1/25/06

Week 22: I’ve Popped!

At some point over the past week or two, I have started to really look pregnant. Of course, people who know me could tell something was up awhile ago. But to the rest of the world I think I just looked like I was carrying a little extra weight around the middle. You couldn’t even tell in baggy T-shirts. But now, it’s unmistakable. I have an upside-down salad bowl protruding from my abdomen – with the tell-tale “outie” belly button on top.

The reactions I’ve gotten so far have ranged from, “Oh, look how cute your belly is!” (immediately reaching out to touch said belly) to “Holy sh*t! You look, like, completely pregnant already.” (This from my ever-sensitive brother.) For the most part, I’m not too concerned about my extra weight (19 lbs. and counting). But occasionally, some doubts creep in – say, when I’m squeezing into my biggest pants and I still can’t button them. Or when my stomach casts a shadow over my knees. Or when I look at myself from the side and notice that my belly now sticks out farther than my chest. Or when I think about the fact that I’ve still got almost four months to go before this bun’s ready to come out of the oven.

When I’m not thinking about my ever-changing shape, I’m thinking about baby furniture. You thought it ended with the glider/recliner? Oh, no, my friend, you’re sadly mistaken. Even more important than the chair is the crib. I had naively imagined that finding a plain, white, mid-priced crib would be a cinch. But that was before I wandered into Babies R Us and discovered convertible cribs, sleigh cribs, single drop sides, double drop sides, and wheels. Prices varied by hundreds of dollars. And it turns out white cribs are no longer in fashion – who knew? Natural wood finishes like cherry, honey oak, sandy pine, and chestnut are popular now.

Of course, no two brands use the same finishes or the same names, so good luck trying to match a crib and a dresser from different lines. And you can be sure that your favorite crib will only come with a matching deluxe double dresser with a hutch – costing hundreds more than the simple changing table you had in mind. (That only comes in deep mahogany, sorry.) The helpful salespeople might also mention that the cribs may take anywhere from eight to 14 weeks to ship, though they can’t guarantee delivery before your child’s out of diapers.

Hubby and I spent way too many Saturdays and way too much time on the Internet before throwing in the towel. That happened right around the time we looked up user reviews of the crib we’d finally decided on. One user gave it five stars and praised its sturdy construction, while another gave it half a star and described in graphic detail how one of the wooden rails had split, causing her maimed child to be rushed to the hospital. Comforting.

So we went ahead and ordered a basic, white, mid-priced crib from Sears. They’re a reliable company, we reasoned. The elderly salesman in the furniture department had a grandfatherly quality; surely he wouldn’t steer us wrong. Plus, it was on sale. When it doubt, let frugality prevail. Next we ordered a simple white dresser – also on sale – from JC Penney. We plan to throw a $25 changing pad on top and call it a day.

Will the finishes match exactly? I fear not. (One woman’s “eggshell” is another woman’s “satin.”) Will our baby need to be rushed to the hospital because of faulty construction? I sure hope not. The medical bills would definitely cancel out the money we saved by not getting the deluxe honey oak hutch.

1/22/06

Week 21: Babymoon in Paradise

Before I got pregnant, C. and I had been planning a trip to Buenos Aires in February. We later scrapped that plan and decided to find someplace closer and cheaper. After all, we’ve got a lot of major purchases coming up. So when we found cheap airfare to Florida this month, we decided to take a week-long vacation while we still can. The travel industry has actually coined a term for a final pre-baby getaway — the babymoon.

Since I’ve never been to the Florida Keys, we decided that might be a fun destination. We chose Key Largo because it’s the closest to the mainland. I didn’t think my pregnant bladder could survive the much longer drive to Key West.

When we arrived at the airport in Florida, they didn’t have the car we reserved so they gave us a white convertible – bonus! We found a great little hotel on the Internet overlooking Florida Bay. The décor was very classy and modern, with tile floors, leather couches, a spacious bathroom, and a kitchenette. (You know we pregnant chicks love to eat!)

I was kind of surprised when the guy who runs the hotel said “Congratulations” as soon as we walked in. C. assumed I had told him I was pregnant, but I hadn’t. Plus, I was wearing a flowy tunic top and didn’t think it was that obvious. But he kept commenting on how pregnant I was – “Are you eating everything in sight yet? Better be careful if you go kayaking.” – that I started to get a bit of a complex! He’s the first stranger who’s commented on my pregnancy immediately upon meeting me.

