Tuesday, March 12, 2013

32 weeks

Well, this was originally going to be "30 weeks," then "31," and now it's 32+2.

How do I feel?  Definitely starting to slow down. Definitely retaining some water and needing to put my feet up often.  Definitely getting hard to keep up with the toddler.  And the first part of May still definitely sounds like a long way away.  But I'm still sleeping well, not really having back or stomach pain at this point, and my appetite is good.  So, no complaints.  Just the normal stuff.

Had to switch to the thinner band wedding ring.  This was my mother's ring from my stepfather, which Jeff used when he proposed to me.  I know it's doesn't look like a "traditional" engagement ring.  I don't usually wear it.  My thick white gold band had become a bit uncomfortable.

I have become a little concerned about my blood pressure, although my midwives aren't at all.  I've been consistently in the 130s/80s, which is not a cause for concern.  It's slightly higher than "normal," which would be 120s/70s.  It's worth noting that even when not pregnant, I tend to be in the 130s/80s ("pre-hypertensive."  Joy.)

My worry arises from the fact that a bit of a rise in blood pressure toward the end of pregnancy tends to be par for the course for a lot of women (and was for me with my first pregnancy - I've been carefully tracking my scores and writing them on the record I kept from my pregnancy with Vicki Jo).  With my current measurements, I cannot afford this standard rise.  It will push me up into the 140s/90s, which is cause for concern and could also mean that I need to switch my care to a hospital-based system.

Of course, if this is the situation that presents itself, I will do what I need to do.  I'm not that bent on home birth.  But I'd like to avoid it if possible!

So, I'm trying not to stress.  I'm trying to rest a lot.  And I've starting drinking hawthorn berry tea.  Hawthorn is an herb that has been used for centuries to treat hypertension in all types of people - pregnant and not.  I found the berries at the health food store, and I've been making an infusion - 1 oz dried "haws" or berries (about 1/4 C) in 1 quart of boiling water.  Let it steep overnight, then refrigerate.  I drink 1/2 C in the morning and another 1/2 C in the evening.

I just started this a few weeks ago, and I've read that it can take several weeks to reach an effective dosage, so I will just keep it up and see what happens!  There are no contraindications with hawthorn berry, so I'm not worried about taking it.

I'm leaving for New York in a couple of days, to officiate at the wedding of my very best friend.  I am so excited - on a number of levels.  To celebrate with Amanda and Paul, to see friends both old and new, and to have a hotel room all to myself for two nights.  I plan on watching a lot of television, eating at Whole Foods, and using it as a little personal babymoon.  I'm also hoping no one hassles me about flying "in my condition"!  I've heard that some airlines require a doctor's note, which I definitely don't have.

Monday, March 11, 2013

sleep at 2 years (and 32 weeks)

I don't know where exactly along the line it happened.  She started being able to communicate really clearly what she wanted.  We went on a few trips.  She was continually teething (still lacking eight teeth - come on with it!).  We all got so many different colds and viruses.

And a big thing, I think, was Jeff becoming a SAHD.  Suddenly Daddy had no appeal at bedtime anymore.  It has to be Mama.  Or else.

We are once again co-sleeping.  All night long.  That's right.  I typically go to bed about seven-thirty, and wake up with my daughter between six and seven.  We sleep in her room, on a full-size mattress on the floor.

If I'm very determined, and try as hard as I can to stay awake, I might be able to sneak out after she falls asleep.  But then half the time she wakes up and freaks out.  Plus she's figured out how to open the door, so there's no physically stopping her anymore.  "Crying it out," as a strategy, is no longer really feasible for me, no matter how I might feel about it.

She rebelled against the pack'n'play weeks ago.  I don't remember the last time I tried to lay her down in there.  We need to just put the stupid thing away.  For several months, I could lay next to her on the mattress, wait until she drifted off, and then switch her over to the pack'n'play.  But then that stopped.  She would wake at the slightest startle and be highly distressed to be placed anywhere other than back in bed, next to me.  I think the message there has something to do with being ready for a big-girl bed.

A few times I've gotten fed up with the situation, and resolved to do something about it.  I got the No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers from the library, and it is very helpful.  I like that it is sympathetic toward children and parents, and helps parents understands their children's needs.  But the bottom line is that if I want things to change, I have to put in some work.  I need to start a slow process of sleeping further and further away from Vicki, moving across her room, and then into the doorway.  I need to have a lot of patience, and be willing to explain to her what's happening over and over and over again.

And there's one big problem with all of that.  I'm 32 weeks pregnant, and I'm exhausted.  A lot of the time I fall asleep before she does!  The thought of getting together a coordinated plan that I will stick to with firmness every night is . . . fatiguing.  I'm also hesitant about undertaking this when we may very well get interrupted by a brand-new baby in the midst of executing said plan.

The new baby will, of course, change everyone's sleep patterns.  Because he will nurse, he will need me all night.  There will be a lot of adjusting for us all.  I really have no idea what it's going to look like.  But I've pretty much just resigned myself to continuing with the way things are for eight more weeks.

Honestly, it's not so bad!  I am really well-rested.  I don't do any nighttime snacking.  I get to spend twelve hours every night with my baby, while she is still my only baby.  If I wake up at three am, I just spend a little time surfing on the old iPhone, then roll back over.  I do feel bad for poor Jeff, who is a very social creature.  He now spends his evenings alone, or goes over to friends' houses.  But we will get through it!  All of this childhood stuff is a season, I guess.

It's funny how, when you think about being a parent, the things you are really worried about are never the things that are a big deal.  The problems that end up arising are outside of what you could have imagined.  I think this was what Jesus meant when he said, "Don't worry about tomorrow - tomorrow has troubles of its own."
Sometimes Puppy joins in the fun, too.

Friday, March 8, 2013

on friendship

A great fortune cookie told me this once:  "If you want to have a friend, be a friend."  (Not strictly a fortune, but we can get into that pet peeve on another day.  Much more of a platitude?  A truism?)

I have always sort of habitually sucked at the practice of cultivating friendship.  I totally recognize that the best way to make close friends is to be there for people - to call just to chat, to offer them gifts and advice, to live life together in the big ways and the small ways.  The best way to make a friend is to be a friend.  And I usually fail.

For this reason, I have always been attracted to communities that foster friendships through shared experience.  Working at camp, living together with roommates before I was married, going to college and joining a sorority, joining a Bradley birth class.  These provide opportunities for like-minded people to gather in one place and share life.  And even still, all my closest friends are from these different opportunities.

My sister told me that making friends gets a lot harder after college (graduate school, in my case, which was kind of a college extension).  It's really true.  Losing an age-level cohort with at least some level of mutual interest is hard.  I like my colleagues a lot, and working at a church is much more social than, say, analyzing data.

But I'm not much of a friend.  My own life seems to take over all my time and energy and there is just no time left for long phone calls and shared coffee.  If it weren't for Jeff and my job, I might go a whole week without talking to another adult!

This is why I'm so shocked that people continue to be such good friends to me.  From bringing me to New York for a bridal shower to buying me lunch to overwhelming my family with gifts at our baby shower last weekend, I am shown examples of selfless friendship from every side lately.

And this wasn't even half!
It seems to be a kind of divine reminder that, in this life, there are no relationships that are equal.  There is nothing I can do to earn the grace and love of others.  All I can do is seize these precious gifts and attempt some level of reciprocity when the time comes.  I hope and pray that I can learn these lessons of grace!

Friday, March 1, 2013

wash day

I pretty much always do the laundry on Saturday.  Even when I was in college, and I did one load per week (!), I would do it on Saturday.  I would take my clothes down to the basement laundry room, noting the time carefully.  You see, the washers and dryers locked for the time that they were cycling, but when they finished, they automatically unlocked.  If someone needed the washer or dryer, or wanted some of your clothes, they could swipe them if you weren't there right on time!  I really enjoy laundry, even when we have a lot of it.  It's a chore that requires not that much energy from me, and makes me feel really productive.  And folding satisfies my neatness compulsion.

These days, we are up to 5-6 loads per week.  Baby clothes, sheets, towels + pants, 1-2 adult colors loads, whites.  Diapers are their whole own thing, that I do as needed.

For several years, I'd been using the Target brand unscented free & clear detergent.  It was cost-effective and seemed to get our clothes clean.  I used a very tiny amount for our cloth diapers, and it didn't seem to build up.  But I thought there must be a better way.  One without optical brighteners (whatever those are!?) and other stuff that probably isn't that harmful . . . but if I could do it myself, why not?

I poked around the internets, and found the basic recipe for dry laundry detergent.  There is also a basic recipe for liquid/gel detergent, but it sounded like a lot more work and involved a five-gallon bucket.  The dry one is pretty simple:

1 C borax
1 C washing soda
1 bar grated laundry soap (I've been using Fels-Naptha, and the smell reminds me exactly of my grandparents' laundry room.  You could certainly use Ivory or something unscented if you preferred.)

Mix together and use 2 T per load  (I use about 1/2 T per load for diapers).  Note:  this is for old-fashioned top-loaders.  I have absolutely no experience with fancy energy-saving high-efficiency front-loaders, but I know they are a totally different beast.

I did find, after doing a couple of batches, that I need to grate the laundry soap by hand on a box grater, spread it on a baking sheet for a day or two to dry, and then grind into a powder in the food processor.  If you try to put it in the food processor while it's still "wet," it doesn't break down small enough and you can end up with small pellets of soap in your rinsed laundry.

I also found that over-stuffing the washer (of which I am frequently guilty) causes the detergent not to break down well.  It's a good impetus to keep the loads reasonably sized, which is better for your machine anyway.

I know some people worry about borax and whether it's safe or not.  I'm not concerned.  Here's a good article with lots of research about borax.

Finally, I try to wash everything in cold water, because I know it saves money and it's environmentally friendly.  But the detergent does do better in warm or hot washes.  I try to make up for it by line-drying when the weather is warm and dry.

This detergent works well.  The clothes are clean, smells and stains are gone, and they are much softer than when I was using storebought.  I particularly notice the sheets are very soft - they feel like they have a higher threadcount!

This may be one of those things that people think to themselves, Why would you do that?  Storebought detergent is not killing you!  It's not even that expensive, if you're already using a generic brand!  And that is true.  But sometimes I just like doing things myself.  It makes me feel good and proud of myself, somehow, when I use the one that I've made.  I can't really explain it.  But if you don't want to make your own detergent, then don't!  I would never force you.