Mama Duck
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Saturday, August 30, 2003

Yes, I know I should be sleeping

There are things that one can know theoretically, like that labor contractions will be painful and that having a newborn means not sleeping a lot and not having time for oneself. But until these abstractions become real, I couldn't really know how true they were. Yes, it's one thing to know something intellectually, but it's quite another to know it physically.

Contractions, by the way, were astonishing painful. I did my breathing, I did yoga poses, I tried to relax into them, and eventually I simply yelled my head off. My very kind nurse said there was a tonal quality to it, though, that made it more like chanting than yelling Nonetheless, I'm sure my neighbors were glad for my semi-soundproof room. I remember that they cam in waves of about seven. The first three were the hardest then the last four tapered off, only to come around again. I had natural contractions from when my water broke at the onset and for 18 hours after, then pitocin-augmented ones that made them stronger and more consistent. Those were quite something.

Sleep. I'm not getting a lot. Our pediatrician told us that in order to calm newborns that it helps to cut back on the stimuli at night. Doing this has helped, but his night time feeding intervals have still not been much longer than three hours. Hence, I should be sleeping since the baby is, but instead I'm writing. It's about all I can do to feed myself and do basic things in addition to caring for the baby. I keep telling myself I'll get the hang of it, that it's just strict prioritization, but nonetheless, about the only thing I can say I accomplish each day is caring for the baby, feeding myself and taking the two baths that are recommended for recovery from the episiotomy and tear. Everything else is accomplished by luck and paid for with lack of nap.

posted by Mama Duck1:23 PM


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Saturday, August 23, 2003

The News

or, So Much for Best Laid Plans...

My water broke (which only happens for about 10% of women, as I mentioned earlier, trying to dispel common labor myths) a few hours after I wrote the last entry. We labored at home for half of Tuesday, then went to the hospital.

The duck was born at 8:02 a.m. on Wednesday August 20. The labor was 32 hours long and, in spite of my hopes, was not drug- or intervention-free. It was, however, exactly what the duck and I needed to have in order to get him born. He weighed 7 pounds, 12 ounces and was quite healthy in spite of the long ordeal. We're all adjusting to one another since we got home. My husband seems better at me than calming him when he's fussy. I seem to be the mean lady who keeps trying to jam a big boob in his mouth. Too bad he can't know now how rare that is, and that someday he'll wish for it desperately. Lots of grown men pay money for it, and everything.

So the duck really didn't follow directions very well. He broke the water early, he took his time getting out, he weighed over seven pounds and he didn't wait for his due date to arrive so I could go to the State Fair and gorge on delicious and unhealthy foodstuffs.

He's so damn cute, though, that I've forgiven him everything.

I will try to write the birth story, though it will likely be in bits and pieces.

posted by Mama Duck9:50 AM


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Monday, August 18, 2003

Last minute preparations

A good friend of mine recommended getting hair, nails and toes done before the big day as good pampering. I had the hair done last week and will try to nurse the blowout till the end of the week, then went for a manicure and pedicure today. Had a little trouble getting there--got on the one 17 bus that wasn't the right one and ended up walking for what seemed like forever in the almost one hundred heat with a heat index of something like 105. Not very pleasant.

But once I got to the house of the woman I was meeting it all turned around. Not only does she do a fabulous job, she's a recent mom--6 weeks!--so I got to hold her baby and hear her birth story (not the happiest--prolonged labor with an emergency c-section, but a cute and healthy baby at the end.) then her very kind husband drove me home so I didn't have to risk the bus again in the heat.

So I am polished and coiffed, plus got to hang out with a little baby and her kind, kind parents. Yeah, the bus/heat thing sucked, but everything else more than made up for it.

posted by Mama Duck7:00 PM


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Sunday, August 17, 2003

Week 39

It's not labor

I have spent the past several hours lying in bed recovering from a nasty bout of round ligament pain, a sharp cramp in the right side of my belly that made walking, laughing and existing painful and unpleasant. I went to yoga this morning and did fine, but the walk home did me in and I have gradually, over the past several hours, returned to mostly normal. I knew, however, that what I was experiencing was not labor because it was an ongoing cramp and not accompanied by other symptoms.

One of the benefits of the class I took through the hospital the books I've read is that I feel I know a fair amount about labor. Which was not true ten months ago, and is not true of most people, as evidenced by the times at work that my husband or I leave my desk for an extended period of time and people exclaim that they thought I'd gone into labor. Hollywood has really fucked us up good and proper for understanding labor, so much of the labor education I've had is unlearning all the stereotypes. So I'm here to clear them up.

