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(Just a heads up, this story involves long labor and an intended natural birth that ended with interventions and an epidural. Feel free to stop reading if this isn’t a helpful story for you.)

I was late in my 39th week of pregnancy and very ready to be in labor. On Tuesday, I started having the very first things I could call contractions that weren’t Braxton Hicks—they had a thin kind of pain and I would sometimes need to stop talking to concentrate. I went to bed that night ready and impatient.

On Wednesday morning, I woke up around 2AM with contractions that really hurt. They were spaced far apart, but were strong enough that they would wake me up when they came. I tried to sleep a bit more, but found without time to prepare it was easy to start panicking in the middle of the contraction. I ended up getting myself up and sitting on the exercise ball or chair to work through them. My spouse woke up a bit later, and made me some breakfast, and we tried to figure out how to plan the day (Was there enough time for a load of laundry? We decided yes.)

Around 9AM contractions were coming about 7 minutes apart, and I called my parents who are out of town to let them know that today might be the day. The rest of the day continued in a blur—moving between the ball, chair, walking, having spouse rub my back while I leaned over something—I think I took a shower in there? The contractions would get closer together and then slow down. In late afternoon, my parents arrived. They tried to get out of the way by taking the dogs for a walk and getting some food options for dinner.

It was late afternoon and the contractions were becoming more painful, if not closer together. They were still six minutes apart, but it was getting harder to deal with them without someone rubbing my back—it took all of my work to keep breathing, keep relaxing my shoulders, keep telling myself I could do this. At some point there was a call to the OB who said we were doing all the right things and could go by the hospital if we wanted. Sometime around 6PM, with contractions still around 6 minutes apart, I decided it was time.

At labor and delivery, it was a blur, but I couldn’t believe how many questions they were asking me. Really—how many times do I need to tell you my date of birth, and isn’t this what preregistration is for? They kept saying things like “if you are admitted,” until it finally came time for me to be checked. I was 5-6 centimeters dilated. I found out later that based on how I was handling the contractions, they didn’t think I was really in labor. I am not sure what they are used to labor looking like, but apparently it wasn’t what I was doing!

We got into a labor and delivery room and I got in the jetted tub, which was wonderful. At first, it was like the pain had just gone away. Over time, things progressed and even in the tub my contractions were enough I needed to make some noise through them. The doctor needed to check me at one point, and I was at 7.

The rest of the night is a blur. At one point in the late night, I decide to take a narcotic pain medication to get some rest—I was able to sleep for about an hour. They check me afterwards and I am at 8. I get up to get through contractions on the ball, with spouse rubbing my back. I am hopeful that transition is around the corner—and that we are nearing the end. At some point, we decide to have them break my waters to move things along. I labor in a rocking chair for a time, with a towel pushing on my back.

As the evening wears on, we have a number of nurses who care for us (one in particular was just wonderful). Everytime they enter the room they comment on how quiet it is. I just keep breathing and trying to keep muscles relaxed. My spouse is fabulous, staying with me through one thing and the next, rubbing my back, and keeping watch with me as one hour leads to the next. I alternate between mantras, of course none of the ones I thought I would—but “I can do this,” “It’s ok,” “Let it go” and “I am a woman of the present”. The last one we tried to say when it seemed overwhelming or endless—just try to stay in the present.

It’s finally sometime around 4-6AM (my spouse and I can’t remember the time), something like 26 hours after I had woken up with labor pains. A new shift nurse comes on and she offers to check where I am at. I first am hesitant, worrying I will get discouraged, and then agree with her that facts can be helpful sometimes. She checks and I am still at 8cms, where I was hours earlier. As I try to picture several more centimeters dilation ahead, and needing to have energy to push at the end, I don’t think I have it in me. I ask for an epidural. After coming so far and for so long, this is my low point.

Thankfully the epidural comes relatively quickly, as every contraction after the decision becomes mentally harder to deal with. With the epidural, it is such a relief to have some time off from the pain and the energy needed to go through one contraction after the next. I am able to sleep and they pull in a cot to allow spouse to sleep a bit too.

