Mama Duck
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Thursday, July 31, 2003

Full term, tomorrow

I'm 37 weeks tomorrow, so full term. The midwife at today's appointment assured me that most first babies arrive in the week after their due date, so I shouldn't be expecting the duck to make his grand entrance anytime soon. She did, though, say that his head had dropped, though not as much as it probably would eventually. He continues to move and stretch, so he seems to still be liking it inside. I still have much to get ready at work, so I'm not in a hurry for him to arrive either. Plus we went out to dinner tonight, and I had a flash realization that soon, very soon, we're not going to have our same lives. It's a little spooky.

posted by Mama Duck7:17 PM


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Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Baby shower

We had our first baby shower yesterday. My husband's co-workers planned a get-together over lunch with cake, punch, ice cream, games and presents. It was a really lovely party, and I was touched by the generosity and thoughtfulness of the people who planned and attended, many of whom I'd never met before. We received many lovely gifts, including ones given by in-the-know parents for things it would never occur to us that we'd need, like a cushion for the plastic bath tub, and an infant rear-view mirror so we can see the kid in the back seat.

Best of all, though, was the group gift of our car seat. I'd registered for the Graco Snugride, the Consumer Reports best pick, at Babiesrus, since they were the only place that carried the color I liked, Heatwave. A young single guy that my husband works with volunteered to pick up the gift at the store. He said he felt very odd shopping at Babiesrus, and was worried he'd picked out the wrong seat since there were so many of them. He felt reassured, though, both that he'd picked the right one and we had too, when the woman in front of him in line was using the exact same one.

The best thing about having the car seat, though, is that it's one more thing that means we're about as ready as we're going to be. You aren't allowed to leave the hospital if you don't have one, so now we do. Next stop, I think, is a fire department so we can have it installed properly. Too many people do it wrong, I've read, so I'll leave this to the professionals.

posted by Mama Duck4:37 PM


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Tuesday, July 29, 2003

It takes all kinds

When we started our birth class, I wrote about the collection of couples--some yuppies like my husband and me, a young woman and her mom, a woman and her female partner, and a very young couple.

The young couple stopped attending after the second class. The instructor called them, and reported that they were fine and might be back before the end. Last night was our last class, and the young man from the couple was in the parking lot when we arrived. He said he had a gift for those of us in the class, and handed us a grocery bag full of documents and said not to open it till we got home.

He wished us well and we did the same. We did not, however, wait till we got home to open the bag, which contained a slew of propaganda--some saying how the Al-Quaida threat was manufactured by our own goverment, others on Satan, and others spewing anti-Semitic rhetoric.

The experience was jarring. I know it's naive to believe that all narrow-minded intolerant people can be distinguished by their appearance and behavior. Instead, here was a skinny, polite and good-looking guy, who had attended birth classes with his quiet, attractive and polite pregnant partner. I'd pegged them for two sweet kids who'd gotten pregnant and were trying to make a go of it, not right-wing zealots. It's a useful reminder that appearances and behavior aren't everything. And it's a sobering thought that these two will be bringing a child into the world and raising it in an environment of intolerance and half truths.

We've recycled the reading material. And we'll likely be raising our kid in a very different way than they will raise theirs. But I still wish them well, and a happy birth experience.

posted by Mama Duck5:16 PM


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Monday, July 28, 2003

Week 36


Sorry it's been a while since I posted. Everything is fine, but busy. We had our carpet cleaned over the weekend and had to wait for it to dry before assembling our new computer desk, from which I'm typing right now, and a glider. We've now got a closing date for our re-financing, and an appointment to meet with a pediatrician that someone from work recommended. We haven't seen a roach, dead or alive, for several days.

Work, though, is another story. In my perfect fantasy world I would be completely and utterly prepared to go at any time, leaving both my boss and my employees enveloped in a warm cocoon of taken-care-of-ness.

Thus far, I'm not there. Not even close.

Things have been crazy busy lately, and I've been covering for various people, plus doing my usual thing. These have left precious little time to prepare. Also, my office was under construction for the past three weeks, so I was out of it and in someone else's, which was less than efficient. But I returned today to not just one but two (two!) lovely windows that were previously covered by a wall, and a really nice view. So the time out of office was most definitely worth it.

My hope is that this week I can do what I need to do at work in order to feel prepared by Friday. At home, and in relation to giving birth and being a parent, I am feeling relatively prepared--about as prepared as I could be without having unrealistic expectations. Work, though, is hanging over my head. And I don't want to go through another weekend without having more of a plan there in place. So I think I'm going to try to go in early and stay late this week to try and make that happen.

Without, though, overdoing it. Today was yet another day that I didn't quite get it right. I made a trip to Target to pick up a few things and get a new 6-pack of water. Then I got back to the office and started moving my stuff from the temporary office back to my real one. I'd had heartburn all morning, and all the activity added round ligament cramps to the fun for all afternoon. I'm feeling much better now, but if I'm going to be able to be at work long enough to have a practical plan for my leave, I'm going to have to take things a bit easier this week. Work, though, and easy are two words that just aren't going together lately. We'll see if I make it. I've got my fingers crossed.

posted by Mama Duck7:46 PM


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Wednesday, July 23, 2003
Good news

First today we visited a lawyer to see about setting up a will. We'd been referred to him by our financial planner. Not only did we like him, but it will cost less than half of what we were expecting.

Second, as I've mentioned, we've had roach problems. Our building management swears that it isn't us. They gave me a little bit of a problem when I went in last week with some new dead bodies, as if this was normal and I was being difficult and they were doing all they could, but I pulled the "I'm expecting a baby in a month and the last thing I want to imagine is caring for a baby and dealing with roaches" number. They became appropriately sympathetic. In spite of multiple visits from the bug guy, and assurances from both him and management that we are victims of the problem, not the origin, we've continued to have roaches--two this morning in fact. (On the upside they're usually small, and dead when I find them. My husband has yet to find one. I think I've found over a dozen. He's more talented than I am at not seeing what he doesn't want to see.) When we called the management company again, though, they said they were fairly certain they'd finally found which of our neighbors was the origin for the infestation. So the center of filth has been triangulated, and they can finally treat the problem at its source. Hurray!

Finally, we had a midwife appointment today. I asked several, "is this normal or a sign of something serious?" questions and they all turned out to be normal, so that was good news. She said my weight was great, my uterus was measuring perfectly and the duck's head is in the down position and his heartbeat is good. Also, my cervix is in good shape and shows no sign that he's in a hurry to make the scene. She said that most first births happen between 39 1/2 and 41 weeks, so I've still got time at work and home to get ready.

All in all, a very good day.

posted by Mama Duck5:43 PM


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Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Family night

Last night's pre-natal class featured two couples and their new babies. They each told their labor and delivery stories, stories of early parenthood, then took questions.

One woman labored for 36 hours and pushed for 5, and had a small episiotomy. The other woman's water broke before contractions, so her labor was induced. Her labor was only 12 hours with less than an hour of pushing, but the baby came out so fast that she had a level three tear. Yipes. It was interesting to hear the contrasts. The longer labor sounded exhausting, but the mother didn't need drugs. The other labor was shorter, but sounded more difficult and the mother needed drugs plus had a nasty tear afterwards.

I didn't hear anything very surprising--labor is hard, the details are unpredictable, the first few weeks are crazed and sleep-deprived, and breast feeding hurts like hell at first.

One good thing to know, though, was that the first few weeks are hard and the baby doesn't give a lot of positive feedback. So it can feel thankless and endless. The babies were 7 weeks and 10 weeks, though, and beginning to interact more. The parents of the 10-week old said that it became more gratifying as the baby became more responsive.

Another good piece of advice was to get advice before leaving the hospital on how to listen for the baby to swallow when he'd feeding. Apparently everyone spends lots of time on the latch, but not lots on what happens after and how to confirm that stuff is actually going in and down.

It was clear from both couples that they'd made lots of adjustments and that things definitely weren't easy. But all four parents seemed just crazy about the babies. I guess that's why nature makes them small and cute--so we'll want to take care of them, even if it's hard.

posted by Mama Duck4:43 PM


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Sunday, July 20, 2003

35 weeks

The changing landscape

Last night, I think I had a stomachache. That's my best guess, but with the radical changes to my internal landscape, who knows?

The pain was in the upper center of my chest and back, right at the top of my ribcage. I think this is where my stomach is now, since my ever-expanding uterus has pushed it up and up. We'd gone out for middle-eastern food for dinner, then had ice cream #2 afterwards. I went to get ready for bed last night, and could only feel "ow, ow, ow". Fortunately, it did not stop me from sleeping. I simply propped up my head a bit higher and felt better in the morning.

I'm pretty sure, then, that what I had was a harmless tummyache, but since everything's all discombobulated in there, I can't be sure. I'll certainly be asking the midwife about it at this week's appointment.

This internal rearrangement is quite disconcerting--gas doesn't feel like gas and stomachache is about 18 inches away from where it would normally be. Plus, I probably would not have one--it's probably because my stomach is not only displaced, but also squished.

But the duck continues to be mobile, so I think he's doing OK in there.

I, on the other hand, have puffy ankles and heartburn, and couldn't put my wedding ring on easily this morning. Small potatoes, I know, and I'm really doing fine--I went to my 90-minute power yoga this morning with no trouble, other than the instructor remarking on my puffy ankles.

Ahem, thanks, I hadn't noticed.

posted by Mama Duck5:58 PM


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Thursday, July 17, 2003


You know what's frustrating? I saw a roach in the kitchen, screamed like a girl, then turned away to get a paper towel to smush it. I turned back. It was gone.

I looked high and low. Over and under the stuff on the counter, but that roach had made its getaway. Of course, it can't escape the copious applications of bait, so it will be dead eventually, but I almost had it. Damn it.

We got three boxes today. One is the glider, a gift from my husband's mom and step-dad. The other is our new computer table, so we can take this machine off our dining room table and stop eating off a card table. The third is a package from my mom, who went through the attic and found some of the clothes my sisters and I had put aside over the years for the maternity pile. These were our gained-a-lot-of-weight-during-freshman-year-at-college clothes, as well as a few items from fashion trends that weren't exactly body hugging. So I've got a truly awful Laura Ashley jumpsuit, which I'm ashamed to say I wore ALL the time. It's maroon with a navy print of a fox hunt or some such, and it's got poofy clown legs that are gathered at the bottom. I'm not sure what I was thinking--that I'd be so desperate for clothes that fit when I was pregnant that I'd be glad to wear something from a wretched preppy fashion trend? There's also an ivory floral baby doll dress that I once wore with ivory lace leggings from Victoria's Secret, a swimsuit with pink cabbage roses that has seen better days, and a non-offensive pink tank from the Gap.

The jaw-dropping-est item, though, is a short bright turquoise jumpsuit (jumpshorts?) It's gi-normous, bigger than any of me or my sisters ever got. In fact I think all three of us might fit into it now. Even with me eight months pregnant. I am baffled. I don't think this horror ever belonged to me. Was it pajamas? If so, it's not that convenient to button up or down, so middle-of-the-night bathroom trips would be difficult. Is it a clown suit? Costume for playing Tweedle-dee or -dum?

I think I'll be making a trip to Goodwill this weekend.

posted by Mama Duck6:57 PM


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Wednesday, July 16, 2003

More on nesting

Our condo now has lovely new blinds and I couldn't be more thrilled. A few weeks ago I was in despair. Since we bought this place just over two years ago, we knew we'd have to replace the blinds that were here--they were white-painted wood, and they flaked paint every time we moved them up or down. I had them priced by a custom blinds person. Even with a sale on and a special discount, the total was over $2000. Ha! Then we looked at Home Depot for options, saw that they had something for about $65 a window and figured when it came time to do the deed we'd go with those.

We were wrong.

What we found was that the Home Depot blinds that were wide enough for our windows weren't long enough, and even those weren't in the right color. So if we wanted the matching one-inch blinds, vinyl or aluminum, then we'd have to special order, which would cost over $100 a blind, which suddenly is no bargain for cheap-ass-looking blinds.

We began our hunt again. We looked at other stores, almost bought the Home Depot ones anyway, looked online, considered Roman style, which were much more expensive, and finally explored our options online. We found one site we liked,, which sent out free color samples and offered a guarantee. While we were hemming about which type to get and nearly deciding on the almost $200 per blind one-inch cellular style with mylar in the middle to block light, we went out to breakfast and saw the restaurants two-inch aluminum blinds with cloth covers for the holes to light doesn't seep through. We checked these out, found that these were much less expensive, got samples to match the living room and ordered.

They arrived promptly, and they are a perfect match. My husband installed them over the last few days and we're finally rid of the flaky old ones. The new ones are great at blocking light and fit well stylistically with out big windows. I am hugely relieved.

We're getting the carpet cleaned next week. Now we need to deal with the grout gaps in the shower and get rid of those pesky roaches. I hope we make it in time.

posted by Mama Duck6:30 PM


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Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Unexpected outcomes

Last night's birth class was on "unexpected outcomes" such as cesareans. The instructor had us go around the room and each say what particular birth outcome we were worried or fearsome about.

One dad said he was worried about finding out something unexpected about the baby, like birth defects. The nurse taking the class said she was worried about things like fetal distress and decelerating heartrate that would necessitate things like forceps or a c-section.

I said that I had two particular things I hoped would not happen: a repeat of what happened in the ER episode "Love's Labors Lost", which I will not recount if you don't know, but it was pretty awful; and laboring long and hard for 24 hours or so only to end up having a c-section anyway.

I know that the latter case is actually a good thing--there would be no second guessing that I'd rushed into it, or been rushed into it, or somesuch. But it just seems so tragic that one couldn't go back in time and say, oops, this isn't going to work, let's just do the c-section and get on with things.

My husband said he wasn't really worried. Until the woman behind me said she was afraid of tearing, and then the instructor started talking about episiotimies. He was fine as she went through levels one and two, but after levels three and four he'd found some anxiety as well.

Most of the others said things like long labors. What I was suprised by, though, was that no one admitted to fearing that the baby would be born dead, or seriously brain damaged, or die soon after birth. Dan Savage, in his memoir of open adoption The Kid was quite open about his fear. He and his partner even had a code: BBD/BCM for "baby born dead/birth mom changes mind" as a reality check as they went along.

Some people would see this as grim. Perhaps. I see it as an acknowledgement that outcomes will happen, whether we deserve them or not. Yes, I hope we're having a happy, healthy, cute, smart kid. But we might not. Lots of people do. Fewer people don't. But either could happen to us.

So while I voiced some of this by referencing the ER episode, which is one of the more grim possible outcomes, I didn't speak to it specifically, and no one else did either. Were the others thinking them too, and naming "safer" fears, or did no one else have the morbid imagination that I do?

Sometimes being a creative writer type has its drawbacks.

posted by Mama Duck6:33 PM


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Monday, July 14, 2003

Week 34

Yesterday during the day, after no stress or strain, I began to feel bad. I had a cramp in my side, and had trouble walking. I was in the apartment alone, and thought "Oh, shit. If I'm starting labor, my husband isn't even here, and we're nowhere near ready. Yikes."

So I did the usual--got a glass of water and lay down on my left side. Eventually the feeling passed, and I'm pretty sure it was gas--as the uterus grows the intestines get pretty compacted in strange configurations.

Here's what worries me, though. It hurt. A lot. And if I'm hurting like that just from random gas pain, then I'm not sure of my hope for a drug-free labor. I'm not militantly committed to it, like some women I've read, but I plan on giving it my best shot. But if gas puts me down for the count, will I be one of those women screaming for drugs as soon as I hit the hospital? I sure hope not.

On an up note, the co-sleeper just arrived, so whenever the duck makes the scene, he'll have a place to sleep. And it won't just be a dresser drawer, like it would have been had he arrived yesterday.

Pregnancy worry du jour: I read an article saying that boys who are born with low birth rate (i.e. <5.5 lbs.) never catch up to others their age, as girls do. So all the many people who've been telling me how small I am, and my fret that labor could start at any time are now augmented by the worry that the duck will arrive and be small and will never grow properly.

I'll try to move through this worry and have another tomorrow.

posted by Mama Duck7:49 PM


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Thursday, July 10, 2003

Street Scene

As I was coming back from the gym at lunch, a couple passed me as I realized that the woman was talking to me.

"How many months are you? Six?"

I shook my head. "Almost eight."

The man with her shook his head. "Damn, and you're still moving like that?"

I smiled all the way back to the office.

posted by Mama Duck8:12 PM


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Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Nesting is in full force

A friend asked today what was up.

Take your pick, I responded. Our new blinds should arrive this week, I start a pre-natal yoga class tomorrow, next week we're meeting with a lawyer to do a will, we've ordered a smaller bed for us so that there will be more space in the bedroom for the duck. Unfortunately, the bedframe will not ship for 9-10 weeks and I'm due in less than 7, so the timing will be less than ideal. We need to figure out how to donate our old bed, I'm researching pediatricians, we're refinancing our place, and I should really start reading the birth book I've got.

We also need to get the carpet cleaned, plus there are gaps in the shower tile and the bathroom ceiling is peeling. I'm not sure how we're going to deal with those.

I've not yet gone deer-in-the-headlights, but I can feel it. It's close.

posted by Mama Duck4:38 PM


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Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Birth class #3

One of the birth videos we saw showed a baby coming out covered in white gunk. The instructor said this was the waxy protective coating of vernix (after one of the guys in the class asked bravely, "Uh, why is that baby all white?"), but I wonder if it was a yeast infection. In any case, it looked quite disgusting.

We discussed pain medication. There are three main types: a narcotic to take the edge off, an injection of intrathecal morphine (often called a walking epidural), and a real epidural. When I'd asked one of the midwives about the options before, she'd downplayed the ITM, saying it was more suited for subsequent, not first births. After talking with her it seemed like I'd try for natural and if I needed drugs go for the epidural. From the class last night, though, the ITM sounds like it has some merit.

We saw a video of a lot of women in a lot of pain during labor. One of them was having "back labor" where the baby faces the pelvis rather than the spine. This presentation is called "sunny-side up" and it was how I was before I was born. The labor is more painful because with each contraction the hard, bony part of the baby's head smashes into the mom's backbone. Different positions are supposed to help both the pain, plus help the baby to move to a better position to move down and through. One option they showed for pain was 4 injections of sterile water around the base of the spine. My husband and I had the same question--who the hell thought to try that? Apparently it burns like hell for 30 seconds and then does offer relief, but the burning like hell is suppposed to be significant.

Next class we're going over c-sections and other "unexpected outcomes". So while last night was hardly a load of laughs, I'm guessing next week might get kind of grim.

posted by Mama Duck4:58 PM


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Monday, July 07, 2003
What will freak you out when you're expecting
I had heard many cautions against the "What to Expect" books, but sometime after the first trimester my husband said he'd feel better if we got a book. We happened to be in Target, they had it and we bought the boxed set for pregnancy and the first year.

The duck has had recurring hiccups, so my husband looked them up on Friday night. He asked worriedly, "are you having them more than two times a day, for more than ten minutes?"

"Yeah, sometimes, why?"

"Because this book says that beyond 36 weeks it could be a sign of a tangled or knotted cord and could be serious."

"Yes, but I'm only at 33 weeks. Give me that book."

We looked up another hiccup reference, and it said they happened frequently after the second trimester and were normal.

So right there in the same book, we had hiccups=normal or hiccups=dire. I really can't recommend that book.

posted by Mama Duck8:00 PM


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Sunday, July 06, 2003

Week 33

Having my tummy read

There is a woman psychic who teaches and attends yoga classes at the gym I go to. I was leaving the other day from swimming as she was coming in to teach a class. We said hello, she asked when I was due and what the baby's name was. I said we hadn't decided yet. She put her hand on my tummy and asked, "Jeremy?" There was no response. She held her hand there a bit longer and said he wanted some maple syrup, "good stuff, from trees" and that he liked the music we'd been playing. (Most recently Beck's Sea Change.)

I didn't say that I'd already planned to have waffles with syrup when I got home, and that I'd been thinking about them all week. I don't know if Jeremy was a question or suggestion. It isn't a name that's on our list. Later in the day, when we played the Pearl Jam song, he didn't respond to that either, so I'm not sure we have to add it.

posted by Mama Duck6:21 PM


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Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Hospital tour

At birth class this week we met at the hospital to check out where we'd be giving birth. Overall, it was pretty straightforward and reassuring. All rooms, both birth and postpartum, are private. The birth rooms have infinitely adjustable beds, a TV/VCR, CD/cassette player, bathroom with bath and shower for relief during labor, and a sink in the room where they will give the duck his first bath. The lights are dimmable and there are several of them. Bassinets on wheels are in every room too, so unless something goes awry, the duck will stay in the room until we're all moved to the post-partum room. The instructor correctly described these as cozy. They are definitely small, but all private, with a small single bed, room for the bassinet and a chair that pulls out to a futon (not v. comfortable.)

We didn't visit the cafeteria, but could see it seemed to have a decent selection of packaged foods like chips and yogurt. More important for me, though, was the vending machine that had frozen Snickers bars. Mmmm.

posted by Mama Duck7:16 PM


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Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Force of habit

I go to yoga class about three times a week--Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. I go to a gym, and I like the instructors who teach these particular classes. I was doing it before I got pregnant and have continued to do so through the pregnancy, though I have had to continually modify and adjust my poses to accommodate my belly. I credit much of how well the pregnancy is going to yoga--not necessarily the calmness, since power yoga isn't necessarily the breath-centered relaxation-fest that many envision when yoga is mentioned. But I think it's helped a lot with keeping my weight down, my stress levels manageable and my physical complaints to a minimum. Several people have asked how long I intend to keep going. I'm going to go till it doesn't feel good anymore, which hasn't been yet. I went today and felt much better than before I'd gone. I know myself well enough that when I stop going, be it due to inertia, birth, or whatever, that it will be very hard to start going again. So I'm going to keep the forward momentum going as long as I can without pushing anything.

posted by Mama Duck5:56 PM


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