Sunday, January 29, 2006

Pregancy 2.0

I have shamefully ripped off the title for this post from Lindy. Sorry, Lindy. I am feeling so very uncreative tonight.

I know this post is long overdue, but the news is good so far. I visited my regular OB on the 20th and was able to see the baby again. The baby had grown appropriately and had a nice heartbeat. My OB proclaimed it a "healthy pregnancy" thus far. She also arranged for me to have CVS this week which is the earliest form of genetic screening available to me. With Baby E, I waited for amniocentesis which was done at 16 weeks. This time, I think we are willing to trade the slightly higher risk of miscarriage for the earlier reassurance (or not) of CVS. The test can detect the trisomies and a range of other diseases, but it cannot detect neural tube defects. Later blood tests and later ultrasounds can detect these.

Unlike my first pregnancy, J did not accompany me to the OB appointment. We knew he would likely miss another ultrasound, but we were both OK with it. Because he is an experienced expectant father, he couldn't think of any questions for the doctor. The solo first appointment made me ponder what else is different this pregnancy. Here is what I have come up with so far:

  • Fatigue. I know I was tired with Baby E, but I am exhausted this time around. I don't know if it is the difference between 35 and 37 or just the added bonus of caring for a toddler and trying to keep the house in order, but I am dragging. When does that second trimester wave of energy hit?
  • Feeling less special. I don't want to give J a hard time, but he earns a C- so far on the expectant dad bit. I am, of course, grading him against his prior performance. He was so sweet and attentive when I was pregnant with E. This time, I think he forgets I am gestating. At least he forgets that gestating is WORK. Hard, hard work. Baby E has had a rough sleep week with night waking, early morning wake ups and short naps. Last Wednesday morning, I started crying out of shear fatigue and frustration and J snapped, "Well, I'm tired, too." Damn.
  • Showing, but not showing. I have hit the awkward clothing stage much earlier this time. My body hasn't taken that pregnancy shape yet. My regular clothes are a bit too tight, but maternity wear looks ridiculous. Sadly, I just look bloated and thick. Tonight I ordered some transitional pants and skirts from Old Navy. They are supposed to have hidden elastic bands and I hope they arrive soon.
  • Gas and constipation. Yes, this is too much information, but good grief, what is up with this? I know I wasn't this bloated with E, and I am sure the constipation started much later.
  • Baby Beat is a wonderful thing. I am so glad that we ordered the doppler. I had it last time, too, but this time, it has kept me grounded. The baby can be hard to find, but we've always found the heartbeat. Lovely, lovely sound.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Two a.m. and I am wide-awake

It is one of those nights. It was all I could do to stay awake until 10:00 when I surrendered and went to bed. So what am I doing wide-awake? I’m too tired to attempt a coherent narrative so here is a bullet update of my life since I last posted.

• Nurse Joy kissed me. I didn’t see it coming or I would have ducked. Or run. It happened after my second ultrasound last Friday. The scan went well. We saw four limbs (pods, really), a strong heartbeat, and a residual tail (which made me wonder if I am bearing a tadpole). Dr. Negative had a medical student come and meet us and told her, “Here is why we don’t say 0% chance of conceiving to high FSH women.” I had to be a smart-ass and say, “No, they give us so much hope with that less than 1% forecast.” Dr. Negative said I should stay on the progesterone for another week and released me to my OB. Ultrasound in hand, I went to the window to pay for the visit and Nurse Joy came running up and planted one on my cheek. BLECK!

• My toddler may have a split personality. One day, she is all sunshine; smiling, laughing, affectionate, trying all her baby signs, fun. The next, she is stormy weather; whining, crying, screaming, not even attempting to communicate, anti-fun. We are sharing the sitters with another family three days a week. Their little girl EJ is six months old and is a good baby. My E seems at times to be thrilled with the baby, cooing at her, smiling and patting her back “gently.” Other times, she seems insanely jealous. Last week she had a tantrum. Yesterday she chomped on the sitter’s leg as the sitter attended to the baby. Sitter wants detailed instructions on how to handle this, but to be honest, I have no idea what to tell her. Obviously, I want to discourage this behavior, but I’m not entirely certain of what to do.

• I can’t get rid of this book contract. I told my publisher about the pregnancy hoping they might drop me, but they are making accommodations and being nicer than usual. I guess the only solution is to buckle down and get the whole thing written pronto because I do not want this hanging over my head after the baby comes. I will never do another text. Too boring. Too tedious.

•J finally got a CPAP machine. He has sleep apnea and we hadn’t slept in the same room in about a year. I just couldn’t sleep through that anymore and he could sleep through my kicking him, poking him and complaining. But now he has the machine and it is wonderful. He looks like the elephant man getting geared up, but there is virtually no noise. We are back in the same room, which is an adjustment. Normally, if I were up in middle of the night I would read in bed, but it seems impolite to turn on the lights when he is sleeping soundly. Also, I think we need a larger bed. We both learned to take up more space while sleeping apart so we are having some small skirmishes over whose half of the bed we are on.

• We roadtripped and told our families about the pregnancy this weekend. We told J’s family at breakfast by adding ultrasound photos to E’s little scrapbook. She pulled the scrapbook out of her pack and we told her to show her grandparents her pictures. When she got to the last page we said, “And E is going to be a big sister.” We told my family at my nephew’s 5th birthday dinner. We made a gift certificate that said, “The bearer of this certificate is entitled to one cousin redeemable on or about August 22, 2006.” We brought the house down.

• I am trying to work on my worry. I am still constantly stressed about the what ifs of early pregnancy, but I’m trying to focus on the good news and stay positive. I should get a BabyBeat heart monitor in the mail tomorrow. I’ll try to remind myself that nine weeks may be too early to find a heartbeat with it, but I know we’ll try.

• My classes are going well. I have one bozo in my social issues class who believes we should invade North Korea and “take care of things.” He also thinks the homeless guy who was beaten to death in Florida deserved it because he was bugging people by panhandling. Fortunately, the other students seem like a good bunch. My two quantitative practicum sections are off to a good start.


Saturday, January 07, 2006

Chronicles of Nannia

I returned to work one year ago this week when Baby E was three months old. I told myself that I was lucky to have been able to be home for three months. I told myself that E was lucky to be able to stay home with sitters. I told myself we would all survive. I dressed carefully that first day-- pressed khakis, black shirt, coordinating jewelry, and matching bag and shoes-- I thought it would give me confidence to keep going. As I was walking out the door, I embraced E one last time before I left maternity leave and joined the legions of working moms.* She promptly spit up all over me.

I had to make a quick change into an outfit that left me feeling less together and more bereft. I cried on my way to the campus and looked terrible by the time for my first class. Is there a moral to this story? I can’t think of one. I think, instead, that it served as an omen of things to come. My plans, however carefully laid, never seem to come to fruition when it comes to childcare. It is as if I am off from the rest of the band by a half beat. I think other women manage this better than me and I am at a loss as to how I went so wrong.

You’ll probably want to nominate me for the worst mom EVER award when you hear this: Over the last year, Baby E has had nine caretakers. That is right. Nine caretakers in 12 months. Bad mommy. Bad.

Here is the list:

Nanny L (four months): An undergraduate who watched Baby E two days a week last spring. She wasn’t a natural, but she only missed one day due to illness and she tried her best. Baby E wouldn’t nap for Nanny L (who was incapable of letting her fuss), but this really seems like a small issue now. Nanny L left after final exams.

Nanny J (Three months): The best. She was here until last May when she got nanny position in Colorado. The oldest of seven children, she was a natural. She sat for us 2-3 days a week in the spring. I would have kept her forever, but some rich Winter Park family can pay her more.

D (Two-three weeks): Notice I don’t call her a nanny. She started the job and then told me that she needed knee surgery and wouldn’t be able to lift the baby “for a while.” She went home to recover and never came back.

S (Eight weeks): This is one of D’s friends. She did very well with E, but could only sit for a month.

C (Eight weeks): Another friend of D. Pretty good with the baby, but she left after the first summer session.

Mommy J (Three months): A mom with a baby two months younger than E. An attachment parent.** I thought the attachment parent thing was a huge plus because E would get attention and not be lefy to cry, but it turned out that watching two children was too difficult and stressful. Mommy J was still waking four times a night to nurse and was completely exhausted. She couldn’t get her daughter to nap during the day without lying down with her, which was a problem with a second baby in the house. E started coming home dirty, stressed, and unhappy. We ended that in October. Mommy J is currently seeking employment outside the home.

Nanny M (Two months): Found her on Craig’s List. I didn’t get a good or bad gut feeling about her, but her references were excellent. She didn’t want to work fulltime so she brought her (then) friends Nanny S and Nanny J on board. I fired Nanny M two weeks ago after coming home early and discovering that she wasn’t being truthful.

Nanny S (Two months and counting): Almost fired her when she went to jail for slugging Nanny M, but I’m glad I gave her another try.

Nanny J2 (Two months and counting): Right now, I am not pleased with her but I’m trying to be understanding because I need her. She called today to say that she is A) Stuck in the Midwest with a useless Independence Air*** ticket and is B) “really sick”. Nanny J2 is supposed to be sitting this entire week because Nanny S has her parents in town. However, we are scrambling again because if she is still sick when she finds a return flight on another carrier, I don’t want her infecting Baby E who is recovering from a bad cold and ear infection. So J is checking his schedule, I’m trying to figure out exactly how much time I have between my 10:40 and 4:00 Tuesday classes.

You’ll notice that there are no daycares in this scenario. That is because when I was pregnant the first time and idealistic, I thought that daycares were impersonal and not good enough for my baby. I did not investigate centers. I did not sign Baby E up. I’ve changed my mind on daycare. I am still wary of most centers and my children will never go to Kisti’z Krazy Kidz Kottage, but I see advantages to daycare now. First, while I know daycares have turnover, I don’t think they can top my turnover rate. Second, there is more socialization at daycare. E is an extremely outgoing child so this would be good for her, I think. Third, there would be more oversight. No more coming home early to discover a nanny behaving badly. Forth, there would be a backup system. If one caregiver were ill, there would be another. Finally, the cost would be less of a financial burden. Not that I would let econ0mics alone determine childcare arrangements, but it says something that we spend more on nanny pay than we do on our house payment. We need to be saving.

Baby E is on the waiting lists at two good centers (the only two I could stomach) and it looks like we should have a spot this summer. I’ve already signed little brother or sister up for next January. I know I’ll have second thoughts, but I’ll try to remember the Chronicles of Nannia and go through with it.

*What does this mean, anyway? I worked my ass off those first few months.

**I’m not an attachment parent myself as I am very much into gentle scheduling and very much not into co-sleeping, but I don’t have a problem with it. I think a good parent is one who is at ease with her parenting philosophy of choice.

***How could she be unaware that they were no longer flying? Have I really hired someone who does not read a newspaper, listen to the radio, or have any idea of what is going on in national, regional or local news?

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

Peace, prosperity and happiness to you. May your fondest wishes come true this year.

Now can someone please tell my pyromaniac, firework-obsessed neighbors enough already?