Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Random pregnancy stuff - and get ready to flip your shit

My feet have started swelling. For some reason, more than morning sickness or stretch marks or anything else, this was the one pregnancy symptom which I really dreaded. I think partly just because I use my feet so much, and partly because I am rather vain about my feet. Weird, right? But...they're tiny (size 5 1/2 or 6, depending). And they don't have any odd malformations. I think they're swelling in part because of the heat, which made the national news. It's gone down a bit today, being around 64 and rainy (yay!--it'll keep the fires down, of which we've already had one closeby), but it's still too hot for me. After my cold shower last night, I sat to read my book (finally got a chance to read J.K. Rowling's "Casual Vacancy"--it was good! but sad, so be warned) and soak my feet in some cold water. It doesn't seem to have helped very much.
So for now, I'm wearing loose clogs and whatever else doesn't constrict my feet too much. I'm supposed to avoid flip-flops because they don't give any support, but my nice sandals are too constricting. After wearing them yesterday I had imprints from the bands across my feet.
Also, my feet hurt.

I'm honestly a little disappointed not to really have all those cravings you hear about pregnant women having. It's like a right of passage to send my husband out in the middle of the night to get something I MUST HAVE NOW, right? Instead, I'm still stuck with more food aversions and avoidances than anything else. Even when I do have minor cravings, they're not ongoing. Once the craving has been satisfied I no longer crave that food. It's making figuring out what to eat very tricky.
While I don't have a lot of self-generated cravings, however, I am finding myself more susceptible to suggestions of foods and then getting a mild craving for that food which won't go away until I've had it. I texted Shane earlier, knowing that he was going to the store, asking him to get some Honey Nut Cheerios because someone mentioned them and now they're about the only food which sounds tasty. Aside from the doughnut I'm eating. It was a bad, bad idea to start reading a book (one of the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich) in which the main character has an obsession with doughnuts.
Shane, of course, knows about this suggestibility and has tried using it several times. I think he was hoping for a bigger reaction to a comment about (cooked) sushi. However, he and our friend Donald set me up for a brownie craving, first by talking about workouts and trying to eat good things, which segued into a conversation about nuts and Shane saying, "Nah, I don't like them." D said, "What, not even in things? Like, walnuts in brownies? I love that." I wasn't even part of the conversation, but it stuck with me. They both got a good laugh out of it when I made brownies the next night. Evil. Pure evil.
Thankfully, some of my cravings have been healthy, as well. We were making burgers the other night and Shane always mixes in a bit of teriyaki sauce with the moose meat. I smelled it and thought, "I need pineapple on my burger. Need." We happened to have a can, so I got pineapple. I've been eating avocado all week, and right around the time Baby was supposed to be making bones (rather than just cartilage) I started wanting milk. Summer fruits might bankrupt us, if given half a chance, because I've been craving them as well. (Normal for me at this time of year, but a bit exaggerated.) So I don't feel bad about giving into my few "bad" cravings when I get them because most of the time, what I want is really healthy and really good for me.

I think I've started feeling little kicks and movements. It's hard to know, but when I'm lying or sitting very still and very quietly, sometimes I feel a little...well, it's hard to describe, isn't it? But it really does feel like a tiny fist or foot might be tapping me from the inside. I don't feel it every day, yet, but at 19 weeks this is about the time to start feeling it. Over the next few weeks Baby should be getting much stronger and the hits more noticeable.

