Hurry Up and Wait (Quick Little TMI)

Remember how I don’t really have any shame? It’s important that you remember that. Read on at your own risk.

I don’t have an induction date yet. I see my OB again tomorrow, and then Tuesday. Tuesday she’s supposed to check and see what state my cervix is in.

I’m not going to lie, I was really hoping she’d give me an actual date at this past Tuesday’s appointment. In fact, I was really bummed about it. I thought “hurry up and wait” left my life when I decided I was done with acting. Apparently it applies here as well…

For those of you blissfully unaware, hurry up and wait is your standard day on set. You get rushed around getting into makeup/costumes/places and then you hang around for hours while lights and other equipment is adjusted and people are moved around. You then shoot for twenty minutes or so, then everything gets rearranged for other angles. So you wait again. But God forbid you leave the area or grab a danish from the craft services table, because that’s the exact moment they’ll be ready to shoot and you’re not there. It’s either funny or incredibly annoying. Generally I went with funny, because it made it worth the effort.

So what does hurry up and wait have anything to do with my current situation?

Welp, I thought I had my first moment of incontinence this morning. Just a little trickle of moisture, but still. I’ve always been proud (perhaps weirdly proud) of my pelvic floor muscles, and I just assumed I’d manage to get through this pregnancy without peeing myself. I was disappointed, but figured I’d pushed the issue by sleeping in with a full bladder.

Anyways went to the bathroom. Not pee. Bloody show. Looked exactly like all the books/boards say. (A large gob of snot with a line of blood in it.)

And the most annoying thing about losing some or all of my mucus plug? It’s hurry up and wait AGAIN.

I may go into labor today. I may also not go into labor until next week. Or I may get induced in order to go into labor. It’s this huge moment of action, and yet it basically only means I’m moving closer to labor. Which at 37 weeks + 4 days I already knew.

At least now I know my cervix actually is prepping for labor. It’s nice to know that when I get checked (and I’m hoping to move that up to tomorrow, rather than Monday), it’s not going to be high, hard, and closed.

It’s on.

Now we just have to hurry up and wait.

Term

Just to update everyone, my NST, blood pressure, and blood work was awesome today. I felt so guilty, laying there joking with MFH while two other women were admitted for actual labor. I do sort of feel like Spawn got ideas from their babies, though. I’ve been getting a lot more downward cervix pressure since being released. (MFH kept joking that Spawn had been given the advice to try down as an escape route. And Spawn’s all, “DOWN! I hadn’t thought of down! Thanks guys!”)

So unless Spawn figures out the escape hatch…until my appointment on Tuesday, I’m still just resting and waiting for more information…

In other news, I’m term. (Depending on who you ask, I’m either full term or early term. Either way, everyone can agree on the “term” part, so that’s what I’m using.)

Back when I did the midpoint roundup at 20 weeks, I thought it might be fun to check in again with some of the same points. So, without further ado, here we go…

37 Weeks Preggo

21 days left until Estimated Delivery Date, but Spawn will likely be induced a few weeks before

Spawn is approximately 20 inches from head to toes and weighs about 6.5 lbs. 

Symptoms: So much tiredness. Between having to pee all the time, and just the logistically difficulty of rolling over in bed, sleep is not as good as it used to be. I suppose not having to get up for work will improve things. Heaviness in the pelvic girdle makes everything vaguely uncomfortable. Full on stretchmarks, but only on my stomach.

Cravings: Nothing new.

Food Aversions: It’s not really a food, but I cannot stand standing/sitting/being next to someone who smokes. The smell completely puts me off. I have to move. It’s never been my favorite smell or anything, but now it’s extreme.

Maternity or Regular Clothes: Still both. Most of the regular clothes are pants that I can just roll the waistband down (or up in some foldover styles). Shoes are still pre-preggo size. Everything else pretty much has to be maternity.

Stretch Marks: As I mentioned, they have come and come well, but only on the stomach, generally centered around and below my belly button.

Belly Button Status: It’s massively stretched, but the scar tissue from my gall bladder surgery seems to be holding. (I have small “smile line” stretch marks on either side of my belly button from the expansion.) I doubt I’ll “pop out” in the end. Not going to lie, it looks a little bit like an anus. 😛

Names: TBA after birth…

Rings: Just this week, I’ve swelled up (Thanks GH). All rings are off.

