Monthly Archives: February 2009

Organic tattoos

Yes, those are stretch marks you see along the front of the belly in week 32. They appeared VERY low down several weeks ago in stunning, angry, dark purple-red diagonal lines and are slowly creeping up the curve of my belly. Despite our twice daily oil or lotion applications, they itch like a mo fo.

Cupcake still moves around a lot but his movements are very different from a few weeks ago. He is clearly running out of room to move in there. I can distinctly feel a tiny foot lodge itself under my ribcage (painful, as you may imagine) and once or twice we have felt the curve of his butt pressing outwards.

At this point, time is moving both quickly and slowly. I am literally counting the weeks until he is out and I can begin getting my body back. Yet the amount of stuff that is happening between now and then is daunting. We are busy nearly every weeknight with classes and appointments and we have 2 showers coming up soon. Then, ready or not, he’ll be here. And we are so very excited!

Two steps forward, one step back

We went to our 4th Bradley class last night (there are 10 total, the final one is 2 weeks prior to our due date). The instructor began by talking a lot about the “coach”… did we have a plan in place for when we need to leave work, what about for false alarms, what strengths do we bring to the pregnancy and birth, did we have plans in place for what to bring to the birth center, for how to take care of the birthing mother, etc. Before she began, the instructor looked right at me and said, “I’m sorry, but the book always refers to the coach as male…. they just haven’t learned yet” which I thought was really sweet. Yay for the instructor making such progress! When there was something male-specific involved, she would speak to the husbands and then try and find a variation for me. Again, very nice.

Then we spoke about labor, inducing labor if necessary, and medical interventions. Of course, one of the ways to induce labor is by applying prostaglandins to the cervix, which most places will do prior to breaking the bag or using Pitocin. Prostaglandins naturally occur in semen, which is why they tell straight couples to have sex to induce labor. One of the couples in our class asked whether they should stop having sex prior to being full term because it might induce labor. The instructor assured them that unless the husband had sex with the wife 3 times within a 12 hour period, it probably wouldn’t be enough prostaglandins to bring on labor before she was ready. We all shared a little laugh at the husband’s expense, about him not being able to have the energy to do so. But then the instructor turned to me and said, “In your case, it’s not going to help….unless you want to find a volunteer…” Now, I know she was joking and wasn’t serious but ew, people. EW. I stared at her with my eyes wide and strongly shook my head as in “HELL-to-the-NO.” Offensive, much?

The rest of class was spent watching a video about medical interventions and discussing their few pros and many cons, and then doing a massage and visualization relaxation technique. Funniest part of the night was when we spoke about circumci.sion with the other couple we know is having a boy (they are Korean Americans from Kentucky), and the woman said her mother asked her if they were having a bris. She answered, “Um, mom…we’re not Jewish.”

I asked Nutella on the way home if she was enjoying the classes. We both decided they were good, but we thought we’d be doing more and talking less. When we found out we were pregnant, we scoured books and the internet and haven’t stopped reading since. A lot of the stuff we already know. I kind of wish we spent the majority of class practicing the relaxation techniques. It’s much harder to do so at home when the couch calls to you.

Paying it Forward

Here’s a meme/ game that’s been making the rounds.  I’ll be honest with you, I’m a crafty person in general but due to recent developments (i.e. baby room making, baby growing) I haven’t done much in a while.  However, I’m also a baker.  So if you get a gift from me and have a preference, let me know.  I also adore accomodating people’s dietary preferences/restrictions when I bake, so challenge me if you like!  Here are the rules:

1. Be one of the first three people to leave a comment on this post, which entitles you to something handmade by me (something crafty or yummy).

2. Winners must post this challenge on their own blog, meaning that you will Pay It Forward, and send handmade goodies to three more folks, the first three who leave a comment on your blog.

3. The gift that you send your first three commenters can be from any price range, and you have 365 days to make & ship your item. (This means that you should be planning to keep your blog at least until you’ve received your gift and sent your gifts.) And remember, it’s the spirit and the thought that count!

4. When you receive your gift, feel free to blog about it, and share the Linky Love. If you’re not one of the first three commenters on this post, you can still play. Just create a Pay It Forward post on your own blog, and start your own chain. And encourage your blogging friends to play along.

