It’s a Brat!

Some people have perfect babies — babies who show their parents at week 14 or 16 what they’ve got between their legs. Babies who suck their thumbs and do somersaults so the ultrasound technician can get cool pictures and video for Mommy and Daddy to show off. Then there’s Pele.

On a normal day, our athletic fetus can be felt (and even seen) kicking and flipping about merrily in my uterus. Night and day, the wee one makes her presence known by contorting herself into all manner of shapes, making sure to throw a limb to the bladder or belly button each time she shifts position.

However, Thursday was different. We’re not sure how she figured it out, but the baby definitely knew it was time for an ultrasound, and resolved to be as uncooperative as possible.

We had been expecting this; first, because this is our baby we’re talking about, and second, because the baby has already established itself quite a reputation as a big tease.

Back in Week 17, when we had the big ultrasound, the technician refused to identify the baby’s gender. We’d expected that, but what we didn’t expect was that, in the picture she took of Pele’s face and body, we would be able to see what was between the baby’s legs. Only problem was, the stuff the baby was flashing at us was extremely ambiguous. We were 75 percent sure it was a girl, but Pele’s little presentation was certainly nothing to base a nursery around.

Then, on the 12th, Dr. Goncalves tried his hand at unraveling the mystery that is Pele’s gender. While he got a better shot than the one we’d been staring at for a month and a half, he could only say this: While no boy parts were visible, there weren’t any visible girl parts either. We were 90 percent certain now that our feisty little one was a girl, but not sure enough to buy frilly pink crib bedding.

At our wits’ end, we decided to visit a 3D-ultrasound boutique while Chris was in Silicon Valley on business. I arose early, devoured a hearty breakfast and washed it down with two coffees and two orange juices. Normally, this would have been the perfect recipe for an acrobatic performance by our wee gymnast.

Pele was kicking in IHOP and somersaulting in the waiting room. As I hopped up onto the exam table, my heart swelled in anticipation of finally gazing on my unborn baby’s tiny face and watching it turn dozens of perfect back handsprings, or hang drywall, or practice kung fu, or whatever it does in there that’s so friggin’ physical.

Within 30 seconds of placing the transducer on my belly, the technician had news for us.


There is no doubt about it, she said as she showed us in 2D. Unfortunately, the baby’s hands were placed over her girlie bits, so the 3D would have to wait until she moved them. No problem, though, since I’d had so much caffeine and sugar. Right?

When we moved up to look at the baby’s angelic little face, there was another problem. Apparently all this gymnastics practice has resulted in a baby who is freakishly limber. With her hands covering her little hamburger buns, you’d think there would be a clear shot of Pele’s visage. But no. Our stubborn little one had folded herself up like a little jackknife, with her feet directly in front of her face.

As seen above, our little darling was so intent on concealing her face, she very nearly put her eye out with a wee toe.

For a good 15 minutes, we jiggled and poked my belly, hoping to coax some movement out of the baby. It must have been very difficult for her to stay still that long, seeing as how she normally adores a bacon-and-egg breakfast, but the baby stayed perfectly still for what may have been the first time in her short life. I’m sure that one day, our playful fetus will excel at the children’s trampoline game, “Crack the Egg.”

The technician gave me a glass of apple juice and some chocolate. I ingested the sugary treats and then bounced around the room in hopes Pele’s position would change. Our labors, however, were in vain. Our tiny contortionist was in the very same spot as before, still folded in half.

Since the ultrasound people had a slow morning booked, Chris and I headed down the street with big sister Kaija for a nice, sugary, cream-capped double-espresso shake. After ingesting two shots of espresso (in addition to my two mugs of coffee at IHOP), I was certain the baby would move. Twenty minutes later, we returned to the exam room. No dice. The baby had not budged even a fraction.

In desperation, we hopped in the Explorer and cranked up the bass. We listened to a few different songs with no results. Finally, when “Brass Monkey” came on, the baby did a few flips. I leapt out of the SUV like a madwoman and raced into the ultrasound room. As the longsuffering ultrasound tech poured what must have been her second tube of gel on my belly, I felt a small thump. Surely the baby had to be in a different position by now!

And she was.

Sort of.

