Sunday, July 27, 2008

Miss Jackson is Due in Two Weeks

This weekend was the first weekend in months that Jake and I had absolutely no plans.  It's been glorious, and we actually feel prepared to welcome Miss Jackson whenever she decides to make her appearance (as prepared as you can be, I guess).  Her clothes are washed and folded.  Her diapers and bottles are organized.   The house is super clean.  All of our adult laundry is done. The house is full of food.  Basically, she needs to get here ASAP before the house gets dirty again and I feel the need to reorganize all of her belongings once more.  

This nesting thing is real, for sure.  I've done a ton of writing/revising the last few weeks (after just as many weeks of not doing much because of pregnancy distractions and the aforementioned nesting), I just got a fresh manicure and pedicure, I've picked out her baby announcements already, and on my list of things to do today is "wash makeup brushes" -- is someone looking for projects or what? My errands tomorrow are to get an oil change and the car washed -- oh, and I must finish thank-you notes.  I was (only) two thank-you notes behind until this weekend, when M.J. got more gifts from sweet friends at lunch on Friday and an incredible package from Caroline's parents yesterday afternoon (such cute stuff that I wish I could show you, but everything was monogrammed and I can't give her name or initials away yet!).  Everyone has been so, so sweet -- so yes, finishing my thank-you notes definitely ranks as more important than washing the makeup brushes, though rest assured that in my current nesting frenzy, the makeup brushes will be taken care of, too.  I think even the dogs are going to have to be bathed and groomed. Everything else is shiny and clean, so they should be too, right?  And we've already made the arrangements for them to be walked/fed whenever the big moment comes.

We even have a brand-new MacBook, although that has much less to do with getting ready for baby and much more to do with the fact that our previous much-loved and much-abused computer finally died last weekend.  (Although the new computer's webcam/video iChat is going to make M.J.'s grandparents VERY happy, even if my parents don't it know it yet because they are not particularly tech-savvy.  Jake is going to install a webcam for you, Mama and Daddy, and teach you to use it and then you can chat with us and see M.J. live, for free, all the time!)

The only important thing that I haven't done yet is pack my hospital bag, though I have cute brand-new nursing pajamas and a stack of trashy magazines set aside and ready to be included. I know this should have been done weeks ago, but I guess I must subconsciously want to save it for the excitement of the moment.  I love to pack for any trip, and packing a hospital bag to go have a baby is pretty exciting, so I guess I'm trying to savor it or something.  (Plus, I've been over all the lists of what to take to the hospital and it's not that complicated -- pillow and pajamas and toiletries and something to wear home and something for the baby to wear home and stuff to entertain me during labor -- what am I forgetting?  Jake's in charge of his stuff and the camera.)  

The doctor said last week that they would likely not let me go more than a week past my due date, which means that we have three more weeks of waiting at the absolute most.  That actually seems like an incredibly long time considering that I would be just delighted if she decided to show up tonight.  In the meantime, though, I have still more writing/revising to do on my book, lunch plans on Tuesday and Thursday, an Old 97's show on Tuesday night, book club on Wednesday night, a neighborhood party next Saturday night -- plenty of things to do to keep occupied before our daughter finally decides she wants to come out and see what we look like.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Miss Jackson Listens to A Lot of Music Already

This is at least the third or fourth playlist I've made in honor of the baby, but it's my current favorite and what I am listening to right this second. It's called, uncreatively, "Tunes for Miss Jackson," and here's the tracklist, in alphabetical order by song title. (And no, not every song is completely baby-appropriate, but what are you going to do? I'm not going to not sing "Baby Driver" to her just because of the "sex appeal" line -- we'll just assume for awhile she won't notice and worry about that stuff later.)

