What Are You Due-ing on Thursday?

February 14, 2012 § 12 Comments

Me? Oh, I’m getting induced for labor. 🙂

At today’s prenatal appointment, everything was going along just fine…until they took my blood pressure and found that it was reading 140/86. My OB didn’t like that number, so after checking my progress, she sent me along my merry way to labor and delivery at the hospital across the street. She wanted me to have some lab work run, as well as a few more blood pressure readings taken. Fortunately, Robert had chosen to take the afternoon off today in order to be present for this appointment. (Since this was the week of my due date, we figured playing hookie was acceptable.) So the two of us drove over to the hospital (I got curbside valet service from my wonderful husband), and I spent the entire forty-second car ride wondering aloud if I had done something wrong that would have caused my blood pressure to spike. All of a sudden, I was not only afraid of having brought about an “early” labor, but now I was actually starting to think that it was a bad thing. (Not to worry friends: Robert helped clear the air on that misunderstanding pretty quickly.)

An hour and a half felt like it lasted an eternity as they drew blood, had me pee in a cup, and squeezed the crap out of my right arm. I was put into a hospital gown, made to lie on my left side, and told to just try to stay calm. I have to admit, three weeks of sleeping in our recliner rather than in our bed has really spoiled me–lying on my left side was almost excruciating. My hips and round ligaments really started to hurt after a while. Once I got an extra pillow to put between my knees, though, I found some relief.

By a little after 5, my lab work returned as normal, and my blood pressure was down to 119/64. Much more like the numbers I’m used to–actually, those are more like my pre-pregnancy numbers. Melanie’s heart rate was awesome. After an hour of lying against my left side, though, she grew annoyed by the device strapped to my belly and rolled away from it. The nurse assigned to my observation room had to chase her around my uterus in order to get a good heart rate reading on her before I was released. I couldn’t help but laugh because my already independent-ish daughter was not making this woman’s job easy. We could hear her move against the doppler device, and finally the nurse found her heart. One thing I have always known about my daughter is that she loves moving. She’s been a squirmy baby from the very very beginning. At my second ultrasound, at about 13 weeks, she was so wiggly that we almost couldn’t get a clear image of her to print off. From that point on, Melanie has let it be known quite clearly that she loves moving around. This girl is going to be so good for my health! 😉

With normal readings, we were sent home.

But just before that happened, my obstetrician made a surprise cameo–we really hadn’t expected to see her again. She asked if I wanted to be induced on Monday. Although I initially told her we’d defer to her, I laughed and admitted that Robert was really ready for Melanie to be born right now. She replied, “I can do Thursday. Would you like to be induced on Thursday?” All I had to do was make eye contact with Robert to see the right answer. “Thursday would be perfect.” I babbled about my parents being out-of-town and how a Thursday induction would allow them to come see Melanie early. So then it was decided: February 16th will be Melanie’s Birth Day…as long as she doesn’t decide to come tomorrow.

I appreciated this trip to the hospital because it was like a little practice run. Robert and I drew up a list of loose ends that we still had to take care of at home; as soon as we got home, we tightened those loose ends. I also know now to bring a pillow for between my knees. I have a specific pillow for that job. We’re going to walk into that hospital like we’re planning to move there…but I don’t care. It’s all about the creature comforts, right?

The reason for the induction? Melanie’s size. I want to try for a vaginal delivery (although I don’t have anything against a Caesarean). If we let Melanie continue to wait and grow, she will only get bigger, thus diminishing my chances for a vaginal delivery and almost ensuring the chances of a C-section. In a funny way, I do have some mixed feelings about being induced (shouldn’t I just let nature run its course? is this another instance of the over-medicalization of American births?)…but I also know that this is my best opportunity to deliver my baby in the way that I want to.

Melanie must know something is going on…I am sitting here watching my belly undulate in waves that would rival some of the South Pacific’s most incredible surfing conditions.

In a truly A.Hab-ian twist on something that once caused me intense anxiety, I finally have a plan for something that has been entirely out of my control for the past 40 weeks. One way or another, we are going to have a baby by this weekend. 🙂

The Art of Scaring People: Due Date Edition

February 14, 2012 § 5 Comments

Yesterday was my due date. This is what one of my pregnancy apps greeted me with yesterday morning:

Melanie's due date comes...

