Saturday, September 27, 2014

Round Two!

“I just wish she would stay still for one second.”

The extremely nice yet understandably frustrated ultrasound technician continued sliding the scanner over my belly as the image on the screen wiggled around like a tiny interpretive dancer.

“This does not bode well,” JT said from his bedside chair.

It had been over an hour, and the Love Bug had not stopped moving for one single second, rendering the tech’s job of getting clear image of the heart nearly impossible. Her little arms shot forward Macarena-style, blocking the view. Then she’d flip over and sway her legs like a synchronized swimmer. I’d tried everything - lying on my side, walking around, bathroom breaks. None doing. This little chick was in the middle of her morning swim, and she wasn’t stopping for anything.

We had ascertained earlier that she was indeed a “she,” a surprise to both JT and I. For reasons neither of us could verbalize, we’d both kind of thought the baby was a boy. JT always used the male pronoun when talking about it, and I was looking only at boyish bedding during my online searches of nursery decor sites.

But instantly upon finding out, we were both overjoyed. I immediately switched my mindset from blues and greens to all things purple for the nursery. JT, the man who makes his living as a pro-wrestling authority, established some ground rules. No daughter of his would ever become a WWE Diva, nor would she ever date a wrestler.

I started sending him things like this:


Finding out the sex definitely gave me another, “This is really happening!” moment, which have become commonplace since starting the second trimester. Hard to believe we’re halfway done!

Second Trimester So Far:

Yay for the return of energy! I’m still not at 100 percent pre-baby levels, but I no longer have to physically hold my head up starting around dusk each day. I’m still sleeping eight-plus hours a night - hopefully a habit the baby just loooves - and waking up refreshed most days. I’ve been going into work earlier, ending my 11-year streak of working 10-6. But once my old lady bedtimes started translating to a 6:30 a.m. wake up (which I’m seriously hoping makes getting up with Baby LaBar ever so slightly easier), it became silly to sit at home killing my mornings sipping decaf while watching “Will and Grace” reruns until it was time to get ready for work.

I’m very aware that this quiet down time spent gently slipping into my day will be desperately missed in coming months, but you can’t stockpile time, and for now, I’d much rather get home and get dinner on the table before 8 p.m. 

It’s also good I’m eating earlier because I’m hungry often. OK, all the time. I wake up at night sometimes starving but refuse to become a midnight snacking cliche just yet. Save something for Round Three, right? I can easily eat breakfast and be ravenous by the time I get to my desk an hour later. I’m trying to carry as much fruit with me as possible and do pretty well, but the less-than-beneficial snacks continue to creep in. I’m a sucker for chewy fruity candy these days and don’t dare suggest I eat my turkey sandwich without a side of sour cream n’ onion chips or Cheetos. I won’t listen to such madness.

All these empty calories have to end up somewhere, and my ever-growing baby bump is more than happy to provide the rental space. It seemed like one day I was thinking, “Hm, I really haven’t put on any weight yet. I wonder if everything is OK? Should I be worried? I know - I’ll worry just in case.” Then a few days later, it became, “Crap! Ten pounds in one week! How the hell is this happening? This can’t be right. It can’t be safe! Now I’m really worried! Arrghhh!!!”

By the way, LOL about wondering how I was gaining so much weight so fast. For the answer, one need only look in any drawer of my kitchen. From Starbursts to salted caramels, ice cream bars to blocks of cheese, it’s not exactly a riddle. People ask me what I’m craving. Literally, everything. Sugary, savory, whatever, bring it on. I’ve added two frozen waffles to my morning breakfast of eggs and bacon. I snack all day, yet I’m still starving by the time I get home, and eat seconds for dinner almost every night. I’m a pickle jar away from being every pregnant lady in every movie ever. But I will say that I am staying active, walking a couple miles a day a few times a week and jogging when I feel up to it. I’m terrified of what the winter months of my third trimester hold. Add the holidays to the equation, and I might as well just rent a circus tent now.

One bonus to gaining weight: maternity pants. They are the most comfortable piece of clothing ever conceived (ba-dum ching!). I love them so much, I’m actually bummed it’s not socially acceptable for women to wear them all the time. How can we make this a thing? If I start it, will you all do it too? Someone call Anna Wintour.

