2/23/06

Week 25: The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Here’s what no one tells you about pregnancy: it’s often kind of boring. There will be days, weeks even, when not a whole lot happens. Sure, the baby is growing and changing constantly inside that big belly of yours, but from the outside, it’s not that exciting.

Let me clarify: I am thankful that my pregnancy has been uneventful, medically speaking. I have felt great for the most part, and have had no complications. I realize I’m very lucky. It’s just that, except for my occasional doctor’s appointments, there’s not all that much to do while I’m waiting for the baby to finish up in there and get born already.

We’ve ordered the crib, registered for baby gear, and are putting the finishing touches on the nursery. I’ve read more books than I ever knew existed about pregnancy, birth, baby names, and infant care. We’ve signed up for childbirth classes, gotten recommendations for pediatricians, and borrowed an infant car seat. I’m even learning to sew and knit, for Pete’s sake. That should tell you how much time I’ve had on my hands lately.

So now, there’s not much left to do but wait. Of course, few people – especially those who already have kids – have much sympathy for me. “Ha! You certainly won’t be bored in a few months,” they say. “You’ll WISH you had time to be bored!” Or sometimes they’ll say, “Enjoy it while it lasts. This time will be gone before you know it.”

Yet somehow, knowing that come June, I may not have time to shower, let alone take in a movie or get my nails done, doesn’t make those activities oh-so-much more enjoyable now. I’ve always been able to do those things. Big deal. I think they really only take on heightened appeal when you can’t remember when you last had time to do them.

I do take advantage of being able to sleep in when I feel like it, and go out to dinner with my husband. I keep telling myself, “In a few months, these date nights will be rare occasions that will require advance planning, a babysitter, and a list of emergency phone numbers.” I guess I could get started on that list now. It just seems so … boring.

Weird Symptom of the Week: Sleep is now frequently interrupted by calf cramps, bathroom visits, and general anxieties about work, breastfeeding, and the expiration dates on the dairy products in the fridge. Also, my stomach looks and feels like an overinflated basketball. I fear that it may explode at any moment.

2/15/06

Week 24: Our Other Baby

I’ve neglected to mention until now that there is actually already another member of our immediate family besides C. and me: Gracie the dog. We adopted our lovable mutt from a shelter about a year ago. She’s got a scraggly black beard, soulful eyes, and a tendency to toss her Milkbones the minute she’s locked inside a moving vehicle. (She gets that from me – weak stomachs run in the family).

Gracie is the sweetest dog in the world, even if she’s no Rhodes scholar. She flees from garden gnomes and barks viciously at wind chimes. She’s fallen face-first into duck ponds and off the edge of decks because she’s unable to distinguish them from solid ground. She has consumed entire boxes of roach poison and peppermint tea, along with several recycling bins’ worth of junk mail. What can I say? We love her anyway. Maybe too much.

Sometimes I look into Gracie’s deep brown eyes and say, “Dog, you have no idea how your life is going to change in a few months.” She’s used to being the baby of the family – commanding all our attention and affection, sleeping at the foot of our bed, being taken to the dog park on weekends. Little does she know that in May, a little pink (not to mention loud and stinky) interloper is going to join the family. Poor pooch doesn’t even see it coming.

She may have her suspicions, though. The whole week after we got back from our “babymoon” she gave us the cold shoulder. Wouldn’t come out of her bed, wouldn’t play with her favorite sock-ball, wouldn’t even come upstairs when we whistled. The brat.

Gracie would have even more reason to resent us if she knew that I have considered taking her name away and giving it to the baby. Don’t judge me! We have been having such a hard time coming up with a girl’s name that we both like and that sounds good with our last name. “Gracie” works. And we wasted it on the dog! Anyway, we already renamed her once. At the shelter they called her “Jacquita.” Would another name change really matter at this point? Still, I can’t bring myself to do it. “Gracie” is such a brilliant misnomer for our clumsy mutt.

I hope that Gracie will adjust to having a baby around the house. Like I said, she’s a sweet dog and she’s good with kids. Plus, she and the baby can bond as they slobber on anything within arm’s (or paw’s) reach.

