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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Memo to Baby Smith Regarding Test Performance Expectations

Dear Baby Smith (a.k.a. Doctor),

Tomorrow is our Blood Glucose/Gestational Diabetes Test.   As your parent, I should tell you that this will be the first of many high-stakes tests that you will experience in your life.  Hopefully by the time you enter school, the era of over-testing students will be over, but we won't count on that.  Plus, you will certainly still have to take your driving test, the SAT, and college exams. They're no fun, but tests are a part of life.   

With that in mind, I feel that I should tell you that in our household, we do our best to NOT FAIL TESTS.  We are not going to be psycho Tiger Mom parents who expect you to get an A on every test you take, but we do expect you to take tests seriously and always do your best.  If we ever find out that you have filled in the bubbles on one of your answer sheets to make a picture or spell out something obnoxious like "Doctor is Da Bomb" like one of my students did, you will be in BIG TROUBLE.  Like, we might make you wear a t-shirt that says, "I think I'm da bomb even though I only got 10% correct on my state-mandated standardized test" to school for two weeks.  And you will have to hand-wash that shirt each night, all by yourself.  I'm sure your future therapist will have a field day with that one. 

We realize that you will probably fail a few tests in your lifetime, and that's ok.  For instance, if you ever have to take a test that involves musical ability or knowledge, you will probably be screwed, because I'm pretty sure that you only have one blood relative that is musically talented, while the rest of us would qualify for music Special Ed services (if they existed).  

But since tomorrow is your FIRST high-stakes test, let's start out strong by not failing it.   Let's drink the nasty orange sugar solution and show the nurse that Smiths are not test-failers, ok?  Ok.  Good talk.

Love, Mom

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Joining Team Hippie

If you asked anyone who knows Jeromy and I fairly well to describe us, chances are, they would NOT use the word "hippies."  In fact, I'd bet a lot of money that nothing in their description would even be in that neighborhood.  "Kinda liberal" maybe, but "granola" or "tree-hugging"  I mean, we take our reusable bags to the grocery store, but we drive there in a (smallish) SUV.  We have more than one TV in our house.  And--maybe most importantly-- we both insist on taking showers every day. Hippie disqualification.

The truth is, though, that we do have some secret hippie tendencies, and I think we are leaning even more in that direction now that we have a baby on board.  You might have guessed this if you read the post where I talked about reading Raising Baby Green.  We've been pretty firmly on the organic food wagon for a while, but now there's the whole world of non-toxic toys and organic baby clothes to think about, too.  (Organic baby clothes are pretty expensive, though, so I'm planning to just wash all of Doctor's little outfits in vinegar a few times, which is supposed to strip a lot of the chemicals.  And no, I don't have a scientific study to back that up.) 

There are a couple of pretty big decisions we've made recently that might place us on Team Hippie.  Both of these choices have already gotten some strong reactions from people (positive and negative), so maybe I'm asking for it by advertising them to an even wider audience, but here goes. 

First, I never thought I'd say this, but I'm going to TRY to give birth without any medication.  Key word being "try."  As my mom pointed out the other day, I'm a little less than excellent with pain.  And Jeromy can tell you that the last time I had some kind of 24-hour flu (about a week before our wedding) I kept insisting that having even a sheet over me made my skin hurt unbearably, and that I was almost definitely dying.  So it's entirely possible that when I'm actually in the delivery room, I'll start slapping anyone who dares to come near me without a big fat epidural needle.  We'll see.  I certainly don't think epidurals are bad and evil; I just think they're kind of scary and have some potential risks and downsides.

So, as I've mentioned before, one step that we're taking to help with the no-medication/no-Rebecca-punching-people plan is hiring a doula.  Well, actually, several doulas.  We signed up with a doula collective, which means that the specific doula we have at the labor will depend on who is "on call" when it happens. I've tried to explain to a few people exactly what a doula does, and I'm sure I'm not doing the best job of it, but this is what my understanding is.  Basically, a doula's purpose is to help make the labor as comfortable as possible for the mother, and to take some of the pressure off the father in terms of coaching, decision-making, etc. They come to the hospital with their secret earth mother birthing wisdom, and bring magical doula tools with them, like heat packs and a birthing ball.  Which I think is just one of the big exercise balls, but still, it's supposed to help.  When we went to the "Meet the Doulas Night" back in December, they had a couple who had recently delivered with a doula there as guest speakers.  When the mom described the doula rubbing her back (to counter the pressure of her contractions) for NINE HOURS, I was ready to write a big fat check then and there.  Jeromy can rub my back for about four minutes before his hands get tired.  He'd be in the corner whimpering in pain by the time they got me hooked up to the monitors.  Hence, the doulas are going to be our new BFFs. 

The other hippie decision we've made is to try to use cloth diapers.  I know it sounds a little crazy, and it's something else that I never thought I'd go for.  Cloth diapers have come a long way since the white squares that had to be origami-folded around your baby and pinned, though.  They now basically look and work like cloth versions of regular diapers.  Again, I'm totally NOT judging people who use disposable diapers; I'm sure we will be using them when we're not at home.  But from what I've read, there are some advantages to cloth diapers--fewer rashes and "blow-outs" (eww), easier potty-training, etc.  Plus, it actually ends up being quite a bit cheaper in the long run.  And look how cute they are!
This one is from a brand called Fuzzibunz...
...probably because they are, you know,  fuzzy on the inside
We are still making some other decisions that will probably earn us hippie demerits.  I'm going to give birth in a hospital, where they have lots of nice beeping machines (-10 points).  Our son will be circumcised and vaccinated (-15 points).  We do not plan to have him sleeping in the bed with us (-5 points).  But are we are on our way to earning our Hippie Parents badge?  I think we could be...  

