Sunday, June 12, 2011

Planning for Peanut: Frequently Asked Questions

Is it true that you're expecting? Congratulations!Yup, it's true. Thanks : )

Is it a boy or a girl?
It's a girl! Here name is Bernadette. She's due mid-October.

Why did you pick that name? Is there someone in your family with that name?
The Four Tops song was the inspiration. It is beautiful and intense, as she will certainly be.

I will warn her, however, that if any suitor should express their love in such insanely jealous terms, she ought to run the other direction.

I don't think Dan was completely on-board with this name until he discovered it means "strong, brave bear." That seemed to seal the deal.

Oh, and it turns out that my great-grandfather's sister was Bernadette Rousseau! What a coincidence. Coming from the French explorer/Detroit pioneer side of the family, it's a fun one.

How are you feeling?
Still feeling pretty good. I'm definitely transitioning into that third trimester state of periodic anxiety. I had a couple sleepless nights this week that messed me up for a few days. When I was watching a recent Mavericks/Heat game, I recalled a sad scene I witnessed at The Palace of Auburn Hills three and a half years ago and that made me cry. I guess these experiences will become more common in the next four months. I'm trying fall back on that coping mantra I learned from menstruation - "These bummer feelings arise from physical changes, not actual problems."

Are you still training at the gym?Why, yes I am - thanks for asking!

Okay, no one asks me this. But, I'm going to pretend because I'm proud I've kept up with my routine and I think it's done me a lot of good. A brisk workout is the best way to turn around an anxious mood. Since my current trainer doesn't spoil me with homework the way my old trainer did (shout out to T!), I've had to be more proactive in designing my program. At the end of the week, I don't tend to workout as often or as rigorously as I used to and that's okay. I'm still keeping up a good pace and challenging myself in little ways. Right now it's more about maintaining the less pregnant parts of my body and letting my belly do it's thing. Also, my generally liberal OB cautioned me against crunches, to which my response was, "You're giving me a medical reason to not do sit-ups? Yes, sir!"

I read "Exercising Through Your Pregnancy" by James F. Clapp, a very upbeat and carefully worded report on the author's study of physically active expectant mothers. His evidence suggests that working out throughout pregnancy can benefit the mother during labor and after pregnancy, and even bolster the health of the child on a long-term basis. Also, he found that a relatively high percentage of active women experience safe, early births (less than three weeks before the due date) - BOOYAH! That would be great, but of course baby can take all the time she needs (I say now). I already feel the benefits of exercise. It's energizing.

Have you had any of those weird, wacky cravings?
The unusual cravings are starting to kick in. I asked Dan to get me ice cream sandwiches the other night and all I want right now is a cinnamon roll. Those yearnings aren't that wacky, though I don't tend to have this much of a sweet tooth. For the past two months, the chief "want" has been red meat. Can't get enough of it. And it doesn't even upset my stomach like it used to. I was sampling sirloin at work last week, and when I tasted a juicy rare bit from the center I felt a warm fuzziness light up my whole body. It was like drugs!! I'm having fun with it.

But so far, no pickle and peanut butter sandwiches, or whatever. I'm kinda glad. That stereotype reminds me of a Cathy cartoon.

Are you going to have a baby shower?
Yes. We will definitely have one here in Chattanooga. Note the "we" - there shall be no gender sequestering. Nor will there be any silly games. I'm thinking Sunday brunch at our local karaoke bar. Dan and guests will be encouraged to imbibe.

I may want to do something extremely low-key when we visit Michigan in mid-July. In any case, we'll be registering online. This is weird for me because I don't like shopping and hate asking people to spend money on me (this is why I didn't do a wedding registry), but it isn't really about me. I will gladly cash in for my kid.

Will you buy sweatshop-produced clothing for your kid?
I should explain why this is a frequently asked question. At the start of 2010, I resolved to buy only sweatshop-free clothing or used clothing, and then blogged about my progress quarterly. I kinda regret writing about it, because documenting your principals can make people uncomfortable and act weird with you, and I'm pretty weak when it comes to dealing with that stuff. Nevertheless, these principals have made a big impact on how I shop for everything and I see that as a positive change.

