Saturday, August 29, 2009


Three days late and still no labor. I'm beginning to think it's all a cruel hoax and that I'm actually going to be pregnant forever. What if I am the one human female who somehow has the gestation period of an elephant? Those unfortunate bastards are pregnant for 22 months, wandering the roasting hot African plains and whatnot. That has to be uncomfortable. Poor suckers.

My frustration has been exacerbated by the fact that in the past week our mild, temperate summer has somehow morphed into a hellish, muggy 95 degree inferno. This weekend is supposed to be particularly scorching, and I had very much hoped that I would be able to spend it in an air-conditioned hospital room. To make matters worse, the fires burning in the hills of La Canada have made LA's generally awful air quality cross the line into truly atrocious territory, causing officials to issue disturbing "DO NOT WALK OUTSIDE UNLESS NECESSARY" warnings.

Now, I ask you - what is one of the tried-and-true methods of kickstarting labor? WALKING, and lots of it. Yet LA county has basically mandated that I do no such thing for fear of sucking buckets of filthy air into my pristine, pregnant lungs, and far be it from me to cross our dedicated LA city officials. Instead I have been reduced to lunging up and down our apartment's stairs ten times a night for the past several nights. Then I sit and bounce on my birth ball while rubbing my nipples and chugging labor salad dressing (magical salad, my ass! All it seems to have done is make me loathe balsamic vinegar more than I already did, which was quite a lot). Last night my husband gave me a foot and ankle massage, trying all the acupressure points that I had read would stimulate labor. So far no dice...but I'm trying here, people!

Ultimately, I'm sure that all my labor-inducing attempts are for naught and that the baby will come when it's damn good and ready. One thing is already evident: this child is stubborn, which means it is clearly its mother's son/daughter.

Hopefully the next time I write I will have a little person to show off.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Words to Live By

Today is my due date, but LOOL has yet to grace us with his or her presence. While somewhat disappointed, I can't say I am altogether surprised, given that I know perfectly well that the majority of first babies are late. Also, although my midwives have consistently maintained the August 26th due date, I always suspected that it would be a bit later, since my cycles were generally a few days longer than the typical 28, and I ovulated late. I know this because, being mildly OCD, I was faithfully clocking my temperature every morning on a basal thermometer during our baby-makin' days, so yes, I know exactly when I ovulated (day 19, if you must know). By those calculations, our baby could actually be due on August 30th or so. I am very much hoping that I am wrong.

"Any day now" was the official consensus at my midwife's appointment this morning. She gave me a quick exam to assure that my water hadn't been leaking - I was paranoid because quite frankly, it's like Niagara Falls down there these days. That's right, non-moms - nobody tells you that pleasant tidbit about the last trimester of pregnancy, so get ready. Just when you can't feel any more atttractive, the strange leaking fluids are truly lovely.

The midwife also seemed quite pleased when I proudly reported that I'd lost my mucus plug this morning (and no, I will NOT apologize for blogging about my damn mucus plug, so if you have a problem, shove it). There I was, in a pantsless, sleepy haze, having just gotten out of bed and wandered into the bathroom. I sneezed, and suddenly had the bizarre sensation that can best be summarized as "what the hell just fell out of my body??" I looked down and there it was, hangin' out on the tile floor. Gross, yet strangely fascinating.

I was also informed that the baby has dropped and that his/her little head is happily nestled very, very low in my pelvis. Today's midwife (remember that they vary from visit to visit) said that these were all sure signs that labor was imminent, and I'd really love to believe that. However, I know many women who have lost their plugs and gone on to deliver over a week later, and those whose babies dropped weeks prior to d-day. Ultimately, this all proves a whole lot of nothing, but in my current state of total baby fever I'll believe anything.

My aunt treated me to lunch today. She met me at our place and we plodded (well, I plodded - she walked like a normal, non-extra-29-pounds-carrying-person) over to one of my favorite restaurants. I ordered the turkey burger and inquired if the aged cheddar cheese on top was pasteurized. The waitress assured me that it definitely was.

My burger arrived, delicious and meaty and cheesy, and I gobbled it down. However, despite its tastiness I soon found myself once again gripped by my most crippling pregnancy paranoia, which is that ALL SERVERS ARE TRYING TO KILL MY BABY.

