almost 4 years ago

Everyone around me --- including myself --- thought I was going to deliver early. But it's half way past 39 weeks and guess what? I'm still pregnant. This should really not be all that surprising. After all, the "due date" is just a probability point. If you look at this chart or other charts from this site, only 40% of women deliver by their due date!

I have been on "maternity leave" since week 37. My work email now has an auto-response message saying that I am on leave. The result of that is every time I respond to a work email now (well, I can't help it, it's so easy to respond to work emails when I don't actually have to), I get an email from knowing customers or colleauges inquiring about the baby's status. One customer who is particularly close with me even wrote "I didn't see you respond to email for 24 hours and thought you had offloaded the cargo already"......Orz

To be fair, it's not good to go past 42 weeks. Induction will have to be considered. I have already scheduled an antenatal screening next week if the baby still doesn't check out by then. But I'll face it if it comes down to that.

In the meantime, what have I been doing since going on "leave"? A good friend from Seattle visited, then a week later she left and my mom is here. My mom is really here for post-partum, not pre-natal care, but since there's nothing to do now, we have just been sightseeing around San Francisco, making delicious Chinese food, and watching TV. I am starting to get a little swelling in the feet and on-and-off cramping, so I can't do serious hikes, but walking is fine. Today we went to city hall and public library, then drove over the Golden Gate Bridge and walked a bit around Marin Headlands and then Sausalito. And after three years hiatus, I picked up knitting again (yes I am THAT BORED now) and completed my first knitting project using double pointed needles yesterday. Seriously, being able to maneuver five needles at a time made me feel badass. Behold, a baby hat!

My next challenge would be baby socks. I have never knitted socks and I expect to fail at first. The nice thing about knitting baby stuff is they are small and can be completed (or failed) really fast.

So while I am waiting for MISS PATIENCE (I really should name this baby Patience...cuz she's already more patient than both me & Ian! but Patience is a great-grandma name, so nope, can't name her that), I think it's time to summarize the health challenges for this pregnancy.

Diet Control & Weight Gain

Week Weight (lb)
9 116
15 122
20 131
25 136
29 139
32 141
36 142
38 143
39 143

My diet control started around week 29. Since then I have gained 4 pounds, bringing my total weight gain to about 27 pounds, which is within the normal range. I have mostly stopped testing for glucose but still follow the same eating principles. Having my mom here to cook for/with me is very helpful, as she eats extremely heathily and everything she has been cooking is low salt and sugarless. Under her advice, I purchased a soymilk maker and she has been making delicious fresh soy milk and almond milk in the mornings. They are amazing! I don't think I can go back to store-bought non-cow/goat-milk anymore.

Work & Exercise

You can see my effective work hours (productive hours recorded using RescueTime) for the first part of the pregnancy here. By and large, I would say my productivity appears to have remained about the same until week 32, and then...well...I definitely started slacking off!

My exercise patterns also remained pretty constant. A minimum of 3 times a week --- though in no way comparable to my pre-pregnancy days both in terms of frequency and intensity, it's still better than nothing.

I went swimming about once every two weeks. I do wish I had swam more, but it is harder to allot enough time to go since the swimming pass I bought for the Koret Center at USF is only good for entry Mon - Thu before 2PM and anytime Fri - Sun.

The majority of my exercise was prenatal yoga. I didn't want to pay for $15 per yoga class, plus prenatal classes are few and far in between, so I used YogaGlo and then YogisAnonymous. Both charge less than $20 a month and have a decent (though still too few) prenatal classes online.

I also mixed in some conditioning: three reps of 10 push ups, 10 dips, and 5 pull ups, into my exercise routine. I stopped doing them around week 36, partly because I had visitors, partly because I started having more irregular cramps. I stopped stretching for splits after week 32 --- I could feel my joints getting too loose and it was going to cause more harm than good. It's interesting to feel the effects of the relaxin softening up the body. All my life I had been more strong than flexible, and now for the first time in my life I kinda know how it feels to be a person that is more flexible than strong, and it's scary. It feels like I can more easily hurt myself stretching, whereas that never seemed like a possibility before. I try to remember to stretch my shoulders and upper back (not lower back) a lot, since the belly weight gain is known to cause tight shoulders and upper back. Luckily, I have had no lower back pain or soreness at all, which is another common pregnancy discomfort.

Massages!

If there was one thing I allowed myself to indulge in, it's getting a massage every week (since week 20, I think). As soon as I stopped having nausea and could eat & workout normally again, I went to a local foot massage place and got the same massager every week. I had been going to this foot massage place already and I liked it. The first time I went, I asked them if they would accomodate my pregnant belly. The massage lady they assigned me turned out to work really well with me. She kept the chair at an elevated level so I wouldn't be lying flat on my back, and instead of having me flip on my back for the last 15-min shoulder/back session, she substituted it with shoulder rubs while I'm lying on the chair and sitting up right at the end.

With my initial good experience with her, I came up with a strategy: instead of asking for any massager (which was what I did pre-pregnancy), I asked for her name, and would call every week in advance to make an appointment with her. And I tip her twice as much as I normally would every time. Even with the tip, though, the cost of the massage is still less than half than what I would have to pay if I go to a real pre-natal massage place. So I could afford to go every week and not break the bank.