Okay comment away!!

Rebirth

Our third Bradley class was much better than the previous one. Nutella and I made sure to subtly but surely drive home the fact that the instructor should be more sensitive to same-sex couples. Before class started, Nutella suggested the book “Confessions of the Other Mother” as a reference that the instructor could use and recommend to other lesbian couples, especially for non-gestational partners. The instructor seemed interested and wrote it down. At the end of class, the instructor, Nutella and I, and another classmate whose husband wasn’t able to make it to class, were involved in a discussion about the pros and cons of having same-sex vs. opposite sex partners. They recognized that it was nice that I, as a woman, could understand some of the symptoms Nutella experienced or will experience at some point (many being similar to PMS). Sure, I’ll never have experienced the type of pain that childbirth will be, but having the same parts, I can imagine more clearly and empathize more than a man ever could. On the other hand, since Bradley is “partner-coached”, there are some positions that require a certain bit of strength on behalf of the partner…including certain positions where the partner is relied upon to fully support the birthing mother. Since I’m smaller than Nutella, we’re not going to be able to do all of these positions. Yet the instructor said that others, like the “dance” relaxation technique for example, will be easier for us to do because we’re of similar stature. It was nice to talk about these things, especially with the other classmate since I caught her staring at us out of the corner of her eye during the last class. It seems she’s thought things over and no longer finds us such a strange phenomenon now 🙂

That said, the activities we did during class included going through a list of things that could be done to make oneself more comfortable during pregnancy, doing visualization and gentle pressure relaxation techniques, and watching an hour-long video of drug-free births. Both Nutella and I confessed to each other that when the first baby in the video was born, we were both teary-eyed. We feel really good about attempting a drug-free birth at the birth center. It’s simply amazing how far it seems most hospitals have yet to come in that regard. I now find it barbaric to have women lie on their backs for hours, no food or drink, with constant fetal monitoring, trying to push a baby UP the birth canal, when approximately 30% will be forced into C-sections anyway. It saddens me that this is still the way things are done, unless you have a more progressive hospital. Anyway, it definitely solidified our confidence in the midwife choice, although we are also glad the hospital is steps away should we need more serious intervention.

Sweet pee

We had our first midwife appointment this morning. Unfortunately, since one of the two midwives was attending a birth in the hospital, things were backed up. We spent the first half hour filling out paperwork on and off. Then we waited for another 20 minutes. Then Nutella went to weigh herself and pee on a urinalysis stick. When she came back to the waiting area, she told me there was no protein in her pee but her glucose level was as high as it could go. We both thought this was strange since she passed the 28-week glucose test with flying colors (118 with a cutoff of 130) Then a student midwife (registered nurse in midwifery training) took us to a room and did a 20 minute interview about health history, etc. Then we waited some more until the midwife was finally able to see us.

This next portion of the appointment was thankfully quick. The midwife looked over all the historical notes and asked a few questions. Then she listened to the baby’s heartbeat (150bpm) and measured fundal height, declaring it “just perfect” which I take to mean 31cm at 31 weeks. She was a bit perturbed at the glucose in Nutella’s urine, asking what she had for breakfast. The answer to that is frosted mini-wheats and lactaid milk. The midwife thought that might have been enough for that much sugar to “spill.” And then we were pretty much done. Next appt at 33 weeks.

Before leaving, Nutella went to the bathroom and peed on another stick. This time, no glucose appeared in her urine. We told the midwife who said her body is handling sugar just the way it should then…quickly!

Finally, it surprises me when healthcare professionals are still shocked when they see lesbians. There’s always that intial second or two of the deer-in-headlights look, although they don’t seem to have any problems with it. In this day and age (and specifically in the area in which we live), I expect it to be a complete non-issue, don’t bat an eyelash sort of thing. Guess we’re just not there yet.

Third Bradley class tonight. Many thanks to the instructor for sending out articles on what it means to be a father.

Tuck your chin

Today we had what was probably the last ultrasound and prenatal appointment with the OB. Cupcake was very active, as is usual for him, and the ultrasound tech was able to confirm that he is perfectly positioned, head-down. We’re very pleased about this because until pretty recently, we were sure he was still breech. She got measurements of his head, heart, bladder, stomach, kidneys, femurs, and then measured the amount of amniotic fluid. Per our request, she also confirmed that he is indeed still a boy.