Best Moment so Far: Having Spawn start to feel and move like a infant, rather than some sort of alien parasite.

Looking Forward to: Meeting Spawn on the outside.

So that’s the roundup. I’ll update soon. We shall see how it all goes…

The Game Plan

So…

I’m having the worst sleep of my entire pregnancy, which explains why I’m up at five a.m. typing here rather than…you know, sleeping.

I guess it’s pretty indicative of my feelings. I have a lot of last minute things to deal with, and my brain is making me repeat them over and over again, rather than letting me just get some sleep.

I met with OB-R yesterday. My blood pressure was still high, so I’ve been diagnosed with Gestational Hypertension. She’s taking over my primary care, which I’m actually pretty okay with all around. I donno if it’s because I’m “hers” now or just because of the situation, but working with OB-R yesterday was so much better than the speed-daemon appointments from before.

I got some more blood work done (seriously, at this point, I should just have a hep-lock put in). Urine as well. I also had a surprise ultrasound to check on Spawn. Apparently the high blood pressure can hinder growth. Not Spawn though. As usual that kid is “perfect” and measuring in the 60th percentile. Oh, and Spawn has a ton of hair, apparently, as well. Now I keep wondering what colour it’s going to be…

Anyways, the real point of all this is that some big decisions were made.

The first of which is that I have been medically ordered off work. This is the hard one for me. It’s the reason I’m up right now. I didn’t finish my projects at work, because I had no idea when I left on Wednesday that it would be my last day there. So now I have a running list of things I have to delegate off to my assistants and hope they get done close to the time I originally scheduled them for.

Please understand that I recognize that fixating about this stuff isn’t helping on the path to lowering my blood pressure. Unfortunately, it’s in my nature. I’ve managed to convince myself that I can handle the coordination of all this via phone and email…but even that took awhile to convince myself. (I really just want to go into work one more day…)

But, according to OB-R, I am to be the laziest couch potato ever. She encouraged me to marathon Netflix. At least it’s not full bed rest.

Part two of the game plan is constant monitoring. I have an at home blood pressure machine now. I also have to have a medical professional check me out every two days or so. (Sunday I go in for another NST and blood work; Tuesday I’m back in OB-R’s office.) I have a list of signs and symptoms that mean I need to whisk myself off to the hospital. If those various things happen, obviously the timetable on the rest moves up.

As you may have guessed at this point, the last part of the game plan is an induction. 37 to 38 weeks was bandied about early on, but I think we’re aiming for 38 weeks. (After all, I’m 37 weeks on Sunday.) The GD and GH together is a placental issue. Basically, my placenta is working so hard to insure that Spawn gets all the oxygen and sugar rich blood it can, that it’s making me sick doing so. Once I deliver the placenta, poof, all of this disappears. So the idea is to find the point in which Spawn has gotten everything from me, while also making sure I don’t get a severe drop in my own health.

Literally we’re looking for when “better out then in” hits.

An induction was never going to be my ideal situation. I know the risks and the procedures and what the numbers say. Somehow, though, I’m content with it all. I suspected Spawn would come early. I just thought it would be on our terms. The fact that it will now be determined by a doctor isn’t so bad, though. As I said last time, there is a bigger picture to this than me wanting my birth my way. There is a baby that will soon be another member of the human race. A brand new person to learn and grow and be launched into this life of endless possibilities.

And more and more, I’m coming to the conclusion that birth is just the start of all that. If the induction works perfectly and starts natural labor, awesome. If it doesn’t and I need pitocin, I’ll deal with that as well. And if it all goes wonky and it comes down to a c-section, then that will be okay again.

Because at the end of birth? I want a baby. A live, screaming baby. And everything else? At this point, who really cares?

Wild

The past couple days have been so crazy and all over the place. I’m really still not quite sure which way’s up, and feel like I need a day or two to just rest and recover.

Saturday, MFH and I had Christmas with my father and MBJ. It was a lovely day, but as always when my father is involved, it was a bit chaotic as well. (He’s literally the only person I know who can leave shoes behind at someone else’s house and not realize it until you tell him.)