And this is the greeting from this morning:

...and Melanie's due date goes.

Melanie was due to arrive yesterday, but she did not make her appearance. I have another prenatal appointment this afternoon to determine whether or not I’ve made any progress. I’m mentally preparing myself for bad news that I haven’t progressed at all–I was actually disappointed last week when my progress was zero. So today, I’m trying to spare myself that disappointment.

As many women already know (especially those who have gone through this process), due dates are fairly arbitrary guesses. They are often determined by counting the average number of days in an average gestational period, beginning with the date of the last menstrual cycle. The tricky part of that little equation is at least trifold: 1. not every woman is “average,” 2. not every woman ovulates at the same point in her cycle, and 3. conception (unless performed medically, as in an IVF procedure) is often nearly impossible to determine. Apparently only around 5% of women actually deliver on their due dates. Another way to determine the due date, aside from the calculated guess, is to use ultrasound further along in the pregnancy to determine the size of the baby, size of the womb, and amount of amniotic fluid available. The trouble with this method, although more reliable than the educated guess, is that not every baby develops at the same rate, not every woman’s womb grows at the same rate, and not every woman produces the same amount of amniotic fluid. Basically, we get a ballpark figure that in its essence says: “This is not a birthday promise. It’s a general heads-up so that you know when you should start getting yourself ready for a hospital stay.”

I spent my day yesterday wishing for my water to break. After lunch, I realized I was sitting around wasting my time. So I went to the grocery store. This time, I encountered an elderly cashier (one of my favorite cashiers at this store, as it turns out). She asked me, as people are wont to do when they see a 40-week pregnant woman waddling toward them, “When are you due?” I decided this was a great opportunity to freak out another person. So, I grinned and said as cheerfully as I could, “Today!” Her eyes bulged, her mouth gaped, and she took a faltering step back. “Today???” I laughed and nodded. Then, I leaned a little closer to her (since she had stepped back–did she expect my breaking water could splash her over the counter?), and I said softly, “I’m trying to walk around so I can induce labor. Keep your fingers crossed!” She stammered out a “good luck,” handed me my receipt, and turned to the woman behind me in line to compare their harrowing stories of the time the 40-week pregnant woman stood in line at the grocery store.

When you reach…and pass…your due date, what’s the point if you don’t mess with people?

The Art of Scaring People and the Nine-and-a-Half-Months Pregnant Woman

February 8, 2012 § 10 Comments

As my pregnancy goes on and on, I have become quite adept at scaring the crap out of people.

Scenario One: Waddling through the Grocery Store
On February 3, Robert and I found ourselves hungry and in need of food. He hadn’t slept more than three hours the night before, and I was having a sudden burst of energy, so I volunteered to dash down to the store to grab some foodstuffs. Bringing my goodies to the cash register, I caught the attention of four teenaged employees. Three girls and one boy stared at my burgeoning belly as it swelled through my shirt. “Do you know what you’re having?” one girl ventured shyly. I smiled and told her we were having a girl. “When are you due?” another girl asked. “In ten days,” I said cheerfully. The boy turned gray. “What if you go into labor right now??” he demanded. I laughed. The girls laughed. “Then you’ll have to deliver the baby!” snorted the cashier. His eyes bulged out of their sockets. “No, seriously. What happens if your water breaks right here??” I laughed and said, “Then we call my husband, I go sit on that bench over there, and one of you gets a mop.” He didn’t look convinced. He had the terrified look of a teenager who believes the movies: when a woman’s water breaks, the baby pops out. Ah, if only it were that easy! If he ever decides to reproduce, he’ll learn the truth that membranes breaking doesn’t always mean an immediate delivery. I walked out of the store with a big grin on my face, fully confident that my waters wouldn’t break. They didn’t.

Scenario Two: Relaxing with a Mani/Pedi
On February 5, my sister and I went out for a girl’s day, complete with a mani/pedi! It was heavenly, simply divine. I nearly fell asleep in the pedicurist’s chair while he massaged my feet and legs. All women within ten days of their due dates should get a pedicure, plain and simple. Of course, as soon as the employees discovered that my due date was, well, pressing, they started looking at me differently. All of a sudden, chairs were pulled out of the way for me and held in place as I sat down. They asked me over and over if I was okay and if I needed anything. As we were leaving my sister could only point out that, “when you’re eight days away from your due date, people just look at you like you’re a ticking time bomb!” Truer words have never been spoken.

