Saturday, August 23, 2008

Puttering Around

Okay. After three speedy labors my body has gotten tired with it's old pattern and decided to try something new. Now it's trying the "start and stop" pattern. "Let's try an hour or two of contractions every two or three days! And just as soon as Crabby is sure we're finally getting down to business (at 1:30 at night, mind you) let's stop!"

*Deep sigh* My midwife informs me this is a common pattern with third or fourth babies. She and her colleagues are convinced the best thing for me to do is lots of walking. Walk, walk, walk the baby out. There's some evidence for this, since the baby has been moving lower every time I move around and bounces back up when I lay down.

The problem is that I am so not a pleasure or sport walker. It's an efficient way to get from Point A to Point B but I overused walking for stress relief between grade school and high school (you can probably guess that story), and I've never really enjoyed it since. And that's without the 100F weather we're having.

No, I'd rather dance than walk. But it's been over a year since I took the time to practice, and I didn't bring any tunes. Where am I going to find Middle Eastern dance tracks in rural Tennessee?

But wait. The Farm hosts alternative music concerts. Surely the bands leave CDs at the store to sell. I search the bins and -- score! Amidst the folk songs and such I find a Tribal Bazaar and a Barracka Mundi. I am now in business.

(I love "folk songs and such" but this is edging out of pleasure and into neccessity.)

The dancing does help with the stress relief, even if all the "dancing" I'm up to at the moment is just walking around the room swinging my hips. My slow progress has been discouraging to me. I try to remind myself it's actually very good for the baby, but I don't handle frustration well. It's easy for it to set off my chronic depression, and that's the last thing I need.

So that's where things stand now. My husband is doing a fair amount of writing. The girls are alternating between working on their art and being bored out of their skulls. The library visits when are type these up are helping, but my husband thinks they'll be tired of them after today. We'll see how things go.

Me? I'm puttering around.

My actual due date isn't until Friday. I just gotta remember that.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Still here, Still Pregnant....

Two weeks later...

We left back for Tennessee the next day. It's been all quiet on the home front, with no more break-ins. It's been pretty quiet on the Farm too. We moved back into a different cabin, one across the road from our midwife's house.

I guess I should explain about the Farm Midwifery Center. It's the US's oldest freestanding (not directly attached to a hospital) birthing center. The Farm was established in Tennessee in 1970 as a hippie commune by a group of alternative lifestyle advocates from San Francisco. 38 years later it's still going as sort of a combination gated rural community/alternative lifestyle tourist attraction. It's biggest draw is the Midwifery Center.

The Center both takes care of pregnant women and trains midwives. The provide home births for local women, including the local Amish community. But they also have cabins available for women who come in from outside the area. Currently my neighbors include pregnant women from California, New York, and Illinois. We're the only ones who didn't fly in.

So basically, right now we're in a cabin in 40 year-old woods in the foothills of the Appalachias. The deer come up to the back windows. The midwife lives across the road, with more midwives down the street. There's a clinic within walking distance, a spectacular earthen swimming pool with a rock face diving cliff that's like something out of one of the more expensive hotels at Disneyworld just out of walking distance, good restaurants with cheap lunchtime buffets in driving distance, and a tourist town with a friendly obstetrical department that works with the clinic just down the road. I've had nothing to do but eat, sleep, swim and play tourist for two weeks. It's been incredibly relaxing.

It's been so blasted relaxing the baby hasn't wanted to come.

I've had three premature labors in a row. Since they were all eight and nine pound preemies, nobody was sure what the cause was. Now it looks like the premature labors might have been stress-related. This is the first time I've had a labor go full term. That's good. I keep telling myself that's good. The problem is I don't know how to cope with a full term labor.

I'm not used to the baby dropping and staying dropped. I'm not used to contractions that come and go, letting you get back to sleep. It's all starting to get a teensy bit annoying.

Meanwhile, we're not running short of days. My husband has been saving his leave days for this moment for seven years. He's enjoying the delicious feel of it being August and him not being in the classroom teaching a new class, although he has been asked to guest lecture at the Farm's alternative school.

Sunshine is taking it incredibly well. Brighteyes has had some trouble with the break in her routine. Not a day has gone by without her throwing a temper tantrum over something that she felt was out of place in some way. It's probably aggravated by her loose tooth -- she's always fussy when she's got a tooth coming out. Still, in the last few days we've made it clear that her fusses aren't helping the baby. She was shocked to realize the baby could hear her even though it hasn't been born yet. She's trying harder to keep it together. Now that she isn't spending so much energy on fusses, she's become an extremely prolific artist, doing two or three sketches a day. Her father is working his way through the exercises in How to Draw What You See and experimenting with some pastels I found on sale at a local Hobby Lobby. It's occurred to Brighteyes that she can invent her own art exercises, and she has been making detailed notes on how to draw hands.

Sunshine is drawing more as well, and is getting better at drawing individual objects. She's also working her way through a dinosaur coloring book.

I brought their math and spelling workbooks along as well. These were very helpful in the first week. Whenever they started to feel anxious and get fussy over the lack of a familiar routine, I would pull them out and they would calm down. By the second week they preferred to spend their time drawing.

And that's basically it. We've hit all the local tourist attractions and eaten at almost all the recommended restaurants. I found a consignment shop that sells new name brand children's clothing overruns for $1.50 to $5.99 and got a start on the fall clothes buying. I've almost finished the Torchwood audiobooks I never had the time to listen to at home. Tomorrow is our 20th wedding anniversary, and the day after that is the adjusted official due date.

