Monthly Archives: October 2007

LitQuake

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People dancing at the LitQuake after-party 

LitQuake was a big success. I only made it to one other reading (for 10 minutes) besides mine, but the Grotto reading went great. Ritual was jam-packed with people standing, but I managed to save a chair, so I was one of the few lucky ones who got to sit. Afterward we went with some friends for tacos and to the after party at the Elbow Room, where I got my first close-up look at Dave Eggers. Daniel Handler was there, too, but I didn’t see him. The only time I’ve seen him in person was when he opened for Death Cab for Cutie by telling some story about when he was a kid. I love both of them! If you haven’t read What is the What, you must, and, of course, the Lemony Snicket books are wonderful, too. I’ll post some pictures from LitQuake once I find my laptop cord. Meanwhile, you can view them here.

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Pregnancy Update–34 Weeks

I’ll try to write several short blog posts to catch up …

I’ll be 35 weeks by the end of this week, which means just five more weeks until D-Day. We completed our birth class, which was great, and Whitney (with the help of Martin’s mom) had a shower for me a week ago last Sunday. The food was delicious (and extremely plentiful), the company was wonderful, and the baby room is full of clothes and bottles and books and CDs and painted-on onesies and a Baby Bjorn and a Baby Einstein plaything and all kinds of wonderful gifts.

As for me, the wrist is slowly getting better. I can move it pretty well now, so it mostly needs to strengthen now. My back was hurting a lot last week. I got a prenatal massage (thanks J&H!) that was fantastic, but it still hurt afterward. Lying down seems to be the best remedy. I think trekking to the city on BART three days in a row is what aggravated it so much.

The baby has been kicking harder and harder, and I think he turned around because last night I felt a lot of sharp (and, for the first time, painful) kicks on my lower left abdomen while in the past two weeks all the kicks have been on the right side. Last night I had to get out of bed and walk around because the kicks were hurting too much. Today I slept most of the day, exhausted from the weekend and from being up half the night.

Still waiting for nursery furniture to arrive, and still have a few things to buy, but for the most part we’re ready. We meet with our doula this week to go over the birth plan, and I’m taking an infant First Aid/CPR class on Nov. 11th, but otherwise all systems go. I feel torn between wanting him to come late so I can get a lot of writing done before then and wanting him to come early, so I can get this bowling ball out of my belly. I really look like I have a full-sized baby in me now. Can’t believe I’ll be growing for another six weeks. Maybe I will look like Milla Jovovich by then! (Well, that wouldn’t be so bad, would it?)

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Milla and Me

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I haven’t blogged in more than two weeks. There’s so much going on right now, butI have a goal to write at least two hours a day, and with all my naps and other activities, that doesn’t leave me any time to blog. For now, here is an excerpt from Milla Jovovich’s website that made me happy. I, by the way, have gained a mere 35 pounds!

“am so huge you guys! i’ve gained almost 70 pounds in the last 4 months! It’s unbelievable how quickly it all happened, all i did was eat three bagels every morning with butter, peanut butter and jelly all over them, a few boxes of crispy cream donuts for lunch and boom! i’m tipping the scale at 195! man, that came out of nowhere! lol! well maybe not completely out of nowhere! so now i’m completely going in the opposite extreme and eating nothing but chicken, fish and veggies with the closest thing to bread taking the form of oatmeal in the morning with just the teensiest bit of maple sugar to make it bearable… sigh! all i want is another box of donuts! well, only 8 more weeks to go and then hopefully i’ll start to get back to normal.”

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Pregnancy Update—31 Weeks

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First surgery—8 weeks
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Second surgery—31 weeks

I’m starting to feel huge! I’ve stopped obsessing about my weight, though. I haven’t been able to exercise since I broke my wrist three and a half weeks ago, and I don’t envision myself doing much over the next two months. I can walk, do elliptical and cycle at the gym, but I can’t swim or do prenatal yoga anymore, and I’m a little nervous about hiking. Besides, now that I’ve lost a month of writing time, I have a lot to catch up on. (It’s very exciting to be able to type with two hands again!)

As far as baby stuff, we started our birth class last Saturday, and we took our hospital tour on Sunday. The class is at Birthways in Berkeley instead of the hospital, so it’s kind of hippy-ish. We watch a lot of home birthing videos, and the first day we got a belly dancing lesson. (Belly dancing movements are supposed to be designed for labor.)

My friend Whitney is organizing a shower, so I spent a lot of time last weekend making lists of baby things we still need to get. We drove out to Lullaby Lane to pick out bedding, etc. and we decided to paint the baby room blue after all, so I bought all the paint yesterday and Martin’s parents are coming over to paint today. Nursery furniture will be delivered in a week or two, so pretty soon we’ll be ready and waiting for “Patagonia” to arrive.

I’ve been feeling fine pregnancy-wise. Some back ache when I’m at the computer for a long time, and heartburn at least once a day, but nothing too bad. He moves and kicks (or elbows) a lot, and we had our final ultrasound last week. He’s in the right position, so let’s home he doesn’t move.

We also took a hypnobirthing lesson from my friend Betsy (who is a doula), and I’ve been listening to my hypnosis and meditation CD every day (30 mins total). I fall asleep almost every time, but then wake up when it’s over. I’ve also practiced with ice a few times. Not fun. Holding ice hurts! But it’s a good way to practice different breathing techniques. I’ve switched from reading pregnancy books to reading birth books, and I’m already sick of those (although I just got another in the mail from Amazon yesterday.) My big goal at this point is to get as much writing done as possible over the next two months because anything left to do/buy for the baby can all be done in about a day. Otherwise, we’re pretty much set to go. And now that it’s 5:48 a.m., I’m going back to bed. I woke up at 4 a.m. STARVING and had to get up to eat.

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Wrist surgery

So surgery was pretty hellish. I wasn’t nervous about it. I had Martin drop me off in front of the hospital, and I went in and changed into my hospital gown and waited. They monitored the baby’s heart for 20 minutes, took my blood pressure, hooked me up to an IV and then gave me a mild sedative. Two hours after I arrived, I was wheeled into the operating room where the anesthesiologist administered a block to my arm. The block was awful. It didn’t hurt much going in (she numbed my arm pit first), but when the drugs hit, they didn’t just hit my arm, they hit my whole body. I was lying there saying, “I can feel it in my head. Is that normal? I can feel it in my whole body. Is that normal?” and she was saying, “No.” It was like I’d been injected with speed. My heart was racing like crazy and my whole body was tingling. I was sure I was going to have a heart attack and both the baby and I were going to die. They put an oxygen mask on me and did who knows what else and after about five minutes my heart went back to normal and my arm was completely numb. They put a paper curtain over me—not vertically between my arm and me, but right over my face, so I asked them to move it halfway so I could at least see the ceiling. “You’re claustrophobic,” the anesthesiologist said. Well, not really. But when both my arms and my body are strapped down in a T like I’m on a crucifix, one arm is numb and the other is attached to a blood pressure cuff, a pulse monitor and an IV, my chest is attached to a heart monitor and there’s a big O2 mask on my face, I don’t really want to lie under a sheet of paper. So she moved it halfway so I could stare at the clock on the wall and the heart monitor.

The surgery ended at 5:37, about an hour after I got the block, and it wasn’t fun. Being pregnant, I’m not used to lying flat on my back for that long, and it was uncomfortable. My shoulder ached from I don’t know what. It felt like my arm was stretched out too far, but it was probably the tourniquet that made it ache. I was really sleepy, but paranoid that if I fell asleep I wouldn’t wake up, so I tried to keep my eyes open the whole time. I also noticed that the two times I did almost drift off to sleep, the anesthesiologist started asking me mundane questions about my tutoring, etc. I asked her a lot of questions, too, like why Blue Shield isn’t covering anesthesiologists at Alta Bates hospital anymore, and she said the company wouldn’t bargain with them.

The worst part of the surgery was when they used an electric screwdriver to drill a bunch of screws into my bones, and I could hear the whole thing. I couldn’t feel the pain, but I could feel the vibration in my shoulder, and I could hear the whole thing. At one point, the only male in the room—a nurse (my surgeon and anesthesiologist were both women) said, “Could someone get me a martini?” and I said, “Get one for me, too.”

Once it was over, they put a huge bandage on my arm (see photo), and since I had no control over my arm at all, they put it in this big yellow foam block that held it upright. In recovery I got some juice and crackers finally (after not eating since the night before) and a nurse from Labor and Delivery monitored the baby’s heart for another 20 minutes. After lots of questions and paperwork, the nurse helped me get dressed and called Martin to pick me up. Two hours after surgery ended, I was wheeled downstairs to the car. The freaky thing was carrying my left arm with my right. It was dead to the point that it felt like it had come unattached, like I was carrying someone else’s arm. I had to check my shoulder from time to time to make sure it was still connected. It was such an awful, creepy feeling that I actually said to Martin that I thought the pain would be better than not being able to feel my arm. Ha!

We raced to the pharmacy to get my Vicodin and antibiotics before it closed (arrived exactly at 8 as they were closing the doors), then to Gregoire (my favorite carry out restaurant!) for a steak and au gratin potatoes for me, veggie pasta for Martin. While Martin ordered the food, I waited in the car. I started to be able to wiggle a few fingers, and the block completely wore off. It was the worst pain I’ve ever felt—worse, or at least as bad, as breaking it. I started sobbing and took a Vicodin, then another, but they didn’t kick in for a while. For about an hour, I couldn’t stop moaning and crying and saying, “Why did they send me home? I should be in the hospital on morphine!” Halfway through my steak at home (which Martin had to cut for me), I told Martin to call the surgeon to see if I should go back to the hospital. He had her paged, but by the time she called back, the Vicodin had kicked in and I was starting to float. I continued on two Vicodin at a time for the entire next day (which made me sleep all day), then cut back to one at a time the day after. By Sunday (surgery was Thursday) I was taking extra-strength Tylenol, and after a couple of days on that, I went off it completely. My wrist still hurt now and then when I was out of the house a lot, but after icing and elevating it for five days, the pain was pretty much gone.

Monday (this week), I got my bandage and stitches removed to reveal a Frankenstein-like scar beneath. I could hardly move my wrist at all, but my fingers have loosened up a lot since I started typing with two hands. Tomorrow I start physical therapy three times a week for eight weeks—right up until my due date. I think once I start exercising it, it will loosen up a lot. Right now I can’t rotate it much, or bend it at the wrist. I have a Velcro splint that is comfortable and removable, which makes life easier, but I still can’t lift or pull anything with my left hand. About all it can do so far is type, which isn’t a bad thing to be able to do.

It hurts a little more now that I’m using it, but nothing compared to what it felt like after surgery. I’m glad I decided on the plate so that I could go to physical therapy right away. With screws I would have been in a cast for the next two months and had no strength at all when the baby was born. The worst is over at this point—and I can even take my splint off to take showers!

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