Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Boycott Braxton

If one were to catalogue all the descriptors that apply to me, "Feminist" would not be very high on the list. Don't get me wrong, feminism has accomplished some amazing and commendable feats; I just wouldn't count myself among its most active and ardent supporters.

So, I was surprised a while back at how perturbed I was when I learned about "Braxton Hicks Contractions." And since I just mentioned these physiological phenomena in my last post I thought I'd share a quote that nicely sums up my surprising feminist sentiments:

They are called Braxton Hicks because they were "discovered" by a physician named, yes, Braxton Hicks. (What this actually means is that in the nineteenth century a man finally thought to attach his name to something that approximately 50 percent of the human race had been experiencing since the beginning of time...)

-Martha Beck, Expecting Adam

Does this bug anyone else? Why the heck should this exclusively female experience be named after some old bald dude (who, I will admit, does have AWESOME sideburns!)?

Monday, January 28, 2008


No one, yet.

On Saturday, while I was finishing up my four day residency in California, Shannon started having pretty regular contractions. They started about 15 minutes apart but quickly increased to every 10 minutes.

Shannon called me to let me know what was going on but neither of us were too concerned since we've heard so many false-alarm stories. It seems like almost every mom has a story about getting sent home from the hospital because they were duped by Braxton Hicks contractions. We talked about whether or not I should head to the airport to catch an earlier flight, but since I was scheduled to fly in seven hours anyway and it would likely cost us a portion of Qwanesha's college fund, we decided to hold off unless the signs started pointing more emphatically to imminent delivery. I told Shannon to keep timing the contractions and call me back soon.

I hung up and immediately thought, "What are you thinking?! This could be the birth of your first child! Of course you should get on an earlier flight!" My classmates--especially the female ones, who were glowing and bubbling like it was their own child on the way--echoed that sentiment and we arranged for someone to drive me to the airport.

Shannon called back and reported that the contractions were now eight minutes apart and they weren't stopping even though she was staying active, which was one way we were taught to distinguish between false labor and real.

Everything went surprisingly well at the airport and I was on a flight within the hour at no extra charge.

The flight was unbearable.

I felt completely powerless. Stuck in a giant, air-conditioned Pringles can flying through a darkening California sky, cell phone rendered useless, not only could I not help or comfort my wife in what might be the most painful hours of her life, but I had absolutely no way of knowing what was happening. For all I knew Shannon could already be laid out in a hospital gown in travail, pushing our baby girl irrevocably into a strange and sometimes cruel world.

And I wasn't going to be there.

I did everything I could on the plane in case I got there in time. I reviewed and wrote down everything I had learned in our birth class: about first stage labor, and second, and what a coach can do. I mentally reviewed our birth plan and all our medical preferences. I made a list of items we would need to bring to the hospital in case Shan hadn't a chance to pack our bags. I made a list of people we would call.

And then, in case I didn't make it in time, I made myself very attentive to what it was like to be in Seat 31 F on Alaska Airlines flight 435 on Saturday, January 26, 2008. I described in my mind the transition of the twilight below me from watercolor peach and robin's egg blue to ashen cobalt and inky darkness. I described the relentless thrum of the turbine, which, on this plane, an MD-80, was attached beside me, not on the wing, but directly on the rear of the fuselage, making it's throbbing drone unusually loud--and oddly suitable as a soundtrack to my fatherly disquiet.

Upon landing I immediately called Shannon and she told me, to my great relief, that our little girl was still fully ensconced in her bulging belly. The contractions were at seven minutes now. You're supposed to go to the hospital when they get to intervals of five and I still had a two hour drive home from Seattle but I wasn't anxious any more. I was making progress and I had a working cell phone.

When I got home the contractions were still at seven minutes. We packed our bags and called the doctor to tell him what was going on and see if he had any advice. Given Shannon's description, he too thought she was in actual labor but told us to wait until the contractions got more frequent and stronger. So we went to bed, to prepare for the uterine marathon. And that's when the contractions pretty much stopped. Throughout the day, Shan had noted that whenever she sat down the contractions seemed weaker, but she thought maybe the position was just making it harder for her to feel them. Weird.

Anyway, it's been two days since and the practice contractions have gone back to being less regular (but sometimes stronger). We were disappointed at first that it wasn't the real thing since all that excitement built up our anticipation so much, but it's a good thing she didn't come yet. Now we can pack our bags and install our car seat and do all the other little undone things this false alarm made us so acutely aware of.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


I'm back from California early. I'll tell you about it soon.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Just what the doctor ordered!

