Category Archives: pregnancy

getting ready for babe no. 3

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I’m two weeks away from my due date, and feel like I’m barely holding this baby in. Achey back, waddling when I walk, pressure on my bladder, swollen ankles. The baby is doing constant dance parties inside of me and punching me in uncomfortable places. I’m amazed I ever worked in this state. I’m eating well — I cut out all ice cream and treats in the last three weeks — and yet I’ve still gained 45 pounds. This pregnancy? Hardest yet. It’s probably because I’m 39. And because we’re living in a dry climate at almost 6,000 feet. And I’m spending my time with a 4 year old and a 2 year old. And it was 100 degrees today.

But the end is near. And the sleepless nights holding a sweet newborn are quickly approaching. We still don’t have a name. A. is finishing up a dresser for the big boys — made entirely out of 2x4s — so we can move the one with a changing pad into our room. I registered at UNM hospital last week, and A. installed the car seat (three seats in the back of a tiny Mazda 3, thank you very much).

I’ve been trying to keep the boys engaged with fun summer activities while I rest. Play dough, ice pops, the trampoline park, playing with the hose in the backyard, play dates with friends, library time and dinners on the deck.

Today, I picked up the last batch of pottery I’ll do for a while. My mind spins daily thinking about different combinations of glazes and what my “style” is. I’m cleaning up my shop, knowing I’ll have to shut it down till probably the end of August, though the thought makes me cringe. Then, I’ll throw more and open an Etsy shop. I’ve realized I can’t keep this hobby up without selling — it’s expensive and we can’t keep everything I’m making. And the truth is, I’m excited about a new challenge, but I won’t be able to launch it till the fall. Until then, I’ll put my energy into three boys under 5 years old. Wish me luck.

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throwing, throwing, throwing: my love of pottery keeps growing

I’ve mentioned before that I’m hooked on pottery, but this weekend it reached a fevered pitch as I tried to replicate vases and mugs from my last batch.

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My lovely teacher Lois Hinman (click to see her work!) in Ridgecrest, Calif., always told me that she started selling her pots (decades ago!) because it’s an expensive hobby and she couldn’t take the money from her family. I’m starting to feel that way, too — each firing (including bisque and glaze) is close to $100, not to mention the clay and the glazes. And we don’t have enough cupboard space for all that I’m making!

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So, now I’m thinking about how to sell — where, what that means, coming up with a plan, etc. Of course, I’m also 28 weeks pregnant  (entering that third trimester, yeesh!) and slowing down physically, so that will keep me from doing it anytime soon.

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But, I like the idea of creating a plan and having inventory for when I’m ready to enter a show or put pieces up on Etsy. Maybe I’ll do it sooner than later, but given how tired and achy I’m starting to feel, I doubt much will happen before baby boy no. 3 is at least three months old.

IMG_7025What I love about the process is not only the physical act of throwing and creating useful, beautiful things, but also the challenge — starting a “business” is scary. And entering a show is scary. And I don’t even have a kiln yet. Once I get a kiln (after we move out of our rental) I can start to mix glazes. There is always, always more to learn with this craft. And I have a long way to go to be really good.

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But the bottom line is I love it and that passion isn’t going away.

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If you are a potter or artist with a small business and have any tips or suggestions along the way, I’d be grateful!

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baby no. 2 and my fear of a desert hospital

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When A. and I moved to the desert last year, to a small town with a regional hospital, A.’s coworker told us that a woman had died there in childbirth earlier that year. These stories are so rare that I was shocked, so I searched online for a newspaper article, but came up dry. Ever since, I’ve heard multiple stories about this incident. But the most solid one so far it that the woman was high-risk, overweight and needed a C-section, but waited too long against the doctor’s advice. It was a windy day — so windy that when she was bleeding, the staff couldn’t land a helicopter to fly her to another hospital. And the regional hospital didn’t have enough blood to replenish her.

