Monday, August 27, 2007

my back, my back...

Did the little pregnancy ticker in this website header just jump over into the eighth month? How'd that happen? :)

I can't believe how close we are getting to actually having this baby. I mean... the eighth month? That's only one month away from the ninth, right? That's 8 more weeks until October 27th. That's... really CLOSE!!!!!!! o_O

My vacation, and therefore my last "official" days as an employee are drawing to an end now, too. Maternity leave officially starts on September 1, which is only 5 days away. Yet these past 3 weeks of me being home feel like an eternity already!

As far as my pregnancy itself is concerned, well, it's getting... a bit uncomfortable. I hate having to say this at all, especially considering what a breeze it's been up until this point, and considering how I can't stand whining and complaining, especially not about something so beautiful and miraculous as a pregnancy. But it is what it is. I try to keep the whining to a minimum, and I try to keep up with everything that's going on without complaining. Yet, if that's such a good idea I don't know:

Last Saturday we went to what you Americans would probably call a Renn Fair. It's only about an hour's drive away from Vienna - no big deal. Two weeks ago I took a boat down the Danube River to Bratislava, and walked around the city for 12 hours, and it was all good, right? Right. Right. 2 weeks do a difference maketh, this late in pregnancy. We only spent a few hours at the fair, watching a tournament show (which were two hours of sitting in the shade, not even walking around), eating a bit, and strolling around the castle a bit. My patience with the crowd (- and especially the many children there!) was wearing very thin very fast, much to my own surprise, the heat was taking a toll on me in my compression stockings underneath my pants. I was miserable, tired, hot, sweaty, completely exhausted. I couldn't really believe it - normally I enjoy events and crowds like these a lot. We were home by mid-afternoon, and I was just as exhausted, if not more, as I was after our whole-day Bratislava adventure.

It moved me to stop thinking about and planning for our trip to Venice for our first wedding anniversary also, which will take place in two weeks. Running around for 2 days in a hot Italian city? After 6 hours of driving one way? While almost 8 months pregnant? Yeah, I don't think so either. :(

Well... what else besides that? My feet turn into watermelons at night time now regularly if I don't wear my compression stockings - which I don't do with the still ongoing extreme humid heat. That's not so bad - only since a few days my hands have decided to make like my feet as well. And that's not very comfortable. At least that explains some of my recent extreme weight gain.

And sleep? Forget it. As soon as I lay down I have to pee, and I have to pee just about every 7 seconds. But that's okay, that's a regular pregnancy-side-effect I am not complaining about. However, when my back is so bad that I almost can't get out of bed by myself anymore without help, reaching the toilet turns into quite a feat. Especially at 3 in the morning. My back is turning into my biggest problem now. Really, if it wouldn't be for that, this pregnancy would be like a dream. I do feel great besides it (- and besides the very normal pregnancy ailments described above), and this pain is really spoiling my experience. I am getting very little sleep, because every position I am in hurts, and every position change shoots enormous pain daggers into my lower back, and it takes me several minutes for each shift. I can't get out of bed, or up from a chair, out up from the couch, without something or someone to lean on and to support my weight, and kind of pull myself up. Putting weight onto my right side makes me right leg give way beneath me, so I limp around most of the time, feeling rather inhibited in everything I do. The apartment is a mess around me, mostly because I can't bend over to pick up things, or remain in the slightly hunched-forward position for long that it takes to wash the dishes.

Right now I can't imagine where this will go in the next two months. If it will even interfere with my ability to give birth the natural way. I am the last one to complain about regular pregnancy back-ache, really, and I wouldn't have typed out this whole entry if that's what it exclusively was. Yeah, I have sciatic nerve pain, and I know that's from the baby. That's my limping and the leg giving way beneath me. That's fine. But my inability to get up once I am laying down, or to not be able to lift my pelvis from a lying position, or even my legs, and that I have to roll around in order to get up relatively painless - that's NOT from the baby. That's a disc problem - I am almost certain of it. After giving birth I will have it checked out and x-rayed, so it can be fixed. For now I guess I have to deal with it, and wait through the next 8 weeks.