A few hours later, I feel more rested and they start me on pitocin. I can see the contractions on all the monitors now hooked up, but they feel for me at a distance—I am so relieved. They check me throughout the morning to see how dilation has continued, and around 12:30PM I am given the go-ahead to start pushing. It feels so good to be making progress, and I can feel through each contraction my baby moving through. It feels so good that the end is almost here.

The nurse tells me that she can see that the baby has brown hair, and I start to cry. Things are moving and the nurse calls for the doctor to come. Then she calls for more nurses, with a certain sense of urgency. But I can feel the baby is almost here—and no one has arrived in the room! They tell me not to push, and I ask if there is anyone in the building that can deliver the baby. My doctor arrives, starts to say “don’t worry about tying that thing, just get it on me” and jokes that she was held up at the one stoplight between her office and here! One push later and the baby is born.

They put her up to my chest and I start crying, I am so overwhelmed that she is here. I am so overwhelmed that they have to keep reminding me to have my legs in certain places as they are stitching me. I can’t believe that she is here and real—those kinds of tears you get with something too beautiful to be true.

She was born just before 2pm on Thursday—her due date.

I intended an unmedicated birth, and on paper it looks like I got just the opposite. I ended up having narcotics, my water broken, an epidural, pitocin—and lots of monitors and things hooked up to me while giving birth. But I am grateful that at each step along the way, I felt at peace with the choice. The medical staff was supportive and helped to give options, and at several points, we decided “not yet.” Perhaps with a doula, or someone to help me into positions that would help progress more quickly, things would have continued differently. But each choice was the best for us at the time, and in the end I was profoundly grateful for the relief and the rest of pain relief, that allowed me to welcome my daughter with a sense of peace.

One of my pregnancy books recommends repeating those memories from labor that you want to remember in your mind—that the repetition will help them last over time. Here is what I want to remember and hold onto from labor:

  • I was able to work through labor for more than 24 hours, including hours of back labor at 8 centimeters before deciding to have an epidural—I am trying to remind myself that’s pretty bad ass. I don’t need to be afraid of pain.
  • When being admitted to the hospital, they didn’t believe I was in labor. This is particular to me, but in my life folks often have trouble telling my emotions—I can be a bit stoic and often need to use words to let folks know what I’m feeling. And if I can be working through contractions like that and have folks not know it—well it’s a reminder to me that sometimes it’s ok to show some vulnerability.
  • My husband who was with me, hour after hour—we went through this together as a team, and I am so grateful for him. He supported me through the long journey and with every step along the way. I am grateful to have him as a partner as we begin this journey of parenting.
  • The moment that they put her on my chest and I couldn’t help but cry. I feel so grateful to be a part of this miracle. I look at her now and can’t believe that she was inside me. I look at her now and can’t believe that I get to be her mother.
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As you might have guessed from the radio silence: Baby Cakepie has arrived! She was born on her due date, timely lady, at 6 lbs 15 oz.

It’s now a week later, and I am now slowly getting enough basic needs (like sleeping, feeding this adorable ravenous creature, and being able to get up from chairs without making noises), to consider extras like “communicating with the outside world.” I should have some updates in the next few days about birth and reflections on my exhausting, traumatic, beautiful, and profound first week of parenting. I am so grateful and still wrapping my mind around how much my life has changed.

Apparently, the end of pregnancy involves learning things like patience. About two weeks ago, the baby dropped, and things started getting less comfortable. A little over a week ago, I had my first experience of “wow that hurts” for several hours that made me wonder if that was labor. And now… well… the crampiness and soreness continue, the intense “is this a contraction” back pain has been coming and going, and I usually think I am in labor about once a day.

I am trying to learn to find a little peace in the wait that is coming.