 After waiting for me to finish getting settled in bed with my poufy comforter and body pillow: "Look how much space you're taking up already!  Pretty soon I'm going to need a co-sleeper just for my butt so I don't fall off the bed."
This is a co-sleeper, for those of you who don't know what one looks like....just imagine Jeromy's backside instead of the baby. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Fetal math lessons and an extended car metaphor (Warning: contains moderate to high pregnant lady whining)

As of Saturday, I am officially six months pregnant!  Baby Boy Smith is due to arrive in about four months!  

And yes, if you are checking my math, I do realize that adds up to ten months, not nine.  A lot of people don't know (I certainly didn't) that they actually calculate your due date as being at 40 weeks of pregnancy, although they do start counting two weeks before you actually get pregnant.  It's hard to explain, but I can tell you that the whole counting system makes Jeromy very suspicious of the obstetrical profession.  

Anyway, here is what's going on with Doctor and I this point:

According to the books, our little guy now weighs between a pound and a pound and a half, and is almost a foot long!  It certainly feels like he's getting huge; I'll feel a kick on one side of my stomach right before a punch all the way on the other side.  And then, sometimes, I'd swear that he's just sitting in there head-butting me repeatedly.

At certain times of the day when Doctor is really going nutty, I can lay down and watch my stomach ripple and jump around, which on a Weird Scale of 1 through 10, rates about a 12.  I honestly had no idea you could ever see babies move this looks like there is an alien trying to use my belly button as an escape hatch or something.  I try to make Jeromy sit and watch my stomach like it's better than an episode of 30 Rock, but apparently Doctor is a contrary little fetus, because he usually stops when he has an audience.  We are going to have to work on the whole "following parental requests" thing, stat.

 Also according to the books, Doctor should now be able to hear our voices and loud noises like the vacuum, the dog barking, etc.  I read that babies who hear classical music regularly while they are in the womb do better in math, so I'm trying to listen to the classical station for 30 or so minutes a day.  It's pretty boring, and I got a serious eye roll from Jeromy on this one, but whatever.  He's good at math so he doesn't really understand.  If a little less Lady Gaga and a little more Beethoven might prevent my kid from crying in his calculus professor's office every day for an entire semester like his mother did, then I'll give it a shot.

Apparently the food that I eat from now on will help shape Doctor's eating preferences, so we've been trying to eat important stuff like kale and mint cookies 'n cream ice cream and Indian food.  Let's hope it works; if this child doesn't like spicy stuff Jeromy will definitely spend the next 18 years giving him disappointed looks across the dinner table.

Now here's where some whining begins...

I have to say a little surprised by the overall discomfort of pregnancy.  I do feel a ton better now than I did during the first trimester, but I am not about to describe the second trimester as being "magical" like some women apparently do.  I was telling Jeromy yesterday that it's kind of like having your car in the shop for a while, and having to drive around a rental that sort of looks like your car, but is much less comfortable and doesn't work as well.  This rental car is slower and bigger and needs to pull over at rest stops a lot.  Plus you know deep down inside that when you get your car back, it's probably never going to be the same as it was before.  But I guess at least this rental car is taking me on a really exciting and important  journey.  I know that's completely cheesy, but it does make me feel a little better.

I do seem to be having a bit of "pregnancy brain,"  which is another weird symptom.  Apparently growing a human hogs a bunch of brain cells or something; I feel like I have developed A.D.D.  The other day I was in the middle of reaching to get something for Jeromy, and I got distracted by something else and picked it up instead.  Poor Jeromy thought I had just decided to ignore him.  I also keep turning the wrong way out of the neighborhood, so if I'm late meeting you somewhere, that's probably why.

 I also think I'm getting carpal tunnel syndrome.  Oh, but that couldn't possibly be pregnancy-related, you say?  But it is.  Supposedly 30% of women get it.  Again, NOT something that is well-publicized in any kind of "So You Want to Have a Baby" brochure.  Probably because it sucks.

My biggest problem (and my last complaint, I swear!) is the having-to-pee-ALL-THE-TIME thing.  It is RIDICULOUS.  Anytime I leave the house these days, I have to plan out my route and stops based on available bathrooms.  And, as some of you may know, I HATE using public restrooms.  Which makes it especially unfortunate that I've probably had to use more public bathrooms in the last month than I have in the last ten years combined.  I feel like I should probably write a book called The Pregnant Lady's Guide to Austin's Public Bathrooms ("Bee Caves Target: usually needs to be cleaned, frequently out of paper towels.  North Babies 'R Us: small, cramped, dirty floor, but does have yummy-smelling Bath & Body Works Soap.")

 ***Gems from Jeromy***
Today's Gem from Jeromy is in the form of a picture of my dignified husband modeling the hooded towel that Grandma and Grandpa Smith sent to Doctor:
Priceless, right?