(Almost) 39 weeks: Are we there yet…?

On Sunday, I hit the wall.

Yep, that wall.

Our bags are packed, the car seat is (properly) installed, the nursery and all other “baby stations” around the house look great. The only problem is, Kid A doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to join us.

I’m glad that he’s taken the time he has to grow and develop, and is now a robust 8.25-ish pounds with all systems functioning as they should. We’ve even been given a 3D shot of his adorable face (complete with Daddy’s nose, if I’m not mistaken), and every exam so far has been “perfect”. Now, though, I would just love to see those fingers and toes and that face and his (apparently large) head and tummy in the light of the real world.

It’s not that this isn’t possibly the most thrilling experience of my life. I’m growing a person in here, and I’m far from being the first or the last woman on earth to do it but it’s incredibly empowering nonetheless. I’m so excited for this little boy to come in and change our lives completely that I would probably burst if emotions took physical form. I guarantee that his arrival is more important to me than to absolutely anybody else on this whole damn planet, except for maybe Brian (and I still think I have a slight edge there).

I just don’t want to be the poster child for glowing pregnancy. And I’m tired of feeling like I’m on display for the world’s commentary.

Here’s something to consider, especially if you’re unfamiliar with or far enough removed from the physical process of pregnancy to look back on it through the haze of nostalgia (and to be more than a little confused about how “things are done today”): not every waking second of this journey is fun or pleasant or happy, and I won’t pretend that it is. I won’t act like I want to continue this way indefinitely – his due date is in 8 days and I certainly won’t argue if he comes early. (Today’s a good day, sweetheart…) It doesn’t make me less excited or less of a mother-to-be, and it is not a cry for pity or concern. It’s normal.

Also, if you are some random person on the street (or a tenant in my office building who I hide out in restroom stalls to avoid*) then my pregnancy is NOT your business and it is NOT my responsibility to entertain your curiosity. I’m not a sideshow, and as well-meaning as strangers may be it seems that pregnancy brain affects them through proximity as well and renders them incapable of making any but the most offensive or prying of comments.

Oh, you’re getting so big! Really? I thought my husband replaced all of our mirrors with fun-house mirrors for a laugh. (And I’ve gained 17 pounds total. Shut up.)

That baby’s coming any time now… Thank you, Captain Obvious. The twice-weekly doctor visits, uterine cramps and constant bathroom visits throughout the day/night weren’t enough of a clue for me.

Are you sure it’s just one? Yep, there were two but then Gigantor the Destroyer** in there ate the twin.

Am I touchier than normal? You bet.

Is it a function of hormones? In part.

Am I still a human being worthy of basic dignity and respect and PRIVACY? Hell yes.

Most of all, I’m just ready to be done with this step. Are we there yet? 

*True story. I ducked into the first restroom stall, and I’ll be damned if even that didn’t stop her from making comment #2 above. Yesterday, I skipped the restroom entirely when I saw her walk in there first.

**My sister-in-law christened Kid A with this sobriquet when I sent her his 3D picture. I think I like it. And no, he was never a twin. 

We’re almost there…

Tomorrow marks 37 weeks – 21 more days until our due date – and I’m writing tonight because I’m not quite sure that we’ll make it to that milestone.

I’ve written previously about the Braxton Hicks contractions, but what I’ve been feeling today is…different. I have all kinds of pressure going on throughout my abdomen and while none of it is painful, per se, the contractions are gaining consistency and power.

I don’t think we’ll go tonight. But it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been wrong.

All in all, it’s a good time to go. I hope that we can still hold out maybe one more week, to greet June with a baby rather than making Memorial Day weekend even more memorable, but at this point it really isn’t up to me. The important thing is that guys, he’s coming!!  

Hey, at least it won’t be our first visit to the hospital this week.

Heads-up to a pretty unpleasant side effect of pregnancy – remember the heartburn? Well apparently, some of that acid can push up far enough that it goes into your airway instead of back down the esophagus where it belongs. And that acid can irritate the airway…and when that happens, you can totally cough up blood-and-other-ephemera.

Good news? It doesn’t affect the baby!! Bad news? You will go through at least part of the experience wishing someone would put you out of your misery.

(Better news, without going into too much detail, is that I can finally breathe normally again.)

Just between us (however many of us there are)…I’m a little scared now that I can see the finish line.

Time to dig deep.

 

32 weeks!

I think somebody has been spiking my meals with Miracle-Gro. I’ve tripled my initial pregnancy weight gain in just the last two months (bringing us to a grand total of 9 pounds gained…at least until next week’s appointment), and there is certainly no mistaking my bump for anything other than a healthy growing baby. I didn’t realize just how spoiled I was at my minimal weight gain until it started to pile on, or until our second childbirth class last week when the instructor started talking about losing that “20-25 pounds you took 9 months to gain”.

Otherwise, we appear to be progressing quite normally. One big change is that I’m sleeping (mostly) through the night again, except for periodic tossing and turning to take the pressure off of my legs. Our bed is going to become one large pillow nest before this pregnancy is over, but try as I might there just isn’t enough cushion for my damn knees. I feel like an 80-year-old woman with the joint pain…and the rest stops I take halfway up the stairs…and the fact that I need a nap to recover from my napping.

I feel good. I’m excited to meet Arthur, and I dare say we’re almost ready. The baby shower is in just under two weeks, at which point we’ll have (or know) what we need to finish off the nursery and every other room in the house. The next two weeks will be shuffling furniture between the spare bedrooms so they’re set up for an influx of pre-shower company (I hope the downstairs shower is working!), and generally getting things into a semblance of order that I can handle. I’m definitely ready for the nesting phase to kick in.

I’ve also been incredibly frustrated over the last two weeks – disappointed that, once again, I seem to have misplaced my trust in other people. I’m caught between wanting to have it out and simply not having the energy to sustain the confrontation, not to mention a sinking suspicion that any confrontation won’t really change anything. I can only change myself. My mom, meanwhile, went from echoing my anger to counseling restraint. As she says, these pregnancy emotions have already led me to (rightly) end one relationship, and she doesn’t want to see me end one that has “always kind of been this way”. As I said, I don’t have the energy to have it out as it is; for now, I’m going to just let things ride and concentrate on the people in my life who need and deserve all of me – first and foremost, kicking Kid A.

(Fun change in the “kicking”: since Arthur is now head-down, there’s significantly more movement toward the bottom of the bump – some of it rather painful. His kicking and twisting, meanwhile, has taken on the feel of one of those massage pads that you might buy at Brookstone for the couch. It’s like he’s placed one of those pads across the front of my uterus and turned it on, making the massage ball just press and roll across the surface. It’s a curious comparison but it seems to fit.)

There’s nothing earth-shattering to report, which is for the best. Hopefully the next few weeks continue to go smoothly, and then we’ll be on baby watch!

 

Antepartum Depression

There’s an unfortunately common refrain in my family about my reaction to pregnancy, particularly in the last couple of months: I’m a bitch. I’m mopey. Pregnancy agrees with me physically but psychologically it has turned me into my own evil twin, a shadowy reflection of myself that my mom promises Brian will “disappear…hopefully” once Arthur is with us. I’ve hinted toward it in previous posts, but I think it’s time to confront the possibility head-on. Maybe it will help me come to terms with my own feelings; at the very least, it may help other expectant mothers who think they’re suffering alone.

I’m afraid I may have antepartum depression.

Really, it’s a thing. Just Google “antepartum depression” and you’ll find a wealth of first-person accounts, as well as far too little insight from psychological organizations. It’s a “thing” that resembles the normal hormonal symptoms of pregnancy (mood swings, changes in sleep and eating patterns, etc) so it can be difficult to distinguish from just “being pregnant”, but as with any clinical psychological issue there are some characteristics that make this something more than normal (symptoms and triggers below, among others, from American Pregnancy Association’s “Depression in Pregnancy” page):

  • a family history of depression (check)
  • persistent sadness (check)
  • difficulty concentrating (definitely check)
  • anxiety (check)
  • feelings of guilt and worthlessness (are these people spying on me??)

Turns out my fears of losing control are legitimate.

Some days, all I do (or all I want to do, if I’m at work) is cry. Cry over nothing, cry over everything. I stepped on my cat’s paw Saturday night and it unleashed a torrent of sobbing over the thought that I had hurt my precious furbaby – if I can’t even keep him safe, it must be a sign that I’m going to screw up the rest of my family too. I cry that the dishes aren’t done and that I want to want to do something (anything) but that I’m so tired and all I can muster the energy for is slowly climbing the stairs to go back to bed in a monotonous routine. I’m a terrible wife and does that mean I’ll just be a terrible mother too?

There have been fleeting moments when – and I cannot believe I’m about to admit this to anybody but Brian – I considered that things might be better if we just hadn’t gotten pregnant. That thought makes me feel like a monster, never mind that I love this little guy so, so much and couldn’t imagine actually losing him. I hated myself for allowing the thought in, and I hated myself for looking my husband in the eye and voicing it out loud. And, I hate myself just a little bit for writing it here. But I can’t be the truest version of myself and deny that the thought ever existed. I am not a monster, despite these sometimes monstrous feelings.

Every day isn’t awful – in fact, some days are downright fantastic. I’m down-in-the-gut thrilled to meet Arthur, and even on the horrible days my rational brain is pounding at the door of my crazy brain to step aside and let in the light. That contradiction has kept me from fully entertaining the possibility that the bad feelings could be anything but normal hormones, but I have to confront these feelings for what they may be – for Arthur, for Brian, for myself. I may not be strong enough to get over it on my own, but by reaching out I hope that it’s something we can overcome together.

(And yes, I’ll tell my doctor – always mention important things like this to your OB!)

Week 29/30: Ultrasound #3 and dropping…

We’re in the home stretch! (Or for me, the home don’t-stretch-too-much…) We’re going to a shower in less than four weeks (26 days, to be precise!) and I can’t begin to imagine how real it will feel once we get there.

Not that it doesn’t feel real now – some days, it feels all too real. I never stopped to think about how much strain other non-midriff parts of my body would take in carrying our little boy, but my legs are staging a pretty constant protest at this point. If you know me in the real world you will understand the tragedy of my biggest issue: I can’t find shoes that are cute AND comfortable. Of course, there’s more: though I’ve always been a tosser-turner in my sleep, I imagine I make quite the spectacle now with my roll-over productions. I can’t stay on one side for too long or my knees start to groan and my calves threaten to cramp, so when I finally have to turn I have to take it one painstaking move at a time so I can also transfer the bump without incident…or falling off the bed. 🙂

As I mentioned in my last post, we were scheduled for an additional ultrasound last week to determine Arthur’s size. He is a fast-growing, healthy boy for sure! As of five days ago he measured at the upper end of the normal growth range for his age, and weighed in at a whopping 3 1/2 pounds. All of his organs and limbs are working perfectly, and I even got to watch him punch me in protest over the ultrasound tech’s invasion of his peace and quiet. Strangely enough, once the doctor came in to take over he decided it wasn’t worth the argument anymore and just lay there, little heart a-chugging. We’re still on schedule for a final ultrasound the week of Memorial Day to see how big he’s grown, but if my earlier predictions are correct then the doctors can just measure Arthur on the outside! (We shall see…)

Arthur continues to collect adorable stuff and things that I can’t wait to display in the nursery. For Easter, my in-laws gave us a basket of goodies: socks, a crib sheet, cute onesies and of course, some elephants! (I may have to appropriate the Horton plush, he’s just too cute!) In the meantime, my mother is teasing me about the “thing” she bought for Arthur that she won’t tell me all about…something about waiting until the shower, when she knows that patience isn’t my strong suit. Perhaps the lesson is part of the gift? How very Zen.

We also received a surprise package over the weekend, baby gifts from a good friend who won’t be able to make the shower. (Your thank-you card is in the mail!) One of the gifts was a memory book for the first five years (okay, so really everything in the first year and then a two-page spread for each of the subsequent four years) – I picked it out not just because of the cute little turtles on the front but also in hopes that, you know, we will be good about chronicling this stage in our lives and his. Like a good little worker bee, I started yesterday! It’s fun but also a little overwhelming to see the little details in print; like planning for the shower, writing this book makes things that much more real.

I can’t believe we’re just about ready to count down the weeks in single digits. Can’t stop now!

 

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.)