Monday, March 28, 2011

Bamboozled Birthing Plan

On Friday evening, when Jon walked in from work, he adorned a huge smile on his face and told me that he had it all figured out.  "You have what figured out?" I demanded, eyeing him quizzically.  As he enjoyed keeping me in suspense and took ample time divulging his news, I couldn't help pondering what he was referring to.  Did he receive a promotion at work?  Did he unravel string theory and discover life on another planet?  Did he finally figure out how to fold the city mini baby stroller and move it into the garage?  Settling into the couch beside me, he calmly, yet seriously explained to me that he had contrived his very own birthing plan. 

Still skeptical, I responded: "Oh that thing I had you print out from Baby Center?  I already filled that out two weeks ago and it is in our hospital suitcase."  Of course, this was not what he was referring to...

Jon, my meticulous, organized, logical husband, devised a strategic timeline of events in which he planned for us to deliver our baby.  According to my dear husband, the imperatively mapped blueprint went as follows: "You will begin having contractions on Thursday, March 31st and I will take you to the hospital after work, after I meet my monthly quota;  On Friday, the baby will be delivered and I will have the entire weekend to spend with you in the hospital; On Monday, I will take my week of paternity and will return back to work promptly on Monday, April 11th." 

Questions, sardonic responses, and confusion simultaneously befuddled my pregnant brain.  I wondered: If I went into labor on Wednesday, did that mean that I would have to drive myself to the hospital, give birth, and have Baby J while Jon resumed work on Thursday to finish his quota?  What would happen if I actually had the baby on my due date (April 15th) and Jon had to miss the middle-end of April and he couldn't make his goal?  Would our new baby have a resentful daddy?  Of course, I immediately realized that my fears were null and void and Jon would be there whenever, wherever Baby J decided to emerge.  Yet, at the same time, I had to laugh at the irony of it all: With everything that we have been through these past two months, didn't we already accept the fact that the rest of our lives would no longer be based on a delineated sequence of events?

As previously stated, I have learned throughout this entire process is that it is oftentimes futile to plan and control our lives.  Also, the emergence of a new being further complicates the plot.  While I told Jon that I was OK with his contrivance, I indicated that there was now a third party in the picture and I didn't know if all was copacetic on his end.  Baby J has already demonstrated a fair amount of indecisiveness in his unborn life as he initially thought that he wanted to debut two months ago, then decided to remain in mommy's incubator.  Also, my contractions began at 30 weeks and then abruptly ended at 36 weeks.  Now, at just over 37 weeks, Baby J is fully cooked and this is usually the time when contractions become more intense.  My body is showing zero signs of going into labor and I am starting to think that my unborn child may have to be forced out of his protective womb. 

This morning, when I had my ultrasound, I once again explained to the technician that Baby J is not a morning person and enjoys keeping me awake at night with his dare-devilish acrobatics.  When she responded that I better find a way to change that pattern quickly, I could do nothing but laugh.  Again, another person under the wrongful assumption that I can just press a button on my remote control and TIVO Baby J to play at a more suitable time.  While I have purchased a pile of baby books on healthy sleep patterns and so on, I have already learned that I will be unable to operate my baby like a machine. 

For now, my only birthing plan is to eventually coerce this little rugrat out of my body and into the world.  I continue to live my life on a day by day basis, and wonder each evening if tonight will be the night...Although Baby J is still in the 12th percentile in terms of weight, he is now approximately 5 lbs, 11ozs and continues to pass his biophysical profiles with flying colors.  Jon and I completed his nursery this weekend and the monkeys are all hanging around, waiting expectantly for their honored king of the jungle.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dumb and Dumber: Politically Incorrect Pregnancy Comments

If I had a baby each time somebody felt the need to comment on my pregnancy, I would have produced enough offspring to double the entire population of the United States.  The comments began when I first disclosed my pregnancy, then simmered down while I was in the hospital and people had restricted access to my baby bump.  Now, that I am completely off parole, the comments are so out of control I sometimes feel the urge to re-admit myself to the hospital and seek refuge in a dark utility closet until Baby J shows his little face.