Sunday, MFH and I had planned on cooking meals for freezing (and eating postpartum), but MFH was in the mood for more, so he invited some friends over to tryout some new boardgames. The night went overlong, and we both got to bed far later than we should have.

I’d noticed a bit of swelling in my feet on Sunday, with the right being noticeably more than the left. I let my GD team know about it, and they looked me over with a sympathetic, “This is 9 months pregnant swelling. Nothing to worry about.” My handling of GD was also nothing to worry about, apparently. I’ve basically been released, with the caveat that I need to get retested three months postpartum to confirm I am free of diabetes then. One thing of note was that my blood pressure was “elevated.” As my appointment with my midwife was the next day, my endocrinologist just told me to mention it.

So yesterday I had my midwife appointment and my blood pressure was still elevated. I’d invited Dad to the appointment so he could hear the heartbeat, but looking back it wasn’t the greatest situation for him to be involved with. Much like Stan Smith, my father is not his best in crisis mode. He’s high-strung at the best of times, so having M1 suggest I go to the hospital for a NST and toxicity bloodwork was a bit like pressing the “launch nukes” button for him.

Luckily (for me), Dad had to be dropped off to get his car and come back to the hospital. So instead of him sitting there, vibrating with panic next to me, I got to hang out with M2 (and later M1) in a calm corner of the hospital. I was trying to explain to various parties yesterday why I was never scared. Even when M2 mentioned that, “Worse case, you’ll be breastfeeding in 3 hours,” I was fine. I realized then that I trust my midwives 100%. In the face of my literal worst case scenario (barring a stillbirth), I felt completely calm. C-section? Welp, if you say I have to have one, then I know I have to have one. It was a really wonderful feeling of calm and control even in the face of a possible emergency.

In the end, we’re all fine. Spawn’s NST was “perfect” (seriously, I’m starting to wonder about this kid). My bloodwork was mostly normal. The one number that was slightly elevated was so close to normal that the on-call OB theorized it could literally just be my normal.

Still, the initial problem of the elevated blood pressure remains a concern. As M2 said, “this type of thing generally doesn’t get better until you deliver the placenta.” M1 bandied about various options, all of which involve more monitoring, but nothing was decided. I was tired and everyone was happy to release me to go sleep in my own bed.

Today, hopefully, I find out the game plan. I may be transferred fully back into OB-R’s care. I find that a bit hysterical after I just got completely put back into the care of my midwives, but I’m less concerned about then I expected to be. (Again, my trust in my midwives is without compare.) Alternatives to that would be twice a week appointments or weekly blood and NSTs.

When I got home one of my preggo friends, AB, messaged me about getting together one last time before we all gave birth. I responded with info about my day, and how I wanted to hear from the midwives before I made any plans. She called me shortly after and shared her own “change of plans” story. AB’s baby is small, breach, and her amniotic fluid is low. So, even though she was due a few days after me, she’s now got a c-section scheduled for the 12th.

We basically just yammered about our petty disappointments lessening with the realization that these little guys (or girls) are going to be here sooner rather than later. Funny how that works.

I was so pleased she called me to share her own story. We really barely know one another, but it was surprising how much the conversation really showcased how important it is to have someone in the same situation in your life. (It doesn’t hurt that she’s a really fun girl that I genuinely like. Also–and this one is mostly for LC–she says “I KNOW!” like AP-Stats class. :p)

There are two major things that came out of this whole experience. First of all, as I mentioned when I started, I’m exhausted. I need a break. Seriously considering taking tomorrow off work if I don’t end up having appointments or what not on Friday. If that doesn’t help, I may have to reconsider this whole work until the very last second idea of mine. If I’m going to twice a week appointments or weekly appointments plus hospital visits for tests, that only leaves me with three full work days a week. Since the midwives, hospital, and OB-R’s office are all within walking distance of my house and more like 40 mins from work, I’m wondering if a work-from home situation just makes more sense for everyone. Still, not going to talk to the owners until I actually know what the game plan is.

And the other issue? Being at the hospital with my midwives yesterday really hammered home to me that there is nothing “bad” about birthing at the hospital. The choice will be taken away from me entirely if I am completely transferred into the care of OB-R.  So, before that even becomes a possibility, I decided to chose the hospital over the birth centre.

It’s not what I thought I wanted, but as a wise man once said, “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, well you just might find…You get what you need.”