Sure, they SAY the cheese is pasteurized, but I ask you, how can I be sure? How do I know it isn't actually UNpasteurized, listeria-containing evil, the kind that dutiful preggos must avoid at all costs? Yes, I could force them to bring out the package and show me the label, but that's just an easy way to 1) prove my craziness and 2) ensure that my food gets spit in.

Thoughts like these have driven me to a near-frenzy during every cheese-containing restaurant meal I have consumed over the course of my pregnancy. My poor, patient husband assures me each and every time that no, the waiter does not want to kill our child, and yes, I need to learn to trust people, yet still I worry. I realize my fears are irrational and unfounded, and that even if I did eat a small amount of unpasteurized cheese, our baby would almost certainly be fine. After all, I have a friend who scoffed in the face of all the pregnancy no-nos during her own child's gestation, gobbling sushi, flagrant amounts of brie, goat and blue cheese, and downing the occasional glass of wine. "I'm Greek!" she said. "This is how they do it over there, and their babies are fine!" I envied her peace of mind and glass of merlot.

Much earlier in my pregnancy, I was relaying my insanity to a friend, and she said something that struck me as quite profound in my hormone-induced delirium.

"Paige, crackheads have perfectly healthy babies every day. Crackheads."

So my friends, I tell you this - if you are pregnant, or plan to one day become pregnant, heed my advice and don't lose your mind with worry like yours truly.
Remember the crackheads.

With that, I ask you to please send labor-y thoughts my way. I am now going to attempt accupressure, practice nipple stimulation, and walk up and down some stairs.

Move it along, you little squatter. This uterus is a no-loitering zone.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Hooray! I should think of more blog titles that are also Tom Petty songs.

Well, here I am. Three days til d-day, and I'm one large, round, impatient pregnant broad. Yesterday we saw some friends for one of their kids' birthday parties, and the consensus among them was that I was going to be late - very, very late.

Why THANKS, bastards! Rub it in, why don't ya? I'm nearly 40 weeks pregnant, waddling around on ankles that resemble fat, swollen little tugboats hauling my massive girth, scarcely able to turn over in my sleep or get out of bed for one of my 87 zillion nightly pee breaks without a major ordeal (i.e: lots of grunting, cursing and flopping around like a turtle on its back), with blotchy skin and digestion that has slowed to a crawl in the past two weeks. What do I REALLY want to hear? "Yeah, you're totally going to go to 42 weeks."

What I should have said: "May you all get a raging case of the trots and spend the next three days on the toilet." What I said: "Awesome. Thanks."

Doesn't anyone have the decency to just LIE TO MY FACE? "I'm sure it'll be any day now." Is that so hard?

Bleeeeeeh. Bastards.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

To 1,100 Days of Us

Last night, I dreamt that I was with one of my first boyfriends, someone I dated many years ago when I was very young. As we sat together, he professed his affection for my hugely pregnant self. Calmly, I looked at him and said "No. I don't love you, and this isn't your baby."

I wandered away, walking further into my dreamworld. Soon I encountered another former boyfriend, and he too looked at me beseechingly. "No." I said. "It's not you, and this isn't your baby." I continued roaming, alone, searching for something.

Then I awoke, opening my eyes to my sleeping husband lying next to me, who is more incredible than any dream I've ever had.

Lying there in the early morning light, I listened to his calm, rhythmic breathing and the sounds from Fairfax High's football practice two blocks away, echoing across the field and through my window.

Suddenly, I flashed back to almost three years ago. My future husband and I are sitting in a darkened movie theater, watching "Rebel Without a Cause" on the big screen. In front of us, on the patio of the deserted mansion, Natalie Wood gazes at James Dean and murmurs, "So this is what it's like to love somebody." As we turn to stare googily-eyed at each other in the dim light, I realize that, for the first time, I know what Natalie means.

So this is what love is. More incredible than any dream, deeper than I knew possible, greater than anything I could have imagined.

I am so very lucky.

