Happy Birthday to me … and my son

I got the BESTEST birthday present this morning. Our little boy Owen decided to make his entrance into the world quite quickly, and on my birthday.  I’ll be taking a break from blogging for awhile to cuddle and care for this little guy, but wanted to let readers know I’m no longer impatiently waiting his arrival.

My birthday present, Mr Owen Craig



Playing the waiting game

At my first weekly OB appointment, my doctor gave me what I considered great news: At 36 weeks, I was already 2 cm dilated and 70 percent effaced, all without a single contraction. Considering it took roughly six hours of hard labor to get to that point when I gave birth to my daughter, I was ecstatic. I started to mentally “check out” from work, convinced the baby would arrive any day now. Any baby-related projects or shopping were quickly finished.

Fast forward three more weekly exams and countless “practice” contractions, and I’m still 2 cm dilated. “Are you serious?” I asked my OB this morning, bewildered that I’d made no more progress. I’d secretly hoped she’d find me well along in labor and send me straight to the hospital to deliver so I wouldn’t have to be pregnant for a full August day. I asked her where I could find some black-market Pitocin, a drug used to induce and speed up labor. She offered to schedule something. Reminding myself that patience is a virtue, I said I’d wait a week. 

After all, my due date is still nine days away, though I’ve been counting since that number was 21.

I wasn’t in such a hurry to deliver my daughter 3+ years ago. I was ready, but not impatient, when my water broke in the wee hours of a Wednesday two days before my due date.  This time, I’ve been willing the pregnancy to be over weeks before the expected date, pleading with my unborn son to “get out, get out, get out!!!” One book said eating fresh pineapple could induce labor, so last weekend I devoured a whole one. I read eating spicy food can kick start things, so this weekend I doused the sushi I wasn’t supposed to be eating with wasabi, took an extra helping of General Tso’s chicken and made enchiladas for dinner last night. Nothing yet.

I’m just so done with being pregnant, and so ready to meet my son.

July 30: Ready to pop

Where did all the pregnant women go?

All spring and early summer, I felt like a member of a not-so-exclusive club. Everywhere I looked I saw other pregnant women. They strolled through south Fargo neighborhoods and filled supermarket aisles. It was quite a change from my last pregnancy in early 2008. I don’t remember seeing any other incubating ladies then. Perhaps because we were all wearing poufy parkas …

But something changed in the last week. The other preggos disappeared from city streets. There were none at the Redhawks game on Tuesday. None at the grocery store on Sunday …  Did they all deliver at once?

No, I think they’re all just trying to survive this oppressive heat and humidity. Or avoid the well-meaning strangers who inevitably comment on how uncomfortable we must be in the heat. (One woman even rolled down her car window as I walked to my vehicle after work to tell me how miserable I must be.)

It seems they found a safe haven, however. My husband took our daughter swimming Saturday evening while I did some projects around the house. “It must have been pregnant lady day at the pool,” he said when they got home. On the days I’ve joined them there, I’ve also noticed a disproportionate number of swimsuit-clad convex bellies.  And understandably so. The weightless effect and cool temperatures of chlorinated water does wonders when you have a late summer due date … in the midst of a nationwide heat wave.

Until this weather breaks, or I can get back in the pool, maybe I’ll retreat as well into air-conditioned comfort. If for no other reason than to avoid the “poor you” commentary.

Parenting Perspectives: Preparing daughter for new baby

My daughter is going to be a big sister in less than a month. And apparently her brother is going to be an ice cream cone. That’s what she told me last week as we drove to a class at the hospital called “Our Family is Having a Baby!”

“Our baby is going to be an ice cream cone, and we’re going to lick him and pour food on him,” Eve, age 3, said as my husband parked the car. “Oh, really?” I responded, bemused and slightly disturbed.