Weird Symptom of the Week: This is a new addition to my journal, made necessary by the fact that I am now experiencing random, pregnancy-associated discomforts. This week, it’s calf cramps in the middle of the night. Can you say OUCH?!

2/7/06

Week 23: Up to My Ears in Baby Gear

A baby requires more gear than an expedition up Mount Everest. Not only do you need a crib, changing table, bassinet, rocking chair, and playpen, you also apparently need a highchair, a stroller, a baby carrier, an infant car seat, a convertible car seat, a bouncy seat, and a swing (motorized, with six speeds and 15 musical selections). And that’s not even counting all the diapers and clothing and bedding and bathing and breast-feeding paraphernalia.

Now, I know you may be thinking what I was thinking: Surely babies don’t need ALL this stuff. I mean, there are tribes in Africa that raise their children with no other accoutrements than a homemade baby sling fashioned out of a sarong.

But here in the U.S., as any experienced parent will tell you, you not only need all this stuff, but you would be willing to sacrifice an organ rather than live without it. At least, this is what my friend T. told me as we were wandering the aisles of Babies R Us, scanner in hand. Yes, when you register for baby gear at these places, they set you loose with a multi-page checklist of “must-haves” for new parents and a scanner so you can zap any piece of merchandise your little heart desires.

I didn’t get any further than the diaper-pail aisle when I froze up. Did I want the Diaper Genie, which turns dirty diapers into magical, stink-free, hermetically sealed sausages? Or should I go with the plain old diaper pail that looks like a regular kitchen trashcan? T. and I examined the inner workings of a few models while she pointed out that some contained no form of odor-shielding apparatus – a crucial feature, for obvious reasons – and others required special, extremely expensive refills. Do you know how many diapers a newborn goes through in a day? Four or five? Maybe six? Try TWELVE, people!! At that rate, the money we’d spend on the diaper pail refills would burn through the kid’s college fund in a few months flat. So I went with the basic model.

It got a little easier as we moved on to the other aisles. Digital thermometer – zap! Baby bathtub – zap! Highchair – zap! Baby Bjorn – zap! I stalled again when faced with the swings and bouncy seats. Surely I wouldn’t need both. Most of these contraptions are the size of major kitchen appliances, not to mention rather gaudy. But T. remarked that while the swing was guaranteed to lull her daughter to sleep, only the portable bouncy seat would do for trips to Grandma’s. Fine. Zap! Zap!

I nearly had a meltdown when we got to the strollers, though. Talk about too many choices. And I’m not even referring to colors and fabrics. There are umbrella strollers, jogging strollers, reclining strollers, ultra-light strollers, and “travel systems.” That’s the marketing term for these all-in-one thingies that include an infant car seat that snaps onto a stroller, which folds up to fit in a car trunk.

See, the idea is that this one stroller will accommodate your child when she’s an infant and then convert into a toddler stroller, all the while providing you with nifty features like rain canopies, under-seat storage, and cup holders. But here’s the catch – this convenient “system” weighs more than most 10-year-olds. The thing is HEAVY, and that’s without an actual human baby in it!

Speaking of which – side note – I am beginning to feel ridiculously heavy myself. My body is not used to carrying a 20-lb. bowling ball strapped to its front. At least, I’m assuming that’s where the extra 20 lbs. has settled, since the rest of me looks about the same and the baby only weighs about 1 lb. at this point. Anyway, it’s starting to get a little uncomfortable, walking around, sleeping, and digesting with this large weight resting just above my belt. Best not to think about what month nine holds in store …

So, back to the baby gear. Not only is most of this stuff heavy, unwieldy, and garishly colored, it’s also EXPENSIVE. Of course, the idea of registering is that other people will buy it for you. (You know, the same people who shelled out for that platinum-rimmed Waterford wedding china that’s now gathering dust in your dining room.) But why go broke giving someone a six-speed motorized swing when you could just get a cute onesie and a pack of bibs and be done with it?

Odds are, we’re going to end up purchasing most of this stuff ourselves, however impractical it may be to fork over $90 for a mass-produced baby carrier we’ll only use for three months. That homemade African sling’s starting to sound pretty good. I wonder if it comes with a lumbar support attachment?

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