Baby Watch 2011

My official due date is tomorrow. He's almost here. I'm progressing and my doctor did a little something to speed things up. If it doesn't happen naturally, I'm on a waiting list to be induced tomorrow. I let my employer know that my maternity leave officially starts tomorrow. We're ready. And waiting.

Tonight when I put W down all I could think was that this could be the last time I put him down as my only child. I've been focused all week on getting this show on the road and I haven't really allowed myself to think about the reality of how quickly W won't be my one and only child. It's exciting, yet scary. I want it to happen, yet I don't. I'm ready, but I'm totally unprepared for this transition. This deserves a few posts of its own, so for now let's focus on the waiting game we're playing...

Could it be tonight? Will the hospital be able to work me into their packed schedule of inductions tomorrow? How soon will W be an older brother rather than an only child?
I'll keep you posted.


The Business of Birth

For the From Left to Write Book Club we read Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away by Christie Watson. This post is inspired by the book.

Birthing. It's big business here in the States. Expectant mothers plan for the big moment for the better part of those 40 weeks. It's normal for people to inquire about what week you're in, the name of your doctor, where you'll deliver, whether you're having a boy or girl, the name of the baby, if the nursery is ready to go... And then afterward you can count on perfect strangers asking how your delivery went, if you opted to have an epidural, if you're breast feeding, how long you pushed, if you needed a c-section... You don't just have a baby, it becomes the focal point of life. So, as you near the end of pregnancy, you start to obsess a little about the big delivery. OK, maybe YOU don't. But, I do.

My first delivery did not go well. It was long and scary and nasty and has details that make friends of mine reconsider having children. But, it wasn't bad enough to keep me from getting myself back into the same situation. So, here I am... Four days away from my due date and willing labor to start, yet totally freaked out about actually having to go through it.

W's birth could have gone so very wrong. His head was turned up and to the right (I've since heard this described as "sunny side up") and after three hours of pushing his heart rate was rapidly dropping and I was struggling. Things were not looking good. Enter forceps. And I'll stop the story here, but if you're interested you can read a little more here.

For me, there was something both sobering and totally frightening about reading a book in which the twelve-year-old narrator is training to be a birth attendant (aka midwife) in Nigeria. When you're thinking about child birth every day, hoping for a better outcome, feeling resentful about your first bad experience... Well, it's scary to read about labor, especially when they go wrong.

But, at the same time, it's sobering to read about women in huts, laying on the dirt floor, panting. Midwives being called in the middle of the night, washing their hands in polluted water, with a rag and knives as tools. Struggling through the pain in the dark heat with a tween delivering your baby. It makes my impending labor at a top-rated women's hospital sound like a weekend stay at a hotel.

I think of all this and my complaining and whining is suddenly much less warranted.

This post was inspired by Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away by Christie Watson, which I received complimentary as part of the From Left to Write Book Club. To see how this book inspired other bloggers visit From Left to Write.

Did I Mention We're Ready?

I wanted to circle back on a post that I know made a lot of you nervous... Remember this one? The one when I listed all the things we had to do before baby's arrival? I think I wrote it after my doctor mentioned that she thought I might go early and I started to get nervous and freak just a little?

One of the most frustrating things about blogs is that people tend to put something out there, but then don't circle back on the resolution... So, I thought I'd circle back on this one with a little update for all of you who were concerned. And thank you all for the offers of help and reminders that I needed to pull it together.

The List of Things That Should Have Been Done A Month Ago, But Now Are (or almost are):

1. Sorting and washing the baby clothes. DONE!

2. Moving W into his new room. DONE!

3. Packed for the hospital. Pretty close, but I keep having to unpack stuff...

4. Pulled out all the baby stuff... I still have to go through some stuff, but nothing major.

5. Chosen a name. DONE! But, we're not sharing it with anyone else. I totally get why people don't share names now. It's obvious when people don't like a baby name and I'm not interested in any other opinions.

Hope that makes all of you feel better about the situation at the Hannemaniac household. In my usual fashion, I pulled it together just in time. Now it's just a matter of waiting.