At the dentist's office this morning, the questioning commenced when the receptionist asked if I had my baby yet.  I had to do a double take of my protruding bump before seriously answering her, just in case Baby J accidentally fell out in the parking lot.  Not sure how to respond, I pointed down to my stomach and answered: "nope, he's still in there...."  When the hygienist called me in, her eyes practically bulged out of their sockets as she too was overcome with an intense need to comment: "Wow--you look like you are about to pop any second!"  For the duration of the cleaning, I was praying that my water didn't break all over her sterile station, contaminating the numerous dental devices. 

Last week, while I was waiting in the doctor's office for my sonogram, a nosey soon-to-be grand-mother began an endless tirade of questions regarding my pregnancy.  As I tried to answer her questions in a rather subdued and conservative manner, she simply could not restrain herself from asking: "Do you know that your whole life is about to drastically change?" Dumbfounded, I could do nothing but look at her, without acknowledging her response in a less-than respectful manner.  Instead, I caustically thought: Really lady?  Thank you so much for alerting me to this unprecedented news flash.  Before you unveiled this secret, I had absolutely no idea whatsoever that I am about to be thrown into a completely foreign world, in which I will I have to be available around the clock to care for an infant...

The other day, while I was getting my haircut, the stylist informed me that I looked really pregnant.  After I confirmed that I was indeed over nine months pregnant, she continued to quizzically look at me as though I should be locked away in a sort of pregnant convent.  I had no prior knowledge that at nine months, my hair cut privileges would be revoked due to displaying anything other than a miniscule baby bump.  I thought, if I don't look really pregnant now, at what point would my body suddenly metastasize itself into this spectacle?  Also, when I was first pregnant, nobody ever told me that I looked a little pregnant and luckily they knew better than to tell me I looked a little fat....

When I was about four month's pregnant, one of my colleagues told me that I had "pregnant face".  Caught somewhere between wanting to correct her grammar of neglecting to use the preposition "a" and taking offense, I was rendered speechless.  As implied, "pregnant face" was simply a symptom of the pregnancy virus.  Another colleague asked me if I was sure there was only one baby in there, as my bulging stomach dared to explode out of my dress.  For a few weeks, I remained in a state of mortification that I had put on so much weight so quickly and wondered if maybe the ultrasound technician had overlooked another baby....

Really people??  Is it that difficult to think of a somewhat flattering remark to say to a pregnant woman? Just in case, I have compiled a list of politically correct, acceptable comments (I have to express my gratitude to friends and family for providing me with some of these positive remarks):

1.  You are carrying so well (as opposed to you look like the Goodyear blimp)
2.  Your hair looks so shiny or your skin is glowing!
3.  You hardly look like you've gained any weight
4.  You have the cutest little belly (thank you, nurse Sharon!)
5.  Omigod, you are hardly showing!
6.  You look like you are seven months pregnant, not nine (much credit to my mom, who is usually brutally honest). 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

36 Weeks and Getting Ready to Shed my Fat Suit!

Incubation Baby made it to 36 weeks--a HUGE milestone!!  Yesterday, my doctor finally unlocked my jail cell, handing me the keys back to my old life.  As he instructed me to move around with caution and stay close to home, I strategized about planning the numerous opportunities, once again within my grasp (regular doctors appointments, dentist, haircut, organizing my nursery, nesting)!  No longer do I have to depend on my mom and my husband to be at my beck and call--I can even drive within a five mile radius of my house! 

Now that I am able to roam around freely, I have noticed that my body is vastly different compared to when I was first admitted to the hospital.  Baby J is now the size of a watermelon and my protruding belly is no picnic.  Small endeavors such as doing laundry or washing dishes leave me panting and exhausted.  Between two month's of extremely limited activity and accumulating extra weight, my physical endurance is a far cry from what it was a few months ago.  Yesterday, I looked at my reflection in the mirror and asked: Who is this person and what has she done with my figure? 

Like Gweneth Paltrow's character in the movie Shallow Hal, I feel like I am trapped inside a fat suit. Any day now, I expect my old self to suddenly emerge when I shed my extra layer like one of Baby J's zippered onesies.  Since I have been on bed rest for so long, I have not gradually acclimated to my shifting form and continually miscalculate the new parameters of my body.  Last night, not accurately calculating the proximity of my desk to the closet, my belly swept over the desk, knocking off half the contents.  These past couple of days, after I have administered Tiger's eye drops, I cannot lift my body from the floor and have had to crawl to the nearest piece of furniture in order to hoist myself upright.  Whenever Jon is home, he acts as my human fork lift and in turn, receives his daily workout.   

Baby J seems as though he is outgrowing his confines as well.  I have begun noticing tiny little limbs, hands, and feet stretching my belly to its utmost capacity.  His movements have become less frequent, but when they do occur, I fear that he is going to tear through my skin like Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  Baby Bonaparte better be at least five pounds when I return to the perinatologist on Monday or else...!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Purrrfect Parenting?

If mothering my cat is any indication of the type of mother that I will be to my son, then, I will probably be an obsessive, over-protective worry-wart.  As I have stated before, prior to adopting Tiger, I was indifferent to most animals and even slightly annoyed if someone's dog drooled down my leg or wouldn't cease barking.  Never having pets growing up, I really did not comprehend the whole people/animal connection and was never truly empathetic on the topic of animals.

Now, with Tiger, Jon and I would sacrifice almost anything for his health and well-being--if Tiger is only a cat how will we be with our only son??  For the past two days, I have been mothering my little powder puff and pieces of my heart break away each time I see him in pain.  With each eye drop, he squeaks a little yelp of protest and then five minutes later, I have to administer another drop.  When Baby J is sick, Jon will probably muster all of his energy to not have me committed to the asylum.  Because of that damn cyborg cone wrapped around Tiger's head, his whiskers are confined, and he now has difficulty sensing spaces,  jumping, and eating and drinking (for those of you unfamiliar with cats, whiskers are a cat's sixth sense and act as another pair of eyes to help guide them).  I have attempted to wrap him up in a kitty burrito to spoon feed him, but he is already so freaked out with my numerous medical interventions, I doubt he is eating enough.  Flash-forward to a few weeks from now--is Baby J receiving enough breast milk??

Five years ago, when Jon had to say goodbye to Smokey-the-Satanical Kitty for the sake of our matrimonial harmony, I did not understand the urgency when he called me on my cell phone demanding to know my whereabouts.  I had promised that I would meet him at his apartment as soon as he returned from the vet and was running an hour and a half late.  I had insensitively explained that I went to the gym, had to run errands, etc. etc and I would be there eventually.  Poor Jon had to return to an apartment devoid of both his cat and his unsympathetic girlfriend.  I never comprehended that grieving an animal is so similar to grieving a person.

Jon also had his share of fathering his cat, as Smokey had numerous behavioral issues.  Before I met him, Smokey went through a period of anorexia and Jon had the vet install a feeding tube in his throat.  Each morning, afternoon, and evening, Jon liquefied cat food and poured it down Smokey's feeding tube.  Until one night, Smokey began choking on the contraption, Jon haphazardly ripped it out, and that was the end of the kitty-starvation-fiasco.  Smokey was eventually prescribed Prozac and other medications, but sadly, nothing could curtail his mentally deranged personality. 

Whether feline friend or foe, cats are family and can often be as helpless as infants.  Jon and I commented last night that because of our cat-parenting skills, we should be somewhat competent at parenting an infant.  Since I have not been able to meet the vet in person, we have developed a phone correspondence and he commented that "Tiger is lucky to have a good mommy."  With my daily assault of incessant questions regarding Tiger's numerous ailments, I was shocked that he actually thought I was a good mother, and not a cat-crazed-lunatic.  Now, if only I could find a pediatrician who is patient enough to deal with my constant harangue of questions and worrisome behavior....

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Misadventures of Tiger the Cat

Call it mother's intuition but I inherently knew that Tiger's newest eye infection was not something to be ignored.  Since December, Jon and I have taken Tiger to a slew of different vets and have treated him with multiple antibiotics and eye drops.  Eventually, our last vet threw up his arms in exasperation and referred us to a cat optometrist.  Of course during my hospital confinement, bed rest, and complicated pregnancy this priority trickled down our to-do list until poor Tiger absolutely needed medical attention. 

Yesterday, Sheldon (AKA Tiger's fairy god-father), drove Tiger to the kitty optometrist.  Three hundred dollars and five prescriptions later, the vet explained why Tiger has had repeated infections--basically, as I have told my husband numerous times, we had been treating the symptoms, not the underlying cause.

