Last Month's Diary

We're going to try to keep a daily diary during ThatKid's final month of gestation.

Friday, 10/22
We didn't get much sleep last night. Linda had contractions thoughout the night. For awhile, she was able to sleep during the 10-15 minutes between each one. Mike would hear Linda's breathing become a faint snore as she fell asleep. Then he'd hear the breathing gradually tense up and turn into moans as the contraction arrived and Linda awoke. Then he'd hear the moans turn back into snores as Linda fell back to sleep. It went on like this for much of the night.

After we called our doula at 4:30 a.m. and got some advice, Linda crawled into a warm tub and labored there for awhile. We called the doctor around 10 a.m. At that point, contractions were lasting one minute and were 5 minutes apart, and continued that way for an hour (the 1:5:1 rule). The doctor said to go to the hospital.

We hopped in the Trooper, which was packed with pillows, hospital bag, media bag, birthing ball. Our neighbor Steen bid us farewell. We made a quick stop at the video store to drop off movies, then headed to the hospital. (Linda cringed every time we hit a pothole or speed bump. Pregnant women appreciate smooth-riding cars.)

Our doula Holly met us up on the Labor and Delivery floor. As is the drill in L&D, they first put Linda in triage, just as they did during the false alarm two weeks ago. But once Linda was lying on the gurney, with monitors attached, the contractions slowed to a crawl -- maybe 10, 12 minutes apart. Apparently this happens a lot when moms-to-be arrive at the hospital. The nurse checked Linda's status. The good news: She was 100 percent effaced (the cervix was completely thinned for childbirth). The bad news: She was still only 1 cm dilated. The cervix was still practically closed. We had the option of hanging around the hospital for a couple hours and walking the halls (walking can stimulate labor and dilatation) or going home. While we were trying to make a decision, Linda's parents showed up. We decided to go home and wait it out there.

That was probably a wise choice because, as I write this at 10:30 p.m., Linda's contractions are back to more than five minutes apart. She isn't experiencing the intense, close-together contractions that are characteristic of "active labor." Things are moving slowly. The doula and Mike spent the afternoon helping Linda work through contractions on the couch and on the birthing ball. We took a walk around the neighborhood to try and stimulate things. Early on, Linda ate some scrambled eggs and cheese, and later had a Power Bar and toast. Holly has been making sure Linda has been drinking lots of water and using the bathroom. (Taking in lots of fluids is critical during labor. Why? I can't remember.)

Mike has been tallying the stats on Linda's contractions -- how long they last, how often they occur. Five minutes between contractions, three minutes between them, seven minutes, two minutes... It seems every time we get a string of short numbers (which means we're closing in on the end), a long one comes along to spoil the party. (It would be great to see a consistent series of times. But I guess that rarely happens in real life, right?)

Hopefully we'll have reason to head back to the hospital soon, since it's now been more than 24 hours since Linda had her first contractions. She's getting *really* tired.

Thursday, 10/21
We took a morning walk to Cafe Fanny to meet our friend Rebekah and her newborn daughter Claudia for breakfast. It was a beautiful day and we had a tasty breakfast. Linda had a fruit crisp and Mike had ham-and-cheese crepes.

Linda started having subtle signs of labor before breakfast, so at noon we went to the doctor to have her checked out again. The doctor said things still looked pretty closed. Indeed, it could be as long as another week or week and a half before labor really got started, the doctor said. We went home with our hopes again dashed. That afternoon, we both took long naps, which I'm sure screwed up our sleep schedules even further (we've been taking day naps and staying up late all week). If contractions start at midnight, we thought, we'll be ready.

Guess what? While we watched the movie Hurlyburly (thumbs down) late that evening, Linda started having these twinges in her gut. They were similar to the Braxton-Hicks contractions she'd been having for the past few months, but longer in duration, evenly spaced, and slightly painful. Yes, at long last, this seemed like it was *really it*. We both got a rush of adrenaline. Linda made a casserole. Mike scrubbed the tub (Linda is planning to spend some of her labor there). Linda made sure her hospital bag had everything (PJs for Linda, clothes for the baby, Power Bars, etc.). Mike packed the "media bag," which includes camcorder, camera, tripod, and other equipment.

