Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Seriously. Get in the pool.

Thanks to Nickie, our awesome doula, I learned that this week the Berkeley YMCA is waiving its initiation fee (which is about $100). I've been dying to swim somewhere warm for at least a month. Just having a little of the weight off of my body for a little while each day seemed like such a luxury.

So, today, I got to swim in the shallow pool, which is basically for old ladies and pregnants, during the free swim hour at noon. It was great. The pool is heated to 90 degrees (a little too warm for me, actually), and it's really short in length. I'd swim a dozen laps and then stretch and crunch my belly, or do arm presses on the side of the pool, and stretches in the water. Or I'd just float on my back. It was all so nice. It's interesting, though, how quickly my stomach muscles feel strained. I was doing the breast stroke, and my stomach was stretched out more than usual, which may explain it. Crunching and compressing my stomach seemed to help work out the strainy pains, though.

While I was waiting to shower before doing my laps, this pretty older lady asked me my due date. Then she told me that she took the prenatal water exercise class at the Y when she was pregnant with her baby, and that she was still friends with those moms over 20 years later. I love stories like that! Here's hoping that some of the ladies I meet at prenatal yoga and swimming will remain friends for years to come.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Holidays and After

We had a lovely Christmas Eve dinner with Linda, Peter's mom, going trad German with lentil soup (delicious, made by Peter) cold cuts, cheese, and rolls, and a really yummy arugula, pomegranate, feta, orange, beet salad, which I was supposed to make, but Linda ended up making, because after I made a cake I fell asleep on the sofa. Yes, I'm starting to get more tired than usual again, not as bad as first trimester sleepiness, but still pretty tired. I'm hoping to avoid the grumpusing that I succumbed to during the first 12 weeks, though.

Oh! The cake! We'd gone to Chez Panisse on the 23rd, courtesy of the ever-and-always generous Linda, so I pulled out Chez Panisse Desserts and followed (kind of) its chocolate cake recipe. In case you're wondering, it involves 6 eggs (separated), more than a pound of butter (oh yeah), and a surprisingly minimal amount of sugar. I quadrupled the chocolate. And added three small grated zucchinis. The result? Super moist, dense, cannot-finish-a-skinny-piece-it's-so-rich chocolate cake. I whipped cream and served with raspberries. It was yummy.

Baking really centers me throughout this pregnancy. Granted, I can't eat hardly any of these baked goods, but my friends and co-workers sure love me. Well, Julia claims I'm trying to fatten her up (girl is skinny as a rail, it's true), and is excited that I will soon have a baby to cook for instead of her.

Linda left for LA bright and early on Christmas morning to see Moni and the grandkids, and Peter and I slept in, walked the dogs, and headed over to Kristin and Cameron's for Tom and Jerrys and sharing of the chocolate bird cake. Karen and Thaddeus met us there as well, and everyone enjoyed their Christmasy drinks and dense cake (except for me, but that is a-okay). The Tom and Jerrys did smell delicious, and reminded me of being at Karl's Bar (or was it another bar?) when I was four or five, when they'd serve the same drink.

Today we went to relatively flat Point Pinole and hiked for around five miles. It's not really a hike, given the flatness, it's a walk, and for me it's slightly slow walking at this point. Still, we did it in under 2 hours, which I thought was nothing to sniff at. I mean, look at the size of this belly. That's a lot to carry around at this point.
I'm about 7 1/2 months. There's still 9 weeks or so to go. I'm definitely feeling more awkward and cumbersome given the size of my belly. It's also weird to feel how the dude's movements have changed. I used to just be able to feel his kicks, more than anything, but now, I can feel him moving around a lot more, hands, legs, poky elbows and knees, all crawling around inside me. It's slightly creepy, but mostly fun to feel. He's definitely objecting to any bending from the waist, so I'm spending most of my time bending over with ballet-esque moves (sans the grace)or squatting low to the ground.

If we are blessed with a healthy baby and healthy birth recovery, as I hope we are, I am pretty confident I can handle everything from the get-go, save the patrolling and exercising of Ozzie and Haiko; okay, well, mostly of Haiko. He is crazy energetic. We spent half of the walk playing stick ball with him today, and the other half he ran around in giant circles for the rest of the walk. And he was only minimally tired. Then he puked in the car on the way back, but that is another story. Mostly I'm just worried about bundling up baby, me, and the dogs in March weather in Berkeley and getting the pups' ya-yas out to some degree. I guess we may be doing some Tilden loops. We'll see. I think that we're going to have to rely on the kindness of friends and neighbors, as well as increased dog walks from our lovely dog walker Ashley.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Making Difficulties For the Doctor (Or, Asserting My Right To Have the Opportunity to Labor Naturally)

On Monday they measured the little dude's femur length to determine his size. He is tall. Taller than many babes his age, at 70% of the typical growth rate for 28 weeks. This isn't really any surprise; I am 5'8 and Peter is 6'1. We're going to have a tall kid. I asked Dr. Maier if his size had something to do with my diabetes (even though it has been in tight control). He said, from what he could tell, the dude "wasn't fat, he was just tall, you guys are just going to have tall, big babies."

Today, he's been kicking the hell out of me. I don't know how active most babies are supposed to be at this age (this is the week I start counting his kicks, to see how long it takes him to kick 10 times each day; most days he will kick 10 times in less than five minutes). He kicked me so hard and long today (probably 40 or 50 times in an hour) that I almost threw up. I cannot imagine what the little stinker will be up to at 36 weeks!