As loving and sweet-natured as a cat can be, it turns out that Tiger is also a little white furball of an unhealthy handful.  Where to begin.....Firstly, he has a scratched cornea in one eye, which usually intensifieses when his eye is infected.  Although we thought that we were treating his eyes with topical ointment, he continued to paw away, which resulted in an ulcer, on top of the scratched cornea.  The vet also diagnosed him with feline herpes (which thank god cannot be transferred to humans) and Bartonella virus (aka cat scratch disease).  Luckily, I am now on partial bed rest, because my new role is feline nurse extraordinaire as well as human incubator--I have to administer three eye drops six times a day and two oral antibiotics twice a day. 

Because Tiger is prone to scratching at his eyes, he has to wear the cone of shame over his head for a one week duration.  However, this presents yet another challenge and I am sure anyone familiar with Persian cats can relate to this conundrum--how is he supposed to eat and drink with his flat little face??  This morning, I spoon-fed Tiger wet food doused with water and he was able to eat a little but I am worried that he is not ingesting enough water.  Anybody have any ideas on how a cone-headed-Persian can eat and drink independently? I am currently waiting for the vet to return my call.  Also, can anybody recommend a good pet insurance for cats??

Now, I definitely feel for all of the bed rest mothers who have other children at home!!  Between Tiger the Cat and Baby J, I certainly have my hands full.  If I didn't know any better, I would say that my two little boys are vying for my attention...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Baby Bonaparte

I embarked on another fieldtrip today to the exciting office of the perinatologist.  This was the prized appointment, in which I had screamed, threatened, and cried, in order to obtain.  My histrionics were well, well worth the effort and let it be known to other pregnant women that a touch of pregnant theatrics is sometimes necessary to garner the attention of others. 

The doctor informed me that my body is not poisoning Baby J or presenting any other toxic, life-threatening barricades to his arrival.  Every morose condition, which surfaced when I googled the words "PROM" and "placenta previa", do not apply to me or Baby J.  As a matter of fact, I was shocked when the US tech said that my placenta was 5 cm away from my cervix!  During my entire stay in the hospital, my placenta gravitated back and forth, barely 2 cm away from my cervix.  So, this means that I am most likely able to have a natural birth and no longer have to worry about pushing for twenty-three hours before being whisked away into a c-section. 

It turns out that Baby J liked the doctor and sonographer as much as I did, because he was more than willing to cooperate on his bio-physical and scored a super-duper, A+++ (8/8 in all four areas).  Although his lips were slightly parted, he did not feel inclined to stick out his tongue and made his mommy and grandma proud by demonstrating good manners.  Also, he did not feel the need to play flasher-baby and kept his jewels hidden.  We were all thoroughly entertained with his baby olympics performance and the sonographer even commented that he is a "very active baby" and not a "lazy baby" as the other tech stated on Friday. 

While Baby J appeared to be in excellent condition, the doctor does want to continue to monitor his weight, as he is only 4 lbs, 12 oz and is in the thirteenth percentile.  Every Monday, until I deliver, Baby J will be weighed and evaluated.  Sadly, the five pounds that I have accumuated since being home have not re-routed their way into my uterus.  Also, I was taken off of total bedrest and have now graduated to partial bedrest--celebration!!  After the doctor took his time explaining everything in great depth and detail, my mom and I were so overcome with gratitude it is amazing that neither of us proposed marriage.

So, in conculsion, my theory-of-the-day is that Baby J has a Napoleon complex.  Due to his teeny-tiny status, that he was worried he would not be taken seriously during gestation.  So, five weeks ago, he decided to throw a temper tantrum and let it be known to the world that he has a larger-than-life personality.  Like most men, he did not anticipate the consequences of his actions, which lead to the imprisonement of mommy and the anxiety of daddy.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hello Again Dear Hospital

The labor and delivery unit of Memorial Regional Hospital would start charging me rent, if they weren't already billing exorbitant amounts to my insurance company.  Yesterday, Jon and I uneventfully embarked on our third excursion to l&d.  I use the word "uneventfully" only because neither of us were too concerned anything was really wrong.  However, after a series of events which transpired on Thursday and Friday, I was peer-pressured to return to the hospital for monitoring. 

