Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sundry Thoughts

  • Grace has been really great with her new little sister-- super affectionate and interested and loving.  Sometimes a little too affectionate, actually...  She tries to be gentle, but she is an almost-3-year-old after all and doesn't quite get it.  Boy, is she devoted to Violet, though.  Our days have been filled with a constant refrain of "I want to kiss her little cheek" and "Where is my tiny sister?" and "Where is her little ear?" and "Where is her OTHER little ear?"
  • I am working on Violet's birth story and will post it soon, in case you're the sort of person who likes that kind of thing.  I most definitely am that sort of person, by the way; birth stories are some sort of intersection of feminine experience and rubbernecking that are compelling to me.
  • Have I mentioned what a profound relief it is to not be pregnant anymore?  Good heavens, it is nice. By way of illustration, in my last month or two of pregnancy I was growing more and more convinced that our mattress was in imminent need of replacement.  Now, however, it seems just fine!
  • We sometimes call Violet our little chicken baby because if you hold her upright on your chest when she is in the mood to eat, she will bob her head up and down on your shoulder in a manner quite reminiscent of a chicken pecking the ground for food.  "Bawk, bawk, bawk..."
  • At other times, we call Violet our little piglet baby because she snorts.  She often snorts when she cries, and it is a little funny to hear her pitiful newborn wails interspersed with porcine snorts.  She also sometimes snorts when she is seriously, excitedly ready to eat and is bobbing her head from side to side trying to latch on.  Violet has had some nasal congestion since she was born (one whole week ago) and that seems to be the source of her pigginess. 
  • Today is the last day of 2008.  How did that happen?!  Our New Year's Eve plans involve diaper changes and midnight nursing sessions, I guess.  Maybe I'll sneak in a glass of wine between feedings...  It is pretty amazing to reflect on 2008 and all the changes that the year has seen: selling a house, buying a new house, getting pregnant, a cross-country move, and going from a family of 3 to a family of 4.  It's been a year of change and goodbyes and adjustment, but also a year of immense blessings.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

In Love

I am feeling blissed out right now on newborn deliciousness.  There's just nothing like the curled-up soft warmth of a tiny new person, and Violet is amazingly beautiful and sweet and wonderful.  She has a wise ancient face full of inscrutable ponderings, an effect that's intensified by her little wrinkled hands and feet that look like they belong to an old man.  Or maybe she has more of a scrunched-up alien monkey face, but I feel just about as full of love and oxytocin and tenderness at the second description as the first.  Her eyes have already turned to a dark, dark brown like Robert's. When she is awake, she gazes with their lovely chocolate-y depths at us or her sister dancing around or the Christmas tree with an intense mixture of befuddlement and wonder.  We kept expecting Grace's eyes to turn brown in those early months because of recessive genes and all but they have remained a lovely blue, so it looks like I will have one blue-eyed girl and one brown-eyed girl.  This is an idea which charms me excessively.

We went to the pediatrician yesterday for a weight check and Violet was 7 lbs 8 oz, maintaining or up just a touch from her weight when we left the hospital.  Boy, do those less than 8 lbs feel floaty and gossamer...  All of the newborn clothes seem gigantic on her and just like Grace, she sometimes pulls her arms into the torso of her clothes so that we pick her up and find the sleeves empty.  In contrast to her round cheeks, her legs and arms and feet and bottom are all lanky and scrawny with the same newborn spareness that Grace had.  She waves her arms and legs in slow, uncoordinated undulations that suggest life underwater and kneads the air with her long, slender fingers.  Her tininess is giving me a lot of cognitive dissonance about Grace's size; all of the sudden Grace's hands and head and feet seem absolutely gigantic, but then I'll see Grace following Rob around and realize that she too is still a very small person.  Rob and I are engrossed in the lives of these two small people right now, hunkered down in the house in a hazy, sleepy, mostly tranquil existence.

And now I shall moan about my boobs.  AAAAAAH!  The pain!  No, no, I exaggerate for dramatic effect; I am not doing that bad.  I had a hard time getting started breastfeeding Grace because of pain due to latch issues.  We ended up at a lactation consultant who helped our latch problems a LOT and things started to turn around about Day 8 or 9 and I was pretty much pain-free by Grace's 3rd week of life.  As Violet and I started out breastfeeding, I was trying to be so, so careful about her latch but I still have ended up with a not insignificant amount of pain that I'm still dealing with.  Why, oh why?  Lots of the hard-core breastfeeding people say that if you're doing right, it shouldn't hurt at all, but I don't know...  When they are so tiny, their mouths are so little and they have so little head control that it seems nearly impossible to have a perfect latch every time, and they nurse so frequently that any latch problems at all can result in pain and whatnot.  Anyway, my issues are nonnegligible but much more manageable this time around, not in the least because I know that it will get better in a matter of days and what to do in the meantime.  I've gotten out my very favorite breastfeeding book in the whole wide world to refresh myself on what to do, and I'm reminded how awesome that book is.  I cannot sing its praises highly enough; it has such realistic, straightforward ideas and expectations.  And it has the best written description of how to achieve a good latch I've ever come across.  (For more visual learners, the authors have a website with animations and videos and whatnot.)  Anyway, it's Day 6 and I think I've turned the corner and am starting to get better, and I am optimistic that I'll be pain-free in another week or so.  In the meantime, I'm being crazy vigilant about Violet's latch, keeping lots of lanolin and this stuff on myself to promote healing, and above all, most importantly, WITHOUT FAIL, making sure my boobs are never at risk for a direct hit from the shower. 


Friday, December 26, 2008

Violet's Birth Video

Here's a little glimpse into the past few days for us, from feeding Grace breakfast before heading to the hospital to settling back in at home Christmas morning.  There's not nearly as much footage of the actual labor as with Grace's video, but this labor was only 1/4 as long so we think that makes sense.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Violet Noƫlle arrived on December 22 at 3:33pm, weighing 7 lb, 13 oz and measuring 19 and 3/4 inches.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Birthday to Robert

Wall-to-wall carpet

The day Robert came into the world is a happy, happy one indeed.  It's not looking likely that he'll share it with his second daughter, so today we can just celebrate him.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

39 Weeks Or So

Julia's belly at 39 weeks

Well, here we are, mere days away from my due date...  Thursday night, I really really really thought I was going into labor.  I was having a lot of contractions and for the first time, they felt more like how "real" contractions are described with pain in my lower back and radiating down to my thighs, GI-upset-type feelings, and what I would describe as actual discomfort, instead of just the Braxton-Hicks tightening.  I felt sort of excited and slept terribly, but THEN!  I started having to pee all the time!  And then it started to hurt to pee!  By the time I got up for the day Friday morning, I knew I had another UTI, and I just sort of hoped that somehow my cervix was making progress as well.  I had my regular weekly midwife check-up that morning so I trotted off and peed in a cup for them for the millionth time and found out that yes, I had another UTI and no, I wasn't any more dilated than I was 5 days before.  It's 1 cm, which is something, and more than I was ever dilated with Grace before they started me on pitocin, so I won't complain too much, but I was disappointed that my night of less-fake-seeming contractions didn't do a darned thing.

I can't believe that I've had 2 UTIs in as many weeks, considering that I've never had one EVER before this, but I'm pretty sure that it is in fact a whole new infection, not the old one hanging on; I felt entirely fine for over a week and they tested me in that week, showing that the bacterial coast was clear.  I have a new round of antibiotics to kick this new infection, and I will gratefully acknowledge that it hasn't been nearly as dramatic an illness.  My symptoms have been mostly limited to the ones directly related to peeing, along with all the contractions-- contractions which have again dropped almost entirely away since I started the antibiotics.  EXASPERATED SIGH...  Rob keeps joking that I could just skip the antibiotics and go ahead and have the baby with my infection-fueled contractions but he is not the one limping around with so much pain in his abdomen, so I shall pay him no mind.

I have not cancelled my appointment on Monday at the hospital for the induction with prostaglandin gel, so I guess that means I'm going!  At my appointment yesterday, I paid a little more attention and realized they are going to use Prostin, not Cervidil like I originally thought, not that it makes that much difference.  I still have some conflicted thoughts about it, since I will be a couple days before my due date and there isn't a medically necessary reason to induce labor.  It will make a big difference in how much help I have at home, though; every day past Monday that I don't have the baby is one less day I will have Rob and my parents off from work to help with the postpartum insanity.  I really WANT to have the induction because of life circumstances, but I sort of feel like I am cheating and getting away with something by not sitting around waiting for my body to kick in on its own.  Rob asked me why this bothers me when having an induction with Grace didn't, and it's because with Grace, my membranes had ruptured, it had been over 24 hours, and the risk of infection was going up. "Well," he said, "your risk of going crazy from not having enough help at home is going up."

And oh, what a relief it would be to no longer be pregnant...  I am starting to have more and more of the late pregnancy misery, from back issues to killer heartburn to insane swelling.  With both this pregnancy and my last one, I did not really start to swell until past 36 weeks but boy, now I am swollen in earnest.  I have huge puffy sausage fingers on my disturbingly unfamiliar hands and my ankles are just. not. pretty.  And at one UTI a week, I'm getting really tired of things being all messed up in that department.  I know I could be a lot more uncomfortable than I am, and I am lucky to still be sleeping well and comfortably going for walks and living normal life, but really, there is just a point where you would rather push a human being out of your nether regions than continue being pregnant.

So the appointment stands for Monday, although I would just love to go into labor spontaneously before then.  (She could share Rob's birthday if she comes tomorrow!)  I've been keeping up with some of the non-medical, "natural" ways to induce labor for a while now but of course most of those things either have no basis in fact (as my friend Amanda from grad school would likely ask, do people not realize this?) or only really work if your body is ready to get going and just needs a little help.  I don't think I'm up for trying castor oil or the cohoshes or anything, but I'm using evening primrose oil and eating spicy food and staying active and whatnot.  Actually, the prostaglandin gel itself might not work; it is more effective than all the non-medical options, of course, but it too could just do nothing if my cervix isn't ready to go into action.  It will be hard to not be disappointed on Monday if nothing happens with the Prostin (which will mean I just come home and keep waiting), but in some ways the possibility of that happening mitigates my uncertainty about going in for it.  If my body really isn't ready, then it won't happen.  And on a deeper level, realizing that this is NOT all within my control or sphere of decision-making makes me relax and rest in who I believe does ultimately hold all things together.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Christmas Greetings
Photo by Laura Legg

Ah, Christmas...  I am so enjoying thinking about Christmas and getting ready for it this year.  I think that having Christmas fall right at the same time as being ONE MILLION YEARS pregnant is making it much easier to be sanguine about being so very with child.  There are lots of other things to focus on and work on and use up my mental energy.

For instance, Christmas cards.  The picture you see above was my original plan for our Christmas card this year but due to me being not quite with it and a miscommunication with our photographer, I wasn't able to get the file for the photo until just yesterday.  For most of last week, I was going absolutely crazy because our Christmas cards weren't done.  I obsessed, I perseverated, I harassed our poor photographer's voicemail, I drove Robert ABSOLUTELY BONKERS with my never-ending, hormonally-fueled talk of the Christmas cards.  At the end of last week, I gave up my GRAND ARTISTIC VISION for our Christmas card and went with another option which allowed me to have them printed and put in the mail over the weekend.  It was such a relief to have them done and silence that shrieking, gut-level demand that I MUST GET THE CARDS SENT.  I haven't been crazy nesting pregnant lady, but apparently I was crazy Christmas-card pregnant lady.  Now that I do have the file, I probably could have gotten this version printed and sent to arrive before Christmas, but I didn't know when that was going to happen, if I was going into labor, etc. so the other version is on its way to its recipients.  I'm crazy these days, but not quite crazy enough to send a second Christmas card.  That would be funny, though; I wonder if anyone would just not notice that they got two from us?

