Friday, December 31, 2010

The other Portland, part 1

Two weeks to go! It seems so recent that I took a home pregnancy test, visited the doctor, and commenced worrying that this pregnancy would end abruptly and too early, like the three before it. But all that was back in May, and now I'm big and healthy and full-term-pregnant with a squirming, bouncing, kicking little miracle. I am so grateful.

...and a little uncomfortable. I admit it! As much as I'm in love with this baby and this pregnancy, I of course suffer from all of the (relatively minor) complaints of the last trimester. We're talking heartburn aka Throatferno, insomnia, pinched nerves in my back, and a bunch of general discomfort when I attempt athletic feats as ambitious as, say standing from a seated position. So in order to distract me and to celebrate our last few weeks as DINKS, Josh and I dropped off the troublemaker at Doggy Day Care, fed the cat, and headed south to Portland this week. Our destination?

See, a while back Josh and I saw this clip of Anthony Bourdain in Portland, OR, visiting a doughnut shop. You can watch the two minutes if you want, but there is really only one thing to take from the video. Voodoo Doughnut makes a maple bacon bar. A risen, glazed bar, dipped in maple glaze and pressed with two thick, crispy slices of bacon.

It had to be mine.

As my relatives back East can attest, doughnuts are a major lifestyle component of living in New England. There's a Dunkin Doughnuts on every corner, where you can get mediocre coffee, terrible espresso, and absolutely transcendent doughnuts! In the Seattle area? Top Pot. I admit I've never actually been there, but look at that list. Plain, plain, plain Jane doughnuts, perfect for delicately consuming with a knife and fork while reading The Economist and lamenting the rain. Hey, Uptight Seattleites! THAT'S NOT WHAT I'M AFTER THESE DAYS.

What is it I'm after? This.
That's four of the five doughnuts we bought immediately upon arriving in Portland. The fifth was a plain glazed, which I bought expressly so I could eat one on the way home and not feel guilty about not photographing it. It was heavenly. There's a maple bacon bar, of course, a Mexican Hot Chocolate (old fashioned, rolled in cinnamon, chocolate, and chili pepper), a raspberry filled, and an Old Dirty Bastard - a raised and glazed plain, topped with crumbled Oreo cookies and drizzled with peanut butter.

My life is complete.

Seriously, these are some of the most delicious treats I've ever had! Which should be doubly apparent by the fact that I haven't yet described what we had to do to get them. UGH. Here's how our drive to Portland looked. Let me say again that I'm 8 1/2 months pregnant, hormonal, and did I mention neither of us is sleeping because in the 20 minutes or so I sleep each night, I snore so badly that Josh has to leave the room? We were kind of at our wits end by the time we arrived. Then our room wasn't ready (which the awesome hotel actually handled really well, more on that in part 2), we walked six blocks in the cold rain only to find a 45 minute, uncovered outdoor line for the doughnut shop. By the time we got inside, we were soaked, freezing, a little irked, and my back was incredibly sore. But the smell of doughnuts took all the pain away.
Josh is still learning the camera.

Since most other vices are strictly prohibited during pregnancy, this trip was all about the food. When we got back to the hotel it was about 6pm, and Josh and I traded bites of the bacon bar and ODB before heading out to find real food for dinner. The rest of our little overnight trip did not disappoint, even though we peaked a little early with the doughnuts.

"Portland" has always been Portland, Maine for me. Lobsters, lighthouses, fine dining everywhere, and local beer jump to mind when I hear that word, as do the childhood memories of The Maine Mall, drives to Boston, and visits to my more metropolitan aunts in the big city. (Yes, I'm still talking about Portland, Maine. Hush.) But after this little overnight, and considering my home address, the original Portland's namesake is carving out its own little place in my heart - a place shaped, of course, like a doughnut.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Thanks, but no thanks

Let me begin by saying that pregnancy, miscarriage and I'm sure birth, have a near-total deadening effect on modesty. Working for March of Dimes accelerates that process even further! I've had incredibly detailed conversations with strangers about timing sexual intercourse, labor positions, vaginal tearing and surgery, and much, much more. It takes a lot to shock me - and today, that standard was met.

See, Josh and I went to get adjusted at the chiropractor today. I've been having some shooting pains down my lower back and leg (hello, little baby medicine ball), and Josh is a big time weight lifter now, and we've both had good luck with chiropractic in the past. This time was a new guy, a man we've both met but hadn't been to for adjustment before. We were glad to get in to see him, since I got a super creepy vibe from the other practice I've been to here, and we both have a great feeling about this guy. We'll call him Dr. B.