When we arrived at the class, there was a table of life-sized baby dolls for the kids to hold, diaper and swaddle. I suddenly had mortifying visions of Eve repeatedly licking the doll’s head in front of the other parents, siblings-to-be and the two instructors. Thankfully, she gently held her baby, kissed but didn’t lick it, and was a model big sibling during the entire class (especially considering some of the little boys there carried their dolls by the ankle or in a choke hold). She rightly deserved the end-of-class treat, which happened to be an ice cream cone-shaped cookie.

I’m sure now the ice cream cone comment resulted from her misunderstanding my husband’s explanation that some babies have cone-shaped heads when they’re born. At least that’s what I’m hoping. I often wonder, though, what Eve really understands about our family’s upcoming addition.

She’s told me several times that the baby is in her tummy. When I ask her what’s in my rounded belly, she tells me it’s just food.

We’ve talked a lot about what will happen when the baby is born: How Mommy will go to the hospital to have the baby and Eve will come visit us there. How the baby will sleep in the cradle in Mom and Dad’s room. She can recite passages from her books about becoming a big sister. She seems genuinely excited, often asking if the baby will come that day.

But can anything truly prepare a 3-year-old for the addition of a sibling? For the split attention of her parents? For all the crying?

I realize she’ll probably regress in behaviors. Eve already occasionally pretends she’s a baby who needs to be carried up and down the stairs. The class and those sibling books have helped prepare us parents, as well. They remind Mom and Dad to give big sister plenty of affection, attention and tell her daily that she is loved and special to us.

As long as she isn’t pouring sprinkles on her brother and trying to eat him, I think we’ll be OK.


 Sherri Richards is 8 months pregnant, the mother of a 3-year-old daughter and an employee of The Forum. She also blogs at http://topmom.areavoices.com.

Wetting my whistle with dry drinks

My boss asked me the other day if I’ve been having any pregnancy cravings. Booze, I said, unashamedly. I’m sure that makes me sound like a raving drunkard, but what I wouldn’t give for a frosty, fruity umbrella drink right about now.

I don’t remember missing cocktails during my first pregnancy, which makes me wonder if being a parent has driven me to drink … No, I think I’ll go with a theory less likely to get child protective services called: the difference in seasons. There’s just something about summertime that calls for a refreshing adult beverage.

Last time, the bulk of my pregnancy was during winter months. Yeah, I missed out on rum-spiked eggnog, champagne toasts at New Year’s and green St. Patty’s Day beer (as I did this year). But what I’ve really yearned for is the occasional frosty mug or a glass of chilled wine on a summer evening, preferably outdoors while soaking up the setting sun.

As I’ve been pregnant for the last 35 weeks, I’ve gone this entire summer without a handmade wine cooler at Newman Outdoor Field, a minty mojito, a tall Long Island iced tea or an icy margarita. On a recent stifling hot day, a co-worker brought tropical-flavored popsicles to the office to share. I carefully dug through the box until I found a white one – the best piña colada I’ll have all summer, I told him.

My forbidden nectar

Most regrettably, I’ve also spent an entire summer without a sip of my favorite summer drink: Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy.

Oh, the poetry I could write about Leinie’s and its wheat-y, lemony drink of the gods. I consider it a travesty that I’ll miss out on it this year, as it’s a seasonal brew.

Thankfully, a pregnant friend understands. When she and her husband came over for a cook-out a few weeks back, she brought along a jug of lemonade and a six-pack of O’Doul’s. We experimented with ratios of non-alcoholic ale and ade until we got the mixture just right.

I’ve since taken to making myself a homemade N/A shandy every now and then, to sip on the patio and soak in some rays. It’s not quite as good as a Leinie’s, but a completely acceptable alternative.

Pushing for a ‘push present’

Today’s Associated Press story in the Life section of The Forum was of great interest to me, a pregnant woman. It’s all about “push presents,” a growing trend where new moms receive sometimes extravagant gifts (think diamonds) following delivery. Here’s an excerpt of the story by Leanne Italie:

Gina Crosley-Corcoran, who writes The Feminist Breeder blog, was pregnant with her third child in April when she found herself ruminating on the subject, in response to some doubters on her Facebook page:

“As I sit here in my hugely pregnant state, suffering from heartburn, gas, leg pain, hip pain, insomnia, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, heat flashes, gastric upset, swelling, and everything else that comes with having an entirely formed human being kicking around in my womb, who will soon demand on coming OUT of my womb through a relatively small orifice in a not-at-all-pleasant-feeling manner, I cannot help but think Seriously?!?! Seriously. A freaking diamond is the LEAST he can do.”

There’s no official history of push presents, a term some object to on grounds that it cheapens the occasion. By some accounts, post-partum bling seems to have made its way to the United States over the past decade or so from England, where a ring was in order, and from India, where gold jewelry was the way to go.

The idea wasn’t lost on jewelers. The retailer Mayors took on the tradition in a 2005 ad campaign for diamond studs: “She delivered your first born, now give her twins.” Fortunoff thought up a push present registry in 2007. That was the year BabyCenter.com surveyed 30,000 women and found 38 percent of new moms got a push present – and 55 percent of the still-pregnant wanted one.

I hadn’t heard of push presents the first time I pushed in March 2008 (for 2-plus hours, I might add).  And if my husband had, he didn’t participate in the practice. The only ice I got was the mountain of ice chips Craig shoveled in my mouth throughout delivery, possibly the sweetest gesture I could have imagined.

In fact, it didn’t occur to either of us that he “should” have bought me anything until we were back home with our newborn and a floral bouquet arrived at the door from my in-laws. My husband’s stepmother later said she sent the pink-petaled arrangement because she noticed Craig hadn’t gotten me any flowers while we were in the hospital.

Suddenly, and solely because someone else had suggested it, I felt a little gypped. “I was in labor for 17 hours and you couldn’t even buy me some roses?!?!?” Craig claimed ignorance and exhaustion. I think he was maybe trying to make up for it two months later when he bought me my first Mother’s Day present: a pale-blue aquamarine pendant, our new daughter Eve’s birthstone.

This time around, I know about push presents (Callers to Suze Orman’s show sometimes ask if their families can afford one), but I’m still not expecting diamonds.  If that’s what some women want, fine for them. If the new mom’s partner feels compelled to buy her an extravagant gift to mark the occasion, I think that’s sweet. But it’s not a priority for our family.

Roses, however, may be in order, or some other small gesture of appreciation for all that pushing.

Putting baby’s blood in the bank

The last time I was in the delivery room, in 2008, I remember a nurse holding up a white pouch for me to see. It contained the blood from Baby Eve’s umbilical cord. 

My husband and I had decided against privately banking her cord blood. It just didn’t make sense for us, given the hefty price-tag to store it and the fact our family has no history of diseases that benefit from stem cell treatment from the cord blood (namely leukemia, sickle cell disease, other immune and metabolic disorders). But I regretted we weren’t presented with an option at the time to donate the blood, because I knew it could be put to good use, whether for a transplant or research. That regret multiplied when the nurse told me they soon would simply dispose of that little white pouch.

This pregnancy, I was thrilled to read in the big binder I got from my OB that there is now a way to donate my baby boy’s cord blood. But boy, is it a process, one I probably should have started before today. Two phone calls and one Internet application down, I am facing 14 pages of health questionaires and release forms that need to be completed (mostly by me, but some by my doctor) and received by the company before I finish my 34th week of pregnancy. I’m now in week 32.

Assuming everything is OK with my application and my doc agrees and the private company the hospital works with to donate the blood is still accepting donors for the month, I’ll be sent a collection kit that I have to bring to the hospital. I will also be responsible for notifying the company when I’m in active labor and shortly after the birth of the baby. (Note to self on delivery day: Call Mom, Call Grandma, Call Lifeforce Cryobanks …) After the baby is born, they’ll draw my blood and review medical records and make sure enough stem cells were collected. This is all also under the assumption that I don’t deliver between 3 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Sunday. (If the cord blood is collected during that time frame, the company can’t accept it. I don’t know why, though I imagine it has to do with their ability to transport it.)

It’s a hassle, for sure, on an already long pre-baby to-do list. But the good that could come about is worth it, to me.

More differences between first and second pregnancies

Since my Parenting Perspectives column ran Tuesday discussing the differences between my first pregnancy more than three years ago and the bun currently baking in the oven, my pregnant brain has recalled a few other “been there, delivered that” differences I wanted to relate:

Telling the parents: The first time, you go on a three-day, 240-mile road trip to tell all the family in person, with clever “grandma”-themed cards and gifts for the mothers. The second pregnancy, you call your mom, while your husband text messages his.

Appointments: The first time, you expect your husband to join you at every prenatal appointment (about 14 in a seven-month stretch). The second, you make sure he knows about the ultrasound, and fly solo on the rest.

Emails: During your first pregnancy, you subscribe to three or four pregnancy listservs, which send you weekly emails about fetal development, comparing your baby’s current size to a type of fruit or vegetable. During the second, you wonder how “they” found out you were expecting again when a stray pregnancy email arrives in your inbox.

Preparing: The first time around, the nursery is decorated, baby clothes are washed in Dreft laundry detergent and folded, and your bag is packed for the hospital by the end of your sixth month. During the second, you do all that stuff … hopefully before your water breaks.

Less to sweat in second pregnancy

My Parenting Perspectives column from May 10 …

As I progress through my second pregnancy, more than three years removed from my first, I’m struck by the differences between the two. I’m carrying lower. My stomach grew bigger much sooner. I’ve felt a lot sicker.

A few people have credited the distinct experiences to carrying a boy versus a girl. Some of the differences can be attributed to changes in medical technologies or guidelines. For example, there are new recommendations for diagnosing gestational diabetes, making it more likely pregnant women will be diagnosed with the disease.

One pleasant change was when I scheduled my mid-March ultrasound. Unlike in late 2007, I didn’t need to drink roughly a gallon of water before the appointment. The scheduler didn’t explain why, and I wasn’t about to question her.

Less pleasant was the scare the ultrasound gave us this time, when it revealed a potential marker for a chromosomal abnormality. Thankfully a follow-up scan last month showed everything was fine with our baby boy.

But what most distinguishes this pregnancy from my last is the fact that I have been there, delivered that. You could say I’ve taken on a bit of a veteran’s attitude. It’s not that I don’t care, but the worry and obsessive tendencies that marked my first pregnancy are absent. This seems to be a universal experience among my mommy friends. You stop sweating the small stuff, so to speak. (Which is good, because with an August due date, I’ll be sweating enough as it is.)

Here are a few examples of the “been there, done that” differences, drawn from my personal experiences: 

Time: During the first pregnancy you know down to the day how far along you are. During the second pregnancy you have to look at a calendar to remember what week gestation you’re in. 

Caffeine: During the first pregnancy you abstain from all caffeinated products, even so-called caffeine-free sodas. During the second you guzzle a can of pop, or two, daily, finding the balance between functioning as the mother of a 3-year-old and staying under the recommended limit of 200 milligrams caffeine per day.

Diet: During the first pregnancy you’ve memorized list of verboten foods and avoid them like the plague. During the second you realize halfway through a deli sandwich with a side of sushi that, “Oops, I’m not supposed to eat that.” And then finish your lunch anyway.

Research: During your first pregnancy you devour every single book about pregnancy ever written. During the second you find your “What to Expect” book in a box of baby clothes and promptly use it as a paperweight. 

Morning sickness: During your first pregnancy you learn that morning sickness was inappropriately named. During the second you remember that morning sickness was inappropriately named.

Sherri Richards is pregnant, has a 3-year-old daughter, and works for The Forum. She blogs at http://topmom.areavoices.com