35 Week Musings

First and foremost, I have to share the (I feel) good news.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, I will no longer be seeing OB-R. She was super impressed with the responses of my GD team, and feels like there’s no point in me doubling up on care at this level of progress. She did, however, tell me I can’t have a homebirth. This is amusing to me, mostly because M1 flatly stated that I could still have a homebirth if that was my choice.

OB-R had a student midwife in who did my basic exam. There was a bit of an odd moment when the student measured my fundal height at 3 cm higher than I was last week. The student “double-checked” and I clocked in only 1 cm higher the second and third time. It’s crazy how that little bit of abnormality can make you instantly worried. Still, it was fine in the end.

Spawn’s head has at least partially engaged, which I’d suspected due to all the new weight on my pelvis. I don’t know that this actually means anything regarding the birth or the likelihood of it happening earlier or later than my due date. Still, my instincts that this one may make an appearance before the EDD are at least possible.

The best part of the whole appointment (besides being released from OB-R’s care) was the fact that my brother (MBJ) was able to hear Spawn’s heartbeat. MBJ has just moved up to Toronto from Houston, and he hasn’t had the opportunity to be much involved with me and this pregnancy besides finding out the gender. Spawn gave him a few good kicks on the weekend, but I think the heartbeat was really cool for him to hear.

So, to sum up, at this point I’m back to seeing only my midwives and my GD team. I have one more appointment with the GD team and then I will likely be released from their care as well. Things it will be like it was before, with my midwives handling all my care. The only difference being I’m self-checking my blood sugar 3-4 times a day.

I gotta say, I’m looking forward to it being just me and the Midwives again. As weird as it sounds, they know me. They know my past and my present and they’re doing as much as they can for my future. How could that not be comforting?

Speaking of…I’m going to talk more with M1 about the Birth Centre vs Hospital thing and see what her feedback is. I feel like I’m about 70% confident on my decision there, but I do want the feedback first. Then, I think a good chat with MFH will solidify the deal.

I’m getting to the point in this pregnancy that I can actually feel Spawn’s body from the outside. I occasionally find myself idly running my hand up and down Spawn’s back, thinking about what that will be like when there isn’t a layer of flesh between us. I’m not sure that I’m quite to the “get this thing out of me” point, but I’m starting to really look forward to life after birth. I can see how late-pregnancy symptoms will only get worse, and how at some point I will reach DEFCON 1 (‘cept for baby, not nuclear war).

Every day I cross more off my to-do lists, and feel more and more prepared. Of course, the thing about being a new parent is anything could happen. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not as prepared as I can be. It doesn’t innately mean I have no idea what I’m getting myself into.

A huge help in this department has come from work. We’ve hired my covers for Matt Leave. (I’m not going to lie, it’s flattering that they needed to find two people to replace me while I’m gone.) I’m still hoping I can come back in a work-from-home capacity this summer, but that’s all going to be played by ear. (See the paragraph prior regarding “anything could happen.”)

And in keeping with that “anything could happen” aspect, I packed my labor bag last night.  Part of it was a comment by a fellow blogger, who went in for a regular weekly checkup and ended up in the hospital. (Her attitude towards all the changes and interventions to her birth plan really inspired me to truly be zen about whatever happens. You can read her awesome birth story here.) Another part of it is just feeling like things are changing/moving towards labor as it is. Now, I haven’t packed the full-on “hospital bag,” but rather the things I’ll specifically want at labor. Worse case scenario, it’s ready even if I don’t have a change of clothes for the hospital stay…

All in all the pieces seem to be falling into place. Even though I’m feeling more and more heavy, and tired of feeling like I can’t go or do anything for longer than 20 minutes without having to pee, I really am pretty happy. Spawn is healthy, I’m strong, MFH is awesome and supportive. It seems petty to complain about some weight in my hips with the wealth of gifts around me.

We’re nearing the end–or rather, the start of a new beginning, Folks. All I can do is take it one day at a time…

Weighing My Options

I met up with M2 Wednesday, as well as the Student Midwife I shall call M3 for simplicity. M2 and I realized that we hadn’t seen each other for a loooong time. It was all the way back when I took my first GD screening test.