8 weeks...! How crazy. :)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Birth Prep Class and Gyn Appointment

More progress in the nursery-department, despite the fact that we don't even have a nursery yet! Today I bought this beautiful rocking chair, which has easily got to be the most comfortable chair I have ever placed my butt upon. It was quite a bargain too, seeing as I got a voucher out of a baby catalog for this item, valid only this August. Obviously, I would have waited until after the move to buy such a monster of a thing, so we wouldn't have to lug it around when we finally do move, but I didn't want for the voucher to lose its validity. I already see the many hours of breastfeeding I will do in this chair, and many a sleepless night spent in it, so I am very happy with the purchase. Besides the fact that its neutral design will go perfectly with the rest of the nursery. :)

We just got home from part 2 (of 4) of our birth prep class. I realize, I haven't really talked about the first class last week either - but I can really say that I am thoroughly enjoying myself. The midwife who holds the class is a middle-aged no-bullshit woman, who is very open and realistic about what we can expect during labor, but at the same time has such a great positive attitude about everything, that thoughts of fear have no chance to even arise. The female power and energy that's going on in these classes is overwhelming, despite the presence of the men, and it's greatly empowering to see and feel them play such a subordinate part in this.

The classes are very informative, and I have already learned several breathing techniques that supposedly will bring me through labor. Today we went through different birthing techniques also, some that will happen with support of the father, and some without, and I feel like I am really prepared now to know my options and the possibilities available to me when the time comes. Geo is greatly supportive of these classes, even though he probably has a hard time understanding all of what the midwife is saying for all the dialect she is using, and I am enjoying this time together greatly. He is very attentive to me and the baby, more than regularly when we are in this class. Maybe it's the power of woman and creation that he's feeling also, that makes him be this way - but whatever it is, I love it!

Good news in the baby department also: I've been to my gynecologist for my second to last(!) baby exam yesterday. I didn't get a photo, because by now Baby is so big that the photos really only show some kind of blur anymore. Despite my contractions of last week my cervix is still tightly closed as it should be, so no worries there. Baby already lays head-down, pretty much ready to go, and according to the doctor it is very rare that babies turn heads-up anymore, once they are where they should be, especially with firstborns, for the uterus muscles usually are too tight to allow much of somersaulting anymore. That's very reassuring, for a c-section is pretty much on top of my list of things to be avoided at all costs when it comes to giving birth to this baby. The doctor estimates our child to weigh close to 2 kilos already, which kind of knocked me off my socks in a little bit of shock. According to all those tables of averages on the internet, which I love so much, babies in the 31st week should weigh approximately 1,3 kilos... not almost 2! When I mentioned that, my doctor just said that it'll just be a larger baby, and since my diabetes test turned out normal results, this really is nothing to worry about. Ummm... sure... is it okay if *I* worry about this just a teensy bit? I have to squeeze it out of my vagina in a few weeks, after all! In the end he just looked at me and said that he would be concerned, if I had a smaller baby in there, considering the fact that my husband and I aren't exactly midgets in any way. I am 5'10" and Geo stands at 6'1" - I guess our baby won't be a tiny fairy-like delicate being when it's born.

Bad news is what the scale has revealed... from my last visit 5 weeks ago to yesterday, I have gained pretty much 1 kilo per week, shooting me up to a horrifying +12 kilograms - which was the absolute limit I have set myself in terms of weight gain for the entire pregnancy. AND I STILL HAVE 9 WEEKS TO GO! I am turning into a walrus, a freaking elephant, I am shocked and upset over this, especially considering that a substantial amount of weight gain can still be expected in the last weeks of pregnancy. Where will this end? People say that the kilos are shed again easily after delivery, with the high energy-cost of breastfeeding, and the stress, and the sleepless nights... and once the baby and the amniotic fluid and the placenta are out, and the uterus retracts again most of the weight is gone anyway... but no amount of reassuring and predicting can take the shock of the 90 kilos away, that flashed at me from the scale yesterday. :(

Getting a little impatient, here. Unhappy with my body, the weight gain, the little (or not so little, considering my back) discomforts of pregnancy in the third trimester. I wish we had the keys to our new apartment already, but we still have 2 1/2 weeks to go for that, and I am not looking forward to the stress of moving and furnishing the place. I am having a hard enough time keeping our current place in order, and packing things away in boxes considering my low energy levels and immediate raging back pains once I do much of anything at all, and I hope that the stress of moving will not be bad enough to cause the baby to come early. I need enough time to furnish and decorate the nursery! I am so itchy to get started already...

Saturday, August 18, 2007

rule the unruly!

So, what makes a woman feel better when she's down low and not feeling too spiffy?

Right! She goes and gets a haircut. There is nothing quite like the scalp massage performed by the apprentice stylist, it's something I look forward to every time, and that successfully takes my mind off of things in a most gentle way.

I was *this* close to having my hair chopped off though into some kind of bob-variation, but let my stylist (who knows me and my hair-laziness for a very long time now) talk me out of it. Interesting tidbit: she assessed that my recently predominant natural waves look like they are here to stay - and that I had better get used to the thought. Kiss my straight hair goodbye for good? Imagine, I used to have hair that was so straight and heavy, like ironed, that refused to assume any kind of wavy or curly shape, no matter with how many curlers it was attacked, and how many bottles of hair product were wasted on it. At times it was frustratingly straight - and recently it has taken on a wavy life of its own, even making it impossible for me to MAKE it straight anymore, no matter how much I blow dried it and used a straightening iron on it. Looks like I'll have to get used to that idea, so I allowed my stylist today to cut my hair in a way that allows for those new waves to curl and spring around.

Weird... BUT IT LOOKS GOOD! :) Now I am really happy that I didn't go through with my initial plans to chop them off, for a change I really like my hair! :)

So, mission accomplished, the pregnant lady feels pretty and well again. :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Letter to Booger, 30th week, DADDY EDITION

Letter to my unborn child,

Everyday I ask myself what kind of father I will become and I can tell you I have no idea. My relationship with my own father, your Abuelito, was never an open one, we hardly ever talked, and when we did it was mostly about superficial things. Only recently we have been able to talk openly and I think the reason for that is that I'm now an adult. Looking back at my childhood I can't really say that I had a bad one, although I can tell you that there are some things I wish that could have been better. Now that you are just around the corner I think about how I want to improve my personal relationship with you in comparison to the one I had with my own father.

Never in my life have I thought about my personality as much as I do now. Since I know about you I have been thinking about how much I need to improve myself in order to be a better father to you, and also a good husband to your Mommy. I'm not telling you that I'm a horrible man, it's just that I need to mature with your arrival. Your father is the biggest dreamer you will ever know. To me everything is possible and
so for the most part I end up with so much to do that I can hardly finish anything on my plate. I love the arts and for the most part I'm very creative, I like to draw and paint (something I can't wait to show you), and my current job is doing graphics.

There is so much I want to show you. I will take you to your Abuelito's town in México, so you will get to know where I grew up. Ah, I forgot to let you know that your Father is from Mexico, how could I have forgotten about that...? Your Abuelitos and Tios live in México right now. As soon as we can we will go and visit them. I think you will like the beaches that are close to the San Luis (- that is the
name of your Abuelito's town). The heat and the mosquitoes are two things that you may have to deal with but overall I think you will like it.

I will do my best for you, your Mommy and I to spend as much time as possible in México, so you will get to know from where I come from, and what is also a big part of who you are.

It's very hard for me to tell how good of a father I will be, the only thing I can tell you is that I will do my best to be there for you despite my shortcomings.

