Mar 26 2007

Heartburn and Headache

My tummy is getting really big, but it’s not working any better. I had pretty bad heartburn last night, and it’s started up again today after a breakfast of multigrain toast and coddled eggs. And coffee, which might be the culprit. I’ve already cut back on coffee but I don’t really want to give it up altogether, and I’m afraid if I did my headaches would get worse.

Speaking of which, clever auntie Nina has tracked down some medical research suggesting the cause of the headaches might be a calcium-to-magnesium imbalance in my prenatal vitamins. Apparently my prenatal vitamins are not unusual in providing less than the recommended amount of magnesium. I bought some extra magnesium supplements so we’ll see if that helps.

Lunch will be leftovers from the couscous-with-olives-and-sauteed-zucchini that I made the other night. I’m thinking I may want some kind of creamy soup for dinner.

Mar 24 2007

Long Term Projects

fantasy sampler

I think I was still in junior high school when I saw this cross-stitch pattern in the hobby shop, and my father agreed to buy me all the threads and the fabric required to complete it. The ladies at the hobby store warned me that the project would be a long one. When I was finished, they said, I should enter it in the state fair.

Several state fairs came and went. My initial enthusiasm waned, and by the time I left for college I had little more than the four outer figures finished. I put the needlework away for longer and longer stretches of time, sometimes rediscovering it only when it was time to move to a new dorm, or eventually to a new apartment. The pattern itself grew so tattered with many foldings and refoldings that some of it had become illegible. My piece grew from the outside in, filling in the outer frame and the borders around the beasts in the corners. I told myself I’d finish it when I had a baby, so I could hang it in the nursery.

The other night I pulled it out again, fastened the hoop tight, and filled in some of the blue expanse. I probably won’t have it finished by the time Rosaura comes. Maybe, when her little fingers are big enough to hold the needle, she can work on it herself.

Mar 20 2007

She’s a Girl!

According to the ultrasound technician, our baby is probably a Rosaura rather than a Robert.  The technician stressed that she couldn’t be one hundred percent certain, which reminded me of what one of my mom’s friends, also an ultrasound technician, had said when mom asked her how accurate the predictions are: “Well, I offer a baby-back guarantee; if I get it wrong, you can hand the baby back after it’s born. And I don’t have any babies, so I must always be right!”

Mar 19 2007


Nothing much to report from today’s extremely routine doctor’s visit: my blood pressure’s gone up, but not alarmingly so; my weight gain is on the light side but perfectly OK; baby’s heartbeat still sounds good; and no new blood tests required, thank god. However, stay tuned to this bat-channel, as I have a complete ultrasound scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, which may yield big news.

In the meantime, I’ve discovered that I really, really, really have to watch what I eat. In the first trimester, it was all about eating whatever and whenever the nausea would let me, and stuff like bread and pasta seemed easiest to handle. Bread and pasta, however, are no longer my friends, because I’m experiencing a lot of blood sugar instability, and simple carbohydrates do tend to exacerbate the fluctuations.

When I was a kid, low blood sugar was a real problem for me: if I skipped lunch, you could expect to find me on the floor weeping helplessly within a couple of hours. And this is not just when I was four, but when I was ten. Even well into high school, although I would no longer be completely disabled by irregular eating, it would make me terribly distractable and kind of crazy-mean—even moreso than is usual for teenagers.

Some time in my mid-twenties, I got a lot better at recognizing when low blood sugar was making me insane, and compensating for it with my rational mind until I was able to eat. If I go too long without eating I can still expect to start feeling sad, irritable, exhausted, and unable to concentrate, but in the past five or six years it’s been coming on gradually enough that I’ve always had plenty of time to do something about it.

But now, suddenly, it’s like I’ve regressed ten or fifteen years. The warning period is much shorter, and the effects much stronger. I’ll know I need food, but I’ll be short-tempered and dissatisfied with any of the available options, and so scatterbrained that it’s very hard to imagine and execute a plan that will end with me eating something. The temptation to just lie down on the bed and feel sorry for myself becomes nigh-overwhelming.

The solution, obviously, is to eat early and often, and to eat the right kinds of foods, so that I don’t get into that state. Small, frequent meals make doubly good sense because I’ve been experiencing indigestion after most normal-sized meals: my expanding uterus is displacing my digestive system, and things aren’t working nearly as smoothly on that front as they used to.

I think all this will be easier to manage now that I’m home during the day, in easy reach of the refrigerator. My plan is to make daily trips to the grocery store, each time buying fixings for that night’s dinner and the next day’s breakfast and lunch. It’s a pleasant walk, and a nice way to ensure that I get out of the house every day. Today I bought a premade quiche for dinner along with some salad fixings; yogurt and an apple for tomorrow’s breakfast; potatoes and green beans for lunch; and some baby carrots and hummus for snacking on. Go me with my healthy self.

Mar 10 2007

Feminists for Drugs

I really liked this article in Salon, which points out that, despite our current Earth Mother ideal of unmedicated births, choosing pain relief drugs during labor can be a profoundly empowering option, and one that we owe to the early feminists.