Anyways, we caught up and chatted a bunch after M3 checked me out. I was told my iron levels, blood pressure, and fundal height were all “really good.” It’s amazing how not being anorexic means I’m also not anemic. Shocking, that. 😛

I was also told–although I knew this one already–that Spawn is head down, back to my belly, hanging out on my right side. While there’s still a few weeks left for Spawn to change that up, it’s nice to think that (besides the right-side preference) Spawn’s in the preferred launch position.

About that, though…

Even though Spawn’s been head-down for a few weeks now, it wasn’t until the end of last week that I really noticed a change in the way I felt. Namely, like an approximately five pound bowling ball is hanging out in my pelvis. The feeling is so odd…almost like the pressure you feel when you need to pee, but radiating from pubic bone to hips and around my back all at once. I feel this bizarre need to hold up the bottom of my belly somehow. (Tried a support belt. Worked ok for walking around, but notsomuch for sitting.)

It’s really the first actual pregnancy symptom I’ve had (tiredness, boob pain, and GD notwithstanding). I remember women talking about having this feeling early on, and I feel terrible for them, wondering what it’s like now that there’s actual weight on their babies.

In theory, Spawn still has another 3 pounds or so to go before birth, so I feel like this weird pressure is just going to get worse. Hooray. :/

Something else we talked about was the Birth Centre vs. Hospital thing. As I’ve mentioned several times, the Birth Centre is my ideal. (Oh, and their website is finally up and running!) I can basically have my low-intervention, vaguely crunchy labor in beautiful surroundings and well rehearsed transfers to hospital for medical necessity.

But here’s the thing…

The Birthing Centre, as I’ve mentioned, has only three rooms. These three are shared with every midwifery in Toronto. Best case scenario, I go into labor, work my way into active labor, my midwife calls, they have a room, and we go. Awesome.

But I’m starting to wonder how I’m going to feel if I’m at home, working through active labor with MFH and my midwife and she calls and there is no room for me….and I completely lose my shit. Do I really want to take that chance?

The other point, and one that I am taking into consideration, is that M2 flat out said that the quality of care she can provide me is now better at the hospital then the Birth Centre/Home. Part of this is the GD, part of it is monitoring Spawn and making sure all’s good there. Now M1 was pretty adamant about there being no real difference. But when I went over the why of my hospital hesitation, M2 did bring up a really good point. I live 5 minutes away from TEGH. I can literally labor at home til the last moment and still get there in time.

One thing that both LC and Mom said, was that I could go into the whole thing with the idea in mind that I’m going to the hospital. Still have my midwife call about the centre, and if I get in it’s a happy surprise. I like it, I’m just not 100% confident that I can get my brain to think about it that way.

So, do I just throw in the towel on the Birth Centre all together? Or do I hold out and try to get a spot on the day? I can’t decide if just making the darn decision will take a load off my mind or if that’s just an excuse I’m giving myself.

We shall see…

In true Ms.I fashion, I have created a spreadsheet (well, several) for Spawn and Labor. One of the sheets is for my birth bag. I have everything I plan to bring on there…organized by if I have it already, have bought it and am waiting for it to come in, or need to get it. You’d think it would be enough to just put everything into a darn bag, but no, it is not. Not for me, at least. Part of it is that it’s difficult to actually pack stuff I’m currently using. Some of it is also just difficult to pack. I’m not going to be able to pack my snack bags of fruits and veggies until the day. But, it’s still good to know that I want to bring it.

Lists: an obsessive compulsive’s best friend. 🙂

33 Week Musings

So this week has been quite eventful already.

Monday I met with OB-R and my GD team again. Best news ever: No insulin for me! I’m also only being seen once more, right about 36 weeks. It’s such a relief to have this managed and, while things could change, I’m doing my best to think that they won’t.

The OB-R is still holding onto me for the moment. I’m really hoping after my next appointment, I’ll be done with her. Look, it’s not like she’s evil or anything. (She’s actually really quite lovely.) I just really don’t get why I’m going there. I wait 30-45 mins in the waiting room, get weighed/measured, she confirms everything my midwife has already told me (baby head-down, weight and fundal height normal), and I leave within ten minutes. That’s an hour out of my day for me to get nothing above what I’m already getting from my midwives. If I was on insulin or was drastically measuring off, then yes, I’d understand. I just find the whole thing really a waste of everyone’s time.

