUST TRY. It doesn’t work.

3. Work is a rollercoaster – I’m going to get hired soon! But only part time so it’s a financial wash or even hit! But woo, flexible schedule and correct valuation of my time/worth! But wait, sequestration means I might get “furloughed” for a month and half holy shit instead of getting hired anytime soon! Oh but we found a little extra money so it should be fine, just delay actually hiring me! GAH. Things should be fine. Our grant will get funded, of this I am sure, it’s just the timing is all effed up and unnecessarily stressful, thank you congress. But it is making shit hard – I’m not sure I’ll be able to get students this summer, I’m not sure I’ll get officially hired before the baby comes (which means I’m not sure I’ll get maternity leave, but screw you world, I’m taking maternity leave this time, I don’t even care what you say slash pay me for).

4. Our wonderful, fantastic nanny will NOT STOP buying shit for our kid. We have asked her not to, from multiple angles, and yet. I understand, I do – I impulse buy stuff for E sometimes. Clothes, toys, I get it. But, oh. We have too much stuff. I feel bad when I want to get rid of stuff and some of it was purchased by my nanny, my nanny who I am perfectly aware doesn’t make much money because we are constantly trying to re-budget so we can pay her more (but oh god, see #3). So she is spending her hard earned cash on stuff for my kid. Stuff my kid does not need. Sometimes stuff we don’t like. And really, all that aside, we are starting to get to that point where we are worried about spoiling E, about E growing up always having everything she wants immediately, and even stuff she doesn’t want. We have PLENTY of toys, PLENTY of clothes. We don’t need anything else. I mean there are toys all over this house, and she doesn’t play with half of them. Once the newness wears off, it gets chucked in a corner and she is back to her old standbys – balls, the mailing tube, the dish towels. Ugh so anyways, I don’t want to hurt our nanny’s feelings, but how how HOW do we get this to stop?

5. When should our parents come visit? I’m due June 19th. They will be road tripping. Should they show up early to hang out with Eliza before her world gets flipped upside down? Should they show up once the baby is here? Last time mom and MIL were in the delivery room, which was surprisingly a) fine with me, and b) actually kind of nice, and also c) I think they found it meaningful/cool, so I wouldn’t necessarily mind doing that again. But baby timing! Is so mysterious! I am too type A for trying to schedule a mysterious event that could theoretically occur sometime in a five week window omg!

6. Our yard needs a team of professionals to deal with the weeds and put down new weed guard and oh my god I am not mature enough to own a house. Also, I’m just sure that the roof will cave in or some major appliance will explode/stop working at a critical juncture in the next several months, because obviously. My money is on the refrigerator. No, the air conditioner. I can’t pick.

7. I’ll save you this part, but insert a bunch of increasingly absurd things to worry about, like whether we are ruining our child with electronics, or how we will deal with it when she starts texting and using social media, or if we are saving enough for college, or retirement, or AHHH NEGATIVITY SPIRAL SAVE ME.

Posted in ephemera, gestating, neuroses | 14 Comments

Brain Dump: Seven Not Quick Takes

Things have been busy, but I don’t want to forget some things that have happened lately.

1. We took a trip to Leavenworth a few weeks (ok, a month) ago. Our plan was to go snow shoeing around Lake Wenatchee, but we got totally derailed. In the past, Eliza has been quite tolerant of long car rides and cruising around in the ergo, napping on the go, generally allowing us to do whatever we want. (We are perfectly aware that this was incredible luck.) Because of a lot of holiday travel and work and early pregnancy fatigue, we hadn’t been able to go on any winter adventures so far this season. Last year we took her snow shoeing and hiking and camping quite a bit, and I’m sure the several month hiatus got her out of the groove of such things. Not to mention, just her age – she is in that difficult range of high mobility, and relatively low verbal ability. She understands a lot but can’t say that much, and gets frustrated very easily. Totally normal, but I suppose that makes the prospect of being stuck in a car seat or toted around through places she’d rather run and play a little more challenging. So, we had to bail on the snow shoeing, and ended up moseying around town for a few hours instead. This was actually kind of great, because I never ever make time for that kind of excursion. Like, I don’t think I’ve EVER intentionally done the tourist thing. We did that, then stayed a delightful bed and breakfast (Autumn Pond) where E FLIPPED because the room was decorated with stuffed bears and ducks. On Sunday, we let her play in the rapidly melting snow (I will never be able to understand Washington’s microclimates, I swear to god) and moseyed around town a bit more before heading home. It wasn’t the weekend we planned on, but was great nonetheless.

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2. I talked about all this on twitter yesterday, but it’s sort of insane so it’s going here too. Someone at work got diagnosed with whooping cough, and chances are reasonably good that I was in contact (i.e. close-ish proximity) with them while they were contagious. So I called my OB yesterday, was given kind of a wishy washy response about maybe getting re-vaccinated at the health department, and then called my GP instead. See, I can’t remember when I got my last TDap. I KNOW. I am, let’s say, 95% sure it was in 2010, but it’s plausible it was before that. Basically, I was sure enough that it was within five years of when I was pregnant with Eliza, but I am no longer sure enough. Hearing this, my GP was like “GET YOUR ASS OVER HERE” and stayed open an extra half hour to give me a shot, and preventative antibiotics. While I was there, the doctor started explaining that one of the concerns with a pregnant lady getting whooping cough is actually that the severe coughing can irritate the uterus into premature labor. And followed that up with the craziest story I have ever heard: the youngest preemie so far at our NICU here was born at 24 weeks and change (now is two-ish and totally fine) when his mother had a coughing fit in the midst of swimming laps. The baby was born in the caul, in the pool. The baby was then transported – still in his amniotic house, still attached to mom – to the hospital, and transferred to an incubator. Now, I haven’t verified this story (what, I’m not an investigative journalist OR a doctor) (well, not that kind), but is that not INSANE? I mean, I don’t know about you, but I have a mental image – a CARTOON – of a [perfectly healthy and happy] tiny baby, floating in his amniotic sac, floating in a pool, next to mom. Who is also floating, just for good measure. I know that cannot possibly be accurate, but there we are. I plan to ask my OB next week if he has a) heard this story, b) if it’s true at all, and c) if it’s even plausible.

3. Speaking of babies and my OB, I had my appointment with the perinatologist last week. Spatula 2.0 appears to be perfectly healthy, developing normally, all organs the correct size, shape, and location, etc. This was what we expected based on the first ultrasound at my OB’s, but was still nice to hear. That means that we are still dealing the single umbilical artery, but it is definitely isolated (i.e. not appearing in conjunction with any other malformations or abnormalities), so the associated risks are less severe. The baby and I will be monitored a little more closely towards the end of gestation, because the SUA causes low but significant rates of fetal growth restrictions and earlier labor, but I don’t think any of that will start happening till 36 weeks or so, even. Some of the outcomes that were freaking me out when I originally wrote about this are still statistically relevant to this situation, but I’m feeling pretty at peace with the whole thing now. It’s all low percentage stuff, and there isn’t anything I can do about any of it, and applying all those statistics to myself specifically is both scientifically absurd and completely unproductive. So, moving along, etc.

4. We still haven’t even started talking names for this kiddo. It seems so far away, but we have three months. Plenty of time, but not if we don’t actually make an effort! My sister in law is pregnant right now too, ~ six weeks behind me (but had her last baby four weeks early!), which adds an interesting monkey wrench to the name game. They just found out they are having a girl. I am not sure if they will tell me their name choice when they make it or not. We have similar naming styles, though, so just knowing they might have the same names floating around on their list is weighing on me. Not that we have a list, hah.

