20 Weeks

How far along: 20 weeks (technically more than half way, since I'll likely be induced or have a c-section at 38 weeks)
Gender: Girl baby!
Weight gain: 11 pounds.
Maternity clothes: Not really. 
Stretch marks:  Nope.
Belly button in or out: In.
Sleep: Much better!
Best moment this week: Getting pretty much settled on a name.  I want to give her two middle names and M thinks it's weird, so that's still up for debate.
Worst moment this week: The hangover/headache from too many Christmas sweets.  (Yes, there IS such a thing!)
Miss anything: Not much.
Movement: Feeling movement more regularly. :)  Signed up for yoga and need to start walking to try and do what's called "in utero therapy" to get her moving.
Cravings:  I really want some sushi. 
Queasy or sick: Thankfully no.
Looking forward to: New Year's Eve game night!



19 Weeks

looks like I need to repaint my board!
How far along: 19 weeks (rounding the halfway mark!)
Gender: Girl!  DNA + Ultrasound = Believer... Yes, I made them check!
Weight gain: 9 pounds.
Maternity clothes: Finally got them out of the box and hung them in my closet.  But I am refusing to wear them until absolutely necessary. 
Stretch marks:  Nope.
Belly button in or out: In
Sleep: Good.  In fact, one night this week was REALLY good: both kids slept through the night (or at least C didn't wake me when he came into his "little bed" next to mine) and I only had to get up to go pee once!
Best moment this week: Seeing baby on the ultrasound today!  She's measuring properly, all organs looked great, her chest is normal size, her shoulders don't look turned in, her neck and spine look great (in fact she was arching her neck and back!), and she has a cute little facial profile.  So, right now, it looks like just her limbs are affected - basically unchanged from last time.  We don't know everything yet and I'll be playing musical doctors and seeing a perinatologist from now on.  But this is great news, for which we are very grateful, relieved and hopeful.
Worst moment this week: Not feeling baby move all Saturday and Sunday.  That was awful. 
Miss anything: Not really, but there's not a lot I take off the table (that I'm supposed to) when I'm pregnant.
Movement: Wiggles and a few thumps.
Cravings:  German hot dogs!  I'm going to a German deli in Phoenix tomorrow to get some for Christmas eve dinner... 
Queasy or sick: I ate fast food for the first time in almost two months and felt yucky afterward.  It started making me feel pretty sick in the first trimester, so I just didn't do it.  I feel like a snob saying "I don't eat fast food", but it seems like it's just something I can't do during this pregnancy.
Looking forward to: Going to see Christmas lights this weekend.  And Christmas, of course!



18 Weeks

How far along: 18 weeks
Gender: Girl! (But I won't believe it til I see it!)
Weight gain: 9 pounds.
Maternity clothes: Some. 
Stretch marks:  Nope.
Belly button in or out: In
Sleep: Good.  Mostly.
Best moment this week: Finally getting over the hump of this stupid cold.
Worst moment this week: Getting my third cold in 4.5 months. 
Miss anything: Being able to hide the fact that I'm pregnant (belly has officially popped!).
Movement: Little wiggles.
Cravings: Chocolate. 
Queasy or sick: Nope.  Hurrah!
Looking forward to: Seeing baby on the next ultrasound and (hopefully) getting some more information.



Dearest Boys

My dear little boys,

Right this very minute, before I get busy with something (like picking up the mess left in your stormy tornado wake, or tending to the mountain of dishes in our kitchen), I wanted to stop what I am doing to tell you how very very amazing I think each of you are!

C, you amaze me on a regular basis, usually by saying or doing something particularly clever or surprising. But yesterday was really quite something. We went to cut down a Christmas tree in the area near Woods Canyon Lake. You were beside yourself with excitement at seeing snow on the ground and about getting the perfect tree. We played in the snow and then got serious about hiking in it far back enough for the trees to stop being so scrawny and start filling out. By that time, we were in deep snow (up to your knees, I think). We climbed down off a hill and stepped into a drift. You called out for me, and I called your dad to backtrack for you. We thought you needed help, but you shrugged us off, and were just excited about being in such deep snow. We hiked back a ways more until we found our tree, which Dada quickly felled. Dada carried the tree, I carried your brother in the carrier, the chainsaw in one hand and the traditional tree stump section in the other. It was quite the load. We hiked back up that big hill and out of the woods and I was so impressed and amazed that you didn't get tired, didn't complain about the work it was to walk through the snow (you loved that it was "hard work"!), that you had a great time from start to finish, and never complained about being cold (even though your feet were soaked).  You are one pretty awesome little kid!

