See you there! :D
...To a new blog site. No, we are NOT packing up and leaving town with just a few weeks before Bug makes his/her arrival! But we are moving to http://littlerainbowbug.wordpress.com so that our readers can subscribe/ follow with just the click of a mouse. There are some benefits to us as new bloggers, too-- it's organized differently, and a bit more intuitive (to me, anyway).
See you there! :D
A lot has happened over the past month (oops), some of which has made the idea of sitting down and writing anything completely overwhelming. MamaLee spent the last week of July and beginning of August with family out in Wisconsin, and during the same week my parents who live 15 minutes from us went to a wake and to help move my great aunt into a skilled nursing facility in California, so I spent 8 days running between our two houses to feed animals (2 dogs and 5 cats between us) and water gardens, and working. Luckily my job allows for me to work from home, and I got a surprising amount of really good work done given the heat (mostly over 90 degrees – really Oregon?) and my schedule. It was an intense time and I’m glad that my wife and my parents are home now.
Last week I had my birthday. It was a kind of weird experience because I was born a month early (due September 6th, born August 6th) so I realized on the 9th that I was further along than my mom was with me when I was born. For some reason this fact struck me.
It also struck me (again) that I’m getting very close to giving birth to this (suddenly not-so-little) bug, in part because at my last prenatal my midwife gave me all the information about ordering and gathering our birth supplies. This was something I just hadn’t spent much time thinking about. If we were having a hospital birth everything would be available other than stuff I’d pack in my overnight bag. Planning a home birth means collecting everything from a bulb syringe to newborn caps (thank you Radiant Belly in Portland for making this so super easy). Also, I have no idea how much basic birthing supplies for an uncomplicated birth cost in a hospital, but somehow I think they exceed the $75 mark.
So the next few (2-6?) weeks will consist of me trying to convince the weather to stop throwing us red-flag days (hot, dry, windy, for those of you who don’t work in wildfire), attempting to sleep, eating lots of small meals, reveling in the last weeks of feeling kicks and roles from the inside, and trying not to be too much of a grump. The first and last are intimately connected, I suspect.
I realize that I have a different relationship to pregnancy in general than most people, having been trained as a labor doula and also studying reproduction during both my undergraduate and graduate programs. I also realize that many people in our culture don't think of consent outside of a sexual context. So here is a little information that might be useful.
Women are people, even when they're pregnant. Women are autonomous beings, with feelings and preferences, even when they're pregnant. Women get to decide when and how they are touched and by whom, even when they are pregnant.
This may sound elementary and obvious, but you wouldn't always know it just by watching the interactions that pregnant women have with the people around them. It seems that, when pregnant, the common wisdom is that one's body belongs to the world. This is actually a huge issue of consent, as every time you touch a pregnant woman's belly without her express consent, you are in effect telling her that your wish to touch the belly is more important than her comfort, feeling of safety, or preference.
So here are some tips when interacting with the pregnant people in your life:
1. Recognize that she is still herself-- she just happens to be growing a person. If you don't have the kind of relationship in which she would feel comfortable with you rubbing her non-pregnant belly, don't assume you suddenly have the go-ahead just because there's a baby in there.
2. Don't assume that because you were allowed or invited to touch the belly or feel the baby kick in the past that this is still true. Ask every time, unless she has expressly said otherwise.
3. Recognize that different people have different relationships with her, and just because I get to touch the belly whenever I want doesn't mean you do (I did, in fact, ask consent, and was given the express permission to commune with the baby any time I want. You know what though? I still ask, just to make sure). Just because she gave one friend consent doesn't mean you are entitled to touch without asking.
Finally, please teach your children these guidelines as well. Not only will it make the pregnant people in your life more comfortable, it's an important lesson to teach them about consent and bodily autonomy-- theirs and that of others!
I’ve always struggled with allowing myself to take care of myself, especially when that care comes at the expense of being able to care for someone else. One of the greatest things about being pregnant has been that I’ve got a built-in mechanism for fixing this problem: taking care of myself is, quite literally, taking care of someone else.
My most consistent pregnancy side-effect has been exhaustion. There have been days when I have fallen asleep at my desk (albeit briefly) and weeks where an afternoon nap is the only way I’ve gotten through the day. There have been more days and weeks where I could have pushed through and done less stellar work in the same number of hours, but I have given myself permission to take a nap. It is these days that I am most grateful for, because I am making the choice to take care of myself.
Note that I am aware of the privilege that it is in our culture to be able to do this. I am unspeakably lucky that I work in a job where I can take a nap in the afternoon and put in a couple of hours at 3 am when I’m wide awake. Whomever created Remote Access is my personal hero.
Recognizing how much better I feel in general, in spite of the fact that I’m in the process of growing a person, has made me realize how important it is to be able to care for ourselves without feeling guilty or ashamed. I think our culture does a great job of saying that prioritizing your own needs is always selfish. And sure, sometimes it is. But mostly I’m finding that I think it’s healthier to prioritize your own needs, then the needs of those closest to you, and so on and so forth.
This will change some after Bug is no longer able to kick me from the inside, as caring for someone who is helpless just about always takes priority over your own needs. Being able to at least take care of basic needs, however, is the beauty of having grandparents, partners, and the rest of our little community so close. Single parents and parents of multiples have my greatest admiration.
I’m curious though; for parents of young children, what do you do to make sure your basic needs are met, at least some of the time? Do you feel like you can give yourself permission to take care of yourself? What kinds of things are most rejuvenating for you?
It's an interesting thing, trying to get ready for a baby-- in all the myriad areas and ways we try to do that, from getting the nursery ready to trying to expand the concept of my family to include a whole new person-- while also trying to write a master's thesis. MamaRae went out of town for a few days over the holiday weekend while I stayed home, purportedly to write and take care of the furry kids (our dog and 4 cats). You know what I've been doing instead, though?
Now anyone who knows MamaRae and I-- particularly as a couple-- will know that I am the Type B and she is (or used to be) the Type A in the relationship. We've rubbed off on each other a bit, her providing my lackadaisical style with some structure and I helping her ease up a bit and prioritize what REALLY needs to be done right away and what can be put off while we watch an episode of something on Netflix. In other words, although I am less ridiculously messy than I was 12 years ago when we met, I still have a higher tolerance for mess than Mama R does. Usually when she goes out of town, I let things slide a bit and then clean up right before she comes home.
This weekend, though, I have been cleaning things. And gardening. I washed a bunch of baby things and hung them on the line so they would smell sweet and summery instead of baking in the dryer. I didn't do any writing *at all* yesterday because I was busy cleaning the kitchen, doing the laundry (including line drying), making a HUGE batch of hummus, walking the dog (and playing fetch with the apples she stole off the tree in the backyard), and knitting baby things.
Oh my god. So much knitting. Yesterday I finished a baby sock, and this morning I cast on for its mate. I'll post pics at some point, because these socks are made from the leftovers after I knit MamaRae a pair of socks, so they're adorable and matchy. I've also knit an earflap hat (from yarn leftover from a sweater I made for R for Christmas, so not exactly matchy, but cutely coordinated), and a newborn size sweater. Next up are a pair of baby legwarmers and a coordinating cardigan.
But the point is, I'm not getting thesis work done. I read somewhere recently that whatever you do when you procrastinate is what you should do for your living. I somehow doubt knitting for my baby is going to make me much money, so I'd better get back to work on my thesis. But first, I need to clean something.
30 weeks + 2 days
Well, I’ve never been very good or consistent about journaling, so I suppose it makes sense that I would be in my seventh month of pregnancy before I’d get around to writing up a blog post.
(Holy cow, seven months!).
My plan is to go back and fill in some of the exciting and mundane details, probably during the month of August when I’ve sequestered myself in the only room in the house with air conditioning, but today I’m thinking about where we are now, and the fact that in approximately two months we’re going to meet our little bug.
How is it possible for seven months to go by simultaneously so fast and so slow? I remember feeling so much apprehension waiting for the first milestones: 6 weeks, then 12 weeks, then hearing the heartbeat at 13 weeks. I’m a scientist at heart, and hold my statistics near and dear, so the knowledge that passing 12 weeks and hearing a heartbeat drastically reduced the odds of having a miscarriage brought my stress down a lot (just ask my amazing, patient wife). And now, suddenly, I’m at the end of my seventh month.
What this month has meant for me:
• Lots of kicking, rolling, and hiccuping. There was a 24 hour period where I think Bug was awake and wiggling the entire time. The following day we had a prenatal and Bug was in the LOA position (Left occiput anterior – the best position for labor). I’m convinced that Bug was in there doing somersaults to show off for the midwives.
• Heartburn on and off. Pregnancy is the first time I’ve experienced heartburn. The first time I thought I was dying. Okay, that’s a little overly-dramatic, but as those who suffer from it know, it does feel like your stomach is trying to digest your esophagus. Fixes: Tums (quick fix, readily available – don’t use too often because it can cause stomach problems when used a lot/for a long time), raw almonds (thank you midwives for this awesome tidbit!), and sleeping with an extra pillow.
• Continuation of being tired. Exhaustion has been my number one negative symptom. I can sleep for 12 hours a night and still take a nice nap in the afternoon.
• Mild insomnia, lots of night-waking. I currently wake up anywhere from 2 to 6 times per night. Sometimes it’s a three minute-waking, sometimes I lay awake thinking about the best option for cloth diapers for two hours.
• Lots of comments about my size. After 30 years of being low/underweight for my height and body type, one might think this wasn’t a big deal. But it’s actually really annoying. Yep, I’m small for 30 weeks, visually, but my midwives say I’m right on track and so is Bug. And frankly, if we weren’t right on track it’s really not likely that a random person I run into once a month is the one I’d want to share with that something could be wrong.
• To follow off the last point, weight gain! I’ve added 23 lbs to my body since the start of this pregnancy. Seeing that number rise and knowing that it means Bug is healthy and growing makes my day every week.
• Finally, I’ll leave you with one last thought: colostrum. Yeah. Already.
Less than a week left before starting month 8. Looking forward to watermelon and a burst of productivity at work that gets a paper out the door before I go into labor!