I love you so much.

Don't kick Mommy so much at nighttime, so she can sleep!

We will see you soon,
your Father,


birth prep class!

To say that I feel better now, wouldn't be quite true. But I think that I have narrowed the situation down to the "pregnancy blues", and let's just leave it at that.

The whole world is out to get me, what else is new, boo-hoo, get over yourself.

As a matter of fact, there is something I am looking incredibly forward to, and that is tomorrow's start of our couple's birth preparation class in the hospital - the first of four evenings of - I assume - sitting and breathing funny, and changing diapers on dolls.

If nothing else, it'll be a fun parents-to-be-thing to do together, and that's something I am looking really forward to!

Contractions... also emotionally...

Oh, what fun... so THIS is what contractions actually feel like? OK, I guess I got the light "practice" versions of the real deal... but at a point I was ready to call the hospital, cause - is my uterus supposed to be "practicing" for a whole afternoon, and so intensely that I have to sit down and clutch my belly occasionally?

Yeah, I didn't think so either.

But since I am weird and am suffering from performance anxiety in front of doctors, I decided not to be hysterical, and just sit it out. Not to imagine that the nurse on the phone could possibly tell me not to act out over stretching ligaments, or a few practice contractions. Even worse: me showing up there in the middle of the night to have them check me and my baby, only to then roll their eyes and send me back home with a gentle reminder not to act like a hypochondriac?

I am really afraid of doctors - but not because of what they could do to me, or what ailments they could diagnose, but because they might NOT do anything, or diagnose nothing. Much like the ear doctor who told me that my hearing was perfectly fine after I made an appointment because, HELLO! I CAN'T HEAR YOU! Or like the recent case with the orthopedist who sent me on my way after five minutes of not listening to me and wrote me off as a hysterical pregnoid who complains about normal pregnancy backaches.

Knowing me, I probably will even refuse to call an ambulance after my water breaks, cause, hey, maybe I just peed myself, and they will just laugh at me and slap me with the bill of unnecessary ambulance-calling after they leave again? I will probably also not go to the hospital when my contractions roll over me every five minutes, cause, hey, maybe I am just about to have a really big bowel movement... and who in their right mind goes to the hospital for that???

See? That's me. That's how I think. Always afraid of looking like a hypochondriac and making an ass out of myself. That's also why I am so afraid of telling people the truth when I am being asked how I am doing, because I am afraid of them rolling their eyes and thinking things like "damn, she's acting like she's the first pregnant woman on earth". I always say "really good, thanks!" or "fine, thanks for asking!" or "I am so glad things are going like they are, I could have had it MUCH worse!", and then try to hide my limping from my pinched sciatic nerve with clenched teeth.

Another favorite of mine is: "oh, I am fine, nothing beyond what's to be expected during pregnancy, and I don't complain about these things." I find this answer incredibly suave, and it usually satisfies people and they don't ask anymore.

I don't know where this comes from, really. I don't know when it's okay to be weak, and when it's inappropriate to use my pregnancy as a reason not to do things. Sometimes Geo won't let me do the simplest things because they might be "too much" for me in my current state, and then he seamlessly goes into treating me as if I wasn't pregnant at all, expects me to run a ton of errands, or argues with me and yells at me like I am in a regular emotional state of mind that doesn't require any consideration on his part. When I mention this, he says I am not to use my pregnancy as an "excuse" for things, and "just because I am pregnant" he won't treat me any differently than he normally would, oftentimes leaving me a crying bundle on the bed that doesn't understand the world anymore, not wanting to share any of this pregnancy with my husband anymore. After all - he's promised me a year of utter spoiling for every pregnancy, and now he's putting this under the condition of me acting "like I am supposed to" in order for him to be able to spoil me at all - completely forgetting that I am not quite in a state where I can act "normally" or "like I am supposed to", because I am a playground for my hormones and my anxieties and my preoccupations and worries over my baby, and all the weird shit that's going on with my body and my emotions, and just overall THINGS ARE NOT NORMAL!!!