Firstly, let it be known to all that it is a fact that once a woman is well into her third trimester, the fetal movements appear to decrease, as the baby has little room to wiggle around and his body is usually squished against his mother's organs.  He is still squirming, dancing, and partying inside, but to the unknowing first time mother, something has gone horribly astray and this warrants immediate attention. 

Every night, as soon as our cat hears the garage door opening, signaling that Jon is home, he begins the crazy-cat-cry spectacle, which lasts until Jon retrieves the mail and makes his grand entrance.  Usually, as soon as Tiger recuperates, Baby J begins his nightly gymnastics routine for his daddy and all is well.  Well, on Thursday night, Baby J must have had performance anxiety and refused to follow Tiger's opening act.  When Jon and I noticed this decrease in activity, we were concerned, but not yet alarmed, as this has happened before.

On Friday, I had some friends over from work and I was happily fed mass quantities of cheesecake and chocolate cake.  Expecting Baby J to be overcome with enthusiasm and to spontaneously burst into song and dance, I was disappointed when the little guy only reacted with a few sluggish movements.  A couple of hours later, while I was undergoing my weekly ultrasound in my doctor's office, little bugger refused to cooperate yet again!  He scored high on the breathing, AFI, and heartbeat, but other than a few slight manuevers, would not budge.  After shoveling more candy and sugar down my throat, the tech, me, and my mom watched as he again opened and closed his mouth, sticking his tongue out--mocking us!  And I have to say, I really did take offense when the tech commented that I had a "lazy baby" since most of the other babies that she sees in this stage move around their confines quite well. 

On the way home, my mom and I, now both nervous, stopped for more sugar-induced ice cream and he still barely moved!  That night, I monitored his kick counts, and although he passed ten kicks in one hour, his movements were still lethargic.  Yesterday morning, my mom called the house and strongly encouraged us to call the doctor.  Afraid of hearing about the re-emergence of her devastating eye tick once again (she now has acquired a post-nasal drip and cough), we called the doctor and he instructed us to go to l&d, just to be on the safe side. 

Everyone in the triage/l&d unit appear to know me on a first name basis.  Jon and I are so accustomed to the drill--valet car in main entrance, check-in downstairs, present ID bracelet to security on the second floor, then head to the triage department on the left (I am going to start providing hospital tours to expectant mothers complete with informal introductions to all of the nurses).  Anyhoo....the nurses hooked me up to the monitors for an hour, of course, baby's non-stress test looked beautiful, and we were free to be on our merry way.  Once I escaped near-imprisonment once again, I thanked Baby J for allowing his befuddled mother to blissfully return to house arrest. 

While we were there, the triage nurse further explained to me that if I had been eating more food than normal, my enlarged stomach was another factor in diminishing the baby's movements.  I neglected to tell her about the mass quantities of cake, ice cream, and sugar I had ingested as well as the fact that my pregnant, Ethiopian-esque figure was long gone since being discharged.  She also gave me my own pair of monitoring bands, since I have exhausted the hospital's supply (they cost a whopping $10), and advised me to hold on to them for my return visit (let's hope that will not be for another few weeks!).  During my brief stay, I encountered one of my antepartum nurse buddies, was able to distribute another knifty knitter hat to one of my fellow incubators, and donated the enormous stack of magazines and books I compiled for the mother's-in-waiting.  So, I guess my visit wasn't a total loss after all....

Of course, the second that we arrived home, Baby J began with his usual daily ritual of kicking and punching my ribcage, internal organs, and sitting on my bladder.  We have since decided that we are adding another two months to his grounding period.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Broken Down Bump

A few months ago, there was a news story that featured a motorized couch on wheels, invented by students.  At the time, I thought that college students could be quite moronic to design a concept which endorsed a lazy, couch potato society.  However, I would now do anything to be the proud owner of that ambulatory couch!  Idiotic college students: You have found your niche market! Imagine the wide world of opportunities a couch on wheels could present to bed rest preggers!  For one, we could venture outside, wheel around the block, without the fear of a baby falling out en route.  We could couch surf into restaurants, nail salons, the movies, even the beach and still be abiding by our doctors' strict bedrest ordinances.   