And, for the record, being ready is another reason I'm convinced that I won't go into labor any time soon.


39 Weeks Pregnant and Waiting...

I'm beginning to think that I can't go into labor naturally. Granted, I still have five days until my official due date, but if it was going to happen I think it would have already... Seriously, I'm immune to going into labor or something (I was induced eight days after W was born).

Five reasons why if it was gonna happen, it woulda:

1. I had an event for work on Thursday night at Wrigley Field, which meant I was hauling myself up and down stairs, on and off the field, on and off a stage, and standing for about 10 hours. Oh yeah, and I got hit in the ankle by a ball while walking across the field. While I'd like to pretend it was by a professional player, I'd put the perpetrator at about 13 years old. But, seriously, have you ever been hit by a baseball? Whoa, water should have broken right then.

2. Friday night my mom and sister made what is supposed to be the eggplant parmesan recipe that is guaranteed to induce labor. For the second pregnancy in a row, it has not worked. But, man, it is really good. Everyone was actually looking forward to eating it again. Labor intensive, but not labor inducing.

3. I got myself a pedicure on Saturday morning and then attended a first birthday party. You pick, either should have put me in labor.

4. I gardened today. That should do it, right? Nope.

5. We made a run for wings tonight. And they were hot. I also took a walk once we got home.

I am totally convinced that no amount of chasing W, no matter how many times I waddle into the basement to do laundry, nothing will make a difference. All week well meaning people told me about the dinner party for 10 that put them into labor or the spicy meal or whatever it may be that worked for them... And it gave me hope. Then every morning I wake up, still feeling good, and my gut tells me that it will not be the day. For a control freak, like me, the last week of pregnancy is terrible. No matter what I do, I'm not in charge.

A friend of mine heard that the pressure of a storm is rumored to get labor moving for some women. I can hear the thunder starting now. Maybe there's still a chance.


Nesting and Dot and Ziggy

We had a really, really good weekend. Despite the contractions and the general feeling of hugeness, I made it to soccer and W did awesome. He listened, participated, and never had an "I wanna go home" melt down. Some major nesting kicked in, so we stocked the freezer with goods from Trader Joe's and Harrison's. We went through six containers of W's clothes, organized, consolidated by size, and then washed and put away all of the 0-6 month stuff. My parents dropped off the bassinet, swing, car seat and base, and bouncy seat. We introduced W to Chinese food and I managed to get caught up on a ton of work. And then on Sunday morning we took W to his first play, Dot and Ziggy.

Dot and Ziggy was the cherry on our weekend sundae. When I was first invited to see Chicago's first live theater experience for babies and toddlers, I had some reservations... I expected mass chaos and a 20 minute attention span from W before he started asking to go home. I couldn't have been more wrong. It was really awesome and for the number of kids that were there, the fussing was practically nonexistent. W was totally consumed by the show. I thought he was the perfect age, but honestly, every kid seemed pretty entertained. I would guess it's good for kids spanning 9 months to 5 years. I can't remember a single meltdown, which in itself is amazing.

How do they make sure kids aren't melting down? I think the key was not sitting in a traditional theater setting. Instead, we sat on rugs (they very kindly brought me a chair, which I didn't even have to ask for) and the actors moved throughout the room. There was music, lessons, and lots of physical movement to keep the kids interested. And it was about 45 minutes long. Perfect amount of time.

If you're looking for something to do with your tot, you should for sure check out Dot and Ziggy. Tickets are $16 on weekdays and $18 on weekends, but I have a coupon code for you to lighten the bill: Use MOMDZ to save $2 off tickets.

Let me know if you go and what you think about it. My advice: Don't tell your kid they're going to a PLAY. W was totally confused why there weren't toys when we walked in the door. He expected the biggest PLAY TIME of his life. Instead, we had to explain that it was a SHOW, like a tv show, just with real people. It took a while for him to get it, so consider the words you choose when taking your kid to his first 'play.' Lesson learned.

