Week 28, part 2: Baby bump, blood pressure, and holy big baby, Batman!

Well, I finally crossed over to the dark side.

I…took my own baby bump shot. And posted it on my Instagram.

The worst part is, I’ve been having an awful hair year. I need to fix that on Saturday.

So! Week 28 is almost over; according to The Bump we have 78 days until our middle-of-the-road due date. If Arthur is anything like me he’ll decide about three weeks before that is a good time to come (so, Memorial Day week), and if he’s feeling extra generous he’ll decide to come on May 29 – my birthday is August 29 and my mom’s birthday is March 29 (tomorrow!) and I think that would be a nice bit of continuity.

Yesterday was my 28-week visit. It’s nice to have a milestone to look forward to every couple of weeks, though I’m trying not to fall into a sense of complacency because everything’s gone well so far. Over the last four weeks I gained three pounds (yes, I doubled my pregnancy weight gain, y’all!), and my OB told me my blood pressure and all other testing is “perfect”. Her word, not mine, but it’s not polite to disagree, right? The only thing that raises questions is that my bump suggests Arthur is measuring closer to 30 weeks than 28.

Holy big baby, Batman!

I’m not concerned, and neither is my OB; however, this provides the ideal opportunity for another ultrasound (or as I like to think of them, face time with baby) to figure out precisely how he’s measuring and get an idea of how, ahem, interesting our delivery will be. We may go for a fourth ultrasound at the end of May, depending on how long Arthur stays put and, of course, what this next ultrasound indicates.

Nesting… 

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it or not here, but I’m starting to feel a serious urge to nest. I want to go out and buy ALL THE THINGS for the nursery, even though the baby shower isn’t until the beginning of May. The suspense may be killing me (but it’s not affecting my BP!) Over the next couple of weeks I’ll have to balance OB-ordered rest and relaxation (love her!) with settling the other rooms of the house where we actually have things for me to arrange…

We’re almost to the 50-day club!

 

Week 28: Clothes, carriers, and a lot of conversation

This pregnancy is racing.

In two days I go for my 28-week checkup; my MIL is coming along to hear Arthur’s heartbeat for the first time. After this, we have one more 4-week appointment and then…I start to get really friendly with the OB’s office.

We were gifted a HUGE tote of gently (or not at all) used baby boy clothes, from newborn onesies to my personal favorite, an 18-month DARTH VADER SLEEPER. I kid you not. Anybody who fails to realize how EPIC this is must have missed the memo that, well, Brian and I are sort of huge Star Wars fans. Don’t believe me? Here’s the invitation to the shower Arthur’s godmother is throwing:

If Arthur is born green...it might be totally awesome. (Design by Etsy user vmiddleton)

If Arthur is born green…it might be totally awesome. (Design by Etsy user vmiddleton)

I mean…the sleeper may have to become part of the shower decor while Arthur’s still too small to wear it.

Between my mother and I we’ve also purchased almost enough outfits to get him through his first few months of public outings. But I can’t help it, they’re just too adorable – and he has this huge closet to fill, so why not start now? I’m getting a jump start on the laundry so there’s only about a load’s worth of brand new clothes to wash (once I get them all), not counting whatever shows up at the shower.

Brian and I also took some time last week to play with some of the furniture and gear we’ve already received. So…we have a crib! And a stroller/car seat combo (with a surprise elephant in the pattern)! And another car seat that we left in the box because, really, we don’t need it just yet. And…a co-sleeper bassinet/playard! (True story: I didn’t realize in the case of this particular piece that it would be so versatile; however, this just makes life that much easier.) I can’t believe how real everything becomes just by having a stroller in plain sight, but it was like a switch flipped – in 2 1/2 months we will really be bringing home our little boy.

I’ve also been looking at different kinds of slings and carriers, since I plan to do quite a bit of baby wearing. I found some great ring slings, but at prices that made my eyes go wide. It isn’t that I appreciate the work that goes into choosing fabrics and making the slings, even if they aren’t hand-crafted; it’s that I can’t rationally spend $40 or more on a strip of fabric that we may not even use if Arthur isn’t comfortable, and that may ultimately end up sitting in the corner of his closet until maybe we can use it with Kid B. Some awesome DZ sisters suggested we visit our local Once Upon A Child to see what we could find. No ring slings, but we did get a Baby Bjorn and a Snuggli carrier – for less than $20!! Someone pinch me. Between these two carriers and the sling I already have, I think our baby wearing experiment will be off to a fantastic start.

The biggest ongoing change from week to week is how central Arthur has become in our conversations. Earlier on it was the “pregnancy” – symptoms, my feelings, etc – with random mentions of the still-abstract idea of “the baby”; now, our roles have shifted and as I move closer to our mysterious birth date we are talking a lot more about him – who he will be, how we will guide him and lift him up and the things from which we will always protect him.

One of the big catalysts for conversation in the last week was the verdict in the Steubenville rape trial. We’ve talked about how important it is to teach our children to stand up for themselves and others, but as parents-to-be of a little boy we’ve encountered the important role we have to play in changing the entire reality of rape culture in the future. I don’t intend for this post to become a soapbox about Steubenville or about rape culture – there are more appropriate venues – but it is a subject that weighs heavy on our hearts as we seek ways to raise a son who is not only brave and intelligent and ambitious, but also courageous and kind.

I mention it here because this afternoon I read an amazing post from the mother of an 18-year-old young man and I was compelled to share it. I don’t bind myself to a single faith system, but her words resonated with me nonetheless. If you have boys in your life – sons, brothers, nephews or cousins – I highly encourage you to click through and read her message. It is one I think we can all get behind, regardless of your faith system.

That’s all for now; requisite “this week in my symptoms” post to follow later.

Third Trimester!!

Oh my God, we’re finally here – the home stretch!! (Not too much stretching, don’t want to distress Arthur!)

It’s incredibly hard to believe that the time is going so quickly. One by one, my bump buddies are counting down and each welcoming their little girl or boy into the world. We had one go this week, and three more to go in the next two months before I’m staring down my due date.

The only difference this week, really, is that I’m nursing a maybe-mild chest cold. I’ve had some breathing issues, which could be nothing more than Arthur expanding against my diaphragm, but some slight congestion drove me to a short round of OTC meds. (Brian is so cute – he picked up Robitussin from CVS and checked with the pharmacist before he left to make sure it was the safe kind!) Little by little it’s going back to “only” some deep breathing difficulty. So we’re fine; I just can’t belt along with Spotify when I’m cooking dinner.

More and more discussions are leaning toward the early days of parenthood – what we can expect of ourselves and those around us when we first come home from the hospital. I’ve been reading a LOT, and I’ve had some great examples to follow in the last couple of months. My biggest concern is having the space and freedom to really bond with Arthur in our home, to establish our routine and learn his, and then to welcome family and friends when we’re slightly more settled. I’ve had mini-daymares about being completely overwhelmed with unannounced drop-ins, too many cooks in the kitchen (metaphorically speaking – in reality, food is more likely to get you in the door), and so much advice from so many directions that our own instincts and research will be drowned out by the noise. I guess, when I get to the major point, my fear is that bringing him home will be the catalyst for finally losing all semblance of control in my life.

I don’t like feeling out of control, and that has been my only real problem with pregnancy in general.  I can handle physical symptoms, even the least pleasant among them, but I’ve mentioned before what an emotional wreck I’ve become – and it really isn’t cute. My rational mind is struggling to push my emotions out of the way and say “Hey, I’m still here, let’s do some straight thinking!” but I feel like so much of my life is determined by outside forces (and people) at this point that I’m so looking forward to Arthur’s birth in part so I can look triumphantly around me and go “I am back in control.

(Now is not the time to remind me that my dream is just a pipe dream…)

All I can do in the next 13 weeks is communicate my thoughts and our expectations as effectively as possible, and then hope that everything turns out alright.

Moving right along…

(Oh – and my glucose test was fine.)

 

Parental leave – taking time for baby

So…it’s that time. With only about three months to go until Arthur makes his grand debut, we’ve been discussing the question of parental leave (also known as “who gets a summer staycation with the baby?”)

Brian did a Boot Camp for New Dads over the weekend, and the moderator of the session suggested that the new dads look into provisions for paternity leave as they have changed somewhat over the years. We spent part of Saturday afternoon poring over the Ohio Revised Code, et voila! – parental leave. According to Ohio law, parents (bio and adoptive) are eligible for six weeks of parental leave beginning with the child’s birth or granting of custody in adoptive cases; the first two weeks are unpaid and may either be worked or supplemented with vacation time/other paid benefits, then the remaining four weeks are paid at 70 per cent of the parent’s base pay. Parental leave is incorporated into FMLA leave rather than stacked, allowing parents to continue for six more weeks of unpaid leave or to use the remaining FMLA as necessary.

Before I jump onto my soapbox, I just want to point out how fortunate I am to work where I do. All other things aside, our maternity leave policy is great (by U.S. standards): six weeks of full pay, plus the opportunity to stack paid vacation before or after those six weeks. When Arthur comes I will be able to stay home with him for nine weeks, during which I will keep my employer-provided health insurance, and after which I will return on a part-time basis. (We decided the daycare question…) 

That being said, the question of parental leave as a whole in this country makes me so…angry.

As I said, I’m one of the lucky ones. I don’t have to go to my boss, employee handbook and ORC printout in hand, to argue that I am entitled by law to spend a minimal amount of paid time at home recovering and helping my newborn adjust to life outside the womb. No, that unhappy task falls to Brian. But really, why should any parent have to jump through hoops and gear up for actual battle for a few short weeks of being with their new family? Why should any mother feel forced to cut the bonding process short to save her paycheck, before she may even be physically (let alone psychologically) ready? And why should any father have to choose between the opportunity to bond with his newborn during those early weeks and to help his partner through the recovery process and the ever-present financial needs of the family?

This 2011 map from NPR color-codes maternity leave in countries around the world, showing that the U.S. ranks in the lowest category (0-90 days), while the Huffington Post posted this article and slideshow in May 2012 – once again, the U.S. falls among the worst countries for maternity leave (and is not among the 50 countries that provide paid benefits to new fathers). These reports look at the federal level, and don’t take individual states’ legislation into consideration (given that I’ve already pointed out that Ohio does have a limited parental leave provision); however, in May 2012 the National Partnership for Women & Families released a second edition of “Expecting Better: A State-by-State Analysis of Laws That Help New Parents” in which they awarded a point score and letter grade to each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia for their efforts to expand on existing federal legislation.

Two states – California and Connecticut – received an A-, the highest grade awarded. Eight more states received weighted B grades. Everybody else? Struggling…

Ohio got a solid D.

It may be time to move to Eastern Europe…

Week 25: Kicking, and other more interesting changes

We’re under 100 days! I still have to shake my head in wonder at how quickly everything is going; I’m pretty sure last weekend we went to the zoo and told our parents about the first positive test. Now, our little boy has his own room, with furniture and clothes and OMG his first piggy bank!

 

TMNT Raphael piggy bank week 25

 

 

Is it or is it not the cutest thing ever? I was trying to stick with the elephant theme, but seriously the only elephant bank I could find was on Things Remembered and they wanted $80 or something ridiculous because it’s silver plated. This bank is much more fun, and accessible, and come on – it’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! You could legitimately call my parenting into question if I didn’t introduce Arthur to the joy of the Turtles. (Someone would, you know it.)

Arthur and I are communicating a lot more as the time passes. He kicks to say hello, to let me know that he likes/doesn’t like my drink choices (I’m trying to train him “one for yes, two for no” with little success), and of course to remind me that he’s there when I’m sitting or lying quietly. A few notable exchanges this week: Wednesday I went down to Columbus for the P!nk – Truth About Love show and it was PHENOMENAL! Arthur clearly agreed, and took the opportunity while I was sitting (great seats, we didn’t have to stand unless we wanted to) to kick along with the beat.

Then last night, Daddy came home after a rough day at work. My mom had suggested he start lying with his head on my belly to see if Arthur makes contact, and sure enough he did! Brian said to him they felt like light flutters and he couldn’t be sure, but I was sure from what was going on on the inside. 🙂 Perhaps it was coincidence, but it seemed like Arthur’s kicks were timed to when Brian was talking to him or to me – I think he may like his daddy’s voice.

This week has also offered an interesting yet far less appropriate shift in my body chemistry…we’ll call it a signal from my body that all systems are go.

As far as pictures go, I’ve been resisting the weekly baby bump photo. Believe it or not, I feel completely drained after moving and growing a person and the last thing I want to do is try and make myself look better for picture day. I may concede for the last 15 or so weeks, but I don’t know that I will need or appreciate a reminder of how I’ve been looking lately. (It would be nice to see a comparison of now v. two months ago, so we’ll see.)

Still no word on the glucose challenge from last week. I’ll take that as a good sign.

Onward and (apparently) outward!