Get ready to flip your shit. I don't know why everyone else gets so crazy about a baby's gender--it doesn't really matter for quite a while. But people want to buy gendered items (why?) and it's a huge deal to find out or not to find out. I've been polling friends and family to see what they're hoping for or what they want it to be. Most people have voted for "girl". I think, at least among our friends, it's partly to spite Shane. For some reason, they like to rib him about the possibility of having a girl? Nobody tells me, "I want you to have a boy because I think it would be hilarious to see you with a boy," but they'll all say something similar about Shane having a girl. It could also be, however, that I have three brothers so everyone knows I'm comfortable with boys. Shane doesn't have any sisters, so it's assumed that he'd be a bit nervous about having a girl. They're seriously underestimating him.
As for us, we've wanted to find out simply because it's another way of getting to know something about who we're bringing into the world. Shane has said to me that, if he had his druthers, we'd have two boys. But really, he'll be happy with whatever healthy baby we have. Either way, this baby is going to have its parents wrapped around its teeny tiny fingers. I don't have a preference on gender. I picture babies and children of either gender and just think, "I'm going to have one of those!" It brings a grin to my face. I did joke to a friend the other day, after talking about Shane breaking his femur in 3rd grade, "And this is why I don't want boys." But I quickly looked down and told my abdomen, "I'm just kidding, Baby, I'll love you no matter who you are."
So the big news? This baby is......a girl. I'm a bit surprised, and still trying to wrap my head around it. With three brothers, and marrying into a family of only boys, I honestly just kinda figured the odds were stacked against me. But I get to have a baby girl!!!! I'm so, so happy. And yet, without my joy in having a girl being diminished at all, I'm also a little sad that it's not a boy. Crazy, right? I think it would be the same if the gender was reversed--I'd be sad about not having a girl, that is. I think it's just a lost opportunity thing. Baby girls are nice and baby boys are nice and I want both. Totally selfish of me, I know.
Telling the parents was hilarious. My parents had me on speaker phone so that they could both hear the news. Toward the end, I could hear my dad dancing around their kitchen saying, "A girl! It's a girl!"
And that was nothing to my MIL's reaction. After having only boys, she is rather desperate for a girl. So Shane was wise and put her on speaker phone before we told her. I'm surprised the neighbors didn't come down to complain about the screaming. Knowing that she's going to go shopping pretty much immediately, and for the rest of her life, for girl stuff we told her that we don't want to have our house be overrun with pink. Seriously. I'm not much of a fan of pink in general, I've already talked about my hatred for the way kids' toys are far too gendered, and I'm not a fan of pink. We'll see how well she listened to that.
And this baby girl is going to have four doting uncles. Somehow, some way, I'm going to manage to get a picture of all four of them with her because I think that would be awesome. Shane said, "Yeah, and then we can show it to all of her future boyfriends as a warning. After I greet them at the door with a shotgun, of course. No one's gonna mess with my baby girl."

Sunday, June 16, 2013


My eldest brother lives in L.A. He and I have a sort of game throughout the year where we text each other our respective temperatures, sometimes with a little personal update and sometimes not. During the winter, I get to call him a complete pansy, and during the summer he gets to mock me. When we got up to 80 degrees a few weeks ago I sent him a text that read, "80 degrees. Might be dying." He responded, "80? Sweater weather."
It reached 90 degrees here this weekend. My poor little Alaskan body is having a hard time handling it. For that matter, so is Shane's. And our pets only move to get water or find a shadier/draftier spot, it seems. (Once the cat figured out that the box fan wasn't going to eat him, he camped out in front of it and hasn't done more than adjust his position for hours now.) I was going to say that everyone is feeling the heat, but I remembered that when I took the dog for a walk earlier there was a woman wearing long pants and a sweatshirt. I can only assume that she's not from around here.
