Monday, June 29, 2009

Week in Review: June 22-28

Garry's stitches.

Amanda's swollen ankles.

Rabbit stealing our strawberry.

Stella stealing the baby's bouncer.

Landscaping progress.

Week 24: A breath of fresh . . . amniotic fluid

As the lungs continue to develop, our amphibian is beginning to practice breathing by inhaling amniotic fluid. Its ability to enjoy a deep breath was timed perfectly as Amanda will begin a prenatal yoga class next week.

It is still quite thin (weighing approximately 1 ¼ lbs.) and its (approximately 8 ½” long) body is still covered in fine hairs.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Second Ultrasound

This afternoon we had our follow-up ultrasound to double check that the choroid plexus cyst previously detected had disappeared. Here is what we found out:

1. Everything in the ultrasound looks fine. The cyst has disappeared or is now too small to detect.

2.The baby definitely has a face! Both Amanda and I admit the ultrasound image with the face is a little scary so nobody needs to pretend it is cute.

3. Our baby is wiggly and uncooperative.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Week in Review: June 15-21

Jenny's mojito party (l to r: Liana, Jenny, Raina)

Snapdragons, Antirrhinum
Strawberry, Fragaria
Blueberry, Vaccinium

A juvenile five-lined skink (Eumeces fasciatus) we rescued from our bathtub Saturday night.

Week 23: What’s going on out there?

Though still happy and content in its private little cavern, our cave dweller is becoming more aware of the outside world. It is beginning to distinguish between sounds inside Amanda’s body and those on the outside, and it will soon begin responding to outside stimulation such as a pat on Amanda’s belly.

The head and body are becoming more proportioned, and everyday it continues to look more like a full-term baby though it still has much growing to do. It is now around 8 inches and 1 lb.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


The baby’s recent growth spurt has, not surprisingly, coincided with an increase in my appetite. At the same time the baby is now taking up space that my stomach should be occupying, which prevents me from being able to eat enough to feel full at any one time. As a result, I’m hungry … ALL THE TIME! So, I’m eating every 2 hours, and I’m constantly thinking about food. My eating schedule seems like that of an infant.

Until this past week my appetite hadn’t changed greatly from my pre-pregnancy appetite. Naively I hadn’t anticipated becoming so hungry. I just thought pregnant women were big pigs, always talking about food cravings and using pregnancy as an excuse to overeat. I was wrong – pregnant woman are just insanely hungry. Unlike exercise-induced hunger, this hunger is never quite satiated. After a long bike ride I’m voraciously hungry; I fill up on a giant meal of spaghetti and vegetarian meatballs and my body recovers. Now, I don’t feel like I’m doing anything, yet I cannot satisfy my hunger.

Weight and food are difficult subjects for women in our culture. Because I was heavier than I would have liked when I became pregnant, I’ve been anxious about the weight gain. I inwardly balked when my midwife said I would probably gain 35-40 pounds. I know I need to, and will, gain weight, but since becoming pregnant, I’ve felt self-conscious about eating, about gaining weight, and even talking about being hungry. I haven’t restricted my eating in any way, but I’ve been very conscious not to overeat, which is recommended actually. Dietary guidelines regarding pregnancy advise consuming only an additional 300 calories per day, the equivalent of one serving of yogurt.

I’m surprised by my self-consciousness. I enjoy cooking and eating good food; I’ve never had body image issues; I’m glad the baby is healthy and getting bigger; and I find pregnant bodies beautiful. But, I both like and dislike the look of my pregnant body. My whole body is changing, and I’m not quite comfortable with it. It’s difficult to change a life-time of thinking negatively about weight gain.

But damn, I’m really fucking hungry. I am no longer concerned about gaining weight – I just need to stop my growling stomach. Perhaps now that I’m more obviously pregnant and the pregnant or beer belly conundrum is out of the way, I feel less self-conscious about my expanding belly and more like I … have an excuse to eat. To all pregnant women (and pigs), my sincere apologies.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Week in Review: June 7-14

Dinner and beer with Joshua on his birthday.

Lucy, Piper's BFF, spent the weekend at our house.

Our toad friend moved under our front steps for the summer.

Sandy and Sara came to visit for baby shopping, eating, and hiking.

As they brew beer, Stefanie and Joshua pose like the authors in their brewing manual.

Week 22: It’s hot in here

Amanda brewing beer

Just in time for the upcoming Summer Solstice, our little ball of sunshine developed sweat glands this week. It is also excited to have fingernails. Spending its time kicking Amanda’s internal organs is beginning to get dull. Clawing will add weeks of new fun.

The brain has entered a period of rapid growth and will continue to expand for the next 5-6 years.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Vegetable Battle

I predict three years from now Amanda and I are going to look back at these early posts and laugh and laugh and laugh. As not-quite-yet-parents our thoughts, plans, and philosophy on raising children are still more theoretical than practical, and I admit possibly naïve.

