Pregnancy Body Image

Weirdly, this is not really going to be about how sexy or desirable I feel or don’t feel. It’s actually going to be about how that question has been removed from the conversation almost entirely.

Getting pregnant, for me, is like being handed a big machine.

So you have this machine, and in nine months it’s going to spit out a baby. But in order for it to do that successfully you need to maintain it religiously. So you read the manuals that come with it, you get a handle on what fuel to put into it and how often. That’s the easy part.

The tough part is when it breaks. And it will, a lot. Rarely in big ways, although that is possible. Mostly in dumb little ways, like when the machine is leaking fluid and you have to figure out whether it’s dangerous or normal by smell. And what do the books say the dangerous fluid smells like? Oh, yeah, nothing.

Or how about when it starts to run a little weird. No pain, no cramps, no weird noises or fluids. The machine’s just weird, for reasons you can’t quite articulate. And is it bad weird or okay weird? You don’t know because you didn’t get training, just a manual, and everything in the manual could be good weird or bad weird or neutral weird according the manual so you’re really just guessing anyway.

It’s frustrating. Amazingly frustrating. But one thing that isn’t particularly pertinent in the middle of all of that is how the machine looks. And that’s kind of where my head is at. My thighs are easily twice as big around as they were when we started this whole childbearing endeavour, and I notice that and am aware of that. But it doesn’t bother me. It feels like, “Well they’re probably that big to support the rest of my giant body.” And they are. But that sort of pragmatic explanation never meant anything to me before.

I think honestly the whole process has brought into focus that my body is a vehicle. A tool. It’s there for me to use to accomplish tasks, like carrying a baby. And that’s the end of it.

Baby Shower! Monsters Inc theme

A lot of this is going to be photos so I’ll get the schpiel out of the way first so y’all can scroll freely.

I had my baby shower one week ago with my family and it was fantastic. Because our son will be named Sully we thought it would be so cute to do a Monsters Inc theme for the party, but that ended up being a bit challenging. Right after Monsters University came out every store out there was full of merchandise, but that was a while ago and all that stuff has been marked down or sent back to the manufacturer. My lovely Aunt Peggy, who was throwing the shower (I helped a little! Sorta), managed to find a store with Mike and Sully cake toppers a month ago and reserved them special for the cake.

My mom made it down for the weekend, as well as my Uncle John, and all my family in town. I spent a lot of time sitting and smiling graciously because the third trimester is awful and I want it to stop, but I think everyone had a lot of fun. Especially with the food, a bunch of people brought things to make it really special. Hopefully I’ll be getting my thank you cards out in the next week, amidst everything else going on. The little guy is almost here!

My absolute favorite part was the party favors. I saw them at Dollar Tree and fell in love, they are scented candles that smell like baby powder and shampoo! It’s just the lovely smell of little humans, in pink or blue (blue for us), for a dollar a piece.

On to the pictures!

 

My aunts Susan, Peggy, and Emily, left to right,

My aunts Susan, Peggy, and Emily, left to right,

The awesome cups we found.

The awesome cups we found.

The one game we did play is measuring the bump with string. Aunt Emily won!

The one game we did play is measuring the bump with string. Aunt Emily won!

The streamers! Have I mentioned how much I love the color scheme?

The streamers! Have I mentioned how much I love the color scheme?

My cousin Sophie, me, and David.

My cousin Sophie, me, and David.

The food. I looked forward to those pinwheel sandwiches for months and took about a thousand of them home.

The food. I looked forward to those pinwheel sandwiches for months and took about a thousand of them home.

This is possibly my favorite present we got, a play mat with a piano down at the foot.

This is possibly my favorite present we got, a play mat with a piano down at the foot.

More opening presents.

More opening presents.

My Aunt Susan got us an awesome stroller from Target.

My Aunt Susan got us an awesome stroller from Target.

So many cards!

So many cards!

Aren't I photogenic?

Aren’t I photogenic?

Also a favorite, it's a towel.

Also a favorite, it’s a towel.

So many stuffed animals!

So many stuffed animals!

David cannot take a bad picture. It's not possible.

David cannot take a bad picture. It’s not possible.

A full childproofing kit. Perfect for someone as anal retentive as me, haha. David says I'm not allowed to childproof the drawers until Sully's walking.

A full childproofing kit. Perfect for someone as anal retentive as me, haha. David says I’m not allowed to childproof the drawers until Sully’s walking.

Clothes!

Clothes!

Swim shorts, I know how we're spending the summer.