1. A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall -- Bob Dylan
2. Baby Driver -- Simon & Garfunkel
3. Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy -- The Tams
4. Born For Me -- Paul Westerberg
5. Brand New Way -- Rhett Miller
6. Crazy About You -- Whiskeytown
7. Daughter -- Loudon Wainwright III
8. Don't Think Twice It's Alright -- Bob Dylan
9. Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love) -- Swingin' Medallions
10. Downtown -- Petula Clark
11. Dream Baby -- Roy Orbison
12. Everyone's In Love With You -- Steve Earle
13. Ferry Across the Mersey -- Gerry & The Pacemakers
14. Fiona -- Lyle Lovett
15, First Day Of My Life -- Bright Eyes
16, Flowers In The Windows -- Travis
17. For You -- Bruce Springsteen
18. Frank Mills -- The Lemonheads
19. Happy Kid -- Nada Surf
20. Head Over Heels -- Tears for Fears
21. Here at the Right Time -- Josh Ritter
22. Here Comes My Baby -- Cat Stevens
23. Hold You In My Arms -- Ray LaMontagne
24. I Believe -- R.E.M.
25. I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever) -- Stevie Wonder
26. I'm The Man Who Loves You -- Wilco
27. I've Been Waiting -- Matthew Sweet
28. If I Needed You -- Townes Van Zandt (with Emmylou Harris)
29. If It's the Beaches -- The Avett Brothers
30. The King Of Carrot Flowers Part 1 -- Neutral Milk Hotel
31. Love Me Do -- The Beatles
32. Lucky Ball and Chain -- They Might Be Giants
33. Lullaby -- Starsailor
34. Make You Feel My Love -- Adele.
35. Me And Bobby McGee -- Kris Kristofferson
36. My Love For You is Real -- Ryan Adams & The Cardinals
37. Nothing Can Change This Love -- Sam Cooke
38. Red Rubber Ball -- The Cyrkle
39. Romeo & Juliet -- Dire Straits
40. She Will Have Her Way -- Neil Finn And Friends
41. She's A Star -- James
42. Sing Your Life -- Morrissey
43. Sleep Tonight -- Stars
44. Soul Deep -- The Box Tops
45. Star Star -- The Frames
46. Sweet Darlin' -- She & Him
47. Sweetness Follows -- R.E.M.
48. Take Me Home Country Roads -- John Denver
49. These Arms Of Mine -- Otis Redding
50. Tiny Dancer -- Elton John
51. To Zion -- Lauryn Hill
52. When I'm With You -- Sherriff
53. You Got To Me -- Neil Diamond

Monday, July 14, 2008

Miss Jackson Doesn't Mind if I Tell On Her A Little Bit

I have had a really easy pregnancy so far (knock on wood) but I don't mind, and I don't think MJ will mind, if I admit that it's not all rainbows and glowy skin over here. I'm officially in the uncomfortable stages of pregnancy. I don't want to complain because these are all minor, routine annoyances that pale in comparison to the pay-off -- Miss Jackson, as we assume she's going to be worth it. In the interest of full disclosure, though, I'll go ahead and vent here about some of the not-so-pleasant aspects of being hugely pregnant. Rest assured I am leaving out some things that I promise you don't want to read about. (Poor Jake. He has to hear about every single thing, even those things that I will spare you.)

1. I waddle. There is no hiding it. Walking normally is almost impossible. I walk like a penguin now and there is nothing I can do about it.

2. I used to have ankles. Well, sort of. They were always cankle-ish, but right now, they are nonexistent. I am scared to try on real shoes because I am pretty sure that they wouldn't fit. (Bonus to summertime baby -- flip-flops, so I don't have to confront the unfortunate reality that my feet might have grown.) I already wore a size ten before I got pregnant, so needless to say, I have to hope that these tootsies go back to normal eventually. Even my fingers are swollen enough that they are now dimpled. Yes, dimpled. Drinking Diet Coke makes the swelling worse (the sodium), which is a shame because on a list of Things I Love the Most, fountain Diet Coke would be right up there with poodles, television, and books. (Note: I have not stopped drinking Diet Coke. Who's looking at my swollen digits anyway?)

3. Getting up off of low or soft furniture is a real challenge. Forget getting out of the bed. As Jake says, that's a three-step process. Roll, hoist, lunge. Usually the last couple of steps are accompanied by involuntary grunts.

4. Speaking of getting out of the bed, I have to do that at least twice a night now, to go to the bathroom. AT LEAST twice. Sometimes three times. I usually go to the bathroom right before I get in the bed, read, go to the bathroom again right before I go to sleep, wake up twice during the night, and then have to go immediately upon waking in the morning.

5. And it's not like I can sleep very well in between bathroom visits. You have to sleep on your side when you're pregnant, which hurts your hips when you have a bowling ball strapped to your belly. A pillow between the legs helps, but that just makes it more difficult when you inevitably have to roll yourself over and/or get up in the middle of the night.

6. I'm tired!

7. I burped out loud, on the street, yesterday. Out loud! On the street! I couldn't help it! It just slipped out! This had to be Miss Jackson's fault.

8. I have heartburn for the first time in my life. It's not that bad, but I still liked it better when I didn't have it.

9. I have had a few terrible nightmares, which I think are normal, pre-baby anxiety dreams. For awhile they were dreams that something bad would happen to Jake, but last night I dreamed that MJ came out and she was only a head with a tiny, malformed itty bitty doll body. (We know this is not true because (1) we've had four ultrasounds during which her limbs were present and accounted for, and (2) I can feel her kick me ALL THE TIME. It was still a sad/scary dream, though.)

Amazingly, none of these things, even in toto, outweigh the good stuff. My hair is thick, my skin is good, I can wear elastic-waist pants every day if I want, strangers are nice to me, I have an excuse to indulge cravings, and I get to feel Miss Jackson move inside me all day long. Even the heartburn isn't that bad because it makes me think about what she'll look like -- the old wives' tale is that the heartburn means she'll have a lot of hair.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Miss Jackson Went to Childbirth Class

Jake and I just returned from the first day of our two-day, "weekend express" childbirth class at the hospital, and it turned out to be quite an adventure. We had rescheduled it from about a month ago because a month ago, Jake had to work, and I sort of feared that this weekend, at 36 weeks, we would be the most pregnant people there. But no! There was one couple due two weeks before us and at least three couples due within a week after us, so apparently we were right on time.

The class was pretty good. I don't know that I really learned anything brand new, but it was a nice overview of what is going to happen (soon!) and absolutely worth it for the peace of mind. And Jake was really cute this morning when he said to Miss Jackson through my belly, "Today we're going to learn how to get you out of there!" I don't know why that amused me so much, but it did.

The highlight, though, and the inspiration for this post, was one particular couple who attended the class with us. They were (1) an hour late, (2) distracting, (3) gross, and (4) crazy, but all of that put together made them very interesting and we are sort of excited to see what stunts they pull during the conclusion of the class tomorrow morning. Today, they:

--giggled when the instructor said "cervix." More than once.

-- whispered so loudly and so much that I had to ask them (politely) if they could be quiet.

-- talked and laughed through the breathing and relaxation exercises, to the point where the instructor had to diplomatically discourage husbands from joking during your laboring wife's calm, cleansing breaths.

-- nuzzled, fondled, stroked, and caressed each other, and generally engaged in foreplay throughout the class, to the point where all the rest of us were looking at each other in disgust/amazement. There were moments during the class when I thought they might mount each other. I won't tell you what they looked like because then you would have the same upsetting visual that I still have.

But! That's not all! It was mainly the male half of the couple who was the rudest and the grossest and the most distracting -- he was the one who laughed the most when the instructor said "cervix" (I mean, seriously? It's a childbirth class, and this guy was at least 35), he was the one who was nuzzling his wife's ears and rubbing her thighs (so.gross.), and he was the one who was talking through the lecture and audibly mocking the relaxation techniques -- so OF COURSE he's the one who, at the very end of class, decides to start a fight about epidurals with our very nice, very competent instructor. We weren't even discussing epidurals yet, but he raised his hand and said, "There's basically no real reason for a woman to ever have an epidural, right?" Our teacher suggested that the intense pain of childbirth was a valid reason. Our winner disagreed and continued to argue -- "But that's the only benefit, right? Just pain relief? There's no other reason, and there are so many risks, so really, no one should have one, right?" His poor wife just sat there looking miserable. I'm all for natural childbirth if you can have it (and I'm going to try to go as long as I can without an epidural myself), but I am also all for routine medical advancements that make women more comfortable. You could see all the other men in the class shifting uncomfortably, glancing apologetically at their pregnant partners as if to communicate, "Thanks for having this baby for me -- the epidural's up to you."

Then -- when our sweet teacher tried to explain that you had to discuss all these options with your doctor, that it was really different for each woman, that it really should be up to the woman or at least a joint decision by the couple together, that again this is something to be discussed with your doctor, etc. -- our winner interrupted and said, "Well, can I bring my own doctor to the hospital to deliver her? My brother?" Uh, no, genius. Our sweet teacher kindly explained that no, it's not Bring Your Own Doc, that Mr. Winner's brother could come as a coach or a friend just to watch, but that he should not come as an adversary to the attending doctor, and that if you didn't trust your current doctor, you should switch caretakers to someone with whom you felt more comfortable. Mr. Winner didn't like that at all. He said, "Well, my brother went to medical school over here in America." Well, then. No clue whether Mr. Winner's brother had hospital privileges at GW or was even an obstetrician (I'm guessing no to both).

Y'all, people are crazy.

UPDATE: Mr. and Mrs. Winner, Day Two.

1. They showed up half an hour late. This is an improvement over yesterday.

2. She sat ON HIS LAP for almost all of the class. There were plenty of seats to go around. Lap-sitting was not required.

3. While on his lap, they held hands.

4. With their free hands, they caressed each other's faces and looked into each other's eyes. The rest of the class just sat in their own seats and listened to the teacher.

5. Mr. Winner decided to make jokes. Our teacher was explaining how it can be difficult for many women ro realize that even after giving birth, their bodies may not be the same for a long time, and how important it is for their husbands to be complimentary and supportive. Mr. Winner piped up, "But you can have a girlfriend on the side during this time, right?" I think Mr. Winner was only half-joking. His touchy-feely wife did not laugh.

6. During the hospital tour, Mrs. Winner draped herself over Mr. Winner's back and caressed his chest and kissed his neck.

7. Jake and I will not be joining a playgroup with the Winners.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Miss Jackson is Still Huge, May Be Giantess

At my doctor's appointment this morning the obstetrician demonstrated to a medical student how to palpate the baby and estimate size and weight.  After cupping the baby's head and bottom and showing how she was positioned, the OB said breezily to me, "So I would say your baby is no more than seven pounds or so now... which is good since you are only 35 weeks."  Seven pounds?!  I kind of half-laughed, half-choked as I said, "Isn't that big?"  

I'm actually not worried because (1) I know even ultrasound size estimates are far from accurate, much less an OB's estimate just based on feeling my stomach, and (2) not to get super crunchy but I also believe that my body probably will not grow a baby it can't deliver... it's just funny to think about how she might be huge.  It's funny for now, I should say.  Probably won't be if she actually is gigantic, but we'll worry about that when it's time for her to arrive.  Jake is inexplicably proud that I am growing a "large Polish baby."

Nora also reminded me that some people say large babies are good sleepers, which is a nice comforting thought, although right now she doesn't seem very sleepy at all.  She seems more like a freakishly large insomniac gymnast at this point.  Always moving, this one, and large movements to boot.  It's not a stretch to think that she might wind up being a tad dramatic. The thing is, we just don't know!  We don't know what she'll be like.  This is the most exciting part of pregnancy... wondering about her personality.  We are, needless to say, ready to meet her (although I do want her to wait to come out until (1) her lungs are fully developed and (2) I have a chance to see The Dark Knight in the movie theater).  

Jake's been giving me a hard time about not doing a great job of keeping her name a secret -- I made the mistake of running down a list of people who already knew her name and I had to admit that her name hasn't been as closely guarded as the "Miss Jackson" pseudonym would suggest -- but we were out with friends on Saturday night and Jake slipped and referred to her by her real name TWICE.  I felt vindicated.