Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Letter to My Daughter

I've decided it's time to write a letter to my daughter.  Some day, I hope she finds this, reads it, and allows it to let her know me better.

Dear Anna,

You're 23 weeks along now; almost 6 months.  I can't believe it.  It seems like just a moment ago you were simply a figment of my imagination, and yet now you're moving and apparently hearing and feeling my movements.  How cool is that?  Your dad felt you move for the first time the other night, and that was such a wonderful moment for him.  He's been wanting to do that for a few weeks now.  On your stronger kicks, I can see my belly move, and it's both amazing and weird.  I keep joking that it's like that scene from Alien when the monster bursts from the man's stomach.  You're trying to escape!  :D

As cool and neat and wonderful as everything is, though, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't scared out of my mind as well.  I'm scared of just about everything.  How will I keep you safe?  Will I be a good mom?  Will I be able to keep up?  Will I make you proud?  Will I be able to keep myself from projecting my body image issues on to you (that's a big one)?  What about finances?  Will I be able to keep you comfortable?

And then I worry about things that will affect our relationship.  How will you feel about dogs?  Will you be a girly-girl or more tomboyish?  Will you be popular or a bit more nerdy?  If you end up wanting to go out and party, how will I relate?

I know I'm looking at years down the road, but those are my fears right now.

Still, I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am.  I can't wait to spend afternoons taking you to the park, or the Children's Museum (Yay!), or on hikes.  I can't wait to teach you how to ride a bike or swim or possibly even ride a horse.  I can't wait for my dad to take you fishing for the first time or to teach you how to throw a basketball.  I can't wait for a night to sing you to sleep, or, even better, to watch and listen to your father sing you to sleep.

I have so many hopes and goals for you, and I can't wait to see what you decide to do with your life.  I'll be there to guide you, but know that your decisions are ultimately yours.  I may not always agree with you, and I can guarantee we'll have plenty of disagreements (especially if you're at all like me), but know that I will always love you.

You're going to greet this world surrounded by people who love you.  That's important for you to know, and I hope you are never given the chance to forget it.  I love you.  Your dad loves you.  Your grandparents love you.  Your aunts and uncles and cousins love you.  Even if you end up being a little shit, we will still love you.  We may yell at you, but we'll still love you.  If we didn't love you, we wouldn't yell because we wouldn't care.

Please don't ever forget that.


Your Mom

P.S.  It is still very weird to me to use a term like "Dad" or "Father" and mean HansTo me, it still means my dad!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Hospital Business

Last night, after recommendations from a few friends, I watched the film "The Business of Being Born."  It's produced by Ricki Lake, and it discusses the benefits of at-home child birth.  It highlights many of the things that are wrong with the medical profession now a days, particularly in regards to women and labor, and it was quite thought provoking.  It got me thinking about a few things.

I get it.  The medical profession is a bit corrupt.  I'm not saying doctors are corrupt (although I'm sure some are).  I'm saying the whole system is a bit corrupt and dysfunctional.  When it comes to labor, many doctors have never witnessed a home birth, and I actually think that's something that's lacking in their education.  I want all doctors to have a well-rounded education that focuses a bit on natural care AND medical care, but maybe that's asking too much.  That said, I don't think that a hospital birth, or a birth with medication is the end of the world.  Nor do I think my bond with my child will be any less should I choose to use medication.

Do you want to know what my birth plan is?  I have a three main rules:

1) I don't want to be all.  I won't be induced for size issues or to speed up delivery.  That said, my mom had to be induced when her water broke but she didn't start labor for 12 hours.  I am open to change in the plan, but I want it to be truly necessary...not just elective.

2) Ease the pain as much as possible.  I have nothing to prove.  I've run 3 marathons (2 while preggers), and I'm training for another half marathon that I'll run while 7 months along.  If I had anything to prove, that would prove it.  Period.  I don't have any desire to feel the "joy" of child birth.  Heck, hit me on the head with a mallet if it helps. 

