Due Week, and Father’s Day

Due dates are such tricky things. My OB gave us an original due date of the 19th – three days from now – which she is still maintaining as Arthur’s “official” due date. However, our 19-week ultrasound (not to mention the two subsequent, in which he’s been measuring ahead of dates) established that today was the more accurate due date.

But what is an accurate due date anyway? Babies, much like wizards, are neither early nor late but arrive precisely when they intend to. That’s what I’ve been telling myself, anyway, to try and overcome what has been the most difficult week of the pregnancy so far.

Since last Friday I’ve had four prenatal appointments (with another scheduled for tomorrow), as well as a false alarm visit to the hospital. All that’s changed in any of those appointments is that this week I picked up some water weight thanks to the change in the weather. In the meantime, I’ve been contracting the entire time – sometimes more frequently and lately more intensely, but not enough to actually make any further progress. It’s frustrating, uncomfortable, and heartbreaking.

Because…it’s Father’s Day. And despite this pregnancy teaching me throughout that I really can’t always get what I want, my fondest wish was that Brian could celebrate today with his son in his arms.

Well, instead we’ll celebrate this as almost-Father’s Day. And we’ll see just how far into this week our little prince intends to go.

 

(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. 

Our First(ish) Mother’s Day

When does motherhood begin?

I suppose that three people may give me four different answers to that question. Clearly I am at least a “soon-to-be” mom, as evidenced by my ever-lowering bump…an almost-finished nursery…and the feeling I have inside of me (besides the heartburn) that even though I have yet to hold him in a traditional sense, I am very much already a Mother.

I told my own mother and mother-in-law that I didn’t feel quite right celebrating my “first” Mother’s Day when I haven’t actually met the baby yet, but when I woke up to texts and Facebook messages wishing me – me! – a Happy Mother’s Day I suddenly felt perfectly clear.

I hold my child in my body for the moment, yet I have held him in my heart since the morning I first read the word “pregnant” on that stick. Already I live for him, and would die for him with only the regret that we would be separated far too soon. I feel a rush of love and devotion to him each time I feel him moving inside me, and treasure (as I’ve mentioned) that bond that is ours alone to share. Science and philosophy agree that even when he leaves my body to enter the world, he will remain a part of me.

So, I send Mother’s Day love to every mother today, mothers who carry their children in their arms and those whose children are grown, mothers who carry their child in their womb and mothers whose angel babies will live on in their hearts. And, a happy Mother’s Day to me. Arthur is kicking, so I can only imagine he agrees.

35 Weeks: The baby shower and getting ready

I can’t believe we’re here.

Today is 35 weeks. Um, what? I’m pretty sure I just peed on that stick yesterday (or like a week ago) but no, a week ago we had our baby shower.

Two nights ago, we installed the car seat in the CR-V.

Last night, we hooked up the co-sleeper bassinet and I packed (most of) my hospital bag.

Today, I will finish the last load of laundry for the baby – crib sheets, towels and washcloths, and the last few outfits.

Where did all of the time go?

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had a repeat of the emotions that flooded through me toward the end of September, incidentally right about the time that we got pregnant (you’ll recall we didn’t discover it for about two weeks after that). Two of my friends from high school, who announced their pregnancies right before I discovered mine, have each delivered happy and healthy (and beautiful!) baby girls. Following their progress on social media, from the trip to the hospital to the first few days at home, I find myself thinking again “okay…now it’s my turn.” Not quite, of course – I’m still waiting on two beautiful baby boys who are set to arrive a smidge before A, and we’re not quite full-term just yet.

But I am so ready.

The nursery has evolved from an empty room with ugly and cracking yellow paint to a newborn jungle. We’re shuffling gifts into their respective places and I’ve become an expert in Graco assembly instructions since last Saturday. Each day when I pass the guest room where the swing and pack ‘n’ play are waiting for their new owner, I just look down at my little bump and whisper, “soon…”

Soon, I will meet my son. Soon, he will no longer be only mine.

More to follow…

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!

 

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.