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Patience is a virtue, just not one of mine

carrots

I posted awhile back about My Farm, the organization that came and installed a veggie garden in our backyard. I didn’t really think about how long it would take until we could actually harvest food, but it’s been almost three months and we haven’t had one bite of produce yet. It’s definitely starting to thrive – the carrots and leeks have poked their green tops out of the earth, a couple tomato plants and the peas are shooting up, the potato tower is going crazy, lettuce and chard are looking beautiful – but nothing is ready yet. Not one ripe pea, not one juicy tomato. And there’s not one thing I can do about it but wait.

Similarly, being over 39 weeks pregnant is an exercise in patience. Being on the brink of completion is a little maddening, and it seems there should be something you can do to speed things up – eat labor-inducing pizza, drink wine or raspberry leaf tea or castor oil, cajole the baby into believing it’s time – but really, there’s nothing. Just like I could sing my heart out to the veggies or dowse them with Miracle Gro, they won’t be ready until one beautiful day, they’re just ready. With these things, it is completely and totally up to nature/God/the universe to ripen them enough to yield the goods, and I just have to trust that she/he/it has had a lot more practice than I have at choosing the timing for these things.

But I’m still open to suggestions. Anyone have a miracle labor inducer?

chardpeaspotatoestomatoeslettuce

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10 Great Things About Pregnancy

It’s easy to gripe about the scary/hard/uncomfortable/annoying parts of pregnancy, especially as the end draws near, but I want to remember the positive parts, too, so I’ve composed a list:

10-great-things

10 No period –  For those who dread their monthly visit from Aunt Flo, and the emotional upheaval she causes,  pregnancy is a beautiful reprieve (I’ve heard for some folks it doesn’t come back until after they stop breastfeeding…here’s hoping!).

9 Pampering yourself – Now’s the time to do it, before you’re changing someone else’s Pampers, right? I’ve never been good at taking it easy, but every mom I know said to take advantage of the last free time I’ll have and be good to myself. So, I’ve been chillin’ – doing yoga, reading, relaxing, resting, eating well, and I feel great. Ready for anything. I highly recommend prenatal massage at a place that has the special beds and pillows – you can actually lay face down for the first time in nine months. Aaaaahh……

8Weight gain is good –  Though I’ve never been too obsessive about my weight (I don’t even own a scale), it was still shocking to see never-before-reached numbers appearing with each visit to the doctor’s office. But it’s all for the baby. In fact, they wanted me to gain more, so in just the week since I started maternity leave, I’ve gained almost three more pounds. Bring it on!

7New body, new wardrobe – I’m not much of a shopper, but I have many generous friends who have just gone through pregnancy, so I was the beneficiary of a ton of new-for-me maternity clothes. Some are really fun, and you can pull off stuff you might normally never consider. Take the swimsuit. I’m sure next season will hit me like a saggy slap in the face, but this summer I’m embracing my accentuated curves. No one’s looking at your cottage cheese thighs when you’re carrying a watermelon and two canteloupes on top. Bear it all, and take pictures!

6Cute stuff – Again, I don’t like to shop normally. In fact, if you ask my husband, I’m a tightwad. But who can resist baby stuff?  It’s all so soft and fluffy and adorable and fun. And then your friends and family throw showers and get the baby even more cute stuff. And you imagine your baby’s cute little body in there and it’s all so cute your heart wants to explode. (Man, if I had read that before I was pregnant, I probably would have gagged…)

5The Mom’s Club – Pre-prego, I would completely check out when my mom friends would get together and start gabbing baby talk. What?…mucous plug?… meconium?…I don’t know what you’re talking about, but it’s disgusting. I feared ever becoming that person. Now, I can’t get enough. I want to gather stories and exchange information with every mom I meet, even total strangers. Yes, the alien host takes over not only your body but your mind.