Swim shorts, I know how we’re spending the summer.

Seriously, the man is good in pictures. I'm jealous.

Seriously, the man is good in pictures. I’m jealous.

A bathrobe, in case the baby ever needs to step out to get the mail.

A bathrobe, in case the baby ever needs to step out to get the mail.

David is holding a lovey blanket that we got, and it is so soft. That thing is just amazing and minky and silky.

David is holding a lovey blanket that we got, and it is so soft. That thing is just amazing and minky and silky.

The diaper bag. Kind of looks like a laptop bag, but the amount of pockets and secret compartments on that thing are astonishing.

The diaper bag. Kind of looks like a laptop bag, but the amount of pockets and secret compartments on that thing are astonishing.

Before we'd started, haha.

Before we’d started, haha.

As always I was a million degrees so we stepped outside. Warning, the next ten pictures are of my mom for some reason. Doesn't matter, she's lovely.

As always I was a million degrees so we stepped outside. Warning, the next ten pictures are of my mom for some reason. Doesn’t matter, she’s lovely.

Outside Mom7 Mom6 Mom5 Mom4 Mom3 Mom2 Mom

My Aunt Marie.

My Aunt Marie.

My Uncle John and Uncle Jan.

My Uncle John and Uncle Jan.

Jan and John, and if I could take a second to point out the very cool atrium going on in Jan's house.

Jan and John, and if I could take a second to point out the very cool atrium going on in Jan’s house.

He wandered off for a few minutes and came back like this.

He wandered off for a few minutes and came back like this.

Aunt Emily, Cousin Sophie, and Aunt Susan.

Aunt Emily, Cousin Sophie, and Aunt Susan.

The salad was made by Emily and the pasta dish by Susan. Both were so good.

The salad was made by Emily and the pasta dish by Susan. Both were so good.

Sully decided to wake up and join the party.

Sully decided to wake up and join the party.

He always calms down when his dad is near.

He always calms down when his dad is near.

Cyra_Mom

The punch we made was delicious.

The punch we made was delicious.

Cyra2

Easy ombre hair: Dye it a color with a lot of contrast to your natural color and then just never go to get your roots done. For years.

Easy ombre hair: Dye it a color with a lot of contrast to your natural color and then just never go to get your roots done. For years.

Despite out best efforts, no one else has been able to feel kicks. He just gets antisocial. My sister Meghean, by the way.

Despite out best efforts, no one else has been able to feel kicks. He just gets antisocial. My sister Meghean, by the way.

Cyra_David Cyra

My Cousin Tyra is not in any of these photos becaause she was the photographer, but these are her cupcakes. She made each of those feet individually with melting chocolate and a tiny mold.

My Cousin Tyra is not in any of these photos becaause she was the photographer, but these are her cupcakes. She made each of those feet individually with melting chocolate and a tiny mold.

The cupcakes were chocolate and vanilla, and the frosting was the buttercream by Barefoot Contessa. Not oversweet which I like.

The cupcakes were chocolate and vanilla, and the frosting was the buttercream by Barefoot Contessa. Not oversweet which I like.

Cupcakes2

Antisocial baby refuses to kick anyone.

Antisocial baby refuses to kick anyone.

The punch. Blue raspberry Kool Aid + 7-Up + scoops of lemon sherbet + a little water.

The punch. Blue raspberry Kool Aid + 7-Up + scoops of lemon sherbet + a little water.

The cake! It was lemon, my absolute favorite.

The cake! It was lemon, my absolute favorite.

The cake toppers!

The cake toppers!

Cupcakes

Buy the plunger

Enfamil Sample

One lovely thing about pregnancy is all of the free samples. I don’t even know where half of them come from. I think, maybe this company got my address from Motherhood Maternity. I did buy a magazine subscription from there. But it could have just as easily come from babycenter, or my doctor’s office, or whoever sold my phone number last fall and is responsible for all the phone calls about cruises I keep getting. Honestly, however these things keep finding their way to my door, I am all on board with free stuff and coupons, so you can keep on being creepy baby companies.

Today in my mail box there was a formula sample waiting for me. It included a $5 off coupon (pretty decent, considering the cans can range from $15-30), two regularly sized cans of formula, and a bunch of those instant packets. All of which went straight into the cupboard for emergencies, right next to the handful of free bottles I have also received.

Now, I’m not planning to formula feed, but I’m also not planning to avoid formula feeding at-all-costs-because-don’t-you-know-it’s-made-out-of-ground-up-puppies-holy-shit?!?! If it happens, it happens, and I’m not too fussed about it. One of my brothers was eating rice cereal twice a day in addition to a full breastfeeding schedule by three months old. Some babies are just hungry. And for now Enfamil has my back for that potential issue.