Seeing Grace experience Christmas is another lovely distraction from being super pregnant.  She's really into the tree and her nativity scene and all that.  She is allowed to touch the tree and ornaments "gently" with "one finger", which usually seems to work.  Sometimes there is rather vigorous one-fingered poking of ornaments but so far nothing has broken.  At her little preschool, they are teaching her to sing "Away in the Manger" in preparation for their Christmas party later in the week.  I will admit that I don't really like that carol; why is it always the one that the children are assigned to sing in a church service or whatever?  When I was little, I distinctly remember preferring the jolly, joyful hymns like "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and "Joy to the World" or the haunting minor key hymns like "What Child is This" and "O Come O Come Emmanuel"; even then, the saccharine stickiness of "Away in the Manger" did not appeal to me.  And really-- "little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes"?  MAJOR EYE ROLL.  To me, this has all the markings of someone who either a) has never been around babies or b) does not actually believe any of this happened.  However, Grace learning this carol and singing it off-key with the words mixed up has totally changed my mind and I am now here to tell you that this carol is COMPLETELY FANTASTIC.  Hearing her tunelessly warbling about the stars in the sky and "no bed for a crib" is heart-stoppingly sweet and hilarious and wonderful.  Having a child is generally wonderful, but I've got to admit that having a child at Christmas is TOTALLY AWESOME.  I'm so lucky to get to have another one of these creatures.

Monday, December 15, 2008

38 Weeks Plus a Little Bit

Another lovely snappy cold morning today-- how happy it makes me... Especially after the freakishly warm mid-70s day we had yesterday.  I will admit that the mid-70s are a lovely temperature to live in and enjoy, but personally I'd rather not have them in December.  Nevertheless, on this brisk chilly morning I made my way to my weekly midwife appointment where I learned that things continue to look good with the new baby.  The midwife checked my cervix for the first time (I was in too much pain last week for such an endeavor) and I am actually dilated to 1 cm!  This seems like wonderful news to me because I went all the way past my due date with Grace without ever dilating one bit.  Heck, I went to the hospital to be induced without having dilated one bit.  I really was expecting the midwife to tell me nothing was happening and to hang in there, sit tight, whatever other quasi-encouraging comments they have in their arsenal for those among us who do not appear to be going into labor anytime soon.  But no!  And she said that the pattern of contractions I've been experiencing in the past several days also sounds promising.  Each day, I have more and more contractions in the afternoon and evening; by the time I turn in for bed, they have been pretty frequent.  Of course, then I go to sleep just fine and wake up in the morning with the contractions totally gone.  This is mildly disappointing, but then the cycle repeats the next day, and apparently it has actually had some measurable effect on my cervix so that is just dandy!

I've realized that my experience with Grace has instilled in me very low expectations for my body being proactive and taking initiative and all that in having a baby.  I am really fortunate to have conceived easily, to have had uncomplicated pregnancies, and to have breastfed without any serious problems, so I don't want to malign my physical self; after all, it has done a generally bang-up job in childbearing activities.  However, I sort of don't believe my body will actually decide to evict its little inhabitant on its own accord.  Prove me wrong, corporeal self!

I am on one or two email lists where they send you weekly messages about your baby's development that week, what to think about or do right then, etc. and these days they seem to be ALL about going into labor-- signs you might be about to go into labor, "false" labor, labor this, labor that.  Of course I know this is appropriate given the nearness of my due date but if you are not immediately going into labor, it feels a bit like the cheery pregnancy experts are taunting you.  They rattle on and on about mucous plug this and bloody show that and I sit there thinking, "Yeah.  Sure.  I got nothing."  With Grace, I remember eventually half-disbelieving that I was actually going to have a baby EVER.   I began to halfway suspect that I was just really fat and cranky and this alleged "baby" was a figment of my imagination.

My midwife did away with those kinds of thoughts this morning by suggesting we schedule an induction for me.  FOR NEXT MONDAY.  I was taken by surprise by this because I didn't think their general philosophy would allow for inductions scheduled just because I am, you know, tired of being pregnant.  She said that since I was starting to dilate and having a good number of contractions (I had another one while being examined today) I probably just needed a little helpful push and if I wanted to have the baby and be home for Christmas, we could try.  I'm sure they would rather minimize the amount of work they'll have to do over Christmas too.  And there is the fact that the difference between a baby at 39 weeks and a baby at 42 weeks is on average 1.5 to 2 lbs, a difference that could push you into C-section territory with your GINORMOUS BABY.  She is talking about trying a prostaglandin gel, which would be different from the pitocin I had to have with Grace; it's generally thought to be a gentler way to go, it doesn't require an IV, and I wouldn't have to be on constant monitoring because of it.  

So now we have to decide whether to keep my Monday induction appointment.  In general, I am a believer that interventions in childbirth pile up and you end up not where you wanted to be; we saw it happen when Grace was born as one circumstance led to one intervention which caused such-and-such result which required this intervention, on and on until I almost had a C-section.  I don't feel like I had a "bad" birth experience with Grace or anything but in my ideal world, I forego all of the interventions and just let nature take its course.  I'm not that concerned with being in the hospital over Christmas or maybe going past my due date.  On the other hand, I am concerned with having as much help as possible with a newborn.  If I have the baby before Christmas, I will have Rob home to help for 2 full weeks (1 week vacation + 1 week paternity leave).  It will also be pretty convenient for my parents to help out then while both of them are off from work.  Heck, it would be much more convenient all around.  Is the convenience worth the risk?  One benefit to the Cervidil is that they say I can just go home if it doesn't work so maybe the risk of escalating interventions is pretty low?  Anyway, I will go back to the office on Friday when she'll strip my membranes if I want her to (but maybe I don't?) and then on Monday to get some prostaglandin gel.  Unless I decide not to.  Aack!  Decisions!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Oh, the weather outside is, um, quite nice, actually

Well, after all my angst and grumbling and moaning, it HAS finally gotten cold around here.  It has been cold enough to wear socks and long sleeves for several weeks now, and just in the past few days, it's actually been cold enough for winter coats and hats and whatnot and we had our first overnight freeze.  And oh, how happy it makes me...  I really enjoy cold weather.  Well, moderately cold weather, I guess--  Even I start to feel less cozy when the daytime high temperatures are in the 20s or lower.  But that is not something I shall ever have to face while we live here, so I am enjoying our chilly spurt tremendously.  The air outside feels so bracing and brisk and refreshing, and inside we can have hot tea and things spiced with nutmeg and cinnamon and slippers to keep our feet warm.  Our furnace is finally running and I must admit that I love the way a house smells when the furnace is on.  I know that it is probably the smell of hydrocarbons being burned, which can't truly be a good thing, but to me it smells like coziness and home and wintry loveliness.

It makes me happy that it has finally turned a bit cold when we are all really gearing up for Christmas.  We have been listening to a great deal of Christmas music recently and I've been struck this year by what a large percentage of Christmas songs (more the secular ones than hymns) are all about snow and the weather and whatnot.  It seems strangely unfitting when such a huge chunk of, for instance, the United States population has next to no chance of any snow at Christmastime.  And what about the entire Southern Hemisphere?  Do they listen to "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" and "Let It Snow" and all that in Australia and New Zealand?

Crazy Abbey

Before I was struck down by my UTI (which is doing TONS better) we finally managed to get into our storage unit and retrieve our Christmas decorations, along with some baby stuff we had there.  We went to buy a tree on Sunday and by Tuesday finally had it all decorated.  I am kind of a minimalist about things around the house and have a deep abhorrence of clutter so we don't do much besides the tree and stockings.  Oh, how lovely the tree is, though...  I know it is probably a pagan symbol or whatever but I care not one whit.  The lights, the lovely ornaments, the smell...  Rob's family includes German immigrants of fairly recent origin so they hold fast to the tradition of putting actual candles on the tree and ACTUALLY LIGHTING them on Christmas Eve.  I thought this was utter insanity when I first heard about it, but it is really lovely.  And they are all very responsible about fire extinguishers and not letting their trees get too dried out and whatnot.  So now, we do it too and I'm looking forward to the ritual in another few weeks.

Trimming the Tree

Getting our Christmas decorations at the same time as the infant car seat, the crib, the bouncy seat, etc. has led to some confusion on Grace's part about Christmas.  We have gotten out books and a toy Nativity scene and whatnot for her, but despite this, when Rob asked her the other day why we were celebrating Christmas, she joyfully declared, "Because we got Violet's crib!"  Oh well, she seems to be getting marginally clearer on the idea as the days pass.

The contractions I was having while MONSTROUSLY SICK have largely subsided.  This is good, on the one hand, because it means I am getting much, much better.  It feels slightly anticlimactic, on the other hand, because I would like to have this baby in the relatively near future and it seems like nothing is happening now.  It is just two weeks until my due date (and CHRISTMAS as well, in case you haven't been paying attention) so I shall attempt to sit back in glowing maternal peace and patience.  The baby has dropped lower in my belly and I have more of that classic curvy pregnant figure now (instead of the giant-squashy-abdomen look I've been sporting for months) and I actually am feeling a bit of that mythical rosy pregnant beaminess as what I deduce is my new daughter's tiny baby butt pushes my belly into round asymmetry.  I have not enjoyed the state of being pregnant very much (either time) so it's all rather refreshing and novel.  And really, there is not much time left for me to persevere through heartburn and backache.  And lots of shining, magical good cheer to contemplate in the meantime.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The UTI to End All UTIs

I have fallen prey to that common scourge of pregnancy, the UTI, and it has been a doozy.  Sunday night I went from feeling normal to shaking with chills, unable to stand upright from pain, and peeing a startling amount of blood, all within the space of an hour.  It came on so suddenly that Rob and I were not sure what the heck was going on, but after a while I started having the constant urge to urinate and pain when I did pee, so we at least had the comfort of knowing what was happening-- not that such comfort really mitigated the misery of that night.  We debated the merits of the emergency room or paging my midwife, but as I had my weekly OB appointment first thing Monday morning, I decided to just tough it out for the rest of the night.  Around 3am I was finally able to go 20 minutes between trips to the toilet and slept in little spurts until it was time to rise for the day, get Grace ready for preschool, and haul my wretched butt to the midwife.

I just about cried at the doctor's office with relief at the concern and coddling the nurses and midwife were giving me.  I'm kind of surprised I didn't, actually, given my normal state of wound-up emotions these days AND being in so much pain AND shaking with chills AND operating on next to no sleep.  After the midwife, I went to fill my prescription; it was downright amazing how difficult it felt to navigate the parking garages, elevators, and, well, walking it took to get in and out of the doctor's office and Target.  "I can do this," I steeled myself, facing the trip from my midwife's office on the 3rd floor of her building to my car parked on the 5th floor of the garage across the street.  After a dose of the antibiotics and something to treat the symptoms and some Tylenol PM, I crashed into bed for the rest of the day, so thankful that Rob could come home to take care of Grace and that some scientist somewhere accidentally discovered antibiotics.  Seriously, I have never been so appreciative of antibiotics and now wonder if I have ever truly needed them before this.

Oh, and all this has sent my uterus into crazy contraction overdrive.  I really think that if I hadn't gotten help (you know, like if I lived in a past century or something) this would have put me into for-real labor, with all the inflammation and infection irritating my uterus and the like.  That wouldn't have been bad for the baby since I'm a little past 37 weeks now, but boy, I would have been in terrible shape.  I had 1 contraction while the midwife was actually examining me, 2 on the drive from the midwife to Target, 3 in Target waiting for them to fill my subscription, all getting more intense.  They've calmed down a lot since the drugs have started me on the road to recovery so I don't think we're going to have this baby in the next day or so, but maybe things are gearing up?  I certainly wouldn't mind going into labor once I am back to a more normal level of energy/health.  That makes me sound like a video game character, doesn't it?

