Great Expectations: Elizabeth @ 38 Weeks

Holiday family pic.jpgMy apologies if you noticed that I missed my 37 week update and thought I might have delivered early. The combination of my last week at work and Christmas got in the way of everything else, and I’m just now getting my bearings. I’m still very pregnant and not feeling particularly ready to pop; I have always suspected I would deliver late and that is still my suspicion.

On my first official day of maternity leave, after the hubbub of the holidays had died down, I woke up late, made a breakfast of bacon and hot chocolate (not bacon and eggs and toast; just bacon), and then my dog and I stared at each other for a solid 30 minutes before I decided to start making headway on my lengthy “to do before Mae arrives” list. I feel like prepping for a baby is like prepping for a long trip, only you have no idea when your flight leaves. If I get everything done on my list this week, what will I do with myself for the next 21 days if she goes to 42 weeks? I decided if I tackled 2-3 items a day I should get it all done before she comes. On that first day I started at noon and knocked off 5 items in a row, which felt like a lot of very satisfying work. Imagine my dismay when I looked at the clock and it was only 1:20. Not long after, an out-of-town friend texted and asked if I would be up for a visit or if that would be too exhausting. My response: “Day one of maternity leave and I’m already bored; come now, stay for as long as you want.”  Fortunately on day two I discovered a Downton Abbey marathon on PBS, and I’ve been using the 20 minute pledge drive breaks to get things done.

Don’t get me wrong; I am immensely glad for the pre-baby break. When I was working I was a zombie by the end of the day and totally neglected all home matters. Now I’m cleaning, organizing, and doing all sorts of kitchen projects using odd ingredients that have accumulated in our freezer and pantry. On the menu today: lengua tacos, using a tongue we reluctantly accepted when we bought a portion of a cow last year.

I’ve been having infrequent Braxton Hicks contractions, which basically feel like menstruation cramps. I also have Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD), which is apparently quite common at this late stage. Basically the hormone relaxin – which I seem to have an abundance of – is making my pubic joint less stable, which rubs on and inflames the ligaments. It feels a bit like I’ve been punched repeatedly in the pelvis and makes walking and even turning over in bed painful. The good news is, weekly chiropractic adjustments help immensely; the bad news is, the adjustment is excruciating. Otherwise I’m feeling relatively good for a full-term pregnancy! At a holiday party a group of older women gathered around me and admired how not-swollen my ankles were (although my feet are just swollen enough that only my flats fit; luckily I live in California so “cold” is 50 degrees). Mae still seems to have plenty of room to move around, so although she’s head down she rotates her body pretty frequently. It makes for interesting navel gazing.

At this point we’ve received most of the baby gifts we’ll get and we’re generally set up for her arrival, though I do still need to commit to a stroller. I know everyone has given us presents they genuinely hope we will like and use, and I hate to malign the kind intentions of anyone who has been generous to us and our daughter, but the gift-receiving process has been somewhat challenging. I spent hours researching and registering for the items I felt would be most useful, but most people bought us clothes (and not the clothes I registered for). The allure of cute baby girl clothes is hard to resist, and a lot of them were perfectly adorable and appropriate and she is set up for at least a year. On the other hand, I have strong feelings about starting gender stereotypes from day one of a child’s life and it was hard to be grateful for Pepto-Bismol pink clothing with obnoxious phrases like “keep the princess happy” and “I melt daddy’s heart.” One outfit was so covered in glitter that it was rough to the touch; setting the standard early that uncomfortable clothes are a normal part of being female? My friend put it well when she said, “It’s crazy that even baby clothes perpetuate gender oppression.” What further irked me is that friends having boys seemed to get most of what they registered for, while friends having girls were in the same boat as me. The message, unintentional and subconscious though it may be, is unavoidable: “Boys, here are necessary resources you need to succeed in life; girls, we only care that you look pretty.” I know it’s impolite to say such things, but I’ll never get a better chance to rage against this particular machine. I’ve also learned a valuable lesson I’ll have for the rest of my life: always buy from the registry!

Assuming I don’t deliver before my week 40 update, next time I’ll write about the various medical options I’m opting into (or, more accurately, opting out of).

Photo: Our growing family with me at 37 weeks at our annual Christmas party.

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