Sunday

Just the beginning

Cecelia Kathryn was born Tuesday, Nov. 23 at 9:29 p.m. She weighed in at 7 lbs, 3 oz, 20 inches long.

As I adjust to my new schedule and lifestyle, rest assured that I'm stock-piling plenty of new posts about the experience of labor and the first few days home. So check back in a few days, now is when the real fun begins!

Monday

A not-so-grand finale

While I've resigned myself to thinking that my daughter must have signed another 9-month lease on my uterus, I can't help but contemplate my upcoming labor (which could be any day now. Fingers crossed.)

When you really think about it, labor is not something I should be excited about. "Wait- you mean I get to spend an undetermined amount of time writhing in pain while an assortment of strangers take turns exposing my vagina and it culminates with the possibility of torn flesh and pooping myself? What are we waiting for?!?!"

But the reaction I will have to the onset of labor is likely to be the same as if I was a chubby 5-year-old in a Cinderella costume boarding the plane to DisneyWorld. It is going to be a magical experience simply because it marks the end to pregnancy.

When my water breaks, you might mistake that I just discovered the winning Powerball ticket in my pocket. I want to jog into the maternity ward while my friends form a human tunnel and I throw high fives as I make my way to the LDR room.That is how excited I am to go into labor.

This won't exactly be my first time in the delivery room. I was lucky enough to witness the birth of my nephew, which you think would have caused me to sew my knees shut in an effort to avoid childbirth. My fondest memories of that day include a nurse telling me that I would be wanting a baby next and my grandmother saying "She needs to get a boyfriend first." I was 18 at the time.

Well take that, Memaw- now I have my own happy accident to love and cherish. Terribly appropriate, I know.

Other than the subtle digs at my freshman dating drought, I also got the pleasure of viewing a real-live newborn baby. And I will be the first to tell you that the beautiful, gorgeous baby boy who came out of my sister was disgusting.

Newborns look like aliens. A mixture of blood and slime coated his skin that somehow managed to be white and purple at the same time. I was not aware that most babies are born with a cone head that corrects itself, so I believed my father's cruel joke that James would need a special helmet to correct the defect. His eyes were swollen and goopy, and his belly button clamp scared me.

Obviously, no child is born perfectly pink and clean and smelling like a baby. That part comes a bit later. But for some reason we are convinced that this awkward creature is adorable. I believe this to be a direct result of the relief that the ordeal is over. You could hand me a shaved rat covered in Vaseline and I would declare it to be the most beautiful thing I've ever seen, if it signified the end to pregnancy and labor.

So bring on the pain and all the ugly that comes with it. After 40 weeks of this business, I'm ready to call it all beautiful.

Tuesday

Shotgun weddings decline in popularity

I'm trendy. And I don't mean that like I am all about Ugg boots, the new plaid for fall or totally into Katy Perry at the moment. I am part of a national trend in my life decision to visit the delivery room before the wedding chapel.

In a recent New York Times article, someone finally decided to look at how many “single moms” aren't really single. More than one quarter of us are cohabitating with a partner. 28 percent, in fact. One in four of the women society views as “single moms” actually have just as much (if not more) help from the other half of their baby's genetic code.

So congratulations to all the other members of the “Living in Sin Club”! We finally have put enough of a dent in the statistics that someone is paying attention to our actual living situation rather than the lack of a gold ring on our swollen fingers.

More couples are opting to have a child but hold off on the wedding bells. We are saying "I do ... just not right now." Apparently it's time to change the childhood playground taunts. For more and more couples, first comes love, then comes a joint lease, then comes a baby carriage. And the marriage? Eh, when it's time.

If Beyonce would have called the song “All the Single Mothers,” the lyrics might have been a bit different. “If he likes it, then he will put a ring on it eventually when we are in a more financially and emotionally stable situation.” Not as catchy in the clubs, but the truth.

I hope that this represents a cultural shift in how we approach the idea of family. No longer are we being pushed into shotgun weddings out of fear for how outsiders will view unmarried parents. Bad news for the maternity-wedding dress industry.