The way I see it, baby stuff is like a plunger. If you wait to buy one until the need for a plunger arises, you’re already knee deep in waste. And if you wait until your baby is screaming at 2 AM with a fever to get child ibuprofen, you done waited too long. Buy it before you need it, have it on hand, and if you never end up using it, awesome. Owning formula won’t jinx you. Girl scout’s honor.

Don’t Keep A Housekeeping Binder: My Auxiliary Brain

Notebook2

I love to make plans for how I’m going to improve my lifestyle, but it’s exceedingly rare for me to follow through on those plans, and even rarer for the tactics and strategies I do adopt to pan out or be practical in the long run. One of the biggest things I’ve been skirting around since making the decision to stay at home is the “housekeeping binder”, a regular staple on the pages of Pinterest.

It seems like a fantastic idea, keeping all my household paperwork and schedules and lists together, having a master file. For the same reason we’ve all decided we need to call our mail and calendar area a command center. It sounds, well, commanding, and it make us feel like we’re really taking things seriously this time. But it’s never worked for me and I think I’ve finally figured out why.

“All-Encompassing” turns into “Dump Bucket”

When you look up printables or tips for creating your own housekeeping binder, most places will suggest having a long list of categories. Kids’ medical records are in the same binder with daily cleaning lists and all of your recipes. It sounds appealing to have everything together and at your fingertips, but it ends up muddying the waters.

For one thing, how much use is your binder going to get if it’s 500 lbs and growing? If there’s one thing I know about paperwork it’s that it reproduces when we aren’t looking. All of that paper in one place is going to guarantee you a binder which is too big to be dealt with anywhere but your desk. And what good does that do when what you need it for is your daily list? If you’re like me you’ll pull out the one sheet you need to use, those loose sheets will end up scattered as you keep doing that over and over again, and eventually you’ll stop going to your binder at all.

For another thing, it goes directly against two tried and tested organization principles: Store like items together, and keep items close to their point of use.

  • Your mail belongs in the place where you pay your bills, probably your desk.
  • Your recipes belong within arms reach of your stove, probably a cabinet.
  • Your medical records belong in long term filing, because of their low-use nature and how vital it is to not misplace them.

So why would you ever lump all three together in one book? Unless you do your bills hunched inside the spice cabinet and “file” things behind the canned goods, you shouldn’t.

You need an assistant, not more homework

My morning routine is pretty spoiled lately, I tell myself I’m getting my laziness out of the way now before the baby comes. I have what I call “David time” where I make my husband breakfast, pack his lunch, spend time with him, and see him out the door. Then I shower, get dressed, laze around, gestate. And finally, at freaking 10:30, I sit down at the computer and put together my daily list.

Once I get there, though, I’m on the clock. I need to get certain tasks done on a certain timeline, and my to-do list lays them out ahead of me in order. My errands list doesn’t get its own page, my chores don’t get their own page. It’s a straight list of everything I need done that day from then until bedtime.

The list takes me fifteen minutes to do, and then when I get up to get started the whole damn thing comes with me. I am forgetful. I have an abysmal school record to prove it. Just writing it down isn’t enough, especially if I’m then going to close the binder and put it back in it’s labelled spot in the command center. This is a huge part of the system I’ve been using, my Auxiliary Brain.

Notebook1

It’s a little notebook, the size of my hand, that I got at Dollar Tree. I keep only practical, day-to-day stuff in there. First and foremost it has my daily to-do lists, which I always make sure to keep under seven items (a tip I picked up from DoItOnADime). Then, when I need to make a brief list to accomplish any of those tasks, I’ll add it in there as well. I did this when reorganizing my closets by jotting down a rough idea of what was on each shelf and what I wanted to have on each shelf.

If there’s an appointment or phone number I need to remember, I’ll put it in there, but I give myself only fifteen minutes after writing it down to move that information to my phone calendar. The purpose of this notebook is exclusively to answer the question “what am I supposed to be doing?” and to give me a space to brainstorm in a controlled way. The two things that my scattered mind have the most trouble with.

I never have to go through and cull old items, or flip through pages to find just that right reference, and I don’t have to wear out my printer getting the damn thing color coordinated and pretty. It’s never homework. It’s just a little assistant, my own personal Jarvis. I tell it things and it keeps the information for me on a temporary basis. (Although if we’re being totally accurate, my phone is more of a Jarvis since it has google on it.)

