Thursday, September 29, 2011

Boob Juice considerations

I'm going to note, right off the bat, that my male readers might just want to give this post a miss. It's predominantly about breasts.

Wait, that probably didn't deter you.

Um, lactating breasts.


I've always expected that, should I produce some offspring, I would do what other mammals do and nurse them. It just makes sense to me. My mom did as much with her three children, and she's noted that it's easy and affordable - and also a nice bonding experience. DH's mom also nursed all three of her kids and has said basically the same thing. I recognize that I'm fortunate to have family support on the baby-feeding front... but some of that "support" has taken an ominous shape.

Over the Easter weekend, when I was still not even really showing yet, and DH and I were occupied with a long list of higher priorities like finishing grad school, finding a place to move, and other items of actual import, one of my relatives handed me an enormous book about breastfeeding and told me I should start reading it now and attend La Leche League meetings immediately - this was later backed up with "no later than July, really". Then my mother ordered me two more books about nursing which arrived at our apartment the next week. (Side note: you know that fun feeling when an Amazon box arrives at your door? Imagine it contains a book about nursing a baby. Still fun? Yeeah...)

So I suddenly had three books to read, on top of the couple of pregnancy books (thick, yes, but meant to be read piecemeal over the course of 40 weeks) and the stack of information I got from my midwife each month, and the weekly e-mail that pops up in my inbox. And, I don't know, the READING I WOULD LIKE TO DO THAT ISN'T ABOUT BABIES.

Look, I understand that the women in my family are being supportive. But this information overload was threatening to stress me out. I had thought that by planning to breastfeed, I was choosing the simpler route, but these people were making it into a research project, complete with deadlines. Will nursing suddenly not work, if I don't do all this reading? Can't I research this stuff my own way? Over the last, oh, five years, I've picked up plenty of useful tidbits from talking to other moms my age who have successfully nursed their kids and from reading the occasional blog post or article. I know my midwife has a lot of resources for new moms; I'll have a list of numbers to call if I need some advice.

And frankly, I don't want to join La Leche League. I never did, and I'm less interested in it now than I ever have been. They're entirely too dogmatic for my taste. I know a couple of League members who have told me that women who stop nursing "just give up too easily" or, seriously, are "failures". Because this is a test to pass or fail? I know there are women who tried valiantly and had to make the choice between nursing and providing enough nutrition for their baby to thrive, and so they turned to formula. Somehow their babies are still alive - thriving, even. The League doesn't want new moms to notice those kids. The League tells us formula is "poison". And what mother would willingly feed her baby poison?!?

I don't want to turn in to one of those moms who judge other mothers. And I don't want to nurse my kid out of a sense of stubborn correctness. That's not good mothering, it's sickness. I want to nurse my baby because... well, I already said it: it makes sense and I won't have to worry about running out, etc, etc. And of course, it's healthy for both of us. And it's cheap and we're on a budget. That's really great, and I'm willing to work hard to make it work (and to his credit, DH is willing to put up with a fridge full of breast milk and the hassle of warming bottles when I'm away at work). But if, for some unexpected reason, like I don't have ducts that work right or I have raging, violent postpartum depression or some other crazy thing happens, and the choice is between nursing and my child's health... well, this is a no-brainer. My son is more important than my sense of righteousness, and he's gotta eat something.

Frankly, the League fanatics overdo it so much that their rhetoric backfires with exhausted new parents. People like Marisa are led to believe that giving in to formula is admission of breastfeeding failure - there's no room for supplementing in the mind of the League. It's all or nothing. So for new moms who might need a little more time to get the hang of it, there appears to be no grey area - no actual choice - and they give up. Is that what the League wants? Why do they prioritize exclusive breastfeeding over the compromises some people need to make, like supplementing with formula while the whole process gets worked out?

I was also interested to see what Jenny recently wrote about her difficult (and exceptionally painful) breastfeeding experience, too - especially the part where she felt that pumping all the time actually took away from times she could have been bonding with her baby. I'm sure the League would disapprove of that kind of admission. In fact, it seems the League is unwilling to consider any emotions involved in child-feeding that aren't positive.