Many right-wingers would say that this study only proves that the sanctity of marriage and family is being degraded, but I argue the opposite. I think that my decision to hold off on marriage shows my respect for the institution. Instead of jumping blindly into a marriage out of shame or guilt for my pregnancy, I am waiting for the right reasons. You know, that whole “love” thing?

Or I could go the way the fundamentalists prefer, march down the aisle just because my birth control failed and end up statistically more likely to get a divorce. How is that for the sanctity of marriage?

While the views of society may be slow to change, I hope this recognition for our demographic will be reflected in a tangible way.

A simple way to acknowledge this growing trend would be a new check box on government forms. Seriously, Facebook has more options for defining my relationship status. 

On medical forms and such, you are married, once were married, or you are single. Single. Alone. Solitary. Not part of a couple. When you start throwing synonyms out there, doesn't seem so harmless, does it?

With a growing number of pregnant women in the same boat (probably on the verge of capsizing under our collective weight), it's time to consider a change in the way we strictly limit relationship categories. I understand that “In a committed relationship but waiting for marriage due to personal reasons or political obstacles” may be a bit much.
But how about a good old simple “Unmarried” option? “Unmarried” allows me to say “I am not necessarily single, but I am legally not bound to another human being.”

The study's data is from 2008, so I am sure the number of cohabitating couples delaying marriage is even higher now and will continue to grow as more couples choose to ignore the stigma of being *gasp!* unmarried parents. So holla at all my not-so-single ladies. The times they are a-changing.


Tricked, but no treat

Three-foot-tall superheroes and various Disney princesses ran amuck in my neighborhood Sunday night, as I'm sure they did in many of yours, as children participated in one of my favorite holidays.Oh that glorious night of smearing your child's face with paint that falsely promised to wash off easily and then pumping them full of sugary treats right before bed time.

Halloween is grand.

Instead of the usual shenanigans of a Halloween party, Matt and I opted to stay in for the night since I am beyond-comfortable pregnant. I considered donning a sequined dress and going as a disco ball, but sweatpants just seemed much more appealing.

While my Halloween night was spent eating excessive amounts of candy and trying to avoid catching any glimpse of the seventeen Michael Myers movies being shown repeatedly (I don't care if they are edited for television, they are still scary), my unborn daughter was busy with her own Halloween plan.

Apparently my little girl is going to be a prankster. Even though she is still inside my uterus, she managed to pull a fast one on me, a little trick known as false labor.

Waking up at 5 a.m. is no rarity for a woman in her ninth month of pregnancy. But this particular wake up call I received was unusual in the intensity of contractions. So after timing them for a few hours on my handy iPhone Contraction Counter App, I called the doctor and he gave me the go ahead to come on in.

But after being poked, prodded and probed, the extremely unfunny punchline was revealed to me- my cervix was nowhere near dilated. I was still sealed up tighter than Justin Bieber's chastity belt.

Let it be known, false labor is a cruel and terrible joke by Mother Nature. Because if what I was feeling were just practice pains, I would rather have not known what is in store when the real deal comes along. You try to keep yourself calm in the moment, but that excitement couldn't help but pry it's way into my brain, whispering "we might have a baby today."

Well, little voice in my brain, shut your pie hole because all I got was seven hours of Braxton-Hicks and not a single baby to show for it. We ended up coming home and spending the rest of the day on the couch trying to ignore the consistent waves of contractions that proved to be a big joke. Not funny, baby! Mommy's not laughing!

I just hope this isn't an indication of what I can expect from her in the future. "Hey Mom, I'm ready to get here .... J/K, hahaha!" I don't know how many more false alarms I can handle before I become overly frustrated and just start pushing.

I thought I might be getting a wonderful treat in the birth of my daughter, but alas, I was tricked by hormones and wound up with nothing but leftover Reese's cups. So now every pang in my abdomen, every strange drop of fluid I leak, is suspect. I just hope baby girl got these hijinks out of her system. Because I'm ready for the real shebang, no joke about it.