...someone in the world awaits you, whether it's in the middle of the desert or in some great city. And when two such people encounter each other, and their eyes meet, the past and the future become unimportant. There is only that moment, and the incredible certainty that everything under the sun has been written by one hand only. It is the hand that evokes love, and creates a twin soul for every person in the world. Without such love, one's dreams would have no meaning...when you are loved, you can do anything in creation.
- Paolo Coelho

Monday, August 10, 2009

Rosie Redface

The last time I had a pregnancy complaint, it was regarding my inability to sleep in any position except on my back, which happens to be the one position that pregnant ladies are supposed to avoid. Well, no sooner was that gripe cured (with the help of the fantastic Snoogle pillow) that another, even more irritating issue arose...

For the past month or so, I've noticed that my face has been red, blotchy, and what can only be described as speckly. Each morning I stumble into the bathroom hoping to see my usually alabaster (some would say "pasty" but I prefer delightful euphemisms like "alabaster" and "porcelain" instead, dammit) visage staring back at me, and every morning I am disappointed with a monochrome Jackson Pollack of sorts, stretching from my cheeks down to my chin.

Anyone who knows me well can understand the depth of my frustration with this. I have been obsessed with skincare for my entire adolescent and adult life, since my father first gave me a worn issue of Seventeen magazine, already dog-eared from countless patients rifling through it at his office. For a pre-pubescent small town girl, Seventeen's grinning, bouncing models were the very height of sophistication, and I took every skincare article deeply to heart. Soon I was doing home facials, steaming my skin over a pot of boiling water, then smearing on a green drugstore face mask and sitting with cucumbers over my eyes. My pink, flowery, little girl bedroom would become a personal spa for the afternoon while I toned, moisturized, and examined every pore. As I grew older, next came my zealous, near-fanatical obsession with sunblock - to this day I do not believe I have left the house - even just to walk down the street to the mailbox - without an SPF on my face.

Until recently, all of this diligent attention to good skincare paid off, as I reveled in blissfully trouble-free skin, relatively unscathed by freckling, acne, or - gasp! - premature aging. Some women may take this for granted, but I, super-fair, sun-damage-and-skin-cancer-prone blondie that I am, was thankful.

Cut to the middle of last year: when we first began thinking of getting pregnant, my other obsession - to do whatever small part I can to save the planet, ecosystem, ozone layer, you-name-it - was at an all-time high. In addition to my regular work, I was freelance writing for Ideal Bite, hunting down local eco-friendly businesses to highlight in sassy daily e-blasts to subscribers. Although working late in corporate America and coming home to write for several hours was challenging, I relished the outlet for my eco-soapbox.

It was around this time that I went to a meeting for the Environmental Working Group's Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, and learned about their "10 Americans" study, in which researchers found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants (out of 413 tested) in umbilical cord blood from 10 babies born in 2004 in U.S. hospitals. The blood of these perfect, innocent little people had all kinds of gunk in it - pesticides, consumer product ingredients, and wastes from burning coal, gasoline, and garbage. Of the 287 total chemicals detected in the umbilical cord blood, scientists know that 134 of these cause cancer, 158 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, 186 cause infertility and 151 cause birth defects or abnormal development. Obviously, THIS TOTALLY FREAKED ME OUT. While there is little to prevent at least some chemicals from reaching the fetus, I learned that day that there are ways to avoid others, like parabens and phthalates, which are omnipresent in many skincare and cosmetic products.

After the presentation, I went home and flung open my medicine cabinet. One by one, I went through my go-to products, looking up each one on the EWG's Cosmetics Database website, which ranks products according to their toxicity. I was shocked at what I discovered - even my gentlest products contained a slew of questionable ingredients. My mission was clear - with baby-making time approaching, changes must be made.

Over the next several months, I gradually replaced the biggest offenders with baby-friendly alternatives. Out went my beloved drugstore concealer , my favorite powder, and my perfect shampoo. I gradually hunted down decent nontoxic substitutes, and when I got pregnant shortly thereafter, my paranoid mind rested easy, knowing that I had tried my best to get little LOOL off to a chemical-free start in life.

