Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pregnancy Journal: What Not To Say

From 5 Minutes for Parenting

By Kelly

My husband is a rock during childbirth.

Not only is he great in stressful situations - particularly useful when I started bleeding profusely after the birth of our first daughter; he held the gauze and the light for the midwife while she stitched me back together - but he doesn't leave my side from the moment I enter the hospital to the moment I waddle through our front door.

(I still remember him towering over the L&D nurse in California who told him he couldn't, technically, stay the night with me, as it was against hospital policy to let men stay in the rooms. I believe he might have said something like, "I'd like to see you try and kick me out, little woman." Chuck Norris could have learned a lot from Corey at that moment.)

But I doubt my experience is typical - at least, not to hear my girlfriends tell it. They lean in and pass along stories of horror, in which husbands ask if they can go get a bite to eat during transition or pass out when beholding the placenta or offer helpful suggestions like, "You don't need drugs, honey. Just use all that breathing!"

A few days ago, a blogging friend sent me a copy of a Facebook thread, in which the author - who is days away from being a first-time daddy - asked for help compiling a list of Things Not To Say To Your Wife While She's In Labor. The suggestions, from both men and women, were hysterical.

"Here, babe, can you hold my sandwich?"

"Wait! Don't push! I forgot the camera in the car!"

"This hangnail really hurts. Does it look infected to you, honey?"

"This is taking forever! Do you care if I fire up a movie?"

"Man, that looks like it hurts."

Or my personal favorite:

"That nurse is hot."

How about you? Do you have some words that a L&D Dad should keep to himself? Or maybe you have a personal tale of wisdom to share? Now's your chance.

Kelly is due in May with her fourth child. To be fair, her husband isn't perfect. He once called his wife a moose when he was feeling amorous. You can read more about her family at Love Well.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pregnacy Journal: Boxes of Memories

From 5 Minutes for Parenting

By Kelly

Seven boxes of memories are stacked in the spare room right now, waiting for me to shed my coat of melancholy so I can sort through them. It will be a job that requires the emotional detachment worthy of a Vulcan (or Dr. Cox from "Scrubs" ).

Each tub is stuffed to the brim with baby clothes - specifically, baby girl clothes in sizes ranging from newborn to 18 months. Impossibly small fleece outfits adorned with snowflakes and hearts, tiny sundresses bedecked with flowers, little shorts and t-shirts and tank tops that once showed off chubby thighs and arms -- each one is multifaceted jewel in my treasure box of memories.

When we found in December that we will have a boy in May, I immediately said to Corey, "Now I can sort through all the baby girl clothes." Up to this point, I've kept every item of clothing my children have ever worn. I never knew when I might need it again, and I'm anything if not practical.

But now, I no longer have an excuse to hoard. For starters, we live in a small house right now, and we could use the storage space. (Seven tubs of baby girl clothes, I mean, good grief!) Plus, both my sister and my sister-in-law had baby girls this last year, and I plan to give away my favorite outfits to them. It loosens my emotional grip a little to know these sweet clothes will be worn again by my nieces, who are worthy of my offerings.

But I don't pretend this will be easy. When my husband pulled out the tubs this last weekend (since I can no longer bend over enough to fit into our crawl space under the stairs), I remarked that I would probably still have one tub of baby girl clothes to return to storage after The Sorting, because there are some things too precious and too meaningful for me to part with right now.

He smiled, because he knows me. (Even if he can't relate, because he is a Vulcan.)

And funny thing -- he also got out the tub of newborn baby boy clothes for me. I need to go through it and see what we might need for this new little one, especially since he will be born in the opposite season from his big brother.

Somehow, knowing I have one more newborn to clothe and smell and cherish lessens the sting.

Kelly blogs at Love Well. She is currently 27 weeks pregnant with her fourth and final baby.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pregnancy Journal: For the Love of Pregnancy

From 5 Minutes for Parenting

By Kelly

I was talking on the phone to my sister last weekend, lamenting my falling-apart-disease and my advanced maternal age and my weariness with being pregnant in winter. And while she felt for me, she also let loose a deep sigh, and she said, "I would give anything to trade places with you right now. I love being pregnant. I love being in labor. I love having babies. I just love it all."

