Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Daylight Fading

Saturday, while buying three-dollar pink suede boots (with fringe) for my yet-unborn daughter, I got another text message from The Boy. This time, a picture of him in front of a horse monument. Later, a video of a band playing on a corner and man dancing with two brooms. "I love this. Wish you were here," he said. At my insistence, he had traveled to the Big Easy with our friend Ryan to explore and see his beloved Saints play. Not excited at the prospect of being alone at home, I headed to Richmond to hang with Amber and the kids.

The Boy did Bourbon Street and alligator sausages at the Superdome; I did the three-year-old's hair (badly) and shared my granola bar with the grunting one-year-old. I watched penne get thrown on the floor at the Olive Garden. Sunday, Amber said, "Sorry friend. Not the weekend away you were looking for." I always love my time with Amber, regardless of the circumstances. We watched a Hugh Grant movie and ate gigantic ("reduced fat") ice cream sundaes. I'm sure my visit there had something to do with the five pounds I've gained in the last two weeks.

But maybe, given my impending motherhood, it was a tad overwhelming. I called The Boy and said I wasn't sure I was cut out to have kids. He reminded me that we're only having one right now. And coming home, the house empty except for the dog, I remembered that even in an exciting time, it's important to cherish what's here now. Last night: me on the couch, eating reheated rice (and later, ice cream) and watching Tim Gunn on TiVo. I can do that now. No one was yelling for help wiping their tushie; no one needed me to give them a bath. There will be many days and years for that, and I am excited about the whole of it. But even the mundane now is special in that it won't be here forever.

We are into autumn now, and I am coming up on my third trimester. I can't believe how short the days are already, and everything is framed in the impending arrival of the girl who is already changing everything. At a follow-up sonogram last week, we learned that my amniotic fluid is still low, and it appears that the baby's right kidney is dilated. Tomorrow morning I'll see a perinatologist and have another sonogram. No one will tell me anything until there's more to say. I'm not excited to see a doctor with "high risk" in the explanation, but I'm glad we're being cautious. And I'll never complain about seeing my little girl.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Looking Forward, Looking Back

At twenty-five weeks pregnant, I think I'm probably less ready to be a mother than ever. On Monday, I fell down at work. In the hallway, during the normal course of walking, for no apparent reason. Minor muscle strains and bruises notwithstanding, my daughter and I seemed to be fine. I mentioned it to my OB, who said, "Well try not to do that again!" Oh, okay. Now I'll be more careful, but just because you say so.

We are embarking upon what, at least so far, seems to be our biggest challenge yet: securing childcare. At work, my child is number 212 on the list of "infants and unborns," up from 229 a few weeks ago, but down from 211 a few days ago. It's not a hopeful process. The Boy had a consultation that netted us countless phone numbers and addresses. And, of course, we couldn't just be on the same page about it; because we both feel like complete morons, in way over our heads, we fight about it. Thursday, in tears, I said, "I'm pissed at her because she's already ruining everything and she's not even here yet!" And this is how I know it will all be okay. Because the father of my child held me and said, "It's okay to be pissed at her." When I told my mother about it, she said, "Well that's a terrible way to look at it." Obviously, she is not father-of-my-child material.

The second number in my weight is higher than it has ever been but, in all probability, not higher than it will ever be. I've gained ten pounds, but my blood pressure is great, the kid's heart rate is on target, and just to be sure everything else is as it should be, we get to see her again in another sonogram on Thursday.

I'm reading a book on setting my baby's sleep and feeding schedule; I'm taking a prenatal Pilates class; I've signed up for childbirth education boot camp, and according to my pastor's wife, I'm "blossoming." But today The Boy's stepbrother asked me if it's weird, getting ready for something so unknown. "I don't see how I could ever prepare for it. And then she'll be here and nothing will ever be the same."

I'm not mad at her today, so I guess that's something.

And now, the looking back: I feel sheepish publishing this now, given my current pre-maternal state. It seems disingenuous, if only a little, to write about "surviving a miscarriage" only now that I'm nearly three quarters of the way along with my next pregnancy. But I've written a story and had it published at maryelise.com, a new, start-up women's magazine online. Check it out, if you please.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Goodnight, You Moonlight Ladies

And so already, my daughter is making herself the center of my life. Once I finally figured out what it felt like when she moved, it felt like she wouldn't stop moving. At home, whenever I felt a particularly strong kick, I'd yell for The Boy. "Baby! Get in here! I saw my hand move!" Slowly, he'd shuffle over, put his hand on my belly and morosely say, "I don't feel anything. You only feel it on the outside because you feel it on the inside." He pouted. I did not necessarily agree with his logic, so I still called him whenever I thought he might be able to feel it.

Then last week at work I realized she hadn't been moving much. At all. In fact, I couldn't remember the last time she moved. I went to The Boy's softball game, and in the car on the way home I blurted out, "She's not moving and I don't know what to do." The Boy convinced me to call the after hours line at my doctor's office.

"Would you classify this as an emergency?" The receptionist said.

"I don't know; that's why I'm calling."

"Well, the only way to get a message through is to call it an emergency. I can also refer you to office hours."

We went through this sequence a few times, before I told her to call it an emergency. It was only 9 PM, but no one ever called me back.

When I laid down to go to bed, the baby gave me a courtesy kick, but just one, and just barely. In the morning, at 8:56, I called the doctor's office. Another receptionist answered the phone. "Should I classify this as an emergency? It's that or else I refer you to office hours. The office doesn't open until 9:00," she said. I figured I could wait the four minutes.

Throughout the morning various receptionists told me to eat sugar or lie down or drink a little soda to get the baby to move. My daughter is way too cool to fall for any of that, though; she could not be manipulated.

Finally my favorite, Jacquetta, called me back. "Would you like to come in, just in case?"

Thank God. The Boy and I raced to the office to wait over an hour to hear the heartbeat, which, of course, we heard immediately. The other doctor, not my usual OB, tried to reassure me, but of course I felt like an idiot. I told her I was feeling something else, like a tightening that seemed too low to be the baby. "Well, pregnancy is uncomfortable," she said. Yeah, I thought, I've been pregnant nearly six months now; I think I've picked up on that. I will try not to freak out again, at least while my child is in utero; it was pretty embarrassing. After the doctor walked out, the kid kicked like she was trying to break free.

"Maybe she was just trying to get some attention," I hypothesized. "She's probably going to be a drama queen."

"Could be," The Boy said, "only once she gets older I doubt she'll try to get attention by sitting quietly."

A couple days later, we decided to play music for the stubborn child. In the absence of headphones, we put the iPod docking station on my belly. We played Counting Crows, and even though I disagree with her, she liked Mr. Jones better than A Murder of One. She liked Jack Johnson okay. But by far, her favorite was James Taylor. We played Sweet Baby James, and she went nuts. "Was that her?" The Boy asked, eyes wide. I nodded. "It wasn't you hiccuping or something?" He couldn't believe it.

"Are you getting verklempt?" I asked him, using our euphemism for being choked up, which we've used frequently since I've been pregnant.

"No," he said, too quickly. "I've probably felt her lots of times before, I just didn't know what I was looking for." He paused and looked down, "Well, maybe a little."

I put my hand on my belly and envisioned rocking our baby in the glider I thought would be much more comfortable and singing, "Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose, won't you let me go down in my dreams, and rockabye sweet baby James." And then I got verklempt, just a little.
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