8.19.2009

My Own Private Picture Show

On Monday I went in to have the fourth ultrasound of this pregnancy (one at 8 weeks, one at about 12, one at 19, and now at 28). This one was to check “placental position” – to see if my placenta is low-lying (i.e. whether or not I have placenta previa).

The thing about women’s health ultrasound techs, especially those working with a pregnant woman, is that they only like to focus on the good. The tech showed me the scans of my baby doing the breathing reflex, yawning, kicking, moving, and generally causing a ruckus in my uterus. She said, almost more to herself than me, “he’s big” and showed me his chubby cheeks and printed out some pictures of him. But as she checked on what she was supposed to be checking on, she said not a word about whether things looked good, bad, or indifferent. My guess is she’s leaving that up to the radiology doc and my doc to interpret amongst themselves and let me know.

So, naturally, I did what any good (albeit mildly crazy) pregnant lady would do: I Googled radiographic images of placenta previa to determine if any of them looked like what I saw on the screen. I drove myself a bit nuts for a while, and then decided it was all in vain and I’ll just wait to hear from my doc’s office or see him at my next visit.

In the meantime, I’m exhausted. My stupid legs keep me up at night. Every night. For reals. It’s hard to get to sleep, harder to stay asleep – especially if I have to get up to pee. The first time I got up last night, I went back to sleep without too many problems, but the second time – at 4 a.m. – I was still up when M’s alarm went off at 5 a.m. and finally drifted back to sleep sometime around 5:30 or so. If I wasn’t going on vacation next week, I’d probably have stayed home from work and rested today. But as it is, I’m trying to push through. I figure I can sleep on vacation – but you didn’t hear it from me. I would never say anything like that! (Unless I’m pregnant and exhausted, apparently.)

Being in the “home stretch” (29 weeks tomorrow!) I finally feel like I can breathe a sigh of relief. Mostly. There are still the worries about pre-term delivery, etc. but for the most part, I’m feeling like I can relax and start to be excited. I use the term “relax” loosely, since the list of things to do this last trimester keeps growing: take childbirth classes, interview childcare providers, interview pediatricians, interview doulas, talk to my doc about labor and delivery. . . not to mention everything else that’s non-baby related.

I think my nesting phase is finally over, though. I think my house is clean enough. We’ll see if I’m right once the dust starts piling up again. . .

The baby’s starting to feel heavy. I feel where he moves to and where he lays (mostly toward the bottom of my belly, on one side or the other, and sometimes across). I’m starting to wonder just how icky I’ll start to feel these next few months. L, who I’ve rarely heard complain (at least in public), said last Sunday that she’s ready any time now. Which is pregnant lady code for “get this baby out of me”.

I’m content to let this kid keep cooking for at least another 8 weeks. . . . then I’ll be ready. Even as I say that, though, I’ve been thinking the last few days how strange it will be when he’s no longer physically connected to me – when we’re separated and he’s no longer with me 24/7. 8 weeks from now will be 37 weeks for those keeping track, and although I know I said “better late than early – to give me more time,” turns out I lied. Although the thought of having a newborn in roughly 8 weeks makes me severely freaked out, I have a sneaking suspicion I’ll be ready to have him out and here. Weird to think that if this baby is born at 37 weeks, he’ll be a Libra; if he’s born at 38 weeks, he’ll be a Scorpio on the very cusp of Libra; if he’s born after that he’ll be a Scorpio baby all the way!

Hopefully, we can use some of our road trip time (6 hours each way) to devise a good name for this kid. I think he’d like that.

~Nichole

8.16.2009

Intentional Means "On Purpose", Right?

Remember when I won a free birth consultation in a give away held by Jenn at Baby Makin(g) Machine? Well, this past Tuesday I had my free consultation with Karen at Intentional Birth.

It was great to talk with her because it helped me realize that my greatest fear about labor is that I’ll hit the wall and have a full mental collapse the way I did when I was training for the half marathon. (Though, admittedly, I’ll hardly be able to decide that I never really had the proper motivation and that I just don’t want to do it anymore, and then sit on a street corner and cry it out.) I just don’t want to make decisions driven by pain and discomfort or from the fear of pain and discomfort. Karen was able to talk with me and help me see that it doesn’t have to be that way. Proper preparation – and having the right support (even if that means just M and no one else) – can go a long way toward helping me avoid that scenario.

