Monday, March 21, 2011

Shower Power

The baby shower: a rite of passage for moms-to-be. We run the gauntlet of games guessing what baby food is what (the winner can somehow tell the difference between carrots and sweet potatoes), cooing over onesies, and collecting clothespins for catching others in the act of speaking aloud that unavoidably overused word, "cute".

Well, maybe. I have to say I'm not enamored of such baby shower hallmarks. Judging from the number of people I've spoken with who seem to agree with this sentiment, I'm rather surprised these games are still going. Fortunately, there are two ways to trump tradition: know the people throwing your shower (and know that they know you), and invite the menfolk. They provide balance that naturally keeps the cuteness factor from rocketing up to radioactive levels. And besides, 50% of the parenting power in my household will be supplied by my dear husband. He has come to every single one of my pregnancy OB appointments, and he's coming to the showers. Heck, he even took care of registering us at Babies R Us on his own (thank you, Sweetie!) - now that is a brave, bold man!

Yesterday was our first shower, thrown by two of my co-workers. It was nicely low-key, a chance to visit and nosh and be on the receiving end of many presents. I haven't experienced such an outpouring of gifts since we were married over ten years ago, but soon-to-be-born babies seem to bring out the warm fuzzies in everyone, and the generosity shown to us felt almost overwhelming. It was then that I realized something: with this kind of support, with Michael by my side, and without the kitschy contests, I just might be able to pull this motherhood thing off.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sleeping the Day Away

Today was a particularly bleak day in Seattle, the rain moving seamlessly from drizzle to downpour. Feeling exhausted, I chose the option of an early afternoon nap on the sofa with the dog over taking her out on a walk. One thing pregnancy has taught me, although it's been a difficult lesson to learn, is to listen when my body is tired, to take the nap or head to bed early as time allows.

Only in the past few weeks has this tiredness come creeping back in, seeping slowly into my bones. A nap, I have found, can make the difference between a productive afternoon later on and one lost to restlessness and irritability. It's common knowledge that good sleep habits mean better health and even productivity, yet I still feel the subtle pressure of a society that admires those for whom sleep is something of a nuisance, that which keeps us from accomplishing our all. "I'll sleep when I'm dead," indeed.

I've always enjoyed a good night's sleep - when I could get it. And far from being one of those go-getters who routinely hit the sack for a mere six hours maximum, I've always figured that an average of at least seven hours a night was doing pretty well. But now I see that it's not even about me, it's about this new life I'm carrying, and I have no choice but to bow to his needs. My body does it without needing even my permission; if he needs nutrients, he gets them, no matter if I come up short. My body is focused on growing my child, and it will wear itself out if that's what it takes. My personal needs at this point are secondary, and if I don't eat well enough or sleep well enough for the both of us, my body is not going to show me any sympathy.

So I give in to my body, hoping all the while that by acquiescing to its demands now it will treat me kindly this week when I won't have the time for naps. For today, though, I am almost thankful for the bleak weather - it made taking that nap all the easier.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Springing Ahead

Tonight, we lose one hour of precious time. I've set the clocks ahead already to mentally prepare myself, but there was really no need; although it's only 9:40 according to the old time, I'm already more than tired enough for bed, glancing at the clock as I type, grateful that soon I'll be snuggled under flannel sheets.

I could blame this lethargy on pregnancy. As I enter my final two months, it's normal, I've heard, for the fatigue to start to creep in. Still, I'm loathe to blame too much on the baby I'm carrying. Throughout much of my pregnancy I've focused on how my life can and will continue as normal. True, I may be sipping tonic water instead of a beer, but I can still catch a show at the club. I may experience a stronger fear of falling while navigating icy tracks on a rented pair of cross country skis, but I'll still hit the trail. And I can still stay up until midnight playing games with friends, it just means I may not be staying up quite so late the following night... especially when baby decides that 7am is the perfect time to wake mommy with his in utero calisthenics, regardless of last night's bedtime.

The truth is, I'm pretty happy with my life as it is, and as it has been. Sure, improvement is always a worthy goal, but my definition of improvement has long leaned towards better organizing my time, putting in more volunteer hours, remembering to write thank-you notes, calling friends on the phone more often, and so on. Such an enormous change as bringing a child into the world for whom Michael and I are solely responsible was beyond the scope of my modest goals. When life is good, it's hard to imagine shaking things up too much.

And yet here we are, on the verge of something that changes everything. Or does it? Is it cowardice or common sense to think that everything in life must rearrange itself upon the birth of a new baby? How do I navigate this new world, both as a mother and, quite simply, as me? Whatever I learn and however I change, I think I can safely say that I expect the unexpected - and that I expect the unexpected will be better than anything I could imagine.