The other morning, I drenched my shirt in coffee, but patiently sat on my couch for an hour before my bladder was full and I had an actual excuse to move, without breaking protocol.  Yesterday,  I accidentally knocked my water bottle over, and could do little but stare as water gushed onto my hardwood floors (at least it wasn't water gushing out of my body!).  To make matters even worse, I no longer had any water to quickly fill my empty bladder and had zero excuse to peel body and bump from couch.  So, for a half hour, my eyes bore into the water-drenched wood, utilizing Jedi mind tricks, compelling it not to warp.  Eventually, my cat discovered this fascinating mini-water park and by then, I realized I literally needed to throw in the towel, full bladder or not.

I know that someday I will barely remember that I spent the last two months of pregnancy confined to couch and bed.  However, for this short glitch in my otherwise busy existence, my life is lived from the perspective of a couch potato, complete with a sack of potatoes in my tummy.  Sometimes, others sit alongside me, and other times I find ways to distract myself, even if it involves a daft, pathetic attempt at naming the fleeting squirrels in my backyard. 

Last night, my husband gave me a congratulatory pat on the back and commended me on "doing well" these past couple of days (I have not had a pregnant meltdown in three days--woo hoo!).  As he distributed a forehead kiss with a proverbial gold star sticker, I neglected to tell him that these past few days have really been quite uneventful and the feral animals living outside are now my dear confidants.

Unfortunately, my couch has not been hampered with by college students and my broken-down bump continues to remain in a stationary, horizontal limbo until I receive the green light out of the premie danger zone.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I Love my Girls!

And no--I am not referring to the two growing mounds on my chest that will provide nourishment to Baby J, but I am talking about my actual girlfriends!  Since I have been on bed rest for over a month, I have continually blogged about how stressful this situation has been for both my mother and my husband, who have shouldered the majority of my burdens.  I don't think that I have given enough credit to my girlfriends, as well as the countless other women in my life who have all been mothering this soon-to-be mother. 

A few days ago, I experienced another meltdown, when I called my doctor's office to request a referral to the perinatologist.  The receptionist informed me that my doctor had a death in his family, would be out of town for at least one week, and she was unable to complete my referral request without his consent.  Well, when I heard this news, I did what any high-risk, hormonal, pregnant woman would do--I completely majorly, flipped the hell OUT. 

I had no nifty nurse call button to press for assistance, no exercise regimen to turn to, no vitamin P to pop--it was just me, my house, and a freaked out cat, now hiding under my bed.  In need of ASAP crisis intervention, I frantically called my girlfriends and sobbed about all of my fears, anxieties, issues, etc.  They listened to me seriously as though I was not a bona fide lunatic and helped me devise a plan to self-advocate.  After numerous phone calls, and pleading, I finally scheduled an appointment with the perinatologist which is scheduled for next Monday. 

Yesterday, my amazing girlfriends came over and helped me assemble baby gear, organized the nursery, laundered clothes, and even successfully completed the daunting task of shopping at Babies R Us.  Everyday, I have been fortunate enough to have at least one well-wishing-woman find some way to make my house arrest more bearable.  Instead of a single pre-baby extravaganza, I have had hours of showers in which I have received food, chocolate, gifts, counseling, and much needed words of encouragement.  

People keep reminding me that when I do finally have Baby J, my husband will always be my first baby.  However, without the support of the women in my life, I don't think that I would have escaped the loony bin in my present situation.  Girlfriends are truly a lifelong investment and I am not selling off my stocks in this lifetime.  True, my immediate family will be comprised of my husband and son, who I will undeniably love and cherish, but my girlfriends will always remain an integral, necessary part of my foundation.   

Love you girls!!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Male Shopping Syndrome

Before I launch into yet another saga about how my husband does not understand my severe nesting urges, I must give credit where credit is due.  On Friday, I completely forgot that it was our five year anniversary until Jon arrived home with beautiful white roses.  I have been feeling so frustrated and helpless, doing little but ordering him around with unrelenting demands and constructing to-do lists since I returned home from the hospital.  In his efforts to appease me, he has kept the kitchen immaculate, has kept up with all of our laundry, and has been following all of my anal-retentive house rules that are forever drilled in his head.  Now, to entertain my loyal readers as well as document a typical marital moment, read on....

