The Home Stretch

The baby is already 7 pounds 3 ounces says my midwife. I'm not due for two-and-a-half more weeks. They tend to gain as much as a pound a week toward the end. This baby is going to be huge! I'm increasingly uncomfortable, so whenever he's ready, I'd be happy to carry him on the outside of my body for a while.

Brian says he feels confident in his credentials to be a parent even though he has no experience because he can often see children from his house.

But beyond that undeniable resume builder, last Thursday we finished the fourth and final week of birthing classes. We now know when to go to the hospital, how to breathe during and between contractions, a bunch of labor positions, and have seen enough birthing videos that if we were stranded in a elevator or a desert island I feel like we could do it ourselves.

We also took a tour of the birthing center last week. It's really nice. If I'm lucky, I could get birthing room #3 which is a corner suite. On our tour we had 25 people in there with plenty of extra room. It has an amazing view — the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands to the North and downtown San Francisco to the East. The other birthing rooms have nice views too and are plenty big, but #3 is the presidential suite of the hospital. So cross your fingers for us.

I have my hospital bag mostly packed and our birth plan is mostly finished. We've decided to go with a diaper service (it's cheaper and better for the environment — win, win) and our first delivery arrives this Thursday. Once we have those, we are all set.

Actually not quite. I was just thinking the other day that this little guy does not have a Brooklyn onesie or any I-heart-NY anything. (Hint, hint.) How's he going to know where he comes from? But I digress.

Yesterday we went to the largest book sale on the West Coast. It's an annual fund raiser for the SF Public Library. It is held in a huge, football-field-sized pier. Over 350,000 books, none of them over $5. It was pretty crazy. I went looking for a few specific titles, but that was a disaster. When books are categorized kind of willy-nilly and not organized in any way within a category, it's just nearly impossible to find anything intentionally. You just have to stumble across things. I did come across a few good finds. Brian found a third copy of Fup by Jim Dodge, a book about a farmer and a duck which he insisted that he did need. However he didn't make it back to the self-help books to look for copies of the 1976 Avon paperback edition of Your Erroneous Zones to add to his enormous collection. Someone recommended decorating the nursery with Wayne Dyer's face. Sounds like a good way to traumatize the kid for life.

Here's another undie picture of me taken two Sundays ago, I think, when I was 36 weeks. (The one at the top is about 32 weeks.) I feel a lot like my skin might rip off my body, like if you tried, I might be able to open up like a cadbury egg with a baby instead of a sugary yellow yolk. Maybe he'll come early.


Great with Child

With only six weeks left until my due date, I think I can finally say that I am "great with child." Up until now I've been saying that I was "good with child" or "fair with child." But it's time.

My ribs are sore from being kicked and spread apart. It gets uncomfortable to sit in the same position for too long — mostly because everything gets squished together and there's no room. This little guy (still nameless) moves all the time. Big rolling movements that you can easily see through my shirt — not just kicks and punches. It looks very much like Alien. The doctor says everything looks great and all test results have been perfect. So all is well in pregnantland except my maternity shirts are getting a little short. I may be flashing my midriff before this is all over.

It's been awhile since I've posted anything. July and August were a lot busier than I thought they'd be. Mostly because I hosted and tutored two Japanese college students: a 19-year-old boy named Takashi for two weeks in July and a 19-year-old girl named Ritsuko for three weeks in August. They stayed in our guest room, I cooked them food, and I sat down with them for two to three hours each morning and we practiced English.

Takashi and Ritsuko are two of 150 Tokyo International University students currently enrolled in a yearlong program at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. (They arrived in February and they'll go home in December.) Most of them spent the summer traveling, and a lot of them did a "homestay" with an American family for a few weeks as a part of their travels.

Overall it was a good experience, hosting these students. It paid really well and it was fun to get some experience with ESL. (By the way: does anyone know why we say The Golden Gate Bridge but not The St. Mary's Cathedral? I don't. That was one of many questions I couldn't answer about our sometimes-inconsistent language.)

There were some weird things. Number one in weirdness was my second student's excessive use of toilet paper. I'm pregnant, so I go to the bathroom more than most people. Even so, Brian and I go through maybe one roll of toilet paper a week. Maybe. When Ritsuko arrived, we had ten rolls of toilet paper in the cupboard. Seven days later, we woke up to a spent cardboard tube and an empty storage cupboard. She had used it all! Brian took an unplanned 7 a.m. trip to 7-Eleven and bought us another eight rolls. One week later, those were gone too!

The disappearance of the toilet paper remains a huge mystery. She wasn't stealing the rolls. (Once we noticed the disappearance phenomenon, we saw each roll dwindle before our very eyes.) And she didn't use the bathroom excessively. (In fact, she was out of the house for many hours most days, sightseeing.) We ended up going through at least a roll a day for the whole three weeks she was with us. I've thought about googling "Japanese girls" + "toilet paper" to see if it's a cultural thing, but I haven't done it yet. Would I just get a bunch of porn sites? What was she doing with all that toilet paper?

Anyway.... Both students had a habit of switching their L's and R's. I figured the movies probably exaggerate that issue, but it was "lice" instead of "rice" with both of them. In one exercise, I told Takashi about my family. He had to listen, then tell me about them. (He was allowed to take notes; I made it a rule that I wouldn't repeat myself.) I told him that my mother's name is Lynn. In his notes I saw him write "Rin," but he pronounced it perfectly when he said it back to me. It was funny and confusing. They also both switched H's and F's. And Ritsuko had a bad habit of ending her words with O: cat-o, post-o, etc. But I guess that if I were Japanese and every word in my language ended in a vowel or an N, it would be hard for me to come over to the USA and start ending every English word I spoke with a hard consonant.

My sister came out to visit at the end of July. We did a lot of walking and exploring. At the end of the week my feet, carrying their twenty-some new pounds, told her to go home. We went to Muir Woods while she was here, and that trip cemented Muir Woods as my favorite place in the Bay Area. I became a member while I was there, so when you come to visit me, I will take you and we can see the tallest living organisms in the world for free.