I'm really, really ready for the baby to be born now. Okay baby?

Monday, August 04, 2008

A Really Awful Week

I left home to be closer to the midwives for the birth last week. I came home two days ago. No baby yet, but it's been one hell of a week.

Tuesday I ran around trying to finish the packing and get the house settled for our first vacation in 17 years. I was so busy I didn't conciously notice the heat index of 116F. Which isn't to say I didn't unsconciously notice it, as it sent me into precipitous labor around midnight.

All of my births have been precipitous. Once started, labor doesn't stop until late morning, when the baby is born. So, after a few frantic midnight calls to the midwives, we all agreed it would be best if I came on up.

Problem: the Sunshine and Brighteyes are sound asleep. This means an early-morning call to SIL to ask if she can come over and babysit. At 1 am. That she actually shows up is testament to her good character (a fact I sometimes have to remind myself of when -- but that's another story). So we get underway at a 2:45 am.

Did I mention the midwifery center is three and a half hours away? In the daylight? We get there at 6:45 am, find our cabin, and I get examined and immediately ordered to bed. My husband and I eat a cheese pizza we picked up on the way. I manage to convince myself it's really cheese toast with a fruit on the side in a slightly different format. Alas, my husband lacks my skill at self-delusion and had a harder time with it. We get a call from SIL to see if we made it, then crash for three hours.

SIL is supposed to call back at 11. No call. At 11:30 my husband leaves to pick up the girls. I try to talk him out of it, but he logically points out he has to pick up his paycheck today anyway, and he doesn't trust those jokers not to lose it on him. So he made the trip twice more while I got another checkup and slept the rest of the day.

With all the sleep I actually managed to stop the labor for the first time in four pregnancies. Maybe that wild yam extract the midwife insisted I take is actually doing some good. The family gets in around 10, and we finally get everyone fed, settled, and in bed around midnight.

We spent all day Thursday and Friday morning exploring, shopping for stuff that got behind left in the mad dash, and relaxing. We were feeling pretty good by lunchtime Friday when we got a call from SIL that our house now had busted-out windows.

My husband spent the afternoon and night on the phone getting damage reports while I packed everything back up. According to the searchers, the thief had broken through the window in the front door, found it unopenable, then broke a back window, made a mess, stole some change, and left without taking any large items. They couldn't tell what small items were missing and what were lost in the mess. I finally got my husband off the phone at 11pm so we could sleep.

Saturday morning I had an exam, was okayed with a stern warning to avoid stress, and we left. It was another over 100F day. The car, which had been doing fine, had it's air conditioner die once and it died twice on the way back.

The house was in a bigger mess than we'd been told about. On the other hand, it was in a mess when we left, so the searchers probably didn't realize what was us and what was the thief. On the third hand, the thief apparently found it hard to deal with. He checked a few stereotypical places, then stopped instead of doing the whole place.

Note to future thieves: even I'm not dumb enough to hide anything valuable in my panty drawer. We don't have a lot of pawnable swag. A fortune spent on books, DVDs, homeschool materials, and arts & crafts supplies isn't worth much at Leroy's Pawn Shop. It's called "investing in education". You may have heard of it?

Anyway, don't bother looking for the top pawn shop items here. I don't own any gold jewelry. I'm a silversmith, dude. That means everything I own is silver, and almost all of it is non-commercial and so distinctive tracing it would be a snap. Leroy wouldn't know what to do with it.

As for the electronics, the TV is 13 years old. The buttons have worn off the set and it has to be worked with a remote. The computer was assembled out of mostly second-hand parts put together from junked machines people brought my husband to work on. We're not worth breaking into.

Bah. It looks like the thief got a graphing calculator, around $100 worth of change inside two coin banks (one containing dd1's allowance for the past year!), a pearl necklace, some heavy commercial silver chains, a handmade silver and garnet chain, some carved wood and crystal boxes from my collection, a handful of Christmas candy(?), and some forty-watt light bulbs(?) he stuffed into a toy bucket and dropped in the backyard.

This paucity was not for lack of trying, mind you. He backed his car up to our front door with the intention of loading it up, but in the end he didn't find it worth the effort. We didn't design our house to be easy to steal from.

The next thief will have an even harder time. The broken panes have been replaced with a shatter-proof material, and the windows are being fitted with custom locks made by my husband. Never challenge a genius who has his own machine shop.

And the new front window is elegantly engraved with our family name, our business name, and a pair of dragons.

But the sherriff's department and our own searchers missed the Clues. The thief left his homemade club outside the window and left his bloodstains on the curtain and on the floor after cutting his hand opening the window. Pity we can't interest the sherriff's department enough to come collect them or even take our statement. We called and were told the officer in charge "had called this afternoon but no one picked up the phone". (Lie. Neither we nor the answering machine got any such call.) and wouldn't be available until Monday.

By Saturday night my (not) Good (definitely) Old PTSD was wearing off and I felt a bit -- frazzled. On top of all this I'm still almost 9 months pregnant and still under orders to avoid stress. And did I mention easily exhausted? It took me over 24 hours to type up this post, and I to stop once for contractions, which fortunately stopped with rest and plenty of water. I so don't need this right now.

And on top of everything else, it's probably guaranteed it'll be another 17 years before I get another vacation!