Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Two pregnancies and life in general

No one who reads my blog quasi-regularly will be surprised to learn that I weigh myself every day when pregnant and plot my weight gain. I even confess to trying to fit a model to the weight gain data in order to predict my total gain at 40 weeks. But my gain is so flat in the first 8 weeks and in the last 6-8 weeks that it is hard to predict.

Knowing how much time I spent googling weight gain, pregnancy, athlete, distance runner during my first pregnancy, I thought I would put my stats out there for fellow quantitatively-obsessed, pregnant, athletic googlers:

I seem to be following the same pattern of weight gain with The General (#2) as I did with The Governor (#1) a.k.a. la cocotte, though the General is tracking consistently 2-3 pounds lighter (this may be due in part to la cocotte who, as I have gotten visibly and heavily pregnant, has conveniently forgotten how to walk and demandsto be carried everywhere especially up the three flights of stair to our apartment). I also note that (n=1) I really don't gain much weight after 32 weeks but between 10 and 32 weeks, weight gain is fairly steady and linear at about 0.9 pounds per week. It took 51 days post birth to come back down to my pre-pregnancy weight though the last 5 pounds took 30 of those days.

I have exercised and run appreciably less during this pregnancy, due to life stress (running after toddler, buying new house, selling current house) and dealing with injury. The plot below shows kilometers per week where some of those kilometers per week are REM (running equivalent mileage i.e. 5 minutes elliptical = 1 km, even though my running pace is far slower than 5 minutes per km now):

The biggest difference in my exercise though is probably in the intensity. I am being less conservative this time and am doing work-outs in which I go to a track and alternate between running faster and waddling. I am still doing km and mile repeats at 30 weeks but my pace has dropped from 3:30/5:50 (when I was in the best shape of my entire life) to 5:00/8:12 (30 weeks pregnant). My easy running pace is now 5:50 per km. 

Finally, to save me typing a thousand more words, here are the two respective pregnancies at 30 weeks:

I think what this picture illustrates probably best is that I am less focused this time and have even messier hair  but other than that, 30 weeks the second time around looks awfully like 30 weeks the first time around.

And other than running... how does it all feel? Well besides welling up in tears all the time for moments joyful, melancholy and mundane... it all feels very familiar and happy. Having la cocotte around, visibly excited about the baby is very moving and makes me feel incredibly fortunate. She is beyond excited about these babies. 

Babies. Yes, for some reason she is convinced there are two, a girl and a boy. I hope this isn't one of those weirdo phenomenon like dogs sensing when there is going to be an earthquake... toddlers sensing that there will be twins. I do feel very, very rich and blessed but I don't think I am ready to be that blessed! Lately though there is a tinge of territoriality entering her manor. Lots of declarations of: "c'est MON papa.", "c'est MON maman" (yes her possessive pronouns to not yet agree with the noun), "c'est MON cadeau.", "c'est MON maison." I think that last one is more related to our impending move and the hordes of potential buyers who have been trampling through our current home. I have tried to explain to her that we are moving and why it will be a good thing, our conversation went something like this (sorry only work in french):

maman: Cocotte, sais tu qu'on a acheter une nouvelle maison?
la cocotte: Une autre maison?
maman: Oui, on vas quitter cette maison.
la cocotte: C'est MON maison.
maman: oui, pour l'instant, mais on déménage dans une autre maison.
la cocotte: on peut nager dans l'autre maison?
maman (to herself): oh, crap.
maman: no, pas nager. mais l'autre maison a une balancoir.
la cocotte: balançoir?
maman: oui!
la cocotte: pour la cocotte?
maman: oui.
la cocotte: seulement pour la cocotte?
maman: oui.
la cocotte: balançoir qui ne dort pas pendant l'hiver?
maman: oui.

So, I think we have brokered a deal with her wherein we can move on the condition that there is a balancoir present in the new house for her exclusive use that does not go to sleep during the winter (like the swings in the city parks tend to).

Finally here was one of the sweeter moments from our Christmas holiday. I, of course, was crying too much to take a decent picture but Santa's photographer was more than happy to oblige:

Joyeux Fêtes et Bonne Année!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Exit strategy

My circle of friends includes a surprising number of women who have given birth naturally without any pain relief whatsoever. Surprising especially when I consider that statistically 95% women who deliver where I delivered la cocotte and will deliver cocotte's sibling opt for an epidural. Perhaps I know so many drug-free laboring women because my circle of friends is dominated by runners... runners have high pain thresholds, good endurance, good musculature, make smaller babies, so the thinking goes and are therefore more likely to tolerate a drug-free delivery.

I have listened to my friends describe the experience of drug-free birthing in complete astonishment. Having had a c-section the first time around, a drug-free birth was not really an option. (Even the mentally toughest of runners generally does not submit to being cut through multiple layers of tissue without some form of anesthesia.) One of my friends described the contractions as pain equal to bones being broken separated by complete, glorious numbness. She told me about pushing and the ring of fire. She said she felt connected to the generations of women before her who had given birth in pain and that it had been so important to her to have that experience and to feel every sensation from start to finish. The way she described it was moving and poetic. I am so happy for her that she had that experience. That being said, I cannot think of anything I would ever want LESS for myself.

All around me women seem intent on de-medicalizing the birthing process. Women seem united in their desire to give birth at home, naturally, with a midwife. And to those women I say, in all sincerity, you go girls! I don't understand their desire but do admire their courage and ability to endure. As for me? I want bright lights, stainless steel, white, institutionalized sheets, bad food, hissing, aging radiators and pipes, a cramped room, a harried, overwrought nurse and everything that else that reassures me that I am in a hospital with a wide array of glorious, glorious drugs at hand. If I had my choice, I would start the epidural in the parking lot. But before I started the epidural in the parking lot I would get a hit of something else to make the epidural ITSELF less painful.

I am probably biased by my first birthing experience. Without going into the gories... I was late (41 weeks), la cocotte's growth had slowed, I was not even slightly dilated, la cocotte was nowhere near the "set" position but it was decided that an induction was the best course of action. The first 6 hours were fine, drug-free (except for the pitocin of course). Felt nothing. Then a pinch, a stronger pinch, I asked a doctor for a tylenol... I told him a tylenol would be enough for the amount of pain I was experiencing. I had this brief fantasy that maybe I was one of those remarkable women for whom labor was simply not painful or... even better, that this level of pain was what other women described as unbearable and I was just some sort of superwoman with an insanely high pain threshold. My water broke. 10 minutes later I was puking and screaming for an epidural (which due to logistics I had to wait about 2 hours for... I know, not long compared to some). There was no gradual build-up of pain. No acclimatization. It was zero to 10 on the someone-kill-me scale in ten minutes. Far worse, there was no respite between contractions, there was no wonderful lack-of-sensation to slip into, there was simply a valley of pain (and not a very deep valley either) between towering peaks of pain. Got the Epiural. Bliss. Many more hours passed. No progress. La cocotte's heart rate was dropping with every contraction. C-section decided on. La cocotte born with an apgar of 10 (and no, I am not mis-remembering that. It was 10 immediately after birth and 10 ten minutes later. It is written in her health booklet so I am not romanticizing after the fact. And while I know it is totally obnoxious to brag about one's offpring's apgar score, I do so only to counter the notion that epidurals are bad for baby. Though yes, I realize la cocotte is only an n=1).

So here I am, 2 years and 4 months later,almost 7 months pregnant. I need to decide on an exit strategy at some point in the near(ish) future. My ob is essentially leaving it totally up to me until such time as a given strategy is clearly medically indicated. So I weigh the paths in front of me: VBAC, scheduled c-section, trial of labor following by either VBAC or unscheduled c-section and wonder what to do... what to do. Ideally I would like to NOT push out a baby but also NOT have to recover from surgery. My research so far indicates that this is not currently medically possible. There's not really a ton of choice when one gets down to it. Simply put, there really aren't many exits to choose from. I remain undecided. I still have time to ponder but only a finite amount.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Early Conversations

At two years and 4 months of age, la cocotte is really coming into her own conversationally. Now that she can express her thoughts verbally, it's fascinating (to her adoring parents anyway) to see what it is that she invests in expressing. Actually even biased parent factor aside, it is an inherently fascinating thing to watch what it is that a new speaker decides to express of the her internal world and the world around her. It turns out to be mostly observational, instructional and re-iterative.

She loves to observe and report the facts of her little world. She will proudly tell her daycare no teacher: "Maman bebe la bedaine. No bebe baba." (Mama baby in belly. No baby baba [daddy]). Almost everyday we get a count of how many lulus (ponytails) she and everyone else she sees has. Daddy has a constant count of zero.

She will constantly re-iterate the facts of her world. "No souliers [dans la] maison!" (no shoes [in the] house). "Nounou pas dans la bouche, seulement la main." (No pacifier in the mouth, only in the hand). This one stems from one of our very few rules. We have weaned her down to having the pacifier only in bed, in the stroller and the car seat. At other times she can hold it in her hand but not put it in her mouth; at which point she carries it around constantly looking at it, bringing it near her mouth or will sometimes turn away from us for a moment so her face is hidden and avidly suck away since we can't see her and therefore ostensibly don't know what she is doing. It is very reminiscent of a smoker craving for and sneaking a fix; an obvious but discomfitting analogy.

She will instruct. Given that she is surrounded by order-issuing adults all day long it is not surprising that she likes to issue her own. In fact one of her first complete(ish) sentences was an order. On our way back from the park one day, she clearly stated "Maison la cocotte jouer avec baba. Seulement Baba. No maman." ([At the] house la cocotte [will] play with baba. Only baba. No mama.) Ouch. But honest. Not intended to hurt. Just an honest statement of preference. And yes, she does call herself la cocotte. Direct article and all.

There is not yet any discussion of feelings. Feelings are expressed directly i.e showing visible fear when Swiper appears during her Dora the Explorer video. Crying when displeased. Smiling and hugging when happy or affectionate. There is also no interpretation. It's all: just the facts ma'am. In other words there is are none of the constructs that muddy the waters of adult conversation. No manipulations, no subterfuge, no subtlety. She just tells it like it is. To converse with her is to drink ice cold, pure, unfiltered spring water after a long run on a humid day. Pure refreshment. Total satisfaction. Uncomplicated.