Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A real live update

Herewith I present you, dear readers, with an actual update on the pregnancy! I went to my third-to-last OB appointment this morning, and everything's cool. My gigantic belly is measuring just a touch behind my weeks of pregnancy, but that's no reason for concern, especially since growth has been steady and consistent all along. With a scheduled c-section, I'm not particularly worried about a very large baby, but this suggests that the wee peanut is of average size.

This is, of course, contrary to what everyone I see these days tells me - people seem to delight now in telling me how enormous I am. To anyone who might think that this is something a pregnant woman wants to hear, let me assure you - NO. IT'S NOT. I know I'm huge. I'm carrying around loads of extra pounds that are distributed in such a way to make my hips and back a constant source of discomfort. When I make the effort to see my feet and ankles, I'm grateful it's not sandal season, because they currently look like the feet and ankles of someone decades older than myself (except for the smashing pedicure I had a couple of weeks ago that's holding up beautifully). So, yes, I'm all too aware of my current size, and I really don't need to hear about it anymore. Ask me how baby prep is going. Ask me how Anna's getting ready for a new little sister. Don't ask me if I've had "that baby" yet. And please - in the name of all that is sacred to you - don't pretend to faint dead away at the sight and size of me.

ANYWAY.

When I was pregnant with Anna, I was positive for Group B strep, which is no big deal but does mean that I was given IV antibiotics at delivery. I fully expected to be positive for GBS again this time, but lo and behold! I'm not. Apparently, this can happen, although I'm told it's more common to be GBS positive again the second time around. What this means is that there's one less bag of stuff they'll have to run into me via IV when I deliver this baby. Sounds good to me.

I switched OB practices with this pregnancy, pretty much for convenience. I loved my OB from the last go-around, but the Ascos felt a practice and hospital closer to home were warranted this time, hence the switch. There are three OBs in my practice, and I saw the one today who'll be doing the c-section two weeks from Friday (we'll call him Dr. W) . I like all three of the doctors, and I particularly like this one - he has an easy and relaxed manner, and I feel like our personalities are well-suited, which isn't always something you find in a doctor-patient relationship. He's also the senior and founding member of the practice. He recognized the name of the very experienced OB who delivered Anna - from when she did her residency training.

Dr. W asked to take a look at my c-section scar this morning, and he said it looked very good but that he thought he could "clean it up a bit more" this time. Which sounds just fine to me. I rarely see or worry about it - I'm hardly the low-rise bikini type - but one side is raised a bit, while the other is flat and barely visible. If he thinks he can improve on that - hardly something I expected out of a duplicated incision site - I'm all for it.

That's the news from here...I'm into weekly appointments for the next couple of weeks, and then, inexplicably, we'll have arrived at D/B-Day. It really seems to have gone so much faster this time than last.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

It seems like just yesterday...


Don't panic, dear friends and family - you're not looking at baby #2 here! All is still set for D/B-Day two weeks from Friday. With that caveat aside...

Anna will be 2 years and 5 months old when her baby sister is born in a couple of weeks. I look at her now - complete with crazy, spinning personality - and it's so hard to remember that we were this such a short time ago. Look at her - so tiny and fragile! All the pieces there but just waiting to fall into place. And look at me - totally awestruck, in love, clueless, and not a little naive about everything yet to come, both the good and the challenging.

I find myself worrying that there won't be as many pictures or unique memories of the baby about to arrive as there are of Anna. I think some of that is irrational, especially the unique memories part, but there's a logistical component there that tells me it'll be harder to just grab the camera and go nuts this time the way I did when Anna was tiny. A conscious effort will be clearly required on our family's part, although I may stop short of teaching Anna to use the digital SLR just yet...

Monday, January 29, 2007

M-m-m-myyyy Sharona

It's hard to get motivated to get moving and working for these last few weeks in the office. It's not that I don't have plenty to do - quite the contrary. But I'm huge and tired and uncomfortable, and if getting up at 5:30am is difficult without those complaints, it's downright dastardly with them.

Enter my iPod, which I listen to almost exclusively at work on a neat little speaker ring. I set the thing to shuffle all songs most days, and, since it's my music collection, I rarely get something I don't want to hear. And sometimes I get just exactly the right thing. I've heard most of the songs on my iPod dozens of times apiece over the course of my lifetime. This morning, The Knack's "My Sharona" sashayed into the rotation just as I was about to hurt myself doing a forehead dive onto my desk.

I've heard this song more than a few dozen times in my life. I know it front to back and back to front again. But it was exactly the right dose of get-moving-already this morning. That guitar solo! I forgot how much it completely rocks. My eyes are actually wide open, and I've been more productive in the 20 minutes or so since it played than I was for the hour and ten I was here before my iPod decided drastic measures were necessary.

I love how songs you think you know beyond the point of being affected by them can still sneak up and kick you in the butt right when you need it the most.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Diabolical

I'm alternately grateful for and cursing the existence of a certain flavor of ice cream available now at Coldstone Creamery; it's called Dark Chocolate Peppermint. Have the lovely people behind the counter mash in some brownies, and welcome to my idea of heaven (okay, there might be an add-on or two to really get there, but you get the idea). My wonderful husband has kept our freezer stocked with the take-home half-gallon version of this lately, ensuring that cravings can be met, day or night.

It's delicious. It's dark, it's chocolate, it's minty, and the brownie addition gives it this wonderful chewy-yet-creamy texture even better than Ben & Jerry could do. I have to restrict myself to the ramekin serving size, though, as opposed to the cereal-bowl serving size. My OB wondered aloud at my last appointment if I've perhaps been hitting the ice cream a bit hard these past couple of weeks.

Yes. Yes, I have. YES.

I have few physical enjoyments at the moment, and I know I'm going to have to pay for this consumption later, but you know what? I'll do it happily. It's worth it, dammit.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Would you like some cheeeese with your whiiine?

I don't mean this to be a dumping ground for my various complaints these days. I really don't. But my third distinct cold in four weeks has me feeling miserable and sorry for myself, especially because it takes virtually all my energy to hoist my giant, pregnant self from bed to get to the bathroom for pregnancy-safe cold meds or downstairs for a glass of water.

Fortunately, I have an understanding and devoted husband (or perhaps just one who fears for his life if he doesn't comply with my demands) who makes the trip downstairs for water and ice cream - or whatever - upon request. Anyone who watches Scrubs and saw last week's episode in which Christa Miller's character comes galumphing into the hospital, preceded by Jurassic Park-like shaking of water cups...well, yes, there you have it.

I did leave work early yesterday to try and get some extra rest, and that helped quite a bit. Today, instead of feeling disgustingly congested and exhausted, I feel disgustingly congested and the usual tired. Not bad. I can function like this.

These late days of pregnancy are upping my crank factor considerably, though. When you're ready to tear Big Bird a new one for being a whiny pain in the you-know-what while watching Sesame Street with your two-year-old, it's probably time to do something else. But seriously! Alan's going to Hawaii! The man makes you birdseed milkshakes every day on demand, never mind Baby Bear's porridge, and he needs a break! Nobody likes change. Suck it up, bird!

*breathe*

Fortunately, Natalie Portman turned up in the nick of time. And it turns out that Natalie Portman knows how to make a birdseed milkshake. So Big Bird acquiesced and let Alan go on his lovely Hawaiian vacation, safe in the knowledge he could still get his *&%@# birdseed milkshake. I needed sedation after that episode, which can only mean end-stage pregnancy. Who else is going to get riled up by a characted designed to have the psychological development of a four-year-old?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Baby Back Ribs

Baby Asco #2 decided sometime yesterday that the right side of my ribcage would be a fine place for a foot. Or a hand. Or a head. Oh, I don't know. Whatever is up in there, it's solid and pressing outward. Or maybe just upward? I really can't tell for sure. Suddenly, sitting at my desk and in my car became very uncomfortable, which is too bad, given how much time I spend in both of those locations. I was uncomfortable at this point in my pregnancy with Anna, of course, but this particular bit of fun is new to this go-around.