After my morning to-do list was completed, I sent Jon to purchase monkey bedding, wall borders, a window valance, amongst other important items (diapers, burp cloths, receiving blankets) at both Buy Buy Baby and Babies R Us.  When I initially completed my registry, I did not plan on being on bed rest and did not think it would be problematic that these two stores are located in completely opposite directions (one in Aventura and the other in Coral Springs).  Jon, who carefully calculates a systematic, pragmatic approach to most things in life did not think that it was logical to visit both stores in one day.  Whereas I, on the other hand, tend to be slightly impulsive, energetic, and would have gladly traveled to two opposite ends of the universe to go shopping.

Our disagreement resulted in a slight bicker-fest that left both of us feeling quite exasperated and frustrated.  Then, in Jon's haste, he looked up directions to Toys R Us, not Babies R Us and had to travel an even further distance.  When he finally reached his destination, he suffered a bout of male-shopping-syndrome, in which he was suddenly overcome with disorientation and panic.  Between the fluorescent lights, pregnant women, screaming infants, and baby paraphernalia , Jon's internal calculator went haywire.  In a frantic phone call, he relayed that the store was too crazy/dirty, the sales people unhelpful, and he was unable to locate a single item on our carefully constructed list of "immediate things for baby".  He eventually returned home empty handed, with the exception of an additional car seat base, in a beat up returned box (which happened to be on the "eventual things for baby" list).

Jon and I have varying expectations on the immediate needs of a newborn.  Logically, we need the bare minimum to maintain Baby J's survival--food (aka my breasts), shelter, clothes, and diapers.  While I believe that the nursery should be completed before we bring home baby, Jon's number one priority is not picking out monkey bedding or wall borders.  After complaining to my mom yet again about my incapacitated state, she courageously volunteered to be our personal nursery interior designer and is now scouring the universe for all things monkey (although I may be tempting my mother to flee the country, I sincerely hope that she does not embark on a trip to Costa Rica at the present moment).

With everything else, I chalk this up as another lesson in relinquishing complete control.  That being expressed, I am still saddened by not being able to nest or decorate Baby J's room to my liking.  As Jon said this morning, my immediate priority is incubating baby while his is taking care of his pregnant wife.  So, from my eternal stance on the couch, I continue to look at the white roses and view them as little white flags of surrender....

Friday, March 4, 2011

To Birth or Not to Birth?

There are two types of women in the world: Those who have been through the torturous, unfathomable pains of childbirth and those who remain in blissful ignorance.  Currently, I am a member of the latter group and am absolutely terrified of my initiation ritual, desperately trying to bide my time.  Although I have read scores of books and articles, asked numerous questions to my inducted friends, and have tried to garner as much information on the planet about the process, I cannot truly know what childbirth will entail until I experience it firsthand.

As I remain on bed rest, I can't peel my eyes away from the baby shows on TLC, in which the newbie mothers all appear to have vastly different experiences.  I wonder: Will I be the hysterical, screaming woman, whose eyes threaten to bulge out of their sockets? Will I be the calm, ethereal woman who can practice ritualized breathing, meditation, and an I-am-on-the -beach-not-in-the-most-excruciating-pain-of-my life self-guided imagery?  Or, will I be the woman who self-righteously denies all drugs until the pain becomes so intolerable that she is screaming for the maximum legal limit??  My husband thinks that I will be a member of group #3, but his theory is quite unsubstantiated, as he has never before been a spectator in delivery-room sports (he also used to think that Baby J would simply just emerge out of my metamorphosed belly button).

My initiated friends are completely split down the fence in terms of their own, personal, labors of love. Some of my friends relish in the thrill of sitting around a campfire, reliving traumatic stories to unsuspecting novices of their birthing horrors.  Some simply shrug off the experience, as though it is an everyday outing to the grocery store; instead of bringing home 8 pounds of groceries, they picked up an 8 pound baby.  Other gal-pals have endured twenty-two hour marathons, while some almost had their baby delivered in their car en route to the hospital.  With the way that my husband drives, I may simultaneously experience both the twenty-two hour marathon as well as giving birth in our Honda. 

As women living in the United States, we are barraged with numerous options and decisions in terms of creating and managing our own, unique birthing plan.  Although these options are supposed to empower us, they are little more than a false illusion of control, as many other factors can contribute to necessary, but unplanned medical interventions. Before Baby J decided to launch into action two month's early, I had my own expectations on how I would deliver. 