But enough with the self-congratulatory crap: despite my best efforts, I must admit that my beauty arsenal has been severely depleted over the past nine + months. Day after day, I have faithfully slathered on California Baby's extremely gentle sunblock - totally baby-safe, but I am left looking like Casper the Friendly (and greasy) Ghost, and no amount of eco-friendly powder seems to take away the shine. I find myself longing desperately for my prize product, Anthelios XL, AKA "the best sunblock on earth," which I used to buy on French websites before it was available in Canada (its key ingredient, Mexoryl XL, is still not approved by the FDA for sale in America, although it's been on the market in Europe for years - lucky European Union!).

I have diligently swiped on Josie Maran mascara daily - although it does a decent job, I find myself fantasizing about the gloriously doe-eyed moments of my Maybelline Full N' Soft heyday.

I have puckered up to Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer while dreaming of the day that I can once again dab on one of my countless beloved red, 1940s-film-star lipsticks.

When I behold my pale, oily face every day, I realize that this is just the beginning of the many sacrifices I will make for my child. Ultimately, it could all be for naught - after all, I don't have a single mom-friend who has tossed her regular products during pregnancy. The truth is, I think my efforts have been partially to ease the "green conscience" that I developed after writing about all-things-eco for months on end, partially to ease my own obsessive paranoia, and partially to simply stand for something - to know that I walked the talk while I was expecting.

Today I went to the dermatologist and was told that my redness could simply be a hormonal result of the pregnancy or could actually be pregnancy-induced rosacea. Delightful! Oh, the irony. There is little to do but wait and see if it goes away post-birth - LOOL is due in just over two weeks, and I find myself counting down to both the moment I hold my child and the moment I apply my regular mascara.

T-minus 16 days...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Look Back: Pregnancy Must-Haves

As the clock ticks down to the end of my pregnancy, I've been thinking about the products that I couldn't have lived without for the past 9+ months. To pay them tribute, I think a summary is in order:

First and foremost, the Snoogle pillow. This awesome contraption was given to me by a mommy friend during my seventh month of pregnancy, and it has enabled me to sleep soundly ever since (or as soundly as one can when waking to pee four times a night).

Equally fantastic is coconut oil, which thus far has single-handedly saved my belly from stretch marks. Although there are endless fancy stretch mark prevention creams on the market, all pandering to susceptible pregnant women with the promise of smooth, lineless skin, I've found that simply grabbing a jar of Whole Foods 365 Organic Coconut Oil from the cooking section (couldn't find a photo of it, but the stuff below works, too) and slathering it on does the job for me. In fact, why should my belly have all the fun? I've taken to using the stuff over my entire body - arms, legs, even face occasionally. It sinks in quickly, leaves no smell, and I'm soft as a baby's ass. Best of all, immediately after I apply it there's a trace of coconut scent in the air, which never fails to cause my husband to sing the Pina Colada song while dancing down the hallway. Love it. I think this stuff is going to replace regular body moisturizer for me henceforth.

I'm a vegetarian - or former vegetarian. Truth be told, I've been cheating with organic chicken and occasional fish for the past couple of months. There are concerns about too much soy intake during pregnancy, so I've only been eating my beloved tofu every other day or so, and baby needs protein. It was extremely exhausting to plan meals carefully enough to meet increased protein requirements without including meat, especially while limiting the amount of soy I consume (not to mention a wicked turkey burger craving that crept up on me during month 6 or so), so once I began my third trimester, I started eating chicken and turkey now and then. However, almost every morning of my pregnancy I've looked forward to my Trader Joe's Organic European-Style Plain Yogurt, which I mix with cereal and fruit. Paired with a half-cup serving of organic cottage cheese, I've got almost 30 grams of protein (half the day's minimum requirement) just from breakfast alone. Brilliant.

I've mentioned it before, but the Bella Band deserves yet another shout-out. Thank you, stretchy band of fabric, for keeping my pants, shorts, and skirts up throughout my pregnancy and enabling me to get through the past nine months without buying any maternity clothing whatsoever.