You see, the beauty of being so close to your due date is that the fear and anxiety you instill in those around you comes with absolutely no effort at all. Others seem to be hard-wired, somewhere deep down in that common human DNA we all share, to cast a wary glance at a particularly pregnant woman. They watch her closely, as if ready to pounce into action the first moment she cringes or leans against a wall. On the one hand, I appreciate the humanness of those looks. They themselves may not even be conscious that they’re doing it, but I see them. On the other hand, sometimes the stares can feel, well, a bit invasive. I may be close to my due date, but I’m not past my due date. (Of course, there’s no way for the general observer to know that without asking.) There’s a small amount of forgiveness I must (and do, happily) extend to my attentive onlookers. They mean well. And if I really were to suddenly go into labor while running errands, at least I know that I’m not on my own island.

Even if I do feel like a human island.

Feeling the Pressure

February 1, 2012 § 6 Comments

Maybe the subtitle for this post should be something along the lines of “or: a tale of lightening.” I hesitated to commit to that subtitle because I don’t know for sure that I am experiencing lightening yet. (For those who aren’t familiar with the term, “lightening” refers to when the baby drops into the pelvic bowl in preparation for labor. Lightening can happen as early as four weeks before labor or as late as minutes after labor begins.) What I do know I’m feeling is pressure.

Yesterday morning after waking up, I felt this incredible “dropping” feeling in my lower abdomen. It burned and felt like a sharp stabbing pain all at the same time. I groaned as I settled into an upright position so that I could begin the slow wobble to the bathroom. Throughout the day, I noticed that walking helped alleviate the intensity of the pressure some, but the pressure itself did not disappear. Some women describe this feeling as a sort of “falling out”–they may describe an irrational fear that the baby will “fall out” because of how low the baby suddenly feels. As of yesterday, I practically expected to shake hands with my nearly-born daughter.

I had a prenatal appointment in the afternoon and described the pressure to my obstetrician. She grinned and said, “That’s great!” I must have looked skeptical because she elaborated, “It means that you’re getting close. Things are moving along.” I must admit, that is pretty great. This past weekend was all about preparations and nesting–even Robert got in on the act. I don’t know whether daddies experience a nesting instinct, but Robert announced last Thursday that he was going to wake up early Saturday to take my car to be washed and vacuumed, and then he would install the car seat bases into both of our cars. (By the way, I have to give a shout out to the LATCH system in vehicles–it took Robert and me all of five minutes to install those bases into our back seats, and I think three of those five minutes were spent reading the manual and double-checking that we were aiming in the right place. Installing a car seat is absolutely idiot-proof these days, which is a relief. Most vehicles after 2002 come equipped standard with LATCH in the back seat. If you’re not sure, you can check your vehicle’s user manual.) I’ve been driving around with the car seat in my car since Saturday for two reasons. The first is so that I can go ahead and get used to seeing it in my rearview mirror–the handle of my car seat is in my line of vision only a minimal amount, so it’s good that I have been practicing so that I can make the necessary adjustments. The second reason is because we plan to take my car to the hospital, and not having to remember the car seat itself will be a blessing. I also spent Monday finishing Melanie’s baby laundry. (Well “finishing”…I just realized I haven’t done her cradle sheets yet. So that’s on the docket for today.)

All of these preparations are thrown into stark relief when I compare them against my physical experiences. The pressure in my lower abdomen constantly reminds me that this little girl is coming, and she’ll be coming soon! No matter how anxious I was in the beginning that I might lose her, no matter how many horror stories I read or heard about women losing their babies in the second trimester, no matter the warnings and risks I’ve become aware of for signs of trouble…Melanie still kicks and squirms around as though this uterus isn’t closing in on her on all sides. Her heartbeat (that I get to hear every week now) is strong and stable. I feel more relaxed now because I know that my baby will come to us in a matter of days.

The pressure I’m enduring physically has spilled over into our household activities–we are cleaning more regularly; we are preparing the nursery with more gusto; we are making arrangements for plans B, C, D, and E; and we are staying in touch with each other more carefully than ever before. Robert limits his time out of the house without me asking him to. I limit the number of text messages I send him through the day so that I don’t send him into a panic that I’m in labor. This physical and emotional pressure from our upcoming major change has even made me more productive–I sent off the second draft of my last chapter to my director on Monday morning. Today I’m going to grade some papers from my online class so that I don’t have it hanging over my head any longer. As Robert is making himself more available to my pressing needs, I feel as though I’m clearing away the clutter in my day-to-day in order to make way for Melanie’s arrival.

Pressure, as my obstetrician so rightly pointed out, is a great thing.

The Anticip……..ation of Baby Hab.

January 26, 2012 § 4 Comments

(Surely if you are a fan of Rocky Horror, you get the title’s reference, so I won’t need to explain it. ;))

I feel like a little kid on Christmas Eve. Like the early morning of Christmas Eve. The hours before everything begins but during the time when all the preparations are already underway. The tree is decorated and lit, the gifts are all wrapped and tantalizingly near at hand, the food is baking in the oven. The guests haven’t arrived yet, or you haven’t started getting ready to go travel to your destination. It’s the waiting time. The in-between time.

It’s that awfully sweet hour when you’re not quite sure that Christmas will actually happen.

There are moments in my day (usually in my night) when I find myself pressing a hand gently against Mel’s bottom as she pushes back against me…and I wonder if she’ll ever arrive. I’m not exactly eager to see my pregnancy end. As I stated in the last post, I have truly enjoyed being pregnant. But I am more eager to meet my daughter than I am to continue being pregnant with her. That’s a given. She is already developing something that I can recognize as the beginnings of a personality. For instance, she prefers certain sounds to others (her daddy’s voice is a big favorite–she’ll actually move toward the side where his voice is coming from). She also loves being touched (when I drape an arm across the top of my belly, she’ll press against it; when my hand is resting on the side of my belly, she finds it). I pat her when she pushes up against my hand or arm–and I imagine patting her as we rock and cuddle.

Just like I know Christmas will come every year, and it will bring with it certain expected traditions, I know that Melanie will arrive, and she will bring with her certain expected unknowable changes. Just like I know Christmas will come but still struggle through the waiting time, I know that Melanie will come but still struggle through the waiting time. My pregnancy has felt like it has flown by. I can’t believe that I’m already within 20 days of my due date. Under three weeks of waiting left. It seems impossible.

But then I am filled with the anticipation of the waiting period. Wondering if she’ll come, when she’ll come. Wondering where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing when I go into labor. Wondering where Robert will be, what he’ll be doing. Wondering what she’ll look like. Wondering what she’ll feel like. Wondering if she’ll recognize our voices, like all the books say she will. These are the times I feel like I just can’t wait another minute. (Of course then the panic of anticipating actual labor descends like a fog, and I just want to keep waiting.) The anticipation is sweet…and unbearable at the same time.

I know Melanie will come when she decides to come. But now that she’s physically capable of survival, I am so ready for her to get here.

I Have Loved You For a Thousand Years: On being full-term

January 25, 2012 § 14 Comments

Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years” has recently been tattooed into my brain. I think it happened when I was singing in the car on my way home from some errands a few days ago, and it occurred to me that I was full-term. And then Melanie kicked. And it occurred to me that she was responding to my singing…and then the tears came. (But that’s normal at nine months, I hear.)

At full-term, 37 weeks, the baby is not only viable but is really ready. All the fear, all the worry, all the cautious hoping can finally ebb because we made it. Of course, this is a bit of a generalization–although I am entering motherhood for the very first time, I realize that I have only begun to know what it feels like to be afraid, to worry, to cautiously hope. It is a relief, however, to know that if I were to suddenly go into labor, my baby would very likely survive.

(Side note: as I write this, Melanie squirms around in my belly–although some may find it disturbing, I have relished watching my belly pulse and move because of her activity.)

I have enjoyed my pregnancy. Yes, I had discomfort when my round ligaments decided they didn’t feel like playing nice anymore. Yes, I was exhausted a lot. Yes, I had stress nightmares from all the worrying I did. Yes, I have had self-esteem crushing shopping experiences when I realized I was too fat even to wear maternity clothes. (They only go up to a size 16/18, just as a fair warning to any plus-size pregnant women out there. You’ll do yourself a favor to forego the “maternity” labels and just buy sizes up from what you currently wear. It’s not worth the blow to your self-esteem, believe me.)

But in spite of everything, I have enjoyed my pregnancy. Immensely. I have learned a few important lessons that I thought I would share with you all before the baby arrives.

1. How to Prioritize
Before Robert and I conceived Melanie, I was busting my ass on finishing my dissertation. I think I probably could have done it, too, but I don’t know what sort of shape I would have been in as a newly-minted PhD. All that mattered was writing and graduating. The minute that stick showed the two little lines that would change our lives forever, my list of priorities began to rearrange itself. I realize that a number of academics would read that sentence and think, “Oh god, that sounds terrible!” In fact, I was in that group. Until I got pregnant. And then I realized that all those niggling feelings of depression and sadness were from dissatisfaction with my priority list. I knew there was more to this life than writing a dissertation and graduating with a PhD. Melanie helped me identify it, and she helped me give myself permission to feel proud of my rearrangement.

2. How to Worry the Right Way
Worrying about deadlines and other people’s expectations of my performance had been my default setting. I could hardly function unless I consulted someone else for their opinion of what I should do or how I should do it. My worries were often inwardly focused. Getting married helped broaden my worrying horizons a bit, but only a bit–because my husband and I are intertwined in many ways. My worries are his worries; worrying about him means worrying about myself too. And then Melanie enters the picture, and suddenly we’re worried about this little life that hasn’t even begun to live unassisted yet. We’re immensely aware of how our behaviors and choices will affect her in very real ways. After kissing me good morning, Robert runs his hand across my belly; after kissing me goodnight, he drapes his arm across my belly to feel her kick. She is the first and last thoughts we have every day. What a blessing it is to be pulled out of unintentional narcissism in order to focus on someone else and to consider in exactly which ways my actions affect another human being.

3. How to Let Go of Criticism
Although I knew there were some debates raging in the world of maternal concerns, I had no idea just how fiercely those debates were argued. I have unwillingly (and sometimes unwittingly) entered into some pretty heated ones myself. As the nine months have progressed, I’ve gotten better at smiling and nodding, choosing instead not to debate at all. Everyone has an opinion about what a pregnant woman chooses to do or chooses not to do. Anything from choosing to have an epidural block during delivery to something as simple as selecting which nursing pillow to use–these and so many others are all up for debate when it comes to the pregnant woman. And, of course, everyone feels entitled to weigh in. I believe this sort of criticism prepares the new parents for what to expect when they enter into the debates of the parenting world. I have started to work the phrase “we just do the best we can do” into my daily mantra. If I hear criticism about choosing to opt in for an epidural block, I smile and think, “That’s fine. I’m doing the best I can do.” It’s a form of forgiveness and acceptance of my own choices.

4. How to Appreciate the Body
As a larger woman, I have struggled with my body from a very early age. Even when I was a little girl (and I mean in age and size), I would compare myself with the other girls in my class, hoping to be the smallest among them. I cannot tell you how that particular habit entered into my behavioral repertoire, but it eventually morphed into self-loathing once I became one of the bigger girls in my group of friends. I still do have concerns that strangers looking at me on the street will not know I’m pregnant, but will just assume that I’m a super fat woman. But I can tamp down those insecurities with the realization that my body is doing something wonderful, something beautiful, and something that it was biologically designed to be able to do. My body is sustaining a second life, a life I am deeply aware of in many ways. Watching her move around, pressing my hand onto her rear-end (or her head, when she was facing up) and patting her makes me feel more connected to this little life squirming around inside of me. And it is my body that is doing that. My body, in spite of its size, in spite of all its socially-dictated imperfections. My body is doing this beautiful thing.

5. What it Means to Multiply Love
When I got my cats, Callie and Beatrice, I loved them immediately. But they weren’t my world. When I met Robert, I fell hard for him. I loved him so much so fast that I couldn’t stand not telling him and trying to wait some socially acceptable amount of time before sharing my feelings with him. (For the record, I didn’t make it. I told him I loved him about a month or so after we started dating. To my delight, he felt the same way.) I still love Robert as fiercely as when I first started to love him–sometimes I find myself in this habit of telling him I love him multiple times in a single conversation. He does the same thing. Robert has become my world–we have always called ourselves a family, even just as the two of us. And then Melanie enters our picture. She is our world. She is this incredible manifestation of this incredible love Robert and I have for each other. I feel like I have loved this little life for a thousand years, as Christina Perri sings about. I have loved this family for a thousand years. It is just natural to love this family.

At full-term, I feel like I am on the precipice of discovering something even more incredible, something even better. I am incredibly excited and terrified. But I’ll just keep doing the best I can do, and I will lean on my partner just as I have done since the day he and I set foot on this journey way back in January 2007.

Relinquishing the Bling in Favor of the Bump: when to take off the rings

November 13, 2011 § 9 Comments

It’s wintertime. Or so they tell me. Here in the Hab. part of the world, the days are still reaching into the high 70s, and many of us sigh longingly at the display tables of sweaters, no matter how thinly-knit. There will probably be a week or so in January when we can gleefully don those duds, but not quite yet.

In the wintertime, so the stories say, cold weather wins out. Historically, in colder climes, my hands and feet shrink. During the winter, my perfectly-fitted wedding and engagement rings spin deliriously out of control on my left hand. I am cautious not to applaud too vigorously at football games, mindful not to gesticulate too wildly, for the rings will go (and have gone) flying.

This winter, however, appears to be different. I would like to claim environmental influences–because it is still so warm outside, you see, that, that, is why I can never seem to feel cool. Why I have the A/C on a week and a half before Thanksgiving. Why I point a box fan directly at my spot on the couch. It is the fault of global warming, I insist, why my hands and feet are growing instead of shrinking.

And that’s when I let out the resigned sigh. Tomorrow is the beginning of my third trimester. And even though I have only gained 8 pounds (as of two weeks ago…Tuesday’s prenatal appointment could reveal slightly different results), the third trimester brings with it edema. Every pregnancy is different, of course, so not all women swell in the same ways, but I do believe all women swell. And I have swollen, friends. I am disturbed by my distended features. My fingers look to me like Vienna sausages. My feet like hooves. (Robert holds that they are not these deformities, but I can tell…everything is rounder.)

These past couple of days, I have noticed an increasing difficulty in removing my symbolic rings. It’s time. I can still wriggle them off, with some difficulty and threat of pain, but for how much longer is not clear.

So now what? Do I put them on a chain around my neck? Do I store them in a box until my fingers return to normal? (Will my fingers, never delicate by any stretch of the definition, return to normal??) I know that if I stubbornly continue to wear them throughout the rest of this pregnancy, I run the risk of never removing them again. Robert has reservations about my wearing these beautiful rings on a chain around my neck–he envisions disasters resulting in the loss of one or more of the diamonds that encircle the bands. Or of the wearing down or stretching out of the settings’ brackets. I can’t say that I blame him for his concerns; I share them, of course. But the idea of leaving the rings in a box…not to see them every moment of every day…well, I have been pouting all morning just at the mere thought.

But it is time. The bump is winning this battle of wills. As my belly rounds and expands, so round and expand my hands and feet. It’s time to relinquish the bling.

Yep. I’m THAT pregnant lady.

November 7, 2011 § 10 Comments

Beatrice and I were snuggling on the couch for an unprecedented free moment this morning when the tears came rolling down my cheeks. Fat, round, alligator tears. Beatrice shifted her purring weight on my chest and turned to look at me through squinted, smiling eyes. I kissed her nose and cried against her fur.

Taking a deep breath, I walked into our bedroom, mentally planning my wardrobe for the day, sure that I had finally gotten the random tears under control. Robert told me good morning and gave me a kiss. I felt a prickling just at the tip of my nose and edges of my eyes. I blinked hard and turned to the dresser.

Get it together, lady, I chastised myself. Now, what’s good for today? Jeggings or slacks? Jeggings or slacks?

As I pulled the jeggings out of the drawer, I could hear Robert’s voice. He was telling me something to do with a news story he had read this morning during breakfast. I couldn’t focus on his words. Turning around to face him, I gave him a half-hearted “hm” of acknowledgement…and then met his eyes.

“Oh yeah,” I said, lips trembling. “I’m apparently doing this today.”

Cue the hot, fat tears.

“Oh, no! Why?” His voice was soothing as he pulled me against his chest. I shook my head, rubbing my face on his shirt.

“I don’t know. I guess it’s what I’m doing today,” I said, beginning to laugh in spite of the apparent sadness riddled on my face. “Today’s 26 weeks.”

He held me and laughed along with me, not sure how to respond to a pregnant wife who had, for all intents and purposes, fallen to pieces in his arms at 6:15 in the morning.

Later, while I sat alone in his office, waiting for Robert to return from class and awaiting my own 11 o’clock composition course, I felt the tears threaten again. Melanie began to kick against my abdomen–soft, fluttery kicks followed by strong jabs on the opposite side. I imagined her flexing her fingers and toes.

“Well, kiddo,” I murmured to her, blinking past the tears so I could try to finish typing my notes on Act Two of Hamlet for this evening’s class. “Your mother has officially given in to the hormones.”

Another roundhouse kick sent me straight to the bathroom.

Just at 25 weeks, I officially became that pregnant lady. The one who dissolves into unmotivated and completely unwarranted crying and laughing jags (often simultaneously). The one whose feet behave not unlike two turtles, growing to accommodate the confined spaces of footwear–expanding into comical caricatures of their former selves when left uncontained. The one whose body rebels at the most inopportune moments, sending sharp, jagged, searing pulses of pain throughout her lower abdomen and groin.

I have received an “official” cease and desist order from my obstetrician in response to my confession that I was still seeing my personal trainer once a week.

This past weekend at my first baby shower, as I attempted to thank our guests for their outpouring of love and obvious excitement for Melanie’s arrival, I could hardly get the words of gratitude past my lips. Robert broke the tension that often accompanies watching a pregnant lady cry helplessly by muttering in a stage whisper, “I knew she’d cry.” The guests laughed. I laughed (and cried) and managed to return to my point so that I could at least thank everyone. I cried again on our way home from the party, our SUV packed to capacity with Melanie’s gifts, deeply touched by their generosity and by their obvious show of love for this precious girl who hasn’t even made her grand debut yet.

So, be forewarned: my third trimester begins a week from today on November 14th. Some of you are blessedly spared my crying jags by your computer screens. Those of you who interact with me either through voice or in person, however…please know that if I dissolve into tears in the middle of our conversation, it’s not you. It’s me.

I’m that pregnant lady.

Things That Go Bump In the Night

October 13, 2011 § 10 Comments

Houses creak at night. Cats knock things over onto the floor at night. Dogs snore and whimper in their sleep at night. The wind blows twigs and leaves into windowpanes at night.

When I was seven, I remember sitting up one sleepless midnight, listening as hard as my little ears would listen, heart racing. Surely that thud! I just heard was a burglar with a penchant for harming seven-year-old girls. My toes prickled and curled under my comforter as I picked up the sounds of movement on the staircase…someone was coming up the stairs to get me. This person was good, though–they must have been watching our house for some time. How did they miss the one creaky step? I was doomed. Done for. Finished.

I squeezed my eyes shut, telepathically sending my last earthly farewell to my family, when suddenly I felt the pressure of a body on my bed. Tears pushed through my eyelids; all I could do was wait for my imminent death.

It was the meow that did it. And the purring. And the “marching.”

“Muffin,” I breathed, sighing out all the anxiety I had built up. I could just barely make out her dark form in my dark room, but she found my outstretched hands and curled up beside me.

At that tender young age, I began to understand that not all things that go bump in the night are sinister.

Some things that go bump in the night are actually quite delightful and thrilling.

Things like a kitty cat kneading the blanket beside you. Things like a husband who shifts to snuggle against you.

Things like a baby kicking inside your belly.

It was Tuesday evening, after dinner, when Robert and I together felt Melanie’s kick on the outside of my abdomen. During the day, I had felt her protest as I leaned over a countertop and pressed my stomach into the hard edge. But this was something different. This was a joyful dance. A jig to celebrate the sateity that comes after a yummy meal.

Although she was not as active Wednesday, she still gave me a few little knocks to let me know she was in there.

And, like many new moms, I respond to her by telling her what she’s doing. “You are very strong, Melanie. You are kicking.”

I know, I know. She doesn’t know English yet…she has no verbal or other communication skills. And there is nothing to suggest that my words sound anything more than the muffled “wahwahwah” of the Peanuts cartoons. But there’s something about talking to her that is comforting to me, too.

Even now, I feel her movements underneath my skin. For those unfamiliar…they feel similar to gas bubbles, although not nearly as predictable or uncomfortable. Also, almost like a hiccup that stays centralized to your abdomen. The movements are difficult (if not impossible) to describe to others…but I know what they are. I know who they are from.

That’s my little girl bumping around in there.

Getting to Know You: the subjectification of Baby Hab.

September 23, 2011 § 8 Comments

Subjectification. It’s a word that Michel Foucault and some hard core theorist buddies of his coined to talk about the process of creating a subject.

If you’re not familiar with my pal Foucault, allow me to help you unpack this little concept (it’s one of the easier ones, not to worry) so that you can chuckle along with me at the cleverness of my subtitle. Yes…this part of the post is just to explain the subtitle. Have I mentioned that I’m writing a dissertation? 😉

A subject in the Foucauldian sense refers to an individual who has an identity, a name, a socially-accepted and -directed Self. This is almost entirely prescribed before the subject has an opportunity to subjectify him- or herself. So, as soon as the moms and dads say, “He shall be called Richard” or “she shall be called Suzy,” poor Richard and Suzy have already become subjects. (Which is mildly better than objects, which get no say.) Subjects do have an opportunity to attempt to break free from their subjectivity by demanding that they are, in fact, agents (with real opinions and desires and needs, dammit!)…but we won’t go into agency at this point. (Just know that agents are the ones who make decisions. Subjects have decisions made for them by the agents with the potential to become agents. Objects are just things, or are people made to exist as things, that we observe and talk about with little regard to that thing’s sense of awareness or sense of existence.)

When we subjectify something, we actually create for it a pre-determined existence. We acknowledge the thing as something that exists, something that participates in some capacity or another within social boundaries (or perhaps even the subject is supposed to participate outside of social boundaries…which is also a boundary). Heidegger might (to my utter frustration) refer to the subjectivity of a subject as “the thingness of the thing.” Don’t worry, friends. I threw his little book across the room when I read that tautological nightmare. That showed him! I obviously much prefer Foucault and his straight-forward writing style (or maybe that’s the diligent work of his English translators…even still…)

So, here we are. Somehow Foucault’s subjectification relates to Baby Hab. How? I’ll tell you:

We have officially made Baby Hab. into a subject! There is a sex and a name and everything! Now, we can stop referring to the little squirmy sensation in my abdomen as “it” or “hey you in there” and have made our little observable object into a real-life subject! (I could make a case for how referring to an object with the second-person pronoun actually already subjectifies it…but I won’t.)

Get ready for it, folks…because I would like to introduce to you

…our society’s newest little subject…

Melanie Lynn!

Doesn't she have the prettiest profile? Look at that sweet nosey! And I swear I can already see her cheeks. She gets that from her mommy's side.

That’s right, folks! Robert and I are expecting a sweet, angelic baby girl! 🙂 (Okay, maybe we’re not expecting a sweet, angelic anything…but she will be female, whatever her personality!)

We went in for the eighteen-week ultrasound the day after my birthday, and we were thrilled to see our precious little girl looking less like a wiggly mushroom or shrimp and more like a human being. She’s about the size of a grapefruit and weighs 10 ounces. (This morning, I called her my little filet. I like that nickname. Mon petit filet!) In fact, because of her size, they changed my due date by three days! I’m actually 19 and a half weeks along (man, that nineteenth week went by fast!), and we’ll expect her on February 13th instead of the 16th.

She looks good and active–she has two arms, two legs, looks to have ten fingers and ten toes (from what we can see on a grainy ultrasound). Her heart just flutters as strongly as anyone could want. She also looks like she inherited a pair of long legs from her Daddy’s side of the family. Currently, she’s traverse, in “hammock pose” (I like to say), which is fine for this stage. One of her favorite exercises (and this has been true since the beginning) is to bring her knees to her chest and suddenly thrust both legs out as far as they can reach. I think that’s the source of the squirming I’ve been feeling. For now, when she’s just a 10-oz. filet lying traverse, we’re good to go. But…when she’s in the head-down position? Those long legs are going to aim right for my ribcage and kidneys! I’m dreading that experience, but I’m a little bit too in love with the idea that she’ll be a dancer or a yoga guru or gymnast or soccer player or basketball player…to worry about some future kidney-kicks. (As the girl who only dreamed for long legs, seeing her daughter with legs that are clearly way longer than her torso is exciting.)

So, here’s to our new little social subject: Melanie Hab.! What a great adventure lies ahead of her.

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