Tuesday, February 28, 2012

32 weeks

Baby shower repeat.
I am running really low on energy
(and clean clothes:) right now so I haven't
taken my weekly photos.

At 32 weeks I find myself…nervous. I'm sitting here on the cusp of two experiences that are so completely new and intense—childbirth and parenthood—that no amount of preparation could possibly alleviate all my nerves. Sure, I've done an insane amount of "preparation," but how can you really prepare for such things? You can't. They happen the way they're going to happen, unfolding as unique experiences that no book or class or friend who's been through it can predict with any certainty. I can visualize labor and birth all I want, but the actual sensations and emotions of that day will remain a mystery, a guess, a theory, until I'm in the thick of it. And my husband and I can daydream all day about what our little girl will be like, what our life will look like with her in it, how we will handle this enormous transition, but in the back of my head I know the reality will be much different than what I anticipate. So, I'm nervous.

I also find myself clinging to my husband in our final months as a twosome. As intensely as I already love this baby, it's hard to imagine sharing my life with more than one person. I'm so used to my husband, our dynamic, our routines, the messes he makes. I really can't wrap my brain around all of that changing. I look over my shoulder to the backseat as we drive to the grocery store and try to imagine a wiggly little person in a car seat…..I look around the restaurant on date night, trying to imagine my child sleeping in her carrier or wailing in the middle of the main course….I listen for the cries of the future that will interrupt every attempted kiss between my husband and I. Meanwhile, somewhere beyond all my nerves, there is a voice that assures me that I will be in bliss when this crazy journey finally begins. 

All I can do at this point is try to be present, to live one day at a time, which is an interesting thing to attempt when you feel stuck between two worlds.

Monday, February 27, 2012

baby brunch

We had our pre-baby brunch this weekend and I couldn't feel any more blessed right now. We enjoyed the afternoon with the most lovely, small group of family and friends, eating scrumptious food and insane pastries. I'm truly overwhelmed by how much effort and love was put into this shower…thank you to everyone who pitched in to make the day absolutely perfect! The interesting thing is, Alex and I feel better prepared for parenthood after this event. Not just because of the generous gifts, but because we felt so much love and support, so much shared excitement and joy for our new little addition, and so much guidance from all the veterans in our life (thanks for the long discussion on potential nipple ailments and the cloth diapering demo, ladies!). xo 

Adorable craft project for guests:
have people cut out little creatures
from cloth and affix them to onesies.

Never thought I'd see my father enjoy an afternoon
of baby crafts. So cute.

The baby wearing the t-shirt made
for her by the ever-creative
4-yr-old Zella.

Gluten-free spice cake with buttercream frosting.

Friday, February 24, 2012

photo friday

The second week of my photo challenge...

6. dinner:

A gluten-free spinach gruyere quiche I made
last summer.
My favorite side dish: baked sweet potato fries with
garlic mayo dipping sauce.
7. button:
My pre-pregnancy belly button
I have an awfully sizable box of buttons in my
linen closet…yet I don't think I've ever replaced or
repaired a button. Hmm...

8. sun:
I took this in my father-in-law's backyard 
4 summers ago.

What I've been looking at all winter: a sunless sky.
9. front door:
Front door…to a POW prison. 
The Headlands, San Francisco.
Front door knocker.
10. self portrait:
Taken about 4 years ago.
Tired mama eyes.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

31 weeks

My father came to visit yesterday. He hasn't seen me since I was about 8 weeks pregnant given he lives in California and was recovering from knee surgery for months and couldn't travel. Needless to say, I look pretty different than I did when he saw me back in September…..different than the little girl he sees in his head when he looks at me. And it was exciting and emotional to share this version of myself with him. 

All the conversations my father and I have had over the past 8 months about 
baby girls, pregnancy, and parenting have bonded us in such a new way. My father can't help but constantly tell stories of holding me in his arms the day I was born or carrying me everywhere he went in the baby sling….and I can't get enough of hearing them. As he anticipates his first grandchild, it is as if he is anticipating the rebirth of the baby that he had to let go of so long ago. And for me, the emotional transition from individual to mama and falling in love with the little one that squirms inside my body, has deepened my appreciation for my father and shifted my perspective on his reluctance to let me go (all my life) from annoyance to understanding. I've yet to hold my own baby girl in my arms, but I can tell you emphatically that I know I will not want to let her go. Ever. I cry at any mention of kids going off to college and my baby hasn't even left the womb. 

There is a quote painted on the bathroom wall at my midwives' office that says: "Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." That about sums it up.

It's an interesting experience, becoming a parent in your own parent's presence. I sometimes feel as though I want to simultaneously jump back in time and forward. In fact, that's exactly how I feel right now as I write this, sobbing, thinking about my father….thinking about how hard it is for him to be 3,000 miles away from his children, thinking about how heartbreaking that would be for me if this baby decides one day that she has to give the west coast a whirl too…thinking about how quickly the phase of parenthood/childhood that my father is reliving and telling tales of right now slips past you. But, that is life. Wonderful, beautiful, emotional life. All I can do is hug my father when he's here and try to live one day at a time with my baby girl (when she finally arrives), giving her all the mama love I can while she lives and grows up just down the hall from me. Could I be any more hormonal today?!?! 

On a lighter note, I found one of my pre-pregnancy hippie shirts at the bottom of my drawer today…mysteriously tucked in beneath the heap of large, elastic maternity shirts, wondering where its former, slender, hipper roommates have gone. Before I put it in my someday-I-will-fit-into-these-again storage box, I thought I would see if I could get the sucker on….mostly because I miss my free-spirted old style, but also because I thought it would be funny to see my rotund belly peaking out of the slit down the front that used to be sexy….used to display flat abs and low-slung skinny jeans. My how things have changed...

Friday, February 17, 2012

photo friday

The first 5 days of my photo challenge...

1. your view today:
This was the view from our honeymoon villa in Antigua.
Life seems so simple and calm with a turquoise backdrop.

Bare trees, winter sky, my backyard.
2. words:
A print I made for a friend's bedroom. Love me some mantras.

Another mantra. One I'm trying to remember these days as I sit here
all pregnant and artistically unproductive.
3. hands:
Daily meditation does a body good.

I had to take my wedding and engagement rings off last week on
account of pregnancy swelling. So sad. Now I wear them around
my neck. And I desperately need to clean them…so dingy, no sparkle.
4. a stranger:
He was very eager to pose for me.
I took this at the San Francisco Pride Parade one year
when I was living in the city. 

Stranger….in my belly. Who is this little person? I can't wait
to find out.
5. 10 am:
10 am in Washington, California. Drinking
some coffee by the river on a camping trip.
10 am these days includes sitting on the couch,
drinking 3rd trimester tea and writing my blog.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

a note from zombieland

I feel like a COMPLETE zombie this week. Is this how it's going to be for the next 10 weeks? I hope not. It's more than exhaustion though, and that's what is killing me. My brain has just shut off…out to lunch….or maybe longer. I've read it's normal and part of the end of pregnancy, but damn! I find myself just sitting and staring off into space, not even realizing it's happening until a good hour or two has rolled by. Breakfast has turned into lunch and I can't quite recall what's happened in between. I mentioned in my last post that I really have no idea what I'm saying/writing as I'm saying/writing it these days and it's the truth. That is why I've (sadly) shied away from blogging this week. I sit here every morning, gazing at the blank screen, half forgetting what to do with a blank screen and computer keyboard. I do this for awhile until I realize it's just not happening. All of my body's resources are currently being rerouted to my uterus and the growing human being there. This last part of pregnancy is all about her brain growth—it's supposed to almost triple in size from now until she's born. And she seems quite happy about it. I can sense her happiness in the way she moves. The way I move is sluggish and involves a lot of grunting and sighing. Not that I'm complaining….I guess I'm just trying to figure out how to exist and be semi-productive without the use of my brain. Is that what motherhood is?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

30 weeks

I'm the big 3-0 today….yikes! It's crazy that the last time I was a singular person, walking around without a passenger, it was the middle of the summer and now we are nearing the end of winter. It's even more crazy how much we've been through as a little family these last 30 weeks. The seasons have changed, our address has changed, jobs have changed, daily activities have changed, my body has definitely changed….all while a ball of cells took up residence in my uterus, miraculously growing into one of the loves of my life.

The day our little one's life began.

We started our hypnobirthing classes last week, which was a strange experience. I felt nervous, or like I wasn't really supposed to be there. Being pregnant is so surreal that the first time it happens to you it really is difficult to accept that it's legit. I took three pregnancy tests to confirm that it was a reality 26 weeks ago, and even after all those double lines and the two tests given to me at my midwife's office, I still didn't completely buy it until week 13 when we saw our little bouncing bean on an ultrasound. I also had this strange feeling every time I went to a prenatal appointment for the longest time, almost like I was an impostor, just some silly girl that wished she was pregnant but wasn't really. I still feel that way sometimes. Then I look down at the huge bulge in my midsection and the tiny elbows and knees that are protruding from the bulge, and I realize this might be real. It was that feeling of "this is too surreal to swallow" that left me feeling strange in our hypnobirthing class. There we were, sitting in a circle surrounded by other big bellies, swapping stories and talking about our vision for childbirth, our faithful partners by our sides, rubbing our backs and exchanging smiles with hands held above our dancing baby's womb. That's about as real as it gets. That moment triggered the shift in our attention to the reality that is quickly approaching us. 

The conversations in our household have become focused on the big day—when baby girl is going to arrive, how it's going to go down, childbirth, the adjustment to sleep deprivation and a tiny new body in our bed. We find ourselves talking through a billion scenarios, "well, if she comes early then x, y, z" and "if she waits til May then…." This conversation wasn't helped by the fact that our hypnobirthing instructor mentioned that more babies are born on the 3 days surrounding the full moon each month, a fact we became obsessed with when we got home (we were disappointed to discover that there isn't a full moon directly near baby girl's due date, she'd either be really early on April 6 or late on May 6).

Then there was our first doula appointment. We spent hours talking about different strategies and preferences, what we might do with the placenta, Alex's plan to catch our baby when she emerges, the birthing tub, how messy it's going to be, what we're going to go through in the days immediately after the birth. That long talk made things really real. Suddenly all those decisions we've discussed in theory or as if they were so far in the future, are decisions that have to be made….information we need to know….birthing techniques we need to practice. I feel my body preparing, my mind preparing, my baby preparing. I feel the strong, powerful mother inside me emerging, intensely focused and accomplishing all she needs to accomplish though the weight of her belly and her growing exhaustion do all they can to slow her down.

So, that's where I'm at. Meanwhile, all my thoughts trickle out of me at such a sluggish pace these days that I'm never quite sure if anything I've said (or, in this case, written!) makes any sense or follows any sort of direction.