When C. turned 18 months, I was ready to try for another baby — mostly. But I was a little nervous about what that meant for my delivery should we be successful. We tried, and we’re one of those freak (or lucky) couples that gets pregnant first try, each time. My morning sickness was more manageable this time, save for the desert heat, and I’ve treated this baby like the classic second baby: Haven’t given it much thought — no photos of my belly, no letters to the fetus, no stress.

Except, of course, where to deliver. I’ve been obsessed. We had such a good experience at Georgetown in D.C., and I felt like I was in expert hands, that anywhere in the countryside feels like I’ll be delivering in a barn. I made appointments at the local hospital and at one with a better reputation an hour and 15 minutes away. I’ve seen a fetal diagnostician in the other town, too. (The baby is due on my 37th birthday). But my local doctor wanted me to decide, now, at 20 weeks, because she’s “anal” and doesn’t want to miss anything. She told me to “pray on it or whatever I do” and let her know.

So, after much deliberation, I decided to stay in town. I decided to stay close in case this baby comes quickly. I decided to go with a doctor I trust, even if I don’t quite trust the hospital, because she’s thorough, conscientious and well-trained. I decided to continue to see the fetal expert, who last week told me the baby was “on the big side” and to come back at 28 weeks. And I decided to put faith and trust in my body that I’ll be OK. To stay fit, make good decisions and hope it’s not windy the day I deliver. It helps that I know at least 10 women who delivered there safely, successfully and (relatively) happily.

A friend asked me recently if I was excited about baby no. 2. It doesn’t seem real yet, but I have moments of heart-pumping excitement to meet this little person. And then I have moments where I’m dreading those first six months of no sleep, intense hormones and giving my body over to a wiggly, helpless creature. But right now, I’m just relieved I’ve made my decision about the hospital and can enjoy the little kicks and dream about whether C. will have a brother or sister.

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a birth plan? ha, good one (C.’s birth story, long overdue)

Photo by Stacey Vaeth

Photo by Stacey Vaeth

A. and I sit cross-legged in the back room at the Potters House in D.C. on a rainy November evening with about 20 small slips of paper in front of us. We’re charged with arranging them on the carpet from least important to most important.

I breathe hard and reach over my massive belly to grab one of them. It reads, in small type at the top, “It is important to us to…” and then, in large type, “Wear our own clothes.” I make a face and put it at the bottom of our list of priorities. I’ll probably be naked.

After that, it gets harder. I want all of them, really. Access to a shower/bath. Yes. Avoid labor induction. Yep. Have freedom of movement. Yes. Avoid epidural. Definitely. Delay cord cutting. Check. Avoid forceps/manual extraction. Oh goodness yes. Avoid Cesarean surgery. Absolutely.

At the top of priorities, I put “Have a healthy baby.”

A. looks at me with disapproval.

He grabs the slip that says “Have a healthy mother,” and slaps it above healthy baby.

“If something happens, we can always try for another,” he admonishes me. “There’s only one you.”

We’re taking a Bradley Method class and learning about labor and delivery. We signed up so we’d meet other couples in the same boat. And we want to learn how to be our own advocates in the delivery room. Turns out, most of the women are birthing at home or in a birthing center. They’re anti-hospital and anti-intervention. I do have wishes around giving birth, but really, I just want me and my baby to get out of this alive.

A month later, and seven days after my due date, my water breaks in a gush all over my black maternity pants. My contractions haven’t started. And all of a sudden, I’m on a clock: I have 24 hours to get this baby out of me.

It’s 11 a.m. on a Friday in early December when I check in at the hospital, brimming with adrenaline. I put my bathing suit on under the hospital robe. “Is this the birthing tub?” I ask a nurse. “Yes,” she says, “but since your water broke, you can’t use it.” Oh, I think, disappointed. One wish, rejected.

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when long-held dreams slowly morph into reality

OK, I’m starting to get uncomfortable. Some of those side-effects of pregnancy — that I won’t get into here because, well, they’re embarrassing and I have friends who want to get pregnant — are starting to kick in.