4Attention – I usually avoid being the center of attention at all costs. My husband and I basically eloped to avoid standing in front of throngs of people staring at us. But as a pregnant person, you are hard to miss. Now that I’m big enough the belly cannot be ignored, I am the recipient of all sorts of attention. I thought I’d hate it, but it’s kind of nice. Strangers pull out their kids’ photos in post office lines, new parents stroll by with meaningful eye contact and knowing smiles, people comment on how beautiful I am, always mentioning “the glow” (never mind that it’s probably sweat from being so damn hot and heavy, but I’ll take the compliment). Friends and family are checking in regularly. I’ve reached a whole new level of acceptance with my in-laws. I guess I like it because it’s not really about me, it’s about the baby, and everyone is excited about a new baby.

3Anticipation – First, there’s the waiting to find out if you’re pregnant, then finding out the gender, and then waiting for the big day. Now that his arrival is right around the corner, the waiting is killing me, but really this is one of the biggest gifts in life to look forward to. There aren’t too many mysteries left that science can’t answer and even the doctors can’t tell you how and when your body and your baby know when “it’s time”. Amazing!

2 New Relationship Territory – Pregnancy has been a special time with the spouse, sharing our hopes and dreams and fears about becoming parents. I get a little nervous when he talks about crate training and electric shock collars, but overall, it’s made me see and appreciate a whole new side of my Big Man. Nothing turns you on like hearing your husband daydream about future life as a father. And nothing turns him on like your new curves.

1 Creating Life – This is stating the obvious, but the best thing about being pregnant is that there’s a real live baby growing in there, and I am his whole world. Watching videos like Life’s Greatest Miracle and reading books like Your Pregnancy Week by Week have made me realize just how phenomenal it is that my body can do this. And though I’m ready to meet him face to face, I will miss the strange sensation of his tiny body moving within me, and knowing this is the closest any two human beings can ever be, literally attached to one another. Not to mention it’s the last time I’ll always know exactly where he is and that he’s safe. So, even though it’s uncomfortable, I will enjoy this bond these last couple weeks (or days?!) before he becomes his own little person in the world.

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38 weeks – Identity on Leave

38 weeks

Maternity leave has begun, wherein life revolves around waiting for this egg to hatch, and I question the wisdom of having so much time on my hands in such a wacky emotional state. It’s only been two days and already I waver from one minute being completely engrossed in organizing the house (wow, this mania comes in handy to purge useless stuff, but I hope I don’t snap out of it only to find I’ve tossed anything important – you didn’t really need those golf clubs, did you, Big Man?) and the next minute I’m comatose on the couch wondering how I could bring a child into this world where people suffer and die and the economy sucks and Iran is going to implode and take us all down with it. Whoa…maybe I should just go back to work until Little Man comes.

Really, I think the leaving work thing is a bigger transition than I realized. I’ve partnered with someone in my business for the first time, handing over the reins to her for the summer and when I get back, we will both work part-time and take care of our kids the other part of the time. Ideal, right? Then why am I freaking out? Oh yeah, because I’m a control freak, and this is all one big’ol exercise in letting go of control. My whole life I have basically taken care of myself. I got a job as soon as I was old enough so that I could become independent as soon as possible. I don’t like to ask for help, and have gone most of my life without needing it. Even once I got married, I’ve always felt like we were equal partners. I’ve definitely been humbled and have learned to ask for emotional help from Big Man over our years of marriage, but I’ve always pulled my own weight financially. Suddenly, that will no longer be the case. I will be dependent.

What’s the big deal? Plenty of women want to stay home with the kids, and shouldn’t I be rejoicing that we’ve worked it out that at least some of the time I’ll get to do that? Obviously those women don’t have my issues. You know, an inability to trust men to stick around for the long haul, or that other one, not having any self-worth that’s not tied to performance…oh, that nasty baggage. I know by now that when these fears rear their ugly heads, it’s usually because I’m growing, and if I face them directly, I grow out of them and become just one step closer to a healthy person who doesn’t react out of fear. I’m sure my work identity crisis is just the beginning. Soon, I’ll actually have a baby in my arms, triggering all sorts of latent issues. But if I allow myself to trust that I’m not in this alone, I know help will come.