I’ve also been reading as much as I can about babies - books, magazines, blogs, other mom’s diaries. I’ve been gathering as much information as I can while trying to avoid the Super Scary Ways Everyday Objects Can Kill You articles my doctor advises I ignore. I started with some of the longstanding bestsellers, which I’ve found to have varying levels of helpfulness. “Bringing Up Bebe,” for example, offered some suggestions on how to Frenchify my child, or make her into a calm, quiet, mini adult with perfect manners, a distinguished palate and more sophistication than I’ve managed to muster up in my three decades. Things I took from this book:

When you’re baby is screaming, do “The Pause.” This means listening for a minute to see if you can hear what your baby really wants rather than just grasping around for every diaper/binky/bottle within reaching distance the second she stirs. I can get behind this on paper. In practice, I don’t stand a chance.  

Expose your child to every food imaginable. Serve meals in courses and force them to at least try a portion of each. LOL!!!! I’m sorry, but I’ve seen children eat. Most food ends up in their hair or on the floor before you can scoop two spoonfuls their way. Courses??!! LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLMAO

American maternity leave allowances SUCK compared to other countries. No argument there.

Don’t play narrator. This will make everyone around you hate you, your child included. This I totally agree with. There is nothing worse than seeing those parents hovering around their children at the park barking every option at them until the kid's eyes start to spin. “Do you want to ride the slide? How about the swings? Did you see that bird?! OMG another slide! What do you want to do first? Slide? Swings? Slide?! Bird!? AHHHHHHH!!!!!!?” Just NO. Let your kid just play. So what if that means she roams around aimlessly and stops to inspect a piece of grass for 10 minutes? Just leave her be.

You have three months to get your figure back if you want to be like a French woman. You will also apply makeup daily, DGAF about breastfeeding in order to maintain some “mystery,” never eat anything you bake with your child and barely acknowledge her presence in public. Kill me.

I much more preferred Anne Lamott's "Operating Instructions," a brutally honest look at her first year raising her son. One of my favorite lines, after she's spent another agonizing sleepless night with her colicky baby and decides to just go ahead and forgive herself for not being the World's Best Mom: "I think we're all pretty crazy on this bus. I'm not sure I know anyone who's got all the dots on his or her dice." I'm thinking of getting that stenciled on one of the nursery walls. 

Much more fun than reading up on all the ways I can screw up my child was registering for my baby shower, thanks entirely to my sister-in-law and mom of the two most precious little girls on the planet, Nik. I honestly don’t know what I would have ended up with had she not been there to steer me in the right direction. Probably 47 ridiculously impractical purple infant outfits and a pack of baby wipes. My favorite part was when I paused in front of a display and asked her in all seriousness, why a new mom would need a brush for her nipples.

“Do they get, like, extra dirty?” I pondered, inspecting the bristly product before me.

“Yeah, those are for cleaning the bottle nipples, not yours,” Nik said with way less mocking in her tone than I would have gone for.

Did you guys want to start shining my New Mom of the Year Award now, or…?

But honestly, her advice was so helpful as has been most of what people have been telling me since I announced my pregnancy. I’ve gotten a lot of tips, solicited and otherwise, perhaps the best of which came from a co-worker who approached me at my desk one morning a couple days ago.

“I know you’re getting advice from everyone under the sun but do you mind if I give you some more?” he asked.

“Shoot,” I said, bracing myself for the “Your Life Is Over” talk so many people have been excited to enlighten me with lately.

“I’m going to tell you something not a lot of people will,” he said. “My advice is this: Enjoy it. No one tells you how much fun this is going to be. It’s hard, yes, but there is so much to enjoy and it goes really fast. So have fun with it.”

I was shocked, and so so happy. I thanked him, really meaning it. Best advice ever. It’s what I’ll try to remind myself when it’s 3 a.m. and I’m desperate for sleep and sanity. Or when the baby hasn’t stopped screaming for what seems like an eternity and I’m wondering what exactly I got myself into.

Because I know those moments are coming. But I also know I already love this baby more than I knew I could. I can’t imagine how that will grow in coming days, months and years. I’m so ready for it. And I plan to enjoy every single second that I can.

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