I did get some help from gravity by lying on my left side last night and, for the first time in recent memory, slept all the way through the night without waking up once before the alarm. But by the time I got out of the shower this morning, there we were again: my ribs going in unnatural directions, and the little person living in there not understanding my pokes and prods as signs to scoot over, already!

I know that when/if she drops, I'll be miserable over an entirely different set of discomforts. But OW anyway. Five weeks and a day - but who's counting?

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

The Hospital Tour

Mr. Asco and I dropped Anna off at a friend's house yesterday evening so we could go on the grown-ups only tour of the women's center at the hospital where Baby Asco #2 will make her entrance into the world. Anna barely noticed our departure, far more enamored of the household's dog and toys (and, eventually, mac & cheese).

The tour was very reassuring. I'd toured the same center before choosing our new OB practice, so I already knew I felt comfortable there. Anna was born in a large urban hospital, and, while hospitals seem to all feel pretty much the same to a point, there's a palpable difference, I think, when you're in a smaller, suburban center. Especially one where the parking is FREE. This center stresses "Family-Centered Care," which puts a lot of emphasis on nursing and rooming in. I'm a big fan. In addition to the usual four-bracelet security (one for mom, one for dad, and two for the baby in case one slips off), this hospital uses a Baby LoJack system. Seriously! There's an electronic lock on the baby's umbilical clamp while you're hospitalized. If the baby is taken out of the women's center, alarms go off, walls come down, SWAT teams are called in. Okay, alarms go off - I'm not sure about the other two. But security is a really big deal, which, if nothing else, relaxes me a little bit about letting the new little person out of my sight.

There are two OR suites within the women's center, and the postpartum rooms are all private. We had that in our last delivery experience as well, and I can't imagine now going anywhere that didn't have the all-private option. "Hi, I'll be recovering from surgery and hanging out all over the place while I get used to nursing again, and it's SO nice to meet your husband, two children, and all your parents. HI."

I felt like my questions this time were so much more focused on the postpartum experience - nursing asap after a c-section, availability of lactation consultants on the weekends, internet access in the postpartum rooms. When you know you're going in for a surgical delivery, you pay attention to the labor & delivery stuff Just In Case, but it definitely all felt pretty removed from the experience we're likely to have. I was much more concerned about being about to get photos of Baby Asco #2 posted while I'm still in the hospital than I was about the registration and check-in processes. Jaded second-time mom...

Monday, January 8, 2007

Books

It's an understatement to say I like to read. I've been known to be secretly relieved when someone cancels a lunch date with me because it means I get lunch on my own with a book. How sad is that? I think it's risen to this near-obsession level because the time I have to read is so much more limited now than it used to be. Two full-time jobs, a family, a commute, and where on earth do you fit in quality time with books?

After Anna was born in the fall of 2004, I followed a friend's lead and set myself an annual goal of 50 books. I didn't think it was feasible, but I thought it was good to have ambition. I met the goal and then some in 2005, and I met it again last year. Here, for posterity, is what I read in 2006. As usual, there were books I absolutely adored and books I absolutely hated (and wondered how on earth they ever managed to find a publisher...). My favorites of the bunch are in bold. I'll be nice and not tell you which ones I thought were absolutely horrid. Unless you ask.

The year started off with a bang...

