Sunday, March 27, 2011

Post 97...Preparing for Birth

It has been confirmed: we are officially signed up for a birthing class and a breastfeeding class! I am very excited! And yet still, I feel a bit odd signing up for classes at this time. In some ways, I still worry about making plans in case things were to go wrong again. I realize that we are further along than we've ever been and the doctors say everything is looking great. But even with all the extra reassurance, I still find myself hesitating to make plans. In the last pregnancy, I started to make plans. Just days later I miscarried. So I suppose somewhere deep down, I hesitate to make plans out of fear that history will repeat itself. As if making plans or not will really determine the success of the pregnancy! But no one ever said that emotions make rational sense.

My Obgyn said that now was a good time to sign up for classes and, at first, I thought she was crazy. "Isn't it too early to be taking classes?" I thought. But then I looked at the calender. April, May, June...oh! Suddenly I realized I didn't have as much time left as I thought! Since I'll be getting my cerclage out in mid/late June, I could go into labor any time after that. At best, there are only 3 full months left before little Andy will be here! So in my attempt to be strong and move forward, I signed up for a birthing class and a breastfeeding class.

The birthing class will cover the basic labor and delivery process as well as what to expect when we first bring the baby home. Although we've already had a preview of labor and delivery, I know that it will be an entirely different experience delivering a full-term baby. So I think there will be a lot of benefit to taking the class.

The breastfeeding class is pretty self explanatory. Mostly I wanted to take this class because, not only have I known too many moms who have had difficulties with breastfeeding, but I also know that there is a technique to it that I would prefer to learn before Andy is here so I'm not floundering in the actual moment.

So here we go! One of the first steps towards preparing for Andy's arrival. I hope and pray that I will be able to continue to carry to full term. Making these plans requires me to be vulnerable, relying on the pregnancy to be a healthy one. With each step I take in preparing for his arrival, the more I am allowing myself to openly believe with all my heart that he will carry full term. It's terrifying and exciting all in one.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Post 96...Popcorn Tummy

It's funny how even a baby in utero still needs a day of rest. But I suppose it does take a lot of energy to grow so much each day.

A couple days ago I was actually a little freaked out by the lack of activity I felt in my tummy. Normally, Andy will kick a little bit in the morning and then practically do gymnastics when his dad gets home in the evening. I guess he likes to hear his daddy's voice. ^_^ But on that particular day, I hardly felt a thing. There were a few very minor movements I felt early in the morning, but that was about it. Being the paranoid person that I am, I started to worry, fabricating all sorts of 'what-if' ideas. What if his heart was having troubles? What if the cord had wrapped around his neck and he was choking? What if, what if, what if... It drove me nuts thinking he could be in trouble and yet, here he was inside me and I could do nothing to help him. I wasn't exactly bouncing off the walls with worry. I had heard that sometimes babies have their own lazy days even when they're still in utero. But as the hours crept on with little sign of activity, I felt a growing concern.

After my husband got home and Andy remained quiet, we decided to try and wake him up. For almost a half an hour we played music, singing loudly along side it. We jiggled my tummy (gently of course) and even tried holding a flashlight up against it (I read that babies at this point in their gestational age can respond to light on the tummy, often rolling or kicking away from it). We even went so far as to clap near my tummy to see if we could wake him up. Nothing seemed to be working. "It's okay," my husband reassured me. "He'll wake up in his own time, I guess." Feeling the weight of defeat, we drudged off to the shower to clean up and get ready for bed.

Sure enough, as soon as we got in the shower, Andy started kicking like normal. I was so relieved! At least that stubborn son of mine was safe. I can only hope he sleeps that well once he's born.

Last night, not even two full days later, Andy was more active than ever! I guess he was gathering his strength on his day off because, oh boy was he moving! My husband didn't even have to put a hand on my tummy to know Andy was kicking. We could actually see him kick! It was the craziest thing ever! Each time he would kick, my tummy would jump. I could even see my stomach shift in spots where he was rolling around. It looked like I had popcorn popping in my tummy! For several minutes it was one kick after the next, my tummy jumping each time. My husband laid there next to me, an excited grin on his face, as he watched me egg Andy on.

