Saturday, June 30, 2012

Introducing: The Deuce

Caroline Audrey Duckworth arrived on Friday, June 29th at 2:16pm (after twelve hours of labor, which I will be more than happy to detail for you in another post).

She weighed 8 pounds even and is 21 inches long (which explains her talent for kicking my ribs while simultaneously head-butting my bladder).

Her mommy laughed in relief and her daddy cried with joy as she squawked her way into the world.  And then we discovered (much to our surprise) that our Deuce was a girl!

She's basically the most gorgeous thing I've ever seen.  She's so freaking perfect.  I can't believe how in love with her we already are.  And yes, she looks a lot like her sister Eliza.  She is such a gift.

Thanks so much for all the e-mails, comments, and texts.  We're still exhausted and overwhelmed and marveling at our good fortune.

We should get discharged tomorrow.  Can't wait to take our new baby girl home with us.

Baby Caroline on her birthday
(More details and pictures to follow... for now we're just too busy staring at those delicious pink cheeks.)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ready? Or Not?

As I mentioned before, I have been super emotional over the last few days.

And by "super emotional," I mean extremely weepy and also a little snappy.

I scheduled a last-minute session with my grief therapist because I couldn't believe how sad I was feeling (she helpfully reminded me that a good part of it is hormones, and that it's also totally normal that I'd be thinking a lot about Eliza right now).

The hormones also help to explain why I cried at a commercial for an over-50 dating website.  (Because all the single baby boomers deserve love too!!!  Sob.)

Once the tears start, they quickly morph into a hormonal deluge of sadness and grief about how much I miss Eliza, and how I want her here, too.

And once I quit crying, I'm cranky.  Last night I asked David to refill the dogs' water dish, then told him NOT to use my cup to refill it because the whole dish needed to be rinsed and refilled in the sink.  When he asked why I didn't just do it myself if it had to be done a certain way, I yelled, "Because bending over makes me TIRED, DAMMIT!"

Yesterday I felt like I was either crying or actively trying not to cry all day long.  It's been a long time since I've felt like that.  I felt guilty for not being more happy and excited to meet the Deuce, and I still feel so sad that this pregnancy has been perfectly fine and Eliza's just... wasn't.

Beyond the existential crisis of having a baby after losing my first baby, I also have to admit something else.

The idea of being induced has really scared me.

I freaking hate needles, you guys.  HATE them.  It's not the stick.  That's no big deal.  It's not the pain (I would rather slice open my palm with a knife than stick a needle in my vein).  It's the IDEA of something going into my veins.  It is totally mental, I know, but the mere idea makes me feel light headed and completely gags me out.  That was the original reason why I actively researched having a med-free birth when I was pregnant with Eliza.

After doing tons of reading, I decided that I also wanted an intervention-free birth for Eliza because I really thought that was the most ideal scenario for her and for me (and yeah...  anything to avoid needles!).  Even though things are obviously different this time, a huge part of me wanted the same thing for the Deuce.  I don't think I realized how much I wanted that until the induction date got set and became a real thing.

I keep thinking, what if we're forcing something to happen that my body and the baby aren't ready for yet?

But what if my reluctance is just me being selfish and trying to avoid needles?

I'm second guessing everything.  David says I know too much and if I could just turn off my brain, I would be fine.

I did so much reading and research about natural, intervention-free childbirth, that the medical side of it scares me.

But my baby died.  And I don't trust my body to "naturally" take care of this baby.  And I've know so many stories of babies dying in utero that the idea of waiting (and not being induced) scares me even more.

A conversation with my doula upset me, not because she was saying anything wrong, but because she was asking questions and trying to help me think through our decision to induce and I didn't know all of answers (why my doctor would choose one induction drug over another, for example).  I just started crying.

Finally David and I talked some more and decided that after all we've been through, we trust my OB.  I've been seeing him as my OBGYN for years now--since I started grad school.  He was there when Eliza was born.  He's the one who discussed her autopsy results (and the lack of information) with us.  He has seen me through this pregnancy.  In fact, he has seen me every week for the past three months.  He has been a voice of reason and optimism since we first decided to try to get pregnant again, and I believe that every decision he makes is in the best interest of my baby and me.

What it comes down to is that no matter what my reservations are about being induced, I don't want to research my options.  I don't want to read about the different drugs that could be used.  I don't want to second guess my doctor's opinion.  I don't want to ask more questions.  I need some of this to be out of my hands.  I need to believe that a medical professional is in a better place to make a decision than a scared, hormonal, grief-stricken, traumatized pregnant girl (ie. me).  I need to trust someone who not only has a medical degree and decades of experience, but who also knows me, my medical history, and my personality.

I've talked to friends and read stories of births that I would have once considered "terrible" or at least "unfortunate"--pitocin contractions that cut off oxygen to the baby, epidurals that slowed down labor for hours, an epidural that either didn't cut the pain, numbed them only on one side, or left them completely without feeling below the waist, an episiotomy, a vacuum extraction, tearing and a zillion stitches, a c-section that seemed to be more for the doctor's convenience than any other reason, a scheduled c-section that had trouble healing, or a frightening emergency c-section with an epidural that made their teeth chatter so hard they could barely focus on what was going on and left them strapped to a table so they couldn't hold the baby right away.

And you know what?  Every last one of them had a better, happier, sweeter birth story than I had with Eliza.

Because their babies lived.

I went into labor naturally, I had contractions for three and a half hours, I didn't have an epidural or any pain medication, I didn't have pitocin, I pushed three times and she was born.  But NONE OF THAT MATTERED because her heart had already stopped beating.

So today, my eyes are on the prize.  I can't promise there won't be tears, or that a part of me won't wonder about the what-ifs.  But all I want to do is bring this baby home, safe and healthy.  And that's the only part of the birth story that ultimately matters.

Also:  I greatly appreciate your good wishes and I feel your impatience!  I promise the next time I post, I will (knock on wood, spit on the evil eye) be introducing the Deuce.

Monday, June 25, 2012

State of the Uterus: Occupied and Irritable

Yes, folks, that's where we stand today at 39 weeks, 1 day.

NST was reactive today, fluid level good (15cm).  Baby appears to be perfectly content.  In fact, Deuce is so comfortable in there, with head so comfortably wedged up against my cervix, butt so comfortably wedged up against my stomach, and feet so comfortably kicking against my ribs that it appears he/she plans to stay in the womb until leaving for college.

Which is to say that I've had a few contractions, but nothing significant, frequent, or regular.  Just enough cramping that it shows up as "irritability" on the NST print out.  But that's been going on for weeks.

In fact, the first time the nurse wrote on my report card, "Irritability noted" and I had to ask her what it meant.  She explained that it indicated there was some cramping but no contractions.  I said, "Oh, okay.  So it's a comment on my uterus and not my personality?"

At this point it's pretty accurate either way.

The plan is to be induced at the end of the week if the Deuce doesn't get a move on between now and then.  I'm relieved and disappointed and I have so many other mixed feelings about it but I'm too exhausted to try to articulate them in any sort of coherent fashion at the moment.

I'm also really, really missing Eliza right now, and grieving for everything her birth should have been.  I guess it should be expected that she would be especially on my mind, but I'm not sure I expected to feel this level of sadness in the days just before we meet the Deuce.

I want to say thank you again for all the support that you guys have offered me in comments and e-mails and texts and cards and thoughts and prayers.  I can't believe it's week 39.  We are so. close.

39 weeks, 1 day.  Little Mac remains intrigued and mystified by my practice of taking self portraits, and judging by the look on my face, taking my own photo requires supreme concentration.  Also:  the belly.  It is big.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

How We Chose a Pediatrician

This task was Something New.  I'd asked a few friends for recommendations and collected a list of pediatrician's names when I pregnant with Eliza, but then I put it on the "to do after the semester ends" list.  We never got to that list.

