Baby update — 34 weeks

So I had my 34 week checkup today. I’ve been feeling very good lately, physically. I’m actually significantly more mobile than I was at 25 weeks. Go figure. I mentioned that I had a tiny bit of spotting yesterday and had been having lots of contractions during the warm weather, so she did a pelvic exam. (That fun doesn’t usually start until 36 weeks!)

My intuition was proved correct — I’m already effacing. But then I seem to recall that I was 80% effaced and at least 1 cm dilated at 36 weeks LAST time, and I ended up going the full 42 weeks. (2 weeks post due.) As my midwife said, that’s not the way it usually works. I consider this news unsurprising.

Blueberry (our prenatal name) has consistently had a heartbeat of 144 bpm for nearly all of his appointments, starting with the very first. He also obliged my midwife and her student by presenting well, so my midwife could show the student how to feel the baby’s positioning. Speaking of which, I’m happy to say he’s still head down, butt out, which is exactly where he should be. (At the moment, he’s sort of rolling over in my belly so his butt is moving from the left side to the right side and back again. It’s just as weird-looking as it sounds.)

I remember midwife appointments being chock full of, um, stuff the first time around. The second time around there are about 4 measurements, a little information and rather more gossiping.

Blueberry should stay put for at least another fortnight. But I am so relieved to have hit a point where he would be fine if he came now. I’m looking forward to being able to wish him here, although if experience is any guide, I’ll be doing that wishing for quite a long time!

Weekend review

These are the days that, in the future, I will look back on as golden. I’m pretty sure I’ll forget the petty annoyances and frustrations and remember the golden times. Memory is a wonderful thing that way.

Saturday was Stoneham Town Day! This is definitely the sort of even that is perfect for a new family with a young child moving to town. Most of the organizations in town had booths there — from the cub scout troup to the “Friends of the Fells” to the candidates vying for election in the primary tomorrow. There was a Kiddy Korner with a big bouncy house, some very tame carnival rides (appropriate for 2 year olds). There was cotton candy and slushies and local talent performing near the gazebo. There were many free give aways and raffles. It was both fun and useful to me. Notably, I got to corner and spend significant time talking to the other candidate running in the Democratic primary, whom I decided I preferred. (Note to voters: if you do not want the government run by the same old good old boys, quit electing people who claim they can get you more pork because they “know people” up on the hill. Kthxbye.) Grey had a fantastic time. He loved the big slide. He loved the bouncy house (he went in three times!) He loved the little airplane ride. He loved the balloons he got. And best of all? It’s 3 blocks to our house so we didn’t need to carry anything and just walked home when he got tired. In fact, people were parking on the street almost right up to our house for the event, so we COULDN’T have driven any closer in if we’d wanted to! I’m really liking our house and really liking Stoneham.

After that, I had a massage. I think I’ve finally found a local massage therapist who works for me — good combination of convenient (once again walking distance!), correctly priced and good at what she does. Mmmmm massage….

Sunday was church. I’m realizing that church is much easier for me to go to in some ways now. With Grey being Full! Of! Energy! we’re often looking for things to do with him during the day. It’s hard to stay home with him all day long. (This will not improve come winter… ugh.) Anyway, in addition to being a wonderful place for us, church is a good activity for him too. This Sunday he went out to Sunday School no problemo — running ahead and leading the pack, actually. I’m seeing all my dire predictions of the last decade come true. Anytime there was some kid cutely speaking out of turn during word for children, or making funny faces, or volunteering irrelevant information I knew in my heart of hearts that eventually it would be MY child doing that. And oh! It begins!

Sunday afternoon was dedicated to detrashing the cars. Seriously, people. When you have a toddler and an hour daily commute, it is very very hard to keep your car in any shape that reasonable adults would consider acceptable. But I removed the trash, vaccuumed the car, organized the toy (his first action of the morning involved dumping all the toys OUT of the nice boxes I had them in — les sigh), and installed the new big boy car seats — the booster+ seats. I also put him to the side, since pretty soon we’ll need to put the infant car seat on the other side. And I dusted the interior of the car and cleaned the inside of the windshield. For the record? This is hard to do 8 months pregnant.