5. Eliza. Oh, Eliza. I am hoping I can muster up the focus to do an 18 month state of the bear address, but my track record lately has been pretty terrible. She is SO FUN, and also SO CHALLENGING. Well, not that challenging really, in the grand scheme of toddlers, just more than she has been. Also, she bites now, and I think that means karmic retribution is a real thing.

6. Work stuff is happening over here. It looks like I will be promoted from post-doc to staff scientist in the next month or two (YAY), but also go from full time to part time because of funding issues (BOO but also YAY). The place I work has much higher overhead costs than academic institutions, so the cost to cover employee salary/benefits/etc. is a good bit higher. Going from post-doc to staff approximately triples those costs (because of the cost to the company of benefits, more than salary, it’s not like my salary triples, HA), so a lot more grant money is needed. This all means that I will have about 50-60% coverage, i.e. that I can work about 50-60% of full time. That said, I have that much coverage lined up for about five years. Before the economy took a nose dive, this would have been phenomenal and I would have been hired full time no problem, but now it’s much harder to gamble on me being able to fill out my dance card. The timing of this is obviously kind of great, though. If this pregnancy is like my last one, in another two months I will be completely exhausted and struggling to make it through an 8 hour work day. Then in three months, I will get actual maternity leave (ok, short term disability, but it’s SOMETHING and it’s PAID), and then be able to work a reduced schedule and spend a bit more time with my kiddos. None of this sucks. Being part time, at least till the end of the year, sounds like a boon, and there is an excellent chance I’ll be able to find new projects to get involved with, and more funding. Or that I will love the flexibility of working a little less. We’ll see how it all turns out.

7. Here’s me today (26w2d), being pregnant.

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Posted in ephemera, gestating, Uncategorized | 19 Comments

Lighter Fare

Ok, I didn’t mean to leave the downer post up for that long, so let’s move along. Some people asked me why my fetus’ has been dubbed Spatula. Not just Spatula, even, but Spatula II. Well, what had happened was, a long time ago (200..5?), I was having dinner with my parents, my brother, and his fiance. Somehow, the subject of offspring came up, and my brother and I made a bet on who would procreate first. Seems like a dumb bet – obviously he’d win, since he was about to get married. BUT WAIT. The winner was actually the one who remained child free the longest. The stakes? If J lost (the obvious outcome!), he’d have to be my financial planner for life, free of charge or whining. If I somehow lost, he could name my kid. I was pretty confident that was impossible, considering I was dating a jerk and planning on having kids approximately never in my life. I thought little of the potential names we all laughed over that evening, and even served up my own suggestion to illustrate how fine I was with the stakes: Spatula.

Well, I did win the bet – my nephew Hank was born in 2009 – but I lost the war. Johnny totally whined about helping me with my first ever investments, AND when I got pregnant in 2011, Spatula was the first name on everyone’s minds. Ok, that’s not exactly fair. I actually announced the pregnancy to my family by texting a picture of a spatula with no explanation. I even have a little spatula necklace (that I never wear, but I have it!). Also, my nephew was dubbed Broccoli in utero, so I guess we are even. J’s second kiddo was also announced through a picture of some broccoli florets, so this joke will evidently continue for some time, and I’m totally fine with that.

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Posted in ephemera, gestating, Miss Bear | 10 Comments

Anatomy of a Cord

Yesterday was my twenty week anatomy scan, and so far everyone has asked if we stuck to our guns about not learning the sex – yep, and it was easy. As I mentioned, because Eliza’s in utero attempts to keep her face covered left her other parts rather more evident, I assumed I’d have to avert my eyes. Spatula II was more (less?) cooperative though, wiggling around and showing off everything but the goods, so the surprise remains a surprise.