It’s also got me wondering if this is why a lot of women hate pregnancy. If you’re getting only ten minutes of support every few weeks, is that going to put a negative slant on how you feel about yourself? I feel like it probably would for me. Having my midwives greet me like a friend and talk to me about my life and how I look great, etc is part of what makes it easy to be happy in all of this. I’m never feeling like a number that needs to get in and out of the door.

Well, we’ll just see how it all goes.

Wednesday at our prenatal class, we discussed interventions. It was a super helpful class, because we went over the good, bad, and everything in between of various interventions. The overall idea was/is that if you know the cost/benefit now, you have a better idea of what you are or aren’t okay with. As opposed to having to figure it out while dealing with quickly spaced contractions.

I will say that seeing all the accoutrements that go along with an epidural (catheter, anyone?) made me even less inclined to get one. Seeing that needle certainly didn’t help, but it was more the “if you get an epidural then you also have to get/have this, this, and this,” that concerned me. All that stuff definitely has a place in my mind (hello clinical exhaustion!), I would just like to avoid it if at all possible.

Every class seems to be more and more helpful to both MFH and myself. It initiates conversations and clarifies our positions/preferences. Also, as I’ve said in the past, it’s just nice to get together with a bunch of others that are all basically going through it all with us.

Yesterday we took the hospital tour. It was maybe not as helpful/informative as I would have hoped for. MFH said he was happy we went, if only for the purely simple reason of knowing the basics where and what stuff is. Again, the idea being that perhaps the throes of labor is not the moment to try and figure out you’d really rather have a private postpartum room. (I would like to say that it’s awesome that our government covers 100% of your labor and hospital stay. For someone who doesn’t have health insurance through work or simply can’t afford anything else simply having a bed surrounded by professional caregivers is amazing. For me and MFH, who both have insurance through work, sharing that bed with three others in the same room is a last resort.)

The laboring rooms themselves were nicer than I expected. You can totally tell the designers were like, “Okay how do we make this look less like scene out of ER and more like a hotel room?” Everything super “medical” is hidden behind cabinetry. It still may not be my number one choice of locations, but touring the area at least helped me to completely make peace with the idea of birthing there. That alone I realize was worth the effort of going in for the tour. 

All of my weekly preggo emails have advised me that I’m probably starting to feel much less movement nowadays because Spawn is bigger and there’s less room to maneuver. Spawn clearly thinks this is hilarious, and spends much of the day showing off how easy it is to kick or punch through that lack of space to give yourself more room. I seriously have moments where I’m shocked that I have no bruising. Not necessarily because it hurts (although I’d be lying if I said it was totally comfortable), but more because it’s such a strong, powerful feeling. MFH has gotten in the habit of muttering, “Simmer down Spawn,” when the particularly strong movements cross from my belly onto him.

Last night Spawn decided to do some full-on restructuring of my stomach. When I looked down my whole belly skewed completely to the right side. I didn’t quite look non-preggo on the left side, but it was drastic enough that I was disconcerted. I kept rubbing the right-side popup asking what the heck Spawn was up to. Oddly enough, Spawn declined to answer. 😛

The only other thing I want to get out before wrapping up, is to once again say how lucky/blessed I am.

When I talked to CR about the probability of me just not having a shower, she immediately offered to throw one if I needed one. I declined, saying that I was talking to her about it more because I was trying to figure out what I still needed to buy (and that several people had started to ask me when it was going to be…). She then proceeded to buy Spawn’s mattress and Pack ‘n’ Play for us. As weird as it may sound, having that mattress in place makes me feel like we have an actual place to put Spawn down for sleeping, as opposed to just having an oddly shaped piece of furniture in our second bedroom.

And then this week my MIL and her sisters got together and told me that they were going to have a shower for me. It was completely unexpected. Not that it was something out of character for them or anything, but simply because with the holidays and just the general business with life and birthdays and what not, this time of year isn’t super convenient for anyone. It feels almost like a surprise party, and I’m so excited to get the two sides of my family together so we can all figure out how to make the world a better place for when Spawn comes into it.