Yesterday, A. found me in the bathtub after work trying to soothe my over-sized body and said, “Is it go time?” His face looked so bright, it made me smile. Later, he was sure he felt a contraction as we cuddled on the couch together, listening to Chopin. And then another a while later. “OK, contractions are 20 minutes apart,” he said, joking. Maybe it was a contraction — I did tighten up, but there was no pain. I think A. is trying to will this baby out of me.

Ten days till my due date. Is it strange to say that it still blows my mind we’re having a baby? That there’s a full-sized baby inside of me? I guess I won’t believe it’s real until I’m looking into my son’s or daughter’s eyes.

I’ve always dreamed about being pregnant, about having a newborn. One picture I had in my mind is of lying on a full bed with my partner and baby in a small studio apartment (in my mind it’s New York) listening to classical music with the city noises below (such a strange, romantic snapshot — mostly cause now I don’t imagine us in New York and I’m really glad that we have a two-bedroom.)

But after more than 20 years of various dreams, the reality that I’m about to give birth — even as I feel a leg push under my left rib cage — is really hard to grasp. Exciting, but still mind blowing.

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baby o. still needs a name

A. and I still don’t have names for Baby O. When we tell people this, they say, “Oh, you probably just don’t want to tell me.” And then I say, “No, really, we don’t have names yet.” And then there is silence — people are really afraid for us and our baby.

Early on, like eons ago (three months), A. called the baby Carrie, after his favorite movie (we don’t even know the gender). Yes, the 1970s thriller Carrie, about a troubled, awkward girl who is voted homecoming queen at her high school. But then at the dance, her classmates rig a bucket of pigs’ blood above the stage so that when she’s crowned, the blood soaks her — to her horror and humiliation. So she goes nuts and burns down the school. Yes, that Carrie — that’s the movie A. wants to name our baby girl after (should we have a girl). I bought the DVD for A. for our first Christmas together. We watched it one cold Sunday in his Virginia apartment and laughed hysterically at the sound effects (ree ree). I had no idea it’s really a comedy. But to name our daughter after that movie seems to me… I dunno. Just wrong.

Then, as luck would have it, when A. heard his mom say Carrie with a New Jersey accent, he said, “OK, no, no, can’t go with that.” [Thank you, Vikki!] That was more than two months ago.

Since then, A. adopted the named Cholula (have I mentioned we don’t know if it’s a boy or girl?), after his favorite hot sauce. A. started dousing all of his food in Cholula when he was in Afghanistan, and has been addicted ever since. He even puts it on plain Greek yogurt (I just gagged as I typed that.)

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holy shit, i’m almost full-term

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In a few days, I’ll be full-term — the baby’s organs will be fully developed and he or she — in all of his or her wriggling, red-faced, squeamish glory — will be able to breathe on its own should it decide it’s tired of the womb.

I can’t tell you how happy this makes me — but holy shit, I’m almost full-term.

These days, I’m having trouble putting on my socks. I often dribble liquids on my protruding belly and look down at the mess like a 3-year-old. I can hear myself breathing hard just sitting at my desk. And when A. and I lie down in our king-size bed, snuggled up on either side of the body pillow, our faces inches away from each other, I can feel my heart pounding twice as hard as it usually does. Dr. M. said it was nothing to worry about — that even at rest, my heart is working as hard as if I was working out.

Most evenings now, A. and I have “story time,” where he leans down to where the doctor says the baby’s head is, and tells him or her a story. He talks to my whale-sized swollen belly, kissing it and rambling about the day’s events. It’s so cute, I should record it. I always try to stifle my laughs so that they don’t drown out his voice — I want this baby to recognize its father’s voice. But can the baby really hear him? I wonder what the baby senses or feels.

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who am i? who will i be?

Over the years, I’ve heard people say that when you have a child, you have trouble remembering what life was like — and who you were — pre-baby. The little tyke becomes so integrated in your life, and everything changes — including you. I don’t know what this means, and I suppose I can’t know what this means till it happens to me.