As I type this at 2 a.m., Linda has gone to bed to try and get some sleep. Lying down seems to have stopped the contractions for now. Hopefully, they can wait until the morning to start up again. This may be just another false alarm, but I doubt it. (But what do I know? :-)

Wednesday, 10/20
The due date came and went. It was no different from the other days of the past week.

We had our weekly visit to the obstetrician. She confirmed that, no, the baby hasn't dropped (Linda is still measuring 40 cm). However, it turns out Linda is 1 cm dilated. (That's 1 cm more than last week.) We asked about standard tricks that are said to bring on labor -- certain spicy foods, long hikes. The doctor said none of them have any real merit. The baby is going to come when it is ready, she said, which is usually all for the best. (Still, this weekend we may try going to an Italian restaurant whose pizza is famous for activating pregnant moms.) The doctor said the only thing that might bring on labor is intercourse, on account of the prostaglandins in the semen.

That evening we ate another batch of hamburger stoganoff and watched the 1973 movie Badlands (liked it).

Tuesday, 10/19
Linda's parents drove down from Novato, where they are staying in their motorhome on "Baby Alert." The last time Linda had seen them was in July, when she flew down to SoCal for her dad's birthday. (Pictures: Linda and parents, looking at garden.) They brought ThatKid a bag of gifts, which included a bear- and pig-covered quilt that Linda's mom had sewn. We gave them a tour of the nursery (which is half of Mike's home office), and chatted for an hour or so. Mike did a virtual reality panorama of everyone in the living room (requires QuickTime to view). (Here's a static image if you don't have QuickTime.) We all went to Picante for an early Mexican dinner, after which Mike and Linda came home and took naps. In the evening, Linda finished thank-you notes for the second shower.

Monday, 10/18
Mike meet with life-insurance salesman. Linda walk dogs, sleep on couch. Linda parents now in North Bay. Great Grandma Pat knit cute hat and booties. Rent five videos. (Pushing Tin really bad.) Greg and Susan find humor in furniture purchase. (Sears Homelife synchronicity.) Matt interview a lot, sing to sixty-year-old woman's plants.

Sunday, 10/17
We got up late and went to breakfast at Fatapple's (waffle special for Mike, pancake special for Linda). Next, we went to Andronico's to stock up on food for after the baby comes (Linda thinks she can make several freezable meals for those first few post-baby weeks -- we'll see). Linda spent the rest of the day on the couch, reading and napping; Mike worked on the shack, getting it ready for relatives.

Our friend Rebekah and her baby Claudia stopped by for dinner (Mike's famous strogie), then kept Linda company while Mike went with his friend Greg to a Japanese noise concert in the City. Rebekah had lots of great advice for Linda. Claudia pretty much slept through everything, even Belle's snout in her face and Lucy licking her toes.

Saturday, 10/16
Mike spent most of the day trying to get dog hair out of the oriental carpet in the living room. He also put up blinds in the backyard shack (which may be housing relatives soon. Who feels lucky? :-). Linda took the dogs for a much needed walk at Pt. Isabel. Penny stopped by in the evening and helped us eat BBQed hamburgers. It was warm and windy today. All the parks had fire warnings up, and indeed fires broke out in several places in the Bay Area.

In the morning, we watched one of our doula's videos, which covered pain management techniques. (Linda had seen the video previously at one of the childbirth classes.)

Recent pictures: Linda baffled by stroller directions, Mike baffled by stroller

Friday, 10/15
Friday night we drove out to Alamo to attend David and Dana's wedding shower. Dana's sister and her husband hosted it at their home at the foot of Mt. Diablo. The shower had an Italian theme, to match the honeymoon destination, and everyone was encouraged to buy Italy-related gifts. (We bought them a bowl, pie dish, and spoon rest made in Italy.)