"Come on Andy! Kick, kick!"
My tummy jumped in reply.
"Good job! Come on, keep it up! You can do it! Kick, punch!"
Again my tummy jumped and rolled in a wave-like motion.

It's so fun now being able to actually see the kicks. I can hardly wait until it's even more defined! Go baby go!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Post 95...Weighing is the hardest part

There was a time when I promised myself that I would not let weight gain in pregnancy bother me. I knew that it was just a part of being pregnant and that, it is healthy to gain weight and size. But I suppose that my growing confidence in the pregnancy going full term has made way for a growing dislike for my overall growing in general. I already started off the pregnancy as a plus size woman. I wasn't obese by any means but certainly overweight by medical standards. Over the years I got used to giving it cute nicknames such as: fluffy, pudgy, curvy, or festively plump. All of which were my nice way of saying I was "fat." But the bottom line is; I have struggled with my weight my entire life, always being the heavy girl in class, which has made weight gain a hard pill to swallow when it comes to pregnancy.

Originally I had hoped to only gain 25-30lbs total in pregnancy. But seeing as how I am only 24 weeks along and already 20lbs heavier than my beginning weight...well, I guess my goal is no longer a realistic one. (Sometimes I hate that word...realistic! It leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.) I've tried to give myself some grace, realizing that, for the most part, I have had to be more immobile than most pregnant women because of my condition. Considering that I haven't really been able to exercise or go on long walks until just a few weeks ago can certainly explain my added "fluff" in the past few months. Not to mention, I do enjoy the occasional splurge of a sugar sweet, but I typically keep it to just one small splurge a day (meaning a few thin mint cookies or a couple little chocolates). But recently, with all the family birthday parties, cake and ice cream have found their way into my diet a little more than I would care to admit to.

The truth is, I love seeing my baby bump when I look in the mirror. But for some reason, I still find it hard to feel as excited about my bump when people keep telling me how big I look. Although what they're saying is I look pregnant; when I hear "Look how big you've gotten," I suddenly I find myself standing in a middle school classroom, my thin hair laying limp around my chubby freckled cheeks, as I try to hold my books in front of my stomach, fighting back tears as the nearby kids chant out "blimpy girl!" Every book tells me I should just be excited that my growing stomach means a growing baby. But simply telling me to be okay with it, doesn't make it any easier. Not to mention, by all other charts, books, and medical standards, I've already gained too much. What part of being labeled "too big" by all pregnancy books is supposed to make it easy to love and accept my growing body?...

I tried to seek out refuge online by reading this blog I found about plus size women learning to love their pregnant bodies. It seemed promising at first. Women who where more "curvaceous" posted pictures of their growing tummies to help other plus-size pregos, giving them a better reference to their own changing bodies. And although I started to feel a little bit better about my own body, realizing that it will bounce back in time, there was something quite unnerving about this particular blog. Although the woman had great confidence in her plus-size body, I couldn't help but feel a little concerned about her disregard for her mid-wife's warnings. It's true that genetics can play a part in how big a baby will be, but this particular lady seemed to use that as her main excuse. In the end, she gave birth to a 12 lb baby with, luckily, no major complication. But 12 lbs??? That's a bit much! And when she posted pictures of her baby, I have to admit, I was a little shaken. This was no small kid! I hate to say it but, he looked like a mix between a sumo wrestler and the Michelin Man! I was shaken up. It's one thing to be a plus size momma, but it's a whole different story when it comes to the actual health and condition of my baby! This baby was clearly not just genetically big in length or bone structure. This baby was...well...overweight. Not only does a bigger baby mean a more difficult delivery, putting the baby at risk for injury, but it can put the child's health at risk in the long run.

Just peachy! My attempts to find solace in other plus-sized pregnancies only scared me all the more! I know that I can't keep letting my own childhood scars scare me into depression about my weight gain in pregnancy. It's not fat that I'm gaining so much as it is a baby that I'm gaining...and a placenta, and amniotic fluid, and blood volume.... But I will do my best to make sure that I don't gain so much that my baby comes out unhealthy. So if I have to pass up on the birthday cake for now, I will gladly do so if it means my son will be healthier for it.

