Monday, May 6, 2013

Spring dreams, part 5

I've already had at least one person subtly ask about our pets and how worried we are about their reaction to a new baby. Well, honestly, we're a little nervous, but overall we're fairly confident in them.
The dog is the only one of the two who truly makes us a bit nervous. She tends to be rather anxious naturally. If she's not perfectly content, she's nervous. There's no in-between. So having the entire household disrupted and a new, squalling baby taking over will definitely be an anxious time for her. She has been around infants before. Most notably, J&L's little girl, when she was a baby. At that time, L set the baby in the car seat down on the table for just a moment. Before we could blink, Pepper was on the table with her face stuffed in the carrier, licking the baby's face frantically. I had to actually work to haul her away, and as soon as I got her down she was right back up on the table again. I eventually had to just hold her, trembling and squirming, and then toss her outside until they left. Not exactly a comforting incident to think about.
However, there are some things in our favor. For one, she'll get a lot more prep this time around. L is allergic to dogs, so they don't spend much time over here. I think Pepper saw her once, maybe twice, while she was pregnant, and then there was this thing that she brought over. I've already stated that Pepper knows I'm pregnant, and while she was super anxious at first, she's calmed down now. I mean, she still guards me and watches out for me. The other evening I took a nap, and while I was sleeping Shane started dinner. My food-crazy dog stayed on the bed with me (staring longingly at the doorway, where we could both hear the sounds of cooking) until I sat up. Only then did she feel that I was well enough for her to leave my side and go watch for dropped food. She wasn't anxious, just watchful, careful. I think the fact that I haven't popped out a baby immediately is giving her lots of time to calm down.
And I'm certain that, after Baby arrives, she'll calm down fairly quickly. She will love this new tiny human the way she does us, and we'll get lots of pictures of baby and dog snuggling. As the baby grows up, she'll be even more fond of it. Around toddlers she is incredible, mostly because she knows that they're a fantastic source of dropped food. She's careful around them, not (too) pushy, but she's an opportunist and will actually steal candy from toddlers if given half a chance. I know, I know, that will create its own issues in time, but for now it's comforting because I know that at least she won't be attacking my child. She'll do her "I'm a good girl!" act and wait for people to stop being wary before she will oh-so-gently take the food. (She's got a lot more experience with toddlers than she does with infants.)
As for the cat: well. Him we are not worried about, mostly because of his personality. He prefers to be aloof. He's an observer, not a participator. Even when we're just having a quiet evening watching a movie in the bedroom, he prefers to watch us from the hallway. He sleeps on my chest, occasionally, but generally he prefers to perch on the computer chair where he can be near us and watch us, but not too close to us. I am his chosen human, in part, I think, because I'm the quieter one. Shane talks loudly, laughs loudly, makes noise. (It's not a bad thing--it's part of his total enjoyment of life.) I'm the one who spends long, quiet hours reading, or doing other quiet activities. My voice is softer, and for a cat who's terrified of loud noises (or really, any noise above a whisper) I think I'm like a beacon of calm for him.
So what does this have to do with a baby? Well, babies cry. I'm pretty sure that right there will take a lot of getting used to for Zap. So mostly, he'll be his aloof self and sit back and observe the baby, at least for a while. He might approach when I'm holding the sleeping baby, but maybe not. Either way, he won't do the things most people are afraid of: he won't scratch the baby (he only scratches Shane, and then only when Shane is deliberately roughhousing with him) and he won't sleep with or on the baby. He'll probably try to co-opt the crib or bassinet or whatever as a lovely, safe perch, but never when the baby's in it. (And he's going to be trained out of that right quick, baby or no he'll need to learn that the crib is not his place.)
I've been looking up lots and lots of tips on how to prepare pets for a new baby. Things like setting up baby stuff well beforehand, so that they both get used to it. (And so that we have time to train the cat not to get into things we don't want him climbing into.) Playing Youtube videos of crying babies at random times in the month or so before my due date, just so they get used to it and don't think it's a four-alarm every single time the kid cries. Having a friend take a blanket or something which smells like the baby home from the hospital before we get there, so that they can get used to the scent.
There are so many more. And we will probably end up trying some combination of all of them. I am confident in the resilience of our pets. At this point, they have about seven more months to get used to all of this.
Holy shit, only seven more months for me to get used to this....