He says things like "I am hard to spoil", and that I am just getting the treatment I deserve based upon how I am acting myself. I am afraid of justifying myself and pointing him to the fact that most of the time things in the emotional-reactive department aren't really under my control anymore (- heck, I cry when I see detergent commercials on TV! Don't tell me to act normally!), because then he'd say "that's no excuse" or "just because you're pregnant, that's no reason" to me again.

I am confused to no end. When I told my parents upon inquiry after my last gyn appointment that at that point I had gained 7 kilos, they rolled their eyes at me and told me that's from all the ice cream I am eating lately. Hello? What's abnormal or glutton about 7 kilos past the halfway point of a pregnancy? And ever since then my Dad takes every opportunity he gets to jokingly remind me of those 7 kilos - which is pretty much every time he sees me eating something.

I don't know how to act anymore, on the one hand I am expected to act and take care of myself like a pregnant woman would, on the other hand people throw things at me like "just because you are pregnant", or joke about the way my body is changing, which in my opinion is not anywhere beyond what's normal, but makes me feel horrible about myself all the same. So I hide my little aches and discomforts best I can, and try not to make a big fuss over anything.

Including yesterday's all-afternoon contractions. I even let Geo leave the house for a beer (and some errands) in his favorite hang-out spot, cause hey, nevermind that I am sitting on the couch in severe pain, it's probably all perfectly normal. Deep breathing helps, just go and have fun! I dunno, at some point, wincing and clutching my rock-hard belly, I finally DID call the hospital, terrified that somebody would actually pick up. I had no idea how to begin, and I felt stupid with every wording that I had mentally prepared in the five minutes it took me to actually pick up the phone and dial. It was in the middle of the night - and I got their answering machine. That answering machine said that in "urgent cases" I am to call the delivery room, gave me the extension for that, and that was that. Immediately my mind went "you are NOT an urgent case, don't be ridiculous", so I just left it at that and hung up. I took a warm shower and went to bed... and eventually the contractions went away - and have been gone ever since. The fact of which just confirms that it would have been ridiculous for me to call the hospital in the first place, cause, see? Everything's back to normal now.

Sometimes I wish I could just do this all by myself, in complete isolation. That I wouldn't have to talk to anyone, that I wouldn't have to answer questions about my well-being, that I wouldn't have to justify why I didn't finish washing the dishes and spent the rest of the day on the couch instead, that I wouldn't have to listen to "good-natured" reminders of my weight-gain, or listen to jokes about the size of my baby's nose (- and I am not even KIDDING you here). That I wouldn't have to feel stupid the second I said something honest about my back-pains, and that I wouldn't have to look at people's understanding nods (that really show no understanding at all) when I say that half an hour of house work knock me out pretty much for the rest of the day, these days. That I wouldn't have to frantically try to act "how I am supposed to", for not to set Geo off and end up in another argument that I really can never win, and usually just loops me back into the beginning of this whole trail of thought of this paragraph. That I wouldn't have to wonder and worry about the attractiveness of my large body when I touch my husband and have my hand pushed away, and that I wouldn't have to feel like I am really just stupid and victimizing myself (ooooh poor pregnant me, nobody understaaaands me!), much like I was told I was doing when I was a teenager.

I could end this whole post by saying: "I blame it all on the hormones!", therefore taking away all responsibility from myself. But I am so scared of being seen as a hypochondriac, that I won't even dare to do that. I rather just blame it on myself, my character, which makes it hard for people to be around me, and especially to spoil me, my inability to act like normal even though I am pregnant, and look for the blame within myself. Cause that's usually where the blame lies, no matter the issue.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

my "new" life at home

My last day of work - last Thursday - has been pretty... well, unspectacular. I started the day by going to my appointment with that orthopedist, looking very much foward to some help concerning my back, or at least some good pointers. Let me tell you, it's been really bad, and it's taking a turn for the worst. At times I am rendered completely immobile by now, and even simple things like turning from one side to the other in bed, or even lifting my legs up have become close to impossible - or at least not doable without a considerable amount of tear-jerking pain. This orthopedist is among the top 10 orthopedists in Austria, but he's also an acquaintance of my Dad. Let me just put an end to this fruitless story by saying that he spent more time doing the familiar small talk with me than to actually LISTEN to what I had to say, he cracked my back in three spots, kind of just to "do something at all while I was there", which felt great, but didn't help my problem at all, and in the end just kind of put me off as a hypochondriac pregnoid, who is just complaining about a little normal pregnancy-induced back ache - without so many words. "Just make sure you move a lot for the remainder of your pregnancy." was his great advice.

I left frustrated and unsatisfied, hurting just as much as I was before, and feeling quite stupid and put down for going in the first place. Talk about a literal application of "adding insult to injury"...

Alas - I still had my very last day of work to look forward to! I got there around noon, and by the time I left at 4:30PM I did some more work, instructed my replacement a little more, cleaned out my desk, deleted all my internet history and passwords, and then just kind of left without much ado.

Tell you the truth, the idea still hasn't really sunk in. It feels like I am just on vacation, and that I will have to be back at work sooner or later. Maybe in a week or two. The two upcoming years of maternity leave are unfathomable right now, it's one of them most surreal things that ever happened to me. I can be home during the day and don't have to be sick at the same time! I am home, yet I am not unemployed, and under the pressure of having to look for work, and I am still getting paid! How 'bout that? :)

I have been pretty much on the run ever since I am out of work for good. I bought some baby stuff (bottles, pacifiers, a baby brush, a bathtub thermometer... little things like those), I organized our nursery furniture with my friend, we picked out bedroom furniture, I finalized our kitchen with the kitchen studio, I had an appointment with a dermatologist... but most of all... and greatest of all, we:

a) bought ourselves 2 Mac Book Pros including an A5 Wacom Intuos graphic tablet each, and

b) we went to the second installment of the 3d-babywatching, and actually got good results this time!

As you can probably imagine (knowing me for the geek that I am), the Mac Book Pro has been keeping me busy ever since it entered my life yesterday. It's the most beautiful machinery ever to be in my posession, and I will finally be able to retire my old and crappy PC. Nevermind my old (und very uneducated opinion) on Apple computers... but it really is true: once you go Mac, you never go back. It's just the more sophisticated machine to have, more powerful, more stable, more secure, and just SO much better looking... aside from the fact that a graphic designer without a Mac is like a gangsta without bling-bling.

So from now on, everything you see typed here comes out of the beautiful keyboard of a Mac Book Pro! Gawk in awe.

Baby has been making us really happy as well. We still had a lot of hand-before-face action going, but this time it was cooperative enough to at least let us get some good shots of its face. Not a single one without hand and arm, but at least we got a very good look at our child. :) The experience was certainly worth the money it cost us, such a once in lifetime opportunity, and it certainly increases the anticipation we feel already.

Nothing much else to report on the pregnancy front this time, baby's kicks are getting stronger and more visible almost by the day, and it already weighs 1.3 kilos right now.

Oh, yes. A blogger, who was only a week and a half ahead of me in her pregnancy, and whose pregnancy I followed almost from the beginning, has delivered her quads(!) a few days ago, at 30 weeks. The babies are doing well... but the news of their birth and their first photos in the NICU amazed me to the core of my being - considering that I am not much behind her in weeks, and seeing this just kind of puts the thought in my head that theoretically my baby could be delivered very soon, and actually survive outside of me! It just adds that extra touch of imminence and urgency onto my pregnancy, and my need to get things ready has increased greatly since I read about the quads. 6 more weeks until our new apartment and the nursery! But for the meantime head over to Suzanne, and check out her quad babies!