November 30, 2010

Peeping Mom

Writer Megan Ault can't resist finding out her baby's gender.

by Megan Ault
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Is it a boy or girl? I peeked all three times I was pregnant. My lengthy résumé as a Peeker dates back to nursery school, when I organized the great underwear peek-off, held behind the corner paint easels. So it should come as no surprise that as an adult, while lying next to a picture of my unborn child on an ultrasound screen and being tended to by a technician who knows whether my fate is Barbies or Hot Wheels, I can’t bring myself to say, “We don’t want to know.”
    In my own defense, there are sound reasons why I’ve peeked. While pregnant with my third and final child — with two young boys already — my husband and I sort of hoped I might have a girl. If Nicole turned out to be Nicholas, the ultrasound would give us some time to get excited about raising three boys. Which it did.
    While pregnant with Connor, my second son, we decided to peek for his older brother, Dylan’s, sake. We figured that anything we could do to help Dylan prepare for the baby’s arrival would help him make the transition from being an only child to sharing our adoration with a sibling.
    “Dylan, you’re going to have a baby brother!” I announced after the ultrasound.
    “Where? Where is he? Can I see him?” he asked, lifting my shirt to expose my beach-ball belly.
    Clearly, there is a peeking gene.
    Which takes me back to my pregnancy with my first son, Dylan. We peeked, of course. We peeked because I wanted to get the nursery ready ahead of time, which was really quite helpful. Well, OK. We peeked because I could not bear the suspense.
    While we’re on the topic, I have a tiny issue to discuss. It’s about Non-Peekers. While chronic Peekers (like me) might express admiration for Non-Peekers’ resolve, in truth, they bug us. One of my best friends (a Non-Peeker!) said this when asked if one little look would kill her:
    “I know how hard that last month of waiting will be, and reminding myself that I have such a wonderful surprise ahead will help get me through.” I find this a little bit show-offish. If we were little girls, I’d pull her hair. And the wonderful surprise part? The surprise is that most babies can squeeze out of such a normally small opening in the first place.
    Being pregnant at the same time as a trusted friend and finding out she’s a Non-Peeker can test the friendship. That’s why I’ve come to realize that the only way for Peekers and Non-Peekers to remain friends is to be forthright about who they are and then see what shakes out.
    So when faced with a Non-Peeker, I don’t waste time. I admit that I always peek at the last pages of a novel first and compulsively glance through newspaper headlines before reading the articles. I proudly tell them about the Christmas I was 10, when I expertly cut the taped ends on my gifts, then eased them out for a look before retaping them. When they hear this, they give me something completely unlike a peek; they give me a look. You know the kind.
    Because Non-Peekers can be rather self-righteous, I never admit that the Christmas I was 10 was the worst.   But I also never say that if I had their will, I’d do things the old-fashioned way, too, and wait to find out if it’s a boy or girl. That might imply that I’m ashamed of my peeking heritage, which has shaped my very being.
What I do tell them is this: If I could just quietly accompany them to their ultrasound appointment, I would promise not to tell them what I see.

Megan Ault lives in Bozeman, Mont. She still admits to the occasional peek at her Christmas presents.
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November 28, 2010

First Baby Purchase

I bought these newborn bodysuits a month ago.  I loved the feel of them.   One hundred percent cotton, precious little bundled suits.  Since we don't know the sex yet, we have not acquired anything else.  I did start a gift registry at BabiesRUs to give me an idea of the essential items I'd need once she/he arrives.

Never would I have imagined that I would be so excited about baby clothes and nursery items. Some friends have inquired about the possibility of a baby shower, which I haven't thought of yet.  I can't wait to get to Miami for the holidays this Christmas and make the first baby purchases there. Shopping for clothes is something I enjoy. But baby clothes.  Now that's going to be an adventure.   A new playground to explore.

November 26, 2010

Parenting 101

It hit me the other day. What constitutes good parenting? Is it telling your child no when you can say yes, is it making them feel protected while they still have room to make mistakes? I ask myself these questions everyday since I have been expecting and it does not get any easier. Considering that the first seven years are the formative, character-building years, it’s hard not to feel disadvantaged or poorly prepared for the daunting task of raising good children. Can you praise too much or not enough? Can you negotiate at such an early age? Can you give affection without smothering his/her personality? I guess the answers will reveal themselves slowly and I only hope to take them in stride. 

There are many aspects of my own upbringing that I gladly would try on my children; however, the jury is still out on the other aspects that I would not consider my child to be part of. I always said that I knew what things not to try on my children, which our mother tried on us. Now, I’m not so sure.

November 23, 2010

Waiting for the tap dance

I’m soon approaching 17 weeks of pregnancy and waiting to feel the baby move has been a restless pursuit. About two days ago I was trying to dose off and felt two taps inside my belly, twice.  I opened my eyes and waited for a third time but it didn’t happen again.  I won’t know with certainty if this was the baby until it happens again and more often.  Some first time moms don’t experience this until week 20.  I hope that is not the case with me.

In other news, our 4-month prenatal appointment was this week. We listened to her heartbeat through the Doppler.  Every day in and everyday out, I go through my day without feeling pregnant because I’m not yet big nor conspicuously showing.  So the only reassurance of pregnancy we experience are those doctor visits, where everyone treats you like the special mom you will become and where we get to see or hear the baby.

I can’t wait for the tap dance, the monkey dance or the samba to know that she is doing well, and since her hearing is fine tuning as we speak maybe I’ll coax her with some merengue.

November 4, 2010

A week in reflexes

The long awaited 14-week is upon me and I’m starting to feel better. The baby is now three and half inches long and all his organs are in place. The biggest accomplishment this week is reflexes, a sign that his nervous system is slowly developing. He can frown, squint and grimace while making fists with his tiny hands and curling his toes. Thanks to these reflexes he is now kicking up a storm even though I can’t feel it yet. I read somewhere that if I poke my belly he will move away from it. The umbilical chord is working hard now. One vein carries oxygen rich nutrients and two arteries carry the blood away. He’s just started producing urine in his kidneys, which will soon be excreted into the amniotic fluid. He will swallow the fluid and excrete it again, a process he will keep up until birth. His liver starts producing bile now, a sign that it’s doing its job right.

The other day as I laid down for a nap and my dog curled up next to me, I realized that my fascination with watching my dog sleep will soon be transferred to watching my baby sleep once he arrives. There is something magical and highly intimate about it. Piki is almost 14 years old, and has a deeper sleep now. His hearing is not what it used to be and so to watch him sleep and squint and twitch with his eyes closed gives me a better idea of what he looked like when he was a new born puppy and I swear I can’t stop smiling.