Here are some random things that have been helpful in distracting me from all this self-analysis/absorption:

FMyLife – where people share their horror stories and I laugh and laugh

RockCookieBottom – where this guy posts a new song everyday. some suck, some crack me up, but you gotta give it to him, he’s creating everyday. two of my faves are My Obama Neurosis and (I Wanna Go) Where the Wild Things Are.

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Beautiful Things

beautiful-things

One of the perks of being pregnant is that I’ve received many amazing gifts for the baby and even a few for myself . I am always thrilled to get handmade things, knowing how much time and love and care goes into making them.  My friends with knitting skills amaze me. Though they’ve tried to teach me, I’ve never had the patience to really learn how to do it.

blanket

Here’s a gorgeous baby blanket my talented friend made from hand-dyed merino wool and baby alpaca yarn, with an organic cotton backing.

snugglesack

This is a snuggly sack made by another friend who just had her own baby. Her little girl’s is green so when she’s in it, she looks like a pea in a pod, and as she’s gotten bigger it looks like a mermaid tail. My friend calls this one “blueberry”.

As I get closer to having this baby (only a few weeks left!), I like to sit in his room and imagine him wrapped up in all this love and beauty.  While I do that, now I can enjoy the latest gift I received – artisanal chocolates!

chocolates

These weren’t made by a friend, but are handmade nonetheless by this guy. Each exquisite piece is a work of art almost too beautiful to eat…almost.

Ah, how did I get so lucky?

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How to Plan a Sushi Baby Shower

It might sound like cruel and unusual punishment to host a shower where the guest of honor can’t even partake in the main course, but a sushi shower is a hip way for urban parents-to-be to celebrate their little “edamame” with foodie friends. I hosted one for a friend this weekend, and it was the first time I’d ever been to a co-ed shower where the men didn’t want to leave when it was over!

First, decide if you’re going to make the sushi yourself, have it catered, or host the event in a restaurant, then pick a date and secure the location. I had it at the best sushi place in San Francisco, Sushi Bistro (yes, that one in the Iphone commercial). It was nice to not have to worry about preparing all the food, or cleaning up at the end, but if you’re more ambitious than I, you can make it yourself, or even prep all the ingredients and let your guests join in the fun of rolling their own sushi. However you do it, make sure there are lots of veggie and cooked alternatives for those pregnant mamas and folks with aversions to raw fish.

Sushi Bistro

Send out invitations at least six weeks in advance. Again, be as ambitious as you want to be. There are pre-made sushi themed paper invites out there, or you can make your own, or if you’re lazy or tired because you’re pregnant yourself like me, do an evite.

Find decorations. It helps to pick a color scheme, or ask the parents if they have a nursery theme they’d like to go with. Since they knew they were having a boy, I picked blue and orange as the colors and kept the decorations minimal, since the restaurant is beautiful as it is. I did find this great idea for a sushi-themed alternative to a diaper cake, and made my own. It is common, though not necessary, to have a party favor for the guests to take home with them. There is also usually a dessert at the shower. I combined the two by making candy sushi and putting pieces in paper cake slices to go.

centerpiece

decor

candy sushi

paper cake

What else you plan is completely up to you and what you think your guests of honor would prefer. It’s helpful to set up a gift table at the entrance so folks know where to drop the goods right away. I didn’t plan any games, nor did we open presents at the request of the parents-to-be.  We just enjoyed the amazing sushi spread and plentiful sake that Chef Xin and his crew provided, and everyone had a great time. Have fun!!

gift table

sushi bistro chefs

sushi spread

Gift ideas related to sushi theme:

– Search “sushi baby” on Etsy. (bibs, booties, you name it, so cute!)

