This week, our Pud has learned the amazing skill of the yawn!  3 cheers for the littlest critic, who can now tell us s/he’s bored or unimpressed or, really, a tired little one.  In addition to flips and turns and little kicks, our Pud is developing the coordination to also throw a punch. This is thanks to the cartilage hardening a bit, giving Pud some more control over his/her limbs.  Pud has also mastered the hiccup and can hear even better the cacaphony of my body.  Poor child.

On the other hand, Pud is being read to everyday and gets to listen to music just about everyday. We’ve been reading about Palm Sunday and Good Friday and Easter. Just about every night has ended with Guess How Much I Love You.  One night, we started Alice in Wonderland. I think that will be the weekend book. We’ve sung Sunday School songs (Arky, Arky; Father Abraham; He’s Got the Whole World, etc.), kids’ songs (Mary Had a Little Lamb, Baby Shark, Happy and You Know It, Little Bunny Foo Foo), and the whole of Susie Luchsinger’s Real Love album. Amy Grant to be introduced this week, along with some hymns, courtesy of Andy Griffith.  Will also have to get out the trusty Brown Bear, Brown Bear, though I can recite it entirely from memory, and I need to dig out Love You Forever, as well.   

I’m experiencing more back pain- daily, in my mid-to-lower back. I just found out that a footrest can help, whether sitting or standing, so it’s off the KMart I go today!  The pain is a result of my belly going out more and my back being thrust forward, in addition to the hormone, relaxin, which makes my joints and everything else softer and more flexible, because frankly, stuff’s gonna have to start moving around to make room for Pud. Baby bump isn’t huge, but it’s noticeable.  

This past weekend, we spent our Saturday finding me some more comfy clothes that will grow with me. Thanks, S, for being the unknowing sponsor of the latest splurge!  We discovered a store called Babyology in Louisville, which is a great resource for pregnancy and nursing bras because they come in all kinds of sizes that aren’t necessarily easy to find in other locations. 

We also worked on the registries, which we will be tweaking this weekend.  When satisfied, they will be announced.  We are not registering for clothes.   The rationale is that Pud is a fall baby and it’s spring; clothes from consignment stores are far cheaper, and have generally been worn only once or twice; and we prefer gowns for our Pud when s/he is so small.  Might put baby legs on the registry, for added warmth during diaper changes.

We will also be registering at Mother Nurture, where we can get the cloth diapers and covers we like.  We can decide on the brands and share this info, because I’m sure they will be available online from other retailers.

Job-wise, we’re gearing up for graduation, which will be June 4th. I’m proud to say that I have 2 grads from my night classes, and 3 family literacy parents graduating, with the very real potential of 3-4 more family literacy grads to join them before the big day. In all, I think we’re already close to 100, but I haven’t checked to be sure.  Exciting times.

I will also be teaching two classes, starting next week, for community education: a baby sign class/playgroup and Puppygarten, both of which involve singing and playing. The goal for puppygarten is to teach puppies to accept some silliness and kid-behaviors, using many of the same songs and rhymes and movements that we use in the Babygarten curriculum- the same ones that have made my two love to sing and play along to classics such as Baby Shark and Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.  Not only will the pups be more comfortable with childlike behaviors and silly voices, they will also be able to practice these skills for future therapy work sessions, if they choose to go that route. 

The baby class will use songs and games and rhymes, with lots of repetition incorporated, to teach moms/dads and babes some very useful signs to facilitate communication earlier.  A signing baby cries less from the frustrations of trying get his needs met!  Clearly, this is something we plan to do with Pud!

Oh, and one more decision that has been made about our birthing process: we will be working towards a natural childbirth. I will be signing up for classes in the next week to get us in the hospital and also at Baby Moon, which will present a lot of information about strategies for pain management and such that will help us when the big day comes. We also will have my good friend as our doula.  Her job will be to help B and me to relax and remember to use the pain management strategies we will be learning, basically.  She will be what we need from her at the moment- a hand-holder and voice of calm for a distressed daddy-to-be (who is already quite obssessed wih worry about seeing me in pain), a person to run for ice chips, a photographer, etc.  She will also help us to understand more fully any interventions- like pitocin- and what we can expect with those interventions.  We prefer to have the doula, the doc, and the interpreter/s (remember, docs wear masks) in the room, and for family to wait outside in the waiting room during the final stages of labor. 

Cousin D recommended making a call tree list and distributing it out in advance, so I am thinking about that and working through it to give family an idea of who they’ll be hearing from or calling on D-Day.

One more concern is, of course, the dogs!  My Callie is especially loathe to be apart from me (and I from her) these days. We try to practice separation, but we DON’T like it for very long. I left her with B last Sunday while I went to see the family (allergic sister- so left her home), and he reported that she was fine for about three hours, and then she started whining and looking at the door anxiously periodically until I came home.  She is curled up next to me as I type, strategically placed so that she is touching me, no matter how she moves. If I move away, she will follow and/or find me, and she will check in on Pud (I am not kidding- this is HER baby) before settling in close to a body part again. 

It is natural, I think. Her instincts tell her that she has to protect me and the baby, the “weakest” members of her pack, but at the same time, I’m encouraging her to do even more waits while I go out of sight, and rewarding her for handling it reasonably well when I get back. I’ve had her do some waiting with some of her favorite people at work, as well, but the truth is that she much prefers to be able to not only smell my presence, but also see it. This, we proved at the dogpark, B and I, when she was resting in the watching-the-herd pose with her back to us. I quietly slipped out of sight behind a tree. Not even 30 seconds later, her nose was up in the air, and she tracked me and found me. B did the same thing awhile later, and neither dog went looking for him, though he was out of sight for 10 minutes.  They smelled that he was there (they put their noses up to air-scent) and that was good enough. Interesting.

Anyway, we need to think about whether to seek a babysitter for them, have them stay with us at the hospital and then wait with a trusted person in the waiting room for the actual delivery, or what.  I’m sure the hospital will have its opinions, too, and we’ll have to learn about those as we seek compromise. I need my Callie when I’m sleeping, especially in a strange place, and I need her to start learning Pud’s sounds as soon as she can, so she can alert me.  B sleeps too soundly to be depended on for this job, particularly when he’s very tired.  I want her to meet our Pud very early, and I want to start working with her on the command to allow desired visitors to see and hold Pud.  Our trainer recommended that if we do have them at the hospital for labor that they NOT be anywhere CLOSE to being able to hear  during the delivery.  Hearing their mom in pain could lead to the connection that it’s the doctor’s fault- not an association we want to have them make!  We will also introduce Pud’s scent via blanket very early- and talk about how that’s our/their baby.

I don’t think I want any kind of community announcements made that the baby has arrived for at least a week or two.  In addition to making me uncomfortable, there are the shepherds to consider- they won’t be happy if Mama ain’t happy!  I don’t want to spend the first days of my baby’s life fussing at them when they are protecting their baby from people who make me uncomfortable- it will only entrench undesirable behaviors and create negative feelings towards the baby. It is not my job to entertain the entire community at its whim, but it IS my job to learn to understand Pud’s signals and learn to care for him/her and to help my household find the new normal after his/her arrival.

I know if I didn’t say this and say it loudly NOW, that I’d get all worked up about needing to have a perfectly clean house, look my best at all times, and have the baby always prettified and ready for guests, including being in a good mood, and all the crazy expectations that I cannot have and successfully do my primary job of taking care of a brand-new baby and a recovering body to the best of my tired abilities.  I’ve learned there are definitely times to be “selfish”, and trying to figure out a new baby and allow one’s body to heal is a good time for being “selfish”. 

Happy Good Friday!  Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning!