I was relieved to weigh in at my Friday prenatal appointment at a robust 153.6, up from 147 two weeks before that (and 148 two weeks before that). Net weight gain so far is a healthy 28.6 pounds. I love watching those numbers go up, knowing it means my boy is growing and my body is growing to accommodate him.
In some of my Facebook groups, a lot of women seem to freak out as they watch the numbers climb, which makes me sad. Even if I measured health or well being by a single number, I don’t think of the number on the scale as “my” weight. I think of it as me + baby + fluids + placenta + expanded uterus + expanded blood supply + a bit of temporary extra padding here and there to help nourish and support a new human being. I carry it as a badge of honor.
No protein in my urine, either (there was a trace amount last time), blood pressure is still good, uterus measured 33cm (within margin of error), and babe still moves all the time but tends to hang out with his back to the left side of my belly, head down, which is ideal.
The best part is, my midwife is willing to deliver the baby once he reaches 36 weeks, so by my next prenatal appointment — February 23 — I’ll be only two days away from that milestone. I’ve been so terrified of preterm labor and all the risks and costs that go along with it, and every day I breathe such a sigh of relief that he’s still hanging around in there and seems to be doing just fine.
I did have my first birth anxiety dream last night, though. I wasn’t anxious about the birth itself (like, perhaps naively, I am not anxious about giving birth in real life — I figure if most women can do it, so can I, and if anything goes wrong, I’ll be taken to the hospital and be in great hands). To be honest, I’m really excited about birth. It seems like an adventure. And I generally have good tolerance for pain / discomfort as long as I know it’s (a) temporary and (b) not actually injuring me. And especially when it’s (c) for such a beautiful cause.
In the dream I just couldn’t seem to get in touch with my doula or midwife when I was in labor. I kept trying to look up the midwife’s phone number, but the numbers and letters confused me, and finally someone said she was away at another birth, and I was left on my own. The birth still ended up being fine — even easier than expected — but there was just this sense of frustration and wrongness that I couldn’t get in touch with anyone.
As far as parenting books, so far I’ve read Bringing up Bébé (about French parenting) and How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk. Both resonated quite a bit.
The first is about staying calm, slowing down, and paying close attention to baby’s cues as opposed to freaking out every time they whimper. Sometimes they’re just fussing on their way to going back to sleep, and if you pick them up and say, “What’s wrong? Are you hungry? Are you wet?” you interrupt their sleep and turn no problem into an actual problem. Apparently, French babies regularly sleep through the night at three or four months, without any “sleep training” or prolonged, torturous “cry it out” nonsense. (Seems like nonsense to me, anyway, but given that I have zero experience, feel free to take that with a big grain of salt.)
French parents also don’t feed their kids bland mush from the moment they start eating and then wonder why they’re picky eaters. French kids eat the same things grown-ups eat, almost from the very beginning, as soon as they’re ready for solid foods. That makes intuitive sense to me, too.
The How to Talk… book was truly a revelation. I don’t think I can adequately summarize it, but it has to do with respecting children as small and emotionally under-developed but very real humans, and not blaming or shaming them when they screw up. Instead, when things go wrong, teaching them how to fix the problem (as opposed to sit in their room and feel crappy about it) is much more empowering.
It’s also about acknowleding and sitting with kids’ feelings, no matter how “irrational” they may seem. How many times do we grown-ups have irrational feelings? When we do, do we want someone with authority over us to come and say, “That emotion is not valid, and here’s why”? No. We do not. Neither do kids. Like us, they want empathy before they want advice. And if they can be included in the decision-making process about how to solve the impasse (even if they understand the parent ultimately retains veto power), they’re on their way to feeling like their thoughts and feelings actually matter. Which (at least in my experience) makes it so much easier to work through “irrational” emotions and ultimately come back to the rational mind and come up with creative solutions.
There’s so much more to it, but all I can say is, I highly, highly recommend it. It’s incredibly counterintuitive at first, given the way most of us were raised. But then it clicks into place, and it’s like, “Yes! That’s exactly how I wish I had been treated as a kid…”
The book I’m reading now is called The Diaper Free Baby. It’s about elimination communication, the idea that babies don’t actually like to soil themselves (see: every trope about babies peeing as soon as the diaper is off) and are able to communicate subtle signals when they need to go. It may sound wacky, but in most cultures around the world, and through most of history, giant disposable diapers that can hold three pees and a poo haven’t really been a thing. I saw small kids with split-crotch pants in China all the time, and happily potty-trained 18-month-olds are not exactly rare on planet earth.
It’s mostly just the recent Western world that’s decided to train kids to use their pants as a toilet, only to turn around and battle to train them back out of it after the kid has spent a lifetime learning to mess in their pants.
Now, again, I’ve never been a parent, and this may not be something I can even hope to get off the ground. But I figure it’s worth a try (especially since I don’t want to send so many disposables into the landfill, or even mess with cloth diapers any longer than I have to), and I’m enjoying the book a lot. And it just seems to make sense to try to potty train a kid when he’s in the agreeable, imitative phase rather than during the strong-willed “terrible twos” and threes. And “train” isn’t even the right word. Ideally, it’s more a matter of working with your kids’ instincts instead of against them. Or so the philosophy goes. We’ll see.
The Informed Parent is next (general evidence-based best practices), and I went ahead and ordered a used copy of What to Expect in the First Year, for better or worse. I like to read those if nothing else as a kind of touchstone of where our culture is. It’s anthropologically interesting and hopefully occasionally useful as well.
And I just impulse-bought Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason since the paperback was only five bucks. The title itself speaks deeply to me. Again, we’ll see if I can actually apply some of it to a tiny human. God knows I want it to be true — I want love and reason to be the basis of every human interaction I have. Life doesn’t always work that way, but what can we do but our best?
Raising a kid will be such a fascinating case study in so many things.
Here’s a list of other books I’m thinking about. As soon as the kid is here, I’m sure my reading time will go way down, if not be extinguished altogether for a while, so I’m trying to cram in what I can before then. The next book I’ll get will probably be The Whole-Brain Child. I’ll be doing good to finished that and the books I’ve already ordered, but I’m heading to a big consignment sale soon and can maybe pick up a few titles there as well. Anything else I should probably just grab from the library.
Always happy to hear suggestions about what books have been most helpful to you. In general my instinct is to do my best to learn my baby as an individual, treat him as I would want to be treated, and not get too super intensive into nitty-gritty parenting books until after I’ve gotten into some kind of rhythm with my little guy and attempted to see where my insticts take me.
The books I’ve read so far have helped me get rid of some “conventional wisdom” baggage and social conditioning, and I’ve found that very helpful and refreshing.
But we’ll see how it all works in real life…