Saturday, September 21, 2013

Pregnant Woman Learns a Lesson

Yesterday was a busy day.  It was Juliana's third birthday, which was filled with balloons, Minnie Mouse cake, cards and packages in the mail, birthday pizza, party hats, and presents - all of which were greeted with immense excitement.  In China it was Mid-Autumn Festival, one of the major holidays of the year.  Almost as important in certain sectors of society, it was International Talk Like a Pirate Day.  And not so widely noted but certainly memorable to me - it was my due date.

I know, I know.  A due date truly has about as much meaning as an imaginary line on the horizon, and only about 5% of babies are born on their due date.  I wasn't expecting the baby to come on her due date; I was sure she would already be born.  Juliana was born four days early, so it seemed reasonable to believe this baby would come early too.  That's pretty much what I've been thinking the whole pregnancy, and most of the past month I really felt like she could come any day.  I don't know how many times I've thought, "She will SURELY come before ___!" (see lesson #3 below.)  It's been a long month.

And now I have passed over the imaginary invisible line into the land of "overdue."  I know, I know. A baby isn't truly overdue until a couple of weeks past the due date, and it's just as normal for a baby to be born a week "late" as a week "early."  But somehow it's hard to convince yourself of that, particularly in our induction-happy culture.

The uncertainty of these last few weeks have been especially difficult to handle.  I've had frequent, increasingly intense contractions for weeks (see lesson #4 below) and a couple of times when it seemed like labor was really starting.   Then there are all the normal annoyances and discomforts of being 9 months pregnant, summed up in the general feeling that your body is slowly self-destructing.

I could handle all those better if I could just sleep.  I usually wake up about a dozen times a night.  Not that I actually count, but I really don't think I'm exaggerating.  I doubt I ever sleep longer than an hour, sometimes much less.  If I don't wake up as many times it's usually because the fifth or sixth time I just stayed awake for hours.  In other words, I sleep like a baby.  So the idea of resting up before the baby comes sounds nice, but it's just not going to happen (see lesson #5 below).  I do remember the exhausting newborn (and not-so-newborn) days, and I know what I'm in for, but the possibility of 2hrs sleep in a row sounds kind of nice right now.

I may have mentioned once or forty times that I haven't had the most fun with this pregnancy.   Perhaps that's why I thought it would end early - it only seemed fair.  Besides, first babies are supposed to be late, not second babies, right?  And we all know that pregnancy and life operate on strict principles of fairness (see lesson #1 below).

I was reminded the other day that 40 is one of those significant numbers in the Bible.  40 days of rain on the ark.  40 years wandering in the wilderness.  40 days being tested in the desert.  All periods of trial and tribulation.  Some people apparently thrive on those 40 weeks of pregnancy, but trial and tribulation seems a more fitting description for me.  Everybody knows you're supposed to learn something from all that trial ("what doesn't kill you" and all...), and apparently I need some extra time to learn my lesson.

Here are a few of the lessons I have learned recently.
1. Your mom was right.  Life isn't fair.
2. The powers of my wishful thinking are shockingly ineffective.
3. Never make assumptions about anything because life rejoices in proving you wrong.
4. Whoever said Braxton-Hicks contractions are painless was either a man or a woman going through transition in labor.
5. Helpful advice like, "Enjoy this time of pregnancy!" and "Get rest while you can!" are about as helpful as racial slurs or bashing on a person with disabilities  and may get you a similar response.
6. Oh yeah, I'm not in control.
7. It's possible that I don't know everything like the best time for this baby to come.
8. I can either drive myself crazy with angst and impatience or let go and let it happen when it happens.
9. Apparently no one has been pregnant forever.

So I'm waiting and trying to breathe and be patient.  (No honestly, this is me trying.)  This baby will come sometime like tomorrow or next week and defintely not any later than 2 weeks (when they would induce).  (Which, by the way, would be October and completely unacceptable.)  This eternal pregnancy will actually end and I'll finally get to meet that baby I've been waiting for.  It's going to be great.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Monsters who throw up

Juliana has recently developed a fascination with monsters.  She's not really afraid of them; she's just obsessed.  There are monsters in the closet, in the bed, under the bed, under the table, outside, inside, and inside her tummy.  Mostly they are silly monsters, or friendly monsters, or monsters who eat people and then throw up.  Her newest imaginary friend monster is named Ju-Ji-Ja-Ja (also the name of her favorite made-up song).

I'm not sure where the monster thing started - perhaps from recent talks with friends.  This summer she watched the Veggie Tales episode where Junior is scared of monsters.  She learned the song, "God is bigger than the boogie man."  She also learned she ought to be scared of monsters.  A few weeks ago she watched Monsters Inc., and she loved those silly monsters.  We realized we have to be careful about what books we read at bedtime.  After reading "Froggy goes to Bed," Juliana wondered why she didn't get a snack before bed and insisted her door also be cracked open.  When we read "Bedtime for Francis" (Francis is an imaginative child who stays up wondering about the noise outside her open window, the crack in her ceiling, the monster in the chair, and the fact that she is inordinately hungry.),  Juliana was also concerned about the crack in the ceiling (there isn't one), the open window (it was closed), and naturally, the monsters.  When she woke up the first morning the first thing she said was, "Francis had a crack in her ceiling."  We hid the book; Juliana found it and wanted to read it again.  Who wouldn't?

While Juliana shows little actual fear toward monsters, she has developed a number of other phobias.  Dogs, for example, which is kind of a problem since my parents have a dog.  She is fascinated with the dog.  She likes to feed her scraps from the table and call inside and outside and get her fingers licked - all from the safety of the other side of a baby gate.  If she ever happens to end up in the same room as the dog, she starts screaming.  She has also developed a fear of spider webs, any type of bugs, and being alone in any place ever.

Of course, Juliana has always had an aversion to being alone.  When she was a baby, her definition of being alone was anytime someone wasn't touching or holding her.  Seriously - she loved to be carried and hated to be put down anywhere.   Once she started getting around on her own she didn't want to be held all the time, but she used her new mobility to make sure she was never more than 3 feet away from another person.  The first time she played in another room, on her own, for more than 10 minutes I was shocked and a little worried about what's going on.  She's gotten much better about playing on her own, but if she actually asks me to leave the room, that probably means she's about to do something she shouldn't.  Her most used phrase is,"Will you play with me?" followed by, "I don't want to be lonely!"

At this point in time, if she goes to the bathroom by herself (even with the door open where she can still shout at you), she is lonely.  Besides, there is a monster in the shower.  This also applies if you go to the bathroom by yourself and she is not standing nearby inspecting the toilet paper.  If she has to walk into another room by herself or if you walk into another room without her she cries, "I don't want to be loooonely!" Her first response to bedtime is, "I don't want to sleep by myself!  I don't want to be lonely!"  She is finally sleeping on her own in her own room again, mostly without waking up during the night, but she will only go to sleep if the door is open and daddy is sitting outside where she can see him.    She certainly seems suited for a communal life.  Perhaps it's her reaction to not being in a country with 3 billion people.