Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Update on Boundaries

Thank you for all your wonderful support.

Ultimately, after multiple go-rounds -- my first two sets of responses were deemed inadequate -- my brother said that he felt his issues were resolved.

We spoke on the phone on Sunday -- starting out with his six year old son getting on to thank me for the belated birthday gifts -- and then having a nice but not too deep conversation on the latest in each of our lives. At the end we both agreed that we were glad to have the issues behind us.

I've committed to trying harder to meet his needs -- taking the initiative to call or text, and will offer to throw his wife a baby shower when the time comes. But if he ever presents me with such a list again... I will sympathetically (hopefully) suggest he present said list to his therapist, because I certainly won't be doing all that work again. No way.

I'm very glad to have all that unpleasantness behind me. Now to focus on my final four and a half weeks (or less!) at work -- I think I've decided to stop on my due date, a Friday, whether I've had the baby or not. I deserve a little down time. Climbing the stairs in the subway is exhausting!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Thirty-Five Week Photos

Rockin' the "stripes plus different stripes plus flowered tutu plus crown" look and thus,
ready for dance class. 

Weighed myself today and I'm down four pounds! I don't get it. I sure don't feel smaller.
I didn't feel bigger a week and a half ago when I gained five pounds in a week, either.
Up a total of 11 pounds. Despite eating a lot more since the reflux finally got under control.
If only the weight would stay off once the baby comes. If last time is any indication, it will
come piling back on. Sigh.  

The ridiculous cuteness that is dance class. That's Eleanor, Calliope's best buddy, aka Buzz Light.year, to the left of Calliope.
I love that three year olds know intuitively that it's never wrong to wear a costume to any event.
Doesn't my girl -- three and a half as of a few days ago, and now entirely in 4T clothing!, look tall?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Thirty-Five Weeks

Well, I'm very grateful I had the week off, and worried about going back to work tomorrow. I napped nearly every day this week. Mostly because I was just so exhausted I couldn't NOT nap. Yesterday I took my sister and nieces to a Broadway show matinee and I was so sleepy, missing nap time, that I felt sick. I'm debating bringing a pillow to work so I can lie down on an exam table at lunch time. Lying flat doesn't work so well for me anymore.

I didn't weigh myself this week since I was away from work, and I use the scale there. The belly seems to be growing nicely and my new fear is that I'm going to outgrow all my maternity shirts before this child arrives.

Oh, and the other fear is that... OMG in two and a half weeks, I am FULL TERM at 38 weeks! Yikes. (Yeah, that's not really a fear. Just a shocking revelation.)

My ultrasound and biophysical profile were totally normal. After all that bladder pressure the night before the ultrasound, I wasn't totally surprised to find that she had turned to head down. I was surprised, though, to feel relief about it. Of course, that night I felt lots of dancing on my cervix again so I'm pretty sure she flipped back to breech, the stinker. But then a day later she felt vertex again. So I reckon that means she still has plenty of room to move, and likely will stay head down in the end.

Just in case, I plan to practice some postures that are supposed to encourage head down positioning -- things that open up the hips. Even if she's head down now, hopefully that encourages her to descend further into the pelvis? I wonder if my labor last time, especially the pushing, would have been easier if she had been lower? Calliope was very, very high despite going to the chiropractor and acupuncturist multiple times before induction. Anyway, my chiro has a video and will give to me on Firday to try.

Tree Leaf's weight was estimated to be five pounds four ounces at 34 weeks four days, which puts her in the 43rd percentile. So neither starving nor suffering the ill effects of gestational diabetes. I'll take it! Of course, those numbers are notoriously unreliable and greatly overestimated Calliope's birth weight but the ballpark range seems perfect. Would put her at seven and a half to eight pounds on her due date by my calculations. I do expect her to be a bit bigger than her older sister (who was six pounds ten ounces at 41w3d), just since that seems to be the way with subsequent babies.

I'm trying to practice my Hypno.Babies but the instructor's voice is really annoying me. I'm not sure I can make it work for me. But I'm scared to not have a plan to rely on.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Thirty-Four Weeks

Showing off our big bellies. 

I feel so different. My energy nosedived a few days ago. I'm struggling to deal with the piles of baby clothes scattered around my apartment. Thankfully, after a three day weekend of working on them (and barely leaving the house, partially due to frigid temperatures but mostly due to my new and total inertia), I'm nearly done. But seriously? It took three days?

I'm having tons of BH contractions and as of today, lots of bladder pressure. I'm having an ultrasound tomorrow to find out, among other things, if Tree Leaf is still breech. I'll also have a biophysical profile and non-stress test because of celebrating my fortieth birthday a few months back.

It's strange to feel her moving these day -- she's definitely getting stronger and stronger, and sometimes I can absolutely feel bony baby limbs poking out at me.