I had a frank discussion with Dr. Maier at our appointment on Monday about how much I do not want to be induced. I know they're going to pressure me to do so, especially because they want me to give birth a week before my due date(!) which seems cuckoo to me. At Kaiser, you can't choose your delivery doctor, which means you get whoever's on schedule when you go into labor (or are forced into labor). Knowing this, I asked if I could meet with the midwife team at Kaiser in the next month or so. Sure, Dr. Maier told me, but since I'm a diabetic, I will be the lowest priority for them. Ugh.

"Look," I told Dr. Maier. "I do not want to be underestimated simply because I am a diabetic. I think that you can agree with me that I have had a very easy and healthy pregnancy up to this point judging by anyone's standards, not just those for a diabetic. I just want to be given the chance to labor like a normal person."

"Okay, we'll get you a meeting with the midwives," Dr. Maier said.

"If I wasn't a diabetic I'd be having this baby at home," I added. "I'm kind of a hippie."

"I know," he said. I'm not sure exactly what part he knew. Probably all of it.

"See, I'm just afraid of getting pumped full of pitocin, and then the contractions either not coming on or coming on so hard and fast that the baby goes into fetal distress, and then we have to have a c-section."

"Elka, that's the last thing any of us want. And if you ask me, you're going to have no problem with your labor or birth. And you should know, this hospital has one of the lowest c-section rates in the Bay Area. We pride ourselves on that."

Still, even though this is good reassurance, I'm starting the acupuncture inducement at 37.5 weeks, twice a week, and following up with lot of sex (the prostaglandin in semen can soften the cervix) and nipple stimulation. Because I really want to see if my body can do this without the pitocin. And if it can't, or if for some reason little dude won't turn, and we have to have a c-section, that's fine too. We can't wait to meet him. But I'd like to simply be given the opportunity to do what most women take for granted.

(This is the message Dr. Maier left for us when he couldn't come to our German holiday party (his wife is from Germany, and a midwife): elka and peter vielen dank fuer die einladung aber leider konnen wir nicht kommen, weil Christiane arbeiten muss. vieliecht in naechsten Jahr.)

I like Dr. Maier.

Friday, December 11, 2009

When You're Preg and Diabetic, This is Not the Message You Want to See

This is the lovely message I received at around 12:30 today when I tried to take my lunchtime insulin. My bloodsugar had been high for the past couple hours, and apparently no insulin was getting delivered to me or the little dude. This sort of thing, technical errors, etc., drive me nuts. I count on this little device to drip insulin into my body 24-7, and for it to suddenly konk out is not okay. It puts both me and the babe in danger.

So, since this happened at work, and I didn't have an extra infusion set on me, I had to race home (or, as race-worthy one can get on public transit), and then phone my insulin pump nurse to arrange prescriptions for long lasting insulin in case my pump was truly dead, and also phone MiniMed, the pump company, to see what the hell was up. The good news is that it doesn't look like it was a problem with my pump, just a problem with my infusion set. I've changed the infusion set, and my bloodsugar is back down to the low 100s, which both the little guy and I feel much more comfortable with.

The plan, I guess, is to just keep a very close eye on things (checking bloodsugars every two hours, middle of the night, etc.) and make sure that both the pump and the infusion set are behaving themselves.

Ah! The drama of the pregnant diabetic!

Here he is, by the way, the little guy (and me):

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Body, How It Changes (and also: Why I am Thankful For My Disease)

Blargh. The belly is getting more unruly, and all of the little muscles in my groin/stomach/pelvis are starting to soften. A lot. Yesterday on the Reformer in Pilates class I actually had to get off the machine and stop during these inner thigh exercises. They're the ones where you put one foot on the bar and then slide the other leg back and forth on the rolling platform while standing up. They used to kill my inner thighs, now they are not as hard, or, at least, they didn't used to be so hard until this week. But apparently now my inner thigh muscles are softening so the baby can slip out easier (not that it's going to be easy). And it kind of sucks. I feel like a weakling.

Other body things include an insanely itchy lower belly/chest. I know it's because of the expanding tissue and stretching skin, but nothing seems to help. I also left my super-expensive organic belly balm somewhere in Washington state, so I'm back to using organic baby oil on my belly and boobs. Perhaps it'll magically show up again, hopefully.

Peter with his clown hair and Elka making her pouty face because she thought camera had not taken a picture. But it had. Whidbey Island, November, 2009.

And . . . what else? I have to pee constantly, but then I barely pee when I go to the bathroom. I'm sure this will get worse. I'm getting more worried about twisting something or hurting myself due to the softening muscles and joints. Apparently Nickie, our doula, wrenched her back when she was pregnant getting up from peeing! Everytime Haiko yanks me on his leash I think whoo! close one!

I'm sure there are plenty of other random petty complaints, but my biggest realization throughout this pregnancy is that I just am not okay with complaining about this pregnancy! It is a gift, pure and simple. I went into it with so much trepidation and fear, thanks in part to the medical community's underestimation of my ability to be healthy, and to carry a baby healthfully, thanks to my disease. But I am so healthy right now! My acupuncturist moved my appointments back to every two weeks, because I am so healthy. She checked my pulse points on Tuesday, smiled, and said, "There's nothing as beautiful as a healthy, strong, pregnant woman." That meant a lot to me.

So here's the thing: my disease has made me appreciate my pregnancy so much more. I am, in many ways, thankful for it. I don't take a moment of this pregnancy for granted. When the little guy kicks me hard, I am thankful that he is so strong, and that I am able to provide a home for him in my body that is welcoming, healthy, and safe, for the first 40 weeks of his life. It is hard for me to listen to healthy women complain about their pregnancies. I know that it is hard for everyone on some level, and everyone has issues, but this ability to carry a child, in spite of all its chaos and difficulty and hardship, is a gift, pure and simple. And for those of us who have a disease, who have had heartbreak trying to get pregnant or stay pregnant, every moment is a prayer answered.