/karen/

Peanut (at around 38 weeks)

Friday, 30 July, 2010

So there's now about two weeks to go, unless Peanut comes early (but the general consensus is that your first child is usually either on time or late. Note I said that this is the general consensus!) I was reading Up the Duff the other night (many thanks to Kel again for giving it to me!) and stumbled across this bit:

People have started to ask ‘How long to go?’, and ‘Are you excited?’ (some kind of code word for ‘utterly terrified’, perhaps). (Kaz Cooke, Up the Duff, Viking, Camberwell, 2009 [1999], p. 360)

—and I thought, “That's about right!” because the “Are you excited?” question is rather nonsensical: yes, I am excited about meeting Peanut and entering the whole world of babydom and parenting; no, I am not excited about labour, and I'd expect you'd be a bit of a looney if you were.

Anyway, on with the update …

Third trimester

So far, things have been going well, and I am very thankful for that. I haven't had any problems (unlike my sister-in-law—but that's another story that you should get her to tell you, not me), and I am not as uncomfortable as other women have reported being at this stage. I count myself quite lucky: apart from the PGP, I haven't had anything else—no reflux, no fluid retention, no extreme fatigue, and so on. Yes, pregnancy is uncomfortable, but at the moment, I am no more uncomfortable than I was earlier in the pregnancy. I am bigger and heavier (and I feel like I get bigger and heavier every day; in fact, I remarked on social media that I feel like I look like this:

Mr Greedy

The shape's about right!), and I'm slower, of course. But that's all to be expected, and my OBGYN says that my weight gain and growth is pretty much normal. (It's interesting as other people have remarked to me that they think I'll have a big baby. It's all relative though: if you are a small person, you will look huge when you're pregnant. If you're a plump person, the pregnancy will not show as much, and you won't look as big. And so on.)

(A note about the pelvic pain: George remarked to me, when we went to see a filming of The X-Factor at Luna Park around the end of June, that I should really see about getting a temporary mobility parking pass. She told me her mother sometimes has to do that. I was kicking myself then: we did the same thing when Ben fractured his ankle two years ago. I just hadn't thought I would qualify. But I downloaded the form from the RTA, got my OBGYN to sign it and then went to the RTA to get one [after having a bit of an argument with the teller about whether or not I had to fill in section 3; she hadn't read the fine print, and apparently if it's the first time you're applying for one, you don't]. The pass is for six months. It's been a bit of a lifesaver; I'm so grateful for it because on several occasions, it's meant I don't have to walk as far.)

Leaving work

I quit work about two and a bit weeks ago. It was pretty hectic leading up to the end as I had a hefty To do list of things I wanted to finish before I finished. I also had to train Little Rachel, who ended up replacing me (yay!) I wrote her a 108-page job manual (which, fortunately, she is finding very useful, so I feel like my work has not been in vain!) And I had to write three articles. So the last couple of weeks of work really felt like a sprint! And then came five days of cake—

  1. Cake (made by Kate; I forget what sort of cake it was but it had citrus syrup) on Wednesday to celebrate my and Hamish's birthday at Bible study (which was my last meeting);
  2. Cake (lemon meringue pie from Guy) on Thursday to celebrate my birthday at work;
    Cutting the pie
  3. Cake (Emma's ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS white chocolate cheesecake) on Friday at the work farewell MM hosted for Warren and me;
    DSC00313
  4. Cake (well, chocolate peanut pie from Buppa's Bakehouse in Newtown) on Saturday;
    DSC00337
  5. Cake (oh dear, George made this for me! What was it? I think it was orange and poppyseed!) on Sunday after church, which was also the day of my actual birthday.

Really, I ought to be fatter after all that!

Anyway, back to what I was talking about, which was leaving work: it was a mad sprint, so I felt like I wasn't processing the fact that I was leaving until around 3 or 4 pm on the Friday when Ben started helping me take down my wall. Before:

DSC00183
DSC00185
DSC00193
DSC00194

After:

DSC00308

Wow, it looks so stark! Now you understand why I covered it up in the first place. The absence of all the wall decorations (and there were a few more on the exterior wall that I didn't photograph) made things all the more real for the rest of my colleagues too; they've become so used to seeing all that over the five and a half years I've been there.

I think it helped that the work farewell occurred straight after. We had it at my boss's house—takeaway Thai food, plus two cakes (one baked by the amazing Emma T!), plus speeches in between main course and dessert. My co-workers said such lovely things about me, plus a few ex-co-workers emailed in their farewells (including Greg!) And my boss even wrote me a poem! (I had no idea he wrote poetry …) They gave me a card filled with messages and (goody! goody!) the best present EVER: Kinokuniya vouchers! (I spent them not long after because Kinokuniya were having a 20 per cent off sale for cardholders. This was my haul:

DSC00380

It includes the rest of David Mack's Kabuki series [which I have wanted to read for ages], Kazu Kibuishi's Copper, Haruki Murakami's Underground [about the Tokyo subway attacks] and the most awesome children's knitting book ever: Fairy Tale Knits by Alison Stewart-Guinee [View photos from the book].)

I spent Saturday hanging with Ben, celebrating my birthday (we went to brunch in Newtown, walked around for a bit, visited Buppa's Bakehouse, got Indian for dinner and watched Adventureland and An Education on DVD afterwards). Sunday I drove to Eastgardens to meet a friend for lunch (my only friend from primary school!), and we went to see The Karate Kid together (because Hoyts had given me a free ticket for my birthday). When I said goodbye to her and went off to kill a few hours before church, I noticed I was feeling down, and knew that it was about work. “That's to be expected,” I thought. I've been at MM for five and a half years, which is the longest I've ever worked anywhere. It's also the best job I've ever had—not just because of the people I worked with and the things I got to do (which extended the creative side of my brain as well as giving me room to flex my administrative muscles. That's rare in a job! All my previous ones have just done the latter), but also because of the way I grew spiritually while working on MM products and The Briefing. I spent part of that afternoon wandering around and thinking to myself, “I'm unemployed! I'm unemployed!”, and even though I know that my next major role will be as mother and nurturer of my child, I could feel part of myself grappling with the whole work-defining-identity issue—even as I thought myself beyond such things.

The thing I want to point out through all of this is the importance of self-awareness: I knew I would feel sad and I was prepared for when it started hitting me. I think that is partly the key to handling the whole mourning thing. Part of you needs to give yourself permission to feel such things, and then expect that you will feel sad and that you will need time to process it all. It's all part of good self-care.

(A related side point: I've noticed something else about myself, and that is I sometimes feel this twinge of envy when reading about other people's pregnancies on Facebook. For some reason, a number of people I know are currently expecting—some of them, their second or third child—and they tend to write status updates about it on social media [way more than me, I should add]. What makes me envious is not that they do this but the attention they receive from it. It's not that I necessarily want that kind of attention. [The best way I can describe that sort of attention is that it's the sort of attention that people get when they go that other life-changing event: marriage. They talk about their wedding plans, the dress, details about the ceremony, etc., and their peers lap it up and even encourage it.] There's just something about it that annoys me greatly, but I can't put my finger on what it is or why it annoys me. I shall think more on that ... and I shall also be more vigilant to see whether I catch myself doing it. I hope I don't—and I hope I'm not doing it in these posts. The purposes of these posts is to record what's happening in the pregnancy—for myself, but also for my friends who do not have children but are interested in what it might be like for them one day.)

Lady of leisure?

Given what I wrote about postadrenaline depression a couple of weeks ago, I also knew that I would feel restless and down in my first couple of days of “holiday”. Generally it takes me a week to unwind into leave. Sometimes I get sick, and sometimes I start moping. But usually after a week, I get into the swing of things and can enjoy my holiday. (This is why I tend to take leave in two-week chunks.) So the first week or so following quitting work involved a bit of running around—socialising and errands and the like as per Hart's advice.

Since then, my time has involved a mix of rest and trying to get stuff done. It's weird: on Tuesday, my OBGYN asked what I had been doing now that I wasn't working, and I seriously could not tell her. But now that I look back,

It's weird adjusting to the life of the unemployed (or rather the life of a lady of leisure). It's not quite “leisure” because I'm waiting for and anticipating Peanut's arrival. The other day I described it to Bec as a bit like waiting for Jesus' second coming: “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32). I'm waiting for Peanut—waiting to go into labour. But at the same time, I'm not sitting around on my hands; I'm doing stuff—stuff to prepare for that eventuality, but also stuff I want to get done before then—e.g.

The temptation for me is to become undisciplined. I mean, there is a time for being undisciplined. I just fear that left to my own devices, I'll end up wasting hours and hours playing WordTwist on Facebook, or some such thing. What I want to do is make the most of the time I have left pre-Peanut as I know that when Peanut arrives, things will all be different (and, I gather, I'll have to be more disciplined because I'll have less time).

Baby things

Friends and family were so generous in giving us so many things at my shower. Elsie did ask me for a gift list, which I took ages to come up with as I was trying to synthesise advice from friends with ante-natal handouts and Up the Duff. (The latter is sort of insane; I made the mistake of reading the two chapters that deal with this late at night, and nearly died.) One of the things that helped was being reminded by someone that you don't have to get everything all at once. People seem to think you need to be super-duper prepared before your baby comes, but really, there may be things that you find that you won't need 'til later, so why not just get them later when you do actually need them instead of getting things before that you can't do anything with?

Still, navigating all the baby stuff is a rather confusing and bewildering experience. What is the difference between a cot and a bassinet? (Answer: size. A bassinet is a bit more like a basket. The baby can use it for the first little while, but then they should really be put into a cot/infant bed. Some cots transform into toddler beds for when the little tyke grows up.) What is the difference between a wrap, a bunny rug and a baby blanket? (Answer: not much, as far as I can tell, though I think wraps and bunny rugs are more used for wrapping the baby up. Babies apparently like to be wrapped because it reminds them of being in the womb.) What's with the sizing? (Answer: Not sure, but like the rest of the Australian fashion industry, there does not appear to be an industry “standard”.) What's with this brand as opposed to this brand? (Answer: It depends on what you're looking for. But remember the baby industry is just that—an industry. They want to make money off you, and so will try to sell you things you don't really need. e.g.

DSC00441
I mean, really …)

For the record, I suppose the major purchases for us were:

We were given a lot of secondhand stuff too—a Baby Björn carrier, a bassinet, a cot (my in-laws are bringing that over sometime), a highchair, etc. Even with all that, post-baby shower, there were still a few things we needed to get (e.g. bath, bedding, some clothes, socks). (Or rather, I thought we needed to get them … We probably did. There were a few things we could have got that we decided to hold out on to see if we actually need them.) It really adds up! On the flipside, people have been very generous to us and we are very grateful to them.

I don't think my nesting instincts have kicked in, though I have been trying to fix up Peanut's room somewhat. (It's still in a rather dreadful state, and the problem is, without the dresser, there's not a lot we can do about it at the moment.) I did get some prints framed with the intention of putting them on Peanut's walls. Apart from that, I've been doing a LOT of laundry: everything that Peanut will use (clothes, blankets, wraps, etc.) needs to be pre-washed in warm water, then line-dried—even the nappies! (Though the nappies can go in the dryer.) I feel like I've been doing laundry for days. Hopefully that will settle down soon! (The nappies need laundry powder though—otherwise the warranty is void. *Sigh!*)

Babies

Accumulating all this stuff brings to mind the Babies documentary, which I didn't blog about last time. The doco was made by a French filmmaker, and it follows four babies on four different continents through the first year of their lives. There's a girl from San Francisco, a boy from Tanzania, a girl from Tokyo and a boy from Mongolia. It's fascinating seeing the differences in parenting practices—the east compared with the west, the rich compared with the poor.

I was particularly struck by the Tanzanian and Mongolian babies. With the Mongolian baby, often his parents (who were herders, I think) just left him to his own devices. They would tie him to the bedpost and he would lie there on his parents' bed, just chatting to himself, while meanwhile a chicken would walk by. There is this wonderful scene of him when he learns to crawl, chatting to himself while he crawled across the prairie, a clothesline in the background, exploring his world. There were times where the audience feared for his safety—for example, when he was trying to get down off a rusted metal drum and the cows were walking by, or when he almost got clocked in the head by a goat.