Last Friday was the oddest day on record. After several days of feeling downright crappy, I woke up feeling good. I wasn’t in pain! I went to work and got things done! I had this moment of “it’s ok, I can be pregnant for longer, I got this!” Then an hour or two later, I had intense pain in my back with period-like cramps in the front. The pain didn’t come and go, but it also wasn’t relieved by changing positions, as over the course of the next several hours I tried different chairs, positions, walking, sitting, leaning, and at one point trying to prop my keyboard up on a precarious stack of books in the idle hope I could keep working while standing up. I ended up going home, until I had this moment when sitting backwards on a chair that suddenly the pain went away. I already had made an appointment to stop by the obgyn, and so showed up feeling dang stupid that I was there for a labor check and was now not in pain–for the record they were very gracious about it. I have made some “progress,” if you can call it that, and am now 2cm dilated and 80% effaced–so I’m trying to tell myself that these pains aren’t for nothing. 

The problem is that this “am I in labor or not” question is really not good for my mental state. If I could keep saying “it will be several more weeks” and believe it, then I could move through life much more smoothly. But going back and forth makes it very hard to wait. “Maybe today” is a dangerous thought.

For now, I’m trying to hold off asking the question. I am less than two weeks from my due date, and I know that due to the gestational diabetes, the doctors are unlikely to let me go past 40 1/2 weeks. In the scheme of life, a little over two weeks to wait for labor isn’t much at all. So here’s hoping that I can spend that time in a positive place, being grateful for this pregnancy and this life inside me, and appreciating days rather than wishing them away. 

When I first found out I had gestational diabetes, I spent a remarkable time on the internet trying to figure out what on earth I would now eat. I had this meal plan that included numbers of carbs and protein, but I struggled to try to picture what “breakfast” would look like or what exactly a snack with so-many carbohydrates and a source of protein could be that wouldn’t sound gross right before going to bed. I was really grateful for this post that showed what real food could actually look like! Of course, follow your actual doctor or dietian’s instructions rather than me (aka, some chick on the internet). But thought it might be helpful to pass along what has helped me!

A few things I have learned along the way:

It takes a while to figure out what works: I had to work through three or four different kinds of breakfast before I found one that worked for me on a regular basis. Later on, I realized that some things that worked initially needed to change as my sensitivity increased. It was hard to be patient along the way, but if possible be gentle on yourself.

Technology helps! If it wasn’t for my hour-long timer on my phone, i would never remember to test blood sugar. This is actually true, because those times I say “oh, I’ll test right when I do such-and-such” instead, I invariably forget. It was a real help when I stopped trying to remember times in my head and trust my phone to remind me. I also strongly recommend a food scale to help with measurements. There are some foods that are hard to count for carbs, and the scale makes it much easier! 

Finding the happy balance between “easy to count,” “easy,” and “actual food that has nutrition.” It took me a while to figure out exactly how much work I could put in on a regular basis for food preparation. Originally, I made chicken breast sandwiches for lunch that required thinking and cooking ahead. That lasted about a week. I found that “good lunchmeat that I microwave past the temp limit” was about as much work that I could put in to put a lunch together. I decided I could wash things and count, but was unlikely to have pre-sliced vegetables to go with hummus. I could microwave an egg each morning, which for some reason seemed more possible than anything that involved a pan. You may fall on a different end of the “I can work to make food” scale, and figure out what works.

A whole lot of ways to count to 15 carbohydrates: Life became much easier when I could figure out a whole lot of things to have in the house every week that I could add together to make a snack or get a meal up to a certain number of carbs. Here in August, I would fill up the fridge with many types of fruit–berries for earlier in the week, stone fruits or apples for later on. Carrots or milk have worked well for me as toppers if I need a few more carbohydrates in a meal. Having a variety of healthy carbohydrates in the house helped to piece meals together with a bit more variety.

When you exercise matters: This is one of those things that they told me in my initial interview, but I didn’t appreciate until later on. It makes a huge difference if I walk between eating and testing blood sugars, or even if I spend 10-20 minutes just on my feet. (I guess at this stage of pregnancy, standing counts as exercise.) There are very few things that I can eat that will not leave me with high sugar if am seated for the full hour afterwards. The other realization for me has been that when they say “manage with diet and exercise,” is that exercise at other times of day than that key hour can actually hurt. If I have a big exhausting activity in mid-afternoon, I have to be careful that I won’t be too tired to walk around after dinner or make over-the-top food choices. For me, I’ve also noticed that in extreme heat especially, exercise can actually spike my sugars. They say stress levels can increase blood sugar, but just something to look at if you too are “very pregnant in the middle of summer”

And without further ado, the food!

Breakfast

After MUCH trial and error (sprouted grain toast and peanut butter, oatmeal with fruit, oatmeal with yogurt and fruit, yogurt and fruit and granola all managed to push me over my blood sugar levels), I have ended up with an egg on toasted thin bread. As thin bread has less than the 30 carbs I’m supposed to have for breakfast, I have an awful lot of milk in decaf coffee, which I then call a latte ;-). I microwave the egg in a cup, because I am lazy. 

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Snacks

For my plan, I need to eat 15 grams of carbs plus protein several times a day between meals. Most of the time, have one of those 15 grams of fruit with a mozzarella stick. Or crackers and peanut butter. Or most recently if I’m home, “a strategic amount of full fat vanilla ice cream with almonds.” But I wanted to share especially my two “buy it at the store and throw it in my purse” options. Needing to snack so frequently, I was surprised about how few prepackaged options fit the bill–and after frustratingly checking labels these are the two I have lived on for the last many weeks

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Trader Joe’s Omega Trek Mix: 14 grams of carbs, lots of nuts, doesn’t melt in your purse–winner!

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Kind bar–Dark Chocolate, Nuts and Sea Salt: 16 grams of carbs, which is a hair high, but close enough, and really the only bar I found that did. It is tasty, I can pronounce all the ingredients, and although it gets melty in hot weather–shouldn’t something that claims to be chocolate get melty? I eat these a lot. 

Lunch

For lunch, I have discovered a routine– it’s turkey sandwich plus “whatever carb sounds good.” Needing to pack a lunch has limited some options, but having a variety of fruits and veggies around has helped. 

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Dinner

For us in the summer, dinner usually involves “putting something on the grill.” I have pretty much just gotten a variety of proteins that can be grilled over the course of the week, we make one, and then I add on whatever sounds good from my “great carb collection.” For dinner, I need to be especially careful when I try to eat something with a bun: they can surprise me, even when small, by their carb count.  When we go out to dinner, I’ve had luck with quesadillas, nachos where I count the number of chips I eat along the way, sandwiches where I request whole wheat bread and sometimes leave some bread behind, salads–providing I can find enough carbs in the meal, and burgers where I eat part of the bun and request a salad instead of fries. 

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Drinks

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My high recommendations for plain soda water with a slice of lime. Preferably in a fancy glass. I have ordered this in restaurants everywhere we have gone, and mostly judge based on what kind of glass they serve. 

Evening Snack

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I pretty much always eat a cracker and peanut butter and greek yogurt. In the summer, I’ve found it hard to find things to eat before bed that sound appealing, but this has fit the bill between “not too filling” and works with the schedule.

 

So there you have it, everything I have eaten for the last 10 weeks or so. This has both been easier and harder than I have thought it would be–so if you are starting off and feeling overwhelmed, know it will get better. You will figure out what works for you. And I am grateful both to be aware of my long-term risks, and that this short term higher-ristriction time will soon be over!

 

 

Now officially 37 weeks! If I went into labor, they wouldn’t stop it! A milestone I celebrated by seriously wondering if “going into labor” was what was happening to me.

Yesterday afternoon, I had driven in the car to meet someone, and when I got out I said “wow, that really kind of hurts.” I had a feeling like period-cramps, painful enough to be distracting, including the fact that they were constant and without breaks that I could time. I still hurt at the end of the meeting, still hurt driving back, still hurt back at the office. At which point I say to myself “I am 36w6, this can’t be labor, and it doesn’t come and go, this isn’t contractions!” but do think it might not be a bad time to try out some of those comfort techniques on the practice pain.

