If you read my Fourth Trimester blog post, you know my baby’s newborn phase was peppered with some intense moments:
A friend of mine had a baby after she’d been with her partner for ten years, and she reported that it hadn’t shaken their relationship because after all those years together they were totally in sync. Richard and I have been together for seven years, and I thought we’d be the same. Nope. Babies are warm, soft, squishy wedges that drive themselves between partners, and we had some pretty brutal fights in the first six weeks.
6. Press pause. The old adage is, “Never go to bed mad,” but sometimes fatigue, hunger, or other external factors can push an argument into ugly territory. It’s okay to take a break from the discussion and come back when all parties are rested, fed, and comfortable. Instead of completely dismissing the topic, which can feel disrespectful if it’s important to your partner, set a specific time to return to it.
March 9 – March 15: 38 Weeks 0 Days – 38 Weeks 6 Days.
Selfie Maternity Photoshoot
I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I couldn’t justify a professional maternity photoshoot to myself (even though I not-so-secretly would love to indulge in one). With an experienced photographer, maternity shoots cost a few hundred dollars, and I’m not sure what I’d do with the photos beyond posting them on Facebook. I’d rather spend money on a baby photoshoot, as I would use those photos to adorn everything from our walls, to my wallet, to the holiday cards we send to friends and family. (That said, if you choose to get professional maternity photos I 100% support you and would love for you to share them so I can live vicariously through you!)
Still, I wanted some sweeter photos to remember this time of transformation than the weekly side-profile shots I’ve been posting. Monday morning, Richard and I put a camera on a tripod and did a selfie maternity photoshoot. Rather than a lace gown, studio lighting, and windblown hair, it features clothes I actually wore throughout pregnancy, the patio I’ve been slowly beautifying all this time, and my bangs unceremoniously falling in my eyes. Maybe it’s imperfect and gritty, but I’m okay with taking the authentic over the idyllic.
Body and Baby Update
The baby moved around a ton this week, and when she’s in an energetic mood, she’ll even play patty cake with Richard—he’ll tickle, poke, push against my belly and she’ll kick back. My pelvis and lower belly are achier than ever before, which has been slowing me down. When I make sharp turns in the car, I feel the my uterus’ seatbelts (i.e. my ligaments) strenuously working. Nevertheless, I’ve been determined to stay active and continue adding to and checking off items from my to-do list. On Tuesday night, I was vacuuming the area rugs at 11:30pm, and Richard was certain my nesting urge—a sign of pending labor—had kicked in (usually I ask him to do the vacuuming, so this was particularly uncharacteristic for me).
With This Ring I Thee Ensnare
It’s nothing new that my hands and fingers are a little puffy, but on Wednesday I woke up with the knuckles of my left ring finger aching. The cause seemed to be that my wedding and engagement rings were so snug that they were cinching in the base of the finger. When I saw my midwife that morning, so she told me my fingers would probably get more swollen during labor, so it would be a good idea to take the rings off. I joked that they were stuck, and I didn’t realize how true that was until I went home and unsuccessfully tried all the standard techniques to remove them.
By the next morning, things had gotten elaborate. I soaked my whole forearm and hand in ice water for twenty minutes to reduce inflammation, then cut the ring off a condom so I could slide it over my finger work it under my rings to provide a sheath of protection (previous attempts at the following step had been painful, as this YouTuber shows). Then I wound dental floss over my knuckle and down through my rings (I learned from experience to wind from distal to proximal, as the video below shows, to push the inflammation down into the hand instead of painfully up into the fingertip). Then I slowly unwound the floss to work the ring off. I was so sure it was going to work, but I guess it was too elaborate to be effective. My finger ended up sore and red, and the rings still didn’t make it past my knuckle.
When I was a fitness instructor at my university, my supervisor was constantly chastising us for leaving the gym door ajar. It was an easy mistake to make—I had to put my whole body weight into slamming that door closed. One of my colleagues was a middle-aged, Eastern European woman who taught fitness on her lunch break from her job in academia. One day, I marveled at how she easily and effortlessly closed the cantankerous door. I couldn’t help but blurt out, “How did you do that??” She replied, “You must treat the door as you treat your wife,” and showed me that if you closed it with exaggerated love and gentleness the door was unexpectedly cooperative.