Oh, and in a weird development, the scale moved up five pounds this week. I refuse to call this a five pound weight gain in one week because I think for whatever reason, I was gaining all along but just not showing it on the scale. I checked my blood pressure at work and it was normal at 109/61 so I've decided not to worry about it too much. With my midwife's unofficial blessing (because her collaborating physician doesn't totally approve), I went back on Metformin, though. Just to be on the safe side.

I met with my birth doula today and that went well. After she left, at her suggestion, I wrote a list of emergency contacts and taped it to the kitchen cabinet. I have multiple back up people for Calliope on there as well as my two labor support people and the local cab company. And my midwife, of course. I also wrote out Calliope's daily schedule.

Calliope and I continue to talk about the new baby a lot, mostly of her initiative. She's very excited and now that her best friend Eleanor has a brand new baby brother, she's getting impatient for Tree Leaf to arrive. She's also started requesting that we read The New Baby At Your House at every nap and bedtime (fantastic book; I highly recommend it!).

Last week's theme in playschool was Babies, and after reading a book about big siblings, Calliope reported to the teacher, "Ms Kate, I'm feeling jealous!"

I asked Calliope about it that night, wondering if she understood the word. She did, so I assured her that "it's normal for big brothers and sisters to feel jealous of new babies sometimes."

She earnestly asked me, "But Mommy, why don't we just love our new baby together???"

Be still my breaking heart.

I'm trying to use language of "our" new baby, and normalizing mixed emotions, but still, it gladdens my heart to see her so excited. Even though I know some regressions are to be expected.

I'm also more impatient with her lately, due to the fatigue, and I know that's bound to have behavioral repercussions if I continue. I feel guilty for snapping at her but my goodness, sometimes I just can't bear her ignoring my requests another moment. Or her acting out at the table. Today I actually ended lunch prematurely because she spit on her plate, then committed a few more infractions despite several threats. I think in this case I actually did the right thing but she still cried as if her heart was broken. She's never had food taken away before so I'm sure it was quite a rude shock. To be sure, I don't think she was still hungry or she wouldn't have been acting out. But still.

I've started listening to my Hypno.babies CD's every night and hope that this time around I will actually get to use them.

My doula asked today "are you sick of being pregnant yet?" and I was glad to be able to answer no. But I am definitely a little tired of being tired. Just a week ago I felt fantastic. I'm hoping that the cold I feel developing in my throat is the cause of this new fatigue, and not a pregnancy symptom that will last the next six (or more!) weeks... though I'm not optimistic.

Calliope is completely smitten with Baby Leo, and can't resist constant manipulation of his
poor defenseless body. He, oddly enough, puts up with it with good grace and typically drops off to
sleep despite all the loving attention. Praying we get such a tolerant baby in our family!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Thirty-Three Weeks

The belly was measuring 34 cm (so 34 weeks) at my visit with the midwife last week. And I finally gained some weight... I think I'm up 11.5 pounds, if memory serves.

I definitely see growth in the belly but my face looks strange to me. I can't tell if I am losing weight (from my face) or just looking haggard!

I'm still feeling fabulous, compared to a month ago, so I can't complain about the small increase in fatigue. I'm still less than motivated to get out for adventures, but have done lots more work around the house to be ready for the new baby... much of which isn't really related to babies. But having that looming deadline forced me to clean out my underwear drawer! Everything with holes in it went to textile recycling. And now I can easily open and close said drawer, and find underwear that's actually comfortable. Win.

My sister brought all my 0-6 month baby clothes from her basement this weekend. They are charmingly arranged in plastic garbage bags in the crib. Sigh. She also brought a giant load of 4T clothes for Calliope, who only started wearing 3T a few months ago but has suddenly outgrown at least half her clothing.

Saturday was my "sprinkle." I had a few last minute cancellations, so it was a small group of six friends and family... but perfectly lovely. I had a great time. It seemed very cozy and comfortable, with wonderful Middle Eastern food and a fabulous henna artist that my SIL had hired as my gift. She tattooed my belly first and then all the guests, except for the newborns, got a henna tattoo as well. The designs were beautiful.

Unfortunately, my belly didn't react so well to either the henna or the lemon juice/sugar mixture she recommended we apply afterwards to deepen the stain. So I woke up during the night the next time with intense itching, and have been applying prescription strength hydrocortisone and ice packs as needed. It's unpleasant but sort of funny, too.

Pregnancy buddies once again... we all have three and a half year olds and will soon all have newborns.
The babies (six day old Leo and 9 week old Nora) were clearly the stars of the show. 

Henna belly

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


My brother called me last week and laid into me, presenting me with a list of The Many Ways I Have Done Him Wrong. After the third or fourth item, which went back to something almost a year ago, I cut him off. I asked him if he could please just talk to me about issues that are recent, but he said "No, because this is a big trigger for me."