Disclosure: I received three complimentary tickets to Dot and Ziggy through Mom Impact. The opinions expressed in this post are my own and I posted about it by choice, not obligation.


False Labor and How Not to Deal With It

I didn't go into labor with W. I didn't even get close. So, there is a part of me that wonders if I'll even know when I'm in labor. Clearly, I can't tell you how to deal with being in labor, but I can tell you how not to deal with false labor.

I've been having contractions on and off for the last week. Things are happening. Wanting to be responsible and after being nudged by a friend, I called my doctor's office on Tuesday to let them know that movement had totally slowed down. I left the nurse a voicemail around noon and then was away from my desk for the rest of the afternoon. She called me back three times, insisting I go to Labor and Delivery to get on a monitor.

So, here are a few gems that I've learned in the last week that I'd like to share with you. For many, these are obvious no-no's. For me, not so much.

Things Not To Do When Dealing With False Labor:

1. Don't say to the nurse on the phone who has just told you to go to the hospital: "Really, I have to go to the hospital? I can't just wait until my appointment tomorrow?" You will receive silence and a sigh before hearing "No."

2. When you do go to the hospital, do not say to the nurse: "This should take like 15 minutes, right?" You will get a blank stare and then spend the next two hours watching the clock while hooked up to a monitor.

3. Do yourself a favor and don't start to complain to yourself that the bed you're laying in isn't very comfortable and the room feels stuffy and the volume on the tv is pretty bad... Because you'll be spending a lot of time there in the very near future.

4. When your friends can see a nervous look on your face while you're chatting after dinner/having contractions and offer to drive you home, do not insist on taking the train. I'm glad I changed my mind. (Thankfully I have friends who know me well...)

5. When you're having contractions in the middle of the night and decide to go watch some tv, do not under any circumstances watch Steel Magnolias... Especially if you work for a diabetes organization. Weeping through contractions alone on the couch... Not cool.

Under two weeks until the due date... Just imagine what other lessons I still have time to learn.


Never Enough

For the From Left to Write Book Club we read Good Enough is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood by Becky Beaupre Gillespie & Hollee Schwartz Temple. This post was inspired by the book.

I need this book. I need to follow this book. I think this book may have been written for me. And I can't wait to finish reading it, which makes me realize that I may have even learned something from this book.

The book breaks moms down to the "Good Enoughs" and the "Never Enoughs." A Good Enough is the happier, more well balanced, realistic mom, because she is able to figure out what she really wants from life, prioritize, and accept that she can't do everything.

I am not a Good Enough.

I'm a Never Enough. I'm incapable of saying no, I don't prioritize, I have a hard time delegating, I don't necessarily have realistic expectations of myself. I wish for more hours in the day, not less to accomplish. It's not perfection that I'm after. It's everything. Between being a mother, wife, sister, friend, cook, blogger, full time employee, I'm stretched. And I'm rushing through every day, rather than feeling like I'm getting the most I can from each day.

I know most moms feel this way. But after reading about the case for Good Enough over Never Enough, I realize that something has to give if I want things to change. I'm just not sure what it is right now. It's been a long time coming.

And on Saturday I got a big wake up call... Matt took W to soccer and on some errands, which gave me about two hours to get stuff done in the morning. My mental to-do list was so long and scattered I struggled with choosing where to begin. I decided to start with a shower and think it over, keeping in mind that I had to leave at noon for my friend's 1:00 wedding shower (important detail).

I got myself ready, caught up on some work, and then focused on moving all of W's clothes into his new room and cleaned out his closet. I started a blog post, threw in some laundry, and Matt got home to tell me that W was bad at soccer, misbehaved, bugged the other kids, didn't listen to the coaches, and that it was, apparently, a huge disaster. I felt terrible for missing it, for not being there to witness his behavior first hand, wondering how Matt handled it, what I would have done differently. But, I didn't have time to figure it out, I had to leave for the shower. As I was finishing my make up, I received a text message that said: "Are you coming?"