But with about 5 weeks (or maybe 7, we’ll see if  I go past my due date!) to go till the little nugget starts spiraling his or her head downward to enter the world, I’ve been thinking about it a lot.

I mean, it’s obvious that our routines and rituals will change when A. and I have a little one totally dependent on us for his or her basic needs.

Here are some of the things I loved pre-pregnancy (some I can do, some I haven’t been able to, but it’s been OK). I love making morning coffee with my Italian espresso maker (this was replaced by a different warm drink yesterday) and sitting somewhere quiet with a book or the New Yorker. I love getting pedicures once a month.  I love long walks or runs with my friend S. through Rock Creek, followed by a hearty brunch. I love hiking and camping in the woods and the smell of fresh air — and stopping at holes-in-the-wall for grub and noticing the locals. I love yoga classes and volleyball and bike rides. I love the feel of buying a plane ticket to somewhere adventurous — skiing in Colorado, hiking in Peru — and the anticipation leading up to the trip. I love photography and hearing writers speak and going to National Geographic events. I love learning about different cultures and learning languages — even if it’s just “hello” and “thank you.” I love long, hot showers and sleeping in on the weekends.

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i’m 32 weeks pregnant and something is different

Something has changed in the past week or two. I’m finally getting in touch with the little person inside of me.

That might be in part because the kicks are more frequent and ticklish — instead of a series of pokes or jabs, it’s rapid motion fire — pow pow p-p-p-p-pow. I can feel the little munchkin squirming and moving its little limbs all of the time. And when it happens, I look down — chin to chest. My stomach is like that game Whac-A-Mole — blurp blurp blurp. Now you see me, now you don’t.

Occasionally, I can tell that the baby wants to be Superman — the fists and feet are punching out in tandem. I can feel legs on one side, fists on the other — fly, baby, flyyy!

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my first trimester, long-distance: 40 seconds of skype snapshots

During the second half of A.’s deployment to Afghanistan after our two-week trip to Tanzania, we found out that I was pregnant. It was emotionally taxing to be apart from each other during such an intense discovery, but we relied on email, phone calls and two-hour Skype sessions to feel connected. At one point I told A. that I was tearing up all of the time, and he said he was, too.

On Friday evening, April 1, I took an EPT test after A. and I signed on to Skype. I ran to the bathroom and returned with the stick and together we watched the vertical line appear. A. cheered and high-fived the screen. I laughed, stunned. And then we stared at each other lovingly — I loved that I could look into his eyes during such an important time for us even though he was so far away. (I wrote about our story for NPR.org, you can read it here).

The following Monday, I had an early morning appointment with my gynecologist to confirm my pregnancy. Since I was already six weeks along, the doctor suggested we do an ultrasound. I hopped on the table and shortly thereafter I saw the baby’s heartbeat. I couldn’t believe a heartbeat had formed that quickly. And I was deeply sad A. wasn’t there to see it.

A week later, at my doctor’s suggestion, we did another ultrasound for A. My doctor came in early and didn’t charge my insurance for the test. I brought my laptop and connected to Skype from the ultrasound room. A. was in his bare-bones office at Bagram with a few of his coworkers. He had on his headset and smiled at the computer. “Hi doc!” he said. I laid back on the table and a technician held up the computer to the machine and I could hear A. say, “I see it! Wow!” He sent me an email immediately after we hung up that said, “That was AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

During those two-and-a-half months, A. figured out how to take stills of our Skype chats. He also had the ultrasound photos from 6 weeks (the first ultrasound), 7 weeks and 12 weeks. He came home when I was 16 weeks along.

So in his last few days at Bagram, A. put together this video. I couldn’t share it this summer because we still had to tell a lot of people (including A.’s family) our news.

The video sums up my first trimester. I didn’t take many pictures in those three months, so I’m glad we at least have this (though I wish he was in it). In general, I was nauseous and exhausted and overwhelmed with hormones. But when I knew I’d get to see A., even if it was only on the computer, I was giddy and goofy. (Excuse the cleavage, that’s a new thing for me — hormones!)

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