Anyway, he was a pleasant guy, and he ran a nice hotel. The best thing about it was that they deliver fresh pastries and yogurt to guests’ doorsteps every morning. By the second day of our stay, my stomach had developed its own internal pastry clock, awakening me in anticipation of the yummy papaya- and guava-filled croissants by 8:30 a.m. (On our last day, they gave us three – one for the baby!)

Our first day in Key Largo was in the low 80s and sunny. We drove a couple miles down the road to a state park, where there were two sandy beaches with restrooms and refreshments nearby – another bonus! The water was pretty chilly, so we just sat on the beach and relaxed in the sun.

But it was a good thing I brought two swimsuits — my newly voluptuous figure proved too much of a strain on my pre-pregnancy bikini, causing the top to pop open unexpectedly when I bent down to pick up my book. Luckily, C. provided a screen while I covered myself!

That afternoon, we rented kayaks for what I hoped would be an easy paddle for a couple of hours. Things started out fine, but an hour or so into it, we got turned around in the narrow channels and lost our way. Three hours and some choppy water later, we somehow ended up back at our starting point, exhausted. I was a little scared I’d damaged my unborn baby. But when I felt him/her moving around later that night, I relaxed.

The next day was overcast, so we drove to Key West for the day. It was a nice drive along the Overseas Highway, but by the time we got there, we only had enough time to eat lunch and look in a couple of shops before we had to head back for my prenatal massage appointment in Key Largo. Key West seemed a little too busy and crowded for my tastes, anyway.

The spa at the Marriott just down the road from our hotel was situated in an open-air tiki hut overlooking the pool. My massage therapist had outfitted the pregnancy-appropriate massage table (topped with a special cushion with scooped-out areas for my boobs and belly) with heated blankets. The massage was amazing. Though I don’t know what exactly was prenatal about it. I’d heard you’re not supposed to stimulate certain parts of your feet and ankles because it can cause contractions, but she didn’t seem to avoid those areas. Anyway, afterward I felt unbelievably relaxed.

At night we didn’t do much more than eat and go back to the hotel to watch movies in our room. The first night we had the most amazing coconut-crusted mahi mahi with curry raisin sauce at this little hole-in-the-wall place down the road. The next night we headed down the highway to a fancy French restaurant in Islamorada. I keep thinking to myself, we won’t be able to come places like this once the baby arrives. It was a super-elegant, waterfront restaurant with dark wood paneling, cream walls, and black and white nautical prints. Kind of like we’d decorate our family room if we could afford to. My potato-crusted grouper with roasted tomatoes was a work of art, as delicious as it was attractive. So was C.’s wahoo with seafood risotto. Even though we were stuffed, we ordered the crème brulee for dessert. Hey, I’m eating for two, right?

The last day, we drove back to West Palm Beach and stayed with my grandfather. It was fun to see him, and my aunt and cousin from Kentucky were visiting, so I got to see them, too. Everyone made a big deal over my pregnancy, and my aunt gave me some cute maternity clothes. (So far I haven’t had to buy any for myself!) We came home relaxed and ready to tackle the baby’s room. Well, maybe we’ll start on it next weekend …

1/11/06

Week 20: Don’t Mess With Mama

The first half of my pregnancy has been remarkably easy, happy, and free of stress, strife, and morning sickness. People have even told me that I have that special mom-to-be glow. Too good to be true? Yep. This week the meconium hit the fan. (For those who haven’t been hitting the baby books like I have, that’s a fancy word for baby’s first poo, described as a “tar-like, greenish-black substance.” Pleasant, huh?)

First, things got sticky at work. Two clients, whom I’ll euphemistically describe as “challenging” to work with, came back to me with last-minute complaints and/or changes on projects I’d thought were long since completed. One had the gall to underpay me and insult my work to boot. Part of me wanted to say, “Kiss my rapidly expanding posterior. I have more important things to worry about.” But of course, that would be unprofessional, not to mention it would draw unwanted attention to that particular body part.

