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Friday, October 29, 2010

Pregnancy update - 28 weeks

Another fairly normal appointment with my birthing center.  Nothing much to report on that front.  Ellowyn's (yes, we've decided on her name) heart rate was about 150 bpm, very normal.  My blood pressure was the same as always.  The only thing of note really was that I gained 4 pounds this month, right on target.  This means that I am finally back up to my pre-pregnancy weight.  I lost 7 pounds in my first trimester and since then have gained back a total of 9 pounds, making my total weight gain for the pregnancy 2 pounds so far.  I'm feeling pretty good about that.

I've been having a new and rather troublesome pregnancy symptom: ocular migraines.  I had only had one when I last went in for a checkup, so I thought it was a fluke and didn't bring it up at the appointment.  But since then, I'm wishing I had talked to the midwife about it because I've had two more, making it three in the space of a week.  What happens is that without warning I start seeing flashes of light and then I see tracers swimming across my vision and then parts of my vision go fuzzy.  Then I will get really dizzy and usually a headache will follow.  The visual effects only last about 5 minutes or so, but the dizziness will go on for a half-hour or so and then the headache can last an hour or more.  I wouldn't even know what it was except that I described it on Facebook and one of my mommy friends said that the same thing had happened to her during pregnancy and told me that her doctor had called them "ocular migraines".  I did a little research online and, sure enough, my symptoms were described exactly by several different sources.  (For further reading, you can check out this, this, and this.)  Apparently, pregnant women sometimes get them and it is thought that they may be due to the hormonal changes associated with pregnancy.  Luckily, I have not had one yet that was particularly problematic, but I keep dreading the day that I get one while driving or while I'm carrying Mira across the parking lot or I get so dizzy that I fall down and hurt myself.  The first time it happened I had no idea what was going on, but by the third time it happened, I realized that I could recognize it coming on by the flashing lights and so I could get myself to a safe seated position to wait it out.  Hopefully I will continue to be able to do that if they keep happening.

Brian and I started a Bradley childbirth preparation class.  For anyone unfamiliar, it is a particular method that focuses on preparing women for natural unmedicated birth and on preparing their birth partner (usually the husband) to play an active role in aiding the laboring woman.  I've read a number of books on Bradley method (my favorite of which was this one, BTW), so I feel like I'm pretty familiar with everything that's going on in the class, so far.  We've covered the topics of what to expect in pregnancy, good nutrition, and some basic exercises to prepare your body for childbirth.  But we're just starting to get to the good stuff like what the birth coach's role entails and some specific coping techniques for the first (dilation) stage and second (pushing) stage of labor.  So I'm looking forward to seeing where the class goes.  Plus I think the class has really helped to get Brian's head into the game.  I think it's easy for him to feel a little detached from the pregnancy since it's not his body and Ellowyn doesn't demand his attention when she's still in utero.  But part of the coach's role in Bradley method is to encourage/assist in preparing the woman's mind and body to cope with the demands of natural childbirth, and that includes daily routines and such that he does with me.  So he's been much more involved in this pregnancy than he was when I was pregnant with Mira.

Ellowyn has been very active.  She moves A LOT and not little slow stretchy movements.  We're talking there-must-be-a-rock-band-in-my-belly type movements.  It's very different from my experience with Mira's pregnancy.  I remember Mira's movements being more subtle and gentle and slow.  But with this pregnancy... well, I told Brian yesterday that I thought my belly was going to jump right off of my body.  But I think Brian likes it. When I was pregnant with Mira, he'd have to wait really long and sit really still in order to feel the baby move.  But with Ellowyn, he can practically see my belly jumping out of the corner of his eye from across the room.  I'm guessing that this means that Ellowyn's personality is going to be very different from Mira's.  Mira is very deliberate and cautious.  I'm thinking Ellowyn will be more rambunctious and wild.  That would actually be kind of nice because then the two girls can sort of balance each other out, with Mira reminding Ellowyn when things are not such a good idea and Ellowyn challenging Mira to push past her personal boundaries and take risks now and then.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Our long-term house guest

For at least a month now, we have had a guest who has taken up residence on our back porch.  She is about 2 inches long, has 8 legs, and every other night she builds a huge web right across the opening of our sliding glass door.  Now, despite the fact that Brian has managed to walk through the web many many times on his way to take the garbage out (I'm a little shorter, so I usually miss it), this is actually a rather ingenious place for this spider to have chosen.  At night, when she builds her web, the moths are all attracted to the door by the light coming through from our dining room.  So pretty much any night she builds a web, she feasts.  Which I think is really pretty awesome because, standing immediately on the other side of the glass, I have been able to watch her catch, poison, and entomb her prey and then drag it off to her hidey corner for consumption.

And as I watched, I always thought how cool it would be to show Mira.  But because this spider only builds her web at night, I hadn't had an opportunity to show Mira... until earlier this week.

I have been preparing Mira for daylight savings time by slowly shifting her schedule later and later.  And this one day, the spider decided to build her web a little earlier in the evening.  The combination of the two meant that Mira finally got to see this thing in action.  I held her up and showed her and explained what it was.  Mira said "eat".  Me: "You want the spider to eat?"  Mira: "Yeah."  So then we sent Daddy out onto the porch to try and catch a moth to throw into the spider's web so that Mira could see how she ate.  Daddy made a very valiant effort, but he wasn't faster than nature.  As he was trying to catch a moth, another one flew into the web on its own and Mira got to watch as the spider darted over and stung it and then wrapped it in silk.  Mira thought that was pretty awesome and she held her hand out to the spider and pointed at her open palm with her other hand.  Me: "You want to hold the spider?"  Mira: "Yeah!!!"  I then had to explain how we shouldn't touch the spider because we might hurt it or scare it since it was much littler than us.  She seemed to accept that explanation, but there was no way she would let me put her down, she kept watching that spider for a good long time.

Anyway, here are some pics of our guest.  You can tell from the quality that I'm not a talented photographer by any stretch.  Oh well...

Oh also, I should mention that the day we first noticed this spider, I did some research to find out what kind of spider she is.  I wanted to make sure she wasn't anything to worry about and she has some pretty distinctive markings so I was pretty sure I could confidently identify her.  Turns out she's a brown orb weaver, specifically from the genus Neoscona.  My research indicated that they are "reluctant to bite" and that if bitten, you'd basically get a little red irritated bump.  And also, they are reputed to be excellent mosquito catchers.  So we decided to let her stay as long as she wanted... turns out she must like the arrangement as well, since she's stuck around so long.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rough housing

Daddy likes to rough house with Mira.  She says "down", but I think she secretly likes it.  What do you think?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Language Developments

Over the last month or so, Mira has had a language explosion.  To try to list every word that she says would now be impossible.  Which is totally great.  I love that she can actually tell me about things instead of the other way around.  When she gets upset about something, I can tell her to stop crying and use her words and she can.

One day, we were at the petting farm and she pointed up and said "moon".  I thought she was saying "moo", so I was like "Cows say moo, but there aren't any cows here.  Just goats.  Goats say baaa."  But she was adamant.  "Moon moon moon."  Silly me, I kept trying to tell her there was no cow.  Finally, after we had gone back and forth for a while, I looked up to where she was pointing and saw the moon, clear as could be, out in the middle of the day.  "The moon!  Of course!  I'm sorry it took me so long to figure out what you were telling me.  You are right!"  She looked very satisfied.  It's so cool that she never doubted herself.  She knew exactly what she was talking about, even if mom was pulling a "hurrr derp derp".

Mostly Mira's words are one syllable.  Stuff like dog, cat, car, up, down, out, go, hole, bird, eat, read, and much much more.  In addition to that she has a few two syllable words: mama and dada (of course), but also mommy and daddy (which she will use interchangeably with mama and dada), baby and apple and happy and bubble (all of which she says sooo clearly), I'm sure there are a few others, I'm just not thinking of them right now.

There are a few words that Mira says that only mom can translate.  She says "buh" when she means "poop".  Luckily she also uses the sign for "poop" when she says this one or else I might never have figured it out.  I've tried getting her to say it more clearly: "Mira, say ppp ppp ppp poop."  She responds with "ppp ppp ppp BUH".  Lol.  Also, she can count to "na".  When counting she'll say "one... two... na!" When I say, "Mira, say three" she responds with "na!"  I guess that "thr" sound is a hard one.  Also, she says "nook" instead of "milk", but again, she also makes the sign for milk while she says that one.

She is also starting to say people's names.  For quite some time she has been able to say "key-key" for my sister Katelyn, whose nick name has been kay-kay since she was a baby.  That was the first name she was using.  But just recently, she has started saying "co-ee" for our friend Cody and "day-ih" for our friend David.  She also makes attempts at Becky, coming out like "bah-bee", and Jeff, which sounds like "hefff" all whispery (two of our other friends that we see regularly).

She also seems to have gotten past the phase where she didn't want to attempt new words vocally.  If you tell her to say something, she will almost always try it if the word is two syllables or less.  Unless she's feeling pressured to perform; sometimes she gets shy in front of a crowd.  But she's so darn cute when she talks, how can I not try to show her off???

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

On death and funerals

Well, it's been a while since I've written here, and I think most of you who read this know why.  Last Wednesday, Brian's mother passed away unexpectedly.  The past week has been full of dealing with the aftermath: planning and attending the funeral and wake, dealing with and planning for the division of the estate, making arrangements for the cremation and the subsequent interment, and of course grieving.  

I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about the passing of my mother-in-law.  Mostly, I'm filled with intense sadness and sympathy for Brian and his sisters.  I can not imagine their loss.  But I think that here, in this blog, I am going to keep my musings mostly on the topic of how this relates to Mira, since this blog is dedicated more to our children rather than being focused on Brian and me.  

This is the first time in Mira's life that someone she knew has died.  In my mind, it is both good and bad that this has happened at such a young age for her.  Good because she doesn't comprehend the loss, so she has not needed to grieve; she won't carry a painful memory of this with her.  Bad because she will likely have no memories of her paternal grandmother, and it's sad to think that she'll miss growing up in her presence.  It really serves to reaffirm my appreciation for Mira's other grandparents.  

Throughout the process of the funeral and grieving, Mira has been very removed from the experience.  She's not been in the thick of any of it.  At the hospital, as Brian's mom was passing, Brian and I both agreed that it would be better for me to stay with Mira and not to bring her to the hospital.  The funeral itself occurred during Mira's afternoon nap, so she stayed with my family while Brian and I attended the services.  She has even been pretty removed from our grieving process at home.  I did tear up in her presence a couple of times, but for the most part she has not seen our grief, or anyone else's.  Brian has had a few moments where he dropped his composure and really allowed himself to express his sorrow, but they were all when Mira was sleeping and only I was around.  (I think he feels an obligation to remain outwardly stoic for the sake of those around him.)  It wasn't really my intention to keep Mira out of what was going on.  I wasn't trying to protect her from the emotions of others, per se.  It is just more.... the way it ended up working out.  And I'm not sure if it is a good thing or not.  On one hand, she has pretty much gone on with her life happily and as though nothing happened.  On the other hand, this could have been a learning experience for her about emotions and empathy.  So I don't know if we did the right thing or not by unintentionally excluding her.  

At one point, Mira saw me crying quietly and she came over, looking worried, and gave me a hug.  At that point, and a couple other times, I did try to explain to her what had happened.  But death is such a big concept, even for a secular family like ours.  It seems impossible to explain in terms that a toddler will understand.  I told her that death is what happens when someone's body stops working.  And that lots of people were sad because her Grams had died, so we would never get to see her and play with her again.  I told her that she didn't have to be sad, if she didn't want to, but that other people around her might be sad for a little while.  But I have no idea how much she understood.

One thing that has really been illuminated for me by this experience is just how important it is to plan for and prearrange your own funeral.  I have been to my share of funerals and experienced the death of those very close to me, but never have I been witness to the minutia and planning and details the way that I have this time.  Not that I did much of the work, but I saw Brian and his sisters scrambling here and there, raising funds, planning and revising and WORKING.  Hard.  To make arrangements for their own mother's funeral. In a time when they should have been grieving, they had no time because everything had to come together just so and by a certain date and time and on a certain budget.  And Brian's mom had done a lot to prepare for her death before she died.  I mean A Lot.  But even her careful documentation and preparedness was not enough to prevent Brian and his siblings from having to rush around and fret and worry whether things would come together on time.  Seeing them go through that made me realize how much I Do Not Want that to burden my children when I'm gone.  So I've actually started looking into and planning for my own funeral.  And Brian's too, to some degree, though only he can specify his final wishes.  But certainly, being privy to the behind-the-scenes elements of funeral planning has put some things about Mira's future into perspective for me.