Full of Hot Air.

Because I am currently in the beginning stages of crafting a PhD project about maternal health, with a focus on childbirth specifically, I’m reading tons about pregnancy and labor (for work, okay?). As my interest is in childbirth, I’m focusing my time on what leads to various kinds of childbirth experiences. One of the more interesting things I’ve read concerns the rise in the reporting of “back-to-back” labor in the later 20th century. A labor is said to be “back-to-back” when a baby starts its descent into the birth canal with its spine aligned with its mother’s spine and its face toward the front of her body. This means that the widest part of the baby’s head (the forehead and face) enters the cervix first, which has a lot of implications for the mechanics of childbirth (which I will spare you) and essentially means a slower, more painful labor (leading to higher rates of induction, epidural use, Pitocin, and eventually c-section).

An explanation for this rise in back-to-back labor is that as women moved out of mostly housekeeping roles and into office work, they stopped performing tasks that kept them leaning forward (cooking over a massive cauldron, washing clothes, scrubbing floors on their hands and knees, etc). Instead, women began spending their days leaning backward into office chairs, which can lull their children into the back-to-back position, as the babies aren’t being forced forward by gravity all the time. My opinion on this theory is: who knows. This sounds a little like all the evolutionary psychology theories I used to love as an anthropology undergraduate, and have now come to side-eye pretty hard all the time. However, because I am a crazy person, after reading the book a few weeks ago, I committed to spending more time leaning forward as the baby grew. Every little bit helps, right?

This means that I’ve been sitting like an idiot on my chair at work, legs on the sides of the chair with my knees bent, and my belly forward and under the desk. Essentially, I look like I need to fart all the time, which coincidentally, is now constantly the case.

In previous weeks, I could feel the baby at very proscribed times: in the morning just as I woke up, in the evening laying in bed, and, very occasionally, if I really focused during some quiet time during the day. However, now, it’s all over the place all the time. I woke up to a dance routine at 2 am the other night. I feel kicks when I’m sitting like a moron at my desk. I am punched in the guts while standing around grocery stores, deciding which foods I am not going to be able to stomach. I also saw it from the outside last night for the first time and then spent more time than I will admit taking videos of my stomach, trying to document it. (Did not happen.) The baby is super active, and I think my insides are now beginning to feel it.

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Why yes, I have nicknamed my baby Kickpuncher.

 

I made a super not great decision Friday night and ate Indian food, which haunted me for the rest of the weekend, because my digestive system can no longer handle foods that are not apples, avocado, or bread. In an ironic twist of fate, I finally found the time to spend hours on my hands and knees in Child’s Pose on my bedroom floor, my belly down, gravity pulling the baby into its proper position – at 3 in the morning, after frantically Googling remedies for what the English so delicately call “trapped wind.” Face down on the carpet in the middle of the night, sipping peppermint tea by the mugful, miserable and desperate for sleep, at least I was maybe preventing back-to-back labor.

It’s the little things.

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20 Weeks.

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On Thursday, when I was exactly 20 weeks pregnant, I had my 20-week anomaly scan. According to the ultrasound technician, the little bub is measuring totally normally and was very cooperative. (This is something this very same tech said to me at the 12-week ultrasound, so I think it means I’m guaranteed to have a very well behaved child for the rest of my life. A GIRL CAN DREAM.)

We got to see its brains and its kidneys and its ten little fingers wiggling around. In the photo above, it’s basically dancing a contortionist jig, with its arms all over the place and its legs up over its head. When this photo was taken, the tech asked us, “So, looking at this, who does it take after?” prompting a sex joke from The Boyfriend, which the very English technician then pretended not to have totally set up for him.

At various times throughout the scan, as the baby moved around and we saw bits of facial bone and dark shadows, it really did look like most of the terrifying online ultrasound photos my mother and aunt tried to convince me were fake, so I win. THEY ARE REAL.

We also found out what the little bub is, and as much as I want to tell everyone I know on any and all social media platforms, I am keeping my huge mouth closed about that until I go home for my mom’s Most Epic Baby Shower In History. I’m also kinda in love with the idea that the people who might get me gifts (because that is so not an expectation) will have to do it without knowing what the gender is. This kid will love cupcakes and dinosaurs no matter what its genitalia is!

Maybe I’ll have that printed on a t-shirt and make Baby wear it on the first day of kindergarten.

Creature Feature: The Kick Came From INSIDE My Body.

I am now 19 and a half weeks pregnant! I am officially too enormous for my favorite jeans, which I have now shelved indefinitely. Before I was growing a human being, I used to despise that all denim is now 2% Lycra, because it meant that for the most part, I could wear a pair of jeans one time before they were all stretched out and falling off my ass. (And I’m disgusting and cannot be asked to wash my clothes often enough to keep up with that kind of demand.) However, now, those previously maligned, instantly-too-baggy, only-skinny-for-four-hours jeans are my saviors. They hang below my belly and are just stretchy enough. Plus, they still fall off my ass, which at this point in my life, I really appreciate. Thanks, 2% Lycra, for making 5 Month Pregnant Sarah still feel thin enough to have her pants falling off her. 2% Lycra is also allowing me to get through the weeks before my trip to California without paying tons of money for maternity jeans. Basically, a win-win at the moment.

In other news, we are days away from finding out what this little creep is, and I am very excited to pin one of the two names we’ve chosen on this little unsuspecting person. In addition to allowing us to define the rest of our child’s life by giving it a name, finding out what the sex is also means I will know what proscribed gender stereotypes I will be battling for all of Creep’s childhood. (No one is more humorless than me!) Yay!

In the cutest, most adorable development thus far (barring, of course, all the baby clothes I’m starting to collect): my mother has discovered the gender reveal party and is going to fold that into a baby shower she’s throwing for me when I go home in a few weeks. She’s also running full steam ahead with the “Mexican fiesta” theme I suggested initially as a joke, which is fabulous. I wanted to avoid the seemingly inevitable lean toward pink or blue, so I chose something that would force the use of every color in the rainbow. Inspiration:

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Who could care about pink for girls and blue for boys when there’s glitter in a Modelo bottle?

Also, I currently have a fiesta flag banner hanging in my bedroom in England as part of the normal, every day decor, so this is pretty much perfect.

Finally, while I’d felt tiny flutters and occasional “bubbling” before, just this week, I’ve started feeling actual baby movement. Last night, I drank a glass of cranberry juice from a hotel bar (as you do) and then laid down in my hotel bed at 9pm (again, as you do) and absent-mindedly put my hand on my belly, because I’d been catching little movements here and there and it’s reassuring to know that all is well in there. Seconds after I placed my hand on my skin, the baby kicked the hardest it has thus far and I felt it from both the inside and the outside and was immediately creeped out by my own body. It’s one thing to feel something that could be misconstrued as an upset, rumbling tummy and another thing entirely to feel something almost deliberate knocking around in your insides. Again, it’s comforting to know that the babes is okay and doing well and I’m actually loving the growing reminder that yes, there is a baby in there, because for weeks, I just felt fat and bloated and moody, but unable to drown my sorrows in wine. Now, I am pregnant. For reals. However, imagine for a moment that you are holding onto a small plastic bag full of water and someone drops a big fish in your bag and this big fish bops around in the too-small plastic bag, hitting its face and tail on the plastic lining and you can feel this fish if you put your hand on the outside of the bag. Imagine all of this, except now the bag is your guts and the fish is a baby person. That is what fetal movement is like.

Fish Baby: debuting July 2015.