So I bit my tongue and did my best to satisfy these people. But inside, I seethed. I seethed so much that I gave myself stomachaches, woke up at 3 a.m. running through perfect come-backs in my mind, and just generally made myself (and my poor husband) miserable. I envisioned toxic waves of negativity flowing through my body, endangering my baby. And that made me mad. These mean, ridiculous, nitpicky people had gotten under my skin and were interfering with my life, my pregnancy, MY BABY. I believe I experienced my very first episode of “protective mother rage.” How dare someone mess with my (unborn) child!

So once all that drama passed, I got hit with a nasty stomach virus. My husband had suffered through it a week before and I was thanking my lucky stars that I’d managed to avoid it. But no, the bug was festering inside me, waiting for the most inopportune time to erupt. For the past 24 hours, I’ve barely been able to keep down peppermint tea and Saltines.

I have renewed sympathy for women with morning sickness now. I don’t know how they get through a day, let alone weeks or months, feeling like that. I feel very lucky to have escaped it. My biggest fear, instilled by the nurse at my doctor’s office, was that I would become dehydrated and have to get an IV. Needles and I don’t go together so well. Fortunately, I woke up this morning after 12 hours of sleep feeling like a new person.

This week has taught me not to take my pregnancy, or my health, for granted. My body’s got an important job to do, the most important job it will probably ever have – creating a new life. And it’s my job to make sure I keep my body in the best operating condition possible. If that means kicking a few unappreciative clients to the curb, so be it. My baby’s worth it.

1/3/06

Week 19: I Wear the (Maternity) Pants in the Family

Happy New Year! I can hardly believe it’s 2006. At midnight on New Year’s Eve, C. leaned down and said to my belly, “Welcome to the year of your birth.” Our baby’s being born this year! In some ways, five months seems like forever. In other ways, May seems like it’s just around the corner.

I’ve already started off the new year differently. For one thing, I was sober. It actually wasn’t that bad being one of the few non-champagne drinkers at our friends’ New Year’s Eve party. It was the first time in years I’ve woken up on New Year’s Day without a hangover. And I did make it till midnight, instead of falling asleep in the onion dip as I had feared. I admit I did feel a twinge or two of envy eyeing the svelte gals in their tight satin dresses and tiny sequined tank tops. But seeing as I can still squeeze into a couple pairs of my pre-pregnancy pants, I guess I’m not too much of a heifer just yet. And anyway, who cares? I’m having a baby this year!

When I was home for Christmas, my mom thought it would be fun to take me shopping for maternity clothes. I don’t really need them just yet, but I am starting to feel a bit constricted by that top button on my pants. Every night when I take them off, I have a red ring around my middle. Can’t be comfortable for the Bean. (I have taken to calling the baby “the Bean,” short for Jelly Bean, even though my pregnancy books tell me this person inside me has now grown to the size of a zucchini. Again with the produce!)

So I gamely went along with my mom to paw through racks of large, elastic-waist pants and tent-shaped tops. Let me tell you, on the fun meter, this ranks considerably lower than shopping for wedding dresses, no matter what my mother says.

I hauled armloads of stretchy, loose, and drawstring garments into the dressing room. The first few swam on my frame like deployed parachutes. The shop girl suggested I strap on one of the store’s fake, cotton-stuffed “bellies” to see what I’d look like in a couple months. I just looked like I’d fastened a flotation device around my waist. Ridiculous. I managed to find a couple pairs of jeans that actually looked like normal-person clothes aside from the large band of elastic at the top. But with a long maternity shirt – the ones that tie in the back or are gathered under the bustline at least give the illusion that you still have a waist – they didn’t look half bad. I steered clear of the maternity bathing suits. No amount of ruching can make those things look cute.

I did break down and buy a few new pairs of underwear, though. I specifically did not get the ones labeled “maternity panties,” I just bought my regular kind a size (or two) larger. It’s a little tough on the ego to purchase undergarments that could double as patio umbrellas, but comfort won out in the end. I really should also buy some bigger bras. Normally, I’d be thrilled by this prospect, except that if there’s anything I hate worse than shopping for elastic-waist pants, it’s trying on bras. So in the meantime, I’m enjoying the voluptuous illusion given by stuffing myself into my too-small ones. Look out, Pamela Anderson!

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