Recently, my doctor gave me his lecture on swimming again. He really encourages his patients to get in the pool to help give their bodies a break as well as get some good exercise.

I've been reluctant. I'm not a big water person. I barely made it through the swim test each summer I worked at Camp Firwood. And who wants to spend a bunch of money on a pregnancy swim suit that you are only going to wear a few times?

Tuesday night, the night before Brian left for California, he combatted all of my excuses by calling our local aquatic center for open swim times, getting me some of his shorts and a t-shirt, and said we were going on a date.

We spent probably 45 minutes in the pool swimming, floating and just enjoying the water. It was great! I wish I had done it more throughout my pregnancy -- maybe next time. We did decide we are going to go more often over the next few weeks.

It also got me thinking about doing a mom and baby swimming class to help me get back into shape after she is born. I would also love for our kids to be more comfortable in the water than I am and maybe starting young would help.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Well, I have to say, this baby of ours sure is spoiled! So many people have blessed us with homemade gifts and things from our registry. I think she has more clothes than Brian and I put together! So far we have had showers put on by family, coworkers, and friends.

When Brian and I were driving the other day, we were talking about just how lucky were are and he came up with a great analogy. It feels like we have had the down payment paid for on this baby. Yes, there will be lots of expenses to come as we raise her, but we have been given such a great start!

I think even more than the monetary support, it has been great to have everyone so excited. It has made us feel very loved! I am excited that we get to bring our daughter into such a great community. So I am sending out a big thank you to all of you!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

When it rains, it pours...and I just wish it would snow

In this time of last minute preparations for baby, before Brian goes back to school we were hoping to get a lot done. Unfortunately, two weeks ago Brian came down with a really bad cold of some sort...fever, congestion, cough, running nose, low energy, etc.

Wednesday, Otis was cleared of his giardia. But we noticed that he had little white bumps on his lips. The vet said it is canine papiloma virus, which is not transferrable to humans, but contagious for dogs. The healing time is 6-8 weeks. So just when we were going to have him in doggie daycare every day while we got used to having a newborn at home, he is banned. Instead we will have an overactive puppy from being cooped up.

Yesterday, I was marvelling at how well I had been able to fend off this infirmity, and was considering blogging about how the girls in the house are so much healthier than the boys. (Trudy is still able to go to doggie daycare and little Qwanesha continues to get the thumbs up from our doctor.)

Then in the middle of the night, on one of my many bathroom trips, I noticed that my throat was sore -- the first sign of Brian's sickness. So I called in a substitute for my morning classes and slept in. I am trying to will this sickness to not take root. Anyone have any crazy home remedies that do not involve medication?

Monday, January 14, 2008

The final countdown...

Here are the facts:
  • My due date is February 14th, but only 4-5% of babies are born on their due date
  • The average pregnancy is 41 weeks and 1 day, which puts us at February 21st
  • First pregnancies usually are late
  • My doctor says "The best indicator of your pregnancy is your mom's pregnancy with you" - I came 10 days early
  • I am measuring two weeks ahead and an ultrasound confirmed that she is also measuring two weeks further along
  • Brian will be in California from January 23rd to the 26th for school
  • I start working part-time on January 29th
  • I keep going back and forth between Feb 8th or Feb 22nd - mother's intuition?

Cast your vote! You can get more specific in the comments after voting by picking an actual date and therefore have more bragging rights.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Hello Again.

This weekend I went on a trip to Boston Bar, B.C. for a friend's bachelor party. On the way home we stopped at a Triple O's fast food joint. I was sitting near the counter where you order, reading a newspaper. Most of the guys had already got their food when Kevan finally steps up and I overhear this conversation between him and the 60 year old lady behind the counter:

Woman: Hello again.

Kevan: Did you say, "Hello again"?

W: Yes

K: Why did you say 'again'?

W: Because I'm bad.

K: Because you're bad??

W: Yes.

K: I'm not sure what you're referring to but I'd like to order some food.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A week of tests

Last week at my scheduled OB appointment the doctor told me that I was measuring two weeks bigger than I should have been. This was a first! Up until that point, my measurements matched my weeks exactly. He said that I should start coming in weekly. Usually, this starts around 36 weeks, and I was only 34 weeks. Brian and I left feeling like we had entered the final stretch!

Then this weekend I started feeling a lot of pressure low in my belly.

Monday, we finally got some results from a lab test we did on Otis in early December. He has a giardia infection and it is transferable to humans. My OB's office wanted to see me that day. The nurse practitioner tested me for, among other things, pre-term labor, but, thankfully, the results were negative.

I had to see my general doctor for the giardia test and haven't heard the results yet. But I'm not really having any symptoms, so it is unlikely that I contracted it.

Tuesday, I didn't feel well, and was exhausted after only two days back to work.

Wednesday, I had my weekly appointment. Dr. Mallory said that one of the tests given on Monday showed that I likely have kidney stones. He also measured me two weeks bigger again. So he suggested we do a "two for one" ultrasound to find out the size of the stones and the baby.

We were able to schedule an ultrasound for later that afternoon. It was so fun see our little girl again! She has grown so much! Her little lungs were practicing, her mouth was opening and closing, and no longer does she look like a little Skeletor!

The technician said that I have a lot of extra amniotic fluid, which gives her room to do the gymnastic moves I've been feeling. She also measured her size at 37 weeks, and estimated her weight to be 6 lb 11 oz--already! Most babies gain 0.5 lbs per week from this point on, so our girl is probably going to be a big one! Everyone assured me that though she is measuring further along, that doesn't mean that she will come early. So don't get your hopes up! We are trying not to; seeing her again made us want to hold her.
She's a girl for sure!
Oh, yeah, my kidney stones are really small. So hopefully, they won't cause too many problems.

Monday, January 7, 2008

8 Albums From 2007 That I'll Still Be Listening To In 2009

This time of year every literate chump with access to the internet posts a Best Of... list. It's overdone but I love it. I discover a lot of great films, music and miscellany from critics and enthusiasts who do a wonderful job of enumerating worthwhile cultural offerings.

I should just leave it to them, but since I've got you here I just can't resist giving MY opinion and pretending you care.

So, without further ado, 8 albums from this year that I can confidently predict I will still be listening to in a couple years:

Beirut - The Flying Club Cup

On his second full length, Zach Condon, has added a full band and a French twist to his previous Balkan appropriations. The result is a glorious but accessible melange that, despite its exotic influences, won't be banished to the obscurity of the World music rack.

The National - Boxer

Growing up in North America I've grown weary of the suffocating ubiquity of guitars-bass-drums-male singer. So The National had a strong prejudice to overcome, but overcome they did. It's not my favorite disc of the year but it's definitely the one I'd recommend to the most people.

Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha

Pop? Jazz? Folk? Bird writes smart lyrics and vaguely familiar, but un-pigeonhole-able music. Occasionally, the literate and witty prose lends the music a little too much emotional detachment but, quibbles aside, I'm never disappointed when I give this album a spin.

The Twilight Sad - Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters

With a squall of guitars thicker than the lead singer's Scottish accent, it's a wonder The Twilight Sad are able to retain so much nuance, wistfulness and even tenderness. Proof that loud music can have a heart.

Eddie Vedder - Into the Wild Soundtrack

I'm not a huge fan of Pearl Jam but I'm a sucker for Vedder's voice, which works perfectly here in these mostly quiet, acoustic numbers accompanied by mandolin, banjo, or acoustic guitar. This solo effort is, in my opinion, Vedder's best work. It worked really well with the movie (which is also great, by the way) but it also stands alone very nicely.

Amiina - Kurr

These ladies from Iceland play saws and other unusual instruments to weave the kind of spacious, ethereal songs that have come to define the Icelandic aural soundscape. But, while the similarities are definitely there, this is not the same otherworld of their compatriots and tour mates Sigur Ros. Rather than conjuring images of weightless astral ballets, these songs are more like lullabies from the alien homeland of a mother's womb.

Arcade Fire - Neon Bible

This collective emerged out of Montreal a few years ago to rescue indie rock from cynical irony and mandatory naval gazing. They take on big issues with a big sound and the gusto of U2 or Bruce Springsteen (though they don't sound like either of those). This is their second disc and it's almost as good as the first. If you like rock and you haven't heard, check them out!

Radiohead - In Rainbows

This album deserves mention not only for the band's cavalier and visionary marketing of it but also because it's just a really good album. I like Radiohead, but the excessive hype and their musical experimentalism usual keep them from heavy rotation in my CD player. So, since they gave me the choice, I only paid a couple bucks for In Rainbows. I feel a little guilty now though because I think I've already listened to this one more than any other Radiohead album.