I laughed, because I know it's true. Emily has wanted to have kids since she was in grade school. She is extremely bossy maternal, and she has an infectious love for all things children. Even now, when she has two of her own, she salivates at the idea of adding more to her brood.

I, on the other hand, came late to the mothering game. I was 28 before I even thought I might want to entertain the idea of starting a family someday. (And even that was mostly the result of friends plying me with stories of the miraculous epidural.) I turned 30 just a few months after Natalie was born. And while it's true that I astonished everyone - including myself - by falling head over heels with parenting, to the point that I had two (almost three) more children in the next eight years, I have never - and I mean never - opined that I love being pregnant.

Pregnancy to me is a mystical means to an end. I'm fascinated by the uniqueness of it. I marvel at the creativity it showcases.

But I also freely admit it's bizarre and uncomfortable and sometimes flat-out exhausting.

Later that same night, after my conversation with Emily, I said to my husband that I wish gestating a baby were more like wearing a backpack. What a relief it would be to be able to take off the precious sack for even two hours and hand it to my husband so I might go get a cup of coffee without huffing and puffing and feeling the baby roll into my bladder and kick against my ribs.

But that's not how the process is designed. Women are the bearers, the creation vessel. We get the glorious with the grinding, the magnificent with the mundane.

Still. I can't say I love it.

How about you? Do you love being pregnant? Or would you be happy to let someone else do the gestating for you if you could still have the baby at the end?

Kelly is 26 weeks pregnant with her fourth child, a baby boy who is sadly nameless. She blogs about her daily life at Love Well.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pregnancy Journal: I Am Falling Apart

From 5 Minutes for Parenting

By Kelly

I am falling apart.

I determined this last week when I heaved my aching, groaning self onto the couch, after a long day of single parenthood to 3.5 kids. (My husband travels a lot for business in the winter months, to unfortunate locales like Florida and Virginia and California. I am not bitter.) My back hurt. My hamstrings throbbed. I couldn’t walk to bed without that characteristic side-to-side gait of pregnant women. And I felt like the baby was perfecting his karate skills on my two bottom ribs.

Technically, I am 25 weeks right now. But I feel so much further along, like I should be counting down the days to my induction.

So last week, I did what we all do when we have vague medical questions: I took my symptoms to Dr. Google.

Thus, I have a diagnosis for “pregnant and falling apart at 25 weeks”: I have symphysis pubic dysfunction.

You can go read the technical definition, but basically, it means the ligaments in my pelvis are as stretched out as old rubber bands, and thanks to pregnancy hormones, they aren’t doing a good job of holding my skeleton together anymore. My alignment is off, you might say, and it’s exacerbated by the fact that my core muscles no longer exist to support my back and hold in my tummy. Instead, they are taking the winter off. Last week, I got a postcard from them; they were in Acapulco.

My other physical complaint right now is the near constant Braxton-Hicks. It’s not unusual for women to experience these so-called “fake contractions” in the second trimester. Medical texts say a little rest should make them fade away.

Problem is, I have a toddler to keep up with. And we live in a three-story townhouse, so I am constantly up and down and up and down and up and down the stairs. Just those two aerobic activities alone make my uterus tense into a restrictive corset that makes normal breathing and movement almost impossible.

Also? My bangs are too long. Do you think I can blame that on the baby?

I don’t mean to complain. In my house, "No Whining" is rule number one. I am acutely aware that many women would give anything to have my aching, falling-apart body – as long as the baby inside came with it. Daily, I remind myself to be thankful for this miracle, even if it does make me huff and puff as I get out of bed.

But the simple fact remains: Pregnancy is physically demanding, especially if you're 38 like me. I’m ready to meet this baby and be done with the gestating already. I want my body back.

Do you think it will be easy to piece me back together in May?

Kelly is 25 weeks pregnant with her fourth baby. In addition to the Pregnancy Journal at 5 Minutes for Parenting, you can find her blogging at Love Well.