I've always tried to acknowledge that this effort can be expensive and time-consuming, and that it's way more difficult for families and poor people. So, the short answer to the question is, yeah, probably some of it. I've already made exceptions for maternity clothes. I'll try to avoid buying sweatshop-produced goods for my kid, but more so, I'll opt for second-hand. I'm a huge fan of reusing. It's the most economically and ecologically sound option.

I think the best thing about shopping with a sweatshop-free mindset is that I just have less shit. I don't want to deprive my kid of any need, including fun and enjoyment. But, my mom taught me to appreciate minimalism and I'd like to pass that value down to her, as well. Or maybe she'll be a mall rat. That's fine, too.

Will you take a Lamaze class?/ Are you going to have a natural birth?
Yeah, I'm going for natural-as-possible. I'm looking into the Bradley method. The Lamaze breathing pattern seems weird to me.

Are you reading "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth?"
Yes, yes, but slowly. I like the birth stories - it's good to know what I can expect and to be reassured that I can handle it - but it's a lot to wade through. And then there are those wild hippie chicks. My favorite is the lady who said that when she started having contractions, she envisioned her yoni as "a big, open cave beneath the surface of the ocean, with huge, surging currents sweeping in and out." She continues -
I surrendered over and over to the great oceanic, engulfing waves. It was really delightful - very orgasmic and invigorating. Michael, my husband, was lying with me, and we experienced the wonderful rushing together for some time.

Finally, when it came time to call the midwives, the phone didn't work, so Michael delivered Jon himself. It all went very smoothly, and Michael and I were very clear, focused, and very high.

Whoa, lady! Is that some trippy shit, or what? I admit, I'm jealous. I will never be "far out" enough to have such a great time giving birth.

We thought about working with a midwife, but that just isn't where I want to put my money right now. I really like my OB. He's very relaxed and he works with midwives, which was one of the reasons I chose him. He knows that I want to go natural, but like me, he's into having a backup plan.

Will you nurse?
Yes. It's great for the baby and it's thrifty as hell.

Hmm, five months pregnant? ((stares at my body)) How much weight have you gained?
Let me answer your question with another question - where on Earth have your manners gone?!

Did I tell you about that horrible, scary thing that happened when my otherwise healthy kid was born?
No. Please don't. Why are you trying to freak me out?

Isn't it great to be getting all this attention?
Er, not really. Don't get me wrong, I love when family and friends check up on me and that everyone is so excited. But I've always hated situations in which lots of people are staring at me and/or I'm being interrogated; such experiences increase exponentially when you're getting married or having a baby. But I'm pretty good at protecting myself from that kind of thing. I stay at home a lot. And I'm lucky to live in a town where my condition is a cliche. Seriously, I see, like, ten pregnant women every day at work. Oh, and my boss is pregnant, too.

I've heard that the transition from center-of-attention pregnant lady to socially-isolated new mom can be really rough. Maybe it will help that I'm already such a homebody. We'll see. I never know exactly what's coming, but I trust that it will all be okay.


  1. :) You didn't mention anybody rubbing your belly... I'm hoping you're spared from the stranger-danger fondling!

  2. I'd been expecting more unsolicited belly rubs, but that hasn't been much of a problem yet (thankfully!). My theory is that "don't touch the belly without asking" has become more conventional wisdom. I think the new standard for weird, impolite behavior toward pregnant ladies is the question, "Were you trying?" which is addressed in this excellent essay What really gets me is hearing my coworkers talk about my body. For whatever reason, I'm not showing as much as another pregnant woman at work (even though I'm due a couple weeks before her) and this has been a seemingly endless discussion topic. I actually heard two dudes in the meat department analyzing my height and weight distribution. All I can say is, WTF?