Yesterday was the first morning where I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, "Holy crap, I'm starting to get a belly!" As it didn't go away by this morning, I can only conclude that this is the start. I both want to cry and to jump for joy over it. I mean, as a woman there are really only so many times you can be told that most of your worth is in your looks (don't kid yourself--this is the message that society still gives out) without it affecting at least some of your thoughts. My waist is supposed to be small and toned, not round! Additionally, I've worked hard over the years to not be overweight. I exercise. I've earned that flat(ish) tummy!
But at the same time, I'm so excited. There's a baby in there! Sometime over the next ten weeks I'll get to start feeling it move around, something I'm eagerly anticipating. And in some ways, I'm looking forward to having a big round belly. It's part of being pregnant, after all.

I'm still exercising a decent amount. It's good for me, and should help make both labor and recovery easier. However, I have had to seriously switch up my routine. I'm physically drained most of the time. As in, trying to exert myself for something more difficult than walking is almost painful. So I've stopped weight lifting and doing any of my normal workout stuff. Instead, I've been focusing on lots of walking (the dog is loving this!) and a prenatal yoga video. I can't stand some of the shit the voiceover in the video says ("Breathe in your entire body and your baby luminous!" "Bow slightly toward your baby, and take a moment to give thanks to your baby." "Keep your gaze sweet...." "Turn respectfully toward your left shoulder....") but the stretches and exercises are definitely helping. I'm also glad that I started it so early, before I get big at all, because some of these positions will only get tougher as time goes on. I'll get to ease into them rather than trying for the first time when I'm huge.
I do also know, though, that I need to carefully monitor my exercise. I already need to eat and drink more than I did before, and it's all a delicate balancing act. One which I've failed at several times. I got dehydrated a few days ago, so I spent the whole next day trying to rehydrate myself. However, I focused so much on my water intake that I didn't eat as many calories as I should have. The next day was pretty rough, starting with dry heaving first thing in the morning (the only good part of having an empty stomach). So then I had to focus on both eating and drinking enough. Exercise means even more water and more food, so I have to be extra careful about how much I do. I don't think I've ever thought so hard about my food habits and my exercise routine before.
On the plus side, among the many benefits to me that come with exercise, are also benefits to Baby. Like perhaps an increased IQ? (Some studies have shown that mothers who exercise have smarter babies, but this could also just be an effect that smarter women tend to exercise and tend to have smarter babies. Or women who tend to exercise are focused on taking care of themselves and their babies, so they work harder at developing their babies IQs than moms who don't exercise. Who knows?) Baby will be at a decreased risk of health problems farther on down the road, such as diabetes and even weight problems. So no matter what, no matter how big I get, I will still be exercising. Just not as much as I used to.

I got to have an ultrasound today, just to make sure everything is developing as it should. (Basically, to make sure the baby isn't developing Down's Syndrome or a couple of other things.) It was awe inspiring. Since the morning sickness has passed, I really don't feel pregnant. It's a little scary. My tummy has gotten a bit bigger, as I said, but not so much that I'm actually showing yet. (Although I can see my friends checking me out when I see them! "Is she getting bigger?") My weight stayed the same between my first doctors' appointment and this one. So I was starting to get a little nervous. (Never ever read "What to Expect When You're Expecting"--horrible book! It will put so many fears in your head about all the different things which can go wrong, and the detailed explanations of how much labor and delivery hurt, plus the next few weeks, was terrifying! There's such a thing as too much information.) I can't feel the baby moving, and without really any internal or external indicators of how things are going in there it's easy to let fears get the best of you. So I was very happy about the ultrasound today. And it was massive! Around fifteen minutes of just looking at Baby. Since the skin and even what little of the bones there are is translucent, I mean everything. I even got to see the start of the brain, which was so cool. (And reminded me that I should get walnuts next time I'm at the store.) I got to see the heart pumping again and the little arms and legs moving, the feet and the fingers. Even the bladder, which the tech said is unusual but a good sign since it means the kidneys are working well. She told me several times, "Wow, this is just perfect. Everything looks absolutely perfect." Exactly the words I wanted to hear.
Also, there is no faster way to make yourself feel badass than to bike to your ultrasound appointment. There was nowhere to lock up my bike outside so I had to bring it in and ask where I could put it. The woman raised her eyebrows at me and said, "You know, this is the first time we've ever been asked about that." :)

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