We also did a gigantic avalanche worth of clothes. There was the regular tsnunami of dirty laundry, and in addition a good 3 – 4 loads of baby clothes, blankets, diapers, bibs and toys that needed to be washed. Most of them got washed, dried, folded, carted upstairs and put away in the beautiful baby’s room (which I think is almost ready for it’s formal unveiling pictures!)

And there were some truly wonderful moments. Grey has reached that stage where he can break my heart unexpectedly with an overabundance of love. He did it twice yesterday. We were driving to church and listening to some Gospel bluegrass (seriously, if it weren’t for my positions on, you know, the issues, I could totally pass as Christian Conservative). Grey asked if these were Jesus songs (a taxonomic distinction that interests him greatly) and I said they were. Then he said, “Jesus songs jump in my heart.” There are like 4000 ways you could interpret that, but he said it so earnestly and happily that, I don’t know, it just made me rejoice. (Of course, I teared up like three times on my way to church so obviously some pregnancy hormones were involved.) Then at night, as we were watching our family “Muppet Show” and eating cookies that Grey and daddy made together, Grey turned to me and told me, “Mommy, I love you very very much.” No preamble. Not in response to anything. He knows more or less what it means — at least as much as any of us.

My son is full of joy and he loves me. My husband is full of cookies and he loves me. What more could I possibly ask?

Grey at 2

It seems hard to believe that two years ago today I met Grey for the first time. It’s tempting to get all sniffly over how time flies and to talk about how I miss that sweet little bundle. But the truth of the matter is that I like the big boy I have right now and wouldn’t trade him in — even for a younger version of himself.

We’re getting to the age where it’s harder to do these sorts of updates. Grey has hit pretty much all his big milestones. He has been walking for over half his life. His first word is a distant memory. He can get in and out of his car seat and his high chair by himself. He can color. So now we get in to the finer variations. For example, Grey has started playing make-believe. His favorite objects for make-believe are some plastic dinosaurs. I often hear, on our drive in to work, how the dinosaurs are sad and they’re crying. They give each other hugs which makes them feel better. They also seem to have an unfortunate tendency to get into accidents (a tendency shared by his cars). Grey’s language is moving to the “can be understood by strangers” and “can string together whole sentences” phase.

Grey has also started his life as a navigator. He has very strong opinions about where we should drive the car. “Dat way!” Unfortunately this leads to inevitable conflict when we are going to, say, daycare or church and he wants to go somewhere else. Grey has known his alphabet for quite a few months now. But we’re starting to get to a point where he can really use the letters. We’ve taught him how to spell his name by rote (G-R-E-Y GREY!). But I hadn’t realized how much he was picking up about other information on letters. I was watching him play with some of his alphabet toys the other day and listening to him, “B, ‘buh’, bu’erfly (butterfly)”. He did this for about half the letters. (Vowels are more challenging since they make more sounds.) Grey is currently sitting at the other computer playing a game. He’s watching me type and trying to do the same thing. Very cute!!!

I took him in to get his hair cut the other day at one of those hair places that specializes in kids. He sat very nicely for the lady to cut his hair. At the he was offered a lollypop as a prize. His eyes got wide as saucers and he said, with perfect inflection, “Ooooooh, niiiiiice!” He LOVES music and will ask us to turn it on for him so he can dance.

There are some other transitions occurring in the switch from “very large baby” to “very small boy”. We’ve started potty training, sort of half-heartedly I must admit. Grey uses the potty successfully about every other day. He’s pretty good about sitting on it before bed or after his nap, but he isn’t really interested in interrupting his play in order to use it. I’m not willing to push the issue at this point either. I think he’ll need to have some more motivation before this becomes successful. But he understands what the purpose of a potty seat is, what we want him to do, and that we get very excited when he does it correctly. The other thing is a bed. Grey looks so big in his crib it is almost ludicrous. He’s never climbed out of the crib, but that has a lot more to do with his desire, I think, than with ability. He’s really really good about going to bed on time, so there isn’t a lot of time in his day when he’s in his crib and doesn’t want to be. Anyway, we’ve gotten him a “big boy bed” and I may move his crib mattress to the floor today to start the transition. It’s amazing to watch your child go from someone who can’t turn themselves over to someone who can be trusted in their room without your supervision.

Grey has retained his genial demeanor, tempered with a good dose of stubbornness. He definitely has his own preferences. He loves tv, especially Elmo and Spongebob, to my chagrin. He is unusually interested in computers. We have to either completely keep him out of the computer room or let him play on one of the computers. He is pretty impossible to manage in a room where computers are being used if he’s not allowed to use one. His dexterity with a mouse is astonishing. He loves dinosaurs and cars — dinosaurs especially. He’s enamoured of celestial objects and talks all the time about the moon, the sun and the stars. (We have some glitter in our ceiling and he always talks about the stars.) He loves playing at the park and running around. He loves dancing. He’s finally gotten ok with finger-painting, and enjoys coloring for brief periods. He adores eating fresh-picked raspberries in the back yard. He likes playing in (but not stepping in) his sandbox. He loves songs and will sing along with me. He’s very focused on learning new words and will patiently repeat back an entire book’s worth. He has tremendous focus and will apply himself to one task for even an hour at a time. He loves to roughhouse and jump on the bed. One of his first truly complete unique sentences was when we were going to buy his bed and he said, “I pease jump on bed?” He has no fear of injury or fall and usually has bumps on his head to prove it. He reminds his father and I to be careful when we’re going down the stairs. As I mentioned, he goes to bed beautifully. When we tuck him in and give him Grover and say goodnight, he usually says goodnight back to us and then lies placidly as we close the door and leave. He will always share his food with you, even if he likes it.

He is a wonderful child — a joy an d a delight. I’m very glad to have spent two years with him, and look forward to spending many many more.

Grey’s 1st birthday

I had high hopes of sending these pictures out along with a thoughtful and eloquent discussion of what’s he’s learned this past year, what he’s meant to us, etc. However, the weekend of his birthday has passed, eloquence is found lacking, at it’s bedtime. Maybe I’ll give you “eloquent” tomorrow after his 1 year pediatrican’s appointment. Or maybe you’ll just be disappointed. Only time will tell.

Anyawy, here are pictures of his birthday celebrations! There are three events shown:
1) Birthday party at daycare on 10/6
2) Gaming get-together with friends on 10/7
3) Birthday party at home on 10/8

All three were great fun!

I can’t believe my boy is a year old.

Creeping spring

Spring is taking it’s sweet time this year. Part of me doesn’t mind at all. April is the time for spring to be spring. It shouldn’t try to be summer. Part of me is grateful for the grateful amnesia about winter creeping over me, even if it does dull my appreciation of the now. Part of me wants to wander outside in my shorts and tank tops and be warm with every window in the house open and pollen blowing through.

Pregnancy seems to be affecting my sense of self-worth and self-esteem. Part of it is looking pregnant, I think. Part of it is that my pregnancy wardrobe isn’t very good. I’ve gotten accustomed to feeling like I look good in whatever I’m wearing, and I don’t feel that way right now. Part of it is almost certainly hormonal. I’m feeling all unimportant and minor right now at work for no good reason. The accuracy of that feeling might be up for debate, but I doubt I’d feel this way six months ago.

I need to get serious about preparing to have a baby come. So far I have: bought nothing, rearranged nothing, prepared nothing. This is a little on purpose. There’s no need to jump the gun. Why set up a nursery 6 months before you might have a baby to put in it? Alpha is still two months from viability, even. I should save money now to buy outfits for when I need them — when I know what I need. (What if I give birth to a 9 pounder who’ll never fit in 0 – 3s?) But I need to start the process of realizing and accomodating for the new person who is going to join us in our home. This would be easier if I wasn’t tired/lazy.

I feel disheartened and small. I’m sure this is passing, but it seems increasingly frequent as my pregnancy progresses. It is not an accustomed sensation for me, and I don’t think any amount of external validation will make it go away. Although maybe a huge clothes shopping spree would.

Fetal scan

We had the fetal scan yesterday. For those of you who have never been pregnant, that’s the only “scheduled” ultrasound in a pregnancy. (Most of us end up getting quite a few more, as evidenced by the fact this was my third ultrasound. I’m hoping it’s my last, because that will mean that my pregnancy is wildly uneventful!) They do things like check to make sure the baby has a skull and brain (no encephaly), see if there’s a cleft palate, check for numbers of limbs and fingers, evaluate chambers of the heart, etc. They evaulate the baby’s age based on size. This is when we would’ve found out the baby’s gender if we were going to.

