July 1, 2008 (32 weeks, 1 day):
Apparently weeks 30-32 are when all the crazy people on the streets start to talk to me about my pregnancy. In the past two weeks I've had several women on the train volunteer comments along the lines of "You poor thing!" and then start telling me about their summer pregnancies. Then last week, while I was standing at a bus stop, an old man in a wheelchair rolled by and barked out, "You're gonna have a boy!" in a prophetic voice. I was rather startled. I also don't generally like to talk to strangers, so I composed my face into a neutral expression and said nothing. "You're gonna have a boy!" he repeated again, emphatically, and after again getting no verbal response, rolled away. The sweet but not-that-bright Chinese woman who bags in the local Whole Foods also finally figured out I was pregnant (I see her every week, by the way). "You got baby?" she shrieked, pointing at my stomach. I'll keep it simple--yes, the answer is yes.
Marnie and Maria had a little celebratory lunch for me at school last week--it was just the three of us, at the new Z-Square across Comm Ave from the School of Ed; they treated me to savory crepes and gave me bags of books and bibs and assorted baby goodies, while we ate outside to the sounds and smells of the never-ending Comm Ave construction project.
Then last Thursday was the last day of my summer session class--I had a really nice group of students, two of whom brought baby gifts to the last class, and one of whom gave me and the whole class little packaged Korean cakes (sort of along the Little-Debbie line) that she said her mother craved non-stop when pregnant with her. Still, I was ready for the class to end--it's hot, it's humid, and while I'm not planning on becoming an absolute hermit for the next two months, the idea does have its appeal. If I walk three blocks outside during the day, I'm pretty much done--I'm drenched in sweat and ready to sit down in the air conditioning. Basically I just want to be done schlepping stuff around Boston, walking up and down stretches of broken sidewalk and detouring around even more construction. It's strange to think that I won't be back in the classroom until next year, January 14th or whenever classes officially start again: that's a loooooong gap, and though no, I'm not denigrating SAHMs, and yes, I realize that the baby might keep me just a tiny bit busy in September, October, November, and Dcember, I still haven't had so much unscheduled time (no job to report to, no classes to take, no classes to teach) since. . . um. . . well, ever. The longest other time was after finishing a year at Berkeley--I had almost four months of a gap between finishing the program and finding my first job in LA.
Meanwhile, Robert had wanted to go away again this past weekend for a final final "babymoon," but honestly I can't imagine that--staying inside in the cool and watching movies sounds just fabulous to me. Still, though, we got out over the weekend--two friends' parties, dinner out with Sarah and Sean, softball for the church (Robert played, I watched), and a Zipcar fundraiser at King's with a few games of pool. It was all low-key enough that we still managed to have fun.
July 8, 2008 (33 weeks, 1 day):
After a fun Fourth of July party at our house (Cori came up from NY for the weekend to see us and stay with us, Robert did another fabulous job at the grill, and we had 24 people, including a couple babies and a couple toddlers, over), we saw Kelley again on Sunday. I'm feeling good, and everything is still looking ultra-normal. We have another appointment for 35 weeks along (two weeks from now), and then after that we move to weekly appointments. People keep saying things to me like, "Wow, I can't believe you're so prepared that you already have diapers and baby clothes and everything," and my response is generally one of disbelief. I mean, really, if I don't have them now, when would I be getting them? Of course, being the prepared person that I am, I actually started stocking them in April (Drugstore.com had a great pre-Earth-Day deal on Seventh Generation disposables), but that's clearly not the point here. . .