Sushi board book

Wooden sushi play set

Training chopsticks

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Ultrasound at 37 weeks

37weekultrasound

As if a pregnant woman doesn’t have enough to worry about, people (friends, family and strangers alike) suddenly feel compelled and completely free to comment on her body. I’ve learned to become impervious to these unsolicited opinions (a skill which I will no doubt have the chance to perfect over the course of my child’s life). Throughout my pregnancy the remarks have fallen into the general category of “too small”.  It wasn’t even clear to the outside world that I was pregnant until I was around six months, and then people thought I was only four or five.  “You don’t even look pregnant!” became “You’re way too small to be that far along.” I received helpful suggestions like “Eat more doughnuts” and flat out denials of my progress, “No, you’re wrong, you’re not eight months.”

I worried at first, because that’s what I do. But everything checked out at my prenatal appointments, my midwife assuring me that everyone carries their babies differently. I felt great throughout, I ate healthy, I gained 25 pounds, I was giving my baby everything he needed. What did I care if people were judging me because I didn’t gain 50 pounds and look like a circus freak?

Then, this Friday at nearly 37 weeks, I got it from my midwife. “You’re measuring too small. I’m ordering an ultrasound.”

Gulp.

The anxiety I’d managed to hold at bay flooded in. I’d been so good, I’d exercised, I’d given up alcohol, sushi, soft cheeses, everything good in life for the sake of this kid, hadn’t I? But the guilt of my few indulgences crept in. What if the raw eggs in the cookie dough I’d snacked on a few times was the culprit? What if his low weight was attributed to the half-caffeinated cup of coffee I’d allowed myself each morning of my third trimester? Had I taken more sips of wine from my husband’s glass than I should have? Was my family’s disdain at my not eating meat justified? What if my baby wasn’t going to make it because I didn’t eat enough friggin’ doughnuts?!

Ultrasounds are hard to decipher for the untrained eye anyway, but this far along it was impossible for me to interpret the fuzzy dark and light body parts. It’s just so darn crowded in there. The tech was all business, sliding his equipment around on my warm jelly-covered belly, clicking buttons, taking measurements.  “So, what’s the verdict?” I asked, ready to defend myself with a plea of Not Guilty to the accusation of crack abuse that was surely coming.

“6 pound, 6 ounces,” he said. “Looks good.” Phew…

He commenced giving me the tour of my son’s beautiful, healthy body. Everything was there – hands, feet, giant testicles (he’s still a boy), and my husband’s luscious lips. My Little Man is just fine! He weighs more already than some of the babies I know born at full-term. So, suck it, haters! (That was me doing a crotch chop.)

I went onto Baby Center just in case to make sure what measuring small for dates might mean. It says, “Being small of stature or having well-conditioned abdominal muscles can give you a smaller initial fundal measurement.” While I’ve never been categorized as small in stature, I’m in pretty good shape, so next time I hear there’s no way I’m in my ninth month of pregnancy, I’ll say, “Don’t be jealous of my killer abs, yo.”

My midwife did call later and say that the results of the ultrasound show he is in the 45th percentile for his weight this far along. So it begins. The comparison to “normal” he’ll face the rest of his childhood. Though I did fight the over-acheiver in me that thought, “Oh no, he’s already below average,” I did take advantage of National Doughnut Day and had nearly half a dozen Krispie Kremes.

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36 weeks, or A Love Letter to #1

36-weeks

At thirty-six weeks, I’m feeling a little miffed that we’re taught our whole lives that you’re pregnant for nine months and then you have a baby. Why does no one tell you it’s actually forty weeks, and that when you are fully nine months pregnant, you’ll still have a very long, uncomfortable month to go? At least I’m getting prepped for the constant feedings that are about to come since my bladder wakes me up at midnight, two and four a.m. like clockwork, screaming for attention. I’m thinking about wearing diapers or hooking up a pee bag instead of hauling myself to the bathroom so frequently. When I come back to bed, I toss and turn from one side to the other, dragging a pillow with me to prop between my knees and under my giant belly to find a comfortable position, which never stays that way for more than ten minutes or so. This makes any form of snuggling a challenge. My poor husband is starting to suffer.

Which brings me to the reason for this post, an ode to him. While I’ve been bonding with the baby beating me up from the inside, he’s been watching his wife get steadily larger, clumsier, more uncomfortable, and unable to do a lot of things we used to enjoy doing together, without any real way to participate. Yes, he can feel Little Man kicking, but even that seems to have lots its luster and he’d be much more excited about a decent night’s sleep or a trip to the local dive bar. So, I’ve been trying to plan as many things now that Big Man and I can enjoy which we won’t be able to later, because let’s face it, we’re only going to get more limited in our activity from here on out.

So we’ve been going to lots of nice restaurants, movies (a challenge for me given the aforementioned bladder and comfort issues, but hey, we don’t have to get a babysitter), and local events. Last night, we went to a show at Cobb’s Comedy Club called “Afterbirth“. It’s performed by a bunch of authors who wrote essays about how parenthood has changed their lives (There’s a book. It’s funny.), and since Big Man loves listening to stories on This American Life,  I thought it would be good for a laugh, and especially about things that have suddenly become pertinent to our lives – breastfeeding, circumcision, sex after parenthood, etc.  And we did laugh. A lot. Dan Bucatinsky cracked us up with “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Three-Way”.  Ayelet Waldman made me glad for the first time I’m not having a girl with her essay about Halloween and how girls fall into the sexy kitten/devil/witch or the cereal box costume category (see her reading a clip from it here).  We laughed, I cried, it was great.

But Big Man was sullen afterward. Very quiet. Too quiet.

“What’s up?” I asked, having a hunch the silence was about local author Rodes Fishburne’s essay. It was all about feeling like he’d been bumped to second place upon the arrival of his son. Given it was one of only two essays from a (straight) man’s perspective, I guess it made sense that it would resonate with my Big Man.

“I don’t want to get bumped,” he said. And my heart broke for him. He’s enjoyed being the apple of my eye for seven-plus years and his biggest fear about this baby is that I won’t worship and adore him any more, that there won’t be room enough in my heart for the both of them. Right now, it’s impossible for me to imagine that. My love for him has grown exponentially in relation to the growth of my belly. As I’ve ballooned, my adoration for my co-creator has swollen so big that sometimes I can’t even look at him without tearing up in disbelief at my luckiness to have found a man who is my #1 most favorite person in the world to be with, and I get to be with him all the time. And somehow he’s stuck by me through good times and bad, emotional turmoil, and even now while I’m looking like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. And he’s going to be an amazing father. How could he possibly be bumped by a screaming crying pooping blob?

Famous last words uttered by many a couple, I’m sure. But I appreciate his honesty in expressing his fear, and I intend to make sure I uphold his position of favor. I hope when Little Man finally shows up, it won’t seem at all like a competition, that they will fall into two entirely separate, not mutually exclusive, categories, kind of like figure skating has pairs and solo divisions. Big Man will always be my favorite gold-medal partner for the couples skate, while we can cheer together on the sidelines for Little Man in his dance alone on the ice. Ok, maybe that’s too girly of an analogy.

Let me speak Big Man’s language. Maybe it will be like how he loves a good steak, and far and away the best steak he’s ever had is at Jocko’s. He’s driven 10 hours in one day with a bunch of guys just for that steak. But he also loves sushi. He would never even compare the two. They do not cancel each other out. This is going to be hard for me to say, given that I don’t eat red meat, but he will hopefully understand what I mean:

Big Man, you are my Jocko’s steak. Gold-medal meat. No one has or ever will come close to my love for your many juicy qualities. We will both enjoy Little Man, on a thoroughly mutual sushi-loving level, but you will always be my #1 hunk of flesh. Always.