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 poshtots.com, 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.

Holiday cheer

This was the best Christmas ever, and no one can accuse me of having had too much spiked eggnog when I say this. (In fact, this year I made sure that not only was my eggnog rum-free, but also that it was pasteurized.)

Being a person who loves Christmas, I have had many a great holiday — even when the only thing under the tree was underwear. After all, Christmas is about giving, and about being with family. Oh, and let’s not forget decking the halls!

But this year, I have to confess, it was a little bit about what I was getting. Because all through my twenties, I’ve wanted something that never ceased to elude me — babies. I received lots of great presents this year, but even though Chris went over budget in getting me all those little material things we like to find under the tree, he failed to top what he’s already given me: our little Pele, who can now be felt bouncing around merrily inside me just about every minute of the day (and night).

Yes, even more fun than baking gingerbread cookies and placing ornaments on the tree was feeling our little daughter or son somersaulting about and jabbing its little arms and legs into our hands.

Since the baby is due about a week from Chris’ and my birthdays, I suspect that those special occasions might be overshadowed by the sublime joy of the wee one, as well.

Happy holidays! Here are the Week 21 belly shots:

Birth yourself thin!

Remember the Rotation Diet in the 1980s? Well, I’ve found something even better — something that has thinned my heretofore unthinnable thighs and trimmed inches from my stubborn hips. And I did it all without diet and exercise! Even after gaining six pounds, my hips and thighs are sleeker and slimmer! What is this miracle pill, you ask? It’s not a pill, folks, it’s the anti-Pill. That’s right — by not being on birth control, you, too, will discover the secret to losing that lower-body pudge! I call it the Gestation Diet.

All you need to do is get pregnant. Almost immediately, your metabolic rate will rise. This diet will make you insatiably hungry, but there’s no catch. You can eat all you want — and your rapid metabolism will melt away those troublesome hips even as you gorge on “naughty” foods like pasta and popcorn shrimp!*

And unlike other diets, which take off weight even in the places where you’d like a little padding, the Gestation Diet won’t bring you down a single cup size. In fact, this diet is rich in safe, natural hormones that will actually increase your bust by two cup sizes — or even more! Imagine achieving the effect of liposuction and a breast augmentation … without painful surgery!

Of course, there is one tradeoff — instead of those flat abdominals, you’ll have a huge, rounded belly. But since this diet is for hips and thighs only, you may enjoy the fact that your enormous midsection will help to further minimize those unsightly saddlebags.

Satisfied customer Heather B. used to find her maternity pants snug in the hips and loose in the tummy. After just four and a half months on the Gestation Diet, she’s filling out that tummy panel quite nicely — but those big old pants just sag around her new, svelte bottom! After giving birth, Heather may have to buy a whole new wardrobe of “skinny” pants!

Are you ready for a thin new you? Are you willing to give up just 18 short years of your life? Then you may be a candidate for the Gestation Diet. Just throw away that Pill and birth your way to thinner thighs.*

And here they are: Pictures of satisfied customer Heather B. in Week 20 of the Gestation Diet, enjoying her beautiful new bottom!

*These results are not typical and since every metabolism is different, there is no guarantee the Gestation Diet will help you achieve similar results. Side effects may include nausea, vomiting, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, dizziness, fatigue, frequent urination, weight gain, insomnia, hip pain, back problems, nasal and sinus congestion, nosebleeds, headache, heartburn, difficulty breathing, the sensation of fullness, uterine contractions and childbirth. Consult your physician before starting this or any diet.

A bowlful of jellyfish

‘Twas two weeks before Christmas, and all through the room Not a creature was stirring, except in my womb; The grownups were nestled all snug in their beds, When baby decided, “It’s time for phys ed!”

One of the greatest highlights of pregnancy is feeling the baby move. Sure, the barfing and the sore hips and the feeling of having your stomach and lungs squashed up into your collarbone are exciting too, but for some reason, they’re just no competition for those first little kicks and punches.

I started feeling some weird tickling a couple months back, and some definite baby movement about three weeks ago. Soon the movement was unmistakable, and now I’m fairly sure I can tell the difference between a punch, a kick and a repositioning maneuver.

The baby is already beginning to fall into the sleep-wake cycle (or lack thereof) it will have as a newborn, but, as anyone who’s woken up to find the covers wrapped around them and the pillows on the floor can attest, that doesn’t matter. Awake or not, the baby moves about 50 times per hour.

I had hoped, since I have (well, had) a very flat tummy, that by Christmastime, Chris could feel the baby’s movements from the outside. Unfortunately, I have an anterior placenta, which is just that much more cushioning for little arms and legs to poke through. So, while I can feel the baby using my uterus as a trampoline in his or her nightly practice sessions for Gymboree as I’m lying in bed, feeling any movement on the outside has proven as elusive as finding that perfect nursery theme.

Until last night. That’s when I decided that, since I have been feeling kicks more strongly on the left side, that’s probably the part that isn’t covered by the placenta.

Having just gobbled down a few midnight snacks thanks to second-trimester super-hunger, I lay on my left side, tummy slightly down because I know the baby hates that and kicks like a little ninja whenever I lie in that position. It took about 10 minutes of futilely chasing stray karate chops and flying kicks, but Pele finally did it!

I had almost given up when I felt a kick from the inside and a minute twitch from the outside. Even Chris was excited, which is a tall order for most people who are awakened from a well-needed sleep by a crazy preggie jumping on the bed and yelling, “I felt the baby move!!!” and are forced to feel a tummy that now is completely still … even from the inside.

But now that it has happened once, chances are it’ll happen more and more often — just like the previous baby movements (and the vomiting).

So while I am trying to keep most of Chris’ presents secret from him, this is one thing I don’t mind saying he may get for Christmas after all.

And here they are: the Week 19 belly shots!

Whoomp! (there it is)

Pregnancy is a funny thing (and I say this now because I haven’t barfed in a good four days). In a mere two weeks, I have gone from stealth-preggie mode to being asked by strangers when the baby is due.

In aforementioned two weeks, I’ve also gone from feeling little “gas bubbles” to feeling three distinct THUMPS on Wednesday. In the same two weeks, little Pele has nearly doubled in weight and gained two inches in head-to-bottom height.

How quickly the baby is growing — and nothing exemplifies that better than his or her latest portraits. Last time we had an ultrasound, at seven-and-a-half weeks, the baby looked like a little seahorse and measured 1.3 centimeters from head to rump.

A mere 10 weeks and two days later, we were presented with a fully-formed baby flexing tiny arms and legs, measuring some 13 centimeters from head to bottom. Pele’s little teeth are developing underneath the gums, vital organs are all present and accounted for, and our baby’s tiny face was bowed ever so slightly toward his or her chest, just like daddy’s does when he’s sleeping.

Unfortunately, our ultrasound tech would not tell us what we were having, and the pictures we got were rather ambiguous and we’re not sure exactly what we’re looking at. So even though, if she’s a girl, her ovaries contain millions of eggs already, poor Pele will remain plain old unisex Pele even to Chris and me for just a little longer, until we can get another ultrasound.

Anyway, here’s little Pele in all his or her glorious ambiguity:

And here are the Week 18 belly shots.

Sleeping like a baby machine

When people talk about getting a good night’s sleep, they often use the term “sleeping like a baby.”

Millions of new parents the world wide beg to differ, I’m sure. But one thing is certain: The wordsmiths of the world will never refer to enjoying a restful slumber as “sleeping like a pregnant woman.”

Now, if you ask Chris, I get a fabulous night’s sleep every night of the week. While he rouses from repose after a mere six or seven hours, I slumber on for an additional six, giving me a nice round 12 hours.

In theory, 12 hours of sleep is a dream come true. Last spring, when I was surviving on 5 hours or fewer per night while juggling full-time work and school, I doubtless would have derived untold energy from such a wealth of rest.

In reality, however, 12 hours is barely sufficient for a pregnant woman. Between the moment I drag myself out of bed and the moment I hit the sack, I spend my 12 waking hours yawning and rubbing my eyes, forgetting simple things and getting tired walking up the stairs. In short, I am worse than I was as a bleary-eyed, time-strapped journalist/premed student.

The insomnia that plagued me even when I took sleeping pills to get that crucial five hours has become a thing of the past. My head hits the pillow and I’m out.

Given the duration of my slumber and the fact that it is not marred by insomnia, it would seem that I am getting 12 glorious, restful hours. But that’s before we factor in the ever-so-significant fact that I am pregnant.

What does this mean for my 12 hours of repose? Well, first, I am sleeping with a giant body pillow between my legs in order to stay on my side as the experts recommend. Can you imagine the scope of the planning and effort necessary to accomplish a simple middle-of-the-night position shift? Naturally, since my hips constantly feel like I’ve just come up from doing the splits for five solid days, these position changes happen several times a night.

When you’re pregnant, guess what else happens several times a night? That’s right — we preggies must answer the call of nature at least once per two hours, even if we quit ingesting fluids at 7 p.m. So add anywhere between 6 and 11 late-night trips to relieve our suffering bladders.

As if those potty breaks and repositionings weren’t enough, add to that the disturbing dreams caused by a potent cocktail of hormones and the extra REM sleep pregnant women get. Whether it’s the usual nightmares about being held captive, weird pregnancy dreams of having “my” children threatened by their dad (who in this dream is, oddly, some creepy drug dealer who roomed with a friend in university and certainly someone I’d never date, let alone have two kids with), or even pleasant dreams about my cute, adorable actual baby and its perfectly nice, nonthreatening dad, these dreams are so vivid that they often manage to wake me up.

So while I do get 12 hours of sleep, it’s definitely not unbroken sleep.

Now, for all we know, babies also experience joint pain and nightmares, and I think we can all agree that their bladders are easily as tiny as that of a pregnant woman (although we don’t have the luxury of being allowed to pee in the bed — as much as some of us have contemplated it).

However, since newborns supposedly sleep 16 to 20 hours out of the day, and they usually look pretty comfy and happy, I’m willing to bet they really do sleep like proverbial babies.

Meanwhile, if anyone thinks pregnant women enjoying a similarly restful slumber, I hope this post will put those fantasies to, um, rest.

And without further ado, here are the Week 17 belly shots! I’m so happy — I finally look pregnant! I guess it was a good thing my parents pushed Thanksgiving forward a week, or my belly would have made the announcement for me.