My title up there is a little silly, of course, considering that I have never had a UTI in my life before and have nothing to compare it to.  That first night when I was so sick, I was reading one of my pregnancy books, trying to see if this was some weird form of labor or a UTI or just me DYING, and the talk of UTIs seemed to mostly be about the symptom-free "silent" UTI and how important it is to finish your antibiotics even if you never had symptoms, blah blah blah.  My particular problem I would characterize more as a screaming, wailing UTI, an operatic, Wagnerian type of illness.  Fortunately, it is starting to quiet down as I am doing a TON better after just a day on the antibiotics.  I slept like the dead last night and have much less pain, and am left mostly just drained and weak.  Which I see as a GREAT IMPROVEMENT-- nay, a veritable VICTORY FOR MODERN MEDICINE.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

If I Knew You Were Coming, I'd Have Baked a Cake

Italian Creme Cake

I have been deep in the throes of a baking extravaganza lately, by which I mean for, oh, a few months or so.  It's partly that I finally discovered what Grace will eat when packed up in her little lunchbox for Mothers' Day Out-- Sandwiches? No, not even when cut out with cookie cutters and the like.  Vinaigrette-type pasta salads? No. But muffins and quick breads and the like get a "yes" most days so I've been keeping up a steady supply of the things.  And partly the baking has been a capitulation to pregnancy cravings, although I have exerted much, much more self-control than with my first pregnancy.  When pregnant with Grace, my weight gain each month was just slightly on the high side except for one particular month (5th or 6th, I think?) when I gained nearly 20 pounds.  It now lives in infamy at our house as "cake month" for what I hope are obvious reasons.  I baked a LOT.  And then ate it all.  My cravings do skew to the sweet and baked-- things with that lovely moist cake-y texture and a delicate crumb, things from actual cake to brownies to scones to quick breads to muffins and the like.  Candy and ice cream just do not hold the same place in my heart, and although I have a very great appreciation for chocolate in its purer forms, I am somehow able to indulge in that in a sensible, reasonable manner that I wouldn't really call a craving.

Mmmmm, cake...

I think another reason I have been baking so much is that it is a borderline frivolous domestic pursuit that I know I won't have much time and energy for after the new baby arrives.  I literally did not cook a thing for 4 weeks after Grace was born; we lived on take-out and frozen foods and the kindness of friends that arrived at our house in the form of foil casserole dishes.  I know if Rob and I were not quite capable of cooking real meals from actual ingredients to sate our dinnertime hunger, then puttering about the kitchen with butter and sugar for an inessential thing such as cake is not going to be within my reach for a while.  So for now I shuffle around the kitchen with the mixer and the flour and the cocoa powder, turning out little bits of gastronomic frippery.

Another domestic pursuit I've been indulging in a lot lately is sewing.  I've been terrible about photographing my projects and reviewing them this fall, so I don't have a lot of documentation of my activities, but most evenings after Grace goes to bed now find me listening to the addictive whir of the sewing machine as I work on another project.  For a while, it was a handful of maternity skirts (which are now about the only presentable clothes that still fit) and then when the weather finally turned colder, I started in on winter pants for Grace.  She is pretty slim for her height and RTW pants are such a challenge that it's easier (not to mention cheaper and more fun) to just make them.  I've decided that hot pink corduroy pants are the toddler wardrobe equivalent of nice black pants for adult women.  So necessary!  They go with practically everything!

My quiet enjoyment of domestic life (before the onslaught of intensity and sleep deprivation that is a new baby) has not really extended to the wild, hormonally-fueled cleaning of pregnancy legend, I am sad to say.  It's a shame because I would so love to have a really spotless, deeply clean house; I can't seem to gather the energy for anything beyond the normal level of cleanliness we live in, however.  Which is fairly clean, I must say-- I just wish it were CLEANER.  My nesting instinct madness has been limited to organizing and decluttering and whatnot, instead of actual cleaning; even under normal circumstances, I have a higher tolerance for a bit of dust and dog hair than clutter and things living out of their proper homes.  Unfortunately for me (and all who live with me), my tolerance for mess is inversely proportional with the level of stress in my life.  This is quite inconvenient because the times of the most intense stress (new baby, finishing one's dissertation, etc) are also the times when one has the least time and energy for keeping one's environment in good shape, beginning a VICIOUS CYCLE where your home makes you even more stressed than you were to start with.  I remember after Grace was born, Rob being so wonderful about keeping things shipshape and attending to details he normally could not give a flying fig about; look, I even blogged about it.  He is so gracious to me.

And on that note, I shall wrap up and go make a batch of blueberry muffins.