At this point, my lower back is also hurting and I call up my spouse, trying to figure out if I missed some part of our birthing classes where they talked about “moderate pain that doesn’t come and go.” He says he doesn’t know, but call the doctor. I leave a message on the nurses line, because surely this isn’t an emergency, and continue trying to not focus or obsess about my abdomen hurting. It gets close to the end of the day, and I hear back from them. As long as baby is moving, and I haven’t had broken water they aren’t concerned–and say things like “Go home, drink water and put your feet up, and it will either get better or worse.” (aka, you will feel better or go into labor)

If I can have a minor side note, this is when my brain explodes by the idea that labor is a non-alarming possibility. We have now crossed the line into nurses not being concerned when labor is a possibility, while I am still that girl without a hospital bag packed, because it seemed like jumping the gun.

So in any case–continued to have period-cramp and back pains all night, which did fell better in a bath and laying down without moving. Today they have calmed down so that it doesn’t hurt to sit, and standing feels “sore, with occasional twinges” which sounds about right for this late in pregnancy. I’m wondering if this baby was getting lower and expanding things that weren’t used to being expanded.

But now, I guess I need to actually pack that hospital bag? 2 weeks left at work, 3 weeks until due date. Ahhhhh!

Things that have happened in week 35:

I got my first stretch marks. Sigh. And they now seem to be everywhere. It was bound to happen, but can I get a communal booooo?

I went over my lunch blood sugar limits twice– on the same meal I had eaten within limits earlier in the week. This led to a type of in-depth analysis, that involved researching peaches, discovering that riper fruit has a higher glycemic index than unripe fruit (which would mean if you were to try to minimize GI, you would avoid ripe fruit, a fact which blew my sense of reason), and had a minor meltdown.

I went over my dinner blood sugar limits three times. Which led to some despair, discovering that chicken sausage has 11 grams of sugar, discovering exactly how much variation there can be in carbs in an ear of corn, a good moment of utter despair thinking that my nursing staff would require me to go on medication and then picture that in the worst light possible, and as you can imagine, a less-minor meltdown.

I tripped in front of a crowd of over a hundred– making a gasping noise that I have never before witnessed. I also learned there is very little ways to actually convince people that you are fine, and a bruised knee does not mean I am going into labor.

I went to my gestational diabetes appointment and remembered how kind and reasonable my nursing staff really is. In talking through, they were not as concerned about the over numbers as I was, and we came up with a plan for the next week. Win!

I went to a regular OB appointment. Because I now do that every week

I got an ultrasound that showed baby girl at a lovely 47th percentile for weight, which should mean that if I can manage GD these next few weeks, they shouldn’t be concerned about her being too big. Yay!

I got a little sick of doctors appointments.

All in all, a rather exhausting week. And for anyone with gestational diabetes out there, can I have a shout out for how tiring it is to have your psyche tied up with a number that you check four-five times a day? Yikes! I’m guessing pregnancy hormones also don’t help the “a high number is the end of the world” spiral I can work myself into.

Tomorrow starts week 36 which makes me:
1 week from “they don’t stop labor”
4 weeks from due date and
5 weeks from “baby will be here no matter what”

It’s getting real!

I was thinking today: I should write a blog post! I’ve been out of town and busy and it’s been a while. Then I check and it’s been nearly a month. I take this as a sign that I really have been feeling surprisingly good.

When I started on this, I heard about pregnancy trimesters like a mountain: The first trimester sucks, things rise to a good level in the second trimester, and it’s all downhill from there. Now I will not argue with someone about the suckiness of the first trimester–really folks who are battling nausea and overall crappiness, along with uncertainty, all while not having societal acknowledgement of the major life change underway–ugh. Not fun.

For me the second trimester, I was so grateful not to be nauseous anymore, but by the end of it I was starting to struggle a bit. I was feeling pretty low energy a lot of the time. I was adjusting to my sudden lack of lung capacity which made everyday activities difficult. And not to be overlooked, I had this cloud over my head that “It’s only going to get worse!” so feeling not great seemed like the harbinger of many many months of crummy.

My third trimester so far, I think I’ve felt better just by beating my own expectations. Having gotten more used to not being able to walk long distances, I get really proud of myself for being able to walk without pain and without being completely exhausted. I call standing up from the floor on my own a victory! Look at me, kicking ass!

All this has culminated in some ways over the last month with two work-trips that have included quite a bit of physical activity for a pregnant lady. At 29 weeks, I was spending a lot of time in the woods, with things that I might call a “hike” (ahem, some might say “walk” but there were inclines! And tree roots!). At 33 weeks, I was on a trip in the heat–yes moving very slowly and wow I could get tired at times, but I was there!

So by my remarkably limited expectations, I actually now am feeling a lot of success. I feel good when I take my dog on trips around the block (it’s a big block). I can stand without pain. I stand for whole twenty minutes for presentations in which I kick ass–while being very pregnant. Take that patriarchy!

I also wonder if some of my bleh-ness of the late 2nd trimester had to do with gestational diabetes before it was diagnosed. I don’t think it accounts for everything–readjusting expectations for my “mild incline victories” wouldn’t have been easy in any case. But although I have been having my real frustrations and upsets with my restricted diet, I wonder if it is contributing to my overall energy level in positive directions.

All to say, I’m grateful to be healthy and well. I’m grateful that horror stories haven’t proven true so far (we’ll see how the next 5-6 weeks go!). And if someone happens to be reading this in the 2nd trimester- if you are feeling worse as time goes on, that’s ok, you are not alone, but it could also be that you feel ok within new limits. Take solidarity, but don’t let doom and gloom scare you.

I am finding it funny that my experience of pregnancy and gestational diabetes at this point involves a lot of counting. The numbers constantly bouncing around in my head include:

Current week of pregnancy: 31 week
Weeks until full term: 6 (ahhhh! I try to use this one as a motivator to actually make baby things happen)
Weeks until due date 9
Week until baby will be here no matter what: 10 (I don’t think they let folks with GD go too far over)

Time since I last ate: 30 minutes
Time until I need to test blood sugar: 30 minutes
What my blood sugar should be under at that point: 130
Time until I need to eat again: hour and a half to two and a half hours

Perpetually: ways to count up to 15 carbs.
How many carbs I’ve gotten up to this meal
How many carbs I need to eat still
What I need to be doing/having in the house/purchasing, in order to have the right number of carbs to eat at the right time.

It’s been a weird few weeks of both adjusting to this new way of looking at food while also volunteering at camp. Last week, it meant a lot of trying to calculate my “food schedule” next to the camp schedule, figuring out what I could eat or needed to add to meals, trying to find the least disruptive time to test blood sugar or eat something out of the kids view. Now I’ve returned to a semi-empty refrigerator and I’m trying to figure out how to eat while being very tired and soon head to the grocery store–I’m amazed how fast I can go through things when options are limited. It’s all going well (or we’ll see what the drs say tomorrow–I had a couple days where the weirdness of food and schedule got me over my limits, but not by too much). I’m looking forward to this getting a bit easier, so less of my brain needs to be devoted to this at any point in time.

It has been an exhausting week of doctors appointments. Two weeks ago, I took the 1 hour glucose screening and didn’t pass. Last week, I had the 3 hour test which can I say, was a profoundly unpleasant experience–make a pregnant lady eat nothing for 12 hours, and then drink pure sugar to watch her blood sugar spike and fall in a enclosed waiting room, while taking blood every hour? Ugh. I also didn’t get food quite soon enough afterwards and had a bad reaction of vision blurring and cold sweats. 

And after all that, as you might have guessed, I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes. 

Ugh.

I had my follow up appointment today, complete with my new meal plan for the rest of pregnancy and blood sugar meter lesson. I still have some to learn, because I have yet to successfully stick myself in one go–I have had to try 3-4 times each so far because I wasn’t able to get enough blood. I was feeling so much like a human pincushion that I nearly lost it when I learned I needed a TDap booster at the Ob’s office later. In retrospect, a completely different thing, but when you don’t like needles or blood in the first place, and have been spending a lot of energy honing your “out of body” needle skills, apparently things become hard.

My thoughts about Gestational Diabetes have been vacillating. I’ve been going between this plucky can-do, “It’s ok, you got this! You were already eating healthy and lots of snacks, so this is more of the same! It’s only for 11 more weeks, you will be great!” with occasional bouts of “What do you mean for 15 carbs you can only get half an apple!?! What on earth am I going to eat? My life is difficult despair!” 

I’m also trying to keep in perspective, that in the scheme of pregnancy complications, this isn’t that bad. It looks like they mostly are concerned, not about my health, but the baby’s weight and how that might affect birth and post-birth blood sugar. Which considering the wide range of things that can go wrong, this is ok and we have a plan. I am not in any of the risk categories for GD–which is odd in some ways, but also means that from here on out I can keep an eye on diabetes risk, when I might not have known to otherwise. 

That last paragraph is my rational brain talking. The other parts of my brain also chime in with things like “But why?,” “A summer with no ice cream?” and “How the hell am I going to eat a breakfast with only 30 g of carbs when eggs sound gross in the morning? Why do you take all of my cereal and toast?!?” and other whiny and despairing thoughts. 

I’ll keep you updated, and try to let you know if I actually do figure out what I’m going to eat. 

Being on the edge of the 3rd trimester, I had a moment of anxiety that we had bought nothing for this baby. Literally nothing. We have several baby blankets that folks have given us and an umbrella stroller hand-me-down, but other than that there really was no practical object in our apartment so far for an upcoming baby. I don’t know if it is a combination of “I hate making decisions,” “I am not very fond of shopping,” or some sort of not-being-sure-if-its too early, but we finally decided that being less than three calendar months from a due date was time to start getting serious.

The first purchase was angst-y, but went pretty well. I decided that purchasing a crib would make me feel like we had actually done something. So we ordered a subscription to Consumer Reports to try to learn what I should be looking for in a very-safe-crib. I am a professional woman: when in doubt, research! We didn’t really like any of the ones we had seen in our window shopping at a local baby-store, so we ended up ordering one of the ones CR liked, that conveniently we liked the look of and also got good reviews from short parents. Done! Over-researched purchase #1 complete and here’s hoping that we like it as much in person!

Ok, well what comes after a crib? A carseat. I figure if we have a place for whippersnapper to sleep, and a way to get her home, then we are starting to get real here. Like, in case of emergency, the fella could run out for diapers and some packs of onesies and we wouldn’t be totally negligent parents. Baby-steps.

So after consulting the trusty Consumer Reports, we went out to the baby store to see things in person. We knew exactly the one we wanted to look at, we located it in the store, and then we spent a lot of time feeling like idiots. There were so many buttons! We knew we wanted to remove the carrier to see how heavy the it was without the base, and there the two of us stood, three masters degrees between us, completely baffled by baby equipment. We kept pushing buttons and pulling levers that did something else: this one tilts the car seat, this one moves the handle. There’s straps that move and are tightened. We try looking around to see if someone else has made this work. We try pushing buttons at the same time while lifting. At one point, we start wondering if maybe they have connected the carrier to the base to prevent theft, and put the whole thing on the floor to see what it feels like, while making comments like “how much heavier can the base be than a baby?.” Finally we have returned the whole thing to the display shelf and are trying to look at the different models and covers, when a woman walks up and in a single fluid motion, removes the carrier to test it out on a stroller base. The fella and I exchange knowing glances. This clear baby-expert is here with two other friends, and is demonstrating for them the things they should care about in a stroller (“Because you aren’t going to want to lug something heavy around just to run in for something in Target”). We subtly try to mimic her magic on the adjacent carseat, while simultaneously listening in for any wisdom this guru is sharing. She wheels around the car-seat on the snap-n-go with ease (“I actually think I like the same brand name version better. These weren’t available when I was in the market.”) Lo and behold, we push the button that she had pushed while lifting and like magic the carrier releases. How is this possible? We had tried that several times before to no luck! One of her friends, at that moment, looks to us with pity and says “First baby?”

So this is what I have learned from shopping so far. Despite all attempts to play it cool, we are going to be ridiculous first-time parents. I will read all of the reviews and probably pay too much. I am going to be baffled by simple objects. I am some baby-producers dream because in my bafflement, I have very little way to judge what is necessary and not. And as much as I would like to use my research to cover my inadequacies, a pinch of experience trumps a pound of research any day. Sigh.