I feel like I'm not going in to this with illusions. I understand that breastfeeding is difficult, exhausting, and sometimes painful at the start, which is why I've been talking to my midwife and my friends and relatives and coworkers who've done it successfully, and why I'll have phone numbers of lactation consultants to call. I have the wonders of the internet, and I'm already on a message board that's been talking about this stuff. And, hell, I have three huge books now. So I've got resources.

It's also fair to point out that I've read plenty of articles and posts by women who had really positive experiences breastfeeding. Sherry at Young House Love posted in July about the 14 months she breastfed her daughter, and Emily at Oh! Apostrophe recently wrote about how breastfeeding managed to work for her and her baby even though she "broke all the rules" at the beginning.

It's almost like each one of these women, and each of their children, is different. And each of them figured out what worked for them and their kid. It's as if I'll have to do the same thing with my child.

If it takes some extra time for my milk to come in, or my baby has a poor sucking reflex, or whatever, I'm going to supplement with formula. I'm writing that out now and considering printing it off to hand to my League-obsessed relative. Maybe we'll have to do half-breastmilk half-formula for a while. That's OK. Maybe we'll have to do all formula. I'll be disappointed about the expense of that, but beyond the finances, I'd like to think I'll be cool with it. I'm disgusted by the "failure" language, and try as my relative might, I'm not going to buy into it by internalizing it, and I'm not going to attend a monthly League meeting where they'll tell me I'm doing it wrong unless I quit my job, co-sleep, and nurse on demand until my child is four years old. Because none of those things will happen.

In an ideal world, I would like to breastfeed my baby until he's a year old. Beyond that, we'll play it by ear. If we get that far, maybe he'll wean himself at 14 months like Clara Petersik, or maybe I'll have to wean him when he's two because he - like one of his uncles who will remain nameless - will "want to nurse until he's twenty". It's going to be up to him, to a large extent, and up to me and DH to pick up on his cues and figure out when we need to change what we're doing or ask for help from one of the many resources at our disposal.

At the end of the day, as long as our baby is getting nutrition and growing, I'll consider the test of early childhood feeding to be passed, no matter how we get there. And I solemnly hope that I won't turn in to one of the high-pressure "lactivists" when some mom-to-be asks me for advice in the future, because making a pregnant woman feel pressured about these things isn't actually being supportive.

Monday, September 26, 2011

36 weeks

My due date is in less than a month, but I could deliver this Friday and have a full-term baby. So... in 0-5 weeks, we have a baby. Then we have to take care of it. Yikes!

Weight Gain: Right around 30 pounds, according to the scale at home. My weight gain has not had a very linear trajectory.

Symptoms: I'm sleepy, pretty much all the time. Of course, it's been raining and cold for the past 48 hours, so I think a lot of people just want to stay in bed these days. Fortunately, this isn't the soul-crushing fatigue of the first trimester, just general tiredness. Also: my ankles have started getting puffy. I managed to avoid cankles throughout the record-breaking heat of the summer, and NOW my ankles puff up? Whatever. If I put my feet up and drink something, they calm down again. Also: my hips are definitely expanding. If I try to roll over in bed, they make a loud POP, and I have to keep two pillows between my knees when I'm sleeping now. And when I get up from sleeping or from sitting for a while at work, I have to walk several steps before I feel like my hips are definitely going to support my weight. Weird.

Cravings/Aversions: I want food. Mostly carbs. Often desserts. Frequently. Since my stomach capacity is tiny these days, I'm eating little snacks all the time. If I go more than two hours without eating (unless I'm asleep), I'm faint/nauseous/cranky. I am turning in to an infant, apparently.

I am loving: Not gonna lie, I kind of enjoy being so big I turn heads/ make people look scared. Seriously, some people look frightened. Just wait three more weeks, people!

I miss: Not being sleepy all the time. I know I will read this in 6 or 8 weeks and laugh maniacally at myself, saying, "Schmei, you didn't know the MEANING of TIRED back then!" but still, this is how I feel.

I'm looking forward to: This is odd, because I know it will be when I'm very uncomfortable and sleep deprived and need a lot of help with day-to-day life, but I'm looking forward to my mom coming up to help after the baby is born. I think it's going to be really comforting to have her around.

I'm concerned about: Life with a newborn. We're completely responsible for a tiny, helpless human? This makes me nervous. Though I think this nervousness is good, because it means I'm becoming less worried about pre-eclampsia, at least.

Milestones: He'll be full-term on Friday! Yowsas!