One of the party games involved putting a name tag with a celebrity's name on each person's back. We then had to ask other people questions to determine who we were. Mike was Dylan from 90210; Linda was Princess Leia from Star Wars. We had a great time. The pasta dinner was excellent (Mike had three big plates of it) and David and Dana's friends and relatives were very nice and talkative.

The shower hosts had a cute four-year-old boy and seven-month-old girl.

Thursday, 10/14
Jim, father of Claudia, stopped by late this evening on a dog walk.

Wednesday, 10/13
Today was a busy day. In the morning, we met with Judy, our other doula. (Our doulas work in shifts, like doctors do. The one that happens to be on call the day Linda goes into labor will be the one that attends the birth.) Judy had lots of great advice about the birth plan Linda had drawn up. She also taught us some pain management techniques and took us through a visualization exercise. (During the exercise, Judy told us to think of a place where we felt the most calm and relaxed. We both imagined St. John, where we had vacationed in June.)

We had an afternoon appointment with Dr. Lanner-Cusin. Linda's now measuring 40 cm. (The baby hasn't really dropped at all. The other doctor had just measured her tummy differently during the last visit.) Lanner-Cusin felt Linda's belly and told us that we have a good-sized baby, maybe in the high sevens in terms of weight.

After the appointment, we drove to Home Depot to buy new blinds for the living room and bedroom. (Yes, we're still on our buying kick from Sunday.) We hit the Toys R Us next door for some baby essentials -- shampoo, ointment, Q-Tips, etc. Linda started feeling a little faint , so we didn't stay long. She'd had a long day.

For dinner, we BBQed salmon for the second night in a row. Linda has been on a salmon kick during pregnancy. We used to eat tons of pasta. Now all we eat is salmon!

Tuesday, 10/12
Took the advice of our friends who have babies and saw a movie, American Beauty. Loved it. Ate dinner beforehand at the Emeryville Public Market. Linda had her usual pad thai. Mike had his usual Indian dish from Waz Wan.

Sunday, 10/10
Maybe it was the nesting instinct kicking in. Or maybe it was the fear of baby-crazy relatives descending on our house and seeing how we lived. Whatever the reason, we decided to go furniture shopping at a mall.

True to its anticapitalist stereotype, Berkeley doesn't have any malls. (But it does have lots of funky, over-priced boutiques where you can buy hemp skirts and $36 drawer pulls. :-) If you want to do serious middle-class conspicuous consumption, you have to go west to San Francisco or east to the suburbs. We went to the suburbs because there's better parking.

At the mall, we bought a dark-brown leather couch and chair. Leather because our big dogs shed about a sweater's worth of hair each week. Dark brown because our dogs like to lean against any furniture we happen to be sitting on.

The new furniture won't arrive until early November, so our living room will still look like hell when the baby arrives!

Saturday, 10/9
(Linda wrote this entry. :-) In the morning, the pack took note of the warm weather and headed to Point Isabel for a stroll. The dogs swam, Linda waddled.

Next on our busy weekend schedule: a trip out to Concord for our third and final baby shower, this one hosted by Grandma Vicki's friend Janet. Besides old family friends, guests included Mike's cousin Kris and her baby, Kailey (sporting a fabulous head of hair), and a surprise visitor all the way from Washington, Mike's stepsister Vicki.

ThatKid received enough presents to fill an SUV, most notably a carseat/stroller from Grandma Vicki, a big box of goodies from Grandma Shirley, embroidered receiving blankets from Aunt Debbie in Connecticut, and a homemade quilt from Aunt Vicki. Later, Mike and Linda gorged on BBQ beef with Vicki and Dick, then headed home to play with the dogs and the presents (and keep the dogs from playing with the presents). As it turned out, the excitement was just beginning...

Around 10:30 Saturday night, sleepy and having strewn baby clothes and toys throughout the living room, Linda began to suspect that her water had broken. After calling our doula and the doctor on call, a very cranky OB we'd never met, we threw Linda's bag (which had been packed for weeks) and the carseat into the car and drove, Mike talking nonstop, to Alta Bates. Linda still wasn't having any other sympoms of labor, but apparently once the amniotic sac breaks you have 20 to 30 hours to have the baby or you have to be induced.

In the triage room, where laboring women are checked out before going to a labor and delivery room, Linda was hooked up to monitors (one to monitor the baby's heartbeat and one to monitor her contractions) for 20 minutes, then examined for the presence of amniotic fluid. Since the nurse found no trace of amniotic fluid and the contractions being recorded weren't painful, we were sent home‹much to Linda's relief. Mike had been excited about the prospect of having the baby in the near future, but Linda was apprehensive. Among her objections: "I can't have the baby now, I haven't finished reading my pregnancy books!" and "My last day of work was yesterday and I need some time off."

We arrived home around 2:00am, ate some cake left over from the shower, and hit the sack, relieved that it wasn't happening just yet and (at least in Mike's case) maybe a little disappointed.

Mike adds: It was an exciting night. I was sure this was it. We passed a police car on the way to the hospital and I wanted to yell, "This woman's having a baby! We gotta get her to a hospital!" just like in the movies.

Friday, 10/8
Linda had her last prepartum workday. She had tons to do to finish up, and didn't get home until 7:30. Her coworkers were somewhat relieved that she was finally taking time off. They'd been worried that Linda would go into labor in the office and they'd have to deliver a baby! (Linda had been having intense Braxton-Hicks contractions at her computer these past weeks.)

That night, Mike went out to dinner at Pyramid Brewery with his friend Brian. Linda stayed home and rested on the couch.

Wednesday, 10/6
Linda went to another weekly doctor visit today. This time she saw Dr. Kanwit (matter-of-fact but friendly). Linda measured 36 cm, one cm less than last time, which means the baby is beginning to drop. She hadn't gained any weight since the last visit. The doctor recommended that Linda stop working (her last workday will probably be Friday). After the appointment, we both met with our doula, Holly. We mostly discussed pain, and how to manage it. Most of the stuff we'd gone over before in our childbirth classes, but it was nice to get personal attention from Holly. She's great. We also went over the birth plan Linda had typed up. Holly showed Mike some pressure points on Linda that would help shift her pelvis and give her some relief during labor. Mike had to move Holly's car halfway through the meeting so it wouldn't be ticketed by the street sweeper. I think we're ready to have this thing!

Tuesday, 10/5
We went out to dinner at that cheap Italian restaurant on Solano. Mike had a Caesar salad. Linda had a spinach salad and a pasta dish. We waved to DNAI's Dror and his family, who were eating at the other end of the restaurant. After dinner we went across the street to Safeway, where we bought smoothie supplies and toaster waffles. Gotta love those handy toaster foods. Did I mention that Linda's belly is huge?

Sunday, 10/3
Mike's d ad came by this morning to drop off the big gifts (a dresser and chair/ottoman glider) from the previous day's shower. We grabbed a late breakfast at Fatapple's, then spent the afternoon writing thank-you notes. The donut lady's prediction from the previous Sunday has not come true.

Saturday, 10/2
Becky and Janelle gave us a coed shower today. Lots of family and friends came. It was held at Paul (Mike's stepbrother) and Becky's house. Here are a couple of pictures: opening presents, Becky and three ThatKid cousins. More to come. Doug and Julie announced they were expecting a kid (Julie is at seven weeks). Cool! Asha and Rael had their baby (Samuel Lucas Dornfest) this morning. Congrats!

Friday, 10/1
Tonight we has our final childbirth class. We learned positions that will give the mother comfort during labor and watched a video of a C-section. Classmates Stefanie and Peter arrived halfway through the class with their son, who was born on Monday. (Their due date was a day after ours!) The baby was very cute. Peter said that their life as new parents is pretty strange -- "It's like being on vacation, but without any sleep." :-) We'll be getting back together with our class after everyone has given birth.