Suzanne says you have two choices going into labor: Plan for an epidural, or plan for an unmedicated birth, the only difference being that if you take the the second option, you will end up demanding the epidural somewhat later in the process. I think that’s a very funny little quip, and true in many cases, although obviously there are women who do go through birth without medical intervention, which is great: every woman should have as much control as possible over the experience and be able to make her own choices regarding pain medication.

However I do think the Salon author, Nina Shapiro, is right when she suggests that a woman who does not pay at least lip service to the ideal of unmedicated birth can expect to catch some flak, and that there’s something really distasteful and kind of sexist about that, even though the pressure largely comes from other women.

For myself, never having been through this before, I don’t feel I can make a decision beforehand. I’ve heard stories of women who went through childbirth saying the pain was no worse than menstrual cramping, and if my experience is similar, I won’t need drugs. But I won’t hesitate to request an epidural if the pain becomes overwhelming, and I refuse to feel guilty about that.

Mar 10 2007

The Machine

I was trying to explain to Sam what a cognitive challenge it is to really, truly come to terms with the fact that another human distinct from me is growing in my tummy.  The thing is, I told him, I’ve lived in this body for thirty years.  It feels like I know it pretty well, how it works, what it does.  But suddenly there’s this whole new system in play, something I’ve never used or experienced before, taking over my body.

“It’s like you’re a railway station,” Sam said helpfully, “and the trains have been coming and going for decades, full of commuters.  Everyone knows the schedule and the trains are usually on time.  But in the corner of the station there’s this Machine that’s never been used.  It’s all steampunk, Victorian-encrusted, pneumatic, pipes all over.  It’s been there so long that everybody ignores it.

“But one day, the stationmaster comes in, with his handlebar mustaches and his suspenders, and he says, ‘Fire up…The Machine.’  And everything goes quiet.  Then finally somebody walks over and flips a switch on the Machine.  Everybody holds their breath.  At first it doesn’t seem like anything’s happening.  Then a low hum fills the station, and the Machine starts to unfold, its pipes snaking out across the floor, plugging into the walls.  And everyone’s just standing around gaping while the Machine starts chugging faster and faster and getting bigger and bigger.”

“Yeah,” I said, “it’s kind of like that.”

“And also,” Sam added after a moment’s thought, “the Machine makes a baby.”

Mar 7 2007


So there are a lot of various birthing techniques designed to help women through labor. Hypnobirthing, ecstatic birthing, spinning babies, etc.

I’m going for Dungeonbirthing. Dungeonbirthing, a system which I believe I’ve newly invented, involves having the labor support partner (that would be Sam) run a Dungeons and Dragons game during labor and birth. I’ll roll the dice between contractions. Gaming is one of my favorite things, which will promote relaxation and the release of happy chemicals in my brain (elements borrowed from ecstatic birthing), plus it involves a retreat into an escapist fantasy world (elements borrowed from hypnobirthing). Also, I will find it tremendously amusing to spread out the battle mat on the bedside table, and move the little figurines around, and roll saving throws, all while the doctors are coming and going and peering into my cucciniddu.

Anybody who wants to be present at the birth must be willing to play a cleric.

Mar 5 2007

Pride Goeth Before a Vomit

So, back when I had morning sickness nearly every day, the few times I actually threw up were right after taking my daily prenatal vitamin.  I soon learned not to take the vitamin in the morning, and not on an empty stomach.

But lately my stomach has been peachy, so much so that this morning I felt surely I would be safe in taking the vitamin early!  (I forgot it yesterday, and wanted to take it while I was thinking of it.)  Sure enough, twenty minutes later, I was in the work toilet barfing my guts up.

And that’s my story.

Mar 4 2007

Week 18 (Fetal Age: 16 Wks)

I definitely have a bulging tummy now, but it’s disguised by my natural, ahem, ample curves: I don’t think the average person on the street realizes I’m preggo.

My baby books say the kidlet is five inches long, which sounds like not a lot, but if you measure it out and stare at it, it *looks* like a lot of baby to have sharing space with one’s intestines.

I’ve gained six and half pounds, which is less than what the baby books say I should have gained at this point (ten to thirteen pounds is the official benchmark), but I think this is OK, as women who were overweight at the beginning of pregnancy are recommended to gain less in total.  I’m not doing anything stupid like dieting; I’m eating what I want, when I want.  So far there’s no real food cravings, but I do find that fruits and veggies are looking unusually good, and big chunks of meat are just completely unappetizing.

Sam pointed out that I’m nearly halfway through pregnancy, a fact I find kind of mindblowing.

Mar 2 2007

More Arbitrary Restrictions

So I was dismayed to learn in one of my baby books that apparently I’m not allowed to lie flat on my back anymore, as it reduces blood supply to both me and the baby.  Since I also can’t lie on my stomach (boobs too sore, even if the belly weren’t a logistical problem), this means I’m relegated to tossing from side to side for the duration of pregnancy.  Boo!