It was so hot that I actually looked forward to grocery shopping this afternoon, spending my time in the air conditioning. I'm looking forward to work tomorrow for pretty much the same reason. (I don't know if it's air conditioned, but it stays cool in there. I curse it during the winter, love it during the summer.)
Unfortunately, this weather is supposed to stick around all week. I'm trying to figure out what I can wear to work that will still be appropriate but which will keep me cool. In fact, nearly every decision right now is coming down to what won't overheat me. Everything I bought at the store today was with a view toward not heating up the kitchen. So, fruit and sandwich makings, milk and yogurt. Nothing which requires actually cooking. We've got some moose meat thawing in the fridge, so we'll most likely make burgers in the next day or two, but those will be grilled outside.
Even now, at 10:00 at night, the apartment is at 85 degrees and the sun, still fully up, is glaring into the living room through the blinds. We'll get no respite from the heat until about 2 a.m., and even then it will be short lived as the sun, which does no more than dip below the horizon at this time of year, will come back up almost immediately. By the time I head off to work tomorrow at 7:30, it will already be getting warm again. I didn't think it would happen after the long winter, but I'm already looking forward to autumn. (Well, for more than just the one reason, that is.) I'm excited for the cool, crisp air in September, the long sunrises and sunsets which we don't get at this time of year. (Of them all, I believe that September is my favorite month.)
For now, we're fighting the heat in the ways people always have. Lots of water to drink and to douse ourselves with. Shane and I took a cold shower earlier. (He was a baby and got out after only wetting himself down. I stayed in it long enough to actually shower, washing my hair and at least the important body parts.) It helps, although not for long enough.
We've mostly stayed close to home this weekend, only going out for a bit in the evenings. We got ice cream with friends at a nearby shop and went to beer league softball, them to play and me to cheer. We played frolf, which we walked to, I've walked the dog, and I biked to the farmer's market yesterday. It's just too hot to want to do much more, and we both get cranky when we're too hot. So I've been getting a bunch of reading done (lying in front of the fan) and enjoying the fact that I have time to read. Sedentary pursuits are the way to go.
In addition to the extreme heat, there are the mosquitoes. It's not much of an exaggeration to say that they're nearly the size of horseflies. They hurt when they bite, and I am one of those people who has particularly bad reactions to them. Pregnancy has only made that worse. And of course, this year they're worse than I've ever seen them before. People who've lived here all their lives are saying the same thing. I'm guessing that it has to do with the extra long winter, but I'm not certain. Usually the first hatching is really awful, and after that they become an annoyance but a bearable one. Not this year. We went frolfing with friends Saturday night and any time we stopped we were swarmed by the horrid little bloodsuckers. I killed dozens and missed so many more than that. Thankfully, though my bites swell up hugely at first, the itching tends to end fairly soon.
I sit here grumbling about this, but I have been trying to put it into perspective as well. We've started re-watching "The Human Planet", a BBC documentary series about how people have adapted to live in various places. It's one of those things that you watch and think, I live a pathetically easy life. I don't need to face down lions for my dinner, or navigate my way through the Sahara to the only well for many miles, or send my kids out to hunt tarantulas so that they can get a bit of protein. When I complain, I realize that these are first world problems. I can't control the weather, but I do have the luxury of lying naked in front of a box fan to cool off. We may have horrible mosquitoes, but at least they don't carry malaria. Even if they did, I live within five miles of a hospital. I have medicines and vaccines available to me. I need to quit whining.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Fun with pregnancy