I told him I couldn't listen anymore, it was just too much, and I would get back to him.

A few days later, after much pondering, I sent him an email. I used a "Communication Wheel" that my sister shared with me last year. It seems like a good and healthy model that promotes relationship building, not tearing each other down.

In my email, I responded to the issues he had shared on the phone and shared just one of my own. He responded in a way that was generally agreeable and I hoped that we might be close to moving on. Then he sent his own list. Using his own, much more judgment-oriented model, which allowed for the expression of lots and lots of anger. It included items such as not sending a thank you note for his contribution to Calliope's college fund. Which he made when she was a newborn.

Let me be clear: I greatly appreciated the contribution. I thought I had caught up on all my thank you notes before I went back to work. When she was four months old. I guess I missed his. Oops.

The fact that he's still stewing about such an oversight boggles my mind. I'm not one to really care about things like receiving thank you notes, beyond wanting confirmation to make sure that a gift was received. But if it's an issue for him, golly, why not raise it, say, three years ago? Instead of stewing about it for all this time?

Other issues reach back pretty far as well, though that one gets the Blue Ribbon At the County Fair for longevity. Most of them I had no idea existed. And wouldn't have been a big deal if raised, individually, when they happened. But to receive a whole pile of them all together, along with heaps of judgment -- his supposedly work-approved communication model apparently allowing for judgments like "selfish," "self absorbed," and "petty" when mine used nothing like that -- plus a "so do you want to have a real relationship with me or do you want to have a superficial one" smack in the middle... I just felt tired. And hurt. And nothing in me wanted anything to do with having any relationship at all. I just wanted to walk away.

I talked to my sister the next day and she entreated me not to walk away. It would make it hard for her, she said, to be caught in the middle. Family is important, she reminded me. (I'm not at all clear why this is so.) She suggested that I write back to him and ask him to rewrite it in the model she had shared with me.

I finally just sent that request. Along with my very best attempt at being empathetic to his first two issues. I apologized for the ways I hurt him. I sent generous gifts, because he stated that that was very important to him (it's not to me, and he felt our gift giving was unequal). I reiterated his feelings (and even his judgments). But I only had it in me to do that for is first two issues. After that, I had nothing left. I couldn't bear to parse his words and his judgments another minute. It was tearing me to shreds.

So now I wait for his response.

What's so stinking hard about all this is that he has the ability to get into my head. To make me question if I am a good friend. After all, I rarely give gifts. What if all my friends think that I'm as shitty as he does? What if, gasp, my own darling child thinks that? What if everyone sees me as selfish?

It's especially hard because, as you loyal readers know, I'm well into my third trimester. I'm vulnerable. I'm trying to gather strength for this upcoming birth, and to welcome another child into my life. I met with a birth trauma counselor last week. She and my midwife have both talked to me about looking at my life as evidence of strength, as a way to encourage me in thinking about this upcoming (terrifying) birth. And it helped, a lot. Until I got this email. And suddenly the wind was taken out of my sails. My confidence in myself has plummeted.

I'm slowly talking myself in off the ledge. I don't see a lot of judgment in Calliope's face as she chatters away through the steamy glass door of my shower in the mornings. My friend Mike and his wife and toddler surely wouldn't have come over this weekend to assemble the crib and hang artwork if they thought so little of me, right? I actually texted my two closest friends to ask directly if they thought I was shitty and selfish. They both, of course, responded in the negative.

So I'm somewhat better if nowhere near fully recovered. I choked back tears today as I placed online orders for gifts . I feel no joy in giving these gifts, only that this is the price I must pay for making duty-bound attempts at family loyalty. I've never felt so bad giving a gift before.

And I dread getting his response. If he lashes out or simply refuses to rework his "issue list," I know that logically, I have the option of walking away. And that that is in my own best interest. But I'm scared that he won't just say "no" and leave it at that. That he will lash out once again and hurt me once again. Or god forbid, he will agree and somehow I will end up having to work through a painful list of issues all over again. Honestly, I would much prefer to just be done and to walk away. I don't want to know anymore the many ways I've failed him. I have a responsibility to my current and future child to be present for them. He's way far down the list below them. And currently, his issues are serving as an enormous distraction from them.

It sounds so silly, I know. If you know someone makes you feel bad, walk away. If someone says something that hurts, you have the choice not to listen. But my brother has inherited my narcissistic father's ability to wound, along with a deep working knowledge of my innermost vulnerabilities and a profound ignorance of his own failings.

So... tell me how have you worked to maintain your boundaries, to keep family from hurting you? When they are not so awful all the time as to be outlawed from your life, but not so trustworthy, either?