Monday, June 26, 2006

Natalie's Room

I figured I'd jump on the bandwagon and share a recent photo of Natalie's room. This is my last week at work and I'm busy making preparations. I think I'll actually break down and wash her clothes next week. It's strange--as anxious as I am about bringing her home, the only thing that helps me get through it is to continue to get everything ready for her arrival. I know some people would be so paralyzed by fear that they'd worry about jinxing things.

Let's be clear. I'm scared to death. No amount of scans or tests can convince me of what I know. My first baby died, and I am in the unusual position of knowing more people whose babies have died than have come home. (Yes, this is a true statement. I still don't have a lot of close friends or co-workers with children, I don't have siblings, and DH's friends and family had their children a while ago). It reminds me of my friend, M., who spent her early career working with children with cancer. When she had her son, she was shocked that he was healthy, because all the other children in her life had cancer.

For me, the choice to have another child is a try without a guaranteed outcome. It's a leap of faith, and faith is not something I'm very big on, being someone who tends to rely on a combination of facts and intuition. Every week that Natalie is still with us is a joy and a relief, but pregnancy is still a scary place for me to be and I look forward to the day she is living on the outside, in the safety of the home that has been awaiting her for what feels like years. I hope my OB will agree to induce me earlier than 39 weeks if I am going crazy and ask politely.

Update: Natalie's biophysical profile and fetal echocardiogram were excellent last week, as was my blood pressure, urine, and weight. She currently weighs about 4 pounds, 11 ounces, which I worried was a bit on the small side (I am not accustomed to being in the 20th percentile of anything!), but she's completely normal for dates. Dr. C. asked how nervous I was feeling, and I said I was ready to go, to which she replied, "Let's just get you to 36 weeks." Is this the opening I am hoping for? I'd be happy with 38. I'm sure my mother would be happy with a set date, too, since I think she's worried she's going to miss the birth!


The instructor of our newborn care class made a comment to the effect of, "If you think you've got it bad, just be glad you're not a penguin," referring to the film, March of the Penguins. I thought, "Lady, if you're referring to the fact that lots of penguins don't make it due to the harsh conditions under which they are conceived, let's get something straight: some [human] babies die, too." I rented the film yesterday afternoon and was all weepy, of course. (Morgan Freeman's narrations get me every time.) The film did acknowledge the death of baby penguins, but I was struck that the only thing that was mentioned about the bereft mother penguins was that they were so overcome with grief that they would try to steal another mother's baby, which the other mothers would not allow. I wondered what happened to them after that. Were they shunned from the community? Did they return home without their baby or wait for the father to return to show him what happened? Would this decrease their chances of finding a suitable mate next season? That's the story I'd really like to hear.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Baby overload

I think I am starting to drive DH crazy with my obsessions with baby gear (swing or bouncer, which swing, which pattern, sling or front-carrier, bleach-free diapers, which diaper cream, etc.). Thankfully, one of the teachers at Realbirth on Sunday mentioned that it was completely normal (and serves a biological function) for women to be completely OCD surrounding the birth of their babies, so DH is cutting me a bit of slack. Truthfully, he is just as neurotic, but his neuroses manifest in different ways.

In really exciting news, "Uncle" Joel will be in town next month for the screening of his film, Mansyon, at the 29th NY Asian-American International Film Festival. (I have been dying, by the way, to see this film). He may even get to meet Natalie while he's in the country. Can't wait!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Father's Day

DH and I enjoyed a lovely Sunday together, which is a rare thing given that he usually works on Sundays. We spent the day attending breastfeeding and infant care classes at Realbirth. Both classes were excellent, and much better than the hospital-based classes we took when I was pregnant with Julian. I had left my previous breastfeeding class feeling completely overwhelmed and unprepared, but left the Realbirth class feeling confident and empowered by my own intuition.

While the classes and teachers were great, they also raised some very emotional issues for us, which we discussed through tears on the journey home. For one thing, the issue of SIDS came up in the context of sleeping preferences. Although our baby didn't die of SIDS, and I've only met one woman whose baby did die of SIDS, I felt very self-conscious about the discussion, sitting in a room presumably full of first-time parents who had never experienced the death of an infant. The conversation was fairly light and somewhat dismissive of the risk factors, which made me a little uncomfortable.

The most emotional aspect of the classes, however, was re-learning all the basics of newborn care that are intended to make a baby's transition from the womb to the real world feel as safe and comforting as possible, from the importance of skin-to-skin contact, to breastfeeding, to rooming-in with the baby in the hospital and discouraging unnecessary interruptions and interventions when possible. When the presenter said, "...unless your baby has to go to the NICU..." DH and I pretty much lost it. For most people, their NICU babies become NICU graduates, not babies who get a plaque in the hospital garden in their honor for having lost the battle for their lives in the NICU.