Sunday we also went to Boston's 27th Annual Chowderfest at City Hall Plaza, which was fun (we're pictured above there)--it was hot, but since we didn't get there until 4:00 it wasn't as hot as it's been other years. We had a good time writing in winners for Herbiest, Worst, Neatest, and Most Professional Chowders, as well as voting for the best overall. There were all sorts of free samples outside the gates (most notably, for me, were ice-cold cans of that new Diet Pepsi that has ginseng and extra caffeine--it sounds horrible to drink, and I'm sure it would be, but I loved holding the cans on my neck or arms to cool off while walking around) and a Navy flight simulator ride that Robert went on (apparently it was a fairly tame, he said, but enjoyable look at being on an F-18). Yesterday, to complete the weekend, we bought our stroller (the Baby Jogger City Mini in blue), had dim sum with my friend Jen who was visiting from Minnesota, and went to the Red Sox-Twins game in the evening. Robert had been worried about me being uncomfortable in the seats, but actually the seats themselves were one of the best things (supporting my cheap-chair theory of pregnant woman comfort--something about semi-fancy chairs and the way they recline just kills me)--it was just incredibly, incredibly hot, and the game was 0-0 until the bottom of the 8th inning (when the Red Sox scored a whopping one run--thankfully the final score). I was just rooting for anything other than a tie and extra innings, so I was fine with that.
July 15, 2008 (34 weeks, 1 day):
The days and weeks keep on passing by, somehow startling both me and Robert. I like that our tomatoes on the roof are ripening nicely, and that our lemon tree (also moved up to the roof for its summer home) is prolifically producing leaves and a second crop of blossoms (we're hoping for actual lemons, but we'll see)--I feel like somehow the baby and I are ripening right in time with assorted produce. Robert is getting mildly worried that this baby may surpass him as his family's resident, mythical Wonder Baby--the large, good-eating, well-growing baby that stories are told of for years and years. Apparently that's one of his pre-baby anxiety dreams, while I, on the other hand, worry about Running Out--of everything from toilet paper to paper towels to diapers to baby clothes that fit at different points in time. We are very different people.
Then, on the Crazy Comment front this week, a mailman walking along Beacon Street gestured at my stomach with his mailbag and said, "Under construction!" I nodded and smiled and tried to move away quickly, but he seemed to want more than that. "Under construction!" he said again, so this time I gave an enthusiastic "Yes!" which I hoped would end this conversation. Nope. "How many days left?" he asked. "Uh, I don't know," I said. "Until the end of August." I crossed the street. (For the record, if he'd asked me today, there would officially be forty-one days "left" until my due date, but strangely I don't carry that number around in my head at all times.)
I'm feeling really well--I had another little bit of swelling in my feet/ankles last week, starting the night of the Red Sox game and continuing through Thursday, when it was 90 degrees out and humid, but I think I brought it back under control with protein, water, and watermelon. This past weekend was the last one before our prenatal appointments become every week--Robert says it was our "Kelley vacation" before the final push before the birth.
"Aunt" Charlotte and "Uncle" Bob, some of my parents' best friends, were nice enough to buy us exactly the stroller we wanted, and Robert assembled the stroller Sunday night. Given the very flat box it shipped in, I thought that there might be more significant assembly to do, but no, it went together in just five minutes. Robert says it's all due to his excellent assembly skills, of course. Hm--who was it that assembled the furniture for the baby's room again? Oh right, that would be ME. Whatever--below, top left, you see the stroller set up, but not reclined (it does recline virtually flat, so it is rated as safe for an infant; you just sort of let out a gusset and the seat falls down in the back, with an extra flap to cover it); then top right you see me reaching onto the seat to pull the simple, patented "pull to fold" soft handle. At bottom left, you see how the entire stroller neatly collapses around that handle, making this truly the easiest-to-fold stroller we looked at; at bottom right, you see the stroller, still folded and pretty darn compact for a not-small stroller, just turned on its side and stored in a niche in our hallway (in front of the door to our back stairwell, which we use maybe 3-4 times a year, making it a good out-of-the-way spot).
Last night we took an infant CPR/choking class, which was informative and a good experience. Neither of us had taken CPR since it was required in tenth grade, so our twenty-year-old skills were all at once incredibly outdated, rusty, and very very useful. The little "Are you all right, are you okay, help, somebody call 911" mantra we were taught, back in 1988 and 1990, to run through in case of an emergency; the chin-lift-head-tilt maneuver; and the look/listen/feel for breaths are all essentially the same. Robert and I were together the problem students in the (seven-person) class, though, asking esoteric questions ("How many times per week worldwide does someone perform the infant choking maneuver?") on Robert's part and overthinking the emergency scenarios on my part, but we were glad that we went.