For the Deuce, finding a doctor was on the unwritten, unmentioned, "to do if we get past 34 weeks" list.  (It felt like such a big if.)  And then we were past 34 weeks, but I was still putting in hours at work and not feeling at all certain we were going to bring home a baby.  And then we were at 36 weeks and I figured if we did bring home a baby, we really ought to have a doctor for him/her, so I asked our doula and my OB for recommendations and did some googling.  And then it was 37 weeks and I started calling for interview appointments.  I wanted David to go with me, so those appointments had to be on a Friday.  And that is how we ended up interviewing pediatricians at 38 weeks and 5 days.

We talked to three different doctors, and, honestly, I really liked all three of them.

One doctor was a woman who is actually a family pracitioner.  She has a solo practice not too terribly far from our house.  I liked the idea of the Deuce going to a female, African-American doctor.  I liked that the whole family could see the same doctor, and that it would be her every time.  I liked that her brother is her receptionist.  I liked that she wore a cute maxi dress.  She is very supportive of holistic medicine, including chiropractors and acupuncture, and she was really nice and not much older than me.  I wanted to be her friend (and decided that I will probably use her as my own primary care doctor, even if the Deuce goes elsewhere).

 Another doctor we spoke with was a middle-aged, balding, super cheerful pediatrician whose practice is very close to our house and practically next door to our favorite custard joint (win-win!).  He is the only doctor we talked to who still makes hospital visits to see newborns (or at least someone from his practice does).  As David said when we left, you could tell that he just really likes kids.  He was enthusiastic and really, really nice. His office was painted very cheerfully so that the reception desk looked like a tiki hut, which I found amusing.  I liked him a lot, and I loved the location.

But the doctor that we ultimately chose is a little farther away, with an office located next door to a major hospital and medical school.  He is also middle-aged, high-energy, with kind of a forceful personality--fast-talking, sort of East coast, if you know what I mean.  His office was not as cute as the one near our house, he is part of a larger practice, and he doesn't make hospital visits.  But I knew without a doubt that he would be our pediatrician because he was the only one who really talked with us about Eliza.

We told each of our doctors about our previous loss in response to questions about family health history, and they were all kind and compassionate about their responses (family practitioners and pediatricians clearly have better people skills than certain specialists).  Each of them asked a few questions about what happened (answer:  we don't know).  But  the difference was that this guy openly acknowledged and discussed the way being Eliza's parents will affect the way we parent the Deuce.  

He was incredibly kind and reassuring about it.  He reminded us how rare it is for a healthy couple to have an unexplained loss (something I definitely lose sight of, since I've now come in contact with so many people who have had a stillborn baby, it starts to feel like it happens all the time).  He also understood that it will undoubtedly make us hyperconcerned and worried about this new baby, but he wanted to reassure us even at this visit that the vast majority of babies grow up perfectly healthy (some of them in spite of their parents).  I felt confident that our baby would be in good hands with him--that he wouldn't let us overreact to minor issues but would also respect our concerns.  He asked pertinent questions, expressed genuine sympathy, took notes in our file, and asked us more questions about ourselves, our jobs, etc.  I felt like he truly respected us and our grief, and the way it will inevitably influence the way we parent, without making it seem at all negative. 

He's obviously good at reading people, because he sized me up pretty quickly (my spiral notebook and typed up list of questions could have had something to do with it).  He actually said to me, "You know, parenting is not something you can study for like you studied for your PhD."  But he didn't say it in a condescending or patronizing way--it was like he was telling me to give myself a break, to keep in mind that I don't have to work so hard at this.  I felt a sense of relief after we talked with him, like I could trust him the way I trust my OB--I don't have to second guess or Google or use my university's database system to read medical journal articles.  I can just let the medical doctors do their jobs.  And he seemed to intuitively understand and respect the fact that part of his job, especially because of what we've been through with the loss of Eliza, will be to assuage our greatest fears with this baby.

It helped, of course, that we're on the same page with vaccines and antibiotics, that he has a six-year-old daughter, that he knows (and has much admiration for) my OB (who recommended this guy to me in the first place), and that he's affiliated with the leading children's hospital in our area.

But I really knew he'd be the Deuce's doctor because he was the only one who really acknowledged how much the Deuce's big sister matters, too, what an influence she still has on our life, and how important both of our babies are.  I didn't expect that from the Deuce's pediatrician, but I realize now that it's exactly what I needed.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Year of the Dragon

A couple weeks ago, my parents came to visit and we went to the Chinese lantern exhibit at the Botanical Gardens.  We did a LOT of walking and David and my dad took a million photographs with their fancy new cameras (the Deuce had better be photogenic, I'm just saying).

The display featured a lot of dragons, as 2012 is the Year of the Dragon.  Factoid I learned at the gardens:  More babies are born during dragon-years than any other!  (FYI:  Eliza was born in the year of the Tiger, I'm the year of the Monkey, and David is the year of the Snake).

Anyway, as the State of my Uterus remains:  OCCUPIED (in other words, no news here!), I thought I'd post a few photos.

My mom and me at the dragon fountain display at the entrance

Certain objects in this picture appear to be twice as big as their husbands.

The dragon behind me is made entirely out of porcelain plates and cups..

Here's an up-close of its head.  Those are all plates and cups.

This was a wishing tree.  You buy an oversized coin and toss or hang it up on a branch while making a wish.

Then you ring a gong while your dress clings to your sweaty ass.

Bet you can guess what I wished for.

With my parental units.

David and Fakey McFakeSmile.  For some reason it took my dad like twenty minutes to take this single photo and other people were staring.

A silk tree and the Duck

A wishing well.  Throw a coin and hit a gong and that wish comes true.

David's dart-throwing technique served him well.  He hit the big gong -- "All Wishes."  Bet you can guess what he wished for.

The lanterns were even more beautiful after dark, when they were all lit up from within.

Factiod:  Guess what percentage of the panda bear's diet is made up of bamboo?  99%!

Here's to all the babies born in the Year of the Dragon!  

Join that club anytime now, Deuce.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Double Jeopardy

I've been delaying this post because... ugh.  It's awful.  But I just want to get it out there.  I apologize in advance for upsetting anyone.  I will spare you the details (I actually don't know them, as David spared ME the details).  But we need to go on public record here...

You may remember that Cooper's conviction in the murder of Dixie the Chicken was overturned.  And he received a public apology.

What happened to Dixie remains a mystery.

What happened to her sisters is just a few days later is, unfortunately, a sad, sad story, with NO DOUBT about the guilty party.

Cooper evidently realized that he'd been acquitted of chicken murder and decided to take advantage of the law of double jeopardy, Ashley-Judd-style.

We were inside watching the Hatfields slaughter the McCoys, while out in the yard another slaughter was taking place.

I didn't see the gory scene.  But I did see David's face as he whipped off his flip flop.  I did see Cooper slink guiltily away after getting his bottom paddled with said flip flop.  And when David told me all three of the chickens were gone, I did scream and cry so loudly that the neighbors came outside to see what the hell was going on.

Cooper had never been in so much trouble before.  And yet, there's only so much you can do to a dog who is following his natural instincts, you know?  He got caught red-handed, so at least he knew exactly what he was in trouble for.  But he didn't really seem SORRY.

David gave him a bath and it was time for bed, but there was NO WAY that we were sleeping with a chicken murderer who'd gotten away on a technicality.  Not to mention he was soaking wet and we were SO MAD and SO UPSET with him.

So, for the first time EVER, we closed the bedroom door and made Cooper sleep on his dog bed in the living room (it felt almost like the equivalent of life without parole).

I think David was more devastated than I was, as he'd invested much more time and energy into the chickens.  And even though we both knew that it wasn't Cooper's FAULT that he was SO!  INTERESTED! in those chickens, it still felt like a betrayal.  Fratricidal maniac.

I was ready to be DONE with the chicken thing.  Enough drama and trauma and death in the backyard already.  I am stressed out enough without that shit.  I felt mopey and depressed about the chickens for days.

But David was bound and determined we would have FRESH! EGGS! THIS! FALL!  He'd also spent a lot of time building a pen and invested a chunk of money in buying the house, and he was unwilling to let the dream die.  So... he brought home three more chicks.

In order to ensure he was not bringing them to their deaths, he also brought home several yards of sturdy, heavy-gauge fencing and built another fence all around the pen and the chicken house.  This one is decidedly Cooper-proof.

Also, Cooper now gets squirted with a water gun if he gets too close to the fence.

The new chickens remain nameless, as I am trying not to get attached to them.  This isn't that easy because they are actually friendlier and more docile than the First Generation.

So... I am thinking of calling them Rose, Blanche, and Dorothy.  But that is NOT official!  They are NOT my pets!  Because my only pets are total shithead dogs!  Hmm.  Maybe I need to rethink who lives outside in a pen...

It took David a few days to work through his disappointment and anger, but he and Cooper are buddies again.   Meanwhile, Cooper and Little Mac are adjusting well to our new sleeping arrangements, and (surprise, surprise) our queen-size bed is much roomier when we're not sharing it with a fratricidal puggle.

dogs in their dog beds--a novel idea!
Let's just hope these dogs are getting their terrible shithead behavior out of their system now.  Because I'm really hoping that in about two weeks (or LESS), we're going to bring home a certain little someone who is REALLY going to rock their world.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day at the Park

We wanted to do Father's Day low-key.  It doesn't get the hype of Mother's Day, which makes it a little easier to swallow, but I knew it wasn't going to be an especially easy day for David, who was missing both his baby girl and his grandpa this year.

I gave him a card but no gifts.  It was actually a weirdly appropriate father's day card that was mostly about what a great husband he is and how glad I am to be with him on this journey of parenthood.  (Nice one, Target).  He didn't get emotional on me, but I teared up when he read it because I just kept thinking about what kind of silly little craft project involving handprints and finger painting Eliza and I would have put together for him.  It could have been such a different kind of morning, you know?

After breakfast (he made omelets), we decided to go for a walk in the park.  It was humid and hot but not quite stifling yet.

Cooper, Me, and 38 Weeks of the Deuce
We left Little Mac at home, because the last time we took her for a walk in the park, she slipped and fell into the pond, soaking her butt.  I had to drag her out by the leash because she is not a water dog.  Then she smelled like wet dog plus disgusting stagnant water.

As if that weren't bad enough, she had a sort of mental breakdown after the trauma of her unexpected swim and the general exhaustion of walking in the heat, so when we returned to the car, she refused to jump up into the back seat.

HOWEVER, she also refused to allow David or me to lift her up into the car.  This meant that the two of us were hovering over her, afraid to touch her but trying to encourage her to "Load up!" while she threw a barking/growling/snarling/lunging fit.  Her eyes were rolling and I seriously thought she might start foaming at the mouth.

We tried to get a blanket under her legs so we could lift her up in a sling, but she kept attacking the blanket and her leash in her effort to bite us.

I love her, but she is such an ungrateful little bitch.  So she created a HUGE and ridiculous scene, and people walking/jogging/bicycling by kept staring at us because her snarling was louder than their iPods.  I was totally mortified, as it sounded like we were cruelly abusing our small dog, when actually we were just trying to GET HER IN THE CAR.

After several minutes of this, I finally hit the end of my patience, dragged her around to the other side of the car, and used the momentum to lift/drag her by her leash/collar/neck into the back floorboard.  When we got home, she was still being totally hateful and she kept trying to bite David (who tried to gently help her out of the car), so he finally hosed her down in the backyard because he couldn't pick her up to put her in the bathtub without her drawing blood, and we HAD to get the pond-stank off of her.

So we had a parenting pow-wow and decided that Little Mac had lost her park privileges for next time.

Wut-ever.  I not sorry.  U guyz suck.
Here.  I givz u stink-eye.  Ur welcome.
So anyway, today it was just Cooper and David and me who headed for the park.  We had a pretty nice walk around our favorite little path, and we were enjoying the slightly overcast sky that kept the sun from frying us.

It was a busy morning at the park--lots of bikers, joggers, roller bladers.  I got a lot of sympathetic smiles from women who passed us on the path as I trotted waddled along.  Then we passed a middle-aged couple who smiled pleasantly at my belly, just before the woman cheerfully shouted to us, "Happy Father's Day NEXT year!"

My throat seized up.  We gave her fake smiles in return, saying nothing.  Then we turned off the path to walk around a small lake and David muttered, "Yeah, thanks for that."

I gave him a squeeze, but what was there to say?  We are so lucky that the Deuce is currently hiccuping away in my belly, but seriously.  Ouch.  As though we needed ONE MORE REMINDER that we weren't pushing a stroller with an 18-month-old baby in it.

So we strolled along off the path near the pond, away from other people.  We paused in the shade of the cedar trees around the pond and watched a bird with a crawdad in its beak.

Isn't that creepy?  We never saw the bird actually eat the crawdad.  It just stood there holding it.
We watched the bird until Cooper got antsy and tugged at his leash.

Then we headed back to the car with only half of our family with us.

* * *

Share is a national organization for bereaved parents.  We have occasionally attended a local group here, and have met some great people and found some relief by attending a few meetings, especially in that first year.  I did not want to belong to a "grief support group" but I'm so glad that this organization exists.  This year, they sent out a you tube video for father's day, about how grief works differently for dads.  You can view it here.

The part that sticks with me is the part about "fixing the problem."  David has talked about how stressful it was for him in the early weeks and months when I was crying frequently constantly and he felt so helpless.  Sometimes he would react in ways that were so confusing and hurtful--he'd practically ignore me when I was sobbing.  He explained later (when we met with our therapist) that he didn't know how to help me and after several weeks, it made him feel so anxious and stressed out that he could hardly stand to be around me when I was that upset.  We had to have a LONG talk about what would help me (like, you know, a hug) and what helps him (he was ready for distractions long before I could even get up off the couch).  Thankfully, we both wanted to take care of each other.  We just weren't always sure how to do it.

It feels like a long time ago that our grief was so sharp and all-consuming.  But I can remember it very vividly.  (Oddly enough, I can't remember father's day last year.  At all.  I tell you, Summer of 2011 just didn't really exist for me.)  I'm so glad we made it this far.

And maybe that lady at the park is right.  Maybe next year will be the first father's day with more happy than sad.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Ten Year Old With Tiara

In between all the Deuce-drama, I've been organizing things around here, including some old photos.  So I thought we'd take a moment to walk down memory lane...

Once upon a time, about twenty years ago, I entered a beauty and talent contest.  Just like in Toddlers and Tiaras.

Except I was ten years old, and it wasn't really a beauty and talent competition.  It was a dress-up in historical costume and memorize facts about the Civil War competition, which is the only reason I had a chance of winning.

The problem was, I was competing against my brilliant best friend and the ONLY way I could hope to outshine her in this competition was to (1) wear a hoop skirt and (2) get my straight hair to curl in ringlets.  We were pretty sure that one of the two of us had a good chance, since our July birthdays kept us in the "Little Miss" instead of "Princess" category.  This meant that we were two of the older girls in the group.  No way the littler girls would have a chance of knowing their civil war facts better than us.  Plus, we were going to be certain that our costumes had real historical authenticity.

But let me back up a little.  If you're not familiar with Bushwhacker Days in Nevada, Missouri, it is an annual festival in which we celebrate the burning of the town during the Civil War.

OK, not exactly.  I think the purpose is to celebrate that the town survived after it was burned to the ground.   Naturally, we celebrate this achievement the good ol' fashioned way--with a parade of fire trucks, pooping horses, and baton twirlers, as well as some people in period costumes.  There's a death-defying carnival, a quilt show, a lip sync contest, a country singing showdown, a toddler swimsuit competition, and some other live musical entertainment, plus various craft booths and plenty of BBQ and fried food for sale around the town square.  Festivities also include some potentially offensive displaying of confederate flags, and a rather shocking number of super-sketchy people wearing far too little clothing while sitting on hay bales to watch the live entertainment.  (Here's where that country song, "That's where I come from..." starts playing in my head.)

Anyway, as we all know, during the Civil War, Missouri was a boundary state that never took sides, but was divided throughout.  Kansas City and St. Louis were Union strongholds, but the southern half of the state (including Vernon County, and its county seat, Nevada--pronounced Nuh-VAY-duh) were Southern sympathizers.

Since Missouri never officially joined the confederacy, many men (and a few women) were not interested in signing up with the confederate army, even though they supported the Southern cause.  And who could blame them for avoiding the army?  Hot wool uniforms, out of date weapons prone to misfire, scarce quantities of canned food that gave people lead poisoning...

Anyway, some of these people who sympathized with the Confederacy but weren't interested in serving in the army ended up running around the Ozarks like a bunch of wild hooligans guerrilla fighters (fighting, unfortunately, on the wrong side of history and civil rights).

These folks were known as Bushwhackers, because they hid in the bush and jumped out and whacked people.  Seriously.  This was a clever strategy, but considered cowardly by some who felt that they should be marching in line with the army, not skulking around and taking people by surprise.  So Bushwhackers got a bad name with the Union sympathizers.

The Bushwhackers had no official military organization, but they shared a common goal:  fight the Jayhawkers (pro-Union folks from Kansas).  Nevada sits less than 20 minutes from the Kansas border, so the "border war" was right on home turf.  (The source of the Jayhawker nickname is unknown, although the Jayhawk is a nasty bird that fights other birds and steals their eggs.  Of course, now it's the KU mascot and a nickname for anyone from Kansas--which includes David!  Gasp!  We are indeed a border-war love story.)

So the Bushwhacker Days story goes that one weekend in June of 1963, Jayhawkers rode over the Kansas border and into town and announced to the people of Nevada that they had ten minutes to gather their children and their possessions and get out of their homes because the Jayhawkers were going to BURN DOWN EVERY BUILDING BIG ENOUGH TO HIDE A BUSHWHACKER!

And then they did.

Oh, except for the jail.  And I think maybe the Episcopal church?

So I had to study up on that story (and honestly, I think I'm remembering all that correctly, but it has been twenty years, so who knows?  Nevada historians, former Bushwhacker Royalty, anyone else who knows, please feel free to correct/clarify in the comments).

But even more interesting than the idea of an entire town getting burned to the ground was the fact that I got to wear a fancy dress up dress.  With a hoop skirt!  Dress up clothes were my favorite toys as a kid and period costumes were at the top of the list.  I could not WAIT to in on that action--and have an excuse to wear it out in public.

In full costume
My mom made my dress.  We went to the library at Cottey College to research Civil War fashion.  We found a couple of books and photocopied the dresses I liked best.  I quickly decided that I wanted to dress like a rich girl in the 1860s.  Fancy!  (FYI: The reason my sash says "Nevada Girl Scouts" is because every candidate has to have some kind of organization that sponsors them and I was chosen by the Girl Scouts).

The long-sleeved "under-dress" was made of unbleached muslin and was very practical--in the 1860s, I would have had a few of these dresses to wear around the house.  It had pin-tucked gathering for decoration across the front, and horizontal growth-pleats so that it could be let out as I got taller.  It was totally authentic--no zippers!  It pulled on over the head and fastened at the neck and at the wrists with a loop of string around a vintage button.

We went to the Bushwhacker Museum (for more research) and the sweetest little old lady who worked there had some buttons from the Civil War era that had been her step-grandmother's (or something like that).  We chatted with her about the contest and she actually gave us buttons to use for my dress!  (Of course I mentioned that to the judges when describing my costume.)

She also was kind enough to lend me a for-real antique petticoat from the mid-1800s.  (It smelled weird, but I wore it anyway).  It had hand-crocheted lace around the bottom of it.  It had been a woman's petticoat so it fit over my hoops, but I don't even think we had to take it in at the waist because in the 1860s, women's waists were evidently the size of ten-year-old girls' waists in the 1990s.

The purple pinafore was the best part of the dress.  It was made from EIGHT YARDS of material.  That we bought at Wal-Mart.  But we shopped carefully so that it was a simple, cotton, calico print (terms I was familiar with from my voracious reading of Little House on the Prairie).  It was dark purple in color, with tiny white dots on it.  I loved the dark purple color, but mostly I loved the full skirt and ruffles.  Also, the sleeves of the pinafore were SUPPOSED to hang off my shoulders, I explained haughtily to someone who was assisting the photographer and tried to yank up the little shoulder-ruffles.  It looked just like the picture in the book, except that dress had the entire skirt ruffled and my mom decided that (1) we didn't need that much volume, given the hoops, and (2) we didn't have enough fabric.  In the back, it had those four vintage silver buttons going up the back of the dress, and a sash that tied in a big bow.  We pinned an antique cameo brooch on the front that we borrowed from one of my great aunts.

My dad made my hoopskirt, which was NOT constructed of whale bone, but of metal.  It was super heavy and dug into my hips (kind of like the dresses the girls wear in My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding).  But I didn't care because it was a hoop skirt!  The hoops were attached to one another by strips of muslin, which my mom then sewed to a muslin band that buttoned around my waist.  It swung when I walked and took up entire doorways and I freaking loved it.

The judging process was called the "Bushwhacker Tea" and it took place at the community center.  You went and drank punch and cake while waiting to get called in to speak with the judges.  I got-my-hair-did that morning (hot rolled and carefully arranged into the ringlets I craved).  The smell of Biolage hair spray STILL takes me back.  Man, I loved those bouncy curls.  Between swinging my curls and swishing my hoop skirts, every one else had to keep a wide periphery.

I don't remember much about the interview itself, except that I explained how my dress had four layers (hoops, petticoat, muslin dress, pinafore), and long sleeves to protect me from the sun, and I talked about my vintage buttons and hand-crocheted lace and I also carried a hand-crocheted lace hanky.  I told the judges that as a girl living during the Civil War, I would have had a few muslin "everyday" dresses with aprons, but the pinafore would have been for very special occasions.

I answered their questions about dates and history, but then the judges asked me the name of a female Bushwhacker and I couldn't think of one.  Total blank.  At that moment, I was sure that I had lost the crown to my friend (her memory and recall skills are seriously amazing).  But then they tossed me a softball question, asking what I would have wanted to be when I grew up if I lived during the Civil War.  I said, "Well, I know I would have been expected to be a mother and a wife, but I would have also wanted to be a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse!"  I could tell they liked that answer.  Or maybe they just liked the way my ringlets bobbed as I talked.

Ironically, my friend feels that her one flaw in the interview was her reply to the career-question.  She said that she would have wanted to be a "milliner."

Now, the fact that a ten-year-old knew that a seamstress who made hats and clothes in the 1800s was called a milliner, and that it was one of the few career paths open to women should have been impressive and probably should have won her the crown.  But it's possible that the judges had no idea what a milliner was, or maybe they just preferred ruffles and hoopskirts over the practicality of her long skirt and jacket.  She also had the disadvantage of a short, non-Civil-War-era haircut...  No bouncing ringlets for her, I'm afraid.

At any rate, after the tea they lined up all the contestants for a picture.

You can't miss my dress, right?  My hoops take up the room of three little girls.  My best friend (the milliner) is second from the left.
And then we all had to go home and wait until the festivities began a few weeks later.  The announcement of the new Little Miss Bushwhacker took place downtown on the square on Thursday evening so that the winner could enjoy her royalty status all weekend long, and be featured toward the beginning of the parade on Friday night.  We were all introduced on stage (with our escorts), in front of a crowd of people sitting on hay bales, before they announced the winner.  My friend and I told each other that if we didn't win, we hoped the other would.  And we meant it, I think.

It really seemed like a toss up.  I knew she was the most deserving in regard to knowing her Civil War facts (after all, she could name a female bushwhacker--and I guarantee that if I called her up right now and asked her, she could STILL tell me the name of a female bushwhacker).  But I was also pretty confident that my costume was the best.  I was jealous that her escort (her cousin) was taller than she was and looked cute in suspenders.

So when they announced that she was FIRST RUNNER UP, I went ahead and started grinning.  Because--obnoxiously confident ten-year-old that I was--I knew that meant that I had snagged the tiara!

And sure enough, seconds later, I was crowned Little Miss Bushwhacker!  It really was a thrilling moment for me.

Trying to look modest and surprised.  Is it just me, or is my friend glaring somewhat murderously at  those flowers?
It was even more thrilling than the following year, when my brother and two cousins and I snagged first place in the Bushwhacker Days lip sync contest for our rocking rendition of "Purple People Eater"--again, thanks to my mom's mad costume-sewing skills, plus my brother's willingness to make a total ass of himself in public for a cash prize.

It's actually really hard to believe all that happened 21 years ago.

As Little Miss Bushwhacker, I got six red roses and a tiny tiara and a savings bond and it was AWESOME.  Yes, it was ninety degrees out and I was wearing a long sleeved dress with a petticoat under it and a heavy ruffled pinafore on top of it and my brother had to be my escort because I was too shy to ask a boy from school, and my mom realized after the parade that my brother had been running a fever the whole afternoon, but none of that put a damper on MY day!  I rode on the back of a white convertible in the parade and I smiled and waved to the adoring crowds and felt FAMOUS.

Rocking the tiara on the courthouse steps for the newspaper photos.  This must be exactly what Kate Middleton feels like every day.

And, in case you're wondering, that fifty dollar savings bond that I won will mature in just FOUR MORE YEARS.  At which time, I just might return to Bushwhacker Days, walk around wearing my tiara and sash from 1991, and spend that money on funnel cake, Suzy-Q's, and a carnival wrist band.  

Friday, June 15, 2012

Fear Factor

I'm still pregnant.  Deuce is still doing just fine.

BUT we kind of had a freak out.

So it all started yesterday with my regularly scheduled non-stress test.  Right as she got the Deuce on the monitor, the nurse had me lean back the recliner all the way (this was unusual, as I typically have my feet up but am not leaning all the way back).  I didn't ask questions as she was super calm and matter of fact about it, but once I was leaned back, she explained that we'd had a deceleration (significant drop in heart rate) but it had picked back up again.  It was holding steady around a (very normal) baseline of about 140 and looked just fine.

The Deuce went on to pass the non-stress test with three accelerations, but that deceleration scared the crap out of me.  The heart rate had dropped all the way down into the 80s (normal is 120-180).  I kept asking questions about why that would happen and the nurse explained that that kind of deceleration usually indicates umbilical cord compression.

Of course I was completely freaked out.  What if I hadn't been on the monitor and she hadn't told me to change positions?

She said that it's normal and it happens to every baby (???) and if I hadn't been on the monitor, we never would have known and the baby would have shifted and the heart rate would have returned to normal.  (???? But how do we KNOW that?  It's not that I didn't believe her, but I know she was trying to calm me and I would have preferred to read this information in a peer reviewed medical article).

I guess it was obvious that I was not buying her reassurance, so she had the doctor in the perinatal center come talk to me (NOT the terrible one--I've not seen him since that fateful day).  The nice doctor said the same thing.  The occasional, non-repeated drop in heart rate was normal.  If the heartrate had not been variable afterward, or had continued to have decelerations, they would admit me to the hospital.  But there was no indication that we needed to be concerned.  My fluid level was perfect, so the baby had enough room to move around (but not too much room).  If they were worried, they would never let me leave.  At this point in my pregnancy, if there were signs of a problem, they would induce immediately.

I nodded and left, only because I had an appointment scheduled with my regular OB and I wanted to hear what he had to say about all this.  To my surprise, he said the exact same thing.  He was totally chill about the fact that the heart rate had dropped into the 80s for maybe 30 seconds or so.  The report card showed the Deuce had passed the non-stress test, my fluid level was good, the baby looked good for the biophysical profile, he saw no reason to worry.

I trust my OB, so I said ok, fine.  And I headed home.

But you know I couldn't get it out of my head.

I kept thinking, what if I had remained in that position where the umbilical cord was squished?  What if it happened while I was sleeping?

Needless to say, I did a lot of tossing and turning last night.  I did a kick count right before I went to bed, which was quite reassuring.  In fact, the Deuce had been especially active all day long, which seemed like a very polite way to make up for this deceleration scare.  What a good baby!

Well, Deuce seems to be SUCH a good baby that he/she has decided to SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT.  When I got up to pee at 3:30am, I got NO MOVEMENT from the Deuce.  Flailing around in bed didn't provoke any kicks, so I got up and drank a glass of orange juice.  I felt a couple of small movements, but nothing like the usual jabs and butt-bumps that I'm used to.  I know that movement changes toward the end of pregnancy, and I knew from the biophysical profile that the Deuce is head down and facing my spine, with arms and legs tucked in the fetal position, so it made sense that I wasn't feeling tons of movement.  But it was so different from the day before...  The phrase "decreased fetal movement" ran through my brain over and over again, and after lying there for several minutes without anyone thrashing around reassuringly in my uterus, I officially started to Freak the F*ck Out.

David was awake by this point (you don't really sleep through my FFO moments) and I insisted that he do the kick counts.  I was afraid that I wanted to feel movement so badly that I would imagine it.  So we counted ten movements, but it took FORTY FREAKING MINUTES.  Normally it takes the Deuce 10-20 minutes to hit ten movements.  So we might have technically passed the ten kicks in an hour rule, but I was not satisfied.  (It might have taken slightly longer than it could have because I had a huge sobbing/wailing session in the middle of it and David had to talk me down from).

I did one more kick count (by now it's about 4:15am) and the Deuce was slightly more cooperative, but it still took 32 minutes to get another ten movements.  Still, I knew the baby was alive.  I told David that if the second kick count took longer, we were going to the hospital, so I was really relieved that it took less time.  As much as I wanted to get checked out, I think I was really afraid of getting up and admitting that something was wrong.  Because I didn't WANT something to be wrong.  I didn't want to fail the Deuce, but I didn't want to accept the real possibility that something might be wrong.  I just wanted everything to be okay.

So we discussed going to the hospital, the Deuce continued to offer me some puny kicks, David said a bunch of reassuring stuff, and I finally let myself go back to sleep around 5am.  I was up at 8, did another kick count and it took almost half an hour again.  Plus the movements still felt wimpy to me.  Not the enthusiastic thrusts and gyrations of the day before.

I ate some breakfast and was still feeling occasional, puny little movements.  Enough was enough.  I called my doctor's office and said, "The baby is moving but not as much as usual.  I'm scared."  They told me to go to the Women's Evaluation Unit at the hospital.  The nurse actually said cheerfully, "They'll hook you up to some monitors and make you feel much better."

So we headed for the hospital.  The Deuce gave a couple reassuring kicks on the way there, but not so reassuring that I wanted to turn the car around and go home.  I was seriously scared, and even David admitted that the kicks did not have their usual intensity.

We checked in at the Eval Unit and a nurse took us into a triage room right away and asked about what was going on.  I was telling her about the change in movement, and David interrupted to tell her about Eliza.  She was very kind and understanding and left the room briefly to get a different Doppler machine than the one that was already there.  I sat in the chair and felt Deuce move just a little bit as we waited.

The nurse came back and had me lie down on the bed and put the Doppler wand on my belly.


No heartbeat.

She only waited a second or two before tossing that aside and grabbing the Doppler that was already in the room.  She chattered the whole time about that machine not being a good one and blah blah blah.  I took a deep breath and begged the Deuce to move a little bit.

She put the second Doppler wand on my belly.


No heartbeat.

So then I officially lost my shit.  I felt hot and then cold and like I might pass out and I started sobbing.

David was trying to shush me / comfort me and the nurse said, "Now, just hang on, hang on for me," as she quickly tossed that Doppler wand aside and hooked up a NST machine monitor.  She said, "You felt the baby move today?" and I sobbed that yes, I had felt the baby move today.  She slapped the third monitor on my stomach and there it was.


Galloping heartbeat, in the 150s, clear as a bell.

I gulped for air and said sternly to the nurse, "You need to get some funding reallocated and get some new machines in here."

The nurse said, "Excuse me?"  Because I was still kind of crying so it might have been hard to understand, but also because maybe that is a weird thing to say in response to hearing your baby's heartbeat?  But SERIOUSLY what the HELL are they doing with shoddy equipment in the triage room?  Are you freaking KIDDING me?  (After I repeated myself she told me that they are getting new equipment).

Even David admitted it was like the word PTSD experience ever.  I think the only reason we did not have a complete and total brain explosion meltdown was because I really had JUST felt the baby move.  But that didn't change the terror of that static sound.  I think that sound will haunt my nightmares for forever.

Once she found a steady heartbeat, we all sighed huge sighs of relief, and she walked us down to the perinatal center (where I'd been the day before).  All the nurses who know me stopped by to hug me and ask how I was doing.  They hooked me up for monitoring and the Deuce eventually passed the non-stress test, but took his/her freaking sweet time to do it.  Movement was slow also, so they gave me graham crackers and peanutbutter and apple juice, and FINALLY things kicked into gear.

They went ahead and did another modified BPP even though I'd just had one the day before, so we saw the baby and it was good to see that everything looked okay on the ultrasound.  Baby was practicing breathing and moving around and my fluid level was still good.  I asked her to turn on the blood flow so we could see if the cord was stuck down by the head and it wasn't.

The head, however, is soooo freaking low, you guys.  I seriously was having a lovely time floating in our neighbor's pool yesterday morning and then when I stood up on the ladder, the weight of the baby came down on my bladder and I nearly peed in their pool.  I had to waddle with my thighs squeezed together to get back to my house in time to go to the bathroom and I almost didn't make it.  I don't feel like it looks different from the outside, but I definitely walk differently.  David was gently mocking me for waddling yesterday and I said, "YOU try to walk while holding a human head in your crotch!"

Anyway, there was NO indication that anything was wrong, but nobody made me feel bad about coming in.  The nurses were so nice and said that I should never worry about coming in if I feel like something's off, and they would be glad to see me every day of the week.

I left feeling relieved, but also with that residual panic adrenaline running through my veins.

I'm glad to report that Deuce continued to be normally active the rest of the day, and is currently doing yoga to express his/her appreciation for the Dairy Queen blizzard I had after dinner.

Still, I hope the nurses were serious about being glad to see me every day of the week, because I have TWO WEEKS to go and I am thinking about bringing a pillow and my laptop and some trail mix and just moving into the perinatal center for the duration.

Monday, June 11, 2012


Here we are in week 37.  The Deuce is officially Term.  In fact, my high-risk doctor would have approved a delivery of the Deuce TODAY (assuming amnio showed the lungs were mature enough).

OMG.  That's kind of mind-boggling.

As I mentioned before, we've decided to stick with my OB's plan of monitoring carefully and then evaluating our options once we hit 39 weeks.  I am so impatient to hold this baby in my arms, but I also don't want to drag him or her out of me early if he or she appears to be thriving in there.  

During my fluid check today, Deucers was totally sticking out his/her tongue and trying to suck on his/her hand, which was pretty much the most damned adorable thing EVER.  (Even the nurse exclaimed at the cuteness and she sees babies all day every day, so we can only assume this means that the Deuce is extra-awesome and cuter than the usual fetus).  Sure looked like a happy baby in there, passing the non-stress test with ease (here's plenty of accelerations in twenty minutes, piece of cake) and floating around in 15.75 cm of fluid.  

And so we wait.

After unpacking and washing baby clothes a couple weeks ago, David and I decided that the Deuce needed a Coming Home outfit of his/her own.  I had visions of a two-piece, yellow polka-dotted pj set, made out of that super soft bamboo fabric.  So we headed to a local baby store to scope out their selection.

EVERYTHING was gendered.  It was all pink or blue, or green-but-obviously-for-a-boy, or turquoise-but-obviously-for-a-girl and we could not agree on anything.  I wanted a blue shirt with a dragon on it that was paired with white pants since it is the Year of the Dragon and we just went to this awesome Chinese lantern exhibit at the Botanical Garden and saw all kinds of amazing dragons.  I argued it was gender neutral enough.  I mean, girls can have white pants with blue flames on them, right?

But David said it was too boyish, and he kept looking at pink ruffled things (of course, he thinks the Deuce is a girl).  They had some sweet items on sale for 40% off, but even I had to admit that there was nothing that would really suit either or a boy or a girl (and I know it doesn't matter, but dammit, I just want the outfit to be perfect!).

David asked me at one point if we'd be able to return sale items.  I just shrugged.  I didn't know, and I didn't really want to think about it.  I was disappointed that my yellow polka dotted dream outfit was nonexistent.

We ended up leaving empty-handed, and decided to go to the mall later this week.

On my way home, I complaining to a friend about the utter lack of gender neutrality in baby clothes.  She suggested that we buy one outfit for each gender and take both to the hospital.

What the WHAT?

(You're probably all nodding and thinking, yeah, Genius, why didn't you think about that a long time ago....?  I mean, in retrospect it seems TOTALLY OBVIOUS).

I have no idea why this thought had NEVER OCCURRED to me.  I like to think that the skills I honed in graduate school--critical thinking, creative problem solving, careful analysis--can serve me well in daily life, but as for a creative (or some might even say "obvious") solution to the problem of What Will The Deuce Wear Home?...  I was totally at a loss.

So I exclaimed to David, "OMG!  Sarah says we should just buy one boy outfit and one girl outfit!  Then we can return or gift the other one!  Why didn't we think of that?"

David said, "I did think of that.  That's why I asked you if they'd take returns on sale items."

And that, my friends, is a communication FAIL.  That's not what I understood him to mean AT ALL.

I said, "Oh.  I thought you were asking that just in case this baby dies, too."

And then we both started laughing, NOT at the idea of the Deuce dying, but that kind of horrified and creeped out laugh at how f*cked up it is that my mind went directly to WORST CASE SCENARIO.  I mean, who does that?  Could I possibly have jumped to a worse conclusion?  My mind is warped.

This is the less obvious but lingering damage of losing a child, I guess.  To believe deep down that everything could be lost once more.  And to believe this so emphatically that you assume that everyone else is thinking the same thing.

I'm wondering, of course, if the Deuce is a boy or a girl, but in reality, my energy is spent worrying about whether the Deuce will come home with us at all.  (Just ask the nurse I had today, who patiently explained to me what the non-stress test results would look like if there were an issue with the umbilical cord.)  

After all the fear, all the worry, all the grief, all the hope, I am still having a hard time believing that we're going to get a live baby at the end of all this.

Next time we'll come home from shopping with something pink and something blue.

And two-to-three weeks from today, we'd better come home from the hospital with a baby.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

MFM Graduate

I saw my high-risk doctor this morning, the maternal-fetal medicine specialist whom I've been seeing in addition to my regular OB throughout this pregnancy.

She wrote me a prescription for a 39-week induction and told me that I don't need to come back and see her again.

Whether I'll actually be induced or not is still up for debate, and depends on how our monitoring goes and how the baby looks.  If there's the smallest fear the baby is in trouble, of course we'll induce right away.  If the baby appears to be doing fine, we'll probably continue to wait and see.

But the point is:  She's finished with me.  As far as she's concerned, The Deuce is Good To Go.  (Well, good to continue to be monitored twice-weekly, but no longer needing office visits with her.)

She told me that she'd just met with another patient who has a similar health history to me (her baby died, but for no specific reason; she has no particular health issues).  She said, "So I told this girl, 'I usually don't see normal patients.'  But then I come next door and here you are!"

All about perspective, right?  To most of the world I'm a worst-case-scenario freak statistic.  To an MFM?  My pregnancy is totally boring and normal.  And I am not complaining about it.  I hope it stays that way.  I also that the Deuce's birth is the most boring and normal birth EVER.

She also asked me what I was most worried about:  "Are you worried about getting the baby out?"

Uh, no.  I've done that before.  Pretty sure I can do it again.  Doesn't actually require any skill or forethought, to tell you the truth.  I'm not saying it's delightful and I'd like to do it everyday, but it's not number one on the list of Things Keeping Me Up At 3am.

I said, "No...  I'm worried about something happening between now and then."

It sounds so vague when I put it like that.  What I mean is, I'm worried that ten minutes after the Deuce has passed a kick count, his or her heart will just stop beating.  I'm terrified that I'll wake up in the morning and there will be a heavy, floating stillness where there should be wriggling and kicking.  I'm scared shitless that they'll put me on the non-stress monitors and suddenly there won't be any heartbeat to hear.

She reminded me that I've come so far, and that if it weren't for my tragic health history, we would have absolutely no reason to worry about the Deuce or consider this a "high risk" pregnancy at all.

Deep breaths.

And so we wait.

No more baby aspirin.

Seven more non-stress tests.  At the very most.

We are so freaking close.

Given that there was nothing else to discuss about this pregnancy, my MFM proceeded to talk with me about the book Fifty Shades of Grey, which she referred to as pornography, right before offering to LEND ME HER COPY.  Awesome.  (She hasn't read it yet. She's not sure what she's saving it for.  I awkwardly suggested, "Uh... vacation?").

Every other time I've "graduated" from one phase of my life, I've always had a moping period where I'm overwhelmed with nostalgia.  Even when I left middle school for high school, I felt kind of sad about it (Because eighth grade had been so amazing?  Hardly.).  David can attest to the fact that I bawled my eyes out after graduating from college because, "*sniffle* Things just won't ever be the same! *sob.*" (That was true, although it turns out there is a bit more to life than Gumby's pizza and high-drama romance).  Leaving graduate school has been hard because my good friends are scattering across the country (even though I'm happy for them as they score good jobs).  I'm just not really great with big changes, and I always think with affection of all the familiar things I'll miss.

I did not feel that way as I walked down the hallway leaving the MFM office today.  No qualms about walking away.  As much as I like my MFM, I couldn't help but smile when she said no more appointments.

I am ready to say good-bye to this scary, high-risk, pregnancy-after-loss.  I am ready to cross the finish line.  I cannot wait to meet this baby.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

36 Weeks Update

I'm still pregnant.  The Deuce is still alive.  Appears to be rapidly running out of room, judging by the simultaneously punching of my pubic bone and kicking of my ribs, but hey, at least we're head down!

I'm not sleeping very well.  (Not a complaint; just a fact.)  I wake up around 3am to pee and even if the Deuce is squirming around reassuringly, I have a hard time getting back to sleep.  I can't turn off my brain.  Sometimes I have to get my phone and do a kick count.  Other times I just get out of bed and go watch TV in the living room.  I can usually fall back asleep around 5am and get in a couple more hours before I'm up for the day.  Maybe my body is just practicing for being up and down with a newborn?  I hope so.


We took a big leap on Sunday and brought in some of Eliza's things that had been packed away.  After she died, we dismantled her entire nursery and packed away all baby things--I didn't want to see a single one of them.  It was also a practical move, since we have a two bedroom house and the nursery was quickly converted back to a guest room for my parents to spend some time with us over Christmas.  The guest room remains a guest room for the time being.  I will not set up a nursery until there is a baby to put in it.  But I decided that it made sense to go through at least some of the baby things that were all in storage bins.  We had labeled and organized them at the time, but nothing had been washed and so many things were still in packages with tags on them.  Part of me wanted to wait until the Deuce was born, but I don't want our first days home with the Deuce to be focused on sorting and unpacking baby things.  So I decided to buck up and go through the bins now.

I knew it would be hard, but it was even harder than I thought it would be.  To see all of those little things that belonged to her...  that we had purchased just for her...  that I had chosen so carefully...  I had been so happy, digging through consignment shops, counting the months to guess what size for what season so that I could buy ahead when things were on sale.  It brought back the memories of being so confident that she would come home with us, and what felt like a new shock of realizing that she would never, ever use these things.  Even though I think about her all the time, in a strange way it made her feel so real, to touch all of these tangible, material items that were hers.  Her little ducky socks, still in the gift box.  Her little Cardinals onesies.  I only got out the bin of unisex clothes, which were all smaller sizes, mostly all yellow sleep sacks and onesies with ducks on them, bought for our "Baby Duck" before we knew her gender (so confident that 15 weeks pregnant = baby to bring home!).  I was caught off guard in the cloth-diaper-and-wipes-bin by how many pink cloth diapers we had (I thought I'd mostly bought unisex colors but obviously had gotten excited about girl-baby pink).  And there was the softest little green blanket--the kind of baby blanket that David had when he was little and called his "hane," and we had laughed about how this one would be Baby Duck's hane.  So then I hugged Eliza's "hane" and ugly cried all over everything and ended up walking away and leaving the bins sitting in our dining room all day Sunday and most of Monday.

Yesterday evening, I took a deep breath and did some sorting.  I'm not dragging out cloth diapers yet (we plan to use disposables for the first few days).  I'm not washing crib sheets yet (because we're not setting up a crib--just a pack 'n play sleeper in our bedroom).  I'm not unpacking baby books, picture frames, nursery decorations, or toys (except for a couple of rattles and a soft duckie).

I gathered my natural childbirth books and threw them away (actually, I think David put them in the donation pile--I just told him I didn't want to ever see them again).  It's not that those books were wrong, or that I wouldn't prefer to have a med-free natural birth again (with a different outcome, obviously).  It's just that those books represent such a naive and smug moment in my life.  A Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth.  Makes me want to vomit.  This "thinking woman" never once thought her baby might die.

I threw away our workbook and folder from our childbirth class.  It felt good to toss that in the dumpster, as I still have a lot of resentment about how militant our class instructor was and all of the guilt and worry she made me feel during that pregnancy.  (I can promise you I'm not consuming 100 grams of protein a day, and Deuce is doing just fine).  Not to mention the fact that Eliza died halfway through the class and I think the decent thing to do would have been to refund at least a portion of our rather steep class fee.  (She did not do so.)

But I managed to sort out a pile of baby blankets and pack-in-play sheets, a pile of yellow and white baby clothes, and an assortment of baby slings, nursing covers, burp cloths, and little toys.  I even felt pretty good about putting the first load in the washing machine.  I want SO MUCH to use these things for the Deuce, and it brings me a lot of happiness to think about putting a baby in a duckie onesie (those I think are much easier for me to handle than the little girl clothes, which I didn't even look at).

As I was folding them out of the dryer, though, I felt another wave of sadness.  Like I was somehow erasing Eliza by using these things for her little brother or sister.  They wouldn't be put away, untouched, unopened, unused.  They would be worn and played with and spit up on and slept on by another baby.  And then they wouldn't be hers anymore.  And that made me sad.  I mean, she means so much to us but we have such fragile little evidence that she was alive at all.

On the other hand, it also made me sad that there was a sweet little "My First St. Patrick's Day" sleeper in with her things that my mom had picked up on sale (we don't actually have a strong Irish heritage or anything) that the Deuce won't be able to wear.  It's size 3 months.  It was just for Eliza, my winter baby.  And we may never have a baby to put in that sleeper.

I still have four bins full of baby things in the dining room because I only pulled out what I knew we would need at the very first, and it still felt like a very dangerous way to tempt fate.  But now I have teensy yellow clothes hanging in the guest-room closet, washed and ready to go.  I have blankets folded up in bins on the closet shelf.  (One thing about not setting up a nursery is that you don't actually have many places to put baby's things...  So we're getting creative with closet space until we bring in the baby dresser).

In the end, I'm glad I went through them.  It's not like ignoring them would have helped.  I cried a lot, but I'm glad I got it out of the way now, while I'm not distracted by the Deuce.  I know it wouldn't have been any easier or any less sad if I'd done it with a new baby sleeping next to me.  Yes, we'll be overjoyed to have a baby home with us, but it's not like that fixes the fact that we have another baby who isn't here.


We bought wicker patio furniture on Sunday.  It was a Craigslist purchase and we drove out to a nice subdivision in the county to pick it up.  The very nice lady selling the furniture asked if this was our first baby.  We were somewhat prepared for this because we'd had a similar experience just the week before when I bought a baby swing off Craigslist.  I told the swing lady, "Well, it will be."  And then I got in the car and burst into tears.  So this time I said, "No, it's our second."  And she followed up with, "Oh!  How old is your first?"

Dead for eighteen months, thanks for asking.

I told her that we lost Eliza at 34 weeks and she was very sweet and sympathetic and didn't say anything shitty.  Turns out she's a pediatric nurse.  She really was very kind.  David and I said on the way home that we totally should have gotten her to come down on the price of the furniture after that exchange...

Pardon the gallows humor.  Sometimes we laugh so we don't cry, you know?

(Unrelated:  She also asked David if he worked at Club Fitness.  WTH?  I'm sure he'll let that go to his head...  Haha.)


Yesterday we had a growth ultrasound and non-stress test for the Deuce.  Both went well.  Deuce is measuring in the 38th percentile, which my doctor assured me was fine (somehow you just want your kid in the upper half of everything, you know?).  My OB seems to sense this about me, as he specifically said to me that these percentiles are not grades.  (Oh, he knows me well.  Perhaps because he sees me twice a week every week!).  Deuce's head is actually measuring slightly above (in the 50s, a clear indication of Mensa brain, FYI) but abdomen and femur length are in the 30s and 40s (which is FINE, so says my OB).  One of my good friends had a baby measuring in the 20-something percentile on ultrasounds who ended up being a solid 8-pounder when he was born (on his due date), so I'm trying to remind myself that these are estimations, and that the Deuce is healthy and that's the only thing that matters.

The high-risk doctor who looked at my ultrasound told me he doesn't think I need another growth ultrasound.  In fact, he said, "The next time this baby is weighed, it will be on a scale."

It's hard to believe that we're down to a few weeks before we meet the Deuce.

We still haven't set an induction date.  My plan so far is to wait and see, and then re-evaluate if/when I make it to 39 weeks.  There is a big part of me that would like to set a date so that some of the responsibility is shifted somewhere else, but I feel more comfortable with closely monitoring and waiting to see if the Deuce gets things moving on his/her own.  I've started having really noticeable contractions, so I'm really hoping that the Deuce will come along right at 39 weeks and save me from having to make a decision (That would be June 24th, if you're wondering.  Anytime that week would be fine by me, actually.)  As much as I want to meet this baby, I'm hoping he/she holds out for at least another couple of weeks, since David has jury duty starting June 11th.  That's an additional complication that we do NOT need.


Other things I want to remember...

I'm obsessed with that Talenti brand gelato that Target carries.  The best flavor in the world is Sea Salt Caramel.

The chickens have figured out how to go in and out of their house to the pen (these are difficult lessons for teeny bird brains).  They strut around now, and Cooper is obsessed with them even more than I'm obsessed with gelato.  He runs circles around their pen, or quivers on point, his tail wagging, his tongue hanging out, just staring.  When they go back in their house, he sits and stares at the house.  For HOURS.  I've never seem him like this before.  We like to say that he is very devoted to his chikn sisters.  When they get a little bigger, we'll let them out in the yard and put him on a leash and introduce them.  I know they'll intimidate him with their wings and we want to make sure he is very respectful of the chikn sisters.

I'm feeling about 70/30 that it's a boy.  I really don't know, but if I had to guess, that's what I'd bet on.


We're watching the 3-part Hatfields and McCoys series that was on the History Channel.  Last night a bunch of Hatfields killed three McCoy boys.  Mr. McCoy was visiting his cousin, who asked him how Mrs. McCoy was doing after the death of her sons.

Mr. McCoy said, "Poorly.  How would you expect?"

The cousin replied, "Women are fortunate to get special consideration.  If I curled up into a ball at every tragic event, I'd never get any work done."

McCoy stared at him and said, "Quit talking like an imbecile.  You've never lost your sons."

That conversation might not be historically accurate, but McCoy's words are still true.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Photo Op: Second Edition

The photo challenge (also known as "Use the new camera already") is back!  Here are pictures that David and I have taken with the Canon t2i to meet the 30 Day Photo Challenge (yes, we've fallen a little behind, but we're still plugging away!).

[Side note:  David did take the photo of me at the park that I posted at the bottom of the Where I Am Now post--I have always given him a hard time about his photo taking skills, but he's really doing a great job with his new toy!]

We are still following the 30 Day Photo Challenge:  Gratitude.  So here are Days 8-16.

Day 8:  Favorite Color

Couldn't decide between pink...

or blue...

Both gorgeous, don't you think?  

Day 9:  Inspiring Person

I found this picture in a magazine (an old issue of Real Simple) and decided to frame it and put it up on my bookshelves.  I've long admired Jackie Kennedy for her style and poise, and I find her especially inspiring after reading more about her life.  

Day 10:  Nature

David took this picture of a cardinal when we were at Blanchette Park.  As I mentioned before, cardinals always make us think of David's grandpa, so it seemed really appropriate that there was one watching over us as we visited Eliza's memorial brick and left flowers at the Angel of Hope statue.  He used our zoom lens, but this guy was pretty far away.  Still, I think he did a good job of getting the red to pop against the green leaves.

This nest fell from the dogwood tree in front of our house, which made me sad, even though it's probably those obnoxious black birds that do all the squawking around our yard.  Still, there's something upsetting about a nest made with care (although maybe not THAT much care, since it did fall out of a tree) and little egg that won't get to hatch.

Day 11:  Something Old

This rocking chair was a gift at my family baby shower for Eliza.  It originally belonged to my great-great-grandma, whom we all called Little Grandma (she was very petite).  My Aunt Tammi and Uncle Roger sanded and stained it for me, and it's the sweetest little rocking chair (it really is small--like Little-Grandma-size).  There's a story about Little Grandma babysitting my dad when he was a baby, and how she would sit by his crib and watch him sleep.  We kind of laughed at the story--an example of how much she adored and favored my dad, but I think now that Little Grandma probably knew her share of stories of people who lost babies when they were sleeping.  Scary.  She didn't have a Snuza monitor, so she took over the monitor job herself.  Maybe while rocking in this very chair...

Day 12:  Hands

David suggested the pose for the picture and I humored him even though I think it's kinda cheesy and also my hands don't make a very good heart shape (maybe because my thumbs are double-jointed?).  Also you can see how my belly button is a half-outie at the moment, which I think is sort of embarrassing.  Not to mention how veiny my hands are!  Hello, blood volume increase.  This was taken the weekend that I hit 34 weeks.  (Side note:  I am not swollen!  My rings still fit.  Also, no stretch marks yet...  But there's still time.)

Day 13:  Written Words

David's best buddies from college and their lovely wives visited us over Memorial Weekend.  My shopping list on the fridge was already slightly bizarre, with "laundry balls" at the top (You know, those spiny rubber balls that you put in the dryer instead of dryer sheets?  We had a pair, but one of them split in half, so I need to pick up a couple more.)  One of the guys helpfully added another item to the list.  I probably WON'T be picking that up at the grocery store, thank you very much.

Day 14:  Movement

These are from the set of pictures I took before (other photos from that series were published under "favorite athlete" and "happiness," but they are the best movement snapshots that I've taken.  There's something funny to me about the way David and Cooper both have their legs up in the air in these pictures.

Day 15:  Technology

This topic seemed boring to me (and I couldn't get a good shot of David watching a ball game on TV, while watching a ball game on the iPod, while watching a ball game on the iPhone--but that seriously does happen at our house), so I just snapped a pick of my iPhone on our kitchen counter.  I can't remember exactly when we got these phones...  February?  It was fairly recently.  But I really can't remember how I ever lived without one before.  Siri totally spoils me.  Now I want my mom to get one so she can have face-to-face time with the Deuce.

Day 16:  Animals

Of course I couldn't pass up another opportunity to photograph the chickens.  After Dixie's unfortunate demise, David came home with one more baby chick.  She is supposed to be a Rhode Island Red, just like her sister-chicks Wynona and Loretta, but as you can see, she has a very blonde breast.  Naturally, we named her Dolly (The blonde with the breast, get it?  We think we're really funny.).  She's about a week younger than the other two, so she's quite a bit smaller and still fuzzy where they are getting some feathers.  Loretta is in the back corner, and Wynona is up front, still sassy as ever.  I was a little nervous about introducing a new chick to Loretta and Wynona, but they all seem to be getting along just fine.

There you have it!  Photo Op: Second Edition, and a little glimpse into what's going on around here.