Growing a Critter

We’re growing him on the outside now

Dropping the baby and new blankie? July 31, 2007

Filed under: body weirdness,development,knitting — crittermama @ 6:39 am

So…. I think he may have dropped. I ate a GINORMOUS lunch on Sunday and didn’t feel all uncomfortable the way I have been lately. I haven’t had much heartburn, but I have had some, and now I don’t at all. I’ve been told that I’m carrying low, so I haven’t had some of the can’t-catch-your-breath problems that other pregnant ladies have, but I do feel like each breath is a bit easier now. It could still be several weeks, but still… this is something!

Here’s the latest picture of me and my fullness

35 weeks, with tomatoes

So, with the critter coming along pretty soon (this Thursday will be 37 weeks), I’ve been thinking more and more about a blankie for the little one. I was the grateful recipient of a BUNCH of mercerized cotton at the DC-area stash swap back in January, so I thought I’d use that to make a Mason-Dixon blankie.

The pattern in the book calls for four colors, but I have about a million. Then again, part of the Mason Dixon ethos is to use what’cha got and enjoy all those colors. Then again AGAIN, I did at least want to adhere to the rough color scheme that we’ve got going for the nursery: blues, greens and browns, with just a touch of orange and yellow. See image here.

So I selected an assortment of colors from the mercerized cotton…

rough configuration for baby blanket

…and I started to knit. Here’s about what I have so far:

beginnings of baby blanket

I liked it VERY much in my head. Now that I see what I’ve got so far, I…. don’t know. I’m not sure I like having ALL of those colors, since it feels a little TOO haphazard for me. I may check out the big cotton sale that A Tangled Skein is starting next weekend and load up on many balls of just a few colors. I’ll keep working on what I’ve got this week and decide after I’ve added another color or two. What do you think?



shower with church friends! July 29, 2007

Filed under: friends,home training — crittermama @ 1:58 pm

About two weeks ago (I know – I’m so behind!), some dear friends from my former church threw a shower for the Critter, Critter Pa and me. Mom and Daddy were able to come up for the weekend to join us, too. Everything looked just wonderful when we arrived…

oh wow!

…and there were so many dear friends there!
it was wonderful!

It was wonderful to catch up with people we hadn’t seen in a while…
Dottie, Joe, Larry & Maggie

To meet little Miss Abby for the first time…
testing out the baby sling with Abby

To have the promise of scrapbooking time and lessons… (which is good, because I’m a complete novice!)

And to have Bruce and Rex recording everything in photos and on video! I’m still flabbergasted at the love and support that we have from so many friends. We really are blessed. Thank you!!!


sadly, a waste of time July 24, 2007

Filed under: gear,home training — crittermama @ 9:03 am

Critter Pa and I went to a baby care class last night and it was a waste of time, unfortunately. Really old-fashioned and not very helpful. We played with creepy baby dolls and practiced diapering (with old-style cloth diapers and REALLY old rubber pantaloons in addition to the super-fancy Pampers they were touting) and giving them baths. I felt like I was a high school teenager that had gotten knocked up and this was my reality check. Part 2 is next week, but we’re not going back.

I had thought it was going to be more about safety and health, and instead it was about playing with dolls. And ours was REALLY creepy looking. Critter Pa thought maybe we got the scary one because we were late. “This sucks. You show up late, and you get Chuckie.”

Fortunately, the childbirth class was GREAT and I’m very happy with our choice to hire a Doula.

Also, I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on Sunday, and I’d love to talk about it if you’ve also finished!


thoughts on childbirth class July 19, 2007

Filed under: body weirdness,development,home training — crittermama @ 11:55 am

Critter Pa and I have now had 2 out of 3 of our childbirth classes, and overall it’s been a good experience. I’ve been reading a lot about natural childbirth, pain management and midwifery lately, and many of them have painted a picture of a laboring woman as being subject to doctors and hospitals rather than having their own decision-making power. However, let no one say that I submit to instruction meekly! (I’m sure my husband and parents wouldn’t) I ask a lot of questions and have at least some foundational understanding of medicine and hospitals, and generally think of them as good, safe places due to my upbringing and summer of shadowing my cardiologist father around this hospital and office.

All that being said, I’ve been pleased that the classes we’re taking (at the hospital where I’ll give birth) have been very centered on what keeps the mother most comfortable and relaxed during her labor. One of the two instructors is a Doula, and that helps even more, particularly since we’re using the hospital’s Doula program.

Here are some of the things that I’ve learned:
1. We are the slacker parents in our group – the only ones without a car seat already. Oops!We’re also one of the few that haven’t had a tour of the hospital yet (but I did get a GOOD look at triage a few weeks ago). And we’re the slackers that don’t have a pediatrician yet. Yeah, we’ve got a few things to do…

2. Critter Pa and I tend to laugh at inappropriate moments. While practicing relaxation techniques, he decided to tickle me. And later, during the big moment of the birth video, I cracked up. The video was clearly made in the late 80’s and the couple in question was certainly from New Jersey or thereabouts. There was a lot of good information in the video about labor coping strategies and a good, supportive, loving couple to emulate, but I just could NOT get past the accents! “At laayast Eye was ayble to hold Carl junyah in my ahhms.” It was a beautiful moment, and others in our class were tearing up, but I was dying laughing.

3. Most laboring women at our hospital will be hooked up to a fetal monitor at some point. However, you can ask for intermittent monitoring – 20 minutes on, 40 minutes off – so that you can move around. But the staff will likely not mention the option to you, and it takes a doctor’s orders to get intermittent monitoring. Good to know. I didn’t know this when I had my Braxton-Hicks episode a couple of weeks ago. You bet I’m going to ask for intermittent monitoring!

4. I’m going to have a real problem with the whole no-eating-or-drinking thing in the hospital. If you know me, you know that I’m always thinking about what I get to eat next, and that I always have a ginormous 1-liter water bottle with me. The idea of being restricted from food & drink (and being hooked up to an IV) is not a happy thought. The Doula suggested whole fruit popsicles, and I think that’ll help. But I *really* don’t want to have to go for hours and hours of not eating or drinking. Ice chips ain’t gonna cut it.

More soon – including a recap of the terrific shower that my church friends threw for us this weekend!


birth July 10, 2007

Filed under: body weirdness,development — crittermama @ 6:48 am

Now that I’ve only got about 6 weeks left before my due date (and anywhere from 2-8 weeks before I deliver, given normal ranges), I’m thinking a LOT about giving birth. I won’t go into any graphic descriptions here, but I will note that the maximum dialation is about the width of a knitted swatch.

A couple of weeks ago, I discovered that I had in my possesion a book that I’ve been wanting to read. It’s one of those that I bought on a whim years ago at the Green Valley Book Fair and promptly forgot about. It’s called Having Faith: An Ecologist’s Journey to Motherhood, written by Sandra Steingraber. I’m alternately in and out of love with the book as a whole (more on that in another post), but right now I’m in love with her empowering mediatations on giving birth.

In describing her childbirth classes and the emphasis therein on potential complications, problems and interventions, she says, “It occurs to me that reviewing all injuries that could possibly occur is probably not the tack that coaches take with their star athletes right before the big game. And it is definitely not how cancer survivors face the future. As my own mother might say, it’s all enough to make you lose your nerve.”

A few pages later, Steingraber writes about pain and our attitudes towards it. Is pain a problem to be managed, or is it a sign that you are accomplishing something remarkable? She notes the glory of the pain of mountain climbers’ burning lungs at the summit, a dancers legs as they leap into the air, and what a writer in their shoulders as they finish a chapter. Then, this: “if labor and delivery were viewed less as medical events and more as Olympic ones, this distinction would be obvious. Who, after all, would rush up to a marathon runner in the final stretch with a needleful of narcotics?”

Yes, the idea of being in pain for an unknown stretch of time scares me. But this is the first description of that pain that I’ve found that treats it as a sign of victory rather than something to hide from. And putting it in athletic terms makes sense to me. I understand very well what the final miles feel like in a marathon – it hurts, quite frankly, but you can ride that pain and suffering and know that you’re doing something amazing. (I have, of course, also heard marathon mamas say that giving birth is like running mile 25-26 over and over and over again, and the finish line keeps moving away from you.)

Regardless, these passages give me hope and some positive reinforcement to hold on to. Between this, our doula, some additional reading, my yoga classes and support from women who have gone before me, I think I can actually do this!


fixin’ it up for the critter July 4, 2007

Filed under: home training — crittermama @ 3:22 pm

We’ve been very busy here at Casa de Critter! Our crazy spreadsheet/calendar tells us exactly what we need to be doing every weekend from here until Sir Critter shows up. But thankfully, we’re both taking it easy today! Anyway, after the excitement of last week and the need to hold off the Braxton Hicks, I’m not able to help as much as I would like to. So, I want to take this opportunity to show off all the amazing work that Critter Pa has been doing around the house.

Our two biggest projects are re-doing the laundry room and transforming our study into a nursery. The first thing was to move bookshelves and books from the study into our room…

new bedroom arrangement

new bedroom arrangement

Then, we cleared out the laundry room…

in transition...

And Dave took a crowbar to the laundry room shelves…

a man and his crowbar


THAT was a busy weekend. Then, this past weekend, while I cooled it on the couch and wrote thank-you notes, Dave painted. And painted. And painted.

First, the nursery:

nursery - new paint!

nursery wall

We used zero VOC paint that we bought at Amicus Green Building Center. The bottom is white, and the top part is called “white sail lake” – a light blue.

The bedding pattern that we’ve picked out is MiGi Splash, and it’s light blues, light greens and browns, with a few orange and yellow details. And the theme is fishies! So we’ve got some fun “extras” planned for the room – an orange crab chair cushion, a plush shark, a fish dish, and such. We knew that there would be a lot of monkeys and safari-themed fun stuff for the rest of the Critter’s stuff, so we wanted to have one space that was a little different. We found a great rug, too, but the cats were trying to take it over already, so we rolled it back up.

Dave painted the laundry room, too, and included an accent wall on the back – in the same blue as the nursery.

panted laundry room

The new front-loader washer and dryer (to be delivered on Friday) will go in the right-hand corner, facing the door. Since we’re going to do cloth diapers, it was really important to us to have high-efficiency appliances – and well worth the investment.

Here’s Dave, done and victorious!

dave - done!

This coming weekend, we’ll buy new wire shelves for the laundry room and install them. And oh yeah – the TOUR DE FRANCE starts on Saturday. Allez!


recent excitement July 2, 2007

Filed under: body weirdness,development — crittermama @ 9:00 pm

The short story is this: everything’s fine.

The slightly longer story is that I’ve been ordered to “decrease my activity” to stave off Braxton Hicks contractions after a visit to the doctors’ office and the hospital on Friday.

The long story is below…

I went for my regular 3-mile walk on Tuesday, but started having some discomfort/pain about halfway through. Of course it started just as I was at the farthest point from my house, halfway around the lake. It was round ligament pain and some cramping and tightness in my belly. I slowed WAAAY down and tried to figure out how best to get home quickly. I sat down for a little while, and realized, hey! this is what Braxton Hicks feel like!

Once I got home, drank some water and took it easy, I was completely fine. But I promised Dave that I’d talk to my doctor about it at my appointment on Thursday. So I did, and the doctor told me that I might want to stop doing my regular walks. Stop my regular walks?!? Surely this was a one-time thing! I told him that I wanted to see how it went, and that I’d like to try a shorter walk closer to home on Friday morning, when it was supposed to be cooler. He said OK, but with reservations.

After finishing work on Thursday, Dave and I headed out to run some errands. While we were out, I started feeling some tightness in my belly every now and then and mentioned it to Dave. It continued on into the evening, and it woke me up a couple of times during the night.

I haven’t had a lot of serious fretting and fussing over the things that could possibly go wrong with the pregnancy, but waking up in the middle of the night with belly tightness got my brain going. I started thinking about BHs and how they can cause “progression” and all the associated things that you might feel if that’s happening. And whether it’s actually happening, or whether the middle-of-the-night worries make you think that you’re feeling pressure and tightness in places where you don’t want to feel that at 32 weeks along, it’s cause for some measure of alarm.

They tell you to drink water and lay on your left side, and I had been doing that most of the evening before going to bed. But I was still feeling the same. In the middle of the night you wonder whether you should wait until morning, or just go ahead and call the doctor. But calling the doctor means calling someone that’s on call and probably sleeping peacefully (I know this from living with one as a child). And then its a real THING. So I waited until morning, and called. He told me that I could either come on in to the hospital or I could go to the office to be put on a monitor.

I went to the office, because it seemed less like an emergency than going to the hospital. I was hooked up to a monitor for about an hour and had three contractions during that time. My scientific brain enjoyed having the data to back up my suppositions about what was going on, and it was interesting to notice how, as I felt my belly tighten, I could see the needle on the graph paper move up. I was swabbed for fetal fibronectin and sent to the hospital, where they would process the test.

At the hospital, I was hooked up to another monitor for about an hour and a half while waiting for the test results. They also gave me a shot to calm smooth muscle and ordered me to decrease my activity. So there. I’m mostly really relieved not to be ordered bed rest, which I know would make me absolutely bonkers. And I was specifically told not to help Dave with painting this weekend (yes, we asked specifically – AND we had just bought zero VOC paint so that I could help!) and to “goof off.” Goofing off to me means something different than to most people, so it’s hard to take it easy! I’m trying, and Dave is being great about everything.

I’ll do a separate post about all the work he we [ed. critterpa] did over the weekend, and the next steps that we’re taking towards getting ready for Sir Critter!