Friday, May 29, 2009

We did it!

It's a boy!

Announcing Robert Nicholas, born Wednesday, May 27th, at 8:10pm.
  • 10 pounds even
  • 21.5" long
  • Head circumference: 14"
  • Chest circumference: 14.5" *
  • Tons of blond hair
  • Covered in chubby, delicious fat rolls
  • Cutest baby in the nursery... by far
Photos and birth story to follow soon, but here's the quickie version: it was an all-natural, drug-free vaginal delivery. Nobody was expecting Robert to be so big, least of all me... He surprised all of us! His shoulders got stuck briefly, but were freed up fast and it didn't cause him any damage. (I, on the other hand, am simply shredded, but that's for the long version. ) Robert's still at the hospital due to some breathing issues that are apparently common in big babies, but is doing great and is due to be released tomorrow morning. Breastfeeding going OK so far, although it's hard to tell at 48 hours; we're on the way back to the hospital now for another feeding.

*You know how they say that the head is the biggest part? Apparently, not always the case... Let me describe that bit sometime.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Pregnancy, Work, Chicken Feet

Yesterday morning, Don woke up thinking that I was in labor. I was merely sitting on the end of the bed, trying to get my socks on, but I guess the excessive grunting and sighing sounded alarming. It's hard to remember a time when getting dressed in the morning wasn't the most difficult thing I do all day.

If you'd been in the right grocery store at the right time yesterday afternoon, you could have found me standing in front of the Ben & Jerry's display, stroking my belly and murmuring, "So what do we want, baby? What sounds good? Chunky Monkey? Cherry Garcia? Whirled Peace?" The guy stocking the case didn't seem phased at all, though. I think being this pregnant qualifies one for a certain amount of eccentricity.

Yesterday was my last day of work. Next week and most of the week after, I am on vacation; after that, maternity leave. If there's any time in between, (i.e. if I get through the next two weeks sans delivering baby) I'll get a doctor's note and take short-term disability, because I'm not lumbering back into work that much past my due date. Actually, they probably wouldn't even want me, more than a week overdue* and ready to pop any minute. It feels strange to be done with work. I've always worked. The bank offers a 12-week maternity leave, so combined with my vacation time and etc, the earliest I would be returning would be September, if I go back at all. That is still up in the air, because it's very hard to know what I want to do, in a situation I've never been in before.

Our annual, surprise bank audit happened Wednesday, months before we were expecting it. (They actually nailed the "surprise!" part of it this year.) I was at the doctor's office when my coworker texted me, letting me know that the audit team was there... I'm glad the nurse had already checked my blood pressure by that point, because I'm sure it shot right up... I know my heart rate did. It's a nerve-wracking experience, a bank audit, no matter how prepared you think you are. We got the highest score possible, which is really unusual and puts us (me) in a very small winners' circle... The bank is buying dinner for me, my manager, her manager (like he had anything to do with it, really!) and two tellers; hopefully the dinner will be early next week or else there will be a tiny, uninvited guest coming along. I had originally been hoping that the auditors wouldn't come until I was gone, just so that I wouldn't have to go through it, (did I mention that it makes for a rough day?) but now I'm glad it happened this week. I figure that if they had come later in the summer, one of three things would have happened: we get a lower score based on something that was done wrong after I left (i.e. new people coming in and messing up my banking center, grrr); we would get a lower score based on something that I had unknowingly screwed up before I left, so that everybody is cursing me after I'm gone; or, we get the perfect score that we got Wednesday, but because I've been gone for a month, I get no credit for the results, even though I'd been diligently keeping the center in order for the whole year since the last audit... people's memories are short. This is really the best-possible outcome all around.

Things are starting to change in a way that makes me think that I'm not going to go past my due date. I think the baby has 'dropped' somewhat, based on the new, interesting pain in my pelvic bones; the sudden, otherwise unexplained, constipation, balanced out by *less* need to pee... baby's head seems to be resting in new places. I'm carrying so low that strangers feel the need to comment on it: "If that baby falls any more, he'll drop right out!" Well, that is kind of the plan, really. I've been very even-keeled, calm and steady, for most of this pregnancy, but in the last week or so I've been... less so. Hormonal whirlwind would be more accurate. 'Evil pregnant monster' might be Don's honest assessment, should you be able to drag such a thing out of him. I've actually cried twice in the last week, and I am not a crier in general. So, either all of these little changes mean that the baby is coming soon, or it means that the next two or three weeks are going to be... interesting**.