Refrigerator Organization Project

There’s a million of these type of posts on the internet, but I think it’s helpful to see how each individual person does it and see that variety. I know I read six different blog posts on the same subject before I start a project. How one person does their yogurts might not work for you, but how they do their bread does. So this is my contribution to the collective intelligence that is Pinterest.

Continue reading

My Pregnancy Dealer

The day we moved into our new apartment was the same day I passed my pregnancy test. Coincidentally, our apartment shared a parking lot with a little 7-11, and in the midst of my growing nausea, fatigue, and constipation I started walking over there every day. It was perfect, it got me out of the house and walking for at least 20 minutes on a regular basis, the spicy noodles they sold sent a nuclear bomb through my colon, and the fountain soda kept me both hydrated and caffeinated within my daily limits.

Then, over Christmas, I went to a dive bar with my mom (she had vodka, I had coke) and a friend of hers passing through gave us lottery tickets. He was celebrating, and had bought a bunch of tickets to hand out for the occasion. That weekend planning out what I would do with my winnings was intoxicating. I didn’t win, but I did buy a new ticket. And then another. And guess what store sells lotto tickets? 7-11.

In fact, I can only pin down a handful of items they sell that aren’t some sort of vice. Almost all of the food sold is junk food, addictive, the beer and wine within safe walking distance of the neighborhood, addictive, the lottery tickets and scratchers, addictive, and don’t get me started on soda. At first it was a way to have my daily limit of caffeine over a longer period rather than blow it all on a single cup of coffee, but eventually it became a daily habit whether from the fountain or in bottles or cans. Something about the caffeine, bubbles, and sweeteners in diet dr pepper make it hard to put down.

Once or twice I’ve bought a roll of toilet paper or some allergy pills at my little corner store, in situations where I was desperate, but it was always overpriced and bad quality. Their donuts, however? Are two for a dollar and amazing.

Just about every adult has some kind of vice. Sure, you might not be spiralling out of control on heroin, but a low grade addiction to sugar or mobile games does count. Basically no one handles stress in a completely healthy way, I don’t even think anyone knows what that would look like. We all destress through the internet, or games, or scratchers, or pints of ben and jerry’s. Anything to trigger dopamine, the King of low grade addictions. Even exercise can qualify if it becomes a coping mechanism.

I don’t really consider it any kind of problem. Nutrition wise I’m doing fine, and if it helps quiet my buzzing brain I will happily take it. But in the same way kissing or soccer becomes hilarious when you imagine it through the objective eyes of an alien, the 7-11 near me is pretty funny when you take away the image we’ve painted for it. It’s less a quick stop market, and more of a multi-purpose dealer for common vices.

25 Weeks Pregnant – My Back Is Not Happy

At our anatomy scan forever ago, they let us know that Sullivan was measuring 5 days ahead of schedule. Which means I tend to sneak a peek at the next week as well as the one I’m officially on to get an idea of his size and development. And you guys, if he’s still on that schedule my little boy is almost 2 pounds!

In the interest of keeping  these update posts from turning into stream of consciousness, I think I’ll start breaking them up into rough categories.

How I’m Feeling:

My back was not prepared for this giant baby. I’ve always known we would have big babies, all my siblings were over 9 pounds, David’s siblings were about the same. And realistically 5 days ahead isn’t even that bad. But I popped out  so much earlier than last time, and have been growing more and more every day. This is the most pregnant I’ve ever been. So it’s not something physically that I’m used to.

25 Weeks

25 Weeks

Sullivan has decided to sit low, my doctor was able to feel his head during the last cervical check and said he was likely right on top of my bladder. That’s probably my least favorite symptom, because it means I’m in the bathroom sometimes every 10 minutes.

One thing that really hasn’t bothered me is the stretch marks. I’ve got some on my hips, and a ton on the backs of my thighs. They’re red and spidery and I honestly thought it would mean more to me. But I dunno, I just don’t care. I know they’ll fade and even if they don’t, that’s how my mom looks. That’s how my sister looks. It’s something you see on women all time, particularly mothers. My skin just looks like skin, I can’t muster up an opinion in either direction. Which, objectively, is quite fortunate because it really seems to affect some women’s self esteem

How Sullivan Is Doing:

Active and strong. He’s chosen a favorite side, my right side, which means sleeping positions are limited. He gets mad if I lay down on his favorite side and kicks until I roll over. I know that I’m sharing a body, and it’s not All About Me Day, but dangit if my arm is falling asleep I want to readjust!

