Is This the "Rut"?

Since I didn't get around to my walking to try to get this labor thing into gear (today is day 8 past due date) until after noon today, I decided to take my stroll around Lakeline Mall and avoid the surprisingly potent mid-day September heat. Plus, Dillard's is having a 75%-off sale on shoes, and DH had said that I was welcome to buy a pair (not that I need anything - but strappy summer sandals on sale are just too irresistible) as long as I parked at the far end of the mall from the Dillard's and hopped around some, too.

Since the point of the excursion was to stretch my legs and help cublette scoot down, I meandered through all of the shops and department stores from one end of the mall to the other.

Holy crap, there's a lot of stuff out there.

How did I shop successfully just mere months ago before I was pregnant, when presented with such a sea of options, 85 to 90 per cent of which is just plain bad?

Not only was I feeling overwhelmed by the dearth of well-constructed, tailored, tasteful clothing out there (and in a cut that's flattering for my shape), but I was noticing a new feeling of dis-entitlement to a pretty blouse (or skirt or blazer or dress or whatever). First, there's the obvious impracticality of investing in any decent clothes when I'll be spending the next year wiping various of DD's body fluids off my shoulder and chest that she will be freely depositing as I carry her, nurse her, sling her, etc. I know I can expect to be vomited on A LOT in the coming months (I'm including regular spit-up in this calculation), so there's no sense in wearing anything that's not machine washable. Plus, because I'll be either nursing and/or pumping, every day, several times a day, the clothes also need to provide easy access but also allow for the maintenance of modesty if I'm nursing in public. And no big dangly earings for awhile because - duh.

It was the second source of the disentitlement feeling that surprised me a little, although it makes perfect sense. I'm not working now. I'm on leave and therefore not contributing to the household cashflow. I really, really have a hard time spending money on myself when I'm not bringing any in. Particularly because, historically, I have been a significant contributor. On the other hand, I would have no problems at all with making sensible purchases for DH or the cubs right now. Getting things for them still feels okay to me.

Between the "lost at sea" sense I had flailing amongst the racks and racks of blah, the impracticality of investing in anything too nice right now, and my personal reluctance to spend money on myself anyway, I feel that I have walked up to the edge of the proverbial "rut" that women get into at a certain point in their lives where you end up wearing nothing but t-shirts, flip-flops and capris to go anywhere, your closet takes a total dive, you forget how to do anything with your hair other than a ponytail, and makeup consists of whichever lip gloss your kids haven't yet used to paint the shower curtain. It's called a rut because once you get into it, it's really hard to get back out. I have seen these women on t.v. getting royally admonished by the fashion experts for forgetting their own outer fabulous-ness. I live with, work with, laugh with, drink with, and commiserate with these women. I am one of these women.

It starts with the maternity clothes. Yes, there are many more options out there in much cuter styles now than even just 5 years ago. But really, when you know you're only going to be actually wearing the clothes for a matter of months, you aren't going to buy a maternity "investment" piece. Towards the end of your pregnancy, when you're just downright huge and small children point at you and people you've never met spontaneously offer to drive you to the hospital, you're lucky if there are maybe 3 or 4 bottoms and 3 or 4 tops left to you that fit and don't bind. And like hell you're going to buy anything else because you're about to have that baby so what would be the point. So you rotate out of your teeny wardrobe and you get used to it. You get used to the comfort of stretchy jersey cotton, the ease of t-shirts, the simplicity of only having a few things to choose from each day. And you're tired and frazzled so clothing becomes purely a matter of function. This becomes normal. The status quo.

Once the baby arrives, even though you may get your figure back in a few weeks (if you're a lucky bitch) or months - or hell, at least your body's mostly yours again, see above re tired and frazzled. If you're me, your first priority is sleep - getting the new person to the point that they have regular naps and can sleep for a decent chunk each night so that, gods be thanked, I can start to get some decent sleep again. During this first year, there is only taking care of the family and trying to balance your own needs for rest, socializing and intellectual stimulation. Oh yeah - and quality time with DH. Going back to work adds a whole other layer of complexity and logistical planning. Shopping? Fashion? Are you frakking kidding me?

I posted an entry several months after the cub's arrival wondering if I would ever get "it" back - my sense of identity, which includes a healthy dose of feminine sex appeal. I think, for a little while, that I did. I have to believe that I can do it again. I think the "rut" is inevitable, perhaps even necessary and practical. But there are some damn sexy heels in my closet waiting for me for when I'm no longer having to be cautious about carrying a little one in my arms, and a particularly lovely gun-metal silk sleeveless v-neck with bugle-beading around the neckline that will be waiting for my first dinner out without nursing or pumping on the agenda. I'll make it back out of the rut again when the time's right, but for now, it's actually kinda nice in here.


So Sad. So Very, Very Sad.

FX has decided to no longer air reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on weekday mornings. Apparently they will now only air an episode on each day of the weekend. I'm devastated. Sure, I own almost every episode on DVD anyway, but it's not the same. It was so easy to scroll through the DVR list and pick the episodes to watch. And the regular pace through the seasons from having one episode aired each day, and knowing every evening that there would be a new episode waiting for me to breeze through to my favorite scenes, favorite lines, etc., was all such a treat that can't be replicated by sitting down and pulling out a dvd every night (after removing the cub's Little Einstein's dvd first, natch).

And FX couldn't even have the decency to fill the slot with something respectable. No, it's reruns of Malcolm in the Middle, which was a charming show and all, but it's no BTVS. I guess all that's left is to start to DVR the Angel reruns off of TNT.

Very, very sad.


Due Date, Schmoo Date and Unethical Hospital Billing Shakedowns

Today was the cublette's due date. Tomorrow I begin Week 41. My OB/Gyn is Dr. Margaret Thompson, and I have utmost faith in her judgment to help me have a successful VBAC if there's any way at all for that to happen. I'll be delivering at North Austin Medical Center, which has a c-section rate of 30% - just a touch over the national average. Dr. Thompson's c-section rate is only 18%, god love her. At today's appointment we discussed my options and what our go-forward plan is. Basically, we treat this week like any other. We wait to see if anything changes. The cublette may have moved down a bit, but today there were no new developments. My cervix remains uneffaced, undilated, and way, way, way to the back of my body. Now, this doesn't mean that I couldn't go into labor at any moment and everything suddenly click into place. But it does mean that there aren't many things the doctor can do to help me get the ball rolling while my cervix remains so "unfavorable."

I clarified to her that although we went over my birth plan which could simply be summed up as "I'd like to have as natural a birth as possible", my number one goal was to avoid a repeat cesarian delivery because the recovery from the first one was so horriffic. She reminded me that it's possible that if I did have another c-section, that my recovery could be easier the second time around. Not wanting to sound like a negative-pants, I held the thought that, yeah, and it could be worse.

So, we wait patiently through this week. If nothing's going on by my appointment next week, we'll wait another week and start to monitor that everything's going okay with baby, and at the end of 42 weeks we start to try to get her moving. This could include breaking my waters, starting a pitocin drip, and anything else we can do to get her moving before finally going in to surgery. We don't want to start any of those steps now, because both of these measures put us on a path to surgical intervention if they don't work, so best to wait until we're staring at the likelihood of surgery anyway before we try them. My doctor understands that I mean to push her to the edge of her comfort level as far as trying everything and waiting as long as possible before we finally give up and head over to the OR, and she's willing to go for it.

On c-sections generally, CNN posted this helpful article last month on steps to take to avoid an unnecessary birth-by-surgery. The five steps are:

1. Don't get induced unless medically necessary (check)

2. Labor at home until you're approximately 3 centimeters dilated (check - I'll go for 5)

3. Choose your hospital, and your practitioner, carefully (check)

4. In the delivery room, ask questions if your practitioner says you need a C-section (check)

5. Get a doula (check)

The article goes into each of these points with helpful information. The scariest thing, though, is the statement from the Office on Women's Health at the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, that "many experts think as many as half of all C-sections are unnecessary ...."

As to how NAMC will be treating my appearance for a VBAC, they will have me sign a form waiver advising me of the risks of VBAC that my doctor has warned me about, because apparently it reads like a "what the hell are you thinking even TRYING to deliver this baby vaginally" manifesto. Unfortunately there's no similar document for women who are going in for elective c-sections warning them of the risks of long-term pain, infection, respiratory complications to the baby, and even death.

The other thing that NAMC does, which I may oppose because I don't think they have a right to do this, is to collect on my entire remaining insurance deductible prior to discharge - before they have filed their claim with the insurance company giving them a right to these funds. Because other providers will have likely filed their claims ahead of the hospital (the hospital's own billing coordinator confirmed this for me), it's likely that some of that deductible will be allocated to the other providers whose claims are filed first. So I'll have to pay the other providers as well, and then go back to NAMC to get them to refund the monies paid to them in advance that they, in the end, did not have a right to.