Last night, Don and I had to perform chicken surgery. Nobody mentions these things in the books glorifying backyard chicken-keeping; nobody discusses having to sneak into the hen house late at night, grab the bird you need, and spend a nerve-wracking ten minutes plucking feathers out of her feet. Now my first batch of birds were purebred, which means that you pretty much know exactly what you're getting. This batch is mixed, the result of somebody not separating their chickens by breed for the winter. Since I can't have a breeding flock anyway, it doesn't matter much, and it's actually been more fun so far; the first chickens were not only purebred, they were sisters, and completely identical to my eyes. These girls are all different. One's black-and-white, one's all white, one's almost all golden, and one is gold-and-black. She's the smallest, the prettiest, and Don's favorite. And for some reason, she has feathers growing down her legs and out of her feet. Now some breeds of chickens do have feathered legs and feet, but they tend to be fancy show birds, not the sturdy, barnyard layer types that are supposedly the parent stock of my chickens. We noticed several days ago that she was sort of limping and hobbling around. My first thought was that she'd hurt or broken her leg somehow, but a close inspection showed her legs to be fine, albeit with big feathers growing between her toes. At first I thought that maybe the feathers were just slowing her down, affecting her balance, (since the feathers were as big as her toes) but another few days showed her seemingly in pain, and pecking at the feathers to the point of drawing blood. We decided that if they were bothering her that much, the feathers had to go. So we waited until dark, kidnapped her, and I de-feathered her feet using pliers while Don held her on his lap. She was not happy with this procedure; I could tell it hurt. I think generally you don't pluck chickens until they're dead, but then again she was trying to get them out herself, and I think I did a better job. This morning she seems to be getting around easier; another day and we'll know for sure whether it was the right thing to do. At least the experience didn't traumatize her too badly, as this morning she's eating, drinking, and hanging out with the rest of the flock... This is a good thing since tonight, we'll be doing the same thing, except just to do another inspection, and a hydrogen-peroxide foot-bath. I love the chickens but they do walk in their own poop a lot, and she's essentially got open wounds on her feet-- I don't want her freed from the feathers only to be taken down by an infection instead. The joys of livestock, they never end. One funny thing, though; all of the advice books claim that you need to provide your chickens with at least 9" of roosting space per bird, and ideally 12". We have a four-foot-long roost in the coop for four birds. I thought, given the recommendations, that they would sort of evenly space themselves out along the roost at night, but it turns out that they all huddle close together, squashing themselves into the first 18" or so. I had wondered if they were doing something like that just based on where the droppings seemed to accumulate, but it wasn't confirmed until last night, when we actually saw them sleeping. I guess we could have used either half the length of roost, or had twice as many birds in there at night... Silly books.

*Don't worry, I'm fully aware that I would have to get past 42 weeks, not 40, to actually qualify as "overdue", and that the average first-time gestation is a little more than 41 weeks. But my work doesn't know that, and I have no intention of enlightening them.

** By which I mean HELL.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Bits of Things

The Target in my city sells basic cloth diapers, which is nice. They do not, however, sell diaper pins. They use stylized images of diaper pins in their baby-section decor, but they don't actually offer said pins for sale. This confuses me, because without the pins to hold them together, the diapers are nothing more than burp-rags. I tried both the masculine and feminine methods for Finding Something in a Store, (because I am in touch with all of my aspects); first I wandered around by myself for ten minutes, looking and looking. Then I asked a salesperson for help. Neither method produced satisfactory results, but the womanly way was faster and more efficient, and came with a tip: try Babies'R'Us.

I've finally been making some progress around the house, little by little. Nothing like an impending deadline to get that fire burning, you know? There's still a ton to do, big messes everywhere, but I at least have a game-plan now. Don has discovered one of the Many Things to NOT Say to One's Pregnant Wife, which is that the fabric that she picked out for curtains* looks to him like it's covered in big marijuana plants**. This is the fabric that I spent three days choosing, on which I had already asked his opinion, and had spent most of the weekend sewing. It's a leafy, green batik print that mostly resembles BAMBOO. Believe me when I say that he has spent most of this week admiring the curtains...

I'd love to paint this room as well, but can't because it has water damage on the ceiling and (now) on one wall. The plan is: fix the leaky roof, THEN redo the walls/ceiling. It just makes more sense that way, really. But it will probably be a few weeks at least before Don can get to the roof, so no pretty green walls yet.

