I need to harp on this issue just one last time
by Karla ° Thursday, November 30, 2006
The appointment with my Pediatrician on Monday reopened all of the feelings of worry and doubt that I was finally starting to make peace with about having this c-section before 38 weeks.

I know that “technically” a baby is considered to be full term after 37 weeks, and a normal pregnancy is anywhere from 37 to 42 weeks, but some babies born before they are fully “cooked” can have lung issues, and this is a concern particularly when no labour has taken place from a planned or “cold” c-section.

Basically, upon reviewing the course of action for delivering this baby, my pediatrician indicated some concern about lung maturity. Most of the time, a planned c-section will not done before 39 weeks and that is for the simple fact that the lungs are one of the last things to mature in an unborn baby. No matter what, because this is a cold c-section and because the baby will be born before 38 weeks, we have to be prepared for two possible issues, something known as wet lungs, or Transient tachypnea – newborn (TTN) and respiratory distress.

TTN is when a baby is born before term (less than 38 weeks) and does not respond as well to the chemical signals released during labour leaving more fluid in the lungs at birth. This issue is particularly notable in babies born before 38 weeks, especially via a c-section without labour because the normal chemicals that are released during labour to tell the lungs to stop and start removing fluid from the lungs are not as strong.

More seriously, if this baby’s lungs are not fully ready, then he may experience respiratory distress and require intubation and time spent in the NICU. I suppose that doesn’t sound that scary, but my first introduction to Ava was of her full of breathing tubes while she struggled to stay alive. I can’t tell you how much of a head case I feel at the thought of meeting Nate in the same condition, especially considering lack of oxygen played a role in why Ava needed to be removed from life support.

These are all things that I have been fully aware of and concerned about for a long time now, but my OB has offered reassurance that they will be prepared for this, and together, we have come to the conclusion that the risks outweigh the concerns of another precipitous labour beginning at 38 weeks like the one I experienced with Ava, the distance we have to travel to the hospital should spontaneous labour start, the timing of the holiday season and staffing issues and of course, the unknown factor about the baby’s heart and its ability to cope with the stress of labour. Once I explained these things to the Pediatrician, her attitude seemed to take a complete 180 on the matter and she immediately shifted to the positives of an early c-section. Unfortunately, the seed of doubt had been planted. I am firmly convinced she changed her tune because she realized that she had potentially undermined the authority of my OB to make the right decisions and the tears streaming down my face were probably a clue to how upsetting her thoughts on the matter where.

The thing is, she has not revealed any new information. The only difference is in the attitude about everything. When I brought forward my concerns to my OB she had a very optimistic attitude about the outcome and my pediatrician obviously feels these issues warrant more concern and actually advised we do an amnio.

In some ways, I think the pediatrician is more balanced in her approach because she is looking at the entire process as a whole, including after the baby is born and not just the inutero health of the baby and the actually delivery.

Essentially, everyone is on the same page, so this issue is really about the perceived risk to the baby. To help wrap my head around everything I made a list of all the pros and cons of delivering this baby before 38 weeks:

-My OB will actually be delivering the baby and she knows my history intimately

-Scheduling a c-section before 38 weeks minimizes the chance that I will go into labour and this provides us with a sense of control over the birth of this baby, particularly after everything we have gone through as well as the distance we live from the hopistal

-Scheduling a c-section lets us avoid the possibility of rush hour traffic should I go into labour

-Scheduling a c-section lets us deliver this baby at one of Canada’s top hospitals
-Scheduling a c-section allows us to plan in the event of a snow storm (more control)

-Scheduling a c-section allows us to avoid the barebones skeleton Christmas staff should I go into labour and require a c-section over Christmas

-The delivery is only 2 days before the magical number of 38 weeks. Odds are that two days will not make a huge difference in lung maturity unless this baby needs 40 weeks to fully develop.

-I will not yet be 38 weeks, the apparent sweet spot for balancing lung maturity and medical intervention

-In any case, no matter what the date of the c-section, there will be concerns about lung maturity, TTN and respiratory distress.

-An Amnio could tell us if lungs are mature but if they aren’t, then the section is delayed and I could go into labour.

-A shot of steroids to mature the lungs faster is not advised after 33 weeks and the Pediatrician feels strongly against the use of them unless the benefits far outweigh the risks, particularly now that studies are indicating adverse affects of the drug on the baby’s brain.

Even thought the pro list has a few more points, I still feel torn. If I lived in my own ideal fantasy world there would be no such thing as dead babies and having to make difficult decisions. Also, in my fantasy baby bubble, since an amnio posses little risks to the baby at this stage in the pregnancy (besides triggering labour), they would admit me into the hospital and do an amnio every day until the lungs are ready. My OB would sit by my bedside and we could sip tea and eat Christmas chocolates, scalpel in hand, waiting for the signal to proceed.

Having a baby shouldn’t be this complicated, and I wish I could get off this train wreck of neuroses that I have become of over thinking and overanalyzing this situation. I wish I could just go with the flow and hope for the best, but riding on the coat tails of blind faith is not my forte.

I hate that I have to worry about these issues and I hate that ultimately I am not capable of making decisions on the birth of this baby by having faith in nature and my body to ensure all goes well. My decisions are being based on my experiences with pregnancy and childbirth and after the loss of two lives, I feel like I am forced to choose between the lesser of two evils where respiratory distress, no matter how concerning it is, sounds less permanent than death.

I need to figure out how to stop wallowing in my own pity party of self entitlement because I have been waiting for a baby for over three years now and just want this baby to be born with as little risk to him as possible.

I just want guarantees and I am frustrated as hell that no matter what road we head down, there are none.

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Equatorial region of sunshine and breasts
by Karla ° Wednesday, November 29, 2006
My parents just got home from a much deserved week of sipping alcohol infused fruity drinks on a tropical island paradise. The past few years have been very trying for my mom as she has had to learn to cope with the difficult pain of fibromyalgia and, for the past six months, the emotionally challenging side effects of a facial paralysis called Bell’s Palsy.

It sounds like they had a lovely and relaxing time, and just today she shared some pictures with me.

Tell me oh mighty folks in internet land, should I just keep my mouth shut and not question the abundance of ample breasts brushing up against my father - that incidently, do not belong to my mother, or does the expression, '
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,' also apply to equatorial regions of flowing alcohol and sunshine?


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Disjointed Tête-à-tête
by Karla ° Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Yesterday’s ultrasound revealed that baby Nate now weighs 5 lbs and is plotting on the 60th centile. Yesterday’s OB appointment also revealed that I have gained 26 lbs and although I am gaining the right amount of weight, I have secretly started plotting to stop depending on chocolate as a source of calcium and reintroduce yogurt into my diet.

I am starting to wonder how low is too low for blood pressure. Surely the reason I see spots when I turn my head too fast has something to do with the fact that my blood pressure is only 84/55.

We have ditched our icicle lights and jumped on board the LED Christmas light craze. I am skeptical if the huge difference in the cost of buying the lights will really save us any money on electricity.

I have learned that trying to figure out the mystery behind where our Christmas lights plug in is classified information because when I asked Mark about it he told me it was his man secret.

My credit card account was put on hold after I made an online purchase from Australia of men’s underwear. Apparently, purchasing a pair of ‘wonderjock’ underwear with promises of attention grabbing wondercup technology is highly suspicious and Mark’s monthly flights to the US, hotel stays and airport limo service is not. Since Mark answered the phone when the credit card company called his manly Christmas surprise has been ruined, which is too bad because I sort of figured that if my breasts are about to swell to comical mammary proportions than it was only fair that his boy parts got to share in the prominence.

Mark was promoted from Manager to Director of Development a few months ago and he is now responsible for 17 people. I don’t know how he keeps all the business balls in the air except that he must be a shining superstar that is fifty feet tall.

Samson GraduatesYesterday was my dogs first birthday and all he got was a brief, but enthusiastic bum scratching.

Yesterday was also Samson’s grade two (intermediate) graduation. He has learned to heel, make right and left hand turns, stand, sit and lie down and stay from a distance for an extended period of time with distractions. He passed all of the above as long as he heeled through a crowd of zero people and there was nary a tennis ball in sight.

Observe his majesty in all of his gracefulness as his parents and trainer prepared him for his dignified graduation photo.

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A Dream
by Karla ° Friday, November 24, 2006

I truly believe that hope is what binds the tapestry of humanity, and each of us represents a thread carefully woven and interconnected within the complicated pattern of this existence in an intricate blueprint of strength and survival.

Last night I had my first dream about Nate and it has instilled in me a newfound sense of hope

I don’t recall every having a dream where I saw Ava’s face. I do however recall a distinct memory that kept looping over and over in my mind of her before she was born. To this day I still remember it vividly and although it’s just a flash of a daydream where I am watching her from behind as she excitedly skips off to her first day of school with a shiny new blue backpack draped across her shoulders and pigtails flapping buoyantly to the beat of her lively steps, the clarity and persistence of it still continues to haunt me, partially because this event never happened and yet it’s so notably ingrained in my mind and partially because I never got to see her face.

In my dream of Nate, he was born premature at 34 weeks but his lungs were strong and mighty. I heard the wail of his first cry and I saw the soft angelic tenderness of his face. I saw every last detail about him from the plump chubbiness of his cheeks, to the blueness of his eyes, to the roundness of his button nose and the dark tufts of hair not quite covering his entire head. I held him and there was no overwhelming sadness knowing that he was slowly dying, but only overwhelming happiness that he was vibrantly alive and well. He looked distinctly different and somewhat similar to Ava and absolutely perfect in every imaginable way.

I think I should take the positive nature of this dream and cling to it with every last fiber of my being.

I really need to believe that my little boy has found his thread on the human tapestry of life and has begun weaving his way into its ultimate design.

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Big Bad Belly Shots - 33 Weeks
by Karla ° Tuesday, November 21, 2006
After my false labour episode on Friday, I don’t think we’ve succeeded in getting our act together to prepare for baby Nate’s arrival.

Instead of preparing for things directly related to the birth of this baby we spent the weekend doing things indirectly related to Nate, like buying me a new notebook computer - Merry Christmas to me – thanks Mom and Mark. With the introduction of more techy gadgets however, all of the wires hanging around suddenly seemed like a menacingly dangerous tripping hazard for moms carrying babies, so we bid the sinister network cables adios and set up a wireless home network. If you happen to live in the area and see a wireless network called *FUCKOFF*, that would be ours – please don’t try to piggy back on it and steal our internet.

Also, because any sort of baking that does not involve a mix master, oven or skillfulness is right up my alley, we did some Christmas baking and made Chocolate Cookie Bark and promptly ate it all because jeez - what if we do end up delivering this baby earlier than expected and all of that cholocately goodness just rots away in the fridge over Christmas. Sheer disgrace I say.

Another indirect and eccentrically nutty preparation for baby’s arrival was putting up the Christmas tree and hauling out all of the Christmas decorations. Somehow sipping hot cocoa made from milk whisked into a warm frothy foam and tying gold ribbons on the tree in late November made more sense than washing receiving blankets and onesies.

I am completely aware of the fact that my c-section is only 32 days away, yet I can’t shake this totally nonchalant laid back attitude about packing my bags and getting the baby’s room together.

That being said, we did manage to fill the car with gas, charge the camcorder and camera batteries and I threw some diapers in a suitcase along with a velour hoodie and cargo pants for Nate’s first trip home. I also bid on and won a new faux shearling bunting bag on ebay for him so our winter coats can match.

Apparently, not only do I need to assess my priorities on getting ready for this kid, but also on dressing him for functionality over cuteness.

And maybe, just maybe, it might be helpful to try and focus on remembering to cut the price tags off of my Christmas decorations. Note the tacky neglectfulness not so discreetly tucked away inside the spiral tree on my end table.

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by Karla ° Saturday, November 18, 2006
The labour I experienced with Ava was a far cry from any of the fluff described in the abundance of happy go lucky Disney-like pregnancy books on the market. Even the all knowing omnipotent searches of Google failed to turn up any results that are comparable to my experience with childbirth. Perhaps I was in complete denial, or maybe I have a high tolerance for pain, or it’s even quite possible that I am a complete flake, but with Ava, I didn’t believe I was in labour when I arrived at the hospital 5 cm dilated.

In any case, labour with her began very subtly and if I had to describe the early onset, the best description I can come up with would be a twinge near my cervix – hardly a blip on the pregnancy radar screen as far as scream worthy pain was concerned. The twinges were so painless in fact, that I thought I might have finally been experiencing those elusive Braxton Hicks contractions I had heard so much about but never seemed to notice.

Although the twinges only lasted a couple of seconds, they were stubbornly consistent right from the start and came every 4 or 5 minutes. After about three hours of completely painless twinges, everything took a dramatic turn and without much warning I was in full blown active labor with contractions happening about every 1-2 minutes apart and lasting about a minute long. It is because of the precipitous nature of that labour, coupled with the autopsy results indicating a structural defect in Ava’s heart that I am avoiding labour this time to prevent the uncertainty around a fast labour impacting this baby in the same way.

This of course, seemed like a simple enough plan. That is until I woke up Friday morning with a familiar sensation in my va jay jay that caused my heart to beat in irregular spasms of nervous energy. I was feeling the same twinge-like sensations that signaled the beginning stages of labour as I experienced them with Ava. Timing them also revealed they were happening every 4 to 5 minutes. Other notable symptoms that mimicked my first labour were crampy legs, loose bowels and waking up in the middle of night because peaceful sleepy solace could not be found in my aching discomfort.

Just as luck would have it, all of this started happening during rush hour and we were looking at about a two hour drive to get downtown Toronto to the high risk hospital where I’m supposed to have my c-section. Concerned about the baby, and a repeat experience of Ava’s labour, Mark and I took a leap of faith and headed straight to the labour and delivery triage in Ajax.

With an unsteady voice I tried to explain why I thought I might be in labour. I must have sounded obscure and slightly retarded because a) I have been through labour before, I should know what it feels like and b) who in their right mind rushes off to triage to complain about a tickle on their cervix? Eyes widened and haste set in however when the words “dead baby” and “same labour presentation” came out of my mouth. I was immediately whisked into a labour room and hooked up for monitoring. At this point, my cervical twitches were still coming like clockwork every five minutes and lasting a few seconds long.

I was hooked up to a Non Stress Test machine while a woman next door screamed through a drug free childbirth and a nurse poured through the short novel of documents I carry with me about Ava’s history, her autopsy and all of my current pregnancy records.

After enduring two internal exams in the span of four hours, my cervix remained tight and closed despite the continual twinges in my va jay jay clearly registering on the NST printouts.

They never were able to definitively tell if it was just Braxton Hicks contractions, but I was finally sent home with instructions to continue timing my supposed contractions and given strict orders of no sex that includes semen and to stop caring about the state of my cantilever ass cleavage and cease all marathon workout sessions on the treadmill.

At least this was a wake up call to get organized. We are absolutely not prepared for this baby. Our camera’s aren’t charged, my bags aren’t packed, we have no diapers or clothes packed for the baby and our bad habit of leaving our car run on gas fumes must cease and desist.

I am now left feeling like a fool for rushing off to the hospital so early, but on the other hand, I don’t have the luxury of waiting around to see if any sort of contractions I feel intensify or if I am truly in labour.

I have a feeling this won’t be the last drama mine I let explode into a frenzied visit to the hospital before this pregnancy is over.

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Splish Splash
by Karla ° Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Samson is a total lackey – a leechlike parasite if you will, who always wants to be around, near and often sitting on top of the human household population.

At the top of his list of favorite activities is bath time - not his, but mine.

He has succeeded in figuring out how to make my relaxing time all about him and his dirty doggy bone.

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The End is Near
by Karla ° Tuesday, November 14, 2006
The end of this pregnancy is near and the arrival of this baby is so close. It really is.

Yesterday’s visit at my Perinatologists office marked an important milestone in this pregnancy - I am finally in weekly visit mode.

The next five weeks will consist of weekly Biophysical Profile Ultrasounds and visits with my Perinatologist. Also in the coming weeks we will be meeting with our Pediatrician (who also happens to be the doctor who was supposed to monitor Ava after she was born, who also, incidentally, was on call the day she was born and delivered the news to my husband that she wasn’t going to make it).

Note to self: Do not be a bitter asshole when she concludes the appointment by telling us that everything looks honky dory and spew out a snarky comment about her saying the exact same thing about Ava.

Once Nate is born, I’ll miss the hustle and bustle that is downtown Toronto. It’s taking me time to admit it, but tiny fragments of wistful nostalgia set in every now and then since quitting my job downtown. My doctors appointments give me an excuse to reconnect (or at least waddle amongst) the sky scrappers and brief case-clad business suits of Bay Street.

I will not however, miss the overcrowded waiting rooms that seem to suck time into a black hole of confinement and boredom while waiting four or more hours every single time I am there for an ultrasound and a visit with the doctor. Also not to be missed is the fleeting urge to kick the street rats better known as pigeons that flock and frolic in droves along busy pedestrian lined sidewalks. I used the think they were cute when I lived in a west end apartment until I made the terrible mistake of letting them procreate on my balcony. Apparently, providing a safe haven to lay eggs was also fair game to turn my balcony into a biohazard of feathers and mountainous piles of shit.

Speaking of safe havens, I have decided to go ahead with a c-section.

Because this is a “cold” c-section however, and no labour (or squeezing of the baby) will take place, my OB has discussed the probability that Nate may encounter breathing difficulties and require oxygen and/or a few days in the NICU.

I feel like I am being forced to choose between the lesser of two evils, but lung immaturity or respiratory issues from no labour seems far less permanent than the possibility of death if my labour progresses like it did with Ava and this baby has the same heart issue and inability to cope with it’s intensity.

This decision feels like such a beastly burden and to say that I am scared would be an understatement.

Does anyone have any advice for not freaking out about committing weeks in advance to having my stomach cut open and my innards violated?

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Big Bad Belly Shots - 32 Weeks
by Karla ° Saturday, November 11, 2006
I spoke too soon when I bragged about being spared from all the painfully annoying symptoms of pregnancy the first time around.

I think I have heartburn, although technically, nothing burns. Instead, the most utterly unpalatable of unpleasantries is happening and my food can’t seem to find a spot to land and quietly decompose in the nether regions of my stomach.

When I say I feel like a cow, I mean it in the most literal sense because not only are we two species capable of producing milk, but apparently, pregnant people and cows both suffer from the scandalously indecent horror of chewed food defying the laws of physics and hurtling itself back up through our esophagus and into our mouths.

Right about now I’m totally envying the cow all four of their stomachs.

Apparently, my stomach could really use the extra storage space.

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Mini Blind Massacre
by Karla ° Friday, November 10, 2006
I love that my dog rings a bell to let me know when he has to potty, I really do, but he sort of missed the boat on the whole gentle nose nudging thing and prefers to use the solid rigidness of his cranium to propel the mini blinds the bell is attached to into orbit so that they can come crashing down with a force equal to that of a torpedo on a mission of destruction, except in this case, it’s just a massive dog head doing all the carnage.

My poor mini blinds.

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by Karla ° Thursday, November 9, 2006
When I was pregnant with Ava, I spent countless hours shopping and preparing for her arrival. The world of baby accouterments was new and exciting and the range of products to pick from felt impressively endless. I mean, it got to the point where if I wasn’t eating or sleeping, my entire brain activity was dedicated to trying to decide whether I should buy a Babybjörn or a sling. Sure I moaned and grudgingly complained about the cost of having a baby, but secretly, I loved every single minute of it and felt not a speck of guilt about some of my more lavish or indulgent purchases.

This time around though, preparing for the baby is very different. For starters, we have everything we need, so all the big ticket items like the crib and the car seat are taken care of. I don’t have a problem reusing the stuff we bought for Ava for this baby and I think that is partially because Ava never actually had a chance to use any of it. For me, there isn’t any significant association of her with them. The things that I do have attachment to are the things she actually wore or items that hold sentimental value like the tiny casts we have of her feet and hands and my gold locket where I keep a tiny lock of her hair. The most precious item of all is the little hat she wore after she was born. The only other items of clothing that carry any significant value to me is the blanket she was wrapped in after she was born and the tiny pink overalls we dressed her in after we bathed her. Sadly, those items never found their way back to me.

Not having to plan and shop for Nate like we did for Ava has admittedly been a huge disappointment, but on the other hand, there is the benefit of not having the enormous upfront costs of preparing for a baby.

That being said, it was still abysmally glum the day we took all of our unused baby gear out of storage. It felt like I was picking the scab off of an old wound and I had to keep reminding myself that it was just “stuff”, and besides, isn’t exposing your wounds to fresh air supposed to be good for them?

The nursery isn’t exactly a product of completion. When Ava died, her room quickly became labeled the Yellow Room. After the doctors confirmed that my second pregnancy was not viable, I just wanted to shrivel up and wilt. I remember waking up the morning after we learned the heartbreaking news and despite my pain and bleeding, went and bought white paint to cover up the bright sunshine hue in that room. I felt so far removed and hopeless that all I wanted to do was reflect those feelings in the form colourless clinical despair in a room where so many hopes and dreams have been crushed and left in limbo. Today, the room remains white and I have no intention on changing it for now.

Most of Ava’s clothes, despite my stubborn adamancy for gender neutral yellows and greens, somehow all ended up as various shades of pink. There really wasn’t much that I could reuse for this baby, so addressing the clothing situation was something I had to face. My mom has kindly helped pimp up the masculinity of Nate’s wardrobe and bless her soul for doing so because it was getting to the point where this child would have been wrapped like a ragamuffin in various shades of blue from my husband’s underwear drawer because I couldn’t bring myself to go shopping and I so would have wrapped him up like a little Caucasian monk with a pair boxer briefs before parading him around in pink.

My neurosis about buying stuff is slowly getting better. Just the other day I managed to go into a Babies”R”Us for the first time in over a year and half, and I think, maybe, just maybe, a tiny scintilla of that baby shopping bug is starting to kick in. My first hint was when the sales associate noticed me snapping pictures of diapers with my cell phone and suggested I use the registry gun to keep track of items I wanted. I was too embarrassed to tell her that I was actually planning on using the photos to comparison shop diapers costs.

Remind me again, how do people afford children?

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by Karla ° Tuesday, November 7, 2006
It’s a wonder babies ever made it into this world in the past considering the strict guidelines a pregnant woman must content with nowadays.

If you take it to the extreme, even supposedly innocent alfalfa sprouts quickly become e-coli harboring perils of evil bacteria.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to take a step back and realize that babies born before my time of medical marvels and technology seemed to thrive under less than ideal conditions.

My Father-in-Law is only 60, and yet when he was born his parents didn’t have a modern car with amenities like heat or seat belts, let alone an industry approved car seat to ride home from the hospital in. He went home tightly bundled in a buffalo skin blanket in a sleigh towed by a horse. I kid you not.

My Mother-in-Law fed both of her babies 2% milk from birth because of all things shameful and treacherous, breastfeeding was discouraged and her babies were allergic to formula. I listened to this statement with irritable dismay because I have taken it for granted that there are now soy based or hypoallergenic cows milk formulas that are hydrolyzed to reduce the risk of allergens for mothers who choose not to breastfeed their babies. I just couldn’t understand how a medical professional would advise the use of low fat milk and how that wouldn’t totally deprive babies of the very nutrients they need to develop normally, you know, without stunting the development of their left brain lobe or preventing the formation of their funny bone. Apparently though, my husband endured because his brain appears to be of normal bigness and his bones seem to have ossified in all the right places because he is not bowlegged and his elbows bend the right way.

And here I am, about to enter my eighth month of pregnancy, equipped with breasts that I plan to use to feed my child, a car that emits heat, blankets made of cotton and laundered in Ivory Snow and a car seat that meets all safety guidelines. I have already had nine ultrasounds, including two dating, one Nuchal Translucency, a Level II Anatomy scan, a Fetal Echocardiogram, a viability scan and three Biophysical Profiles tests with six more scheduled before this pregnancy is over. Add on top of that the blood tests done every 48 hours in the early weeks of this pregnancy to monitor for an impending miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, the countless vials of blood to test for things I can’t even pronounce and the diligent consumption of prenatal vitamins and Omega 3 supplements, and I sound like a walking incubation laboratory for the modern mommy. And yet, none of this has given me any security that I am taking a baby home with me in 6 weeks.

I do find comfort in the close monitoring and access to such diligent prenatal care, but experience, common sense and perspective tells me that even the most prudent monitoring and advancements in technology doesn’t guarantee a positive outcome.

Common sense and perspective also tells me however, that babies do tend to thrive in even the most less than ideal conditions.

I need to remember that. And I need to remember that as of today, this baby is still thriving.


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In training
by Karla ° Thursday, November 2, 2006
Samson is back in school.

I happen to think he is the most debonair brown nosing pooch prodigy on the planet, but I’ll admit that I might have a slight bias here because he is my dog and it would be hard to not think that of someone regal enough to produce enough butt slop to warrant twice weekly poop patrol rounds by someone other than the one making the messes. I think I am largely alone with my convictions on that one though, partially because people seem to be afraid of his goliath size and detour around us by method of crossing the street when passing by us and partially because of the prominent hesitation both Mark and my parents had when we asked if they would each spend a night at our house to take care of Samson when we have the baby.

He’s not a bad dog, but I must admit, he does have his shortcomings. Mostly, he’s very excitable.

And when he is excited, he mutates into a lanky legged track and field style high jumper that uses humans as hurdles.

He knows not to jump on Mark or me. It’s everyone else that is the problem.

Also, seeing that baby will be arriving soon, we thought it might be a good idea to see if we could get some tips to reign in his puppy energy.

So far we are learning to heel with right and left turns and obey commands with distractions. He is doing quite stellar at everything, except when the whole distractions thing is thrown into the mix.

He will heel just fine until we walk by another dog or human, and then all bets are off and his inner lunatic takes over forcing him into a leash lunging, human limb dislocating horror of a puppy.

He will stay perfectly still and for very long lengths of time with squeaky toys flying by his face or cookies being tossed in every which direction, but if we break out the big guns and bounce a tennis ball by his nose, all bets are off once again.

Apparently, tennis balls are the equivalent of puppy crack and chasing neon felt that smells like rubber and human finger epitheliums is his ultimate weakness. I sort of feel bad that he we’re forcing him to contain his enthusiasm on this one. Fetch is his most favorite game in the whole wide world, and he’s gotten so good at it that the yard can be littered with tennis balls and the only one he will retrieve is the one that you throw for him.

The most fascinating thing I have learned about my dog through all of this is how utterly frightening the female washroom system is to him. I’m not exactly sure if he was allowed in with me or not, but it was just the two of us at dog school, and the baby was gyrating in spirals along my bladder and I didn’t know what else to do besides shove his big lug of a puppy body into a tiny gray stall barely capable of housing me and the protruding appendage that is my baby belly. Adding a dog ¾ my size meant the only spot for him was scrunched up behind the toilet where he sat on top of piece of toilet paper and cowered in fear and horror while observing the complexities of female bathroom rituals.

Other things we are working on include:

Figuring out what to do about his frenzied excitement when the door bell rings. His bark is deep and menacing, which is great if burglars are robbing your house, but it was heartbreaking to watch a 3 foot tall pirate run away, sans treat, on Halloween night crying for his mommy.

We also need to figure out what is up with his infatuation at grabbing the fabric of long sleeved shirts between his teeth.

And finally, one friend asked if we could please train our dog to stop sticking his nose between his ass cheeks.


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