In the US, it seems like the twenty week scan has become so strongly associated with finding out the sex that it’s easy to forget that isn’t really the point. The point is to check on fetal growth and development – make sure all the organs look like they are supposed to, and so forth. Well. Spatula’s organs all looked great, but there was one thing slightly amiss – the umbilical cord only has one artery, instead of the customary two (in addition to one vein, which was thankfully/obviously present) – an abnormality called Single Umbilical Artery (SUA). Because my appointment went on for THREE HOURS before I actually got to talk to the doctor, I had time to do some preliminary googling, and was pretty relaxed about what I learned. Because they hadn’t noticed any other anatomical abnormalities, it is unlikely to mean much of anything. This was reiterated by the doctor, though he is sending me to get an additional ultrasound at the perinatologist, to double check that all of Spatula’s organs are fine.

So that’s all well and good, but I’m a research scientist, and one who spends a fair amount of time focused on fetal development (though usually more in terms of what chemicals do (or don’t do) to that process). I couldn’t just leave it at the preliminary googling, or take the doctor’s “don’t worry about it” to heart. Nope, had to delve into the primary literature. And wouldn’t you know, I’ve freaked myself right out. (Though I will say, I remain less freaked out that I was – over nothing! – during my pregnancy with Eliza.)

SUA is the most common cord defect, affecting somewhere around 1% of pregnancies. Because it occurs so frequently, and is often the only thing “wrong” (called Isolated SUA), some actually refer to it as a normal variant rather than a defect. That said, there are a number of studies from the past decade or so, a few of which are larger scale epidemiology studies, that have found it to be significantly associated with a number of issues, relating both to the pregnancy itself (earlier delivery, polyhydramnios, placental issues, higher c-section rates) as well as fetal outcomes (fetal growth restriction, lower birth weight, low Apgar scores, and the scary stuff – increased rates of fetal and perinatal death).

I think I’m mostly freaked out because though the numbers for all of these issues are very low, and the odds are certainly that my pregnancy and our baby will be perfectly fine, I still read the damn numbers. And yeah, some of them are legitimately scary (3.35% rate of perinatal death! HOLY BALLS), but the thing is… the control number is scary, too (1%). Like, both of those are REAL NUMBERS. I mean, you know how a lot of doctors tell you not to take pseudoephedrine when you’re pregnant? That’s based on a (kind of shitty) study that had an adverse outcome rate of 1 in 2300, or 0.04%, for a non-life threatening, fixable defect. THAT is a small number. 3.35% is not small. 1% isn’t even small. I know 100 women with children! AIEEEEE. And then I think about it, and I know women who are part of that control group. I mean, MY MOM had a very late miscarriage, and would have counted in one of these control categories.

And that reminds me that these (and many, many other) things DO happen, we just don’t really talk or think about them much. And in the case of the less serious issues, many of them get resolved either at the end of pregnancy, or early in a child’s life, and don’t necessarily come up after that – they eventually get overshadowed by things happening now. She’s smiling! Guess what he said yesterday! Holy crap, time for college! A person ends up being way more multifaceted than some thing that happened to them when they were born. (Even if that thing maybe leaves a bit of an impression on one’s parents.)

When I was in grad school, learning about fetal and childhood development for the first time, I remember wondering how ANYONE could come out of the whole process unscathed. It is seriously amazing. Development is AMAZING and complex and so much has to go right! AND IT DOES (usually) (even if you take the good cold medicine, or have a slightly jenky umbilical cord). It is amazing.

I don’t know how I just talked myself from freaked out to amazed, but I’m going to run with it.

Posted in gestating, medical anomaly, neuroses | 13 Comments

Halfway There

So, I’m 20 weeks pregnant. Halfway there. I feel the need to mark the occasion in some way, despite being a whole lot less navel gazey this time around. Time is moving much faster, to no one’s surprise – my cup is pretty full, what with Eliza added into the mix, and my free time is minimal. But I’m also WAY LESS WORRIED about every damn little thing this time. With Eliza, I was convinced something bad would happen. I was keeping her alive with the power of my worry. Even though I knew, rationally, that I could exercise and eat fairly normally, I wasn’t able to stop worrying about every little twinge, over analyzing every ache and pain. I was also kind of detached about the whole thing – viewing it (HER) as more of a fascinating scientific phenomenon that happened to be occurring in my abdomen. I was terrified I wouldn’t be attached to her when she was born, terrified of post-partum depression. That was a big reason I was so keen to find out the sex of the baby, to name her – so I could work on using her name when I talked about her, instead of saying “it” and “the fetus.”