Thursday, 9/30
Linda had her weekly doctor's appointment today. Since it's getting near the due date, she's begun seeing the other doctors in the practice beside the primary physician (because any one of them could be on call when the baby comes). Today she saw Dr. Katarina Lanner-Cusin, who was able diagnose the strange aches Linda's had for the past few weeks (it's probably round ligament stretching -- nothing to be worried about). Lanner-Cusin was enthusiatic about the fact we're having a boy ("They're so different from us!"). Linda gained half a pound since the last checkup, and now measures 37 cm -- right on target. While Linda was at the doctor, Lucy spent an hour at work with Mike in downtown Berkeley. That night we went to Cobb's Comedy Club to see our friend Brian perform. His act had a lot of great science humor. He also did a bit at the end (for Linda) about pregnancy.

Tuesday, 9/28
Tonight we made a trip to Andronico's for groceries. Linda moves down the aisles a lot slower these days. The only thing we bought worth mentioning was some frozen pizzas that you cook in your toaster. I cringe at the thought that a growing boy will soon rely on us for three square meals. Rented movies at Five Star: 8mm, Night of the Hunter, Celebrity, and a homemade documentary about Pink Man, a nutty guy who wheels around Berkeley on a unicycle wearing a pink full-body leotard. Lucy ate one of the zines Jesse gave me (the one with all the neo-surrealist "exquisite corpse" drawings).

Monday, 9/27
Linda's coworker Steve gave her a bunch of great CD music mixes for listening during labor. Dinner was salads from Barney's (Linda: Cobb, Mike: Thai chicken). Mike talked to Greg and Susan on the phone about the cradle bumper Susan is making for us. Mike also did some Photoshop work on the old family photos Greg had sent him.

Sunday, 9/26
We took Belle and Lucy on a long, late-morning dog walk. On the way, we got donuts. The Happy Donuts lady (a sweet old Asian woman who speaks broken English) told us the baby's sex (correctly), then told Linda that she should plan on giving birth next week. She said this was because Linda's hands were so swollen. Mike went to Karen and Michael's for pea soup dinner.

Saturday, 9/25
Mike went to Stockton with Brian and Jesse to see the Wings Over Stockton air show and Robosaurus (see pictures). Brian had gotten press passes for the three of them, so they were able to get into all the expensive seating areas and eat food for free. Linda stayed home (a good move; temperatures were in the 90s in Stockton) and was visited by her brother Steve and his British friend Rowena.

Friday, 9/24
Linda's work gave her a baby shower. They ordered a blue cake with cute baby booties on it and served milk with it (Linda hadn't had straight milk in 25 years; she didn't finish her glass). Gifts included a cute blanket covered with moons and stars, two baby caps with knots at the top, and a gift certificate to Kidiniki, a baby store in SF. Linda was totally surprised by the shower (she thought she was having a meeting with her boss at 11 a.m.).

Thursday, 9/23
Linda had her week-36 doctor's checkup. Everything checked out fine. Linda's uterus is measuring 36 centimeters, which is just right. The Strep B test came back negative. Dr. Matlock says that Linda has gained the right amount of weight (31 lbs.). The German nurse with the accent checked Linda's ketones (at least that is what Linda thought she said she was doing).

Tuesday, 9/21
We had our third childbirth class at Alta Bates. We talked about pain management, in particular the options we have for pain drugs (Nubain and Fentonil) and what is involved during a epidural. We broke into mother and father groups. The fathers made a list of what they planned to do during the birth (call petsitter, call doula, bring birth plan, give massages, etc.). The mothers made a list of what they wanted the fathers to do. We then compared lists. The instructor played a video of another birth. We also practiced pain management by putting ice in our hands, squeezing, then doing breathing exercises. (Note to self: Ice can hurt a lot.)

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