This "deposit" on discharge thing is a new practice that apparently most hospitals are starting to adopt for their maternity patients. Which means there are no laws addressing the practice, whether it's lawful, how and when the hospital must file its claims with the insurance company, how quickly the hospital must refund monies that it required to be paid at discharge that weren't allocated to it by the insurance carrier in the final processing, or even requiring the hospital to present me with an itemized invoice showing me that the charges are even in excess of my remaining deductible at the time that they tell me I have to fork it all over (NAMC won't - I have to specifically ask for it, and then they'll get it to me at some point later - whenever it damn well suits them, I guess.). Do they really have a right to force me to pay without presentation of an invoice, and without having obtained an EOB (explanation of benefits) from my insurance provider confirming their right to these funds? I've been going along with them on this because I don't want to have any problems when we show up to deliver, but I'm seriously considering telling them to file their paperwork like every other provider and I'll happily pay them after my insurance company approves charges and confirms their right to however much of the deductible is left to them.


Two May Actually Kill Me

Two what? Two tries at Russian Roulette? Two episodes of "Tool Time"? Two homemade blowfish casseroles? (and btw - there's always a first time that a new chef prepares blowfish: who eats it? the chef?) No, I'm talking about two years old, yo. And the cub. Who has become such an intense little guy my heart goes out to him for how difficult it must be to feel everything as powerfully and with such unrelenting focus as he does. That is, my heart goes out to him about thirty minutes after I'm about to lose my mind or scream or, I don't know, lock him in his room and walk away until it's quiet again. I just want the screaming, crying, unending fits over things like turning off the bathtub faucet, turning on the light in the bedroom, hanging up the towel after washing hands - clearly offending acts if ever I saw them - to stop, for the love of god.

I've started reading a new book, Setting Limits With Your Strong-Willed Child, that I hope will help. But I think he's probably still too young for the techniques covered in the book. And I think it's more than just setting limits. I've also read Playful Parenting but it's not just that, either. The guy just goes to pieces over the littlest details and becoming OCD myself about managing all of these details so that he doesn't get ruffled isn't an option because a) I'll shoot myself first, and b) what ruffles him is a moving target. I'm hoping that this is just a phase that's part of being two. And an intense personality just starting to get its sea legs. He's absolutely delightful at friends' houses, I see him sizing up situations and responding to other kids considerately and not aggressively or anything like what he dishes out to me, and his daycare teacher raves about how smart he is and how he's the best behaved kid in his class and she never has any problems with him and she's only ever heard him even fuss at all just once.

So if he does so well out in other social situations, then we must be doing something right. He seems to be generally happy, healthy, bright, outgoing - everything I would hope for for him. But I'm ending each bedtime cycle either in tears or on the verge of from the forty-five-minute nonstop screaming, crying, fussing and fighting. And 40 weeks pregnant on top of it all doesn't make it any easier to handle.



Williamson County Legislator Watch is Underway!

I enjoy reading some of the political pundit-type blogs, and I wish sometimes that I had the time, the wit, the political savvy, the deft familiarity with the issues needed to write such illuminating analyses of some of the most pressing public issues. Tonight I was reading through a letter sent to me by my Congressional Representative, Rep. John Carter (R), in response to a "canned" plea I had sent to him via the Humane Society's website to advocate for an end to the slaughtering of horses for human consumption in the U.S. I found his letter back to be somewhat trite and condescending as he explained to me his position that "property interests" over-rode the humanitarian concerns for the welfare of horses.

I wrote him a brief reply thanking him for his response and noting my satisfaction that the measure had passed in spite of his opposition, and letting him know simply that I disagreed with his assessment of the legislation concerned. As I was preparing my email reply, it occured to me that maybe there's an opportunity here. I have recently moved into Williamson County, although I am still within the Austin city limits. The political demographics of Williamson County are changing rapidly - with our household being a case in point. Every single elected legislative representative for my address, at both the state and federal houses, is a Republican. Not that there's anything wrong with that - some of my closest friends have been Republicans and they're all fine people ( ;-P).

I also poked around the site for www.congress.org, a website dedicated to supporting public involvement in the legislative process. They have a very interesting tool there where they display recent emails sent to congressional leaders via their site (they obtain the author's permission prior to publishing). I read the two that were flagged as coming from Texas, and found them to be full of threats (capitalized reminders that the legislator in question works for the author and they can just as easily see them out of office at the next opportunity), racial slurs (the phrase "wet backs" figured prominently), poor grammar, and one even appeared to have cut and pasted the "please write your representative now" language from an advocacy email and sent it to his representative under a title referring to a Senate vote and completely different issue. Just kooky.

So anyway, I thought it might be a good exercise for me, and maybe helpful for my neighbors if anyone actually reads this blog (Bueller....? Bueller....?) to specifically follow the votes and actions of my own legislators and publish what I learn via my blog. September 2007 is a lousy time to begin this undertaking, but hey - baby steps. The Texas Lege won't be back in regular session until 2009, and I'm not sure now how much longer Congress will remain in session - or have they already gone home? See? Huge learning curve over here.