Have Breast Pump, Will Travel

September 24, 2010

Last week, I was sent to a 3-day conference for work about 70 miles from here. It was close enough that I could drive there and back each day, but far enough that I had to bring along a trusty companion: my breast pump.

I’ve already had some challenges with discreet pumping, given that the house has been swarming with workmen since before Lorelei even arrived (you have no idea just how many windows your house actually has until you start thinking about whipping out a boob in the middle of the day). But this really brought it to a whole new level.

The books are all so blasé about the logistics of pumping in public: “Find a clean, quiet place,” they say, “like an unused office.” Maybe it’s just me, but I’m not going to knock on the door of some conference center worker and say, “Excuse me, sir…might you have a vacant room – clean, private, no windows, comfy chair – I can essentially take over several times a day for the next three days? Alternately, I can set up shop right here – when do you usually head out for lunch?”

I wound up using a somewhat less heavily trafficked restroom on a different floor than my conference was on. Again, this may just be me, but I was uncomfortable with my fellow female attendees getting to know me as “The Pumper” (or, worse, volunteering their own war stories and/or tips: “Have you tried giving each breast a good hard squeeze before you start? Really ups your production – one time I got a full 9 oz. out of lefty here.”)

Making matters even worse was the fact that I’ve recently started shedding like a Labrador Retriever. Apparently your body fiercely hangs on to all of your hair during your pregnancy, temporarily suspending the normal growth/loss cycle, and then drops it like it’s hot – all at once – about 3-4 months after you deliver.

It’s the first time I’ve ever gotten dressed with a mind to camouflaging (a) pumping-related drips, (b) the porn-star nipples that are the bane of all nursing mothers, and (c) the cascade of loose hair pooling around my shoulders. I didn’t really pull it off all that well; the term “hot mess” comes to mind.

It’s good to be back in the home office this week.

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I just came back from my ob/gyn, and her prediction, gazing into the crystal ball of my belly, is that “you will find labor sometime this weekend.” Seems to me that labor will actually be the one finding me, but I’ll take it. Failing that, my next appointment is scheduled for Wednesday, at which point we discuss Plan B (i.e., taking active steps to dislodge the Olive rather than waiting for her to emerge on her own terms).

I have a sneaking suspicion that she’s holding out for in-utero fried dough tomorrow at Portsmouth’s Market Square Day, but I’ve tried to explain to her that Mama’s probably not going to be dragging her achy self to the festival in any event (alas, regardless of what anyone says, there’s no reasoning with a fetus).

I just hope she’s not planning to take after her father, Eric “Fortnight” Foster, who held out for two full weeks past his due date (in the heat of August, no less), only to burst forth like greased lightning when he was finally good and ready.

No news to report at this end – it’s a little disconcerting having something this big looming in your life and not knowing exactly when it will be happening. The only other significant, somewhat intimidating life event in my past I can think to compare it to is taking the bar exam. That was a little different in that:

a) I knew in advance both when it would be taking place and how long it would last

b) I will not be bringing a bunch of extra #2 pencils this time around

c) There will hopefully be fewer lawyers in attendance (if I’m not the only lawyer in the delivery room, I think we can safely assume that something has gone terribly amiss)

d) To the best of my recollection, I was not naked from the waist down when I took the bar exam

On a totally unrelated note, I just returned from the food store, where the woman in front of me bought 2 gallons of skim milk, a large bag of ballpark peanuts, a single-serving packet of Utz cheese balls, and 6 bottles of La Choy soy sauce. Wouldn’t you just love to know what’s on the dinner menu at her house tonight?

This weekend at the Market Basket, my checker was a teenage guy who I think had been on duty since the early hours and was seriously hopped up on caffeine.

Checker (gesturing vaguely at my stomach, clearly much too observant to work at Aspen Dental): Hey, congratulations.

Me: Thanks!

Checker: So when is the baby due?

Me: I’m due June 12, but it could really be any day now.

Checker (visibly intrigued yet horrified): Dude – NO WAY!

It was all I could do not to drop my groceries and feign a contraction right there in front of him. You could tell he was wondering a) why on earth I was still allowed to leave my house unattended and b) if I would be the cause of an imminent “cleanup at Register 3” announcement.