Our doctor was running late but managed to see us as his last patients of the day. In short, I’m having a very textbook, uneventful pregnancy. Weight gain, blood pressure, glucose and amniotic fluid levels are all perfect. The current estimate on Cupcake’s weight is 3.5 lbs which is totally within normal. The doctor didn’t even listen to the heartbeat since the u/s tech had done it. He gave me my prescription to get the Rhogam shot done at our local hospital and then wished us well and asked that we keep their office updated when the baby arrives. We hung around for another 5 minutes until we could get copies of all my records, and then were out the door.

I have to say that I feel incredibly lucky that things seem to be going so well. Symptom-wise I feel heavier, slower, and more uncomfortable with each passing day. Cupcake is still extremely active even to the point of continually keeping me up at night and distracting me at work during the day. But if all of this results in a healthy baby, I’ll take it.

Finally, what you’ve been waiting for…Cupcake’s closeup. In this picture, his chin is tucked down, but you can see his eyes, nose, cheeks, lips and fist (ready to punch the ultrasound tech, which he did repeatedly).

Happy Heart Day

We are big mushballs here at chez Strawberry & Nutella.  Sure, we do nice things for each other often, but we love having an extra-special day, too. We’ve been enjoying a lovely morning, starting off with breakfast in bed. I was simply giddy yesterday knowing about the fresh raspberries, blood orange, scrambled eggs and bagel with strawberry cream cheese I had in store for Nutella. We have some errands to run this afternoon, but have reservations for a fancy dinner in the city tonight.

Last Valentine’s Day without a physical baby present. Whoa. And Cupcake also seemed to enjoy that breakfast *in-utero jazz hands*

Enjoy your V-Day, lovebirds.

One of these things is not like the other

Last night was our second Bradley class.  The topic: all breastfeeding, all the time.  No joke, we spoke about the benefits and details of breastfeeding for nearly 2 hours.  I can’t say that much of it was news to us, but then again, we seem to be more self-educated than the average parents-to be.  As expected, the information given was VERY pro-breastfeeding, nearly to the point of equating formula feeding with poison.  Since we have already committed to exclusively breastfeeding for a minimum of 3 months with 6 months as our ultimate goal, there wasn’t much to make us bristle in the subject matter.  But I can certainly see how parents in different circumstances would feel a bit threatened and judged by the material.

But what would a birth class post be without an amusing anecdote?  The class format last night was done by going around the room, answering the list of questions on a handout.  We are sitting in a vague semi-circle like this: Straight Mom 1, Straight Dad 1, Straight Mom 2, Straight Dad 2, Lesbo Mom 1 (Strawberry, not pregnant), Lesbo Mom 2 (me, big and pregnant), Visiting Chiropractor sitting in for insight to the Bradley method.  So the instructor starts going around the circle asking the questions.  She asks SM 1, then SM 2, and then LM 1 (Strawberry), then Chiro.  Totally skips the straight dads and me.  For the next go round, Strawberry hands me the workbook to hold and sure enough, the instructor does SM 1, SM 2, LM 2 (me), and Chiro.  Still leaving the straight dads out of the questions-go-round.  It was pretty odd.  I mean, either the non-pregnant partners should have been skipped completely or they should have been included.  Those dads need to know the breastfeeding stuff just as much as Strawberry does.  Sure, she can probably understand some of the info from a more personal perspective than they can, but she’s not going to be breastfeeding either.  Once our babies are here, her role and theirs will be identical.  In the end, no harm was done, and we aren’t sure if we should be more amused or offended by how things played out. Really, I think we inadvertently confused the instructor.

In other news, in the last week, stretch marks have begun in earnest.  They are all on the underside of my belly going diagonally down below my pantyline.  I can’t actually see them unless I use a hand mirror.  And they itch like crazy, despite our generous application of moisturizers and/or oils 2 times a day.  I can’t say that I am surprised by their appearance.  We did take a picture of them for posterity, but I can’t share it here because they are so low it’s not really decent.