July 21, 2008 (35 weeks):
I'm down to just working one day a week with Marnie at school and generally having no more than one errand or event on the other days--mostly just because of the heat, but also because I'm trying to relax a little more and enjoy the next few weeks.
With that said, we had a little excitement last week and ended up at Brigham and Women's Hospital Thursday night for a couple of unexpected ultrasounds and some fetal monitoring. Everything is completely fine--the conclusion (from both the doctors there and from Kelley, who was the one who advised me to go to the hospital to begin with) is that probably my body was just preparing itself for labor and birth (not immediately, of course, but sometime in the next 3-6 or so weeks. . .) and that a little bit of bleeding, while uncommon, is not outside the realm of normalcy.
Robert was shaken, though. The other thing that made Robert very nervous was the officious administrator who checked us into the hospital, and after complaining that I didn't have a Brigham and Women's number, proceeded to assign one to me and a separate one to the baby. ("Are we having the baby tonight?" Robert asked. "Relax," I said. "We are not having the baby tonight.")
Robert finally was much relieved to hear the baby's heartbeat at the hospital and to see the baby on the ultrasound. He was actually startled at how big the baby has gotten since our first ultrasound (at twelve weeks--which feels like years and years ago, and perhaps in "fetal years" it really is). At this point, the baby is so big--probably close to five pounds and twenty inches--that they clearly can't get all, or even close to all, of it on the screen at one time. Robert cautioned the ultrasound tech that we didn't know the baby's sex and wanted to be surprised with it at the birth, but he soon noticed that figuring out the sex from the images on the screen was not going to be easy even if he had wanted to try to do so.
"What am I looking at?" Robert asked the nerdy ultrasound tech. "Is that a hand?"
"I really have no idea what you mean," the tech said. ("Right," Robert said later, "like any idiot could have made sense out of the super-zoomed-in swirly things on the screen!")
A few minutes later, Robert said, "Wait, is that a ventricle? So you're looking both through her stomach and the baby's?"
"No," the tech said. "Her stomach is further up. I am looking through her abdominal muscles and the uterus into the baby's heart."
"I'm sorry," Robert said, apologizing for confusing the stomach and the abdomen. "That's all right," the tech said.
At the end of the ultrasound, the tech said to Robert, "So, did you see the sex?" and Robert said, "Uh, no."
"Really?" the tech asked. "You didn't see it? Oh well," and he shrugged.
The doctors and nurses were very nice, though they got nervous that my blood pressure was slightly elevated when we first arrived, which made them almost ignore the bleeding and concentrate on the blood pressure. The general consensus from my friends and family, of course, is that it's just slightly possible that my blood pressure was elevated from the stress of the moment, the trip to the hospital, the strange doctors and nurses, and my worrying about Robert (who sat near me managing to look both woozy and on edge, an odd combination, but didn't faint even when the nurse had to try twice to get a blood sample from me, and ended up spurting blood on the gurney and trying yet another vein). Still, it was clearly a better-safe-than-sorry hospital trip; they ruled out placental abruptions and placenta previa and finally concluded that really it was nothing to be concerned about.
Ultimately we just took it very easy and stayed home most of the next day (Friday)--albeit after having to go back to the hospital to get my Rh shot, just in case--and took a nap, so it was actually a very indulgent, relaxing day. Friday night we met Howard and Bob for dinner in Chinatown and then saw the new Batman movie--I went prepared with two old bath towels to roll up and put behind me in the movie theatre seats as back cushions, and it ended up being a fairly comfortable movie experience.
Saturday it was in the 90s, and very humid, so I stayed home in the air conditioning while Robert played softball, went to the library, and brought home lunch. Apparently he had a little bit of trouble picking up my library books for me, even though I had given him my card.
"Only the card holder or an authorized person with a note from the card holder can pick up reserves," the library clerk said.
Robert explained that he didn't have a note, but he was my husband, and I had given him my card.
"Only the card holder or an authorized person with a note from the card holder can pick up reserves," the clerk repeated.
Robert once again said he didn't have a note. The clerk repeated his statement, again word for word. "Then I guess I must be the card holder," Robert said.
"All right, Christina," the clerk said. "I'll get your reserves."
Yesterday, Sunday, I had my 35-week-appointment with Kelley and her apprentices Dina and Zion, and once again my blood pressure was fine and the baby's heartbeat was strong and healthy--she or he (though after the ultrasound tech's mysterious parting lines, I'm really leaning towards "he" here) will spend at least another few weeks happily growing inside me.
July 22, 2008 (35 weeks, 1 day):
Two fun things of note today:
First of all, we set up an online baby pool, just for fun, here--it's not password-protected or anything, so anyone interested can leave a guess about the baby's weight, height, sex, and birth date. There are some wild guesses there already!
Then, Robert got an exciting package at the office--Bob bought us the Kelty Kids baby backpack we had wanted from Amazon. You can use it from whenever the baby can hold up his/her head until the kid is 40 pounds--at which point we might not want to be carting him/her around on our back anyway! What's neat is that it has a regular backpack compartment and a baby compartment ("I plan on mixing them up frequently," Robert observed), so you can use both or else just cinch in the baby compartment if someone else is holding the kid or he/she is toddling around. It's not at all a heavy-duty hiking backpack, nor a regulation attachment-parenting sling/soft carrier, but more something for trips around cities when a stroller is too cumbersome. Again, we modelled the backpack with our trusty stuffed cow. Robert was particularly impressed with the soft, but sturdy shoulder straps and reinforced child (sorry, I mean cow) leg openings--he's demonstrating here how "you could even use it on an amusement park ride!" Uh, perhaps not--but it is very cool indeed.
July 28, 2008 (36 weeks):
My parents were here this weekend, just to do a few small things around the house with us and to meet Kelley, her partner midwife Tara, and Zion and Dina (the apprentices). We had a nice conversation, with my mother asking all the "perfect" questions ("What can I do to make the birth easier for you all and for Christina?") and then a nice normal appointment. Everything looks good with me and the baby--Kelley used the Doppler so everyone could hear the heartbeat, and my father got all misty-eyed when he heard it. I'm showing various signs of pre-labor (some contractions, etc.), and between those and the herbs (a tablet containing a blend of red raspberry leaf and a few others) that I'm taking daily to "tone my uterus" and "encourage timeliness" (the general response to that is that everyone knows that I am always early or at the very latest on time, so there's probably not a huge need to worry on that front), the midwives seem to think that this baby will arrive on or before his/her due date.
That's a very weird feeling, frankly--that suddenly, within four weeks and really anytime before then, there will actually be a live baby here, externally, to hold and feed and take care of. Robert and I can't quite grasp the (un)reality of it all--this xkcd nicely captures part of our feelings on that front. I also feel like being pregnant, weirdly, is excellent preparation for having a baby. I mean, first of all, here you are worrying about your kid before he/she is even out of the womb--clearly the worrying never stops, but it's nice that we kind of get eased into it. Whenever I wake up, I do kind of an involuntary mental check on the baby while I wait for a kick--it's funny that this happens even before I'm fully awake, and completely without my being deliberate about it, but again, it's just another way of practicing the real check-on-the-baby that will be happening in just a few weeks. Plus, before I was pregnant, I always just slept totally solidly through the night--now the pressure of the baby makes me have to wake up to go to the bathroom a couple times a night, and my getting out of bed wakes up Robert, and sometimes when I come back to bed at 3:00 or 4:00, the baby is so busy and jumpy inside of me that it's hard to go back to sleep--perfect preparation for getting up in the night with a newborn, I think! There's the weight factor, too--right now I'm carrying around (between the baby, the placenta, extra blood, extra fat deposits, etc.) much more than the weight of a newborn, partially getting me ready for carrying a baby (even as he/she grows) in my arms plus a diaper bag plus my pocketbook, etc.
So, whoa! In sum, it's been nine months: things are exciting, things are getting close, and we know this baby will be healthy, happy, and much-loved whenever he or she actually arrives.
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