I was chatting with my friend L the other night, who is about 2 weeks farther along in her (2nd) pregnancy than I am. Another friend, who has decided (along with her husband) that she never wants to have kids, was sitting with us and nodding sagely when L declared, "There are some women who claim to enjoy being pregnant. I think they're all fucking liars. This sucks." I had to gently say, "Actually...I'm kind of enjoying it." And then point out that, unlike L, I didn't spend 2 1/2 months throwing up.
Yes, pregnancy can be a (literal) pain sometimes. I've had bizarre symptoms, like the sleepwalking, and normal ones like a bit of nausea and heartburn which has sent me, for the first time in my life, running for the container of Tums. (We're nearly out.) I've had aches in my hips and back, already, and nothing is ever quite the same two weeks in a row.'s still kinda fun. I think it's partly an attitude difference--even the "bad" symptoms I'm looking at rather like a scientist. I feel a bit like Jane Goodall, only instead of researching someone or something else I'm researching my own changes. "Oh! All right then, I guess this week I'm just going to wake up at every little noise during the night. Oh well, at least I have an excuse to take a nap every afternoon!" "Wow, the shirt that I could wear all right last week is in danger of being horribly stretched out if I try to wear it now. Guess it's getting packed up with the others and put away for now. At least I'll be happy to wear it again when I'm back to my old self again. It'll be like gaining a whole new wardrobe!" I'm having fun figuring out what's going on inside me each week and tracking the physical changes.
The fact that I've kept the lifestyle changes to a minimum also really helps. Yes, I've scaled back on my exercise a bit. But instead of Not Exercising, I've simply switched to gentler exercises and toned back the old ones which I kept. I'm not telling myself about all of the things which I can't do (I've had people ask me how "the whole not drinking for 9 months thing is going" who seem mystified when I say that it's not a big deal) and instead focusing on the changes which are taking place, getting myself excited about each stage. Baby belly's starting to show? Eee! I'll finally look pregnant, rather than just feeling it.
I've also found some of the Zen-ness that I so wanted at the beginning. Not that I'm calm, I'm far too excited for that. (There's a baby on the way! There's a new little person that I get to bring into the world, and I can't wait to meet him or her!) But I don't worry so much. I'm careful about things, like when we ride our bikes places. I go a bit slower and am careful to avoid anything which could throw me off the bike or cause an accident. (I mean, more careful than usual.) But for the most part, I've decided not to worry about the million and one things which *could* go wrong. I know some women obsessively check online sites about "is it safe during pregnancy?" and I guarantee those things are only around to drive you crazy with paranoia. Seriously, look them up. Nearly everything says something like, "It's mostly safe, but just to be on the safe side and to be absolutely certain you shouldn't do that/eat that/go there." It's crazy-making and I won't buy into it. I've even--shh! our secret!--licked the spoon a few times when I've been baking, despite the presence of raw eggs. I'm certain that someone, somewhere, will read that statement and be like, "SHE DOESN'T LOVE HER UNBORN CHILD!" but honestly, I think the stress of trying to do everything perfectly is much worse for me and Baby than whatever tiny risk I'm taking. (I've also--gasp!--eaten deli meat.)
One benefit to everything I've been doing is that I've honestly found it pretty easy to keep my weight gain down, and to have just a small start to a baby bump. (I know I said weeks ago that I was showing, mostly I meant to myself. My own view, when I look down, is totally bizarre and makes me feel much larger than I am when I view myself in the mirror. Even now, I'm pretty sure I'd have to tell most people for them to realize that I'm preggo. Which explains why I got wolf whistled and honked at three friggin' times last week while walking home. Unless the baby belly really does it for some guys?) I'm finally wearing maternity clothes full-time (mostly so that I don't accidentally stretch out my old clothes), which required a shopping trip last weekend. (Thank goodness nearly everyone in town was having an "it's finally summer" sale.) While I was at one of the shops I overheard two women behind me talking, one saying that she was there in search of shorts. The other said, in a very derogatory tone, that all of the shorts they had were "only for those anorexic women with basketball-like baby bumps". Umm...when did the ability to not put on 80 pounds while pregnant become something to deride? No, I'm not trying to fat-shame people. But seriously? "Anorexic"? I don't really want to brag, but I have found it rather easy not to pack on the pounds, basically by continuing my normal routine of exercising and eating a well-balanced diet, with just a bit more of everything to compensate for the extra calories I need. I'm back to oatmeal in the mornings (with frozen fruit mixed in while it cooks), and my biggest craving lately has been for fresh summer fruits. (Shane and I spent about $40 just on fruit at the store the other day...and then ate it all within 3 days.) I haven't been denying anything to myself, either. In the past few days alone I've had cake, a cupcake, and two small bowls of ice cream. It's plenty of sweets, but not too much. It just helps, too, that I haven't been telling myself that it's ok to binge on everything, or give into every craving (except the healthy ones) because "the baby wants it".
Shane's been having fun with my pregnancy too. I found out a couple of weeks ago that around that time the baby's ear bones were forming and it was starting to hear our voices. When I told Shane he leaned down close to my stomach and said, clearly, "You're adopted, Baby, and nobody loves you." I laughed so hard.
He's also been making fat jokes to/about me. In the presence of several friends, including the new-ish girlfriend of one friend (who has not been around me and Shane long enough to know how we work) I mentioned that I still had about 18 pounds to gain, thinking that this is a crazy number in just 5 short months. Shane said, "Well it's a good thing you're well on your way." I started giggling but the new girlfriend cried out a horrified, "You're such an asshole!" Shane had to point out to her that I was laughing, and "she gives as good as she gets, don't worry". Honestly, the fat jokes are reassuring. They're putting my weight gain (about 9 pounds at this point) into perspective. Also, it's just funny. When I joked the other day that I'm slowly turning into two people, Shane answered, "Yeah, and you're having a baby." We laughed about this to a friend, who didn't laugh but instead turned to Shane with a befuddled look and said, "Never, ever let her leave you. You will end up a pathetic, lonely man if you do."
And if you want a baby book recommendation, read "Bringing Up Bebe" by Pamela Druckerman. If you want to know what to stay away from, avoid ever opening "What to Expect When You're Expecting". That one falls into the category of crazy-making paranoia. Seriously, it will make you regret the fact that you ever decided to have a baby, and worry constantly. Just don't open it.