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Week 33: The Taint


Week 33

A few weeks ago during our child and labor classes, Clint and I learned what a Fundus was—as well as the importance of massaging it “out” after birth. Well, the lessons on massage aren’t over yet. This week, I was informed that it was time to start massaging my perineum. Perineum? Don’t know what that is either? Ask a guy in college. Apparently, it’s also called “the taint”, and is part of both female and male anatomy. The Taint is the part of the body between the vagina (or penis) and the anus.

            Before pregnancy, massage was something I really looked forward to. Relaxing island music, a candle-lit room, warm sheets and soothing lotions defined “massage” in my world. But now, nurses and informational websites are telling me that either myself or my husband should start stretching and massaging my taint in order to make the birthing process easier and avoid any perineal tearing. Honestly, I don’t know which sounds worse to me: attempting to teach my husband how to massage that area correctly, or letting it rip during birth. It’s a tough call.

            I have learned that the birthing process nowadays has eliminated the feminine mystery. Husbands are now so hands-on, informed, and in-the-room that they no longer are sheltered from the blood-and-guts portion of the miracle of life. How many husbands fifty years ago were out elk hunting when baby Robert came into the world? And when they arrived home, they held little Bobby in the baby blue blanket and smoked a cigar with their buddies at the office. They didn’t see the fundus, Robert’s cone-shaped head, or the creamy goo caked over his body. They were not instructed to trim their nails and head down-under for some good ‘ol perineum massaging. Rather, they were allowed to imagine a silk-robed, hair-coiffed goddess giving birth to their prince-like son in a cloud of white starched sheets and pillows, angelic music playing in the background. Which I happen to think is a very nice image to leave with them!

            So…despite the many mid-wives and websites training men to explore this sacred taint area, I have decided to ignore that advice and shelter my dear Clint from any more unnecessary destruction of the Goddess imaging. I really prefer that he think of me as the most heavenly of creatures—cute, put-together, and able-bodied. Even if in the throws of Northern Territory Coaching he may hear me say one or two expletives. Even a Goddess couldn’t prevent THAT.

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Week 32

It’s official–I’m eight months along! Seems like just yesterday that I found out I was pregnant and I went into denial. But now, there is simply no room for denial. Nope. I can feel this little girl growing bigger inside me daily. My breasts and belly have exceeded any size expectations I had in the beginning.

This week also marked me getting very, very ill— and there is nothing that I know of that can be worse than being pregnant and sick at the same time. You certainly can’t pull off cute, that’s for sure.

See, being this big has put a certain damper on love with the husband. Sex would be nice, but how do you do it? Okay, you can do it, but it’s a lot more scientific than wild and crazy.  But you want to make sure that your man isn’t feeling left out or unloved while you grow his baby, and that you are still the girlfriend he remembers wanting to have a baby with…so what do you do?

I resorted to typing dirty text messages to him while he was at work. “Ooh, baby, guess who’s in bed and ready for action?” and “Hurry home for afternoon delight”… I even tried to post a few lusty photos of my gargantuan boobies, but erased them quickly when I saw how veiny and bulbous they looked on screen.  Half of me wanted him to get so excited that he came home immediately—like in the movies. But the more rational side of me thought, Geeze, hope he doesn’t take me up on this ‘cause I look like crap and I just hocked up a loogie the size of a gumball.

 

According to Clint, it wasn’t that I was sick or untempting that kept him away—duty called at work—but he did like the text messages none-the-less.

Phew. Dodged that bullet.

Meanwhile I lay here in bed; sweats and chills alternating, breathing shallowly through my mouth and trying to find a position that opens the nasal cavities. How are you supposed to rest when you can’t breath? If I’m on my side, everything drains to that side—obviously, I need to lie on my back. But what about the baby? I suffer through guilt, fear and self-loathing. I call girlfriends and leave voice-mails in a cracking-high-pitched voice and watch snippets of Oprah and the Doctors. I watch the clock. I eat cookies. I play three games of Scrabble by myself. Finally, I drift off to sleep somewhere between a re-run of Friends and the five o’clock news. Clint finds me sprawled out in the middle of our bed, wet with sweat, drool running down the side of my face into the pillow case and snoring.

Oh how he must love me.


The Hindenburg has exploded.

That’s me, in case you were wondering.

I waddled into my 31 week check-up at the OB’s office praying a simple prayer, “Oh please, please don’t let me be more than X lbs.”

I write “X” because it is an embarrassing number, one that I never imagined would be written next to my name; a number that I have been begging my husband to get back down to, as it was his wedding weight. But no one is listening up there. I am X with an exclamation point. I am X pounds with chubby cheeks, a slight double chin, rounded shoulders and breasts that are individually larger than my head. Dr. S noted this on her chart.

“My gosh, Josie, you are gonna make milk!  Those things are HUGE!”

“So you’re saying we can chalk some of the X weight up to the boobs?”

“I suppose we could do that.”

“So I can feel better about X?”

“Yes, you can feel better about X.”

“Okay.”

If it were only my breast-size and the number X, I might be okay. But the real inner turmoil of beauty v. beast arrives in the evenings and after showers, when I’m naked and trying to put on underwear or pajamas. It’s my thighs—riddled with cellulite, even as I simply stand there with sad eyes. I flex them and see no visible difference. I poke and prod them with my fingers and more cottage cheese seems to float to the surface. I don’t remember having this much cellulite. I don’t remember sitting down on the toilet and questioning the shape of my pancaked thighs as they roll over the toilet seat.

I ask Clint if I am still attractive to him.

“Of course,” he replies. “I love you; you’re my wife.”

“Uhg! Exactly! You are forced to love this!”

Very smartly, he walked away.

Today I really should be on a walk, shuffling along the sidewalk stretching these legs I have come to ridicule. However, things just happen, y’know? Like making coffee, reading a book, paying the bills, calling clients. Suddenly it’s noon and I find myself in bed, recovering from my mentally strenuous morning, exhausted and breathing deeply.

Pregnancy is the war between the mind and the body. Yes, I should do this, and no, I am going to bed— thank you very much.  I wonder how I will change after the baby is born. How will my day look? What will ‘working hard’ look to me? How much sleep will I really get? Will my definition of ‘productive day’ change considerably, or, will I live in a constant state of guilt over what wasn’t and couldn’t possibly be executed in this 24-hour time period? Will I ever lose X lbs? And lastly, will I ever be truly satisfied with one hamburger, fries and shake again? Damn the number X, I never seem to get enough fries.


Is it safe to Binge on Halloween candy? This is the question that flipped up on my screen while visiting a pregnancy site online. But it was just a teaser. No one wanted to touch HOW MUCH CANDY DO YOU EAT BEFORE IT’S CALLED BINGEING ? One reader responded that she ate 30 Lindt mini-bars, and that was bingeing. Another woman said 10 lbs would be bingeing. So I’m left to my own devices. What is my personal binge level? And what would I go nuts on?

I had to sit down and think this one out. I mean, obviously I am going to binge on something. The website made it clear that it wouldn’t kill me or give me diabetes, so I’m all in. But I want to choose the right poison, so to speak. Ice cream? Chocolate bars? Starburst? I don’t want to mix and match—that could really cause a belly ache. Much like Will Ferrells’ advice not to eat Skittles and drink buttermilk before running a marathon, I want to pick the right device for Halloween inhaling.

Just yesterday I filled my pockets with KitKats at a local mortgage company. I blame them entirely for putting them out there. The next stop afforded me a handful of Strawberry Starburst, and who could resist that? The dry cleaners tempted me with Jolly Ranchers. And when I got home, I enjoyed vanilla ice cream with rhubarb syrup. Very good indeed.

But now it is time to make a decision. Only one of these gets to be the big winner. Which would you choose?

Guns and Babies


Week 30

My mother didn’t exactly call me an invalid, but the sentiment was there. And rather than becoming offended, I had to agree with her on a certain level. There are just things that I can’t do as well now, as I could before. Tie my shoes, for example. That’s hard. Get in my brother’s lifted truck: nearly impossible. Run away, perform self-defense and hide: yea right!

Defending myself comes into play because Clint is gone for the week—his grandma’s failing health making his trip south imperative. (I didn’t go along, for many reasons—although now, home alone and feeling completely unmotivated to do pretty much anything—I wish that I had piled in that full carload of people and headed 18 hours down the freeway. Then again, that is a long time for a pregnant lady to hold her bladder. Pity the others who are forced to stop every 15 minutes for a pee stop.) But back to self-defense: I came home yesterday evening to find my front door wide open, and I don’t make a habit of keeping that door open when I am gone. Had I merely forgotten to shut it tightly when I left, or was a robbery in process?

I was pretty flustered. I could call Clint, but what could he do? I could turn around and drive away, but I had to go to the bathroom really bad, and what if I just forgot to shut the door?

The house was empty. Nothing was missing. But I did get down Clint’s gun from the closet and walked around the house brandishing it violently, hoping I wouldn’t have to prove that it was actually unloaded. I slept fitfully last night with the gun under his pillow—just in case—and I woke up tired and decidedly missing Clint more than ever. I guess I have taken his presence for granted; that when there is a loud bang, scrape or thunderous clap, he can jump out of bed, grab that 9mm and run down the hallway faster than any one else I know.

It’s not like we live in the ghetto—don’t get me wrong—but we do live in a house on a dead end that can’t be seen from the street, and whose doors do not all lock. Strange people have walked through my yard in the middle of the day, so who can say what’s happening at night!

Gosh, writing that down really makes me think. I’m getting a hotel room.

Have any other pregnant ladies felt defenseless?


Week 29

Yes, I can see my own double chin. Thanks for noticing! My profile is now even more displeasing to me. Dear Plastic Surgeons, yes we will be talking soon. I suppose I’m not too surprised to learn that I have ballooned up in two weeks time. I can’t put my finger on the exact meal that did it —of course it’s always a combination of bad choices—but the large plate of tiramisu that I-did-not-share-one-bite-of could have contributed a greater portion of weight gain than my other pleasant selections.

Getting heavier

Getting Heavier!

Six-point-eight-pounds in two weeks. That’s a lot for a momma when you consider that Baby only weighs, maybe 2.5 lbs total at this point. I’ve officially passed up “The Weight That Could Not Be Attained, Ever.”

My mother, upon hearing the news, did a quick grab test. A grab test is a lot like what the wicked witch did to Hansel and Gretel, i.e., stick your finger through the bar and let me see how plump you are! She came away perplexed. “Hmm, you seem pretty solid to me.”

So, I’ve gained weight. I’ve also developed a healthy (?) fear of losing the baby. I can’t get comfortable at night and inevitably end up on my back, exhausted and wet with sweat, wondering if I am cutting off the femoral artery and yet, too tired to turn over again. Add to that a wariness of anything ‘new’. Just lately, I thought I smelled something fishy when I went to the bathroom. I grabbed my pre-natal care Bible and found: dun-dun-dun…nothing. So, I did what any good hypochondriac does, I called the women’s care line immediately.

Secretary: Hi, thanks for calling the women’s care line! I need your name and birth date please and I’ll have a nurse call you back sometime between noon and three.

Me: Oh, hey, that’s not good enough. I want to speak to a nurse now.

Secretary: Is this an emergency?

Me: Maybe…I don’t know.

Secretary: If you think it might be an emergency, you really need to hang up and dial 911.

Me: Wouldn’t it be easier to patch me through to a nurse?

Secretary: That’s not really how we do things here, m’am.

Me: Listen. I’m at the airport (lie) and I’m about to get on a plane (yikes, another lie), and I have no time to wait for her to call me back—I won’t even be able to answer—and this is really, really important. What if I shouldn’t fly today? What then? Find out later; too late? When I’m dead?

Secretary: (BIG EXHALE) Hold on. I’ll try to locate a nurse.

Nurse: Hello, Josie?

Me: Yes! Hi.

Nurse: You have an emergency question?

Me: I smell something fishy.

Nurse: Fishy…like…what?

Me: I don’t know. Fishy. Is that something to worry about?

Nurse: How’s your discharge looking?

Me: Nothing unusual. I don’t really have ‘discharge’.

Nurse: But you smell something “fishy”.

Me: Yea.

Nurse: Okay—Let’s take a look at you when you get back from wherever you are going. When will you be home?

Me: I could probably be home tomorrow. It’s a really quick flight.

Nurse: Uhm, yea…. Okay, Josie. I’ll pencil that in to your 29 week check-up.

[CLICK]

So now I’ve been weighed, measured, pronounced fat and am waiting for Dr. S to show up and tell me all about week 29. She arrives full of vim and vigor (love this woman), while clicking a long metal thing together.

“Hi Josie! So, guess who this is?” she holds up a ghastly steel speculum. “It’s Mr. Speculum!”

“Why?”

“I heard you called yesterday, and you said a Magic Word to my nurse. An enchanted word that conjures Mr. Speculum and all his glorious powers. Can you think of the word?”

“Airport?”

“No, FISHY! So get up there girl, and let’s take a look!”

Well, it turns out there is nothing fishy whatsoever about me. It’s that dang pregnancy nose again. Anything normal I smell in triplicate. And if you think I’m gross to referring to a woman’s smell as ‘fishy’, I’ll have you know that Richard Burton’s pet name for Elizabeth Taylor was ‘Ocean’…no wonder they were the love of a decade.

Pregnancy nose is a blessing and a curse.  I can’t stand the smell of uncooked poultry. But, I can find an M&M in the bottom of my purse even when I thought I’d eaten them all. No, I’m not planning on gaining six more pounds this week, but two or three couldn’t kill me. Right?


Well, I’m sure everyone is wondering what transpired over my three-day sojourn with mother-in-law Nadine. I arrived in Chicago all plump and gaseous (that’s air travel for you), made my way through the airport, security, baggage claim, and van transport using every feminine wile available to me through pregnancy. [FYI: it does not work on United Airlines corporate, their employees, or baggage handlers.]

rocking chair

 

Nadine had arranged for us a suite at the Hilton downtown. It was, in one word, Amazing. As were the next three days of flushing money down the toilet. Not my money, mind you (fifty dollars in quarters would have stopped any good commode) but the bajillions hiding discreetly in her tiny leather wallet. I guess I shouldn’t say there was “flushing” or “toilets” per se—that’s fairly indiscreet— however, I have never imbibed in so many glorious events in months, let alone days.

I did my best to keep up both physically and mentally; she is after all, a top-notch criminal defense attorney. I mentioned her pedigree to a fellow air passenger and he said, “Wait, wait. Let me describe her.”

“Okay…”

“She’s on the short side,” he said, “with a square face and a likewise short, severe brunette bob.”

“Do you know her?” I asked, astounded.

“I’m not done,” he said. “She is slight of build, skinny as a rail, and wears expensive suits made by Dior and Ferrangamo.”

“Are you gay and you know her?” I asked, clearly impressed.

“Nope.” He said. “I’m an optical engineer. Straight, nerdy and taking dance lessons at the local community college. But I’ve met the type.”

I did really well for the first two days. I had composure. I did not wear my tennis shoes. I curled my hair each morning and wore perfume. But I felt the threads of decency unraveling that third morning. I was coming apart at the seams.

Roused at 6:30 for the requisite coffee and scone, I felt the effects of seven months of pregnancy coupled with two nights of six-hour sleeps. I can only say that Kindess and Decorum were taken out of my royal title. Instead, my crown read: Josie Strung-out Angry and Irritable.

When Nadine wanted to buy the $2700 fur stole as a fun memento of our trip, I should have said, “Oh, wow! That’s beautiful! Go for it!” Instead, Josie Strung-out Angry and Irritable blurted, “If my kid burps-up broccolini on your shoulder while you are wearing that, I’m not paying for dry cleaning.”

Obviously, I needed a nap.

Asking for a nap, however, proved in many ways, fruitless. I don’t have the same easy rapport with Nadine that I share with my mother or Clint. I could tell them I was taking a break and not to bother me for at least an hour, maybe two. But how do you say that to your mother-in-law? Especially when she wants to take you to the Chicago Cubs game where she has reserved two seats in the mayor’s box and purchased champagne buffet tickets to boot?

In any event, I was relieved to go home just in time to attend the very last Birth Class at the hospital. Here it was okay to groan in agony as the baby kicked you in the ribs.  I could stretch out my legs and complain of my aching shoulder muscles. I yawned without covering my mouth.  And our classmates were equally impressed with the cafeteria cookies as they were with Kay’s final exciting tour through the birthing suites upstairs.

I’m not sure which environment fits me best. I could be swayed.  Opera, Ballet, Nordstrom and Fine Art have obvious benefits, but I wonder if these ornaments of grandeur will be lost on a postpartum first-time mom. While others will be wondering whether a rabbit or fox swing coat goes best with platform Louboutins, I will be watching carefully for the “passing of a fleshy dot larger than a lemon,” and or, “putrid smelling lochia”. Both captivating prospects.

POST SCRIPT: Weigh-in before trip: 158.2 lbs. Weigh-in after trip: 164.8 lbs. YIKES!