Last week, when I saw my doctor, she poked around my belly and said it doesn’t look like we’ll be having a “huge” baby. This was reassuring.

This week, I saw a different doctor in the practice – they rotate us through all four so there’s not a complete stranger in the delivery room with you in the event your regular doc is unable to attend the birth.

She, too, is poking around my belly. “Did Sonja tell you how big she thinks the baby will be?”

“She just said it didn’t seem like she’d be huge.”

She laughs. “Way to hedge your bets there, Sonja.” More poking. “I’d say you’re looking at eight, eight-and-a-half pounds.”

Now, I know this technically isn’t a “huge” baby – Dan was a veritable behemoth at nine-plus when he was born – but I’d been hoping for something more in the neighborhood of a demure seven-pounder (like Eric and I both were). Perhaps all the Jax have been plumping up the Olive like a paté goose.

Nursery for Now

May 26, 2010

My ob/gyn examined me last week and declared that things are moving right along – the Olive appears to be well-positioned and has actually begun her initial descent (I hope she realizes that she will now have to discontinue the use of all portable electronic devices and stow her tray table). It’s possible that I could stay like this for a few more weeks, but it’s also possible that she could come any day now.

This jarred me into the realization that we will actually need somewhere to put her when she arrives home – I knew this day was coming, of course, but for a long time I’d held out hope that the renovation would actually be far enough along that we could move some of our things downstairs to free up room in the nursery (aka our current bedroom). As the only new space downstairs is currently an open pit ringed by concrete, I don’t think this is going to be an option. We could probably come up with some unique baby-survivor-type scenarios involving torches and foraging, but I’m guessing those would get old pretty fast.

So we’ve done some rearranging upstairs and now have the beginnings of a makeshift nursery (current theme: “Somewhat Better Than Putting Baby in a Sock Drawer”). We’ve set up the pack-and-play (when did these stop being called playpens?) in the largely unused room next to our bedroom, and an antique vanity has been pressed into service as a temporary changing table.

The room itself isn’t ideal – for one thing, a huge rectangle of bright sunlight falls smack across the middle of the pack-and-play every day between 1:00 and 2:30, courtesy of a skylight (we can either buy her baby sunglasses or hope for a well-timed eclipse). For another, the room is home to the cats’ food, water, and litter box – I’m pretty sure the pack-and-play is outside the range of the litter that regularly sails across the room whenever Brodie gets in the box and starts thrashing around, but a few more trajectory measurements are in order.

I really hope baby has a sense of humor – I think she’ll need one.

I got my teeth cleaned this morning. Before she got down to business with her picks and scrapers, the hygienist reviewed my chart and noticed I hadn’t had x-rays in over a year. “We’ll do them after the cleaning,” she announced. Fine with me – I figured that’s what the magical lead apron was for, and the Olive is pretty much fully cooked at this point anyway. A little stray radiation might even boost the odds of her getting some superpowers; maybe she’ll be able to see through walls.

Twenty minutes later, the cleaning is over and she’s handing me off to the x-ray tech. “Oh my God, you’re pregnant!” my hygienist exclaims. “Um, yep,” I say, not sure how she’s managed to miss this salient fact until now – I didn’t think I’d been all that cagey about it. She immediately defers my x-rays until after the baby is born and sends me on my way.

I know I’m not quite as enormous as some women are at this point in their pregnancies – I am delighted that I can still tie my own shoes and cut my own toenails (Eric, who would surely have been pressed into service on one or both counts, is even more excited) – but still:

a) I’m due in less than a month

b) I weigh nearly 200 lbs., most of it bloat and belly

c) The hygienist was working in close proximity to said belly for the better part of a half hour

d) I’m wearing one of those smocklike shirts with the little tie around the ribcage that the non-pregnant aren’t generally drawn to, unless they want a lot of extra room to pooch out after a big meal

Maybe the good people at Aspen Dental are, as their commercials imply, so thrilled to “see you smile” that they completely block out everything below the neck. I may come in wearing a headless gorilla suit next time around and see if anyone notices.