Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Things I won't miss

I love being pregnant, don't get me wrong. I fully understand and appreciate what a gift this is, and I am especially thankful that I've now had two healthy, 40+ week gestations without any major complications. I love these maternal curves, how food tastes better than ever during the 2nd trimester, feeling the baby kicks and twirls, and dreaming about what the future holds with this new family member.

I love it so much that I know I will miss being pregnant after the baby is born, like I did with Claire, even though I will be incredibly happy to have him/her in my arms. So, as a reminder for my future self, here are the things I will NOT miss about being pregnant. I want to look back on pregnancy with positive memories, but I don't want to waste energy on missing it...I think this will help. Here's what I won't miss:

  • The frustration of dropping something, or needing to bend down to pick something up; the fact that I wonder, "do I really need this item? Is there anything else I can do while I'm down there? Maybe Claire could hand it to me, instead."
  • Becoming breathless from simply walking across a room, let alone walking up the stairs. It takes forever to get things done!
  • Not being able to lift or carry large or heavy items. Strong nesting urges paired with the inability to move furniture or haul large boxes of unwanted items to the curb or the Goodwill can really cramp a mama's style.
  • Getting heartburn from a few sips of water, especially when I still want to eat a meal!
  • Outgrowing some of my maternity clothes. I refuse to buy more when I only have a few weeks left, so I've just dealt with a limited wardrobe (including a really nerdy Spice Girls tshirt I got as a joke in high school. Not to be outdone, Mark strutted out of the closet one day wearing a Boys II Men concert tshirt...which he actually got at a concert.)
  • Wishing we had access to a crane or bulldozer that would make rolling over or getting out of bed easier tasks.
  • Not being able to fully hug Mark and Claire (or anybody else, for that matter).
  • Moving "wrong" and feeling my hips shift unpleasantly out of alignment. When I feel and hear that distinct *snap!* on either side of my spine I know I'm in for it. These hormones have really loosened my joints up, which is good for the delivery but not so good for anything else. I've also read that the hormone relaxin may somehow be related to Fibromyalgia, which would explain the flares I've had during obvious hormone surges. It's no fun when every cell in your body aches! Thank goodness it's temporary, and hasn't happened often throughout this pregnancy.
  • Speaking of hormones, the way I cry when I watch birth videos. I try so hard to maintain composure, but my eyes always spill over when the baby is born and I see the look of joy on the mom's face. Oh, wait, that happens even when I'm not pregnant!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I never wanted to be one of those parents who operate with the "Do as I say, not as I do" philosophy, but tonight turned out to be one of those instances.

Earlier this evening Claire was coloring in a notebook with markers at her little table while Mark and I were sitting at the big kitchen table talking. I looked over to check on her - she had been awfully quiet for a while - and noticed that she was busily coloring both of her arms and hands with the green marker. Not wanting Mark to miss out on the scene, I stifled a laugh and motioned for him to turn that way. They're washable markers so we weren't terribly concerned, but the line needs to be drawn somewhere; when she starts drawing on herself, the walls and furniture are next on her list. She seemed to be concentrating pretty hard on one of her wrists, so I quietly snuck over with the camera to take a video and was promptly busted. After checking out her arm art I reminded her that markers are for paper only, not for drawing on ourselves. She responded by coloring baby's nose green, and then doodling on her chair and the windowsill. Toddlers and self control...

Despite her protests and attempts to mark up other areas of the house, Mark and I ended up putting her markers away with a reminder that we don't draw on ourselves or the furniture, which induced a minor tantrum of sorts in Claire. Her face wrinkled in agony that only a frustrated 2 year old knows, she walked over to the pantry door and threw Baby inside as hard as she could before slamming the door shut. Then, of course, she realized that she wanted Baby back so she started banging on the door, sobbing "Baby! Baby!" Poor kiddo...such big emotions. So we retrieved Baby and she fell into my arms to finish unloading, and soon all was well again. The markers safely tucked away in an upper cupboard, Claire went about the rest of the evening with the message that we don't color on anything but paper.

Fast forward a few hours. I had forgotten during the marker episode that I had somebody coming over tonight, somebody I had hired to color on my skin. A local artist was coming over to do pregnancy henna on my belly. The timing seemed like it was going to work out well: Mark and Claire usually go upstairs around 6:30 to start the bedtime routine (brushing teeth, pajamas, reading books) and Victoria was planning to arrive shortly after that because it was the only time that worked for both of our busy schedules. Unintentionally at first, I figured Claire wouldn't see her or know that she had even been here - and now that the marker incident had occurred, it seemed better that she wasn't going to witness the hypocrisy firsthand. That was the plan, at least.

Long story short, Claire didn't fall asleep right away and ended up coming downstairs (a rare occurrence these days), and saw the lady drawing on Mama's belly just a few hours after Mama had told her that we don't draw on ourselves. I felt like such a hypocrite! But Claire was unphased, and took great interest in the process so we let her stay up a few hours later than usual.

If only I'd known what a fun and relaxing process this is, I'd have done it during Claire's pregnancy, too. I feel so pretty and pampered! And it's so enjoyable for the mom that babies love it, too; our little guy or gal spent most of the time stretching and rolling with big, sweeping motions. Victoria did a beautiful job, and we had so much fun chatting. I can't wait to take some portraits this weekend when the henna will be at it's darkest. We don't have many belly shots yet, and this finished product is gorgeous...what a fun way to celebrate this pregnancy and the largeness of my belly :)

These pictures were taken about halfway through...the finished design is amazing. I plan to post better pictures this weekend :)

While we waited for my belly art to dry, Victoria even did a little henna heart on Claire's hand, and then she applied magenta glitter - so cute! Claire was really good about holding it out to keep from smearing it...for about 5 minutes. Then she abruptly wiped it off. Notice the leftover green marks from the incident earlier in the evening. ("Hypocrite! Hypocrite!") Mark had a hard time getting a clear picture because she was wiggling and dancing around in excitement. I think she'll still have a faint heart on her hand tomorrow, since it stayed on for at least a few minutes, so I'll try to get a good picture.

So I foresee two possible things resulting from tonight:
1. Claire may be even more inspired to draw on herself now, and who can blame her? I'll laugh if she starts drawing on her belly.
2. Claire will NEVER want to go to bed again, thinking we have parties like this every night after she goes upstairs.

These next few nights should be interesting...

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Splish Splash

Big day at the Nelson residence: we set up the birth tub for our planned homebirth!

Claire thought all of the activity was pretty exciting, and spent most of the day joyfully singing and dancing around us as Mark and I prepared the room. Here's Mark finishing up with the air pump - notice his wizard hat...
(Ok, really it's a lampshade that I inadvertently caught at just the right angle, but it looks pretty funny at first glance, doesn't it?)

Taking a moment to inspect the tub, but still singing and dancing

Mark and Claire discussing what the tub is going to be used for, and how exciting it is that we get to meet our new baby pretty soon. Claire says she is excited to snuggle the baby, and to teach it how to juggle and play catch someday.
It's been really fun watching Claire grow over the course of this pregnancy. She's had the benefit of seeing her 4 best friends recently become big brothers and sisters, and she actually seems to understand what's going on. She likes to kiss and rub my belly, talk about what we'll do when the baby arrives, and she's become even more motherly with Baby, her little doll. She carries Baby around most of the day, cradling, kissing, swaddling, snuggling, and otherwise including her. When we read books together, Baby is always cozied up right there with us; when we color at Claire's little table, Baby is carefully tucked in Claire's lap (usually nursing.) She gets equally excited about seeing her friends and their new infant siblings, and it makes her day when she gets to hold a real baby on her lap. She likes to lean in and give the baby a gentle kiss on the temple or cheek, and always looks concerned if they grimace or cry. "It's ok, baby!" she says with a soft voice and a compassionate look.

I've also enjoyed watching Mark grow as a father. He's always been a wonderful dad, but as parents our job description changed dramatically as Claire graduated from baby to toddler; it was no longer just about loving Claire and meeting her needs, but also about considering her point of view and learning how to talk with and listen to her. Communication feels more like a two-way street with her now, which is wonderful and rewarding but it also brings new challenges.

I love when I'm given the chance to listen in on their conversations, whether it's about becoming a big sister or how to make toast and coffee. He's so patient and kind, always taking time to explain things to her in terms that she'll understand and involving her as often as possible (it's her job to push the bread down in the toaster, and to scoop the coffee into the coffeemaker...Mark sips his sometimes-gritty coffee with a smile and thanks her for her help.) Mark reminds me of my own dad: strong, caring, respectful, patient, fun. Dads like this don't consider spending time with their kids a chore, or as "babysitting," but as something to cherish and make the most of. They see the opportunities for fun and laughter, and understand that they are shaping a human life. As someone who grew up with an awesome dad like that, I know what a positive impact that has on a person for life. Those seemingly minor moments, those little chats and impromptu games with balls and balloons, mean so much.

That last picture of Mark and Claire chatting captures the dynamic of their relationship so well. I see moments like this between them all the time, and I'm so happy to have caught one on film (er, a memory card).