For example Amanda and I began discussing how to insure our child will eat (and hopefully enjoy) a wide range of foods after a friend's three-year old daughter declared she would no longer eat vegetables. Our immediate reaction was that though this seems to be a problem for every other parent in the world, for many reasons, we do not foresee this being a major battle we will need to wage. First, as a member of a vegetarian family our kid is going to be pretty hungry if it doesn’t eat vegetables. I realize I could be underestimating a child’s willingness to partake in a hunger strike if it ends in a diet of macaroni & cheese and vegan cupcakes (trust me, vegan cupcakes are the best). Second, we eat a wide range of foods prepared many different ways. We hope this variety will help our child discover what foods it likes and tolerate those it likes less. Third, we are good cooks. Fourth, we cook primarily from scratch. Prepackaged foods and fast food are full of sodium and fats that provide instant gratification. If I eat many of these meals I find it is more difficult to appreciate the more subtle taste of vegetables. Fifth, we eat probably a little healthier than the average person, but do not feel guilty about the less healthy things we eat in moderation. I think we have a healthy attitude toward food that hopefully our child will emulate. Finally, as early as possible we plan to involve the kid and its opinions in meal planning and preparation.

I am guessing (and hoping) as most people approach parenthood they think and discuss how they are going to deal with future problems. Going the extra step and recording those ideas in a public forum seems like a good and bad thing. We may be setting ourselves up for many “I told you that would never work”, but we may also have a helpful resource of the ideal choices we would make as parents when not burdened by lack of sleep, frustration, and desperation.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Small Town Talk

We live in a small town, so small that our baby will increase the population by 0.5% all by itself. To put that into perspective, it takes over 41,000 births to have the same impact on New York City. We moved here nearly three years ago because we could not resist buying a recently renovated church, and the town came with the church. The town is mostly cute and quiet. People seem nice and have begun to talk to us a little more than in the beginning. Originally we seem to have been viewed as quirky outsiders. One of the first questions my neighbor asked me was if “I was city folk or country folk?” I was unsure how to respond, but I am pretty sure I have unwittingly proven to be the former. I am Joel Fleischman.

We work in a college town about 12 miles away. This is where our friends live, we shop, and we often eat. On weekends, when not traveling or working, we usually hike or attend events in the college town. Therefore, the majority of our waking hours are spent outside our small hometown. This seems to be the case with many of the other younger townsfolk who, like us, were drawn to the town’s historic homes.

I am beginning to suspect that our limited presence in town has made people begin to construct our lives for themselves. Fortunately, my real life is happier than their fictitious one. In the past month two separate people have offered me sympathy over the death of my dog or Amanda leaving me. Everyone assumes small towns are great places to live because everyone knows each other. I do not deny that living in a small town can be enjoyable, but in my experience how well they know each other is greatly exaggerated.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Week 21: A giant leap

The biggest news this week is a recent growth spurt. Starting last week at around 6 inches/9 ounces the jumbo shrimp grew to approximately 7 ¼ inches/10 ounces in just one week! Its newly acquired sense of touch has introduced new hobbies such as thumb sucking and stroking its face. The digestive system has also developed enough to allow water absorption.

Week 21: Extra update

I’ve been able to feel the baby’s movements for nearly three weeks now, but up until this week, it was primarily only at times when I was very still and not otherwise preoccupied. I felt the baby in the mornings and at night when I was in bed, but only rarely during the day, sometimes the occasional somersault. Its activity level on a day-to-day basis was fairly even. However this week the baby has been both busy and restful at opposite extremes. At the beginning of this week, the baby was incredibly active and I could feel it all throughout the day. Up until Wednesday, at which point I didn’t really feel it at all. From Wednesday through Friday, its movements were less noticeable than since before week 18 causing a little worry on my part. I was unaware that the position of the baby affects how strongly I can feel it. Its movements are less noticeable when its arms and legs are facing my back. I suspect that is where it was during those quiet days – entertaining itself with my internal organs. The movements increased once again by Saturday evening (was it because we were shopping for you baby?) and strengthened so much that Garry felt it move for the first time Saturday night!

Week in Review: May 29 - June 6

Public opening for Garry’s annual Kinsey Institute Juried Art Show
Media coverage of the show at

Norm and Marlee came for a visit. They bought us this lovely glider, which our butts and baby will most certainly appreciate.

We all went for a hike at McCormick’s Creek State Park (AKA Piper’s Park).

Garry continued our yard projects with more digging – Amanda has currently retired from digging for the season – and many of our plants are in flower.

Foxglove, Digitalis purpurea

Rose campion, Lychnis coronaria

Clematis, Clematis sp.