What was more confronting was the conditions in which the Tanzanian boy was raised. He was from a tribe where they didn't wear much clothes (though they did wear a lot of beaded jewellery). The women seemed to spend their days sitting outside on the ground, braiding each other's hair, making more jewellery/ornaments, and talking to one another. In comparison to the other babies, however, the Tanzanian boy was raised around other children similar in age to him. He wore no nappies (there is a scene where he does a poo and the mother just wipes his bum on her knee, then gets an old dry cob and scrapes it off her knee), he crawled all over the ground (complete with dirts, sticks, stones and old bones—many of which ended up in his mouth), and he learned to bathe in and drink from the local spring as his peers did.

I realise that their infant mortality rate is a lot higher than ours, but I couldn't help being struck by how little those babies needed—how they could amuse themselves with not very much at all—how perhaps we in the west have become way too overprotective. (Maybe I will feel differently when Peanut is born.) But anyway, watching that doco made me feel a bit more relaxed about having to get everything together so that it's all perfect before Peanut arrives.

Who is Peanut?

Another factor that adds to the uncertainty of life at the moment is the question of what Peanut will be like when he/she arrives. What kind of baby will God give us? Will Peanut be a happy and content baby? Or will Peanut suffer from reflux and poor sleep? Will Peanut be like Ben? Or will Peanut be like me?

Ben as a baby

I don't think I ever wrote about Ben as a baby. His mum tells me that he was right on time: at 12:05 am on his due date, she started going into labour. Back in those days, they used to keep the babies separate from their mothers, except during feeding time. But Ben made such a ruckus, he was kicked out of the nursery, and got to be with his mum. I think he was just being progressive: after all, when a woman has carried a child for nine months, it's quite rough on the bub to be separated from her all of a sudden! So now they keep mothers and their babies together. (See? Grey's Anatomy is wrong!)

At home, Ben was a very alert baby—much like our nephew is now. He wouldn't sleep during the day. He didn't cry; he was just awake, looking at everything and being interested in everything. (Really, who can blame him? Look at the world!)

The other thing I have been learning is how babies are human (duh!) I say this as I haven't hung out with babies very much and have little idea of what they're like. But the more I learn about them (e.g. from Kim Oates's 2006 New College lectures, which are well worth listening to!), the more I am struck by how much like us adults they are, only different. Like us, they crave companionship: they get lonely (which is why the skin-to-skin stuff is so good for them [that's when the naked baby lies on their mother or father's naked chest], and why they respond mostly to their parents' voices [because they are the ones they heard the most while in the womb]). They don't like the cold (my sister-in-law was telling me about being puzzled as to why our nephew would be perfectly content in her arms until she put him down in his cot. Then she realised that it was because her arms were warm and the cot was cold. Once my brother-in-law had warmed up the cot a bit with a heat pack, then our nephew was quite content to be tucked in [not with the heat pack, of course]). They need to be coaxed into sleep (it's rather funny how much we humans tend to avoid sleep; even when we're tired as adults, our first instinct is to get cranky and grumbly instead of just going to bed). And even though babies can't talk, they have their own way of communicating—if you are watching closely enough to see it (e.g. if they want to be fed, they'll make subtle sucking faces/noises; mutual gaze with adults is good for them and their brain development [even though babies have bad eyesight and usually can't see for more than 30 cm in the first couple of months], but they can get tired of that after a while, and so will look away, etc.)

I find all that stuff fascinating, as obvious as it sounds, and I look forward to learning more about Peanut when he/she joins us ex vivo.

star

Disqus comments

Other comments

Oh yeah, it makes perfect sense that babies would cry if you put them in a cold bed! I totally never thought of that!

I love your posts, they are so fascinating! :D

Posted by Little on 30 July, 2010 2:20 PM

I don’t think it’s exclusively the change of temperature: young babies like to be cuddled up (or wrapped in a blanket or similar) as they adjust to being on the outside after so long being wrapped up on the inside.



Writing

Kinds of Blue: Cover art

Twitter

Blinks:

A way of funding writing in the future: pitch and idea and get people to support it.

Place where you can hire play equipment for parties, etc.

How to recalibrate the home button on your iPhone.

Unsolicited manuscripts accepted by Pan Macmillan with certain conditions.

Thought Balloon is a group blog in which the writers tackle a new theme every week? month? with one-page scripts. This URL is for their Phonogram ones.

Feeds

Social media