Apparently the small thump was our little girl flipping her legs back up in front of her face. Luckily, she had forgotten to put up her hands, so we finally got the 3D shot of her irrefutably female parts.

More jiggling and prodding commenced, but the baby never did move another muscle. Like the fools that we are, we’re returning later in the week in hopes of getting that elusive face shot.

Until then, here’s the clearest thing we’ve got of our 1-pound, 14-ounce daughter:

Isn’t that a sweet little face? You’d hardly believe such a cutie pie is capable of such nefarious scheming.

I Have to Celebrate You, Baby

Whether the baby will like the Mozart music played by the Symphony in Motion mobile in his or her crib is up for debate. Unfortunately, no baby-goods manufacturers have taken it upon themselves to market a mobile that treats infants to the musical stylings of our finicky fetus’ artist of choice — Fatboy Slim.

I’m not sure why the baby starts to “dance” every time we put in one of the electronic-music icon’s CDs. Maybe our wee one’s great ambition is to learn to walk, then buy a fake ID and hit the clubs. Or maybe the baby, who is starting to pick up on sounds from the outside world, is excited by the nice, deep bass. I, for one, would like to think that the baby has good taste in music and would have no reaction whatsoever if we were to play something horrid but bass-y, such as Cypress Hill.

Whatever the reason, it’s guaranteed that within seconds of popping in some Fatboy, the baby will be kicking and somersaulting like a little maniac. In fact, big beat is an even more effective baby wake-up method than a high-protein meal.

At 25 weeks, the baby has been hearing my heartbeat, intestinal noises and voice (conducted via my bones) for the last few months. Now he or she is also capable of hearing louder noises from outside my body, especially low-frequency sounds. For instance, when Daddy talks to my belly, baby is likely to respond by kicking me in the bladder. And when a movie is playing on Nana’s and Poppa’s surround-sound speakers, baby can be expected to squirm around during the explosions.

So chances are, it is merely the window-rattling bass to which the baby is responding, and not Daddy’s excellent choice in funky dance music. I hope so, because while there’s nothing cuter than a baby bouncing around to electronica, I’m not paying for a custom-made, high-end-stereo mobile that incorporates audio “samples” and block-rockin’ beats.

Coming soon: Week 25 belly pics.

Lost in transmission

If you are not a computer geek like my darling Chris, here is a new term for you to learn: “Packet loss.”

Packet loss is a phenomenon in which data packets appear to have been transmitted correctly, but never show up at the other end of the connection. In computers, this can lead to performance problems. In pregnancy, it can lead to my going into the kitchen for vitamins and instead, eating a half-pound of cheese and an entire tub of yogurt but failing to take a single pill. It can also result in my being able to talk about pregnancy at length (in fact, I currently have no other conversation topics), but having difficulty thinking of interesting things to chronicle in this blog.

While there are many things that can cause packet loss over networks, I am fairly certain I have figured out the source of the packet loss I have been experiencing over the past five months. It weighs about a pound and a quarter, and is producing surfactant.

Haven’t figured it out yet? What I’m trying to say here is that the baby is eating my thoughts. Technically, what’s causing my packet loss is probably a combination of sleep deprivation, greatly increased nutritional requirements, and all that progesterone that’s been flooding my body. I’m sure that intensely focusing most of my mental energy on the bambino doesn’t help. But informally, I like to think of the baby sitting in my uterus, rubbing its hands together like a mad scientist and using some nefarious remote-control device to seek and destroy my neural pathways.

I’ll admit that before I got pregnant, I wasn’t always on top of my game. Occasionally, people poking through my refrigerator might find the remote control, and I’ve been known to accidentally squirt liquid soap on my toothbrush. But these incidents were not everyday occurrences.

Now I routinely get on my computer to do one thing, only to wind up doing another thing entirely (and it usually involves nursery decor). A month later, I still haven’t done the one thing I originally meant to do, and can’t even remember what it was. Also, I have taken bananas out of the fridge and set them on the counter while eating one, come back later and checked the refrigerator for my fruit, wondered where it could have gone, and ignored the bananas staring at me from the counter two feet away. Until days later, of course, when they were all brown and yucky.

Then there’s the time when I found myself standing at the sink after brushing my teeth, fishing around in my cornea for the contact lens I had taken out a few minutes ago, right before I brushed.

More horrifying yet is the fact that, while I am generally a good provider of proper spellings, there have been several times when Chris asked me how to spell something and I blanked midstream. There have also been occasions on which I’ve had to search for the right word, which hasn’t happened in a good 27 years (granted, for a few of those early years, I took the liberty of making up new ones when I didn’t have a term for something).

Possibly the worst instance of packet loss I have experienced to date is this very entry. You see, it had occurred to me two months ago that I should write about my packet-loss issues. Yet, every time I sat down to blog about it, I ended up scouring eBay for deals on the beautiful but elusive Graco Snugride Metropolitan. When I actually did post entries, I could never remember what I was going to write about. Oh, the irony!

It is to be hoped that the packet-loss issues will be resolved when the baby arrives. On the other hand, I will still be dealing with sleep deprivation and nutritional issues. I guess only time will tell. If the packet loss persists after May 8, Chris might one day find me diapering a cat while tossing the baby anti-hairball kittie treats.

Happy Feet

While pregnancy may not be the ideal situation for an expectant mother’s feet, other feet are doing just fine, thank you. Yes, the wee one lets me know each and every day how great her feet feel by dancing gleefully upon my bladder and flexing his or her healthy soles against virtually every surface in my uterus.

While I have become accustomed to the baby’s thrice-daily exercise routine, in which the playful fetus performs what appear to be flips, round offs and back handsprings for 20 minutes at a time, the dancing is relatively new. At first it was kind of cute — here and there, a foot would thump outward and Chris or I could feel my belly jump. Of course, since this began, the baby has grown from the size of a gerbil to the size of a small Chihuahua — and has the activity level to match.

While the uterine gymnastics remain only mildly distracting, the uterine ballet practice — or whatever is going on in there — has gone from barely noticeable to something that causes me to jerk with alarm. Our baby, who has impeccable timing, rarely chooses to dance while I am riding in the car, eating or watching television. And the baby definitely doesn’t perform when Chris has his hands on my tummy. No, aside from a few practice kicks here and there, the baby has two shows daily, and neither of them are particularly convenient for ticket holders.

Both shows are performed at the end of gymnastics practice. There is a matinee performance, which usually takes place about an hour before I would like to wake up. Then there is the moonlight performance, which is after Daddy has fallen asleep and usually right about the time I would like to be drifting off into slumber myself.

The moonlight performances are particularly rousing. For instance, last night’s show featured what must have been about a dozen backup dancers (where they came from, I have no idea) and possibly a guest appearance by Michael Flatley, who was wearing what I assume were very heavy clogs. It lasted for a good 20 minutes, every second of which was filled with stage-rattling choreography. Then, as quickly as it began, the show came to an end, and the baby innocently went about its normal, relatively quiet everyday business as if it had not, just minutes before, staged a Radio City Music Hall-worthy event.

And then, of course, we have the impromptu dance practices, which invariably occur when my bladder is full. These dance practices begin with a few little warm-up steps as my bladder begins filling. By the time it is relatively full, these warm-up steps have become exuberant grand jetes and triple sow cows (hey, no one has provided conclusive proof that this baby is not wearing skates).

Naturally, this is what the baby was doing earlier this week when Dr. Goncalves tried to check the gender. Full bladders are good for ultrasounds, unless you have an obnoxious baby who goes breech and stomps on the offending interloper. Dr. G said it looks like our little dancer is a girl, but he couldn’t tell for sure because the perfect tap-recital pose the baby had adopted isn’t very helpful when you’re looking for baby’s goods.

So here’s where we are. I’m 24 weeks pregnant and my feet are too fat to wear nine-tenths of my shoes, and reading Vogue makes me sad because I could not possibly balance my huge self on any of the adorable little numbers featured on its glossy pages. But while my back aches, ankles swell and metatarsals spread, at least someone in this body has happy feet. I just wish that little someone would pick different times of the day to exercise them.

And here I am, while the baby sleeps sweetly in preparation for its big moonlight extravaganza, in the Week 24 belly pics:

A Farewell to Toes

Two days ago, I realized something was missing. I looked down at my feet, and they were gone. In their place has arisen a mound of awe-inspiring proportions. Where my normal-size tummy used to be is a massive belly that sticks out several inches past my formerly impressive bust line, making the once-startling peaks which Chris had dubbed “the monsters” look like mere foothills in comparison to the Everest at whose base they lie.