Had yet another doctor's appointment this morning, everything is still fantastic. Nothing to report. Turned down the option for a vaginal exam/ cervical check, because really, there's no point to them. When people ask me whether I'm dilated at all yet*** I basically just fib and say 'no'. I mean, I might be, and I might not be. It's easier than going into a diatribe of why internal exams aren't necessary during the last weeks of pregnancy.

*not for a nursery, since we don't have one, but for the room that is becoming the guest bedroom.

** Since he does not partake of said leafy herb, it wasn't a compliment, like, ah... my favorite plant... that it would be coming from some.

*** HONESTLY, the things people ask a pregnant woman. I'm sorry, but my cervix became your business WHEN exactly?!

Thursday, May 14, 2009


I promise you all, Cathy is in good health! She is not obese, or even close. Her coat is nice and the dandruff is hardly noticable, unless you're brushing her. She hasn't stopped eating. She's had a recent physical (or whatever their called for pets-- a well-cat visit?) and was declared a fine specimen of an 8.5 year-old cat. Please don't worry!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Maternity Ward Tour

I have finally taken the tour my hospital offers of its maternity ward. This is apparently something that one should sign up for many moons in advance, but I didn't get that memo. Honestly, there is so much involved in getting ready for a baby, which all has to be squished around the work day as it is, AND accommodate for having a pregnant body and mind*, that it's pretty amazing that any memos get through at all . So I called last week, and asked to reserve a place in this week's tour, only to be told that it had been booked solid for ages. But the nice lady asked when I was due, and when I told her, said that she'd keep my name and number handy in case there were any cancellations, and booked me for the next week instead. Who knew that the maternity tour was something you could be wait-listed for? Somebody actually cancelled, and the receptionist actually called me back to see if I wanted in. I did.

This actually gave me pause, because whoever couldn't show up, took the time to call and let the hospital know. Keep in mind that this is a free tour, so it's not like there's a deposit involved or something; it was just such a considerate thing to do, since the hospital takes so few people on each tour, and procrastinators like me are on a waiting list. If I had signed up early and then couldn't make it, would I have called? I hope so. More likely is that I would probably have meant to call and then forgot.

The tour was great. Don couldn't go given the short notice, so I was the mama-to-be that appeared to be all on my own, without even a girlfriend or mother for support. Ah well. The only aspect that Don was really concerned with was the "where to park, what door to go through" bit, and I took notes on that part. (We were wondering whether it would work better for Don to drop me at the front door and park the car, or if we should park together and walk up together-- I maintained that it really depended on how I was feeling at that moment. It turns out that there's free valet parking, solving that little dilemma right there.) On a similar note, I timed my trip from our front door to the hospital's parking lot, and it took 6.5 minutes. This was during the worst part of rush hour traffic, going the speed limit, and obeying all laws; it would be even faster later in the evening. Sometimes I love living downtown.

If this hospital had a theme song, it would appear to be Roy Orbison's "Anything You Want". We have jacuzzi tubs! Birth balls! Squatting bars! Epidurals! NO epidurals! A snack room just for you! The baby at your side! Or, the baby in the nursery! The nurse's refrain was, "but it's totally up to you! It's your choice!"-- she must have said it a dozen times at least. They do have a few rules. You can wander around the halls, but should stay on the fourth floor; apparently this was instituted after a doctor (temporarily) lost her patient and happened to catch sight of her through the window, walking down the street, two blocks away. I'm assuming that patient chose to labor in her own clothes and not a hospital gown. (It's totally your choice!) I was pretty impressed, both with the ward itself** and with this cater-to-the-patient attitude. Of course, we'll have to see how it actually plays out during the real event. It could all be window-dressing, I suppose.

I had a prenatal appointment the next morning with my least-favorite-of-the-three-OBs and mentioned the tour, said it seemed pretty awesome. The doctor's reply (and you must imagine this in a heavy, Eastern European or Russian accent): "It is a small hospital, quite small maternity ward, which is good for personal care, I guess. The equipment is fairly up-to-date. Most of the time, they know what they are doing." High praise, indeed. "most of the time"?! Other than that, the appointment went very well; the only embarrassing incident was when the nurse found me using the hand-sink in the nurses' station after delivering my urine sample, and I had to explain that instead of peeing IN the cup, I accidentally peed ALL OVER the cup***, and then had to carry it. Ick. Blood pressure, fetal heart rate, fundal measurements, all good. Weight is shocking, but not a concern. I guess we're getting there!

*Honestly, I can deal more easily with the pregnant body than the infamous "pregnancy brain". Hips and back hurt, everything heavy and slow? You adapt, adjust, take a little extra time or effort, take a nap. How do you adapt to leaving your keys random places, or forgetting to put the groceries in the fridge?

** Not that I have anything to compare it with, it just seems really nice, with the big bathtubs and bouncy balls and all.

*** Because things Down There are Not the Same: peeing in a cup, at which I used to be a pro (you would too if you spent so many months using ovulation-prediction kits for half the month, then pregnancy tests the other half-- you only have to have one faulty, no-answer pregnancy test before you start using a cup just in case. "ARRGGH the test didn't work and now the first-morning-urine has been flushed! I can't test again until TOMORROW!") is now more like using a water hose with your thumb over the end, and still trying to aim.

Definition of Infinity

If you groom an 11-pound, short-haired cat with a wire brush, the brush fills up with hair, which then has to be removed and thrown away. (I call the clump that comes off the brush a hair-biscuit; the process of removing it is oddly satisfying, kind of like getting the dryer lint off the screen in one piece.)

If the cat enjoys being brushed, as mine does, you'd think that eventually, the hair-biscuits would become smaller or less frequent as you continue to groom; or even that the brush would eventually stop accumulating fur entirely. All of those thoughts are wrong. What happens is that the brush collects hair at the same rate for as long as you are willing to brush said cat. Therefore, the amount of cat hair on this one cat, is INFINITE. This discovery goes a long way in explaining the condition of our house and furniture.

Incidentally, it turns out that the solution to cat dandruff has nothing to do with grooming, but rather involves adding fish oil to her diet*. Thank goodness, because if there's one thing a pregnant lady has on hand, it's fish oil... it's too bad she seems to heartily dislike it, so far. They say that it can take up to 15 presentations of an unfamiliar or disliked food, before a child will finally accept it. Nobody seems to know anything about how many presentations it takes for a cat. Will it take two solid weeks of dribbling (expensive, people-quality) fish oil on her kibble before she starts enjoying it? Or will the fact that she has nothing else to eat except fish-tainted Purina One speed up the process? Does anybody sell cheap, pet-quality fish oil, and does wondering about that make me a bad person? Stay tuned for the exciting conclusions, next!

*Thank you Google. My debt to you is also bordering on infinite-- so much information, some of it valid, and all for free... Where else would the phrase "cat dandruff" return 360,000 hits?

Monday, May 04, 2009

Trudging Uphill

Don returned home Thursday evening. Since then, he has fixed the toilet and the air conditioner, mowed the front yard, and used the string trimmer on all the edges. (The string trimmer is beyond my capabilities at the moment... apparently they don't come with front-wheel drive like the lawnmower.) It's good to have him back.

I'm finally making a little bit of progress in terms of getting everything together for the baby's arrival. My goal of having everything "done" by the end of April turned out to be a huge joke, except not the funny kind. Still, I've bought the car seat, started the diaper stash, washed a bunch of the clothes and blankets, and started looking for a dresser/changing table on Craig's List. Don and I started looking for our new couch yesterday, too. This may not seem baby-related, but it is, in its own way. We have two bedrooms, and contrary to popular expectations, we aren't turning the second into a nursery, but into a guest bedroom/ study. In the beginning, at least, the baby and his/her accessories will stay in our bedroom. To accomplish this, we're going to move our futon, which has faithfully served as our one-and-only sofa for many years, into the spare room to be the guest bed as needed (it actually makes a comfortable bed, honest!), and buying a Real, Grownup Sofa for the living room. Exciting stuff, seriously. That way, when people come to stay with us, we have a place to put them that isn't the living room. Since my mom is planning to come as soon as the baby arrives (or sooner, depending how long Baby takes to get here), and my sister and her boyfriend are coming in late June, it's pretty critical to our overall baby-readiness. The biggest setback is that I currently have NO energy. None. It seems to be all I can do to go to work each day.

Speaking of work, I no longer have access to The Internet from there: a new company-wide policy is preventing us from checking our personal email accounts, and is monitoring and tracking who is still doing so. It doesn't take a huge leap to think that this also may apply to Google, Amazon, EBay, and other non-work related sites. Since I did almost all of my blog-updating on my lunch breaks, posting might be even scarcer than usual for the next three weeks. (Three weeks, because that's when my vacation starts-- the vacation with no end date! Sad, I know, but I'm almost as excited about NOT WORKING for awhile as I am about the baby coming. Three more weeks!)