Passing it forward

This weekend we spent a lot of time with a whole bunch of lovely women from an online blogging forum we’re a part of. Though it is true that we didn’t need much hand-holding from them while going through our TTC process, we did and still do find them an invaluable resource and a great place to meet friends. Apart from the brunches, one of the weekend’s events was a “swap,” and since there were a lot of toddlers present, that meant there was a Whole Lot of baby clothes available, from newborn onwards. We cleaned house, and still barely made a dent. I think we took over 30 things, from onesies to overalls to socks to a winter carseat cover. As for us, we contributed a stack of leftover OPKs, HPTs, and beloved but never used disposable speculums.

Nutella is already feeling the brunt of the 3rd trimester. Most days she is feeling uncomfortable, having trouble sleeping, sometimes dealing with swollen ankles, and has really slowed down. I do my best to be sweet to her and keep her focused on the light at the end of the tunnel, though it’s still a ways away.  Though we both know there’s an active baby inside the growing belly, we’re looking forward to seeing his face again in a week at the ultrasound.

In the mean time, I’m getting more prepared at work for my time off. I have my initial paperwork for 3 months of FMLA filled out, although I won’t be able to hand it in until we have something preliminary from the lawyer regarding the second-parent adoption. We’re finalizing and signing those documents this Friday. I also have paperwork to request advanced sick leave, that way if I don’t have enough time saved up for FMLA and the 3 weeks I want to take when the baby is born, I can use my “future” sick leave a little bit at a time and not have to forgo paychecks. Currently I have 11 weeks of leave saved up, so things are looking good.

Second birth class is Wednesday. We’re responsible for this week’s snack (carb, fruit/veggie, sweet) and went with Kashi cheese crackers, baby carrot sticks, and dark chocolate Hershey kisses. Hopefully a good assortment to watch a crowning.

Cat, cow, and inappropriate touching

We went to our first Bradley class last night. The class is being taught by a certified Bradley instructor/doula at her home. Nutella and I are 1 of 3 couples (in the Wednesday night class, there’s also a Sunday night one). For those that don’t know, the Bradley “partner-coached” method focuses on natural relaxation techniques, natural (no drugs) birth, and of course, coaching every step of the way by one’s birth partner.

The instructor was very friendly and open, not disturbingly nutty-crunchy, but definitely anti-hospital birth. We felt very comfortable with her. We also felt comfortable around the other couples, who are about our age or possibly a little younger, and due to give birth a month later than us. For them it was probably, “oh, there’s a lesbian couple in our class…interesting….whatever,” in other words, we didn’t feel it was an issue at all- no blank stares or anything.

We talked about the anatomy some, specifically how important it is to keep one’s pelvis open- to constantly sit cross-legged or similar, squat, and use the birth ball. A chiropractor was sitting in on the class to learn more and had some good insights on bone and joint structure, so that was a bonus. We watched a short video of a home water birth which was the calmest, fastest birth I’ve ever seen (yeah, right!). She said that video was a good one to start off with so I’m a little scared of the others. We went over a long list of relaxation techniques people use whether they’re pregnant or not and talked about which ones are better to use during labor.

But the most interesting part of the evening came when she went over preparation exercises, specifically pelvic rocking. She asked if anyone was doing yoga, and when Nutella said yes, she asked her to be the “mom” model for pelvic rocks. She had Nutella get on all fours and do “cat” and “cow” yoga positions, basically arch her back up and then drop her back down. Now, while Nutella was doing this, the instructor got on her knees behind her, slid her thigh between Nutella’s legs, and proceeded to rub her hands all over Nutella’s back and ass. She also made sure to show us how her leg was keeping the per.ineum warm, which allows it to be more flexible. If I weren’t so shocked, I might have been a little jealous. lol. Basically, she was showing us that it is best to keep physical contact with the mom in labor because the touch and support is very important, plus in that position, you then have the leverage to massage her shoulders and back easily, with your hands or elbows.

We ended the class with abdominal breathing exercises and the proper way to lay on one’s side using pillows for support. Thankfully, I was the one with my hands on Nutella for those. All in all, a good first class and we’re looking forward to more. Plus we were able to borrow The Birth Partner book from the instructor’s library, which is something we’ve heard many good reviews of.

And in other news, we haven’t gotten a call back from the OB about Nutella’s bloodwork which can only be a good sign (they said they’d call with bad news or else we’d discuss the results at our next visit). Whew.