Well, it turns out that you must treat your stubborn rings as you treat your wife (Although, there’s a thriving BDSM community in San Francisco, so maybe the metaphor doesn’t hold up as well here). A couple hours after the Flossy Condom Caper, I started absent-mindedly working just one of the rings off (instead of both at the same time), and actually made some progress. I’d tried coconut oil the previous day, so this time I pulled out the big guns and slathered on some personal lubricant. After several minutes of slowly, gently, patiently working the ring from side to side and up and down I was able to get it past my knuckle! The other ring must be a little bigger, because it practically fell off after that. I never thought I’d be so happy to remove my wedding ring!
A candid shot from our DIY photoshoot where Foxy can’t resist licking Richard in the teeth.
What would I be doing if I Were on Vacation?
If an animal’s safety is compromised while she is in labor, her labor will stop until she can find a safer place to birth her babies. It’s the same with humans: when women’s stress hormones are running high, labor stalls. Needless to say, being in a stressed out, go-go-go state isn’t conducive to initiating labor. On Wednesday, I ran into Melitta, my postpartum doula, at a baby store I was visiting in between my prenatal appointment and grocery shopping. Also on the to-do list for the afternoon were replacing burnt out light bulbs, washing the car, and shipping my niece’s birthday present. Melitta asked me if I’d been taking a nap or two a day to practice for breastfeeding. I thought back, and realized I hadn’t taken a nap all week.
Richard also gave me a reality check on Wednesday evening when I was frustrated about my stuck ring situation. He suggested that even though I wasn’t in labor per se, I should treat these last weeks (or days, or hours—who knows) of pregnancy as the beginning of my labor. We’re ready enough (and for the things we don’t have there are Amazon Prime and the hospital’s ring cutters). Now is the time to relax, accept, and surrender. He suggested that I spend the next morning with a pot of tea sitting out in the sun on the patio vizualizing myself nursing the baby in my “special safe place” (a Hypnobabies birth technique), which in my imagination features a warm courtyard, the sound of flowing water, lush rainforest plants, comfy wicker lounge furniture, chirping birds, colorful butterflies, and (inexplicably) a lazy sloth. The fact that Richard was able to describe my special safe place to me makes me more confident than ever that he’ll be an amazing birth partner. I followed his suggestion with some red raspberry leaf tea (a natural labor inducer) Sunday morning, and it set the tone for a relaxed day.
My new mantra is, “What would I do if I was on vacation?” I’d definitely be drinking more blended drinks. After a yummy prenatal yoga class on Thursday morning I treated myself to a tropical mango, pineapple (another natural labor inducer), and spinach smoothie. In the afternoon I watched a movie and took a nap. And, in the evening, Richard and I went out for dinner and ice cream. On Saturday, I went for a leisurely swim at the pool. Richard and I regularly walk on the beach, but this weekend, we brought a blanket and lounged on the beach with lunch from our favorite cafe (well, I lounged. Richard made sure the dog got a good workout). Sunday afternoon I did only the fun part of gardening (potting and pruning plants), and left the weeding for another day. I’m on the call-me-if-any-one-cancels list for a prenatal massage with labor-inducing acupressure next week, and maybe I’ll get a pedicure too. I still want to mop the floors, scrub down the bathroom, and digitize the stack of documents on my desk, but if those things don’t get done before the baby is born, it’s not the end of the world.
My sister has mailed me some inspiring birth quotes to set the tone for labor. Here’s a wonderful one by Ina May Gaskin—although she could’ve chosen a more flattering list of animals to compare us pregnant women to.
Q: What are the ethical principles associated with yoga?
A: In the Yoga Sutras, Putanjali lists five yamas, hindrances, and five niyamas, observances, which make the the first two of his eight limbs of yoga. The yamas teach us how to treat others and the niyamas teach us how to treat ourselves. They are as follows: