Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Calm After the Storm

The Schuylkill (only spelled that correctly because it's on the barrier there) River snakes throughout our town in suburban Philadelphia.  While "Hurricane" Irene did little damage to our neighborhood, the river flooded throughout our pretty untouched hamlet.  We live about 1/4 of a mile from the river so took a stroll down to see "the devastation".  (We're all about the hyperbole in this family!)  This is where Penny takes her river walks, so you can bet she's NONE TOO PLEASED.  Oh well.

The river did not meet the bridge (as it did in many other parts of the Schuylkill, particularly in Philly) but it was churning and swiftly moving.  Regardless, "churning and swiftly moving" doesn't really make for a  crazy photo op.

To the right is the parking lot for the Valley Forge river trail, all under water.  Here's Penny looking at me like, "Dawg!  Where the trail at?!?!  You expect me to walk in the neighborhood like some lame HOUSE DOG?!?!"  Or, she's wondering if I have any treats in my pocket.

When the river overflows the area smells foul and fishy after it recedes.  Just a fact there, folks.

Penny surveying the damage and wondering where her treat is.

All joking aside, I hope everyone on the East Coast is safe and dry with power!  We had a near travesty today when Matt and I stocked up at the grocery store and came to a house with no power (yes, spoiled food is a travesty in my book).  Go figure as we didn't lose power throughout the entire storm.  Luckily it's back on so my Greek Yogurt is safe.  Sigh of relief, sigh of relief.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Third Trimester!

25 weeks!
Totally cheating with this fitted, black dress.  But that's how I work.

28 weeks!  Beginning of "big mamma".  Sob!
(This dress REALLY accentuates the belly...I swear I don't look exactly this big in person.  Now, not small, mind you, but this is some 36 week shiznizzle right here!)
Who doesn't take self-portraits in the work bathroom?

Today I chose a dress I only sometimes wear because it makes me look pregnant.  “Well now’s as good time as any,” I said as I examined my sloped mid-section in the morning mirror.  Thing looked PLUMP!  It’s amazing how clothes can accentuate or minimize a baby bump (I swear: on Saturday I wore a peasant top that made me look Kathryn circa 2010).  Today I’m full-on baby mama.  Case in my point from my co-worker this morning: “Kathryn – you POPPED!  You looked different last week!”  There’s something liberating about no longer being able to suck in a burgeoning gut. 

This week I am 28 weeks pregnant, which is the beginning of both the third trimester and the seventh month of pregnancy.  I am ecstatic and giddy.  Matt is panic-stricken and looking a bit nauseous. 

“You had a while to get used to this, you know,” I deadpanned last night as I showed him a changing table I was contemplating.  “I don’t think you can ever get used to this,” he replied, glassy-eyed.  He reassured me on how excited he is, but I also know, as my internal clock can’t go fast enough, his is ticking with a thud. 

On the weekends he is a flurry of activity as he looks at wood finishes in preparation to re-sanding the nursery’s shoddy hardwood floors.  On Saturday night, when I was out with friends, he painted the nursery a bright yellow appropriately called Sunbeam.  He put the last coat on after I returned home, ten minutes to midnight, in his underwear with classical music echoing throughout the house.  We discovered mold creeping across our basement yesterday, and I think the boy was positively going to cry at the thought of another house project. 

Not to say I feel sorry for him.  The way he thinks about housework is the way I think about work.  Period.  My last work trip is to Michigan and Colorado the first full week of October, and it can’t get here quickly enough.  After that it’s local events, but even that (Three hours at an evening networking event?  Five hours at a job fair?) still doesn’t pacify the alarmist in me.  Luckily, I feel great and I’m hedging my bets I’m going to have a seamless, uneventful last trimester.  Or at least willing the fact that it will easy.

Now, look – carrying this baby should be easier on me.  I’m big: 5’10”.  I’m no skinny ninny but thick and (I’d like to think), strong.  If I was waddling at this point there would be a problem.  A woman I know, pregnant as well and three weeks behind me in gestation, said, “Are you still fitting into your maternity clothes?  I had to go buy all new ones!”  This comment made my day because 1) I’m hardly wearing any maternity clothes as most of my wardrobe is already fashioned for a generous bajunk-a-junk stomach, and 2) of those I do wear they’re only starting to look appropriate, and 3) I’m really quite smug.  While my baby can grow up and down, hers (she stands about 5’3” or so) can only jut out.  I finally feel my height is to some advantage (other than intimidating people of course).

I still don’t identify fully with my pregnant peers.  I visit two “November 2011” baby forums.  Last night many of them were talking about their baby’s current position.  “Oh, he’s transverse” and “My little bugger keeps flipping around!” to “Mine’s been head-up since the beginning.”  This intrigues me because I cannot possibly induce how they know this because all I can tell is that it feels like I’ve got some heavy-duty gas in there.  The woman who is three weeks behind me in pregnancy?  She said her kid wakes her up in the middle of the night with their kicking.  Really?  Because I just feel like I ate a burrito that didn’t agree with me.

Now, I’ve got some cushioning if ya know what I mean, and apparently an anterior placenta, meaning that squishy blob is on top of the baby and softening his/her karate kicks, but lord almighty!  I’ve finally just come to the conclusion that these women are crazy and they gotta calm the heck down because they have a few more months of cookin’ to do (and uncomfortable incubating it sounds like to me).  They also post things like, “I feel so guilty; I had a Diet Coke today,” or “How long do I need to heat my cold cuts so they’re safe?”  I’m seriously reading this half the time with a soda in one hand and a turkey sandwich in the other, chompin’ and snortin’ (chompin’ and snortin’ is my most natural, relaxed – and common – state).

Then there is the ubiquitous post about the “coming home outfit”.  This is the outfit mothers spend no less than 22.6 hours choosing and what their new bundle of joy will be wearing when he or she is brought home from the hospital.  Other commenters “ooo” and “awww” over these get-ups, resplendent with frogs and ducks, princesses or monkeys.  I momentarily took a break from chompin’ and snortin’ to ruminate if I should buy a special outfit for this occasion.  The answer: no.  Back to the turkey sandwich.

This is not to say I’m not spectacularly excited, and often times, my snide commentary takes a back-seat to the belly pics, the “Is this safe?” questions, and even the posts about awful things their “DH” says.  For those not in the know, “DH” stands for “Dear Husband”.  These are sometimes my favorite posts, for DHs can say supremely clueless and tactless things, and it’s my job to read them all and sort out which of these Neanderthals are huge dicks.  From what I can tell there’s a lot of whale and “big as a house” commentary, frightened pointing at burgeoning stretch marks while DHs crinkle their eyes in horror and say, “What ARE those?!” (good thing I was practically born with the things) and not-so-gentle jabs at the quantity of food these soon-to-be mothers are consuming.  This all plays into my smugness really well, because Matt is a nice and quiet guy and wouldn’t dare utter these things.  He’s also scared of me, and I feel like I have to teach my preggo compatriots on how to put the fear of their wives (much worse than the fear of God) into their husbands. 

Last but not least on our baby odyssey are the baby classes!  Our first class was this past week on breastfeeding.  We were told to bring a baby doll for positioning and holding, but we brought a tie-dyed frog.  I surely thought we were already the class delinquents but I was happy to spot a teddy bear in the audience as well.  Most women in the class were eight months along and their husbands were dutiful (this is the Main Line, after all).  I thought I’d surely leave the class with some good commentary but there wasn’t much to work with in this Ann Taylor-clad crowd.  I was also hoping to the very end the free-spirited instructor would whip out her boob for a life-like reenactment, but no such luck.  I’m hoping the class we take in a few weeks brings me more fodder: it’s for clueless first-time parents so my hopes are high.

But somewhere in between all my inappropriate wisecracks, I’ve found myself crying for no inexplicable reason other than the fact that I’m going to HAVE A BABY.  That Matt and I are going to be responsible for this life that we’ve created (horribly cliched, I know, and the creation was in a lab, but still!).  This morning, on the train “Our House” by Crosby, Stills, and Nash came on and with my headphones on, and with Bryn Mawr and Ardmore flashing by, I cried out of total and complete happiness at the thought of the life Matt and I had built.  I thought of Matt painting late at night in his underwear to Chopin, our Saturday trips the last two weeks to the vet for Penny’s stubborn ear infection, and of all the baby furniture propped up in our living room waiting to be assembled.  I thought of early-morning weekend trips to the practice in New Jersey, our recent date nights to the city to enjoy each other before the baby, us cooking in the kitchen together (roasted chicken last night and Greek pitas today) or watching bad TV in bed and late-night back rubs.  I thought of him lounging on my hospital bed during my Crohn’s flare a couple years back and us watching movies with the volume low, or how he told me, “If this is as bad as it gets, then I have it pretty good” when we ran to the pharmacy late at night for medication our first year together.  I thought about the most mundane things: arguing over what brownie mix to buy in the grocery aisle or about what evening newscast to watch, what actor was in so-and-so movie and how no, he’s not going to go out there and attack the hornet nest nestled in our garage.

I thought about how much I love this man, and how I wouldn’t trade this life for any other.  And then I thought there’s nothing sweeter than being gifted with something you thought you may never have, and how so very good we have it.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

25 Weeks

At 25 weeks pregnant I’m starting to definitely look a bit knocked up – particularly in some outfits and always in the afternoon.  I figure I must be 50% bloat if much of my girth presents itself from 3 pm on.  Or maybe it’s the fact that I dubbed my afternoon snack “second lunch” given my veracious eating habits (Do you know anyone who eats three bananas in one day?  Well now you do.).  By evening my gut feels full and hard – literally stuffed, and I look in the mirror, sideways, in a “Really? REALLY?” sort of way.  I guess this was to be expected.

Because of my hectic fall work schedule, Matt and I scheduled our first baby class in two weeks.  It’s on breastfeeding.  They said to bring a life-size baby doll, and I’ve deduced no one in my social sphere has such a thing.  (If they did, I suppose it would be creepy, come to think of it.)  Right now I’m eyeing a stuffed frog to bring, but I fear I’ll be chastised for its anatomical incorrectness (and also its lack of being even remotely a mammal).  It looks better than the other stuff animal we own, though – a dragon complete with a spliced tongue and spiky tail (all dubious prizes from amusement parks from Matt).  You girls may get jewelry or a night out, but I get a tie-dyed frog.  Two of them, actually.  Control your jealousy.

The other two baby classes we signed-up for are “Preparing for Baby!” and a one-day child birth workshop.  “Preparing for Baby!” is a nice way of saying, “Hey you!  First time parents!  Yeah, you two clueless nitwits!  This one’s for you.”  It will teach us about newborns and car seats, about pediatricians and vaccinations, and about feeding and burping.  I figure this has to be useful, because I’m not even sure if Matt and I know how to hold a baby properly.  (All I know is that Matt constantly refers to the “soft spot” on the babies head and how he’s going to “poke it”.  I don’t know what to make of this.)

In other news we have begun to prepare the nursery.  I don’t do cutesy, I don’t do cutesy themes, and I sure as hell don’t do cartoons. This is not in line with Matt who said he first wanted to do a robot theme, then maybe Mario Brothers, then maybe space.  Even if we don’t have a boy, I think he’s determined to make our child a tom boy, which is fine, unless they play copious amounts of sports, which (and Matt and I agree on this together) is not fine.  I will steer him or her to music and books, and he will steer them to science and code.  Look, there are parents who go to each and every little league game.  Then there will be us.

For the room we settled on pale yellow walls with sage curtains and a large tree vinyl decal and I’m relieved that Matt likes it.  In fact, when looking at tree decals, he has chosen the more modern, wind-swept ones that look adult-like and blustery, and are more suitable for a loft than a nursery.  I said that’s not very warm and kid-like and he pretended he doesn’t hear me.  His decals have dark silhouettes of birds heading south.  Mine have blue birds dancing around the tree, their feathers plump and their cadence merry.  I’m not sure how Matt got to this from robots, but sometimes I just have to keep my mouth shut and go with it.  I often get my way by virtue of being a loud-mouth, so the boy can get whatever the heck tree he wants.

Matt has also begun using the baby to get out of things.  Twice the Obama campaign called asking for volunteer time, and twice he has said, “I’m sorry; I’ve got a baby on the way!”  No matter he took these calls in June and the baby is due in November. 

I’m curious what I’ll be able to get away with when I become clearly pregnant.  Will the MLDs let me board the train first?  Will I get out of cleaning?  (Last week – I’m not sure what got into me as I’m the furthest thing from a neat freak – I began scrubbing our bathroom tile with a hardcore disinfectant from Lowe’s.  Matt burst in and took over, but subsequently I now have a mellow, non-toxic pink grapefruit scented cleaner so the battle hasn’t truly been won.)

For now, though, everything is the same except for the daily “Cletus” references that sprinkle our conversations.  My friend Danita recommended we use the term “Sprout”, which Matt and I both adored, but it was too late: Cletus the Fetus had already taken hold and was already a part of our household vernacular. 

And I suppose that’s just fine.