Thomson Household Stress Level:

My husband is working towards a new certification for his work, and hasn’t been sleeping, so he has definitely needed his time with his friends lately. I’m in nesting full on panic lately but I’ve run out of clothes and diapers to fold so I’ve been on Pinterest as if it holds the key to salvation. So many lists, you guys, so many! I know what will be in my hospital bag, what will be in my diaper bag, I’ve redone the budget and the meal plan, I’ve got a plan for all our furniture although it feels too early to actually make a lot of those changes (like putting the bassinet by our bed). I’m not sure what else to do with my maternal energy, but I’m sure I’ll find something. Pinterest is endless.

Nurseries are a waste of time and effort…

I know, it’s the most fun part of having a baby. And I know, I’m a heartless bitch for saying that about bumpers and blankets and cute vinyl wall stickers. But it’s true, and it’s becoming more true the more time I put into that room of my apartment.

Until recently all I had going on was a put together changing table, and all of my baby stuff piled on top. I figured until I had a decent amount I wouldn’t be able to really intelligently place anything or address my space needs realistically. So I ignored it, and the pile grew bigger and bigger and bigger. Until one day last week when, overcome by an urge to touch baby things and clean, I started sorting through everything.

The diapers and prefolds stayed with the changing table, it made the most sense, as did the lotion and talcum powder. The shampoos went into the bathroom, the clothes got sorted by size and type with the intent of putting them into a dresser or organizer when we got one. The blankets were folded and set aside, they would most likely end up in the dresser as well or the linen closet. And the bassinet was all set and ready to go into my bedroom.

I sat back at the end, with my tally of items, and realized just how little of it was staying here. Even if I kept the dresser with all the clothes next to the changing table, I was only taking up two feet by four feet of floor space. And I knew for a fact how little time I would spend in here. Changing diapers, sure, but baths would happen in the bathroom, any playmats would be going into the living room, the rocking chair was in the living room, the highchair in the kitchen. I had a Pinterest board full of ideas for decorating the walls and following my adorable Monsters Inc theme, but really, what was I doing it for? Who was I doing it for?

I don’t know about you, but I have an incredibly limited amount of energy, even well into the second trimester. Between keeping the house going and keeping up on bills and doing my labor prep, I haven’t got a lot of rope left to work with. (Yes, I am incredibly spoiled, and yes I am a pansy.) Any work I did turning this room into a full on nursery wouldn’t be appreciated by the baby, wouldn’t be appreciated by me (I’d almost never see it), and would have to be taken down and done over by the time my boy is old enough to fully use it (when we get the crib down the line).

Maybe none of this is a revelation to most people, but in a sea of baby hormones and intense sentimentality, it’s my own two by four square feet of utility. I don’t need it. So I’m not doing it. And just like that my to do list is ten items shorter. How fantastic.

Hormones and a cheerful wife

I have had a period between 6 and 12 times a year every year since I was 13. I am on my second pregnancy as well, last time it lasted until 23 weeks and that’s how far along I am now. So by now I should be wholly familiar with the effects of hormones on my mood and behaviour, I shouldn’t be surprised by it. But I always, always am.

I’ve been snippy towards my husband lately, short in how I talk and telling rather than asking. Mostly little things, but little things which add up. I realized it the other night when we were talking about how best to correct the cat when he was misbehaving and I heard the dismissiveness in my own voice. And just like clutter around the house contributes to visual noise and stress, social friction like that contributes to lower mood.

Now, no, I’m not required to be a happy Disney princess at all times. But there’s no reason for my being short, I haven’t been upset with him or with anything else going on. I haven’t had anything weighing on my mind. It’s just friction, realized after the fact, just like it always plays out when I’m being hormonal.

I’m still working on this, working on how to fix it or manage it. At the moment I only know that it’s not how I want things to be. I’m pregnant, yeah, and that means I’m not only hormonal but uncomfortable and exhausted. But all things considered I have a lot of time every day to soothe that discomfort and David is my biggest source of comfort. I shouldn’t be taking my grumpiness out on him. We hold each other up, as husband and wife, and that relationship is a vital part of both of our lives. When you have something good going on, don’t poison it.

This ended up far more navel-gazing than I intended it to, but I think I needed to just reaffirm this. The permission I seem to have been granted by virtue of this pregnancy to be as grumpy  and self serving as I need to be, I just don’t agree with it. I am going to be tired and hungry and cranky, but do I need to be a terror? Probably not.