MFH commented to me last night before drifting off to sleep that this whole thing has gone by surprisingly quickly. I agreed, and added that I think life tends to move at a clip when you’re happy. With only a few weeks left, I don’t see any slowdown in sight. And honestly, I’m perfectly, 100% okay with that. Happily along we go…

Nursery Preview – Deacon’s Bench & Sconces

I’ve talked a little about my Deacon’s Bench. It’s a handcrafted piece that was made for my birth. It’s traveled with me from Canada to Houston to Miami to The Woodlands to Austin to Vegas and back to Toronto. Thirty years and a lot of travel has certainly caused some wear and tear, but it’s held up better than one might expect.

When I was little I kept my toys in it. As I grew up it became a place for my clothing or towels/linens. And of course it was always nice to have an extra place to sit. (Sometimes it’s super awkward to have someone in your room only able to sit on the bed.)

I’m hoping Spawn gets as much use out of it as I did. But first, I had to make a few changes so that it would work with the rest of the nursery.

I’m not actually sure what colour it started out as, but back before I moved to Vegas I painted it a medium cherry wood. It was to match some other furniture I re-purposed and painted. I can’t swear to what I used, but I’m sure it was an all-in-one polyurethane type colour. I didn’t sand or do anything special, just painted and let it dry.

I knew this time I’d have to do more work. All my nursery furniture is in Espresso, and it’s a tricky colour to match. It can look almost black in low-light, but under close observation you can still see the grain of the wood. I was having a heck of a time finding a stain anywhere in Espresso. Eventually I gave it up and mixed two colours. (Minwax® Wood Finish™ in Onyx and Dark Walnut)

The first step was to strip the old finish off and sand down the bench to get a blank canvas to work from. I got a little over-excited and I forgot to take a photo before I started work. So, just pretend the photo below doesn’t have the stripping on the front.

Deacon's Bench Start

Once I managed to remove the old finish and sand it down, it looked like this:

Stripped BenchYou can clearly see the damage on the front, right-hand bottom foot. I was worried about this, and thought I might have to fill it, but it turned out fine without the extra work.

With the clean, finish free wood exposed, I applied my stain mixture:

One Coat BenchCertainly it was darker, but not half as dark as I wanted it to be. (You can see the arm of my glider in the upper left-hand corner. It’s a good barometer for how much darker I needed to go.) I applied two more coats, but felt as though the process was really going slowly. You’re supposed to apply the stain, let it sit for a given amount of time based on the absorption you’re looking for, and then use a cloth to remove the excess. I decided to try just leaving the stain on over night.

IMG-20131223-00085Eureka!

The flash makes it look lighter than it really is. It also showcases how ridiculously shiny it came out.  I loved the colour, but the shine was driving me up the wall. I took to the interwebs to find myself a solution. What I was really hoping to find was a Matte Polyurethane. Much like my Espresso stain, I had a very difficult time with locating a Matte finish. I spoke to several experts and most of them felt like a Satin Polyurethane would work to my satisfaction.

My other consideration was the hardware; two hinges and a purely decorative heart pull on the front. They were originally black, but had chipped and rusted in places. I looked around and didn’t find anything I liked better. I thought about refinishing them. Then it occurred to me that the finish I wanted to achieve (namely antiqued) existed naturally in the hardware I already had.

So I applied two coats of the Satin Poly, reattached the hardware, and am happy to say the bench has achieved new life.

Finished BenchVoilà!

I’m quite pleased with the finished piece. Still, if I had to do it all over again, there are some things I would do differently.

First of all, do you see those gauzy white curtains in the photo above? Yeah, I should have moved them out of the way. The one on the left has some small flecks of stain on it. Not anything you’d notice without looking, but it was such a simple thing to take the time to move them out of harm’s way.

I’d also recommend trying to find the stain and polyurethane in one. I should have just special ordered the all-in-one in espresso. Maybe it wouldn’t have come out as nice, but it certainly would have taken a lot less time to come together.

While I was staining the bench, it occurred to me that I had an opportunity to “antique gold” a couple of wall sconces at the same time. I’d had them for awhile, used for everything from holding art to hanging window decor. They are going to be a part of the crib canopy for Spawn’s room, but their off-white colour didn’t work for me.

Here’s the starting and finished version:

Sconce Before and AfterFirst step to making the antique gold was to use a simple gold pant.

