Friday, May 30, 2014

38 Weeks

Holy. Crap. All week, I've been telling everyone who asks that my due date is three weeks away. BUT IT'S JUST TWO WEEKS AWAY! Completely surreal. We had some pictures taken on Memorial Day... our last holiday sans baby! Tomorrow marks the end of our mental list of, "baby absolutely cannot come until..." We had maternity photos taken by my awesome friend Lindsay on Monday, I worked my last day at New Birth Company on Tuesday, we finally had our childbirth class on Wednesday, I started making freezer meals on Thursday, Ross finished a huge work deadline today, and my brother and his wonderful fiance get married tomorrow. Also as of this past week, our kitchen has a floor and the laundry room is next! Kitchen counters and backsplash aren't in yet, but the house finally feels like a HOUSE and not a construction zone! (Have I mentioned that Ross is the hardest worker ever?)

Next week I hope to have time/wherewithal/access to my belongings to pack a hospital bag! I feel like a terrible hypocrite and procrastinator given my line of work and the fact that I'm always encouraging parents to get stuff done sooner rather than later. The NICU nurse in me felt like I was living on the edge (not in a good way) entering 37 weeks without a packed hospital bag or a childbirth class under my belt. Without a crib mattress, let alone a "nursery." Without so many of the little "necessities" and niceties that it seems like most of my friends had finalized and checked off their lists back at 35-36 weeks.

I've spent far too much time being anxious about this kid coming before we're ready. (Although, are you ever ready?!) I'm going to be so fat and happy if I end up going past my due date, and I will of course regret every minute I freaked myself out analyzing early signs of labor!

Most of my pregnancy "buddies" (friends I knew well enough to know they were pregnant before social media did) have now delivered, which blows my mind. Now that I am not working two jobs, I've had a few days to actually sit and think more about how our reality is about to totally change.

Pregnancy hasn't looked like I thought it would, but I don't mean that in a bad way. Seriously, growing up I used to stuff a pillowcase under my shirt and imagine what it would be like to be pregnant. Even in the past few years, I've looked pregnant co-workers, looked at myself, and been completely unable to fathom a pregnant body. In reality, it doesn't feel like an out-of-body experience at all. Sure, I've reached the point where I absolutely cannot bend at the waist, and yeah I get tired an uncomfortable more easily, but I still feel like me. Especially when I'm laying in bed in the morning, I forget anything is different! (Then, of course, baby squeezes my bladder and I try to roll over and I remember my ab muscles are no longer functioning.)

I thought I'd be miserable physically, but the mental aspect is what has really thrown me for a loop. I think first trimester was the worst in terms of irrational freakouts, but that's not to say I've been entirely sane since then. I find myself very possessive of this baby. I keep thinking pregnancy is all about me, and feeling sorry for myself when it's not. I'm starting to realize that it's about to not be about me at all. (And I'm realizing it plenty well on my own without the horror stories that other people tell me about life never being the same, thankyouverymuch.)

I have friends who talk about other people calling their babies "my baby" and the thought of someone else calling MY baby theirs, makes me break out in a cold sweat. I'm not saying it's right, but it is how I feel. Every time I find myself snidely and self-righteously thinking, it's not about you, I have to remind myself, it's not about me either. This kid is about to be his own entity, independent of me. I completely anticipate that the first and hardest (and most enduring) lesson of parenting will be the realization that I'm not in control. And, as with all of those hard lessons, it will be good. But man, I'm not looking forward to that particular challenge.

Physically, we're still chugging along. Sore hips are my only real complaint, as well as a sore lower back on the days I don't wear my support hose (WOW those were a good investment. I'd be miserable without them!) Getting bigger by the day, of course! I have noticed in the past week or so that occasional nausea as well as aversions to coffee, chocolate, and nut butter have crept back in, reminiscent of the first trimester. But I'm still enjoying being pregnant and not ready for it to end yet!

Also, being full term means delivering a full-term sized baby! Gulp. So I still need to psyche myself up for that. Ross asked what I wanted for a "push present," and I told him in 100% honesty that a healthy baby is more than enough motivation!

Also, outtakes:

Friday, May 23, 2014

37 weeks

Dear Baby Boy,

Time is simply flying as we (by we, I really mean Ross because I simply cannot bend at the waist or get up and down off the floor repeatedly anymore) try to cram in as much house work as possible before you get here. We want a safe, happy, and functional house to bring you home to. In part because we've simply been so busy, I cannot believe that your arrival is imminent. I mean, it could technically be as much as 5 weeks away, but I doubt you'll be two weeks overdue (famous last words?).

I have loved being pregnant with you, although I struggle with how to grasp the fleeting reality of this time. Honestly at this point I'm fine if you make it to your due date or beyond, because that means more time with you squirming away inside of me. September seems like YEARS ago, and I can't believe we've been inseparable all this time. You've been with me during a complete whirlwind of a season. Just when I think life can't get more chaotic, it does! In last 8.5 months, you've been with me as I underwent the stress of starting not just one, but two new jobs simultaneously. We lost Grandma Ginny over the course of one long, sleepless, emotional week. We bought a house. Said house turned out to be a POS. Moving time came right about the same time that pregnancy started getting uncomfortable. We lived at Tommy's house for three weeks, and at Aunt Theresa's house for a week. We moved into a construction-zone house. We've eaten takeout, sandwiches, and otherwise non-homemade food for the past two months and for that I am MOST sincerely sorry. It doesn't make my stomach feel good and I don't like that I'm not feeding you fruit or vegetables on a regular basis. I hope eating crappy food doesn't make you feel crappy, too! Believe me, I'm just as tired of it as you are!

I hate that you seem to be really active in the afternoons when I'm at work, and I have to push you out of my ribcage and keep working, instead of being able to sit back and enjoy your squirming. I want to memorize all of your kicks and hiccups and twists and turns.

I want to remember how your favorite position seems to be with your back facing my right side. I always feel lopsided, but I love seeing your feet occasionally pop out to the left of my belly button. I can often feel your left leg, as well, and I find myself scrutinizing its circumference, praying you've not yet reached Michelin Man proportions. I also think it's hilarious that when I lovingly pat your butt, you turn away from me. Maybe I'm about to get payback for the decades I've spent shrugging off my mom's hugs and wiping off my grandma's kisses. *sigh*

In the last few weeks, I've rediscovered my love for swimming and being weightless in the pool is the BEST THING EVER. I hope you love the water as much as I do!

At today's checkup, the midwife told me, you have great abdominal tone for being 37 weeks pregnant! I was all like, oh, thanks! And then she went on to say, buuut that actually means you could be hiding a deceptively large baby in there since your muscle tone is still holding so much in. Um. Please no. Full-term labor is now a reality... this means you won't be the size of the 4-5 pound babies I'm used to in the NICU. Don't get me wrong: full-termed and developed is exactly what we want! Just... 7+ pounds seems like a lot sometimes.

Forget those silly fruit and vegetable comparisons. There's no denying now that you're the size of a BABY now. When you move, I can feel it from all angles. Even your hiccups are big enough to see across much of my belly, and not just where your back is. Speaking of your back, last weekend you turned briefly so your back was curved out with my belly and when I held my breath, we could actually see you taking a few consistent practice breaths. It was so bizarre and completely non-replicable, but really fun to see from the outside and not just on ultrasound. You're so strong!

Your movements started to diminish toward the end of the week, which I hear is normal since you're running out of room. But the midwife did an NST just in case, since we were going into a long holiday weekend. You were asleep for the first ten minutes, but some cold apple juice woke you right up and you started partying away! I was able to push the "movement" button tons of times, and it was reassuring to hear you swooshing around even when I couldn't feel any motion (darn anterior placenta). You had a good number of textbook accelerations and Ross and I were so proud of you. It was fun sitting there with nothing to do but pay attention to you and hear your heartbeat going up and down and louder and quieter in the background. (Also so surreal since I've put countless people on that monitor myself... this time it was my turn!)

All in all, I'm really enjoying being pregnant with you. Thank you for going with the flow! I'm hoping you come one one resilient baby after everything we've been through. Sorry if you're feeling any of my stress second-hand! We are so excited (also terrified) to meet you and to realize that you're REAL. That being said, feel free to stay in until your due date. We think it'd be kind of cool if you were born on Friday the 13th. No matter when you come, though, we will be here with huge smiles ready to squeeze you and love you!

yo mama

Friday, May 16, 2014

36 Weeks and Other Milestones

Wohoo! Today marks a big milestone: if baby was born today, he wouldn't have an automatic ticket to the NICU. However, since he is unfortunately a white male (dare I use the NICU term "wimpy white boy") I'd be thrilled if he stays put for another 4 weeks! And all jokes about my brother's wedding aside, there don't seem to be any signs of impending labor, thank goodness. I plan to be there large and in charge in my bridesmaid's dress two weeks from now!

This week actually marked several other milestones as well: my "first" Mother's Day was on Sunday, and while I feel silly claiming the title until I've gone through the Ultimate Test (aka labor), Ross was still sweet and bought me a few simple gifts: he snuck out to buy me a vegetable juice in the morning before church (because vegetables are seriously lacking when you're living out of a suitcase... and because he hopes our kids get my tastebuds); then he gave me a few tomato cages for the seedlings my mom graciously bought for us (I've been working every Saturday and haven't been able to get to the farmer's market); he also reserved the latest Bill Bryson book at the library, stating he hopes our kids get my love of reading. It was sweet.

We also got to go to brunch with my parents and my brother Tommy, which was extra nice because I'm not sure of the last time I actually got to see my mom on Mother's Day.

Then Tuesday marked ONE MONTH UNTIL HIS DUE DATE. Which is simply not possible. Tuesday we also "moved into" our "house."

Let's be honest, it's still only half done but Ross set up the bedroom and hooked up the washer and dryer, so its livable. We were ready to sleep in our own bed and have all our belongings in one place after a month of couch-surfing! But to be honest my stress levels haven't really gone down yet. There's a LOT left to do.

Until this week, I'd been cruising along with these house renovations. Okay, maybe not cruising, but staying pretty busy. Wearing myself out. But this week, my belly is just too big. My hips are just too sore. It felt good to go to my Midwife appointment today (I've been going weekly since 34 weeks) and hear her say, "stop making yourself miserable!"

So while our to-do list is still a mile long, I'm going to try my best to limit the manual labor since I'm already on my feet all day at work. I'm also going to try to take one day of complete rest each week (no errands or stress-inducing activities). Sure, I'd LOVE to be nesting and getting the nursery ready and washing baby clothes, but we're not there yet. And I feel like even me busting my butt on my days off won't really get us there much sooner. All I can do is one thing at a time on my to-do list, and keep plugging away at a pace that doesn't make me lose my sanity. (At least I finally met with the pediatrician and got our info into their system.)

The good news is that even though half of our house is still a construction zone, it's livable! We sleep there now, after 25 long nights of living out of a suitcase (yes, totally a first world problem).

The list of "things that still need to get done" probably won't ever end, but at least the pre-baby checklist is getting shorter. What still really needs to happen:
-cabinets needs to be finished, painted, and cleaned
-kitchen countertops need to be ordered and installed
-kitchen and laundry room floors need to be installed
-kitchen and laundry room walls need to be painted (but praise God the drywall plastering, sanding, and priming is DONE in those two rooms! And we did a mighty fine job if I do say so myself.)

What would be nice, but might not be realistic:
-setting up the baby's room
-finishing the drywall in the "ugly bedroom" (the room with plumbing damage and the compromised walls with exposed lead paint that we ended up replacing-- thank you Dad for helping Ross get those walls up so quickly!)
-fixing the bathroom (it works fine, but it's fascinatingly ugly; a different coat of paint and a new shower curtain would do wonders)
-decorating the living room
-replacing the gross linen closet or whatever it's supposed to be in the hallway

Things left to do to prepare for baby? I seriously don't want to think about it. The house needs to be at least semi-finished before I can make a trip to the store for last-minute baby essentials.


Wait, this was supposed to be a pregnancy update and not a house update? Am I too fixated on this house? Can you blame me? A pregnant lady can't help but want a safe, comfortable place to bring a baby home to! But.  

Craving this week?
-WATER. I seriously drink 5+ liters of water some days because I'm so thirsty.
-Also finally satisfied my PF Chang's craving from... oh... two trimesters ago. Those lettuce wraps were delicious, and for the record the "gluten-free chocolate dome" is a more than reasonable substitute for my once-beloved Great Wall of Chocolate!

-Pretty regular Braxton-Hicks contractions. But don't get excited! The Midwife confirmed that they're definitely just practice contractions and not the real thing! She said that me overworking myself will make me miserable, but it won't bring on labor, thankfully. (I'm sure most post-date pregnant ladies wish that inducing labor was as easy as scrubbing floors and painting walls and working 12 hour shifts).
-The numb/painful spot on my stomach is still there above my belly button.
-Is waddling a symptom?
-Frequent bathroom breaks (baby "dropping" + 5 liters of water a day will do that).
-Totally messed up sense of balance. I was clumsy before, but it's frightening now. Sometimes I'll get extremely lightheaded out of the blue and feel like passing out. Other times, I'll lose my balance and trip over nothing. The other day I fell completely to the ground simply while walking around in bare feet. And I'm starting to roll my ankles in my sensible work shoes. Ouch.  A constantly shifting center of gravity + extremely loose joints isn't the best combination.

How's baby?
Still head down, thankfully! And he moves so much, which I love. I totally wish I could see what the heck he's doing in there sometimes. I think my favorite is when I feel his arms moving at night when I lay down, and I can imagine him sucking his thumb and soothing himself.

How's mom? 
-So very ready for things to calm down so maybe I can focus on pregnancy and baby things while I'm still pregnant. So not ready to be done with pregnancy yet, although I can tell things are going to start getting more uncomfortable. I still love it!
-Swimming has become my favorite exercise. It feels so good to be weightless.
-You know what's starting to stress me out in my extremely tired and vulnerable state? People telling me the baby is going to come early. It used to be funny, but as the due date draws closer, it's no longer entertaining to think about him coming early. It stresses me out when people ask if I think he's going to come even one day before his due date. We will know when he gets here, right? When people ask, it makes me feel like a ticking time bomb-- let's all remember that I actually have a max of 6 weeks left. That's a long time, people! I'm probably going to freak out if people keep asking me if the nursery is done or if I'm having signs of labor, even though I know they're just making conversation.
-Hmmm. I may also be hormonal and emotionally labile at this point...

Friday, May 9, 2014

35 weeks and feeling good

I started off with a weekend of trying to flip the baby: ice on my stomach, downward dog, headstand, swim laps, handstand in the pool. By Sunday night I felt more limb movement at the top of my stomach again, but it also still didn't feel like he was head down.

I also did tons of housework this week. We can at least see the light at the end of the tunnel! I'm feeling rushed because I'm moving slower with every passing week. Must get things done while I still can!

I decided to use a pregnancy survey this week instead of my usual train-of-thought babbling. I can't believe how quickly time is passing and I want to remember all of this!

How far along? 35 weeks pregnant today. 35 days left until my due date!  (absolutely crazy!)

Weight gain: Uhhh it greatly depends on the time of day, but it's safe to say I've gained at least 26-28 pounds. Perfectly normal considering I'm supposed to gain 25-35 pounds based on my pre-pregnancy weight. My weight stalled out for a while there between 28-32 weeks, but has picked up rapidly in the last few weeks! The baby alone is gaining up to half a pound per week at this point.

It's funny because I'm bigger than ever, but I am finally comfortable with it. I love being pregnant right now! I feel like my belly is going to pop sometimes, but it's so fun to watch it grow. And to be totally vain, I feel like it's big enough to pull some of my back fat forward and smooth things out. It's also big enough that my legs are starting to look skinny in comparison! Hey, just being real.

Stretch marks? Shockingly none yet. I do have some from a growth spurt between 8th grade and high school, so I'm assuming more will pop up eventually. For now, though, slathering on the almond oil every night seems to help. If nothing else, my skin is super moisturized!

Sleep: I struggled on and off with early morning insomnia for a while there, but lately I've been sleeping like a rock between bathroom breaks! I very rarely wake up hungry like I did during the first trimester, but I'm definitely thirsty when I get up to go to the bathroom once or twice. Overall I think I'm so physically exhausted from the days I do work on the house that sleep thankfully isn't an issue right now! (Although I'd like to stop going to bed after 11pm. I'm sleeping well, just not long enough due to our schedules right now!)

Best moment of the week: Tuesday night, the baby was kicking directly outward and making all sorts of hilarious shapes in my stomach. I could tell it was a foot pressing out every time, which was awesome. But hands down the best moment was the bedside ultrasound that the Midwife did at my appointment Wednesday to confirm that baby was no longer breech! He'd been head down for months but then flipped last Thursday and really freaked me out. I spent the weekend doing all the things they tell you to do for breech babies: go swimming, do handstands, put ice on the baby's head, sit in an inverted posture for a while... something must've worked because early in the week I started feeling kicks to the side and top of my stomach again. I'm so thankful to know that the little movements I feel down low now are just his hands and arms, which aren't so little anymore! He was sucking his thumb on the ultrasound and his fingers are getting chubby! He's really folded up in there, but my fluid levels looked good and baby was opening his eyes and practicing breathing. I'm officially in love.

(doctor's office selfie-- so excited to have a belly!)

I didn't even realize I'd been holding my breath until that day. I have been maintaining my distance emotionally. Why? Partly because I think with your first kid, it's hard to fathom just how drastically your life is about to change; partly because I'm so distracted by this stinkin' house; and partly out of fear that something will still go wrong. Late miscarriage and stillbirth still scare me. But after I hit 34 weeks, I noticed I started to believe this might actually just happen. He might be born healthy. It might just be real, and not too good to be true. I bought some baby clothes this week for the first time this pregnancy because I suddenly realized oh crap, this kid is actually real and he's going to need something to wear when he comes out. So it's been a fun mental transition and the ultrasound just made me even more excited to meet him in person!

Miss anything? Nah. I believe in everything in moderation (except the obvious things like cocaine), so I've been cautious but not ridiculous with food restrictions and all that. I miss working out more than 1-2 times a week, but that's more a product of my schedule right now than anything else. I'm by no means over pregnancy yet, and as excited as I am to meet him, I'm in no rush for him to come out. I'm still enjoying feeling him move all day long, and if anything I'm preemptively worrying about missing being pregnant!

(entryway selfie at my brother's house after Body Pump)

Movement: I still don't feel it all day every day, thanks to an anterior placenta, but I certainly feel lots of movement. It was nice to know my intuition was right last week when he flipped himself into a complete breech position, and it's equally nice to know that his little butt is right back where it was... crammed beneath my right ribcage.

Cravings? It's been quite a while since I've had OMG pregnancy cravings. I really enjoyed leftover jam teff cookies last week, but I wouldn't call it a craving. Most of those seem to have been limited to the first trimester when not much sounded good. I think overall the cravings that have characterized this pregnancy have been Lulu's Thai food, sushi, and grapefruit. Strawberry jam, fresh pineapple, watermelon, and fresh berries would be next. All of these things always sound good!

Aversions? On the nights I'm nauseated, nothing sounds particularly good, but I don't have any true aversions to any one thing in particular.

Symptoms: Nausea and heartburn haven't been as bad since I got my massage last week, but they still pop up if I'm not careful if/when/how much I eat. Otherwise, in the last few weeks I've noticed skin tags (who knew that was a pregnancy symptom?), hair loss (my thyroid is fine, so my midwife things it's stress. Hair loss isn't supposed to come until postpartum!), and occasional waddling now that baby is head down again. Also, I have a numb/tingly spot on my stomach that comes and goes! It popped up unexpectedly over the weekend and it was a good reminder that things could always be worse. Overall I don't have many symptoms to complain about, but I'm aware that could change at any moment.

Signs of labor? Thankfully none! I do have Braxton-Hicks contractions all day long, but the painful contractions I had while we were packing and moving seem to be backing off for now.

Belly button in or out? It was a solid innie pre-pregnancy, but it's been out since about 15 weeks. Ridiculous! I think it's because I had an umbilical hernia when I was a kid and the muscle is just weaker there.

(taken in a spare bedroom at my brother's house... suburbia started to look reeeeeally good while we were there)
Wedding rings on or off? On. They've always been kind of loose, so thankfully they still fit. The fit seems to change with my temperature more than with my weight gain, but that's not new.

Happy or moody? Last week might best be defined as panicky. This week, thanks to good baby news, house progress, and sunshine, I'm feeling pretty happy!

Looking forward to: Moving into our own house! The nomadic lifestyle is not for me.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

This Season

I've been hesitant to write where I am lately. Partly because it seems to change on a daily basis, but partly because I'm also just not sure. Where am I? Where's my head? Where's my heart? When life gets crazy, I tend to self-protect by switching to autopilot and it makes me a little sad that maybe I'm missing out on this unique time in my life.

So. Because I want to remember, here's where I am:

...I'm a little overwhelmed by our house. I had no clue how much work went into simply putting up walls and ceilings! I thought we could rush through this renovation, but with constant setbacks for the first 6 weeks, making the house liveable has taken longer than even our most conservative estimates. My heart has been weird and unsettled in this in-between place, and I'm learning to just sit in it and maybe not whine to anyone and everyone in the meantime. This week, we're starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but even then I know there's still a lot of work to be done between "liveable" and "home." In my worse moments, I feel very "woe is me" and I certainly let everyone know. In my best moments, I realize I'm learning patience and that things could actually be much worse than a pregnant introvert having to live out of a suitcase in someone else's house for a few weeks (we've been out of our apartment since April 20).

...I miss my husband. He is so dedicated to getting this house done as soon as possible, and it's fun seeing him in his element. I would've knocked the house down by this point, but he's doing such a great job! He passes all of his inspections with flying colors. (If only we could say the same about the professional work that's been done). But he goes straight over to the house after work and stays there late most nights. I probably work over there 3-4 days a week, based on what kind of work is being done that week, what my work schedule is, and how I'm feeling physically. But Ross is easily there 6 days a week working his butt off to make our house a home! I'm also learning that we're both a little allergic to doing things halfway. The more we get into this house, the more we find that's been half-assed. It's frustrating, but I think it also redoubles our efforts because we refuse to take shortcuts. If we're stripping it down, we want to build it back up the right way.

...I'm tired. 8-months-pregnant tired, yes, but also so physically and emotionally tired from the combo of work + renovation + not being in my comfort zone. Both of my jobs are suuuper busy (all. the. spring. babies.) right now and I'm always shocked when I have the energy to work on the house for a few hours in the evening. Bending over, lifting things, and getting up and down at work and at the house is more exhausting than ever. I truly thank God for the energy I do have. Some days I just can't muster it up, but the days I can I'm always amazed. I'm also tired of eating convenience foods. I'm tired of eating in the car. I'm tired of driving all across town all the live-long day for one reason or another. I'm tired of living in-between. Like I said, I'm learning to just rest here because I don't have a choice. And I am aware it could always be worse. Not trying to complain, just want to be honest. I think a lot about how one of my friends claims there's no such thing as "balance." There are simply seasons. Seasons of rest, seasons of crazy, seasons of breaking down, seasons of building up. I'm not entirely sure how to define this season yet, but I know when the rest comes, it will be that much sweeter!