3) Get the kid out safely.  Things happen.  I don't want a C-section, but if it happens, so be it.  The more relaxed and flexible I am about things, the easier pregnancy and labor will be.

That's it.  Some of you may love it, others may hate it, but that's my approach.  My issue with movies (and people) like "The Business of Being Born" is that they try to make me feel guilty for that choice.  I know that's not their intention, but how else should I take it when I'm told "The love you feel right after your child is born is so intense.  An amazing amount of oxytocin is released into the system, and you're just not going to get that if drugs are inhibiting you."?  Somehow, my choice to have a labor the way I think is best is no longer right.  It's bad for me and for my baby.

You know what I say to that?  Bullshit!  Just as I cannot have any idea what you're experiencing without drugs, you cannot have any idea what I'm experiencing with drugs.  You know the only difference I've seen between women who have labored without drugs and women who have labored with drugs?  One seems a whole heck of a lot more tired than the other!  Childbirth is a beautiful thing, no matter whether you're induced, have a c-section, have an epidural, do a water birth, or squat in a field.  To say or even imply otherwise is simply cruel.

I was having a similar discussion with my neighbor who's had two children and received an epidural for each, and she said something that I think is great.  When she went to the hospital she was feeling a bit guilty about her decision to use meds (Why should she feel guilty during such a great moment?), and one of the doctors said something brilliant.  She said, "Honey, there is nothing NOT natural about what you're doing.  If you went to the dentist for a root canal, would you do it without meds?  No!  Relieving yourself from the pain so you can simply experience the joy is perfectly natural."  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that sentiment.  That's why you'll never hear me ask if you're having a "natural" child birth.  I'll ask if you plan on using meds or what your birth plan is, but whatever your birth plan is, it's natural.

Well, I think I've written enough of a book here, and I appreciate you taking the time to read it.  Just keep in mind that, no matter how you birth, whether it's c-section, induction, epidural, at home, or even surrogate, there is no need to feel guilty for your choice.  Do you want to know why?  Because in the end, you will have a beautiful baby whom you will love.  When you look back on your experience, what's more important, the labor or the baby?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Feeling Strong

OK, I should probably start this post by letting you all know that I'm fighting off a bit of a head cold.  It's mild, but it's annoying.  Oh, and to all the people who have come into contact with me while knowingly sick:  I hate you.  You may be able to take copious amounts of medication, but I can't, and that's just not fair.  OK, on to other things.

I've been feeling really good lately (minus the head cold).  Last week, not so much.  Last week I felt bloated and tired and icky and gross.  I couldn't get comfortable, and I didn't want to do anything.  I knew I needed a mental break more than a physical one, and all I really wanted was to take my dogs out for some time in the woods.  Finally, after moping all week, I was able to get out for an hour.  It wasn't much, but it felt great, and the dogs LOVED it.

Apparently that hour of spiritual rejuvenation kick started a chain reaction.  I had to work on Saturday, but Sunday I stayed busy.  I went for a 9 mile run, went to church, went to brunch, went to the museum, went for another hike (a little shorter this time), met Mom at Starbucks, did some shopping for the nursery, and ended the evening with a movie with Hans (I don't recommend Don Jon, by the way).  I felt good at the end of the day...tired, but good.  I did, however, worry about how I'd be the rest of the week.

Yesterday wasn't so great.  I was obviously still recovering from the day before, but I took a nap when I could and went to bed early.  This morning I was back to being active.  I ran 4 miles, did some light cleaning at the house, went to work, and finished the day off with some prenatal yoga (which I'm loving).  Admittedly, I'm taking things fairly easy at work and am only focusing on desk work, but I've been feeling great (again, minus the head cold).

My run this morning was surprisingly easy.  I felt stronger today than I have in a while.  At yoga, I was able to complete sequences without going into child's pose (which rarely happens).  Maybe it's one last hurrah before my body collapses, but I'm loving it.  I really hope I continue to feel this way for a while (yet again, minus the head cold).

Also, in case you can't tell, I'm in a bit of a bragging mood.  I mean, how many other women can say they do all that at 22 weeks preggers?  Maybe just the simple fact that I'm earning bragging rights is keeping me going.  All I know is I can't wait to see how things progress.

Oh, and in case you're wondering about weight, weight gain is back on track.  I'm closely monitoring, but so far things look good.  All in all, it's been a good week!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

20 Week Ultrasound

I've been trying to find a time to write this post for almost a week now, but time has been limited.  Finally, I decided to just stay up late to write something, which I'm sure I'll regret in the morning, but it's allowing me to feel accomplished tonight.

Hans and I had our 20 week ultrasound last week.  I'm not going to tell you the results right away, though.  I mean, I have to keep you interested in reading, right?

Let me start this story by declaring that Richmonders suck when it comes to snow.  I LOVE Richmond.  I don't know that I could fathom living anywhere else.  It's where I was born and raised, and I could see me spending the rest of my life here.  I'm very protective of Richmond.  HOWEVER, when it comes to snow, we just can't all. 

This was fun when it allowed me to get out of school, but it's not so much fun when I still have to work.  It's also not so much fun when I have a 7:45 a.m. ultrasound scheduled that ends up getting cancelled due to weather when I still have to drive in to work early.  Let's just say that I was in a very bad mood last Wednesday (the day my ultrasound was originally scheduled).  I was not satisfied with rescheduling just a day later.  I wanted to have that ultrasound NOW!

Come Thursday I was an excited ball of nerves.  My 7:45 Wednesday appointment was now scheduled for 3:00 pm on Thursday (more than 24 hours later!!), and I could hardly take it.  Hans joined me at the kennel, and I kept yelling at him to hurry up and let's go.  Of course, once we got to the doctor's office we still had a 45 minute wait, but that's beside the point. 

We went back to the ultrasound room, and we saw a hand and a foot, and we heard the heart beat.  Then came the big reveal.  Our baby is...

...very talented at lying face down.  Apparently the technician couldn't get a good angle to determine the sex.  Frustrating!  So, we went off to see our doctor and check weight and other measurements.  All looked good there, so we were sent back over to ultrasound to see if the baby had moved at all.

Well, no movement.  NONE!  Still snuggled up tight.  Maybe this baby is trying to sleep for me!  The technician pressed and poked and prodded, but no luck.  So, I decided to take things into my own hands.

One of the benefits of having been a voice major is that I have a bit better control over my diaphragm than a good percentage of people.  The tech was trying to get my baby to move by pushing from the outside.  I figured what we really needed was a good shake up from the inside.  So, I took a deep breath, did a few quick contractions of my abdominals, and THERE!  We had a flipping baby.

Let's just say that SHE was not at all pleased with being woken up, and SHE promptly let me know it by issuing a swift kick to the bladder.  Yay.  SHE will be as stubborn as I am.

Hans and I celebrated by picking up a dozen cupcakes from our favorite cupcake shop (we had pre-ordered and then just called in the color icing that was needed) and doing a mini reveal at the kennel.  The staff couldn't wait to find out.

What a delicious way to spread the good news!

Anyway, I suppose I should make things clear.  I'm thrilled we're having a girl.  I may hate pink, and I may dread all the girly, frilly, froo froo things to come, but I'm thrilled.  Why am I thrilled?  Because we're still having a happy, healthy baby.  A baby girl.  And she has a name, and we can stop calling her "baby" (although I still do).  How exciting is that?!

Oh, and in case I forget to leave out my other children; Cody and Lollie and Mo and Stolte have been wonderful.  They've been a bit more protective and a lot more cuddly, and I'm loving it.  I'm trying to dedicate more time to them while still getting everything done, and I think they're appreciating that too.  I think we're going to have a big, happy family!