Pre and Post Stain SconcesOnce that dried, I used my bench stain and some cheesecloth to rub all over the sconces.

It’s a fast and dirty trick to completely change the look of an object.

I did a lot of work on the nursery this weekend, and with the exception of the “soft” decor (sheets, change pad cover, blanket(s), rug, etc) it’s just about finished.

Should be able to show you the finished look soon. (I’m very excited.) 😀

 

 

2014 – Year of the Spawn

2014-Year-of-the-Spawn

I spent New Years Eve sick. I had to get woken up out of a half sleep at midnight in order to receive my first kiss of 2014.

I’m still recovering from the cold, but I’m fine to work and move around and basically not be in bed all day. Just really snotty and kind of gross.

My last midwife appointment of 2013 was interesting. M2 was on vaycay, so I had a duplicate appointment with M1. (Usually I alternate between the two of them.) M1, however, was attending a birth, rather than attending to me. I, of course, am fully on board with this. When I go into labor I want to take priority over someone just getting a checkup. Anyways, I met with a whole new midwife who was very apologetic and nice. It was a quick appointment, but she felt around for awhile to confirm that 1. Spawn is currently Goldilocks size-wise (not too big, not too small) and 2. Spawn is head-down and in launch position. (She gave it about a 95% confidence level.)

I sort of assumed something of the like was going on, as the shape and location of my belly has changed rather drastically. Even MFH noticed that the largest part of the bump has moved lower and more outward, rather than high up and tucked into my boobs. Most of the time Spawn’s (assumed) butt and feet hang out on my right side, but occasionally I get a perfect alignment. While it’s entirely possible that Spawn will spin again, it’s also possible that head down is the set position until birth. I’m going to stay hopeful and think that a breach is unlikely.

The movement can be uncomfortable, but It doesn’t stop me from sleeping ever. Spawn’s hiccups also never seem to last all that long, never getting to the annoyance point of an eye-twitch that won’t go away. (Or my own never-ending hiccups, for that matter.)

I do, however, find I am learning new methods to peeing. I can’t just go to the bathroom now. I have to concentrate, shift my weight around, and occasionally stand up and sit back down in order to really empty my bladder. Spawn’s weight on it seems to alternatively make me need to pee more, and also have more of an issue actually emptying it, so that I have to go again minutes after the last time. This isn’t so terrible at home, but makes commuting a bit awkward. It also means that I’m up between 2 and 5 times every night. Still compensating for the interrupted sleep by trying to just be in bed longer. So far that seems to be working out okay.

Another symptom I’m having is a bit more weird. I am having an extremely difficult time dealing with the smell of smokers. Even right now, as plugged up as I am, I can smell them from feet away. It makes me instantly nauseous and I have to move away from them. I’ve given up multiple seats on my commute now because of this. Not sure what the deal is, or why it’s suddenly ramped up into so much of a problem for me, but there you are.

Oh, also, in the interest of full disclosure, I had a very bizarre dream. Basically one of boobs started spraying milk. But…like a firehose. It was almost a weapon. So odd.

Nursery is really starting to pull together. I’ve worked on some fussier parts over the last week and a bit, and I hope to finish up the last of the big projects this weekend. Still, I won’t have the finished reveal until later this month/early next.

Part of it is the shower, and just not knowing if I’ll be getting the finishing touches there. I think a few people have come out of Christmas realizing that I’m having a baby in about a month and a half. I’m starting to get asked when and where it’s going to be, and I have no idea. I’m actually fine with not having one, but I just need to be aware of the details. There’s a ton of stuff that I can manage without. But if I’m not going to have a shower I need to start buying a few things. (Mattress, change pad, diaper pail, ect.) I know MFH was hoping to do a beer and diaper party as well…so maybe we’ll just do that?

Whatever happens, the fact that we’re on the other side of New Years means we don’t have long to wait now to see our Spawn on the outside. I feel more excited daily. Still balanced well between “GET OUT NOW!” and “No-no-no, too fast.” Every time I get those weird pausing vibrations I assume are Braxton Hicks, I think about how my body is gearing up to the big day.

Which is probably why my New Year’s resolutions are so simple this year:
1. Stay off insulin so that my midwives keep my primary care
2. Have a baby
3. Everyone lives

Yep, I’m good with that.

Happy 2014 to you all!