A, you are quickly cementing your place as the family jokester.  You love to make us laugh by walking silly, doing silly dances, or making silly faces.  And when you're not doing that, you love to give hugs and kisses to anyone willing to receive them.  When we were out in the woods yesterday, you surprised us with a new word: "teeeee!".  It was as if the only "real" trees are the ones in the woods and you remembered them from our camping trips this past summer.  And then today, you surprised me even more!  We were almost all the way through a (somewhat raucous and restless) sacrament meeting, when I started wondering how we were going to contain your tired energy through the rest of the meetings and it suddenly dawned on me that we didn't have to!  You turned 18 months old on the 24th!  Officially nursery age!  So, I took C to his class, then Dada and I took you to nursery for the First Time Ever.  We were both a little worried about separation anxiety, which peaked last month, but has since decreased a little.  We sat you at a table with a puzzle, made sure you were OK with that, then left quickly and watched for about 10 minutes outside the door.  Mostly you just chewed on puzzle pieces.  When it was clear you realized we were no longer there, but you didn't cry, we went to our class.  I kept turning to see if someone was going to bring you to me, but you never came.  After Sunday school, we checked on you again.  You were at a different table having a snack of apples and water (which you dumped all over yourself, just like a newbie 18 month old should!) and you looked So Very Cute, with your little self sitting at that table with your hippie hair hanging in your eyes and your bright, new shoes kicking underneath you!  I was very amazed that you did so well!  Hooray for you, my curious, funny baby boy!

We have so many small, wonderful moments, and I wanted to capture a few of those moments before they pass (all to quickly) by us, as they so often do. 

I love you each so much.  Thank you for being so amazing in your own ways!


Getting Thumped!

So much of what might have been baby movement recently could just as easily been something else.

Until today.

This chica has been solidly thumping me all the livelong day. I fully expected less movement, but this is solid baby movement, which is just fine and dandy with me. I'm thankful...



Gender Reveal Party

 So, apparently when you invite your family for a gender reveal party for your third child, it puts everyone on high alert.  "She's never done this before.  So it must be a girl."  I have news for you, party people... I would have done it either way.  (Do you honestly NOT remember what a poor loser I always was when we played board games?)

And so, I had a gender reveal party with my mom, my siblings, and their families.
This cake was so much cuter in my head.  But whatever.  Half of it was tossed in the garbage anyway.


16 Weeks

How far along: 16 weeks
Gender: See above.  When the genetic counselor told me last Thursday the DNA showed the sex and asked if I wanted to know, I paused.  Then said yes.  When he told me, I nearly shouted a shocked "Really?!?" then felt a little guilty about finding out - for the first time ever - without M.  So, naturally, I immediately texted him that we may be in for a complete surprise, and that I'll believe it when I see it.  It's taken until - oh, yesterday - to get over the shock and feel a little excited.
Weight gain: I still don't know.  And if you think I'm going to find out anytime in the next week (i.e. post-Thanksgiving), you're dead wrong.
Maternity clothes: Still those same three pieces.
Stretch marks:  Nope.
Belly button in or out: In
Sleep: Good.  Trying to improve it more by role-playing with the 4-year old about how to not wake me up.
Best moment this week: Hearing the baby's "vigorous" heartbeat.  And gender reveal party with my fam. And also being invited for Thanksgiving (and getting out of cooking).
Worst moment this week: Seeing the... uncertainty on my OB's face today as I asked her whether she's ever managed the pregnancy of a baby with AMC. 
Miss anything: My disappearing waistline.
Movement: Not really.
Cravings: Pie.  Should be taken care of tomorrow... 
Queasy or sick: Not so much anymore.
Looking forward to: A lazy Thanksgiving and watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.



15 Weeks

How far along: 15 weeks
Gender: Yep.  But it's a secret until after at least one - but maybe three - gender reveal party(ies).
Weight gain: I honestly don't know.  Possibly about 6 pounds.
Maternity clothes: One by one, my fall maternity clothes are making their appearance.  I've worn three maternity pieces so far.  But everything else is still in the box.
Stretch marks:  Nope.
Belly button in or out: In
Sleep: Better, now that my one-year old is sleeping through the night again.  (I probably just jinxed it.)
Best moment this week: Finding out the blood screen was negative for Trisomy 18.  And that it showed what the baby's sex is.
Worst moment this week: Migraine headaches hit hard.
Miss anything: Not really.
Movement: A little, maybe.  But could also totally be gas.
Cravings: Chili dogs with mustard & onions! 
Queasy or sick: Still a bit queasy if I get too hungry.  And again right after I eat.
Looking forward to: My OB appointment on Wednesday.  First appointment since "the news".  And, of course, THANKSGIVING!



14 Weeks

This post is about a week (and a half) late. And what a week it's been! On Wednesday the 13th, I went to the doctor for my ultrascreen.  The ultrasound tech kept going "hmm" but I was focused on my own observations: yes!  there's a heartbeat!   and   yes!  the nuchal translucency looks normal!  

Baby was face down and they couldn't get baby to move, so they had me lay on my left side, then on my right, then touch my toes.  Then, I was instructed to go pee and "do a little dance" while in there (no joke).  Still no dice getting baby to move.  

Then my OB came in and made things a little scary with words like "specialist" and "more information" so we can "make some decisions".  Even so, I was reassured by what I saw, and was not really that worried.

The next morning, M and I went together to the genetic specialist's office.  I love the ultrasound techs there.  Much more forthcoming with helpful information, but even without her explanations, it was very clear almost immediately that something was wrong.  We've seen enough scans together to know that baby was not moving its hands, arms or legs.  So, again with the table-top acrobatics, starring me.

After the scan, we waited for what felt like forever to see the specialist.  Knowing something was wrong, but not knowing what.  We met with the specialist and words started coming out of his mouth.  Something about his southern drawl and the way his words and mouth lilted upward when he spoke were out of sync with what he was telling us.  It was so incongruous, and caused such a severe bout of cognitive dissonance that I couldn't consciously stay in the room.  I've never had an experience like that before.  

Ultimately, I had to force my Self to re-enter the conversation by telling myself to do something physical: take notes.  So I did.  And that helped me gather the wherewithal to at least ask some questions.  

Dr. S. was saying that our baby was suffering from a lack of movement (fetal akinesia) and multiple contractures affecting all four limbs, which may be attributable to FADS, Arthrogryposis or Amyoplasia, or - less likely - Trisomy 18, Multiple Pterygium Syndrome, or Pena-Shokeir.  We were offered an amniocentesis, or a relatively new (and much less invasive) blood screen, to at least rule out the three major chromosomal abnormalities.  I immediately despised the word "normal".

Buoyed up by the doctor's final words -"with therapy, the range of motion these children can regain is remarkable" - it took me until we were almost at the lab for the blood draw to cry.  I was sad at the lack of feeling this baby move as much, at the lost potential of a baby who might (finally!) be able to breastfeed, at no longer feeling the relative comfort and safety crossing over into the second trimester usually brings.  Then, I moved outward to the challenges this child might have.  And outward and outward. 

I felt a chasm of grief, sadness and fear threatening to swallow me up.  I thought of my boys, about going on the Polar Express that weekend, about the upcoming holidays and the first trimester pit I had just crawled out of.  I looked at M and told him I had to find the bottom of the sad pretty quickly, because there was too much coming up and I couldn't afford to disappear again or have sadness and fear overtake Everything.

I walked into the lab and the phlebotomist was ending a call, her voice thick with tears, and greeted me with an apology, saying she'd just received some really bad news.  I teared up again, and said "yeah, me too."  We left with her promise that she'd send my sample off that very afternoon, and her earnest attempt to comfort both herself and me.

Over the next few days, we gradually allowed ourselves to discuss the scarier options of even the best-case condition, Arthrogryposis.  There's only so much a person can process in one sitting. 

I have been sustained by thoughts and prayers of family and friends, and of the incredible faith and strength of my husband.  I have read as much as I can about our hoped-for best-case scenario (and ignored all others until linking in this post), and have come to a place of peace.  On Friday night, I was laying in my boys' bed, between their sleeping bodies, and the thought came as if a question someone might ask me: "Do you wish you were having a normal, healthy baby?"  My mental response: "No.  This is who this baby is.  To wish for something else is to wish that away."

On Wednesday the 20th, I received a call from the counselor at the geneticist's office: the blood screen was clear for any abnormalities.  

One victory down, countless others to go! 

*there's no bump in the photo above, because I just couldn't muster it... 



13 Weeks

How far along: 13 weeks
Gender: Not yet! But planning a series of gender reveal parties, including one where I'm surprised along with everyone else.
Weight gain: Back to pre-pregnancy weight
Maternity clothes: Not yet, but yoga pants? Yum.
Stretch marks: Nope.
Belly button in or out: In
Sleep: Eh.
Best moment this week: Finally feeling better!
Worst moment this week: Still trying to fight off some sort of cold or somethingorother.
Miss anything: Sushi.
Movement: Not yet.
Cravings: Pasta alfredo...
Queasy or sick: Still a little queasy right before and right after eating.
Looking forward to: Ultrasound next Wednesday!  



Wheeee! Here comes Baby #3!

How far along: 12 weeks (due May 14, 2014)
Gender: Not yet!
Weight gain: I've been so sick I've lost 4 pounds.
Maternity clothes: They're still in a box, but my button-up pants are getting tight!
Stretch marks:  Nope.  Hoping I'll dodge this bullet for a third time in a row!
Belly button in or out: In
Sleep: When I'm not peeing or tending to children, sleep is good.  I always forget how a full bladder will wake me from a dead sleep much like the cry of a baby (or a 3.9 year old saying "mom" right next to my ear).
Best moment this week: Hearing the heartbeat at the doctor's office!
Worst moment this week: I threw up for the first time in 25 years.  In my kitchen sink.
Miss anything: Feeling normal.
Movement: Thought I felt a little wiggle, but haven't since so it could have been my imagination.
Cravings: Ever since my birthday lunch at Dead Lobster (crab fest!), I've been craving more snow crab legs and crab alfredo linguini. 
Queasy or sick: Queasy!  Especially at night.
Looking forward to: Ultrasound in a couple of weeks!  Also: the return of my energy.

This is a little late, since today is the last day of my 12th week.  But this is something I committed to doing for this, my third (and last) pregnancy.  I got the idea from this cute little blog.



A Letter on Turning One

Dear A,

I've been thinking about this letter almost every day since your "first year" calendar in our kitchen "expired" at the end of May.  And shortly after the thought of writing this letter comes the companion thought that I need to get a journal and continue where the first year calendar left off.

You turned one on May 24th.  The night after you had your first real vomit all over your bed (and your jammies and your hair).  We watched you the next day to make sure you were feeling better, and as soon as we were assured you were, we packed up and headed out of town, just like we'd been planning for a few months.  So, in short, your first birthday was spent on the road.  [Sorry you were born on a major traveling holiday weekend, kiddo!]

You are the funniest baby ever!  You do silly things every day to make yourself and everyone around you laugh.  But your big brother can still get the best belly laughs out of you, hands down. 

You are very sensitive, emotionally and physically.  One day, I chided you for chewing up a pear and spitting it out the way you do apples (you love pears!) and your little mouth hung open in an 'O' as you shoved that pear back in your mouth and let out a sad, moaning wail.  It was devastatingly cute and also kind of sad.  Then, we went to your one-year wellness check and Nurse Rachel said they had to get your iron level, which meant a toe prick, but "usually doesn't mean tears".  Well, you started crying when she started massaging your toe before the poke.  And you cried every time you saw the band-aid after the poke.  It was a tough day.

You love to be loved, give love, and be loved again.  Your favorite place is still on my chest, usually in the Ergo carrier.  You love to hold hands.  You love to give kisses.  You love to get kisses and be cuddled and just otherwise fawned over. 

You also love to smack and wrestle and tackle.  It's hard to tell whether you are learning these rough and tumble ways, or if you came with them pre-loaded.  Tonight after I dressed you for bed - and was doing the same for your brother - you came up and smacked me on the back.  It hurts!  You smack Dada in the face when he's resting on the couch.  And the other day, rumor has it that you tackled C for some toy you wanted, and you got really mad and went at him, which ended up with both of you in tears and Nana taking you outside to cool off on the curb.  Yikes!

You're a baby who knows what you want.  Your first (real) words were "uhtat?" (what's that?) and "dat!" (that!).  You've gotten good at pointing at what you want and saying "dat!".  Or, as you've recently discovered, screaming works too.

You love to scream.  Then giggle.  Then scream.  Then giggle.  Repeat.

One of the saddest things about your turning one is that you outgrew being rocked to sleep for naps.  Once we transitioned you to your brother's bed for sleeping several months back, you stopped being rocked to sleep for bed soon afterward.  But in just these last few weeks, you started fighting being rocked at naptime.  I thought you were trying to drop down to one nap a day, but ever since I started laying down with you for naps the way I do with your brother and you for bed, no more fights and still two naps a day!  I did get to rock you to sleep at naptime the other day and then yesterday, you wanted to be cuddled on my chest as we both lay on your bed.  I savored both times. 

The other saddest thing about your turning one is that you've leaned out.  You're not as "squishy" anymore.  Except your legs.  That chunk won't quit!  And I love it!

One not-sad thing was quitting pumping (for me, at least; Dada was very sad about it, because he worried you wouldn't have enough to eat).  I stopped after you were 11 months old and we subsisted on frozen milk until it was almost gone and then transitioned you to cow's milk.  Turns out, whole milk and you don't get along so well.  So... you're on 2%.  Unless you keep losing weight.  Then we'll have to rethink this whole whole-milk thing. 

You also LOVE to make messes!  Dumping things out and turning things over is your specialty.  You love getting into things.  Just today I cleaned up two messes from you grabbing at and sending brother's plate or bowl with leftover food off of the table and onto the floor.  (He is now under strict orders to take his dishes to the sink after eating.)

You understand a lot more than you can say at this point.  You are pretty amazing that way. 

Mostly, though, I just want you to know how much I love you!  You are so fun to be around and I am trying to enjoy every day with you as my baby.  I tell myself every day "there may be another baby (someday), but there is only ONE A!"  So, I hug you and cuddle you and kiss your cheeks and squish you as much as you'll let me (which is a lot!)

I love you, Squish.  I'm so glad you're mine.



A Letter to My Secondborn

Dear A,

You are 8 months old now.  You weigh almost 22 pounds.  You are a big baby with a really big personality.  Today, you had your very first rolling-off-the-bed incident.  It was very scary for you, but you're doing just fine.

You are crawling (on your belly) all over the place!  You are a baby on the move!  And you are a funny baby who does things like squint your eyes and belly laugh because you know it'll make everyone around you laugh too.

I want you to know that just because you're the second baby doesn't mean I love you any less.  You also co-sleep with us and it's tough sometimes, but we're (mostly) ok with it.  And I want you to know that I love all the same things about you that I did the first time around.  And I'm So so so very thankful.

And we're really trying to enjoy you while you're little and chubby and lovely and squishy.  Today while I was feeding you, I laid my head down on yours so I could stare with you down the barrel of a bottle and look at your stubby baby fingers moving and be in awe of them along with you.

I'm making a herculean effort to take lots of pictures and video of you.  Time is going so so way too fast!  And it's my job to do what I can to record everything I can!

I'm also making a herculean effort to pump for a full year, even though I fantasize several times a week about quitting and living on what we've got in the freezer.  You are worth the work it takes and you're what keeps me going.

Today, while I was feeding you, you grabbed my finger.  It made me think of when you did the same thing, just minutes after you were born.  I hope that long after the chubbiness has faded from your little hands, you'll still hold mine and be my buddy forever.

I love you so so much!



Big Little Baby

I've decided my baby has "fat man in little coat" syndrome.

Hear me out.

Dada puts this baby to sleep almost every night. Momma swoops in and gets the privilege of carrying the sleepy baby to bed, with a boppy little walk to our room and short slow dance in the dark. Then, just before laying him down, my heart starts tapping out a secret code against my chest, hoping for a safe transfer into his chest, heart, being: "I love you. I love you. Oh, how I love you!"

The other night when I laid him down, I lingered at the bedside, my eyes caressing his little baby body. I realized how small he is, really, in the scheme of things. That his big-baby body is really quite small is a realization that surprised me a bit. That his 8 months of life have seemed to be set on fast forward shocks my motherness to its core. But standing there, in the dark, looking him over, I realized something.

This baby seems bigger than he is because he has a HUGE personality.

He insists on near-constant movement and activity. (What two-month old do you know gets chafed on his elbows and legs because he wiggles so much?) He is a maven in the walker, with deft turns and speedy straightaways. He and C play bumper cars, with C in his truck and A in the walker. Then they laugh themselves silly, which is probably one of the greatest sounds a mother can hear.

He's starting to get up on his hands and knees. He has to be switched between tasks because he gets bored easily. He's a baby on-the-go!

He's chooses his words carefully. Right now, he's practicing his "ba" sounds. Mostly, he listens, but when he wants to talk, he makes sure you hear him. We trade screams all the time. I help him practice his pitch. He loves it!

He's cuddly AND he's ticklish. This is really the best combination ever. He's ticklish in all the right places: under his neck, on his sides, upper thighs, and - best of all - on his back. He's got a pretty great attention span for cuddling, all things considered. When he gets bored of being cuddled, though, look out. He immediately starts whipping his head around, looking for things to touch or get into and if nothing can be found, hair is always fun to pull. My hair is ALWAYS in a ponytail for this reason.

He always has a laugh ready for his older brother. The most random stuff makes him laugh too (the Netflix start up screen, for instance?). His laugh is just the best. Tinkling fairies and all that.

Yes. This big baby (20.5 lbs!) seems bigger than he is. . . but mostly because he has this big personality that's just busting at the seams.

And I love him. I love him. Oh, how I love him!  

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