Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pregnancy Week 28: Glucose test and rhogam shot

Today, I visit Stamford Hospital to receive my mercury-free rhogam shot (for being rh negative and the doctor not caring if Mike is negative as well), and take the infamous Glucose Test.

I arrive at 9:30am, my appointed time, and learn I must first register in another part of the hospital, then go to the lab, before returning to the infusion center to receive my shot. I make my way to Registration, and after waiting for 45 minutes, complete the first leg of my journey.

Next, I move on to the laboratory, where I have blood drawn to ensure I am rh negative, and I register in that department. When I walk into the center, I see another pregnant woman drinking the glucose concoction and making a face. "I'm right behind you!" I tell her, and in a few minutes, I sit down with my own sugary orange soda mixture. It really is not as bad as everyone warned me--at least it is nothing compared to the chalky disgusting goo I had to drink before a CAT scan once. I am to wait for one hour in the lab while the sugars do their thing.

While the wait is long (and there is another long wait to come!), the time passes remarkably quickly due to meeting the other glucose-drinking pregnant woman. I sit a few chairs away from her, and we begin chatting. I find out she is 28 weeks, as well. In fact, she is due only 2 days before I am. The similarities increase when we find out she is rh negative, as well, and will be moving on to the Infusion Center after the glucose test, along with me. After talking for 45 minutes or so, and hearing her mention things her doctor has told her, I decide to test out another possible similarity.

"I doubt he's the same one, but what is your doctor's name?"

She says his name and begins telling me where his office is located, and I interupt her to say, "That's my doctor too!"

We are both surprised at another pregnancy coincidence!

We then dish our opinion of our doctor. This is her second baby, and her first experience was with a large practice. Her doctors were competent, but she was looking for a more personal involvement with her second baby, and a friend recommended our OB. She has had a few difficulties during her pregnancy, and our doctor has been reassuring to her, and very helpful. She also finds him extremely calming, relaxed, and thorough. She shares her friend's experience in delivery with him as well, where he also proved to be attentive, caring, respectful, and present.

It is relieving to speak to someone else who has the same OB as I do, and can validate my feelings of security with him.

After the hour is up, my new pregnancy friend has her blood drawn again, then I have mine drawn again. She waits for me, and we walk over to the Infusion Center together. We register, then sit in another waiting room for another hour, talking and sharing.

We both receive our rhogam shots, exchange information, then walk out to the parking lot together. "Maybe we'll see each other in April!" We half-joke before going our separate ways.

It is an interesting morning, speaking with her, because she divulges a plethora of interesting information about the delivery of her first child. While I feel I have asked many of my new mothers numerous questions about their labor and delivery, I find myself asking and learning specifics from her that I have never heard from anyone before. She shares every detail openly and I am fully engaged, happy to sit back and listen to her experience. I suppose there is something about meeting a stranger in a hospital environment, where what you share in common is a physical/ medical state of being, that allows both strangers to be, perhaps, even more open than they would normally be with friends or acquaintances. There is a sort of safety zone, where nothing seems too personal to share or ask, if related to an experience two people both will be having.

And to the other people in the waiting area...the large man in the wheelchair, the elderly gentleman watching tv, the couple speaking in an Eastern European language...well, I guess they were just the "lucky" recipients who had the chance to eavesdrop about half-working epidurals and such.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Pregnancy Week 27: Babymoon vacation to Antigua!

Mike and I recently returned from a wonderful week-long "babymoon" to Antigua and Barbuda. Despite our worries about finances and using a week of Mike's vacation time pre-baby, we are 100% convinced we made the right decision to have this special vacation. I highly recommend a last-chance vacation to anyone who is pregnant and able to go!

In Antigua...the weather is perfect--in the 80s, mostly sunny and humid, with a sprinkle of sun-kissed rain every day (lots of rainbows!). After we switch rooms from our initial ant-palace, we relax and enjoy the comforts of the resort. We go snorkeling at the coral reefs, we kayak in the ocean, visit the town of St. John's (and see Obama's inauguration on tv at one of the bars, amidst cheering West Indian residents--pretty cool) and Mike plays beach volleyball, beach soccer, and takes windsurfing lessons. We eat a lot (what will my OB think of my weight gain at my next appointment?), swim a lot, and relax by the beach and pool a lot.