I did however, get a real pre-natal massage once during the pregnancy. It was very, very good, and I was very happy I got it. But I am also happy with my slightly less tailored but economic massage package.

And Now for Something Completely Different

Well, I think the above concludes my health summary so far. I will try to follow up post-partum.

One thing that is on my mind now besides the baby, is the laws surrounding maternity leave and actually getting $$$ for being on disability. I hate paperwork & bureaucracy VERY VERY MUCH. Let me just say that the EDD website where you apply online for state disability is just PLAIN AWFUL. I registered on EDD a week before my leave and realized I only need to apply after the disability started. By the time I did need to submit the form online, guess what? I forgot my password (and somehow did not write it down somewhere, yes, I know, bad idea, but it happens). No biggie, just re-set the password right? Well, I had them email me a temporary password, tried to use it for log-in immediately. No luck, and after a few more tries, they locked out my account! After googling, it seemed that the lock out is an hour or longer and in between that time you MUST NOT attempt to log in again. SIGH. And don't bother trying calling the number they give you on the EDD website when they say your account is locked. It will never go through. So I waited a whole day and thankfully it worked the next day. Then I submitted the form online and called up my hospital to give them the receipt number so they could submit the doctor's approval from their end. So far so good. Until today I received a (physical) mail saying that EDD didn't get the doctor's approval at the time I submitted the form online. I wasn't too concerned since I know I called the hospital after the form was submitted, but then I looked closely at the mailed copy the hospital mailed me yesterday and.....I'll be damned, they wrote my social security number WRONG on the form. SIIIIGH. I don't know how this will affect the process, so I just called the hospital coordinator again and left a message (good thing she has been very responsive so far every time I leave a message).

I jokingly told my mom that if I am lucky, I will get my SDI check three months later, if at all. We'll see how efficient the state is on this.

And this reminds me of another recent experience with the government. The story did end well -- I have a conditional green card now and I am hugely grateful for my work place for having the same legal firm handle the green card application. Without them, I would probably have preferred to stay on an H1B visa forever just so I don't have to go through the insane amount of paperwork they had to compile. And even with the legal office's help, I still screwed up. This is what happened:

I got married last May to a US citizen. This means I can apply for a status change so I don't have to try to renew my H1B every time it expires (which is another pain in the ass). The legal firm who works with my company that got me my initial H1B now handled my green card application. They were very efficient and already had a lot of my personal data, so all I had to do were two things: go to the immigration clinic and get a sealed medical exam, and fill out the (still insane amount of) application form the legal firm had set up for me online.

There was an immigration clinic 10 minutes drive away from my house and let me tell you, that place stinks. The only PURPOSE of that entire clinic's existence is to do medical exam for immigration application. They don't TREAT PEOPLE. They are just certified by the government to draw your blood, send the samples to a lab, and give you a bunch of vaccinations if you fail to prove that you vaccinated for this and that. And they charge you $300 for it. They did a TB test on me, and I got a bump which meant I either had TB or had a TB vaccination before. All kids my generation in Taiwan were vaccinated for TB when we were little, so of course I had a positive reaction. The clinic then told me that I had to go to an X-ray clinic to get an X-ray to prove that I don't have TB. I begrudgingly went and did that. Then I got busy with work and put off returning to the clinic for a few months.

It just so happened that my main contact at the legal firm went on maternity leave and for a while they also kinda forgot about me. Then new year came, the lawyer returned to work and asked me about getting the remaining forms and medical exam ready, so I called back at the clinic.

I was 4 months pregnant then. The clinic staff expressed "shock...that I did not return immediately after the X-ray" and says that "with the new law, in 2014, the medical exam MUST BE conducted and signed within a week or otherwise it's NULLIFED". In other words, they said my medical exam was USELESS even if the doc signed it then. I would have to do the X-ray again and pay another $300 for bloodwork. I was furious. I told them they should have called me if this was the case. They shrugged and said "well EVERYONE ELSE comes back as soon as they did the X-ray!" They tried to appear sympathetic, saying that they understand I probably don't want an X-ray while I'm pregnant and I can wait until I have delivered. I angrily told them to sign and seal the medical exam nevertheless. Then I emailed my lawyer and she smartly suggested to submit the application & exam anyway. "If they need a new one, they will ask for it" she said.

She was right. The USCIS did not give a rat's ass about my "expired" medical exam. We were accepted immediately for an immigration appointment. The lawyer prepped us extremely well for the appointment. We showed up at the appointment with more facebook photos than they ever wanted to look at. The interviewer kept asking if I felt fine, since I was at this point sporting a 8-month belly. He casually chatted with us, went through the usual questions, and at the end of the form wrote down "Baby due next month" and contently sent us away. The appointment was on Monday. On Saturday, I received the green card in the mail. That must be breaking some kind of USCIS record for being too efficient. And thank goodness I did not heed that immigration clinic's advice.

Back to the EDD...well, there's nothing I can do now besides wait for a possible call back from the hospital disability coordinator. At least now I have time to handle to annoying paperwork. I just don't have an IT help desk email to send an angry email to when my account gets locked out.

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