Monday, June 7, 2010

36 weeks pregnant

I am 36 weeks pregnant. Even though I have been pregnant for awhile, keeping track of every week of development, I can't believe we're here already. I have gained an impressive 45 pounds. This is the week the midwife comes to our house and checks out all our birth supplies. I'm considered full-term this Sunday. It will probably be several weeks before I go into labor, but still.... only a few weeks before we meet Jasper!

I love feeling the arc of this babe's feet pressing outward on my uterus, the shift of his back as my stomach bulges from side to side. A part of me will miss being pregnant. At the same time, I can no longer breathe fully, I have to pee every hour (or half an hour), I feel unwieldy and tire easily. It's a sweet time, but I wouldn't want to stay here forever. I hear about a week after a mama can't stand being pregnant any longer, labor usually starts.

I have read so many pregnancy, birth and parenting books over the past 8 months. We are in a childbirth education class once a week right now, and while I learn a little bit, and enjoy seeing the other pregnant women and their support people, I could probably teach the class at this point.

I have been in love with the idea of having babies for a little while now, and so I had already read a lot of the basics even before I got pregnant, like Spiritual Midwifery (hippied out birth stories from a commune "The Farm") and Future Generation (a zine compilation of 18 years of alternative punk parenting.)

I read The Continuum Concept early on in my pregnancy. It is the story of a woman who stays in South America with native peoples and observes how differently they treat babies and children in comparison to Western norms. She observes women going about their daily lives, responding quickly to their babies, but also not making them the center of their attention. I thought this was a worthwhile point, as I see a lot of people not really touching babies at all with transporting systems that go from car seat to stroller to shopping cart, and then at other times expecting baby to entertain them. Really, the author is just on the more intense end of the attachment parenting spectrum. While I basically agree with all the main points (except for a weird bit about homosexuality that she later renounced) I don't think a baby is damaged by sometimes being put down. There is a big difference between scheduling babies for feeding and sleeping and not listening to their cues, and being in touch with your baby and occasionally using a stroller.

The movie Away We Go has a really funny scene where Maggie Gyllenhaal plays a continuum concept mama who takes things a bit too far. While her holier-than-thou attitude is something to watch out for, I wouldn't write off this book or its ideas just because some people get more attached to following ideas in and of themselves than adapting them to their own lives. Most of Continuum Concept is really the common sense we get looking at how anyone not in industrial civilized society cares for babies. It is also the intrinsic knowing a mama feels when she wants to pick up her crying baby and meet his needs, rather than letting him lay there in frustration.

A friend recommended I read Secret Life of an Unborn Child which focuses on how a fetus experiences pregnancy, based on the mother's experience. This book talks about how long-term anxiety can be detrimental to a fetus, especially anxiety that stems from the mother and father's interpersonal relationship. What also sticks out in my mind is how a fetus whose mom smokes gets anxiety when she thinks about smoking because it cuts down her oxygen supply. A baby can't understand and process that anxiety and so instead it becomes a generalized worldview. It all comes down to creating a secure relationship where needs get met. Of course, stressful and traumatic things happen, but its how we resolve them and get out of destructive patterns that matters. I have had several moments in this pregnancy where I think "This isn't how I am supposed to feel! I can't be this stressed out right now!" When I have felt like that I have made sure to have an internal dialogue with this little one that shares so much with me, including my adrenalin, telling him how much I love him and how much I am going to try to make this world a safe and secure place for him to thrive.

Another book I read was Coming Home to the Pleistocene, which is a collection of essays not specifically about parenting, but it gave me a lot of food for thought about the environment we as humans have evolved to expect to be born into. We expect to born into a cohesive community with a connection to a land base. Paul Shepard talks about how when our needs, which had evolved over hundreds of thousands of years, are not met by our current world, we get stuck and cannot mature. There are a lot of secondary ways that people try to cope with their need for community, meaningful work, a connection to a land base in our current alienated society, but none of these really fits the bill. Bringing a child into this world at this point in time is a scary scary thing-- and something I plan to return to a lot on this blog as I reconcile what I want for myself and my family, and the choices we have to make in our present reality. I know I want to try and provide so much for Jasper, and yet without a cohesive community myself, it will be an interesting and difficult path. Shepard has an interesting list of what a Pleistocene community looks like that I will post later.

I am currently reading Happiest Baby on the Block which is a really popular book about how to mimic the womb for your newborn to calm them. The name of this blog was inspired by that title, so I will let y'all know how I like it soon enough. So far, it seems like useful basic advice, but the way it is written is a little hard for me to deal with. The author refers to "stone-age parents" as having the right ideas and explains that the word primitive isn't always a bad thing, but of course we love our current age of technology and our marvelous civilization. But basically the book isn't about that... its about how to make a colicky baby stop crying. We'll see how it works.

I highly recommend all of Aviva Jill Romm's books: Natural Pregnancy Book, Natural Health After Birth, Naturally Healthy Babies and Children, Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parents Guide.

A World Of Babies
is a really interesting anthropological study of what a childcare guide might look like for 7 different societies: Puritan, Beng, Balinese, Turk, Warlpiri, Fulani, Ifaluk. The book is written in pretend childcare manuals for each culture.

I enjoyed reading You Are Your Child's First Teacher which is from a Waldorf perspective from birth to age 6. I have some conflicted feelings about Waldorf, especially the heavily Christian oriented spirituality in a lot of the child development writing, but also think it has a lot to offer. I want to explore this topic sometime not tonight. I am really interested in other people's ideas about different educational/developmental perspectives so if you have an opinion, please share.


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