Amid all these geographical changes, I have lost track of my toes. I swear I used to have them. Not too long ago, I could merely look down and reassure myself they were still there. Now, I must rely on the word of others (or actually bend over and check for myself, but that causes blood-pressure drama, which is a story for another day).

I have no idea when this change occurred. The last time I checked to see if my toes were still there, it was early December, and they seemed perfectly fine. Now, they have fallen prey to the all-encompassing mountain.

What hapless body part will fall victim next? I suspect that quite soon, my innie belly button will vanish as well. Or perhaps the constant rumbling within the heart of the mountain will at last conquer its mortal enemy, the bladder.

Meanwhile, if you see my feet, please let me know how they are doing. I worry about them.

And here are the much-anticipated Week 23 belly shots. Perhaps you can see why my toes have gone AWOL.

Navel gazing

Since my little sister Erika has informed me that my blog has no real purpose other than as a pictorial chronicle of her niece or nephew’s incubation, I have finally browbeaten poor Chris into formatting the Week 22 belly pics. I apologize for any useless writing you may have fruitlessly scrolled through earlier in the week, only to find the most interesting stuff missing.

And without further ado, here is the all-important tummy in its 22-week glory:

Eight weeks late and a lot of dollars short

Ahh, finally, the glorious second trimester is upon us!

“But Heather,” you might be asking, “Don’t you realize that you are now in the last month of your second trimester?”

Yes, I do realize that. But you see, certain popular books (which will remain anonymous) will tell you you can expect a burst of energy upon your entry into this, the most wondrous of trimesters. You will cease to vomit. Your weight gain will pick up. You will stop having to pee with every second breath. You will channel the spirit of Martha Stewart and hand-paint your nursery walls with nontoxic vegetable dyes, painstakingly stitch breathtaking wee quilts during the downtime in the Lamaze classes you will have signed up for, and carve teensy bunnies and ducks for baby’s walls from the leftover lumber you used to craft a faux-antique armoire (which, naturally, will have a built-in changing table made from one of the fabrics used to cover that old easy chair you found lying around and converted into a shabby-chic glider with contrasting dust ruffle).

Alas, weeks 14 through 21 were wasted! Instead of buzzing about town picking out complementary fabrics and furiously working the lathe and the jigsaw, I was sleeping 12 hours a night, vomiting more days than not, and creating enough liquid gold to fill Lake Okanagan should it ever need topping off.

Now, instead of having a luxurious 12 weeks to nest, I have but four. And instead of saving every dollar so that baby could repose in cozy, overstuffed ambience reminiscent of the Ritz-Carlton, courtesy of, which offers time-starved non-nesters the opportunity to quarter their young in lavish opulence for the price of a mere Bentley, Chris and I have frittered money away on Christmas presents, groceries and rent.

This, of course, means baby will have to sleep not in an adorable round Stokke crib, which costs money and takes time to assemble, but in a Rubbermaid packing bin, of which we already have plenty. Ditto for the dresser, and ditto (turned upside-down) for the changing table.

And since I have but a month left in this most productive of trimesters to find the perfect complements to the black-and-red scheme of our bins, I had better get cracking, since most baby bedding seems to be created for parents who are not so constrained by the color of whatever Rubbermaid bins happen to be lying about, and thus can decorate in pastel hues and animal themes. The only animal whose coloring remotely resembles these bins is the gibbon, and I am afraid that such a theme will give our poor child a fixation later in life with brightly-colored, prominently-displayed hindquarters, which could later lead to dates with The Artist Formerly Known As Prince.

Yes, our child’s entire future is at stake in my quest to cheaply and rapidly appoint a nursery in what little I have been given of my second trimester. I may not be able to assemble quite so many coordinating fabrics as I had planned, and I may not have the time (or the woodworking equipment) to cut and lovingly paint adorable wall letters to match the nursery fabrics.

But, as blog is my witness, I will at the very least find paint to cover the black-and-red storage bin our baby will have to sleep in! After all, what else am I going to do with all this spare time? I now have the bladder of a camel and no need for sleep whatsoever. The book said so.