After diligently researching the effects of an epidural, I decided that I did not want to be a rotisserie chicken, cooking away in the strict confines of the bed until baby popped out.  I craved freedom, and wanted the ability to move around the hospital, utilizing my birthing ball, walking around the delivery room floor, proactive in all of the labor poses that I could muster.  I signed up for a hypno-birthing class, with hopes that I could utilize self-hypnosis as a means to transport my mind somewhere far, far away.  Also, I hired a doula, or professional labor coach, to alleviate some of my anxiety and discomfort as well as my husband's.  Quite ironically, I have already experienced being chained to the hospital bed, all limbs fully incapacitated, hooked up to IVs and other contraptions.  Also, since I have been diagnosed with questionable placenta previa, there is a good chance that I may need a cesarean after all.

Each night, before I go to bed, I wonder if tonight will be my initiation ritual.  I have not drafted a carefully manuscripted birthing plan to distribute to the nursing staff, I never had the chance to take the highly anticipated hypno-birthing class so I will be unable to disconnect my mind from my body, and my doula will probably flee the delivery room, husband in tow, at the first sight of my head spinning around, exorcist style.  However, in the end, I will be 100%, fully ingrained as a lifelong member of the tribe.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Probation Station

So, as I eventually developed a routine within the hospital, I now must develop my own routine at home.  I desperately want coffee this morning, but Jon has already departed for work, and I no longer have my nifty nurse call button dangling from my bed.  I may have to forgo my morning cup of joe or wait until I venture into the kitchen for lunch.  Although I am the proud pet owner of Tiger the Super Cat, his abilities are quite limited.  I will gladly sacrifice coffee and will take all of the purring and snuggling I can get!

Ideally, Jon would like to find an ankle bracelet which administers an electric shock each time I am on my feet for more than a one minute duration.  When he realized the anklet bracelet was impossible to find, he suggested buying an electric fence at Pets Mart, which would zap me each time I attempt to enter restricted territory.  I informed him that I was done being tortured for another few weeks and my next feat would be the actual labor process.

If one more person tells me that I need to stay off my feet, they are not getting past my security gate at the front of my development.  Believe me--I do not want to end up back in the hospital and I desperately want to carry Baby J full term.  Being on hospital bed rest is truly a test of character and strength--and to be honest I don't know if I completely Aced that test (I had many questionable moments).  However, I will say that I have so much respect for the women whom I encountered both in the hospital as well as the online community.  Many of my counterparts have been on hospital bed rest for months, without any hope of going home before baby.  My hearts and thoughts are with these courageous women, who I know will soon be AMAZING mothers.  

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Homecoming (And No More PROMS!!!!)

When I walked into my house yesterday for the first time in three weeks, everything felt like a novelty.  Tiger, practically falling outside as we opened the front door, was beyond excitement until my squeal of delight at glimpsing his squishy face scared him into running in the opposite direction.  Eventually, when things were settled, he resumed his normal position at my feet, just like old times.

As I settled onto my couch, my mom helped create a probation station, arranging everything in arm's reach, magazines, kindle, computer, waters, snacks, etc....My flat screen TV looked colossal compared to the hospital's and I marveled at all of the shows Jon had Tivoed in my absence.  I desperately wanted to walk into the nursery, view the new lawn furniture in the backyard, inspect my kitchen for cleanliness, but I relented, vowing not to go anywhere in my house that is not absolutely necessary (ie. bathroom).

When Jon returned home from work, I prioritized my numerous demands and just asked for the basics: food and water, in which he happily obliged.  He went to the market on his way home from work and filled our fridge with all of my favorites--no more tragic Greek salads or French toast surprises.  Last night, as I readied for bed, I realized that I had even missed my electric toothbrush, my full length mirror, my shower!!!  As I viewed my pregnant body full length for the first time in weeks, I gasped--who was this emaciated figure with a giant pineapple in her stomach?  Although I had read about other women losing weight on bed rest, I did not think that I would be one of them--I was enjoying way too much chocolate and sweets.  However, as I stared at my Ethiopian-pregnant-esque image, it looked like my stomach had literally sucked the meat from all of the other parts of my body.  I looked like a bowling ball with protruding limbs!

I snuggled into bed next to hubby and relished in the peacefulness, no more monitoring, no more waking up for vital checks every couple of hours, no more needles threatening to invade my skin.  Just a purring Tiger nestled in between us....