A Square Peg

by Kat in Month Nine, Whatever

File this one under “weird pregnancy complaints.” My body is bigger front-to-back than it is from side to side. This is a strange feeling, and it’s hard to maneuver. I can’t sit my usual distance from the computer, for example. I have to scoot way back and stretch my arms out to type. As you might imagine, this is seriously stepping on my writing groove.

Driving is similarly difficult. I can barely tippy-toe the clutch in my car, and my belly squishes up against the steering wheel. It feels highly unsafe and I’m pretty sure it is, so I’m pretty much housebound now. This kind of sucks, but it does keep me from having to run errands or shop for groceries, so I guess it’s a wash.

I also have a hard time with oddball household chores. Obviously it’s hard to lean over when you’re nine months pregnant and there’s a beach ball in the way of you and your knees. But you wouldn’t really think about the other kinks in the daily chores, like when I try to put dishes away, and I’m too short and too front-heavy to reach the cabinets in a straightforward manner. I have to sidle up — literally sideways — and do this little lean/tilt/balance-on-one-foot thing so that I can reach up to get to those higher shelves.

And the worst part? It’s really noticeable when I try to squeeze through a tight space. For all of my life previous to this point, turning sideways was a sure way to make myself smaller. I could wiggle past chairs in the dining room, or squiggle through a crowd of people at a concert venue. Now, if I turn sideways, I go BUMP SMACK BOOM with my huge round belly. I plow right into people, chairs, and narrow doorways. I find it embarrassing, and surely kiddo does not appreciate his bedroom being driven so carelessly about.

What Happened To My Ankles?

by Kat in Month Nine, Whatever

Only one week to go. Only one more week to go. Please let there be only one more week to go…

As you may have surmised, I’m down to the last week before my due date. Kiddo seems perfectly content to hang around and overstay his welcome in my very-very-very massive and presumably oh-so-comfy belly though, so this may well drag on for a few more weeks. Happy happy, joy joy! I’m so glad to almost be at the end of this road. I’m totally exhausted, my knees are starting to give out, the backache and belly aches are constant, I can’t sleep for more than an hour at a time, my eating habits and digestive system are permanently tweaked, I can’t breathe, and I’m therefore – understandably, I think – rather grumpy. To say it politely. (The less polite variation is “hormonal psychotic bitch,” I believe.)

Most of these annoying complaints are just part of the deal, however, and I have pretty much gotten used to being physically miserable for the past nine months. But just when I thought, “Hey, this is almost over and surely there can’t be any MORE nasty surprises in store for me!” (labor and delivery aside, of course), along comes one more insanely irritating side effect of bringing a bright, brand-new little babykins into the world.

My feet. Oh, my poor scary, swollen feet. They are bright red, almost purple, and they have only recently puffed up into chubbalicious snausages with little fat toes squishing out of them. They are hideous. The skin is stretched, blotchy, and dry. They tend to swell out of whatever shoes and socks I wear, puffing out of ballet flats, Mary Janes, and athletic shoes like huge, angry red muffin-tops which slosh into my cankles and blend directly into my fat calves and chubby knees. I can’t fit into my cute shoes and have had to resort to buying a pair of plain, practical, stretchy, flat shoes that belong in the nursing ward, not my collection of sexy heels. And the disgust I feel for my own two feet is only slightly less than the embarrassment I feel when total strangers steal a glance at my overstuffed sausage legs and nervously glance away, as if they worry that I may be contagious.

Good thing I only have one more week to go. One week. One week. One week…

Take Another Little Piece of My Heart(burn)

by Kat in Month Nine, Whatever

I should buy stock in whatever pharmaceutical giant owns Tums. I can’t live without them lately. I’m fairly certain that my calcium levels are sufficient; I chow those little pink-and-purple chalk tablets by the handful on a daily basis lately. And no, this isn’t that weird disorder where pregnant women want to eat chalk — literally — or dirt or whatever. I just have nasty, nasty heartburn.

On the overall scale of Things That Annoy Me right now, this one probably registers a 5 on the 1-10 scale, where one is something only barely annoying, like, I dunno… breathing… and 10 is something REALLY annoying, like the Charlie horse ligament cramps I get at 3 a.m. that make walking impossible and leave me curled in the fetal position in bed, moaning. (This tends to freak out hubby quite regularly.)

If I could understand the reason that I have such constant heartburn, perhaps it would be more tolerable. (Yeah, riiiight.) I mean, what is the point? WHY does this happen? Back pain makes sense at least – it’s understandable when you’re carrying a 40-pound beach ball on your belly that you might get a bit worn out. I read somewhere in my library of pregnancy books that it’s caused by the relaxation of the throat muscles or some such crap. Again, what is the point? Does baby benefit somehow by Mama choking on her stomach acid in the middle of the night, or avoiding eating anything other than white bread after 6 p.m.? I don’t get it.

Just last night, I went out for Thai food at this great restaurant in the neighborhood. And before I ordered my favorite spicy panang curry, I had to weigh the consequences: do I really want to eat this? Will it be worth the burn later tonight? Can I find some kind of Super Mega Extra Strength antacid on the way home to get ahead of the curve here?

I went for the panang last night. I suffered for it later. But damn, that coconut curry rocked my world for a few minutes. And right now? Anything that makes me forget my many aches and pains and worries for a brief amount of time is worth the inevitable consequences.

Are We There Yet?

by Kat in Month Nine, Whatever

Oh. My. God. If if get any bigger, I think my belly will split wide open like an overripe watermelon. I keep thinking that this is it — my skin can’t possibly stretch any more, my belly can’t extend any further, and my posture can’t get any worse (I’m the leaning tower of Pisa lately) — but then every day I get bigger. And bigger. Someone actually asked me if I had “a litter in there” the other day. No, I am not whelping a litter. Nor am I having twins, or triplets, and I am not, apparently, having this baby tonight. So quit with the stupid questions, okay people?

What I am having is a very big baby. Junior weighed in at about 8 pounds during my 35-week checkup. And his head is massive; kiddo’s noggin measured at “overdue” in terms of diameter. No wonder I can’t sleep, eat, walk, or breathe anymore. I’m going to give birth to a ten pound baby… eventually.

Now we’re just playing the waiting game. Let’s hope that babykins decides to be punctual, otherwise I’ll be literally bursting at the seams.

Obsessive Nesting

by Kat in Month Eight, Whatever

I’m really not the Martha Stewart type. My house is, well, organized. It’s clean. I have a handful of pictures on the wall and the occasional throw pillow has been tossed, but no one will ever walk into my home and then seek me out for decorating advice.

But for some reason, none of that applies to the baby’s room. I have been obsessively feathering my little nest. Picking out the theme for the crib set? That was a painful week-long process that left me surfing online in the wee dark hours, dwelling over the hard choices in life. Safari, or Blue Dog? Mod Polka Dots, or Jungle Babies? Surfer Boy, Sailor, or Planes, Trains, and Automobiles? It was overwhelming.

But I had to make a choice. You see, the crib set determines the theme of the entire room, and all other decor will follow suit. It was a tough decision, but the Safari/Jungle theme won out. Then my mom came for a week-long visit. To help out, you know. She took one look at my formerly organized but not overly decorated nursery (read: forlorn, barren, and chilly), and dragged me out the door toward the nearest baby superstore. With her ever-growing shopping list in hand, we bought everything we needed for the baby-to-be. And I mean everything. The baby’s room is now a cozy pastel menagerie of lions, giraffes, zebras, and monkeys. I have blankies, snugglies, cuddlies, and soothies. I have bottles, nipples, warmers, and wipes. I have diapers stacked, books shelved, linens washed and clothes folded. There are multiple changing stations, baby swings, baby travel necessities, and several nooks and crannies filled with things that I’m just certain are ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY for this daunting process of bringing baby home.

Which brings me to my next problem. Oh shit. I need to pack my hospital bag! Better grab the shopping list, and get started…

Death By Dog Breath

by Kat in Month Eight

Bad dog! Knock that off! You’re doing it again, you furry beast!
Stop. Breathing. On. Me.

My poor puppy. He’s really a very good boy. My dog is smart, well-behaved, good natured, and speaks English fluently. Well, I suppose I’m exaggerating. He understands English quite clearly, but there are one or two commands that he has yet to master the response to. Such as my — very reasonable, I maintain — request that he cease and desist with the heavy breathing while in my presence.

It’s an unfair request, I know. I mean, I’m asking my dog to stop breathing. But it’s unfair to me as well. Somehow, I can’t breathe myself half the time due to all this pregnancy-related stuffiness. And yet I can smell that nasty dog breath from several feet away, when all the poor pooch is doing is lying in the living room, hoping for some faithful-dog-beneath-the-masters-feet bonding time. He sees me settle myself as gracefully as a hippopotamus into some freakish position on the couch. He thinks, “Okay, I’ll just flop down right beside her on the floor because that’s what good doggies do.” He gets comfortable and soon the happy dog face settles in. You know the one. Where he kind of seems like he’s smiling? And his pink doggie tongue sort of lolls out of his mouth? And he yawns a little and gets really comfy in his spot? Yep, that’s the face. That’s about the time he gets yelled at and told to move elsewhere — like, at least five feet away from me — because I’m a mean psycho dog mommy who feels like hurling every time I get a whiff of his happy, cute, incredibly smelly dog mouth.

I am a cold-hearted Cruella, because even the shocked puppy-dog eyes (“But what did I do? I’m a good boy!”), the flopped-back, disappointed ears, and the forlorn look over the shoulder to confirm that I’m really telling him to leave for no good reason — at least no good reason that he understands — doesn’t change my mind. I seriously cannot handle the doggie breath right now.

Guess I’d better find a good doggie dentist. Or, maybe they make doggie Listerine?

Ring of Fire

by Kat in Month Eight, Whatever

The latest insult to my warped, wobbly body? Stretch marks. The nasty purple-red streaks surround my hip area and lower belly like a bad snakeskin belt circa 1987. I swear I woke up the other day, took a shower, and waddled over to my closet to pick the day’s oufit; my typical uniform of tent-sized flowy top and old-man-over-the-belly-button jeans. (I finally gave in to the over-the-belly jeans rather than the much less hideous under-belly jeans, but that’s another story.) But before I made it as far as the granny panties and comfy, practical, totally non-sexy beige bra… I saw them. Out of the blue, they had appeared overnight. The dreaded belly marks of motherhood flaming their way across my previously unmarred abdomen.

Apparently all those body oils, stretch mark creams, soothing lotions and body butter didn’t do crap to prevent these purple ego eaters. My body image is already teetering on the brink of hopelessness, and now? It’s official. I will never, ever look the same again.

At least the stretch marks, though ugly and decidedly offensive, don’t hurt. Unlike the rest of my poor wrecked body. The pubic bone thing is evil. Oh? You haven’t heard about the splitting of the pubic bone? Tsk, tsk. I hadn’t either, until I realized that the burning pain in my nether regions was definitely not related to my urinary tract, or for that matter any of my essential female plumbing parts. It was bone pain. Pubic. Bone. Pain. The tiny space in the front of your pelvis begins to shift due to some hormone that relaxes all your ligaments. Which sounds like it might be a good thing, right? Better flexibility. Easy yoga poses. Less back pain, perhaps? But no, not even close. These newly loosey-goosey joints HURT as they fall apart, and allow your pelvis to wobble, wander, and pull — which leads to excruciating pain. Right there, smack dab front, center & south, in the one spot — unlike say, your lower back — that even pregnant women can’t get away with grabbing, rubbing or otherwise referring to outside the company of doctors, close female friends, and patient, over-informed hubbies.

The result is that heading up a single flight of stairs may as well be climbing Everest, and I can’t get out of bed quickly or stand up from sitting without working my way slowly to a vertical position. Getting out of the car after a long drive is treacherous and painful (it burns, burns, burns) but it does work itself out – mostly – after the first 20 or 30 steps. After the next 200 to 300 steps, the lower back pain kicks in, and then the pubic bone pain returns, causing an all-around ring of fire that is so not Johnny Cash cool.

I think I’ll just start taking my daily dose of Tylenol on schedule with my vitamins. Won’t help those uninvited stretch marks, but it may make going up and down the stairs a bit more doable.

Cookie Monster

by Kat in Month Seven

Note to self: do not eat sugar cookies immediately before getting a massage.

I went to a day spa yesterday for what I had hoped would be a well-deserved hour of pampering and relaxation. I’d been given a gift certificate for the spa, and scheduled an hour-long prenatal massage. And everything was great; the massage therapist was friendly and soothing, the atmosphere was warm, cozy, and promoted a sense of calm and well-being. After months of moving, remodeling, holiday-ing, and baby preparations, I was fully prepared for some much needed R&R.

But I ruined it. My food craving issues are complicated right now, and when I get hit by an obsessive urge to scarf something — say, a whole handful of those pink and white frosted circus animal sugar cookies — I have zero control over the consequences.

My sugar cookie snarf-o-rama resulted in a less than ideal massage. My mind was racing. (I need to relax! Now! Really! If I breathe really slowly and relax RIGHT NOW I won’t waste this massage!) The baby was on his own little sugar high, and wiggled, squirmed, kicked and rolled around in my belly the entire time. Normally, I would think it cute, but during a massage? Let’s just say that the alien-baby belly gymnastics are a bit of a distraction from the elusive Zen state. There is, however, a bright side to my somewhat less than ideal experience. I think — just to be fair to the spa, naturally — that I had better head back down and try again. Soon. Minus the sugar buzz.

Itchy & Scratchy

by Kat in Month Seven

I caught myself doing the guy-watching-football scratch yesterday. In the midst of an interview for a story I’m working on, my navel and upper belly area started to itch. Immensely. So I scratched it. Not a huge social blunder, right?

Except that this was not a delicate, ladylike scratch. I did not furtively run my nails lightly across my belly and then stop. Instead, I started scratching the middle part of my belly, and leisurely moved my hand around, scratching the entire time, to the right, the left, the navel, back up, and all around again. When my interviewees dropped their eyes — and then quickly averted them — I then realized that I had been acting like a dog with fleas. Or, you know. A guy watching football, just scratching away without a single thought or care. I was totally busted.

I turned red, apologized, and made myself quit with the itching. But you can’t just will an itch to stop. You try to ignore it. You try not to think about that agonizing itch in your belly, sort of at the top of the belly button where your skin is surely splitting from the pressure and can’t possibly stretch any more than it already has and no wonder it itches like crazy because it’s being torn and pulled apart from the inside and the cold weather makes your skin dry on top of everything else and a little-bitty scratch might make it feel better and it ITCHES! IT ITCHES!

This may go the way of the nose blowing and sniffling. I may have to chuck what was once a polite company no-no and simply go with the flow, and face the fact that my belly itch is more important to me at certain particular moments than my manners. I’m falling apart. I’m regressing. I’m turning into an ape, or a frat boy, or just some plain ol’ trashy chick who honks her nose constantly and openly scratches body parts. So far I still avoid farting in public when it’s in any way avoidable. But I’ve hit that gassy stage of pregnancy; in another few weeks that may go the way of this itching and scratching, and I’ll just toot away and shrug it off as part of this wholly false beautiful-pregnant-woman package deal.

Good thing I only have six more weeks to go.

Me, the Mouth Breather

by Kat in Month Four, Month Seven

There are many minor yet extremely irritating complaints that accompany pregnancy. You won’t hear about them until you are already too far along to turn back, of course. And every weird, painful, nasty, embarrassing little thing is “normal” even though you’ve never heard of it before. (I think there is either a serious conspiracy among mothers, or else a major post-pregnancy amnesia issue here. Will let you know if I figure this out.)

So back in the second trimester, I got hit with severe migraines out of the blue. I suddenly needed to lie down in blackness and hold my head still against a cold pillow. Of course you can only take Tylenol for these head-in-a-vise pain episodes, and Doc said that it was all just a normal (again with the “normal!”) part of the ride; apparently as your blood volume increases exponentially during weeks 16 – 18 the migraines are simply a little-known and highly debilitating side effect. On the bright side, the migranes went away after a few weeks.

I wish I could say that about the stuffy factor. Since nearly the moment I got pregnant, I’ve had major congestion. As in, during more than half of my waking hours I honestly just can’t breath out of my nose. At all. At night? Fugetaboutit. And like everything else, you can’t just reach for the cold medicine (bad for baby!) so you have to suffer through it. My constant sniffles surely must annoy strangers who don’t understand. I have stashed little travel packs of Kleenex in every car door, purse, desk cubby, and corner of my home to accommodate my overproductive sinuses. Doc says this is another little-discussed but perfectly normal side effect of this baby making business. Hmmph. What’s that thing they say about pregnant women being beautiful? I’m not glowing, I’m blowing. This is gross.

Now that I’ve had this stuffy nose for months, and I snort and sniffle away like a lifetime cocaine addict, I hardly notice when I do it in public anymore. Surely my dinner companions notice me talking like Dumbo the elephant and snorking back snot constantly, but why should I care? The one thing I do still manage to enjoy is eating. And I can honk my nose if I want to. Pregnant women are beautiful. I’ll just keep telling myself that. (Sniff. Snort. Honk!)