1) A Million Little Pieces - James Frey
2) Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen - Julie Powell
3) Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life: Volume One - Amy Krause Rosenthal
4) Take the Cannoli - Sarah Vowell
5) Old Boyfriends - Roxanne Becnel
6) Close Range: Wyoming Stories - Annie Proulx
7) My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult
8) Night - Elie Wiesel
9) One Day at Fenway - Steve Kettmann
10) Money, A Memoir: Women, Emotions, and Cash - Liz Perle
11) Because I Said So - Camille Peri & Kate Moses, eds.
12) Dear Stranger, Dearest Friend - Lacey Katz Becker
13) Artistic License - Julie Hyzy
14) Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
15) Assassination Vacation - Sarah Vowell

16) The Other Side of the Story - Marian Keyes
17) At Home in Mitford - Jan Karon
18) A is for Alibi - Sue Grafton
19) A Light in the Window - Jan Karon
20) Something Borrowed - Emily Giffin
21) Anybody Out There? - Marian Keyes
22) Something Blue - Emily Giffin
23) A Common Life: The Wedding Story - Jan Karon
24) These High, Green Hills - Jan Karon
25) The Color of Water - James McBride
26) Under the Banner of Heaven - Jon Krakauer
27) Girls' Night Out - Various
28) The Master - Colm Toibin
29) The Big Over Easy - Jasper Fforde

30) The Last Days of Dogtown - Anita Diamant

31) Girls' Night In - Various
32) Why Moms Are Weird - Pamela Ribon

33) The Undomestic Goddess - Sophie Kinsella
34) American Gods - Neil Gaiman

35) The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants - Ann Brashares

36) The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls
37) This Heart of Mine - Susan Elizabeth Phillips
38) Match Me if You Can - Susan Elizabeth Phillips
39) The Second Summer of the Sisterhood - Ann Brashares

40) Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood - Ann Brashares

41) Murder in the Hamptons - Amy Garvey
42) The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club: True Tales from a Magnificent and Clumsy Life - Laurie Notaro
43) Coyote Dream - Jessica Davis Stein
44) All the King's Men - Robert Penn Warren

45) Home Before Dark - Susan Wiggs
46) The Snapper - Roddy Doyle
47) We Thought You Would be Prettier: True Tales of the Dorkiest Girl Alive - Laurie Notaro
48) In the Company of the Courtesan - Sarah Dunant

49) Peace Like a River - Leif Unger

50) A Disorder Peculiar to the Country - Ken Kalfus
51) Runaway: Stories - Alice Munro

52) The Best American Short Stories of 2006 - Ann Patchett, ed.
53) The Prestige - Christopher Priest


The List of 50 for 2007 is already well underway, thanks to a bit of solo travel early in the year. We'll just have to see how Baby Asco #2 plays around with my plans to meet the goal for a third year in a row...

The Home Stretch

I thought I'd feel the home stretch of this pregnancy a bit later than now. That ohmyGodwhenisthisgoingtoENDalready feeling is already here, with still almost six weeks to go until D/B-Day.

There's a reason we can't remember pain and discomfort in the specific, and it's so we'll do things over again that are rewarding in the long run but pretty darned uncomfortable in the short run. Pregnancy is absolutely one of those things.

I feel so much better than I did at this stage of my pregnancy with Anna. I haven't gained as much weight as I did with that first pregnancy, and I'm not slogging through a swampy, humid summer this time. Those two things in and of themselves mean that I'm a much happier camper than I was the first time around, and yet...

My belly button has popped and spends most of its time taunting me from a position I can no longer see easily. Its taunts are limited to one general threat: that it will, at any moment and with no notice whatsoever, pop completely and release whatever's building up back there into the outside world, scaring small children and grown adults alike and rendering me little more than a gory extra scene from a sci-fi movie. Lovely.

My revered and adored pregnancy pillow is losing its effectiveness. I can't get comfortable, and I can't seem to stay asleep for more than a two-hour stretch. I know that part will get worse before it gets better, so I'm trying to enjoy the uninterrupted sleep I'm still getting. The usual complaints about needing to set up residence in the bathroom for the duration of the third trimester apply.

My nose is in a constant state of stuffiness, which contributes to the sleep problem, since I can't breathe normally while lying down anymore and am apparently, as a result, snoring. Mr. Asco told me this morning that he awoke last night thinking he was hearing Anna through the monitor, calling plaintively, "Daaaaddy...daaaddy..." (she was under the weather this weekend). And then he realized it was just me snoring. Nice to know I can channel our toddler in a state of distress.

I find that I'm looking forward to major abdominal surgery and a three-day hospital stay in mid-February because it means that this piece of it will be behind me. (And, yes, because it means I'll finally get to meet the sweet little parasite who's causing me all this discomfort.) I'm almost to the point of crossing out days on the calendar, but I think that might actually make time move more slowly, so I refrain. For now.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Break

When is a work trip to Chicago in January actually a mini-vacation? When you're 33 weeks pregnant, getting over some kind of weird sore throat laryngitis thing, and in dire need of some serious uninterrupted sleep. (At least as much as that 33-week pregnant body will allow.) And when you get to see your sister and brand-new niece as part of the mix.

So here I am in the Windy City, ensconced in a pleasant hotel room containing a big, cozy bed with six pillows and a big long bolster pillow that actually approximates my pregnancy pillow pretty nicely. After dinner tonight, I ordered up a movie that I can't expense but thoroughly enjoyed (especially since it's still in theaters and seeing it didn't involve hiking to a movie theater).

There's something in my system that senses when I'm about to take a trip (maybe just a trip to Chicago) and knocks me out cold just in time to get on a plane and infect lots of other people. Luckily, yesterday's nasty sore throat gave way to a mere lost voice this morning, and I'm feeling fine. Just don't sound terribly good at the moment. In stark contrast to early this morning, I am starting to sound a bit like myself again and am hoping to be sounding basically normal again tomorrow, when I actually have work obligations.

I called home before dinner to talk to Eric and Anna and was delighted to find that Anna recognized my laryngitic voice with no problem. She beseeched me to let her watch "The Wonder Pets," and I had to explain that this decision was pretty squarely in Daddy's hands, and I couldn't help her from here, as I lack access to the DVR. Not to be deterred, she moved on to requesting "Jack's Big Music Show." Even without providing her with her desired entertainment, I still got kisses and bye-byes, including the now-standard wave-at-the-phone greeting and farewell.

If I wake up early enough tomorrow, maybe I'll indulge in another non-expensable movie I'd otherwise certainly not be seeing anytime soon. But in the meantime, it's time for some of that much-needed sleep in that giant cushy bed with all the nice pillows.

Still. I can't wait to see the rest of the Ascos again on Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

D-Day? B-Day?

I can't decide. B-Day for birthday is a bit obvious, while D-Day (standing in this case for Delivery Day) sounds rather ominous. In either case, it's set. Baby Asco will make her (I sure hope they were right about that) appearance on Friday, February 16th.

We're now beginning the countdown, which consists of my making lists upon lists of all the things that Must Get Done before Baby Asco's arrival. Heaven knows that my car won't inspect itself in February if I let it sit until the second half of the month. We're also beginning the logistics planning for D/B-Day to ensure that Anna Asco is well taken care of that day.

How on earth do people who don't get to plan their children's D/B-days a few weeks in advance manage? If someone had told me before Anna Asco's arrival that I would be glad for a planned c-section in not one but two cases, I'd have clocked them silly. But Anna Asco was a special little girl who planted herself firmly butt-first and would never in a million jillion years of labor have come out the usual way, the stubborn thing. And this time, while given the choice and full support for either choice by my OB practice, I opted to take the road I'd taken before. The devil you know and all that.

And let me tell you - having these 5 1/2 weeks in which I can try to assemble some sort of order before the Ascos' world is turned completely upside down is pretty happy-making. I've been nesting like a crazy person - and those who know me well know that nesting is normal stasis for me - but there's nothing like a deadline to kick me into high gear. Poor Mr. Asco. He has no idea how many more trips to the Container Store are in our immediate future...