In my last pregnancy, I also let fear dictate a lot of my behavior, in ways that didn’t end up being healthy. Even though I knew and understood what science had to say about a lot of touchy subjects – exercise, what [not] to eat – I couldn’t overcome irrational thought patterns about them. A lot of that is maybe because science says one thing, but a lot of healthcare professionals say another. For example, I had several nurses tell me that I should make sure not to let my heart rate get above 135 bpm. When they said it, I KNEW it was absurd – that “guideline” was debunked years ago, and wasn’t based on science in the first place, but it’s still bandied about as gospel. At the time I even asked my OB, who told me that it was absurd, and that I would pass out before anything bad happened to the fetus, if I were exercising too hard. He said (and research supports) that you should just listen to your body. If you feel dizzy, stop whatever it is and sit. Stay hydrated, don’t get too crazy hot, but stay active. I knew all of that! But I was so hyperfocused, listening to my body, that I let every twinge (most of which were totally normal! would have been twinging even if not pregnant!) freak me out. At first I told myself I would do better once I could just feel the baby, that would be reassuring. But by that point, not only had I been sitting on my butt for too long, I was also freaked out that I couldn’t feel her while I was exercising. Like hey, maybe that’s because my mind was elsewhere? NOPE, gotta be something disastrous. I was the same way about food. I wouldn’t eat lunch meat, even though I craved it, even though listeria is more common in fresh fruit, and super uncommon in the first place. Instead? I ate Taco Bell and Wendy’s all the time. Good decisions! (Nothing against fast food; it’s delicious. Just… I’d prefer I not eat it many times a week.)

Anyways, this time, I’m not really worried at all. Not that I don’t still recognize the risks and possibilities, I’m just a lot more accepting of them – whatever happens, happens. I’m exercising just as I have been for the past year – turns out I’ve always stopped when I get dizzy or too hot, because hey, that’s unpleasant! I’m eating whatever I want, in moderation. I’m not anxious. I still don’t particularly like being pregnant, or anything – it’s limiting in some ways and not terribly comfortable – but now that my headaches are basically gone, I’m not nearly as whiny about it. Mostly just the fatigue, but I whine about that even when I’m not pregnant. I’m hopeful that exercise will mitigate some of the discomfort of the later months, but we’ll see when I get there. I know all of this zen nonsense could just be a side effect of this particular pregnancy; I don’t think I’m “doing it right” this time or anything like that. But I’m happier this time around, it’s easier, it’s all good. I’ll take it, and I hope it continues.

Ok, that pretty much nullified the “less navel gazing” claim, but whatever. Other stuff: I can feel the baby moving pretty well now. It’s gone from gentle flutters that I was feeling on and off from about week 15, to more jabs and kicks that even Kevin has been able to feel for a week or two. Doesn’t hurt yet, but no longer exactly pleasant! Very distracting when I’m trying to work and fall asleep, but also neat. Headaches are still basically gone, which is awesome. I need about nine hours of sleep every night if I want to function at all, which sounds lovely and luxurious, but is logistically painful. Kevin only needs six hours! Think of everything I could do! This is why I refuse to feel bad that he does most of the chores, lately. I get an hour and a half tops of time to unwind and do chores in the evenings before I need to be in bed. Anatomy scan is tomorrow, which is when we would find out sex, but we have decided we don’t want to know. I am half convinced we’ll find out anyways, just because of my experience with Eliza. She always showing off the goods, to the point that we never saw her head, ever, the whole time. We haven’t started talking names yet, because June still feels so far away – two whole seasons, basically! – but we will soon. And I think that just about covers it.

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Now with hastily snapped photo.

Posted in gestating | 19 Comments