Huh? I grabbed the shower invitation (the same invitation that I had written the directions on earlier that morning and had been hanging on the refrigerator). And there it was: The shower started at 11:30. I had written it on our calendar wrong. I jumped in the car and hit the road. In my hurry, I managed to get lost and then act nasty to my sister when she called me.

I made it to the shower an hour and a half late, so was hardly able to hold a conversation with my friends since I was so distracted by how the morning went and what I had read in this book... I got into the car to head home, got stuck in traffic, and then completely lost my mind. I had to get home. I hadn't spent any time with W that day, there was a chicken to roast for dinner, W was moving to his big boy bed that night... I still had a mile long pre-baby to do list, a few hours of work to finish, a couple of posts to write, and a book to read. Life was not working in that moment. It was 3:30, not nearly enough time left in the day to get half of my to-do list done. And I sat there on the expressway, gripping the wheel, and told myself to figure it out.

Something has to change, I know. In all the things I want to do well, I'm failing. I may have failed at finishing this book, but not at being inspired by it. I've promised myself to finish it, learn from it, and make some changes. And I know that if I do it will be easier to accept that I didn't fail, I just prioritized.

This post was inspired by Good Enough is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood by Becky Beaupre Gillespie & Hollee Schwartz Temple, which I received complimentary as part of the From Left to Write Book Club. To see how this book inspired other bloggers, visit From Left to Write.


Stork Vision

When I was pregnant with W I knew a lot of women who were opting to get a 3D/4D ultrasound. My doctor's office seemed pretty high tech, so I figured it would come with my general package of prenatal care (yup, I was totally clueless). As it turned out, my doctor never even mentioned it to me. And, honestly, seeing the other people's images freaked me out and all just seemed to look the same to me. Still in "deer in headlights" mode about having a baby in the first place, the idea of seeing a little face smooshed up against my insides terrified me. So, let's just say I was fine skipping it.

The grainy, black and white regular ultrasounds were comparable to watching static on the tv for me - they still are. I can see a beating heart, but any time a technician says something like, "...And there's the arm!" I nod my head, pretending I can see it. Seriously I cannot figure out what the heck I'm looking at in ultrasounds. Just when I think I get it, I realize I'm looking at the wrong thing. Tilting my head, squinting my eyes... nothing makes a difference.

So, here I am, pregnant again, not quite as freaked out, but still not able to understand an ultrasound picture. This all might explain why when I was given the opportunity to get a 3D/4D ultrasound from Stork Vision, I took them up on the offer. Why not, right? (OK, before you answer that, I'll point out the obvious... It's cost prohibitive, I know, and that would have been my concern as well, but since it was a complimentary visit, that wasn't a factor. )

I ended up having two visits. The first was with Matt, W, and his pal Jack who we were watching for the day and is also two years old. We were, of course, 30 minutes late. (Have you ever tried to get two toddlers out the door after cutting short their nap time? And then realized that the express lanes on the expressway were open going the opposite direction?) Once we got there we spilled into a clean, calm, and modern space. It didn't take long before it was strewn with cars, books, and cookie crumbs from the old "keep the kids happy" stash, though.

Baby was not so cooperative during this first visit. He balled his fists in front of his face and turned his head any time we got close for a picture. We left without photos of his face, but an offer to come back and give it another try. Though they encouraged us to bring the whole family, I'm sure they were happy to see us drag the two boys out of there.

I returned a couple of weeks later. This time I brought my mom and sisters and we got plenty of good shots of the baby. He still tried to shield his face a few times, but we saw him give a thumbs up, yawn (a lot), swallow, and stick out his tongue. It was pretty bizarre, yet cool. My mom was so captivated she could hardly sit down.

Where I thought I would see the same infant in other people's 3D/4D images, I saw a baby that looked like W... Eyes set a little wide, that perfect little nose... Could it be? Or is it just what I wanted to see? I guess we'll know in a few weeks, but for now the photos are keeping me a little more excited to meet my Little Guy #2.

There is something that I've heard women say about their baby that I've never understood until now and I can say it too: I'm really excited to meet this little guy. I can't say for sure that the ultrasounds at Stork Vision are the reason why, but I believe they helped.

If you're thinking of getting this type of ultrasound, I'd recommend checking them out. The technicians were really excellent and personable. They both took their time and patiently explained everything. The Chicago location is in a great spot in Lincoln Park and street parking was surprisingly easy. The white couches made me nervous with W and the decor made me feel a little like I was in an Ikea, but overall it was pretty cool.

Disclosure: I received the visits to Stork Vision complimentary, however the opinions here are my own.


The Big Boy Bed

We just put W in his big boy bed. We've been talking to him about this transition for quite a while and day by day his new room became more and more ready. First the mural was done. Then the room was cleared of all the old stuff it had been holding. Soon the bed frame that Papa Rucker painted arrived, followed by the mattress, the bed side table, and his rug. His books were moved, stuffed animals found their new home, and the curtains were hung. Today I moved all of his clothes into the dresser, made the bed with his Toy Story sheets and madras print comforter, and we added the rail.

He was so excited about moving, but told me he'd want to sleep in his crib again in August. Not sure why he chose August, but I figure he'll be settled by then. He made little beds all over the room for his stuffed animals, tucking them in and chatting with them about big boy beds. I laid down with him, chose three books, and he insisted on reciting two of them to me and seemed happy as a clam. Man, this is easy, I thought.

After his last book, I told him it was time to say good night and asked for a last hug and kiss.

"But, I want you to have a sleep over," he said. Uh oh.

"I can't, buddy, you're a big boy now and have to sleep in this room on your own. This bed is too little."

"No, you can fit. You won't sleep on me."

"I can't, but you'll be just fine."

"There's a dino under my bed."

"No, there isn't. Do you want me to have daddy come in to make sure?"

"And I need a dino to make sure I'm not scared," he said.

"OK, I'll get your t-rex. Do you need anything else?"

"A giraffe."

"You don't have a giraffe stuffed animal."

"I have a giraffe."

And so I went out to get Matt for dino checking, his t-rex puppet for dino protection, and his plastic giraffe for whatever he needed it for.

We did hugs and kisses, turned off the light (with his weak attempt to convince us to keep it on), and we've been out here listening for something. Silence. So far. Fingers crossed we get through the rest of the night with the same silence.

Here's the thing that has us the most confused... W still takes his pacifier when he goes to sleep. He spits it out at some point and doesn't ask for it at any other time, just sleeping. We've been warning him that big boys don't use pacifiers and they were on the way out, but the plan was to transition him to the bed first. Did we just accomplish both? That may be the bigger victory tonight.


Baby To-Do List: Things I Haven't Done Yet

Welcome, May, the month in which we should be welcoming a new member of our family. I never thought you'd get here -- And I apparently still don't quite believe it. I am so far behind on pre-baby stuff, it's laughable.

Here's the list of things I have managed to put off:

1. Sorting and washing the baby clothes.

2. Moving W into his new room. Each weekend I think of a reason we have to give it more time.

3. Packed for the hospital. I just don't even know where to begin. I didn't use anything in the suitcase last time, I just kind of feel like packing one is a waste of time. But, I know I should. I will. Probably when I go into labor.

4. Pulled out all the baby stuff, as in swing, car seat, diaper caddy, bjorn, bouncy seat, activity mat, bassinet, blankets, bottles. I think it's all in a closet at my mom's house. Outta sight, outta mind.

5. CHOSEN A NAME! So, yeah, this is a big one.

Mind you, each of these were on my to-do list this weekend, but never made it to the top. We were busy pretty much every minute of every day this weekend, but none of it amounted to getting stuff crossed off the baby list.

I'm sure this is only a small sampling of what I should have done by now. A lot of people have asked when I'm going to stop working and I've been surprised to get the question, I just figured you stop working when you have the baby. I get it now. Not that I'm going to take time off before the baby arrives, but I get why people do. How else do you get ready?

I'll be ready when I need to be, but right now I'm just too busy and too frazzled to focus. If they make Ritalin for pregnant ladies, I could really use some right about now.