Balance is something to be achieved. If only it could be achieved easily...

Post 94...3D Baby

Like every two weeks, we had a checkup with our doctor at Eastside Medical. The last time we saw him (on my birthday) he told me that I could basically go back to normal activity, within reason of course. Since then, I have been going on daily walks, sometimes even twice a day, for about 30-60 minutes. We even walked down and back to the nearby grocery store for the first time since before my cerclage. And I have been on my feet nearly every day cooking and cleaning. It has been so freeing to be able to be so active without having so much worry. Although, I have to admit, it's a little disappointing to see how much I'm huffing and puffing up the hills on my walks, the hills that I so easily once walked up almost daily.

Anyway, I was anxious to see how well my cervix was holding up to all the added activity. And much to my delight, my cervix looked great! The doctor said my stitches were holding up beautifully and that everything seemed to be staying in place. If this keeps up, I will only have to see the Eastside doctor three more times and then I'll be flying solo!...Well...solo being no more bi-monthly visits with Eastside but still the monthly visit with the Obgyn. After that, I won't see him until I'm getting my cerclage out at 37 weeks. Honestly I will be sad to not see my doctor at Eastside after 30 weeks just because I enjoy our visits so much. It's been so wonderful seeing Andy every two weeks, plus the doctor is by far one of the best I have ever had. But at the same time, I am more than anxious to be at 30 weeks because it means we will be in our third trimester and all the worry and risk of the cerclage holding in place will be a thing of the past.

During our appointment, as the nurse measured the baby (who is now weighing in at 1lb, 7oz and with a foot length of 2inches!) she switched the image over to a 3D image. So rather than a see-through baby like we were used to seeing in the ultrasound; for the first time ever we were able to see the contours of our baby's face. It was breathtaking! There he was, in the "flesh," his cheeks starting to round out, his little button nose, and even his lips slightly puckered out. It was a changing moment for me. Being able to put a face to him suddenly made everything feel all the more real. I was overwhelmed with the urge to hold him and kiss him, wishing desperately that I could fast-forward time into July so he could be here with us in our arms. I am so lucky that I was able to see such a wonderful preview of the joy that will soon be in our lives.

In these pictures, he's cozied up to the placenta. It was amazing to see him move and even make some facial expressions. It was so cute when the nurse pressed down on my tummy to get a good ultrasound picture and Andy made a very obvious pouty/grumpy face as soon as she pressed down. "I guess he didn't like that very much, did he?" she laughed.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Post 93...Dreams of Panic

Last night, I had a classic panic dream. The kind of dream where everything goes wrong as you run down the stretching hallway, never reaching the door at the end...

It's the first night home with the baby. Since I had gone into labor so quickly, I was forced to go a different hospital in Everett, one that, in waking life, I detest. They sent us home immediately after delivery with no time to recover. I put the baby into his crib at the foot of our bed. He is sleeping peacefully. So my husband and I crawl into bed and try to get some much needed sleep.

Before long, I am startled by the sound of the baby crying. He is awake and hungry. My body aches everywhere as I get out of bed to feed him. But as I get closer to the crib, I notice there are piles of clothes and Christmas wrapping paper, boxes, and tissue paper all over the floor. The piles get higher and higher as I try to get closer to the crib. Before I know it, I am pushing and kicking my way to the crib which now seems to be stretching further away from me. I can hear the baby crying harder.

I have to feed him! He needs me!

Somehow I wade through the piles up to the edge of the crib. I reach out to pick him up when I feel a sudden urge to go to the bathroom. My bladder feels painfully full. I pause for a moment wondering if I can feed the baby before going to the bathroom. But my aching bladder twinges, winning the battle.

I'll be right back!

As I run to the bathroom, my husband gets up out of bed looking calm and happy. Without any piles of clothes or garbage in his way, he is holding the baby within seconds. I look back enviously at their bond.

"I'll feed him." My husband says as he starts mixing up a bottle of formula.
"No! I want to breast feed him!" I call out from the bathroom, huddled awkwardly on the toilet with my panties around my ankles. "I'll be back in just a second!"
"You better hurry!" he taunts me, "If you're not in here soon I'm  just gonna give him the bottle."

Quickly I finish up my business in the bathroom and rush back to the bedroom. My husband is just about to give him the bottle when I snatch the baby from my husband's arms. My husband laughs at me as I shoot him an angry look.

"I said I want to breast feed him!" I insisted, "Why couldn't you wait two minutes? If we get him on the bottle now, there's no way I could get him back onto the breast!"

Trying to hold the baby carefully in my arms (which I clearly didn't know how to do very well), I fumbled my way back through the piles on the floor towards a chair sitting in the corner. The chair is lost under more piles of clothes and trash. With one arm holding the baby, I try to clean off the chair so I can sit down to feed the baby. He is still crying with hunger.

"Would you please help me?" I command my husband as I impatiently try to kick the piles away from the chair.

Again he laughs at me as he pushes away a path to the chair. With little relief, I sit down, looking down at my crying son. But a lump catches in my throat. I look up at my husband with panic in my eyes.

"I don't know how to breastfeed!" I look back at my son helplessly. "The hospital never told me how to get him to latch on properly. I don't know how to feed our son!" With an aching body, swollen breasts, and a crying hungry son, I sit amongst the piles of garbage and clothes clueless, frustrated, and scared.

The cries of my son echo into reality as I slowly wake up...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Post 92...Birthday fun day four

Tuesday March 8th, my 25th birthday!

We started off my birthday with a checkup at Eastside medical. Like usual, they measured my cervix and took an ultrasound of Andy. What better birthday gift could I get than to watch my son wiggling around on the monitor? He's looking so big these days! It was amazing to see his little mouth moving as it looked like he was practicing swallowing. I was overwhelmed with the urge to kiss him and hold him close!

The doctor said everything is looking fantastic. In fact, he said that I could start going on longer walks and try to return back to normal activity. Well, normal activity for a pregnant woman so I guess I'll have to hold off on playing on a giant trampoline just a little while longer. ;-) I was so excited to hear that I could start increasing my activity even more. He said I could even start doing some pregnancy yoga if I wanted! But he warned me with a teasing smile, "Those stitches are a loan. So don't go and mess up my stitches 'cause I'm gonna want them back." I giggled and promised to take good care of them. But much to my surprise, he then asked me "So have we talked yet about sexual activity?" I blushed and told him we had been holding off on EVERYTHING that could cause "trauma" to the cervix. "Well," he said, "since everything is holding up so well, I think it is perfectly safe to introduce that back into your activity when you guys feel ready."

Did he just say what I think he said?....

Ahem!...well...that's a good birthday gift!.......

After our doctor's appointment, we went back to the bookstore so I could use up the rest of my gift card. There I got two more books: The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, and the complete Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales. And after satisfying my literary needs, we went off to the mall to walk around. Since I had being given the okay to walk around more, I was anxious to stretch my legs!

Once we had walked around the mall and worked up an appetite, I finally got what I originally asked for for my birthday: Dick's burgers! My husband drove us down to Seattle and there we got burgers, fries, and milkshakes! It was a delicious splurge!

It's weird to think back on my last birthday. Last year on my birthday we announced to our family that we were pregnant with Joey by bringing out a birthday cake that read: We're Pregnant! Though this year's birthday didn't come with the same surprise to our family as the last, I wouldn't trade it for the world! My special four day weekend birthday celebration was fantastic! And I couldn't think of a better way to spend my actual birthday than seeing my son in the morning and enjoying a burger with my husband! I'm happy to move on from 24 years old, the year where I feel like I aged more than ever given the year's events. But I have a good feeling about 25. I think this year will be a great one!

Post 91...Birthday fun day three

Monday started off with an unexpected trip to the Obgyn. TMI warning! For a couple days I had been getting some random globs of a kind of yellowish discharge that had me concerned. I had had something similar in the last pregnancy just a week before I had miscarried only the amount of discharge was far greater the last time than this time. Without wanting to take any chances, my husband and I decided to go straight to the Obgyn. Luckily my husband had taken the day off so making the trip was no problem for us. Though we didn't have an appointment, I wanted to be sure someone could make sure there was no sign of infection with my stitches. I wasn't feeling any other symptoms, but the last time when I miscarried, I didn't feel any other symptoms either. Last time I just called the nurse to tell her about the discharge, but without having the doctor really look at things, the nurse dismissed it as normal. This time, I wasn't even going to bother with the phone. Even if I had to be the angry mom in the lobby, I wasn't taking any chances with my son!

Well, luckily the clinic had no problem working us in. Although my normal Obgyns weren't in, they had another Obgyn at the same clinic who was willing to see me. We had a couple hours to spare before our appointment so we went to the nearby Barnes & Noble and did a little shopping. There we got the "What to expect in the first year" book, as well as a book about teaching baby sign language. We grabbed a quick drink at Starbucks and then headed off to our appointment.

The doctor got us in quickly, did a pelvic exam, ran some tests, and sure enough, there were traces of bacterial vaginitis. It is a type of minor infection that takes place when the normal bacteria in the vagina increase to a higher level. The doctor said it is very common in women and, in most cases, it can resolve itself. But since I am pregnant with a cerclage, they gave me some medication to clear it right up just to be on the safe side. I was so relieved that I wasn't just being paranoid and that we caught things early on. Mommy instincts save the day! I am happy to say that now, near the end of the prescription, I have had no unusual discharge and all seems to be well. I can't help but wonder, however; what if I had that in the last pregnancy (since I had the same kind of discharge then only more) and what if that played a part in the miscarriage? I guess we'll never really know. But at any rate, I'm glad things are being taken care of this time around.

After the appointment, I used my Gene Juarez gift card and got my hair cut, which was a nice birthday treat. And later that evening we had our favorite couple come over for dinner. We had a great time laughing and catching up. We were also excited to hear that they will be moving nearby! So now we'll get to see them more often, which I am very excited about!



New books!

 So day three of my birthday weekend was great! I got new books, I got to take care of myself and my baby, I spent an entire day with my husband, and we ended the day in the company of our friends.

Post 90...Birthday fun day two

On Sunday the birthday celebration continued with dinner at my in-laws house. There we had a wonderful home-made dinner, cake, and more presents. Once again I was thoroughly spoiled! I got two new pairs of maternity pants, new tennis shoes, a Gene Juarez gift card, a bath and foot pampering set, and a beautiful bouquet of flowers.

So many beautiful gifts!

Chocolate cake with layers of creamy chocolate in between, all topped with a light whip cream frosting. Andy really liked it! He was kicking like crazy as I ate it! ^_^

Lavender body wash, foot lotion, foot soak, and more! Guess what my husband will be doing soon?...FOOT RUBS!!!

Post 89...Birthday fun day one

Saturday was the start of my four day birthday weekend celebration! The funny thing is; previous years I have tried to have a birthday  party of some sort but it always turned out to be a flop. So this year I said I didn't really care to do anything big. I just wanted to spend my birthday with my husband and go out for cheeseburgers together. But as it turns out, the one year I say I don't want anything big, I get spoiled with four days straight of birthday celebration! The other great part was, I just recently got a new charger for my camera (compliments to ebay! Less than $10 and I got a new charger, a car charger, and two new batteries!) so I was able to take lots of pictures. I forgot how much I've missed having a working camera!

The fun began on Saturday morning when my parents came over and took us out for brunch at my favorite restaurant: The Pomegranate. My husband and I had gone there for brunch the previous weekend to celebrate making it past 20 weeks. That time I had had smoked salmon eggs benedict on fresh made cheddar biscuits, a side of rosemary hash browns, an arugula salad topped with sun dried tomatoes, and a chai latte. It was absolute heaven! On Saturday I wanted to try something new so I ordered a grandview fall mushroom tart with caramelized onions in a thyme-white cheddar crust, scrambled eggs on the side, and another chai latte. It was buttery, flaky, melt in your mouth amazing! Together we all savored our amazing brunch as we talked and laughed. It was wonderful.

After brunch, we came back to our apartment and my parents had me open the birthday gifts they brought for me. The gifts were great! There were new storage containers I had been wanting so I can organize the storage closet, cute paper lanterns to decorate Andy's room with, the most adorable little baby thermals, a set of birthday candles that had "25" on them, a loofah on a stick so I can reach my toes over my growing tummy when I'm showering, and a set of baby washcloths for wiping up all that soon to come drool.

I couldn't have asked for a better start to my birthday weekend!
The storage tubs came with some good parenting advice...

Post 88...Following Father Time

Father Time is a sneaky, speedy ol' man! Just when I think he's going to take a rest, he runs right on by...

On Thursday, March 3rd, we went to our monthly Obgyn appointment. It was quick and casual like usual. The doctor checked the baby's heart beat, asked a few check-up questions, and then we were on our way. The nice thing was, she noted that we had made it past the 20 week marker, saying that it was encouraging to see us still going strong. We had already been very aware of the date, but it was touching that she remembered. Just in our brief discussion about it, she was recalling things from our last pregnancy and noting how happy she is to see us having such success this time with the help of the cerclage. I was surprised and comforted that our doctor cared so much to remember us so specifically. Clearly she is the right doctor for us!

On Friday we went to a friend's surprise birthday party. For a few hours, everyone decorated his place and anxiously waited for him to come home for the surprise. Most of the people there were my husband's high school friends. For awhile we stood around discussing all of life's recent changes: friends graduating college, new jobs, friends getting married and so on. At one point, one of the guys was talking about his co-worker who brought her kids to work one day. "Where are your kids?" the co-worker had asked him. He nervously laughed and replied "I'm not that old! I don't have kids!" My husband and I looked at each other and chuckled. "I guess that means we're old," I whispered to my husband. Even though we're the same age as everyone else in that group, we were the first to graduate college, the first to get married, and now the first to have a child. We were never big into the party scene, nor did we take our time to get out on our own together. While many of our friends were out going to bars, partying and dating, my husband and I were cozied up in our little apartment together listening to jazz music and sipping on wine. So at times, we do feel a bit old for our age. But it's funny to think that our friends find 25 to be such a young age for having kids. In my family, most people had one if not two children by the time they were 25!

At the party we got talking to one friend who seemed particularly interested in hearing our pregnancy stories. He was excited to hear we are having a boy and that my husband could already feel him kicking. "When is he due?" he asked.
"July 15th." we replied.
"July?! Like, next year, right?" he asked with wide eyes.
I giggled, "No. This year. As in this coming July. We're already about 5 months along."
He looked at me in disbelief. "Seriously?! Man! That's exciting! I had no idea it was so soon! Time flies!"

It was cute how excited our friend was, and even more so that he clearly had no idea about the time it takes to carry a baby to full term. If pregnancy took nearly a year and a half for the baby to be full term, I doubt many people would want to get pregnant at all! But if our friend thinks the baby is growing fast now, just wait until little Andy is out and everyone can physically see just how fast he's growing. Before we know it, he'll be the one making us grandparents!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Post 87...Kicks for Daddy

Last night for the first time, Joe felt Andy kick! For the past several days I have been feeling Andy kick harder and stronger. So in my eagerness for Joe to feel him, I've been putting his hand on my tummy any time I feel Andy kicking hard. Well, last night after dinner, we were sitting back on the couch watching tv when I felt Andy stirring around. So I put my husband's hand on my tummy and sure enough, right at that moment Andy gave one strong kick! It was the hardest I have ever felt him kick! I looked up excitedly at Joe and asked "did you feel that?"
His eyes were wide, "yeah! I did! That was him?"
"Yup! That's your son!"
For several more minutes, Joe sat there like a statue trying to feel more kicks. But after that one good kick, Andy seemed to settle back down. It was as if he wanted one good kick for daddy and then went back to sleep. It was such a sweet moment to see the excitement on my husband's face. Immediately after, he was online posting an update to facebook telling everyone how he felt his baby kick for the first time.

The funny thing is, to me, the kick felt so strong. It was unmistakable. And yet to Joe, it felt so much smaller. But he still felt it none the less. It's exciting to know that, from here on, the kicks will only get stronger and will be easier for Joe to feel.

I am so elated that Joe got to feel his son for the first time!