While DH and I know that Julian received the best medical care possible, and that all the interventions were necessary to help him, I think we will always feel very sad and even a little guilty about what he didn't get in his short little life. Forget that he didn't get to grow up--he didn't even get to experience his mother's arms until the day he died. He didn't get to look into our eyes or smell familiar smells or sleep in the same room as his mother, or any of the things we know to be so important during those first few days. This detachment must have been very hard on him, as I know it was, and still is for me. I can't bear the thought of him all alone in a NICU bed, even though I know that we were there. Natalie's upcoming birth will be especially emotional for those reasons. I truly hope we're able to have the best introduction possible this time around.

Friday, June 16, 2006

No news is good news

I feel like I haven't written a serious post in a while, is that why it seems that no one visits anymore? Could you possibly find pictures of my cats *that* boring??? (Don't answer that.)

I guess the weekly visits are starting to get a bit old, and I just want to bring Natalie home. Days like today are always so stressful, and tend to start with bouts of irritable bowel syndrome and extreme agitation until Dr. G. tells us that things look "perfect." DH and I have really been put through it with this pregnancy, and there isn't much more I can say about it, other than that I can't wait for it to be over. For the record, my last several echos have been very good, and while I feel reassured, I won't feel 100% out of the woods until the day my little girl comes home.

My OB wants to see me weekly now, too. Everything looked great from her perspective today, except for that trace amount of protein in my urine that won me my third 24-hour urine collection kit of this pregnancy (ugh!). The good news is that I've only gained 20 lbs. so far. Oh, and I think the baby dropped a few days ago, which I know doesn't really mean anything, but at least it makes me feel like she is truly coming any day now, even if any day is really over a month away.

My last visit with my psychiatrist, Dr. B., went very well. She thinks I'm doing well off the meds, was impressed with the successful way in which I truly have managed to make it through this pregnancy on my own terms (keeping a low profile, and therefore minimizing myself to unwanted attention, advice, or conversations), and best of all, without even knowing the extent of my domesticity, or my mentioning it, recommended that I get a cleaning lady. I asked her if she'd write that on an Rx pad so I could show it to DH. She just laughed, not realizing that I was completely serious!

In other news, I have been busy getting as much ready as I possibly can, so we really only have a few more necessities to pick up and things to line up, and we'll be all set. I really should book that cleaning lady, too...

Monday, June 12, 2006

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The new hot spot

Feline 'It' duo Seamus and Sylvester exemplify understated aloofness and sophisticated detached style atop the newly proclaimed hot spot. (Leather sofa by Seaman's, sweatshirt compliments of Daddy).

Thursday, June 08, 2006


If you haven't seen the renegade photos yet, I just have to say, Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt is gorgeous. The official photos will be out in People tomorrow. She looks like both her parents, and when I saw the photos from Hello! Magazine a few days ago, it reminded me so much of the first time I saw Julian. After all the speculation about what he would look like, here was this familiar little person that I actually recognized without ever having seen him before. "Of course," I thought, "I have always known you." I am so looking forward to that experience again, when I see Natalie for the first time.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Grief, anxiety, guilt, and small victories

I am nearly 32 weeks and my general anxiety level seems to be through the roof these days. As my due date approaches, I feel more optimistic, but there is also that underlying fear of what could go wrong. To complicate matters, I think reality is setting in and I am also feeling nervous about parenting a baby that lives with me. Then I feel guilty, as though I should feel so grateful for having a living child that I'm only allowed to stress over life or death matters.

In order to feel a sense of control, I like to plan things. I am a planner by nature, but given that all my best laid plans for Julian didn't work out, I worry about planning too much with this pregnancy. The reality is, I live in Manhattan, so here I am, applying for daycare (and therefore pre-school, since I am applying to early childhood programs for children ages 6 months-5 years) over a year ahead of time.

In case you haven't heard, daycare and preschool admissions in Manhattan can be as competitive as college admissions (not to mention that once you get in, the cost of tuition is comparable to college as well). With all the Type A families that reside here, you practically have no choice but to play along, lest you find yourself without a space for your child. For this reason, I wept tears of joy when I read the following response from the admissions director at a local school to an inquiry as to when I should apply for Fall 2007 admission. (She remembered our family because I had applied to the school in 2004 for Julian, and had to break the news that we wouldn't be needing a space after all.)

"I have thought of you often and could not be happier for anyone. We would love to have your daughter and she will have a place here in 2007. I begin accepting applications in September, so once I receive your application, I will immediately place her on our roster."

Once again, I am overwhelmed by the compassion human beings are capable of, particularly when you least expect it, and with everything else going on, it is such a relief to know that there is one huge source of stress that we won't need to deal with. Now I just need to get on with bringing this little girl home!