For most women, labor with a first-time birth is slow to start and long in duration--an average of twelve hours. Also, many women have contractions for days, or even weeks, prior to going into active labor, which is when the hospital wants to see you. In fact, if you show up at the hospital and aren't in active labor, often you'll be sent home and told to return when things are further along. Unlike anything you've seen on TV or in movies, very few women (only 10 to 20%) begin labor with the breaking of the bag of waters--for everyone else, this usually occurs sometimes during the active stage of labor.

Active labor is when the contractions increase in strength and frequency and the cervix begins to dilate at a steady rate. Most current advice says to stay at home, rest and eat fortifying foods till the contractions are about four minutes from start to start, last one minute in duration and have been that frequent for at least an hour. Also, most women's contractions build in intensity over the course of the labor. The midwife group I see describes active labor contractions as ones that prevent speech and limit movement, but most women, especially in first-time births, have had hours of contractions leading up to the strong ones.

With all that being said, however, every labor is different. Some are much longer and sporadic, some are quick and efficient. Nonetheless, as a first-time prego, I feel fairly confident that I'll have some build up time before we have to go to the hospital, unlike what my husband's and my co-workers seem to believe.

As I've done before, I'd like to remind everyone that I'm not a medical professional, so what you read here is merely my interpretation of what I've been told and read. Please follow the advice of your own healthcare practitioner.

posted by Mama Duck4:21 PM


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Thursday, August 14, 2003

Aside from the little stuff, like a hugely swollen right ankle, or really, in spite of stuff like that, I've loved being pregnant. I've been able to exercise and move the whole time, and my weird, growing, changing body has continued to fill me with wonder (and only occasional disgust, as with the ankle.) Even though it's mid-August, even the heat hasn't troubled me that much.

It will be very strange to going back to being a normal person. My growing body has made me at least non-anonymous, and even something of a celebrity--strangers take interest in me as I walk down the street, ask me when I'm due, and wish me luck. My belly has been part of my identity these past few months.

Even more, though, it will be strange no longer to be sharing my body. Since week 20, when I felt the duck move for the first time, I've been aware of him continually throughout the day--his kicks, swirls, turns and hiccups. I have no idea who this little potential person is who's inside me, and I'm excited to meet him, but it's going to be a very strange thing when he's on the outside, because I've really enjoyed having him on the inside.

posted by Mama Duck3:58 PM


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Wednesday, August 13, 2003

I am a grotesque

My ankles, especially my right one, are not to be believed. Puffy and swollen, they are revolting. I got massage tonight, and am drinking lots of water, and hope they'll be going down. The duck shifted down again yesterday, so the midwife says that is likely the cause along with the hot weather. But right now I'm going to lie down, put my feet up and ice the ankles. I'll go to yoga class tomorrow and see if that helps, too.


We visited a pediatrician last night, who made a good impression. We're interviewing two, then picking one. Our next appointment is on Friday. He recommended that before we get to the hospital, that we have a good idea on three things:

1. Breastfeeding (yes)
2. Circumcision (which we were wavering on, but he gave us a good pro/con spiel, then told us to go with our gut feelings. The gut? Don't cut.)
3. Names (we've got about half a dozen), and to have girl names too (we've got three) in case the ultrasound was wrong.

All this seemed like very sound advice, with the added bonus of making me feel like we're doing OK as we approach this whole labor/birth thing.

posted by Mama Duck6:33 PM


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Tuesday, August 12, 2003
Checking off things from the list
Last week we went to the fire station and learned how to install our infant car seat. It was much harder than it looked, both because of a hump in the middle of the back seat, which prevented us from using this optimal spot, as well as the leather seats, which were slippery and required something grippy between them and the seat for stability. At one point, my husband had his knee in the base, his back up against the ceiling and was straining, with veins a popping to get it tight enough. He did eventually succeed, but it took him several attempts. So the base is in the back seat and the seat is in the trunk.

We packed the car with towels, a blanket, pillows and a basin for barfing, for the ride to the hospital. I started to pack the suitcase, then made a list on my PDA of other things to add when we need to go. The bassinet is assembled and close to ready. We met one pediatrician today, who we liked a lot, and are interviewing another on Friday.

Some of my recent internet orders have arrived, including the one from I ordered the Bravado nursing bra, which came with free nursing pads and free shipping. The bra fit great, and is comfy, so I'm very, very pleased with this purchase.

Still to do, though, are loads of things at work. Our apartment is a mess, and the closing for our refinancing didn't happen yesterday because the guy handling it was a fuckwit. Additionally, it turns out our place wasn't appraised for as much as they'd told us/we'd thought, so the loan we're getting is less than we thought, which is technically fine, but annoying.

