Saturday, May 26, 2012

34 Weeks: Birth Class Graduates

I am now 34 weeks pregnant, which means there’s only 6 more weeks until D Day (or should I say B Day?), which means it theoretically could be only 3 more weeks . . . or 7 depending on when the little one wants to make her appearance.  I’m not freaking out at all, oh no, not me!  I don’t get it.  When my friends were pregnant, it seemed like they were pregnant FOREVER. For me, it feels like barely a month ago when I took that test and first found out!

At least we are now one step closer to being “ready” (from what I understand, that term should be used very loosely when it comes to having a baby): we have now completed the prepared childbirth classes at Kaiser.  For the last three Saturdays in a row, my dutiful husband woke up early with me so that we could drive to the hospital and sit in their health education center and learn about labor, delivery, breast feeding and taking care of a newborn (here is where Aaron goes into his Bill Cosby imitation about the irony of taking a class to learn about “natural childbirth”).  Kaiser called the classes Lamaze, but they were nothing like the Lamaze you see on tv or in the movies.  It really was more like a health class, learning the mechanics of what happens to your body when pregnant and during the labor and delivery, and then about twenty minutes of practicing some deep, yogic type breathing (no “hee hee hoo” panting).  The instructor also showed us some good massage techniques to try for when we are in labor, though she also warned the dads that “mom” (i.e. me) might not want them to touch her at all when the time comes, and to just be supportive and understanding. Basically the motto of the class seemed to be, “Here are some techniques that have worked for other people, but you know your body best, and you need to do whatever works for you when the time comes.”

I will say that the class reinforced my desire to try to do this as natural as possible (i.e. no drugs, if I can get through it without them).  Without drugs, you can still move around in the birthing room as much as you want and shift positions for pushing, etc.  With the epidural, you end up confined to the hospital bed because you are completely numb from the waist down.  Another thing I learned, that makes sense, but never occurred to me, is that with the epidural, they have to put a catheter in you because you can’t feel the need to pee.  I am definitely not knocking the epidural and women who choose it.  For all I know, the pain will be so intense that I will be screaming for the drugs.  I just know that I at least want to try to get through without them.  It’s almost like a challenge for me.  In my head, I’m thinking, “If I can make it through an 8-10 hour day on pointe shoes, I can do this!”

The last day of class, we took a tour through Labor & Delivery.  It was nice to finally see where we will be when the time comes.  This Kaiser has 8 Labor rooms, which are small rooms where you labor (shocking, I know).  If everything is progressing well and there is room available, then they move you to one of their 4 Labor, Delivery, Recovery Rooms.  If it turns out you need a C-section (or the LDR rooms are full), then they move you to the OR.  If you give birth in the OR, then there is a separate, larger Recovery room that they move you to after the birth for what they call “family bonding time,” which you get in-room if you are in one of the LDR rooms.

When we took our tour last weekend, all 4 LDR rooms were occupied, so we couldn’t see them.  Our instructor was shocked because that happens so rarely.  So all 25 of us crammed into the tiny Labor room, which made most of the pregnant ladies feel a bit claustrophobic.  Fortunately, on Monday Aaron and I took a private tour of Labor & Delivery.  When the nurse showed us a Labor room, it felt much more spacious with only 3 people in it!  It’s still small, but I wasn’t feeling claustrophobic.  We also got to see the LDR rooms.  Of the 4 LDR rooms, 2 are older, and 2 have been completely renovated and re-modeled.  Only 1 of the LDR rooms does not have a window, and that’s one that has been renovated.  The renovated rooms are amazing!  They are 3 times the size of the labor rooms; they have hard wood floors and mood lighting, and just feel very welcoming.  We need to remember to ask to be put in one of those rooms when the time comes!  I mean, the older ones would do, but if at all possible, I definitely want to be one of the newer rooms.

One thing that’s nice about our hospital is that immediately after the baby is born, they put the newborn, goopy and all, on mom’s chest for immediate skin to skin contact (and hopefully the first feeding session).  They give mom, dad and baby about an hour together for some family bonding time while the nurses clean everything else up.  After that hour, they will take baby away for weighing, bathing, etc. (which can be done in the LDR rooms if that’s where we end up).  If they have to take baby out of the room, they encourage the dad to follow so he can always keep his eye on the baby.  Aaron and I both really liked that.  We don’t want baby out of our sight as much as possible. 