We started our weekend at David and Kim's Friday evening

Spent an exhausting day in Indianapolis with Kim and Wanda at the Woodruff Place Flea Market and Babies R’ Us.

We exercised great restraint and didn’t buy one of these for the baby

We met our good friend Lakshmi's daughter Supriya

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Reflections on Midwifery

We had our third working appointment with MH, our midwife, this morning, and the calmness and intimacy of these appointments reminds me why I’m so happy we’ve decided to homebirth with a midwife.

I look forward to our monthly appointments with MH with eager anticipation. Not only do our appointments bring us closer to our baby’s appearance in this world, but also any nervous energy and worry dissipate when we meet with her. Happily, with the exception of the cyst (our worry wart), the pregnancy and baby seem to be progressing and developing normally and most reassuring was her putting our fears about the cyst (a confirmed CPC) at bay. She has seen these before in other clients and they always disappear. Because our baby is active and the rest of the ultrasound was normal, we have little to no reason to worry about it.

Everyone has their own reasons for choosing (or not choosing) a particular form of obstetrical care. Some feel safer giving birth in a hospital with an obstetrician or nurse-midwife, some choose a doula to support labor in a hospital. For a number of reasons, I find homebirth so much more appealing. When I first recognized homebirth as a birth option several years ago, I immediately felt it made sense. As long as a pregnancy is normal, a woman’s body, while not perfectly designed, can birth a baby without intervention under most circumstances. I do recognize there are a lot of caveats in the previous statement and a number of conditions can necessitate transfer to a hospital, but we wanted to work with an experienced midwife who will help me birth naturally as long as it is medically possible and reasonable to do so. It will be nice to have support throughout the whole labor (unlike an obstetrician who intercedes from crowning to birth, but is by-and-large otherwise absent) and without a schedule – the labor will take as long as it needs.

Lastly, it will be nice to give birth in the calmness, intimacy and quiet of our house, especially with MH helping Garry and I work through the difficult parts of labor. Though I know labor and giving birth will be very hard (I’ve no illusions about that), I’ve only rarely felt worried that I won’t be able to get through labor without pain relief. Despite these occasional worries, I actually do think I will be able to do it. MH and Garry concur. MH said she had the impression from the start that I would be able to handle labor, and of course if Garry didn’t think so we wouldn’t have chosen homebirth as we both need to feel this is the right choice. I sometimes feel so excited at the thought of our baby actually being here, that despite how hard labor is or I imagine it to be, visualizing our baby in our arms and nursing at my breast is, I think, all I need to get through labor.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Worry Wart

Several weeks ago I had an anxiety dream. In the dream I became panicked because my constant worries about the baby were preventing me from actually enjoying being with it. I was worried about worrying.

Saturday afternoon my first real reason to worry arose. Wednesday’s ultrasound seemed fine. The technician did not seem troubled by anything she saw and commented that everything looked fine and the doctor would look at the images later in the week. We breathed a sigh of relief and went to lunch. Saturday we checked our voicemail message to find a request to call the doctor’s office. I usually do not regret not having a cell phone. I am perfectly happy pretending it is 1982 most of the time, but not receiving the message until Saturday morning meant having to wait until Monday morning to find out why the office needed to speak with us. Thirty-five hours spent worrying and speculating what could be wrong (if anything).

Amanda called the office this morning and spoke to our doctor’s nurse. Being a nurse in a small office must be a terrible job when having to tell someone what is going to be perceived as bad news. The actual facts often do not even register because I think most people’s immediate response is emotional. You may feel scared. You may feel shocked. You may feel saddened. You may feel something else, but you feel. The receptionist needs you to listen, think and absorb the information. Amanda came over to my office to tell me that part of the baby’s brain was small and underdeveloped. I think she was projecting her own fear that she has done something to damage the baby’s brain during development.

Amanda called the office back to clarify what that meant and what part of the brain was the problem. The receptionist clarified (or more accurately corrected) Amanda’s interpretation of the first conversation. The baby has a small cyst on its brain. The receptionist assured her this is not uncommon and almost always disappears on its own. We scheduled an appointment for a second ultrasound in four weeks to make sure that is the case.

We still have questions about what this means and plan to bother the nurse with a few more questions tomorrow morning to verify what we read on the internet is accurate. We assume the cyst is a choroid plexus cyst (CPC). The choroid plexus is the part of the brain that produces fluids that protect and nourish the brain and spinal cord. The cyst is similar to a blister on this part of the brain, and appears in 1-3% of ultrasounds. Without other symptoms (such as abnormalities of organs, hands and feet), the cyst is considered an isolated CPC and is harmless and disappears in 99% of the cases.

Four weeks is a long time to wait to see if everything is fine, but I am learning that worrying is not a huge help.