Not only is the vacation refreshing and nurturing to us as pre-parents and as a married couple, but it is also a fun time to be reminded of the excitement of being pregnant itself. Away from the usual day-to-day activities of work, email, phone calls...there is something unique in sharing a pregnancy with strangers who don't see you every day, especially when you are the only pregnant woman, and you are walking around in a bathing suit for all to see the bare belly! It is a good conversation starter and attention grabber for other resort goers and employees. Every day, at least 5-10 people talk to me somehow about the baby:

Most often, people say, as I walk by, or if I enter or exit a restaurant, "Take care of that baby!" or "How's your baby enjoying Antigua?"

Others include:

-"When are you due?" One restaurant hostess doesn't believe I am 6 months pregnant and stares at me for an awkward amount of time as I try to laugh it off while taking my seat at the table. "Yes, he's in there!" I say. More staring. "Hahah, yup." More staring. "It's my first." I am running out of nonchalant things to say and she's still staring... She shakes her head, very serious. "I don't believe it," she says almost in a disapproving manner. "Hahah, well, it's true. He's moving around in there!" More awkward staring. Okay, another employee is here now to take our drink order. Hostess leaves. That was weirdly tense.

-"Are you having a boy or a girl?" Or many people guess first, "Is it a boy?" (No one guessed a girl--interesting, right?)

-"I love that belly!"

-"You girls are lucky you can wear tight clothing now--it looks great! When I was pregnant they had us wearing tents!"

-One of my favorite comments is from a young man working at the buffet who makes eggs to order at breakfast and grilled sandwiches at lunch. The very first time I see him, in line for an egg white omelet, he says with no other opening, "I wish you would have your baby in Antigua." I almost do not understand what he says as I'm not expecting that statement. I ask him to repeat himself, he does, and I laugh. "Oh, yes, that would definitely be memorable!" He asks when I'm due and I tell him. After this, every time I see him, he comments that I should stay for three more months to have my baby here. He knows I would love it. The baby would love it. Why don't I stay?

It is a relief to walk around and have everyone instantly know that I am pregnant. I realize that while being pregnant in the winter has its advantages, it would also be fun to be pregnant in the summer. There are no heavy winter coats to hide your belly; people can instantly see it's not just pudge under a bulky coat--you are really pregnant! The temperature and high humidity also does not seem to bother me (yet, at least), clothing is easy and light (lots of summer dresses are loose enough to fit and bikini bottoms still fit), and it is just so joyous to be out in the sun. That works wonders for any mood.

Perhaps one of the best advantages of "summer" in terms of my pregnant body is the light feeling I have when I walk in the water. The first time Mike and I walk into the ocean, I notice a different feeling as the water surrounds my belly. I almost feel as though my belly is expanding, but at the same time, it feels as though it is floating on its own. My lower back, which has been aching a great deal lately, feels no pain and the sensation of lightness is amazing. As I walk out of the ocean, I slowly start to feel my back aching more and more--until the water is just at my legs, and I feel heavy and achy once more. I know water makes you feel lighter, but I have never experienced it in such a dramatic and obvious way before.

And while Mike and I enjoy the advantages the water, sun, and all-inclusive resort provide, little Womb Baby seems to be affected by the vacation, as well. After our snorkeling trip about half-way through our vacation, he starts moving and kicking more than I have ever felt him before. He kicks and punches hard, flops over hard, and moves along my belly in slow firm motions. None of this is new (although we do feel him hiccup for the first time), but what is new is that he seems to be moving almost constantly when I am awake. He now not only moves when I'm sitting or lying down, but he moves when I am standing, walking, eating--times when he would typically relax prior to the snorkeling trip.

I am not certain what has changed him after the boat ride and snorkeling excursion, but apparently he is a new man! And stronger than ever!

And now, we are back in New York. We're back on our computers, making our own food again, and I rest my feet on the space heater to warm up the little piglets. But the memory of the pastel ocean, the clear and winding pool, the soft sand, the Caribbean music, and the solid "Mike & Tara Time" we experienced, are still very vivid, strong, and make me smile.
I now just need to teach my body to be patient for another six months until it can relax in the warm sun on the beach once more...with a little baby by its side...

(If this host of random pictures isn't enough for you, feel free to check out more pictures here and here.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pregnancy Week 26: What do you do with your last few months before your life changes forever...

Let's be clear. I'm not dying. There is nothing preventing me from fulfilling any artistic, emotional, personal, intellectual or career-oriented dream after having a child. We still plan to go on vacations, I still plan to write, to teach, to work on my music. Mike will continue working in marketing, editing his blog, writing and recording music. We'll still hang out with friends, go to movies, have romantic nights together... These are not things that will necessarily be easy to do once we have a child, but they are not impossible and if one makes them a priority now and then, they will happen.


It will never be the same. Even if we vacation without our child, we will still know we have a child. We will still miss that child, care and worry about that child. There is no way we can be as carefree as we are now.
The time we spend on our artistic pursuits will change as well. Mike won't be able to play his guitar loudly late at night. I won't be able to simply plop down on the couch and pull out my laptop whenever I feel like it. We will have to be more careful about using our time wisely, supporting each other, making time for each of us to have the creative alone-time. And creative together-time.

So as we are entering into the seventh month--about three months left--what steps do we want to make before our lives take this irreversible path?

For one, I made the big decision to leave my job before we have the baby. It was a hard decision, especially financially, but Mike has been encouraging me to utilize my last few months to truly focus on my writing. January 15 is now my last day, and while I will teach Playmaking part-time February to June (or as long as I am comfortable before/after delivery), my every day job will end. So I will have 3 months to hopefully relax, try to sleep better, take yoga classes, enjoy my pregnancy without rushing through it, prepare our room and apartment for the baby, and of course, work on my creative goals. It is a leap of faith we're taking, but hopefully it will be an investment that pays off in the future. After all, I'll never have this opportunity, not like this, again in my life.

We have also planned the increasingly popular "babymoon". After a great deal of research regarding health, safety, weather, and travel costs, we decided on a 6-night all-inclusive stay at a resort in Antigua. We leave just two days after my final day of work. Not only are we looking forward to a proper vacation (we've had short vacations in the past few years, but our last week long vacation was Mexico in 2006), but we can't wait to spend that isolated time together.

Mike also has been working very hard at his music. He feels an even greater pressure than I do to complete a certain amount of songs before the baby is born. I feel badly when I can see he is clearly anxious under the pressure of a looming life change. I try to encourage him, to work on his music now, but to know it doesn't have to end when we have a baby. It will be harder, but if we make the effort...

In some ways, I think having a baby will focus us even more. I remember my High School band conductor telling me, "If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it." I have found that to be true in many instances. When I look at my most prolific times of writing and accomplishing goals, they often are when I have barely had a moment to sleep. These sleepless nights are right around the corner, so maybe this is a good thing creatively?

Of course, I could be engaging in multiple forms of self-delusion, on many levels, when I think about this for the present and future. Ultimately, we just need to make the most of the time we have now, and make the most of the time we have with our baby.

On Sunday, we celebrated Russian Orthodox Christmas with Mike's parents. They came over to our apartment for brunch, gifts, and visiting. They are graciously bird-sitting Darius while we are in the Caribbean, and so as they are about to leave, Mike asks them how their cat, Maxie, is doing.

His mother starts explaining, "He got sick. He wasn't doing very well..." Mike is a bit confused, but she goes on. "He was throwing up a lot and howling in pain..."

Mike is starting to realize, but still not certain.

"So we took him to the vet..." she says.

Mike pauses, then asks," he dead?"

She nods. "We had to put him to sleep. He was in so much pain."

After they leave, Mike comes to me and says, "My childhood cat is dead..." He is clearly very affected by this and after some tears, we talk about the cat a little. He says he wishes he had spent more time with him. I point out Maxie usually ran away from us when we visited--so it's not as though Mike hadn't tried (Maxie would hop on Mike's mom's lap, but other than her, he often kept to himself, although Mike and the cat would rough-house together from time to time).

But this is not the point.

The point is, Mike would have liked more time with the family cat. When the timing is appropriate, I tell him, "Well, maybe we can take something away from this. Maybe we can use this as a reminder to spend time with the people or animals we love. If someone dies, we don't want to say, 'I wish I had spent more time with this loved one rather than doing X.'" I know this is a common philosophy, but is does ring true, and Mike agrees.

Projects are important. Work is necessary. Creative goals are inspiring, fun, stimulating and nourishment for us. But, people are...well, people are what we miss when they are gone.

One priority will never change, and that is my devotion to Mike, as my husband, the primary person in my life, with or without a child. And we will continue with our writing, our music, our work, our blogs, our computer time. But we have created a person. And some priorities are going to change. And as I sit here typing this, feeling my little boy move around inside of me, I am really quite okay with that change. I'm ready for my number two person to take his place in my world. I can't wait.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Pregnancy Week 25: 6th Doctor's Appointment - a pregnant woman and her weight

Today we meet with our doctor for the 6th time. Happily, Mike can join me for the appointment (and happily, before the doctor arrives, he gets to play with his iphone until I ask him to please put it away and talk with me).

We ask the doctor a few questions about our upcoming "babymoon" to Antigua, and he talks about things to avoid or things to enjoy. He gives me information on taking my glucose test and my rhogam shot (both at 28 weeks). I am aware that most rhogam contains thimerosol, although some do not, so I hope I will not have to go through a long procedure to receive the mercury-free shot again. We shall see.

The doctor checks the heartbeat of our son; it is 140-150. Our baby kicks at the doppler device (I don't believe he likes it), and we talk about the baby movements. Overall, it is another pleasant doctor's visit. Our doctor is friendly, attentive and caring. He has an average sense of humor, smiles and can appreciate our joking nature, but he is warm and calm enough that I think he will be a good delivery doctor.

However, one thing he says, Mike and I both find a bit...interesting...

Each time I go to the OB, I have to pee in cup, and get weighed. According to their scales (always a few pounds higher than my scale at home), I have gained 6 pounds in 5 weeks.

So at the beginning of our appointment, the doctor always looks at my chart, sees my weight and typically says the same thing. "I see you've gained a little weight. That's good. You look good." And he continues with his openings of how I am feeling etc.

This time, he starts off the same. "I see you've gained some weight." But here, he varies from the script slightly. "You've gained more than average..."

Or perhaps he says, "You're gaining more than average" or "It's more than average" or another variation of that intention. It was just one quick clause, but it is played back in many different forms in my head as I dissect it.

So here I am, thinking...Okay. Fair enough. That is slightly more than the recommended 1 pound a week, but so far, I have been either on target or slightly under the recommended amount at this point. And I just drank 16 oz of water to make sure I could pee enough, and yes, I admit, I have had my share of christmas cookies this holiday season!

But would I think to point out I am gaining more than average? It is one visit, one moment, and only 1 pound.

I smile in my head, almost to the "gallery" implying, "Are you guys hearing this?" The doctor doesn't see what's in my head however, and continues in the same pleasant and caring tone. "But I'm not worried about that for you. You started on the low end and probably could have stood to gain weight anyway. And you look good. You look very healthy."

Now, I must be clear that I am not offended by what he said, and I still have a cookie that night, so obviously, it has not scarred me. But as soon as Mike and I leave the office, I immediately bring this comment up to him. "I know!" Mike exclaims back at me as we wait for the elevator.

We both find it odd that the doctor would point out a barely perceptible higher-than-recommended weight gain, especially to someone who has been consistently gaining the recommended amount (or less). Perhaps he is more fixated on weight gain, as my pregnant friend (who sees midwives who merely ask her what her weight is) points out, due to the theory of women's gaining too much weight leading to larger babies and potentially necessitating c-sections (debatable, but I know he has mentioned that to me before). Or perhaps he meant I am gaining more weight than my own personal average, as a co-worker suggests when I vent this to her (she is kind, but I don't think that's what he meant). Or perhaps he just didn't realize that 5 weeks had gone by because we could not schedule at our standard 4 weeks, due to the holidays.

Whatever the case, I choose to focus on the second part of his comment. Because I like him and I know he didn't intend anything offensive. I do still look healthy, and even if I gain a tiny bit more than average from time to time, that really probably is fine for me.

And hey, we're still taking belly shots of me in a bikini top, so that must mean something!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Reborn Babies

[posted by Mike]
Tara and I saw a program on 20-20 yesterday about "Reborn Babies." The show followed adults who purchase VERY realistic-looking, hand-crafted dolls and pretend they're real. They sing to them, take them out, buy them real baby clothes, get compliments from people they run into (who think the babies are real), and basically live as a mother and child would live, minus the poop, the crying, the growth, and emotional feedback loop.

The dolls go for anywhere between $500-$3000. Conventions revolve around the buying, selling, and custom ordering of these little babes. One such site selling them is Reborn Babies.

The show discussed the psychological aspects of such a "hobby". Many women probably do in fact get a bit of a "mother's high" from interacting with the baby in such a real way. However, some psychologists are concerned that 1) these "moms" are getting too accustomed to socially interacting with these dolls as an accessory, and 2) these "moms" never actually get the emotional response/love back from the baby...i.e. the affection is all 1-way.

Interesting stuff. For our first one, I'm glad we stuck with the "au natural" method of baby production. But when we start changing diapers, perhaps a doll won't seem like such a bad idea? :)