After the recovery time is over, once they know you are stable, they will move us over to the post-partum rooms.  Those rooms have two beds in them, so theoretically I could have a roommate, but they said it rarely happens that they are so full that they need to double people up.  If a patient does not take the other bed, then Aaron will be allowed to sleep in it.  Kaiser also has a policy that the baby room-in with the parents – i.e. they don’t take the baby away to sleep in a nursery.  They want parents to be able to learn their baby’s hunger cues from the beginning and be able to start establishing breast-feeding as soon as possible.  They also, as a policy, don’t feed the baby formula unless there is a necessity for it.  I just like that a lot of their policies (immediate skin to skin contact and rooming in) are things I would have asked for anyway, so it means I don’t have to worry about forgetting to ask when I’m all delirious from having just given birth.  They did give us a form to fill out that acts as a “birth plan” if we want to do that.  I’ve only skimmed it.  I guess I should take the time to actually read it and fill it out at some point in the next couple weeks.

For those of you who want a bump picture, here’s my shadow during the solar eclipse last Sunday:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

32 Weeks: My First (almost) Mother's Day

This Sunday was my first (almost) Mother’s Day . . . actually, as Aaron pointed out, it was the only “almost Mother’s Day” we will ever have.  :)

To celebrate Mother’s Day, my parents drove up bright and early from San Diego.  My mom and I got massages at Burke Williams in Sherman Oaks.  Omg - those massages were so worth the money!  We arrived at the spa and were greeted with champagne and cupcakes.  My mom sipped on some of the champagne; I decided to wait on the cupcakes until after my massage.  For Mother’s Day, Burke Williams turned the spa into a women’s only location.  The Jacuzzi was full of women chatting and laughing – it looked like a lot of fun.  With the pre-natal massage, they give you a free herbal bath, since pregnant people can’t use the Jacuzzi, sauna or steam rooms (as the girl who booked the appointment said, “Don’t want to cook the baby”).  Honestly, I didn’t feel left out of the Jacuzzi love at all because the bath was so amazing!  It was ready and waiting for me as soon as I finished changing.  It smelled like eucalyptus and there were slices of cucumber waiting to be placed on my eyes (though I will admit I never have luck getting them to stay on my eyes, so I gave up after a while).  After I got into the tub, an attendant brought me some frozen grapes to eat, and a glass of water to sip.

I will admit I have been looking forward to this massage since I conceived of the idea of a mom/daughter spa day a couple months ago.  It certainly did not let me down!  As I think I’ve said in previous posts, this really has been a relatively easy pregnancy. I never really got any morning sickness, and I haven’t had to deal with a lot of the symptoms that other pregnant women seem to complain of.  One of my few recurring complaints, though, has been back pain.  And it’s weird because my back pain is not in the lower back area like a lot of other women seem to experience.  Mine is more in the mid-back/shoulder area, but only on the left hand side.  I told this to the masseuse, and he told me that he would be able to focus on that area.  Not only did he do that, but he also managed to alleviate stress in my hips that I didn’t even know I had!  I definitely would recommend pre-natal massage to every pregnant woman (assuming she can afford the time and expense).

My mom and I returned to the lounge after our massages at the same time.  She ended up getting a hybrid relaxation/deep tissue massage.  I have never seen my mom look so relaxed!  I’m thinking maybe we should make this a yearly tradition.  After our massages, we ate some cupcakes and then relaxed in the quiet room – which is a room with very comfortable chairs you can curl up on.  Everyone is silent in the quiet room, and the only sound is that of a recording of birds chirping.

When we were done at the spa, my mom and I went back to my house and Aaron and my dad grilled up some burgers for us.  We ate lunch on the patio in our backyard.  It was such a gorgeous day!  At one point we had considered going out to eat, but this worked out so much better.  We got to eat outside enjoying each other’s company, and we managed to avoid the inevitable Mother’s Day crowds.

After lunch, we went for a walk around Lake Balboa, which is a man-made lake near our house.  I love walking around this lake!  Aaron and I come here often, and I’m really looking forward to bringing our little one for walks there.  At the lake, there were tons of families enjoying picnics and spending quality family time together.  My parents enjoy bird watching.  Apparently there are several types of birds that flock to Lake Balboa.  I can identify about 3: swans, coots, and mallard ducks.  My parents are much better at identifying all the other types of birds.  My mom likes to stop and take pictures of everything – as though she’s never been there before, and never taken pictures of those birds before.  Sometimes I love that my mom still views the world with a certain child-like wonder.  It’s one of the things that makes her so uniquely wonderful.

My mom and I on Mother's Day.  :)

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Pregnant Bridesmaid

On April 28, one of my best friends in the whole wide world got married.  I fully intended to post this entry last week.  However, I think it took an entire week to recover from all the excitement.  Apparently partying all weekend at 30 weeks pregnant = feeling exhausted like first trimester for the rest of the next week!  I’ve noticed that a lot lately.  I can muster up the energy for fun events, but then I am totally wiped out for the next couple days.

Anyway, on to the wedding:  My friend, J-fer (short for Jennifer bc we knew too many of them growing up), got married!   I like to joke that the wedding was all my fault bc I bought her a account for her 30th birthday, and that’s how she met her now husband.  J-fer and I have been friends since we were 6.  We were in Girl Scouts together and went to elementary school, jr. high and high school together.  J-fer even came to visit me when I did my junior year abroad in England.  She was one of my bridesmaids, so it was only fitting that I be one of hers.

When J-fer got engaged last year, I knew that Aaron and I were planning on starting our family and those plans would overlap with her wedding plans.  We actually purposely timed our family expansion plans so that I would not be about to pop, nor be dealing with a newborn at the time of her wedding.  However, there were still some awkward planning moments.  The place we bought our bridesmaid dresses, Bella Bridesmaids, needed us to order our dresses back in September because each dress is custom made.  Which means that I had to order my dress before I got pregnant, but knowing that I probably would be pregnant at the time of the wedding.  I had to guess what size I would be and order my dress with an empire waist style.  When the dress arrived in January, I tried it on and it was HUGE!  I could grab a full handful of material at the back!  I knew for sure that I would need it altered, but decided to wait until a month before the wedding so that I would have a better idea of how big I would be for the actual day.  I am so glad I waited to get it altered!  When I tried the dress on again in March, it was only slightly too big.  I ended up just hemming it!

For J-fer’s wedding day, I showed up at her hotel room at 7am to get ready with all the girls.  I brought some bagels and cream cheese for all the bridesmaids.  When I arrived, the room was a flurry of activity, with the hairdresser working on one of the bridesmaids.  J-fer’s beautiful wedding dress was hanging up by the window overlooking San Diego’s marina.  It’s amazing how quickly time passes when you are getting ready for such a big event!  Before I knew it, we were all dressed and ready and packing up to head to the church.

The wedding ceremony was at the beautiful Immaculata Parish church on the USD campus.  The USD campus is GORGEOUS!  I kind of feel like USD is what Loyola Marymount wants to be (no offense to LMU). It’s just so amazing.  I can see why J-fer had her heart set on getting married there.  It also helps that her husband, Michael, went to USD, so there’s the alumni connection.  The ceremony was beautiful and I tried really hard not to cry, but I just couldn’t help myself.  The entire time J-fer’s dad was walking her down the aisle, I kept saying to myself, “I’m not going to cry, I’m not going to cry.”  And then she arrived at the front of the church and her dad handed her off to Michael, and I felt a tear drop down the right side of my face.  Then they faced the priest, and I felt another tear drop down the left side of my face.

After the ceremony and the obligatory bridal party pictures, Aaron and I gave a couple of the other bridesmaids a ride to the reception while J-fer and Michael got to ride in and awesome 1929 Durant!  I had a great time at the reception, even though the head table was placed directly underneath the AC vents.  (I ALWAYS get stuck sitting underneath AC vents, I don’t know why!)  I had completely forgotten that, back when J-fer got engaged, I asked J-fer if I could give a speech at the wedding.  So I was a little nervous when J-fer came up to me and said, “You’re still good to give a speech, right?  I realize I never followed up with you on that, but you’re on the DJs list.”  But fortunately I had bullet points of everything I wanted to say in my head, and I’m relatively used to public speaking, so I think I pulled it off ok.

After the wedding, my family retreated back to Mira Mesa, changed into comfy clothes and then went out to Callahan’s (our favorite local Irish pub).  All in all, it was a great day!  My pregnant feet lasted most of the day in heels (though I did bring some cute flip flops to change into during the reception).  Aaron and I were able to dance the afternoon away.  We got to visit with friends and shower our love one of the best couples I know.

Good friends :)

Aaron and I showing off Baby Bump Sherry

My family at the reception.

In case you are interested, here are some links to the professional shots.