So we're well on our way, with a week and a half till the due date. Which will probably be fine, but the duck has downshifted again, so I'm not sure how much time there is to complete all this stuff.

I know, I know. It will all be fine, and whatever doesn't get done will be fine too. I just want to feel a skoche more prepared--to have my ducks in a row, so to speak.

posted by Mama Duck8:07 PM


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Monday, August 11, 2003
Archives back up
Sorry that archives for everything pre-June were down so long. Now they're back up. And I didn't even have to consult my tech support, ahem, husband, on how to do it.

posted by Mama Duck5:46 PM


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Escapism, then realism

My husband and I have been doing a lot of escapist reading, lately. The books we are reading to the duck have been Winnie the Pooh, The Hobbit and now The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald. The books we're reading are also mostly in the fantasy genre--I've been reading Diana Wynne Jones and now Garth Nix. My husband has revisited some of his adolescent favorites. After I finish the Nix trilogy (I just started Lirael, #2), I'm torn between reading the Phillip Pullman trilogy, or re-reading Harry Potters 1-4, then launching into 5, which, given that the duck will have arrived, should keep me busy for a good long while. We're also moving quite efficiently through our Netflix movie list. We watched two over the weekend--Possession, which I thought was a damn good adaptation of a book I loved (favorite quote: "Yours to command in some things..."), and The Transporter, a deeply silly movie that had a quite good action scene. We also went to see Bend it Like Beckham. It was a sports movie and a culture movie, so there were no worries that all would be right in the end.

Yet with all the escapist tendencies, I just filled out the healthcare preferences of the will my husband and I are signing tomorrow, and I did it quickly and simply, even the question that asked what my preference is if I am pregnant and unable to make health decisions for myself. So while I'm thoroughly enjoying all the stuff we're doing in these final, pre-baby weeks, it was not difficult to shift gears and be decisive on hard topics. Perhaps I'm as ready as I'll ever be to be a parent.

posted by Mama Duck5:38 PM


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Sunday, August 10, 2003

Week 38

or, I Am Not a Cheap Date
My husband planned a surprise for Friday night. He said to pack an overnight bag before I left for work, and he'd pick me up after work. (He has alternate Fridays off during the summer by working longer on the remaining nine days.)

He had planned for a double whammy--there is a new hotel that opened recently near us with an upscale restaurant. He'd booked a night for us at the very reasonable introductory rate, then made arrangements for a chef's tasting menu at the restaurant, accomodating both my diet restrictions: gluten intolerance and pregnancy. So we had a lovely, leisurely dinner with umpteen delicious, exquisite courses, then retired to a room that featured Frette linens with down pillows and comforter, a multi-jet shower, Hermes green-orange soap and a Phillippe Starck sink. In the morning, we ordered room service breakfast, then stayed in bed to watch a movie on the wide-screen plasma television. It was with some reluctance that we eventually departed.

It was a superlative overnight. Our lives will be changing in the next few weeks in ways that we can only know in theory till we're in them, but having this gem of an idyll was a delicious way to offset the hectic guilt/busy-ness of getting ready for the imminent duck.

posted by Mama Duck7:15 PM


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Thursday, August 07, 2003


I'm armed with an arsenal of natural, yeast-fighting agents: unsweetened plain yogurt, unsweetened cranberry juice, acidophilus supplements, baking soda, corn starch and garlic.

The bath last night of 2 cups corn starch and 1/2 cup baking soda in cool water (because warm would be conducive to yeast) helped a LOT.

Not knowing

I noticed sometime during the morning that my belly felt different, then a guy friend at work said he thought I'd definitely dropped. He's got three boys--the last two were twins--and told me his story of his wife insisting on stopping at Starbucks before going to the hospital so she'd have a latte to fortify her during labor.

Sounds good to me.

But I was sort of counting on having the next two weeks at work. The midwives keep insisting that most new babies arrive in the week after their due date, and I have so many things to finish. Plus my husband has a surprise outing for us tomorrow night. I'm 38 weeks tomorrow, and the whole "anytime in the next 4 weeks" is quite nervous making.

Do or not do; there is no try

I just finished The Birth Book by Sears. I feel pretty knowledgeable and empowered now, and am looking forward to labor to see what happens. One particular thing I took away was a woman they interviewed who noted that she only said "I want a drug-free birth", rather than "I want to try for a drug-free birth". I've read and talked to enough people to know that I don't know how my labor and delivery will be, and how I will handle it. Drugs may very well be the best choice for me at some point. But I like the firm hope of stating "I want a drug-free birth." Because, quite simply, it's true.

posted by Mama Duck6:36 PM


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Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Yeast infection: a multi-dimensional hell

I am going out of my mind. The midwife said two weeks ago that I had a little yeast, but it wasn't much, so I decided to try my usual natural remedy of a garlic insert see if it helped. I didn't use it consistently, and it didn't. I went last week, and still had the itching and decided to leave things alone for a week, to see if they'd improve. I also got some aloe gel to apply topically for the itching. It offered relief, but no real improvement.

So I've still got a little bit as of today's appointment, and the midwife recommended using an over the counter medication. I thought, no problem. I'll get whatever non-Monistat treatment is at Target and just do it.

Problem: there is no non-Monistat treatment at Target. Or at Walgreens. They're all Monistat or they're generic store versions of Monistat. The last time I used Monistat it burned worse than what it was supposed to be treating and I swore never again. So I'm not eager to put that shit up inside me again.

Then I start to do searches on medications and whether they're safe during pregnancy. Most say that Monistat is, but others aren't. So I'm stuck between trying something that failed miserably before, trying something else (though where to find it?) that doesn't sound safe, or being diligent about natural remedies, like consistent garlic, plus a bath of corn starch and baking soda.

I'm just over two weeks from my due date and the thought of pushing the duck down through the vaginal canal while I've got yeast? Not a happy one, for him or me.

So while the midwife said it was safe, and there's stuff out there that says it's safe, I'm not feeling good about Monistat or the others. Do I risk relying on natural remedies? I'm torn, but I think so. Given that it's a slight one, and given that I know there are things that I can do that I haven't been doing (like cutting back on sugar--I've increased it lately, which I know isn't smart) I think I'm going to take a shot at the naturals, for a couple days at least, and in the meantime I'll see if I can find a non-Monistat conventional remedy somewhere as a backup.

posted by Mama Duck7:19 PM


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Tuesday, August 05, 2003

More things to feather the nest

Last night I went shopping online for more items to complete what I think we'll need for the impending arrival of the duck. In no time at all I'd spent scads of money. I ordered 2 kinds of nursing bras (passing on the leopard print, though I was somewhat tempted), a pair of wool nursing pads to prevent leakage, a changing pad for the top of our dresser, and a starter set of a cloth diaper plus insert and cover so that I give cloth a fair chance before going the disposable route full on. I did buy some fun stuff, too. I finally ordered the new Harry Potter book from, to match our copies of 1-4, which are all the British editions. I also ordered the British HP #1 on cd, because it's read by Stephen Fry, one of the funniest men on the planet. I have no idea what our life is going to be like in a couple weeks, but I like to imagine that I could listen to an audiobook while nursing. We'll see.

Speaking of Stephen Fry, the birthing room at the hospital has a VCR, as well as a cd player. I'm thinking of taking a few Blackadder tapes for humorous distraction during birth. I'm also thinking about the A & E Pride and Prejudice. These were the first couple things that came to mind when I thought of comfort viewing. I have never claimed to be normal.

posted by Mama Duck4:43 PM


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Monday, August 04, 2003

Something that made me go, hmmm...

Over the weekend, I went for a walk. It was rather hot but not overpoweringly so. I had a few Braxton Hicks contractions, and was thinking to myself, "I should count these; I'm not supposed to have more than 4 an hour, because that means pre-term labor."


"Waitaminute. I was full term as of yesterday. So any labor from here on out is full-term, no-worries labor."



posted by Mama Duck7:49 PM


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Sunday, August 03, 2003

Week 37

Feathering the nest

Friends are having two baby showers for us. The first was from friends at my husband's job last week. The other will be from my friends after the baby is born. This is a nice balance and a wonderful way to spend time with friends on both ends of the baby continuum--during the excitement of waiting for arrival, and in the midst of the crazy, happy time once the duck is here.

There are still a few things I felt we needed to get, though, for the duck's appearance. The midwives have assured me that he's unlikely to arrive early, but that's what my husband's mom's doctor said before he went on vacation and missed the birth, so I don't want to get caught with my pants down, so to speak.

Speaking of pants, we picked up a couple of pairs as well as some short-sleeved T-shirts. It's my best guess that these will be best for getting the duck home from the hospital without covering up the umbilical stump that he'll have. Also on the list: diapers (Pampers swaddlers were recommended by my mommy-friends) wipes, a manual breast pump for when the milk comes in, breast pads and nipple cream, a healthcare kit and a Diaper Genie plus refills. We didn't find a changing pad that we liked, so we'll keep an eye out for that, but between the kinds gifts we've already received from family and friends and the goodies we picked up today, I'm not feeling so deer-in-the-headlights anymore.

posted by Mama Duck6:59 PM


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