Movement: He's slowing down and stretching out and getting crowded in there. Movement that feels like an actual kick is becoming rare. Now it's more slow rolls and leg stretches, and sometimes it's painful because he's really pressing hard against my bladder/kidney/something. He gets hiccups a few times a day, and I can feel that more strongly each day. The hiccups kind of make me feel bad for him, but I know they're helping to make his breathing strong. And as DH pointed out, hiccups are annoying when you're trying to speak or do something else, but the little dude doesn't really have a lot on his agenda these days. Good point.

Exercise: Pretty good. Over the weekend of the wedding we had access to a pool, and floating around without fighting gravity was heavenly. I did a few lazy laps each day. Otherwise, I've been pretty good with walks, and my legs get stiff so easily I'm doing stretching/light yoga moves a few times a day on days when I'm at work. I can't walk as fast as I could before - I start to get contractions - but I can still walk for a pretty good while.

Diet: To be frank, I haven't been as careful as I was the last 8 months. Hot chocolate? OK. Cake? Sure. My actual meals are all pretty healthy, and I'm still trying to get lots of lean protein and fruits and veggies, but I'm huge and my hips are separating themselves and it takes me ten minutes to haul myself off the couch and sometimes I just want a donut.

Something nice: I was at work, talking on the phone with a woman who was interested in one of our training programs, and I was explaining to her that I'd be on maternity leave soon. She was really nice and said she had three kids via natural childbirth, and then went on, being all encouraging. "Labor is really a mental thing," she said. Then she said she'd keep me in her prayers. I don't even know this lady's name! That was super nice. And the mental thing... it was just what I needed to hear.

Also, at the end of the wedding weekend - which was really nice - we were all saying goodbye to each other, and the bride's whole family (a bunch of British people who had just met us all less than 48 hours before) said all kinds of sweet things to me and asked that we send baby pictures and wished us the best. It was a little hard not to get verklempt.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

So there isn't a stork?

Now that I'm in the final month of pregnancy, my belly is so prominent that I'm getting used to constant comments from... well, everyone. Relatives, coworkers, random strangers. The thing I don't understand? People who tell me that childbirth is going to hurt.

Seriously, people do this. And they think they're... being helpful? Letting me in on a secret? I don't know. It wasn't just that woman I mentioned in my last post, it just happened again - this time it was a MAN, on the train. Men: never, ever tell a pregnant woman that childbirth will hurt, because she just might start thinking of what she can do to you so you can enjoy a comparable experience.

The dude on the train started off all friendly, telling me about his 18-year-old daughter who's starting college, and he's so proud of her, and it seems like just yesterday his wife was pregnant, and they grow up so fast... that's all nice stuff. Then there was a lull in the (mostly one-sided) conversation, and he said, "I don't want to scare you, but" (Schmei's internal monologue: THEN DON'T SAY IT, IDIOT!) "my wife said she wouldn't have had that baby, if she'd known how much it was gonna hurt."

There was another woman sitting near us on the train who rolled her eyes so dramatically I felt at least a little vindicated in my sudden hatred of the guy. I just said, "uh huh."

I have found that most of the folks who've told me it's going to hurt a lot are people who have never had children. And seriously, half of them are men. I'm sure they're in awe of the whole process, but they need to shut it.

And I need to start saying, "you know what? Never say that to another pregnant woman again."

But don't worry, dear readers: the universe attempted to right itself. A few minutes after that conversation I was walking toward home, and two guys sitting on a bench hollered out to me as I walked past:

Guy on bench: Hey lady! How far along... when are you due?

Me: In a month!

Guy on bench: You look real sexy!

Me: (laughing, give thumbs-up in their direction)

Hey, at least it was complimentary.

Monday, September 19, 2011

35 weeks

Weight Gain: According to the midwife, 30 pounds. According to the scale at home, 28 pounds. Sometimes that makes me sigh, others I'm OK with it. I did gain 5 pounds in two weeks, according to the midwife's office scale, but I was wearing much warmer clothing than usual (copout) and the midwife noted that I had had something of a "plateau" the month before. We had one of the cool midwives. She did not snark that gaining more than 25 pounds is "bad for me", which I appreciated.

Symptoms: I'm tired. I think that second-trimester energy burst is starting to wane. I'm also getting occasional mild headaches... but at the risk of over-disclosure, my whole digestive system has, er, slowed down, so I'm guessing that's what that is from.

Cravings/Aversions:I've been craving sweets more, especially chocolatey carbs. Do I just need more calories, or is this a warning! sign! of pre-eclampsia! God, I wish I wasn't so worried about that.

I am loving: Cool weather. I'm not sure how many times I've thanked/apologized to my mother for having me in August, because I can't imagine spending the last month of pregnancy in July... and then going 10 days overdue. Sorry, Mom!

I miss: Full nights of sleep. OK, I can't complain too much, because I still get a full night of sleep every other night or so. But the intermittent nights involve waking up once or twice, going to the bathroom... and then staring at the ceiling for an hour or so because I can't get back to sleep. The little dude can't really be blamed - he hardly kicks me at night, and I don't think it would keep me awake if it did. My brain just doesn't re-settle very well.

I'm looking forward to: My brother-in-law's wedding this coming weekend. I will be playing the part of the enormous pregnant lady.

I'm concerned about: Pre-eclampsia. My blood pressure was slightly higher at the last appointment, though I'm trying to tell myself that it was because I drove through rush-hour traffic, and then the nurse took FOREVER to take my BP, which made me nervous. No protein in my urine or anything, and some headaches in late pregnancy (mine have been very mild) are supposed to be normal. Still, when I'm staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night, I keep envisioning being at my next midwife appointment and being told "You have pre-eclampsia. We're inducing you today. You're going to writhe in pain for two days and then we'll give you a c-section against your will. Got it? Why are you crying?"

What's interesting to me is that I basically spent 33 weeks or so being all chill about this pregnancy: whatever happens, happens, I can only control inputs, not outcomes, so let's all do some yoga. Why am I freaking out in the last month? I'm sure my sister's terrible birth experience (which featured - get this - pre-eclampsia, a days-long failed induction and a c-section. I'm very creative with my worries) has colored some of this, but I also wonder if worrying about this very specific potential problem is helping me to not worry about... everything else that could happen.

Milestones: He's honeydew-sized! And he'll be full-term in 2 weeks. Wow.

Movement: He just punched my bladder. The kid likes to move.

Exercise: Pretty good this week, what with the clement weather. A few long walks, some workout tapes, a little yoga, and on Sunday basically a full day of nesting-type behavior - organizing the baby's room and our bedroom, washing all the new clothes we got, etc. I'm trying to fight the sleepy and to feel like we're close to prepared for this kid's arrival.

Diet: actual meals have been pretty great - lots of home-cooking, mostly cooked by the wonderful DH. I am becoming more interested in desserts now. Not sure if this is because of the cold weather, the last month being when the kid packs on the most weight, or the dreaded pre-e.

As noted above, it's becoming inconsistent. And unkind people like to mention that we will NEVER SLEEP AGAIN so this makes me a little sad. I really, really like to sleep.

Something nice: One of my coworkers told me I make pregnancy look easy. As I was about to fall asleep at the receptionist's desk at the time, I appreciated the compliment. Seriously, I have had it pretty easy up until now. I think expecting the last month to be as much of a breeze as months 4-8 were is probably just too much to ask: I am carrying around a darn-near full-sized baby at this point. In my uterus. Woah. That I'm merely tired and occasionally have mild aches and pains means I still have it easy, and most of the time I am grateful for that.

The other nice thing? Washing all the kid's clothes this weekend. DH and I kept geeking out at how tiny and snuggly and cute the stuff is. Itty bitty socks! Wee hats! Tiny diapers! Little footie pajamas with cartoon puppies on them! I can't believe that in, like, 4-6 weeks or so, we're going to have a small person around to put those things on. That's kind of mind-blowing.

Something less-than-nice: This is an anecdote I had to share.

So, I'm obviously, shockingly pregnant at this point, and random strangers comment on it all the time. At least 90 percent of the time, they say something nice - I'm seriously amazed at least once a day by something kind someone says or does - but this morning as we were heading out the door of our apartment (DH walks me to the train in the morning because he's a super nice guy), this random woman was sitting on our front porch steps, talking on her cell phone. There are only 3 other people who live in our building, and this lady was definitely not one of them, so we looked a little puzzled at her. She started giving a long explanation about how she was waiting for her friend who lives in the next building... and then she got a look at my (terrifyingly large?) belly, and cut her diatribe short.

Random Stranger Porch Lady: Oh - how many months?

Me (trying to get to the sidewalk so I can walk to the train): eight.

RSPL: Do you know what it is?

Me (almost to sidewalk - why is it suddenly so far away?): It's a boy!

RSPL: Is this your first?

Me (at the sidewalk! Trying to walk quickly!): Yep.

RSPL: (smiling broadly) It's gonna hurt!

Me (internal monologue) WHY the f**** would you EVER SAY THAT to an OBVIOUSLY SUPER PREGNANT WOMAN??? Don't you think it's a LITTLE LATE FOR ME TO BACK OUT? And do you think I'm COMPLETELY STUPID and have never heard of CHILDBIRTH?? YOU SUCK AND I HATE YOU! GET OFF MY PORCH!!

(what I actually said): haha - I've heard that!

Sigh. I really need to spend this last month removing that politeness filter.

Monday, September 12, 2011

34 weeks

I'm not pledging to be consistent about this, but I do feel like there's more detectable stuff going on in this trimester than there was in the last two, and I feel compelled to write it down.

Weight Gain:
Not sure. My next appointment is Wednesday and I still haven't weighed myself since we moved. I'm a little worried I'm gaining weight fast, but we'll see.

Symptoms: Belly button, please stay right where you are. Don't pop out. Please? Because you're starting to look... strained.

Also, cramps and contractions. My legs want to cramp up if I'm not careful, and the ligaments or whatever in my lower abdomen - right above my hips - have given me a couple of "yeee-owch!" moments, when I moved too fast or tried to roll over in bed. And on one recent hot morning I got another round of quickly repeating, mildly painful contractions while I was walking to work. I drank a bunch of fluids and sat down as soon as I got to the office, and they went away immediately.

And... is this pregnancy related? Mild headaches. They come and go, and they're in my right forehead, just over my eye. I'm telling myself this is related to digestive issues and not pre-eclampsia.

Oh, and stretch marks on my thighs. It's interesting what bothers me (essentially, stretch marks anywhere else) and what doesn't. I guess I've never found my thighs to be overly pretty, so this is not really a thing.

Cravings/Aversions:Sometimes I want ice cream, a lot. Or chocolate. Apparently craving sweets is some kind of pre-eclampsia warning sign, so I'm trying to down a lot of protein and keep moving around a lot. But sometimes I do just eat the ice cream. Still not down with canned mushrooms, but I love fresh ones now.

I am loving: The occasional cool day. Wouldn't mind if they stick around!

I miss: Being able to roll over in bed. It continues to get more complicated, and it's when I'm sooo tirred and just trying to get comfy.

I'm freaked out about: Just gonna say it: pre-eclampsia. This is the first time I've been a little nervous about an upcoming midwife appointment, what with the (mild!) headaches. Please, please, please let my urine screen be OK this week. I'm not really swelling and I'm consuming more protein than I did when I was triathlon training... but I'm right around the same stage in pregnancy that my sister was when they gave her the bad news, and having a sister who had it means my chances are higher than the average mama bear.

If I can make it past this week's appointment, my next one will be at 36 1/2 weeks, which is a lot closer to full-term and would make me less concerned about horrible interventions.

I'm actually not sure which element of pre-eclampsia makes me more nervous: the prospect of having an induction/c-section forced on me, or the prospect of caring for a premature baby while recovering from a c-section. Regardless, I hope everything is cool on Wednesday so I can just take a deep breath and focus on fun stuff, like my brother-in-law's wedding.

I'm looking forward to:
my brother-in-law's wedding! It's in less than 2 weeks, which boggles my mind because I remember thinking "I'll be the size of a tank at that wedding!" I think that means I'm approaching tank-size...

Milestones: Those weekly e-mails I get are now comparing the kiddo to some pretty large fruit. This week: cantaloupe!

And this isn't a baby milestone, it's a parent milestone: we found a pediatrician. She's within walking distance of our apartment, she's fairly young (but she's been practicing for 10 years), she has two kids of her own, and her general philosophy is very similar to ours. I expected we'd just be settling for someone OK, but we both like her. And her office offers free classes on different parenting topics, which is cool. So that's a big task off the to-do list.

Movement: Still good. Sometimes when I'm sitting on the couch, he stretches out such that I have to lean way back to give him room or else his whole leg is in my ribs. A few times he's kicked me so hard it did actually hurt. Watch it, kiddo.

Exercise: After months of walking and doing the same yoga video, I was craving something different, so I checked out the cheesiest pregnancy workout DVD from the library. It was originally filmed in 1988, and it has the unitards and legwarmers to show for it. And the music was awful. But I kind of got an OK workout following along with it. Then on Tuesday we went back to the library and I checked out another workout DVD: FitMom. Holy crap, this lady is hard core. And the workout was filmed some time within the last 5 years, so it's way less 80s. So on good days, I take a long walk and then do 20-30 minutes of the FitMom workout. And then I sleep!

Sleep: This is a new category, partly because it's the number one question I get: "are you still sleeping?" I've been surprised, really, at how this is everyone's first question. For the most part, my sleep is OK, though it's becoming more common that I'm awake from about 3-4AM. Sometimes I wake up to pee, sometimes to get a snack, but then I can't fall back to sleep too quickly. This is why I'm trying to work out more, as it seems to help.

The other funny sleep thing is that I'm apparently making wacky noises when I am asleep. One early morning this past week, DH woke me by asking, "is he kicking?" And I muttered, "no", and I was annoyed that he was waking me up, but he mis-heard me and put his hand on my belly anyway. Not really a big deal. But then we were talking about it at breakfast and he told me that I'd apparently yelled, "WHOOOOO!" in my sleep. Real loud-like, as if I'd just gotten pummeled. I have zero memory of that.

Pretty OK. We're eating home-cooked meals pretty much every weeknight these days, which is awesome. I'm all about desserts, but I've mostly been turning to cereal to kick the sweets craving, so that's not too bad. But I'd be lying if I said I don't have ice cream 2-3 times a week. It's so good! I'm such a stereotype!

Something nice: The experienced-mom network is awesome. A woman I worked with on a conference in January, who is located in DC, is sending a box of baby stuff my way. She has four kids and isn't having any more babies (and her youngest is the cuddliest squishy-cheeked little guy ever - he joined her at the conference), so she's excited to get rid of the stuff and I'm happy to have it. This is in addition to the box of clothes (including a dozen pairs of itty bitty socks!) I got from another woman who's worked with me on an annual conference - that one came from Iowa. I'm getting free stuff from all over the country! I spent some of the weekend sorting out all the new clothes, bath towels, and other things we need to wash, and I think we're more prepared for a newborn than I originally thought, which is great.

Also, I keep holding things up and telling DH, "this is SO SMALL!" Last night it was newborn diapers. They're tiny! Whose butt would fit in that? Awwww.

Monday, September 5, 2011

33 weeks

It's Labor Day, though hopefully not THAT kind of labor day for me. Here's hoping you readers are enjoying a day off from your hard work. We're taking advantage of our last holiday weekend together as just two married folks by puttering around the apartment, enjoying autumn-like weather, and taking naps. I love naps.

Weight Gain: 26 pounds... and now I'm officially over the 15-25 pounds I'm supposed to gain, with 7 weeks to go. I'm not sure there's a lot I could have done differently to gain less weight, and I'm honestly not stressed about it. I also seem to be carrying ALL of it in my belly (OK, some of it made it to my thighs): my face isn't puffy or anything. So there we are. I will likely gain over 30 pounds total, and the not-quite-so-nice midwife who told me "that's not good for you" can deal with it.

Speaking of that, after months of striding out of every midwife appointment feeling like I'm the best mom, and DH is the best dad, and our kid is the best ever, we met with our first dud this past week. She made me feel like I must be doing something wrong, she told me my legs are swollen (uh... or I have big calves? My ankles/feet/hands weren't swollen at all and my blood pressure was "great", according to the nurse), she harped on me about the weight thing, and she basically told me I'm doing it wrong because I didn't have a list of questions for her. I see a midwife every other week, I've read umpteen books and blogs, we just took a 12-week childbirth class... if I have questions, I seek answers. I just really didn't have any this week. Then she really made me feel confident by telling me her watch had been off by a day for the whole month, and she just realized it. That just sounds flaky to me.

Now I'm worried that she, not any of the other 6 awesome midwives I've met so far, will be on call when I'm in labor. I'm praying that isn't the case, as all the other midwives (except the one we have yet to meet at the next appointment) have ranged from "you'd be nice to have coffee with" to "can you please be my second mom?" I guess we had to have one who's less-than-awesome. Hopefully the last woman is more cool.

Symptoms: Big belly that now moves so much when the tyke is feeling gymnastic that it has interrupted meetings at work and a childbirth class. He likes attention, I guess. Also: decreased appetite and more of that first-timester "bleh" feeling when my stomach is empty, which has gotten bad enough in the middle of the night that I've had to get up and eat a snack at 3am.

Also... I think I've had some contractions. Totally irregular, localized to my lower abdomen, but kind of crampy feelings. Each time it's happened has been when I'm walking or attempting to bend down. If I sit still, they go away. They happened on a super-hot day, so I'm hoping this is heat-related, in part because if I can't even walk until after this kid is born, I will start to lose my mind.

The internal thermostat situation continues to weirdfy, as well. I get super hot and sweaty at the drop of a hat, even in a cool room. My skin almost always feels cool to the touch these days, though, so it's not like I'm feverish. I just can't handle heat - or even mild warmth. I'm so glad the weather is cooling down.

Cravings/Aversions: I'm having days when food in general isn't interesting, unfortunately. But sometimes I really, really want a milkshake. Or orange juice. I must need more calcium/vitamin C these days.

I am loving: that we're really starting to think about what life will be like after October 21 or so. I'm starting to daydream more about a baby who will be a little boy and then a young man, rather than just a theoretical concept that gives me digestive issues.

I miss: All the same stuff. And my second-trimester love of food. Food is getting complicated for me again, and I do not enjoy that.

I'm looking forward to: Seeing my son's face. It's so weird that we don't know what he'll look like. I've already had a couple of weird dreams in which he has no face, or I can't see it, etc. It's clearly bothering my subconscious.

I'm freaked out about: Going in to labor early and not being ready. But will we ever actually be ready? This, I do not know. Also: going in to labor and having Flaky CrankyPants midwife on call. I know the odds are greatly in our favor that one of the awesome ones will be around, so I should focus on that. Also: going in to labor before my brother-in-law's wedding at the end of this month. It's going to be such a cool wedding! We gotta make it to October, at least!

Milestones: We had our last childbirth class - finally! - and I think that made us realize we're moving in to home stretch territory. Also, we got the car seat (thanks, Mom and Dad!): the only piece of equipment required to leave a hospital with a newborn. Are they seriously going to let us take a newborn home with us? They're crazy.

Movement: Frequent, strong, and sometimes nigh-disorienting. He seriously almost knocks me over some times. I think he's doing Krav Maga or something.

Exercise: OK with walking, though at times I have to slow it down due to shortness of breath and occasional achy-ness... and now contractions. I'm trying to do more yoga, which helps me sleep/makes me less stiff/ is strengthening all the stuff I need to be strong to birth this kid. I'm also trying to incorporate more arms/upper body work, since a couple of new moms told me to do it NOW, before I'm holding an 8-pound lump for hours on end and wishing I had more arm strength.

Diet: OK. We got a big bag of brown rice with our sweet new Costco membership (thanks again, Mom and Dad!), and DH is experimenting with healthy/cheap dinner eats. What he's come up with so far has been delectable. I do think I frankly over-restricted myself the day after the appointment with CrankyPants midwife - I kept feeling hungry and drinking water instead of eating anything - so I need to just push her snotty voice out of my mind and eat when I'm hungry. I should be drinking more water, though, as CrankyPants reminded me. The problem with 80 ounces a day is that then I have to pee seven million times. But at this stage I'm peeing that often, anyway, so I guess I might as well have something to show for it.

Something nice: A woman who works at the university where I work, with whom I have never had a direct face-to-face conversation, surprised me with a couple of hand-knitted baby washcloths she made out of really nice soft cotton stuff in fun colors. She said it was a thank-you for a small favor I did for her department, but I felt like that was way beyond anything that was called for. I was surprised and touched.

Also, the new guy at the health food store around the corner from my office gave me a 10% "pregnancy discount" when I bought some coconut water on the day the weather was super-hot and I was feeling huge and crampy and not so great. He didn't know I'd just been huffing and puffing down the street and worrying about contractions and the heat, he was just being nice. It made me feel a lot better.