A couple of things that stood out from what Karen and I talked about:

-It’s OK to be open minded about how labor and delivery will play out. But it’s also good to have a plan. (Especially since I tend to be more about the big picture and not dwell on the specifics – at least when it comes to plans, that is.) Before talking with Karen, I wasn’t going to draft up a birth plan for fear that it would leave me rigid and inflexible if circumstances suddenly change. I am now going to have a birth plan, but know that it is a guideline rather than a rule book.

-I’m going to ask my doc if fetal monitoring can be done by Doppler instead of with the belts – which will make it so that I can have more time free to move around as I desire instead of having to be stationary 15 minutes of every hour.

-If my doctor answers any question about labor and delivery with a “let’s wait and see” type answer, a great way to get an answer out of him is to ask “what circumstances would have to exist for xyz to be possible?”

-Someone on my support team – M or a doula or someone – should be my advocate with the nurses so that if a decision needs to be made that does not fit into the birth plan, that person will ask the nurse (or even the doctor) for a few minutes to discuss it in private.

-Depending on how M and I feel after childbirth classes, I may or may not be hiring a doula. I’ve ordered the Father to Be Handbook Karen suggested and if M feels like he can be both my labor coach and my support system – someone who will remind me what I’m doing and why I’m doing it, someone who will understand how to talk me through the current pain and get me from the peak to the valley so that I can make decisions with as clear a head as possible, someone who will talk me down from panic and doubt – then we’re going to run with that. If not, we’ll be interviewing doulas in the next month or so. I don’t want to try and convert my husband into something he’s not. While I want strong support, I want M to be able to be himself and not feel like he has to be more for me than who he already is.

Karen offered to continue her consultations with me over the next 12 weeks. I’m seriously considering taking her up on her offer. M has some hesitation and I told him he should listen to the recording of our consult and take a look at her website and let me know what he thinks. Hopefully we’ll have a decision in the next few days. I’ll keep you posted.

~Nichole

8.15.2009

In Which I Get Totally Showered

The surreality of shower day continued into today. I was up late with last minute preparations, so I slept in late and puttered around doing more last minute things this morning. As I was doing all the puttering (sweeping off the porch, wiping sundry surfaces, tidying up) it kind of hit me: today is your one (and probably only) baby shower! Whoa!

Still, it almost felt like I was getting things ready for someone else's bash, but without the sense of utter panic and anxiety over whether everything's going to go well. (My sister T shouldered that burden very well . . . )

I took full advantage of having my two sisters at my house and asked T to braid my hair. (Now, if I could only find a way to have her come every day until I get a haircut . . . )

I was so tired by the time the action was getting started that I kind of fumbled and mumbled my way through it. Greeting people takes a lot out of ya, don't you know? My favorite part was just seeing everyone.

Second favorite part? The gifts. Seriously. Who doesn't love the part with the gifts. And with baby showers, everything is so cute that everyone wins, really. It's fun times all around! And the great thing is that the gifts went straight from being opened into the nursery - no additional transport necessary. Awesome, yes?

I feel like it went by in a blur. Thank goodness for pictures! I'm exhausted, but look forward to dragging M into the nursery to "ooh" and "ahh" over all of it again while we're sorting and putting things away.

Thanks SO much to everyone for the parts you played in making this day special! The food was great, the games were fun, and the day was fabulous!!

A special thanks to my sister T for the hard work (and hard cash) she put into coordinating everything (and for enduring "swack" all day to pull it off), and my sister M for helping, for bringing cookies and taking pictures and giving me leftover bean dip, and friend B for all the cupcakes and for her help and work!

~Nichole

8.14.2009

Surreality Continued . . .

I don’t know what it is that I’m just not understanding about me and caffeine, but I did it again on Saturday night. The baby and I were up until 4 a.m. as a result. Instead of trying to force sleep, I realized it was better to just wait until I was properly tired and then try to sleep. So I watched Lars and the Real Girl before finally falling asleep on the couch.

The couch became my frenemy on Monday and Tuesday nights, too. I went to bed at normal times and lay in bed trying to get to sleep for 2 hours only to find my efforts fruitless, and so, piled my 4 pillows and settled myself on the couch. On Tuesday night I was up every ½ hour or so to pee until about 3:30 a.m., transferred back to the bed at 5:00 a.m. and was awakened by M at 6:30 and by my alarm at 7:00. So much for trying to get to work early this week! I was out of work for a day and a half because of not being able to sleep!

The last two nights have, thankfully, been better. I came in to work yesterday feeling better, only to nearly pass out on my desk 30 minutes after arriving. That was very scary and not fun and has made me question whether I hate throwing up or passing out more. Since I’ve passed out more in recent history than I’ve thrown up, I’m currently voting for hating passing out more. Throwing up is awful, but at least I don’t feel like I’m going to die. Seriously, as I get all sweaty and my vision starts to darken at the edges and my hearing starts to fade, I always wonder if my body’s going to reboot on its own or not. Anyway, as I was laying on my desk in a full sweat, fanning myself with a folder and trying to revive rather than faint, the baby was kicking and moving all over, so it’s very clear who was getting all the blood and oxygen. My doc’s office said it could have been a “rush of hormones” which, apparently, happens sometimes – but cautioned me to be drinking lots of fluids (already doing 2-3 liters every day) and to eat every 2 hours and not skimp on the protein (this I need to work on). I borrowed a fan from a co-worker and it turned out to be a lifesaver for the rest of the day, keeping the air in my office cool and circulating.

Even more strange than that is the fact that tomorrow is my baby shower. My baby shower! It’s almost too surreal to be thinking about. I’ve never been a big fan of baby showers until this year, and even then . . . But mine is tomorrow and I just don’t know what to say about that. Sure I’m excited, but more because everyone’s coming over to my house and I get to visit with friends and family than any other reason. That, and my house is super clean!

Causing me a little bit of stress is the fact that just today MSNBC reported on “new pregnancy weight gain guidelines”. I watched it online and decided they can kiss my right butt cheek! That last line that “pregnant women should be watching what they eat” is a recipe for disaster, make no mistake. Now, me? With my weight very steadily climbing – having gained 3 pounds in the last week and with my total weight gain so far about to tip over into the 30s (when I should technically only have gained about 22-ish pounds by now) – I’m freaking out a little. I’m thinking I might have to climb the stairs at work a couple of times a day and start walking around the block each night. But I will not start restricting my food intake and obsessing about each pound gained. The baby alone will be gaining about 5 pounds (if not more) in the next few months, for crying out loud! M says he thinks the baby probably weighs more than the 2-ish pounds they say is average for 28 weeks and will “be a big baby”. I don’t know whether to hope that he’s right (thus attributing the weight gain to the baby and not me) or to hope that he’s wrong (and holding out hope that I won’t have a 8-10 pounder).

Everything about this stage of pregnancy is still feeling very bizarre and dreamlike. Last night, I was walking with a friend through the baby section at Walmart and it didn’t feel real that it was me we were there for, that I’m really 28 weeks along and going to have a newborn in less that 3 months. That, and L is due in a few weeks and is already less than a cm dilated and is 50% effaced. Once she has her baby, I think it might finally hit me full force that I’m only a few weeks behind her!

~Nichole

8.10.2009

The Curious Case of the Disappearing Button


A few weeks ago while we were in IKEA all 4 of us - M, me and two of our friends - stared unabashedly at a very pregnant woman who had a turkey timer belly button. At that time, my friend asked me if I thought that's what I'd look like before this is all over and from the safety of my little baby bump I assured both him and myself that, no way, my belly button is way too deep for that to happen.

I've always liked my belly button. It's a deep innie that, long before I gained mission and marriage weight, was almond shaped. With weight gain (and loss), it was a little more rounded, but still very deep. We're talking dry it out with q-tips, people.

Now, it is disappearing before my very eyes. I can still stick the tip of my index finger in it. But as my belly grows like that of Poppin' Fresh, I fear my button will soon go the way of Jennie O.

~Nichole

8.07.2009

Rounding Third

This morning, for some odd reason, finds me supremely uncomfortable. After a horrid night’s sleep the night before last – precipitated by a day in which it was so hard to hold myself up, I had to go home early and sleep the afternoon away – I slept well again last night. That is, as well as you can sleep when you’re up every few hours to pee. Since I’m trying to make it in to work before the 9:30 or 9:45 I’ve been averaging, I now only allow myself to hit the snooze once before forcing my tired self out of bed. Which means I’m rolling into work around 8:45 or 9:00 and I’m dog tired, despite going to bed earlier. That afternoon nap, which later served only to thwart sleep, was the only time this week I’ve woken up feeling truly rested.

This morning was no exception. Despite being so tired, I convinced myself to start trying to do squats again and became so breathless I had to lean on the bathroom counter until I semi-recovered. After I blow dried my hair in the breeze of the fan, I got half dressed and sat on the stool in my closet staring at my clothes. Breathless from the half-dressing, I asked out loud “Ok. What am I going to wear today? Anyone? Anyone?” before relenting, picking something out, and deciding that I officially hate clothes.

I’m trying not to get all psychosomatic about it, but it’s either the dawn of the 3rd trimester hitting me, or my body’s never quite recovered from the glucose shock of my diabetes test earlier this week (and the subsequent mass amounts of sugar I’ve dosed myself with – the marshmallows, the Starburst, the brownies, oh my! – because I’ve been so tired and weak feeling ever since). All week I’ve felt like I did the time I was training for a half marathon and tried Gu.

I’m really hoping it’s all the freakin’ sugar. Because, seriously, folks, if this is a preview of the 3rd trimester, I’m officially freaked out. I’ve tried to be a trooper. I’ve tried to roll with it and not complain too much when I’ve been uncomfortable, but it’s been a tough week physically. I feel like a foreigner in my own body. I’m outgrowing clothes by the day. I can’t stand for long periods without getting winded. I can’t talk for long periods without feeling breathless and passy-outy. And after breakfast this morning, I feel like my food is still sitting in my esophagus in some impromptu waiting line to be let into my stomach as soon as there’s room. All of which makes it harder to breathe. I’m trying to help it along with cold water and belching and sitting as straight as possible. I’m back to being up at least twice at night to pee and when I try and reenter sleepy town, I can feel my heart beating with such force (no matter which side I lay on), I’m sure it equals bad juju either for me or for my passenger. I’m thinking I’ve got to cut out the sugar, increase the water, and maybe start walking in the evenings. Here’s praying that approach helps. . .

The heat really mucks things up, though. I’ve taken to parking in the HOV parking here at work because it’s closer. But for August in Arizona, it’s never quite close enough. Here’s hoping the cool, salty sea air of my beloved San Diego in a few weeks will help. (You know it’s bad when you fantasize about vacation because it means you get to sleep whenever and as long as you like!)

On the good side of news, my back and sciatic nerve pain is feeling much better and I'm walking faster, mostly due to the lack of necessary waddling. So, yea!

~Nichole

8.04.2009

The Land of Surreality

The crib is no longer sitting unassembled in our den. Thanks to my husband, who is officially The Man, it is now fully assembled in what feels very strange to call “the nursery” so we just call it “the baby’s room”. All the major parts are now there (except the baby), though still in disarray while we get everything arranged to its final resting spot.

As I stood there looking at that crib taking center stage on the south wall of that room, I got a little freaked out. I walked into the living room and said “oh my gosh! There’s a crib in that room! That’s SO weird!”

Sometimes I wonder what he thinks when I say such things. One night last week, admittedly a bad sleep week due to sciatic pain, I had a moment of anxiety as I was falling asleep. I thought to myself “what on earth am I doing!? We are fine, just the two of us! We’re happy, we’re great! And now, we’ll have a kid!” (I tried to talk myself out of that by telling myself that we wouldn’t really have been “fine” being childless forever – and reminded myself that this is the same argument I used against M when he suggested such things prior to trying to get pregnant.) A few days later I was sitting in my kitchen and looking at the clutter magneted to my fridge when my eyes scanned over the white card on which is recorded the date of my last Rhogam shot. I thought to myself “Wow! I can’t believe I’ve made it this far in this pregnancy! Pretty soon I’ll be getting a Rhogam shot because I’m 27 weeks along, instead of because my pregnancy’s failing.”

The dichotomy of such thoughts really stuns me sometimes. And in true Me fashion, I divulged these polar thoughts to my husband, who takes them in and lets them spin around his being for a while. I imagine to myself that he’s relieved when I make my little confessions because maybe he secretly feels the same way sometimes, which is the very reason why I confess to him, hoping we’ll both find safety in numbers. (Well, that and the fact that I can’t keep anything from him. I tell him almost everything.) In return, he divulges that he’s sorry I’ll have to be in such pain during labor – to which I respond that it’s (hopefully) only one day out of my life.

So, while I was at the doctor drinking a syrupy sweet fruit punch flavored concoction and waiting to be prodded and poked for both the token gestational diabetes test and my Rhogam shot, M was home putting the crib together in thoughtful silence, praying to know our son’s name. And for extra Super Duper Hero Dad effect, he also washed and folded 3 loads of laundry in one day. That’s quite a feat in my book, even though I did technically help with the folding and 1 load was our bedsheets. . .

In the meantime, M and I are both marveling at the girth of my belly and last night I held my hand out about 3 inches from it and said by the end, I’ll probably be out to about here. His mouth dropped and I kept to myself the fact that it’ll probably be more than that.

This boy’s movements are becoming more distinct – to the point where it no longer feels similar to how gas or hunger or nervousness feels, but like there’s a tiny person in there. It’s the reality breaking through the surreality. Thank goodness all 3 of us have 3 more months to get ready for each other!

~Nichole

"May you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world." -Ray Bradbury