When I got pregnant, I switched all of my skincare products and cosmetics to baby-safe, eco-friendly alternatives. I entered the ingredients of all of my daily products on the Environmental Working Group's Cosmetics Database website and then searched for safer versions of the worst offenders. This was often extremely frustrating - I've discovered that, quite frankly, there is a reason that those chemicals are added to everything - they WORK. I went through countless craptastic paraben-free, phthalate-free, fragrance-free, (etc. etc. etc.) substitutions before whittling it down to a few options that worked decently.
First, Josie Maran Mascara is a pretty good substitute for my beloved Maybelline Full & Soft, and contains no questionable baby-toxic ingredients. However, it does lack some staying power, and at $22 a pop I think I'll be switching back to my trusty drugstore stand-by when LOOL graces us with his/her presence.

Also, Everyday Minerals Concealer did a smashing job of covering up my zombie circles, and the little brush applicator made every morning like creating a fine work of art on my face.

Last but not least, hooray to Forever 21 - made for 13-year-olds yet beloved by 30-year-old pregnant broads. Without their cheap, colorful shirts and dresses, I would have doubtlessly been wandering the streets naked for the past nine months. I have the shirt below in four colors, and have worn them in constant rotation, to work or play.

Also, thank you to current trends, which made finding flowy non-maternity tops simple.

I'm sure there are more favorites that I'm neglecting to mention, so I will add them as I remember.

T-minus 18 days til LOOL's due date!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

LOOL - An In-Utero Retrospective

For his recent birthday, I presented my husband with an album full of photos documenting the growth of my belly over the past nine months. My good friend N is an incredible photographer, and I enlisted her help in a covert belly photo shoot. I also included every ultrasound beauty shot ever taken of the kid. When my husband opened the album, he burst into tears. Success!
Here are some highlights:

17 weeks

22 weeks (please excuse boobie attempting to escape nightgown)

23 weeks (please excuse bra attempting to escape tank top)

A portrait of two bellies:

30 weeks

Slightly indecent for public consumption, but only a few friends and my mom read this, so what the hell?


Shower Power

As I write this, I am sitting in my apartment gazing at baby stuff galore. My two showers were incredible - my friends and co-workers were so incredibly generous that we emerged with practically nothing left to buy for baby. I am endlessly thankful (and writing the 55 thank-yous to prove it did seem pretty endless).

First, my work shower - a few weeks ago I got an Outlook invitation for an afternoon meeting, and thought little of it. I was briefly concerned that perhaps our president had decided to take all the money out of our budgets, leaving me with nothing to spend for the upcoming sweep period, which would be a dire fate indeed. However, this was merely a fleeting paranoia, and when two co-workers came over to my desk at 4pm to join me on our walk to the meeting, I wasn't suspicious at all.

Cut to the conference room, where I walked into a baby shower extravaganza, bedecked with confetti, banners, gifts, and about 30 co-workers.

Everyone knows me for my love of cupcakes, so there they were:

There were plenty of goodies to eat and drink, and countless presents to open. Between them, my co-workers had bought almost everything on my baby registry. I was truly spoiled, and I have the awesome lady in pink (below) to thank for arranging it all.

Only a few short days later, my mother flew down for the weekend for my actual shower. We spent that Friday (one of my summer days - thank you, work benefits!) going downtown to the garment district to buy fabric for curtains and pillows for the nursery. I'll post photos as soon as they're completed by my crafty friend N (yes, I am also thankful that I have the good fortune to have friends who are far craftier than I).

The shower was incredible - I couldn't have asked for a lovelier day. N and C did a beautiful job - they served a variety of tea sandwiches (my favorite, by special request, were the PB&J - yes, I am five), salads (my mom made an incredible fruit salad in a bowl carved from a watermelon, and my mother- and sister-in-law brought lentil and orzo salads - yum), and yes, more cupcakes (there are never enough). Games were played (none of which were embarrassing or disgusting, like the "diaper full of snickers bars" game, which is foul), and mommy-talk was rampant. Basically, Little Draitser's many aunts spoiled the crap out of the kid.

With a few of my favorite ladies, on shower day:

The invitation said "Please bring a used book for the baby's library," so my mom regifted my old childhood favorite, "The Teddy Bears' Picnic," full of 25-year-old Paige illustrations:

My mom accidentally switched her camera to black & white mode at some point during the shower, leaving me with lots of artsy shots.

The two tired almost-parents, at the end of a long, celebratory day: