Summer school for parents.

While our out-of-town weekend activities started to slow down, our weekdays in the month of July were filled with baby preparation. Last month we squeezed in a four-week childbirth class, an infant CPR class, and the tour of our hospital. All that along with a holiday weekend, a birthday, a wedding, three baby showers, and all the rest of the we-better-do-this-while-we-still-can activities left us feeling overwhelmed and overbooked.  I think we are both glad to leave the month of July behind us.

When we walked out of the final childbirth class last week Zach said it felt like the last day of school. I was not so enthusiastic about leaving the class for good. There was something comforting about being in a room full of women who had never given birth before and were just as close to going through it as me. Now we start the final phase of preparation: waiting. We gained some helpful tidbits from our classes, though, which has given me some topics to dwell on while waiting.

WEEK ONE. By the time we stopped for a break halfway through our first childbirth class I was convinced I had been experiencing all the signs of preterm labor that very day and was ready for Zach to check me in to the hospital immediately. At 34 weeks it was unlikely and unwanted, but I was sure we had mere hours left before meeting our son.  We made it through the rest of the class, along with the five other expectant couples, without anyone having to check into the hospital and given the assignment to fill out a worksheet about the different stages of labor.

I was most surprised by the diversity of the couples in our class. Somehow I imagined that we all would be about the same demographic, but there was one couple who had to be teenagers and appeared to be texting each other throughout the class. Zach was most surprised that our instructor was able to fill a full two and a half hours and not completely finish explaining the miracle of birth to us.

WEEK TWO. As class started week two we had lost two couples, the teenagers and another pair. We speculated that they could have had their babies already, but Zach was not convinced. We spent the rest of the night talking through the experience of a labor and delivery without medication. During the birth video for the night the father-to-be sitting next to us shouted something like “oh, damn!” over and over when the baby began to crown. At the close of the video he spent about 10 minutes telling us how the video had changed his life and he couldn’t believe how beautiful and amazing birth was. Nice try, guy.

Zach learned that I was going to try to micromanage his counting during my relaxation breathing and I learned that Zach considered the pregnant woman in our class who made it through the second week of class without wearing a bra and was planning on a home birth a hippie. Fair enough.

The following evening we had a tour of our hospital with about 10 other expectant couples. As the nurse showed us how quickly she could rip off the bottom third of the hospital bed to reveal stirrups and how handily the dim room can be illuminated by lowering high-powered spotlights from the ceiling, Zach whispered loudly that she reminded him of the Target Lady from Saturday Night Live. Ignoring him did not make him stop suggesting it and he only let up after I agreed that, in fact, her enthusiasm for birthing suites was a bit like that of Kristen Wiig’s character. As we left I felt like crossing my legs very tightly and Zach announced that this was going to be a piece of cake. Or something like that. I was busy sending my baby telepathic messages to stay put.

WEEK THREE. Week three was rough. Our class was the night of Zach’s birthday and we didn’t even have time to go out to eat. We ate drive through in the hospital parking lot where I finished off a root beer float without giving him a taste after supposedly promising him some. The topic for the night was childbirth with “interventions” which includes medications, inductions, etc. and we had lost one more couple. As our instructor started passing around fetal scalp monitors, forceps, and catheters to the three remaining couples I felt my breathing become shallow and my lips start to tingle. During our relaxation practice I yelled at Zach as he tried to massage my back and then I proceeded to choke on the stomach acid that hangs out high in my chest as a bent over a chair to practice different relaxation positions.

I left convinced that Zach was the worst birth coach ever and that I was going to have to do this all by myself and he spent the rest of his birthday night calming me down like the exemplary birth coach that he actually is.

WEEK FOUR. In the final week of our month of preparation we had an infant CPR class along with our last childbirth class. I took a CPR class once about five years ago, but don’t remember the infant portion being so terrifying. This time around it was awful. The instructors began by starting a video showing a set of grandparents trying to revive their CPR dummy granddaughter. It made no difference to my hormones that their grandchild was made of plastic — I had tears welling up and could feel my breath going shallow again. The other heart-wrenching part of the class was all the couples there who had preemies in the NICU. Apparently here parents of preemies must take the CPR class before being allowed to take their babies home. One couple had given birth to their baby girl 16 weeks early. She was up to 4 pounds from her 1 pound 4 ounce birth weight.

On the way home Zach reminded me that the odds were slim that we would ever have to use CPR on any baby and I again sent the baby messages to stay put for a few more weeks.

For our final childbirth class we discussed what would happen in the moments and hours following a baby’s deliver and practicing our breathing during pushing. The instructor gave the three husbands sandwich baggies of ice and told them to increase the amount of ice they pressed onto our skin to simulate the increasing intensity of a contraction. I learned that by looking at Zach and trusting him to count out my breathing the pain of the cold ice actually decreased. Major breakthrough. We all left with a sample pack of disposable breast pads and a promise to email our instructor when our babies arrived.

Overall Zach probably didn’t learn much that he hadn’t already learned from his own research, and I don’t know that I did either. But it was comforting to have all that time to talk with a labor and delivery nurse who has been assisting pregnant women through the birthing process for more than 20 years. And the breathing practice was indispensable. Who knows how exactly when our baby will end up making his entrance, but I learned to trust my husband in ways I hadn’t before and knowing that we can get through this together was certainly worth a month of classes.

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Time to vote.

Now that we have reached full-term it is time to play some guessing games. I have created two polls for your amusement, one to guess the weight and one to predict the arrival date of our little guy.

As there may be some of you out there that don’t know all about me and Zach I thought it would be helpful to give you some background on our own birth stats.

If you have been a long-time reader of my blog or a family member you may remember that my parents’ nickname for me as an infant was “Moby Megi.” This wasn’t one of those clever nicknames like “Little John” for the biggest guy you know. It was a more literal pet name. I came into this world at just under 10 lbs. and 5 days late. (It should surprise no one that I am an only child.)

Zach was a full 14 days past his due date and a slightly slimmer 9 lbs. 3 oz. I was showing Zach’s mom some of our newborn onesies and she refused to believe that they weren’t for preemies. I showed her that the newborn weight range on one of the little outfits was 5-8 lbs. which is pretty average for a new baby, but I can see why she thought they were too tiny.

Some people say that your labor and delivery will be similar to your mother’s, but those people trip over themselves to say that isn’t always true when they hear about my mother’s.

I don’t want to throw you off too much so I will also say that my doctor is predicting a very average birth weight for our guy, somewhere between 7 and 7.5 lbs.

So now you it is up to you to decide what to base your guesses on. I don’t think I can ever participate in this game. I am going to be focusing on my relaxation breathing.

Pregnant women have no business looking in fun house mirrors.

I have never completely understood when exactly pregnant women reach the point that they can no longer see their feet. While my belly is large enough at this point to stop me from comfortably putting on socks or painting my toenails I can’t say that I have reached the point of not seeing my feet because I still have my sight and the ability to lean forward. Am I missing something?

In my former life as an un-pregnant woman I could lean back until I was unable to see my toes. I never considered that a state of “not being able to see my toes.” It just seems too subjective to me to be a legitimate pregnancy milestones.

Maybe I’m just a little riled up from  my encounter last night with the fun house mirrors in the baby aisles of Target.

Thank you, Target, for making me feel like a circus freak as I spend 20 minutes debating which car seat toy is better:  a frog toy that rattles or another that vibrates.

Really I probably don’t want to see myself in any mirrors while I am shopping at this point and just for that I decided on neither toy. Target had the last laugh, though, as I spent well over double my weight gain even without the darn frog toy.

Thankfully HyVee came through for me at my next stop and provided me with my first expecting mothers parking space experience.

Now that is a pregnancy milestone.

On another note, do you remember that scene in Jurassic Park where they are hiding in the car watching the ripples in the glass of water from the T-Rex foot falls? That is kind of what it feels like to experience baby hiccups at nearly 36 weeks pregnant. They shake your body from the inside and you have no idea how long they will continue. And, I guess, no idea how soon you will be face to face with the maker of these earth-shaking movements.

Preparing for the end.

Tonight is our first of four childbirth classes. I am looking forward to it because I like getting more information about anything I am going to do. Zach is less than enthused and it doesn’t help that we will be going to the third class on his birthday. As my uncle told him over the weekend, this is only the beginning of the times kid activities are going to come first.

Originally I had signed up for the classes on another night to avoid the birthday conflict, but a few weeks ago I realized with that schedule we would be attending the last class in the last week of pregnancy. While I highly doubt this boy is going to come early – or even by his due date –  I thought it seemed a little crazy to have anything planned that late.

I know we are both going to have to make sacrifices as parents, but I think birthdays are important and should always be celebrated so in order to make this one up to Zach we will be going to Em Chamas Brazilian Grill the weekend after his birthday. This is a place where the waiters bring you meat on a sword and slice it on to your plate until your stomach busts open and then they ask you if you want any dessert.

This is right in Zach’s wheelhouse, as he would say. If you know me or have seen any of my posts acclaiming fresh, local veggies you will understand that this is not even next door to my wheelhouse. Sometimes we make sacrifices for our spouses too.

I’ll be sure to let you know how the classes go and more importantly how much and what varieties of meat Zach consumed in honor of his birth.

Thank you, man at the Jiffy Lube.

A man waiting for his car at the Jiffy Lube today asked me how my pregnancy was going and guessed that I had about 4 months left. When I told I actually had about seven weeks to go his eyes popped and he said, “my daughter-in-law is humongous!”

It turns out that his daughter-in-law is due two days after me, but her doctor has already told her that her “little guy” is going to be too big for a normal delivery so she will have a scheduled c-section.

As much as I enjoyed his flattery over the small size of my baby belly, I imagine his daughter-in-law is tired of being referred to as “humongous.”

Sizing up prego tummies is all based on your perspective I guess. Either way, thank you, man at the Jiffy Lube, my ego needed that. You made my wait for an oil change a delightful one.

As promised…

a 32 week belly photo! Here I am trying to find where my hips used to be.

And here I am enjoying a mango fruit bar at the Omaha Summer Arts Festival. I went down to look around this afternoon with my BFF and her family before heading back to KC.

And here is a sneak attack photo my friend’s husband took of the belly on its own.

Another glorious milestone.

So here is another pregnancy milestone that I am assuming most women experience. Unwelcome comments about the physical appearance of her midsection. Today the lady at Goodcents called me big. In fact she asked me how much longer I had to go and then said, “Dang, you’re big!” Huh. Can that ever be a positive thing to hear? Maybe if you are a three-year-old and desperate to be considered a big kid. My cousin Luke used to come to his mom after being around other children at that age and say, “I’m bigger than him, right?”

There was a point where I was excited to have people notice that I was pregnant, but that point was not today. I was actually feeling on the small side today and thinking that the boy is about 4 pounds at this point,  that I have 8 weeks left, and that I have probably about 8 more pounds to gain. Now that will be big.

That lady probably should have given me an extra punch on my sandwich card for that punch she took at my ego.