So we walk in, get into the system, and meet for our consultation. Since I've had several creepy experiences with body care professionals in the past, I was glad that Josh and I would be evaluated and adjusted together. After a short wait, Dr. B. comes in and starts asking me questions. Pretty basic questions: how far along are you, age, weight, normal weight, have you been having any pain or headaches, etc. We're going strong. And let me repeat: I'm there to get my back and neck cracked, and my posture evaluated. That's all.

Well, Dr. B. has plans to assist me further, as it turns out! He starts talking about pregnancy-specific techniques to relieve pain, has me lift my shirt (showing belly only) and teaches Josh how to massage the round ligaments around my hips. No biggie - that's not really what I was after, but I don't mind. Then, out of nowhere, he starts talking about how he knows a really great technique to massage the perineal floor to prepare it for birth. See, your perineum plays a huge part in crowning and pushing, hence the near-universal Kegel advice during pregnancy. Makes sense that a health professional would know about that and perhaps offer tips, right? Stay with me here. Still waiting to get my spine worked on.

"So, let's go to the other room and I'll show you on the dummy what this looks like." We follow him, he pulls out a model spine and pelvis, and flips it upside down.

"Here's the base of your spine, the tailbone, and this is where the baby comes out. Here's where your anus would be, your vagina, your urethra. So if this is your anus," he says, making a little "OK" sign with his left hand, "I'm going to put pressure here," (a quarter inch from Ground Zero on the left) "and here," (the right).

At this point I'm completely flabbergasted. Surely, surely, this neck-snapping witch doctor is not suggesting that I GRANT HIM ACCESS TO MY BUTTHOLE. Right?! That would be absurd. I AM HERE FOR MY NECK. But just in case it's not completely, 100%, crystal clear, he keeps elaborating! "So for this procedure we'd take your pants down to your thighs, you'll lay on your side, and I'll start and then teach Josh how to do the technique so you can do it at home. Remember, this is your anus" (ok sign) "and I'll be pressing on either side to loosen the tension of your perineal floor. Let's see which side is tighter."

At this point, naturally, whether to do the procedure is moot, as my perineum has clenched into my ribcage. But for some reason I'm not saying anything! When he has me stand up so he can evaluate the tension around my hips - through pants, thank God - I glare at Josh with pleading eyes and vigorously shake my head NO!

He, I later discovered, was using all of his available faculties to avoid cracking up at the absurdity of it all, and at my discomfort. In fact, if you want to make Josh laugh at inappropriate times, just say "now here's your anus" and you've got him. He did not jump to my rescue.

Still, despite my overpowering and misplaced sense of politeness, there was no way this guy was getting my pants off. Finally I said "I need to wrap my mind around this before I try it. Do you have a brochure?" He produced one, reminded me that his wife used to model this procedure in front of 20 students at a time, and then gave me and Josh each an effective, helpful, simple little chiropractic adjustment.

I have developed finely honed radar for creeps, perverts, and opportunists, and Dr. B. truly does not seem to be any of those. He has a new baby and like many alternative medicine pros, he is kind of an evangelist about what chiropractic can do for the human body. He was so painfully earnest about the whole thing that I will probably return next time I need and adjustment - but I'll go with Josh, and I intend to be very, very clear about the services I'm interested in.

And if, at my regular cleaning next month, the dentist offers to check my breastmilk, I am never seeing another doctor again.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Let's just get right to it: I got a new camera!! My dear husband - remember him? - got me a Canon digital SLR, which I've been pining after since before we knew there was a baby on the way. Once there was a baby in the picture (har har), my desire for a decent camera began approaching the insane. And here it is! So far it is easy to use in auto mode, takes fantastic pictures despite my utter lack of knowledge or skills, and has potential for greatness! Josh's Christmas present is somewhat related, despite the fact that mine was a surprise - he wanted a new barbell and a weight vest. Connection: he's going to keep looking better and better, and now I can take lots of pictures of him. :)

I'm less than three weeks from my due date now, so traveling to the East Coast to see my family wasn't an option this holiday season. We are so lucky to live close to our Sullins relatives, and so we made plans to have a Christmas lunch with Grammy, Papa, and Bum (Josh's great grandmother). I don't have a tripod yet, so here's a couple shots of the whole crew:
Look at that belly! Holy cows!
Don't you just love those? Charlie had a great time visiting, as always, and was a hit with the staff at Bum's new home. At one point it seems someone told him a joke...
...which he tried to repeat to Fuji, with decidedly poor results.
Christmas 2010 is exactly what we've been hoping for ever since Christmas 2007 - the first time we became pregnant, and lost the pregnancy almost immediately. As the day and the season wind down, I am filled more and more deeply with gratitude for this baby, for our comfortable life and for our unbelievably dear family and friends. Love is everywhere.