Alpha was not particularly cooperative. It sort of looked like s/he was sitting on my spine. S/he also kept moving around, so every time the ultrasound tech would go to take a picture… whoop! Baby’s in another location! Apparently Alpha doesn’t approve of the paparazzi. There was one moment when she was showing us the head, and Alpha sort of waved us off with his hand and promptly dove down into a completely different position. It was awfully cute. If not helpful to the poor tech.

The tech can’t tell me if anything is wrong (that’s the doctor’s job) but it looked and sounded perfectly normal. She said that the heartbeat was perfect, and that according to her measurements, the due date is September 22. So we have a range of dates between 9/22 and about 9/27. Since a due date is nothing more than an estimate of the perversity of a child, I’m perfectly content with the range. I think I’ll continue to say the due date is 9/23 (my birthday) since that’s nice and easy to remember — and as true as anything else.

I’m now out of doctor’s hands for like nearly a month. I’m glad I have a normal pregnancy.

Scientific Education

I don’t think much about my science education. Really, it’s pretty basic. Chemistry, biology, physics in a high school that did not excel at all in such things. If you’d asked me, I would’ve told you I hadn’t learned much. I got ok grades — right down there with my math grades. Our high school offered one honors class (and no AP) and that was in English. I took it twice. But I never really paid attention to science. In college, I took Chemistry 101 — no lab required. It was interesting (and Professor Cheng, in his Hawaian shirts, was hot!), and I learned some things. But come one. That’s about the minimum amount of science you can have taken and still have a degree from a reputable four year college.

So if asked, I wouldn’t tell you that I’m particularly knowledgeable about All Things Scientific.

But I think I’m missing something in understanding my own science background.

I’m currently reading a book that summarizes the sum of scientific endeavor since people started thinking. It maps the history of the universe, and talks about geology, chemistry, physics and the Big Ideas that revolutionized the 20th century. (The atomic bomb was only made possible, for example, once folks figured out that nuetrons existed.) I have enough science background that what the author is talking about is often familiar, and I can hook it on to something I know, or read behind it and remember the underlying logic. I understand the periodic table and valences. I understand plate tectonics and induction zones. I understand the role oxygen plays in matabolic function, and how cells are attacked by viruses. I know the difference between RNA, DNA and mitochondrial DNA. I understand how gravity works on a cosmic scale, and that it’s one of the weakest of the forces. I’ve contemplated whether the universe is expanding or contracting. I know how acid rain gets created, and that whether ozone is a nuisance or a necessity depends on where you are in the atmosphere. I know how a catalyst works. I understand the Scientific Method, the concept of a theory, and accept experimentation as a valid way of creating ideas of how the universe works, fully knowing that we will never understand it all. I understand statistics and risks, and can weigh proven risk factors against each other more or less rationally. I have mastered none of these things. My understanding is not complete. It has few gradations, and probably more than a few holes. But it’s enough that when presented with information that has a pre-requisite of understanding these things, I can follow the information. And to be honest, I’m not sure how I got here. And I’m beginning to wonder, to think, that maybe everyone has this.

To be frank, I’m not sure it ever occurred to me before. In some ways, I’m a success story of our education system. A liberal arts graduate with no more than average interest and decent intelligence who got sufficient science education to be capable of staying informed of scientific developments and what they mean. But did I get it through the education? Was it the years of subscription to Discover magazine (eventually cancelled because they got boring)? Was it the family background that made me curious in the way things work? Was it a trait of my mentality that makes it easy for me to retain concepts (I can still quote the Ontological argument for you if you wish?) Is it because I married a scientist, and he sends me links nearly every day discussing the scientist who is suspending metabolic function in mice and bringing them back unharmed from the brink of death hours later, or the latest innovation in nano-technology? Or is it because I have a good reading comprehension, and it all comes back to language?

How do you feel about your scientific education? Do you ignore what happens in the science pages, or is it part of your daily distraction reading? Do you find science interesting? Are there whole stories that just flit past you, incomprehensible? Where and how did you get the science background you got, and does it affect your daily life? Do you wish you understood it better?